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Trip Report Another boring Dray live-ish trip report...

draybook

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
So today was our departure day to come down to Disney World. I had been in touch with Southwest airlines because rescheduling our flights due to the hurricane caused our early bird purchase to not be in the system. I didn't actually find out that they were not attached to our tickets until Sunday at 4 in the morning.

After tweeting back and forth with a customer service rep, I was informed that they could either refund my purchase and I could buy a new early birds or I can pay to upgrade to business select and they would refund that money as soon as I made the purchase at the ticket booth. I didn't do either of those and checked in at the 24-hour mark even though our boarding passes showed early bird. We got good boarding seats A 39 through 43 but the drama was yet to come.

As usual, we were running behind so we didn't show up to the gate until general boarding had are already been called. Needless to say instead of being seated together like we had planned we were in three separate locations. Me and Chris (3) were seated together. Amy, Justin and Jace(almost 2) were seated together and Ashley was by herself.

This was the first time flying for the two littles, so we were apprehensive about how they would do. Well the problem is that I was seated 4 rows back from Amy and Jace and he was cranky for about the first 15-20 minutes and I had his bottle with me. Long story short, they did pretty good. Chris only got nervous when they first throttled the engines for take off.

It was a nice flight and we arrived at the gate right at the exact time as stated. Did I mention that Amy didn't go to bed at all and I only got about 3 hours of sleep? Good times. This was definitely a learning experience, as we had two car seats to go along with our 3 suitcases, carry on bag, backpack and two strollers with little in them. This is the first time I've sprung for one of those cart things at the airport.

We got our contract for our car with Thrifty and meandered out to the parking garage. The first SUV had a broken middle seat belt and the second SUV had two captain chairs in the middle and we needed full 3 rows. Third time was a charm and we got a Ford Flex. Not too big on the exterior design, bit it's very surprising with the interior room. After a short trip, we grabbed some lunch at Wendy's and then checked into our room. We're staying off-site for budgetary reasons but it's a very convenient spot, so that's good. We did some shopping at Walmart for some essentials and then headed over to Hollywood Studios.

Man, I don't know if the storm pushed people to different times more then I thought it did but Toy Story Mania a 20 minute wait at 6 o'clock? Shoe betcha! I think it took 10-15 minutes to actually get on. I managed to hit 282k but Justin outdid me by 10k. Another 11k and he would have had the high score for the hour. After that, all but Jace and me went on Alien Saucer Swirler or whatever it's called. Then, the two teens and mom went on Slinky Dog. I think it was a combined 35 minutes that they were gone for both rides. Even after Fantasmic let out, Millennium Falcon is only a 25 minute wait and that's where Amy and Ashley are right now.

Man, Batuu is amazing, and I'm not even that big on Star Wars. I sure hope these wait times continue for the rest of the trip. Now comes the part where I randomly post photos that I managed to take. It's not so easy to document our trips since I started having to push a stroller around but I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's to an up and down first day!

Edit:I'll add pictures later, it won't add them now for some reason.
 

draybook

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
As those of you know that follow us, we stopped coming in the mornings after we had the two little ones. So after going to get something to eat and running a few shopping errands, we headed over to
the Magic Kingdom for the Halloween party night.

let me start by saying that the wait times for the last two days have been ridiculously low. The longest wait we've seen since noon was 45 minutes for 7 Dwarves. as a matter of fact the only wait over 45 minutes across the entire four park system that we saw was for flight of passage which was 90 minutes.

We just didn't get here until after 4 o clock but we've been able to do people mover, buzz, get dressed and now four of us are in line for speedway and it's just now 6 o clock. We are just hoping that these wait times continue for the rest of the trip.
 

MinnieM123

Well-Known Member
As those of you know that follow us, we stopped coming in the mornings after we had the two little ones. So after going to get something to eat and running a few shopping errands, we headed over to
the Magic Kingdom for the Halloween party night.

let me start by saying that the wait times for the last two days have been ridiculously low. The longest wait we've seen since noon was 45 minutes for 7 Dwarves. as a matter of fact the only wait over 45 minutes across the entire four park system that we saw was for flight of passage which was 90 minutes.

