Sep 18-25, 2023 – Birthdays Trip! – Full Summary
September 28, 2023 at 10:09 am #168383
I won’t be doing a lengthy TR this time since I’m getting back and hitting the ground running So here’s a one-post summary with a couple pics to follow later on:
We left on Wednesday night, Sep 13th and drove straight through the night while our kids slept in their car seats. We arrived in Sarasota, FL on Thursday, Sep 14th in time for Dinner and a few nights with family (my “brother”, his wife, and their 2 kids). Brother in quotes, because he’s not blood (I’m an only child), but we’re close as brothers to the point that my kids call him and his wife Uncle & Aunt and their kids Cousins and vice versa. We were each other’s Best Man in our weddings. We stayed with them through my birthday on the 17th, and left on my wife’s birthday on the 18th for WDW…and my brother’s family followed us there for a few nights. They stayed at Bonnet Creek while we stayed at Bay Lake Tower.
September 18th all 8 of us went to Disney Springs, did a bit of shopping and had dinner at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ and it was delicious to the point that my brother asked me, “Are we supposed to *walk* out of here?” Afterward, we did just a bit more shopping then Christy, myself, and the kids, left to move in at Bay Lake Tower. We had a 2 Bedroom Villa with my parents (who met us there). It was a Lake View villa on the 3rd floor with a good view of the courtyard and pool as well. The room was nice and clean and in decent shape for a 14 year old room that has not yet been refurbished. The shower gel and shampoos were still in provided squeeze bottles instead of mounted to the walls. After we got moved in and put the kids down to sleep, Christy and I went for a nice Carriage ride at Port Orleans Riverside as my birthday gift to her. (She got me the Big Thunder Mountain board game which is really fun and well-thought-out by the way).
September 19th, we went to Epcot where we got to see and do quite a bit. I took 2 rides on GotG with virtual queue and swapped bands with Christy to do LL using the Rider Switch. She didn’t feel up to riding it as it disorients her pretty bad. We had a number of snacks from the Food & Wine booths while there (the Fry Flight was the BEST). We went on Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure for the first time and enjoyed it. Ariel (2 years & 11 months old) liked most of it, but not, “the mean baker man who tries to grab you”. It was a 50 minute posted wait that was actually 30 minutes. We also did Frozen Ever After (50 minute posted, 45 actual). We did Gran Fiesta Tour (walk-on) and Ariel loved both of those rides, the Gran Fiesta Tour was her favorite (that’s my girl! ). We had a visit with Club Cool and the Beverly is just as I remember it We also did The Seas with Nemo & Friends and Living with the Land and Ariel got to meet Anna Elsa and Snow White (let me tell you, Snow White did a fantastic job and made a lasting impression. Ariel brought home a new Snow White doll. It was what she wanted to get more than anything at WDW this trip). That’s the 1937 Snow White if anyone needs clarity.
September 20th we went to Magic Kingdom and went around Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. We did pretty much everything we could. Christy and I got Virtual Queue for Tron (Group 7!!!) and while short, really enjoyed it. Christy did really well with that one unlike some coasters. Ariel and I did the Speedway and the Barnstormer together since Enoch (1 year & 3 months old) wasn’t yet tall enough. We all did Under the Sea the PeopleMover, Mad Tea Party (twice!) Dumbo, Peter Pan’s Flight Cinderella’s Golden Carousel Winne the Pooh Enchanted Tales with Belle (and here Ariel’s jaw dropped when she got to meet her!) and Ariel also met Chip ‘n’ Dale, and of course Ariel at the Grotto In the middle of all that, we had a very good lunch at the Crystal Palace The food was just excellent, and so were the characters, but we found out Enoch is scared of fur characters. He melted down for each one and about gave Piglet a heart attack for his spontaneous reaction. We had a rather good dinner from Contempo Cafe that evening before putting the kids down to bed. And it was pouring rain outside. MK had extra evening hours that night, but the rain kept us away for a while. Christy and I went back leaving the kids in my parents’ care where we did Haunted Mansion (which was walk-on but had a posted 13 minute wait ) Big Thunder Mountain (twice in the rain which made it feel more like Splash Mountain – got so wet!), Space Mountain (three times!), and the Jungle Cruise. On the Jungle Cruise our Skipper Sadie “first name Skipper, last name Sadie” was fantastic and made sure to let us know Sadie was spelled “S-A-V-E-M-E” as her cries for help were silent no longer Of course we also got a
Sep 21st – We went to Animal Kingdom and did the Na’vi River Journey, the Safari, and the bird show. Got some
for snacking. We had lunch at Satu’li Canteen which was excellent, but the kids were crashing hard, so we cut our losses and just went back to the room for naps. When they woke up, we spent some time at the pool and Ariel did the big kid slide several times! My little thrill seeker! We saw Happily Ever After from the Bay Lake Tower Lounge area. Ariel liked the show, but not the booming sounds, overall she said she’d do it again. We got some to end out the day.
