Pre-Trip Family Return to WDW - Take 2

As some of you may recall, we were supposed to return to WDW in July of 2020. It would have been the first time the whole family has set foot on property since December 2017 and it was going to be a surprise for our girls. Check in day was supposed to be July 11th, the same day the parks started reopening, but I had no desire to be part of the reopening process. So, we canceled and wound up going on a road trip that took us from TX through AR, TN, NC, GA, AL, MS, and LA. If you think that sound crazy, you should see the map of the trip I want to do this summer!

I'm going to try and break the PTR down section by section rather than just through it all out there. I don't know why, but I'm choosing to start with...

LODGING
In any event, we pushed our WDW plans to February and made it one big family planning event. Seriously, we probably watched 50 resort room videos and I was still left to decide on the winner. I wasn't even sure what was going to be open, but the finalists were 1. a studio villa at the Poly 2. a Lion King suite at AOA (this was the decor they liked best) or 3. connecting rooms at CBR. And this is where it gets kind of crazy.

This is what I picked for our lodging...
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(not my picture)

Yes, it's a Poly studio villa, but don't get too excited...I didn't stick with these plans. I was already off to a bad start when my parents opted to go with the GF, since they do not care for the Poly. When the Poly construction was announced and I realized monorail service to Epcot probably still wasn't going to be a thing in February, I decided to go big. The kids were bothered about no rain style shower, but we're getting one installed in our master bath at home...so, they'll get over it!

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(also not my pictures)

So, I switched us to a 1 bedroom villa at OKW. I know...it wasn't on our list! I wasn't optimistic about bus service or boat service resuming to Disney Springs, but this is going to be a road trip, so having my vehicle and all of this space for the price seemed like a great option. The kids were a little bit sad because they like being MK area, but when they saw the size of the room, they quickly came around to the idea and really liked the jetted tub. We had one in our old house and recently put one into their renovated bathroom, so they've become quite the bath and shower connoisseurs. The only thing...I wasn't sold on it and had plans to change if a decent discount was offered to get us into a 1 bedroom at BWV. If it were for a regular resort room I'd be all over BC, but I don't like the BCV decor as much. Sure, YC was an option, but after our 2012 stay, I was asked to skip it for future trips. BWV also seemed like a good plan for getting to HS to try and get a RotR boarding pass (before they changed the process to 7am).

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(definitely not my picture)

I was actually a little bit late to the game when discounts hit. I mean, it was still probably same day, but I wasn't ready at the crack of dawn. Consequently, the phone wait time was 2+ hours (heard it was more like 4). I couldn't spend my whole work day waiting on hold with Disney, so I did what I've found in the past to be the easiest thing to do. Book a whole new reservation and then cancel the first one. Sure, it's a game of deposits, but it's better than sitting on hold. In the end, it was still more than a discounted villa at OKW, but everyone seems happier with the location. In fact, my parents...who did not make the shift to OKW with me, were good with BWV and also booked a 1 bedroom there for themselves. Sounds like it was cheaper than their room at the GF. I had thought about upgrading to a 2 bedroom at OKW instead, since many of you know about my husband's snoring, but BWV seemed like the better option...and I'll just try and cram an air mattress into the room so I can sleep in peace! Oh, and while this also didn't make the list, this was where we were supposed to stay over the summer...well, in regular room. So, it's kind of fitting.

This also gave me a chance to have some fun with my younger daughter...the one who hates clowns. 🤡

I had told her that Luna Park's slide was under construction and nobody knew what was going to happen with the clown. When the end results were revealed (which are really kind of blah, IMO), I decided to play a trick on her and show her a pic from a previous trip. I told her that the clown was just refreshed and is open for business.


(This is my picture!)

At first, she got all mad. When I showed her the actual renovation updates with the new school Mickey and friends, she was not a fan and said they should have kept the slide! Wow! And that's coming from a serious clown hater!

Coming up...I discuss dining and cake possibilities, the who's and what's kind of stuff, and some other little things.
 

Spash007

Well-Known Member
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Looking forward to the details! And I enjoyed following along on the resort decisions - sounds a lot like something we just went through starting to plan trip with my in-laws
 

HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
CAKE

If you've ever seen one of my TRs, you know cake is a part of life...it just is. It's a necessity. 🤣 I haven't done as many as I used to, but I still do make cakes for the family. I'll add on a few more recent ones at the end of this post.

