Conquering Orlando between Christmas and NYE: "low expectations and HIGH crowds."

angryduck71

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 9, 2010
Hello there! I had a fabulous time taking my son, David (I call him Davy -- he really either goes by David or Jake, his middle name) back to Orlando for a Christmas break trip this year. Here's the story!

Back in January 2019, we were dealing with a bad winter in Kansas City... I realized I had some Hilton points that were going to expire at the end of the year. I asked David where he would like to go -- he said Orlando! We wanted to avoid another awful winter even if it was just for a few days. We realized that we already had plans during the year and the only time we had free was Christmas break. I told him that it was SO crowded in Orlando over Christmas break... we should do something that would at least not be TOO crowded. I knew I got free quick queue passes to SeaWorld with my Hilton Double Tree reservation... but... I had promised myself never to go to SeaWorld... I had taken Davy there when he was 3 or 4... we had reservations to dine with Shamu. I decided last minute not to do it as we had other stuff planned. But, we did talk to a couple of Shamu's trainers that day. They were delightful and just loved Davy. That afternoon, everything seemed to shut down for some reason and I saw helicopters overhead. We left the park. At dinner that night, I started getting texts to see if we had been there when Shamu had crushed his trainer. I was HORRIFIED and felt sick. I was really upset and hoping against hope it was not one of the nice ladies we had met that day (it was not, but still felt so traumatic). So, I just could not see going back there. BUT, ten or so years have gone by, and I knew Davy would enjoy that park so much.... I decided to give it a go. So, we decided to do three nights at the DoubleTree and do SeaWorld during that time. Since we'd have the quick queue with the hotel, I also figured I would go against my other rule about not going to Orlando during the busiest week of the year.

Then, I saw a pretty good military discount for Discovery Cove. I am a civilian who works for the military and I get some of the discounts. Davy and I had been to Discovery Cove a couple of years back and it was his favorite time ever. The Sea Trek was "the best thing he had done ever in his life." I told him I could get tickets but that the extras weren't in the cards this year. I was lying. LOL. My son doesn't really ask for "things" for his birthday or Christmas anymore, so I decided giving him a swim with the dolphins and the Sea Trek would be part of his Christmas presents. So, that was settled. Four days, three nights of SeaWorld and the Hilton DoubleTree at SeaWorld.

Then... I started getting recruited for another job at another government agency. It seemed EXTREMELY promising. With that, I realized if I changed jobs for this promotion, I would never get to stay at Shades of Green again at Disney.... so, I thought I would add a night there and do a day doing the Void (with the Star Wars and Wreck It Ralph virtual reality games). Thought I'd add those to Davy's Christmas presents as he LOVES virtual reality. Plus, I figured if we had reservations, we wouldn't be in line too much. So, the trip was extended to add that....

Then... Davy asked if we could do at least one day at Universal. He asks for so little, how could I say no? I decided we would stay one night at Royal Pacific and have express passes for two days then. So, it was set: one day at Disney Springs. Spending the night at Shades of Green. Two days at SeaWorld. One day at Discovery Cove. Move over to Royal Pacific and spend two days at Universal.....

I was determined not to go to Disney. It was going to be a MAD HOUSE. We are coming back in May and could do it then. Everyone teased me as Galaxy's Edge is now fully open and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Star Wars. How could I resist? Finally, I broke down. Dang it. I was able to snag some good reservations and FP+ as well... so broke another rule and decided to go to Disney during Christmas week.

So, it was finally set in stone:

Thursday, Dec. 26: Get up at 2:30 a.m. to catch a ride to the airport for our 5 a.m. flight. Go to Disney Springs. Stay the night at Shades of Green.

Friday, Dec. 27: Get up early to go to Hollywood Studios. Later, go to check in to the Double Tree at SeaWorld

Saturday, Dec. 28: Go to SeaWorld.

Sunday: Dec. 29: Go to Discovery Cove. Go to Universal in the evening

Monday: Dec. 30: Check in at Royal Pacific. Go too Universal.

Tuesday: Dec. 31: Go to Universal. check out for evening flight home.

