Trip Report - Walt Disney World (Port Orleans French Quarter)

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Overview

  • Dates: Oct 27 - Nov 2, 2013
  • Party Size: 8 (7 Adults, 1 Child)
  • Resort: Port Orleans - French Quarter
  • Meal Plan: Yes - Included with Special
  • Extras: Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Resort Review

Port Orleans French Quarter is our first stay at a Disney moderate level resort. Our first two trips have been at the value level, both in All Star Music. This year’s special of free dining enticed us to make the upgrade, and we are glad we did.

The resort has great dining options, a centrally located pool with bar, and the layout is very relaxing. Each building has that Louisiana antebellum architecture and the winding waterways make any walk around this resort a pleasure.

The Scat Cat’s Club bar inside offered fun live entertainment and good drinks. The gift shop was certainly an upgrade, and there were options to rent a boat or walk over the the Riverside portion of the Port Orleans resort.

The only downside to this resort we found was the frequency and reliability of buses. They would fill up fast and arrive less often than we remember from our ASM stays. Other than the long transportation wait times, this resort was great.

Itinerary

After our first Disney trip, we’ve learned to plan things out.

WDW Oct 2013 Itinerary

Starting on Day 1 we broke some of our pre-planned rules, but having our dining and fastpasses preset made it much easier to make on-the-fly changes for other parts of the trip.

Parks and Dining

We came back this year because of Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival. Last year was so enjoyable we brought a crew with us this year to share the experience.

Day 1
  • Fly from San Antonio to Orlando
  • Epcot - Food and Wine Festival
  • Garden Grill Dinner

Epcot - Day 1 - Food and Wine Festival

After landing and checking in, we headed straight to Epcot. We had considered stopping by the Magic Kingdom first, but the lure of Food and Wine before our reservation at Garden Grill was too hard to pass up.

Garden Grill Mickey and Michael

Our first time to dine at the Garden Grill did not disappoint. This rotating diner serves family-style food in the Land Pavilion at Epcot. During the meal the dining room rotates through the rainforest section of the Living with the Land ride and features character dining experiences. We met Mickey, Chip, and Dale. Interacting with them, especially Chip and Dale, was a lot of fun.

Day 2
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Tusker House Breakfast
  • Kilimanjaro Safari
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Space Mountain
  • Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party

We started the day off in Animal Kingdom with breakfast at Tusker House. This buffet is a good way to start the day, especially when you have a large group. The selection is wide, making sure there is something for everyone. Pro tip: you can order Bloody Marys from the bar outside from your server inside. The one with bacon is the best.

Tusker House Group Shot

The pre-breakfast group shot with Donald after his safari.

Tusker House Mickey

Tusker House Daisy Autograph

Tusker Goofy Autograph

The breakfast included character dining with Mickey, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy.

After a big breakfast with Mickey and gang, we decided to head out on the Kilimanjaro Safari where we encountered animals from across Africa.

Animal Kingdom Rhino

Animal Kingdom Safari

Animal Kingdom Baby Elephant

The safari is a great ride, especially in the morning before it gets too busy and too hot.

We then headed over to Festival of the Lion King, a live performance inspired by the classic Disney film.

My son, Michael, was selected as part of the show.

Animal Kingdom wildlife

The wildlife around the park was pretty incredible.

Animal Kingdom

King Louie and Baloo hanging out in AK.

Animal Kingdom Expedition Everest

After a ride on Expedition Everest, we headed back to the resort to prepare for the Tomorrowland Dessert Party at Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom Main St at Night

While the firework show at MK is incredible, the dessert party wasn’t worth the extra spend in my opinion. The angle of the viewing was worse than almost anywhere on Main Street, and it was hard to hear the audio. The desserts were okay, but I’d not recommend this party for the spend.

Day 3
  • Magic Kingdom
  • New Fantasyland
  • Gaston’s Tavern
  • Prince Charming’s Carousel
  • Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
  • Crystal Palace Character Dining

We finally made it. Disney World is amazing, magical even, but nothing really kicks off a Disney vacation like Cinderella Castle crowning the end of Main Street USA in the morning.

Magic Kingdom Liberty Square

Obligatory Liberty Square family photo. As you can see, the crowds were very low at MK.

The New Fantsyland expansion includes a character meeting with Gaston outside his tavern.

Magic Kingdom Gaston

Gaston gave Michael plenty of advice on wooing women, working out, and being awesome.

Magic Kingdom Sword and the Stone

Gaston’s training wasn’t enough to pull the sword from the stone.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

But that didn’t stop us from taking a spin on the carousel.

We made a quick trip back to the resort to prepare for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Magic Kingdom

Chrystina, Kimberly, and Michael themed their costumes around Alice in Wonderland.

Magic Kingdom Crystal Palace

Magic Kingdom Crystal Palace

Magic Kingdom Crystal Palace

Magic Kingdom Crystal Palace

At the Crystal Palace they visited Winnie the Pooh and friends while enjoying a buffet with something for everyone.

Magic Kingdom

Princess Tiana made quite the impression on Micheal. They discussed New Orleans, pecan pie, and made plans to exchange recipes next time they see each other. I think he has a new favorite Disney princess now.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

The evening event included a dance party.