I haven't had much in the way of cake since I went gluten free. I do not have Celiac, but have found that wheat and dairy cause me to have some health issues. It's mainly food allergy territory...reactions ranging from gastro, skin, respiratory, etc. I allowed some dairy back in, but I'm back to avoiding the things that tend to cause me more problems. Disney has very few bakeries operating right now and even before Covid, they were cracking down on doing things for dietary issues. I thought about Erin McKenna, but I didn't love everything I got there on my last visit and don't care for their cake decorating. So, that's a no. I've found a few outside bakeries that will do gluten free cakes, but I'm not loving what I'm seeing or reading. I don't mind spending a bit more for a good cake, but when reviews say "nothing special" about the flavor, I'm not going to bother. There's Amorette's, which has been excellent in the past, but that's not going to be gluten free...and none of it will be as convenient if it's not done by a Disney bakery. Amorette's also probably won't be open on the days where I might do a cake if my parents are involved.

So, where's this going and why?

1. Thinking about allowing myself a few treats with some gluten during this trip to see how I do. Same thing with dairy. I will have meds ready and won't consume a ton, just to be safe.
2. The bigger reason is we are celebrating two milestone birthdays. My mom turned 70 a few months ago and my husband will be turning 50 this year. In fact, I may even want to get two cakes!

The concern is that my parents might bail...either on the trip, or at least eating with us anywhere indoors. I certainly don't fault them for this. They are high risk due to age as well as health issues. My mom didn't want me telling everyone on Facebook, but they were able to get their first dose of the vaccine and will have their second nearly 2 weeks before the WDW trip. Sooooo, I'm hoping that will make them feel a bit better about things. Still, they may choose to opt out of certain things if they're not ready.

If I want a Disney created cake, it's looking like the GF bakery is our best bet. I do have one dinner ADR at the GF, so it could work. I'd just hate to order a cake celebrating my mom and not have her there. I'd also hate to have a cake celebrating my husband and not include her in on it either should they choose to attend. They've canceled all of their trips since this all started and haven't dined out probably since last February. So, it's feeling like a gamble with anything involving them.

I'd love to know your opinions...cake, no cake, two cakes, cake before parents are supposed to arrive???

I'd like it to be good cake since I normally can't eat any of the cakes I make. And if I'm going to risk feeling like crud, it better taste good...which is making me think Amorette's without my parents, since that will be a weekend day and they'll be open. Still, a Disney cake is more fun and the GF usually does a decent job. Still, let me know what you guys think.

And while some of you who chat with me in other groups have already seen these...this is really the only caking I've done in a while...and you know I love to share cake! We did a tribute to the US National Parks for the older one and the younger one (who is 12) was going through a Care Bears phase! 🤣 The parks one was supposed to be ones we've visited, ones on our wish list, and ones we haven't been to. Not my best work, but it's not like we're having any parties! I'm really hoping our summer trip means a lot more visited dots on the map. Grumpy Bear looks like he has a head injury, but I think that was due in part to a rainbow mishap and some tweaking I had to do at the end.





Coming up...Dining (lots and lots of ADRs)! and a new twist for us.
 

HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Looking forward to the details! And I enjoyed following along on the resort decisions - sounds a lot like something we just went through starting to plan trip with my in-laws

Thanks! It's funny how involved something as simple as a hotel room can get. I'm doing something similar now for a friend looking to go to Vegas in May.
 

Songbird76

Well-Known Member
CAKE

If you've ever seen one of my TRs, you know cake is a part of life...it just is. It's a necessity. 🤣 I haven't done as many as I used to, but I still do make cakes for the family. I'll add on a few more recent ones at the end of this post.

I haven't had much in the way of cake since I went gluten free. I do not have Celiac, but have found that wheat and dairy cause me to have some health issues. It's mainly food allergy territory...reactions ranging from gastro, skin, respiratory, etc. I allowed some dairy back in, but I'm back to avoiding the things that tend to cause me more problems. Disney has very few bakeries operating right now and even before Covid, they were cracking down on doing things for dietary issues. I thought about Erin McKenna, but I didn't love everything I got there on my last visit and don't care for their cake decorating. So, that's a no. I've found a few outside bakeries that will do gluten free cakes, but I'm not loving what I'm seeing or reading. I don't mind spending a bit more for a good cake, but when reviews say "nothing special" about the flavor, I'm not going to bother. There's Amorette's, which has been excellent in the past, but that's not going to be gluten free...and none of it will be as convenient if it's not done by a Disney bakery. Amorette's also probably won't be open on the days where I might do a cake if my parents are involved.