Christmas morning, Davy learned about the extras we were going to do for the trip. He was so excited! We attempted to get to bed at 7 pm for our early morning flight! UP next.... how we spent our first day!
 


angryduck71

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 9, 2010
Day 1: The alarm was set for 2:30 a.m., but I was so excited, I woke up at 2:15. I ate some breakfast and then woke up Davy for his. He seemed ready to go and didn't feel too bad. Our ride showed up at 3 a.m. They had us booked as a wheelchair ride and so there was some confusion, but we made it to the airport without further problem. We got on the plane excited to go!
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I can sleep at the drop of a hat. My son has real problems trying to nap. But, this time, near the end of the flight, he was out..

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I was worried it would take a lot to get him up but he perked up when he realized we were there. We had Tony Hinds pick us up (third time we've used him -- he's great!). Our bags were the second and third off the belt! Success! Tony asked if we wanted a grocery run. We did not need one. Said we were going to drop our bags off and head to Disney Springs. He offered to take us there as it was on his way. Yay! So, we headed to Shades, dropped the bags off, then headed to Disney Springs. It was much earlier than we expected to get there (I think we got there before 10 a.m. -- may shops weren't even open yet), so we decided to see if we could move up our Void reservations.

Davy took charge and led the way!

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We found our way to the Void and were able to move up our Wreck It Ralph. Davy loved shooting pancakes (waffles?) at me during the game. I'm not sure what that says about my parenting skills.... LOL.

I had a reservation for the Boathouse for lunch. We had never tried it before. Davy has just recently discovered his love of lobster (my favorite!), so he thought he might like the lobster bisque. I ordered some too. He quickly realized he did NOT like the bisque (he was wrong -- it was terrific!). I told him he could get actual lobster if he wanted, so he ordered that. I told the waitress he did not care for the bisque. I thought she might offer to take it off the ticket (although I would offer to eat it instead as it was good), but no such offer came. No problem. I ate his too. We shared the lobster and Davy had some fun after playing with the shell. We're on vacation -- I'm ok with playing with our food. LOL.

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We had a little time to kill between lunch and our Star Wars Void experience. So, we went to Goofy's candy shop and Davy got some candy and decided to sit for a bit. I went on a shopping spree. I FOUND BABY YODA SOCKS! VERY EXCITING!!!! I also ran into my favorite -- Donald Duck (thus my angryduck name). I also took a pic of the balloon. I thought Davy would want to try it, but he didn't. I also purchased a couple of new Donald Duck ornaments and a couple of Star Wars shirts. Davy really doesn't get souvenirs. I'm the one who has to watch her spending!

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It was FINALLY time to go back to what I was really looking forward to -- Star Wars Secrets of the Empire at the Void.

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It was SO FUN. I loved this a lot. I thought it was tons better than Wreck It Ralph. There was a line even though we had a reservation. Davy and I spent that time thumb wrestling. LOL. I think he shot me a few times during the mission even though we were supposed to be working against the Empire. I'm pretty sure Davy is a Sith Lord. Continued next post!
 
  • angryduck71

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 9, 2010
    Day 1 continued:

    Here is a pic of us in all our VR gear. 1578093912.jpg

    Davy later said shooting me with pancakes was his favorite part of the trip -- and when you see what all we did, you will question his sanity! LOL.

    We were pooped at this point and I had received a text that our room at Shades was ready. We grabbed a Lyft... and, the guy did NOT know his way around Disney AT ALL. He got lost a couple of times! At one point, I was looking down and looked back up to see him entering EPCOT! I told him that Shades of Green was near Magic Kingdom. He asked the CM at the booth which way to Shades and she told him how to get there. We were tired and frustrated at this point. But, we finally made it to Shades of Green. We decided to nap. I knew Davy wouldn't nap because he NEVER naps. Never has -- even as a baby. He just hates to sleep. But, when my alarm went off and I woke up from my nap -- I was SHOCKED to see him sleeping! I woke him up as we had dinner reservations at his favorite Disney restaurant -- Boma. He was NOT HAPPY but did want to go. He finally got up and we grabbed a Lyft to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to get to Boma. We go in and sit down... and Davy announces he's not hungry and REALLY tired. But, we eat a bit. Davy ate a lot of potatoes. 81191099_10218585922891965_9035705871807545344_n.jpg
    We grab a lyft back to Shades ready to settle in as we are getting up EARLY tomorrow for Galaxy's Edge. Around 10 pm, we wake up. A family on our floor with a LOUD toddler thought it would be a good idea to play hide and seek IN THE HALLWAY. I go out and ask them to keep quiet. It does not work. So, Davy goes. He practically cries begging them to keep quiet so he can sleep. That finally works. Although we have loved staying at the huge rooms so nicely priced at Shades over the years, the last two times, it has been extremely loud. For now, we've finally settled and I'm dreaming of a Kylo Ren spotting tomorrow!
     
