I’ve returned from my annual fall trip to Disney World and am very excited to share with you all of the details from my 2 week adventure. First I must confess, though this trip was one of my longest, I still was unable to see, do, and eat everything that I’d hoped to. That seems to always be the case with my WDW trips. So my goal in writing these trip reports is to help others that are planning a trip to Disney World and are trying to figure out the best use of their time and money, especially when it comes to Disney dining. Hopefully, as you follow along with my report, you will learn from both my successes and mistakes from this trip.
And then finally and most importantly for a Disney World trip report which focuses on dining, “Where did we eat?”
Here is a list of the places/events which I will be reviewing in this trip report:
Table service Restaurants
- Story Book Dining at Artist Point on the Disney Dining Plan (Wilderness Lodge) – COMPLETE
- Teppan Edo Dinner on the DDP (Epcot, Japan Pavilion) – COMPLETE
- California Grill Dinner (mostly) on the DDP(Contemporary Resort) – COMPLETE
- 50’s Prime Time Cafe Dinner on the DDP (Hollywood Studios)
- Wine Bar George Brunch on the DDP (Disney Springs)
- Le Cellier Lunch (Epcot, Canada Pavilion)
- Grand Floridian Cafe Breakfast/Lunch (Grand Floridian Resort)
- Jaleo Dinner (Disney Springs)
- Jiko Dinner (Animal Kingdom Lodge)
- Garden Grill Lunch (Epcot, The Land Pavilion)
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Dinner (Epcot, Norway Pavilion)
- Kimonos Dinner (Swan & Dolphin Resort)
- California Grill Brunch (Contemporary Resort)
- Cinderella’s Royal Table Dinner (Magic Kingdom)
- Cape May Cafe Breakfast (Beach Club Resort)
- Restaurant Marrakesh Lunch with the Eat to the Beat Dining Package (Epcot, Morocco Pavilion)
- Rose & Crown Dining Room Dinner (Epcot, United Kingdom Pavilion)
Quick service/Specialty Shops/Kiosks
- Be our Guest Breakfast on the DDP (Magic Kingdom) – COMPLETE
- Aloha Isle Snack on the DDP (Magic Kingdom) – SEE OCT. 30
- Contempo Cafe Lunch (Contemporary Resort) – COMPLETE
- Sunshine Seasons Lunch on the DDP (Epcot, The Land Pavilion) – COMPLETE
- Funnel Cakes Kiosk Snack on the DDP (Epcot, American Pavilion) – SEE OCT. 31
- Creature Comforts (aka Starbucks) Breakfast on the DDP (Animal Kingdom) – COMPLETE
- Flame Tree Barbecue Lunch on the DDP (Animal Kingdom) – COMPLETE
- Satu’li Canteen Snack on the DDP (Animal Kingdom) – SEE NOV. 1
- Restaurantosaurus Dig Site Burgers & Sundaes Dinner on the DDP (Animal Kingdom) – COMPLETE
- Woody’s Lunch Box Breakfast(Hollywood Studios, Toy Story Land) – COMPLETE
- Milk Stand Snacks on the DDP (Hollywood Studios, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge)
- Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo Lunch on the DDP (Hollywood Studios, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge)
- Cookie Dough & Everything Sweet Food Truck Snack on the DDP (Disney Springs)
- The Polite Pig Dinner on the DDP (Disney Springs)
- Boardwalk Bakery Snacks on the DDP (Boardwalk)
- Ample Hills Creamery Snacks on the DDP (Boardwalk)
- La Cantina de San Angel Dinner (Epcot, Mexico Pavilion)
- Beach Club Marketplace Breakfast (Beach Club Resort)
- Woody’s Lunch Box Lunch (Hollywood Studios, Toy Story Land)
- Enchanted Rose Drinks (Grand Floridian Resort) – COMPLETE
- Oga’s Cantina Drinks – Visit #1 (Hollywood Studios, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge)
- Enzo’s Hideaway Drinks (Disney Springs)
- Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar Drinks (Disney Springs)
- Raglan Road Drinks (Disney Springs0
- Victoria Falls Lounge Drinks (Animal Kingdom Lodge)
- Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar Drinks (Epcot, Italy Pavilion)
- Crew’s Cup Lounge Drinks & Snack (Yacht Club Resort)
- Oga’s Cantina Drinks – Visit #2 (Hollywood Studios, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge)
- Nomad Lounge Lunch (Animal Kingdom)
- La Cava del Tequila (Epcot, Mexico Pavilion)
Special Food & Wine Festival Events & Booths
- 15 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Booths Visited (over 4 days) – ROUND 1 COMPLETE
- Italian Regional Food & Wine Pairing Luncheon held at Tutto Gusto on Nov. 6, 2019 (Epcot, Italy Pavilion)
- Swan and Dolphin’s Food & Wine Classic held on Nov. 9, 2019 (Swan & Dolphin Resort)
Other Special Dining Events
- Happily Ever After Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing (Magic Kingdom)
Miscellaneous Non-Food Stuff
- Contemporary Resort & Room 5367 (Garden Wing, 3rd floor) – COMPLETE
- Extra, Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom (see Oct. 30), Animal Kingdom (see Nov. 1) & Hollywood Studios
- Halloween Castmember Pumpkin Decorating Contest at the Contemporary Resort – COMPLETE
- The Latest Version of Rivers of Light Nighttime Show (Animal Kingdom) – SEE NOV. 1
- First Impressions of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge & the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride – SEE NOV. 2
- The unDISCOVERed Future World Guided Walking Tour (Epcot, Future World)
- Epcot Forever New (Temporary) Nighttime Show (Epcot)
- Beach Club Resort & Room 3705
- Riding the Skyliner
- My Daughter Arrives and so do the Crowds! (Crowded Parks during the Veteran’s Day Holiday Weekend of Nov. 8 – 11)
- “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” at the Parks & Resorts in early November
- Sunset Seasons Greetings (Hollywood Studios, Sunset Boulevard
- Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Holiday Fireworks Show (Hollywood Studios)
- Big, Bad Voodoo Daddy Eat to the Beat Concert
DAY 1 – TUESDAY, OCTOBER 29 OUR ARRIVAL DAY (Contemporary Resort)
The countdown to our arrival began at about 1:35 in the afternoon (Central Time) when I received the texts and notifications on my phone that our room was ready.
