Hurricane Laura made her grand appearance in our area one afternoon in late August. Our electricity is quite finicky at our house, it goes out every time it even thinks about bad weather. As usual, our electricity went out with the first gust of wind amid clear blue skies and not a drop of rain yet. Unfortunately Laura really showed out later that evening and it looked like we could be without power for days. After 26 hours of melting in the August heat and mosquito infested rice fields where we live and no light at the end of the tunnel we decided to get out of town!
Thanks to our over abundance of airline miles, already paid for Disney World Annual Passes, and 40% off hotel room discounts it was a no brainer to head back to Disney World! With 4 little kids Disney is by far the easiest vacation for us!
This trip started off a little rocky though. Our 5am flight ended up being delayed by 2 hours which caused us to miss our connecting flight and then also miss the connecting flight they rebooked us on. Thankfully it wasn’t too big of a deal, we eventually made it to our connecting airport and then on to Orlando still before noon so plenty of time to enjoy a half day at Epcot.
Side note: We almost exclusively fly Southwest nonstop to Orlando, but I didn’t have enough Southwest miles to cover all 6 of our tickets for this trip. I did however have enough American Airlines miles to cover us and we have an AA companion pass. So I ended up choosing an AA flight that had a short layover but was free. We actually ended up in Orlando earlier even with the delay than we would have if we had taken the nonstop Southwest flight. Thankfully our kids are extremely used to airports, layovers, and delays so it wasn’t an issue for them either. We ended up sitting on our first plane at the gate right after boarding for 2 hours and they took that opportunity to nap.
We usually stay in a theme park view room at the Contemporary but I was trying to keep this trip extra low cost so I opted for a Garden Wing room at the Contemporary instead and ended up paying less than $200/night for it which is awesome for a Disney Resort, let alone one across the parking lot from Magic Kingdom! The garden wing rooms are just like the main tower rooms except they’re on the other side of the pool instead of in the main tower of the resort. Not an issue at all and the walkway is completely covered so no walking outside in the rain. My only complaint with the garden wing is that we were on the second floor and the elevator is only big enough for one stroller to fit. All the other elevators on Disney property will easily accommodate both our double strollers at the same time so it was a little bit of a pain to have to wait and take the elevator separate. Andrew’s main complaint with the garden wing room is that he couldn’t see Magic Kingdom from our balcony. We do enjoy the theme park room views, but like I said, this was a short inexpensive trip so I wasn’t willing to pay double for him to see Cinderella’s castle for 3 days especially with no nighttime fireworks to watch! I’m a mean wife y’all.
We spent our first half day at Epcot and decided to have dinner at Tutto Italia. It always gets rave reviews but we’ve never eaten there because we are creatures of habit and love Via Napoli. Both restaurants are owned by the same company and right next to each other in the Italy pavilion. The kids all had spaghetti. I ordered ravioli in a cream sauce and Andrew ordered penne pasta in red sauce but we ended up trading each other. Our waiter was a sweet older gentleman from Italy and he was great. Our food was definitely good, but probably won’t be somewhere we eat regularly like Via Napoli.
Our one and only full day we of course spent at Magic Kingdom. First we had breakfast at The Wave inside the Contemporary before walking over to Magic Kingdom. The Wave is a table service restaurant inside the Contemporary Resort. They have wonderful food! We never ate there before COVID because we preferred the character experience at Chef Mickey’s but since CM no longer has characters and the food is pretty lacking we have been skipping it and opting for breakfast at the Wave every morning instead. Of course the quick service Contempo Cafe is also open, but we are much better at being seated and waited on by a server so that’s what we prefer. It’s just easier for us with a bunch of little kids if someone else can bring us our food and drinks while we have a designated table instead of fighting the crowds looking for a table and carrying food around with a bunch of babies in tow.
With crowds and wait times still being pretty low we are able to knock out everything at Magic Kingdom by pretty early in the afternoon. Our kids aren’t big enough to ride Space Mountain so that’s a ride and longer line we do skip, but considering we have a newly potty trained 2 year old our hourly trips to the bathroom with 4 kids probably more than compensate for the time we would spend waiting for Splash Mountain! My roundabout point is that you still need a full day for Magic Kingdom but I used to recommend 2 days or at least 2.5 but I don’t think that’s necessary right now.
I managed to get us last minute dinner reservations to Be Our Guest. I had been searching for a couple days and they were booked but one popped up the day of. Dining options are really limited at Magic Kingdom right now and Be Our Guest is one of our favorites anyway. Thankfully Disney just announced that Cinderella’s Royal Table will be reopening September 24 and we are so excited about that! The Princesses will not be there, but the food is usually very good and eating inside Cinderella’s Castle is an experience in itself. Gaston’s Tavern, a very popular quick service dining location at Magic Kingdom will also be reopening September 24! I’m hopefully these additions mean the return of more things to come!
One of my favorite things about this trip was that we caught the beginning of fall and Halloween decor and merchandise being released! Usually Disney starts the fall/Halloween season in mid August but they pushed it back this year due to the cancellation of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party. All fall decor, merchandise, and treats will be out by September 15 so we did miss most of them but I was still happy to grab a pumpkin spice latte and browse the Halloween stuff on Main Street USA.
Since there are 4 Disney parks and no park hopping right now we had to skip one park because we only had 3 days. This was a no brainer for us because Hollywood Studios is really lacking for our family right now. The last several times we’ve been to HS we have been out of there by 11 and that’s even with a 10am park opening! The only 2 rides there that our kids are all tall enough for us Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Toy Story Mania. Both of those are great rides but with no other shows for us to see or do there’s just not enough to fill a day there and it’s really not fair to our two littlest girls to have to sit and wait all day long while the twins ride all the other rides they are tall enough for like Millennium Falcon, Tower of Terror, etc.
Also swaying our third park decision was that we only had a half day because we needed to be back at our resort by 1pm for Magical Express to pick us up. We chose Animal Kingdom because it opens at 8am and that gave us plenty of time to hit all the main attractions there and have lunch at Yak & Yeti before heading to the airport.
Our return trip home was much less eventful than our trip down. Going home we had a short nonstop flight on Southwest that was peacefully uneventful. I really do think this is our last trip until after #5 is born. Since we’ve been home Andrew has already started rice harvest and I’m getting pretty close to the 36 week pregnancy no flying cut off, but I never say never!