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Sara’s Christmas/New Year’s Extended Fam Trip – PREP 391

Sara’s Christmas/New Year’s Extended Fam Trip – PREP 391

Sara planned and coordinated a multi-generational trip during the busiest week of the year at Disney World. She shares how she planned so she could pivot, highlights how traveling with teens and young adults opens up more options, and demonstrates how planners can truly go to Disney any time of year and have a successful trip.

Post trip begins: 37 minutes

The Basics

Sara and her family are Disney veterans and have traveled to Disney World over New Years Eve in previous years, swearing they would never do it again. But they planned a large trip that included their immediate family, Sara’s mom, and her son’s girlfriend who has never been to Disney before.

Sara and most of the group will be driving, leaving on Christmas morning. Her mom and college-aged son will be flying separately. They will also be meeting friends in Orlando and touring some with them. One of Sara’s daughters will be in Orlando with her high school band and will be in and out of their tour group.

They have a split-stay starting at Saratoga Springs in the Treehouse Villas from December 26-31 and then moving to a two bedroom at Old Key West until January 2.

Sara purchased gift cards prior to the trip to make it a more all-inclusive experience. She purchased everyone a gift card for their meals outside of their scheduled meals. For scheduled meals, she estimated how much they will cost and purchased gift cards for all of those. 

They will be taking things at a different pace because they are all teens and above. Sara is looking at this at a first time trip because it is her son’s girlfriend’s first trip. She purchased Genie+ to make the trip easier because they know it will be very crowded. She also utilized Standby Skipper to get lightning lanes at convenient times.

Begin Drive (December 25)

The day before Sara has scheduled to pick up a rental car. They arrived at noon on Christmas Eve and they’d closed early. After waiting and trying everything, Sara booked another minivan through Costco Travel. 

Sara and family before road trip

She begged for the only minivan available and received it uncleaned. Her children cleaned it up and added the luggage rack so they would be ready to go. Thankfully although it was a rough start, they left right on time on Christmas. 

They left after Christmas morning and left their house at 1:32 p.m. They stopped a couple of times and got to their hotel for that night. It was a relatively uneventful drive. 

Arrival (December 26)

The traffic in South Carolina was really bad. They spent the majority of their time trying to drive through South Carolina and Sara wishes they’d driven through the night instead to avoid the traffic.

They left at 9 a.m. and their arrival time was between 4-5pm but it just kept getting pushed out more and more. While they were stuck in traffic, Sara was also watching her son and mom’s flight coming in as well.

They got their room assignment on the drive down and it was exactly what Sara requested. She got the notification at 3:50 p.m. and they opted to go straight to Disney Springs. 

Sara’s son and mom has a Mears Connect picked them up from the airport at 5:45 p.m. and bought them to Saratoga Springs at 7:20 p.m. It was very stressful. 

Sara and her family went right to Wine Bar George for their dinner reservations that evening at Disney Springs. They started ordering food while they waited for her son and mom. They arrived around 7:40 p.m.

They had a really great server and had really good food including skirt steak and chicken. They all needed a bit of a reset.

While they were at dinner, Sara got a notification that her Amazon Fresh order wasn’t delivered. She replaced the order. 

The kids stayed around Disney Springs and they got some food around the resort, picked up her mom and son’s luggage, and went back to the treehouse. 

Treehouse Villa

They really liked the villa and felt that there was a lot more space than it shows online. The beds were bigger than expected and there was plenty of room for the girls that stayed in there. 

The treehouse has three bedrooms and two bathrooms with a living room. The two secondary bedrooms share a bathroom and the master bedroom has a separate bathroom. They also used the pull out couch in the living room. 

Magic Kingdom (December 27)

Sara purchased Genie+ and Standby Skipper the night before. Their priorities were Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, TRON, and Peter Pan’s Flight

Sara woke up at 5:30 a.m. and the majority of the group was leaving around 6:30 a.m. Her mom and son were tired and opted to stay back for a bit.

Sara's family selfie in front of the castle

Sara’s rules for the vacation was that she would get all the things done and she would do her best. The kids and her mom had the option to not participate. They could modify their own reservations but she would not be doing that for them.

