The ever-evolving Walt Disney World will always keep you on your toes. We returned home tweaking our plan for our future trips. The good news is that Disney will take your suggestions seriously. So the thoughts I have now could certainly change in the future. As of now, I’d like to share my current thoughts from our last trip. It’s always a good discussion of what worked, what didn’t and what experiences we enjoyed this time around. I will break it down in sections for easy referencing.
The Drive: I thought I would start with the drive from St. Louis to Walt Disney World. This was our first trip by car to WDW with our children. We broke it up into a two day drive. We were very lucky to miss the traffic on the way there. I had a lot of anxiety about going through Atlanta. I have heard so many horrible experiences in the past. If this information is anyway helpful to you, I’d suggest going though Atlanta around 10:30-11:00am on a weekday. We sailed right though downtown. I was not aware Chattanooga, TN had a traffic problem until a friend who was local had informed me through Instagram. We didn’t have a problem on the way down, but on the way back (on a Sunday!) we ran into problems. The drive to and from wasn’t bad. Plan ahead, break it up if you need to. I think it was best for our family to break it up into two days.
Our Resort: We checked into Bay Lake (DVC Resort next to The Contemporary) around 5pm. Our room was ready, which was located on the first floor. I prefer the first floor, so I was very happy about that! We love Bay Lake for many reasons. The smell in the lobby, the spacious rooms, the modern artwork and the convenient location! Hop on the monorail or walk to Magic Kingdom! We like to stay in this resort especially if we are attending a ticketed event, such as “Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party” Or “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.” The beauty of this is beating the crowds and not having to stand in line for transportation after the party. It’s about a 15 minute walk back to the resort. Our thoughts have remained the same, we love this resort! *Side note: Joffrey’s now has their latte stamps in The Contemporary! No need to head to Disney Springs to get that fun Mickey design!*
The Food: We noticed some changes at our usual stops. We also added a new restaurant to try on this trip. Our first usual stop is San Angel Inn restaurant in Epcot. I know the Disboards guys hate this restaurant. We all have our preferences, but I’ve always thought it was pretty good! There were some updates we noticed! Perhaps they saw the disboard reviews and made some new updates. Like I said before, Disney will listen to your feedback. The menu was freshened up with a new look and feel. The layout was clean and well laid out. The presentation of our dishes looked different as well! I always order the same, the Carne Asada. The menu items were the same, but presented nicely on my plate. We also agreed that the taste overall was a step up although my husband missed their old salsa choices. Overall well done!
The Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom is another usual stop for us. We have never walked away feeling like it was a waste of time or money. Again, I felt like the quality was there! We pigged out this time around too. The kids really enjoyed their meals as well which says a lot, they are picky eaters! The characters came around quickly and interacted well with the kids. It’s a good place to sit down in Magic Kingdom.
A new restaurant we tried was Biergarten restaurant in Epcot. This was disappointment! I really liked the view of the facade of Germany. You feel as though you’re eating outdoors in an old German town. The part we didn’t like was the food. I’ve had good German food before and this didn’t even come close in comparison. It is a buffet style and I didn’t think the food was hot. The choices were poor for children. The appearance of how the food was displayed was sloppy. I understand if people were sloppy while serving themselves, but we were the first ones to be seated for the day. Disney may change things in the future, but for now we will cross it off the list.
Finally, our last new restaurant was The Hollywood Derby in Hollywood Studios. One word. Fantastic. I’m not sure why we cancelled our reservations in the past, but I’m so glad we finally experienced this place. We loved it so much, we were able to score another reservation on this trip. The menu items are appealing not only to us, but for the kids as well. Both servers we had were prompt and helpful. The cocktail and wine list was great with lots of choices. The wine prices were actually reasonable as well. I wouldn’t say they were slow, but make sure you have enough time to enjoy the service and food. Try not to rush through this one.
*We’ve been to many other restaurants in the past-but I’ll cover those experiences in the future. I wanted to only cover what was up-to-date.*
The Crowds: I bet we love this topic! It’s always crowded, however this time it wasn’t so bad! You read that right folks! We were there Tuesday-Sunday, October 16th-20th. We haven’t experienced low crowds in a long time. We were in Toy Story Land for two evenings and it was very enjoyable to walk around! I would recommend night-time too, as you’ll be able to see the light effects in Toy Story Land! I’ll just call it luck this time around.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party: I’ve been to a few Halloween parties over the years. I always loved the decorations, the first impressions in front of Magic Kingdom, the enthusiasm people have with their costumes. Some people look better than the cast members! This particular party didn’t have this feeling! Shocking, right?! I’m serious as I write this. The entrance didn’t have their extra special magic and spookiness. No sound effects! The partygoers hardly dressed up! Am I joking? NO! This wasn’t normal and I left the party feeling a bit bummed. The best part in my opinion is seeing everyone in costume. I totally understand those who can’t dress up for other reasons. This was just out of the norm for Disney World. There’s a million parties, I’m sure some of the others had better experiences. We did the desert party at the MNSSHP. The Halloween desserts were very cute and creative. The view of the fireworks was great. *Side note-the fireworks for Happily Ever After is better. If you want to use your desert party money towards that, I would think that is a better choice.*
Overall thoughts: The drive is doable. This biggest advantage was having a car on site. Rather than waiting forever for a bus, we got in the car and headed to the parks! This saved a ton of time! We also packed anything we wanted! I don’t know about you, but I get sad leaving behind our Disney Balloons when we fly. It’s been a few weeks and I’m still enjoying our Halloween balloon! In our opinion, the Christmas party is better than Halloween. Next year we plan to book for Thanksgiving, as that worked out great in 2017!
I hope you found this post helpful! If you have any questions, please send me a message!
Have a magical Thanksgiving everyone!