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Trip Report Shrouded In A Daft Disguise *COMPLETED*

Two weeks ago today, I returned home from the most surreal Disney vacation I have ever experienced.

During my last visit in February, I couldn’t have imagined having to wear a face mask and have my temperature taken before being allowed into a park. “Social distancing” wasn’t part of my vocabulary. Hand sanitizer was something I carried in a little bottle in my purse, not something in giant containers at the entrance/exit of every attraction.

No park hopping? No Fastpasses? No FIREWORKS :jawdrop: ?!! Not even on my radar screen.

Like a bolt out of the blue, the pandemic struck and life was dramatically altered. For everyone. And there is no Magic Mirror to tell us when it will be over. For me the pandemic has been a reminder to take nothing for granted ~ and that there can still be joy in the darkest days.

My name is Tuvalu and I have been a WDW annual passholder for nearly 25 years. I was raised on Disney and so were my children. The parks have always been my “escape” from real life. Could they still be an “escape” in the midst of a pandemic? After months of quarantine, I was ready to find out.

My daughter Em was my travel buddy. My husband Woody had reservations, but not for our safety. He was concerned we’d struggle with the restrictions and disappointment with all the changes. He wanted us to come back happy and wasn’t sure we would. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure we would either. After much research and due diligence, Em and I felt prepared to embark on a vacation with few expectations.

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Full disclosure ~ I‘ve wrestled with writing a report of our trip. The pandemic and subsequent events have caused much division on this Disney fan forum. I’ve always considered the trip reports section to be a “safe space” and hope it stays that way. My goal is to provide entertainment to the reader, nothing more.

With that in mind.....

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Tuvalu

Premium Member
Original Poster
Sunday, July 19, 2020

The day we'd been anticipating for months was finally here. After the disappointment of canceled trips in April, May and June, Em and I fully expected that this vacation was unlikely to happen as well. Even after the parks' reopening date was finally announced and our dates were in the green zone, we remained guarded. We didn't even pack until the last minute.

While we felt driving would be safer than flying, a road trip presented its own
challenges during a pandemic ~ mainly restroom accessibility. I checked in advance which rest areas were open. Stopping for breakfast or lunch would also look different, since most restaurant dining rooms (and thus their bathrooms) remained closed. Limited liquid intake was going to be key!

Once the parks reopened we saw photos and watched videos of all the modifications Disney had made to accommodate physical distancing, as well as their increased cleanliness and sanitation measures. (And we continued to be impressed with extra safety measures that we didn't see until after we arrived.) The ability to tolerate mask wearing in summer heat and humidity was naturally a concern for us (but something we ultimately found much easier than we thought.) We felt as prepared as we could be going into the unknown.


Em spent the night at our house to make early-morning departure easier. As pilot, she made the executive decision to drive thru Dunkin' for coffee and donuts before entering I-75 southbound. No need to stop for breakfast!

We did stop at the Florida Welcome Center to use the facilities several hours later. Note the Disney window decals (and palm trees, @Darstarr!)

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For lunch we had a "car picnic" in Gainesville. When Woody and I grow weary of being sheltered at home, we'll drive thru a fast food restaurant (most often your Friday favorite, @Rista1313 ;) ) and park in a shady spot to eat and enjoy the outdoors. Car picnics have become a nice, unexpected result of the pandemic for us. Today Em and I picked McDonald's, primarily for good Coke.....only to discover an abominable concoction of cola and cherry syrup in our cups. :hungover:

But soon we were on the home stretch and shortly before 2 pm this lovely sight came into view.

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And then this not-so-lovely sight....

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....a new addition to the Swolphin complex.

We followed a Frozen bus into our home for the next week.

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Tuvalu

Premium Member
Original Poster
I forgot to mention that the first CM we saw on Disney property.....driving a bus.....had his face mask pulled down past his chin. I assume that the bus was empty, but it was very poor show to anyone on the road who could see him. He was stopped at a light and it would have been easy to take his picture. Em and I just chuckled at the irony and continued on our way.

Our original reservation was for a standard room at the Wilderness Lodge. When I read that the non-DVC side of the Lodge would not be reopening, I spent three hours on hold waiting to speak to a CM about alternate accommodations. I hoped we'd be moved to a Copper Creek villa on the opposite side of the Lodge, but the CM said there was no availability. However she was able to upgrade us to a one bedroom villa at Boulder Ridge (which is adjacent to the Lodge.)

I was hoping to receive a "room ready" text before our arrival, but since official check-in is at 4 pm I knew it was a long shot. No text. We parked and went into the main building to use the restroom before embarking on our first adventure.

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I posted the following picture in my "No Trip" TR back on April 29 and used it for encouragement that I would return someday, even if I didn't know when.

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Eighty-one days later here I was!! :inlove:

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I had my suspicions that one of the reasons the "regular" side of the Lodge wasn't open was to begin room refurbishments that were supposed to happen over two years ago. Black tarps on the upper floors indicated I might be right.

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With less demand for rooms, it makes sense to get the refurb done now.

The Mercantile was one way in and one way out. We noticed that was protocol for gift shops.

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Tuvalu

Premium Member
Original Poster
WL has both bus and boat transportation to the MK. Since we were closer to the bus stop, that's where we went.

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The first physical distancing markers we encountered this trip.

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Bus arrival times were never posted during our stay. The COVID-19 warning appeared frequently. Note that the bench is also marked for physical distancing.

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The bus arrived just a few minutes later. No one got off and we boarded an empty bus for a private ride to the MK.

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It would be the first of our many private bus rides during the week.

Tuvalu, how are the buses equipped for safety during a pandemic?

