A Year at Walt Disney World – Week 2 – Recap

Toy Story Mania

We are now in our second week with a few theories and lessons learned. We changed our regular plan to include 4 evenings a week at Walt Disney World and one day where we go in the morning and evening. However, this week is a special week, and so is next week.

Toy Story Land is opening on Saturday this week, so we will be going on Monday evening, twice on Tuesday, Thursday evening and Saturday this week. Of course, this plan could change as the week progresses.

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Walt Disney World Day 6 – Epcot

Walt Disney World Epcot

Walt Disney World Epcot

Just a short day at Epcot as we arrived a little after 6pm. Our goal was pretty simple for this day: see Norway. We want to hit every country for a few hours this summer and Norway was a good place to start.

Frozen Ever After

We rode Frozen Ever After, which we have never been on. It was pretty cool and actually had some elements I didn’t expect. Our FastPass allowed us to skip the line and enjoy Olaf and other characters from the movie on our unique journey.

Along with the Frozen Ever After ride, we enjoyed the stores of Norway and the little attraction with the 4-faced tree and other Viking artifacts. We also tried a treat from the country.

Norway wasn’t our only stop, as my wife had us booked on the Nemo ride for another Fastpass. We headed that way and decided to go into the building where Soarin’ is found for our dinner, which we packed in our new lunch boxes and stainless steel containers.

This dinner set up has become very handy for us as we are not rich and cannot afford to eat at the parks every single time we go. If you’re heading to Walt Disney World on a budget, get a good lunch box and some solid containers. Bringing your own food is allowed and will save you plenty of cash.

Soarin’ Around the World, Again

Soarin' Around the World

Soarin’ Around the World

We didn’t have plans to go on Soarin’ Around the World, but it’s one of our favorites. After dinner, the line wasn’t too bad; I think it was a 30-minute wait, so we decided to get in line. As a party of 2, we are realizing we have the unique benefit of skipping lines, sometimes. In this case, we got to skip ahead just a little bit and ended up on the ride rather quickly.

Soarin’ is a ton of fun and this was our 3rd time on it. We did learn something this time, as we were in the back row or the C row. The last two times we were in the front row or the A row. When you’re in the back row, the experience isn’t quite as good as you can see the B row’s feet dangling above you. We much prefer row A for this ride, if possible.

The Seas with Nemo & Friends

Finally, we finished our night at Epcot with The Seas with Nemo & Friends. My wife didn’t realize it was a real aquarium the first time, so it was a unique experience for her. I think this ride is well done and a fun experience, myself. Plus, it was the right way to finish a relaxing night at Epcot.

We caught the very last few fireworks as we were too distracted by the Manatees after the ride. They were actually moving around and being rather playful. The first time we went on the Nemo ride, the Manatees were sleeping, so it was cool to see them active.

That concluded our night at Epcot, which was Day #6 in total for our year at Walt Disney World.

Walt Disney World Day 7 – Hollywood Studios/Magic Kingdom

Our goal was to get to Hollywood Studios around the opening, but we were running a bit late. We arrived around 9:20am. The entire plan was to get in line for Toy Story Mania and try to get on it without a FastPass rather quickly. While our first go around was about a 30-minute wait, it was better than the 65 minutes they originally told us.

We played the game, enjoyed the ride and were back in line fast for another go around. The first time, I made a huge mistake and didn’t realize it the entire ride (must have still been waking up). I put on my sunglasses (they were on my head holding my hair out of my eyes) on instead of my 3-D glasses. Everything was blurry, but my competitive nature didn’t allow me to realize why as I was trying to win the game.

I demanded we do it again because I thought I missed out on the experience, which I found out, I certainly did. The second time it was supposed to be a 45 minute wait, but it was only about 20 minutes. This time, I got the full experience and can say, Toy Story Mania will be making its’ way into my top 10 list later this week.

We didn’t stop after 2 times, however. The line was shorter, so we went again and the wait was about 15 minutes the 3rd time. My wife beat me on all 3 occasions and twice she was filming with one hand and playing with the other. No idea why she is so good at this game, but she kicked my booty bad.

Star Tours

After Toy Story Mania, we ate our breakfast and headed to Star Tours. While Star Tours was a super cool ride, especially for a Star Wars fan, we both felt our stomachs turn a bit. This wasn’t a good choice for right after a meal, but it was still pretty fun.

I think, when it comes to these 4-D interactive rides, I would rate Flight of Passage in the first position, Star Wars in the second and Soarin’ third, when it comes to how intense the experience is, overall.

