If you missed the first installment of this trip report, click here to catch up!
Going to Walt Disney World in the summer has become an interesting proposition. Over the last few years crowds have drastically gone down in the summer, offering some of the lowest attraction wait times through the entire year. Unfortunately, the temperatures haven’t followed the wait times lead. It’s great to have the lower waits and fewer crowds but is it worth it if you’re constantly dodging the sun? Our vacation, at times, felt like a case study in that question.
Fortunately, for my family we had the benefit of 8 days in the parks. That definitely helps in the heat as you don’t feel the pressure to stay and maximize the value of your tickets, instead opting for a cool down in the hotel room or pool. After a hot day in Animal Kingdom, that’s exactly where we ended up on Sunday night.
Earlier in the day we checked out of Animal Kingdom Lodge and transferred our bags to the Boardwalk Resort, our home for the next few days. We got a 2-bedroom villa that housed all 8 of us. It was a comfortable room and a great hotel (review coming shortly). After a long swim, we walked around the Boardwalk for a while enjoying Epcot’s Illuminations from a distance and eating some ice cream from Ample Hills. It was a great way to recharge after a hot day. We were all back in the room before long, enjoying some Mickey Cartoon Shorts (at least I was!) and getting to sleep.
The next morning we all met up at Hollywood Studios for a ride on Tower of Terror. While we waited for the whole group to get there, I noticed these bathrooms at the end of Sunset Boulevard were open. This was the first time I’d ever noticed them being open. They were uncrowded and nice, much better than the cramped ones about halfway down the street. Now that you’ve gotten your hard-hitting Disney World bathroom analysis feel free to go about your day.
Before long, we went on Tower of Terror. It was quite a ride as we had a few first-timers in our group. I am also terrified of the ride. To put it kindly, there were some loud exclamations as we dropped to our certain deaths. Tower of Terror also did a bit more dropping than usual on that ride through. Some people really enjoyed that. I was not one of those people.
After we somehow survived, a few of us went on Star Tours while our nephew and a few others met Olaf. We had an abbreviated morning because of our dining reservation at Disney Springs. Essentially we used up a few FastPasses before leaving the park.
Getting to Disney Springs from a park in the afternoon is a real headache. I don’t know why they don’t have direct buses from the park to Disney Springs before 4 PM but they should. Well, I probably know why they don’t have direct buses and it just comes down to money. With so many great dining options at Disney Springs, I’d like to see Disney World reevaluate this decision. We opted to take a bus to Caribbean Beach from DHS and then go to Disney Springs from there. Fortunately, neither wait was very long and we made it to Homecomin’ in time.
As I’ve already covered, we really enjoyed our meal at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’. The Fried Chicken is superb and the atmosphere is relaxed and inviting. They were kind enough to sit all 13 of us together and we really appreciated that.
Some of the group stayed behind to do some shopping after lunch. Melissa and I took the boat over to Saratoga Springs to catch the bus back to Hollywood Studios. The rest of our group eventually did the same thing but it took quite a while. Saratoga doesn’t offer the coolest bus stops, from a literal perspective (the view is quite pretty), so we were all baking by the time we got back to the park.
Our third and final FastPass of the day was for Slinky Dog Dash, which we did in groups. It’s always a fun ride, although my nephew didn’t think so. He will in a few years, but it does move pretty fast for a four-year-old.
Unfortunately, this put us in Toy Story Land right in the middle of the day. There’s very few places in Disney World that are as miserable during the middle of the day as Toy Story Land. For some reason, there’s no shade to relax in. It’s a pleasant enough land when it’s not 100 degrees outside but, learn from our lesson and stay away from the land during the middle of the day.
The coaster is pretty good eye candy though. I’ll give it that.
We were in need of a cool off. Some of our group headed back to the room while the rest of us went to the Frozen Sing-Along. To be frank, I despise this show and would have skipped it but… My nephew loves Frozen and is constantly singing it with anyone who knows the words. Basically, this changed the show from a must-not to a must-do. I still don’t enjoy the show, but it was a memorable experience that we all enjoyed thanks to Wyatt. Plus, there was A/C.
At this point it was early evening so we took the boat back to the hotel for a quick cool off in the pool and then Melissa and I headed to Epcot for the night. Upon entering World Showcase we both noticed just how empty the park was. We were walking around the UK Pavilion and barely saw anyone in the area. Throughout the entire trip, Epcot had the lowest crowd levels we’d seen in years (maybe ever). While I enjoy most of the festivals Epcot puts on, having so few people in the area was a great change of pace.
We walked around the UK Pavilion for a bit before meeting up with my sister in the France Pavilion. Still pretty full from lunch, Melissa and I opted to share a pastry from Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie before catching Impressions de France. Finally, we ended up outside of the Japan Pavilion to watch Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.
This remains one of our favorite places to watch Illuminations and it’s pretty easy to get a spot here just before the show starts. I’ll have plenty to say about Illuminations but we saw it 2 more times on this trip so I won’t drag on here.
We took our time exiting Epcot, enjoying the music and views before settling on the beach by the Yacht & Beach Club. The weather was still in the 80’s but it was nice to sit and relax on the beach, watching the boats pass by and the fireworks in the distance.
Eventually, we met some of the family at Beaches & Cream. I’d tried to get reservations for our entire party at the famed Disney World soda fountain but I’m pretty sure a group of 13 would have taken up the entire restaurant. Instead we had a reservation for 4 that we stretched into 6.
It was our first time at Beaches & Cream and I’ll have a review soon. I can see why the restaurant is loved but also see why it’s undergoing a long refurbishment in the next few months. We enjoyed our meal, especially the No Way Jose.
After our late night snack, we walked back to the hotel and fell asleep quickly. It’s hard to overstate how great the Boardwalk location is. Whether it be late night snacks at Beaches & Cream, dropping in for a night at Epcot or enjoying a stroll around the Boardwalk, the location can’t be beat.
The next morning, we were off to Magic Kingdom for a round of FastPasses. My Aunt & Uncle’s family went to SeaWorld for the day so we just had the eight of us that morning. We started with Big Thunder Mountain followed by a ride on Splash Mountain. It was still morning but we were all eager to get splashed as the temperatures continued to rise.
Crowds were fairly low on the day so we kept getting through attractions, enjoying the air-conditioning in Philharmagic and using a FastPass at Haunted Mansion. I snagged another FastPass for Dumbo and we walked over to that area.
I hadn’t been to Storybook Circus during the day very often. It definitely holds more intrigue at night but the area works for me. Around the time we went on Dumbo, the marching band showed up in the area and started playing. It was extremely hot so we didn’t stick around for long but it’s always enjoyable to listen to them. I bet they wanted to go sit in the splash park after they were done with their set.
After wrapping up our attraction filled morning, a few of us hopped over to Epcot to enjoy lunch. It was our first time walking through the front of the park with half of the Leave a Legacy ‘tombstones’ ripped out. I really enjoy the openness that the area currently has and look forward to the new entrance.
We settled on La Cantina de San Angel for lunch. The food was solid and eating by the water is enjoyable. We’ll have a review in the coming weeks.
We walked around Epcot for just a while before heading back to the hotel to relax and get out of the sun. Click here to continue on to part 3!
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Categories: Trip Reports