Disney Travel- September 2018
If you’ve never been to Disney, the planning process can be pretty overwhelming! Check out my Beginners Guide to Disney if you’re thinking about planning a trip. We just returned from a five night trip. This is our third time staying on site and the second time at the Carribean Beach Resort. Aside from the resort being under major “refurbishments” as they like to say (it was more like full blown city construction), we had a comfortable room and a good location. Disney is building a Gondola system linking some of the resorts to Hollywood Studios. They are also building a Vaction Club condominium on the Carribean Beach property.
The Caribbean Beach Resort is laid out in villages named after Caribbean islands. Our last trip we stayed in Trinidad South for a pirate themed room. This trip, we stayed in Martinique in a standard view room. While we loved our themed room, including the pirate ship shaped bed and accents for any buccaneer, Martinique was by far the best village location. We had easy walking access to the big pool, Fuentes Del Morro, as well as smaller leisure pool in our village. Because of the size of this resort, you have to take an internal shuttle to get around the resort so location is key. When we stayed in Trinidad we had to take the internal shuttle just to get to Old Port Royale (food/dining) and Fuentes Del Morro.
I met the rest of the family at the resort, as I was already in Orlando for work conference. I stayed at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace for three days prior to vacation. The resort amenities were beautiful, hello lazy river! Located across from Disney Springs, it was an easy walk to shopping and dining. You also get the Disney perks, including park shuttles and extra magic hours. The hotel restaurant “The Letterpress” was actually the best dining I had the whole trip. They also had a small cafe that was convenient for a morning (Starbucks) coffee.
Disney in September is a roller coaster of weather patterns. Fortunately, we were not impacted by Hurricane Florence, though mid September is the peak of Hurricane season. We did experience intermittent rain storms and heat lightning nearly every night. Otherwise we were relatively dry, but SO hot. It was mid nineties and 99% humidity ev-er-y-day! SO HOT! This made the pool our favorite spot on non-park days.
Because we had planned the trip as an extension of work travel for me, we only made it to two parks. We visited Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom. In between we had a designated pool day, which I think is key to an enjoyable trip. If you’re headed to Disney soon, you should know Hollywood Studios is also hosting some serious construction. They are building the station for the gondola, which happens to impact the shuttle drop off and pick up location at the park. Be prepared for a significant walk when your resort shuttle drops you off at the park. Because of the time of year we were able to cover a lot of ground in both parks with minimal wait on most rides.
In Hollywood Studios, we followed the pro-tip advice and made a beeline for the Star Wars Jedi Training Academy right when the park opened. Kids age 4-12 suit up in a Jedi robe and learn the ways of the lightsaber, battling two Star Wars villains, but this is only available on a first come, first serve basis and you have to sign up for a time. We opted for the first show because we had the time before our fast passes. This was such a cool experience for Will to see some of his favorite characters up close and personal, battling Dark Sith and Darth Vader.
Our major motivation for Hollywood Studios was to check out Toy Story Land… which DID NOT disappoint. The atmosphere was on point, from the decorative toys and brightly lit decor. Andy’s Toy Army Men were throughout the park, and Buzz, Jessie, and Woody were out and about for photo ops. Toy Story Land has three rides, Toy Story Mania, Slinky Dog, and the Flying Saucers. We rode each ride twice, and Slinky Dog was worth the wait! We didn’t catch a fast pass for it,so we opted for the rider switch and waited out the 55 minute wait. What’s a rider switch? If you have a child who’s too small or not interested in the ride, you can ask for a rider switch. This gives each parent the opportunity to ride the ride without having to wait in the long line again. We rode Slinky Dog at night when the park was all lit up, highly recommended. Aside from the rides, I think Hollywood Studios gem is the shows. We saw the Beauty and the Beast show and it was so fun for everyone. We enjoyed the rest from being on our feet, but the singing, dancing and quick scene changes were awesome.
Our last park day was at Magic Kingdom. The park was decorated for autumn with accents of Halloween. I will obviously need to figure out how to recreate the Mickey Mouse Jack-o-lantern wreath! When we booked Fast Passes, I forgot to look at the event calendar. If I had, I would have known the park closed at 6pm for a special ticketed event, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. I realized this just a few weeks prior to our trip, and rather than rearranging our entire schedule, we went back and forth but opted to purchase tickets to the Party. Magic Kingdom was a perfect park day (even with the heat). We had Fast Passes for rides that generally had a 60+ minute wait, and most of the other wait times were minimal. Because the lines were small, we were mostly covered and in the AC. Just like our last trip, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was a favorite, and the longest wait time. We covered more of the park than ever, including rides we’ve never had time to hit before! Because we had purchased tickets for a the special event, we opted to head back to our hotel mid day for lunch and a little rest. Otherwise, I recommend packing a lunch and having a picnic under the Big Top in Fantasyland. It's a casual and comfortable spot to eat your packed lunch and rest for a bit.
Brace yourselves, this may be the only internet review of MNSSHP that isn’t favorable. I would highly recommend this event if you want the experience of decking you and your family out in costumes and embracing the Magic Kingdom trick-or-treat. While costumes are not required, lots of people were decked in pretty elaborate Disney themed get ups! Aside from the trick-or-treats and costumes, I didn't find the event to be worth the extra cost. I’ll have a whole separate blog post on MNSSHP, so stay tuned.
Overall we had a great trip. We visited Disney Springs a few times, for shopping and dining. I would definitely recommend visiting in September if you can get the littles out of school and you don’t mind the heat! Just bring lots of water and I would invest in the portable fans with spray bottles. They sell them in the park, but buy them before you go, you’ll pay half the price!
What’s your favorite thing about Disney in the fall?! Let me know in the comments!