Their intention was to get a Minnie Van around 6:15 a.m. but they do not start running until 6:30 a.m. She got one very quickly just before 6:30 a.m. and it came quickly.

They left just after 6:30 a.m. and were dropped off at Magic Kingdom at 6:46 a.m. They were through security well before 7 a.m. While they waited, Sara’s daughter got them boarding group 29 for TRON

Group in front of the castle

Standby Skipper got them a lightning lane for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Sara purchased an individual lightning lane at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. On their way in they got a photo in front of the castle. 

They went immediately to Peter Pan’s Flight and were on the ride within 10 minutes. They liked that they were able to experience the queue. 

Haunted Mansion ride photo

Their next stop was Haunted Mansion. They were on and off by 8:11 a.m. They went directly to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and were going to meet their friends. They got so excited that they forgot to wait for their friends! 

Their next stop was a lightning lane for Pirates of the Caribbean. At 9:17 a.m. their virtual queue was called for TRON. Sara notes the difference between a boarding group and an individual lightning lane. Waiting in line after their boarding group was called was the longest wait they had the whole trip. 

They were off TRON by 10:34 a.m. They had a good time but they wouldn’t wait that long again. At this point Sara’s mom was ready to head over. They spent a lot of money on Minnie Vans this week as they were about $50 to Magic Kingdom.

Girls with Rapunzel

Sara’s mom met them at the exit for TRON and they went to use their Pirates of the Caribbean lightning lane. While they were waiting for that, Standby Skipper got them a Space Mountain lightning lane for later in the afternoon.

They were 15 minutes late for their Pirates of the Caribbean lightning lane at 10:55 a.m. but they didn’t have any issues. The standby wait was 60 minutes but they were off by 11:09 a.m.

Sara tried to modify their 12:20 p.m. reservation at Chef Mickey’s but couldn’t so her friend made a reservation for a similar time for the two of them. Sara wanted her son’s girlfriend to have the experience of pulling into the Contemporary on the monorail, so they took that, which was wonderful. 

Minnie at Chef Mickey's

They even saw an alligator on their way to the Contemporary. After they got there, they got some coffee and window shopped as they waited to check in. Sara’s daughter and her friend’s daughter took the two person reservation and everyone else ate together. 

Donald at Chef Mickey's

Sara loved taking photos of her son’s girlfriend meeting all of the characters. It was wonderful. Sara does miss the family-style service because she find the buffet to be very chaotic. 

They finished their meal at 1:15 p.m. and walked back to Magic Kingdom to get a bus to their resort. Everyone needed a nap and Sara was going to get their Amazon Fresh order. 

A cast member drove them in a golf cart with their groceries to the treehouse. Sara had Standby Skipper to get lightning lanes for Haunted Mansion, Enchanted Tales with Belle, and Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

After some much-needed naps, they got in their van and went to the springs area to get a bus to Magic Kingdom. They left at 5:15 p.m and got to the Magic Kingdom at 5:48 p.m.

When they arrived on Main Street it was snowing and they went right to Haunted Mansion. The wait time was 45 minutes at 6:28 p.m. While they were in line, Standby Skipper got them a lightning lane for it’s a small world. 

Their next stop was Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. They got in line at 7:05 p.m. and were off by 7:18 p.m. Sara loves the nostalgia of the dark rides. 

All the kids in the honeypot at Winnie the Pooh

At this point, they adjusted their plans because they were all getting hungry. Sara moved their lightning lane for Under The Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid so that they could get food at Cosmic Ray’s

They went to Space Mountain and were off at 7:46 p.m. Sara’s mom was unable to ride and this was very hard for her because she absolutely loves rollercoasters. 

Sara and her family met her mom at Cosmic Ray’s after Space Mountain and they were able to see the fireworks from their table. 

After their meal, they got in line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The standby wait was 75 minutes because it was after the fireworks. They scanned in at 8:36 p.m. and were off before 9 p.m.

Group in front of castle at night

Sara’s mom went to do some shopping while everyone else went to Under The Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. After that they were all ready to go back to their resort. It was a very successful day. 

They waited for about 20 minutes for a bus because it was very busy, but it seemed manageable. They arrived back to the resort and were back to their room just after 11 p.m.

