Trip Report The Magic is Back! It's Just More Expensive. May 2023

Hi! It's been a minute.

WHO: Me K, husband R and daughter (4) LP
WHEN: May 15-20
WHERE: Coronado Springs, Gran Destino Tower

I went back and forth about doing a trip report. I haven't done one for my past couple of trips, and honestly it was freeing not worrying about keeping up with all of our activities, but I kind of missed documenting it. I didn't keep notes or anything, so I'm sure I'll miss some of the action, but hopefully it'll still be fun to read!

Another thing that I've debated is whether to share pictures of my daughter. I typically don't share images of her in public places, I only do on my private personal instagram and private FB. I'm going to go ahead and share some here though since I feel like this forum is pretty niche. If I feel weird about it later, I'll just take them out.

Ok with all that out of the way, let's get started!

Arrival Day: May 15, 2023

I forgot to upload any photos from our travels, but it all went smoothly. We flew out of Memphis and got to use the new part of the airport, which is super nice. We got our rental car when we arrived at MCO at about 5:30pm. First up was a Publix run. LP fell asleep in the car, so she and R stayed outside while I loaded up on snacks and a case of water (and subs!)

We dropped our stuff off at Gran Destino Tower, scarfed down our subs and headed to....


Now you may be wondering WHY would we go to Epcot at 8pm on our first day. Surely that's not a good use of a ticket?! You'd be right. But we had other plans.

The sensible thing to do would be for just R and I to get annual passes, but since LP was with us, we justified getting her one by planning to take her for her 5th birthday, which would make the purchase worth it. Me and R will be going for Wine & Dine, but we're not taking LP because it'll be such a quick trip with me waking up VERY early to run a race. But now our plans for these passes are May '23 (this trip), Nov '23 (R & K only), Jan '24, May '24. Then we'll probably go another year before we go back.

This was an expensive night :greedy:

LP was adamant she wanted to ride a dark ride...R must have been trying to explain dark rides to her and why they weren't scary? I don't even know. I was trying to figure out our passes and how to get refunded for the memory maker we'd purchased since we added photo pass to one of the APs. That'll come up again tomorrow.

I got LP to a dark ride pronto. Meanwhile R hit up the Mexico booth for a margarita (not sure if he got any food?)

She loved it. So much so that she insisted we do it again with R when he met us at the exit with his marg. I helped him finish it :happy:

We talked her into moving on after this. I was surprised she was still so spry for how late it was! She did have that little car nap, so I'm sure that helped. We stick to a pretty steady schedule at home, but so far I was pleased she was not breaking down at a shift in things. Perks of getting a little older!

We wanted a little snack on the way out, so we went to the Honey Beestro and got the chicken and waffle

Chicken and Waffles: Crispy honey-brined chicken and honey sweet cornbread waffle with whipped honey butter and spicy honey. I give it a 6/10. It had some good flavors, but the chicken was not the best quality.

B. Nektar New Wave Lemonade Mead (very good!) and Florida Orange Groves Winery Orange Blossom Honey Wine (decent)

LP gets my best angles

Saw the fireworks as we were heading out. Fireworks were not on our agenda for this trip because of how late they are, then the long journey to get back to the room after. Maybe next year.

Step count for the day (which is skewed because I push the stroller most of the time): 8571

Let me quickly address the sleeping arrangement. This is the first time all three of us have slept in the same room since she was a newborn. This first night was TOUGH. She did not want to settle down and sleep while we were reading/playing Zelda. So eventually we put away our Kindle and Switch and just settled in for sleep. Thankfully it was just this first night that she wouldn't settle. She still needed the sound machine and darkness to fall asleep though, so there was no staying up watching tv after she was asleep. But we mostly stayed out until later so it was fine!

Also, my allergies have been horrible this year, and the few days leading up to this trip were especially bad. I hoped being in a new environment would help, but I was at my worst this night. I couldn't breathe all night, and I apparently don't possess logic when I'm half asleep, so I didn't get up to use my inhaler until morning. Once I did that and took a zyrtec, I was fine.