Unfortunately our flight to Orlando was not leaving for 6 more hours. IT WAS A VERY LONG 6 HOURS!!! But at about 11:00 p.m. our plane finally touched down at the Orlando Airport and then it was on (via the Magical Express bus) to Day 1’s final destination…
DAY 2 – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 30 (Magic Kingdom, Contemporary Resort, Wilderness Lodge, Grand Floridian)
After less than 4 hours of sleep, the 5:15 a.m. phone alarm was not a welcomed sound. But it was the first full day of our trip and we wanted to hit the ground running. So by 6:15 we were out the door and on our to Magic Kingdom via the walkway from the Contemporary…
The walk took only about 10 – 15 minutes, and that included a quick stop at the Security canopy which was set up along the walkway. It was manned by 3 guards who checked my bag and guided us through the walk thru scanner. We were the only ones there at around 6:30 a.m. so we were through very quickly and continued down the path to the Magic Kingdom. This allowed us to bypass the security at the park entrance, which was a big time saver. Once we reached Magic Kingdom I had to first visit the Guest Services window and present to them my annual pass order confirmation number along with a government-issued photo ID to get my actual annual passholder ticket/card. I had purchased my annual pass online just before our 60 day Fast Pass window (for WDW resort guests) opened up so that I could reserve Fast Passes for both me and my son, who had a regular 5 day ticket. (NOTE: Unfortunately though I didn’t purchase my annual pass before the huge price increase in June 2019 so I paid the ridiculous price of $1,191.74 for my Platinum Annual Pass. Yikes! I did though go to a park on 13 days of my 14 day trip so that calculates to about $92 per day. Still not great, but I also plan to take another trip before my Annual Pass expires on Oct. 30, 2020 so that will help bring down the per day cost of the ticket.) Anyway, I was able to link the temporary AP number I was issued at the time of purchase to the My Disney Experience account in order to make my Fast Pass selections 60 days before our trip began, however my annual pass wasn’t activated (and the one year clock didn’t start ticking) until I was issued the actual card. Once I had my card we joined the line of guests waiting to enter the park.
Our Experience with Extra, Extra Magic Hour at Magic Kingdom
What were Extra, Extra Magic Hours?
In anticipation of the heavy crowds at the parks after the opening of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, Disney announced in May that 3 of their 4 parks would open extra early every morning from August 29 – November 2, 2019 for guests of their resorts. For Magic Kingdom, Extra, Extra Magic Hour occurred daily from 7:00 – 8:00 a.m.
Though the scheduled opening time was 7:00 a.m. (for Disney resort guests), we found that they actually opened up the entrance gates at about 6:45. Right after we entered the park we again had to have our Magic Bands scanned by a Cast Member to verify that we were Disney resort guests and therefore qualified to enter the park early. We then walked up a relatively quiet Main Street and stopped for a Photopass photo in front of the castle…
The photo was taken at 6:52 a.m. and (as you can see) the sun was not even up yet.
By the way, one of the benefits of being an Annual Passholder is that all of the Photopass photos we had taken plus all of the ride photos were available to download free of charge from our MDE account. This takes away a little bit of the sting from paying the hefty price of an Annual Pass…just a little bit though.
At the Tomorrowland bridge we were guided by Cast Members into two directions. Only Tomorrowland and Fantasyland were to be open at 7:00 so guests either went right if they were heading to one of the rides in Tomorrowland or left if heading to a Fantasyland ride. Here is a list of what was open during the Extra, Extra Magic Hour with links to the ride description on the official Disney World website:
- Astro Orbiter
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Space Mountain
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
- Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
- The Barnstormer
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- “It’s a small world”
- Mad Tea Party
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Prince Charming Regal Carousel
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
I believe these are the same rides that are open now for the regular Morning Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom that are held a couple times a week.
We were headed to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train so went left along with a majority of the other guests. The next holding area/rope was set up along the walkway to the Mad Tea Party. Here we were again stopped and we waited for the Cast Members to drop the rope and lead us in a fairly organized fashion to the Mine Train ride entrance. This occurred right at 7:00. We didn’t make it on the first train of the day but we were on the second one. So by 7:11 we were enjoying the ride from the back of our train car…
I love Andrew’s face! I never remember to pose for the ride photos.
After the Mine Train we headed to the Peter Pan ride. I told Andrew that the wait time for this ride would be incredible later in the day so I wanted to ride it next. He was very skeptical but went along with my plan. He thanked me when just an hour later the posted wait time was 90 minutes for Peter Pan!!! At the same time, the wait time for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was 60 minutes. Anyway we enjoyed seeing the themed walk thru area before you board the ride. Usually if I ride Peter Pan I do so with a Fast Pass and the Fast Pass line bypasses this area so it had been a long time since I had seen this area.
We then left Fantasyland and made our way to Tomorrowland, or more specifically to Space Mountain. It had been several years since I’d ridden SM because I really don’t like it. However, it used to be one of my son’s favorite Magic Kingdom rides so I agreed to ride with him…
Notice I said “used to be one of his favorites”. This time he agreed with me…not so great.
