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Trip Report Like we never left.

It's always been a dream of mine to visit Walt Disney World during the holidays, having only done it once before, a long time ago. But we've always stuck to what we know and love. However, with Nemo growing up so quickly and about to start school next year, we decided to just go for it. It had only been a mere six months since we made our inaugural voyage to Walt Disney World as a Party of 4, but who says no to a bonus Disney vacation? Not us!

Who: Me, Husband J, Nemo (4yo son), and Boo (2yo daughter)

What: Christmas at Walt Disney World

When: November 12th - November 19th

Where: Pop Century Resort

Why: Because we want to embrace this time in our lives. Right now, the kids are absorbing the magic, yet they also are growing so fast. I don't want to miss a thing. Oh, and Christmas decorations.

I hardly have time to be on the boards anymore, but I did find myself rereading my past trip reports every once in a while and getting completely engulfed in all the memories and feelings. So that's why I'm writing this. Whether the quality is decent or not, it will at least give me something to look back on and share with my kids one day so they can see how much we did and how loved they are. Would love to have anyone who wants to join in follow along! So here we go...

We arrived at Pop Century around 11am relatively unscathed after traveling with two toddlers via "car, plane, train, and bus" as Nemo liked to say. Boo fell asleep on me on the bus ride over, and remained asleep in the stroller as entered the lobby. Immediately as the automatic doors opened, I was hit in the face with that sweet Disney lobby smell and found myself breathing it in euphorically. It was followed by the lights, the sounds of chatter, and the excitement of rolling our humongous double stroller towards this now iconic sign for our family:
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Our room was not ready, but I went to the desk to reiterate our requests (Ground Floor, crib) and the CM offered to look for a ready room right then and there. That would be a huge help to us, so I gratefully accepted, and we were given a room in the 90's. With that secured, we went to lunch right away.
As I was waiting at the Mobile Order counter for our order, I looked up at all the funky circular lights and couldn't stop smiling. We were here. J salivated over his POP'ing Pimento Burger, and lost a good chunk of his fries to the kids. I didn't want anything heavy after all the travel, so I just got a Greek Salad with Chicken and gave the kids all the cucumbers and chicken. I myself ate a lot of feta cheese and olives, yum. (As always, my pictures are not that great, but you get the idea). We sat in front of the TV and the kids watched Disney music videos while we unwound.

After lunch, we set out to find our room. We obviously got our room circled on a map, but I didn't register that our room was literally in the farthest building possible. Probably the 4th farthest room in the entire resort, to be exact. Luckily for us, we are pretty much a leave-and-return one-time-a-day type of family. It also gave us the opportunity to walk past all the different landmarks on that side of Pop Century. The kids particularly loved the Mickey phone, foosball field, and Big Wheel.
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We finally reached our room and it was like an explosion of excitement. Kids were itching to jump out of the stroller and jump on the beds. This equaled no pristine room picture. We got them settled in front of the TV while we unpacked. My OCD self loves organizing all our outfits by day and displaying all our snacks on the shelves/in the fridge. Then we popped the kids back in the stroller and presented them with their very own pairs of sunglasses (very exciting stuff) and we were off on our first adventure.

Good thing Skyliner cabins are often private, because the kids love to scream as we take off. Nothing gets them going like the Skyliner does. They run into the cabins and immediately climb on the benches, go "ahhhh", and turn around and yell "don't crash into us!" when another cabin comes into the station after us. Our first destination was Riviera. Nemo talked endlessly about 'playing chess', which we did. Also bocce ball and Connect 4. We ventured inside briefly to enjoy some of the artwork, but we were drawn back to the outside. It was a beautiful day. 80 degrees, sunny, and breezy. Just a few days after Hurricane Nicole, which we certainly weren't expecting to have to follow. We felt very grateful.
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I grabbed two cups and spoons from Primo Piatto for some sand play, and we moseyed over to Caribbean Beach. Nemo basically belly flopped onto the sand and dug in right away. He filled his cup to the top, packed it in, and turned it upside down to find that he created a sandcastle. He was beaming with pride. Boo elected to sit on the sidewalk and reach into the sand from there, not wanting to get any on her. We have such a boy and such a girl on our hands.
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We walked to the pineapple fountain, where Nemo discovered his favorite phrase of the trip: "It's-a-pine-apple" in a robotic tone. He also discovered that he love gift shops. Everywhere we went, he would ask if there was a shop and wanted to buy things. Not even toys, just things like the bagged popcorn. We peeked into the Caribbean lobby briefly before visiting the playground and cannons for a bit. Our original plan was to walk back to Riviera to eat an early dinner at Primo Piatto, but it was a little too early, even for us. We didn't feel like sticking around, so we took the long walk to the Caribbean Skyliner station. We enjoyed the empty pathways and colorful buildings along the way.
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We got off Skyliner and went to Art of Animation for a plethora of activities, starting with the Righteous Reef playground. The theming of this resort is just so perfect. I love larger than life Disney, and it's done so well here. Especially the Cars section. The road, the desert-like foliage, and all the characters for the kids to walk right up to and interact with. This sign now hangs in Nemo's room. When he saw it, the biggest smile appeared on his face. As we walked down the street toward the Wheel Well, there were more smiles because "LIGHTNING MCQUEEN, HE'S BACK!!!" He had been under the blanket the last time we visited.
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We visited the Lion King and Little Mermaid sections before settling down to eat outside with a view of the Nemo seagulls. Landscape of Flavors always delivers. J got the Tandoori Chicken and I got the Braised Beef. It was A LOT of food - plenty enough for me to share with the kids. I also got them the kid's Macaroni and Cheese, and realized that I created a monster because they would ask for mac and cheese for every single meal after this.

