Skip to Content

Sarah E.’s family WDW trip at the Swan – PREP 367

Sarah E.’s family WDW trip at the Swan – PREP 367

Sarah, her husband, and their sons traveled to Walt Disney World for a summer family vacation. Listen as she shares with Shannon about the benefits of staying at the Walt Disney World Swan Resort and how they fared with July heat and crowds.

Post trip begins: 23 minutes

The Basics

Sarah, her husband, and their two sons (ages 12 and 13) flew from Indianapolis to Orlando for a week in July. They stayed at the Swan. They have not been to Disney World since 2018 but have visited Disneyland more recently.

They arrived in Orlando on July 12th and departed on July 17th. They did one park per day and visited all 4 parks. Sarah utilized Genie+. Sarah also used her Landry’s card to secure last minute reservations at Landry’s restaurants on their trip.

Arrival (July 12)

They had a very early flight so they left their house around 2:30 a.m. to catch their 6:25 a.m. flight. They flew Southwest. 

They arrived at MCO at 8:10 a.m. and looked for the Sunshine Flyer. She couldn’t find the desk and eventually found it to catch the shuttle. They only waited about 10 minutes for their shuttle and they were the second stop. 

They arrived at their resort around 9:30 a.m. and dropped their bags. They found the bus at the Swam to Disney Springs. 

Sarah found that going through security was a bit tricky and took a bit of time due to her metal water bottle and sunscreen. They went right to Gideon’s and Sarah waited in line while her family did some shopping. 

The wait was only about 30 minutes and Sarah loved the shop. She got 6 cookies and they ate it the whole week. She also got a peanut butter cold brew and her family loved that too! 

They walked around Disney Springs for a little bit before stopping at T-REX. Thanks to Sarah’s Landry’s card, they only waited about 10 minutes. 

Their next stop was the Lego store. While there, they got a text that their room was ready. They took the Yacht Club bus back to the resort and walked to the Swan from there. 

Their room was nice but fairly basic. They all took naps until about 3:30 p.m. before getting cleaned up and ready for dinner. 

They had a dinner reservation at Storybook Dining at Wilderness Lodge at 5:50 p.m. They walked to Hollywood Studios and took a bus to Wilderness Lodge. 

They arrived around 5:30 p.m. and didn’t wait long to be seated. They really enjoyed the character interaction and their meal. It took about 90 minutes. They went back to their room and went to bed at 8 p.m.

Hollywood Studios (July 13)

They woke up early and grabbed some breakfast at Java. They got there around 7:20 a.m. and early entry was at 8 a.m. 

Everything is new for Sarah and her family at Hollywood Studios! They rode Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland last year, but were excited to see all of the new things.

Their first stop was Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. They were one of the first groups in line. Sarah also purchased Genie+ and got a lightning lane for Slinky Dog Dash for 1:45 p.m. 

Sarah also got an Individual Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance for later in the day.

They used the single rider line and walked right on Tower of Terror and Rock N Roller Coaster. They went to Toy Story Mania next and everything they went to had a very short wait. 

Around 10 a.m. they did Alien Swirling Saucers with a 10 minute wait before going to Woody’s Lunch Box for some food. 

After food it was time for their Individual Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance and then they did the single rider line for Smuggler’s Run. Then they waited about 10 minutes for Star Tours. 

They did MuppetVision 3D and then it was time for their lightning lane for Slinky Dog Dash. After that, they just started getting lightning lanes. They got one for Toy Story Mania and then Rock N Roller Coaster. 

As they were walking and around then Sarah switched their dinner reservation from Hollywood Brown Derby to Prime Time at 5:30 p.m. because her kids preferred that after seeing the menu. 

They used their Rock N Roller Coaster Lightning Lane and then did Tower of Terror again. They got a lightning lane for Smuggler’s Run around 4 p.m. and waited around for that. 

They went to 50s Prime Time after that to see if they could get in earlier because they were very hungry. They were seated around 4:30 p.m. and it was a good meal. They were out by 5:15 p.m. 

They decided to head out after dinner and rested for about an hour before going to the pool for a bit. After swimming, they went back up to the room and went to bed. 

It was a wonderful day – Sarah and her family really enjoyed having lighter crowds and getting to do what they wanted to do. 

Magic Kingdom (July 14)

Sarah purchased Genie+ for today and they all got up early to try and get a Tron Virtual Queue. Sarah got boarding group 81. She also got a 10:30 a.m. lightning lane for Space Mountain.

They arrived at Magic Kingdom around 8 a.m. for Early Entry at 8:30 a.m. They went right to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. They waited about 25-30 minutes. 

