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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Jordan and I took the living room with the kids. The murphy bed we slept on was actually really comfortable. We ordered dinner at the QS location at Riviera. I should have taken photos, but believe me when I say that the food was so good! We also had a great view from our balcony.


September 30

Today we had the most perfect day at Animal Kingdom. The rain we experienced earlier in the week was gone, and the high for today was 79. After we arrived we got our explorers their own Wilderness Explorers books.

This is probably my favorite photo of our entire trip.

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We got in line for our safari while Lincoln studied our surroundings.

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Lincoln enjoyed following along with the animal guide on the vehicle. He kept pointing out to me which animals on the guide we hadn't seen yet. Any time we pointed out other animals he said, "I'm trying to look at the map!" Tiny teenager.


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Lincoln loved it, and I loved that we didn't get too wet. Still he didn't want to go for a 2nd time. We are going to have to have a talk before our next trip about taking advantage of child swap before his sister gets big enough to ride everything too.

We went to Pandora for lunch and Avatar things. Our wait for lunch here was the longest wait for mobile ordering. There wasn't much crowd control in the area for all of the guests who were waiting either. Na'vi had been down during our entire lunch, but just our luck it came back up after we finished eating. So, after three (yes, three, thanks kids) trips to the bathroom we were finally in line.

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Before our trip I measured Lincoln to see what he could ride on our upcoming vacation. He was roughly 43". I figured with shoes on he would be close if not hit that 44" mark, which meant Flight of Passage. We child swapped with my mom while we got him through the first round of measurements. This was my first time through the standby line and probably my last for a long time if fastpass returns.

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We got to the second round of measurements, and Lincoln didn't get through. Jordan was pretty livid afterwards over the entire thing. Lincoln didn't care, and that's what mattered to me. We didn't hype the ride for him, and he can be pretty easy-going as long as he is with one of us. He was nice to the CM, don't get me wrong, but he was annoyed about getting him through one and not the other. I had to keep reminding him that the CM was just doing their job and safety is their priority. He exited with Lincoln for yet another child swap.


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After getting all the child swaps out of the way for Flight, we went back to Asia to ride Everest before closing out the day. We found my mom with the kids in Dinoland U.S.A. Yes, they were playing carnival games, and yes, we came home with three new stuffed animals. At least these are decent quality.


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After Everest it was time to head out. We didn't get to do everything at the park because of the 5 PM closing time, but we really did have the perfect day at Animal Kingdom. From there we drove to Disney Springs to enjoy another beautiful evening there.


We went to T-Rex and ordered the appetizer sampler. This was dinner for mom and I and just an appetizer so Jordan could get Earl (again) later.


Lincoln loved being able to eat with the dinosaurs!

Don't you just love the picture-perfect placements from Disney?


We went back to the resort for a bit of swimming, and of all things, it closed at 8:30 PM for scheduled maintenance. Oh well, at least it didn't make me the bad guy for having to leave the pool.



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Yay! Thanks for sharing your trip with us! I really miss our trips when my kids were that age! I still feel like I am herding cats some days, and they are 17, 15, and 12 now! Definitely a different kind of chaos, but still chaos!! Can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip!


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You've gotten some great pictures!!! Looks like a great time so far!

Thank you! We had a wonderful time!

Yay! Thanks for sharing your trip with us! I really miss our trips when my kids were that age! I still feel like I am herding cats some days, and they are 17, 15, and 12 now! Definitely a different kind of chaos, but still chaos!! Can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip!

Thank you for reading! It is exhausting with them at this age. We went to the zoo yesterday and came back needing a nap ourselves. I guess I'll prepare for still feeling this way 10 years from now, lol!


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October 1

Today was our third and last day at Magic Kingdom for our trip. We drove and monorailed to the park. I was surprised that they put us in a monorail car with another family, but they did.


We went to Adventureland first today, which is not our typical route, to catch some rides that we never got to on our previous two days here.


