After the success of our first Disney at Home Day, which I had planned very much on the fly, the kids kept asking to do it again. On our first day, we had park hopper tickets and visited all of our favorite highlights from each park. For subsequent Disney at Home days, then, I thought it best to divide them into specific park days. What would a perfect day look like at Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios?
The first thing I did was hop on Shop Disney to look for merchandise the kids could “shop” for. They had asked for Animal Kingdom first, because that’s our favorite park. And then I knew I wanted to send them to Hollywood Studios because we all love the Mandolorian and they’ve been asking for Baby Yoda/The Child merch. We have a Disney Visa card from Chase, which means I’ve accrued quite a few rewards dollars. I usually save them for the 2-3 years in between Disney vacations to spend in the parks, becoming our shopping budget while on vacation. But, since we were “going” to the parks, I opted to use rewards dollars to purchase the special tokens they would take away after each park visit. I always let the kids pick an item at each location because it provides something concrete for them to help hold on to the memories we made there. It’s less about what it is and more about the activity of picking it out while they’re in this moment and place and carrying it with them.
I was still thinking Animal Kingdom would be up first, and zeroed in on some merch for that park that aligned with some of our new family traditions. Then I pre-ordered a Baby Yoda plushy that I knew wouldn’t be released in time, but that would make a fun surprise later (who knows, maybe we’ll “visit” Disney Springs and go shop some more?). And lastly I found these customizable Baby Yoda t-shirts that I knew they’d love, especially after I added one of our favorite tag lines to the bottom. Score. I ordered everything, acknowledged the Shop Disney polite warning about COVID-19 and shipping times, and then thought we likely wouldn’t be able to enact any of these visits until the end of May.
I set about planning the details of the Animal Kingdom day, got that situated, and then plotted the Hollywood Studios day. Much to my delighted surprise, a week and a half after ordering these customized t-shirts, they showed-up on my doorstep looking all adorable and perfect whereas the Animal Kingdom merch was yet to arrive. It was two weeks before May the 4th (be with you), and so how perfect would it be to go to Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios on that day?
The kids still would have e-learning, but I knew I could build-in some “hotel relaxation” time for them to handle it, and we could also turn some things in a day late, if necessary. The kids’ morale and motivation had been suffering, and I’d perked them up with a “field trip” to the Starbucks Drive-Thru (oh how our standards of what constitutes an outing have shifted). I finalized my plans, made sure Brian was on board with a few details I needed him to help with, and then let them know that in a week they were getting a surprise so they had the joy of anticipation.
On the morning of their surprise trip, I woke them up with a shocked expression and said, “You guys! Our house has magically transported to Disney World! Wake up!” then let them stumble out of bed to discern exactly where in Disney World we were. They immediately caught-on and happily joined the pretend game, and discerned that our living room/dining room/kitchen were in the parks, and the bedrooms were our house back at the hotel, which after looking out the window we decided was our favorite hotel, Coronado Springs. We then had great fun laughing at the fact that Disney apparently employs cats to walk around their parks and greet guests now, as Charles and Kali (our two kitties) greeted the kids.
Here’s the basic schedule for the Disney at Home Hollywood Studios visit–
-Early Magic Hours: Breakfast at Woody’s Lunch Box in Toy Story Land
-Score a boarding pass for Rise of the Resistance during
-Ride all Toy Story Land rides before Early Magic Hours end and lines are shorter
-Leave to go back to hotel (e-learning), but shop on Hollywood Blvd on our way out
-Reservations at Sci-Fi Dine In Theater with a special viewing of The Mandolorian
-Fastpasses immediately after for Smuggler’s Run in Galaxy’s Edge
-Shopping in the Batuu Marketplace in Galaxy’s Edge
-Boarding Time for Rise of the Resistance
-Dinner at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
-Ride Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
-Watch Galactic Spectacular fireworks
Early Magic Hours at Woody’s Lunch Box–
Woody’s lunch box features delicious homemade pop tarts, one of them being a Nutella-filled delight. While I didn’t have quite enough Nutella to fill all the pop tarts, I made sure to do 2 Nutella-filled, and then mixed more traditional pop tart flavors in for the other 4: brown sugar and cinnamon and strawberry jam. I had the Toy Story Land music playing thanks to YouTube and had already plated their homemade pop tarts, so that as soon as they walked into the main living area they would be able to guess where we were and join the game.
Homemade Pop Tarts
Yield: about 6
2 C AP flour
1 T sugar
1 t salt
1 C butter, cut into chunks but left very cold
2 large eggs (or 1 extra large)
4 T milk
1/4 C brown sugar mixed with 2 t AP flour and 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 C powdered sugar
2-3 T water or milk (to desired consistency)
scant drops of colors of your choice
sprinkles of choice
1 beaten egg for brushing the pastries
For the dough- Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the cold butter into thirds longways and then sliced across the thirds in 1/4 inch slices, leaving you pats–not too small to make your dough not flaky but not too big that it’s difficult to cut-in. Cut in the very cold butter just until you have large pecan-sized pieces. A pastry cutter will make this job so simple, but if you don’t have one use your hands, but work fast to avoid melting the butter with the heat of your hands. Blend the eggs with the milk until well-combined, and then mix that into the dough with a rubber scraper. The original recipe called for less egg and less milk, but I had to add more to get the dough to come together, and so I’ve reflected those changes here.
