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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.


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.


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;


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).


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.


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!


Well-Known Member
I had a crazy busy weekend. I was Chairman (again) for our 50th annual Greek Food Festival at our Church. Ran Friday, Saturday and Sunday. As you can imagine we had to do things very different this year. Orders were either fulfilled through a drive-thru system or online order and pick up. My trip to WDW gave me some good ideas on how to proceed. It turned out to be incredibly successful and exceeded our most optimistic expectations - but man was it insane and not without a few mishaps! Pretty tired today but wanted to wrap up this report over the next day or two.

After Haunted Mansion, we had a date with an adventurous rabbit.


A little easier lighting for the camera.


Sterg loves to tease Alex about her height and because of Alex's good nature, has become a another funny inside joke. "Better make sure Alex!".


Zippidy walking through the queue line. Love this birdhouse!


Absolutely Zero Wait. I'm starting to realize as I look back on this trip more and seeing how the crowds are now higher, how rare this opportunity was for us.



In a flash we were ready to board!



Splash Mountain Selfie.


First drop!



Still sticking with the 24mm lens.


Didn't take nearly as many photos as I did first time in SM. I mostly sat back and enjoyed the ride along with my rare time with Alex and Sterg.


It was a wonderful last day.


Not sure I'll ever see this again.


Splash has always been one of my favorites. I know I'll miss it when they replace but I'm sure WDW will do a great job with Princess and the Frog! (did I say that already?)
Happy Belated Birthday! Here in New Orleans we have a Greek Festival every Memorial Day Weekend. There is a 5k race on Friday night and if you keep your bib, you get in free all weekend long. Every year I run that race so I can eat Greek food all weekend long. This year it was canceled due to Covid and my family was crushed.


Premium Member
Original Poster
Late to the trip report. Thank you for a wonderful trip report. Thank you for risking your camera to share ride pictures! You made a lot of First Order lemonade from the lemons! Belated condolences to your family member. How was the meet up with the other online community members? I hope they bring back the holiday celebrations and fireworks. It appears that we are in a new normal. Do you like Universal Orlando? Our family loves Disney cruises. The details and thoughts you share are truly a wonderful gift. I love the nostalgic photos of past trips when your children were small. What storage or cloud site do you use to store your photos? There normally is a limitation of photos uploaded to these trip reports. What is your favorite DVC hotel?

Hi @mickey.mac ! Thanks for following and commenting! We certainly did make some lemonade. 👍

Not sure if you got that far but the meet ups were fantastic! Never been to Universal Orlando. I have my photos on SmugMug. We love YC/BC!
Happy Birthday to you!

Thank you!


Premium Member
Original Poster

Sorry so late with the birthday wishes, so a merry unbirthday to you instead...and to everybody else. ;)

Thank you @PacNWTigger !

Happy Belated Birthday! Here in New Orleans we have a Greek Festival every Memorial Day Weekend. There is a 5k race on Friday night and if you keep your bib, you get in free all weekend long. Every year I run that race so I can eat Greek food all weekend long. This year it was canceled due to Covid and my family was crushed.

Thanks! That's an interesting idea (5K). Usually we have almost 10,000 people come through our Church Hall during the weekend but unfortunately not this year.


Premium Member
Original Poster
Sterg took a pic of me before we exited our logs.


We were all hungry so a stop at Peco Bill's was in order. We had eaten here before but neither of them remembered. It was interesting to me how much they forgot but I tend to forget how young they were at the time.

My tasty salad went down pretty quickly.


Alex enjoyed her Southwest meal.


We then started to make our way to the Hub - again via the sturdy boardwalk. I really regret not taking the time to ride the beautiful Liberty Belle.


Maybe next time Ma'am.


Sterg had to urgently find the men's room - again!

"It's not my fault!" He said defensively.

"Maybe drinking half a gallon of seltzer water wasn't the best decision!" Nurse Alex responded. "Then throwing Mexican food on top!"

"Like you were trying to make a freakin' intestinal time bomb."
I dryly added. Alex found that very funny.