Toy Story Mania, Again

Toy Story Mania

Toy Story Mania

Guess where we went next? Yep, back to Toy Story Mania for the fourth time. I think the entire Toy Story area is a bit magical and the opening coming this Saturday had us wanting to spend time there. Again, the wait was less than 30 minutes and my wife beat me. While my score improved, she got even better. I actually have a blister on my finger from pulling the string on the gun so many times!

The heat was getting to us now and it was time to head home for a break. When we headed back to the car, we noticed our Donald Duck Passholder magnet was swiped off the back of our car. While Disney is certainly Magical, whoever swiped our magnet isn’t magical and has a big load of crappy karma heading their way.

Luckily, we still have the second one, but it’s not going on the car. Sometimes, I become very disappointed with the human race as they couldn’t even allow us to enjoy being passholders and getting our first magnet for more than a few days before someone had to go and swipe it out of jealousy or whatever ridiculous reason made them think it was okay to violate our vehicle and our space.

Sorry for the rant, but I don’t care for people that make me or my wife feel violated. If anybody out there hears of a non-passholder bragging about having a Donald Duck magnet, you know where they got it from.

A Night at the Magic Kingdom

Tree Of Life

Tree Of Life

We arrived at the Magic Kingdom right around 6pm and did the monorail thing to get to the park. It was pretty easy to get in and the process went smooth. However, we quickly realized the park was packed and was busier than we have seen it so far.

Technically, this weekend is July 4th weekend, since it falls on a Wednesday, so I think that has something to do with it. I also think there are more people here this week due to the opening of Toy Story Land than normal. Regardless, it was super busy.

The Pirates of the Caribbean

We started the night with a Fastpass for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which was pretty darn cool. It was a good way to start the night and I learned a lesson I will need to be aware of the rest of the year. We watched a group of people in the Stand-By line hop the chain into the FastPass line. I have to remember not to allow the actions of others to take away from my experience because I wanted to be very annoyed by this and we had an entire night of fun ahead of us.

Peter Pan’s Flight

Peter Pans Flight

Peter Pans Flight

From the Pirates ride, we headed to the Seven Dwarfs to see what the wait was. It was over 100 minutes, which I just don’t think I want to go on this ride that badly. Instead of waiting, we went over to our next FastPass, which was Peter Pan’s Flight. We’ve done this one before and it’s a great choice, especially for the little ones.

During the first two rides of the night, we started to notice there are far more babies at Walt Disney World than we would have ever thought. Parents with babies strapped to their chest are not uncommon, which gives us hope that our year at Disney may lead to going every year as passholders for at least a month or two, depending on the year.

I am actually very surprised at how much you can do at Disney, even with a baby strapped to your chest. We noticed this right from the beginning as someone was setting up their baby and toddler for a cool picture with the Castle on Main Street when we first arrived.

The night started to get to us at this point and we really wanted to do another ride, but the wait times were way more than we bargained for. The park was packed, so we found a spot to have dinner after walking around for a while.

The Haunted Mansion

After dinner, we headed to our third Fastpass for the Haunted Mansion. My wife was scared to do this one, but really, it was more just creepy than scary. It’s not like a typical haunted house.

The scenes within were done very well and it was pretty cool, but not something I would say is a must do by any means. It’s important to note, it’s not really scary and nobody will be jumping out at you during the ride. It’s also a ride, not something you walk through.

The Peoplemover



It was fireworks time when we came out, so we walked around, found a decent spot and watched some of the show. Then, we fought the crowds to get to Tomorrowland and ride the Peoplemover twice. This may be my wife’s favorite Walt Disney World ride now. I thought it was pretty cool, too, and the relaxation we needed after fighting the fireworks crowds.

I had the theory that going on a night when the park closes at 11pm would make it easier to get out because the fireworks are at 9:15pm. Little did I know, there are 2 other shows (not the same) at 10pm and 10:35pm. This theory I talked about in Week 1 at Disney has been proven to be bogus!

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger

Buzz Lightyear

Buzz Lightyear

We finished the night with Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. I beat my wife and got a bit of my manhood back after the 0-4 slaughter at Toy Story Mania. However, her gun’s button wasn’t working so great, so she was handicapped. We still had plenty of fun on the Buzz Lightyear ride.

Out the door and home we went…haha…if it were only that easy. We waited about 30 minutes in line for the Ferry to the parking lot. While the crowd getting out the actual park wasn’t as bad as last week when we went on Sunday, the line for the monorail and ferry were both rather long. However, we waited over an hour in the monorail line on Sunday, so 30 minutes was an improvement.

I will say, I wish anybody that put their toes over that Yellow safety line would receive a small shock! We were delayed probably an extra 5 minutes as the Castmember repeated the Yellow Safety Line speech about a dozen times. Sometimes, I really think people are in their own world and have no idea what is going on around them.

