Trip Report Well, I guess this is happening... July 12-28 Trip Report - Pre, Live, and Post

Hello and welcome to another Brifraz trip report. If you traveled with us before you know how it usually works - a brief pre-trip outline of plans, lots of live trip reporting, then after the trip some poorly completed scattered posts to try to wrap things up. Well, I'm doing a legit pre-trip this time. Why? Because there are some issues right now. Maybe you didn't realize that?

Which means I'm going to lead off this thread by opening it up to the debate. It's my thraed and I'm okay with that. A little debate will keep things lively - now I'm not talking about something like the thousand plus pages of debate on the mask/precautions/COVID threads, but a little discussion is totally fine and all opinions are welcome. Now, let me be clear I'm not asking I 'what you would do?' But, after reading things below, I welcome opinions on 'what do you think we would or should do.'

Obviously, you can't get into those kinds of discussions without knowing who we are and what we are all about. Here goes. Feel free to steal our identities if you need to.
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Our crew is a trio. Two nearly-50 year old adults and a 16 year old rising senior in High School. The two adults are high school teachers and have been since the 1990s. Obviously that means our only potential vacation times are summer and Christmas. Two teacher salaries have by no means made us rich, but we prioritize travel. We feel it 'broadens the mind' even if it is somewhere we've been before - always trying new experiences and interacting with new people (heck, we've driven across the USA 3 times and Canada once). You can see in my signature, we head to WDW often and try very hard to make each trip unique in different ways. We had trips in December (with extended family) and January (as leader of over 100 high school kids plus families) and were planning a summer totally away from the World. We had a vague plan to travel to Europe for a few weeks driving through multiple countries. It was going to be the last big family trip before our daughter goes to college. But we just couldn't afford it - there was just no way to make it work. Since we are DVC and have some family-owned timeshare, we can stay at WDW (or that area) for pretty much nothing more than our expected annual fees and we drive from Maryland, so transportation is pretty cheap. Airfare and hotels around Europe was cost prohibitive. Our daughter already has a senior Disney trip planned with friends for next summer and we were possibly doing a couple trip as well, so buying an AP for late this summer through early next summer is also an expense that we expected (although we didn't expect it until next year). Thus, some time in late January, we decided that we would do some smaller trips (including college visits) around the country and then spend a week at WDW.

Sadly, the smaller trips are pretty much all gone due to the current health crisis. But our WDW trip is not until mid-July, so it might still be happening. Health-wise we are all in pretty good shape. Sure, we've got the usual little things that tend to happen as you get close to 50, but nothing that makes our immune systems compromised and certainly nothing that puts us in a higher risk group. As a pair of high school teachers, we get exposed to pretty much every bug that shows up in our communities and in general we weather things pretty successfully. Our daughter currently works at the local grocery store which similarly puts her 'in harm's way' on a regular basis. While the concern over the coronavirus is certainly in our minds, we also are used to taking precautions and have very little innate fear of getting sick. We also have no problem wearing masks or taking other preventative measures if we are traveling.

Why would we even consider still heading to WDW? Well, just like everyone, the past couple months have been tough for us (obviously, far less difficult than for many). We have been relearning how to do our jobs, we've had to cancel 11 major shows/performances (we both teach performing arts), and we're facing the prospect of our jobs/roles changing dramatically in a few months. Our daughter has (again, obviously) missed out on a number of usual things for HS Juniors and is quite concerned about the prospect of her Senior year being very altered. The stress and uncertainty of these things makes the idea of ANY kind of escapism very appealing - even if it is limited and changed from our usual expectations.

There's a little background on us and some elements of where we are coming from with this (possible) trip. For the sake of discussion, let's assume that WDW will be relatively fully open by mid-July, but with significant precautionary measures in place. I'll be back soon with some of our thoughts on the trip and what we might or might not be planning and doing if it happens.
 

MRGEFF

Well-Known Member
Let's get back to that last day! After lunch we hit all the rides in Adventureland in pretty quick succession.

First up was Jungle Cruise and, of course, the backside of water.
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Quickly followed by the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. No spitting camels, though.
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And then Pirates of the Caribbean finished out our Adventureland time.
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As we left Pirates, the thunder began to boom and all the outside rides began to shut down. This was a serious blow to our ride quest for the day! Splash and Big Thunder went down as we walked toward them so we continued into Liberty Square hoping to maybe get onto the Mark Twain riverboat, but it was also down for the weather. With limited ride options, we headed to Haunted Mansion to get that ride in. The opera singer continues to be absent from the graveyard scene and at the end of the ride we didn't get any hitchhiking ghosts, so I guess we didn't have one follow us home?

