Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thankful - Day 3

It's our last day in the parks! And we don't all want to do the same things... so Hubby and the young lady hit Animal Kingdom and the young man and I went to Epcot. 

Animal Kingdom opened at 8 am and Epcot opened at 11... so we had a much lazier morning than they did! Which I appreciated.

Lots of construction walls at Epcot! 

And boy does Epcot look different right now. Mainly Future World.... just soo much construction! We found our way through the construction walls and past the line for Test Track and found our way into World Showcase. Our first stop was the caramel shop in Germany...yup! We got some yummy treats to share with the fam on Thanksgiving. I actually packed a small cooler bag to carry stuff in... so things didn't melt while we enjoyed the park. 

Completely empty foyer for American Adventure. Sooo quiet. 

Next up - American Adventure. A must-do for our young man, with only a dozen people in the theater it was super easy to social distance. 
We grabbed a donut and took a short break to enjoy it before walking the rest of World Showcase. 
Our last stop in World Showcase was the new circlevision movie in Canada - Canada Far and Wide. 
It was fun to see the new version. Between you and me I liked the old version better - but it's still fun. 
Back in Future World we rode Journey into Imagination and Living with the Land - two favorites. We even got to see Living with the Land decorated for Christmas! 

Santa Mickey in Living with the Land

Last stop in Epcot was MouseGears. Its temporary location (again soo much construction) was much smaller, but we got some goodies all the same. And our bus was waiting to take us back to the resort. Great timing on the buses this trip! We had the whole bus to ourselves. 


[Next part of post written by the editor:

So we didn't attempt to get to the Animal Kingdom in time for rope drop, but we were in the park before 9:00. The conventional wisdom is to get there right when they open and head directly for Flight of Passage. Well, since we weren't there right at opening, the Flight of Passage line was already about 100 minutes, so there was no rush to ride that. Instead we started with Dinosaur, which had no line. Next we headed to Expedition Everest. The line was only about 25 minutes long, but it extended back to the Finding Nemo show building. 

Distanced Dinosaur

Emptied Everest

Next we headed to the Safari. The line wasn't too bad. We essentially rode Dinosaur, Everest and the Safari within the first hour of arriving at the park. The Safari had new plexiglass between each row and every party had a row to themselves.


Lazy, Lazy Hippos

From the Safari, we headed toward Pandora, to get in line for Navi River Journey. For this ride, the line extended back to the bridge where you enter the Pandora area. After this, we found the line for Flight of Passage. The fact that this had a 100 minute wait, combined with the distancing, meant that the line for this was looooong in distance. The line snaked through most of the paths that cross through Pandora and then went down the walkway toward the Africa section. It then entered the line for Festival of the Lion King (which was closed) and then doubled-back about halfway back to the Pandora area.

Testing out night mode on my phone in Navi River

More Navi River

After the long line (which also happened to be the first time we've seen the line for Flight of Passage, since we have always had fastpasses before), we found lunch.

Part of the line for Flight of Passage we've never seen before

We planned to do Kali River Rapids as the last thing before we left the park, but wanted to see if we could get another ride on Everest before we did that. Everest was closed, but the line reopened just as we walked past it, so we got in the line. They ran a couple trains, then it broke down again and they cleared the line out. We headed over to Kali, got in the ~hour line for that and headed back to the car and to the room after riding.

End of Animal Kingdom report.]

I don't know about the kids, but I am appreciating the afternoons in the room. At least one of us is napping each day. Tonight we ordered Noodles & Co. for dinner and hubby ran over to pick it up.  We girls talked hubby into dropping us off at Disney Springs so we could check out The World of Disney store. The wait to get in was about 20 minutes. We enjoyed looking around and were able to find a sweet little trinket. We also popped into Basin before we left Disney Springs. For future reference... Basin is the best place on Property to wash your hands. We picked up a few scrubs to take home. 

Favorite Ride of the Day: 
Me: Living with the Land
Hubby: Everest
Daughter: Flight of Passage
Son: Journey into Imagination 

[The rest of this trip was family Thanksgiving stuff, so no posts for the second half of this trip.]

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Thankful - Day 2

The Magic Kingdom dressed up for Christmas is amazing! 

We found our way to the TTC and did temperature checks and screenings there before getting on the boat to the park. This really makes arrival and entry easy - I miss the tram, but approve of all the other changes! 

So happy to see the decorations! 

The crowds were not bad! We were able to do a photo pass I have been wanting to do and it will show you a bigger view of crowd levels. 

Our first ride of the day - The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh! A classic. The line was long but moved fast...thank you social distancing. Again hand sanitizer is everywhere - at every ride entrance and every exit. We took advantage of it again today! 
Next up Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The line was back to the nearby train depot - but again moved quickly. One upside is we get to see the amazingly themed lines on this trip. Since we usually are FastPass Jedi, we skip all the fun stuff to see in the regular line. So that has been fun. 