For good behavior, we promised to go to Ink and Paint after dinner and buy a souvenir. You know, a half day in. But hey, it brought them so much joy. Nemo chose a pack of three Toy Story cars: Woody, Buzz, and Aliens. He brought it to the cashier himself and placed it on the counter. These cars became his best friends this trip. He wanted them everywhere with him, accompanying him to breakfast (in bed), watching TV, and the bathroom. While wearing his Woody pajamas, he said, "Hey, you're wearing me! Said Woody."

We trekked back to our room, passing by Baloo and Mowgli. Boo asked, "Where's his clothes?" We walked by Goofy and his red convertible. Of course, we had to stop so Nemo could examine the car. We admired the 90's computer which really did bring me back. Those icons!
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Finally back in our room, we did bathtime and then it was time for bedtime stories on TV, a common topic at home. "When we go to Disney, we can sit on the bed and eat snacks and watch bedtime, stories!" They know the drill. When it was time for bed, Boo started snoring comfortably on her daddy right away. Nemo lay awake a little longer, pretending to snore, and mumbling "I wonder what's for breakfast" a la Pooh in Pooh's Grand Adventure.

When all was calm, I asked J how he felt. He said, "It feels like we never left." We were settled in, and ready for a week for magic spent with our little family.


Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Great start!
Thank you!

Following along

The 90's laptop is cool - I have not explored Pop as much as I should.

Welcome aboard! I'm a 90's baby myself, and this was the first time I really started having those, 'oh yeahhh... we don't have that anymore' thoughts. :p

Following! Sounds like a great start.
Thanks for following!

Selena Gomez Kiss GIF by HBO Max

Off to a perfect start! I love hearing the comments of Nemo and Boo!
Wahoo! Thank you as always, Lisa! They are chatterboxes for sure.

What a great start. Cannot wait for next instalment.
Yay, thank you! Coming right up. :)


Well-Known Member
Original Poster
It is both a blessing and a curse that I wake up so early on vacation. Regardless, here I was at 5am, forking over $$$ for Genie+. Let's not beat around the bush here. I hate it, but it works for us right now. But I should say, it works *only if there is decent WiFi and cellular service. We all know how resort WiFi is at 7am, AND we have Sprint, sooo... that is a recipe for disaster. I woke the whole family up at 7am in a panic because my phone was stuck on refreshing. I did not end up getting a desirable time for Peter Pan. So I grabbed one for Pooh and was huffed and puffed about it for a while after that. But at 8:30am, we were standing on Main Street, U.S.A. in a wonderful, whimsical, winter wonderland.
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The kids wanted to walk, so I walked down with one little hand in each of mine. My eyes feasted on the wreaths, the garlands, and the gigantic tree. The twinkling Christmas music was the cherry on top.
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We walked on up to the Cinderella Castle, which elicited happy shouts from both kids. We didn't realize that filming for the Disney Magical Holiday Celebration was happening today, and got a unique view of the castle. It made for a nice background for a family photo. Boo loves to dance right now, and grabbed my hands and started jumping around with me, ending with 'ta-da!' arms.
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There's nothing like Tomorrowland music to get your adrenaline pumping. An early morning ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority is exactly what we needed to kick this thing off. The kids loved the moving platform, Progress City, going through [Mickey's] Star Traders, and most of all, seeing Tron. Nemo's new obsession became spotting lightcycle testing.

