Spring Break 2018, Part 2

With the first part of the trip done, MGM (10), Trixie (9), and I had the rest of our Spring Break week to spend doing all things Disney. See yesterday’s post for Part 1.


We had three day park hopper passes, which allowed us to do exactly what that sounds like – skip from park to park, essentially exhausting ourselves across the Disney complex from sunrise to last call.

I thought that since the kids were a bit older now we’d be able to go all day until we ran on empty. That turned out to be wrong.

They were mostly one and done, parks-wise.

I consulted a few blogs (this is my favorite) for touring strategies, and we made Fast Pass reservations for the following:

  • Day 1: Magic Kingdom – Big Thunder Mountain, Peter Pan, Snow White Mine Train
  • Day 2: Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios – Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, Flight of the Avatar. We got a bonus Fast Pass later that day for the Tower of Terror.
  • Day 3: EPCOT – Frozen Ever After, Spaceship Earth, Journey into Imagination

Day 1 was a lot of fun. I love the Magic Kingdom. Many of the recent times I’ve been in that park has been during a running event, and that hardly counts since my primary goal is to keep moving forward.

We got to the Magic Kingdom about 25 minutes after rope drop and watched the stand by line for Space Mountain creep from 25 to 40 minutes as we (briskly) walked to the entrance. Still, it would climb to more than 180 minutes later in the day, so this was worth it.

We ended up doing almost all of the classic rides and also were able to see a new Muppet show in Liberty Square. This runs several times per day and is rife with Muppet humor. It started a year or so ago and I have been wishing for the opportunity to see it; I loved it. This lasts 10-15 minutes and is totally worth stopping to watch.


The kids were ready to leave the Magic Kingdom around 5:30 PM, after arriving around 8:30 AM. We caught a Disney bus back to the hotel. They were ready to call it a night.

Day 2: Animal Kingdom


I’ve technically been inside Animal Kingdom four separate times while running the Disney Marathon, but I never stopped to look around or get oriented. I also realized that each time, I missed seeing the spectacular Tree of Life (above), which is just awesome. I’ve seen so many pictures of this but to see it in person was something special.

Flight of the Avatar is currently one of the hottest attractions at any of the Disney parks, and for good reason. It is immersive (4D?) and you really feel like you are flying on the back of a dragon-like creature. Unfortunately, it was so realistic that I felt motion sickness and had to close my eyes twice. I was slightly wobbly as we exited. Both kids declared it the best ever, but the 180+ minute wait precluded them from a second trip via stand by.


Expedition Everest was also a terrific surprise. The only thing I’d ever heard about this roller coaster was that runners could ride it during the marathon. I’ve never felt confident enough to do a hard stop during the race (and it comes mid-race, maybe mile 15-16?) and then resume the furor once the coaster ride is done. MGM sat this one out, but Trixie and I were surprised and delighted when the ride suddenly encountered broken tracks and then went backwards. Huge thrill.

Comment about the food: we tried eating at a few places in Animal Kingdom and struck out miserably. This was disappointing as there are apparently several interesting/good restaurants in the park. I was totally hypoglycemic and had a twist cone from something that looked like a food truck. In the moment it was the best ice cream cone I’ve ever had.

Kilimanjaro Safaris were another kid pleaser. MGM insisted on taking my phone to capture animal images. I’ll spare you the 200+ photos he took on this 20 minute ride.


We had enough stamina to park hop to Hollywood Studios, where we saw Muppet Vision 3D (another favorite for me) and scored bonus Fast Passes for the Tower of Terror. MGM was solidly NOT into riding Tower. Trixie had trepidation but went through  with it, ultimately declaring it one of her favorites. She’s still talking about it, especially the part where the ride attendant ominously said “Good luck” as the elevator doors were closing.

I just can’t get enough Muppets, so we had dinner that night at Pizzerizzo, a new-ish Muppet-themed pizza restaurant. It took a while to get our order since Trixie had to wait for a gluten free pizza, but everything arrived hot and fresh. My cheese pizza tasted exactly like an individual sized DiGiorno pizza, although well-prepared. I am not saying that as a criticism since I have been well-known to eat DiGiorno. We all got a spectacular kick out of the restrooms, which were labeled with signage for “Gonzo’s Executive Used Toilets Showroom.”


The kids were zonked at this point and we decided to head back to the Swan hotel. There is a path from Hollywood Studios to the Boardwalk hotels that is slightly less than a mile. Walking it is quicker than any other transportation; plus there is the added effect of exhausting your kids to the point that they will immediately fall asleep once they return to the hotel room.

Fait accompli.

Next (and this got too long so I had to break it up): EPCOT, outfits, final thoughts.



Spring Break 2018

Last month the kids and I escaped winter and went to Florida, along with seemingly everyone else in Minnesota. 


It’s a fake out. They’re actually quite warm.

Except Spouse, who held down the fort and was on geriatric dog duty.

Oh, and he bought a new house while we were gone. Lots more about the latest iteration of Fancy Pants Ranch to come.

Here’s how the three of us spent our trip time:

  • Part 1 – My mom’s place (2 nights)
  • Part 2 – Disney (5 nights)

My Mom’s place is about an hour south of Orlando, located in an “active senior community.” Think lots of golf carts. Also many, many rules about street parking, community pool use, etc.


This part was pretty low-key. We went swimming, worked on a puzzle and mostly hung out. One morning we went to a nearby flea market. There was an astounding amount of absolute junk.

Later that day I took the kids to Legoland. This was my second – and hopefully last – time there. It was crowded, hot and the lines for rides were painfully long. Most of the rides are low capacity and there seemed to be a high number of park guests with various passes that allowed them to cut right to the front of the line, which was frustrating to those of us who had been waiting 45 minutes for a 45 second ride. This was not money well spent.


After two nights at my Mom’s, we headed back to Orlando to check into the Swan Hotel, which is one of my favorite places to stay. I’ve mentioned the Swan so many times here; I love the fact that it is a Westin in disguise (it’s sister hotel, The Dolphin, is a Sheraton), so I can earn loyalty points. Because I spent a lot of last year living in a hotel, I am currently a Platinum Starwood member and we were upgraded to a family suite. This was a terrific place to spend five nights.


We arrived at the Swan on a Sunday but were only planning to do the Disney parks Tuesday – Thursday, so we had about a day and a half to spend otherwise occupied. This was easy to do.

We went to Disney Springs and bought an overpriced stuffed rabbit at Build A Bear. We bought Lego mini figures. We ate dinners at Trattoria al Forno on the Boardwalk and Bluezoo. We swam in the excellent pools at the Swan and Dolphin.

And finally it was time for Disney!

Up next: our Disney parks days and trip packing list.