As I told you before, my husband asked me to book a room at Disney for our family. Whenever I make a Disney reservation of any kind, I call. Yes, you can book online... But I MUCH prefer to call and speak with someone. The cast members on the phone are incredibly helpful. They will search multiple dates, resorts and all sorts of combinations of Disney fun for you. When you call, make sure you ask for a Florida Resident or Annual Passholder discount (if you fall into either category).
So I called. It was between 2 nights at one of the All Stars (which are meh in my honest opinion) and 1 night at Port Orleans Riverside. I ran it by the hubs and he opted for Port Orleans. I was happy with his choice.
Port Orleans is an excellent Resort. It's near Epcot and Disney's Old Key West Resort. The Resort offers bus transportation to all the Parks and boat service to Disney Springs.
There are two "sides" to the Resort - the Riverside and the French Quarter. They each have their own lobbies, gift shops, sets of eateries and pools. And the themes are different. The French Quarter is brightly colored, the outside of buildings resembles architecture from Bourbon Street. Basically, it's Mardi Gras every day at the French Quarter.
We stayed on the Riverside. I prefer this one. It is a nod to the beautiful southern, grand plantations you find in the South. The cafeteria has a large mill on the outside, I suppose to resemble an old sugar mill. My kiddos love this one. And here, if you ask for it, you can book a room with some Tiana magic (complete with a light-up headboard).
I've stayed at Port Orleans several times. It is one of my mom's preferred Resorts. And we have eaten here on numerous occasions - the first night we all arrived in Orlando for my sister's Disney wedding, when I brought the kids up last summer for a spontaneous day trip, and much more). But this was Stu's first time sleeping here, so it was a nice treat. I highly recommend this Disney Resort.
We drove up on Tuesday (day after Labor Day) morning and headed straight for the Magic Kingdom. The kids had picked out Fast Passes ahead of time. The first was for Space Mountain at noon.
The drive up was easy. Actually, it was incredible. The traffic was nearly nonexistent on the Turnpike. The funniest part was that Riley fell asleep in the backseat. I cannot remember the last time he slept in the car - including the drives from North Carolina and Tennessee. Crazy.
Ok, NOW Epcot.
We drove our car from our hotel to the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. From the Outpost we hoped on a Disney bus and rode it down to the settlement. For the first time ever, in our Disney experience, everything went without a hitch and we made it to Pioneer Hall in record time... which meant we had an excess of time to kill before we needed to check in. Luckily, there is a playground.
This year, Reagan's birthday is going to be overtaken by a cousin's wedding. So we went to Disney early in December to celebrate! This was the first time we had been to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. We've been at Walt Disney World for Christmas festivities a handful of times in the past - including actually being there when Santa came (the two images below are from 12/25/10 at the Magic Kingdom)!
It feels like we were just here... maybe because we were.
Perhaps my goal should be to hit up at least one of the Disney theme parks each month for the duration of our passes. What do you think?
Anyway, the kids had Monday off. Teacher workday. I scheduled some FastPasses and we headed up to the Magic Kingdom. Our first FP+ was for the Haunted Mansion. I was super bummed we didn't ride it in September, so I made sure it was on our list this time. This is one of my absolute favorite rides.
We rested for a bit in the hotel room. Epcot was fun, but we needed a recharge before heading into the Magic Kingdom for the night.
Alright, enough cute young Riley for now.
*sigh* The Magic Kingdom in the fall is so beautiful. I love all the pumpkins and fall leaves. If only the temperature would cooperate and drop a few degrees...
There was a snafu with our Magic Bands at the gate. Something went terribly wrong at the hotel check in... Somehow, my sister-in-law was checked in and Stu was left off. And the rest of us were wearing the wrong bands. We put the Bands in my bag and used our Annual Pass cards to gain entry and for our FP+. No worries.
Since you are only allowed 3 FastPasses per day and we used 2 at Epcot, our only one left was for Buzz Lightyear. That's Riley's favorite ride (next to Splash Mountain - which is currently closed for refurbishment) at MK. And Buzz ALWAYS has a long line. Anyone can ride it, kids love it, grown ups like it... plan to wait or FastPass this ride.
