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Trip Report Making Lemonade out of Lemons Fractal Family Trip Report - Completed

I think we can all agree that so far 2020 has been one big sour lemon.

For those that did not read my Pre-Trip report; my entire family (Val-wife, Alex - oldest daughter, Sterg - son, Toni - youngest daughter) has recovered from the Covid-19 virus. Myself, Val, Sterg and Toni got it in March and Alex in April while working as a nurse. Val had it worse with a fever for a couple days and flu like symptoms for about a week. The rest of us were either asymptomatic or had minor symptoms.

Add to that the mental stress of living in a society dealing with this pandemic, Toni missing out on a big chunk of her High School Senior Year and her last dance recital (where she was going to take on a major role as Jasmine), work reductions for Sterg and high stress work conditions for Alex on the front line. Yes, 2020 has sure been one big sourpuss.

But, as the saying goes; "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!"

It just so happened that last year I made a reservation to attend the annual AHEPA convention in Walt Disney World, just as I did in 2017. We were going to stay at the Grand Destino Towers but that seemed very much in jeopardy when AHEPA (which is a charitable organization I'm involved with. Like a Greek version of the Knights of Columbus or Lions Club.) cancelled their convention. Soon after however, I received an email that Disney would honor our reservation in July. This was pretty tempting since we had convention rates and discounts on tickets. Long story short, we decided to go. We felt that having already had the virus gave us an extra level of protection and we knew that Disney would handle the health risks properly. In addition, we later found out that our rooms were moved from Grand Destino to the Contemporary in order to accommodate the LA Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks. Sterg's and my dream of playing Marco Polo with the Greek Freak and LeBron James in the pool were quickly dashed. But who could say no to staying at The Contemporary for $175 a night?

We were a go! It was frustrating however because although we had a resort reservation we did not have park tickets. We also didn't have a "park pass" which was needed during this reopening of WDW. We had to wait for all that to open and I had serious doubts it would by the time our first day at the resort (July 20th) rolled around. I decided to book flights without tickets or park passes. Southwest had roundtrip flights from Philly to Orlando for $90 plus if you had to cancel you got that credit for a future flight. No brainer. This was turning out to be the cheapest Disney trip we have taken as a family! Soon after I was open to buy tickets and book Park Passes. We had started to squeeze that lemon and add it's juice to our pitcher of cold water.

Now for the Cast of our adventure.

Myself - Chris/Fractal. A lover of Disney Parks for the many memories it has given me over the years with my family, the way it helps me completely unwind from my job, and how it taps into my creative side and challenges my skills as a photographer.

Here I am with my crazy kids at Christmas.

MVIMG_20191224_220836-XL.jpg


Val - my beautiful wife. Not the biggest fan of Disney but in the end she was on board. I think secretly she likes it more than she lets on. I will make it up to her with a trip more to her liking.

Here she is with Alex.

00100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20180816202048133_COVER-XL.jpg


Alex - our oldest. Now a traveling nurse. Alex is like me in many ways but as she's getting older and more responsible I'm starting to see her take on a number of Val's traits. She's a good mix and always a delight to be with.

From a trip to Colorado we took last year;

DSC00630-XL.jpg


Sterg, aka Fractal Jr. One word to describe Sterg - catalyst - he just makes things happen. He creates reactions both good and bad. He graduated last year from Penn State. He was a captain on the Swim Team but not without drama. He had to miss his promising senior year of swimming when a series of concussions (all outside the water) forced him to medically retire. PSU handled it very well as he helped the team from the sidelines. He now works as a digital marketing consultant as well as helping his cousin get his music career off the ground. Never a dull moment when Sterg is around!

with our dog Prince (Charming).

20200706-DSC06336-X2.jpg


Toni - For long time readers of my reports you know that Toni and I have a special Disney connection. Many times she would be the only one up early with me to tackle the parks at opening. We have had many great adventures together in the Disney bubble. She's now technically an adult (how did that happen?) so I was going to find out this trip if the magic was still there. She's going to attend Clemson University starting next month and I couldn't be prouder.