We moved on to Pooh, who is just our favorite silly bear. Nemo declared the rain scene his favorite, and I have to agree. Impeccable taste. Onto another family favorite, Small World! It's amazing how much Boo has changed in six months. The last time we went on Small World, she clung to me like a koala and refused to face forward. Now, she was eagerly waiting for the boat to arrive and practically jumped onto it.
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Next, we wanted to try something new to them: PhilharMagic. They love wearing sunglasses, they love TV, it seemed like a good bet. Turns out Boo refused to wear her glasses so she just watched a blurry screen for 15 minutes, but Nemo was into it. I saw him shake off getting wet during Fantasia, flinch at the champagne bottles popping, and reach out to grab jewels from Ariel. He even said he wanted to do it again so he could get a jewel next time. I also was not expecting the Coco scene! I guess I have been a little out of the loop. Afterwards, we enjoyed the shop and Boo kept saying, "Silly Donald!"
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We went to the Tangled bathrooms next, which is basically an attraction in itself, but I also mention it because Boo is already potty trained at 2. I was almost hoping she would just go in her pull ups so I wouldn't have to make 500 trips to the bathroom each day, but the girl is a stickler for the rules. So off we went. When we were ready to leave, I noticed a bunch of people crowded in the entryway, including a man. I thought that was a tad odd, and then realized it was pouring outside. That came out of nowhere! I didn't really want to stand in a bathroom with people for the next 20 minutes, so I stuck my head out and saw J and Nemo under a tiny awning that didn't provide very sufficient coverage. I was already wet now, so we just decided to run to Liberty Square. We covered the kids and stroller with the stroller cover and splashed our way to Columbia Harbor House, our lunch spot. Kids were dry, parents not so much. But seated in our favorite spot with a hearty meal, things were good. I did not get a picture of this meal because I placed the tray down on the table and hands immediately swarmed the food. But I got the kids an adult Grilled Salmon to share, J got the Lobster Roll, and I got the Chicken Strips kids meal. I was just feeling it. We also had sides of hush puppies and fries. Nemo ate almost all the hush puppies, and Boo would practically climb on the table to grab more fries than we allotted her.

After lunch, it seemed like a good time to visit Tom Sawyer's Island. As we were waiting for our raft, Nemo grabbed me from behind and gave me a big squeeze. Next thing I know, Boo has done the same to Nemo and we had a little chain going. Once on the island, we headed straight for the water wheel. Nemo was very disappointed with me that I did not get a photo or video of the inside of the water wheel on our last visit, so I made sure to get that this time. This boy just loves wheels and things that turn.

Returning from the island and walking on the path alongside Rivers of America, a ton of birds were flying in circles above us. It was kind of mesmerizing.

Nemo requested to drive cars so we made our way over to Tomorrowland Speedway. I was openly hoping that Boo would fall asleep so I wouldn't have to drive a car, but alas, she did not. It also started to sprinkle again as we parked the stroller, but we decided to just go for it, and it cleared up. I'm glad we went, because Boo was super happy and giggly as she held onto the wheel and we bumped left and right for the entire duration of our drive. I didn't realize that Speedway had such a holiday overlay. I almost contemplated riding again at night to see, but I didn't know if I could put myself through that. Actually, the kids were not at all interested in repeating any rides within the same day on this trip. When asked, it was always, "We already did that!"

We hadn't visited Big Top Treats yet though, so we went and the kids went wild over pins and candy and anything else they could get their hands on. They also eyed the sweet treats, but I had brought a lot more snacks on this trip in attempts to save money and prevent hangry episodes. So we didn't actually buy too many Disney snacks this time around. We did watch a CM make caramel popcorn by dumping a whole bunch of popcorn in a a big vat of caramel, and that seemed to be more than enough entertainment for them. Then we stepped outside to see Casey Jr. If Nemo wasn't wet from the downpour earlier, he definitely was now. As I worried about his shoes and socks, J took the opposite approach: "He's gonna learn today."
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Since we were in the vicinity, we decided to go on Barnstormer, which would be Boo's first rollercoaster! She was down for it, but Nemo was not very happy with us for making him go on again. Boo handled it well and said "yeah" when I asked her if it was fun.

It was almost 2pm and Festival of Fantasy time, so we headed to watch from Liberty Square. Boo was looking tired and leaned back in the stroller, but once she saw the princess float, she bolted right up. It was a good thing she stayed awake, cause I had secured a FP for Jungle Cruise. I mean, Jingle Cruise! Let's go!


Well-Known Member
Original Poster
We haven't been on Jungle Cruise for years. It was never a must-do for us pre-kids and for the life of me, I cannot fathom the insane wait times this ride garners. But the opportunity presented itself and here we were, at the backside of water. Nemo and Boo's faces as this was happening was priceless. So much concern and intrigue and wow. It was very enjoyable for all four of us and I'm so happy we got the chance.

As we wandered Adventureland, Nemo became set on riding Magic Carpets. Should've been an easy task, but the LL times were not favorable. We said we'd try again later and settled for Swiss Family Treehouse. We spent time watching this water wheel. In all fairness, I thought this was the coolest thing when I was younger too. The way those cups of water get carried up to the top, so cool.

And we enjoyed the views on this fine day.

We ate dinner at Pecos Bill. Taco Trio (J), Fajita Platter for me and the kids, plus Mac and Cheese. They fed themselves, it was glorious. We went back to Fantasyland to ride Dumbo. Smiles and necks craning all around. They also requested Tea Cups, opted to just sit in the tea cup instead of actively spinning and torturing their parents. When did I become so old?

We headed towards Main Street. We had to make a quick stop at Engine Co. 71 to see this beauty. There was also one of the 101 dalmations gazing longingly at a bucket of milkbones that Nemo was very excited to show his sister. He thinks she's a huge fan of dogs because her first word was "dog". "Look Boo, it's a doggy!"

