When David and I planned our first trip to Disney a couple years ago (after our awesome experience on a Disney Cruise!), we both were under the impression it would be our one trip to Disney World during their childhood. We had a great time, but both left feeling confirmed in our choice that we were a “one and done” family. However, a year ticked by, and then another… and I got the Disney itch. I kept imagining how great the experience of Disney World would be with a 5 and 8 year old, so I got to work on convincing David that spending 5 days at Disney World during Halloween was going to be a ball. Turns out, I was totally right!
Things We Did Differently on Our Second Trip to Disney World
- We flew from Charlotte to Orlando instead of driving.
- We went in October instead of February.
- We stayed off property in a condo at Wyndham Bonnet Creek.
- We ordered groceries to get us through every meal except dinners.
- We opted to do the Bippity Boppity Boutique.
- We rented a double stroller through Kingdom Strollers.
- We opted for later nights over early mornings.
I’ve been playing around with ways to share our trip, and while I might do a couple posts on the topic (because who can ever get enough of Disney, amiright?!), I’m going to kick things off with a good ol’ fashion recap to share the fun. And it was SO much fun. I left the last trip feeling happy, satisfied, and ready to come home. On the last day of this trip I felt pretty sad about leaving and may or may not have teared up once or twice (much to David’s head shaking…). Ok, let’s go!
We left Charlotte on a Tuesday evening. Our flight was at 6:30 PM and we grabbed dinner at the airport to carry on the plane. It worked well and the flight was smooth. We arrived at our condo around 9:00 PM, had a friendly check-in and received our groceries (and wine!) that we had ordered through Amazon Prime Now.
Wyndham Bonnet Creek at Walt Disney World
We were hosted for our stay by Wyndham Bonnet Creek and it could not have been a better experience. I had heard so many incredible things about this property (which lies within the Disney World borders, making it on property without officially being “on property”) from friends that have stayed there for years. I now completely see why my friends have returned year after year- Wyndham Bonnet Creek is a dream. A few of my personal favorite highlights are:
- Every park is less than 10 minutes away and averaged about $15 for an Uber ride to be dropped off right where we needed to be. The convenience was incredible!
- The service at Club Wyndham is unmatched. Everyone is so friendly and ready to help you with anything you need. They have a golf cart on call 24/7 to take you around the resort (though we found we really loved walking the beautiful property).
- We had room to spread out which allowed us all to sleep well and the beds were comfortable! Did I mention having a full kitchen to cook breakfast in and a washer and dryer is pretty much a dream for a vacationing mom?
- They had so many amenities and happenings at the resort, that the Disney parks nearby are really just a bonus. Five outdoor pools, two lazy rivers, a full putt-putt course, water slides, playground, game room, beach volleyball, and more. Plus, the have free wi-fi that works really well all over the resort!
Our Experience: Disney World During Halloween
Day One at Disney World during Halloween
We woke up on day one revved up and ready to go! We arrived at Epcot at opening, but stood in the security line for about 20 minutes. The park’s crowd level was ranked a 2/10 on the Touring Plans app and it seemed to fit the ranking. We could easily push our double stroller through the uncrowded streets and we went straight to the ride we wanted to do but didn’t get a fast pass for- Test Track.
We built our cars, then jumped in the ride. The girls both loved it… until the outside speed test at the end when I didn’t have Kaitlyn tucked into me appropriately and she whacked her face on the metal bar between us. She left her first ride with a shiner and in tears. Mom fail! However she perked up quickly and wasn’t deterred from riding anything else, so we continued on!
We had snagged Soarin’ and Mission Space as our fast passes, so between those and the light crowd level, we rode and experienced everything we wanted to (including meeting Goofy, Mickey, Minnie, and Belle) by 2:00 PM. We bought Park Hopper passes so we decided to ride the new Skyliner to Hollywood Studios. Since we used up our fast passes at Epcot, we were able to snag a new fast pass to see the Frozen Show at Hollywood Studios while we hopped.
The Skyliner was really neat. We did have to fold up our double stroller, but we got a sky cab to ourselves which allowed us to spread out and rest our feet while we flew through the sky. There is no air conditioning on the skyliner, but once you get up, their is a breezy air flow and it felt very pleasant.
We arrived at Hollywood Studios and headed toward the Frozen Show. Since we had fast passes, we stopped along the way to meet Vamparina and Fancy Nancy, then arrived in plenty of time for our 4:00 booking. Those of you that told us the Frozen Show was fantastic… you were SPOT ON. It was incredible! It provided a great respite from the heat, it was funny and engaging, and the Elsa surprise at the end made that magical look of awe appear on both girls’ faces. Highly recommend!