Toni in front of the Theater her Recital was supposed to perform at.

20200616-DSC05993-X3.jpg


So Covid-19 made our family suffer in many ways, but we took that lemon, squeezed it's juice out into our water pitcher, now we just needed a little Disney sugar to make our Lemonade complete.

Coming up - Our trip begins with a WDW meet-up before our flight even leaves the ground!
 

fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster

Thanks, happy to have you aboard!

Thank you!
You know I'm in @fractal!

Of course, goes without saying! :D
I'm looking forward to seeing the full report!

Thanks!
A new Fractal TR?

Lol! thanks for following
Looking forward to your TR and excellent pics!!
tenor.gif

Love that movie!

Lol! thanks for following!
I loved following along with your family live and I can’t wait to hear all the details. What a lovely family you have. I’m so glad you all were able to take this break from reality together!

Thank you! It was a nice break!
Count me in the fan club! The smiles on your family's faces and in their eyes (yours included) are completely infectious! I've definitely followed along on your prior reports and glad to be a participant in this one as well.

Thanks! Enjoyed your report!
Count me in

Max

Thank you sir!

So excited to follow along!

p.s. your kids are all beautiful!

Thank you!
Oh I am a huge Disney fan like you and I am so excited for this trip report! Can't wait for more!

Thanks for following!
I AM IN!

need my Disney fix through your eyes brother!

You got it!
Following along! Excited to read about your trip!

Thank you!

OK junior!
I've been waiting years for this trip report!!! So glad you got to go back, and with the whole family too!!!

Lol! I've been waiting years to be able to write it! Thanks for following!
Can't wait to hear the stories!!!

Thanks!
The pics will be marvelous! Oh yea following this trip! Contemp is our favorite place to stay! hopefully a lot of pics there !

Thanks! I did take a number of pics there!

60 days out today. Have really enjoyed following @coachwnh and now looking forward to following along here!

Thanks!
This is gonna be good! 😀
View attachment 487890
Count me in!

Thanks for climbing aboard!
Excited to follow along. Love your park pictures!

Thank you!
I'm in!
I loved your "real time" report and following you on IG, but now it's time for the Big Kuhuna!

Thanks! It is time!
View attachment 487910
Yay! Glad to be able to read along.

Lol! thanks for reading along!
 

fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
On the walkway between the Contemporary and the Magic Kingdom there was a white tent you had to enter to be screened for temperature. I found it interesting that Disney hired a third party company to do this. We all passed the temperature test however Val was flagged for having a "Gator" on. They said gators were not allowed. At first I thought it was an attempt at some Florida humor but they were dead serious. I had no idea what the meant by "gator".

This is a "gator"...

e16c3a047a93071a79a202b9cbc99d87.jpg


Something about them not being thick enough. Val could not go into the park without an approved mask and we weren't carrying a spare one, but did have plenty with our luggage. I gave her mine and headed back to the resort wearing Val's purple gator. After retrieving an acceptable mask I started back towards MK. But first some important pics...

20200720-DSC07812-X3.jpg


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I noticed the winds picking up and the sky getting darker and I was about a block from the tent when the heavy rain started. I was still carrying my camera and my small camera bag filled with lenses as I dashed to a large thick palm tree about 30 yards before the tent. My hope that the rain would not last long was crushed as the rain started to get heavy and the sky darker. My camera and lens were both "weather resistance" but I still tried to protect them under my shirt which has some degree of water proofing. After 10 minutes however I decided to make a dash to the tent and join the Temperature screening lady and 2 CM's. We made some small talk and another 10 minutes later the rain stopped prompting me to continue my journey to the MK.

Absolutely no line to get in.

20200720-DSC07813-X3.jpg


A few pics outside first...

20200720-DSC07814-X3.jpg


20200720-DSC07816-X3.jpg


Then inside...

