Skip to Content

Matt’s runDisney and extended family trip – PREP 400

Matt’s runDisney and extended family trip – PREP 400

Matt’s late February trip to Disney World that included Princess weekend for runDisney was “amazing, beautiful weather, mix of family and friends, and a mix of ‘go’ and ‘hold back.’” Listen as he shares about new experiences and seeing familiar attractions through his 4-year-old daughter’s eyes.


  • Hotel $4700 (with 40% cast member friend and family discount)
  • Flight: $950
  • Rental Car: $450 (includes car seat rental)
  • Food: approximate $700

Matt redeemed Disney Visa points to help offset the cost of the hotel, and used gift cards that he accumulated to help with meals and souvenirs. The costs above are totals before discounts. Actual out-of-pocket dollars spent for food and hotel were less because of the discounted gift cards. 

Post trip begins: At an hour

The Basics

Matt and his family traveled to Disney World for the Princess Half Marathon. Their travel party includes Matt and his wife, their 4 year old daughter and his wife’s mom and dad, sister in law, brother in law, and their two children.

Matt and his immediate family are staying the whole time. His in-laws will be joining them for different portions of their trip.

They are all staying at Grand Floridian in three separate rooms. Matt and his family will be maximizing their time in the parks. His in-laws just have 3 day park hoppers.

Matt and his sister in law will be running in the 10K and the half marathon. Matt’s wife, mother in law, and sister in law will all be participating in yoga as well.

Arrival Day (February 22)

Matt and his family are flying from Allentown to Sanford, Florida. Their flight left at 3 p.m. and arrived at 5:30 p.m. They had no issues with their flight.

Matt’s family got their rental car and picked up their order at Target. They got some dinner and were at their room by 7:30 p.m. Matt and his family have an owner’s locker and picked it up on their way into Orlando.

They had a great room right next to the busses in building 5. It was right next to the walkway to Magic Kingdom. It worked really well for them.

They watched Happily Ever After and were in bed by 9:30 p.m. after a long day.

Magic Kingdom (February 23)

Matt, his wife, and daughter will took the monorail to Magic Kingdom for Early Theme Park Entry around 6:30 a.m. They were at Magic Kingdom right at 6:45 a.m. and they were first in line.

They went to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and this was Matt’s daughter’s first time. She didn’t love it, but they did it.

Matt and his family on Dumbo

Their next stop was Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Tea Party, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. They did all of this before 9 a.m.

They next hopped on the Main Street vehicles from Town Square and back. It was fun and it was Matt’s daughter’s first time.

After that, they hopped on the train. This was also his daughter’s first time on this as well. They were doing things to pass the time before the 11:40 a.m. haircut appointment.

At 10:30 a.m. Matt went over to Harmony Barbershop to see if they could move their appointment earlier. She was able to get his daughter in right away!

After that, they got their silhouettes done. They were back on the monorail for Epcot at 11 a.m.

They went to Epcot to pick up their Annual Passholder magnet. They had their magnets by 11:30 a.m. and then got lunch at Connections Cafe.

After lunch they went to Journey of Water. Matt’s daughter LOVED it. After that, they split up and Matt’s wife went on Cosmic Rewind.

Matt and his wife both had individual lightning lanes for Cosmic Rewind between 1-2 p.m. Matt rode after her and then they went back to the resort.

When they got back to the resort, Matt’s in-laws arrived. They were in building 6.

Matt and his sister in law went over to the Expo. They stayed about 2 hours, visiting with friends, taking photos, and just hanging out. They went back to the resort around 4 p.m.

Matt rearranged their schedule several times and opted to just do a GrubHub dinner. They were very comfortable at the resort.

Everyone was having fun together and watched Happily Ever After again from the resort. They were in bed early again to be ready for the next day!

Hollywood Studios (February 24)

Matt had a 2 a.m. wake up call and opted to get on the bus at 2:30 a.m. He doesn’t like being late and doesn’t want to be at the end of the corral. He was on the bus at 3 a.m. and arrived to the race at 3:15 a.m.

