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Trip Report *Completed* You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home - September 2020

Hello friends, and welcome to another K and J trip report!

We will be returning to Walt Disney World together after basically a year away…more on that later. This is my fourth trip report so I’m sure many of you know us by this point, so I’ll keep the introductions brief…well, brief for me anyway.

Who: Me, Katie

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And my husband, Jason

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We both visited Walt Disney World as kids, but our love for the Disney parks truly blossomed when we went to Walt Disney World together for the first time, for our first wedding anniversary back in 2014. We had the best time and made so many cherished memories, and we loved it so much that we ended up booking our next WDW trip before we even checked out!

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In total, we have been to Walt Disney World together 11 times, and Disneyland twice in the span of 6 years.

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In December 2017, we finally took the plunge and became annual passholders at WDW, and that’s when our trips started becoming more frequent – we average 3-4 Disney trips a year…with the exception of this year. As you may remember, I went on a Disney cruise with my mom, sister, and SIL back in February, and we spent one night at WDW, where I flew solo in Epcot for a couple hours. J and I had plans to do a WDW trip in April, and then COVID-19 happened. April became May, May became June, and then when our June trip was cancelled by Disney, we decided to cancel that trip altogether, and go to the beach in Palm Coast, FL instead. While in Palm Coast, we made a quick trip over to Disney Springs for a few hours. Aside from that time in Disney Springs, Jason and I have not been to Walt Disney World together in nearly a year. In fact, it will have been almost exactly a year when we return. I know we are so fortunate to be APs and be able to visit as often as we do, so I hate to feel like I’m complaining about my champagne problems, but I know many of you have felt the same way we have over the last few months. Being unable to be in our happy place, our home away from home, has been so hard for us, emotionally. We are so beyond ready to be back in Walt Disney World. Speaking of being back…

When: September 8th-13th

We had originally booked our trip for September 9th-13th, but then an Annual Passholder room discount came out in July, and we were able to add another night to our trip and still be paying less than what we were originally going to pay! Since we were going to be going down the Wednesday after Labor Day (the 9th), we were already planning to take the 8th off, since we didn’t see the point in being off work the 7th, working the 8th, and then being off the rest of the week. We’re excited to have a nice long weekend to get packed and prepared for the trip, rather than working all day the day prior, coming home and finishing last minute packing and preparation, and going to bed way too late the night before our trip.

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Where: Pop Century!

We have not stayed at Pop since March 2017, prior to the room renovations, so we are excited to be back. We have stayed in a renovated room at All Star Movies and loved it. I know a lot of people view the new theming as sterile, but we don’t mind it. I view it as a clean, modern look, and we absolutely love all of the added storage and USB portals/outlets. I know many folks don’t dig the “hardwood” floors and prefer carpet, but our entire house is hardwood and tile, so we’re used to it.

Our last (and only, up to this point) experience at Pop was defined by what felt like hundreds of school groups and sports teams staying at the resort at the same time as us, so we don’t exactly look back on our time at Pop with the fondest of memories. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the resort, it can just get frustrating to be surrounded by tons and tons of teenagers any time you go to ride a bus to the parks or eat in the resort food court. None of them were poorly behaved, as far as I can remember (at least not as poorly behaved as the cheerleaders when we stayed at CBR during a cheer competition, but that’s another story for another day)…there were just so many of them, everywhere, all the time…We are excited to make new, hopefully fonder memories at Pop. Jason is very excited about the Skyliner. I….am anxious. If you read my Disneyland trip report from this past December, you may remember that I have a pretty intense fear of heights. I told J that I would try the Skyliner at least once, since it’s important to him. If I absolutely can’t stand it, we’ll have our car with us, so we can drive to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

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Why: We love visiting Walt Disney World in the Fall (and the Spring, and the Holidays, and…). Typically, September/October trips mean Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. While we are totally bummed that MNSSHP is cancelled, we understand why. There will always be other years. As far as Food and Wine…we are actually looking forward to the new, scaled-down version of the festival. I have always felt the usual 30+ booths to be overwhelming, especially if you’re only at Epcot for one day. We’ve already made a big list of things we want to enjoy at Food and Wine, and I know we won’t be disappointed!