We just didn't get here until after 4 o clock but we've been able to do people mover, buzz, get dressed and now four of us are in line for speedway and it's just now 6 o clock. We are just hoping that these wait times continue for the rest of the trip.
Maybe because it's the start of the school year that many families are not vacationing now. Hoping that the crowds stay minimal for the remainder of your trip! Sounds like you and the family are having fun so far. :)
 

draybook

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Maybe because it's the start of the school year that many families are not vacationing now. Hoping that the crowds stay minimal for the remainder of your trip! Sounds like you and the family are having fun so far. :)
Thank you! It's been shocking how low lines have been. Even this Halloween party looks semi crowded but it's really not.


On a side note; I'm gonna have to find a new costume. Troy Polamalu has been retired long enough to not been recognizable to many folks.
 

draybook

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
The mood was set.
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And here were my two littles.
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A pirate and a Ghostbuster, such good company to enjoy the evening with. The wait times were insanely low all night and it didn't feel that busy.

Two side notes. First, Monday night at DHS, we had a small group of girls around 12-15 come up and give each of my two little ones one of those glow in the dark bracelet things. That was so nice and they enjoyed them. Secondly, we saw that Mr. John is back in Tomorrowland. I'm sure most of you know Mr. John, but for those of you who might not; he's such a lively and interactive CM. He's basically our version of DL's Maynard. It was so cool to see and hear him back, just wish we had the chance to go up and get a picture with him again.

The most disappointing thing it that I found out the Trackers were there and I never saw them or got to meet them. Ding dang!
 

draybook

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Sorry for the lack of updates yesterday, my phone charger quit working so I only had 27% battery when we got to the parks. We went to Epcot to start with. Did I mention the low crowds? Even with the Food and Wine festival happening, Soarin and Test Track had 30 minute or less wait times. We started with Spaceship Earth. We used our Fastpass for Frozen and the boys loved it like always. Jace’s face in the photo was priceless. For some reason, MDE wouldn’t let me make any FPS for top tier rides after that even though we didn’t have any more. So, we took a ride with the Three Caballeros and then went over to Test Track. Justin has decided to be brave and start riding the big stuff. After that, Amy and Ashley went to Soarin while us boys rode Living with the Land.

By then, it was time for us to head over to DHS since we had 9:20 reservations at Sci-fi. It was 7:40 when we pulled into a parking spot and I was able to grab a pair of FPs for Tower and Aerosmith. Nevermind the fact that both rides were under 20 minute waits each. While the ladies headed over there, Justin rode Alien Swirling Saucers a few times while me and the boys relaxed on a bench. When the ladies met up with us, we hopped on Toy Story Mania as it was a FIVE minute wait. Yes, I typed that correctly.

Then it was time to check in for dinner. We enjoyed it and this was the second time we've been there with the littles. They really liked it. As we exited the park, it was pretty empty and it was really nice. Here are some ride photos and the few I was able to get.
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draybook

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
As usual, we got a late-ish start yesterday. Amy and Ashley went to Planet Fitness for a bit and it was about 3 by the time we headed out. Since they would be attending Halloween Horror Nights, the plan was to go to Disney Springs for a bit before dropping them off. We went to our favorite store, Disney's Days of Christmas. We always get an ornament on every single trip. This time we picked up a light up Zero ornament. After some more meandering, it was time to drop the gals off.

I cannot tell you how much I hated the old Universal drop off area. It was such a pain to get in and out of. Well, the thing is that I didn't know they changed it so I turned left to go that way only to find out it had been moved. So after looping around, we made it to the new area which is on the fifth floor of the Jurassic Park garage. The new zone is so much easier to use. After dropping them off, us boys headed to the Magic Kingdom.

I had set up fastpasses for Buzz, Peter Pan and Barnstormer. Even with my 2 year old(birthday is today) driving, I still maxed out on Buzz.
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We took a spin on the Peoplemover after that. The boys really enjoy that one. After grabbing a snack for the littles, we made our way over to Peter Pan. The FP line was backed up for some reason but quickly emptied. We hopped over to It's a Small World after that, which the boys also enjoy a lot. Upon exiting that ride, we hoofed it over to Gaston's to grab a cinnamon roll to eat while watching HEA, but they had closed right at 9 and it was 9:05. Total dad fail.

The boys absolutely love the fireworks and they know every bit of it and when to watch for Tinkerbell taking flight. It's so awesome. They watch them at home on YouTube pretty much every day. Next, it was time for Justin to knock out his two Fastpass rides on Barnstormer. We made our way over to the Haunted Mansion for our final ride.