  • schumigirl

    It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts
    Joined
    May 15, 2007
    You are quick off the mark!!! I just read your email last night saying you were trying to doing a report..….lol.....excellent!!!

    Glad to see it though. I can`t believe how Davy has grown since the last group of pictures you sent me!!! He`s quite the young man now!

    I`m glad you liked Boathouse, looks like a good meal after the bisque. How awful with the driver who got lost, you don`t expect that do you.........but the noisy family in the hallway!!!! Yep, I`d have been out there too...….so inconsiderate.

    You know me and Star Wars...….:rolleyes1 but the socks were cute......I need to ask Tom who Lord Sith is.......
     

    angryduck71

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 9, 2010
    Lol. Tell Tom I said “a Sith Lord,” not “Lord Sith.” You made a funny and didn’t even know it. Love it!

    lost driver and inconsiderate neighbors — there will be more!
     

    schumigirl

    It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts
    Joined
    May 15, 2007
    Lol. Tell Tom I said “a Sith Lord,” not “Lord Sith.” You made a funny and didn’t even know it. Love it!

    lost driver and inconsiderate neighbors — there will be more!
    lol......I`m useless with anything Star Wars.....I have no clue!!!

    I like the sound of Lord Sith......he sounds cool...….:rotfl:
     
  • angryduck71

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 9, 2010
    Day 2: Galaxy's Edge!

    We woke up early again to get to Hollywood Studios in plenty of time to do all we wanted. I had been researching the Rise of the Resistance boarding procedures religiously. Today, DHS opened at 6 a.m. I knew that they would not let folks get a boarding pass until 6 a.m., but I wanted to be early so that we could ride the Millenium Falcon Smuggler's Run ride first thing. So, we got up at 4:15 a.m., grabbed our suitcases to be held as we were changing hotels later, checked out, and tried to order a Lyft. We got outside and a man and his son were also out there waiting. I said, "I bet you're going to Galaxy's Edge." They said yes. I kept getting a car from Lyft only to then be turned down. Three times it said I had a car then I did not. I asked the guys if they had a car coming. The dad said they had an uber. I asked if we could share the ride -- that I would help pay. The dad seemed confused and said they could ask the driver. I said the driver wouldn't care -- the dad would have to pay on the app, then I would pay the dad cash. It took about three times explaining this before he figured it out. He finally got it and agreed. Yay! So, we all got in. I realized I only had twenty dollar bills with me, but it was worth it to get there early after we got up so early. I gave the guy a $20 when we got out. The dad looked at it and said ok. I thought he might insist on giving us some money back or not taking it, but nope. Oh well, he did do us a favor.

    I had read that the best bet is to line up to the far right, so we did. We got in fairly fast and were up way ahead where they held us on the main street. Everything was going really well... until it was 6 a.m. Then, we could not get the screen to let us board the ride. Everyone who was having problems (seems like 80% of the people were) were ushered into an extremely long line for customer service. Davy and I finally got in to the app-- but only Davy's name appeared to be in the park. It said I was not. We tried a few times before I told him to go ahead and snag the boarding pass for himself. I had panicked and forgotten that folks said if you at least get one of your party in, they would add the rest. The line was NOT moving. I had heard there were CMs all over the park that could help, and the line to MFSR was getting larger by the second. So, we walked to Galaxy's Edge. On the way there, we saw two CMs with ipads -- but both said we had to go back to the horribly long line at the front of the park. No way. We kept walking. We finally found CMs gathered in Galaxy's Edge with NO line. They quickly got me into my son's boarding group (which was in the 70s if I remember correctly). I was frustrated with myself that we didn't go ahead and get him a pass when it first showed up, but at least I knew we would get in at some point today.