He got some photos taken and was ready for the race. He was back at the resort by 7 a.m., cleaned up and they were at Hollywood Studios by 8 a.m.

Matt's half marathon photo by Spaceship Earth

When they arrived, they planned to go immediately to Minnie and Mickey’s Runaway Railway, but it was down. They pivoted and went to Toy Story Mania, Alien Swirling Saucers, and then back to Toy Story Mania.

Toy Story Mania is Matt’s favorite ride. They rode it multiple times throughout the trip and Matt’s wife beat him every single time.

Around 9 a.m. they went back to Minnie and Mickey’s Runaway Railway and the posted wait time was 50 minutes. They were at the pre-show within 7 minutes.

Their next stop was Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. Matt’s daughter really liked it. At 10:30 a.m. they left Hollywood Studios and drove to Animal Kingdom Lodge.

They had an 11 a.m. reservation at Boma as a whole group of 9. They actually had the same waitress that they had last year!

They had a great breakfast as a group. After breakfast, Matt’s wife went to get a birthday pedicure at 2 p.m. Matt and his daughter went back to the room and fell asleep.

Everyone went to the pool at 4 p.m. after Matt’s wife got back. Matt canceled and rearranged dinner reservations but opted to just get dinner from the pool bar.

They didn’t want to leave the resort and said that their dinner was very good. That night they watched Happily Ever After from the resort and went to bed early.

Magic Kingdom (February 25)

Matt had another 2 a.m. alarm this morning. There was only monorail transportation this morning to the race. He was on the monorail by 2:30 a.m.

Matt arrived at Epcot just before 3 a.m. and the race started at 5 a.m. Matt’s sister in law was in corral A and crushed it.

Matt took his time on the route. He enjoyed meeting characters. The weather was chilly, which was difficult. They also had some trouble with cell phone service during the race.

Matt notes that you should download your music prior to a race. He had to listen to his daughter’s music because it was all that was downloaded.

Matt notes that on the race, about 1.5 miles in, Matt saw someone on the ground. There were people doing chest compressions. It was very scary but Matt notes that he spoke with a cast member relative who said that the person was conscious.

Matt finished and really loves the medals for the races. He went back to the resort to get cleaned up. He was back to the hotel by 9:10 a.m. and was at Epcot right around 10 a.m.

They opted to take the monorail because traffic was so terrible. Their first stop was Soarin’. Matt’s wife got individual lightning lanes for Cosmic Rewind.

Matt used his lightning lane around 11 a.m. while his wife and daughter went on Living with the Land. After that, they had a reservation at Akershus at 11:35 a.m. It was a wonderful experience with great character interactions.

Matt notes that the meal was quick but didn’t feel rushed. The food is family style and was really good.

Matt’s daughter wanted to go on the skyliner next, so they did that. However, the minute they got on, she fell asleep in her stroller. They got off at Caribbean Beach and got right back on.

She woke up right as they were entering Epcot again. They arrived around 1:15 p.m. and went to meet Alice in the UK. Their next stop was to meet Winnie the Pooh. Matt’s daughter really liked this.

They got in line for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at 2:42 p.m. for their lightning lane. Their next stop was to go to the Seas with Nemo and Friends.

They left Epcot, hopped on the monorail, and were back at the resort just after 4 p.m. Matt’s wife did some laundry. They met with their family at the pool and got dinner at the pool bar.

After dinner, Matt, his wife, and their daughter took the monorail to do some shopping at the monorail resorts. They were in bed by 8:40 p.m.

Animal Kingdom (February 26)

Matt’s wife, sister in law, and mother in law left their resort at 4:00 a.m. to go to the TTC to get to the Magic Kingdom for yoga. This is the only way to do it because you must go to the TTC to sign up. From the TTC they were able to get a bus to the Magic Kingdom.

The yoga was very easy and it was neat to be on Main Street that early. It was difficult to see, but very neat to experience. This yoga experience is connected to the Princess Marathon weekend and you need to register for it.

Matt’s wife said it was a little disappointing that there wasn’t all Disney music, but it was a fun experience.