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So there’s my “brief” summary of the trip…look forward to more detailed plans coming soon!

Up next: Daily plans
 
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k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Saturday, September 12th - Hollywood Studios Day

Well, it was finally the day that I had been dreading the entire trip. When I initially booked this trip Pre-COVID, we planned HS for later in our trip, to increase our likelihood of getting the good FastPasses. Once the parks re-opened and we made our park pass reservations, we considered changing some of our days around so we wouldn't be doing HS on a Saturday, but we didn't want to have to move our dining reservations around as well, so we settled on sticking it out in Hollywood Studios on a weekend, where we'd be fighting for Boarding Group reservations along with all of the locals that come to the parks on the weekends.

We woke up at 7:00 am so that we could get ready and be at the Skyliner by 8:00. We left our room shortly before 8:00, and were met with quite a line of people already. I snapped this picture at 8:03, and there were probably 15-20 groups ahead of us. We're glad we got there early though, as the line backed waaaaay up before they started running the Skyliner around 8:45.

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Thankfully, the Skyliner does move pretty quickly once they start running it, and we were at the transfer station at Caribbean Beach right around 9:00. We waited in another line to transfer to the Hollywood Studios line, and we were hopping off at Hollywood Studios around 9:15, where we were met with another long line for temp check and security. We made it into the park within about 15 minutes, and made a beeline to Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway. While we were in line, we were stuck next to this water feature for quite some time, which did not do my full bladder any favors. I was so glad once the line finally started moving!

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It was so surreal walking into the Chinese Theatre for the first time in nearly 4 years.

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While we were in line, I kept glancing at my watch. Would we make it on and off the ride by 10:00? Would we be trying to get a boarding group while we're in line? Well, we ended up getting on the ride right at 9:55. That meant that we would be trying to get a boarding group while we were on the ride.

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I tried to enjoy this new experience, but if I'm being honest, my face was in my phone for the majority of the ride.

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I took this picture at 9:58, after which Jason and I both started frantically refreshing the MDE app to see if boarding groups were available yet. We made it into the last room of the ride right at 10:00, and were met with defeat. No boarding group.

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Here is where I let you peek behind the curtain of my marriage. I am a textbook Enneagram One, Monica Geller, Firstborn Child perfectionist. I hate failing. I especially hate feeling like I've failed someone I love. Jason, on the other hand, is very go-with-the-flow and laidback, and he knows how stressed I get when things don't go as planned, so he was sure to tell me that it was not a big deal, we could just ride ROTR when we come back in December. I was still pretty mad at myself, so I took a few minutes to cool down before we moved on to the next thing.

Once I had sucked it up that we wouldn't be riding ROTR that day, we made our way over to Sunset Boulevard. First stop?

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The posted wait time was 40 minutes, but we only ended up having to wait about 25. We almost always FastPass ToT, which means that we're always rushed going through the lobby. I was glad to have half a second to snap a picture of the lobby without feeling like I was going to get run over.

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And it was so weird to see the pre-show room being used as part of the queue.

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Only one person had their hands up in our photo, but I promise we had fun!

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Up next: How about some backstage passes?
 

Sbk1234

Well-Known Member
Sorry you didn't make it on Rise of the Resistance. That's on the top of my Disney wish list right now, so I know I'd be really bummed out if I couldn't get on. Hope everything else on the trip went well.
 

MickeyCB

Well-Known Member
During our Oct trip several of us tried for a boarding pass and my son won the game, sort of.
Last night he sent me a tiktok of a girl looking frustrated with the text saying "you haven't felt real stress until your family has put you in charge of getting a RotR boarding group"!
It's really not a fun game at all.
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Sorry you didn't make it on Rise of the Resistance. That's on the top of my Disney wish list right now, so I know I'd be really bummed out if I couldn't get on. Hope everything else on the trip went well.
I'm sorry you weren't able to get a boarding group for ROTR but hopefully you will in December. We loved M&MRR!!!
During our Oct trip several of us tried for a boarding pass and my son won the game, sort of.
Last night he sent me a tiktok of a girl looking frustrated with the text saying "you haven't felt real stress until your family has put you in charge of getting a RotR boarding group"!
It's really not a fun game at all.

