Trip Report Herding Cats - Pandemic Style!

Hi everyone!

I am back (a few weeks now actually) from our annual trip to Walt Disney World! It's been awhile since my last trip report, and I have several to catch up on reading, but hey, they make me happy, and I hope this one will make you happy too.

The details:
It was myself, my husband, my mom, and my two kids for a 9-night, 8-day trip to the World from September 25 - October 4. My kids are 4 and 1, thus the title of herding cats. We had a split stay at the Contemporary and at Riviera. This trip was absolutely a splurge, but we had a lot of other canceled travel that we just moved funds to this one for to make it work. We would be joined on our last weekend by my sister and her family. Fortunately our plans were never derailed by COVID. Only our freedom to enjoy the parks as we like changed. We swore up and down through the planning of this trip that we would not make a lot of table service reservations, but since dining is limited right now, that's exactly what we did.

Now on with the show:

September 25
We got up bright and early to get packed up and hopefully hit the tail end of Atlanta's rush hour traffic. We were on the road by 8 and hoping to make excellent time on our 8-10 hour road trip. We had not been on the road for an hour and a half and both of my kids got car sick. I was so worried they actually had a virus instead and would be running a fever, but no fever fortunately. After having to stop on two separate occasions to clean out car seats and change kids - including a stop in downtown Atlanta - we were back on the road. We made it to the Contemporary around 6:00 PM, which was actually our goal to begin with. I told my son that once we arrived at the resort he had to wear a mask. He flat out told me no. That was my next 'oh no' moment of the trip because I really didn't want to have to leave him in the room if he refused to wear a mask. :) I struck a deal with him instead and told him that he could get out of the car and walk with me to the room while everyone else drove over to the garden wing if he wore his mask. Deal! and off we went.

We were finally home!
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And for those of you who enjoy photos of rooms:

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I requested a pack 'n' play, and we got a small crib.

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These sinks are my only complaint about the room. I neeeeeeeeeed counterspace!

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newhorizons1

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
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Once we were settled in we took the bus over to Disney Springs for my husband's favorite place to eat: Earl of Sandwich. As we were riding the bus my son pointed up to one of the signs and said, "Look mom! It's Steve Harvey like you watch on tv!" He was right! There was an ad on the bus for Family Feud. We watch Family Feud when we can, so he knows who Steve Harvey is. I was halfway through my sandwich before I remembered to take a photo:
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Afterwards we let the kids take a spin on the train at the Springs.

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We didn't leave without picking up some balloons for the kids which were paraded around the room for the next week. In fact, they are still going strong at my house.

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September 26

This morning I had some work things I needed to get done, and my husband took our son to the pool. They had a blast, but this really tired out my no-nap kid for the rest of the day.
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After a lunch at the Contempo Cafe we boarded the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.

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The sun was brutal!

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newhorizons1

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Our first stop was the Haunted Mansion. It was a Saturday and lines were pretty long anyways, but this line started all the way back at where the DVC booth is located in Liberty Square. It wrapped around the exit ramp for the Liberty Belle and back up. Between the pool, heat, and mask wearing, my oldest had already had it about 10 minutes into our wait. My mom took him out of line to go find something else to do while my husband and I waited with our daughter. Overall the line took about 45 minutes even at that length. We were stopped twice for about 10-15 minutes, which I'm guessing were two cleaning cycles. When the line was moving it was moving though!

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From there we went under the sea, which my daughter absolutely loved dancing along with Ariel!
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newhorizons1

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
When we arrived at New Fantasyland my son immediately asked to go to the water area. We had not been to the Magic Kingdom in a year, but he remembered playing at the Casey Jr. splash area there. Sadly though it is shut down for the time being. To avoid any other meltdowns for the day my husband took him over there to look at it while I took our daughter on Dumbo.

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Afterwards we headed to Tomorrowland. The boys took off for the Speedway, while we took off for some ice cream. The two most jarring parts of being at Disney during the pandemic were the crazy long lines because of social distancing and seeing so many stores and places to eat closed. The latter made me sad, honestly. However, we did use the seating area of the Lunching Pad a lot during our trip.

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I'm a firm believer in stroller naps on vacation. My little one fell asleep so we took the oldest on Buzz next. She woke up in time to get a second spin with us on the ride.

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Buzz was a big hit for both kids and something we came back to several times on our trip. Up next was the big hit for the big kids. Mine and my husband's favorite ride.

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Meanwhile my mom braved Winnie the Pooh with both of the kids. At this point park hours were winding down. Our only real plan was to meet back up with my mom, let the kids ride the carousel, and eat dinner before heading back to the Contemporary to watch the Vols opening game. My husband asked if we had any real dinner plans. We didn't.
"Do you mind if I left to..."
"Not at all! Have fun!"
And off he was to Disney Springs for round 2 of Earl of Sandwich.
 

newhorizons1

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
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One of our worst waits for the day was for the carousel. With limiting one group per row every other row we had to wait several cycles to get on. We were assigned a row number to get on, and as we were going to our row, my son declared that he wanted to sit on the bench. Why? I don't know, but I ask why a lot when handling a 4-year-old. Well it just so happened that the family in front of us requested the row with the bench only for none of them to sit on the bench but instead the two horses beside it. Again, why? I already had my little one strapped on to a horse by that point, and well, being over it, told my mom that if they wanted to wait for the next round that was fine but we were going to go this time around.

