We did it. We spent 6 days at the self-proclaimed Most Magical Place on Earth, despite writing a post last year detailing the reasons why we hadn’t gone to Walt Disney World (WDW) yet. I do not plan on giving each day of our trip it’s own blog post by any means but because I felt so overwhelmed by the planning process when we first decided to jump into the WDW pool, I thought it’d be nice to break down our experience and lessons learned into more manageable nuggets of information.
We had a 7:00am flight from Reagan National to Orlando International Airport. Because we were staying on property, we were able to utilize the Magical Express service, which includes complimentary luggage delivery and transportation to WDW. About a month prior to our trip, we were mailed special tags for our luggage. We handed over our checked luggage in Washington DC and didn’t see it again until we walked into our cabin later than night – it felt great to bypass baggage claim and walk right to the Magical Express boarding area upon landing in Orlando. Because we were going straight to Hollywood Studios, we packed our carry-ons accordingly – Clay carried a backpack and I carried my favorite travel bag/purse (the NorthFace Elecrtra Daypack). The process to check into Magical Express was super easy (we just scanned our Magic Bands) and before we knew it, our chartered bus was heading to WDW.
When the Magical Express dropped us off at Fort Wilderness (I’ll write a blog post specifically detailing why we likely won’t choose to stay there again), we hopped on another bus to Hollywood Studios and before we knew it, we walking into our first WDW park together as a family. We purchased Disney Salutes 6-Day Park Hopper ticket vouchers from the Fort Belvoir MWR Office ($294.75/ticket). The ticket numbers were on the back of the vouchers, so we were able to book our FastPass+ at the 60-day mark (because we were staying on property) but because they weren’t true tickets, we had to visit Guest Services in order to exchange them and get the information synced with our Magic Bands. It was an easy 5-minute process and while there, we also purchased the Memory Maker at a discounted rate ($99).
I had only been to WDW once growing up on a family vacation and it was Clay’s and the kid’s first time. I was a freshman in high school, we didn’t stay on property, and we were only there for three days so I don’t remember a lot about the trip – only little snippets. Our six-day Disney World extravaganza was very different from what I experienced as a kid so in many ways, it felt like my first visit too. I remember my time at MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios) the most so I was happy to oblige our son’s request to make Hollywood Studios our first park because he had one thing on his mind ever since we announced our vacation plans: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
We walked around Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, in awe of the craftsmanship. While I enjoy the Star Wars movie franchise, I had to ask Clay and our children a lot of clarifying questions about the little details peppered throughout the land. We were starving so we grabbed lunch at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo. We opted to purchase the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) for this trip (I plan to write a post detailing our experience with DDP) so we used a Quick Service credit, which also included alcoholic beverages for myself and Clay.
That afternoon and evening, we saw the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, rode Star Tours, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, Toy Story Mania, and Muppet Vision 3D. We ate snacks, walked around the various ‘lands’ within the park, and popped into shops before finally deciding to head back to Fort Wilderness around 7pm so we could finally see our cabin. We had checked-in online using the My Disney Experience earlier that day so all we had to do was walk up to the cabin, click the ‘unlock door’ button on the app, and scan our Magic Bands.
After relaxing in our cabin for a bit, we took transportation from a bus stop near our cabin down to the beach to grab dinner at P&J’s Southern Takeout (another Quick Service meal) and watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks across Bay Lake. I’d like to say that it was the perfect end to a fantastic day but to be honest, we were exhausted. Next time, we won’t try and pack so much into the day we land in Orlando…lesson learned!