Trip Report *COMPLETED* How Much Magic Can We Cram Into 2 Days???....Allllll the Magic (if you know you know)

As the quote goes “Just when I thought I was out they pull me back in”. Welcome to my first trip report in 6 years. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever write a trip report again, but here we are. Maybe I’ll do more of these in the future.

If you’re interested in the pre-trip report, here’s the link:

If you want the quick summary, then here goes:

Who’s travelling this time: This time it is just Tammy (my DW) and me (Graham).

It was our 25th anniversary at the end of August, and we wanted to do something with just the two of us. We would have gone closer to our anniversary, but our daughter Steph got married mid-August, so we decided to wait to give us time to settle down from the busy summer. As a side note, Steph and her husband Calvin went to Disney for their honeymoon and had a great time.
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When - We were there from September 20-23 (this was kind of a last minute add-on to the start of our planned anniversary trip (a cruise out of Miami)).

Where – We stayed at the Villas at Copper Creek in a studio.

A little preamble

5 years ago (September 2018) we walked out of the parks on the last day of our annual Disney vacation, fully expecting to be back the following year. However after 10 straight years of annual Disney vacations, we decided to take “just 1 year off” and do something non-Disney for a change, but fully planned on going back the next year….That was 2019….Remember 2020?? I remember reading the news in early 2020 that Shanghai Disney was being shut down because of some unknow virus that was spreading in Asia. That was closely followed by all Disney Parks around the world being shut down as Covid spread around the globe. Two weeks to flatten the curve turned into over 2 full years of travel restrictions for Canadians, which lead to 5 years of no Disney for us.

To say we were looking forward to this trip would be an understatement.

A lot had changed from the last time we were at Disney. Back in 2018 you booked your 3 advanced fastpasses (for free) 60 days before you arrived at the parks, and dining reservations were made 180 days before your trip. When you arrived in Orlando you just walked off the plane and onto a bus that was “free”, that took you right to your resort and your bags just magically showed up a few hours later.

Now we have to pay for fastpasses, collect our own bags and arrange our own transportation. This isn’t a complaint, just stating the facts. Despite these changes, we were really looking forward to being back at Disney.

So let’s get started…


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September 19th - Graham, Tammy and the Start of our Trip.

So they day was finally here…vacation eve. I had to work today, while Tammy took care of some last minute packing and getting the house tidied up for our dog-sitters (Steph and Calvin).

Our boy Cooper

The work day went surprisingly fast, and before I knew it I was on my way home with an already packed car and a whole 10 days of fun ahead of us.

If you’ve followed our previous trips, you might remember that we normally fly out of Buffalo (we live in Hamilton, Ontario, which is about 1 hour from Buffalo), since the flights are usually significantly cheaper than flights out of Toronto. This trip was no exception. We had flights booked for 3pm on the 20th, but decided to stay at a hotel the night before in order to make things easier for Steph and Calvin (they were dropping us off, and if we didn’t go on the 19th then they wouldn’t have been able to both come to drop us off). Long story short – Calvin got home from work around 7pm, and we were on the road to Buffalo a few minutes later. The trip was smooth, and we were at our hotel shortly after 9pm (after we ate at Cracker Barrell). We stayed at Tru by Hilton, and I was pleasantly surprised. We had never stayed here before, but Tammy and I both really enjoyed it. It’s hard to describe the décor (eclectic, kind of IKEA-ish), but the room was clean and comfortable, the staff were amazing, and breakfast was included. I would fully recommend staying here. We went to bed pretty early and were soon asleep and dreaming of the upcoming trip.

September 20th - Tammy, Graham and the Great Storm of 2023 (ok, that’s a slight exaggeration)

As I mentioned, our flights were a bit later in the afternoon (3 pm), so we got a chance to sleep-in a bit (not really – we were up around 8 (which is sleeping in for us)). We woke up, threw on our gym clothes and headed to the fitness center. It was pretty basic, but Tammy and I both got a fairly good workout in (we both started working out back in January so we’d be in better shape for Steph and Calvin’s wedding and for this trip). We worked out for about an hour, and then headed back to our room to get showered and changed. Breakfast was next, and was pretty good for an included hotel breakfast. After breakfast we went to the front desk to ask if we could get an earlier shuttle to the airport (we had one booked for 12:30, but we really wanted to get there earlier (I am kind of weird in that I really love being at airports – don’t know why, but I do)). The staff were great and got us on a shuttle at 11:30. We went back to our room, grab our cases, and before long we were on the shuttle for our 15 minute drive to the airport.

The airport process went smoothly, and we were through security by about 12:15.

