Smiles at Epcot.

Trip Report: Cecilia’s Visit – November 2012

What’s almost as fun as going to Disney World? Reading about other people’s trips! Here is a trip report from Cecilia. Enjoy reading bout her trip!


In early 2012, my two daughters, ages 38 and 27, and myself began planning another trip to our favorite place on earth, Walt Disney World. This would be #15, and we were as excited thinking about this trip as we were on our first back in 1978. I made the reservations on line, and made sure we picked the dates that were eligible for the Free Dining Plan, an absolutely great money saver. We always stay at Port Orleans, Riverside. It is actually the only Resort we have ever stayed at. We love it, and it is truly our home away from home.

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Our road trip began on Black Friday, November 23rd, at 4:15am. We spent one night in Crestview, Florida, and arrived in Orlando on Saturday, November 24th, around 3:30pm. We really got excited when we saw our first Walt Disney World exit sign, and even more so when we saw our Resort “Port Orleans, Riverside” sign. After checking in and finding our room, which was located in Alligator Bayou, we unpacked and ate our first meal at the Riverside Mill food court, a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

Day 1 – Animal Kingdom

After dinner, we went to the bus depot and caught a bus for Animal Kingdom. It was now around 6pm, and Animal Kingdom closed at 8pm, so we knew this was going to be a quick trip. From our arrival around 6:15pm until we left around 8pm, our itinerary went like this: rode Dinosaur twice, Primeval Whirl twice, then the girls decided to hurry to Expedition Everest. I was not up to that walk so I opted to meet them at the entrance to the park. They actually rode it twice, joined me, then we caught our Resort bus, got a snack of a desert and coffee from the Riverside Mill, walked to our room, amidst the musical chirping of crickets, and on that note ended Day 1 of our WDW adventure.

Fun in Animal Kingdom.
Fun in Animal Kingdom.

Arose at 6:30am, got dressed and headed once again to Riverside Mill for breakfast. After chowing down on a full breakfast platter of eggs, bacon, hash browns, and a biscuit, we caught the bus to the Magic Kingdom. We were thrilled to be back again in this magical place. I love hearing that train whistle, and the smells of popcorn, cotton candy, and fresh baked cookies. Main Street, USA, we had arrived!

First stop, Space Mountain. We got a fast pass, then rode it. Next, we hopped on board the People Mover, checked out a couple of shops, rode Buzz Lightyear, then it was time for our Space Mountain fast pass, so we rode it again. (Note: a great souvenir is to get a fast pass to your favorite ride when you don’t plan to ride it, and keep the fast pass.)

Next stop, the parts of the new Fantasyland that had just opened. We were really surprised that The Little Mermaid ride was open. The queque to this ride is so “Little Mermaid” themed with waterfalls, and shells, even a digital screen where you can interact with Sebastian. Once you get to the ride itself, you board a clam shell and you are then transported into Ariel’s world and the sights and sounds from the movie, along with all the realistic-looking audioanimatronic characters and sea creatures. This ride is so colorful and musical, very creative. We loved it!

The New Fantasyland was so much more than we had imagined. The design and Imagineering that went into this “new fantasy world” was amazing. Just down the walkway from the Little Mermaid ride was Gaston’s Tavern, built to look just like the one from the movie, “Beauty and the Beast”, with large wooden tables and chairs and a huge fireplace with a painting of Gaston himself. We couldn’t resist a souvenir goblet filled with a refreshing frozen apple drink and some apple slices with caramel dipping sauce, very yummy!

As we left, Gaston was in front of a fountain, bragging about his exploits to each and every person who had their picture made with him, including us. The cast member who was portraying Gaston did an excellent job, very egotistical in his manners and very funny!

After a quick walk-through the new Dumbo’s Circus area, we noticed that the “Be Our Guest” Restaurant was open for business, so the decision was made—lunch at “Be Our Guest”.

I cannot say enough about this dining experience. From the ornate furniture, suits of armor, sculptures of beastly figures, to the low lighting. It truly felt like you were in the Beast’s castle. The dining room itself was enormous. It looked like you just entered the great ballroom where Belle and the Beast danced, complete with massive windows, where you could see snow falling outside. The chandeliers were gorgeous! We had ordered our food on a monitor, then the host gave us a small rose disc which we placed on our table, and within 5 minutes a server brought us our food on a wheeled cart. We had sandwiches, which were delicious with a unique gourmet desert. We felt so special, like we really were guests at a royal feast.