I had forgotten that it was an After Hours night so it wasn't empty, obviously. We quickly headed towards the exit in hopes of it not being that bad with so many people still in the hub watching the stage show...
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As a matter of fact, I was so wrong that we had to wait for 3 ferries before we got over. The monorail line was all the way down the ramp and zig zagged twice over. This is the part I absolutely hate about the MK. You'd think that after doing this day in and day out, they'd be better at it. Anyways, I digress. The gals wouldn't be done with Horror Nights until 1 and it was just going on 11 by the time we got to the car. Of course, we were hungry so we went and grabbed some chow at Wendy's.

We still had some time to kill so we went to the Walmart on Turkey Lake Road and killed some time there. We picked up the ladies and made our way to Taco Bell to get them some grub. After reaching the hotel, I think we were all lights out within 5 minutes.

I'd like to touch on one nasty subject before posting some pics. That subject is roaches. I absolutely hate them. Last night was a roach filled night. While we were sitting at one of the tables outside of Gaston's, I felt something fly into the side of my head. After half a second, I realized it was too big to be a fly or anything and then I saw that little McNasty running across the ground by my feet. Yuck. Fast forward to us sitting at the Walmart parking lot before picking up the ladies. I closed the passenger door and then got into the drivers spot and was getting ready to give the boys some chocolate when I noticed something crawling on the dash on the passengers side. Yep, another McFilthy roach. After ushering him out, I sat there giving the boys chocolate squares. I promise you, not more than 1 minute later, another flying roach comes landing on the windshield. I wasn't aware that the 101st Airborne had expanded to include insect divisions. Totally gross.

Anyways, enjoy the pics, even the ones taken at "the other place"...
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draybook

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Today was supposed to be Christopher's haircut followed by Epcot and dinner at San Angel Inn for Jace's birthday, but we had to swap Chris's haircut due to running late. So, we parked at Epcot around 4 and made our way to the entrance. We went to guest relations and got a birthday button for Jace and headed to Imagination. These guys love that ride and this time was no exception. After that, we made our way to the Japanese showcase, as the two teens love anime. That didn't take long but we did get caught waiting for the bridge as they took the barges out into the lagoon. By the time we made it to the Mexico pavilion, it was time to check in for our 6:30 reservation. But before that, we made a quick stop to visit Senor Donald.
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Jace did so good with his first meet and greet. I think this was Chris's first time too and he was so excited. Once we got inside and to the podium at San Angel Inn, I asked how long it would be to wait for a table by the water and they said up to 40 minutes. We decided to wait and it was worth it. Our waitress was pretty awesome and she even brought out some ice cream for Jace and they sing Happy Birthday to him. The only negative is that for some reason they cut the Carne Asada from the menu. We all planned on getting that so when I noticed it missing, I asked the waitress, she confirmed it so we had to scramble to pick a replacement. That's okay, the tacos de carne was good enough. Honestly, it tasted like pot roast with a slight Mexican flavor, if that makes sense. I sure was looking forward to a nice steak on this trip. :confused:

So after dinner, we boys went to use our Frozen FPs while the gals took flight at Soarin. We met up after that and went to find that little rascal, Nemo. Once we finished there, Amy and the teens took a spin on Test Track while the littles and I waited in front. Those little guys were still hungry and managed to go through a pudding and a bag of Skittles. By the time those 3 finished their ride, it was beyond closing so we headed towards the exit. I did manage to stop and get the Minnie AP magnet over across from Mouse Gears.

Poor little Jace was so tired that by the time we left the parking lot, he was out. So, being that I'm a 41 year old dad on vacation, I'm sitting here at the laundromat while everyone else is asleep at the hotel. Living the dream, folks. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Here's the pictures I was able to get today and thanks for following along!
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And one of the sweet birthday boy counting sheep...
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draybook

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
411185I've fallen behind as usual. As I've stated before, we are the Griswolds. It never fails. Jace, the youngest, ended up with a double ear infection (healed the same day) so we spent an hour or so at the urgent Care place right off of 535 on the 15th. We were worried because his left eye was puffy and we thought he might have pink eye somehow and that's not good since they won't let you fly like that. The doc said it was sinus related and after one dose of eye drops, it was gone.

