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Trip Report Late September trip to Disney World (with photos)

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Hi everyone. I frequent Fodors a great deal on the Caribbean forum but this is my first time on the US/Florida board!

We returned last week from a fabulous 6 day trip to the World and I thought I would share!

WHO: Me (40), Hubby (43) and Ellie (6)

WHERE: Port Orleans French Quarter with Free Dining

WHEN: September 25 - 30

HISTORY: I was a Disney kid…went numerous times in the 70s (Orange Bird was my favorite! Sadly I couldn’t locate any merchandise )

DH and I took his two kids in 2004 (Pop) and our daughter in 2008 (ASMU) when she was just shy of 3.

WEATHER: Hot! (But I didn't mind!) And the parks were crowded. But luckily it only rained one afternoon and that was as we were boarding the bus home from AK. The lady who did Ellie's hair wrap said September has become a very popular month to go (and here I thought we’d have fewer crowds since we figured people wouldn't want to take their kids out of school...wrong!) From what people said it was unusually hot and humid (low 90s) when were there. The day after we left, humidity disappeared and temps dropped in the low and mid 80s. Have given up on February I think as when we went in 04 it was 80 the day we arrived then was in the 50s during the day for a high and in the 30s in the morning at the bus stop! Seems like a risky time for us at least because we enjoyed the parks much more when we were warm!

PORT ORLEANS FRENCH QUARTER: We really liked this resort. Much less crazy and more serene than the value resorts yet still a fun theme. Pool was great for cool off breaks between the parks and Ellie love the waterslide. It was also nice being able to take the boat from the resort to Downtown Disney which we did one evening. Though we all agree that next trip we want to stay at the Poly!! I have loved this resort since I went to the luau when I was a kid.

FREE DINING/RESTAURANTS: Awesome. We had always had mediocre experiences at Disney but this time I made some good choices! Ohana, Hacienda de San Angel, Kona Cafe, Whispering Canyon Cafe, Akershus, Earl of Sandwich. All excellent. One thing I did not realize is that advance reservations actually means preferred seating. Some of the time we were seated within 5 - 15 minutes but a couple of times we had to wait 45 minutes.

One disappointment was that when I signed up for this last year I believe appetizers were included. Not now. But everyone gets a dessert. After the first night or gorging ourselves just because it was free () we started to only order what we could eat. I tried to convince our server to let us have one app in lieu of 3 desserts. No dice. I do love my sweets though (as does Ellie) and we had some fabulous desserts. The Kona Cone at Kona Cafe is the ultimate kid dessert (see pic). And the pineapple bread pudding with warm caramel sauce at Ohana as to die for. My favorite meal was the steak dish at Hacienda de San Angel...OMG. Order this. This is not your typical Mexican food (you won't find a burrito here!). Highly recommend. Even the QS meals were good (way more food than we normally eat at lunch though!) though the food at Blizzard beach was my least favorite. Snack credits could be used for large parfaits and beignets for breakfast but the best snack credit use was the Pineapple Float in MK! Great treat for a hot day. We consumed several!

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS: We were 2nd in line to go through the turnstiles to enter the park and their computer/ticketing system crashed! So we had to wait for what seemed like forever while they figured out what to do. Finally they brought out stamps and counters and let us in. My daughter conquered Tower of Terror no problem! She was a bit nervous going into it but gave it a thumbs up after we were off! She also loved Star Tours. Toy Story was a great ride! Though we had a major fail on the fast passes that day. After waiting in line a long time, we got in our “car” and the guns were broken! Took them a while to give us our re-ride too so I was a little annoyed at that. But the feeling soon faded!

ANIMAL KINGDOM: Ellie loved Expedition Everest which she refers to as “The Yeti Ride.” Thankfully she was just tall enough to do all the good rides…44 inches! We did the Safari first thing (after some Photopass pics of course ). Always a good experience. Lion King show was great as usual…many of the same cast as 3 years ago too. Kali River Rapids was fun but not as long or as many drops as I remembered. Ellie enjoyed it except for the fact that she got wet! The only ride that she wasn’t too thrilled with was Dinosaur.

MAGIC KINGDOM: Visited this park 2 days. Major annoyance was the crane that was up all week next to the castle. Thankfully my graphic designer friend was able to remove it from some of my photos. They were putting up Christmas lights. The new Storybook Circus which opens next year will be huge. We went on all the favorite classic rides here. Another thumbs up on Space Mountain from my girl. Her fave ride was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Her least favorite was Splash Mountain…because, you guessed it. she got wet! She doesn’t mind being wet in her bathing suit but if she is wearing clothes, forget it. We also met Rapunzel. But no Flynn Rider! The absolute worst attraction, IMO, is Stitch’s Great Escape. It doesn’t even deserve to take up space in the park! I kept waiting for it to begin and then it was over! Dumb. And we saw Wishes one night…love it.

EPCOT: Soarin’ is awesome. .. Ellie’s favorite in Epcot. Though Spaceship Earth came in a close 2nd! We also really enjoyed Test Track. Mission Space made me want to puke (I kept my head down and eyes closed the whole time because of course DH picked the intense version of the ride) but Mark and Ellie had fun. The Princess brunch as Akershus in Norway was a hit. The International Food & Wine Festival was to start the day after our Epcot visit but they had a soft opening the day we were there. I think it would be a lot of fun with just adults. We saw Illuminations from Hacienda De San Angel from our table through the huge windows along the lake. But I think it would be better if they added a deck so you could watch from outside and get the full effect.

BLIZZARD BEACH: Originally we were going to do Typhoon Lagoon because of the tropical theming and shark reef. But we opted for BB because DH wanted to try Summit Plummet. He did that twice and Slusher Gusher twice. No way in hell was I getting on it. Tallest waterslide in the county at 120 feet. And it’s about an 85 degree angle. Very nice water park. They think of everything. Ellie went on all the slides that we was tall enough for. Her favorites were Teamboat Springs (aka the family ride), Toboggan Racers and Runoff Rapids. I think the best part about the park was the cool “ski lift” you take up to the tallest slides so you don’t have to walk. Though the trek up to Runoff Rapids was long but they did it 3 times. I went once then took pics) The theming there is actually very cool and we thoroughly enjoyed our day. Loved the music selection they played..Jimmy Buffet mixed with Christmas Carols!

PHOTOPASS: I had not used this service before but it was great. I didn’t end up buying the whole CD but rather 6 downloads of my fave photos. I had the photographers take many of the same pics with my camera as well. I did take some pictures from the computer screen with my phone camera of some of the shots I did not buy just so I could remember them These are the grainy shots you will see in my album. The Magic shots are the coolest! I was disappointed not to see one photographer at BB though Hubby and Ellie tired of all the photo taking pretty quick though as I would drag them around to photographer after photographer. “No more Photopass!” Ellie proclaimed at the end of one day. But she loves to look through all of pictures now.

FINAL THOUGHTS: We had a great trip and would like to go back again in a few years in early December when it isn’t as hot and the Christmas lights are up. Definitely going to keep my eye of out for another free dining deal!

PHOTOS: here is the link to my Shutterfly album ~ Enjoy!


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