Across the street, we had a very important date with our pal, Mickey Mouse! I got lucky again and we were meeting Mickey! We waited in a few rooms before it was our turn, and the kids were so excited, clutching onto their autograph book. I literally had to hold onto their clothes to keep them from running to Mickey. When it was our turn, Boo had that confidence about her and she went to HUG him. Last time, she had to be held and would rest her head on my shoulder and barely look at them in the eye. But she showed Mickey some love and my heart was bursting. Mickey pointed at both of their Mickey outfits and drew a heart to show his approval. We got a great smiley family picture. In fact, we got a bunch as our photographer went heavy on the shots. In some, I could see Nemo touching Mickey's butt and thinking he was hilarious for it. As we left, Mickey blew a kiss to Boo and she blew it back. My heart was full.

We came back outside to my favorite time of day. It was breathtaking.
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We wanted to squeeze a few more rides in before fireworks, so we went on Pirates. After the drop and while we were in the midst of the cannon battle, Boo said, “I don’t like this ride.” It was the only one she outwardly disapproved of. But she liked the gift shop. And Nemo took to the hook hand and hitting us with swords. The sun had set and it was cold, so we needed to change into pants and sweatshirt. This was a first for us! We also needed an evening snack, and I thought long and hard about what that should be. Then I remembered the Fresh Fruit Waffle Sandwich from Sleepy Hollow. Filling, sweet, and juicy fruit? Yes please.
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While we ate, we could hear some of the filming going on. We heard outtakes, which was pretty funny. When the crowd cheered, J said, "Wait a second. That is SO fake." Took me a second to register it, but he was right. That TV applause was definitely not real. Just an amusing anecdote.

We got our Lightning Lane for Magic Carpets, and were jumping up and down with excitement in the queue. But as we got close to boarding, the ride went down. We were so disappointed for Nemo, who had been asking all afternoon, but he took it so well. He said "Boo likes Ariel so we should go do that." I was so relieved and proud of him.

Walking around the park at night is something else. We passed by the Tangled bathrooms and the lanterns were glowing in the darkness. We made a stop and I made J hold them both up as high as he could so they could pretend to reach for the lanterns. Boo was determined. We made it to Little Mermaid and enjoyed a nighttime walk through the queue. Nemo shouted, "This is my favorite part!" during Under the Sea, and Boo waved to Ariel and Eric in the last scene. I checked to see if Carpets was back up and it was, so we headed back once again. We passed by the Carousel and saw there was no wait, so we jumped on. Another bonus on this wonderful night. Then I remember it so clearly. We were in Frontierland and took the shortcut to Adventureland. As we turned the corner, I said, "Nemo, look over there!" and he gasped and said "It's fixed, it's fixed!" He beelined for it once we parked the stroller. We had fun going up and down, tilting back and forth, flying in the dark. It was the ultimate way to end this whirlwind of rides. And thank goodness.

Then we booked it to find a spot for Enchantment. We found a spot where the kids could stay in the stroller with an unimpeded view. We listen to the Enchantment soundtrack at home A LOT. I was really excited for them to be able to put the fireworks to the song again. Boo yelled, "It's Moana!" at her favorite part in the music. She also saw Nemo covering his ears, and proceeded to cover hers as well. I leaned on J's shoulder and just soaked in all the happiness.

Leaving the park was more seamless than I could have ever imagined. We walked right onto an actual charter bus back to Pop. Stroller stored underneath, cushy seats for us, and sleepy Boo finally conked on me. Back in our room, Nemo laughed himself silly singing Small World and Boo wanted to sit in my lap and read. It was a rollercoaster of emotions kind of day. We jampacked this day full of fun and did everything we could to make their dreams come true. These kids know how to play. Just like their mommy and daddy.


Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Good Morning Hello GIF by Hill's Pet Nutrition's Pet Nutrition

Great start! How did the kids do with sunglasses?
They loved them! I'm not a huge sunglasses person so I'll wear mine on occasion, and when I didn't, Boo would be like, "Where's your sunglasses?" Or if I had them on the top of my head, she'd be like, "Wear it!" She is demanding.

In and following!
Glad to have ya!


Well-Known Member
Original Poster
The kids snored in tandem last night. At some point in the wee early hours of the morning, Boo made her way into our bed. As she started to wake up, I could see her little fingers plotting in the dark. She touched J's face a few times and smiled at me. Today was a miracle. We woke up at 7:30am after going to bed at 10pm last night, walked right on to a bus, and were in Animal Kingdom at 8:30am. After a busy Magic Kingdom day, we just wanted to go with the flow and enjoy a refreshing day at Animal Kingdom. We decided not to buy Genie+ since we didn't think it would be worth it. No battles with internet connectivity, but also most likely no chance of riding Kilimanjaro Safaris. We figured it wouldn't be too sorely missed since there are plenty of opportunities to see animals in the wild. Let's see where the wind takes us then!