Anyway, by the time we had completed our mission on Space Mountain it was about 7:40 so we had time for one more ride before the rest of the park opened at 8:00. We both like the Buzz Lightyear ride, Buzz Lightyear was nearby, so Buzz Lightyear it was…
Yep, Andrew outscored me by 181,000 points!! Nothing new there. Not sure why I like this ride because I suck at it.
Next we headed toward Frontierland for my favorite Magic Kingdom ride, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. For some reason they had Cast Members posted before the bridge to Liberty Square and they were redirecting traffic to the left, towards the entrance to Adventureland. The rope at the entrance was still up, as it wasn’t quite 8:00 yet. We waited there for rope drop along with a few other people. At 8:00 we were allowed in and walked through Adventureland and on to Frontierland where we walked on to BTMR. Then we backtracked to Adventureland to ride Pirates of the Caribbean…
By 8:25 we were back in Frontierland to use our first Fast Pass of the day for a second ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Yes, we road it again…because it is my favorite ride at MK after all. We then returned to Fantasyland, where we had a 9:20 breakfast reservation at Be our Guest. However it was only about 8:45 so we had some time to kill. We decided to ride Journey of the Little Mermaid, as it was close by and had little to no wait time. By the way, as we were entering this ride my Fitbit let me know that I had successfully completed my daily goal of 10,000 steps…and it was only 8:45 in the morning!
So in the 2 hours since the park opened for Extra, Extra Magic Hour at 7:00 a.m. we rode 8 rides (only one using a Fast Pass) and spent almost no time waiting in line. I would say it was a very successful 2 hours and was worth getting up before the sun was up… I guess.
We celebrated our successful morning by taking a break for breakfast at…
2 Quick Service Dining Plan Credits Used – $85.20 Value (or $42.60 per credit)
After breakfast we had a couple of hours before our next Fast Pass so we filled it longer indoor rides/attractions where we could sit down and enjoy the air conditioning, as it was getting pretty hot outside. We saw the Mickey’s PhilharMagic and Hall of Presidents shows and rode It’s a Small World…
Oh, we also had time to Visit…Carousel of Progress.
Anybody else have “It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” song playing in your head right now?
And somewhere in between all of these rides/attractions we had time to use our first Snack Credit. I gave Andrew about 3 suggestions for our first (& only) snack of the day and he chose the one from Adventureland’s Aloha Isle. Here’s a photo of their menu as of October 30, 2019…
Everything on their menu was available for a Snack Credit except for the Dole Whip served in a souvenir Tiki Bowl. We chose the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake…
1 Snack Credit Used – $7.44 Value (including tax)
The cake is topped by a tower of Dole Whip soft-serve, with a choice of 3 flavors…pineapple, vanilla, or pineapple & vanilla swirl (which is what we chose). This was delicious!!! Two years ago I had my first Dole Whip swirl at the Pineapple Lanai. I loved it so much that I had a second (maybe even a third) during my stay at the Polynesian Resort. Then in 2018, again while staying at the Polynesian, I used a Snack Credit for a Dole Whip swirl float. While I liked it, I didn’t like it as much as the regular Dole Whip (minus the pineapple juice). This version with the added bonus of the pineapple upside cake was a step up though. However, my new favorite Dole Whip will not make an appearance until the final day of this trip. Can you guess what it is?
Anyway, after our snack in Adventureland we headed back Liberty Square for our 2nd Fast Pass of the day at Haunted Mansion…
We didn’t know that there was a ride photo taken here until this photo showed up on our MDE account, lol.
Our 3rd Fast Pass was for Seven Dwarfs, however it was scheduled for that evening. So after Haunted Mansion we made our way out of the park, but stopped to take a few photos of the Halloween decorations inside the park…
I love the Pumpkin Mickey decorations that are on all of the light poles…
We also took a few outside of the park, at the entrance…
Notice the train is still parked in front of the Main Street station? It has been shutdown since December 2018 while they build the TRON coaster ride in Tomorrowland. It sounds like it will continue to be parked there through the rest of this year and maybe all of next year as well.
We were hot and tired from walking all over Magic Kingdom so decided to take the monorail back to our resort rather than walking. The Contemporary is the first stop after Magic Kingdom.
The Contemporary’s monorail station/platform is on the 5th floor of the main building. From there you take an escalator (or elevator) down to the 4th floor. On this floor there are stores, as well as the resort’s character dining restaurant, Chef Mickey’s, and their Quick Service restaurant…
DINING PLAN: 2 Refillable Mugs = $42.58 Value
At about 5:00 we headed out to the Contemporary’s dock and waited just a short time for a boat which took us to the Wilderness Lodge for our 5:45 dinner there…
Our boat docked at the Wilderness Lodge at about 5:40…
Which gave us just enough time to walk up the path to the lodge, stopping to take just a few photos…
I must admit that I was feeling a few pangs of regret that we weren’t staying at the Wilderness Lodge on this trip, as it is one of my favoriteDisney resorts.
But I at least had a dinner at the Lodge to look forward to and it was time to check in for that at…
2 Table Service Dining Plan Credits Used – $154.43 Value (or $77.21 per credit)
We left the Wilderness Lodge (via boat) at about 7:30, and after a stop at our room at the Contemporary, we walked to Magic Kingdom. We arrived at Magic Kingdom at about 8:30, which gave us just enough time to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (with our 3rd and final Fast Pass of the day). Then it was time to find a spot to watch the Happily Ever After Fireworks. This was one of only a couple of nights that week when the fireworks were being held because most nights (during the week of Halloween) the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (a separate ticket event with its own fireworks show) took place at Magic Kingdom. Therefore we knew the park would be quite busy that night and our thoughts were confirmed as soon as we entered Magic Kingdom and saw the crowd on Main Street…
But at just a few minutes before the fireworks were to begin we were able to find a decent spot not far from the castle…
Here are a few of the many photos that we took of the show…
I have to admit that I love Happily Ever After, even more than I loved its predecessor WISHES. I love the music and I love the projections. The projections on the castle make this show necessary to be seen in the park (and near the hub) to get the full effect. In my opinion this is the best night show at Disney World, so if you have time to see only one I would recommend this one.