We had time to kill, so we walked from one end of the airport to the other (the Buffalo airport is pretty small – we walked the whole thing in about 15 minutes), grabbed some snacks, and just kind of hung out. We did talk about trying to book a dining reservation for tonight, but decided we’d just play it by ear when we got there instead (this turned out to be the best decision as you’ll see shortly).

Finally 2:30 rolled around and the boarding process started.

For the most part the flight was smooth. I listened to music for a while, and then nodded off around 5:15 for what should have been a 20 minute nap before we landed. I was surprised when I woke up at 6:10 and we were still in the air. Apparently there was a bad storm that had rolled through the airport area so they weren’t letting us land (this storm is what caused the delay – but it didn’t just end with the late landing). Eventually we got clearance to land, but even after we got on the ground we weren’t allowed to go to a gate because the airport had pulled all ground staff off the tarmac until the lightening stopped. Finally, we got to a gate and were soon off the plane and on the unofficial first monorail ride of the trip.



Next step was baggage claim…which was a total mess.

The storms had caused quite a delay, and with no ground crews allowed on the tarmac, none of the luggage had been taken off planes for the past hour. Long story short, we had to wait about 1.5 hours to get our bags, along with what seemed like a whole airport worth of people. They announced that we should ignore the signage on the luggage carousels that tells you what flight’s luggage was going to be on there, and instead told us to just listen to the announcements for which carousel to go to. On the bright side, our bags did arrive safely, so that’s a good thing.

Next up was our rental car. I ended up with a Ford Edge.

It was a nice car. Finally, about 2 hours later than expected, we were on the road to Disney. The drive in was OK…it rained a lot…but besides that it was fine. About 40 minute later, we finally pulled up to Wilderness Lodge.

Love the lobby

Check-in went fine, and our Magicbands were waiting for us.


More day 1 to come
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Day 1 continued

A few minutes later we were in our room. We were on the 1st floor, pretty close to the lobby. I really liked the room. Lots of room….space under the bed for our suitcases…clean…not bad at all.





So, as I mentioned, we made the wise decision to not make a dining reservation tonight, but we were pretty hungry. We decided the easiest thing to do tonight would be the QS at Wilderness Lodge (Roaring Fork). A quick walk though the lobby and we were there.

I decided to try the mobile order thing, and it worked well. Tammy got the traditional/nostalgic (nostalgia will be a theme during this trip) chicken nuggets and fries.


I got the pulled pork sandwich,

and we also got a S’mores cake and a Bear Mousse.



Everything was good although our opinions were probably tainted because 1) we were so hungry and 2) it was our first Disney meal. Regardless, we enjoyed it.

With our hunger now dealt with, we had to deal with our other physical issue…we were really tired (it was around 10ish). I knew we had an early morning coming up (we were planning on rope-dropping Hollywood Studios), so we decided to call it a night. A quick stop at the mercantile to pick up some coffee cream and mini donuts and then we headed back to the room, plugged in our new Magicband+ (as well as our other electronics), set the alarm for an early start, and were soon asleep (or at least tried to sleep – I may have been a bit excited). Hollywood Studios tomorrow morning…

End of Day 1


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Original Poster
September 21st – Tammy, Graham, and the Cursed Morning.

Our first full Disney day is here. As per our normal vacation routine, I was up early (around 6:30) and put the coffee on.



I also had to do something different this morning, and buy Genie+ for the day.


I was on the fence about this, but since our time is really limited this trip, I decided it was worth giving it a shot. Once the transaction was processed I had access to book my first ride. There were 2 main reasons we were going to Hollywood Studios - Star Wars and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway railway. Back in 2018 the top of the Batuu rockwork was just becoming visible over the construction walls, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway was still the Great Movie Ride. Our plan was to rope drop and do standby for Rise of the Resistance, so I booked MMRR as our first Lightening Lane ride for 9:05.
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After coffee, showers, etc, it was time to head out. We only waited about 5 minutes at the bus stop before the first Hollywood Studios bus arrived.

We may have been a bit early

A quick bus ride and we were finally there, along with a few other rope droppers.



A few minutes after we arrived they let us into the parks (just an FYI, if you want to rope drop, plan on arriving around 15-30 minutes before the official park open time, as they usually open the parks a bit earlier than the listed time).


More of day 2 to come


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Day 2 continued
After scanning in we made our way over to Batuu


The whole Star Wars area is amazing. One thing I thought was really interesting was all the people who were cosplaying as Star Wars characters. Some people really go all-out on their outfits. It added to the area for sure.

So, as mentioned, the plan was to ride RotR first, so we found the entrance and made our way through the long, twisting, surprisingly interesting, standby line.



