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. 

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