Laura and her daughter had a wonderful holiday trip together. They are Disney veterans but tried park-hopping for the first time. They had some travel challenges and had to make some last minute changes, but they had a wonderful trip.
Laura and her 5th grade daughter planned a fairly last minute trip for December 17-21 because of Laura’s winter break. Her husband and 13 year old son will skip this trip, so it’s just the girls. They are staying at the Waldorf in the Bonnet Creek area, which is somewhere they’ve stayed before.
They have 3-day park hoppers and Genie+ for the length of their trip. They were originally planning on flying home on the 20th. They packed very lightly in two small backpacks but when they arrived at the airport, Laura found out the flight was delayed 16 hours.
After making some last minute changes, Laura and her daughter had a great trip full of restaurant reservations, park-hopping, and doing the things they wanted to do.
Arrival Day (December 17)
Laura and her daughter arrived to the airport very early in the morning for their 7:30 a.m. flight. However, once they arrived, the flight was rescheduled for 16 hours later! They were flying Frontier out of the small Trenton airport.
The travel day was a little hectic. They live very close to the airport, so Laura and her daughter went back home. However, before they left, they got flights out of Philadelphia that evening and decided to add an extra day.
They were home again a few hours later. Laura used the day to readjust the park days. They ended up getting a little but more park time out of the adjustments.
Laura and her daughter drove to Philadelphia for their new flights. Having TSA pre-check saved them a lot of time, which was great.
They arrived to MCO at 10:17 p.m. and took a Uber to their hotel. It was about $44 and they only waited about 15 minutes for a ride. When they arrived to their hotel all food options were closed, but they were able to walk over to the adjoining hotel to get some food.
Laura’s daughter played at the arcade, they got settled in their room, and they were in bed by 1:30 a.m. after a very long travel day!
Magic Kingdom (December 18)
Even though Laura had gone to bed so late, she was up at 4:45 a.m. and got her daughter up at 5:30 a.m. for their Magic Kingdom day. They left their room just after 6 a.m. for early entry at 7:30 a.m.
They took a Lyft and got in at 6:15 a.m. They found that taking Lyft was very convenience and inexpensive. They were at the TTC at 6:30 a.m. and took the resort monorail to the Magic Kingdom.
They were in line and were through security by 7 a.m. At the same time, Laura was also getting Genie+. It was $19 today but it was $25 the rest of the trip.
This was their first time to see the Christmas decorations. Laura and her daughter took a lot of photos on Main Street. By 7:15 a.m. they stopped for hot chocolate at the Starbucks and sat down to enjoy that.
They watched the crowds enter and got toward the back of the pack. They were rope-dropping the PeopleMover. Today was a Christmas Party day, so it wasn’t very crowded.
Their next stop was Haunted Mansion. They waited near the Tangled bathrooms and were on the 3rd buggy. They wanted to do Splash Mountain next but it was down and stayed down for a few hours that morning.
Their next stop was a 9:55 a.m. reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table. They really love the experience and don’t care that the characters aren’t meeting yet. The food was decent but being inside the castle is wonderful.
They went over to Splash Mountain and rode twice in a row with very low waits (10 minutes or so). The posted wait time was about 20 minutes. They didn’t get very wet, which was nice.
They had a 12:20 p.m. Genie+ pass for Peter Pan’s Flight and it converted to an anytime pass because the ride went down. However, they knew they would be leaving soon. Laura went to a guest services cast member and had it converted to an anytime pass at Hollywood Studios.
They went over to Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin and rode that while watching the World Cup in line! After that they stopped at the Plaza for ice cream. They sat outside and had a delicious peppermint brownie ice cream.
They left the park and were back to their room by 2 p.m. or so. They were able to swim during their break. One of the pool was heated and it was so nice. It wasn’t very crowded and they got some food from the pool bar.
Then they went back to the room and took showers and naps. They set an alarm and woke up at 5:15 p.m. and were at Hollywood Studios by 5:40 p.m!
Their first stop was to get Laura’s daughter some new shoes. The shoes she was wearing were giving her blisters, so she got some Christmas crocs.
Then they went to their Oga’s Cantina reservation at 6:20 p.m. They really enjoyed this. When they left, they went to Smuggler’s Run and used a Genie+ lightning lane. They were both pilots which was fun!
Then they went into Toy Story Land and they had a lightning lane for Alien Swirling Saucers. This was their first time on this and it was fun! Then they went over to Toy Story Mania. They also had a mobile order for Woody’s Lunchbox.
They got a cookie around 8 p.m. and decided they wanted to do Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway as standby. Laura wasn’t able to get a lightning lane. The wait time was posted at 50 minutes but then the line just stopped moving. They decided to get out of line and do something else.
They wanted to do some Bounty Hunting with Laura’s daughter’s Magic Band+ but as soon as they started, her band died. So they decided to go over to ride Rise of the Resistance but the line was very long.
