Saturday, May 31, 2014

Disney Dreaming: May Trip Review and Thoughts

We took a trip to Walt Disney World the week before Memorial Day weekend, and it was the perfect time. The weather was warm but not scorching yet, and the crowds were light--even at opening weekend of Star Wars Weekend.

In my quest to stay at all the Disney Vacation Club resorts, we tried out Saratoga Springs for this trip. It's very scenic, well-themed, and BIG. We stayed in the Congress Park section, which is closest to the walkway to Downtown Disney. It was a nice walk, but the sounds of Downtown carried right over the water and into our room every night. If you're looking for quiet, I'd avoid this section. The other downside to Congress Park was that it isn't close to the main pool, the restaurants, and the gift shop. The walk was too much for Little Man after a long afternoon in the pool, so we ended up driving back and forth a lot. The recreation was pretty great--the main pool has a graduated entry (perfect for little swimmers), a big slide and a little slide, and a Donald Duck themed fountain. There are a couple other quiet pools on property, as well as a water playground and another spray area for kids. If you're looking for room to stretch out and play in the water, Saratoga Springs would be a good pick for you.

A view of Downtown Disney!

We spent a day in Hollywood Studios for Star Wars weekend, and I have to admit--I had so much fun! I'm not a huge Star Wars fan--my husband is-- but I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the characters that walked around interacting with the guests.

Then there was Boba Fett. He's quite the charmer.

And this dark chocolate and peanut butter cupcake totally made me go over to the dark side.

The Star Wars events helped keep the lines at the rest of the park to a minimum, which was a nice perk.

Goodnight, Hollywood Studios!

Our other park day was at The Magic Kingdom, because I can't go to WDW and skip seeing my castle, right?

Little Man was into the rides this year, which was fun--he had memories from past trips and had his own requests and agenda for the day. He was finally tall enough to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which we walked on first thing that morning. The verdict? "That ride was too crazy for my head, mom!" Turns out my boy isn't much into the thrill rides.

We visited Mike Wazowski at the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, where Little Man's joke was featured: what did a mother train say to her baby train at lunchtime? Chew Chew!

I missed the soft opening of The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train by ONE DAY. Oh, the agony...but I wouldn't have wanted to wait in a three hour line, which is what the wait was the next day.

We discovered something new at the Magic Kingdom--A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas. It's an interactive treasure hunt around Adventure Land and Frontier Land, and it's awesome. There are five different maps that lead to animated, animatronic clues from Captain Jack Sparrow and friends. We did it after dark and had a blast--clues emerge from under water, tucked in alcoves--hidden in plain sight. I never noticed them until we did the treasure hunt. There are five maps in all, and they make for fun keepsakes.

We spent the rest of our trip relaxing. We played in the pool, rode the monorail, ate our body weight in bacon at the Polynesian. It was just what the doctor ordered, and I came home ready to start packing and preparing for our July move.

Some thoughts on some of the hot button issues that I've noticed cropping up in the online world recently:

Cast members: I've seen a lot said about crabby cast members recently. I didn't encounter a single grumpy cast member on this trip--in fact, most of them went out of their way to make our trip special. I think people forget that even though working at Disney is awesome, it's still a job--and cast members get hot and tired just like we do. Cut them some slack and be kind to them, too.

FastPass+: Disney changed the way FastPass+ works, allowing you to collect more fastpasses once you're in the park and allowing for extra fastpasses if you have a parkhopper. I did see loooooong lines for the fastpass machines inside the parks, but I didn't have any issues getting the fastpasses for the rides I wanted the night before on My Disney Experience. In fact, the only fastpass that was gone the night before our Magic Kingdom Day was the visit with Anna and Elsa.

Speaking of Anna and Elsa--I'm sure none of my readers are the type that would knock people down  in an attempt to storm Fairy Tale Hall as the Magic Kingdom opens, but watch out for these people! The Magic Kingdom has changed the way they do the rope drop in effort to slow the stampede, but there are still those folks who are hellbent on getting there first. The standby line reached 100 minutes while I was there on a slow week. Disney just announced that Elsa and Anna will be greeting guests from open to close, so hopefully this will help cut down on the crazy lines.

There is a lot of construction going on! The Vacation Club resorts that are under construction at the Polynesian have a lot blocked off, and there are big sections of the Magic Kingdom that are fenced off. Downtown Disney is well underway with renovations for the new Disney Springs and there are a lot of walls up and sections closed off.  Remember to check ahead of time for closures and construction, especially if you're travelling off season.

A penny for your thoughts: do you like to travel off season, or do you prefer to travel on holiday weekends?


  1. I remember Big Thunder freaking me out when I was a kid. I'm definitely not a roller coaster person, so I get your son's reaction. They just reopened it at Disneyland and I went for the first time since I was little and it seems tame. It may just be he's too young for it.
    I can't get over the fact that there's such a rush to get pictures with characters. They're kids who dress up in costumes for their job for crying out loud! You're not stepping into the cartoon!

  2. That sounds like a really great trip. Thanks for the tips. Someday we will make it to disney!