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And the bench sitter

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Minnesota disney fan

Well-Known Member
LOL, I'm laughing so hard at your 4 year old, love him! It looks like he is holding on to the bench and scooting back as much as he can while on the carousel. Maybe he was just scared, who knows with a 4 y/o? Your daughter is adorable on that horse. Following along.
 

newhorizons1

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
While they were riding the bench, I was ordering food. I hated having to mobile order for so much of our trip. Yes, considering we don't have food allergies or need a lot of substitutions it is easy to do. The worst part was kind of trivial for us. Whenever I ordered food, I always got something for the kids to split. However, I always needed two apple juice boxes and that just isn't an option when you mobile order. Apple juice isn't even listed separately under the beverages. Again, it was trivial, and I was always able to get more juice, but it wasn't without having to find someone who would help me and explaining why I hadn't ordered to on the app in the first place over and over and over again. Cast members were always great about helping us with it and most of them just handed the juice to me - I was fully prepared to pay though! I did like choosing arrival windows though. In fact this one was 15 minutes before the park closed.

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It was empty!

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After dinner we took a nice leisurely stroll back out of the parks.
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newhorizons1

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Following along. I love the fall pics!
Yay! I absolutely love the fall decorations there. Now if the weather just felt a little more fall-ish.

I'm in! Love your reports and love seeing your family back! Great start and I'm enjoying the photos!
Woo-hoo! I still need to catch up on yours. Thank you!

Nice!! I was there same time...maybe we crossed paths (6ft away though ;).... Great start!!
Thanks! And maybe! but yes, a good 6 ft apart!

Love your trip report. Your kids are adorable!
Thank you so much!

I'm so with you on needing counter space!! That would not have been sufficient!
It was awful, especially when trying to wash out sippy cups and find a place to put them which just ends up being back in the sink. I don't think a woman designed that part.

LOL, I'm laughing so hard at your 4 year old, love him! It looks like he is holding on to the bench and scooting back as much as he can while on the carousel. Maybe he was just scared, who knows with a 4 y/o? Your daughter is adorable on that horse. Following along.
He has always loved the carousel. I really don't know where this came from, but it made him happy so whatever, lol! And thank you! My little one is definitely my fearless one.
 

newhorizons1

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
September 27

Our first Epcot day. While I wasn't too thrilled about the reduced hours being able to take our time in the morning was nice. Plus, I got to do a little shopping while picking up breakfast that morning. Some delicious looking treats that we didn't buy.

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We headed straight to the Land Pavilion and got our child swap situated for Soarin'. The husband (Jordan) and I took our son (Lincoln) on Soarin' while my mom took our little one (Madeline) on Living with the Land. We got C1. Not perfect, but we'll take it. Lincoln was pretty trepidatious about the ride at first, and he did not enjoy thinking that we were going to be hit by an airplane, but we had fun pointing out different things on the ride after that. Lincoln did not want to go back for the child swap, which was a common theme. So, my mom and I went back while I set Jordan up at a table with the kids and an uncrustable. After that I made everyone ride Living with the Land again because as I told my husband, "everyone loves this ride. Look at all of the people who are in here to ride it." It was for Soarin', but still I appreciate this ride more and more all the time.

"Welcome Back" Thanks, Disney! So glad you noticed I was back.

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newhorizons1

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Afterwards we went from Land to Sea and found out that my kids are at the point where they actually really enjoy stopping to look at fish all while we are being told to "please keep moving. do not stop." We did a few times. Then, the adults were getting pretty hungry. It seemed like our time at Epcot flew by. That and when you are traveling with two young children everything takes 1000x longer than it should.

My first pick was the crispy chicken, and you know what, it was great! I loved the orange aioli on top of it!

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Then we made our way into World Showplace. We each got something different:

The Guiness Baileys Milk Shake for my husband. It combined his two favorite alcoholic beverages. He was in heaven. Fun fact: the first time he told me he loved me was over Irish car bombs at my apartment.
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The charcuterie board for me

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And cake pops for my mom and the kids

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We continued on through World Showcase but kept our nibbling to a minimum. I couldn't pass up this chirashi flower pot though. Yum!

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We met up with some friends and stood in the forever long Frozen line. It was backed all the way into China. I believe our wait was about an hour, but this we had planned on doing together. Afterwards we skipped the line of people waiting to get into the Mexico pavilion because we had ADRs for San Angel Inn.

Fun fact: she's never sat through an entire viewing of Frozen. She just hasn't entered the Princess phase yet.
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