So they decided to just do some shopping at the end of their day. They still had their multiple experience pass and decided to use that at 8:50 p.m. for Smuggler’s Run. They were pilots again, which was so fun!
They hung out in the park for a bit longer before deciding to ride the skyliner! Their first experience was during very windy weather and it wasn’t ideal. They had a great time this time and took it to the Caribbean Beach and took a Lyft back to their hotel.
They played at the arcade before going back to their room and getting in bed by 10:45 p.m.
Animal Kingdom (December 19)
Laura was up at 6 a.m. and got her daughter up at 6:30 a.m. They took a Lyft to Animal Kingdom at 7 a.m. Early Entry began at 7:30 a.m. and they left people in much earlier. They got to Na’vi River Journey and rode twice without much of a wait at all at 7:40 a.m.
They got some breakfast sandwiches at Pongu Pongu and did some shopping. Laura’s daughter bought some Avatar souvenirs.
Their next stop was Kilimanjaro Safaris and at 8:30 a.m. they only waited about 10 minutes. It was cold – low 50s – but the animals were out in the sun. The lions were out, which was fun!
When they got off the safari the posted wait time jumped from 15 minutes to 70 minutes! They purchased some pins, which is something they collect. They also got some popcorn before going to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
Their goal was to visit a goat. Laura’s daughter had fallen in love with the goat several years ago. However, they found out from a cast member that the goat had passed away. It was very upsetting for Laura’s daughter.
She found a pig named Charlotte Mae and pet the pig for an hour. Laura’s daughter wasn’t ready to leave. They also found a hidden Mickey shaved into a sheep!
Eventually they were able to leave and they took the train back and went right to Nomad Lounge. They loved this and it was a great break from the crowds. After sharing some food, they went to Dinoland.
They enjoyed seeing the Merry Menagerie on their way. Dinoland was very crowded. They got an ice cream sandwich and enjoyed some people watching.
They saw DiVine on their way out of the park. They were back to the hotel by 1:15 p.m. Laura’s daughter took a nap and they did some swimming again. They also stacked Genie+ Lightning Lanes for Magic Kingdom that night.
This is the only day there isn’t a Christmas party during their trip. It was open until 11 p.m. By the time they left for the Magic Kingdom they had the following lightning lanes:
- 6:15 p.m. Haunted Mansion
- 6:30 p.m. Pirates of the Caribbean
- 7:05 p.m. Splash Mountain
- 7:45 p.m Under the Sea
- 8 p.m. Peter Pan’s Flight
They went right to Adventureland and it was very crowded. The standby lines were very long so even using the lightning lanes took 10-15 minutes. They did Pirates of the Caribbean and then Haunted Mansion.
At 7:40 p.m. they got popcorn and did some people watching. Then they got in line at Splash Mountain. Their plan was to watch the fireworks and it worked perfectly. They had to wait a bit at the front of the line, but they could watch fireworks from the ride.
Their next stop was Peter Pan’s Flight and even the lightning lane was very long. They were trying to clear the lightning lane so they weren’t taking any standby line folks.
They didn’t have the Under the Sea lightning lane and the line was very long, so they opted to not ride. Laura’s daughter was getting very tired, so they decided to head back around 10 p.m. They got some food at Casey’s Corner on their way out.
The express monorail line was very long so they took the resort monorail and were back at their resort and in bed by 11 p.m.
Epcot (December 20)
Today didn’t look anything like Laura originally planned, but it was such a fun day! They woke up at 6:15 a.m. and Laura purchased Genie+. She got a Frozen Ever After Lightning Lane for 9 a.m.
They were checking out of their hotel, the Waldorf. They had a great experience and loved how sound-proof the room was! They took their bags downstairs at 7 a.m. and they were able to check-in to a room on the 14th floor at The Signia for their last night.
Then they took a Lyft over to the Riviera and had breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace! They were able to get a reservation for 7:40 a.m. the night before. Laura had been trying for a while to get it.
The experience was good and they enjoyed their breakfast. The character interactions were just perfect as well. They enjoyed their server and the food. The pastries on the table were delicious. They brought bags to put their extras in and had pastries later!
They took the Skyliner over to Epcot and arrived to their Frozen Ever After at 9:50 a.m. The standby line was 75 minutes and they only waited a few minutes.
Their next stop was Mexico and they went on Gran Fiesta Tour. They enjoyed the Mexico Pavilion for a while. Next they decided to do the Cookie Stroll. They enjoyed some cookies more than others. They took a boat across Epcot to save some steps – their feet were hurting!
Their favorite cookie was at Nochebuena Cocina called Alfajores and it was delicious! Laura was surprised her daughter loved it as much as she did.
They ended up walking around a bit to get a 5th cookie and got another Alfajores. They got their completion cookie and a pin!
Their next stop was using their lightning lane at Soarin’ around noon. At this point Laura got a 6 p.m. Lightning Lane for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. They had quite a wait for Soarin’ but they got great seats!
