A Great Last Minute Trip!

You may remember from my post last week I booked a last minute trip to WDW.  Well, I’m back this week to tell you all about how great my weekend was!  The trip started off a little rocky with sitting on the runway at Orlando International Airport for an hour and a half after landing due to a fierce thunderstorm in the area.  Once we were allowed off the plane, the airport terminal was a zoo and we were faced with some not-so-friendly cast members at the Disney’s Magical Express desk.  Once we were on the bus and on our way to Pop Century we took a breath and said “it can only get better from here right?”  And we really were right!

We arrived at Pop Century about three hours later than we originally intended, but we were there and that was all that mattered.  We settled into our rooms quickly, grabbed some dinner at Everything Pop! then headed to the Magic Kingdom to meet friends.  After a few attractions, it was time to take in the Magic, Memories, and You show and Wishes!  fireworks.  We opted to do Wishes! first, then watch the second showing of Magic, Memories, and You.  This plan worked like a dream since a lot of the crowd left the park after the fireworks were over.  After a few more attractions, it was time to head back to the resort to rest up for weekend of water park action.

Photo by Neil Citro

Saturday started off bright and early with arriving to Blizzard Beach at about 8:45 (we were running late) to be on hand for park opening.  After getting ourselves situated, we were off to the races to tackle our Touring Plan.  Crowds were high, but we had an awesome time testing out all of the slides and attractions this park has to offer.  We were true Touring Plans commandos and followed our plan with only slight adjustments.  For example, while some of us were brave enough to conquer Summit Plummet (the biggest thrill in the park), the rest of us opted to ride Teamboat Springs family raft ride a few times.  We had an awesome day trying all of the attractions and laughing together in the queues.

We stayed at Blizzard Beach much later than we thought we would so we just had a quick break back at our resort before heading out to Epcot.  We decided we were going to drink and snack in World Showcase instead of having a proper dinner (hey, we’re on vacation we can do that).  We managed to hit some of our favorites before the storm clouds rolled in and we ducked into the Liberty Inn at the American Adventure to ride out the rain and just in time to watch Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.  After our super busy, but excellent, day we decided just to head back to Pop Century to grab a few drinks by the pool and hang out.

Sunday was another bright and early day where a handful of us once again put on our swim suits to hit a water

Photo provided by Neil Citro

park.  Typhoon Lagoon was the name of the game that day and we were ready to ride the wave of fun!  We arrived about half an hour before park opening and grabbed lockers and such before hitting the attractions.  Once again, we followed a Touring Plan which we finished up around noon.  Our favorite experiences here included Crushin’ Gusher and Shark Reef.  Since we finished up so early we had plenty of time to lounge around in the lazy river and some of our friends even napped under an umbrella.  After a good swim in the Surf Pool we were ready to head back to our resort.

We wrapped things up at Typhoon Lagoon at about two o’clock and went back to our resort for showers and naps.  When we were starting to wake up, we heard about a special ceremony at the Magic Kingdom that got us moving much faster.  You see, ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Addition was filming that day’s flag retreat ceremony and adding their own special flair to the event.  The presentation included the Voices of Liberty, a processional of representatives from each branch of the armed forces, a video message from Michelle Obama, and a Blue Angels flyover!  I was so glad I was able to be a part of this moving moment dedicated to a special American veteran.  Not only, was it a way to thank a vet, but it was an example of Disney magic that reminded me why I keep coming back to WDW.

Flyover Photo by Betsy Bates
Ceremony Photo by Betsy Bates









After the flag retreat my friends and I hopped on the ferry to the Polynesian Resort since we had an advanced dining reservation for ‘Ohana.  We hung out for a while at the Tamu Tamu Lounge before being seated.  I hadn’t been to ‘Ohana for dinner in quite a while so I wasn’t sure what I was getting into.  I’m happy to report we had a great (and very filling) meal.  Keep and eye out for a full review in the coming months.  It was back to the Magic Kingdom for a while after dinner before calling it a night since I had a very early wake up call to head back to New Jersey.

The way home went smoothly and before I knew it my quick, last minute trip was over.  I’m so glad I decided to go on this adventure.  I had a wonderful time with friends, fell in love with the Disney water parks, and got the get away I needed.  I’m sure there are more short notice trips in my future since it worked out so well.  It was great to have a basic plan, but nothing concrete.  For example, we thought we’d be finished at Blizzard Beach by about 2 o’clock, but we were having such a great time we stayed until 6!  We missed a dining reservation, but no one seemed to mind.  We didn’t do many attractions in the four main parks, but we still had a great time tackling the water parks and spending time together.  The short trip was totally worth it!  If you can swing it (I know it is tough with kids and responsibilities) I can full heartily recommend a quick jaunt to WDW for a taste of magic and lasting memories with friends and family!

Have you made last minute trips or taken a quick weekend trip?  Let me know about your experiences in the comments!

Since I spent so much time in the water parks this week I’ve decided to do a series all about Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon!  I’m going to dedicate my posts to these water playgrounds for the next few weeks.  If there is anything you’d like me to cover just let me know!

Kristen Helmstetter

Kristen Helmstetter is an Unofficial Guide researcher who will share her 20-something perspective of all things Walt Disney World with blog readers. Kristen’s email address is khelmstetter05@yahoo.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @khelmstetter.

5 thoughts on “A Great Last Minute Trip!

  • July 22, 2011 at 9:14 am

    We recently got back from a week trip to WDW and used the Touring Plans exclusively, plus the phone app. Thanks for those.
    To comment on your article, I had heard that if you go back to the water parks from 5-8 they are like ghost towns with no wait? Can you comment on that?
    We spent one day at Typhoon Lagoon and the waits after lunch were bad. We were going to come back later but opted to see Illuminations instead.

  • July 22, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Kristen, Great article! Makes me want to take a weekend trip to WDW! Did any of your Summit Plummet riders get a bruised backside? My husband got a “bum bruise”, perhaps because he leaned forward towards the end of his ride(?). We plan to hit Typhoon Lagoon on our next trip. It’s always closed in Nov/Dec for refurbishment, so we’re going to travel in October next time.

  • July 22, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I would love to know which water park you recommend for an adventurous 3-year old. He would love to do slides and has no problem going under water and getting dunked- but he will have a life jacket on.

  • July 22, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Going to WDW 8/10 – 8/19 , was planning spending mornings at theme park and some of the afternoon breaks at the water parks. What do you think? Any advice on doing both the parks and water parks with minimal lines ?

  • July 22, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Thanks for the great trip report! I’m so glad that your last minute trip worked out so well.

    I have to say that your pre-trip report about your impromptu WDW visit had me scoping out prices, too! We’re headed to WDW in November, so I didn’t think I could justify a trip so close to that one. However, we’ve never been to Universal, and I just so happen to have the last week of August off from work–and we’re from NJ so school hasn’t started–here, anyway–yet, so…why the heck not? It’s not 10 days out, but for me it’s a pretty spontaneous trip. So, thanks!

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