I do think that the current system is better, where you get your boarding groups at 7 am, so you're not in a crowded theme park fighting for bandwidth with thousands of other guests.
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Saturday, September 12th - Hollywood Studios Day - Continued

After we checked out of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, it was time for another classic Hollywood Studios favorite.



At this point, it was nearly 11:00, and the lines for both ToT and RnRC were backed up onto Sunset Boulevard. It started pouring rain while we were in line, which made a lot of people bail. Thankfully, we always come prepared for the Florida pop-up showers. Soon enough, we were in the covered portion of the line, and had time for a quick selfie.

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The posted wait time was 50 minutes, but we only had to wait about 35 minutes. Just like ToT, it was so weird to see the pre-show room being used as part of the queue. I did make sure to ask about our backstage passes.

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Maybe one of these trips, we'll do a different pose for this ride photo...Who am I kidding, we're creatures of habit.

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After our limo ride, we were getting hungry, but Jason wanted to stop for one of the special Fall drinks first. He got this frozen apple cider, which was spiked with Crown Apple, that came with a poison apple glow cube. He loved it!

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While Jason was enjoying his drink, I mobile ordered our favorite lunch - Ronto Roasters. Seriously, if you've been to Galaxy's Edge and you've never tried a Ronto Wrap, you're missing out! Once our order was ready, we managed to score a coveted table inside the restaurant. It had been raining on and off, so we didn't want to take our chances on sitting outside.

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After our lunch, we decided to hit up Millennium Falcon Smuggler's Run, since we were in the area.

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A good bit of the line was outside, and it was still raining on and off, so we were surprised to see so many people waiting for this one. While we were in line, I managed to snap this covert picture of one of my current WDW pet peeves. Time and time again, we saw groups spreading out between the two physical distancing lines, which rendered them pointless. If the last person in your party is four feet behind the line in front of you, then I'm only two feet behind them if I'm standing on the line properly. Most of the time when this happened, we would just back up behind another line.

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This ended up being our longest wait of the trip. The posted wait time was 75 minutes, and we ended up waiting just about an hour. I can't say I'm surprised that the line has been really long, since they are only loading one party per ship right now.

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The cool thing about that is that if you're a group of two like we are, you're guaranteed to be a Pilot if you want to be. We were both Engineers the first time we road MFSR back in September 2019, and we weren't too impressed, so we were glad to get to try out Pilot this time around. We both thought it was a much more fun experience that way.

Up next: Toy Story Land!
 

lindawdw

Well-Known Member
It sounds like being prepared for the rain worked in your favor on the line for RNRC! Your lunch looks delicious and I'm glad you found an indoor area to enjoy it. :)
 

sheriffwoody

Well-Known Member
While we were in line, I managed to snap this covert picture of one of my current WDW pet peeves. Time and time again, we saw groups spreading out between the two physical distancing lines, which rendered them pointless. If the last person in your party is four feet behind the line in front of you, then I'm only two feet behind them if I'm standing on the line properly.

This was my pet peeve too!! Drove me nuts. I remember it most in the line for Slinky. It was four people and they took up the whole space between lines every time we moved. And of course also kept pulling their masks down :rolleyes:
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
It sounds like being prepared for the rain worked in your favor on the line for RNRC! Your lunch looks delicious and I'm glad you found an indoor area to enjoy it. :)
Yes! It definitely made our wait time shorter when a bunch of people ditched the line when it started raining.
This was my pet peeve too!! Drove me nuts. I remember it most in the line for Slinky. It was four people and they took up the whole space between lines every time we moved. And of course also kept pulling their masks down :rolleyes:
Apparently rules don’t apply to everyone 🙄
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Saturday, September 12th - Hollywood Studios Day - Continued

After crash-landing the Millennium Falcon, it was time to head to my favorite land in HS, Toy Story Land! The level of theming in Galaxy's Edge is incredible, but I literally grew up on the Toy Story Movies - the first one came out when I was four, and the third one came out when I was in college - so Toy Story will always hold a special place in my heart. Our first stop in Toy Story Land was Alien Swirling Saucers - the posted wait was 40 minutes, but we could literally see the entire line, so we knew there was no way that was true. We ended up waiting about 10 minutes.

