My family and I traveled to Walt Disney World in Florida along with 3/4 of the state of Louisiana for Mardi Gras break. It was our second Disney trip with the kids, but our first since the pandemic. While our theme for our first trip with kiddos ages 7, 5, 3, and 2 might have been “Wild Wonder” with wrangling two double strollers, managing stroller naps, blood sugar crashes, massive tantrums, and diaper changes … our theme for this trip was “Decidedly Disappointed.”
I will preface this post with the following statement: we were privileged to bring our family on such an extravagant trip. Our kiddos rode every ride they wanted, some more than once. Fun was had, but oh my, was it work!
Because we are a family of 6, we booked a family suite at the Art of Animation Resort. The room was Lion King-themed and had plenty of space for us. It had a Keurig, microwave, mini-fridge, and kitchenette sink that was so helpful for cleaning water bottles on the daily. However, there is a modified housekeeping schedule. They will not clean your room daily — no biggie for us tbh. What did bother me was the lack of access to towels. They were in a self-service closet on wheels in the hallway, and we never got washcloths again after the first night.
The food situation at our resort was difficult to navigate. We ate at the cafeteria there on three separate evenings, and on two of those evenings, we waited over an hour for our food to be prepared, WITH mobile ordering. One of those orders issued an incorrect entrée, and after waiting for an additional 30 minutes for it to be replaced, we simply had it refunded.
Genie+ gets no plus marks from us. It is mass E-chaos each morning at 7 am to secure your initial Lightning Lanes. Yeah, initial. As in one. You can book one premium ride (at an extra $ per person), and then one additional ride. And you best select the very first option that becomes available because with each refresh of the screen you are playing Disney roulette and may very well find your desired ride to be sold out for the day.
“Oh silly lady, no big deal, I’ll just rope drop that ride.”
Rope drop lines were consistently OVER AN HOUR LONG for highly desirable rides like Rise of the Resistance, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Slinky Dog Dash, and Seven Dwarves Mine Train.
It was extra difficult because if you have a gap in your riders — be it an age gap, height gap, or “I don’t like roller coasters”-gap — you have to take time to deselect those individuals from those ride selections, costing you time, and maybe even your reservation.
The lines were nuts. all day. every day. every park. Lines for rides (duh), lines for popcorn, lines for Mickey ice creams — lines for Guest Services.
We visited Guest Services a total of THIRTEEN TIMES on this trip. Here is our list of top issues and resolutions:
- Reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table were canceled. No advance notification. We walked up to go to lunch and were told there was an “extreme cleanliness issue.” WDW Response: “We are so sorry. We have refunded your money. There are no reservations available in the park today to move you to a different time here or another restaurant.”
- Realized we would be done at Animal Kingdom by lunch AND that we would need to rework our itinerary to give us more time at Hollywood Studios. WDW Response: added park hopper to all our tickets.
- 4/6 of our party was stuck on Splash Mountain for 45 minutes at the end of our day. WDW Response: Returned that Lightning Lane to our entire party in form of a Smugglers Run pass for Hollywood Studios the next day. ALSO brought up issue number 1, and explained again that it was our oldest daughter’s birthday celebration, and likely the last time she would be excited to see princesses. The agent gave LL to our oldest 3 children and my husband for Seven Dwarves Mine Train, and LL to myself and our 5-year-old for Peter Pan’s Flight.
- We were stuck on Rise of the Resistance for 30 minutes and had to be manually evacuated from the ride. WDW Response: offered LL to ride again, but it was our last ride at Hollywood Studios that day and we were heading to Epcot. They added a note to our reservation for us to speak with Guest Services in Epcot to try to add a LL to a ride there.
- Brought up issue #4 to Guest Services once we arrived at Epcot. WDW Response: Issued a LL for Soarin’.
We were on our phones all the time. Looking at nearby food options, wait times, and tracking wait times at OTHER parks to watch for trends … i.e. which rides sell out of LL.
My top tips for traveling to WDW in the near future:
Bring individually-wrapped disposable masks for transportation. Bring enough for one person for each trip in transportation … and don’t forget about transferring from park to park. This way the masks stay clean in your backpack, and then you just throw them away once you’ve used them.
Things will go wrong. Genie+ is uncool and tricky. Talk to Guest Services. And if they don’t give you the answer you’d like, find another agent and ask again.
If you have a LL you will not use, don’t let it expire! Ask a Guest Services agent to transfer it to a different ride for you.
And my number one tip :: lower your expectations.