We started off our first full day at Disney World by heading to Hollywood Studios in the morning. We didn’t rush to get an early start and ended up at the buses at our hotel around 9:15 am. There were some bus issues that morning but only to Hollywood Studios. Maybe the bus system had heard that Hollywood Studios was supposed to be the least crowded that day just like we did and so didn’t think they’d need the buses? I’m not sure but eventually they got there and we got to Hollywood Studios.
We knew that there wasn’t a ton for us to do at Hollywood Studios and so only planned to spend the morning there. We had pre-scheduled our Fast Passes with the new FastPass+ system on our Mickey Bands and so headed straight to the Animation Courtyard for our first Fast Pass event…Disney Junior Live on Stage!
We got a picture of the kids with a big picture of Mickey before we went in. Jake and Sophia were both signing autographs outside of the theater but the lines were too long to stand in and still make our Fast Pass time so we skipped seeing them. Plus, our kids don’t watch either of their shows so it wasn’t a top priority for us.
I had read that you didn’t want to be right at the front for this show so I made sure to sit behind people. We probably should have waited a little longer to get in the Fast Pass line though because we were still pretty close to the front. So, word of advice, don’t be the first people in the Fast Pass line for Disney Junior Live on Stage. I wasn’t sure what the show was going to be like but was not expecting a real hostess as well as puppets from the stage. It soon made sense why you didn’t want to be on the front row because the puppets aren’t particularly tall so in order to see them well you need to be back a little ways.
I’m guessing the story changes based on the popular shows on Disney Junior but we got to see the Mickey characters, the characters from Doc McStuffins, as well as the characters from Sophia the First and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. The kids were up dancing during some of it and had a great time. It was the perfect way to kick off our morning!
Before we left for Disney my Mom had brought over some old photo albums from our family trips to Disney World. Charlotte decided that she really wanted to go to the “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” playground after she saw a picture of my brother and I at the playground. So we headed there after the Disney Junior show since our Voyage of the Little Mermaid Fast Passes weren’t until after lunch.
They have greatly reduced the area of the playground to make way for other attractions but it was still a fun place to burn off some energy. Charlotte loved going down the big leaf slide but neither of the kids would pose on the giant ant to recreate the picture of Charlie and me. I think the enclosed area and lots of kids was a little overwhelming for James also so he was ready to leave pretty quickly. I was beginning to get hungry and figured everyone would feel better after eating so we started walking around to find a place to eat lunch.
We settled on the ABC Commissary for lunch and were pleasantly surprised at the food. We went a little early (around 11:30) and so beat the lunch crowd. By the time we left it was packed. I didn’t love that they had tv’s playing scenes from ABC shows everywhere — my kids don’t get to see much of anything on ABC other than football — but I don’t think they really paid attention to any of that. Mostly they were excited about the giant cupcake that was waiting for them after they finished their lunches!
We then headed back to the Animation Courtyard for The Voyage of the Little Mermaid. We weren’t sure about having both of them sit through the show since they can’t sit through the movie due to the scary part, but Charlotte was determined to see it and we had a long talk about how it was not real.
The show was so impressive with rain drops falling down on us, great visual effects, and a real Ariel who was a mermaid then became a princess! Charlotte closed her eyes through all the Ursula parts (which are very violent, just like the movie) but she was fine hearing it and not seeing it. James just watched the whole thing in amazement. We were near the beginning of the Fast Pass line and sat around row 7 or 8. Since we were first in we had to go all the way to the left hand side of the stage but we could still see everything perfectly. The kids did sit on our laps so that they could see.
After the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, we set out to find a happy for Charlotte and James. She had spotted a Pluto with jingle bells earlier in the day and we promised her that she could get it before we left. They each ended up with a new Christmas themed Disney baby and we headed back to the hotel to have a little rest time.
After a little rest (and by rest I mean time spent on the balcony watching the animals) it was time to head back out to Epcot. Our bus transportation to Epcot went much smoother than the morning had and it was a very quick ride to Epcot. Jason and I grabbed our only “parent” picture of the trip while we waited on the bus.