Divide the dough into two roughly-shaped 3 inch by 5 inch rectangles, cover, and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. This will help the butter firm back up so you can roll the dough without flattening your nice big butter chunks (these chunks are what will make your pop tart crust flaky and delicious).
The filling- While the dough is resting, organize and/or prep your fillings. It’s easiest to do one filling, and really, I would have if I’d had the amount of Nutella I needed. If you’re making the brown sugar cinnamon filling, just incorporate the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together in a small bowl with your fingertips and set aside. You will need around 2 T of filling per pop tart.
Assembly- Generously flour a board. Roll-out one rough rectangle of dough until it’s about an 1/8 of an inch thick. Trim the uneven edges off to make a rectangle and set those aside. This is the bottom half of your pop tart. If you’re doing one filling, you can spread the filling evenly over the whole rectangle. If you’re doing multiples you can either spread your filling in thirds (for three fillings) over the rectangle now, or, if its easier for you to visualize, you can go ahead and divide your dough into sections and then spread the filling. I went ahead and divided my dough so that I could be sure the fillings would not mix once I topped and cut.
Roll-out the second rough rectangle the same as the first. Place it on top of the filled rectangle or rectangles, depending on your technique above. Use a fork to crimp the edges down to seal the edges. Be a little firm with it so you know you’ve got a good deal and no filling will leak out (this is most important for jam. The other fillings tend to behave a little better). Take the fork and lightly prick the top of the pop tarts with some holes to help steam escape. Beat an egg and use a pastry brush to wipe egg onto the pop tarts (this will help them turn golden brown in the oven). Place the pop tarts onto a parchment lined baking sheet and put into the fridge again for 30 minutes. I did all of this^ the night before so I could wake-up and bake.
Baking- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake pop tarts for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool for 10-15 minutes and top with icing and sprinkles of choice.
Icing- While pop tarts are in the oven, combine the powdered sugar with a teeny bit of water and whisk. You want a drizzle consistency, so you can add more water or more powdered sugar to get it right. Life the whisk and watch the drizzles running off of it to see if it’s as thick as you’d like. I divided mine to color it into three different colors (for three fillings), but you could leave it plain or just use one color. Go light as there’s not a lot of powdered sugar and the dye will be pretty vibrant. Once the pop tarts have cooled, use the whisk or a spoon to drizzle the icing over (or you can spread it if you made it thicker), then top with sprinkles and let harden. Serve.
These can be frozen–score!
adapted from this recipe from King Arthur Flour
Ride all Toy Story Land rides before Early Magic Hours ends and lines are shorter–
Thanks to many YouTubers for their most excellent ride POVs. We have a few favorite Vloggers (most notably Tim and Jenn Tracker), but a quick YouTube search for “Slinkly Dog Dash Ride POV,” for example, will net you plenty of results. We like ones that show us parts of the cue at entrance and exit, as well, because it adds to the illusion. For Toy Story Mania, we used video game controllers to pretend we were able to steer and shoot, and it added to the fun.
Leave to go back to hotel (e-learning), but shop on Hollywood Blvd on our way out–
Here’s the link to the t-shirts again. There were lots of wonderful choices for tees at Shop Disney. The kids were so excited, Liam ripped-off his pajama shirt and threw it on the ground so he could put his new Baby Yoda shirt on (I’d already washed them). Thankfully, we had a Disney Store reusable bag I could put their purchases in. We played Hollywood Studios Hollywood Blvd background music while I walked very slowly to the bag and made loud commentary about finding them the perfect item. The important part is to stay in character–if you’re having fun and acting like you believe we’re actually there, then they’ll follow.
Reservations at Sci-Fi Drive-In Theater with a special viewing of The Mandolorian–
What’s more fun than eating burgers in a retro car while watching movies? I had thought we’d start watching Rise of Skywalker (we saw it in the theaters), but with e-learning, our schedule got compacted and so I opted for re-watching some favorite episodes of The Mandolorian. I asked Brian to help by making a cardboard car for them to sit in, and he didn’t disappoint. If we’d really been over-achievers, we could have painted some of the details on, but honestly, the kids loved it just the way it was. The important part was a windshield.
For lunch, I pulled chairs over to make it mimic the scale of the Sci-Fi Drive-In, but immediately after lunch, you’ll notice the windshield plays an important role in ride experience for Smugglers Run. We had grilled-out cheeseburgers a few days before this (deliberately planned), so I just had to reheat those and add more frozen french fries.
