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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Love the character photos!!! The one with Minnie and then the one with Mickey! Soooo cute! And that sunset pic with SE in it is stunning!

Thank you! It was such a beautiful sunset that night! I took so many photos in that spot.
 

newhorizons1

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
October 3

This was our final day in the parks before packing up to head home the next day. We had another day planned for HS. We left our resort around 8:45 that morning, got in the line of cars just before 9, and we were in the park around 9:30. My sister and her family stayed at Caribbean Beach. They arrived to the park right as we did. She told us that while they were in line for the skyliner buses to HS pulled up. They opted to go directly to a bus. Instead of waiting around for 10, we got in line for Mickey & Minnie's.

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Family shot

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Jordan managed to score a boarding group for all of us while we were in line for Mickey & Minnie's. Our time was even better than before. He got another kiss through the mask for it.

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We went to our boarding group as soon as we finished at Mickey & Minnie's. I told my niece and nephew that they could scan their bands to go again for childswap with my mom. I knew Lincoln wouldn't want to go again, and I knew that would be special for my mom to be able to ride with the two grandkids that she doesn't get to see much anymore.

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As soon as we were queued up to go into the interrogation room Lincoln looked at me and said, "I have to go potty." "Can you hold it a few minutes?" "No." Our dark overlord came over to us and I told him that we had a youngling who needed to use the restroom. He took Lincoln and Jordan back to a staff bathroom while the rest of us waited. Jordan said that he went through the break room and everything. "Did you take pictures?!" "Was I supposed to?" I'm sorry, y'all. I really am. We waited off to the side until they came back.

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Back together again we started joking about the music being played again. This gives nothing away, but there is some very loud and ominous music playing while you are waiting to go to the interrogation room. Our First Order CM was much more interactive with us this time. So, we decided to have some fun with it.

"Can we change the station?"
"What station?"
"The music. It's pretty dark. How about some yacht rock or adult contemporary?"
"There's no music playing here."
"You don't hear it? It's kind of scary."
"I don't know what you are talking about. No one can hear any music. Is this some kind of a trick?"

Jordan was the last one into the interrogation room. He said the CM leaned over to him and whispered, "I've been waiting so long for someone to ask about the music." Those CMs definitely have a fun job!

After letting my brother-in-law live through what he described as his childhood dreams it was time to go check in for our lunch ADRs at Hollywood & Vine.

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But first, character cavalcade!

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newhorizons1

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I ordered the prime rib. It was okay. Honestly, the mac & cheese that came with the kids' meal was the best thing I ate that day.

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For dessert I got the banana cream pie. My mom got the chocolate smores pie.

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Overall this was a less than stellar experience. It took over two hours, and we could not figure out why. Everything was very slow. I was impressed that all of our table service meals during our trip took about an hour max, but this one clocked in at two hours. The restaurant had been open for a week at this point, but this really felt like an opening day run with a lot of slow downs and errors. So much of our time sitting happened on the back end of the meal too. We just wanted to leave. In fact, some of our party did. My nephew and brother-in-law had Savi's reservations they had to get to (don't worry my sister stayed to settle their bill). My husband left to go get another ride on Star Tours too.

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Once we finally left my sister and I headed to get in line for Tower of Terror. Jordan joined us about 5 minutes into the line.

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There we are in the back. This will always be a favorite.

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newhorizons1

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
The only major thing that we needed to do that we didn't get to do on our other visit to HS was Slinky Dog. We all met up in Toy Story Land again to get in line.

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Then it was time for one last ride on TSMM. I snapped this of my niece with my kids while exiting the ride. She is very good and patient with them. Whenever she is around it's 'see ya, mom and dad' as they are all about her. I once told her that I would pay her $20/week to come live with me during the summer to hang out with them.

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At that point Jordan said his farewells to everyone. I was taking him to the airport so he could get back home. His work week starts on Sunday, and he needed to get back. Plus, I found some great flight prices. With not much time with my sister's family we decided to skip Magical Express and just drive him myself. I took the kids too so they could get a good nap in. I got him to the airport 2 hours before his flight took off. I drove back to Riviera, got the kids out, and walked to Caribbean Beach to meet my mom with my niece and nephew. My sister and brother-in-law were heading out for their own date night at Morimoto's. I ordered dinner at Caribbean Beach's QS location and while I was waiting on our food I noticed that I hadn't heard from Jordan. It was 6:15, and his flight was taking off at 6:30. I called him to see if he was on his flight. "No, not yet. I'm heading to my gate now." "Okay..." He called me 15 minutes later. "I missed my flight." "WHAT?" Yeah, he missed his flight, even being there two hours early he missed it. Since flight schedules are reduced right now too there were no other flights out that night. His next option was a flight out at 6:30 in the morning. He took care of that while I took care of Magical Express to and from the resort. This time ME was going to be there at 2:45 AM to collect him. I went and got dessert to hide my annoyance. I may have gotten a cocktail too.

