Trip Report Sleepless on the Savanna - Nov/Dec 2023

Hello Friends, and Happy Holidays!

As you already know if you caught my Pre-Trip Report, my husband J, our 2yo son L, and I got back from a WDW trip earlier this month. This was L's fourth trip, J's eighteenth, and my twentieth! Since I already did introductions in the PTR,, let's jump straight into the trip!

Sunday, November 26th - Travel Day

I set my alarm for 4:15 am - thankfully, there wasn't much to be done this morning, since my in-laws had kept L at their house for a few hours the day before, which gave J and I time to get everything packed and get the car loaded up, save for any last-minute items that we would need to use that morning. I barely slept the night before. I always get travel anxiety the night before a trip - what if I have the dates wrong, and we get down there and have nowhere to stay? What if I dreamed about making park reservations, but didn't actually make them? What if Disney's website cancels all of our dining reservations? It always makes for a restless nights' sleep. I tossed and turned most of the night, and finally accepted my fate at 4am, and rolled out of bed before my alarm went off.

I got myself ready, woke J up at 4:30, and once we were both ready, we loaded the go bag with last-minute items into the car. J thankfully remembered that he hadn't seen me pack L's stroller flag, which is a lifesaver when you're trying to find your stroller in a crowded stroller parking lot. I knew exactly where it was in L's closet, so I asked J to very quietly and very carefully get L out of bed and take him to the car, so that I could turn the lights on in L's room and grab the flag from the closet. As J was walking down the stairs carrying L, I heard L wake up and say "Dada? What are you doing? Dada, where are we going?" and when J didn't answer him and told him to go back to sleep, L said "Dada, where's Mama?" 😂 We were so hoping we'd be able to keep him asleep as we were putting him in his car seat, but it was not meant to be. We loaded L up, hopped in the car, and were pulling out of the driveway at 5:04 am.

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Unfortunately, it took over an hour of driving before L finally fell back asleep. We love leaving early to beat the Atlanta traffic - we don't love how it messes with L's sleep. Two hours after we left the house, we made our first stop for breakfast and a bathroom break at Buc-ee's. I sat in the back with L once we got back to the car, to help him with his breakfast and try to avoid a huge mess in my backseat.

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As we were leaving Buc-ee's, I checked our ETA on the GPS, and it said we'd arrive around 12:30. If only that had been the case. We stopped again just past the GA-FL border for gas and another bathroom break, and everything went downhill from there. Around the time we were driving through Lake City (where I-10 and I-75 meet), traffic starting to build up. The GPS on my phone showed nothing but red for miles and miles. I'm not sure what the issue was - it was raining, so that may have caused some problems - but traffic was backed up all the way to the Florida turnpike, and the drive that should have taken us 7.5 hours took us over 9 hours. 🙃 Finally, at 2:06 pm, we were pulling through the gates.

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Our room was not ready yet, so we decided to stop in at Jambo House for lunch at The Mara. Of course, I got the room ready text right as we were getting out of the car. 😂🤷‍♀️

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We headed into Jambo House anyway, grabbed some pictures of the Christmas tree, and mobile-ordered lunch. I clicked "I'm Here" as soon as we got in the elevator to head down to The Mara. It took about twenty minutes for our food to be ready - I always forget that the resort QS tends to take longer than the QS in the parks - I guess because they have fewer staff. For lunch, I got the vegetarian falafel platter, J got the chicken strips, and L got the kids' hamburger meal with fries and grapes.

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I was underwhelmed by my meal - it was unfortunately pretty bland, which was surprising for falafel. After we finished lunch, we headed over to the Flamingo Crossings Target to pick up a Drive-Up order I had placed for things like milk, bottled water, snacks for the room, etc. We probably should have dropped our stuff off at Kidani Village first before heading to Target, because we ended up having to put everything in my lap/at my feet, which made for a fun time trying to get out of the car at Kidani. When we got to Kidani, Bell Services unloaded the car, including our groceries, and we parked in the garage and headed up to the room. Of course, we made a beeline for the balcony to check out the view - not too shabby!