Today’s experience wasn’t our best at Disney World, but we are learning. Patience is key; forgiveness is necessary and expecting the lines to get out of Magic Kingdom to be long, regardless of when you go, is necessary. We will get better at this and will learn to pick our battles.

It was a long day with over 8 total hours of Disney time, not including the drive there and back twice and the getting ready part. We were tired, ready to head home and the worst thing that can happen when you’re tired and ready to go home kept happening. Long lines, long waits and delaying what we wanted to do didn’t make it great, but Disney is still magical and we will be back again on Thursday; but not at the Magic Kingdom.

After this day, we will be making some adjustments to our long day at Walt Disney World each week. We probably won’t stay past 8pm at Magic Kingdom until the busy summer season is over. It’s the only park we struggle to get out of quickly at close because of the Ferry and Monorail to the parking lot. Maybe there’s a secret tip we haven’t discovered, but until we do, we are going to skip out early anytime we don’t want to fight the crowds.

Walt Disney World Day 8 – Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

Another night over at Animal Kingdom, which always feels like an escape to me. This used to be an underrated park, but I can honestly say it’s becoming one of my favorites. We love the vibe of the park and the rides here are in a different class.




We kicked off our night with Dinosaur, which is one of my favorite rides. This was the fourth time we went on it and my wife has now decided it’s somehow a bit scarier than it was before. There was a little boy next to her that was on it for his second time because he loved it so much!

Primeval Whirl

One of the oddest rides ever, I was laughing the entire time because of my wife’s reaction to Primeval Whirl. If you want to be beaten up a bit on a roller coaster, this is the one for you. It stays true to the name and it’s pretty well done for the type of ride it’s supposed to be.

Na’vi River Journey

One of my absolute favorites, even though there’s nothing thrilling about it, this journey makes me feel like I am in a fantasy land. If you love Avatar, this is the one for you.

Right after the Na’vi River Journey, we caught a show in Pandora we were not expecting. We also caught the Tree of Life show, which was pretty cool.

Overall, Animal Kingdom may be my second favorite park behind the Magic Kingdom. It’s so well done and so unique that I wouldn’t skip it if I could only choose two parks.

Walt Disney World Day 9 – Toy Story Land

Toy Story Land

Toy Story Land

While Toy Story Land is at Hollywood Studios, I am only labeling this day as our day at Toy Story Land because we didn’t do anything else in the park. It was opening day and we were able to get on two of the three rides, along with grab some snacks from Woody’s Lunchbox.

Originally, we had plans to wake up super early on opening day and arrive around 6am. We thought this would work until we discovered that resort guests get in at 7am and we were not going to be staying at the resort. This caused us to adjust our plans completely, but it works out very well for us.

Instead of waking up at about 4am to get ready and get to Hollywood Studios at 6am, we slept in and went at night. I know quite a few people went early in the day to enjoy the madness and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. However, I feel like our plan worked out better going at night.

Here are a few videos from those that went early in the day. Some of them have done this before and you can tell they love the madness. We don’t really care for the huge crowds as much and without staying at the resort; I don’t think going early for us would have worked out so well.

Videos from Toy Story Land Opening

Instead of going super early, we saved the money we would have had to spend on a resort room and we didn’t have to wait nearly as long for the main ride, Slinky Dog Dash. We arrived at Hollywood Studios at about 6:30pm and we spent about an hour just walking around, taking pictures and video. We watched Slinky Dog Dash for a while as we immersed ourselves in the experience.

Toy Story Mania

Toy Story Mania

Toy Story Mania

Our only FastPass (we got it earlier that same day) was for Toy Story Mania, which we went on four times before this opening day. The new entrance was very cool and I shared some pretty cool videos of it on my Instagram story (@benjaminehinger).

This was our fifth time on the ride and I still have yet to beat my wife at the game. She knows some secrets she won’t share, so I will be looking for some tips and tricks to beat her very soon!

Slinky Dog Dash

Slinky Dog Dash

Slinky Dog Dash

Throughout the day (before we arrived) we checked wait times for Slinky Dog Dash. At one point, which you will see in the videos above, the wait was more than 270 minutes. Plus, there was a wait to get into just Toy Story Land. We didn’t wait to get into the land at all and our wait on Slinky Dog Dash was right at 120 minutes.

The sign said 120 minutes for a short window of time and we noticed it right after doing Toy Story Mania. About 15 minutes into our wait, it jumped back up to 180 minutes, which was what the wait was when we first arrived.

I timed our actual wait and we got on the ride right at 121 minutes, which was great for opening day!