Alex and I decided to make the most of Sterg's "issues" and grabbed a citrus swirl. We took a seat near the TreeHouse and enjoyed a nice 10-15 minute conversation. She's really found her stride and loves the nursing profession despite some crazy patients and situations she's had to deal with. She's had several patients that wanted to hire her as a private nurse. The family of an older man with many issues wanted to bring her with them to their home in Puerto Rico to take care of him ( and pay her a ridiculous sum of money). But before I could say "that sounds way too sketchy!" she told me she politely declined.


She was excited for San Diego and I told her about the two weeks I spent in that area on my first real job out of college. She's renting half of a small quant house near LaJolla which is about perfect. I may fly out to see her over the Holidays (and you all know how close that is to Disneyland!). Nothing makes parents happier than to see their children happy.


She mentioned how she liked palm trees so I took a photo, then told her she'll see plenty of them in Southern California.


A "lighter on his feet" Sterg finally made it back so another selfie was in order. This was taken with a selfie stick Alex smuggled in. After the photo we were semi-scolded by this lady and her near 90 year old mother that reminded us that selfie sticks are a "no-no". I did know that, Alex didn't, but this was the first time (and last time) she took it out. "Thanks for the head's up there lady" was basically my response.


After our dessert we slowly walked out of a near empty Adventureland.

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Premium Member
Original Poster
So glad Alex loves nursing! I have never regretted becoming an RN once. I've had plenty of experiences, some weird, some crazy, some poignant, some sad, some happy, and some no one would every believe, LOL. It's a fun profession which is never the same each day. I wish her lots of fun and wonderful experiences in California:)

Thank you @Minnesota disney fan . Sounds like the same type of experiences Alex has had. I have the utmost respect for the nursing profession because of my daughter. Nurses earn every penny of what they make plus much more!

Poor Sterg :hilarious: Maybe it was all that alcohol! I can't remember if that was the night before or not. But too much liquor can do that to me :oops:

Yes it can. I think his morning breakfast of a large coffee and a big bottle of seltzer water didn't help! Did you make a decision on the 24mm?


Premium Member
Original Poster
We were back in the Hub. The center point of WDW. I was happy to take photos of the castle but at the same time sad knowing our time in "the bubble" was quickly ending.


This was a trip that was very unlikely to happen in June and even early July. The reopening and uncertainties made me feel it wasn't going to happen. I'm thankful that it did despite all the restriction and rules.

Alex and Sterg were happy to be there!



I really feel the story of this trip was making Lemonade out of Lemons. The summer of 2020 was tough for all of us. We were fortunate enough to escape one week from the insanity of the real world to the Walt Disney World bubble.
It wasn't the same bubble we are all used to but Disney did it's best to make it an oasis from the reality of the "real world".

I took a page from Sterg's book in this selfie.


I know things are different now in WDW. The lines are longer and the busses fuller. I feel very fortunate to experience the "World" during a very unique time. As initial visitor during the reopening we were rewarded with empty
parks and little waits. I will never forget this trip because of that. The lemonade spillith over! I honestly could not have asked or expected more from Disney.


We started to make our way out. Exiting Main Street has always felt for me the proper way to leave Walt Disney World on your last day.



I pray that before long things are back to normal. So much needs to be done; the Tron Coaster, the Guardian's coaster, the Space Restaurant and more. I want to see all of that in the next few years.

But still enjoy the nostalgia of Main Street.


I think they agree. With or without tick-tock.


One last look...


Leaving Magic Kingdom.



Before long we were back at The Contemporary and found Alex's car in the parking lot. After a series of hugs and goodbyes she was off - heading west to Clearwater to meet up with Val's parents.



Premium Member
Original Poster
On our way to the airport with magic band still on.


Cheers to a memorable trip!


After a smooth flight we were back in Pennsylvania.

Wally wasn't happy to see me not wearing Mickey ears.



And that's all folks! Thanks for following along and all your likes, loves, laughs and wows. Thanks for all your comments and thoughts. I really appreciate that and every little conversation I had
while writing this. In many ways this WDWmagic community is like extended family - many of us have seen each other's children grow up, shared in many good times and some bad and most of all
shared our love for the magic of Disney - it's still there!


I'm sure I'll post again with some overall thoughts about the entire experience. Right now I have a long list of things to do, but first I think I'll have a tall cold glass of lemonade. :)
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