When one thinks of Christmas decoration at Walt Disney World, they probably aren't thinking of Animal Kingdom, but truth be told, I actually saw some of my favorite things here. Like the orchid hangings. I also remember getting off the bus, looking down because I was trying to get both kids off in an orderly fashion, and when I looked up, I saw a giraffe holiday decoration right in front of my face. I smiled because it was just so fitting.

We strolled through the Oasis, enjoying the sounds of the waterfalls, and entered Discovery Island to festive pan-flute music and these beautiful decorations. Merry Menagerie was definitely on our list for today!

The Tree of Life was a magnificent sight, and extra exciting as a kangaroo hopped right in front of us.
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We made a visit to the otters before heading towards Africa to play some drums and sit on various vehicles, of course. Nemo sat on a motorcycle and we put Boo behind him and she hugged his middle. It was adorable. Then we kept on walking to Asia, enjoying the cool air and empty path along the way.

We followed our ears to this guy who was 'oohing' away quite loudly this morning. Lots of "why is he making that sound?" and the best answer I could come up with was that he wanted to eat breakfast.

While observing, we heard some interesting music and turned around to see Santa floating down Discovery River. It dawned on me that our children have never had an encounter with Santa before, and I could just see the understanding click in Nemo's eyes. He smiled slightly and called out, "I want Nerf guns!"

We set off on the Maharajah Jungle Trek but had to make a stop by the coolest fountain first. It was dubbed, "The Bubble Fountain."

We had a fantastic tiger sighting in the regal fountain room. This lady also felt pretty vocal this morning, growling and growling, until she walked out of sight. We continued on, and found her again in the next room. She prowled through the tall grass and walked right towards us. It actually scared me a little bit. Felt like I was encountering a tiger in the wild.

This place is one of the best-themed areas in WDW in my opinion. I really feel like I'm somewhere across the world.

We walked through the aviary, and back out again. It was onto the next trail. Animal Kingdom mornings rock!
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Original Poster
Gorilla Falls was up next. One of the highlights for Nemo was seeing the fish go at this head of romaine lettuce. He thought that was the coolest thing. Hence, the picture.

He also leaned on one of the ropes and fell through. This gorilla looked at him and was like, "Are you ok, bro?"
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So many gorillas outside today! Including a mama holding a baby. Felt like we hit the jackpot.
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We tried to make it to a Festival of Lion King show, but we were too late. It was already full. So we switched gears and hopped on the Wildlife Express. It would be our only ride of the day, but it was an important one. Nemo is really into trains right now, and with the WDW Railroad still down, this is the one opportunity. We sat in the very front so he could see the engine. He was the definition of content. As we passed the railroad crossing signal, Boo put out her hand and said, "Stop!!!" One thing I appreciate about Disney more and more now that I'm a parent is how all the CMs always wave at you. It makes them feel special.
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Once we arrived, we were immediately drawn to the Wilderness Explorer station. Honestly, I should have paid more attention to this in the beginning, but I was too distracted by all the holiday decor. This station was a scavenger hunt, so that worked out perfectly for them. They were really into it. After this, they would constantly be holding their books open to this page, admiring their achievement.
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We pet a few goats and pigs, but it didn't last very long and we turned back for another train ride. This time we sat in the back so we could see the track. Best of both worlds. I figured that lunch at Harambe Marketplace, with a view of the train, would be very appreciated, so that's just what we did. J got the Grilled Chicken Bowl, I got the Harambe Salad with Chicken, and the kids had the Kids' Chicken Bowl. I actually loved my meal. I'd get it again. And the kids loved the Wildlife Express trains come by every few minutes. We'd hear the whistle, perk up, and then get the "It's coming!!!"

We failed, yet again, to see Festival of the Lion King, so we decided to line up earlier than we'd normally would for Finding Nemo. This was actually the higher priority since the kids love this show's soundtrack but have never seen it.

The result was prime seating, closer than we've ever sat for probably any show. Boo put her head on my lap at some point and continued to watch. We were sitting on the edge so that made it possible. I was pleased with the setup and we got to see the puppeteers up close and personal. The kite runners and bubbles all contributed to a very immersive experience. Nemo was in awe, and laughed as he always does at, "The drop off!? Ba-dum-bum." Not ashamed to admit that I shed a tear during this show.

It was finally time for the kids' long-awaited return to the Dig Site. We headed straight for The Boneyard and they took off in opposite directions and eventually met up on the ropes area of the playground and we headed to the Dig Site together. I appreciated the Christmas touches, even here in Dinoland, U.S.A.
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As usual, we spent a long time here. Play for the kids, rest for the parents. I love the Dig Site.


Well-Known Member
Original Poster
As we returned to Discovery Island, I was keeping an eye out for the Merry Menagerie. We were loitering in front of the Tree of Life and then I turned around and yelled, "They're here!" My whole party was alarmed. "Who's here?"