They waited about 5 minutes for Space Mountain and then they did Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin without a wait. The ride stopped at one point but they were still able to rack up the points, which was awesome. 

They walked all the way over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and rode that because there wasn’t a wait. Then on their way back they rode it’s a small world on their way to use their Space Mountain Lightning Lane.

After using their Space Mountain lightning lane they got one for Pirates of the Caribbean. They were starting to think about lunch so they booked a 12:35 p.m. reservation for Crystal Palace. When Sarah did this, she canceled their previous reservation for dinner at The Plaza.

While they waited for their lunch reservation they walked through the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse and then were seated for their lunch. They were able to meet all of the characters fairly quickly. Their lunch was over at 1:15 p.m.

While they were eating, they got a lightning lane for Jungle Cruise. They used that lightning lane after lunch and it started raining. They waited for the rain to stop and got a lightning lane for Haunted Mansion. They went there next and the ride stopped for about 10 minutes. 

Around 2:30 p.m. they were called for their Tron Virtual Queue. They used a lightning lane for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad before heading over to Tron at 2:45 p.m. They waited about 40 minutes in the virtual queue line. 

After that Tron they did Carousel of Progress and then waited about 30 minutes to ride Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. After that they rode on the PeopleMover. While they were there, they started getting hungry and wanted to get something to eat.

Sarah was trying to mobile order but her gift card wasn’t accepted. They went to Columbia Harbour House for dinner. They did some shopping before their Peter Pan’s Flight lightning lane. That was their last stop and they left the park to go back to the resort. 

Sarah went back to the room while her husband and sons went to the gym at the resort. They went to bed early. 

Animal Kingdom (July 15)

Sarah and her family got Genie+ and their first lightning lane was for Expedition Everest. They took the bus from Boardwalk for early Entry is at 7:30 a.m. 

They got in line for Flight of Passage first thing and they were some of the first people on. They had all been on it before and loved it. 

Their next stop was a walk-on for Navi River Journey. Then they went to Expedition Everest. There wasn’t a line so they changed their lightning lane from Expedition Everest for Kilimanjaro Safaris. They rode Expedition Everest three times in a row! 

They used their lightning lane for Kilimanjaro Safaris. After that they got lightning lanes for DINOSAUR and It’s Tough to be a Bug. Around 11 a.m. Sarah used her Landry’s card to get a table in about 15 minutes at Yak and Yeti. Sarah recommends the Dragon Bowl. 

After lunch they’d gotten a lightning lane for Animation Experience. They didn’t need the lightning lane, but they all really enjoyed that! They drew Timon and everyone had a lot of fun.

At 3 p.m. they had a lightning lane for Festival of the Lion King. After that they used a lightning lane for Kali River Rapids. At that point, they’d done everything they wanted to do so they went back to their resort. 

Around 6 p.m. they grabbed pizza on the boardwalk and just wandered around. They walked over to Hollywood Studios around 7 p.m. and rode around on the Skyliner! 

After riding the skyliner they went back to their resort and went to bed.

Epcot (July 16)

This morning Sarah got Cosmic Rewind Virtual Queue 23 and was so excited. She knew they’d want to ride it more than once so she also purchased an individual lightning lane for Cosmic Rewind as well.

They arrived around 8:15 a.m. and they went right to Remy’s Ratatoille’s Adventure without much of a wait during Early Entry. 

Sarah also got a lightning lane for Test Track. Then they were called for their Virtual Queue for Cosmic Rewind. They all loved it! After that they used their Test Track Lightning Lane and then rode Orange on Mission Space before lunch.  

They had lunch at The Creperie reservation at noon. Sarah really loved it. While they were at lunch it started to rain. They were able to watch the rain while they enjoyed lunch. 

After lunch they used a lightning lane for Frozen Ever After. Their next stop was Figment’s Journey into Imagination. Then it was time for their Individual Lightning Lane for Cosmic Rewind.

Sarah was able to churn lightning lanes after that. They did Spaceship Earth, Soarin’, and then they rode Living with the Land without a wait. 

Around 4:30 p.m. they walked around the World Showcase before walking back to their room to rest. They were back at Epcot by 7 p.m. for some dinner and fireworks. They walked all the way around the World Showcase and ended up back at Mexico for nachos for dinner.

They couldn’t see the fireworks from where they were seated so they started slowly walking to the International Gateway and back to their resort.

Departure (July 17)

Their original plan was to leave later in the evening, but they had to move their flight to earlier in the day. They weren’t able to change their Sunshine Flyer reservation so they were refunded and booked an Uber to the airport. 

That was very smooth and everything was fine. 


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

Visit the site

Check out the new WDW Prep Merch!

Things we recommend