Matt and his daughter got up around 6 a.m. and he got her ready. They went to Animal Kingdom with the goal of going on Flight of Passage.

The Early Entry opened at 7:30 a.m. and they were there by 6:45 a.m. right at the rope. The dynamics were a little different because it was just Matt and the stroller with his daughter.

They got through the crowd and everything was very organized. Matt was able to go straight to Flight of Passage. He went into the line with the stroller and a cast member took the stroller before they got to the queue.

They were in the first group on the ride, which was very impressive! They were off the ride by 7:45 a.m. or so. Matt told his daughter that the ride was like Soarin’ but on a motorcycle. It was a little more than she expected, but she did it.

Their next stop was Na’vi River Journey. Matt doesn’t really understand this ride and his daughter wasn’t a big fan either. It was a fine way to pass the time before their family arrived.

Matt went to Tusker House to attempt to adjust their reservation. They had two separate reservations. He was told to come back at 10 a.m. and it would be no problem.

The rest of the family arrived around 8:25 a.m. and they got in line for Kilimanjaro Safaris. As they were in line the wait time jumped from 35 minutes to 55 minutes. They were funneled to an area of the queue that Matt had never seen.

They ended up waiting about 35 minutes, the longest wait of their trip. It was a really great safari. All of the children liked seeing all of the animals.

After the Kilimanjaro Safaris, they got in line to meet Moana. Matt didn’t want her to have any duplicates in the autograph book so he got her another one. They got photos with Moana around 9:50 a.m.

They went immediately from Moana to Tusker House at 10 a.m. They had reservations at 10:15 a.m. and 10:25 a.m. They were told that they would take care of everything and waited until about 10:35 a.m. to find out why they hadn’t heard anything.

Matt was told that they’d been trying to call them the whole time. Matt and his whole family was right there the whole time. He was told that they could seat him for lunch, but breakfast was over.

However, they were seated at 10:43 a.m. They were told that breakfast food is put away at 10:50 a.m. and they switch it over to lunch. The initial plan was to get a late breakfast and have some breakfast and some lunch food. However, the breakfast was very rushed.

It was a fine experience, but it was very weird. Matt and his family never texted them or notified them in the app. No one heard them call their name either. Their server was really good and they enjoyed it but probably won’t be back for a while.

They were out shortly after 12 p.m. and went to use their lightning lanes. They had a lightning lane for Expedition Everest. They split up and four of them rode while someone stayed with the girls. However, they waited 15 minutes at the top in the dark!

They were lucky to be able to ride because as soon as they got off, they shut down the ride. After that, they went to the Boneyard for the kids to play. Once the kids were tired, they went back to the resort around 1:30 p.m.

Shortly after 3 p.m. they were back on the monorail to go to Epcot. Everyone went together and they arrived before 4 p.m. Their first stop was Cosmic Rewind with an individual lightning lane at 4 p.m. They were delayed for a while getting on the ride while the grandparents had the children.

They had a Frozen Ever After lightning lane between 3:30-4:30 p.m. Matt’s in-laws were very anxious to get to Frozen Ever After because they were late. They arrived at 4:53 p.m. without any issue. Of course all the girls loved it.

After Frozen Ever After they met Ana and Elsa. They waited in line for about 40 minutes at 5:15 p.m., which was a long time. They wandered around the World Showcase, getting food at Regal Eagle and Yorkshire County Fish and Chips.

They did some shopping before getting on the monorail and going back to the resort. They were in bed around 9:30 p.m.

Hollywood Studios (February 27)

The whole group of 9 had park reservations for Hollywood Studios. Matt, his wife, and daughter got up early. They got Genie+ and made reservations for Slinky Dog Dash and Tower of Terror.

Early Entry was 8:30 a.m. so Matt and his family left the resort around 7:40 a.m. They had longer lines at the entrance but they were into Hollywood Studios around 8:15 a.m.

They didn’t have a wait at all at Minnie and Mickey’s Runaway Railway. Their next stop was Toy Story Mania, Matt’s favorite. Their family arrived and they all went on Toy Story Mania together. Sadly, the ride broke down for 10-15 minutes.

