Trip Report Making Lemonade out of Lemons Fractal Family Trip Report

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!
 

amjt660

Well-Known Member
which mostly eliminated any long exposure shots from my tripod (or the top of a trashcan :) ).
OK so I am only on page 6 and of course I am loving the report

1) I like the non fish eye for the rose - just more clear and real to me
2) Your analysis of your Val's view point seems bang on. I am lucky to have all members of my family onboard at Disney. Kudos to you my fine friend for the show of empathy and understanding of her view.
3) Your pictures? what can I say- they look like they came out a Disney run magazine for promoting the parks!
4) And I am so disappointed that I might not see any trash can aided photos!!!


Keep up the good work - great story telling!

Max
 

Tink86

Member
I just found your trip report and I'm loving it! We were at WDW July 3-8, just before the parks opened, and it was D.U.L.L. We had DVC points to use or lose and I'm not on board with ever losing them. As I told everyone who asked back here at home all there was do to was shop, eat, and drink. It was an experience and one I don't want to do again. However, we did get to see FL like we haven't in many years, doing things outside the WDW bubble. We spent five days in the Keys before arriving at WDW, so we visited a gator zoo and rode an airboat for the first time. Also managed to do a drive through/zoom tour at a college my daughter has been talking to.
Some comments: 1. I always think the same thing on Space Mountain! I slink really low in the seat fearing I'll lose my head. LOL. 2. My theory on the lighting at BOG, not only theming, but as we age it makes it harder to see the check when it comes.
Looking forward to more! Cindy
 

Minnesota disney fan

Well-Known Member
Once again, fantastic pictures! I agree that TSL is awesome! I like the atmosphere better than SWland. I think it looks so bleak and blah, but maybe that's what it is supposed to look like? I'll have to give it another try next time, but I love the TSL area much more! Fun colors, and SDD is a riot - makes me laugh and smile all the way through;) Can't wait for more TR.
 

fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
I am so thankful for your photos. Amazing how different GE looks through your lens! Spectacular!

Thank you! It was fun to photograph.

Big fan of Victory Brewing!

Yes!
Loving all your photos. Looks like you had a fantastic trip!

Thanks and we did!

Love your Smuggler's Run story. It had me laughing. Maddy and Crystal said I was a horrible back seat driver the entire time they were the pilots. Must be a dad thing.

Pretty cutthroat in that cockpit!

Your photos are all amazing!, I'm also very much enjoying your commentary along them. Your interactions with your kids are both fun and endearing, I specially enjoyed reading about your Be Our Guest experience. 😊

Your photos at Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Haunted Mansion are so crisp, my in-ride photos are usually a fail! 😄

Oh, and your beautiful family should be featured on Disney's advertising materials!

Thanks @Nunu !
Your photos of Star Wars Land make it look even more incredible than it already looked!

Thanks @Katiekitten ! It's a land you can continue to go back to and find something new every time. It definitely plays on the "gritty, worn, real world look of Star Wars.

If this trip has taught me anything, it's that I desperately want a wawa mask :hilarious: :inlove:

LOL! I made Sterg buy one when we got back. $2 at any Wawa store - if they have them!
This is such an awesome picture! Really captures the feel of the launch. Loving all the pics and report here!

Thanks - has happy how it turned out!

loving the photography bud. some amazing shots there

Thank's Nick!

OK so I am only on page 6 and of course I am loving the report

1) I like the non fish eye for the rose - just more clear and real to me
2) Your analysis of your Val's view point seems bang on. I am lucky to have all members of my family onboard at Disney. Kudos to you my fine friend for the show of empathy and understanding of her view.
3) Your pictures? what can I say- they look like they came out a Disney run magazine for promoting the parks!
4) And I am so disappointed that I might not see any trash can aided photos!!!


Keep up the good work - great story telling!

Max

Thanks Max, good to have you aboard!

Photo of the RnRC launch is probably one of my favorite photos to date. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo of the launch. Loving your report.

Thanks @dclfan! one of my favorite's too! Great meeting you guys at Epcot!