Next: Day 1


Well-Known Member
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading your TR and LP is just so dang cute! It was a bummer the walkway wasn't open from GF to MK during your trip because it's just so convenient! Grand Destino seems to get great reviews from most that do TR's so I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! It truly is the most magical time bringing your children to Disney when they are little (not too young though) and seeing the magic through their eyes! Thanks again for taking us along and look forward to your next trip report!


Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Thanks for sharing.

Hopefully when you really need to ramp up your training in September the weather will be better. I had a half marathon the first week of May and my weekend long runs were a real drag to fit in between storms but heat would have been worse !

Yeah maybe by the longest runs in October, the weather will be good! It is sometimes still pretty hot then, but we'll see. It'll get me ready for running in Florida ha
First of that family picture with Mickey is a framer! Secondly, thank you for sharing your amazing family adventures! We have missed many firework shows through the years in order to keep one of the kids from an utter breakdown. Wise choice on the last night! Good luck training and thanks again!

Yeah sometimes it's just not worth it. Also her being so sensitive to noise on the rides, the fireworks may have been too much anyway.

@sheriffwoody --

Thank you for another excellent TR. Always love your amazing photos -- and they're so much better than (many) taken by the park photographers. :happy:

Really enjoyed the Disney themed, daily fashion show by LP! All the princess dresses and pink sandals were so cute. :)

The Gran Destino hotel was very attractive, and thank you for sharing those photos.

Glad that the crowds were somewhat light, and perhaps that also helped to chill out folks. Seems like I read about more issues, when it's crowded, and some lose their patience.

For the most part, it looks like the food in the parks has improved from previous years. (Portion size and price haven't, but from the photos I've seen, the selections look very tasty.) :hungry:

High crowds definitely add stress and get people more irritated! Me included...haha.

Thank you for sharing!
As usual your pictures are amazing and LP is so cute!

Thank you for the report. Your writing is lovely and I always enjoy your pictures. LP is a cutie pie :)

Great TR!! I always enjoy yours!! I’m so glad you decided to do it!!

WOW you really powered through this report!

Well Done Bravo GIF by Friends

I enjoyed following along, as always! Thank you for taking the time to write a report!

Thank you all for reading!

Thanks for the report! Running through the parks with a little one is special.

Despite the vignetting on some shots, I love your photos with the 50mm, especially the ones with Belle!
Ahhh yes I did love those! I was glad they were in the shade.

Tiki Traveler

Well-Known Member
Happy Modern Family GIF by ABC Network

Thank you for taking the time to share your adventures. Your daughter‘s delight throughout the trip was heartwarming. In addition to being a great writer and photographer I think you must also be a great trip planner. Your family covered a lot of Disney and your daughter was happy throughout. You really knew how to design the trip for her. :)

Have a great summer!


Well-Known Member
We walked through Adventureland Friday morning and saw Peter Pan at Pirates and Aladdin & Jasmine at Flying Carpets.

I couldn’t help but think of those sweet pics of LP with them.

Can’t believe it’s been 4 years since I held her! (And 5 since we spent the day at Stormalong Bay/Beach Club with you!)

Thanks for a great report.


Well-Known Member
Day 4: Ending the trip

We made it! Around 7:30. We had decided after it took her sooo long to get it together at dinner that we didn't want to risk the fireworks. Also, let me be clear, she was totally fine at dinner, just very whiny and obviously in a bad mood. I don't want it to sound like she was acting out or anything. But I just knew she didn't need to be out super late. We'll try fireworks next time! In January I think they'll be earlier, right?

We'd promised her another toy to end the trip and to meet Mickey, so I had a LL lined up for that.

The box caught her twirl!! Can you believe it?!

The line for Mickey was over an hour! What the heck?! So glad we had a LL since we'd promised her a Mickey meet :oops:

The box didn't catch Mickey's little magic trick with her, but I was filming so I got it.

They were so cute together :inlove:

Talked R into jumping in for a family photo.