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Once we had gotten in to the room, I tried to call Bell Services to bring up our luggage. I sat on hold for over ten minutes before the call dropped. I tried again - same thing. I ended up just sending J down to go get our luggage himself - he said when he got down there, the two CMs working the Bell Services area didn't appear to be busy, so I'm not sure what the deal was - maybe an issue with their phone lines. Regardless, J brought our luggage up to the room, and I set about getting everything unpacked and organizing the room. J and I set up L's sleeping arrangements - an inflatable toddler bed inside of a blackout tent - and finally, we were done and headed out of the room shortly before 6pm.

Up next: A Damp Dinner at Disney Springs
 

Minnie1986

Well-Known Member
NICE trip report! After your update on Ohana's (eat & leave with no Skewers) forget it. We went a number of times. when it was really good. Price point too high for these results.
It was only my list for my upcoming trip, as I haven't been in a LOOOOONGGG time. After reading this and some other recent reviews, I think we'll be skipping it.
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
NICE trip report! After your update on Ohana's (eat & leave with no Skewers) forget it. We went a number of times. when it was really good. Price point too high for these results.
Agreed, the experience just isn’t worth the cost anymore IMO
It was only my list for my upcoming trip, as I haven't been in a LOOOOONGGG time. After reading this and some other recent reviews, I think we'll be skipping it.
‘Ohana used to be one of the best, but there are so many other restaurants that outshine it these days
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Friday, December 1st - Epcot Day - Continued

After disembarking LWTL, our plan was to head to Spaceship Earth to use our LL, but SSE was currently down, and our LL had been changed to a multi-experience one. Of course, it excluded all of the attractions we would have wanted to use a LL for (Ratatouille, Frozen, GOTG), so we decided to keep it and hope that SSE would reopen later. Once our original LL return time had come and gone, we made our next LL for Frozen Ever After.

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Since SSE was down, we decided to head next door to the Seas pavilion. Of course, we had to visit Lou and Lil' Joe...

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We let L take his time exploring the aquarium...

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Hi Crush!

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It was now nearing 10:30 am, and J and I had not had coffee or food yet that day, so we were both feeling a little hangry. We headed over to the Joffrey's by GOTG to grab some coffees and pastries, and took them inside Connections to sit and eat. Of course, L had to get another giant donut!

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Up next: World Showcase Fun
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Friday, December 1st - Epcot Day - Continued

After enjoying our coffee and pastries, we set out on our journey around World Showcase. We decided to mix things up and start in Canada this time around.

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We looked through the shops in Canada before moving on to the UK pavilion, where we saw Father Christmas. We were in shorts this day, so I know he must have been sweating. 😅

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In France, we browsed through the shops and checked the wait time for Ratatouille - it was longer than we thought L would be willing to wait, so we moved on to Morocco.

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In Morocco, we sat for a while in the courtyard pushing L back and forth in the stroller, trying to get him to nap. I knew J wanted to get the sushi tree from the Festival of the Holidays booth in Japan, so I sent him on to get it while I stayed with L. He came back and enjoyed his sushi, and L was still wide awake at that point, so we decided to mobile order some lunch from Regal Eagle to see if a full belly would help him sleep. For lunch, J and I split the Brisket Sandwich meal with onion rings, and L ate the kid's macaroni and cheese meal with watermelon.

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Once we had finished lunch, we headed out of the America pavilion. We made it a priority to see La Befana in Italy, and her next showtime was in just a few minutes, so we hustled headed straight for Italy. Thankfully, L seemed to enjoy watching/listening to La Befana a lot more than he had in 2022.

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We don't really care for the shops in the Italy pavilion, so after we saw La Befana, we moved on to Germany. We let L watch the trains for a bit before browsing through the shops.

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After Germany, we skipped over China, because we wanted to make it in time to see the Barn Troll Santa storyteller in Norway, but I had the time written down wrong, and we were half an hour early. 🤦‍♀️ We'd be back in Norway later anyway for our Frozen LL, so we moved on to Mexico. The line for the Gran Fiesta Tour was longer than we'd ever seen it, and we found ourselves regretting starting in Canada. Lesson learned. We stuck it out though, since there are so few rides in World Showcase, and L had been a good sport so far. Once we finally boarded, L put his little hands up as soon as the boat started moving. 😂

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Up Next: I ran, because everybody wants to rule the world
 

Dizdutch

Member
Monday, November 27th - Animal Kingdom Day - Continued

After our breakfast, we made our way back to Africa for our Kilimanjaro Safaris LL. After we scanned in, I started looking for our next LL, and decided on the 10:30-10:50 LL for the 11:00 Festival of the Lion King show.