After they got off Toy Story Mania, they went to Alien Swirling Saucers because it was there. Their next stop was to use their lighting lane for Tower of Terror and then their Slinky Dog Dash lightning lane immediately afterward.

Matt and his daughter on Toy Story Mania

They went to the Disney Junior Dance Party at 11:15 a.m. and then they met Doc McStuffins. After that, they left the park and picked up some lunch. Matt made more changes to dining today as well because they found that it was more difficult to keep dining reservations for the whole group.

After grabbing some lunch, they went back to the resort just before 1 p.m. They dropped their things and Matt hopped on the monorail to go to the Polynesian. It is about 1:15 p.m. and Matt is the 7th person in line for Trader Sam’s – an hour and 45 minutes before it even opens!

At 2:10 p.m. they started taking names and Matt was told he would be in the first group in. His in-laws were staying back with the girls so that Matt, his wife, and brother and sister in law could go.

They were seated around 3 p.m. and they had a great time. However, logistically it is very complicated. Matt doesn’t think he should have to wait 2 hours in line to get a table.

Matt found out via a Disney message board that there was a DVC event at Animal Kingdom that evening. While they were at Trader Sam’s someone on the board was giving tickets to the event. No one wanted to go with Matt, but he went and got the tickets at 4 p.m.

He left Animal Kingdom after checking in and met his family back at Magic Kingdom. He had lightning lanes stacked up for Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Mad Tea Party, and it’s a small world. They were able to do a bunch of rides very quickly.

Matt left Magic Kingdom just before 7 p.m. to go back to Animal Kingdom. There were some unique characters meeting and Matt wanted to meet them. He met Darkwing Duck in DinoLand.

At 8:29 p.m. Matt was in line for Bianca and Bernard from the Rescuers at the theater where the bird show meets. However, they were on a break and Matt had to wait until 9 p.m. Matt waited because he didn’t have anything else to do.

Next, Matt waited to see Baloo and King Louie and then Pocahontas and Meeko. Mickey and Goofy were meeting in really neat outfits but Matt ended up not meeting them.

At 9:50 p.m. Matt left on a bus back to the resort. The bus he was on went to a bunch of resorts in that area. Matt wished he had his car to drive back straight to the Grand Floridian.

However, when they arrived to the resort, the gate wasn’t working. It takes more than 3 times to get through the gate. Everyone is tired and it is very frustrating. They ended up getting in on the 4th time.

While Matt was at Animal Kingdom, the rest of the family watched Happily Ever After.

Matt finally got back to the room and was in bed by 10:45 p.m.

Magic Kingdom (February 28)

Matt and his family got up and did not purchase Genie+ today. They arrived at Magic Kingdom at 7:45 a.m. and got photos taken on Main Street. They had 8 a.m. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reservations and all girls had a blast.

Matt and his family at the Grand Floridian

After they were done with the experience, they went to Sir Mickey’s to get photos taken. It was a really great experience. After their photos, they got in line to meet the princesses.

Then they went on the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. Anastasia and Drizela were on the carrousel at the same time, which was so fun. The rest of the family arrived around 10:45 a.m.

They took some photos before checking in with their 11:10 a.m. reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table. They didn’t end up meeting Cinderella until 11:35 a.m. or so. Then they were seated and had a great meal.

They were done with lunch just before 1 p.m. and went shopping on Main Street before leaving the park. They took a nap in the room before leaving again around 4 p.m. for Hollywood Studios.

The whole group was together and they met up with Matt’s wife’s cousin and his wife. He is a cast member.

Their first stop was to meet Olaf and there was no wait at all. Then they did the Frozen Sing along at 5:30 p.m. When the show was over, they split up to get dinner at various places including Fairfax Fare, Catalina Eddies’, and Hollywood Scoops.

After dinner, Matt, his wife, and her cousin and his wife went on Tower of Terror. There was no wait at all. They all met back up again and went to Toy Story Mania together as a group of 11.