The rain had started to come down when we left the ride so we headed back to the riverboat loading area to just sit and figure out a plan. With very little to do in the area, we decided to abandon the quest and headed to Country Bear Jamboree. I know that lots of people really love this attraction, but I just don't see it. Not at all. It didn't help that the audio mix was a bit off and the instruments were overpowering the voices by quite a bit, but I've seen it before and just don't get it (our daughter is even worse than that... she adamantly is opposed to ever seeing it again). With everything still down, our friends decided to head back to their resort so we said our farewells and wandered a bit and ended up sitting at the Tomorrowland Terrace relaxation station, so we got a little mask-less time.

When the rain finally let up a bit (but still some thunder going so outside rides were still 101), we headed back into Tomorrowland and had another ride on Buzz Lightyear and Space Mountain - and this time I joined in on the coaster fun.
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Finally, at a bit after 5:30pm, outside rides started to open back up so we quickly headed to Big Thunder Mountain to try to finish the quest on our own!
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But we knew that we wouldn't really get finished because we were already a little wet and getting Splash Mountain wet right before 15 hours in the car is NOT a good idea. So, we finished our ride-palooza with the only other ride in the park (okay, maybe you could consider the rafts to TSI a ride), the Riverboat at the 6pm boarding.

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I really do enjoy the riverboat and the little scenes that are around the River of America and just the views that it gives of multiple areas of the park.
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When the riverboat docked we still had about 20 minutes before our dinner ADR at Liberty Tree Tavern (6:45pm) so the girls did one last ride on Haunted Mansion, which was a walk-on at this point and then we headed to Liberty Tree and got checked in - virtually, of course - about 10 minutes before our ADR. The CM at the door let us know that they were about 15 minutes behind in seating ADRs so we might have a bit of a wait. No problem - it would just mean we would be leaving the park a little further after closing and with an emptier park. So, by 7pm we were ready to be seated! And so were the other 7 or so parties waiting in the lobby and outside. And at 7:15pm, all except one of those parties was still waiting. And at 7:30pm there were still 4 families getting a little tired of the wait. We were seated at 7:45pm (and the last two other parties were seated within a minute or two of us). Upon getting seated we checked with the host about still being able to get a bus back to our car at OKW since we would likely be leaving the park more than an hour and a half after closing. She assured us that there would be no problem.

Dinner was the usual from Liberty Tree. Enjoyable (especially the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake), but not anything amazing - and nothing really picture worthy! We finished up right about 8:30pm, as did the other two parties, so our groups all were heading out of the park at about the same time. And all getting lots of pictures on the way. And, with things pretty empty, we snuck the mask off for a quick pic.
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We were headed out of the gates at just a few minutes before 9pm. At the exit, there was a line of CMs chatting with everyone and saying their farewells which was very nice. As we headed toward the busses a CM told us to head to the usual OKW stop and there would be a bus coming for us. We headed that way and saw a bus... just leaving the stop! Oh no! There was a transportation manager CM standing right there as we walked up and she asked where we were headed. We let her know Old Key West and within just a minute or two, there was a bus ready to take us. Since we were the only people onboard and MK was now well beyond closed, we got delivered straight to our stop without having to go through the resort at all.

By 9:15pm we were in the car and on our way. And at almost exactly noon the next day we were home. And there you have it! A very different, at times a little worrisome, but overall excellent trip. Not quite the type of trip we'd really want to do again, but definitely enjoyable and knowing full well that many of the changes might still be in place next summer we are still greatly looking forward to our next Disney adventure. Some time soon I'll get some more concluding thoughts and some more opinions on the measures in place for COVID-19 protection.

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THANK YOU SOOO much for your TP with all the photos. We won't be there till November so it was great to ride along with you. Thank You again.
 

slipperalwaysfits

Well-Known Member
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(hmm...two teacher salaries...). The expense of joining the first year is pretty crazy, but then the yearly fee to maintain your membership is actually a decent deal when you look at everything you get (assuming you were already planning to get a Premier Passport and would enjoy VIP tours).