So, we made it to the party but it wasn't smooth at all. When I had called to reschedule our party nights before we came down here, I didn't realize that the tickets had reset and that I would need to reassign them to each of us. We found out the hard way when we tried to enter the park and the plaid told us that all 4 tickets were linked to me. After standing in the GR line next to the turnstiles and losing 20 pounds via sweat, we were in. I was not happy at all at that point.

Luckily, the party was great and it didn't seem as crowded as it had been on the 10th. We missed the first parade but caught the second. Our usual spot was taken by an extra food cart that seemed to be housing those cakes they sell, so we set up right in front of the stocks. So glad we did because we had some good interactions with the characters. Flynn Ryder even told me "no more Steeling", as he tugged at my Steelers jersey. Also, when we had been waiting in our usual spot before realizing that we wouldn't fit under the ropes, this nice couple next to us gave our boys some of those light up wristbands. Such nice people.

So flash forward to last night. We got to the Magic Kingdom around 6 and Chris wasn't feeling too well. Seems to be a recurring thing on every trip. Even showing up at 6 and the park closing at 9, we managed to get a cinnamon roll at Gaston's, ride Mermaid, Speedway, Peoplemover, Barnstormer, Buzz and Haunted Mansion. On the way out, we caught the second half of HEA. The boys absolutely love these fireworks and they go nuts when they see Tinkerbell fly.

Ok, now for the bad; the exit. Last night was one of the worst handlings of the exit I've ever seen from Disney. I wish I had taken some pictures to show you how many people were leaving at the same time but it was ridiculous. They had everyone squeezing into Casey's Corner. Then, when we reached the front of Main Street, we saw the standstill at both exits. Justin, Jace and I were split from Amy, Ashley and Chris so we slid through the tunnel under the train station and managed to get into the crowd on the left side and made our way out. Somehow, the gals were already at the bus stop. I didn't even look at the monorail line or the ferry line but Ashley said they were bad.

Disney really needs to step up their game when it comes to the park closing exit. Last night there was one poor hourly person every 100 feet or more trying to direct traffic. Meanwhile, at the exit, there were 5-6 standing next to each other telling guests to stay to the left. Yeah, that was pure genius on the part of whomever is in charge of dispersing the personnel.

Just a warning: the following will be a total trashing of Southwest Airlines. If you are a staunch supporter of theirs, turn back now. I used to be but not after this trip. Ok, here goes.

So, as you know, we had to reschedule our trip due to Dorian. They handled the rescheduling without fail. However, the Early Bird that we paid for never reassociated with the flights. We didn't find that out until after the 36 hour mark, so not only did I have to make sure I checked us in, but we didn't actually get the EB that we paid for. Then, I had to call a customer service number to have it added back on to the return flight home. Ok, fair enough, that's done. But wait, there's more.

So I tweeted them to ask them if they could *** Jace to my ticket as a lap child as they had done at Memphis or if I needed to do it in person. They responded that since he's two at the time of travel, he would need a ticket. This is something I'm finding out just 3 days before our return so to say I was upset would be an understatement. I called tht number again and explain to them several things. Number one, their site doesn't require you to add a lap child to anyone's ticket. Number two, the agents at Memphis didn't add him at first and it wasn't until we got into the TSA line that we were told he had to be added. After taking him back to the counter, they checked his BC again to verify his age and added him toy ticket. Not once did they notify me that he would need a ticket on the return as he turned 2 while we were down here. Had we known that when we first bought the tickets, we would have taken care of that.

I'm sure you can imagine how much tickets are 3 days away from the flight. No way am I paying $381 for something they should have made us aware of. So the first rep I talk to says they will give us a ticket at the original fare of $103 one way. I asked her if I could call back in a minute and she tells me she will hold it for us. So when I call back, the new rep says they can't honor it and gives me the number to corporate. After talking to corporate for 30 minutes, they honor it. So now there's only one problem left. We have Early Bird on our tickets but Jace doesn't. Even if we bought it for him, his number would be later as our was done before.

The rep said to talk to the gate agent and they should let him.baord with us. Even though we had to buy him a seat, he won't sit in his own chair. So now I'm hoping they don't give us a hassle with that. And they still owe us for the departure early bird that never carried over. After this trip, I don't think we'll be flying with them again. A small mistake would be understandable, but no communication and costing us money is not okay.