20200720-DSC07818-X3.jpg


20200720-DSC07823-X3.jpg


20200720-DSC07824-X3.jpg


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Then I was off to meet the rest of the crew up by Starbucks.

20200720-DSC07828-X3.jpg
 
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pkkurz

Active Member
I think we can all agree that so far 2020 has been one big sour lemon.

For those that did not read my Pre-Trip report; my entire family (Val-wife, Alex - oldest daughter, Sterg - son, Toni - youngest daughter) has recovered from the Covid-19 virus. Myself, Val, Sterg and Toni got it in March and Alex in April while working as a nurse. Val had it worse with a fever for a couple days and flu like symptoms for about a week. The rest of us were either asymptomatic or had minor symptoms.

Add to that the mental stress of living in a society dealing with this pandemic, Toni missing out on a big chunk of her High School Senior Year and her last dance recital (where she was going to take on a major role as Jasmine), work reductions for Sterg and high stress work conditions for Alex on the front line. Yes, 2020 has sure been one big sourpuss.

But, as the saying goes; "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!"

It just so happened that last year I made a reservation to attend the annual AHEPA convention in Walt Disney World, just as I did in 2017. We were going to stay at the Grand Destino Towers but that seemed very much in jeopardy when AHEPA (which is a charitable organization I'm involved with. Like a Greek version of the Knights of Columbus or Lions Club.) cancelled their convention. Soon after however, I received an email that Disney would honor our reservation in July. This was pretty tempting since we had convention rates and discounts on tickets. Long story short, we decided to go. We felt that having already had the virus gave us an extra level of protection and we knew that Disney would handle the health risks properly. In addition, we later found out that our rooms were moved from Grand Destino to the Contemporary in order to accommodate the LA Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks. Sterg's and my dream of playing Marco Polo with the Greek Freak and LeBron James in the pool were quickly dashed. But who could say no to staying at The Contemporary for $175 a night?

We were a go! It was frustrating however because although we had a resort reservation we did not have park tickets. We also didn't have a "park pass" which was needed during this reopening of WDW. We had to wait for all that to open and I had serious doubts it would by the time our first day at the resort (July 20th) rolled around. I decided to book flights without tickets or park passes. Southwest had roundtrip flights from Philly to Orlando for $90 plus if you had to cancel you got that credit for a future flight. No brainer. This was turning out to be the cheapest Disney trip we have taken as a family! Soon after I was open to buy tickets and book Park Passes. We had started to squeeze that lemon and add it's juice to our pitcher of cold water.

Now for the Cast of our adventure.

Myself - Chris/Fractal. A lover of Disney Parks for the many memories it has given me over the years with my family, the way it helps me completely unwind from my job, and how it taps into my creative side and challenges my skills as a photographer.

Here I am with my crazy kids at Christmas.

MVIMG_20191224_220836-XL.jpg


Val - my beautiful wife. Not the biggest fan of Disney but in the end she was on board. I think secretly she likes it more than she lets on. I will make it up to her with a trip more to her liking.

Here she is with Alex.

00100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20180816202048133_COVER-XL.jpg


Alex - our oldest. Now a traveling nurse. Alex is like me in many ways but as she's getting older and more responsible I'm starting to see her take on a number of Val's traits. She's a good mix and always a delight to be with.

From a trip to Colorado we took last year;

DSC00630-XL.jpg


Sterg, aka Fractal Jr. One word to describe Sterg - catalyst - he just makes things happen. He creates reactions both good and bad. He graduated last year from Penn State. He was a captain on the Swim Team but not without drama. He had to miss his promising senior year of swimming when a series of concussions (all outside the water) forced him to medically retire. PSU handled it very well as he helped the team from the sidelines. He now works as a digital marketing consultant as well as helping his cousin get his music career off the ground. Never a dull moment when Sterg is around!

with our dog Prince (Charming).

20200706-DSC06336-X2.jpg


Toni - For long time readers of my reports you know that Toni and I have a special Disney connection. Many times she would be the only one up early with me to tackle the parks at opening. We have had many great adventures together in the Disney bubble. She's now technically an adult (how did that happen?) so I was going to find out this trip if the magic was still there. She's going to attend Clemson University starting next month and I couldn't be prouder.