I was surprised the kids went right up to the animals and started petting and interacting with them. I thought they'd be a little more wary and reserved. Nope! Nemo was stroking manes, feathers, and fur. Boo held her hand out to 'feed' the animals. They had such bright smiles on their faces and I was giddy with happiness.

These little moments are the biggest ones. The ones they remember and talk about.

Another chance for me to admire my favorite decorations.

Speaking of favorites, Nemo became obsessed with this plant in Pandora. I don't know if it's because we got another Wilderness Explorer badge for it, or because it glowed when he touched it, but he would not stop talking about "the Flaska Reclinata".

We spent more time in Pandora that I imagined. The drums were a hit, obviously. But the highlight was Windtraders. Boo walked around with spears and staffs and tried on some Na'vi ears. Nemo spent most of his time controlling a "dinosaur." It was a fun time. The just enjoy playing with things, but don't usually ask to buy anything. Yet.
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We ate an early dinner at Satu'li Canteen. We all got Chopped Wood-Grilled Chicken Bowls with varying bases and sauces. I used to be obsessed with this place and be dying to eat here, but I wasn't all that impressed this time. Still, we were full and ready to head out of Animal Kingdom. We contemplated trying to go back for Festival of the Lion King, but decided we all had enough for today. It'll give us something to look forward to next time.

We happened upon the Merry Menagerie again and there were all new animals, so we enjoyed some more magical moments. There was a CM playing the steel drums this time too. It was lovely. Nemo took actual interest in it. But the best has got to be these two birds. They were flying gracefully in the air and then in unison, swooped down to Nemo who stood there, neck craned, just cheesing as the birds fluttered in his face.

We stopped by the Wilderness Explorer booth as we headed out and earned two more badges. One was for sharing what your favorite animal you saw today was. Nemo's answer? Rabbit. And not even those rare Floridian rabbits. The fake rabbit he saw on the scavenger hunt.

We ran across the bridge in the Oasis holding hands. It has become a family tradition for some reason. Then we said goodbye to Animal Kingdom. It's always so nice and relaxing in parallel to Magic Kingdom. I appreciate it more and more.
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Boo fell asleep on the bus ride home and remained asleep in the stroller. We walked straight to the splash pad and told Nemo to go play in his clothes. He did not question it for a second. Nemo interacted with a little girl and helped her press the flower shower button. After she left, we had some time to ourselves. Then a group of four kids, probably a few years older than Nemo came. They were lying on the water jets, running in circles, and doing all kinds of silly things, and Nemo wanted to join in. "Can I play with you?" And he had a blast trailing the bigger kids around the pool. It was so joyful to watch. I can only imagine the kind of fun he and Boo will have when they get older.
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We wrapped him in a full body towel suit and went back to our room for our nighttime ritual. It had been a good day. Time goes by fast. Gotta remember to enjoy it as much as we can.
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Original Poster
Today was our Hollywood Studios day and we had some serious business to attend to. That meant that I was stressing about my previous Genie+ experience. J did some speed tests and the results were not good. He suggested walking to different parts of the resort to do our morning booking on data, but that was a little too much for me. We decided to rely on WiFi, try two phones, and just hope and pray that everything would be ok. It still took longer than I felt comfortable with, but J's phone won, the time was very acceptable, and I could breathe again. After that, J told me that all he dreamed about last night was swiping down on his phone. I had to say the same. We were out the door and headed to the Skyliner station. Our first Skyliner park arrival. We were excited! "I can see it! I can see it, Mommy! I can see Tower Terror." Then, "I don't want to go on that." (He insisted going on it last time and learned his lesson).

Upon entering, we had to make a pit stop to inspect the tow truck.
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Then we were greeted by jazzy Christmas music and a shimmering Hollywood Boulevard.

We got some pictures in front of the Chinese Theatre while it was still empty. This was the first time we made Early Entry so far on this trip.
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So with that, we made our way to Toy Story land. "There's Slinky!" they shouted as we made our approach. Woody was accessorized for the weather. It was definitely getting cooler. Our first three days had been 80's weather, but today, and for the rest of the trip it looked like, would be in the 70's. And in the mornings/evenings, it was definitely sweatshirt weather.
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Nemo elected not to repeat Slinky Dog this time, so we walked on to Toy Story Mania. The queue was a goldmine for them.
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Boo didn't want to wear her glasses again, and was just along for the ride. Nemo, apparently, was here for the shop. After the ride, he ran down the ramp screaming, "THE SHOP! THE SHOPPPPPP!" We exited to his favorite giant Pixar ball that even he knows is his tradition to give it a hug. Then it was time to head to Galaxy's Edge. Star Wars Land was the most anticipated thing for our budding Star Wars fan.

Nemo went with J right up to the Millennium Falcon and inspected every little crevice. I asked Boo if she wanted to go join them and she said, "Stay in the stroller." She was wary for sure. It worked out well, because Nemo and Daddy were ready to on Smuggler's Run. I was so excited for them, and watched Nemo scan his MagicBand in with such satisfaction. Nothing like seeing your kid happy.