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Next up was an old favorite, Toy Story Mania! Anyone else remember the "running of the toys" back in the day, when TSM was the newest and most popular ride in HS? The posted wait was 25 minutes, but we didn't see anyone in the outside portion of the queue, so we knew it would be shorter. We ended up only having to wait about 10 minutes. Look how close this score was! I'm on the right.

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After exiting TSM, we decided to loop back around and play again, because why not? We love this ride/game, and it's not often that the line is this short. We ended up waiting closer to 15 minutes the second time around, and my shooter was malfunctioning, so it was definitely not a close game. Our last stop in Toy Story Land was Slinky Dog Dash. As always, the line was backed up, this time almost all the way to Woody at the entrance of the land, but Slinky Dog Dash is my favorite ride in HS, so we weren't going to miss it. The wait time was posted at 50 minutes, and we ended up waiting closer to 35. Not too bad!

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I don't know why I look like I'm sleeping in this photo - I promise I was having fun! 😂

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After we braved the Wildest Ride in Andy's Backyard, it was around 3 pm, and we were both ready for a break in the AC. We headed back to an old standby, MuppetVision 3D (if you don't pronounce it threeee-deeeee like Kermit the Frog, we can't be friends). We ended up getting the last two seats in the theater for the show that was about to start, but then the strangest thing happened. They started the show, but the digital red curtain that is supposed to raise never came up. We could kind of see the show playing in the background, but the digital red curtain was stuck over it. It was seriously bizarre, I wish I would have thought to take a picture. They ended up cancelling the show, so our break in the AC was short-lived.

The only attraction left for the day was Star Tours, so we headed that way. The wait was posted at 25 minutes, but we only ended up having to wait ~15. While we were in the queue, we stopped by to see the original Captain Rex.

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After Star Tours, we started making our way out of the park. We stopped on the way out to watch the Mickey and Minnie Vacation Fun short that they are playing in the theater adjoining MMRR. We thought it was really cute! We also had to stop to get a picture with the Potatoland photo op.

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And that was it for Hollywood Studios! We did a little shopping on the way out of the park, and ended up exiting HS around 5:00 pm.

Up next: Sometimes the Skyliner is scary.
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Saturday, September 12th - Hollywood Studios Day - Continued

We were walking out of Hollywood Studios right around 5:00, and had some time to kill before our nearby dinner reservation, so we decided to hop on the Skyliner. We rode it back to Caribbean Beach, then transferred to the Epcot line. This is where things got a little frightening. While we were riding the Skyliner to Epcot, the winds really picked up, and our gondola started swaying back and forth a little more than we were comfortable with. At one point, we were stopped for a minute or so (presumably while they were loading an ECV), and we were both white-knuckling the bench while we swung back and forth, suspended way up in the air. Thankfully, we made it to solid ground soon enough, and we were both more than ready to get off. Once we got off at the International Gateway, we didn't have far to go. Our destination?

Beaches and Cream! It had been over two years since our last meal here, and we were ready for a No Way Jose! Our reservation was at 6:10, and we checked in at 5:50. Anyone who frequents Beaches and Cream knows that you will always have to wait for your table to be ready. We were hoping that the expansion would cut down on that, but nope. We ended up being seated at 6:15. This was our first time dining here since the remodel/expansion, and while the new theming is cute, it doesn't have the same charm as the former Beaches and Cream. We also found it to be very loud, although that could have been due to the toddler sitting at the table closest to ours. 😂

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Jason normally orders the patty melt when we eat here, but it was not currently on the menu, so we both ordered cheeseburgers. We also swapped out the fries for onion rings. Their fries are fine, but man alive were the onion rings good! Jason cleaned his plate, and I ate all of my onion rings and about half of my burger.