Sep 22nd – We didn’t go to the parks. We did some resting, some pool time, went to community hall, played the Big Thunder Mountain Game, and went to Disney Springs for shopping and a Ghirardelli Sundae.
Sep 23rd – We went to Epcot which would’ve been a mistake except for what we planned to do that day. We did Spaceship Earth the Seas again including Turtle Talk this time Imagination with Figment Club Cool again, and walked around World Showcase hitting all the Kidcot Fun Stops and got Fish & Chips at the UK for lunch. After that we went back to the room for naps, then went back out later to Hollywood Studios for dinner at Roundup Rodeo BBQ which, you guessed it, was excellent! Then, seeing super long wait times, we took a ride on the Skyliner to Epcot’s back gate, went in for one more ride on Gran Fiesta Tour and took the Skyliner back to DHS, got in our car and went back to the room.
Sep 24th – We went to Magic Kingdom and did everything we missed the first time. We did Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Pirates of the Caribbean Aladdin’s Magic Carpets the Tiki Room Country Bear Jamboree, and the Walt Disney World Railroad (so glad it’s back!!!). We also got more Ariel met Aladdin & Jasmine and…AND…Enoch got his first ever haircut at Harmony Barber Shop!!! He even got a song from the Dapper Dans! We went back to the room for the afternoon, and left the kids with my parents while Christy and I went back to Epcot by ourselves for Dinner at Space 220…and it was excellent, both the food and the atmosphere! After dinner we strolled on over for a ride on Soarin’ Over California and a special DVC preview of the Moana’s Way of Water We found the attraction really cool, but agree with Steve that it’s not an every trip thing, but will be neat for kids to cool off around on the hot summer days.
Sep 25th, we checked out and had a wonderful breakfast at Steakhouse 71. So glad we tried that one out! Totally recommend at least for Breakfast. As we left for our long drive home, we reflected on our trip. It was easily one of our better trips to WDW. Certainly the best since the Pandemic. Things seemed to be much better staffed. The cultural representatives were back at Epcot World Showcase and they were all delightful except the French ones, but we’re used to that. The cast members overall were far more friendly. We had only excellent dining experiences. Good accommodations. We actually didn’t want to leave. We felt like we got the legacy Disney experience which we so missed since 2020.
On a side note- and probably the 1 negative which had little bearing on us. We didn’t buy Genie+ or LL’s at all. We didn’t need them. BUT we noticed that they are definitely over-padding posted wait times so much so that we really think it’s a ploy to get you to buy Genie+. Except for Frozen Ever After, no posted waits were anywhere near accurate. We waited far less than actually posted much of the time.September 28, 2023 at 12:00 pm #168396
What a wonderful and memory making filled trip! Thank you so much for sharing!September 28, 2023 at 2:26 pm #168407
Great report, trip and tips.
Thanks much !September 28, 2023 at 2:55 pm #168408
Wonderful recap Glad you had funSeptember 30, 2023 at 2:25 pm #168459
Excellent report! What a terrific trip! So glad it was so positive and fun! And I love that Ariel loves Snow White now! She is always such a great meet! Excellent birthdays for you and your wife!! Thanks for taking the time to share!
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