While the boys were on the ride, Boo and I did a little touring of our own. She was particularly interested in me refilling our water bottles with the fancy filler instead of the water fountain. We also stopped to watch a little droid spin around and bonded with the CM controlling it. J said that Nemo was touching everything he could in the waiting area. When they got into the cockpit, he was super excited. They were Engineers, which was probably a good thing for his first time. Once the ride started going, he started covering his ears but also still trying to press the buttons. When he came out, he told me, "I flew the Millennium Falcon!" He also said "it was a little bumpy" and J confirmed that their pilots were not so good. All in all, it was a great experience for him. He actually found a huge Millennium Falcon toy in my mom's basement this past weekend (used to be my brother's) and has been playing with it nonstop. He points to the table in it and says, "That's the table I sat at!"
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We circled the rest of Galaxy's Edge after that. We went back to Boo's droid friend and I told the CM, "Brother wants to watch now." He also had a big grin on his face when he saw this X-Wing Fighter because matched his t-shirt.
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Our visit to Star Wars land was a big success. Rise of the Resistance will definitely be on our list for the next time, and my panic will start all over again. But it's worth it.


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Original Poster
Nemo actually said, "Hey, let's go to Muppets Courtyard" as we passed by. I was shocked he called it that. It's not something we talk about very often. They wanted to take a picture by the fountain, touch the 'wet paint', stand next to the snowman, and we got a big surprise when we saw Santa climbing down the stairs!
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Then we passed by Sci-Fi Dine In and they saw the car, so we had to go sit in that too. I explained to them that Sci-Fi was a restaurant where you sit in a car and eat dinner and watch TV and they were like, "What?!" Now they know that Mom and Dad are not treating them to the good stuff.

We walked down a festive Sunset Boulevard. "I don't want to go on Tower Terror again!" No, sweetie, we're not. We're to go to Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy. I told him it was great that he tried it last time, and we won't do it again until he's older and Boo can join us too. That'll be a whole nother thing. They both thoroughly enjoyed the racing academy. I feel like they think they've met the real Lightning and that's what it's all about.

We walked back on Sunset again. They both had park maps and were streaming them on both sides of the stroller, very entertained. We moseyed over to Echo Lake, which was the highlight of the decor department. We sat and enjoyed colors and the blue/green water and sound of the fountain for a little while. It was peaceful.

We wanted to watch Indiana Jones so we made a quick visit to Potatoland ("Po-ta-to-LAND!") to kill some more time. Indiana Jones got the stamp of approval last time around due to the tractor that pulls the set away, so here we were again. "It's my favorite paaart!"

Lunch was at Backlot Express and it was a little hectic. It was too comfortable to not eat outside, but Nemo refused to sit at the high table and chairs we found. Then we moved to a normal table, and Boo refused to eat. It took a lot of bartering and coaxing, but we got the job done, and we had a view of the AT-AT and the Pixar Pals Motorcade. J got his beloved Cuban Sandwich and I got the 1/3 lb Angus Cheeseburger. I got the kids Mac and Cheese and Chicken Strips with Yogurt Smoothies and Cookies. C'mon! A family sitting nearby us got up to leave and offered us two more Yogurt Smoothies because their kids didn't want them, so J and I downed those too. They were good.

It was time for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, a family favorite! Upon entering the theater, I told the kids to look up and I saw genuine awe on Nemo's face.

He also spotted the Mickey in the lighting fixture.

The ride was more fun than ever. I really enjoyed all the different scenes and feeling swept up in all the fun and chaos. It's so cute, vibrant, and just so darn catchy.

We went early to catch Beauty and the Beast. We brought maps and the cookies I felt they didn't deserve at lunch, and it was the correct call. Nemo played "map hat" and said he would "read my map instead of watching the show". Such a boy. Boo was hooked on the show. She said “it’s so pretty!” whenever there was dancing. And she perked up extra when they all came out in their ballgowns. Such a girl.

It was about 2pm and no one felt particularly interested in doing anything else, so we decided to leave Hollywood Studios. We wanted to go back to the resort to get some swimming in, as we would be out all day tomorrow, and then things were going to get pretty cold after that. So that's just what we did, and we had a swell time.

We went to AoA to see our Cars friends again, then back to the same table at Landscape of Flavors for dinner. J got the Sesame Chicken Stir-fry, which was unsurprisingly one of his favorite meals of the trip.

I got the Braised Beef again since it seemed to be accepted by the kids the first time. I was definitely daydreaming about what I could eat at Epcot tomorrow.

