Disney World – January Winter Blues Cure

Nothing beats the post-holiday winter blues like a Walt Disney World vacation! In 2015, 2016, and 2018 we vacationed in February for runDisney’s Princess races. In 2017, we went in April for Star Wars races. This year? We picked January and not for the runDisney events. In fact, our carefully chosen 5-day getaway is (supposedly) during an uncrowded week. Fingers crossed!

Disney World – January Winter Blues Cure

Raymond and I have planned plenty of dining and FastPass+ action (more on that in a second), but we’ve also left extra-generous, unplanned blocks of time for being completely spontaneous. This does not mean we will be wasting this precious Disney time. Oh, no, quite the contrary!

We’ll be staying at the Villas at the Grand Floridian, so we’ll have easy access to the Senses Spa’s fitness center. We like exercising on vacation and, on this trip, we’ll have plenty of time in the morning on most days.

Unplanned time means we can indulge in one of our most favorite Disney vacation activities – Resort Exploration! I’ve mentioned the Resortloop Pub Crawl (highly recommend this!) and enjoying lunch and/or dinner at resorts other than where we’re staying. During these leisurely visits to our favorite resorts, we’ve had some of the best, most memorable vacation experiences. (I think this entire topic deserves its own blog post, so watch for it coming up soon.)

Free time in the parks means we can snack, shop, and people-watch at an unhurried pace. At Disney Springs, we can grab a cocktail and check out the different and varied musical entertainment offered there. Look, we were once among the believers in hard-core, 15+ hour days of non-stop attractions and park-hopping. Our family motto was: We’ll rest when we’re dead. Now we know that a slower pace isn’t any less fun. In fact, we have time to discover previously unnoticed magical details (and more Hidden Mickeys too).

What DO We Have Planned?

Let’s start with food. We’ve booked meals at Narcoossee’s (on the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Grand Floridian and one of our favorite places to end a park day), Rose & Crown (hearty, reliably tasty, and the UK Pavilion is among our favorites in World Showcase), Wine Bar George (new to us in Disney Springs), Yak & Yeti (haven’t eaten at this particular Animal Kingdom gem in too long), Sanaa (the bread service!!!), and The Hollywood Brown Derby (giving it another try after a disappointment).

Now on to the FastPasses. We may not have booked three per day, but quality over quantity was my driving factor. We’re visiting Magic Kingdom a couple of times and locked in Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Haunted Mansion, and Space Mountain. The absence of Splash Mountain may seem like a glaring omission, but January weather is often unpredictable and we don’t want to be soaked and freezing.

In Epcot, we snagged Frozen and Spaceship Earth, choosing to spend most of our Epcot time enjoying the Festival of the Arts rather than attractions. In Animal Kingdom, we’ve got Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, and Flight of Passage. Finally, we went a little crazy with the Studios and over a couple of visits managed to book Toy Story Midway Mania, Tower of Terror (x2), Rock’n’ Roller Coaster (x2), and Slinky Dog Dash. If park attendance is low-ish (as predicted), we should be able to fit in plenty of other attractions everywhere as we please.

Now that you know what we have planned and unplanned, what do you think? What restaurants and attractions or activities would you have chosen differently? If you’ve been to Wine Bar George, we would love some recommendations!

Almost Time – Disney Summer Road Trip Plans

We’re calling it the “Epic Mother/Daughter Disney Summer Road Trip” and in just a few weeks, we’ll be on our way!  Packing lists are made.  FastPasses are booked.  Like all great Disney vacations, new things are in store and include quite a few Disney firsts for us.  Megan and I are more excited than I can describe and are constantly texting each other about our plans.  Speaking of plans…

Almost Time – Disney Summer Road Trip Plans

Let’s start with the firsts:  First time at Saratoga Springs, first time on the Quick Service Dining Plan, first time driving to Orlando, and (the most exciting!) first time to see Pandora!  We’ve also booked the “Caring for Giants” tour at Animal Kingdom and are looking forward to seeing the new Happily Ever After nighttime spectacular in Magic Kingdom.

Here are the plans we’ve made day-by-day…

Arrival Day:

Magic Kingdom:  We’ll get there for lunch and grab what sounds good at the time.  We have FastPasses starting right after lunch for Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Splash Mountain.  Between FastPasses, we’ll fill in with the usual favorites depending on wait times.  Those attractions are usually PeopleMover, Haunted Mansion, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Carousel of Progress, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Country Bear Jamboree.  For dinner we’ll catch the boat to Wilderness Lodge to try Geyser Point before returning to Magic Kingdom and staying for Happily Ever After.

Day Two:

Animal Kingdom as early as possible.  It would stress me out to shoot for an exact arrival time, but it will need to be early.  FastPasses start at 9:00 am with Na’vi River Journey in Pandora.  We’ll grab breakfast there at Satu’li Canteen either before or after the ride.  Then we’ll have plenty of time to explore all of Pandora at our leisure.  Our next FastPass (Expedition Everest) isn’t until early afternoon.  We’ll do the Caring For Giants tour mid-afternoon then be able to roam around Animal Kingdom at a lazy pace, eat dinner, and use our final FastPass for Rivers of Light at 9:15.

Day Three:Animal Kingdom's Kali River Rapids

Animal Kingdom again first thing.  Our FastPasses are all in the morning:  Flight of Passage, Primeval Whirl, and Kali River Rapids.  We’ll be hopping to Epcot for the afternoon – so many great quick service options for lunch in World Showcase!  Dinner that night will be at Paddlefish in Disney Springs after which we’ll call it a day.

Day Four:Entrance for Toy Story Midway ManiaWe’ll start by rope-dropping the Studios to ride Rock’n’ Roller Coaster before using our three FastPasses for Tower of Terror, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Star Tours.  The unplanned afternoon will be spent at either Magic Kingdom or Epcot before we start the first part of the long drive home that evening.

Yes, we have solid plans for much of the time, but I think we’ve allowed for plenty of free-styling along the way.  Primarily we’ll be focused on exploring Pandora since it’s new, but we’ll also be able to enjoy many of our must-dos in every park while trying a few new restaurants too.  Mother/Daughter time should include a nice mix of new experiences and old favorites while making lots of happy memories.

While we’re away, Joseph has decided he should stay at the house and keep Raymond (and Junior) company.  So while they won’t be going to Disney World, they’ll be guys home alone doing guys stuff.  I think they’re pretty excited about it.

Are you headed to Walt Disney World this summer?  What are you the most excited to see and do?