The beauty of Park Hopper passes means that you can go to multiple parks on a single day, but the new FastPass+ system only allows you to get three fast passes for a single park per day. Because of this we didn’t have any Fast Passes at Epcot and weren’t sure where to spend our time. We had dinner reservations for later on that night but no real plan when we entered the park. After checking the character times we found that the characters that are exclusively at Epcot (specifically Mulan) weren’t going to be out when we were there. So we decided to head to The Seas with Nemo to see how long its wait was going to be. We ended up basically walking straight onto the Nemo ride, but be prepared that the walk even with no wait is dark and twisty and long before you actually get to the ride!
The kids loved the ride and loved the huge aquariums once we got off the ride even better. They loved seeing real turtles (at that time James’ favorite animal was a turtle so he was over the moon) and got to see some big manatees swimming. We didn’t go into Turtle Talk with Crush but have heard great things about it!
After The Seas we meandered through the park munching on some snacks. Popcorn was the kids favorite throughout the trip and would last a really long time. We would ask for a second empty container and split it between the kids — it was perfect! I was wanting a pretzel but settled for a Nutella crepe in France. It wasn’t as good as those in front of the Orsay in Paris but was pretty close!
We saw Mary Poppins as we walked through England but she was about to go on break so we went ahead to France. We happened into line for Princess Aurora and that was when the kids evening started turning magical.
While James would have nothing to do with the characters in full costume, he had no problem snuggling up to all of the princesses! Father Christmas was also doing his talk on Christmas in France next to the line for Aurora so we got to listen to that while we waited. After meeting Aurora we scouted out Belle’s location (she was currently on break) and got in line to meet my favorite Princess.
I had heard that the Belle in France was one of the nicest characters in all of the theme parks and she didn’t disappoint. She encouraged the kids to read and asked them what their favorite books were. She was so kind and genuine and I kind of wish that I had gotten a picture with her!
We left Belle and ran back to England hoping to get into the Mary Poppins line before it closed. We made it and got to listen to a band playing some classic English rock in the England amphitheater while we waited.
Mary Poppins told Charlotte and James that they had proper English names and was very sweet to them. As we strolled away from Mary Poppins James said, “Mary Poppins nice….Mary Poppins cute!” I think for the rest of the trip he wanted to go back to see Mary Poppins!
We didn’t make the Candlelight Vigil that is held in America at Epcot which I was disappointed about. If you go at Christmas you should definitely schedule your meals so that you can get priority seating for the Vigil because it is amazing with a celebrity reader reading the Christmas story every night and a choir singing hymns. We did manage to walk up as Neil Patrick Harris was finishing up one of the Vigil’s though (there are three each night) and got to hear the end of the show. Even from a distance it was wonderful and so moving to hear so many people celebrating Christ’s birth.
We continued through the countries until we got to Norway where we were headed for a very special dinner with the princesses. Our reservations were at 6:45 (way too late!) and it was dark by the time we reached Norway. It was also very crowded with long lines to see the sisters from “Frozen”. There was confusion with the staff at Akershus about when we could get in line for dinner based on when we had reservations also. Basically, it was my least favorite time of the whole trip. We did eventually make it in for dinner though and watching Charlotte’s face light up as she met the princesses made it all worth it.
After Cinderella came to the table, it was time for the parade of Princes and Princesses. All the kids went up to the closest princess and then they paraded around the restaurant. It was pretty neat and I think Charlotte and James enjoyed it even if they didn’t really know what they were doing.
Charlotte was being pretty patient waiting for her favorite princess but once Ariel got closer to our table she was basically bouncing up and down in her chair waiting for her. And then, the moment that Charlotte had been waiting for for six months arrived and she got to meet Ariel!
There were other princesses that came by after Ariel, but it was all kind of downhill after her. The kids were tired, we were exhausted, and Charlotte’s dreams had been fulfilled. They did enjoy seeing Snow White (although her voice was one I had to adjust to) and we saw Aurora again.
As we left dinner we enjoyed walking back through the World Showcase to the front of the park. Everything was decorated for Christmas and even though it was pitch black and there aren’t too many lights, it was still enjoyable to walk in the cool night air. We headed back to the hotel for another good night of sleep!