On Big Thunder! Hubby is hiding back there ;) 

After Big Thunder, we split - half went to Pirates while the rest of us found a resting place and scoped out a fun treat for the young lady. After Pirates, we met and she enjoyed an Orange Bird themed treat. 
Next up Space mountain and Carousel of Progress. Again meeting up after for food. This time we did a mobile order at Cosmic Rays. This was a first for us. We wanted to try the plant-based sloppy joe they offered. Plus we could get fries, etc. Not a bad meal overall. This was pretty much our last planned thing. We wanted to shop a little and I had seen a dessert I probably needed at Pinocchio's.  So we grabbed that... DELICIOUS! And then split to shop a little on our way out of the park. 
The young man wanted to ride the monorail and this was our chance. We took it back to the TTC and walked to the car.... really missing that tram ;) 

Our MK holiday treats! Orange Bird cake from Sunshine Terrace

OH, MY CHOCOLATE! This was epic... we found it at Pinocchio's. 

Our afternoon was just meant to be lazy, which was very nice. And for dinner, we made food in the villa. The young lady and I popped over to the main building at Saratoga springs - the Carriage house, for a little shopping. The boys picked us up after as we had one errand to run this evening, we needed to go to Cracker Barrel to pick up our contribution to Thanksgiving dinner. We ordered a small turkey breast and lots of rolls thru the website a few weeks ahead of time. And pick up could not have been smoother. They were set up for no contact pick up and we were impressed with how easy it was. 

Coming to Disney is always an escape from reality. This trip it is more than ever. We are all very aware of covid and being safe, with our masks on constantly and all the hand washing and sanitizing. But it really feels like we are in an alternate universe, a million miles away from the stress of life. Much needed. I am soo Thankful! 

Something magic about those balloons! Love the Magic Kingdom. 

Favorite Ride of the Day: 
Me: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Hubby: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Daughter: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Son: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Monday, November 23, 2020

Thankful - Day 1

Oh you guys, this has been a rough year. I know you know. 
We canceled a lot of things - some once in a lifetime things, that we don't see getting to do. Some family moments that would have been so much more in person and of course some things have been postponed... until it's safe. 

In all that, we had some dear family move from our neck of the woods to FLORIDA of all places. You know we like to visit Florida, right! So mid-summer we made plans to Thanksgiving in.... you guessed it -- Florida. At the time it sounded like the perfect time to go. 
And now we are in the Thanksgiving week and depending on where you live in the country - the world is on fire..... again. In our home region, things are shutting down.... again. Not a full shut down like before, but quite a bit. I know from talking with extended family other states are doing the same. But not Florida. 

We fretted about this (I fretted about this) at length. And then some more. My fam needed (NEEDED) this mental getaway. So after lots and lots of the previously mentioned fretting - we are here. In Florida.  

Fairly empty airport. 

On the plane - not too many passengers, so far so good! 

We brought face shields for snacking on the plane.... provided a layer when the mask of briefly off. Admittedly it's not a fashion piece - ha haha.

Here are the things that made me ok with this:

- a non-stop flight on an airline that is taking great precautions and keeping all middle seats empty still.
- a unit at our timeshare for the duration of the trip with an exterior entrance (ground floor - no elevators)  so no common doors. And our own space. We declined all housekeeping so it's our safe home for the trip.  Plus, full kitchen, washer, and dryer.
- a suitcase of PPE: we have cloth face masks, we have disposable face masks, we have hand sanitizer spray and wipes, we have surface wipes, and we have face shields. OH and gloves. 

With all that, we are here. Flew in last night and that went well. Got some supplies and settled in. When we got ready for bed, we threw the clothes from the plane in the wash... get all those germs gone! 

Today we went to Hollywood Studios! Yup - gasp. We are going to the parks. Florida is open and happy to take our money. Actually, the boys still had annual passes (as Disney extended them due to the closure earlier this year). 
The park wasn't empty, but really was nothing like peak season either. Masks are required and they are clear that failure to comply will get you kicked out (they say it nicer than that). Social distancing markers are EVERYWHERE and people are pretty good at following them. The other thing that is everywhere is hand sanitizer.. you can't sneeze without hitting a hand sanitizer dispenser (ok, bad joke. They have plenty of it, at smart locations). And the rides are loading to keep groups separate. Thanks, Disney. Nicely done so far. 

Queued up and waiting for the gates to open! 

Our plan of attack was to get Rise of the Resistance boarding group when the queue opened at 7am this morning - success! Love that they are doing that thru the app, so we could do it from our room. Then we could wake up, and get ready to go at 9 to the park. Side note: the Studios was set to open at 10 am this morning. They aren't doing a traditional "Rope Drop" for social distancing purposes. So They have been opening early and letting people into the park. Rides aren't expected to open early, but sometimes they do. 
To our surprise this morning is that we were too early. They were turning cars away from the parking gate at 10 mins to 9am. We had to (along with dozens of other cars) turn around and come back later. We drove around a few minutes and made our way back to be third in line at a parking gate. From what we can tell they don't let you queue up there until 9 on the dot. Then cars wait until they are ready and start letting them enter. I assume this helps alleviate crowds of people waiting to get in on foot. Even with the new screening process and temperature check stations we didn't have much "line up and wait" time before we were in the park. 

