If you missed part one of this trip report, click here to catch up!
Split stays at Walt Disney World have become commonplace for us in recent years. This trip was our most ambitious yet in terms of hopping from resort to resort, as we’d stay at 4 different hotels in the span of 10 days. Even though we do this regularly, I’m always pleased and surprised at how easy the process is. After a few days at the wonderful Port Orleans – French Quarter, we headed down the Sassagoula River to Saratoga Springs Resort.
Typically, we’d send off our bags and check in later in the day, opting to go to the parks first. In this case, we had the dining plan during our stay at Saratoga so we caught a boat to the resort and activated the dining plan before heading off to Magic Kingdom. The process was seamless and our bags were at Saratoga (we used bell services at Port Orleans) by the time we were back that night.
Before long, we were off to Magic Kingdom for Space Mountain and lunch at Be Our Guest. As I said in our updated review of lunch, Be Our Guest remains one of the best counter-service restaurants in Disney World. One of my goals for this trip was to evaluate the value of the dining plan after a few years not using it. My meal at Be Our Guest totaled just short of $30, a very good counter-service value if you are on the dining plan. The alcoholic drinks here are not very exciting but everything else is excellent.
After lunch we knocked off our other reserved FastPasses for the day – Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight. Both attractions were in great shape, although we did start to pick up on a trend that we noticed for the rest of our vacation. The queues to scan your Magic Band for your FastPass were incredibly backed up. I’m not sure what was going on. There were a ton of people at the parks that week (President’s Day Week) so I’m sure that had something to do with it. Along with that, I wonder if Disney has started to give out more FastPasses for each time window. As far as waiting in line, this has a minimal impact as Cast Members work hard to get everyone through quickly. What it does affect is the walkways, as there is no queue (rightfully so) for guests to wait to scan a FastPass. I’m curious if we just caught a bad week here or if this will continue going forward.
Despite the crowds (seriously, don’t go President’s Day weekend and the week following if you can help it), Magic Kingdom was quite beautiful. Pink and purple blooms added a gorgeous pop of color to the park. The castle hub was especially beautiful.
After our FastPasses and an impromptu stop to watch Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History, we took the afternoon fairly easy. It was either that or wait in lines that were hours long. As I said in part 1, we were trying to keep the pace fairly easy with a half marathon coming up at the end of the week. That fit in well with insane crowds and wait times. After watching
the greatest show in American history Country Bear Jamboree, we grabbed a seat outside of Pecos Bill and waited for Festival of Fantasy to go by.
This wasn’t a bad spot to watch the parade if you have seen it before and don’t care as much. There were plenty of guests standing up at random times and others walking in front of us, but we could see the tall floats pretty well. If you want to have a good view of the parade, look up and down Main Street about 15 or 20 minutes before parade time.
As for the parade itself, Festival of Fantasy is solid. Having the dragon float back in the line-up gives the parade a showstopper. No, it’s not the best Disney parade but taking the time to see it, especially when wait times are crazy, is a good way to spend an afternoon. After the parade was over, we took the quick walk over to the Liberty Square Riverboat and rode around Rivers of America. Speaking of good ways to spend an afternoon, it’s hard to beat this.
The clouds had burned off at this point in the day, making for a beautiful sky and a hot afternoon. After our ride on the boat we were ready for some time inside so we enjoyed Hall of Presidents. We hadn’t seen the classic attraction in a long time. I’m happy to say that the animatronics look good and the show is running well. We completed our easy afternoon with another indoor show, the Tiki Room, a little more Muppets.
Two American icons.
I had grabbed a FastPass for Jungle Cruise after our initial three. We were pressed for time with a dinner reservation at Wilderness Lodge but got in line for the attraction against our better judgement. This time around the FastPass line being backed up was a small issue as we waited there for about 10 minutes before getting inside the queue. We made it on eventually and had a fun ride through.
We booked it out of Magic Kingdom, getting in line for the boats to Wilderness Lodge. We had gotten a bit unlucky with our timing and had to wait for a while but we made our dinner reservation right on time (instead of the recommended 10 minutes early). Our dinner at Storybook Dining Artist Point was amazing and we’ll have a review up soon. It’s one of my favorite dining experiences we’ve had at Disney World, which I was fairly surprised by. My meal was roughly $65 including an excellent cocktail, making this another very strong value on the dining plan. All told, my meals on that day cost $95, well above the Dining Plan ($75.49/day) cost. That doesn’t include any snacks, which we were trying to save up for Festival of the Arts Outdoor Kitchens.
After dinner, we took a nighttime stroll around the beautiful Wilderness Lodge before catching a bus to Disney Springs. After doing some quick shopping, we walked over to our resort and got into our room. Our room at Saratoga Springs wasn’t in a great location, although we started to like it more over the course of our stay. We’ll have a review of the entire resort in the next week.