Then they got Space 220 Lounge reservations the day before! They loved this because they could order what they wanted. They loved the space elevator and walking around the restaurant.
They left the park around 2 p.m. and went to the arcade back at their hotel. They didn’t nap, but they did go to the pool. It was raining at the pool and chilly, so they stayed in the heated pool and hot tub before going back to their room.
They got to Hollywood Studios around 5:45 p.m. that evening. They loved the holiday decorations! Their first stop was to use their lightning lane for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Then they walked over to Tower of Terror to watch the projections. They really enjoyed the projections and the music. They heard a rushing fan sound and discovered that it was the fans for the snowpe, but it wasn’t blowing snowpe!
They went to Toy Story Land and rode Toy Story Mania with a lightning lane! Then they had a lightning lane for Slinky Dog Dash. It was really beautiful at night.
They went over to Galaxy’s Edge and Laura’s daughter was able to play the Bounty Hunter game. She went from 10 to 20 bounties, which was fun. They got to see unique parts of Galaxy’s Edge.
They got some blue milk and shared some food at Docking Bay 7. Their plan was to end the night with Rise of the Resistance. It was up at 8:40 p.m. but by the time they got over at 8:45 p.m. it was down and they wouldn’t let anyone get in line.
They took off from Hollywood Studios right at 9:30 p.m. and were able to watch Harmonious from the skyliner, which was so cool! They watched the last 5 minutes from the Skyliner station.
They arrived to Beaches and Cream around 10:30 p.m. and it was so fun at night! Then they saw the gingerbread carousel, which was so neat.
They took a Lyft back to their resort and were back to their room by 12:30 a.m. It was a wonderful, long day!
Rest Day (December 21)
They both slept in and Laura was able to call her mom to tell her all about the trip. They had a late check-out at 1 p.m.
They got breakfast in the lobby and finished the cookies from the cookie stroll. They were able to really enjoy the morning. Laura really liked having a rest day at the end of the trip.
They went to the arcade and her daughter played more games. They also took another trip to the pool at 11 a.m.
They went back to their room and checked out at 1 p.m. They left their bags with Bell Services and went to the Polynesian to look at some of the monorail resorts.
They took a Lyft to the resort and didn’t have any trouble getting in. The Polynesian was really nice and Laura liked it a lot. They got Dole Whips and really enjoyed them. They ate them overlooking the pool.
They enjoyed walking on the beach before taking the monorail to the Grand Floridian. It was moderately crowded around 3 p.m.
They went to Gasparilla Island Grill and got the tomato soup, grilled cheese, and macaroni and cheese.
As they were leaving the Grand Floridian, they’d planned to do some more resorts, but there was a bus to Disney Springs and they decided to do that!
The bus dropped them off right in the center of Disney Springs. Their first stop was Gideon’s and they got their name on the virtual queue. They were told the wait was about 90 minutes. Crowds were moderate.
They wandered around for about an hour before they were called back to Gideon’s. The line was so fast once they got back! They only waited about 10 minutes. They. got some of the holiday cookies and they were delicious.
They left Disney Springs around 5:30 p.m. and went back to the hotel. They left for the airport around 6 p.m. They got to the airport and their flight was delayed 60 minutes, so they had plenty of time to hang out before they got on their flight home.
They took off around 9:45 p.m. Laura was seated with a boy in 9th grade who was flying for the first time and was flying alone. They had a good flight back. They landed at 11:45 p.m. and they were home by 1:30 a.m. Laura’s daughter was at school the next day!
- Between days 2 and 59 of your trip, don’t worry about getting dining reservations. So many open up the day before!
- If you are stuck at the Orlando airport for a long time, remember that you can get a day pass for the Hyatt at the airport. (We book through Resort Pass)
Leave me a message
Please use the SpeakPipe link below to leave us a message.
- For trip report submissions please include your first name, location, and trip info.
- For Quick Tips please include your name and your quick tip.
You can do this using your computer or phone at https://www.speakpipe.com/WDWPrepToGo.
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)
- Subscribe in iTunes (and please leave a review!)
- Subscribe in Google Play
- Subscribe to the feed
- Listen on Stitcher
Follow on social media
- Select Individual Lightning Lane Attractions Moving To Genie+ At Disney World For Limited Time
- Character Sightings Are Coming To Genie+ At Walt Disney World
- Genie+ Adding Festival of Fantasy & Hollywood Studios Character Meet & Greet
- Disney World Genie+ Price Now Varies By Date, Plus Other Cost Increases
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Virtual Queue Will Have 3 Drop Times
- Traveling to Disney During the Holidays – PREP 339 - January 10, 2023
- Mother-Daughter Holiday Trip – PREP 338 - January 3, 2023
- Bret Iwan is the voice of Mickey Mouse and so much more (replay) – PREP 337 - December 27, 2022