I just found your trip report and I'm loving it! We were at WDW July 3-8, just before the parks opened, and it was D.U.L.L. We had DVC points to use or lose and I'm not on board with ever losing them. As I told everyone who asked back here at home all there was do to was shop, eat, and drink. It was an experience and one I don't want to do again. However, we did get to see FL like we haven't in many years, doing things outside the WDW bubble. We spent five days in the Keys before arriving at WDW, so we visited a gator zoo and rode an airboat for the first time. Also managed to do a drive through/zoom tour at a college my daughter has been talking to.
Some comments: 1. I always think the same thing on Space Mountain! I slink really low in the seat fearing I'll lose my head. LOL. 2. My theory on the lighting at BOG, not only theming, but as we age it makes it harder to see the check when it comes.
Looking forward to more! Cindy

Sounds like you made some good tasting Lemonade as well!


Ooh, I really like this one!



Right?? me too! lol

Thanks, like that one tool. Perfect spot for a wide or fish-eye lens.

The mask is very comfortable!

Once again, fantastic pictures! I agree that TSL is awesome! I like the atmosphere better than SWland. I think it looks so bleak and blah, but maybe that's what it is supposed to look like? I'll have to give it another try next time, but I love the TSL area much more! Fun colors, and SDD is a riot - makes me laugh and smile all the way through;) Can't wait for more TR.

Thanks! Two totally different atmosphere's for sure. GE was built for Star Wars geeks, TSL for everyone.
 

fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
Oh Tower of Terror, I still love you. Several awesome rides have come out in the last 3 years but you're still in my Mt Rushmore of Disney Rides.

For the technical pixel peepers out there - if you look at the bottom of this photo you'll see the inside of the bottom of the lens frame. This is due to the fact that the fisheye lens I'm using is an APS-C or cropped lens while my camera is a full frame camera. So for each shot I had to crop the photo in edit or else you would see the inside of the lens around the entire frame and for this particular shot I didn't crop enough. I could have switched my camera to APS-C mode and not have to worry about all this but I was afraid I would forget to switch back when I put on a full-frame lens. With my camera having a 42 megapixel sensor, I still had plenty of pixels after I cropped.



Hello, any vacancies?



Here is a great example of how extreme the distortions can be with a fisheye lens. The first hanging light fixture seems to defy gravity...or is it possessed by a ghost?



No pre-show this trip, just another walk through.





Loved how these boiler room shots came out...



I was a bit heavy handed with the editing in Lightroom, but I felt the atmosphere called for it.



Our room at the Hollywood Hotel was ready a lot faster than at The Contemporary!



Then again, I didn't have to deal with Phantoms at The Contemporary.





I've always wanted to get this shot - again, the advantage of going on the same ride many times finally paid off. It's a tough shot because you're set up for a low light environment and then bam! The doors opens and all this bright sunshine and light blows out your shot.

I had never been ready for it before and the result was usually just a blob of white. This time however I made my adjustments. I dropped the aperture down while keeping a relatively fast shutter speed then put the ISO on Auto.

Success!



The rest of the ride was a hoot. It seemed we were taken up and dropped more so than normal. Plenty of screams and laughs and funny feelings in one's belly.

Remarkably, I didn't take another shot until here. The entrance tunnel to Galaxy's Edge as our virtual queue time was now a go!

 

MickeyCB

Well-Known Member
I'm sure they're smiling under those WaWa masks.

Ahhh, I was wondering as I read your live report if those were Avatar Banshee masks!
I get it now! We lived outside of Philly when I was training for several years and LOVE Wawa's! My husband who loved to make my daughter crazy used to sing a ditty he created, "wawa, wawa wawa wa"! Still does anytime we are out east and see a Wawa! I'll have to see if I can buy him one online somewhere. We don't have Wawa's in the Pittsburgh area.


Rock N Roller Coaster is nearly perfect as a Disney Thrill Ride. The theming begins immediately; from the wonderful classic car hanging gate...



To the enormous bright red electric guitar with the finger board and neck extending and twisting into a track holding the car and hinting to what was to come.
I can't believe how many details I am seeing through your photographs! In all of the times I've walked under that I never noticed that it was the top of the guitar!