At midnight Sara attempted to purchase Genie+ but wasn’t able to do so. She suspects that it was because Magic Kingdom was still open. She ended up buying it at 4 a.m. instead.

Epcot (December 28)

Sara’s mom and oldest son opted to skip the early morning. It was raining when they all woke up and looked like it would continue until about noon. 

Sara and daughter waiting in the rain

Sara’s plan initially was to rope drop at 8:30 a.m. early entry and go straight to Test Track. However, Test Track doesn’t run during the rain, so they knew that wasn’t going to happen. 

Sara and her crew were up at 6:30 a.m., working on virtual queue at 7 a.m. and booking lightning lanes with Standby Skipper

They had a Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure Lightning Lane at 9:10 a.m. They left at 7:44 a.m. and were scanned into Epcot at 7:52 a.m. They were able to use her mom’s handicapped placard. 

As they waited for early entry, cast members were scanning them in still in the line, which was really convenient. They opted to rope drop Soarin’ so they headed toward The Land Pavillion. 

Sara and family waiting in the rain

At 8:26 a.m. they were able to start moving toward Soarin’ and they were getting in at 8:29 a.m. They got the middle section and the bottom row, which is Sara’s favorite place to be. 

They were off the ride at 8:50 a.m. to head toward France to ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. They were meeting their friends again who had just gotten back from Disneyland Paris. However, they were very delayed.

The standby wait at 9 a.m. was 105 minutes, which is the lowest Sara saw her entire trip. Sara tried to modify the times for her son, mom, and friends while they waited but was unable to and felt horrible about that.

Chip at Garden Grill

After Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure everyone met at 9:50 a.m. for their Garden Grill breakfast reservation – this is one of their favorites. Things were busy and cast members were stretched thin. It took 20 minutes just to get coffee. 

Farmer Mickey at Garden Grill

Sara did have some trouble getting allergy-friendly food, but it ended up being fine. They had some really great character interactions, which was wonderful. Sara also was good at putting the first time visitors on the outside so that they could get the best photos and interactions with characters. 

While they had their meal, Standby Skipper booked a lightning lane for Journey into Imagination. Sara was also able to book a lightning lane for Soarin’. The park was very busy so the options for lightning lanes were slim. 

At 11:25 a.m. Sara’s boarding group for Cosmic Rewind was called. Sara had texted her daughter that was still with the band and she was also in Epcot that day. Sara switched with her daughter so that she could ride Cosmic Rewind with her family. 

Sara went over to Test Track and rode via the single rider line. The standby line was 120 minutes and she waited about 40 minutes. While she was doing that, her family was on Cosmic Rewind. They all ended about the same time. 

Sara’s mom was motion sick from Cosmic Rewind so she took a little rest and got some water. The rest of the group went over toward Journey into Imagination. Sara’s husband dropped their daughter off with the rest of the band in Italy.  

Sara picked up an Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt map on her way and they all rode Journey into Imagination together. Their next stop was the DVC lounge. Sara was always told that the DVC lounge had a limit of 6 people. 

Because they are a family of 6, if they travel with guests they do not go to the DVC lounge. Sara was told at the lounge that the limit was either 6 or the number on your accommodations. Sara was able to bring the whole group up! 

The DVC Lounge had assigned seating and everyone was able to relax. The kids watched Mickey shorts and charged their phones. Sara’s son and his girlfriend were getting really tired so her husband took them back to the resort. 

They shopped their way to France and got some drinks around the world. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure standby was 170 minutes and stayed that way for most of the trip. Sara was able to get some vegan-friendly food as well. 

They went to Germany and the kids continued to eat. While they were doing that, Standby Skipper booked them lightning lanes for Spaceship Earth and Soarin’. Sara went to Norway and purchased perfume. She also watched the Christmas Story in that area because it is one of her favorites.

Then they made their way back to the area previously known as Future World. Sara’s husband, son, and his girlfriend tried to get a Minnie Van to get back to Epcot but there were none available. They ended up taking a boat to Saratoga Springs and got a bus to Epcot. 