We immediately left the park after the show. Here is where I think I made a huge mistake. While Andrew walked back to the Contemporary, I was headed to the Grand Floridian to meet up with a friend so I first went to the boat dock. The line for the (small) boat that travels between the Grand Floridian, Polynesian and the Magic Kingdom was incredibly long. I then switched to Plan B and started up the ramp to catch the Resort Monorail there at Magic Kingdom and found myself among a big crowd of people waiting to board. I believe I finally made it on to the 3rd monorail (standing room only) leaving Magic Kingdom and after 3 stops (Contemporary, Ticket & Transportation Center, and the Polynesian) I reached the Grand Floridan at about 10:30…more than 1 hour after exiting the park. In retrospect, I think I should have walked back to the Contemporary with Andrew (which took him only about 10 minutes) and then boarded the Resort Monorail there. I probably would have made it to the Grand Floridian in half the time that it took me. But you know what they say, “Hindsight is 20/20”.
Now on to the…
The monorail was already closed down for the night so I was forced to find another mode of transportation to get back to my resort, the Contemporary. Linda was able to take a LYFT back to her resort, the Beach Club, but I didn’t have the app downloaded (thinking I could rely on my son’s or daughter’s if we ever needed to take a LYFT during our trip). So instead I just went the “old school” way and took a cab, which cost $10 (including tip) to go the short distance between the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary. Not too bad.
DAY 2 TOTALS
2 Quick Service Dining Plan Credits Used – $85.20 Value (or $42.60 per credit)
1 Snack Credit Used – $7.44 Value (including tax)
2 Refillable Mugs = $42.58 Value
2 Table Service Dining Plan Credits Used – $154.43 Value (or $77.21 per credit)
TOTAL VALUE RECEIVED ON DINING PLAN THRU DAY 2 – $289.65
COST OF 5 NIGHTS OF REGULAR DISNEY DINING PLAN FOR 2 PEOPLE – $754.90
8 QS & 8 TS CREDITS REMAINING PLUS 19 SNACK CREDITS!!
STEP TOTAL FOR THE DAY (per my FitBit): 22,156 (or 9.52 miles)!!
DAY 3 – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31 (Epcot)
Our plan today was Epcot and because Epcot was the only park not participating in Extra, Extra Magic Hours it did not open until 9:00 that morning. Consequently we got to sleep in until about 7:30, which doesn’t really seem like sleeping in but on this trip it was.
The news from home was the weather or more specifically SNOW!!!
They ended up getting about 3 inches that day, which set a record for the snowiest Halloween record. They also set a record for the coldest Halloween on record.
Meanwhile at Disney World, we were in for another hot day…
Normally I would have complained about the heat but knowing the alternative weather they were experiencing at home I considered myself lucky to sweating my butt off here.
Anyway, our in-room breakfast this morning were the leftover pastries from our breakfast (the day before) at Be our Guest. Then before leaving the Contemporary to spend the entire day at Epcot, we made a stop in the lobby to take some photos of the Pumpkin Masterpieces created by the Cast Members of the Contemporary Resort…
Backing up just a bit to admit the “brain fart” I had this morning regarding our transportation to the Epcot. As we were walking towards the Contemporary’s bus stop I checked the MDE app on my phone to see the ETA for the next Epcot bus. That is when I realized/remembered that there are no buses which go to Epcot from the Contemporary (or the other monorail resorts, the Polynesian and Grand Floridian). So instead of continuing on to the bus stop we went inside the main building (stopping to take photos of the pumpkins in the lobby) and up the 3 escalators to the 5th floor monorail platform, as the monorail is the only form of complimentary transportation which Disney provides to Epcot from the Contemporary. After boarding the Resort Monorail for a short ride to the next stop (Ticket & Transportation Center), we got off that monorail, walked down the ramp and up the ramp for the Epcot monorail. After a short wait a monorail arrived and about 15 minutes later we were at Epcot. I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to by-pass the security lines at the park, as we had already gone through the security check at the Contemporary before boarding the first monorail. But here is when we experienced our second snafu of the day. As we were about to enter the park my son realized he had forgotten to put on his Magic Band. However, after a visit to Guest Services (who were very quick and efficient) he had a plastic KTTW card which could be used as his park ticket and for his reserved Fast Passes.
Once inside the park we fast walked to the Land pavilion and reached Soarin’ 10 minutes after our fast passes had expired. We were prepared to grovel however they allowed us to enter the Fast Pass line, no questions asked. I knew from experience that your FP window actually starts 5 minutes before your reserved time begins (so you can enter up to 5 minutes early) and had heard that it extends 15 minutes after the expiration time but had never before tested that theory. Now I can confirm that that is likely true. After Soarin’ (my favorite Epcot ride and second favorite at Disney World) we were able to immediately use our second fast pass to ride Spaceship Earth. Here is when I learned something new. I had thought that after using our last scheduled fast pass of that day we could reserve another 1st Tier Fast Pass (we were hoping for a Test Track Fast Pass). However we were only allowed to schedule a 3rd (non-Tier 1) Fast Pass on the MDE app. So we reserved the first Fast Pass that was available (which was immediately) for the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival. Though I wouldn’t normally waste a FP on this (as it is held in a large theater so doesn’t require a Fast Pass to get a seat), it fulfilled the 3 Fast Pass requirement before being able to get a 4th Fast Pass of your choice (including one for another Tier 1 attraction, if available). So as soon as we scanned our Magic Band/ticket at the entrance to the theater we were able to reserve Fast Passes for Test Track, with only a little more than an hour to kill in between the 18 minute show and the start of our Fast Pass time. SCORE!!!