So, where's this going and why?

1. Thinking about allowing myself a few treats with some gluten during this trip to see how I do. Same thing with dairy. I will have meds ready and won't consume a ton, just to be safe.
2. The bigger reason is we are celebrating two milestone birthdays. My mom turned 70 a few months ago and my husband will be turning 50 this year. In fact, I may even want to get two cakes!

The concern is that my parents might bail...either on the trip, or at least eating with us anywhere indoors. I certainly don't fault them for this. They are high risk due to age as well as health issues. My mom didn't want me telling everyone on Facebook, but they were able to get their first dose of the vaccine and will have their second nearly 2 weeks before the WDW trip. Sooooo, I'm hoping that will make them feel a bit better about things. Still, they may choose to opt out of certain things if they're not ready.

If I want a Disney created cake, it's looking like the GF bakery is our best bet. I do have one dinner ADR at the GF, so it could work. I'd just hate to order a cake celebrating my mom and not have her there. I'd also hate to have a cake celebrating my husband and not include her in on it either should they choose to attend. They've canceled all of their trips since this all started and haven't dined out probably since last February. So, it's feeling like a gamble with anything involving them.

I'd love to know your opinions...cake, no cake, two cakes, cake before parents are supposed to arrive???

I'd like it to be good cake since I normally can't eat any of the cakes I make. And if I'm going to risk feeling like crud, it better taste good...which is making me think Amorette's without my parents, since that will be a weekend day and they'll be open. Still, a Disney cake is more fun and the GF usually does a decent job. Still, let me know what you guys think.

And while some of you who chat with me in other groups have already seen these...this is really the only caking I've done in a while...and you know I love to share cake! We did a tribute to the US National Parks for the older one and the younger one (who is 12) was going through a Care Bears phase! 🤣 The parks one was supposed to be ones we've visited, ones on our wish list, and ones we haven't been to. Not my best work, but it's not like we're having any parties! I'm really hoping our summer trip means a lot more visited dots on the map. Grumpy Bear looks like he has a head injury, but I think that was due in part to a rainbow mishap and some tweaking I had to do at the end.





Coming up...Dining (lots and lots of ADRs)! and a new twist for us.
I'm also a huge fan of cake. Some friends of mine and I used to do "cake day" the 3rd Thursday of each month. We'd all make cake or pie or something on that day and even though we were all spread out all over the world, we could all have cake together, wherever we were. We haven't done it in ages. I was thinking that perhaps, if you are considering 2 cakes anyway, can you do one regular one and one allergy friendly one? You could taste the regular one and see how it sits, but still have a safe alternative.

As far as your parents, if they will already have had both doses of the vaccine, won't they be more comfortable with indoor dining? Theoretically, having been vaccinated should make it safer. If it works like the flu shot, even if there's a mutation and the vaccine doesn't entirely work on the mutation, it should at least decrease the severity of the symptoms, right? Or do you think they'll still be nervous about catching it even with the vaccine?
 

HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
DINING

Man, this is always my weakness. While I've been going to WDW since 1985, it was that 2010 trip where we took the girls for the first time that got me hooked on making ADRs. Speaking of 2010, I will probably pepper the actual TR with 10 year anniversary pics of the girls' first visit. Here's a little teaser...



What I miss most...the 2 year old being free and the 4 year old qualifying as a kid! :greedy:

Before I get into what I've booked and why I booked it (because I know it's a lot and I know we won't be doing all of this in the end), let me address some of my thoughts and concerns.

1. If you followed our 2017 trip, we had a number of lackluster meals. It was to the point that my husband suggested we focus more on quick service and possibly even grocery delivery for snacks and breakfast. We have a 1 BR villa, so we can certainly make food in our room. I'm still torn about grocery delivery. We've discussed just bringing along a cooler and having food with us, since I really don't want to waste any time at Publix once we're there.