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Some pics from our safari - we saw some Okapi...

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Rhinos...

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Hippos...

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Lots of Zebras...

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Giraffes - my favorite land animal

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These guys were having a disagreement...

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And it's not a good safari if you don't spot some lounging lions...

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Up next - Some Things Never Change
Love giraffes and the lions are always lounging, lol
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Friday, December 1st - Epcot Day - Continued

While on the Gran Fiesta Tour, our boarding group for GOTG was called, so we headed that way once we were off the ride. We set up rider swap, and I sent Jason on his way to ride first, while I took Lincoln over to the playground behind Creations Shop to get out some energy. We had never been to this playground before, but L really enjoyed it. It was a little crowded, and I'm a fairly anxious mom, so I was trailing L the entire time he was playing.

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While L was playing, J was riding GOTG to the soothing sounds of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." Once he was off, L and I headed his way, and then J took over with L while I rode. I got "I Ran" - J and I were both glad to get new-to-us songs this time around.

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L had fallen asleep in his stroller (finally) while I was riding, so J and I took our time strolling around Creations Shop (still hate that name), before popping into Club Cool. We had not gone to Club Cool in years, and this was our first time in the new location. We both tried Beverly for the first time in ages, for old times' sake - it's still as gross as we remembered. If you ever find yourself in Atlanta and go to the Georgia Aquarium (an absolute must-do when you're in Atlanta), I highly recommend buying a combo ticket and heading across the street to the World of Coke as well - their tasting room is like Club Cool x 100.

After Club Cool, we were feeling a little sweet treat, so we went to Connections Eatery and split a Baumkuchen.

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L was still sound asleep, so we headed back into World Showcase to take our time walking through the pavilions we had skipped over earlier in the day.

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After a nearly two-hour nap, L awoke shortly after 5pm. I would normally have a cow if he napped that late, but it was going to be a late night for him, so it worked out well. We originally had a dinner reservation for Biergarten on this day, but we canceled it the day prior, because we thought it would be fun to snack around the world for dinner. We started with a giant pretzel in Germany. I forgot how dang big these things are. Unfortunately, L was 100% uninterested in eating it, so we decided we'd have to get him a kids' meal from somewhere else for dinner.

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After J and I finished the pretzel, we headed over to Norway to ride Frozen using our LL. Hands up!

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Up next: L's first Fireworks!
 

Ebropez

Active Member
What a fun looking trip! I saw you mentioned your little one had been to Disney a few times before this trip. If you don’t mind me asking, how do you decide between trying for a stroller nap or heading back to the resort? My little one will be 18 months when we go in September ( so excited!) and she is such a great sleeper and napper at home, but I’m not sure how we’ll approach her nap or if she will even nap in her stroller when we’re at the parks! Thanks so much in advance!
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
What a fun looking trip! I saw you mentioned your little one had been to Disney a few times before this trip. If you don’t mind me asking, how do you decide between trying for a stroller nap or heading back to the resort? My little one will be 18 months when we go in September ( so excited!) and she is such a great sleeper and napper at home, but I’m not sure how we’ll approach her nap or if she will even nap in her stroller when we’re at the parks! Thanks so much in advance!
He’s always been pretty good at taking naps in his car seat when we’re out and about, so we figured that would hold true for stroller naps as well. It does take him a little longer to fall asleep in the stroller the older he gets, but we feel that it’s worth the effort for us, because he’ll usually nap for 1-1.5 hours, and my husband and I can do some of the things that L is not in to, like browsing the shops, and using rider swap on the rides he’s not tall enough for yet. If your little one has never taken a nap in her stroller before, I might try a test run at home before your trip - maybe go to a mall or a park with a walking trail around her nap time, and see if she’ll sleep in the stroller while you walk around.
 

Ebropez

Active Member
He’s always been pretty good at taking naps in his car seat when we’re out and about, so we figured that would hold true for stroller naps as well. It does take him a little longer to fall asleep in the stroller the older he gets, but we feel that it’s worth the effort for us, because he’ll usually nap for 1-1.5 hours, and my husband and I can do some of the things that L is not in to, like browsing the shops, and using rider swap on the rides he’s not tall enough for yet. If your little one has never taken a nap in her stroller before, I might try a test run at home before your trip - maybe go to a mall or a park with a walking trail around her nap time, and see if she’ll sleep in the stroller while you walk around.
Thanks for the reply! Will do a test run and see how it goes!
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Friday, December 1st - Epcot Day - Continued

After Frozen, we mobile-ordered some dinner for L from Connections Café. It would be an hour until his food was ready, so we headed back into Future World to kill some time.