Toni in front of the Theater her Recital was supposed to perform at.

20200616-DSC05993-X3.jpg


So Covid-19 made our family suffer in many ways, but we took that lemon, squeezed it's juice out into our water pitcher, now we just needed a little Disney sugar to make our Lemonade complete.

Coming up - Our trip begins with a WDW meet-up before our flight even leaves the ground!
Yes, reading your pretrip report I could smell the lemons. I am so ready to pour me a tall glass and sit back and enjoy your report (and pictures)! We were supposed to be there with our Grandkids at roughly the same time as you, however me and my wife are high risk and just felt that we couldn’t chlance it. Our kids and grandkids still went and had a ball with the empty parks.
 

fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
Mid-day Magic Kingdom - to give you a sense of the lack of crowd.

20200720-DSC07829-X3.jpg


Nothing was stopping this lady!

20200720-DSC07832-X3.jpg


What does one do with balloons when you go on a ride?

20200720-DSC07833-X3.jpg


I met up with the others and we decide to get a closer look at the newly painted castle. I have to say that at first glance I wasn't a fan. The colors seemed very overbearing, but as the trip went I warmed up to it.

20200720-DSC07835-X3.jpg


20200720-DSC07836-X3.jpg


20200720-DSC07837-X3.jpg


You know what? I think we have time to ride Space Mountain before our lunch! Space was showing a 10 minute wait so off we went to Tomorrowland!

20200720-DSC07838-X3.jpg


Really not a fan of the new Tomorrowland entrance. I think I get what they were trying to do but one year you paint the rocks blue then you go with an "clean understated" look for a the same Land's entrance. Seems very
inconsistant to me.

20200720-DSC07840-X3.jpg


20200720-DSC07841-X3.jpg


Now time for a quick spin through Space...
 
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CaliKris

Active Member
I am beyond excited for this trip report and to live vicariously through the @fractal family. We have two adult children who are big fans of Disney as are we. It is a different experience traveling with our children as adults (especially at Epcot). I always look forward to your anecdotes of your family adventures at WDW. Not to mention the amazing photos! I am ready to sit back and enjoy the ride!
 

TheMouseFan

Well-Known Member
Yay! Wow, I'm really late to the game this time, but I'm finally here and am excited to see all your pictures! I'm so glad Val decided to join you guys and you got a well deserved vacation! Is Toni starting school on campus this fall or are they going online? I am finding it so frustrating that all of the campuses are not allowing visitors, as Logan needed to be doing visits this summer and fall to decide where he wants to go next year. I feel so bad for last year's and this year's seniors. They certainly have and will be missing out on a lot! Can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip!
 

fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
This is where we started walking into the Space Mountain queue line...

20200720-DSC07842-2-X3.jpg


I didn't have much time for photos...

20200720-DSC07843-X3.jpg


20200720-DSC07846-X3.jpg


20200720-DSC07847-X3.jpg


and this is basically where we stopped walking. It was literally a walk on.

20200720-DSC07848-X3.jpg




Sterg and Toni were getting along great which is not unusual. They do TIK-TOKS together (sending many crucial new dance moves to the CCP) and share many common interests. The fights are usually over who's turn it is to wash their bathroom or vacuum the house. With none of that to worry about, the Disney bubble created a great environment for them. Val is not a fan of standing in line so the quick walk to the ride vehicles was like a little pixie dust for her demeanor. I was equally happy about the "walk on" but was still getting used to constantly wearing a mask.

Space Mountain is a great ride despite it's age and short-givings. Spinning around at quick speeds in the dark with an impending fear of decapitation is my kind of fun! Time to hop on!

20200720-DSC07853-X3.jpg


and launch...

20200720-DSC07860-X3.jpg


to the stars!