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I never finish my meal here, because I'm always saving room for the main event...the No Way Jose! This is the only sundae we've ever gotten from Beaches and Cream, and I think we would both cry if they ever took it off the menu. We always split one, because they're huge, but if you're a fan of peanut butter and chocolate, this sundae is a must-do!

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We finished our ice cream and settled our bill, and we were leaving Beaches and Cream around 7:15. We took our time walking back to the International Gateway, since we were both stuffed. Plus, there is just something extra magical about the Boardwalk at dusk.

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We made it back to the International Gateway around 7:30, and found ourselves in a loooooong line to get on the Skyliner. We thought the line on Friday night was long, but we were not prepared for Saturday night right after park closing during the Food and Wine Festival! It ended up taking us about an hour to make it back to Pop. Once we made it back to our room, we started packing up to leave the next morning. :cry: It had been a magical time back in the Disney bubble, but all good things must come to an end.

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Up next: One last hit of magic
 

lindawdw

Well-Known Member
Sounds like a great day at DHS and your meal at Beaches N Cream looked delicious. The sunset over the Epcot resorts is absolutely beautiful! Sad your trip is coming to an end. :( Do you have another one planned soon?
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Sounds like a great day at DHS and your meal at Beaches N Cream looked delicious. The sunset over the Epcot resorts is absolutely beautiful! Sad your trip is coming to an end. :( Do you have another one planned soon?
We actually went back the week after Thanksgiving, so I'll be starting on that report soon. As far as future trips, it will be longer than usual before we'll be back...all of that will be explained in the next report!
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Sunday, September 13th - Check-Out Day

Alright, let's get this trip report wrapped up! We had an 8:00 am breakfast reservation this day, so we were up earlier than usual, at 6:30 am, so that we could finish packing up, get ready, and load up the car before breakfast. I was wearing my cutie cute Sensational Six dress from Cakeworthy...

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We left Pop around 7:40, but we didn't have far to go. We were headed for breakfast at Topolino's Terrace, at the Riviera! We arrived shortly before 8:00, and we were seated almost immediately. At Topolino's, they start you off with pastries. They normally come in cute ceramic paint buckets, but ours came in a basket. We enjoyed the muffins and danish, but found the croissants to be a little dry.

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Pretty soon after we were seated, we had our first character sighting - my favorite, Daisy! The story behind the character breakfast at Topolino's Terrace is that Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy have traveled to the Italian Riviera to study the arts. Daisy is a dancer, Minnie is a writer, Mickey is a painter, and Donald is a sculptor. I adored Daisy's outfit!

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For our entree, we both got the sour cream waffle, which comes topped with roasted apples, raspberries, and whipped cream. We both really enjoyed the waffle, although I wish that they had peeled the apples before roasting them.

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The real attraction for us was the characters. We miss meeting characters, and the character meals are about as close as you can get to them right now. At Topolino's, they play a song every few minutes, and one of the characters comes out and walks around the restaurant. They don't come right up to your table, but they'll stop for waves and pictures.

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After we finished our meal, we headed out to the balcony to check out the view. From there, you can see a good bit of Epcot, some of Hollywood Studios, and most of Caribbean Beach. We enjoyed hanging out for a few minutes, taking in a little extra magic before we had to head home.

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Overall, we really enjoyed Topolino's Terrace. It was definitely pricey, as all character meals are, but it was worth it to us to get to see the characters up close (well, closER).

Up next: More Riviera
 
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k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Sunday, September 13th - Check-Out Day - Continued

After we paid for our meal and left Topolino's Terrace, we headed out to check out the grounds of the Riviera. We both think that this resort is absolutely stunning, and it's definitely on our Disney resort bucket list now. After checking out the lobby area, we headed outside to see the mosaics we had seen so many photos of...

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If you're wanting to see these, it's easiest to take the Skyliner to the Riviera, and you'll pass them on your way into the resort. Or, if you're already at the resort like we were, you'd just walk out toward the Skyliner station. Pictures really don't do these justice. They are HUGE and absolutely gorgeous. It always amazes me when Disney goes above and beyond with the theming like they did here.