The added bonus was that we were planning to see the Short Film Festival anyway. One of the three films shown was Feast, which I had seen there on my last trip in October 2018 and loved. I again loved it the second time around and saw and loved it a third time with my daughter later in this trip. I highly recommend seeing Feast, especially if you like cute dogs…
We then headed back to the Land pavilion to have lunch at…
1 Quick Service Dining Plan Credit Used – $26.88 (including tax)
After lunch we headed over to Test Track to use our Fast Pass and then on to the Epcot Experience in the nearby Odyssey pavilion. We were then ready for some more food…
5 Snack Credits Used – $38.00 (Average value of $7.60/credit)
We then headed inside the American pavilion to catch a Voices of Liberty performance followed by the American Adventure movie.
Andrew was then ready for another snack and we didn’t have to go far to find a really tasty one…
From this Funnel Cakes kiosk in the American pavilion area, we were able to get this for a snack credit…
Funnel Cake topped with Powdered Sugar – $7.00
It had been a few years since I’d had a funnel cake, so this was especially delicious…and the perfect size for sharing. It was a great use of a snack credit!
1 Snack Credit Used – $7.00
We found seats at the American Gardens Theater and shared the funnel cake while we were waiting for the 5:30 Eat to the Beat Concert to begin. Tonight’s performer was two-time Grammy Award winner Sheena Easton…
Sheena Easton was good with some of her hit songs but then others, like “Call Me on the Telephone”, were not good. But anyway, I always enjoy seeing the Eat to the Beat concerts. I wish I could have seen more than the two that I saw on my two week trip.
After the show we headed to Japan and spent a lot of time browsing in the Mitsukoshi store there. Then we found a place to sit and relax in the Japanese gardens (we were even able to hear Sheena Easton’s 6:45 concert from there) until it was time to check in for our 7:20 dinner reservation. We climbed the stairs to the upper level of the Mitsukoshi building, where the restaurants are located. I paused at the top before going inside to take a picture of the lovely view…
I told Andrew that we should come out here after our dinner to watch the Epcot Forever show at 9:00. Then we continued inside for our…
2 Table Service Dining Plan Credits Used – $115.50 (or $57.75 per credit)
With dinner taking nearly two hours we didn’t leave the restaurant until 9:10, so we only got to see the last few minutes of Epcot Forever…
It was enough to pique our interest in the new show and want to see the entire thing. Then we proceeded towards the front of Epcot (along with the masses) to exit the park and board the monorail to the Ticket & Transportation Center. Then from there we transferred to the Resort monorail, which after 3 stops at the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Magic Kingdom, we finally reached our resort, the Contemporary. A very long drawn out process but at least it was a nice boost to my step count for the day, lol.
DAY 3 TOTALS
1 Quick Service Dining Plan Credit Used – $26.88 (including tax)
6 Snack Credits Used – $45.00 (Average value of $7.50/credit)
2 Table Service Dining Plan Credits Used – $115.50 (or $57.75 per credit)
TOTAL VALUE RECEIVED ON DINING PLAN THRU DAY 3 – $477.03
COST OF 5 NIGHTS OF REGULAR DISNEY DINING PLAN FOR 2 PEOPLE – $754.90
7 QS & 6 TS CREDITS REMAINING PLUS 13 SNACK CREDITS!!
STEP TOTAL FOR THE DAY (per my FitBit): 15,494 (or 6.61 miles)
DAY 4 – FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1 (Animal Kingdom, Contemporary Resort)
We were up very early again (my FitBit says 5:00 a.m.), as we were headed to Animal Kingdom for Extra, Extra Magic Hour, which was from 7:00 – 8:00 a.m. We took the bus and arrived at the park around 6:30 – 6:45. The lines to enter the park were short and the gates opened soon after we got in line. The crowd (most of which was headed to Pandora, more specifically Avatar: Flight of Passage ride) was stopped soon after walking through the Oasis, as they had the walkway roped off and several Castmembers guarding it. At about 7:00 they started letting people through, once you’d had your Magic Band scanned to confirm that you were a a Disney World resort guest (and therefore qualified for early access. Once we’d turned the corner towards Pandora there were more Castmembers to lead the crowd to the line for the Avatar ride. Great crowd control!
The line to board the ride never stopped moving and we were soon flying through Pandora. I love this ride! It’s my absolute favorite. I was excited to ride it with Andrew to see his reaction, as this was his first time riding it. He too loved it! We were glad that we had a Fast Pass to ride it a second time later in the day. So instead of getting back in line (which was longer now) to ride Avatar again, we decided to move on to the other ride in Pandora, the Navi River Journey boat ride. While this ride is not a “must do” ride for me, I do enjoy it. At about 8:00 (the end of EMH, and when the park opened for all guests) and made our way out of Pandora while the crowds were going the opposite way. It was then that I turned to Andrew and said, “You’re Welcome!” Getting up early and taking advantage of the parks’ EMH definitely paid off for us on this trip.
By 8:15 we had walked on to Expedition Everest…
We could have ridden it again right away (the line was still short) but we had a Fast Pass for it in about an hour so we decided to get some breakfast.