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Remember that SSE LL that I had made at 7am? Yeah, SSE was down the entire day. :rolleyes: SSE seems to be down more and more frequently the past couple years. As much as I love and adore Dame Judy Dench, I think it's time for a refurb.

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Since we had plenty of time, we decided to take L in to the new Moana Journey of Water area. He LOVED it! He loves playing in water - playing in the bathtub, playing with his water table, swimming in the pool at my parents' house - so he was totally in his element.

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I know people have mixed feelings about it, but we feel that this area is a great addition to Future World Nature. It works perfectly with the Land and Seas pavilions right next door, and while I'm not thrilled about more IP in Epcot, it's inevitable at this point, and other than the giant Te Feti, it's not super noticeable.

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It was pretty crowded, so we only stayed for about 15-20 minutes. It seems like everyone goes at night, so we might try going earlier in the day on our next trip - it might be a good option to keep L occupied while we use Rider Swap for Soarin'. L, of course, did not want to stop playing with the water, and we had to drag him out, but thankfully he was appeased by a return trip to the Seas pavilion. Since our new friends on the bus the other night had raved about Turtle Talk with Crush, we decided to check it out. We had L sit with us rather than with the bigger kids up front (again, anxious parents), but he really seemed to enjoy the show.

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After Turtle Talk, our pickup window for Connections was open, so we headed that way and clicked "I'm Here." We found a table, and waited, and waited...and waited. For over half an hour. For one kids' meal. The table next to us with kids heard us getting irritated, and suggested that we go up to the front and talk to the CMs, because they'd had the same issue. I went up and explained that we'd been waiting over half an hour for a kids' meal, and the CM said "Everyone's having to wait a long time." We've never waited more than 10-15 minutes at Cosmic Ray's, Satu'Li Canteen, and other high-capacity QS restaurants, so I'm not sure what the deal is with Connections, but L's meal was ready pretty quickly after that.

Once I had gotten L settled with his meal, it became apparent that there was no way J and I were going to be able to snack around the World Showcase as we had planned, so I asked that he just go through the regular line and order us some pizza. Of course, he was back at our table with our food ten minutes later. Imagine that. J had the pepperoni pizza, and I had the Margherita pizza - despite our irritation with the wait time for L's mobile order, it wasn't a bad meal. But we'll be keeping our dinner reservation next time around.

Around 9:00, we headed out of Connections to find a spot for the fireworks - we saw one of the last showings of Epcot Forever. We'd decided earlier in the day that we wanted to try to find a spot near the Odyssey Building, so we'd be able to take the walkway from the Odyssey Building past Test Track and Mission Space, and try to avoid some of the mad rush of crowds on our way out. We were able to find a pretty decent spot, and thankfully L was pretty patient while we waited for the fireworks to start. Once they had started, he was in awe.

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As some of you know, Jason and I struggled with infertility - it took us nearly five years of trying before we were able to get pregnant with Lincoln. In that time, we went on many, many Disney trips, and we'd dream of what it would be like when we got to bring our own child one day. We'd dream about all of the firsts - first ride, first character hug, first fireworks, etc - and we'd wonder what they would grow to love about Disney. This moment in particular - watching our child that we'd waited so long for, mesmerized by the fireworks in a place that means so much to us - felt like a culmination of everything we'd wished for. Traveling with little kids is not for the weak, but it's moments like this that make it all worth it, and make us want to keep going again and again. ❤️

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Needless to say, J and I were both blubbering messes, watching our baby watch the Disney fireworks for the first time - I couldn't tell you the first thing about Epcot Forever, because our eyes were on him the entire show. We can't wait to show him Happily Ever After later this year. 🥰

After the fireworks, we made our way through the crowds to the exit, where thankfully, we had secured a really close parking spot earlier that morning. We headed back to Kidani Village and got L down for the night around 10:30, and while he slept, J and I got the room packed up and hit the hay around midnight.

Up next: One last bit of magic before heading home
 

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