2023 Walt Disney World Vacation
My family and I just returned from our summer 2023 Walt Disney World vacation, not very long after our spring 2022 trip. This one was another net success. The biggest accomplishment may have been driving home straight through on the way back, something we’ve never done before. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find another dad to high five me upon arriving in our driveway at 11 pm. But a familiar bed was enough of a welcome. After a restful night, I’m today diving into some of what stood out during our recent visit.
Embracing the Boogeyman
We’ve generally avoided summer Disney World vacations in the past. But as we planned this trip over the last several months, the wife and I concluded we’re no longer into pulling our kids out of school for a visit. This time, we assessed late June as our optimal timeframe for a summer trip. Long story short, we feel like it went as successfully as it could during this time of year.
Two items helped most here, and they apply to any time of year, actually. They are adequately planning the trip and managing our expectations. We got early starts each morning, maximizing the “cooler” times of day for touring. Staying at the Swan Reserve again, which is one of many properties offering early park entry, helped. Knowing our limits, we took afternoon breaks or finished the day early on multiple occasions. Negotiating the heat and crowds was remarkably simple.
We don’t have another summer trip in us for the foreseeable future, but we no longer consider this time of year off-limits.
Roundup Rodeo BBQ
Hollywood Studios’ Toy Story Land opened their new sit down restaurant, Roundup Rodeo BBQ a few months ago. We’ve long-enjoyed Disney World’s sit down restaurants, so we wanted to check out this new outlet.
Here’s my five word review: for Toy Story fans only. And many of those may just want to visit once. The theming and decor is predictably over the top, in a good way. Our waiter, Mark, made the experience an enjoyable one. Fare quality is mediocre to poor. We enjoyed the salads, brisket, and cheddar biscuits, but the fatty ribs and dry chicken were awful. The just-okay meal and a total bill approaching $200 for our family of four means this was a one-and-done experience for us. Plenty of other sit down restaurants provide better food and delightful character meet and greets at a substantially lower price.
Rideshare Is Genie+
We bought Genie+ service on four of our seven full days and enjoyed efficiently touring. Rideshare added to this efficiency on one occasion. Due to thunderstorms, our boat transportation from Hollywood Studios to the Epcot Resorts Area was cancelled. Instead of queueing up in the ridiculously long line to wait for an unknown amount of time for a bus which probably didn’t have room for us anyway, I ordered an Uber which arrived a few feet behind me about five minutes later. We were back in our room a few minutes after that. I spent about $20 of my Uber wallet balance (thanks, Amex) for a one-mile ride in the pouring rain. I plan to employ this strategy more frequently in the future.
Genie+ Is Even More Complicated
Back to actual Genie+. In my view, it’s as confusing as ever for the general tourist. But for those who effort to learn the Disney World app and employ touring strategies, wins can be substantial. A big improvement over our last trip is that confirmed Genie+ attraction modifications are possible without first giving up a reservation. Things can still be tricky, but more is possible now than before. I highly recommend subscribing to Disney Deciphered, featuring Leslie Harvey and our very own Joe Cheung, to learn practical strategies for maximizing your touring days at Disney parks.
Returning to Animal Kingdom
We skipped Animal Kingdom on our last two Disney World family trips for several reasons. It’s historically been our least favorite park, and our priorities were elsewhere. Our kids growing old and big enough to ride Flight of Passage made our return a no-brainer this time, though. Finally riding my favorite Disney attraction with the entire family was a huge highlight of this trip. And, surprisingly, my kids loved the It’s Tough To Be A Bug show more this time than ever before. We skipped Genie+ on this day, as we didn’t want to go hard, anyway. A short trip here paired nicely with an afternoon at Disney Springs and late lunch at Art Smith’s Homecomin’. We’ll return to Animal Kingdom more often on future trips.
Each of our Disney World trips has a different overall feel, and the variety of memories we make is just one reason we return. I’m intrigued to see how Disney World continues to develop, particularly if that Mary Poppins attraction ever gets greenlit again. Fat chance, but I’ll keep holding out hope. This summer 2023 Walt Disney World vacation was a net win for us, and we look forward to the next one. How do you feel about Disney World based on your recent visits?
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