3 Disney Dining Plan Snack Credits Used – $21.37 (approx., including tax)
After a leisurely breakfast seated outside of Creature Comforts, it was then time to use our first Fast Pass of the day…
Andrew did a great pose for the camera, even better than the first ride.
Here are a few of the complimentary photos from the Expedition Everest ride that Disney has added to everyone’s MDE account…
For me, Expedition Everest has always been just an “okay” ride, but it’s always been one of Andrew’s favorites. Looking at these photos (during this long period of time that the parks are closed due to COVID-19) though brings back some good memories and makes me miss it.
Our 2nd Fast Pass of the day was not until early afternoon (earliest we could get for Avatar Flight of Passage), so we had a few hours to kill. Checking the MDE app we saw that the wait time for the Kilimanjaro Safaris was pretty short so headed to the Harambe Wildlife Reserve…
After a short wait in line we boarded our truck…
week 20 minute long safari ride through the African savanna…
While on our safari we saw many animals, like Bongo…
We had a close encounter with this Giraffe…
There were also Elephants…
And the Lion was out…
And his pride…
Along with other animals and birds.
We finished our ride in time for the first show of the day (at 11:00) at the nearby Festival of the Lion King theater…
Though we’ve seen the Festival of the Lion King show many times before, it’s always enjoyable to watch. Here’s a few pics…
After the show we headed towards Discovery Island for our…
1 Quick Service Dining Plan Credit Used – $28.21 (including tax)
1 Snack Credit Used – $7.44 (including tax)
After lunch we returned to Pandora. Here’s a few of the complimentary Pandora photos that Disney has provided recently to everyone’s MDE accounts…
We made our way to the Avatar: Flight of Passage ride to use our second Fast Pass of the day.
I don’t think I will ever tire of the ride. It is my absolute favorite ride at Disney World and up until our March 2020 Disney trip it was also Andrew’s favorite. Now his favorite is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Avatar FOP is now his second favorite Disney World ride.
Afterwards, we decided we needed a cold drink and Satuli Canteen was close by…
While we could have gotten a fountain beverage ($3.99 value) or a bottle of Dasani water ($3.50) here for one snack credit, we decided to instead use our last snack credit on their Specialty beverage…
Pandoran Sunrise – A blend of Tropical Juices including Pineapple, Mango, and Lime, blended with Powerade Melon – $4.49
1 Disney Dining Plan Snack Credit Used – $4.78 (including tax)
Not as sweet as soda and more flavorful than water, this was a good choice for quenching our thirst. I’m surprised they don’t also offer this as a cocktail with the addition of rum or vodka.
Though we could have gotten something with a higher value for our snack credit, we knew we didn’t need anymore food snacks that day. We still had 2 QS credits and 2 TS credits to use or lose by midnight so there would be plenty of food for us to eat.
NOTE: I learned something new regarding the use of Disney Dining Plan credits when you have two consecutive room reservations. I had wrongly assumed that on our check out day for the 1st reservation/check in day for the 2nd reservation (which for us was this day), all of the new credits would be added to our account and available to use. However, we discovered that that is not how it works. You must use all of the credits (TS, QS, and snack credits) from your first reservation by midnight on your check out day before your new credits are added. So even though we’d now used our last snack credit (from our first reservation), the new snack credits (from our second reservation) would not be added until all of our remaining Dining Plan credits were used (including both QS and TS credits) or until they expired at midnight, whichever came first.
So anyway, our 3rd Fast Pass was for the night show, Rivers of Light, so we checked out the current stand-by wait times for rides using the MDE app and discovered that the wait time for Dinosaur was relatively short so we headed to Dinoland.
After Dinosaur we had some time to kill before our 4:35 dinner reservation. So we decided to see the “It’s Tough to be a Bug! 3-D show…
I don’t even remember the last time we’d seen this show, so it was kind of fun to revisit this. Plus, on a hot, sunny day, it was a cool, dark place to sit for awhile. In fact, it was so cool in the waiting area to enter the theater for the show (which is in a cave) that Andrew put on his jacket.
I think we then saw the Finding Nemo musical show, however I have no photographic evidence of that.
It was then time to check in for a new Disney Dining experience offered at DinoLand’s Restaurantosaurus quick service restaurant…
2 Quick Service Dining Plan Credits Used – $73.68 (including tax)
After leaving Restaurantosaurus, we headed to Asia and found a place to sit down (and finish our margaritas) close to the Fast Pass entrance to the outdoor arena where the nighttime show, Rivers of Light, is held. This entrance is located close to the Expedition Everest ride. When we saw some castmembers preparing to open up the entrance, we quickly jumped in the Fast Pass line. At about 45 minutes before the show time (which was 7:30 on this night) they started letting guests in. After checking our Magic Bands to confirm that we had Fast Passes we were allowed to enter and choose out seats anywhere within the designated Fast Pass area. In case you’ve never been inside the Rivers of Light amphitheater, here is a map of it that I found on the WDWPrepSchool.com website, to give you an idea of the seating arrangements…
The Fast Pass viewing area is the blue section. We were able to get seats in the front row, so we were sitting in the “stone seats” area of this section. Our view of the show was quite good, with no obstructions. Here is a photo I took soon after being seated, while it was still light outside…
I believe the show started later than its scheduled time of 7:30, as my first photo was taken at 7:45, which was during the show’s introduction…
My last photo was taken a few minutes after 8:00, which means the show lasted for about 18 minutes…
So in my opinion, Rivers of Light: We Are One is a slight improvement over its predecessor, the original Rivers of Light show. I enjoyed the addition of scenes and music from Disney movies like the Lion King, Pocahontas, Tarzan and Jungle Book. But I’m glad that they also kept some of the original musical score, plus added an original song, “We Are One”, which was written for the revised show. There are still all of the beautiful colored lights, water fountains, animal floats and boats from the original show. In looking at my photos, I am reminded of how beautiful the reflections of the colored lights are on the water.