After our fairytale lunch, we visited the following: Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mt. Railroad,

Splash Mountain, a quick look inside the Briar Patch shop, then on to Pirates Of The Caribbean. Since it was beginning to get really crowded and hot, we decided to go back to our Resort, cool off, and plan our evening.

Around 7pm, we left for Hollywood Studios, which stayed open until 11pm. Our first stop was to see the Osborne Lights Display. This was a very moving, Holiday experience. The spectacular lights and music were extraordinary. Every Holiday visitor needs to experience this display; it is truly unforgettable!

After dinner at the Commissary, a great place for a quick meal of chicken or fish tenders, hamburgers, fries, etc., we made our way to the Tower of Terror. Because it was not very crowded, the hostess actually let myself and my two daughters ride on a car by ourselves. We were so thrilled. This was a first for us, and we could not stop laughing. Believe me, this was our favorite ride that night, and we did buy our “silly-pose” picture. It was almost closing time, so my two girls decided to squeeze in one more ride on Rockin’ roller coaster. I sat this one out! After a bus ride back to our Resort, we slowly strolled to our room, and so ended Day 2.

Day 3 —Animal Kingdom & Epcot

We arose at 6:30am—ate breakfast at Riverside Mill, then rode the bus to Animal Kingdom.

First stop, Expedition Everest. This is one of the most exciting, exhilarating rides at WDW, and my two girls are addicted to this ride. I managed one ride, then that was it for me, but they rode three more times before I suggested we move on. After enjoying the “It’s Tough To Be A Bug” production, a great show for the whole family, we had lunch at our favorite Animal Kingdom restaurant, “Pizzafari”. The pizza and salad are scrumptious, and just enough for romping around this huge park.

Recap for rides after lunch: Dinosaur, twice, Primeval Whirl, twice, and shopping. Since Animal Kingdom closed that day at 5pm, we chose to leave and headed to Epcot, via bus. At Epcot we rode Spaceship Earth, Mission Space, walked to Mexico and rode the indoor boat ride. We were so disappointed that Text Track was still closed for renovation.

Smiles at Epcot.
Smiles at Epcot.

We then rode the monorail, best ever mode of transportation,back to the Magic Kingdom, which closed at 9pm, so we really didn’t have time to do much. We had dinner at another favorite place, Columbia Harbor House—yummy chicken tenders, grilled salmon, clam chowder in a bread bowl, etc. We did get in one more ride before we left, The Little Mermaid—what a nice, relaxing, way to end our visit to the Magic Kingdom. It was back to the Resort and to bed!

Time to enjoy a meal at Columbia Harbor House.
Time to enjoy a meal at Columbia Harbor House.

began just like the other 3, except we woke up late and decided to eat breakfast at our first destination, Hollywood Studios. After we arrived at the Park, we had a quick breakfast at the Starring Rolls Café, delicious bagels, croissants, juice, and gourmet coffee, so refreshing. The next exciting event that happened was getting to be the first group to go through the “Captain Jack Sparrow’s Adventure. It was opening that day, and we were the very first ones in line. This was another first for us, and we were so happy!

It is a stand-up show, so be prepared to hold little ones up or on your shoulders. You enter a dark pirate’s grotto, then experience an interactive, digital performance, which is very exciting, great attraction!

Fun at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Next, we visited the Muppets in the Muppet-3-D show, rode Star Tours, shopped a little, then had a snack at Rosie’s All American Diner, where we shared a personal pizza, fries, and a ham sandwich and drinks, always drinks. You cannot get enough liquids when you are walking all over the “World”. (A good tip: If we’re not really ready for lunch, maybe waiting on a fast pass time, we like to stop somewhere, order a couple of items, and share. That way, you pass the time, plus you save room in your stomach for another special lunch or dinner). We ended our stay at Hollywood with the Toy Story ride (I love this ride—it’s like a carnival ride with special effects, very popular—get a fast pass as soon as you can).

After Hollywood, it was back to the Resort, then we drove to Disney Springs to do some shopping. After that we returned to our resort, and rode the bus to the Magic Kingdom. We rode the train to Frontierland, and ate dinner at another of our favorite places, “Pecos Bill’s”. I had a tangy Bar-B-Que sandwich and fries, the girls had taco salads. They have a condiment bar with grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, hot cheese sauce, all the fixins’ for a great meal.

So many places, so many ways to get there.
So many places, so many ways to get there.