From there we snagged another fast pass and headed to Toy Story Land. We made our way through that until I could see we were all starting to fade. There was only one ride left I wanted to ride- The Tower of Terror. Hailey was a hard pass for it, but Kaitlyn said she wanted to, even after my in-depth explanation of the spookiness and drops. David was convinced I was going to give her nightmares for a month, but we went for it… and she did SO WELL! When we got off, she was so proud of herself then she turned and told Hailey “you would not want to do it; it freaked me out!” (see it on my Disney Instagram Highlight).
We headed back to Wyndham Bonnet Creek after that, grabbed dinner at their Cantina, gave the girls a bath in the jacuzzi, then all crashed hard into bed.
Rides we rode on day one
Epcot: Test Track, Mission Space, Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, The Seas with Nemo, The Skyliner
Hollywood Studios: Frozen Singalong, Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers, Toy Story Mania, The Tower of Terror
Day Two at Disney World during Halloween
We did not have park tickets for day two because we had bought tickets to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for that night. We all slept in and had a leisurely breakfast in the condo. Around noon we grabbed an uber to go to Disney Springs, where we had reservations for the Bippity Boppity Boutique at 2:00.
We wandered through the shops then ate lunch at the T-Rex Restaurant, which the girls thought was just the coolest. We surprised them afterwards with their appointments at the Bippity Boppity Boutique. The experience there was super cute. David and I got to follow the girls around and watch the whole thing and to be honest, when they were getting their hair and make up done by their fairy godmothers in training, I wasn’t sure if they were loving it or hating it because they both had on super serious faces. But when they were done and presented, Hailey came over to hug me and said “mom, thank you so much; this was just amazing” and then my heart melted into a giant puddle.
Since we had bought the photo pass for the trip, we did a few of the photo shoot options and the girls both were just glowing and super pleased with their “fancy” look.
We arrived at the Magic Kingdom at 4:00 (the earliest time you can get in with the Halloween Party pass) and enjoyed seeing all the pumpkin decorations! It felt super crowded and hot, and my first stop was to get iced coffees for David and me. We cooled off on some of the indoor rides while we waited for the park to empty out from the day’s regular guests.
The Halloween party officially started at 7:00 PM and we made the most of every minute! We did the dance parties, all the rides we could (to take advantage of the short wait times), and trick-or-treated at some of the candy booths, too. We didn’t see as many characters as I expected, but it was 100% worth going to the party because we knocked out all the rides we wanted to do at the Magic Kingdom that evening! We even stayed to watch the late parade, which Kaitlyn slept through, and left the park at closing- midnight!
Pro tip: instead of fighting the crowds onto the monorail, we walked to the Contemporary Resort and hopped in a cab, cutting a huge chunk of time out of our commute back to the condo.
Rides we rode on day two: Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World, Peter Pan, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, Barnstormer, Seven Drawfs Mine Train, The People Mover, Under the Sea
Day Three at Disney World during Halloween
Having done the Halloween party took a lot of pressure of our Friday at the Magic Kingdom. We had already done most of what we wanted, so we met a few princesses, did Enchanted Tales with Belle, rode Space Mountain, then decided the crowds felt too much and park hopped over to Epcot.
We decided to just relax and enjoy Epcot, so while we did get to ride Soarin’ again (it was a favorite for all of us), we just walked around the countries to soak in the sights. We ate a sushi roll in Japan, a bratwurst in Germany, had a tequila shot in Mexico, etc, etc. At each country David would take the girls up to ask a worker how to say hello and thank you in their language. It made for a fun task at each stop and we all enjoyed the relaxed pace of the afternoon and evening.
Rides we rode on day three: Pirates of the Caribbean, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Space Mountain, The People Mover, Soarin’
Day Four at Disney World during Halloween
Day four was all about the Animal Kingdom. We had planned on being there at opening, but the girls were worn out so we let them sleep in. We ended up arriving around 10:00, barely squeezing into our first fast pass at Everest. I love that ride, but both girls were less than thrilled with the high speed action, so afterwards we took it down a notch. Our next fast pass was Na’vi River Journey, which the girls found enchanting.
They also loved the Boneyard Playground in DinoLand so we let them just run for while. We wandered through the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, checking out the animals, then decided to hop in line for the 1:00 Lion King Show to get out of the heat. We ended up being next to enter the theater, when they decided the theater was full, leaving us staring into the air conditioned room from outside. What can you do in that situation but decide to grab Dole Whips for the kids and a Dole Whip with Rum for the adults?! And it all ended up working out in our favor because the nice guy working the line sneaked us a fast pass to use on any ride (except Flight of Passage) for our trouble.