I was holding my camera and pressing it down against the safety harness. I moved my aperture small enough (I think f/16?) and set my exposure to 2.5 seconds in an attempt to take a longer exposure of the launch. It was going to be tough to keep the camera still enough but all things considered I think it came out pretty good! Here's what zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds looks like.

And this is insane! A back to the future/sci-fi something mix! Love it!
 

fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
That's us!



I was pretty excited for this based on everything I read about it and the photos I saw.

Taking pictures of rocks means I'm pretty hype!

"Hi taking pictures of rocks." Toni mocked.





I am a bonafide Star Wars geek after all. Saw the OG (that's "original" for anyone over 40 out there) in 1977 at the age of 10. Proceeded to see it another 10,000 times or so in the theater by the time Empire Strikes Back (The best Star Wars movie by the way) rolled around - and yes, it was literally still playing in theaters until then! I consider the Star Wars saga the great mythology of our times. Not a big fan of the last three movies but I'm game for any SW experience.

Toni was making sure our coordinates were precise.



Apparently we were making our way through the inside of a secret Rebel/Resistance base. I was somewhat surprised at the lack of ribbing from Sterg and Toni. I was expecting something along the lines of "Oh is Fractal excited to go on the new Star Wars ride? Are you going to use the force?" from Sterg - you know, enough teasing from your son that has you contemplating the repercussions of knocking him out with a quick upper cut.





Or this from Toni. "Hi being hype for Star Wars. Hi tunnel. Hi helmet in cage. Hi Dad all excited."

The ribbing never started. Or perhaps I was so focused on taking it all in and taking photos that I didn't notice. It seemed that once again, these two maybe were just as engrossed as I was.









I decide to use this cool little light for a portrait of Toni.



Of course Mr. Movie Star couldn't be left out. He's constantly telling me how much better his hair is than mine, or how much better in shape he is than me, or how he's taller and better looking, blah, blah, blah. I say "check in with me in 30 years, if I'm still around. My hair line was much lower than yours is when I was your age." That at least gives him some pause.



The Wawa masks are definitely cool, especially when compared to my dorky disposable one.



We were now into the briefing room and getting prepared for our mission and orders!



UP NEXT -

OK, that ride was freakin' awesome!

WDW Meet-ups and more WDW meet-ups.

Mickey's Runaway Railroad first impressions
 
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cgersic

Well-Known Member
That's us!



I was pretty excited for this based on everything I read about it and the photos I saw.

Taking pictures of rocks means I'm pretty hype!

"Hi taking pictures of rocks." Toni mocked.





I am a bonafide Star Wars geek after all. Saw the OG (that's "original" for anyone over 40 out there) in 1977 at the age of 10. Proceeded to see it another 10,000 times or so in the theater by the time Empire Strikes Back (The best Star Wars movie by the way) rolled around - and yes, it was literally still playing in theaters until then! I consider the Star Wars saga the great mythology of our times. Not a big fan of the last three movies but I'm game for any SW experience.

Toni was making sure our coordinates were precise.



Apparently we were making our way through the inside of a secret Rebel/Resistance base. I was somewhat surprised at the lack of ribbing from Sterg and Toni. I was expecting something along the lines of "Oh is Fractal excited to go on the new Star Wars ride? Are you going to use the force?" from Sterg - you know, enough teasing from your son that has you contemplating the repercussions of knocking him out with a quick upper cut.





Or this from Toni. "Hi being hype for Star Wars. Hi tunnel. Hi helmet in cage. Hi Dad all excited."

The ribbing never started. Or perhaps I was so focused on taking it all in and taking photos that I didn't notice. It seemed that once again, these two maybe were just as engrossed as I was.









I decide to use this cool little light for a portrait of Toni.



Of course Mr. Movie Star couldn't be left out. He's constantly telling me how much better his hair is than mine, or how much better in shape he is than me, or how he's taller and better looking, blah, blah, blah. I say "check in with me in 30 years, if I'm still around. My hair line was much lower than yours is when I was your age." That at least gives him some pause.



The Wawa masks are definitely cool, especially when compared to my dorky disposable one.



We were now into the briefing room and getting prepared for our mission and orders!