While the water screens are not nearly as clear and vivid as those in the photo of the show that Disney displays on their website…
I guess that’s to be expected when dealing with water screen projections. Overall though they do a pretty good job with this show. I would recommend seeing it, even if you have already seen the original version.
We then made pretty good time in exiting the amphitheater and the park. We were able to make it onto the first bus bound for the Contemporary, however we did have to stand…which I absolutely hate. My hands always feel sore and “rug burned” from hanging on tightly to the overhead looped belts in order to keep from falling on the other passengers. But I guess this problem won’t exist again for awhile due to the reduced capacity limits for Disney buses that will go into effect when they reopen next month. However, the lines to board the buses and the wait times will likely be much longer so there will be a trade off.
Anyway, usually I would prefer to wait for the next bus in order to get a seat, but on this evening we were under a bit of a time crunch since we had a 9:05 dinner reservation back at our resort, so we forged ahead onto the SRO bus. Though the drive seemed to take forever (while standing), we actually arrived at the Contemporary’s bus stop at about 8:30. So we were able to go to our room to change clothes and freshen up a bit before heading back in to the lobby and up the escalator to the 2nd floor check-in desk for…
2 Table Service Dining Plan Credits Used – $96.92 Value (or $48.46 per credit)
After dinner I had a chance to photograph the surprise that had been waiting for us in our room at the Contemporary when we returned to it after spending all day at Animal Kingdom. This day had been the Check-out day for our 1st room reservation (for 3 nights) and the Check-in day for our 2nd room reservation (for 2 nights). So even though we had already been there for 3 nights and had not changed rooms, I guess we were considered new guests. Consequently we were the recipients of another complimentary Welcome Gift…
This was nearly identical to the first platter we received, with the only difference being the flavors of the macarons. Again a card welcoming us to the Contemporary Resort accompanied the platter and again it was misaddressed to Mr & Mrs. Jacobs. Though we technically are Mr. Jacobs and Mrs. Jacobs, Andrew is my son, not my husband, lol. The dark chocolate and white chocolate covered strawberries were again our favorites but everything was good. So thanks again to the Contemporary Resort for these platters of goodies. They were a very nice touch, and something not done at any of the other Disney Deluxe resorts at which I’ve stayed (which is all but the Grand Floridian, where I last stayed in 2002).
DAY 4 TOTALS
5 Disney Dining Plan Snack Credits Used – $33.59 (approx., including tax)
3 Quick Service Dining Plan Credits Used – $101.89 (including tax)
2 Table Service Dining Plan Credits Used – $96.92 (including tax)
TOTAL VALUE RECEIVED ON DINING PLAN THRU DAY 4 – $709.43
COST OF 5 NIGHTS OF REGULAR DISNEY DINING PLAN FOR 2 PEOPLE – $754.90
4 QS & 4 TS CREDITS REMAINING PLUS 8 SNACK CREDITS
STEP TOTAL FOR THE DAY (per my FitBit): 20,774 (or 8.92 miles)
CUMULATIVE DISNEY DINING PLAN TOTALS FOR FIRST 3 NIGHT RESERVATION
2 Refillable Mugs – $42.58 (including tax)
12 Disney Dining Plan Snack Credits Used – $86.03 (approx., including tax) Average value of $7.17 per credit
6 Quick Service Dining Plan Credits Used – $213.97 (including tax) Average value of $35.66 per credit
6 Table Service Dining Plan Credits Used – $366.85 (including tax) Average value of $61.14 per credit
TOTAL VALUE RECEIVED ON DINING PLAN – $709.43 (including tax) Average value per person of $118.24/per day
COST OF FIRST 3 NIGHTS OF REGULAR DISNEY DINING PLAN FOR 2 PEOPLE – $452.94 ($75.49 per person/per night)
TOTAL VALUE RECEIVED FOR FIRST 3 NIGHTS ($709.43) MINUS COST ($452.94) = $256.49 Ahead Using the DDP vs. Paying Out of Pocket Average of $42.75 per person/per night
DAY 5 – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2 (Hollywood Studios)
This was the final day that Disney offered Extra, Extra Magic Hours at 3 out of 4 of its parks. Two of these parks, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, opened one hour early from 7:00 – 8:00 a.m. for Disney Resort guests and we had already done both of these parks on Day 2 and Day 4 of our trip. So that just left Hollywood Studios in order for us to complete the Extra, Extra Magic Hours trifecta. The only catch was that Hollywood Studios opened an hour earlier than the other two parks, which meant starting our day there at 6:00 or earlier! But as an added incentive for getting up so darn early, the Extra, Extra Magic Hour at Hollywood Studios was actually an Extra, Extra Magic 3 hours, with the park not opening until 9:00 to regular guests (those not staying at a Disney resort).
So what did we do with our Extra, Extra Magic 3 Hours? Well, let’s start from the beginning, which was our alarm going off at 4:30 a.m.!! After a late night dinner at California Grill the night before, that meant we got only about 4 1/2 hours of sleep. But with the success that we had experienced at the other two parks during their Extra, Extra Magic Hour, my son did not complain. We were therefore at the Contemporary’s bus stop at 5:15. To my surprise, there were more people waiting there for the Hollywood Studios bus at 5:15 a.m. than I was expecting. But we didn’t have to wait long for a bus (maybe about 5 min.) and after about a 20 minute bus ride, a walk to the park entrance, going through bag check/security and the ticket entrance gate, we were inside the park before it officially opened at 6:00 a.m. The crowd (which was much larger than we had experienced at the other 2 parks during EEMH) was being held right at where Sunset Boulevard intersects with Hollywood Boulevard. There were only a few who chose to veer off onto Sunset Boulevard. I assumed they would be held until 6:00 further down the street before heading to either Tower of Terror or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. But we stayed with the majority of the crowd that was waiting to go to either Toy Story Land or Star Wars:Galaxy’s Edge. As we suspected, at 6:00 when they allowed the crowd to proceed (led by groups of castmembers), most of the crowd headed to Galaxy’s Edge. So even though we were anxious to see Galaxy’s Edge for the first time, we made a spur of the moment decision to “zig” rather than “zag” and went with the much smaller group towards Toy Story Land.