    At this point, it was around 6:15 or so. The line for MFSR was already up to 2 hours. We walked around instead. I'm now glad we did this. We saw the area when it was almost empty -- and got into all of the shops. Later, there was a 30-60 minute line just to get in the shops! We had a lot of fun looking around. Davy was getting a little hungry. I can't remember if we snacked or not.

    You can see all the folks in line below for MFSR... no one was up where we were with the shops.

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    It was getting close to time for our reservation at Salvi's to build a lightsaber. I was happy I had read Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Black Spire before I came. It gave me a deeper appreciation of the land. Davy was VERY excited to build a lightsaber. First, they give you a selection of "groups" of lightsaber parts to choose from. Davy chose control and power (because he's a Sith Lord -- or Lord Sith as @schumigirl says. LOL). We were then escorted into Salvi's for the ceremony. It was fantastic. I loved what Davy did with his design. He really wants me to do it next time we come back in May. I think I will!

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    After the ceremony, they give you a cool sheath to put your weapon in, but Davy said after a while, it dug into his shoulder.

    Anyway, as you can see, he is for sure "Lord Sith" (I should have listened to Han Solo's warnings about darkside sons!):

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    We next decided to try our luck on the single rider line at MFSR. It was about 45 minutes to an hour. Not horrible. We thumb wrestled a little more in line. Davy was a bit bored. We really hate lines. But, once we got to board the Falcon and see the beloved chess board... all the waiting was forgotten.

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    I hear 99% of the time if you are in the single rider line, you get the engineer. We did. That was fine for me as I liked being able to take it all in the first time. I was sad we missed the pre-show, but will do it in May. I loved the ride. Davy thought it was OK. I think he'd have liked it better if he had been the pilot. We were in separate vehicles, but the boarded about the same time.

    I am trying to remember the timing of what all we did that day. I know we rode Tower of Terror (Davy's favorite at DHS) three times. Once in standby and it wasn't too long. Twice we got FP+ (I got it as a 4th FP+) . We also rode Star Tours with FP+. Got the new Rise of Skywalker version and loved it. I may mention here that during MFSR and Star Tours, my motion sickness patch worked like a dream. Nothing else works for me.

    Coming up... more Galaxy's Edge.




     

    angryduck71

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 9, 2010
    Day 2 continued.... At some point, we went to Oga's cantina. I was very excited for this. Stormtroopers tried to come in at some point and were thrown out. Excellent! Davy was a bit bored. He thought his drink was OK. I loved it all but he asked that we not go back next trip. Bummer. I could have sat there all day!

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    I then took some random pics of the area. I did love this place.

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    We had lunch scheduled at the Sci-Fi diner. I had taken Davy there before, but he did not remember it at all. He walked in and was amazed at the look of the place. He really loved it and loved the scenes they showed on the screen. We had a great time at lunch. After, we shopped a bit (I think did the Tower of Terror then too) Also, for the first time FINALLY caught Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away. I think Boba Fett was eyeing me here.

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    We were finally called for Rise of the Resistance at 4 pm I believe. BEST RIDE EVER MADE! I will post a couple of pretty non-spoiler pics here. The next post, I'll post a bunch, so skip over if you'd don't want spoilers.

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    Davy is obviously an ornery Lord Sith. ;)

    I loved this ride so much!!! I cannot wait to get on it again in May! Next post, feel free to skip over if you don't want spoilers!
     

    angryduck71

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 9, 2010
    Day 2 continued..

    So, I was so happy after riding Rise of the Resistance. Truly the greatest ride ever made. I heard a young lady say it was a religious experience. I have to agree. LOL.

    We were spent after that. Ready to head back to Shades and then switch over to the Double Tree for the next three nights. As we were leaving, I noticed Santa sneaking out of a fire escape. Cute!

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    We got to the new hotel. It was beautiful. Just lovely grounds and pool and room For some reason, I did not take any pictures (probably too tired).

    I took a good look at my loot from Galaxy's Edge. I was driving Davy nuts having my Kylo Ren and Rey make kissy face over and over. "Mom, you're crazy!" LOL. He did love the wooden toy where you can switch parts of Vader, Maul, and an Imperial Guard. I chose all of this. He didn't ask for a thing. He did ask if he could have the Baby Yoda black shirt after I bought it. OF COURSE. We LOVE Baby Yoda!

