Nick, his wife, and their three kids drove to Walt Disney World and did a long trip that included the Riviera Resort, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, and a stop in Washington DC on their way home.
His two oldest kids celebrated birthdays on the trip, turning 11 and 13 with a day at Hollywood Studios. Their entire trip was July 2-11th and included some Hurricane Elsa!
Nick, his wife, and their three children (13, 11, and 6) stayed in a one bedroom villa at the Riviera Resort. They arrived on July 3 and celebrated his daughters’ birthdays.
During the Walt Disney World portion of their trip, they visited Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom. They enjoyed the fireworks and resort time.
Their one bedroom villa included a full kitchen with bench table with two chairs. The living room had a queen size murphy bed that pulls out over a couch and a small murphy bed on the other side of the room. This was plenty of room for Nick’s kids.
There was a regular bathroom with a beautiful walk-in shower, and a separate tub area. There was plenty of room for everyone to get ready. They also loved the balcony.
Nick really wanted to get a cake for his daughters’ birthdays. He reached out to Sweet and Treats by Amanda. She built a box that included cake bars, cupcakes, chocolate dipped pretzels, rice krispy treats, and a fruit tray! Everything was themed for his girls, who couldn’t be more different! She meshed Mary Poppins and the Muppets.
That was all delivered on Saturday. This was a wonderful surprise right when they got there to enjoy the whole length of the trip.
Travel Day 1 (July 1)
Left New York early in the morning and got to Delaware for lunch. They were rerouted because of traffic and weather.
They arrived in North Carolina around 8 p.m. because of traffic and poor weather. The hotel wasn’t a great experience, but it did the job.
Travel Day 2 (July 2)
They woke up to leave their hotel and begin their drive to Orlando.
It was raining in sheets. It finally stopped raining around 11 a.m. when he could finally drive faster. Everyone was cranky and they made quite a few stops. They arrived to Orlando around 8:30 p.m.
They stayed at Embassy Suites Lake Buena Vista. It is a good neighbor hotel for Disney and it was a great experience. There was a waterpark there and the kids loved that as soon as they arrived.
Arrival Day (July 3)
They woke up and left Embassy Suites Lake Buena Vista for the Riviera Resort. They arrived around 9 a.m. and were unloading the car, exploring the resort, and trying to figure out what to do with the day.
And it was raining.
They checked out the skyliner and the pool. But as soon as they got ready to get in the pool, they found out their room was available. They got their luggage to their room, ate lunch at Primo Piatto, and headed to the Magic Kingdom!
They arrived at the Magic Kingdom around 2 p.m. And it rained a lot and his youngest wouldn’t wear a poncho. They had purchased umbrellas and brought all of their rain gear.
Eventually no one wanted to wear a poncho because it was very hot and sticky, so the umbrellas were great. The rain pushed a lot of people out of the park. They were able to ride 10 or so rides in the 8 hours they were in the park!
The rain slowed down around 6:30 p.m. and they were able to walk on most rides! They waited 13 minutes for Haunted Mansion but the posted wait was 60 minutes.
Around 8 p.m. they snagged a table at the Plaza and sat there to watch the fireworks at 9:15 p.m. While they were waiting for the fireworks, Nick and his daughters ran over and rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and get Dole Whips for everyone.
The fireworks were very crowded but it was great to see everything in person. Things are right in the world again!
After the fireworks their plan was to do some shopping, but the line was 150 people just to get in the Emporium. They waited a few minutes but then opted to get out of the line and head out.
They got back to their car and drove back to the resort. The kids had a wonderful time and Nick was worried they would melt down, but they didn’t!
Independence Day (July 4)
They did not plan to go into the parks at all. Others must have had the same thought because the resort was full!
They got up early, there was no sleeping in! Nick’s middle daughter woke up around 6:45 a.m. and they rode the skyliner together. They played all the games at the resort and checked everything out. They got some drinks for the family and brought them back to the room.
Then they had reservations for breakfast at Whispering Canyon Cafe. They love it here and always have such a great experience. They were really happy with the breakfast.
They walked around Wilderness Lodge and enjoyed that resort for a bit. After breakfast they went back to their hotel for another surprise!
Nick set up Jedi Training for his kids at the hotel! He was able to set it up for Sunday on Wednesday! His youngest especially really loved battling Justin, who was fabulous with him. Nick’s oldest didn’t participate too much because she felt too old for it.
This was redemptive for his kids because on a previous trip they were in line to do Jedi Training at Hollywood Studios and it started raining right before they were brought on the stage. They’ve talked about it ever since!
