Here is the first of three posts on our Disney/Universal trip. They will be long posts as I've decided to make it into three, rather than spread it into four or five. Then later I'll put together a "How we do Disney" post. I love reading travel posts, so I hope you do too.
We set out on our journey on Thursday, October 19. Dave was already in Florida for a conference, so it was just me and the boys. I picked them up from school and we drove to the airport. After sorting out the parking situation (we had reserved in the wrong lot, oops!) we got parked and boarded the little train to the terminal.
We got through security and customs (we get to do US customs here at the Toronto airport instead of at our destination) but had to wait in line for Q's US portion of his Nexus interview. It took awhile but we still had lots of time to make it to our flight. Instead of sitting at a restaurant for supper, we just got Booster Juice and a slice of pizza. It was probably more welcome than a sit down meal.
On the plane. Air Canada Rouge planes don't have screens, but we were prepped with our iPads and headphones.
By the time we landed and Ubered to our hotel (the Caribbean Beach Resort), it was pretty late, so right to bed.
On Friday morning, the extra magic hours for Animal Kingdom, our first park, started at 7:30 am. We were on the bus bright and early to get there before then.
Avatar Flight of Passage is my favourite ride and since it is a "fancy ride", meaning you either wait in line, or you pay extra per person to skip the line (you cannot use Genie+ for this one), then we knew we wanted to run to this ride as soon as the park opened, and that's what we did, with this brief pause for a photo.
First glimpse of the tree.
I love the Pandora section of this park.
Happy to be here! (and happy to be with big kids who can keep up and don't need strollers!)
Our plan worked and we basically walked onto the ride. It's still my favourite ride.
Since we were so early, the line for Expedition Everest was short, so we went right over to Asia.
Look how pretty, early in the morning - Central Florida, not Asia.
Q's first real rollercoaster, he loved it! We did this twice in a row.
The characters from UP.
Love that tree!
Then we waited in line for the Safari. It was our longest wait for the day at about 35 minutes.
Back to Pandora to use our Genie+ for the Na'vi River Journey, and a quick snack.
Mid-morning, the weather was hot enough to do the Kali River Rapids ride.
At this point we had done all we wanted to do it and it was only noon! We had reservations for 3:45 so we wanted to stick around for that. We spent some time at the Dinoland USA part of the park, and attended the Bug's Life show.
While we were waiting for the Finding Nemo show, we saw a few characters go by on the boats.
Goofy and Pluto.
Q would have very little idea of who these characters are but he was screaming "Pluto" at them from shore.
Pocahontas and Meeko.
Launchpad and Scrooge McDuck
The Finding Nemo show had big puppets and singing and it was really impressive. High calibre performers, and it was also a nice break to sit in a dark theatre.
Then we had time for another round of Everest before our reservations.
We ate at Yak and Yeti, which has an Asian food theme, and it was really good. We all enjoyed our meals and even had a few leftovers to eat later that night.
Basic Q - pogo dogs, white rice, and corn - but he loved it and ate it all up.
Then we went back to our hotel. It was a beautiful evening, and we decided to spend some time at the pool.
The next day (Saturday) was E's 12th birthday. We brought some birthday balloons to decorate the room, but it was a short-lived celebration since Magic Kingdom was opening at 7:30 and we needed to get going!
Ahh, the castle was a welcome sight.
Our plan was to run to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (another fancy ride, like Avatar, pay to ride or wait in a long line), but it was shut down. Instead we went right over to Space Mountain with no line, and then the Tomorrowland Speedway.
We had Genie+ for Haunted Mansion.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad had no line so we went over to Frontierland for that one. And got some iced coffee and doughnuts.
Christmas card photo contender!
We had joined the Virtual Queue for Tron and were called to that ride in a good time. Ignore their faces, they were having a good time.
This is a pretty cool ride, so fast!
I am screaming, as I did on most rides!
Snack time - Mickey pretzels and an Uncrustable for Q. Then we walked over to Main Street to get on the Railroad to go around the park.
Then over to Adventureland for a Dole Whip (which hit the spot!), Swiss Family Treehouse, Jungle Cruise, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
When we were finished at Jungle Cruise we saw the parade was starting so we watched that. I think I love this more than the kids, since I know everyone and the songs.
Mickey and Minnie!!
Classic carousel ride.
We went to Mickey's PhilharMagic and got Genie+ for Barnstormer. We had dinner reservations for 6:30 but we saw that Seven Dwarfs was back up and running (it had been down and up all day, and when it was up the line was super long), but we could see that there didn't seem to be that many people in line so we took a chance to see if we could get on before our reservation, and we did! We only had to wait about 30 minutes.
Our reservations were at the Be Our Guest restaurant in Beast's Castle. I wanted to do a character meal, and since this was E's birthday I thought we should have a special meal (again, was I more excited about this than the kids? hmm)
I think I was!!
The Beast came around to say hi, but sadly he doesn't stop for photos and hugs anymore. Our server told us this feature went away during Covid and hasn't returned. A bit disappointing to pay for a fancy character meal and only get a wave.
However, the setting was beautiful and the meal was very good. It was a three-course meal so I had the escargot and short rib, and a tasty dessert sampler.
The kids' dessert came with "Chip", and some edible paint to paint him.
E got some special "Grey Stuff" (try it, it's delicious!) for his birthday, and they both got a card signed by The Beast.
Then we ran out of there to get to the fireworks that were starting. We missed a bit of the beginning while we tried to get into a suitable position. They are so amazing!
Then time to head out for the night.
Tomorrow I'll share the rest of the Disney portion of our trip, with a Universal recap on Friday.