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    After playing with my new toys, it was time to order some room service (pizza!) and snuggle together to watch the season final of The Mandalorian (Baby Yoda!). It was excellent, of course.

    We then settled in for the night. We weren't getting up TOO early... SeaWorld was up next and it opened at 9 a.m.
     

    christophfam

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 11, 2002
    I’m really enjoying your trip report. Looks like you’ve had a really special time with your son. :hug: Rise of the Resistance looks amazing, darn it. Now I might have to consider going back to Disney. :headache: Haven’t been in ages as Universal is just way more my speed.

    Looking forward to reading more.
     

    angryduck71

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 9, 2010
    Day 3: SeaWorld

    We woke up fairly late for us this trip -- 7:30 I think. I opened the curtains and saw it had rained the night before. It was supposed to let up, but for now, it was still drizzling a bit. There was a walkway from the hotel to the park. I will tell you, at some point it crosses a main street and then I wasn't sure which way to go. We figured it out though. Not a horrible walk. We had the free quick queue passes from the hotel. They were for one ride each. We hit the first coaster (Manta). There was no line, so we did not use the quick queue. I had paid for a locker for all day, but also was charged for a quick queue pass (this happened to the folks next to us as well). After we rode, I went to the shop nearby. There was a lady ahead of us and we chatted (don't really remember about what). The cashier had been on the phone as I recall. When she got off, the lady calmly asked for a band aid. She held up her arm and she was bleeding pretty badly (how did I not notice that as we were chatting?). She had slipped on the slick surfaces in line on the coaster. It was still very wet on the ground. The shopkeeper stated she HAD to go to first aid. The lady seemed hesitant. I also had some bandaids I was willing to give her, but she looked pretty cut up. I thought it would be wise to get that cleaned up for sure. I couldn't believe how very calm she was!

    In any event, after she was taken care of, we got the charge for the extra quick queue taken off. We then headed to Empire of the Penguin. There was a line for it, so we used our quick queue. The attendant did not mark off our ride, however.

    Years before, I was nervous about riding it as I get motion sick. So, I remember doing whatever the non-moving version was and thought it was really boring. With my patch, I had no problems at all. It was a pretty tame ride but some spinning. Anyway, then penguins! They are my son's favorite! And, we had a tour of the area later.

    We then proceeded to ride all the rest of the thrill rides. So fun! We were stupid then and decided to ride the water rides. WE were going to wait until after lunch, but did not . They were fantastic! We LOVE water rides. But, then we were chilly during our Underwater Grill reservation. LOL. 80764476_10218605491141159_992964153566035968_n.jpg80814675_10218605491421166_1413376361615065088_n.jpg

    But, we still had fun and a good meal. We then ran back to the hotel to change. Took us way too long to get back honestly. But, we changed and then hurried back for our two tours.

    Davy LOVES penguins. He wrote a report about them in grade school and has loved them ever since. For one birthday, I threw a party at the zoo and we got to spend the night with the penguins, but they were behind glass. Today, we were going to get up and personal! And, I knew they had Davy's favorite penguin: the rock hopper. I took so many pics -- I'll just share a few. But, it was so fun watching them. There was one that showered the whole time under a waterfall. There was one who got into a fight with several others. there were babies. Just an amazing time. Highly recommend.

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    It was cold in there, but we didn't feel it as we were so excited! Coming up -- beluga whales!!!!
     

    angryduck71

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 9, 2010
    I’m really enjoying your trip report. Looks like you’ve had a really special time with your son. :hug: Rise of the Resistance looks amazing, darn it. Now I might have to consider going back to Disney. :headache: Haven’t been in ages as Universal is just way more my speed.

    Looking forward to reading more.
    My son was done with Disney -- thought he was too old. But, he absolutely loved Rise of the Resistance. It truly is the greatest ride ever!
     

    crabbymom

    Slythermom to 2 'claws and a Princess
    Joined
    Nov 28, 2012
    I am so excited to read your SeaWorld days! I just booked my daughter and I for September and I am trying to decide on which tours to buy. If I leave it up to the girl, she'll book every, single one. But she wants to be a marine veterinarian when she grows up so that is no surprise! The penguins look super fun and it looks like Underwater Grill is a MUST! Can't wait to read more!
     

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