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Fortunately Jordan did make his flight the next morning and made it back before work on Sunday. As for the rest of us we got packed up and on our way just after 10AM. We witnessed a hit & run not long after we passed the exits for Universal. Fortunately the two women who were the victims in it seemed to be okay physically afterwards, and I was super thankful that anything that delayed us a few seconds did. We had an uneventful drive back home (no car sickness, yes!).

We had a great time! It took a few days to get used to seeing Disney as it was during a pandemic. However, my kids didn't seem to notice a difference, and we still created some wonderful memories with them. Topolino's was fantastic and definitely my favorite meal experience of the trip. I loved the character cavalcades, too, and wouldn't be upset if those just stayed! We are leaving again in less than 3 weeks to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday with her there. I am so excited to go again and let my babies see all the Christmas decorations. Madeline is named after my grandmother, and I can't wait to be at my favorite place with both of them. I don't think we will be going back for awhile after December though. Madeline turns 2 in January, and I don't want to fight her with a mask for awhile.

Thank you for reading!
 

Songbird76

Well-Known Member
The only major thing that we needed to do that we didn't get to do on our other visit to HS was Slinky Dog. We all met up in Toy Story Land again to get in line.

View attachment 514273View attachment 514274View attachment 514275

Then it was time for one last ride on TSMM. I snapped this of my niece with my kids while exiting the ride. She is very good and patient with them. Whenever she is around it's 'see ya, mom and dad' as they are all about her. I once told her that I would pay her $20/week to come live with me during the summer to hang out with them.

View attachment 514277

At that point Jordan said his farewells to everyone. I was taking him to the airport so he could get back home. His work week starts on Sunday, and he needed to get back. Plus, I found some great flight prices. With not much time with my sister's family we decided to skip Magical Express and just drive him myself. I took the kids too so they could get a good nap in. I got him to the airport 2 hours before his flight took off. I drove back to Riviera, got the kids out, and walked to Caribbean Beach to meet my mom with my niece and nephew. My sister and brother-in-law were heading out for their own date night at Morimoto's. I ordered dinner at Caribbean Beach's QS location and while I was waiting on our food I noticed that I hadn't heard from Jordan. It was 6:15, and his flight was taking off at 6:30. I called him to see if he was on his flight. "No, not yet. I'm heading to my gate now." "Okay..." He called me 15 minutes later. "I missed my flight." "WHAT?" Yeah, he missed his flight, even being there two hours early he missed it. Since flight schedules are reduced right now too there were no other flights out that night. His next option was a flight out at 6:30 in the morning. He took care of that while I took care of Magical Express to and from the resort. This time ME was going to be there at 2:45 AM to collect him. I went and got dessert to hide my annoyance. I may have gotten a cocktail too.

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Fortunately Jordan did make his flight the next morning and made it back before work on Sunday. As for the rest of us we got packed up and on our way just after 10AM. We witnessed a hit & run not long after we passed the exits for Universal. Fortunately the two women who were the victims in it seemed to be okay physically afterwards, and I was super thankful that anything that delayed us a few seconds did. We had an uneventful drive back home (no car sickness, yes!).

We had a great time! It took a few days to get used to seeing Disney as it was during a pandemic. However, my kids didn't seem to notice a difference, and we still created some wonderful memories with them. Topolino's was fantastic and definitely my favorite meal experience of the trip. I loved the character cavalcades, too, and wouldn't be upset if those just stayed! We are leaving again in less than 3 weeks to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday with her there. I am so excited to go again and let my babies see all the Christmas decorations. Madeline is named after my grandmother, and I can't wait to be at my favorite place with both of them. I don't think we will be going back for awhile after December though. Madeline turns 2 in January, and I don't want to fight her with a mask for awhile.

Thank you for reading!
How did he miss his flight? Was the line for security really long? I always make sure we are through security before we stop for food or shopping or anything just in case it takes a while. We missed a connection once because the line to get through passport check took several hours. There was a Russian lady who didn't speak English and she didn't have the address of the friend she was staying with, so they couldn't let her through. It backed up the entire line because she was there for like an hour before they finally decided to take her to an office somewhere and they also opened up more lines. But it was too late for us. I'm always paranoid that something is going to happen, so we get through security first and THEN we can relax before boarding.
 

fractal

Premium Member
October 3

This was our final day in the parks before packing up to head home the next day. We had another day planned for HS. We left our resort around 8:45 that morning, got in the line of cars just before 9, and we were in the park around 9:30. My sister and her family stayed at Caribbean Beach. They arrived to the park right as we did. She told us that while they were in line for the skyliner buses to HS pulled up. They opted to go directly to a bus. Instead of waiting around for 10, we got in line for Mickey & Minnie's.

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Family shot

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Jordan managed to score a boarding group for all of us while we were in line for Mickey & Minnie's. Our time was even better than before. He got another kiss through the mask for it.