Anyways, sorry to end this post with negativity but I had to vent. Here are some random pictures from the last couple of days.
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MinnieM123

Well-Known Member
First of all, your children are so cute. It's nice that you and your wife can take all the kids (of various ages) with you on a family vacation to WDW, where there is something for everyone, of every age group. That being said, it sounds like the two little ones needed time for their systems to adjust to a new place, food, water, heat, etc. That's why those walk-in urgent care clinics are so prevalent down there--they get a ton of business from families.

Glad to hear that the party was fun, once you were able to straighten out the tickets. Sounds like you went on a lot of rides.

As for crowd exit strategies, I know you've mentioned some issues surrounding this in the past as well. I agree -- I'm sure they could come up with some better solutions to this. I was surprised that they were herding the crowds down through the Casey's area--that's a tight spot for so many people, at the end of the day.

Did they not open up the "back of the house" exit at all (I think I've read that there is one behind the ice cream shop, on that side of Main Street USA.) Anyway, I never leave MK at closing, because I can't stand the mob scene, and long waits for either the monorail or buses. But I can well understand that your family enjoys staying there late, for the fireworks, etc.

As for Southwest, I've never flown that airline before. Yet, I do know that all the airlines have their issues, and sometimes it's just unpleasant flying these days. I hope your flight home is safe and uneventful. Thanks for sharing your TR, and despite the glitches, I'm sure you and the family had a fun getaway. :)
 

draybook

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
First of all, your children are so cute. It's nice that you and your wife can take all the kids (of various ages) with you on a family vacation to WDW, where there is something for everyone, of every age group. That being said, it sounds like the two little ones needed time for their systems to adjust to a new place, food, water, heat, etc. That's why those walk-in urgent care clinics are so prevalent down there--they get a ton of business from families.

Glad to hear that the party was fun, once you were able to straighten out the tickets. Sounds like you went on a lot of rides.

As for crowd exit strategies, I know you've mentioned some issues surrounding this in the past as well. I agree -- I'm sure they could come up with some better solutions to this. I was surprised that they were herding the crowds down through the Casey's area--that's a tight spot for so many people, at the end of the day.

Did they not open up the "back of the house" exit at all (I think I've read that there is one behind the ice cream shop, on that side of Main Street USA.) Anyway, I never leave MK at closing, because I can't stand the mob scene, and long waits for either the monorail or buses. But I can well understand that your family enjoys staying there late, for the fireworks, etc.

As for Southwest, I've never flown that airline before. Yet, I do know that all the airlines have their issues, and sometimes it's just unpleasant flying these days. I hope your flight home is safe and uneventful. Thanks for sharing your TR, and despite the glitches, I'm sure you and the family had a fun getaway. :)

We just got back home about an hour or so ago.

Yeah, we were shocked that they didn't have the back alleys on both sides open during the exits this week. Especially since they were early closing nights with After Hours events. Last night was better than the other night but they still herded everyone through CC. The only difference is that they actually had CMs with the glow batons trying to guide traffic. Poor souls. It took us 1 minute to get on a bus going to the TTC, but I can only imagine how many people don't know that option exists. The ferry line was backed up pretty good and I didn't even bother looking towards the monorail ramp. Usually, we used to let them run around after closing to let some of the crowd dissipate, but that hasn't been happening lately. We still had a blast, though.

Southwest did make the trip home a good one. They didn't give us a problem with Jace boarding with us. Ironically, the TSA at MCO was quite fast this time. I think from the time we got in line until we got onto the "monorail" was about 10-12 minutes. And boy do I love curbside checkin for luggage. We had 3 large suitcases, a small suitcase, one stroller and two carseats to check in. That's not including the two littles being in their strollers, the backpack and medium carry on plus the loose carryons the two teens had. It was so convenient. The flight home was pretty good beside the choppy landing. Nothing bad, just not smooth as usual.

We're already planning our return in February for the birthdays and the half marathon. If we can budget it, we defintely want to fly again. That 90 minutes in the air is so much better than the 14 we spend driving. I'll post some more later, including some pictures. Thanks for following!
 

draybook

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
@draybook , thanks for letting us know that you and your family arrived home safely. Glad to hear that the Southwest flight was uneventful, and also that the TSA lines weren't too bad at all. Welcome home.

I was really happy with the TSA experience at MCO this time because our first experience back in September of 2015 included me having to file a FOI request against them.
 
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