We were pretty early so we were close to the front of the early morning riders. We got through the pre-show where Ray talks to you about the mission, and then we just waited for our turn to ride….and waited….and waited….the anticipation was killing me. Finally the line starts moving. I’m just a few steps away from riding what I’ve heard is one of the best rides at Disney…but no….we get to the first exit where you’re supposed to board the rebel ship…except there is a group of CMs blocking the entrance to the ship, announcing that they are having technical difficulties and don’t know when they will be opening today.

So I’ll get on my soapbox for a second (and probably sound like an oldy grumpy man)…. “Back in my day” (i.e. 2018 and earlier), when something like this happened, you would hop on your My Disney Experience app and find that you had been given a use any time Fastpass to return at some point later in the day (I’ll even date myself a bit more…I remember when the CMs would hand out the paper fastpasses to return at a later time). Now there’s nothing.

Pretty cool theming in the bathrooms though

I was pretty disappointed. RotR was one of the main reasons we came to HS. Oh well. Nothing we can do. We decided to make the best of our time, so we headed over to see the Millenium Falcon and try our hand at Smuggler’s Run (while keeping my eye on the MDE app in the hopes that RotR would reopen).



The standby line was only about 30 minutes, which we thought was reasonable. I’ll be honest…I had read the ride was kind of “meh”, but we actually enjoyed it quite a bit. Tammy and I were assigned the “gunner” positions which meant we just had to push the buttons to fire the weapons whenever the buttons lit up.




It was a lot of fun.

After that it was time to ride MMRR. “At least we’ll get on one of the new rides” I thought to myself as we walked over. A short walk later and we were at the front of the Chinese Theatre (or the Theatre, as they call it in China….LOL…comedy gold).


We tapped our magic bands in the lightening lane and headed in. As soon as we were inside I hopped on the app and booked our next LL (TSMM). We made our way through the pre-show and into the load area. I was just mere steps away from finally riding….and suddenly all the emergency lights went on and the fire alarms started going off. We were quickly directed out of the building as a safety precaution (since it was the fire alarms that went off, and not just a mechanical issue). I feel like the fates are teasing me. New rides ridden so far this morning that I’ve been in line for: 1 of 3.

More day 2 to come
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Original Poster
Day 2 continued
OK, it can only go up from here right? Let’s turn this thing around. We headed over to Toy Story Land and decided we should grab something to eat.

When Steph and Calvin were here in August they really enjoyed the food at Woody’s lunchbox, so we decided to give it a shot. We weren’t super hungry, and just wanted to try a few smaller things, so we split a kids turkey sandwich, as well as some Tachos and the seasonal Pop-Tart thing they have (it was sweet potato).

Everything was really good.

After eating we headed over to TSMM for our next Lightening Lane. Once we tapped our band I jumped on the app and booked our next ride (Alien Swirling Saucers).

TSMM felt a bit weird for me. First a little background. When Steph and Calvin were on their honeymoon, we’d get messages from Steph telling us she was feeling kind of nostalgic/emotional at certain things (one she specifically mentioned was seeing a young couple with their small child watching Happily Ever After, and she wrote to us that she looked at them and realized that was us 15 years ago and now she’s there with her husband at the beginning of her family). Tammy was feeling this kind of thing too being on our first trip without the kids. I wasn’t really feeling it that much….until I got in line at TSMM….my mind went back to the times we’d ride this with the kids and the fun we’d have competing with each other to get the highest score. It kind of hit me that our lives have changed now. Not to worry though…my competitive juices started flowing once I got in the ride vehicle, and I made sure to get the high score one more time.


After that we headed over to Alien Swirling Saucers and used our next Lightening Lane.

Just as we were about to get on the ride I checked the app and saw that RotR had finally opened. Bah… I could only imagine how long the line would be by the time we got there. Anyways…we rode Alien Saucer which was fun.


Tammy hadn’t been on this one before (I had been on it with Steph back in 2018), and she liked it.

More Day 2 to come
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Original Poster
Day 2 continued
After making ourselves dizzy, we made our way back to RotR.

The standby line said 50 minutes. That’s a bit longer than I’d usually wait, but I really wanted to do this one, so we got in line. Turns out the times were a bit inflated as we got back to the doors before you get on the Rebel ship in about 30 minutes.


Finally the doors opened, but this time we actually were directed to the Rebel ship instead of being kicked off again.





The ride was amazing (despite the fact that the final Kylo Ren was in B mode (don’t they do strobe lights for that? LOL)). Well worth the wait, and the ride definitely lived up to the hype.

After RotR we realized something…man we’re old now. Back in 2018 we were park commandos doing rope drop to the kiss goodnight. Now we’re hot, have sore feet, and really just want to leave the parks for now. We decided we’d head out and come back later tonight. I did hop on the app and booked a Slinky Dog LL for 6:30pm, and then we headed out.

One other thing I did want to do was ride the Skyliner at least once. Last time we were here the Skyliner was just nearing completion and wasn’t open to the public yet.