Pretty garden on the way out. It really looked and felt like rain, so I was worried. I think we'd have spent more time letting LP shop if I wasn't worried about a downpour. I feel bad, we kind of rushed her and she was paralyzed with indecision (I feel that, sister!)

She ended up picking a baby Pegasus from Hercules that has just been chilling on our coffee table since we got back. Maybe she'll play with it someday. She has so many dang stuffies. At least she has been sleeping with the Elsa we got earlier this trip.

She loved the window displays!

Goodbye for now MK! I was glad we got to end our trip here. It's so magical, and I love this time of day as it transitions from day to evening. So beautiful!

Made it back to the Grand Floridian with no rain. But we had a long walk to the car. They have you park behind the spa for a dinner reservation. We made it! And we made it back to Gran Destino without getting rained on. It did eventually rain, but we were fine, we needn't have rushed.

Goodnight, Gran Destino. We all headed to bed pretty quickly.

Our flight wasn't until 10:40am, which was PERFECT. We were able to wake up at normal time and have about an hour to get ready and get the rest of our stuff together. We left the resort at about 8am.

Such beautiful details at Gran Destino Tower!

We got gas near the airport and dropped off our car with no issues. At my old job, we had a great contract deal with National and it still works even though I don't work there anymore (shhhh) and I LOVE using them. I've never had an issue, knock on wood, and their processes are so smooth.

Inside the airport, the Southwest check-in line was unsurprisingly ridiculous. It's always so out of control. I told R to just hang with LP and let me deal with it, so I joined the cluster of humans with no discernible lines or order. Eventually got to drop my bag and it was 2lbs under the weight limit, WOO HOO. I was worried.

We convinced LP to say goodbye to her balloon animal pal. I really didn't want to tote that thing around all day, so I was glad she was ok with it.

And that's it on photos! Security went smoothly and a TSA agent showed me I could pop the wheels of the stroller to make it fit through the machine. I never knew! All the agents were friendly to us, which isn't always the case, especially at MCO. It was hectic but manageable this day.

Our flight was delayed about 10 minutes, but no biggie. We ate Jersey Mikes at our seats while we waited. When we'd checked in, me and R got A59 and A60 while LP got B1. Normally I would have just gotten on with the family boarding, but a HUGE family lined up like 30 minutes early, and I decided to risk just boarding at the end of A group. The attendant didn't even bat an eye. We let LP have the window on the flight back and I took the aisle, which means R got to be her entertainer. It was nice to be able to read for the majority of the flight ;)

We were so happy to be home and get our pup! Our dogsitters (R's aunt and uncle) are also Disney fans and we brought them a retro Disney board game as a thank you. We chatted with them for a while and they're planning a family Disney trip for after the new year! They went to Universal last year between Christmas and New Years and had a horrible time. I did try to warn them :hilarious:

I'm not good at summing things up, but here are a few things:
  • I enjoyed Gran Destino Tower and plan to stay there again!
  • We had no issues with the busses to MK but I did really enjoy having a car for the other parks. I think we'd totally do that again for the convenience. We also stopped at McDonald's one evening, which was nice.
  • Seeing how much we paid for Genie+ and ILL after the fact makes me a little ill...haha. But it was super convenient, I will admit. I don't think we'll use it every trip, but since we went a year between trips, it felt worth it to experience more. Since we have passes now, it won't be as necessary.
  • BBB was 110% worth it. CRT was not (for us)
  • Seeing the parks through my girl's eyes is so dang magical. I see what people mean now when they say this.
  • The crowds were pretty light! The lines seemed long at times, but it didn't feel oppressively crowded like it has in the past. We'll be going around the same time next year and I hope we experience this again.
  • Speaking of crowds, I don't recall any crappy guest interactions, which is RARE. Maybe I've just forgotten, but I feel like usually people in general are on my nerves more.
  • As usual, I came back sick. We got back on Saturday and I started getting sick Monday. Happens EVERY FREAKING TIME. And doesn't help that I already have horrible allergy symptoms this year. I'm sick of wheezing constantly.
R says he has nothing to add to that.