While we waited, Riley and I rode the PeopleMover. This is one of my MUST dos. I love this ride. There is very rarely a line for it. It is long (8 minutes) and it is relaxing. Some of the funniest and best photos we have are from this ride. Want to see some?
That was fun. Good times. Now, back to the present.
We met up with Stu and Reagan. By this time, it was getting kind of late, so we went to the Starlight Cafe for dinner. It's across from the Tomorrowland Speedway. Riley had a tiny meltdown while waiting for the food. He told me he was done and just wanted to go back to the room.
Dinner perked him up though. So we powered through. Both kids wanted to drive the race cars on the Speedway. The standby line was about 30 minutes. We went for it. This was BY FAR the funniest thing we did the entire trip. Reagan and Stu were in the first car. Riley and I right behind. Riley could not see the road ahead, he had no idea there was a rail keeping all the cars in specific lanes. He kept trying to pass Stu and Reagan, which would smash us into the center rail and cause our car to jerk around. I think my back cracked a dozen times. I laughed the entire time. Riley screamed and yelled and laughed the whole time. Luckily, Stu had the foresight to video it:
Reagan and I rode Space Mountain together. Riley was tired and did not feel like trying anything else new. So he and Stu hung out. They went on Buzz again (no line because people were at the castle waiting for the fireworks), then they watched the fireworks from the PeopleMover.
And that pretty much ended our night. We left just as they were doing the slide show on the castle (that's super cool to see, if you haven't seen it before, plan to at least once). The bus was packed, but we made it.
It did not take long for the little Stus to pass out after their showers. Now it's time to rest up and get ready for Animal Kingdom!
And please don't forget to vote & vote often.
Every single time we go, we have fun. Every single time we find something new to do. This trip was like Riley's first time... he experienced a world of new rides, new resort, new food.
As you know, we LOVE staying in the cabins at Fort Wilderness. This Disney Resort has so many incredible things to offer families.
Don't fret if you forget to pack something. There is an Outpost store on the Resort Property. You can ride your golf cart or a bus to pick up any essentials. Or, you can get in your vehicle and drive off Disney property... there are several Publixes within a few miles.
You're on vacation, and you do not want to cook? No problem. There is no shortage of eateries at this Resort.
Mickey's Backyard BBQ is the BEST character dining experience at Disney. Yes, you can quote me on that. Yes, there are other great places to go and get up close and personal with the characters, but nothing like this.
This BBQ is held outside, under a large pavilion. The dinner is served buffet-style (same food as the above spots). The food is so yummy. The tables are incredibly long picnic tables, and families are seated by Disney staff upon arrival. There is a stage and a few "dance spots." Once everyone has had a bit of time, the characters come out. You'll find Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Chip and Dale. They don't make the rounds as they do elsewhere. Here, they dance. And kids are encouraged to go dance with the characters. The characters are out for long periods of time and, trust me, you will have plenty of interaction with them. It's awesome.
The Backyard BBQ is not available every night. They only run Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from now (Sept) through December. Then they drop down to Thursdays and Saturdays. This is a seasonal restaurant, the weather effects its dates of availability. Remember, I told you this was outside. You can always call Disney to ask questions, or to book (up to 180 in advance).
You will NOT be disappointed.
For dining reservations and questions, call (407)WDW-DINE.
Last time I told you about our eventful attempt to make it out of the driveway. And our eventual arrival to the cabins at Ft Wilderness. Today, I want to share our crazy Friday with you.
Friday was a bit more chaotic than it was planned to be. We had planned to spend the day at the Animal Kingdom. But in the morning, on our way to hop on a Disney bus, Genie and I decided to check on our friends' cabins.
Several other families would be arriving over the next 24 hours, and we wanted to make sure their cabins would be on our loop. We had all linked the reservations when we booked, so it should be a no-brainer, right? Wrong. This happens every time! I don't understand why Disney has not mastered "linking." I mean, come on, we all want to stay together.
Our Disney Sides
We are fortunate enough to live a short drive away from the Happiest Place on Earth! And we take full advantage of it!