I will say that Tammy took one for the team here. She really doesn’t like heights, but she rode with me anyways… she actually didn’t mind it.


More day 2 to come


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Original Poster
Day 2 continued
After our little round trip through the sky (we just rode from HS to Caribbean Beach and then back to HS), we headed back to Wilderness Lodge. We chatted on the way back about what we wanted to do and decided we’d make a quick trip to the Outlets just to look around. TBH, we probably should have rested, but the mindset of trying to cram as much as we can into 2 days took over. We drove to the Outlets and were there for about 1.5 hours. After that we decided we’d head to Disney Springs.


One thing Steph told us we had to do was go to Gideons, so that was the plan.

I can’t say I’ve ever lined up for almost an hour to get a cookie, but here we are.


After 45 minutes we finally were in the store.

The place looked great, and the baked goods looked amazing. We decided we’d get 4 cookies (a peanut butter, and triple chocolate, and chocolate chip and a banana bread chocolate chip) and I got an orange chocolate cold brew.

With our treats purchased we headed back to the car, where we decided to break into the cookies, and spilt the peanut butter one.

It was really good, and we both felt semi-full for the time being.

More day 2 to come


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Original Poster
Day 2 continued.
It's now around 6pm, and we decide to head back to HS. We got there around 6:30 and make our way back in. We were going to go right to Slinky Dog to use our next LL, but I had an idea…. What if we go back to the MMRR LL and I explain what happened this morning…maybe they’d let us in….worst they can say is no….so that’s what we did. The CM at the LL entrance was great, and when she heard what happened she let us use the LL…and this time there were no fire alarms and we actually got to ride.



This ride was a lot of fun. Yes, we loved the Great Movie Ride, but this was a really enjoyable ride too.

Next up was Slinky Dog.



We tapped the bands again and entered the LL. There was an older guy standing just outside the LL line arguing with the CMs about something. I think he was mad about the ratio of LL vs Standby people that were being put on rides. He was adamant they weren’t doing it right and that they were letting too many stand-by people on. I think this is a by-product of making people pay to use the LL now so they want to get their money’s worth. Anyways…we moved on and had a great ride.


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After riding I booked my last LL for ToT (Tammy rode this once many years ago and won’t ride it again, but she wanted me to ride it since she knows I really like it). On the way over I asked her if she wanted to eat somewhere. I told her I could get a 50’s Prime Time reservation if she wanted, but the nostalgia kicked in again. “It just won’t be the same without the kids” Tammy said. She’s not wrong…We have had a number of great experiences with the kids at 50’s, so I know what she means (our kids always liked to play along, and spent quite a bit of time standing in the corner because of elbows on the table, or being fed their green beans with whip cream, or having their milkshake taken away because they were on their phone). “I know” I said, and we decided to just do something quick service after we left the park instead.


I rode ToT (which was just as much fun as I remembered it), and then we headed out of the park.

Despite a slow start to the day, we really had a great time at HS.

More day 2 to come


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Original Poster
Day 2 continued
So dinner….what to do…. “Roaring Fork again”? Tammy says…”Nah, I have a better idea”….but I wouldn’t tell her what it is….”just follow me”…to the Poly bus….Captain Cook’s it is. Tammy and I both really love the Poly so it was nice to be here again (I also had an ulterior motive for going here…I wanted to ride the monorail at least once this trip and being at the Poly would let me do that).


Captain Cook’s was great. Tammy got a chicken Poke bowl, and I got a pulled pork sandwich.


Both were great. We sat outside and were able to see Happily Ever After from the balcony we were sitting on, and we called Steph to see how Cooper was doing. It was a good time.

After we finished eating we wandered the Poly for a few minutes, and then jumped on the monorail to the MK stop (I love hearing 'please stand clear of the doors; por favor mantonganse se alejado de las puertas’).

We went from the monorail down to the docks, and got a boat back to WL (hey… in 1 day I think we covered all the traditional Disney transportation methods… Bus, Check…Skyliner, Check…Monorail, Check…Boat, Check).

Good day…Good day.

We got back to the room and split another one of the cookies from Gideon’s,

, plugged in our Magic Bands


and then called it a night. Tomorrow should be a bit of a slower day. Tomorrow we have planned a quiet morning, and then the MNSSHP at night. See you all tomorrow.

End of day 2


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Original Poster
Always enjoyed your earlier TRs, looking forward to this one!

Is your anniversary cruise a Disney cruise? Congrats on 25, BTW. We spent our 25th with a stay at Boardwalk villas and dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse, where we were seated right next to a wedding party. That was back in 2011.
Thanks for your kind words.

No, it wasn't a Disney Cruise. We were on Harmony of the Seas (Royal Caribbean) to Aruba and Curacao.

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