I'm so glad you asked. The driver assigns one party at a time to a numbered zone.

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Dividers secured by zip ties shield one party from another....

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....all the way to the back of the bus.

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Tuvalu

Premium Member
Original Poster
Out of all of your TRs, this might be the most anticipated one ever. Really looking forward to hearing about your and Em’s experiences and overall thoughts.
Thanks, Captain.
(But be honest.....you're most curious to see if a Jambon Buerre makes an appearance! :hilarious: )

Excellent title, by the way!
What can I say, a spook followed me home! 😁

I have been patiently hoping that you would document your trip. Your honesty and entertaining reporting of your trips always makes for a good read.
As always I appreciate your kindness, @Jae99.

I was the first to "like" so I would like to take credit for that.

Looking forward to seeing your perspective during our mutual time there!
I'll let you two bicker it out! 🤣
 

Tuvalu

Premium Member
Original Poster
That pic of you two made me very happy and kind of very sad at the same time! 💕

We are considering a short getaway in the next two to six weeks - probably resort only. You of all people may sway me one way or the other.

No pressure.
I'm thinking the last week of August might be the perfect time for a short getaway for you and B.

Yes, very excited! I cannot even explain how much I enjoy your posts, and even more, how handy they are when they come to planning. So for my own selfish reasons - thank you for writing one!
Hope I can give you ample planning tips before your stay at the Poly!

Looking forward to reading.
Can’t wait!
So I'm an hour and 15 minutes late... that's not too bad right??? Looking forward to all the Tuvalu thoughts and perspective.
Yay!! You know I’m in!!
I've been waiting for this one! Can't wait to hear more about your experience!!!
So glad to see you here! Everybody loves reading your reports. They bring joy. Thank you for writing this one. ❤
Seeing all your names makes me so happy! Welcome!

Yippee! :joyfull:
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Looking forward to reading all about it! 🙋‍♀️
How'd you know I have a soft spot for Cogsworth and Lumiere?!! :happy:
 

Tuvalu

Premium Member
Original Poster
In! So grateful you decided to “trip report” the last few months have been trying. We all need an escape even a virtual one!
I am so grateful to have you here. I'm sure your kiddos are keeping you busy, even while sheltering at home!

I am very happy that you are doing your trip report. I am speaking for myself but I do think we all need some “Faith, Trust and a little Pixy Dust” right now.
I ❤ this. So very true!

Very much looking forward to reading this! It could be a very long time until us Canadians are allowed to visit our happy place. We have been able to go the lake a few times so it’s basically the same lol!
My heart is sad for all my international friends who enjoy WDW as much as I do. I thought of you guys during our stay at Boulder Ridge! As you will soon see, we had a much more convenient room location than you did.

Also present! I really hope you still liked some parts of the "escape" to WDW :)
Spoiler alert....I did!!
 

Tuvalu

Premium Member
Original Poster
I've waited with much anticipation for this TR!!! I'm all in. 🥰

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I'm late, but I'm here! Can't wait to hear all about it!
Yay! So glad you decided to share your trip with us! I can't wait to hear about how your trip turned out!
I’m here and super excited to read all about your trip! Thanks for sharing with us. I definitely need the pixie dust!
I too am eager to read your views. I always learn from your reports. Thank you.
So glad you are writing this report! Looking forward to reading about your experiences.
WE ARE IN!
I am in! I think it could be a long time before us Brits are allowed to visit our happy place again so trip reports are the closest we are going to get. I can't wait to see what you thought.
Your enthusiasm warms my heart. Thank you, friends!!
 

Tuvalu

Premium Member
Original Poster
Can't wait to hear about your experiences but I have a feeling you guys really enjoyed your trip! :)
I have a feeling you might be right.....

I have been waiting for this one!!! Ready to live vicariously through this TR!!!
There will be Mansion. Plenty of Mansion. 😁

Trip Reports is always a safe space. At least from what I've seen and participated in. I understand what you mean about other threads, but you have to know we have your backs here! As with everyone else, I can't wait to see you girls' smiling eyes and happy haunts!
Thanks for being one of my much-needed back supporters!

So happy I could dance!
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Love Lucy! Made me :happy: !
 

Tuvalu

Premium Member
Original Poster
While being first in on a @Tuvalu trip report is nice, just being here is reward enough on a hot summer Georgia morning.
Awww........

I've been staying off the boards since April because it made me too sad, but something told me today that I should log on and WHAT A GOOD CHOICE! Great to see your masked face (and Em's!) and a new report underway. Excited to follow along for some missed magic! :)
I've missed seeing you Annie around these parts. Glad you're back!

Much needed; some consistency in life, a TR from @Tuvalu YAY!

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I'm here and definitely following along.
🙌 Yaasss! I am in and quite eager to hear your perspective!
Hello @Disstevefan1 @PacNWTigger @Sulley_1313! Happy to have you along for the ride. :bookworm:


I am here!!!😉
Phew!! :hilarious:

Wow, can't believe I'm IN before the 50th page!!!
I have been waiting for this report too. Let's Go to Tuvaluland:)
And I for one can attest that Tuvaluland is sooo much better than Limboland!! :joyfull:
 
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Tuvalu

Premium Member
Original Poster
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So happy you decided to do a trip report!

Kermit and Kuzco, a double delight! Welcome, ladies!!

Fashionably late--but here I am, Tuvalu! :joyfull:

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The fashionable always are. 😄 Better late than never, I say!

Yay! Happy you decided to do a report.. a little bit of normalcy in not normal times! :cool:
Happy to see you, @KellBelle!
 

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