They opted not to stay for Fantasmic because the girls were starting to fade. They left the park and went to bed.

Magic Kingdom (February 29)

They originally planned to go to Hollywood Studios but felt like they had already done what they wanted to there. They asked their daughter where she wanted to go and she wanted to go to Magic Kingdom.

Early entry was at 8:30 a.m. and because it was just Matt and his immediate family, they opted to not get Genie+ today. They slept in a little bit and mobile ordered breakfast from Gasparilla Island Grill.

They arrived at Magic Kingdom right around 8:30 a.m. It was much more crowded arriving at 8:30 a.m. as compared to arriving at 7:30 a.m.

They went to AstroOrbiter first at 8:35 a.m. and then went to Tomorrowland Speedway because Matt’s daughter wanted to ride it. It was very slow loading because only one side of the one side was open – 4 cars at a time.

Tomorrowland Speedway wasn’t Matt’s favorite, but his daughter had fun. After that, they went to The Magic Carpets of Aladdin and then Journey of the Little Mermaid, Matt’s daughter’s favorite ride.

At 10:30 a.m. they did Enchanted Tales with Belle and Matt’s daughter was chosen to be Chip. This was a first for Matt’s daughter and it was very special.

They went to Mickey’s PhilharMagic and enjoyed the addition of the Coco scene. They got Dole Whips before going into the Tiki Room at 11:30 a.m. They were doing things without much of a wait before the parade.

They got a spot for the parade in Frontierland at noon. After the parade they took the boat back to the resort. It was a beautiful day for the pool.

Matt made a reservation for that night for Grand Floridian Cafe. It was such a great meal and Matt wishes they’d done it earlier in the week because he thinks they would have done that more often during the trip.

They did some shopping, packing, and said goodbye to the rest of the family. Matt’s in-laws were leaving early the next morning.

Epcot and Departure (March 1)

Matt and his family at Epcot

Matt and his family planned to meet up with their friends in Epcot. They had just arrived on their trip and they met up at 8:30 a.m. Matt drove to the Boardwalk and parked there.

At 7:25 a.m. they met their friends at the International Gateway. The morning entry was very organized. Matt’s daughter was very excited to see their friends.

They all went to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and were some of the first ones on the ride of the day. They walked across the World Showcase and went to Frozen Ever After.

Matt and their friends went on Cosmic Rewind with one of their daughters. Matt’s wife stayed back with the two girls. Matt rode Cosmic Rewind four times and got four different songs!

They went to Soarin’ next and it had changed back to Soarin’ Around the World. They’d done Soarin’ over California earlier in the week. Matt says he prefers Soarin’ Around the World. They had a bit of a wait for Soarin’.

They went to Journey of Water next. Matt’s wife heard that there were characters in the rocks, which was really neat. They looked for the characters and it was a great experience.

When they left Journey of Water they said goodbye to their friends. They got lunch at Connections Cafe and had a lovely lunch.

The posted wait time for the Seas with Nemo and Friends was 30 minutes, but they used a lightning lane and walked right on. Their next stop was to use their lightning lane for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

They left the park through the International Gateway and did some shopping on the Boardwalk before going back to the Grand Floridian to pick up their luggage with Bell Services.

They stopped by the outlet mall and the original Gideon’s before getting some food and going to the airport. They returned the car around 5 p.m. Matt really likes the smaller airport because everything goes a little quicker at the smaller airport.

They landed at 9:10 p.m. and got their luggage before getting home at 9:45 p.m.

Get a Quote for:


Leave me a message(including trip report submissions)

Please use the SpeakPipe link below to leave us a message with your first name, location, and trip info.

You can do that using your computer or phone at

Subscribe to get new episodes

There are a few ways to get new episodes of WDW Prep to Go (if you’re used to listening on the website, subscribe so you can take new episodes with you on your phone)

Follow on social media

Become a Patron

Get a quote request for a future trip from Small World Vacations

Podcast Episode Finder

WDW Prep Merch

Visit the site

Things we recommend

Affiliate Links: