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!

And for those of you who enjoy photos of rooms:


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


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



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looks fun!

We had a blast!



Following along and really enjoying your photos!

Thank you so much!

Following along, looks like a fun time!

Welcome! We had so much fun!

Hmm, I'm realizing I can't remember where we were when my husband first said he loved me. But I do remember that I immediately regretted not responding with "I know". He's a huge Star Wars fan lol

lol! It was Halloween and we were dressed as Leila and Fry from Futurama. For every irish car bomb he drank he also had to drink half of mine. So, my details of that night are a little better than his! I do tell people that I married a Han Solo though!

(Why say it when I can gif it?)

and I'm watching the X-Files as I type this. Not sure how to say that in a gif though...


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We waited about 15 minutes inside the Mexico pavilion before we were seated. We had not been to San Angel Inn in a really long time. Actually my husband has been on most of our trips to WDW since we got married 10 years ago, and I know he had never been. We used to go every trip, but when they made some menu changes decades ago at this point we stopped going.

I opted for a sangria instead of a margarita. I regretted that decision too. The sangria was just ok.

I ordered the fish tacos too. I liked those. They were spicy but not unbearable.


Overall we were pleased with our meal but not to the point that San Angel has crept back into being a must-do again for us.

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A storm was coming, and we were ready to head out but not just yet as Lincoln requested a ride on Spaceship Earth. Madeline fell asleep in the stroller on the way. So the three of us took a ride while my mom took Madeline into some shops.


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Amazingly this was not the least flattering photo edit I had on Spaceship Earth during this trip.


As soon as we exited the skies opened up and it poured! We covered the stroller and the kids the best that we could and drove back to the resort. At one point we drove through standing water so high that it went up over the windows of our suv.


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September 28

Another day back at the Magic Kingdom. Our priority today was a ride on Splash Mountain. My mom and I absolutely love this ride, and I was really glad to be able to have Lincoln ride it at least once before its major overhaul.

Madeline had gotten the hang of vacation at this point. She stood at the door each morning and pushed every single one of us out the door. Seriously! She was ready to go. She ran for the castle as soon as she saw it this morning.




The castle colors look great at night and under cloud coverage. When the sun is blaring down on it the saturated blue is a bit much for me.



We found Chip & Dale!



Jordan and I got in line with Lincoln and were put in the back row. He was more than content in between both of us.


Overall Lincoln did pretty well on the ride. Going down the hill where the bees are located wasn't his favorite because it was dark. He wanted to be able to see everything. As we were going up the big hill to the final descent he looked at both of us and said, "I don't think I'm brave enough for this." He was, but he also didn't have much of a choice at this point.




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After our ride with Lincoln, I asked him if he wanted to go again with me and my mom. He flat out said, "no." "Was the ride fun?" "Yeah, but I don't want to go again." This was a theme common throughout our trip. So Jordan took the kids off while my mom and I utilized our child swap passes.

During one of our rides on Splash the mother and son in the very front did not have their lap bars lowered the entire trip. A supervisor was there waiting to talk to them once they got back. There was a communication barrier between the two, but the supervisor was trying to find out if the bar came up on its own or no one bothered to check that it was down.

Once we got off of the ride I called Jordan to come and meet us because I finally heard the music for a character cavalcade! With almost two full days in parks before this we had only seen one from a distance at Epcot. I was so excited to show Madeline the characters. She hated them during her first trip last year. Since then she realizes how much she loves Mickey and the gang. We watched several cavalcade videos leading up to this trip, and she would wave and call out to the characters during the videos.



She loved it and so did I! The cavalcades were definitely a highlight of the trip. We haven't stopped to watch a parade in years, and I loved being able to see the characters go by without having to find a good spot half an hour before it began. It was just exciting to hear the music start and to see who was coming by.

Peter Pan was next on our list. The line went so quickly! I will never understand the long lines for this one, but I'll take the pandemic line! And yes, it was impossible to keep my kids from touching as much as possible whenever possible, but they were great about using hand sanitizer on our trip. Between trying to keep them socially distanced in lines and from not touching everything, sometimes we just had to choose our battles. Keeping them on the right markers and away from other people won each time.



Next up was a trip on IASW. I ordered our food at Cosmic Ray's while we were riding. It was convenient but not perfect.





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After lunch Lincoln requested another spin on the Speedway. I chauffered Madeline around the track. My car was sooooo slow! I had the pedal all the way down, and it just wouldn't go. I had a line of cars behind me too. Oops.



Followed up by probably the favorite ride of both kids: Buzz!


The boys took off back to the resort for some afternoon swimming while the girls stayed behind to shop Main Street. I just love this photo of them!


While we were shopping two more cavalcades went by.


I sent Jordan the photo below and told him that I thought he left. He is very much Gaston, but you know, good guy Gaston.




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I interrupt this report to bring you my princess and my intergalactic space ranger for Halloween. She may not be into the princess thing yet, but her mama sure is!

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After the villains went through and we did some shopping at the Emporium we headed out for our early dinner reservation at Homecomin'. Mickey & friends were lining up at the train station just as we were leaving. This was a special treat to say goodbye to.


Back at the Contemporary we went to the shops because well we only had 1 child with us, and we were leaving the Contemporary the next day. I had to chase down sticky fingers Madeline and keep her from shoplifting a few times. There are just way too many exits in those stores and too many exit strategies for a toddler. The skies opened yet again while we were there. So we ordered a few snacks, refilled our mugs, and enjoyed watching the rain come down for a few minutes.


Back at the room we found the boys. Jordan said that they got ready to go swimming, walked down to the pool, and put their stuff in a chair only to have an announcement made that the pool was closing. Sadly we would have to wait another day to get some more swimming in because we had to go see if Homecomin' lived up to its hype.

Fortunately the rain mostly stopped by the time we arrived, but she did look awfully cute in her little rain jacket.


We were seated almost immediately for our reservation. I ordered the kids a grilled cheese, while my mom and I each ordered the fried chicken.



The chicken was great! It really was, and listen y'all, I know where the best fried chicken in the world is located - it's in a hole in the wall place in Chattanooga if you must know - but this was really good! The gravy was superb too, and yes, as bad as the mashed potatoes look too, they were surprisingly good.


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I ordered another sangria hoping for better luck than I had the night before. It was so much better!



You may notice that someone is missing from our photos. When I made our Homecomin' reservation I told Jordan that he could plan on this being an Earl of Sandwich night. He hates fried, Southern-style food. So, I knew this wasn't going to be a place he wanted to go. He decided instead to stay at the resort that night instead, and I would get him some Earl to bring back. Dinner took about an hour from the time we walked in the door until the time we were leaving. I wasn't crazy about having so many table service meals, but so far our meals weren't taking long at all. After a thoroughly enjoyed dinner we went shopping!

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Tuesday, September 29

We woke up early this morning to get packed up and to head out for Hollywood Studios. I slept so poorly the night before because I was so anxious about getting a boarding group. I kept reading things leading up to our trip from people who weren't able to get a boarding group at either time of the day at HS, and I was so worried we would be in that boat too.

We were transferring today to Riviera Resort. This was our first time staying at a DVC resort (even though it wasn't on any type of points), and I was really excited to check out the rooms at Riviera. Bell services was at our room within 10 minutes of calling for them - they were super quick any time we needed them. Our plan was to be in the car and pulling out of the parking lot at 8:45, which we were!

We arrived at the HS gates just at opening and were through the gates by 9:20. We were in the park around 9:40 and had to decide what we were going to do before the 10:00 opening time. My plan was to not get in line anywhere! I didn't want to be around people so I could get a decent signal, and I was so worried if we were in line that we would be on a ride at 10. Jordan and I parked ourselves on a bench while my mom took the kids on Midway Mania.


9:59 AM rolled around and we were feverishly refreshing our app to be able to join. The button came up, and I kept trying to continue only to keep getting error messages. I heard people around us 'woo-hoo'ing their delight. Yet, here I was getting frustrated by an error message. Finally... "Hey. I got it..." Sure enough there we were in group 11! I took off my mask to kiss him. He earned it.

After a quick trip to Starbucks we found ourselves off planet. Also, I won't post spoilers, but I will post pictures - so kind of spoilers. Keep scrolling if you don't want to see!

I kept myself from reading anything about this ride beforehand. I saw a few photos from the queue, but I made sure to keep away from any attraction photos or summaries. However, I did ask a CM if the ride would be okay for my oldest youngling. They told me it should be fine. It was.



Shh don't tell. There was no one closeby.




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I told him that we were super secret spies on a super secret mission.


When the doors opened from our transport ship. Oh my villain-y goodness!


Our First Order captors weren't the most intimidating (and would be even less so next time around), but Jordan and I joked with each other about the ominous work music playing in the background and how changing the station might really boost employee morale.

He was ready.




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We made it! I'll echo what most others are saying about this and well it isn't a ride, it is an experience! It truly is. Disney really does a great job just keeping a storyline going from start to finish with this one. We aren't crazy about the whole First Order storyline - I mean, the Empire was just really cool, let's be honest. We hated The Last Jedi so much that we haven't even seen The Rise of Skywalker. Side story: our favorite show ever is Breaking Bad. We love it so much that we named our dog Heisenberg. There is one episode of that show that is awful and universally accepted as the worst episode of the series. The director of that episode directed The Last Jedi. However, Rise is just really amazing. Oh and with child swap, I got to go again with my mom.


After rising and resisting we grabbed some lunch at PizzeRizzo - just okay, and then headed to the Disney Junior dance party. Jordan had an important work call coming up, and he went to the relaxation station next door while we socially-distanced danced.


And they danced and they danced and when Mickey came out on stage I thought I was going to have to keep her from rushing the stage. I videoed her reaction and have probably watched it 70 times since then. She's just too much sometimes.


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I went to go check in on Jordan. He was still waiting on his phone call. So we went to Toy Story Land instead and rode Alien Swirling Saucers.


Hidden Mickey




After the swirling saucers we went to go wait out some rain at Rock 'n' Rollercoaster while the kids got some ice cream. We child swapped of course.



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The chicken was great! It really was, and listen y'all, I know where the best fried chicken in the world is located - it's in a hole in the wall place in Chattanooga if you must know - but this was really good!
So what is this place you speak of? Inquiring minds want to know...


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After Rock 'n' Rollercoaster we checked out Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy. We call Lightning McQueen 'Chow' in our house because of his catchphrase 'ka-chow.' That even carried over to our daughter. I don't remember much about the plotline of the show, other than racing, but the technology was impressive. My car-loving little boy loved it too. People were much more spaced out than my photo would have you believe too. Seating was limited, but I was glad that this show was going on.


We really only had one other thing on our must-do list: Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway. If my kids aren't playing with race cars, they are playing with trains in our house. The line was long - listed at 75 minutes. We waited less than that, but the line was incredibly long and snaked through the open area in front of the theater. This is where the title of my report comes from. My kids were pretty great about staying with us in line, but we were flat out exhausted trying to keep them with us and around us while in this line. The line markers were easy enough to follow but with very few ropes or chains out to keep you corralled in one area, my kids were trying their best to enjoy some open space, which ultimately put them in the space of others. 'Global pandemic' and 'social-distancing' aren't exactly concepts they can understand just yet. So we had to constantly keep herding them. This eventually led to them collecting large leaves and then wanting to return them back to the trees in line, which led to us having to convince them to wait until we were back at the trees in line. Exhausting.

Obligatory I loved Great Movie Ride and will miss it, but I'm willing to give this new ride a fair try.



The ride was really cute and really well done. The technology is very impressive. It was a completely different ride and experience than the previous attraction that was housed there, which I think helped ease the blow for the GMR no longer being there. I still wish that I had been able to have just one last ride on GMR, but I did like its new replacement.

It was getting closer to park closing, and we wanted to check the line for Star Tours and get a lightsaber for Madeline. Star Tours was a walk on.


Oh look and there's my oldest without a mask. Let me tell ya, there were so many times that we parked the stroller to go ride something and completely forgot to make sure he had one on. We weren't trying at all to get around any rules or regulations, but if he was sitting in the stroller sometimes he pulled his mask off which we oftentimes didn't realize for a few minutes. If he was in the stroller and eating a snack, CMs didn't say anything to us either.


When in Rome or Batuu, you might as well see if you can fly the Millennium Falcon.


We were at Disneyland on Galaxy's Edge opening day and got in. It was incredible to be there at that time! I was lucky enough to be the pilot on the left side, but it was really stressful being a pilot with strangers. Since then I've been a gunner and engineer too. However, I still wanted to pull the lever to move us into light speed. I called that spot.


We did really well with it being just the two of us. I don't remember exactly how well we did or how many credits we made, but we did better than we had done on any previous trips.

With the rain clearing out of the way, it was a beautiful evening at Galaxy's Edge.





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With that Hollywood Studios closed, and we headed to Riviera for the remainder of our trip. We split a 1-bedroom villa. Initially my dad was supposed to join us for our trip once we checked in at Riviera. Because of his work schedule that didn't end up happening, but this place will definitely be on our list to stay at again. For those who like room photos, enjoy!


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