Two teacher salaries and college tuition....makes having DVC a near-necessity! ;) :jawdrop:

I really do enjoy the riverboat and the little scenes that are around the River of America and just the views that it gives of multiple areas of the park.

I love the peace of the riverboat, too. I also find that sense of calm and enjoyment of the park on the train, but we'll have to wait on that one a bit. Glad you were able to get a bus back so quickly and had a safe drive home!! :)


A very different, at times a little worrisome, but overall excellent trip. Not quite the type of trip we'd really want to do again, but definitely enjoyable and knowing full well that many of the changes might still be in place next summer we are still greatly looking forward to our next Disney adventure.

Why wouldn't you want to do this trip again? Besides the COVID-19 protocols? Seems like you guys had a wonderful time as a family relaxing and enjoying all WDW had to offer, even if it wasn't what we usually are treated to from WDW.
 

brifraz

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Alright. We've been home for a week. Time for some reflecting on all the things of this trip.

Thing #1 - There was quite a bit of splurging for us on this trip. We had more 'nice' dinners than usual, bought more stuff than usual, and tried not to worry about cost on things that we usually do worry about. Since we are still employed, have saved quite a bit of money with no eating out or driving to work in the preceding 4 months, and got the COVID stimulus check (which, not to get too political, really should be going to those who need it, not people like us), we went a little beyond normal two teacher spending. And we definitely enjoyed it. Makes us hope that at some point we find a long-lost random rich relative to be our benefactor.

Thing #2 - COVID precautions were very well done inside the WDW bubble. We were all quite impressed with the things in place at WDW and the enforcement of those precautions was quite good in the parks (not quite as good at Disney Springs). Was wearing a mask uncomfortable at times? Certainly. The heat index almost every day we were there was over 100. But we are used to summer traveling and the masks really didn't add to it in any kind of exponential way. For the most part, everyone seemed to be working together to make sure we were all being good.

Thing #3 - CMs were awesome. The level of positive energy from the vast majority of cast members we experienced was palpable. A number chatted with us about how genuinely happy they were to be back at work and have guests there. Most (at least many) CMs work there because they love working there and that was quite obvious. We made a point of tipping at a significantly higher rate than we usual can as our small way of saying thanks to those in the food service areas at least! And we made sure to thank every CM we encountered (even those who maybe weren't quite as positive).

Thing #4 - Empty parks isn't entirely a positive. Yes, it was nice not to have too many lines, but the atmosphere is a bit weird. I can't begin to count the number of times we've struck up conversations with people while in lines for rides, food, whatever. None of that on this trip. And hand in hand with less crowds comes shorter hours and less dining options open, which both aren't quite as optimal.

Thing #5 - And empty bars/lounges sucks. If you've followed us before you know we like a visit or 3 to the Rose and Crown pub and the Gurgling Suitcase at Old Key West. Why? We love the people. The CMs who work there, the clientele who hang out for a while with us, the people who just pass through but chat while waiting for their drinks. And there was none of that on this trip. And it was definitely missed. Honestly, the random human interactions that we have in life is one of the things that we have missed the most overall the last 5 months (yup, we're at 5 months now).

Thing #6 - We will definitely be back. Maybe even before all the restrictions are lifted. It was a great escape from the house that had been our only sights since mid-March. Yes, we get out and walk and hike quite a bit, but we still ended up in the same place every night and it gets pretty old (as I'm sure most of you know just as well as we do). And it did feel safe. Far more precautions and enforcement of said precautions than I saw today on a trip to Home Depot and the liquor store (and we are in a state which has far stricter rules than Florida).

Thing #7 - I actually don't have a seventh thing, but I feel strongly that 7 is a far better number to end with that 6, so I'm just typing to fill up a couple lines and make it feel like I had a seventh thing.

Hope you have enjoyed traveling along - until the next one!
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
got the COVID stimulus check (which, not to get too political, really should be going to those who need it, not people like us)
Glad I'm not the only one that felt weird about that!
Most (at least many) CMs work there because they love working there and that was quite obvious. We made a point of tipping at a significantly higher rate than we usual can as our small way of saying thanks to those in the food service areas at least! And we made sure to thank every CM we encountered (even those who maybe weren't quite as positive).
I really feel for CMs right now. I know most of them are so happy to be back at work, but I know they're probably taking the brunt of the backlash from people who don't like the mask policies, limited dining options, etc. What a great idea to tip extra!
 

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