2. Even before Covid, I would get nervous about having enough seating for quick service. All it took was one issue at Pecos Bill 10 years ago where we spent 20 minutes trying to find a table and I'm scarred for life! :oops: I know TS meals take longer, but I like knowing there's a table for me when I show up and won't risk spilling my tray of food onto the floor in a panic. I have issues! So, I have a lot of things booked in case I feel that we truly need table service to fill in the meal gaps.

3. My husband loves the idea of the villa, but it's really just for the extra room. He thought back on a vacation we took where we wound up utilizing our condo kitchen much more than we planned and it just didn't feel very vacation-y. So, I have a feeling we won't utilize that kitchen as much as we'd originally planned. Heck, who knows...we might even decide the night before to do something off property...like I did in the 80s and 90s.

So here goes...

Day 1-
* If you followed my 2014 trip when we left the kids home with grandma (other grandma), we made it sort of an eating and drinking extravaganza with F&W in the mix. In order to really kick off my husband's bday celebration, I thought it might be fun to try something similar.
Before heading to Disney Springs, I have an ADR at Beaches & Cream. I really just want to get ice cream.
Next up is The Edison. I'm sure we'll get a snack, but this is more about drinking.
The one I'm really excited about is Wine Bar George. My friend and I loved this last January and it's a good mix of snacks and drinks.
We end with Splitsville. The kids love sushi and it's got some fun drink options for the grown ups. It just looks fun in general.

You will almost definitely be able to guess our park reservations from the rest of my dining, but I will go over those and some musts/plans in a future post.

Day 2-

I booked a really early lunch at H&V. I'm up in the air about this, but I've heard better reviews about it since it reopened as family style. I'm also a sucker for a character meal...and since I'm more of a person who likes to see them vs pose with them, this method isn't all that bad to me.
Last trip, I got to try Oga's with my friend. The family hasn't seen Galaxy's Edge yet and I thought they might have fun with this, so I booked it for a midday drink.
I currently have a dinner ADR booked pretty late in the day at 50s. The kids really think this is a fun one, but I still have yet to have an above average meal here. This is one that might get cut in favor of something back at the room or venturing off property.

Day 3-

I have always loved a meal with a view. So, I booked breakfast at Toppolino's. This is where I start having issues with that lunch I booked at H&V. The character aspect starts feeling a bit redundant. If I have to cut one, it will probably be Toppolino's. You'll see why as you read on. Just not on day 3 :D
My parents should be meeting up with us after this. I didn't book any lunches because if we do wind up going to Toppolino's, that should be plenty of food to hold us for some time. Dinner is where things get a bit iffy...and please, no shaming on this because it's quite possible we may split up and go to both ADRs. I booked a late ADR at Teppan Edo as well as an even later ADR at Narcoosee's. I really think Narcoosee's is going to be my best bet this trip for a Disney cake, but if we're tired, Teppan Edo is right there and it's just a walk back to BWV right after. Still, it doesn't feel as special and it's our first night, so a nicer meal would be nice. And if I don't do a cake...maybe some of us want Teppan Edo and some of us want Narcoosee's. Who knows, but we'll have to decide before no show fees are an issue.

Day 4-

Next day is definitely a breakfast at the room or snack on the go kind of day, but I booked lunch for us at the Brown Derby. My parents really like this one. I've had good meals at the lounge, but just OK in the restaurant. We also had an excessive wait last time we were there. So, I'm nervous. I guess we'll see.
I booked dinner at Toppolino's this night, so that's part of why I'm OK with canceling breakfast if I feel I don't need another character meal. I will also be risking it this night and eating gluten and dairy.

Day 5-

I was torn on TS breakfast or lunch, and I was even more torn on what to book. I started out with an early breakfast at The Wave, but I canceled it because I remembered that my parents don't love The Wave. Which is too bad, because I think The Wave is really good. I went back to booking a character meal for this slot...Chef Mickey's. I'm normally not a fan, but like H&V, I've heard it's been much better in this family style setting.
I booked the Plaza for lunch. I couldn't book anything larger than a party of 4. So, it seems like the obvious choice to drop, but I don't think I've ever eaten here...or if I have...it's been a LONG time. My parents have no desire to eat here, so it will be just us if we keep this.
For dinner, I got an end of the day ADR at Skipper Canteen. I have wanted to go here since it opened. It just never seems to work out with our schedules. I swear, everyone else can take the bus back to the hotel and leave me there if they don't want to go...because I'm having this dinner whether they like it or not! 🤣