Magic Kingdom

And Cinderella Castle was lit for the occasion.

Day 4
  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Breakfast
  • World Showcase
  • Test Track
  • Dinner at Monsieur Paul
  • Birthday Fireworks on Bay Lake

We started day 4 off at Epcot, ready for a full day of Food and Wine Festival. But first, we needed to grab some breakfast to fuel a day of small plates and big events.

Magic Kingdom

Four days, four character dining experiences. We really packed them in this time, and they have been great. Since our dining plan was included as part of the vacation package special, we are taking advantage of it to its full potential.

Magic Kingdom

The little prince was quite the gentlemen when he met Belle.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

You can meet all the princesses at Akershus in Norway Pavilion at Epcot. It is also easier to get reservations here than Cinderella’s Royal Table in MK.

Magic Kingdom

Even the adults like to meet their favorite princesses.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

Snow White gave Michael a peck on the cheek, leaving him speechless.

Magic Kingdom Epcot World Showcase

Test Track is always a must ride when at Epcot.

Magic Kingdom Epcot World Showcase

Magic Kingdom Epcot World Showcase

World Showcase can be a great place to meet characters and enjoy the grounds.

Magic Kingdom Epcot World Showcase

The fountain in Italy Pavilion overlooks an open square that is a chill place to relax in between stops.

Magic Kingdom Epcot World Showcase

That night I took Chrystina out for a belated birthday dinner at Monsieur Paul in the France pavilion.

Magic Kingdom Epcot World Showcase

We had a great seat by the window overlooking Epcot and the lagoon.

Magic Kingdom Epcot World Showcase

The nicest part of the deluxe restaurants is the wine selection. Not many theme parks have this kind of dining experience.

Magic Kingdom Epcot World Showcase

Happy Birthday Chrystina!

Magic Kingdom Epcot World Showcase

After dinner we took a ride over to the Polynesian resort under false pretenses. Once we arrived the real motive was revealed. I had rented a pontoon boat and captain to take us out to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the water.

Magic Kingdom Epcot World Showcase

This experience was amazing. We had champagne and strawberries delivered to the boat, and the captain took us out directly across from the Castle. The music and audio were broadcast and played over the boat’s radio while we sat back and enjoyed the show. I cannot recommend this enough for your special occasion at WDW.

Day 5
  • Hollywood Studios
  • Jedi Training
  • Studio Backlot Tour
  • Animation Art Class
  • Fantasmic

Magic Kingdom

The soldiers were out guarding Toy Story Midway Mania in Hollywood Studios. Thankfully they were also signing autographs.

The Studio Backlot Tour was closed for our last visit, so we were certain to ride it this time.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

The Love Bug.

Magic Kingdom

Flight of the Navigator

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

Some Star Wars props.

Magic Kingdom

Speaking of Star Wars, Michael was able to attend the Jedi Training Academy.

Magic Kingdom

This time he was able to fight Darth Vader and was victorious.

Magic Kingdom

I loved this force push of 2 Stormtroopers after he defeated Vader.

The full video on YouTube of Michael’s Jedi Training II.

Magic Kingdom

Chrystina was able to attend a drawing class with a Disney animator and meet Minnie Mouse in person.

Magic Kingdom

It was a fun-filled day at Hollywood Studios. We finished up at Fantasmic, the nighttime show, and it was enjoyed by all. Happy Halloween!

Day 6
  • Epcot
  • Biergarten Lunch

Back at Epcot, enjoying another day at World Showcase for the festival.

Epcot

The entrance to Epcot is a great place to get a memorable picture from a Photopass photographer.

Epcot

I especially like this one of me, my wife Chrystina, son Michael, and sister Kimberly in front of Spaceship Earth.

Epcot

Lunch at the Biergarten Restaurant in Germany Pavilion was one of Michael’s favorite meals.

Epcot

In England Pavilion Mary Poppins was gracious enough to provide an autograph while telling Michael about a young man she used to babysit with the same name.

Epcot

Chrystina was sure to peruse the shelves at Souk-Al-Magreb in the Morocco Pavilion.

Epcot

I was guilty of looking at the scarves as well.

Epcot

Michael found a Fez hat he needed all of the sudden, as well as other fun items to play with.

Epcot

It was a great day at Epcot. The festival, world showcase, great meals, and low crowds made this a day our family will remember for a long time.

Epcot

On the way out they caught a solo shot of me with Spaceship Earth in the background. I couldn’t help but include this shot, it is the best place I’ve visited.

Day 7
  • Hollywood Studios
  • Indiana Jones Stunt Show
  • Rain and Goodbye
  • Airport Home

It’s the last day in the parks for this trip, we head home on a flight that leaves in the afternoon. After we got our bags all checked and travel arrangements via the Magical Express bus service to the airport, we headed to Hollywood Studios where we were greeted with some rain.

Hollywood Studios

The entrance to Hollywood Studios featured Monsters University.

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios

My sister Kimberly was chosen as a participant in the Indiana Jones Stunt Show. I recommend watching this show during hot, busy, or in our case, rainy times of the day.

Hollywood Studios

Goodbye, for now, Disney World. We’ll be back!



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