Our hope was to get on Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway first. This opened after our last visit and we all wanted to ride it. They were already queuing up and we were on it 20 mins! Amazing! This ride is so cool! Quite possibly my favorite ride in this park... yes, you read that right! Loved it. 

This was a great ride! Loved it! 

From here we got into the line for Slinky Dog Dash... my favorite coaster at Disney. I am weird I know.. but it's pure fun, no scary... just huge smiles all the way. 

This line was nutso! It started down by Star Wars Launch Bay. Yup...past Little Mermaid. But as we expected the long lines are due to social distancing. No more "fill all available space", now we use the ground markers that are a minimum of 6 ft apart. so we take up a LOT more space. 

Line selfie with Green Army Man

Great views of the ride, while we wait in our socially distanced line. 

We got on Slinky Dog and Midway Mania before our Rise boarding group was called. 
Considering we had no expectations, just two rides we hoped to get on... it's been a good day! 

That is a lot of Strom Troopers! 

After Rise of the Resistance, we sent the adventurous ones over to catch Rock-n-Rollercoaster, and the young man and I hit a snack bar for a very specific cookie and a shop for a little souvenir. 

A Jack's Num Num cookie... and well worth the hype! We all shared it, it was huge! 

Lunchtime called us and since we are done in the park for the day, we took the Skyliner to Caribbean Beach Resort for lunch using the mobile ordering option on the app. 
It was both our first time visiting this resort and our first time on the Skyliner! My new favorite mode of transportation at Disney World. I loved it! And a benefit of social distancing - we get one all to ourselves! 

Lunch was good. It was nice to have more options than we found at the Studios. We did learn to grab your condiments, silverware, etc. when you pick up your food because it might not be easy to get back inside. After we got to ride back on the Skyliner and we have a lazy afternoon in the room. Some of us napped. Much needed! 

Walking to Skyliner! Can't wait to ride!

The view from our gondola! 

Enjoying the local skywriting from the Caribbean Beach Resort walk to lunch 

Caribbean Beach Lobby

We were happy to meet our now locally located family at Disney Springs for dinner. We found a set of three tables completely away from everyone. So we dined outside in our little private area. It was fun to see the family and I always enjoy a meal from Earl of Sandwich! We walked around the Springs a bit before saying 'Goodnight' and heading back to our Villa at Saratoga Springs! 

Great picture Hubby! 
View from Saratoga Springs walkway to Disney Springs! 

Overall our first full day was so nice. We enjoyed our time on rides and loved getting to see the family! 

Favorite Ride of the Day: 
Me: Slinky Dog Dash
Hubby: Rise of the Resistance
Daughter: Rock-n-Rollercoaster
Son: Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway. 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Pre Valentine’s DisneyLand trip!

Somehow we didn’t blog this trip. I don’t know why, but as we have time, we will post a re-cap from our 4-day trip. We planned this trip for a few reasons, one was to celebrate Hubby’s birthday. Another was to ride Rise of the Resistance. I won’t go into details as to which one weighed more in the planning ;) We flew down the Sunday before Valentine’s day… also known as the week of his b-day. We got in late enough that a quick stop for water and it was time for dinner. We checked in at Disney’s Grand Californian and ran to Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney! We stayed in a 1 bedroom DVC unit, and somehow took no pictures of the unit the whole time. But it worked great. We love having a kitchen and washer/dryer. The kids each had a bed, with a hide-a-bed and a twin Murphy bed in the living area. So nice! We got into the parks Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. And scored a boarding group for "Rise" all four days. But due to other plans, we had while in So. Cal and a late afternoon departure on Thursday we only were able to ride it twice. Still such fun! While at the Disneyland Resort we also enjoyed a round of bowling at Splitsville. We went to both parks several times and really had a wonderful time. Parks weren’t too crowded and if it was open, at least one person in our party rode it. Hubby got a few rides on the Guardians ride and I got to ride the IncrediCoaster with him. We took one evening away from the parks to see family. We met up at an Escape room in Rancho Cucamonga and embarked on a journey to find the secrets of a Pharaoh's… something. It was super fun and a really nicely done room. If you are an Escape room fan, this was a great one! Followed by a dinner for the crowd at the local Old Spaghetti Factory. It was a fun diversion from the parks. Even our young man got into it. He has a strong interest in the history of Ramsey, so this was up his alley.  

Crowds in front of the castle waiting for the app to let us all try to get Rise of the Resistance queue. 

Walking into Batuu

Midday Benit and Mint Julep break. 

In the cab of the monorail! 

This ride is soo cool. 

Loved getting to see Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, on Lincoln's birthday! 
A cat has taken up residence in Storybook Land... I love it!!! 

Local ducks enjoying the water feature at Downtown Disney. 

During a ride on Smugglers Run by the adventurous half of our family, the ride broke down. There is unique commentary by Hondo when that occurs.