It was time for their Spaceship Earth Lightning Lane and they ended up getting in line just behind Sara’s daughter with the band! They were able to all ride together. 

Snowman milkshake

After Spaceship Earth they went over to the Land Pavilion and got some snacks from the snack station there. Sara’s mom wanted to go back to France to get a snack while everyone rode Soarin’

They got on Soarin’ at 8:15 p.m. The standby wait time was 50 minutes. They were off in about 30 minutes and it was time for their Test Track lightning lane. 

Sara sent everyone to Test Track while she and her daughter went to meet her mom. Her mom was so tired and overwhelmed. Unfortunately her mom had walked the entire World Showcase instead of going through Canada to get to France. 

At that point, Sara had a conversation with her mom about potentially getting her a wheelchair at future parks. It was a difficult conversation but her mom gave in and agreed. This recommendation is similar to using a stroller for older children. They just aren’t used to walking that much on a regular basis.

Everyone was off of Test Track around 9:30 p.m. They all met at the front exit around 10 p.m. They did not stay for fireworks because everyone was just done for the day. They drove their van back to the resort. 

Spaceship Earth at night

Sara was again unable to book Genie+ at midnight. 

On Your Own Day (December 29)

Everyone was very tired today and were grateful for a slow day. Sara’s son and his girlfriend rope-dropped Epcot. Sara was up at 6:30 a.m. to schedule Standby Skipper and got boarding group 88 for Cosmic Rewind

Sara used Standby Skipper to book lightning lanes for later in the day. Sara also booked a 10 a.m. La Creperie reservation for her son and girlfriend. After all of that, Sara went back to sleep and slept until almost 10 a.m. 

Sara’s daughter is going with a friend to Magic Kingdom and Be Out Guest. Her friends had to get park hopper tickets because reservations for Magic Kingdom were booked. They got up, scanned in at Epcot, and then went back to their resort. 

When Sara woke up she was able to book some more lightning lanes for her daughter and her friend at Magic Kingdom. She stacked some lightning lanes for them starting at 2 p.m.

Sara’s son and his girlfriend took an internal bus at 7:48 a.m. to the bus stop and arrived at Epcot at 8:45 a.m. Before their 10 a.m. reservation, they went to Living with the Land, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and explored the Seas Pavilion

Sara's daughter and friend in front of the castle.

Sara, her husband, and her daughters are on a rowing team. They packed their rowing machine from home and used it on the deck this morning. It was wonderful. 

They got a Minnie Van at 1:30 p.m. and took their daughter to the Magic Kingdom. They had her dropped at the entrance to wait for her friend. Sara and her husband took the monorail to Epcot. Sara’s friend did the same thing, dropping her daughter at the Magic Kingdom and meeting them at Epcot. 

Sara and husband at Spaceship Earth

When Sara and her husband arrived at Epcot they got some photo pass photos taken before meeting her friend around 3 p.m. outside Frozen Ever After. The lightning lane was three lanes deep outside all the way beyond Akershus

The posted wait time was 135 minutes. They were on and off in about 20 minutes and the standby line just kept growing. Cosmic Rewind was down, so they weren’t called for their boarding group. 

Standby Skipper was able to get a lightning lane for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Sara’s son and his girlfriend used the lightning lane and went back to the resort to get ready for their dinner reservation.

Sara got some food and wandered around the World Showcase while they waited for their lightning lane for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. They entered at 4:25 p.m. and the standby wait time was 170 minutes. They were off by 4:50 p.m. 

At 5:05 p.m. they were called for the Cosmic Rewind boarding group. They walked all the way over there and were told by a cast member that the wait was 90 minutes. The cast member suggested coming back at 8:30 p.m. and said that they would be allowed to board.

It was getting cold so they stopped to warm up at Creations and purchase a hoodie. They also got some pork tamales that were delicious. 

They continued finding Olaf, got some mulled wine, and snacked around the World Showcase. They turned in their Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt map. 

Around 7 p.m. they went to Living with the Land to ride with the Christmas overlay. They waited about 15 minutes and this was the most decorated Sara has seen it. They got off around 7:30 p.m. and hopped to ride Cosmic Rewind

The app showed that Cosmic Rewind was down but after a refresh, it was back up. They walked over and they were told that the wait was unknown but that they would be off in time to see fireworks. 

