I’m finally recapping my family’s EPIC DADventure to Walt Disney World in November 2019. [Read ALL Trip Recap Stories] I’ve taken the last few months to enjoy the holidays with the family, get over my Post-Disney re-entry whiplash, and let all of what happened sink in.
I’m sharing my thoughts on tricks we used, travel, day by day schedules, how we kept everyone happy, rides, attractions, and of course food with each post.
I planned for this trip like it was a second job. I watched the videos, read the books, listened to the podcasts, talked to the Disney Instagram world. I knew every thing that was going to come my way.
Or so I thought.
Even the most prepared of us will get surprised, in both good and not-so-great ways, by a Walt Disney World vacation. Here are my DADventure Dozen of the most surprising things that happened to us.
Let’s get to the list. Then, hit the comments below and let the debate and conversation flow!
Our Car Broke Down
How Do We Get to the Airport?
Riding in Style
We were catching the earliest flight ever. [Read how JetBlue tried to ruin our Disney trip.] We had to leave our house by 2:00am to make it to the airport on time, the day of our Disney arrival.
The afternoon before we left (a mere 10 hours before) our family SUV decided it didn’t feel like working any more. Rushed it to the mechanic looking for a miracle. Nope. Wasn’t going to happen. Car was dead.
No one we knew had a vehicle big enough to bring the 5 of us, 3 car seats and all our luggage to the airport (not that we really wanted to ask someone to do that at 2am). Car rental places were closed. Uber was crazy expensive for this ride. So, I booked my last choice…
We rode in a STRETCH LIMO to the airport. We arrived for our trip IN STYLE!
DADventure’ Future Planning Tip: Always have a Plan B for your travel in your back pocket. You never know what’s going to happen.
We Haven’t Been in 5 Years
It’s All Brand New!
WOW! We hadn’t been to Disney World since our honeymoon, five years earlier. We remembered Disney Springs as like walking through a nice outside mall.
It was almost an afterthought for us to go there on this trip. Thank goodness we did!
It’s amazing. It feels like you’re in the Beverly Hills of shopping and food. We were blown away.
DADventure’ Future Planning Tip: Make sure you plan time to spend in Disney Springs, it’s totally worth it.
Be Our Guest Restaurant
It’s HUGE Inside
A runs SO smoothly!
We didn’t get into Be Our Guest Restaurant on our honeymoon trip. We were caught off-guard then about how fast it fills up and how hard it is to get in.
This time, it was a MUST HAVE for us to make an Advanced Dining Reservation.
When we went for lunch, which was AMAZING, [read our DADventure Disney Dozen Best Things I Ate] and I was floored with how many people they seat in this place.
Three big rooms FULL of people – and every meal gets exactly where it belongs! (Thank you MagicBand GPS!) It’s stunning how it all works.
DADventure’ Future Planning Tip: 1. Make an ADR. 2. Take a few moments to stroll around and see all three rooms.
Off-Season Can Be Warm in Buildings
Attraction Wait Queues Can Be Steamy
Where Is The A/C?
We visited in mid-November. That’s 70 degree days in Florida and 50 degree nights. So, it’s not surprising that the Florida natives feel this is cold.
We’re not Florida natives. Most folks at Disney World aren’t. So, while the Florida folks turn OFF the A/C in the buildings and ride queues on these “colder” days – those of us from New England are warm.
It first hit me waiting in the corridors of Princess Fairytale Hall in Magic Kingdom. I was standing there, sweating like someone asked me to pass the advanced calculus entrance exam at M.I.T. I mean, we were swimming every day – turn the A/C on just a little in the confined spaces?
DADventure’ Future Planning Tip: Dress in layers, down to some short sleeves – all year round.
Non-Planned Food That Was GREAT!
Quick Service For The Win
We had most of our meals and snacks “loosely” planned out, but still had times we just wanted to eat something quick and easy to find.
Twice we were surprised with what we ended up with. Sleepy Hollow Refreshments in Magic Kingdom and Centertown Market in the Caribbean Beach Resort really stepped up with some amazing offerings.
A traditional Cuban sandwich at Centertown. Corn Dog, Spicy Chicken and Waffle and Churro Ice Cream Sandwich from Sleepy Hollow ALL ended up on my BEST things I ate list.
DADventure’ Future Planning Tip: Enjoy eating at your resort more – closer to your bed! Also, don’t skip over Sleepy Hollow – it’s my new favorite.
Single and Ready to Mingle
Single Rider Line, I Mean, Come on!
After the kiddos and wife went to sleep on our first night in the parks, I headed off, by myself, on the Skyliner [read how Disney Skyliner is a Game Changer!] to Hollywood Studios to check out Galaxy’s Edge.
Standing there before me was Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and I was going to ride it. [Read my Smuggler’s Run experience.] I didn’t want to wait in the 50 minute queue – no sir – I went Single Rider! And I rode it FIVE times in a couple hours.
DADventure’ Future Planning Tip: Find all the rides that have Single Rider access and make it happen!
Ralph Wrecked Me
Where You Going Ralph?
Vanellope is cool too.