Not only did we wait just two hours, while others waited for 3, 4 or even 5 hours for this ride (the people showing up super early in the morning may have waited less, but I will explain why our 2 hour wait still beats their wait time later in this post), but we also got on the ride while the fireworks were going.

The ride is super cool and I will be adding it to my top 10 below. It’s less intense than Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster but more intense than some of the other coasters at Disney World. It’s also a bit more unique, which I like and well worth the 2-hour wait. Would I wait more than 3 hours for it? Only if the wife makes me!

After the Slinky Dog Dash ride, we headed to Woody’s Lunch Box. Unfortunately, there’s nothing on the menu, other than Potato Barrels (they are just tater tots) that I can eat as a vegan. My wife isn’t a vegan, however, so she got the BBQ Brisket Sandwich and I got a hard cider. I would usually get a beer, but I am not a fan of Blue Moon (or any wheat beer) and I don’t care to drink cheaply made Bud Light.

Why the Night was Better for us…and maybe overall

Wait Times Opening of Toy Story Land

Wait Times Opening of Toy Story Land

This was our first opening at Walt Disney World as we just got our annual passes a couple weeks ago. We thought about going early in the morning, but we are not early morning people. While we would have probably done it if we didn’t discover the guests of the resort get an extra hour, it was probably not the right choice for us.

We decided to go at night. Originally, we were going to go at 3:30pm, but the rain pushed that back a bit. Plus, we discovered a small leak in one of our RV vents that I had to patch up and that took some time.

Anyway, we arrived t 6:30pm with a Fastpass+ for Toy Story Mania at 7:45pm. We didn’t have to wait to get into the land at all. We heard reports of people waiting several hours just to get into Toy Story Land…we walked right in.

Yes, we waited 121 minutes for Slinky Dog Dash and those going in the morning like Josh from Resort TV 1, may have only waited 30 minutes in line, they were up early and waited at the gate, too. When you consider some of these early morning people got up at 4am, or earlier, waited at the gate until 6am or so to get into the park, and then waited in line for the ride, I feel like we came out on top.

We did get a bit lucky as we watched the wait times all day long. When we arrived, Slinky Dog Dash was at a 180 minute wait. We thought about getting in line as that was better than the 270 we had been seeing most of the day. However, I am glad we decided to wait.

After about an hour of getting the lay of the land, taking pictures, etc. it was time for our Fastpass+ for Toy Story Mania. We probably waited 15 minutes for the ride, which was worth it as there was so much to see with the new entrance.

My wife noticed, immediately after the ride, that Slinky Dog Dash was at 120 minutes. The decision was made and we walked directly over there and got in like right at about 8:10pm. We didn’t start at the Chinese Theater or back by the statue of Woody. We waited only about 5 minutes by the rope before we were into the actual ride’s designed queue area.

Our ride arrived right on time and we were on, ready to go in 121 minutes.

Shorter wait and Amazing Nighttime Scene

Not only did we wait only 2 hours for the ride, but we didn’t have to buy a hotel room (I know some of those going in the morning had sponsors for this, but we are new and not there yet.) or get up super-duper early.

Since we chose to go at night, instead of early, we were well rested and able to enjoy Toy Story Land at night. It’s pretty amazing at night with the lights, the noises, and the rides. In addition, we hit the perfect time to get on Slinky Dog Dash as we had fireworks going on right before the ride and all throughout it.

Another Round of Toy Story Mania

Our last ride of the night was going to be the Alien Swirling Saucers, but the wait was over an hour and we didn’t want to wait so long. Plus, I am not a huge fan of spinning rides and we had just eaten.

Instead, we chose Toy Story Mania because we love it and the wait was 20 minutes. Another round where I was winning and my wife pulled some trick to beat me, again. Seriously, is there some 20K target I am missing or something?

The night came to an end after this final ride and we had so much fun. Toy Story Land is so well done and a great addition to Hollywood Studios. I have a feeling after Star Wars Galaxy opens next year, this will become one of the hottest Disney parks.

Recapping the Week

This week was a bit different than a typical week because of the opening of Toy Story Land. Here are my weekly stats and the running totals for our year at Walt Disney World.

Weekly Stats

  • Total Days – 4
  • Total Park Visits – 5
  • Steps – 32,392
  • Approximate time at Disney – 20 hours, 52 minute

Yearly Totals (Started June 17th, 2018)

  • Total Days -9
  • Total Park Visits – 11
  • Steps – 89,927
  • Approximate time at Disney – 46 hours, 53 minute

So far, we have been so happy with our time at Walt Disney World. I think my wife suffers from Post Disney Depression (she is now referring to it as “In Between Disney Days Depression”) on the few days we don’t go. I get quite a bit of, “Take me to INSERT DISNEY PARK HERE” on the days we don’t go!

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