Thank you all for reading along! I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about stuff we did or where we stayed! Next trip is for Wine & Dine for just me and R. I start training in July, so wish me luck! July in TN is not pleasant for running outdoors :arghh:
Sounds like an amazing trip. Your kiddo is adorbs. Thank you for sharing :)


Well-Known Member
She was in her element, she is ALLL ABOUT being fancy. Or what she perceives as fancy. She wants her hair in a low ponytail every day, but I guess that's fancy to her. Either way, she loved being pampered, it was so cute. She does not get this from me, I was/am the polar opposite of a princess girly.

Once we were finished, we walked outside and the CM who did her hair and makeup gave her a cute little necklace, which I didn't realize was included, so that was nice. It's a cute pumpkin carriage, so makes a nice keepsake.

A quick note, this whole experience with all the little things she got to keep (tiara, wand, dress, makeup, nail polish, necklace) was around $250 plus tax :greedy: I knew it was expensive, I was prepared, but whew, I needed a fan. Thankful for that Disney Rewards Visa! We used the rest of that and some of my refund giftcard to pay for it.
Looking back I wish we had done BBB every trip with my daughter. I was trying to be economical - (what a luxury to even be able to afford a WDW vacation)- but you don't get the time back! :cry:

Also, as the low-maintenance mother of a high-maintenance daughter - $200 on a Disney trip to BBB pales in comparison to what feels like $200 a week at Ulta/ Sephora, the nail salon, hair highlights, etc! Feels like I could go to Disney once a month on what my 16 year old costs me! 😆


Premium Member
Looking back I wish we had done BBB every trip with my daughter. I was trying to be economical - (what a luxury to even be able to afford a WDW vacation)- but you don't get the time back! :cry:

Also, as the low-maintenance mother of a high-maintenance daughter - $200 on a Disney trip to BBB pales in comparison to what feels like $200 a week at Ulta/ Sephora, the nail salon, hair highlights, etc! Feels like I could go to Disney once a month on what my 16 year old costs me! 😆

Sorry, didn’t mean to laugh but just paid for my teen’s hair today. 😉


Well-Known Member
Looking back I wish we had done BBB every trip with my daughter. I was trying to be economical - (what a luxury to even be able to afford a WDW vacation)- but you don't get the time back! :cry:

Also, as the low-maintenance mother of a high-maintenance daughter - $200 on a Disney trip to BBB pales in comparison to what feels like $200 a week at Ulta/ Sephora, the nail salon, hair highlights, etc! Feels like I could go to Disney once a month on what my 16 year old costs me! 😆
Going to take this to heart. ❤️


Well-Known Member
Day 1 continued: HS

After Slinky, I made us a LL for Alien Swirling Saucers that was starting right then, so we hopped on that. I think the wait was only like 20 minutes, but still nice to bypass that.

Hands on the ears again. She did eventually take them off, but she was always hesitant about rides being loud.

After this I made a LL for Toy Story Mania, but it was still about a half hour away. We hopped in line for Woody and Jessie, but I had absolutely no faith we'd make it through that line before the LL came up, and I was right. We barely moved. Why is that line always so slow and soooo long?! We basically used it as an excuse to stand around and mobile order our lunch.

Once the time for TSM was up, LP agreed to do that instead of meet Woody. It helped that they were on a break, so she couldn't physically seem them anymore.

She rode with me this time :inlove:

Pretty sad :hilarious: I tried to help her aim her blaster thing down more, but she kept letting go of it, so it was basically pointed at the very top. But I managed to get her a few points at the beginning of each game, before I let her just do whatever. I think she enjoyed it even though we didn't do that well! She doesn't really get the score thing yet. BTW this line was over an hour, so glad we had Genie+ for this day and it was working for us!

After this, we headed back to Galaxy's Edge for lunch at Docking Bay 7. I'd really wanted the buffalo chicken grilled cheese, but R didn't see much on the ABC Commissary menu he wanted, so I was nice and said we should go somewhere else :cry: But Docking Bay 7 ended up being really good, so it was fine.