Our morning in Epcot, we were crossing off more character autographs [read about our Princess Breakfast at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall] and headed to ImageWorks (home of the Figment Ride) to meet Wreck it Ralph and Vanellope. My daughter LOVED Breaks the Internet and was psyched to add them to our list.
We jumped in the short queue to meet them and as we turned the last turn in the maze of waiting ribbons, they both turned to walk back into their internet tunnel. We were told Vanellope would be right back, which she was. Alas, Ralph didn’t make the trip back with her. That shot above was as close to Ralph as we got.
DADventure’ Future Planning Tip: Ask Cast Members when specific characters are more likely than not to be in their meet areas.
Ride That Are Surprisingly Wet
Didn’t Think I’d Need A Poncho
You expect to get a little wet on Pirates of the Caribbean. More on Splash Mountain. A lot on the Kali River Rapids.
I didn’t expect to get SOAKED on Aladdin’s Flying Carpets or in the Voyage of The Little Mermaid Stage Show.
I knew the camels at the Aladdin ride spit, especially on the crowds walking by. I didn’t know I’d get a full head-on hosing while ON the ride. As far as Ariel goes, it rained in the movie, so it rained on the stage AND then it rained on the AUDIENCE! Soaked!
They can’t turn on the A/C in the ride queues cause it’s chilly out, but I can still get a shower from a camel?
DADventure’ Future Planning Tip: Check the seat of your ride/show for drops of water before you sit down – drops mean you’re gonna get wet!
PeopleMover is Scary!
Really? It’s so slow.
Hello Darkness My Old Friend
When we planned out what rides the kids wanted to go on, we took in to consideration speed, water, volume, fright and more. [Read Parents Panel Top 10 Rides for Toddlers] One of the rides that seemed a safe no-brainer was the Tomorrowland PeopleMover. It’s a slow ever-moving ride around Tomorrowland.
It also goes through Space Mountain. That ride is dark… well, so is the PeopleMover as it drives through. I mean, it was PITCH BLACK. We were not ready for that. My kids were squeezing my hands. My wife was a little shaken. I was confused and also a bit shaken – I did NOT remember this at all.
DADventure’ Future Planning Tip: Prep Your Kids that the PeopleMover gets DARK!
FastPass is Frozen!
No, not the ride Frozen, our FP stopped working.
I had the FastPass system on LOCK! I knew every tip and trick. [Read our FastPass guides.] As we got in line for our third FastPass of the day I was already on my phone, rocking the My Disney Experience app to book the next FastPass.
We were in the queue for Under The Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid and I was trying to find the next FP to book, but only 3 people were popping up – my middle daughter wasn’t eligible for another FP! What the hell?
Turns out, when we checked our MagicBands to enter the Little Mermaid ride, hers didn’t really register and was still active. So, as we got off the ride I ran her back to the beginning and ‘booped’ her MagicBand. I was then able to book The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh next.
DADventure’ Future Planning Tip: Watch those swirling green circles on the FastPass stations to be sure you are all checked in!
Toy Story Land Is Tight
You’re The Size of a Toy
Kinda Feel Like You’re Stuck Behind the Couch
I knew Toy Story Land would be busy. I knew Pandora in Animal Kingdom would be busy. I didn’t know how SMALL the walkways in Toy Story Land would be. Or how little shade there would be at either of these parks. Lots of standing around, in big clumps of humanity, in the blazing sun.
Pandora was a bit easier to walk around, but Toy Story Land really was tight. I won’t lie, made it a not favorite park for me. I’m not sure HOW they can expand those standing areas, or shade them, but something has to be done.
DADventure’ Future Planning Tip: Do either of these parts of the parks in the evening, or very early morning.
No Breakfast Bus
Disney Website Was Wrong
We had 8:00am breakfast reservations at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall to dine with Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Snow White and Cinderella. Epcot didn’t open until 9:00am. Buses and Skyliner didn’t start running till 1 hour before park-opening. That means they don’t start until I had to be there.
Before I left home, I checked in with the Cast Member chat on WaltDisneyWorld.com, worried I’d not get to my breakfast. I even shared the findings on our Instagram Page.
However, this was not true. When I checked in at Caribbean Beach Resort and wanted to confirm what time the “Breakfast Bus” left, I was told there was no such thing. My Cast Member then left and double checked with the main Concierge who confirmed it didn’t exist. WHAT?!?
I showed my saved chat with WDW.com and the Caribbean Beach crew did what Disney does – they made it right. They gave me a voucher for Mears Taxi service – along with three car seats – to get us to Epcot in plenty of time. I was really surprised I was the first person to EVER mention this to either of these Cast Members as clearly the folks at online chat believe it to be a thing.
As I was heading out at 7:30am to meet the taxi, I DID see the Skyliners in motion and the buses picking people up. SO, maybe they run early, but the Cast Members never like to guarantee it? Who knows?
DADventure’ Future Planning Tip: Plan some extra cash and time for a Minnie Van, Mears Taxi or Uber to get to a breakfast reservation before the parks open.
Have you ever experienced any of these? Do you think A/C should be on even when it’s ‘cold out’? How would YOU expand Toy Story Land? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below or on Instagram and Facebook.
DADventure is out there!