They has a dinner reservation at The BOATHOUSE. They’d been before and it was wonderful but this time the food wasn’t as good. The restaurant was also very crowded. This was the only restaurant experience like this their entire trip.
After dinner they wandered around Disney Springs for a bit. They did some shopping for the kids. After shopping they went back to the resort and went swimming.
They realized that they could see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the Riviera! They watched the Magic Kingdom fireworks and then went to their balcony to watch the Epcot fireworks at 10:15 p.m.
Animal Kingdom (July 5)
Today was Animal Kingdom day! They were in the park by 9 a.m. and went straight to Kilamanjaro Safaris and waited about 20 minutes. After that, they rode Kali River Rapids, Dinosaur, TriceraTop Spin before lunch at Yak and Yeti.
Later that day they did some shopping and ended the day with Flight of Passage. This was their first time riding this ride and they waited 90 minutes. Worth the wait! They loved it.
Nick and his wife had a reservation for Topolino’s Terrace for their anniversary. They put their kids down and went up to the restaurant on time for their 9:05 p.m. reservation.
The restaurant was very nice. They had a bit of trouble finding something for his wife to eat but the kitchen was able to customize a meal for her.
Nick says it’s a great place to eat for a date night but he wouldn’t take his kids there until they were older. The food was much more high end and didn’t have very many kid-friendly options.
They went out on the terrace and really enjoyed that. It was a great date night.
Hollywood Studios (July 6)
Nick got up at 6:50 a.m. to get their boarding pass for Rise of the Resistance. He was ready to go watching the time on his watch. He hit join as quickly as he could and was able to get boarding group 23!
They got up and got right to the park because they had an early boarding group. They went to Slinky Dog Dash and the posted wait time was 80 minutes. They skipped that and went to Toy Story Mania and Alien Swirling Saucers.
They stopped for lunch at ABC Commissary and it was pouring rain. It’s 1:30 p.m. and their boarding group still wasn’t called! They decided to go over and wait for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
They were in line for about 20 minutes and they got the notification. They didn’t know if they should leave the line or if they should wait. They opted to wait and it made Nick so nervous! As soon as the ride was done, Nick planned to run right over to Rise of the Resistance.
They got on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway with 10 minutes to spare and the ride stopped! They really liked the ride but couldn’t enjoy it because they didn’t want to miss their boarding group.
They ran over to Rise of the Resistance immediately. They just made it! They went through the queue but then it was time for their Oga’s Cantina reservation. So they got a fast pass to come back and left to go to their reservation.
It was a lot of running around! They got fun drinks and enjoyed their time there. After that, they went back over to Rise of the Resistance and got right on. Nick’s kids LOVED it and said it was well worth the wait!
They left the park after dinner and went back to their room to pack up!
Leave for Hilton Head (July 7)
Hurricane Elsa was moving toward Nick and his family. He had a rough time sleeping because he knew the storm was coming.
Early in the morning Nick went down to the lobby to talk to some people. He was worried about being driving down the highway during the storm. He asked how much a room would be if they opted to stay.
He looked up the radar and when the weather cleared up later in the morning, the packed up and left. They drove straight to Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort.
They had planned to go swimming when they arrived, but Hurricane Elsa followed them and it was pouring rain. They all went to bed early, but at 11:30 p.m. they got tornado warnings on their phones.
Nick watched everything, but he was confident that Disney builds things for this kind of weather. The rest of his family slept through everything.
Hilton Head (July 8-11)
It was a great resort. It reminded Nick of Port Orleans. It had a very laid back vibe. It’s in a great area and there was a lot to do.
They had a marsh-view room and they could see it from their balcony. There were very good restaurants close to the resort and an outdoor venue with music.
However, the beach was a bit of a drive away from the resort. There was a continuous shuttle throughout the day from the resort. You can also drive, but you need to leave early enough to get a parking spot because they fill up quickly.
They had treats like Mickey bars and shaved ice at the beach club. The resort had a pool and a great ambiance.
It was a great experience, but completely different from Disney World. The kids had fun but at the ages that they are, they really enjoyed Disney World more. Nick and his wife really enjoyed the laid back vibe of Hilton Head.
Washington DC (July 12)
Nick and his family broke up their trip with a stay in Washington DC on their way home. They went to the National Zoo. After their stop, they drove the rest of the way home!
- Flights of Passage and Rise of the Resistance have bathrooms in the queue about halfway through.
- If you have the opportunity and are looking for a relaxed vacation, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort is a wonderful option.
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