The next day, we slept in and then went for a run around the resort. While the weather was still way hotter than what we were used to, the run when a little better than a few days earlier. Maybe it was the promise of hopping in the pool at the end and then barbecue food for lunch that kept me going. After a swim and getting ready for the day, we were off to Disney Springs for lunch at Polite Pig. This is another extremely strong counter-service value on the Disney Dining Plan. We enjoyed the meal, especially the sides, and will happily go back soon.
After lunch, we caught a bus over to Yacht Club and took the short walk to Epcot. We spent a good amount of the day in World Showcase, starting with a FastPass for Frozen Ever After. The poor couple sitting behind us in the boat was pretty frustrated with their day. They were a recently retired couple who hadn’t been to Disney World before but had just bought an annual pass. They stood in line for Frozen Ever After for nearly an hour and a half. We tried to tell them about FastPass and that the park wasn’t typically this busy but I’m not sure if they believed us. Hopefully they have gone back and enjoyed the park since!
The next hour was spent in the Norway and Mexico Pavilions. The former’s exhibit in Stave Church is pretty fun to look through currently, going through Nordic history that has a few familiar (Marvel) names. Mexico Pavilion has some interesting exhibits, as well, showcasing some art from Coco. Honestly, I don’t spend enough time exploring these exhibits and they are generally well done. I would like to see them change out a little more often but that would require more people seeing them.
We also took a ride on Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros. This might be the most underrated attraction in Walt Disney World. It’s subtly beautiful while Donald and company add a little zaniness to the attraction. Mexico Pavilion is beautiful, with a nice mix of interesting shops and exhibits along with an underrated attraction.
We headed over to Future World for the rest of the early evening. Both The Seas and The Land had fewer people in them than the rest of the park. Test Track had a 2 hour wait and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to wait 2 hours for that. Then again, most attractions in Future World are lacking so what else are you going to do? Living With The Land was fantastic, as usual. Just one man’s opinion.
Shortly after, we walked over to the Imagination as I thought the sunset mixed with the monorail and the fountains would make for a beautiful photo. My poor wife is always agreeable and came along. Then, we waited and waited… And waited. I’m not sure why the monorail took so long to pass by but by that time my photo was more or less ruined. It was all for not. This paragraph is an apology to my wife for wasting a half an hour to get this dumb picture.
Originally, we had a dinner reservation at Tokyo Dining around 6:30. The dining plan had caught up to us at this point so we pushed the reservation back to Epcot’s Magic Hours, around 9:30. It was a good move. That is the downside of the dining plan, especially if you are traveling with more than two in your party. Chances are that there will be a couple of meals that you won’t be very hungry for.
Instead of stuffing our already full stomachs, we went over to the China Pavilion to watch Reflections of China and the acrobats. Both are excellent uses of time. Impressions de France is still far and away the best World Showcase film but Reflections of China is nice. I’m excited for the update coming soon.
We had FastPassed a spot for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, which is a good move if you can find one day of after completing your reserved FastPasses. I had gotten a camera filter for Christmas and was anxious to try it out on Illuminations, a show that I’ve had trouble photographing in the past. Here’s a few of my results that aren’t great but better than anything I’ve done in the past.
Once Illuminations ended, we hustled halfway around World Showcase for dinner at Tokyo Dining. The meal was really solid and the restaurant may become a new go-to for us. My meal was around $55 meaning I totaled around $90 for the day before any snacks.
I’m on the fence about getting a dining reservation during Epcot’s late Magic Hours. It was a serene experience, as we were the last ones in the restaurant for at least the last 10 minutes. On the other hand, wandering through World Showcase without anyone in the park is one of my favorite experiences. Yes, you can do both but having a reservation will likely keep you from doing a full loop. I guess the choice comes down to whether you’d like serene dining or serene walking. Or just go to Epcot twice during the week.
After dinner, we walked around for just a few minutes before heading to the bus. We knew we’d be back at Epcot quite a bit the rest of the trip so I didn’t put a huge emphasis on photos around the park that night. I did get this one at the soon to be disbanded entrance.
I took a short walk around Saratoga Springs once we got back, hoping for a refill in my mug as I was thirsty. Unfortunately, everything was shut down. I wish resorts would keep little sections open to be able to get a drink somewhere. But, I stay awake later than most humans so I understand why this isn’t the case.
We’ll pick up part 3 of this trip report the next morning, with a day at Animal Kingdom. If you have any questions or thoughts then please leave them in the comments below! Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our Disney World Trip Planning Guide. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Trip Reports