Sara really wanted to see the fireworks so they hopped in line Cosmic Rewind. They were on and off in 30 minutes. Sara was worried about being motion sick on this ride but she didn’t and really enjoyed it. Sara has had some really negative motion sickness experiences so this was a big win. 

After Cosmic Rewind they went to the World Showcase to find a spot in Canada to watch the fireworks. Sara really enjoyed Luminous loves that there are lots of places to get a good view. 

They got a bus after the fireworks and were back at their resort at 10:48 p.m. Sara’s daughter was taking the bus back to the resort from Magic Kingdom. Sara and her husband picked her up and brought her back to their treehouse.

Sara purchased Genie+ for Hollywood Studios. She had Standby Skipper divided so that she could book different things for different people.  

Sara’s son and girlfriend went to California Grill that evening. Sara reminded her son to give them plenty of time to get to the Contemporary. Their reservation was at 7:40 p.m. and her son texted her at 6:55 p.m. asking her to book him a Minnie Van. 

It took a while, Sara was able to get one for 25 minutes later and arrived a little bit late for their reservation. They had to watch the fireworks before they could sit down because their table wasn’t ready. They did have a good meal. 

Sara’s older son and grandma had a reservation at BOATHOUSE at 4 p.m. Her son woke up at noon, worked out, and met his grandma at Disney Springs. While he was working out, grandma took herself to Disney Springs and did some shopping. 

Hollywood Studios (December 30)

Early entry is at 8 a.m. so everyone was up at 6:25 a.m. Sara had originally not planned to purchase an individual lightning lane for Rise of the Resistance, but her mom wanted to ride it so Sara purchased it.

She utilized Standby Skipper to get the lightning lanes they wanted at the times they wanted. They left the resort at 7:15 a.m. in their van and arrived at 7:25 a.m. The lines were already very long at the entry. 

They were stuck in a line that wasn’t moving, which was very disappointing. The plan was to go immediately to Tower of Terror. They were finally through and got to the second line on Sunset Blvd. at 7:48 a.m. 

Tower of Terror line photo

They were eventually able to go to Tower of Terror and were in the line at 7:58 a.m. It was a wonderful ride and they were off at 8:20 a.m. They were able to get coffee without a line, which was perfection.

They opted to not wait for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and instead got in the 45 minute standby wait for Toy Story Mania. However, the wait was less than 20 minutes and it was great.

Sara’s friend and daughter had joined them at this point and everyone went to Ronto Roasters for a ronto wrap for breakfast. Originally, Sara had three sit-down reservations that day, but opted to cancel the later reservations at Roundup Rodeo at 11 a.m. and Sci-Fi Dine-in at 3:50 p.m. and kept their Sci-Fi Dine-in at 8:40 p.m. 

Sara and her mom rode Slinky Dog Dash while the kids all ordered breakfast. She found that there was a dairy-free option or a gluten-free option, but nothing that was dairy and gluten-free. 

While they were waiting to be called for their Rise of the Resistance group to be called, they enjoyed walking around Galaxy’s Edge. They downloaded the app and loved using that.

They also went over to get Blue and Green Milk. The kids previously didn’t like it but her son’s girlfriend said she liked it. She is used to coconut and rice milk, so it probably just tasted normal for her. 

Sara's son and girlfriend at Galaxy's Edge

Their boarding group was called at 10:30 a.m. and the standby wait time was 140 minutes. They were on and off by 11:03 a.m. Their next stop was the 11:30 a.m. Frozen Sing-Along

They got beers on their way thinking they would be waiting in the standby line but they ended up going right in. They got great seats and enjoyed it.

After Frozen Sing-Along most went to Rock N Roller Coaster and Sara and her mom went to Baseline Taphouse. Standby Skipper continued making lightning lanes. Sara’s friend and her daughter hopped on the skyliner to grab lunch at Caribbean Beach.

At 1:24 p.m. Sara’s son left the park to go to Universal Studios to pick up their daughter who had been with the band. They did some shopping and some went back to the resort to rest. 