We first walked on to Slinky Dog Dash, where this photo was taken at 6:07…
After that it was another walk on (no wait) for Toy Story Mania. We then left Toy Story Land but decided to wait a bit longer before heading to Galaxy’s Edge. So instead we headed towards my favorite Disney roller coaster, but first made a stop at Tower of Terror, where we again walked right through and onto an elevator.
This photo was then taken at 6:41…
Then it was on to Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, which was our 4th “walk on” ride of the morning…and we had been there for less than an hour! For the first time, we didn’t even have to wait in the “studio” room and watch the pre-show (which we have seen a hundred times). We were allowed to walk through the room and enter the short line to board the ride.
So at 6:49 this photo was taken…
I have no idea why I always make such a terrible face during the launch/photo op for this ride, as I truly love it…I swear, lol.
Anyway it was then time to head to Galaxy’s Edge, but as we were passing by Andrew asked if we could do one more round on Tower of Terror. Again we had no wait time so at 7:05 this photo was taken…
This time we did our “bored” poses, lol. And notice that our elevator is only about 1/2 full. This was great!!! In a little more than one hour we had ridden 4 of the most popular rides at Hollywood Studios, one of them we actually rode twice.
So we were feeling really good about our earlier decision to “zig” rather than “zag”, but would the good feeling continue when we reached Galaxy’s Edge?
At about 7:20 (a little more than an hour after it opened that morning) we entered Star Wars:Galaxy’s Edge for the first time ever. As we walked by the entrance to the Rise of Resistance ride, I scanned the area for any signs that they might be doing a soft opening/ride preview that day. But of course that did not happen for another month. So we followed the flow of the crowd and forged ahead until we came to the Millennium Falcon. Here is my photo of it…
And here are some better photos by Disney that they have provided to everyone’s MDE account recently…
We both agreed that Disney did a terrific job in creating this Star Wars-themed village of Black Spire Outpost, located on the remote planet of Batuu.
We then checked on the posted wait time for the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run ride, which was 40 minutes. We got into the line and were very happy to find that it was moving quite fast. It took us only about 10 minutes to reach the pre-show area (featuring Hondo Ohnaka and Chewbacca)…
Then we entered the waiting room…
Where I took a photo of Andrew at the Dejarik table…
It was here that we got into our assigned group and prepared to enter the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. Andrew and I had been assigned to the Purple cockpit crew along with 4 others, and each of us was given one of three tasks. Andrew and I were both assigned the most coveted job of Pilot…
So just 20 minutes after joining the line for the Millennium Falcon ride, Andrew and I were in our seats at the front of the cockpit and were ready to co-pilot the ship…
Or I should say, Andrew was ready. I, on the other hand, was far from ready. From the beginning to the end of our flight, it was all a blur to me. Much like this photo I took…
…before Andrew reminded me that I needed to perform my Pilot duties. Oh yeah right. Uhhhh…what am I suppose to do again???
If there had been a Photopass photo taken during this ride I’m sure I would have looked like a deer caught in headlights. Consequently, despite my co-pilot’s best efforts, our ship pretty much crashed and burned. My deepest apologies to our ship’s crew members…mea culpa, my bad, etc., etc. So my advice, if you aren’t a video game player, is to trade jobs with someone else if you are assigned the task of co-piloting for your first experience on this ride. Save yourself the embarrassment, lol.
Andrew though enjoyed his piloting experience and wanted to do the ride again. Though the line was longer this time, the posted wait time still only said 45 minutes (the first time it was 40 minutes and we were on the Millennium Falcon in just 20). So we got right back in line. Andrew was excited about the opportunity to do even better. I, though, was just hoping to not completely fail again.
This time the line moved slower, so I took a few photos along the way…
And then it was Hondo time again…
We were both assigned the less stressful jobs of Gunner this time, thank goodness…
We boarded the cockpit about 35 – 40 minutes after getting in line for the ride, so the posted wait time of 45 minutes was more accurate this time.
Soon after takeoff I learned that as a Gunner it was much easier to multi-task than it had been as a Pilot. I was able to perform my Gunner duties (hitting the round and square buttons at the appropriate times) and still take some photos…
And before we knew it. we were safely landing back at Batuu…
…thanks to our very capable Co-Pilots, who were two young boys. Despite their young age, they both performed their pilot duties with a “This is not my first rodeo” attitude. Not only had they done this ride before, but I suspect they were both experienced gamers. At the end of our flight I clapped my hands for them for a job well done.
However, though this flight had been much more enjoyable for me than my first one, the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run ride does not make my Top 5 List of Favorite Disney World Rides. The other big attraction in Galaxy’s Edge does make the list though. Check out my March 2020 trip report to learn more about that.
So it was now almost 9:00 (the official park opening time that day) and during our 3 Extra, Extra Magic Hours we had ridden Slinky Dog Dash, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror twice, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run twice. It had been a very productive 3 hours! Now we were ready to relax a bit and have some breakfast from Toy Story Land’s…
Next up: Blue or Green?