Pirjanad Hot Chicken Tip Yip for both me and R. LP had basically the same thing off the kids menu, except not spicy. She ate some of our rice too and we took her broccoli (she's one of those kids that eats nothing nutritious, and I don't understand how her body functions?!) I was just glad she was eating, because she notoriously eats barely anything when we're away from home.

When I finished my dish, I mobile ordered a Cold Brew Black Caf from Kat Saka's Kettle.

Not worth the hype IMO, but it was fine. The coffee was not good (and I usually like plain coffee). Once the sweet cream topping mixed in, it had more of a dessert vibe, and it was fine, but I wish the base cold brew was a bit better. I love a good cold brew, and I feel like the stuff at Disney is never smooth like it should be. Iced coffee is always bitter, but cold brew is usually less so.

After lunch we split up. R took LP over to the Frozen show. There was a good half hour or more before it started, so I hoped to join them. I headed to Guest Relations to see about getting a refund for memory maker. This poor girl that helped me had to call IT then call my resort. It was not the easy thing the girl from the night before thought it would be. I was in there for a while, so I missed the Frozen show, but I finally walked out with $170 on a giftcard, so that was nice!

I got to hear plenty of people coming in to complain about Rise being down. It seemed like it was down most of that day.

I told R I'd get us a beer since he was doing the show alone with LP. He took no pictures, but he said she loved the fake snow at the end.

I walked around looking for beer.

We have that Fantasia poster in our bedroom. I love it!

I didn't get a beer on Sunset Blvd. but I sure did get a lot of pictures. ha

I stopped taking pictures, but ended up at Baseline Tap House. I got one of the seasonal Sierra Nevadas. Summerfest maybe? It was refreshing. Nothing wildly amazing, but good for a hot day. I sipped on it until R and LP got out of the show, and we shared it on the way out of the park. We were ready for a little rest, I think it was about 1:30 at this point.

Up next: park hopping
Great pictures. Did you use a specific camera, or just your phone?


Well-Known Member
Day 2: Leaving MK

As we headed out for the night, we took a few photos. I honestly wanted to take 1 million of LP while she was all dolled up! I took these with my phone, but I should have pulled out my good camera. It was buried in my backpack and I didn't feel like it.

I convinced them to stop for a photo pass photographer

It was really bright there, so she had trouble keeping her eyes open, but we got one good one! On the way out we stopped to get her silhouette done. I'm glad we did it then with her hair done! I almost forget every time, then happen to look over. She kept asking for a balloon but I convinced her to just take pictures with them.

I feel bad, but balloons just seem like such a waste of money to me.

We kept going down Main Street and stopped at one more photo pass that was in the shade. She did much better this time since the sun wasn't in her eyes.

I know this sounds crazy, but this photo stopped me in my tracks. I LOOK SO OLD! I know I'm 35, but in my brain, I feel 25 so seeing photos where I look like a very mid-30s mom kind of makes me head spin :hilarious: It's probably the dress. It was so super comfy though, so who cares.

This photographer was so sweet and I love that she got some of LP by herself.

We waited maybe 10 minutes max for a bus and I took a few shots at the hotel when we got back

Love that lobby! When we got to the room, we took LP's bun out with all 20 bobby pins. Ok that's an exaggeration but it was a lot!


Something I haven't mentioned is that the rooms in the Gran Destino Tower don't have bathtubs. We do baths at home, so I'd gotten LP in the shower a few times before our trip to prepare. She did ok in the shower, but washing her hair was a challenge. We managed to get it done though!

Once we were clean, we all got to bed pretty quickly, we were beat! I'm sure I read for a while after LP was asleep, but I bet I was asleep by 9.

Step count (again remember this is with me pushing the stroller a lot!): 10,681

Up next: Chill morning
You do not look anywhere near your age!

Register on WDWMAGIC. This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.

Top Bottom