View attachment 514235

We went to our boarding group as soon as we finished at Mickey & Minnie's. I told my niece and nephew that they could scan their bands to go again for childswap with my mom. I knew Lincoln wouldn't want to go again, and I knew that would be special for my mom to be able to ride with the two grandkids that she doesn't get to see much anymore.

View attachment 514236

As soon as we were queued up to go into the interrogation room Lincoln looked at me and said, "I have to go potty." "Can you hold it a few minutes?" "No." Our dark overlord came over to us and I told him that we had a youngling who needed to use the restroom. He took Lincoln and Jordan back to a staff bathroom while the rest of us waited. Jordan said that he went through the break room and everything. "Did you take pictures?!" "Was I supposed to?" I'm sorry, y'all. I really am. We waited off to the side until they came back.

View attachment 514239

Back together again we started joking about the music being played again. This gives nothing away, but there is some very loud and ominous music playing while you are waiting to go to the interrogation room. Our First Order CM was much more interactive with us this time. So, we decided to have some fun with it.

"Can we change the station?"
"What station?"
"The music. It's pretty dark. How about some yacht rock or adult contemporary?"
"There's no music playing here."
"You don't hear it? It's kind of scary."
"I don't know what you are talking about. No one can hear any music. Is this some kind of a trick?"

Jordan was the last one into the interrogation room. He said the CM leaned over to him and whispered, "I've been waiting so long for someone to ask about the music." Those CMs definitely have a fun job!

After letting my brother-in-law live through what he described as his childhood dreams it was time to go check in for our lunch ADRs at Hollywood & Vine.

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But first, character cavalcade!

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this cracked me up! Between the potty break and the Star Wars music; lol!
 

arich35

Active Member
First, you have a beautiful family!
Second, thank you for posting this. My wife and I have an almost 20 month old and 3 month old and this gave me a small glimpse into the future when we end up taking both in a couple years. We are taking our daughter who will be a little over two in May for her first trip and we are really excited to witness her reactions to everything.
 

newhorizons1

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
You seem to have taken the missed flight much more gracefully than I would have!! Thanks for sharing your trip with us! So jealous that you got to see Halloween and are going back for Christmas! Have a great trip!

I was seething for awhile and may have stopped by the bar while he was on his way back, but he felt bad enough about it. So, there was no point hashing it out much more once he returned.

Thank you! We are going with my aunt & uncle and using their DVC points. Otherwise this wouldn't be possible right now!

I enjoyed following along, thanks for sharing!

You're welcome! Thank you for reading!

Great TR! Always hate the end of any TR. It's like I'm leaving Disney World too and we all know how that feels.

Thank you! It defintiely does feel like leaving all over again.

How did he miss his flight? Was the line for security really long? I always make sure we are through security before we stop for food or shopping or anything just in case it takes a while. We missed a connection once because the line to get through passport check took several hours. There was a Russian lady who didn't speak English and she didn't have the address of the friend she was staying with, so they couldn't let her through. It backed up the entire line because she was there for like an hour before they finally decided to take her to an office somewhere and they also opened up more lines. But it was too late for us. I'm always paranoid that something is going to happen, so we get through security first and THEN we can relax before boarding.

He was in the bathroom. I kid you not he was in the bathroom. Apparently they were calling his name over the PA system but he couldn't hear it. Then, he went and sat at his gate until he realized that well something was off. By the time he went to ask they told him that the gates were shut and due to federal law could not be opened. If I was with him I can guarantee this never would have happened, but I'm a paranoid traveler too!

this cracked me up! Between the potty break and the Star Wars music; lol!

I was so surprised they let them use a staff bathroom! I'm going to have to think of other things to talk about whenever we ride Rise again. It was definitely fun being able to engage with the CMs that way!

How does this even happen???
I’m sorry, I need more details. Was he shopping? Eating? Lolly gagging?

The bathroom - I wish it was a cooler story, but no just the bathroom. And to your other comment, I am not chill at all. Traveling days stress me out. My husband on the other hand is a little too chill over these things, as you can see. When I talked to him later he said, "But I was at my gate at the time the plane was supposed to depart." "Yes, Jordan, depart as in leave! They board long before that." He is usually not this bad at traveling. He navigated through Scotland by himself when he was 18. He got his passport stolen, too, so he can't be perfect all the time, lol!



Um, Yeah. I'm with @Darstarr . I need details. Good job staying calm.

Look above! I did not want to stay calm, but for the sake that my family was there with us I stayed calmer than I wanted to. Even still I absolutely cannot believe he did that, but at the same time I absolutely can believe my husband did that.

First, you have a beautiful family!
Second, thank you for posting this. My wife and I have an almost 20 month old and 3 month old and this gave me a small glimpse into the future when we end up taking both in a couple years. We are taking our daughter who will be a little over two in May for her first trip and we are really excited to witness her reactions to everything.

Thank you so much! That is so exciting about your upcoming trip! Traveling with little ones is so different, but in the best way possible! Get ready to just watch your daugher and her reactions instead of the actual ride. Each trip with ours just gets better and better too. Have a fantastic time!
 

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