Sara, her husband, and her mom got a walk-up reservation at Brown Derby Lounge. They had some great drinks and food.  Sara says the vegan Shepherd’s Pie was delicious.

At 4 p.m. they had some lightning lanes stacked for the evening, but there were very few to add to their list. It was very busy! 

They met the kids and sat at Catalina Eddie’s under a heat lamp for a while. Tower of Terror went down so their lightning lane turned into an anytime experience. Sara’s mom was ready to go back and they couldn’t get a Minnie Van so she had to take a bus.

Tower of Terror ride photo

At 7:15 p.m. Tower of Terror came back up and they were on and off by 7:35 p.m. They took some pictures and watched the projections on the Tower of Terror before going to Toy Story Mania

Group in front of Tower of Terror projections

The standby wait time at 8:12 p.m. was 45 minutes. They were on and off by 8:30 p.m. The 3D glasses that Sara got were not great and it was distracting. At this point it was time for their Sci-Fi Dine-in reservation at 8:40 p.m. 

sci-fi car photo

They had a really nice dinner together all in one car but the restaurant was mostly empty. Sara wasn’t that hungry but she got the Impossible Burger with Cashew Cheese. It was so good. 

Everyone who could drink milkshakes got them and those that needed dairy-free got the soy milk shakes. 

New Years Eve (December 31)

They had a slower morning because the first thing on their schedule was Wine Bar George brunch reservations at 10:30 a.m. 

Sara motivated everyone to get up and get everything packed up and in the van. It was a bit chaotic but they got the van packed up and dropped it at Old Key West. Sara’s husband and son drove the car to Old Key West.

Everyone else was going to take a boat, but they didn’t start running until 10 a.m. That was cutting it too close so Sara booked a Minnie Van to bring them to Wine Bar George. They were seated at the large tables just to the right after entering. 

George was there and it was great. They were able to accommodate their dietary restrictions beautifully. They spent some time booking lightning lanes. Sara was able to book one for Jingle Cruise because that was a priority for her husband. 

She adjusted some times for lightning lanes because they didn’t want to be rushed getting to the Magic Kingdom. After brunch they did some shopping around Disney Springs.

At 2:05 p.m. Sara noticed that the World of Disney line was funneled all the way around the building. It was very busy. 

They went to Erin McKenna’s and Lululemon. They checked out some other cute shops as well. They stayed at Disney Springs until about 3:30 p.m. 

While they waited for the bus to Old Key West they got their room ready text. They were on the 3rd floor, which was nice. They got in their van, drove it to their room, and unloaded as quickly as possible.

They have a two bedroom Old Key West. This has one bedroom with a king bed with a bathroom and a secondary bedroom with two queen sized beds and a bathroom. The closet in that room is very large as well. There is a fold out chair and couch as well. 

They were unloaded and on their way out by 4:55 p.m. They took a bus to the Magic Kingdom to start using their lightning lanes. They were through the security line at 5:37 p.m. and everything was already very busy. 

Jungle Cruise group

They got in line at 5:40 p.m. for Jungle Cruise. Their wait was still 20 minutes even with the lightning lane. Everything was very busy at Magic Kingdom. Everyone is crowded at the Hub but they need to get to Tomorrowland to get to their 6:50 p.m. lightning lane at Space Mountain

They opted to wait to see the fireworks before getting on Space Mountain. No one was around them and it was magical. They were in the middle of Tomorrowland and it was beautiful.

New Years Eve group in front of the castle

After seeing the fireworks they went on Space Mountain. It was good but not as good as their previous ride. They were off at 7:02 p.m. and the standby wait time was 70 minutes.

Their plan was to go to Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin but someone was coming out of the Space Mountain shop panicked yelling in Spanish. Sara got her son who is fluent in Spanish to help her. She was separated from her family and they were able to help her. 

After helping her they got on Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. They were off by 7:28 p.m. and went immediately to Carousel of Progress. There was a dance party in Tomorrowland so they enjoyed that as they went to the PeopleMover.

When they got there, Sara was frustrated because they were split in different groups and Sara and her friend ended up with two other random people in their car. It was very weird because no one else was added to other cars.