My princess in her princess gear.





After Jungle Cruise and Pirates we took the kids to do something that I had not done in years.


The kids had a great time exploring Tom Sawyer's Island, and we explored just about every nook and cranny there.


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The call for food brought us back from the island. I ordered from Pecos Bill's while we were in line for the ferry (which took a long time due to limited capacity), and it was ready by the time we got back to Frontierland. After lunch we took Lincoln on his first ride on Big Thunder Mountain.



The line took no time at all, and as we were about to be divided up Lincoln asked if we could sit in the front (really?!). Luck was on our side because it was assigned to us anyways.


He was so excited to sit in the front of the train until we reached that first dip in the tracks. Then he yelled, "Runaway train! Runaway train! Runaway train!" for the entire ride! Jordan and I were laughing so hard during it.



At that point we decided to jump in line for 7 Dwarfs. The line wasn't going to get any shorter. So, why not make the best of it. Lincoln asked Jordan if they could go on the race cars again. He told Jordan he just wanted it to be the two of them. That's really the first time he's verbalized just having some guy time. It wasn't a big deal to have them go ride while we waited in the 7 Dwarfs line which started back towards Dumbo. The guys joined me in line soon after while mom and Madeline went to Fantasyland. Lincoln tried a lot of new and bigger rides this trip, but 7 Dwarfs was probably his least favorite out of all of them.


I had a hard enough time getting Lincoln to ride on rides again that he liked. So, I knew there was no way he was going back on 7 Dwarfs. He and Jordan went towards Tomorrowland instead, and I was going to meet them with Madeline once she and my mom were out of Philharmagic.

I ordered the Poor Unfortunate Souls float while I waited.


It was not something that I would order again. Someone liked it though!



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Jordan and the kids shared a giant Joffrey's donut while mom and I rode on 7 Dwarfs. After that it was another spin on my favorite.


The line wasn't very long at all. Only one side was running when we got on but we noticed both sides were open by the time our vehicle started moving. Since the line with only one side was so short we decided to get back in to go on the other side.


Someone got in an afternoon nap while we went on the Haunted Mansion. The line was so short at this point that we weren't even directed through the graveyard. It was a much different line experience than our first day.


And awake!


We were nearing the end of our day at Magic Kingdom. Jordan and I actually had a date night planned for that evening. This would have been much easier if my dad had been able to join us, but I did tell my mom that we would make sure everyone was settled in the resort before we left. I even ordered and picked up their dinner. However, there was one last thing I had to do before we left.

On Madeline's first trip to Walt Disney World (and only previous trip to the Magic Kingdom before this), I took a photo of the kids with their mouse ears on in front of the castle. I've decided that every trip we are all together this photo will be recreated. Here's the original:


Now spamming you with some of the photos I took this trip.

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We even took some photopass pictures.




We were sad to be leaving the Magic Kingdom since we wouldn't be returning over the next two days, but the characters were there to send us on our way, which is absolutely their way of saying they were sad too.


Someone else had fallen asleep by the time we got back to the resort.


Jordan and I got ready for our date night at Morimoto's. I picked up some dinner at Primo Piatta for everyone else. We arrived at Disney Springs right as our reservation time opened. We made the reservation on OpenTable as there were a lot more times available through them. We ordered lots of sushi and had a great meal! The sushi chefs were backed up and our waiter ended up bring us two free appetizers because of it. He brought edamame and the best Asian spare ribs I've ever tasted! They were so good! He found out that we were celebrating a late birthday dinner for me too, and he even brought out dessert. It was a great meal with great service!




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Nailed it!

And this is just adorable! 😍

It melted my and his hearts! He is just wrapped when it comes to her!

Great pics from Animal Kingdom!

Love that Lincoln wanted some guy time with his Dad!

Also love the pics from MK, especially of your two looking at the Castle. 👍

Thank you so much! That castle shot may just end up being our Christmas card.


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September 2

We were able to sleep in a bit this morning for our Epcot day, but we had a very important breakfast reservation upstairs at Topolino's. I was so excited to try this resaurant. I've heard great things about the food, and I couldn't wait to see the modified character dining experiences. Madeline hated the characters on her first visit to Disney. Even though she seemed to enjoy them now, this was still a good way to judge her reaction to them. We were seated soon after our reservation time and put in a private room at the back of the restaurant. There was another table with a group of adults in there, but the room could easily be closed off from the rest of the restaurant. Honestly, it was a great location.

As soon as we were seated the characters came out for their rotational dance. This was great because every character took turns in front of our area. Soon after that the characters came out one at a time.



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After we ordered we took turns out on the terrace.


Lincoln and Jordan getting in more guy time.


Once we were back inside the characters started coming around again.


And of course our food! I don't have a photo of the pastry service, but my kids probably could have made their entire meal just out of the pastries. I ordered the sour cream waffle. It tasted great, and I loved the flavors! If I had to do it over again though I would ask for the cream on top to be put on the side. It had a very strong orange flavor to it. It was almost overpowering for the dish. Just a dab was sufficient for the flavor.


I got the kids the Mickey waffle dippers, and look how cute these are! I would have been happy with this!




Our meal ended with a character signature card for each of us.


The food, the service, the view, the experience - everything at Topolino's went above and beyond expectations. I loved the modified character experience. I really did. Were there times I wish the kids could have hugged the characters? Absolutely! However, the meal was calm and peaceful and I feel like we got our time with the characters uninterrupted. We saw the characters twice in full rotation and saw two of the dances. That was all within 1 hour of being there. Compare this to going to Chef Mickey's back in February during a quick trip that was mostly Universal. It was chaos! We never saw Pluto, and Mickey had a constant line of kids following him. There was a table not far from us there with a large family with a lot of kids. They would follow the characters once they left, and the parents just let them. I don't have any pictures of Lincoln with the characters that some of the kids from the other table aren't in. One of the little girls even pushed Lincoln at one point while a character was visiting our table. None of the adults from the other table saw it. It was less than enjoyable. This was 1000x better!


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We went back to the room to change Madeline's outfit and set out for our only roundtrip skyliner ride of the trip to Epcot.


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We decided to skip Frozen since we didn't arrive at park opening and made the long weird maze-like trek to the front of the park.

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This area just looks so sad.

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We decided to ride Spaceship Earth, and I had to get photos of the kids with the ride behind them. For Lincoln's first trip to Walt Disney World I sent my friend a design idea for a t-shirt with Spaceship Earth and 'Tomorrow's Child' below it. He has worn one during almost every trip since. I love these shirts, and it really brings a piece of Disney nostalgia for me to see my kids wearing them. It was such a great ride song, too!

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Then it was time for another first for Lincoln: Test Track! He seemed to enjoy this one. He loves cars! The line moved really quickly for this one, but we got stuck in our longest cleaning cycle which lasted about 20 minutes.


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After Test Track we went to go test out our imagination.

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We were waiting on my sister and her family to arrive for the weekend and decided to head back towards World Showcase in case they took the Skyliner in. Of course we stopped and sampled food on the way. We stopped at the festival center to wait on them. I got in the forever long mac & cheese line and ordered the lobster mac & cheese. It wasn't bad!


Jordan left to go explore Mitsukoshi. It is one of his favorite things to do at Walt Disney World. After he left Lincoln told me he wanted a sandwich, which meant a pb&j. There was only one place at Epcot I could think of to get an uncrustable. So off I went on a solo trip with the kids to the Land pavilion. Once we were back together we went on some more rides in Future World before setting back off to World Showcase.

Absolutely gorgeous sunset!

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I know we did so much more today than I noted, but without photos there aren't a lot of details I remember. We had a full day together at Epcot and headed back to rest for our final day in the parks. I did have to get some photos of the beautiful tile work at Riviera. This resort really is gorgeous!




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