20200720-DSC07864-X3.jpg


We were all hooting and hollering! I didn't find it as bumpy and "painful" as the last time I rode. We really had a good time, and look - our luggage arrived on time!

20200720-DSC07866-X3.jpg


Saying Hi to MK-1 on the way out...

20200720-DSC07867-X3.jpg


20200720-DSC07868-X3.jpg


more post-show. "Hi going to Mars."

20200720-DSC07869-X3.jpg


Toni said "Hi robot serving drinks."

20200720-DSC07870-X3.jpg


Back to Earth.

20200720-DSC07871-X3.jpg


and on our way to our first time in Be Our Guest.

20200720-DSC07872-X3.jpg


20200720-DSC07873-X3.jpg


Up Next - "How much for lunch??!!!"
 
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fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
Yes, reading your pretrip report I could smell the lemons. I am so ready to pour me a tall glass and sit back and enjoy your report (and pictures)! We were supposed to be there with our Grandkids at roughly the same time as you, however me and my wife are high risk and just felt that we couldn’t chlance it. Our kids and grandkids still went and had a ball with the empty parks.
Thanks!
I'm sure it wasn't easy making that decision but I think it was the right one. Glad they were able to take advantage!

Looking forward to your report!

Thanks @DisSplash !

I am beyond excited for this trip report and to live vicariously through the @fractal family. We have two adult children who are big fans of Disney as are we. It is a different experience traveling with our children as adults (especially at Epcot). I always look forward to your anecdotes of your family adventures at WDW. Not to mention the amazing photos! I am ready to sit back and enjoy the ride!

Thanks for following!

Enjoying the pictures and your storytelling. Look forward to more.

Thanks Coach! Have some fun today!

Yay! Wow, I'm really late to the game this time, but I'm finally here and am excited to see all your pictures! I'm so glad Val decided to join you guys and you got a well deserved vacation! Is Toni starting school on campus this fall or are they going online? I am finding it so frustrating that all of the campuses are not allowing visitors, as Logan needed to be doing visits this summer and fall to decide where he wants to go next year. I feel so bad for last year's and this year's seniors. They certainly have and will be missing out on a lot! Can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip!
Thanks @TheMouseFan
Toni was supposed to start on campus mid-August but she just found out the first month will be online. Everything is crazy. I hope this all clears up for Logan by Spring.

Yes! Just LOVE this photo! (Except don't get the crew lined up on the left)? Was trying to figure out what they would be watching from there. 🤷‍♀️
I was bummed when your live report was over, so excited to start all over again!

Yeah, I didn't really notice them until I looked at the photo later. I have not idea why they're posed like that.

Thanks for following - again!

Happily following along.

Thanks @LSV!

Welcome!

Very excited to follow along!

Excited to have you!

Your pictures are sooo good! I've missed seeing them here.

Thanks for the kind words!
 

fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
This was our first time at Be Our Guest and I put on my fisheye lens to capture the inside. We were seated in the West Wing but I had to take a least one photo of the "ballroom" before I took my seat.

20200720-DSC07901-X3.jpg


Our table was in the corner which was fine for me. It gave me a good vantage point but it was sooo dark!

20200720-DSC07880-X3.jpg


It took awhile before our server arrived but she was delightful. She explained to us the only option was the three course meal at a price of $62! You did get to pick among the courses; appetizer, main course and dessert. I wasn't too happy with this; I was expecting more of a lunch menu but we decided to go with it after a long day of travel and little nourishment. That darned Mouse trapped us again! This would end up being our most expensive meal of the trip -even more so than The Brown Derby which included Alex! I ordered a beer then decided to photograph the rose.

First with the Fisheye...

20200720-DSC07883-X3.jpg


20200720-DSC07884-X3.jpg


Fisheyes can be a lot of fun but as you can see they create big distortions and curve things that should be straight. I had sold my fisheye a few years ago but missed it and bought another one just for this trip. I'm glad I did!

Then I swapped it out for the 24mm lens which is just a brilliant piece of glass.

