I recently had the realization that I never shared about our Walt Disney World vacation last November. Sure I instagrammed about it, but you can’t really learn about the experience and tips for your own trips just from short Instagram posts.
The nice thing about going in mid-November was getting to experience some of fall, with the Food and Wine Festival, and Christmas at Disney.
Of course I need to give a bit of a disclaimer for this post. This trip was before the coronavirus, and now that the parks have reopened things are very different. I hope soon we’ll find ourselves in the Disney of pre-corona times, and even if you have a trip soon, I’m sure there’s something to glean from this post.
Arriving and our Resort – Beach Club
We arrived in the late afternoon on a Sunday. For this trip we decided not to go into the parks as soon as we got to Disney. I’ve done it before, it can be fun, but going into the parks on your travel day can be a recipe for meltdowns, and I don’t just mean for kids.
We chose to stay at the Beach Club Resort. During my trip in 2018 we had a dinner at Beach Club and fell in love with the resort. Beach Club is a deluxe resort which means it’s one of the most expensive. However, if you watch the Disney website for deals you can usually find discounted rates, which is what I did.
One of the best parts about staying at Beach Club is it’s proximity to other areas. Beach Club is considered an Epcot resort, which makes sense seeing as you can walk to the back entrance of Epcot in five minutes!
Did you know there is a back entrance to Epcot? It’s a little more widely known about now as this is where the Skyliner drops off. The official name is the International Gateway and you enter the park in the World Showcase between the UK and France pavilions.
Beach Club is also right next to the Yacht Club Resort and very close to the Boardwalk. So there are tons of restaurant options and things to do nearby!
The first night at Disney we went over to Disney Springs, but it was really crowded that night. We ended up just grabbing food at the quick service area in our resort for dinner.
Day 1: Hollywood Studios and Epcot
This part of the trip was pretty exciting to me as it was my first time experiencing both Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios.
Another cool thing at staying at Beach Club and the surrounding resorts is the ferry that takes you to Hollywood Studios. Its quite a peaceful ride and very convenient as compared to some of the other Disney transport options.
When we arrived to Hollywood Studios, we headed to Toy Story Land. During my last Disney World vacation, Toy Story Land was still under construction, so I was excited to see the area finished!
My first impression was that it was a lot smaller than I expected. I guess it just feels a little cramped. However, it is quite fun and colorful.
I had a fastpass for Slinky Dog Dash, the small rollercoaster in Toy Story Land. It was fun but I’m not sure it will be a priority ride for me in the future. I say this only because I like big rollercoasters, so this one felt very tame for me. That being said I think it’s great for kids.
There are two other rides in Toy Story Land. The first is Toy Story Mania, which is not new, but does have a new entrance. The other is Alien Swirling Saucers. I didn’t get a chance to ride this one but to me it looks very similar to the teacups in Magic Kingdom.
I noticed in Toy Story Land there were several character meet and greet spots and a toy soldier parade. It’s a fun area for kids and anyone who is a Toy Story fan.
If you walk all the way through Toy Story Land you’ll realize it turns into Galaxy’s Edge.
I didn’t really have any expectations for Galaxy’s Edge. It was still considered pretty new so I figured it would be crowded. Plus my mom is not a Star Wars fan so I figured she wouldn’t want to stay long.
I mainly wanted to check out the area. We did a walk through, saw the huge lines for Smuggler’s Run and the cantina, saw some Stormtroopers, and that was about it.
Theming for Galaxy’s Edge is on point, which is to be expected with Disney. I would love to go back and explore when some of the newness has worn off.
That evening we headed to Epcot for dinner. For this trip I opted to pay a little extra for the parkhopper pass. With this you have the option of visiting multiple parks in a day.
Currently parkhoppers are not available as you have to reserve the park you are going to for that day. However, once this option is brought back I highly recommend it. Disney is a vacation that you have to do so much planning for that it’s nice to have the option to go wherever you want on a whim (you’ll hear more about this in Part 2!).
Day 2: Magic Kingdom
Day 2 started by getting to Magic Kingdom prior to opening. The nice thing about doing this is that Main Street USA is open. So if you want to do some quick shopping (I did) or pop into Starbucks, you can without loosing any precious ride time.
This is also a great time to get photos. The area around the castle is usually crowded, but if you are wanting shots of the buildings on Main Street USA (or if you want to duck into some of the cute corners with no crowds!) it’s a great time.
Right at park opening there is a short welcome show at the castle with many of our favorite characters. It’s cute and definitely worth checking out if you’ve never seen it.
With a combination of Fastpasses and it being a lower crowd time, I was able to pack in quite a few rides this morning without feeling overwhelmed or like I was rushing. I decided to take my own advice learned from my last trip and plan rides that are close together. This way we were able to take our time through the park and not rush from one side of Magic Kingdom to the other.
First was Space Mountain for me, and then my mom and I jumped on the Peoplemover as it was nearby and there was no line at all.
We hadn’t eaten breakfast because of leaving our resort so early that morning, so we decided to go to Gaston’s Tavern. We actually discovered this quick service area during our trip in 2018. Highly reccommend if you are a fan of giant cinnamon rolls.
Over the rest of the morning, my mom and I were able to ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Jungle Cruise. I did solo rides of Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain (my mom isn’t a thrill ride person).
The nice thing about Magic Kingdom is it’s proximity to some of the deluxe resorts. We decided to take a little park break and hop on the monorail for the Grand Floridian. During the holiday season there is a giant gingerbread house that is fun to check out.
We then headed back to the Magic Kingdom for our “dinner” reservation. I used quotes there because I think it was scheduled for about 3 o’clock! We actually still had some time to kill and were able to hop on It’s a Small World. I always have to ride it at least once!
For dinner we had reservations at Liberty Tree Tavern. Here they serve a thanksgiving style all you can eat feast. It is so delicious! Dessert is also included and is a toffee cake. Our server described it as being like a warm chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream, and I’d say that was spot on.
After this full day at Magic kingdom you’d think I’d just want to rest. But no, I decided to head over to Epcot solo that evening to see the new fireworks show, Epcot Forever. I’ve actually heard this is a somewhat temporary show, and with nighttime entertainment currently being on hold I’m not sure if this will be around much longer. I liked it, however I never actually saw Illuminations. I’ve heard that if you compare the shows there really is no comparison, but for going in with fresh eyes I think it was good.
That was a lot! And this was only the beginning! Read part 2 now!