The kids looked pretty wiped as I came back to the table with our food. But 30 minutes later, they were climbing over every vehicle in the arcade. Then when we were back at Pop, Nemo made J climb all four floors of a giant yo-yo just so he could be in it, and ran along the top floor to meet Boo and I at the bottom on the other side of the building. Then we visited Goofy, attempted to play Twister, and played tag on the foosball field before heading back to our room. Lights out at 7pm, and J and I caught up on Dancing with the Stars.
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Original Poster
I got up to go to the bathroom this morning at 6:30 and Nemo popped up from his bed and said "Hi!" Then Boo did the same from her Pack n Play on the other side. These kids really wanted to rope drop Epcot, and who was I to say no? When I opened the curtains, Nemo said, “Why is it still night?” The Skyliner ride to Epcot is the best. The turning station and getting behind-the-scenes glimpses of France is fascinating to our entire party. We were at International Gateway by 8am, and I just knew it was going to be a good day.
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It was a nice surprise to see Christmas decor at the countries! We stopped in the U.K. for some phonebooth fun before powerwalking to Norway. We wanted to rope drop Frozen Ever After this morning for Boo, who was wearing her Elsa dress.
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We didn't do this last time, so it felt like a new experience for all of us. The kids enjoyed the queue (Are we outside or inside? Nemo said "outside") and Wandering Oaken's Trading Post. Boo eagerly awaited the arrival of our boat, and we were off. This part is always so magical. They both pointed and yelled, "Olaf!" and were slightly concerned when we started sailing backwards. After the ride, Nemo spent most of his time hanging out with the giant troll, and Boo discovered the joy of looking at herself in the 3-way mirror. She was pretty and she knew it.

We headed towards Test Track next. It was 1 of 2 highly-anticipated firsts for Nemo today, and we had grabbed LLs for it this morning. J would be taking him again, because I really wanted to take him on the other later. It was lightly sprinkling, so we hurried over in case it turned into something more and the ride went down. Boo was very content to hang out in the stroller and watch the monorail come by. Nemo was absolutely obsessed with the car he created. I literally had to send this picture to my dad so he could print it out and give it to us at the airport when we came home. Anyways, J said Nemo seemed a little worried on the ride, swerving from side to side, and then... the outside part. J filmed it and Nemo's face was all scrunched up and he looked like he'd rather be anywhere else. But in normal fashion, when asked if he liked the ride, he said "Yes." and "It was a little fast."

With two big rides out of the way, we set off for The Land. Nemo explained to us that these hot air balloons were four different seasons and that they were a cycle, just like the teacher said. Glad my thousands are going somewhere.

We hopped on Living with the Land and were treated to our favorite scenes and more "It's-a-pine-apple"s once we reached the greenhouse. They both remembered all the Hidden Mickeys on this ride, even Boo.

Then it was time for me to take Nemo on Soarin', the other half of the most wanted rides for him. He ran down the line and I soaked the music in. It's been a good five years since I've been on this ride, which is kind of crazy to think about. He was very interested in watching the preshow video that mapped out our destinations. When we got seated, I could tell he was trying to compute, how does this work, what is going to be happen? I didn't really explain what the ride was supposed to be like, only that we'd be flying. He was so cute clutching onto the handlebars and his little feet dangling in the air. As we soared through the clouds, I snapped a quick video for J so he could see the wonder on Nemo's face. He quickly embraced it and pointed at the polar bear, flinched at the whale, yelled SYDNEY (thanks Finding Nemo) and PYRAMIDS and TAJ MAHAL! I told him to smell, to lift his legs up, and we had so much fun. I can't wait til we can do it with Boo.

While we were in flight, Boo was over near Imagination Pavilion spending some quality time with Pooh. Flashback to six months ago in this very same spot and she wouldn't let me put her down, and rested her head on my shoulder so I had to turn around so she could at least see him. Now, she was waving and playing around.
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With all three must-do's under our belt, we headed to relax at The Seas with Nemo and Friends. We squished into one clamshell. Now that Boo has found more independence, she doesn't sit on my lap as much. It's getting to be a tight squeeze. Feel like I'm going to be sad when the day comes that we have to split up. She belly laughed at some of the funny voices Dory made and it was too cute. Then we got off and explored. Nemo has decided that stingrays are his favorite, and Boo liked watching the diver.

After we had our fill, we stopped in the shop to touch all the rocks for sale, then made our way to Connections Eatery for lunch. Would I have liked to eat something a little more unique for lunch? Yes. But can Mobile Order be beat? Nope. Especially with little ones. During our wait, the kids were interested in watching the kitchen action, and they were intrigued by the ingredients on display.

J got the French Bistro Burger, a repeat from last time, and he was very satisfied. (When is he not?) I got the Hand-breaded Chicken Sandwich, not expecting anything special, but it was pretty dang good. But the kids! I got them an order of Meatball Pizza which came with two ginormous slices of really good pizza that was basically made for kids. Like, thin pizza with hard cheese, not dripping with sauce, and huge meatballs. I'm not exaggerating when I say I've never seen them eat so well in my entirety of knowing them. At one point, they both left their slices on the plates and bobbed for meatballs with their mouths. It was hilarious and I didn't have to do anything but eat my own food and be entertained.

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