Jason snapped this picture of me admiring the Tangled mosaic....

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One last selfie of the trip...

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After checking out the mosaics, it was time for us to head home. We left the Riviera shortly after 9:00, topped off my gas tank at the Speedway across from Hollywood Studios, and started on our journey home.

Up next: Souvenirs and final thoughts
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Oh this is cool! I definitely didn’t get how big they were from all the other pix I’ve seen.
They are MASSIVE!
That was a nice way to end your trip in the Disney Bubble! Looking forward to your final thoughts. :)
We love doing a sit-down breakfast on our check-out day, so we don't feel like we're rushing out of the Disney bubble.
I love those murals! I need to see them in person!
They are stunning in person!
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Souvenirs and Final Thoughts

Alright, let's get this trip report put to bed! First up, let's talk souvenirs! Since it had been a year since we'd been to WDW, we definitely did not hold back on the spending! 😂 I'm too lazy to pull everything out of the closet/storage, so you're getting pictures I pulled from Google Images.

First up, I got this adorable t-shirt. I love the font, and the bright colors!

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I also got this t-shirt. On the back, it has the opening dates of all the attractions in WDW!

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I also got this adorable hat. I love the 90s vibes, and all the fun character-inspired letters!

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We also got this fun throw pillow for Halloween and now we're kicking ourselves for not getting the cute ghost pillow they came out with in 2019, because the two would make such a cute pair!

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Also in the realm of Halloween, I got this cute candle. It is supposed to smell like Pumpkin Spice, but it doesn't have a very strong smell. Super cute though!

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Jason only got two items (that I can remember), but both of them were far more expensive than anything I bought! 🤑 First, he got this Haunted Mansion spirit jersey. I finally convinced him to buy a spirit jersey on our Disneyland trip in 2019, and now he loves them!

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He also got this Haunted Mansion wallpaper button-up shirt. What can I say, he loves Haunted Mansion! 👻

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And that's it for souvenirs!

Now, for our final thoughts on the trip. We were obviously so glad to be back in the Disney bubble, so it was a wonderful trip!

- Weather - It was HOT HOT HOT. But, that's just how it is in September. It also rained more than it has on any of our other trips. Thankfully, our Hollywood Studios day was the only day where it rained a lot, the other days were just pop-up showers.

- Resort - This was our second time staying at Pop Century, and we enjoyed it overall, although there were a couple pain points for us. At the time of this trip, Pop was the only Value open, so all of the people that would have been staying at the All Stars and the Little Mermaid rooms at AoA were all at Pop. I say all that to say it was CROWDED. The only time we utilized the buses was when we went to Disney Springs. The lines for the MK and AK buses were just too crazy in the mornings. Our only other pain point was the food court. It took FOR-E-VER to get our food both times that we mobile ordered. The quick service locations in the parks seem to run a lot more efficiently than those at the resorts. We did enjoy the Skyliner for getting to/from HS and Epcot, although I don't know that it's really worth the price jump from the All Stars to Pop.

- COVID precautions - We think that Disney is doing a fantastic job of trying to keep guests and CMs safe. HOWEVER, those precautions only work when the guests follow the guidelines that Disney has set - mask wearing, maintaining physical distance, staying behind the distancing lines in the queues, etc. We found that most guests were pretty good about following the rules, but COVID seems to be the furthest thing from people's minds when they are getting off of transportation, attractions, etc. Mask compliance was probably at 90%, but it's so easy to notice those 10%, especially during Food and Wine.

- Mask-wearing - wearing a mask in the Florida September heat is not for the faint of heart. We brought both fabric and disposable masks, and would typically change into the disposables when it got to be crazy hot. I would definitely recommend bringing multiple mask options for your Disney trip.

And I think that's all I have to say about this trip! I appreciate all of you that have followed along, and your patience as it's taken me longer to post updates. I hope you will all tune in for our November/December trip report, (hopefully) starting next week!
 

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