20200720-DSC07878-X3.jpg


20200720-DSC07879-X3.jpg


Which ones do you like better?

Sitting back down, I was now ready to order. The lobster bisque, scallops and "trio sampler" (the only dessert option) please. Val and Sterg ordered the French Onion soup, Filet and Trio while Toni ordered the cheese & meat tray, Filet (after we convinced here to cancel her vegan option) and trio. If I was going to pay $62 for Toni to eat lunch she was getting the Filet! She thanked us later for insisting on making that change. As we waited I was explaining the differences between the two lenses - mostly to Toni as Val wasn't too interested and Sterg was kinda off in his own world. I put the fisheye back on and Toni took a snap of Val and I. Portraits with a lens like this are not really a great idea because of the massive distortions. You have to make sure your subject is in the middle of the frame to minimize that and Toni pretty much nailed it.

20200720-DSC07889-X3.jpg


I brought up the fact that the dessert Trio included the grey stuff.

"Really?" Toni replied excitingly.

"Hi grey stuff." Sterg blurted.

"Do you even know what that is?" Toni countered.

"I don't know what that is." Val replied before Sterg could.

"It's from the song...try the grey stuff, it's delicious." Toni answered.

"OK, I didn't know that." Val said.

"Oh, is it from the song little baby?" Sterg in a baby voice mockingly said to Toni.

Little baby is another term Sterg and Toni like to use, both to mock and/or as a term of affection.

"Dad, what is the grey stuff made of?" Toni asked me while ignoring her brothers antics.

"I think its a mousse kind of thing." I replied. "but maybe we should ask the dishes."

Toni laughed at that while Val looked puzzled. That spurred Toni to start singing that version of the song which then spurred Sterg to
comment again in his baby voice "Oh, the little baby is singing a little baby song."

So despite now having a family of "adults" the table conversation seemed very similar to one we could have had 10 years ago.

The food started to arrive and we dove right in, sharing amongst us. My lobster bisque was too watery but tasted ok. The French Onion was better. The cheese and meat tray was a mini charcuterie board and was the finest choice.

The Filet was very tender and delicious, my scallops were top notch. No complaints there.

Then arrived the desert. The gray stuff was indeed mouse like and was served in a white chocolate cup. All the desserts were very good.

20200720-DSC07899-X3.jpg


Our server arrived to clean up.

"How was the gray stuff?" She asked.

"Delicious!" I said instantly with a smile.

"Terrific, I'll tell the dishes!" she replied.

I wonder what the hit rate was on that question I pondered; and because of our previous conversation we all grew smiles and giggled at this little back and forth. Even Val and Sterg.
 
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Rista1313

Well-Known Member
n the walkway between the Contemporary and the Magic Kingdom there was a white tent you had to enter to be screened for temperature. I found it interesting that Disney hired a third party company to do this. We all passed the temperature test however Val was flagged for having a "Gator" on. They said gators were not allowed. At first I thought it was an attempt at some Florida humor but they were dead serious. I had no idea what the meant by "gator".

Yeah, the decided to ban Gaitors, bandana's and masks with valve's during your trip, so you couldn't have known ahead of time. I wondering what people did who didn't have another option? They could at least offer the paper masks.

Hi grey stuff." Sterg blurted.

"Do you even know what that is?" Toni countered.

"I don't know what that is." Val replied before Sterg could.

"It's from the song...try the grey stuff, it's delicious." Toni answered.

"OK, I didn't know that." Val said.

"Oh, is it from the song little baby?" Sterg in a baby voice mockingly said to Toni.

Little baby is another term Sterg and Toni like to use, both to mock and/or as a term of affection.

"Dad, what is the grey stuff?" Toni asked me while ignoring her brothers antics.

"I think its a mousse kind of thing." I replied. "but maybe we should ask the dishes."

Toni laughed at that while Val looked puzzled. That spurred Toni to start singing that version of the song which then spurred Sterg to
comment again in his baby voice "Oh, the little baby is singing a little baby song."


This entire exchanged cracked me up!
 

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