We had a Disney Trip planned for May 2020, mostly using points, as we wanted to check out the new Star Wars and Pandora rides. Of course, because of Covid-19 that trip was cancelled and we haven’t had time to take another full week trip. This spring we both earned the Southwest Companion Pass, which means that for the rest of this year and all of next year, the kids will fly with us for free on Southwest, even when we book on points. We decided to take a quick weekend trip to Disney to take advantage of this awesome perk. We also booked the Swan Reserve, which is a Marriott hotel on Disney Resort property (near the other Epcot hotels, the Dolphin and Swan) using Marriott points.
Our SW flight left Syracuse after school, and before we boarded we made sure to get our free food at Johnny Rockets at the airport using Priority Pass. We did have to connect through BWI and we finally landed in Orlando around 11pm. We took an Uber to the hotel and settled in for the night. I woke up at 6:45am the next morning to try to navigate the new Genie+ system to get the rides we wanted, and was able to book Rise of Resistance for an extra $15 per person. Yes it is a new way for Disney to scam even more money out of you, but given our very limited time at the parks we felt it was worth it. We were also given two free continental breakfasts at the hotel for having platinum elite status, and I could order it the night before for them to deliver. It was actually a decent amount of food for all of us as I was able to get Greek yogurt for myself, oatmeal for my husband, a bagel for one kind and a muffin for the other kid. My husband said his side really hurt and he thought he pulled a muscle. At one point I wondered if it was appendicitis and he said it probably wasn’t because he didn’t have a fever. He didn’t want to go to an urgent care and was convinced he had pulled a muscle bike riding. So we took the 5 minute walk over to the boat shuttle by the Dolphin and Swan and got on the boat to Hollywood Studios.
We were able to enter the park early since we were staying on Disney property. We made a beeline for Star Wars Galaxy’s edge and got immediately on Star Tours, one of our favorite Disney rides. Luckily it had a new film sequence we hadn’t seen before. Next we were able to do Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and then make our 9:15am reservation for Oga’s Cantina. It was cute and we got some fun drinks enjoying the Tatooine atmosphere. Afterward we hit some other Hollywood Studios faves such as Toy Story Mania and Tower of Terror, as well as a new fun ride, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
We headed back to Galaxy’s Edge for lunch at Docking Bay 7, which was a really good quick service restaurant. We had genie+ reservations for Rise of Resistance but the ride was broken. We did another couple runs of Star Tours and Smuggler’s Run, and fortunately after that ROR was back up and running. So glad, because it was amazing!!! Seriously one of the best rides I’ve ever been on.
After this we could finally head over to Epcot, since the new Disney park hopper passes won’t let you go to the next park until 2pm (which is another new annoying WDW rule). We were excited to try the new Skyliner transportation option though, and we really enjoyed the ride over several resorts, finally landing at World Showcase. We got some coffee and made our way towards The Land pavilion, right as a major downpour started. We went on two of our favorite rides, Soarin and The Land, and the rain petered out by the time we were done. Next we went to another classic favorite, Spaceship Earth. By this time my husband and younger son were not feeling well at all and they decided to head back. Luckily they could just grab a boat from World Showcase back to our hotel.
My older son and I tried to do Test Track but it was still closed for the storm, so we went over to World Showcase to enjoy the Epcot Food and Wine festival. I had never been to this before, and it was great! There were food kiosks all around the lagoon, representing the countries of World Showcase and more. We could try small dishes of various foods from those countries for less than $5. We really enjoyed trying the various tasty options and riding one of my favorite rides in the Mexico Pavilion, Gran Fiesta Tour. Finally Test Track opened back up and we did a run on that, followed by desert back at the Food and Wine fest. We were pretty exhausted at this point so we took the boat back to our hotel to join the rest of the fam who had enjoyed room service in the hotel.
The next morning I got up early again to get genie+ tickets for Flights of Passage at Animal Kingdom. We took the earliest bus and got to the park at 8am, again because we were staying on property we were able to enter early. It was pretty awesome to walk around the park with no people, and we basically walked right on several rides such as Everest, Dinosaur, and It’s Tough to be a Bug. Finally we made our way to the new Pandora world, which was pretty incredible. We got on Navi’i River Journey and then we’re able to get in the lightning lane for Flights of Passage. This was probably the best ride I’ve ever been on. It was so awesome!!
We spent the next few hours having lunch and hitting some other AK rides such as Kilimanjaro Safaris. We really wanted to make our way to Magic Kingdom since we had to leave for the airport around 4. But the stupid new park hopper rules said we couldn’t enter MK until 2. We still left AK at 1 by taking a bus that went to the Polynesian resort. We waked around this posh resort a little while I told the kids some stories about staying there in the 80s, like the time I almost got hit by a ferry while riding a mini-speedboat they used to rent (now a relic of the past).
Next we took the monorail one stop over to equally posh Grand Floridian hotel and walked around their lobby so we could pretend we were fancy. Finally it was close to 2 so we got back on the monorail to get to MK. We only had 2 hours before we needed to head home, so we prioritized which rides we absolutely had to go on: Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean . We also split up and did Space Mountain and It’s a Small World, and then met up at Buzz Lightyear for a final ride before we had to go.
We left the park, trying to get an Uber which was a challenge, but we eventually did, and went back to the hotel to fetch our bags, calling another Uber to take us to the airport. We got there in enough time to grab some dinner. I wanted to go to the priority pass lounge to eat but I got vetoed because they were worried about leaving our terminal. We finally made it home to Syracuse late Sunday night.
So, in less than one weekend we hit all 4 Disney Parks, 25 rides, and most forms of Disney transportation (boats, busses, skyliner), plus got to try the Food and Wine festival. This was really only possible by staying on property (on points) and making good use of Genie+ and lightning lane. We were annoyed to have to pay extra to get good spots for Rise of Resistance and Flights of Passage, but given how limited our time was, it was worth it. It was also a very “off” time to go (mid-September), so crowds were very low. We left excited to go back after they do some planned upgrades to Epcot. Unfortunately, we found out a few weeks after we got home that my husband was in fact having an acute appendicitis while we were there! He ended up being hospitalized for a few days and getting his appendix out right before Thanksgiving. So much for a “pulled muscle”!