Day 6-

Back when we were booked at OKW, I had hopes of breakfast at Olivia's. I considered doing that on this day since I can easily drive, but that's more running around than I know I'll want to do. As it is, I'm not sure how we'll feel about the TS breakfast I did book. I figured it's in the area, so we're going to try Ale & Compass. I've heard mixed reviews, but the breakfast menu looks appealing to me.
I also have a lunch ADR at Yak & Yeti. My husband wants to try this and we are Landry's members, so why not? Still, I have wanted to try Satu'li Canteen, so this may get axed too. Alternately, I could see my husband saying he misses Sanaa and we try and get in there last minute before saying goodbye.

And that's it! It's quite a lot of ADRs, but at least we're prepared. That being said, I don't know how we'll feel about it a month from now. Unlike my parents, we have dined indoors a number of times since the start of the pandemic. It's not an every day or even every week thing and we cut it out altogether as numbers started to escalate here from holiday gatherings. Or maybe I'll just get drinking/eating masks for restaurant time (not my pictures). We will have the ability to do laundry in the room, so mask washing shouldn't be an issue if I do this. We'll see.

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HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I'm also a huge fan of cake. Some friends of mine and I used to do "cake day" the 3rd Thursday of each month. We'd all make cake or pie or something on that day and even though we were all spread out all over the world, we could all have cake together, wherever we were. We haven't done it in ages. I was thinking that perhaps, if you are considering 2 cakes anyway, can you do one regular one and one allergy friendly one? You could taste the regular one and see how it sits, but still have a safe alternative.

As far as your parents, if they will already have had both doses of the vaccine, won't they be more comfortable with indoor dining? Theoretically, having been vaccinated should make it safer. If it works like the flu shot, even if there's a mutation and the vaccine doesn't entirely work on the mutation, it should at least decrease the severity of the symptoms, right? Or do you think they'll still be nervous about catching it even with the vaccine?

I love cake day! I have a couple of friends who used to gift me with slices now and then. As for the allergy friendly stuff, I thought about going a similar route to what you're suggesting, but I'm not sure I want to drop the $80-100 (or more) to have one for me that's allergy friendly.

I'd like to think they'd be comfortable, but some of it is going to be psychological. The reality is that they'll be about 5 weeks out from dose 1 and nearly 2 weeks out from dose 2 when we see them. Still, they haven't been anywhere in quite some time and I just don't know how they're going to feel being out and about. Aside from age, my mom is a cancer survivor and while not diabetic, she battles pre-diabetic blood sugar issues. She's super smart about what she eats and exercises daily, but sometimes hereditary matters come into play. While it's greatly improved, my dad developed some respiratory issues in more recent years. It's drastically improved since they stopped cruising, but it's still a concern. There may also still be nerves about catching it, but I think most of the news stories over here about people getting infected after vaccination are people who thought they'd be immune on day 2 or people who were probably sick and just didn't know it at the time of vaccination.
 

fizzieee

Well-Known Member
Love it. Your cakes are amazing!

In regards to your cake dilemma.... you can never have too many cakes right? My strategy would always be to buy more cakes than less cakes, just in case, and GF bakery might surprise you and be really great! But I can also completely understand where you're coming from and it's definitely not an easy decision to make.
 

HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Love it. Your cakes are amazing!

In regards to your cake dilemma.... you can never have too many cakes right? My strategy would always be to buy more cakes than less cakes, just in case, and GF bakery might surprise you and be really great! But I can also completely understand where you're coming from and it's definitely not an easy decision to make.

Thank you!!!

Yeah, I'm leaning towards more. That way nobody feels slighted. I think I may make some bakery calls while my husband does school pick up later on today. So, I may have a cake update soon. :)
 

HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Nice to see you have started a pre-trip report, can't wait to see more.

Not Disney related, but I thought you might enjoy the map of our preliminary plans for a summer road trip. It's ambitious, but if all goes well...another national parks extravaganza in the future. Some of the stuff isn't spot on due to current winter road closures, but you get the idea.

Trip Idea 1 2021.PNG
 

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