The one ride I wanted to do that we weren’t able to snag a fast pass for was Flight of Passage. The shortest the line got was 105 minutes. I didn’t want to push it because I knew I was the only one wanting to do it, so imagine my surprise when David said- shoot, let’s just go for it. And we did! We spent over an hour and a half in line (our longest wait of the trip by at least an hour) telling riddles, competing in thumb wars, doing jumping jacks, and staving off tired whines. But we did it!
So how was it? It was really cool. Really cool. I loved the sights and water splashes and everything! *But* I don’t think I’d wait in a line with kids that long again for it. 30 minutes or less? Absolutely! But not over an hour. And Soarin’ still takes the cake in my book. I share this unpopular opinion for those of you that can’t snag a fast pass for it either. In my book, it’s OK to wait until the popularity dies down a bit.
Kaitlyn and I rode Dinosaur (which was way more intense than I anticipated!). Then we went to our fast pass for the 5:00 safari, which was the highlight of the day for us all. The girls were both delighted by seeing the animals! Shoot, we all were. It’s such a neat ride and I’m glad we got late afternoon passes when a lot of the animals are active. It was a blast!
By this time we were hungry, borderline hangry, so we went to check in for the reservations I had made that morning at The Tusker House. Y’all. I had NO CLUE that it was a character meal until we walked it and Hailey screeched- look, it’s Donald! I starting cracking up and told David to fill up at the buffet because we’d be paying a bit more for this meal than I anticipated. It ended up being such a welcomed surprise though! The food was really good (curries!!), the girls lit up at seeing Mickey, Goofy, Daisy, and Donald, the margaritas were delicious, and we all ended up having a really fun time.
After dinner, we still had that extra fast pass the Lion King Show worker had given to us, so we ran to the safari line. It was dark by now and the ride closed at 8:00 PM, and we slipped in just in the nick of time and ended up on the last row of the very last safari of the night. As you might imagine, we couldn’t see too many animals in the dark, but the rhinos and lions are more active at night and we got to see them up and moving. The rhinos even walked right in front of our jeep! It was incredible and made the perfect ending to our day at the Animal Kingdom.
Rides we rode on day four: Everest, Na’vi River Journey, It’s Tough to Be a Bug, Flight of Passage, The Lion King Show, DINOSAUR, Kilimanjaro Safari
Day Five at Disney World during Halloween
We didn’t have any parks lined up for our last day, since we were due to fly out that evening, but we still wanted to squeeze in some Disney magic. After weeks of constantly checking for reservations, I was able to snag 9:00 AM reservations for the Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattoria Al Fresco. By some incredible stroke of luck, I was able to switch those to an 11:00 reservation time the day before, which ended up being a clutch move because the girls ended up sleeping in until past 9:00. Clearly we wore them out!
That morning we packed up our stuff, left it at the front desk when we checked out, then headed over to the Disney Boardwalk. We arrived early so we walked around the lake and checking out the Beach Club, which looked like such a fun place to stay, too!
When it was our reservation time, we were seated, given menus, and brought a frying pan full of breakfast pastries. The girls tore through them and the replenished our frying pan (which apparently is bottomless). Throughout the meal we met Rapunzel, Flynn Ryder, Ariel, and Prince Eric. Prince Eric was my personal favorite, as he was so personable and friendly and spent a lot of time chatting with us about dingle hoppers.
The food, which I had heard was outstanding, was good, but didn’t quite measure up to the Tusker House for me. Still, the experience was wonderful! We enjoyed the introductions of the characters, the dancing, the food, and I would definitely recommend this for a character meal. It felt less rushed than other character meals we’ve done and the kids really enjoyed it!
After brunch, we headed back to Wyndham Bonnet Creek to enjoy their amenities before flying home. I’m so glad we did because the girls were so excited to play in the lazy rivers, slide down the water slides, splash in the pools, and warm up in the hot tubs. We used their locker rooms to shower off and get dressed, then headed to the airport by 4:00 to fly home.
Disney World at Halloween Take Aways
This trip was so magical for me. I actually teared up on our last day because I wasn’t ready to leave. The flow of our trip, the space we had in the condo, the slightly lower crowd levels we experienced, and the girls ages all made it out to be a heck of a Disney trip. I’m so far from a Disney expert, but the way we planned out our days fit our family perfectly. The only thing I would have done differently is to add in an extra day or two to have more time to just play at the resort.
And 3,000+ words later… that’s a wrap!
If I missed anything or if you have any questions, ask in the comments and I’ll be happy to weigh in.
What is your favorite part about Disney World?