UP NEXT -

OK, that ride was freakin' awesome!

WDW Meet-ups and more WDW meet-ups.

Mickey's Runaway Railroad first impressions
I sure hope you have more photos and description of this ride! I got to go for the first time while I was just there. I am OG as well, but I was by myself and felt very rushed through the whole thing, so I have no idea what really happened! :cautious: Just loving your commentary to go with the great photos. No wonder everyone waits for your trip reports!
 

DisneyJeff

Well-Known Member
I loved your RnR and ToT pics. The launch picture from RnR really captures the feeling of the launch. ToT is still one of my favorites, although I think Flight of Passage may have jumped in line just ahead of it.

I have to admit, I kinda blew past your Galaxy Edge pics as I haven't been able to experience it myself yet. I'm trying to avoid spoilers as much as possible. I was supposed to go in June, but we all know how that plan turned out. Hopefully I will get to experience it myself sooner rather than later.
 

slipperalwaysfits

Well-Known Member
Catching up after a couple days absence....

I mostly kept the camera down during our trip through the mines. I really like this coaster and the "swinging action". As everyone else says, just wish it were longer.

Yes, the SDMT is awesome and the scene inside the mine is incredible. like you, a little longer would be great! Slinky-dog length! But I guess they didn't have the room in New FAntasyland to do that!

We did have a great kickoff day at Magic Kingdom. It was tough to swallow however that the park was going to close at 7. Night time is so much fun in all of the parks.

Agreed! Nighttime in the parks is the best! All the lights and the glowing castle! It's so exciting!

We barely survived but somehow managed to gather one unit of whatever it was we were after. The simulator probably felt bad for us. Truth be told the ship is hard to steer - the response to the controls is very slow so by the time you start going the direction you want it's time to move the other way. But who said being a space pirate was easy? Overall however it was loads of fun and we definitely wanted to ride it again!

Walking out a little humbled.

My dh will be super into this and probably man the controls like Han Solo, I'll just be distracted, taking it all in and probably help us crash! :jawdrop: :bored:

Just looking around this Land makes you smile and makes you feel like you're 10 years old again!

YES, that's a fantastic way to capture the spirit of the land! Did you make it on TSMM? (I might have accidentally skipped that part).

. It was going to be tough to keep the camera still enough but all things considered I think it came out pretty good! Here's what zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds looks like.

WOW! Impressive! I'm usually just holding on for dear life at this point! :arghh::arghh:

On our way to another kind of thrilling. I could tell Sterg and Toni were in their element; really enjoying the day. No complaining (mostly), no picking on each other, just following orders and marching along.

Awwwwwwwwww, makes for very special family memories!

I've always wanted to get this shot - again, the advantage of going on the same ride many times finally paid off. It's a tough shot because you're set up for a low light environment and then bam! The doors opens and all this bright sunshine and light blows out your shot.

I had never been ready for it before and the result was usually just a blob of white. This time however I made my adjustments. I dropped the aperture down while keeping a relatively fast shutter speed then put the ISO on Auto.

All your pictures are so impressive! Glad you're having a great trip (so far!)
 

fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
SPOILER ALERT

I will be describing and sharing photos of Rise of the Resistance over the next couple posts.



BB8 shows up in the briefing room and starts doing what he does best; rolling back and forth and making cute beeping sounds.





Before long Rey joins us via hologram - very cool effect by the way -and shares with us our mission, why they need our help and welcomes us to the cause. So far so good - I felt like I was genuinely being recruited into the Resistance and it wasn't dummed down or patronizing.





This continued with a very serious exchange with our pilots and then with Poe. There was no give away that you were in a Disney "ride" - no "are you guys ready for a Star Wars mission" type of self aware talk. Same with the CMs. Everything was played straight and it really help you feel this was actually a real mission. I appreciated that and the straightforward logic of why our help was needed. Heck, so far this had a much better plot line than The Rise of Skywalker!



To me, Poe came off more genuine and likable here than in the sequels.



We were led out of the briefing room and outside to an awaiting space craft.



Poe and his ultra-cool X-wing were going to be our escort along with BB8.

 
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