The big ta-da here, though, were the Baby Yoda Crazy Shakes.
You may recall I had bought an ice cream maker for myself. Well, I’m definitely making good use of it.
Baby Yoda Crazy Shakes:
Yield: 2 pint-sized shakes
For the shake-
3 scoops homemade or store-bought vanilla ice cream
2-3 T Hershey’s chocolate syrup (optional)
1/2 C milk (to desired consistency)
For the glass-
1/4 C white chocolate, melted
1/4 C sprinkles of choice
For the cookie-
Your favorite cookie, store-bought or homemade. I bought mine off Market Wagon. I have my limits and I was not up to making cookies.
For the Baby Yoda element-
I had Brian 3D print this from Thingiverse
What, no personal access to a 3D printer? Shocking. 😉 There’s some cute ones on Etsy.
For the glasses- Melt 1/4 C white chocolate in a bowl set over a pot filled with a few inches of barely simmering water. Use a rubber spatula to stir and stir. You want the chocolate to melt with residual heat more than anything, as if you get it too hot it’s likely to seize or separate. If you were extra fancy, you’d use a thermometer to make sure it’s within 87 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit (called tempering), but we’re not that fancy. If it’s melted and not lumpy or gross-looking, it’s okay. Remove the bowl from the pot and set on a tea towel. Prepare a small flat plate with the sprinkles of your choice. Working quickly, take two pint mason jars and dip just the tops where the band of the lid would normally go. You may need to use the rubber spatula to help it coat all the way around. Lift out of the chocolate and into the sprinkles, coating all the way around. You may need to hold the jar horizontal for a few seconds, above the sprinkles, to keep the chocolate from running. Once this is done, set the jars upright on a baking sheet and transfer to the fridge to cool and harden.
For the milk shake- Scoop ice cream into a blender. Add any desired mix-ins or sauces. Add milk. Blend that yummy goodness.
Assembly- Pour the milkshake into the prepared and cooled mason jar. Top with half or a whole cookie of your choice. Put that adorable Baby Yoda onto your straw, and serve.
Fastpasses immediately after for Smuggler’s Run in Galaxy’s Edge–
Smugglers Run features a team-play element, wherein a pilot, an engineer, and one or two gunners (is there a mechanic? I’m not sure. We’ve never ridden the actual ride) work together to get the Millenium Falcon safely on its mission, avoiding the bad guys as much as possible. Remember that windshield on our cardboard cars, well, it’s about to become the viewscreen of a space ship. Chairs removed, everyone sat on the floor in position (pilot in front, gunner on one side, engineer on another) and we aligned the windshield with our television. After loading a Smugglers Run POV on the screen, we each pretended to play our roles–steering with a video game controller, pushing make-believe buttons to shoot at bad guys, and pushing more make-believe buttons to fix the ship–while following the POV on screen. If you’re wondering whether this tricks your brain into thinking this just might be more real than it is, it does. It was super fun.
Shopping in the Batuu Marketplace in Galaxy’s Edge-
Because it was May the 4th, and lots of other things are taking place on the internet, I gave each kid $25 (just like I would set a budget if I planned to turn them loose in the actual Batuu Marketplace) and turned them loose on the internet, with the caveat that their purchase must be Star Wars and/or Disney related. Liam selected a Kylo Ren Fortnite Skin and Chloe got some special May the 4th merch in Roblox. This gave me some time to clean-up and finish-up some work I had to do.
Boarding Time for Rise of the Resistance–
Because of our Early Magic Hours, we were able to score boarding passes for Rise of the Resistance (which is not using the Fast Pass option just yet). We reconvened at our designated boarding time, and found a good POV on YouTube. It’s a long ride, especially with cue entrances and exits.
Dinner at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano–
I made a classic Italian-American feast: appetizer, soup/salad, pasta, breadsticks. The appetizer was frozen mozzarella sticks, minestrone soup, breadsticks made just like my pizza crust with garlic butter, but in stick form, and lemon pea shoot pasta (recipe coming on another post). The lemon pea shoot pasta was not classic, in my opinion, and a good meat sauce marinara would have been more authentic, but the lemon pasta is also quick and easy and I was tired. 🙂 I found some Italian background music on YouTube to complete it.
Ride Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway–
Such a cute ride. Like every other ride, we looked for a ride POV on YouTube.
Watch Galactic Spectacular fireworks–
Of course we would. This also was searched for on YouTube.
What a wonderful day filled with good memories and happy thoughts and feelings. I think the kids felt loved, special, and excited; ready to tackle e-learning and sheltering-in-place with renewed vigor. It was exhausting for me, not the least because I was also trying to finish-up some important work in the pockets of time in the schedule. I’m glad we did it, though, and I’m excited for our next Disney at Home day–Animal Kingdom. Stay tuned!