The Main Street Electrical parade, which we had seen many times, actually started while we were eating, so we had to slowly make our way back to the front of the Park, rode the monorail to Epcot, then we decided to walk around World Showcase. While the IllumiNations show was going on, we decided to visit The American Adventure, not remembering how long the show was, and when we exited, all of World Showcase was deserted. We felt like we were the only visitors left. World Showcase was deserted. As we walked all the way back to the entrance, we saw very few visitors, mostly cast members, closing up all the different attractions. The Park closed at 9:30pm, and it was 11pm before we boarded our bus, and by the time we made it back to our room, we were exhausted!

Day 5 – Magic Kingdom & Hollywood Studios

began with our usual breakfast at the Riverside Mill. After that, we caught the bus to the Magic Kingdom. This was shopping day, so we thoroughly searched out all the stores on Main Street. Another great perk of staying on the WDW property is that you can have anything you buy sent back to your resort to be picked up later. After spending way too much on Disney souvenirs, we headed to Space Mountain. There was a long line, so we opted for a Fast Pass. After all that time on Main Street, we were now ready for lunch. Our restaurant of choice, “Pinocchio’s Village Haus”, where we dined on flatbread pizza and Italian gelato, so scrumptious!

It was then Fast Pass time for Space Mountain. I sat this one out, and kept my Fast Pass for a souvenir. My two daughters rode it. Next stop, Frontierland, where we rode Big Thunder, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, then rode the train back to Main Street. From there we rode the bus to Animal Kingdom, which closed at 5pm, so while I sat at the front entrance, the girls rode Expedition Everest, “5” times! Apparently, there were so few people in line, they were having a ride-a-thon to see how many rides they could get in before it shut down.

After a quick trip to Hollywood Studios for a ride on Rockin’ Roller Coaster, and another visit to the Osborne Lights display, we were ready to leave. End of Day 5

Day 6 – Our Last Day

Arose 6:30am, enjoyed our last breakfast at Riverside Mill, then off to the Magic Kingdom. Our first attraction was “Peter Pan’s Flight”, one of our favorites. It is a magical journey in a flying ship, with all the scenes from the movie, along with the whimsical music. The next ride, located across from “Peter Pan’ was “It’s A Small World”, then another visit to The Haunted Mansion, followed by Big Thunder Railroad and Splash Mountain. While in Frontierland, we had our picture made with two of our favorite characters, Chip and Dale, who always put on a good show. Since this was our last day, we were not passing up any riding opportunities. With that said, it was on to Pirates of the Caribbean, followed by a quick flight on the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, and who could pass up the Jungle Cruise and a walk through Swiss Family Robinson’s treehouse. After all this travelling, we sat down and enjoyed refreshing Dole pineapple floats from the Aloha isle, where they also serve fresh pineapple spears, pineapple, vanilla or orange whips, and fresh pineapple juice, oh so soothing on a warm, sunny day.

We never make plans on our last day. It is totally spontaneous; whatever we feel like doing, we do.

So, it was Hollywood Studios next, with rides on Tower of Terror, and Rockin’ Roller Coaster, followed by a quick snack of ham & cheese sandwiches, chips, and a pudding dessert at Rosie’s All American Diner. I would like to mention something here. Almost all of the sit down areas where food is served in all WDW parks, there is plenty of seating, an abundance of condiments, and a cast member is always busy wiping off tables. At the busiest time of the day, you most likely will not have to wait long for a clean table. It’s a “Disney thing”.

Because it was our last day, we did have to make a quick trip to our Resort to visit the Package Pickup to retrieve our Disney souvenirs and take them to our room. After a short break, we headed back to the Magic Kingdom around 5pm. While there, we rode Space Mountain, the People Mover, visited Dumbo’s Circus, shared a delicious All-American sundae with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, hot fudge, peanut butter drizzle, whipped cream, and a cherry. It was so yummy, lip-smacking good! After a slow walk down Main Street, we took one last look at Cinderella’s Castle, knowing we would be back again soon! We never say good-bye to WDW. We always say “See ya real soon”!

Always Fun

Every trip we take to Walt Disney World is a unique, unforgettable, and always a magical adventure. The weather, crowds, even our transportation changes from year to year. We have flown, and we have driven. Usually it is a work schedule that dictates how we travel. To us it does not matter how we get there, just that we get there, for Walt Disney World truly is the “most magical place on earth”!

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