Sara mobile ordered from Pinocchio Village Haus and when they got there they still had to wait 20 minutes for their food. Sara ordered gluten-free and vegan pizzas and regular pizzas for everyone. 

After eating they had a lightning lane for Dumbo the Flying Elephant. They got a family photo all together which was wonderful. They were off of Dumbo just after 10 p.m. 

On their way to Main Street, they stopped at Tomorrowland Speedway because the posted wait time was just 15 minutes! Even the big kids still want to ride it. They loved it because of the Christmas overlay. 

There wasn’t a wait for Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor so they did that and were out by 11:15 p.m. They had a lightning lane for Pirates of the Caribbean at 11:20 p.m. They realized that traffic was being rerouted so they had to go with the flow of traffic. 

When they got through the crowds, Sara stopped and asked a cast member the best way to cross and get to Pirates of the Caribbean. They were able to cross over near the Emporium and went by Crystal Palace. 

New Years Eve Fireworks

On their way they knew that the fireworks were going to start so they found a low wall in Liberty Square. It was a wonderful place to see them and was very different from watching them in Tomorrowland. 

On their way to Jungle Cruise, they stopped at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and it was like a big party! They rode on that, wishing everyone a Happy New Year.

Then they used their Lightning Lane for Jungle Cruise before shopping their way out of the park. They left shortly after 1 a.m. and took the bus back to their resort. 

Animal Kingdom (January 1)

Sara set an alarm to get up, get Genie+, and start booking lightning lanes. They’d previously canceled the shuttle for the next day for her mom and son to get to the airport in the morning. She also booked them a Lyft to take them to the airport. 

Sara was really glad that they booked a Lyft and they were able to get to the airport with plenty of time. The airport was very busy but they did get back safely. 

Sara let the kids sleep as long as she could and had a Lyft XL come at 8:40 a.m. They were at Animal Kingdom by 9:03 a.m. She opted to not check-in for their breakfast reservation even though they were notified that they could at 8:55 a.m. 

While walking toward Africa, Sara checked them in for their Tusker House breakfast reservation. They were there at 9:15 a.m. and were seated very quickly. They had really great character interactions and the food was really good. 

Sara notes that the vegan options were really delicious and they left around 10:40 a.m. Sara also had Individual Lightning Lane for Flight of Passage, and lightning lane selections for Kilimanjaro Safaris and Na’vi River Journey

Sara notes that Kilimanjaro Safaris wasn’t busy at all. The standby wait time was only 20 minutes almost all day! They were off the Kilimanjaro Safaris at 11:05 a.m.

They went right to Flight of Passage for their Individual Lightning Lane. At 11:35 a.m. the standby wait time was 110 minutes. Thanks to their Individual Lightning Lane they were off by noon. Sara had a wonderful experience staring at just one spot on the screen and that didn’t give her any motion sickness.

Sara's daughter and friend in Pandoa

They got some drinks and enjoyed time in Pandora. Then they went to DinoLand and went to DINOSAUR at 12:55 p.m. to use their lightning lane. The standby wait time was 30 minutes. They were off DINOSAUR by 1:10 p.m. 

DINOSAUR Ride photo

Standby Skipper booked a lightning lane for 1:45 p.m. for Expedition Everest. Sara tried to see Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond! but the doors were closed so they did Expedition Everest first. Sara hadn’t been on Expedition Everest in many years due to motion sickness, but she did okay! 

They went to Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond! at 2:07 p.m. and got great seats. They ate snacks while they waited for it to start. It was a wonderful show. 

At 3 p.m. they took a break and discussed what they wanted to do with the rest of their day. They had some food and drinks while they rested. They walked back to Pandora to go to Satu’li Canteen for dinner.  

They finished dinner around 5:45 p.m. and waited for their friends to join them to ride Na’vi River Journey. The Standby wait time was 115 minutes. 

Pandora at night

After their last ride, they took some photos. They enjoyed being in Pandora at night before ending their trip! 

Departure (January 2)

They started their long drive back at 7:30 a.m. 

Unfortunately Sara started to feel sick on the way home and after driving just a few hours, she swapped with her husband and slept.

After their long drive, they arrived home between 12:30-1 a.m.

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