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Trip Report "Where Are All the People?" A September Trip Report Brought to You by Hurricane Dorian

carriehpotter

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Hi there! My dad and I have been home for a little under a month, so I decided it was probably time to bite the bullet and write this report!

This trip was...different, for a lot of reasons. Considering I was coming off my 30th birthday trip with my mom in April that I've ranked as one of my top three favorite WDW trips ever (TR here!), this trip with my dad had a lot to live up to! We had some epic, awesome moments, some extreme fails, and lots of little moments in between! And it was HOOOOOOOT.

WHO: My dad (Matt) and me (Carrie) — we left my mom home for our very first father/daughter trip!

WHEN: August 30-September 8

WHERE: Port Orleans French Quarter

WHY: Cause it seemed like a good idea at the time...:hilarious:

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(Remember these sweaty, sweaty faces...)

As I mentioned in the PTR, originally, my dad and I were planning a trip to Disneyland. But then we heard that Galaxy's Edge would open there first, in the Spring. So we decided that it would be way too crowded for a while, so we'd put DL off until another year. I mentioned that WDW hadn't been too crowded at all when my friend B and I were there the week of Labor Day in 2017 and that the crowd calendars were mostly showing 1s and 2s for that week in 2019. Since we had to leave our 2018 Christmas trip four days early since we were all very sick, wouldn't it be nice to have a WDW do-over before Galaxy's Edge opened in the late fall (which is WHAT THEY HAD ANNOUNCED)? Since we all know "late fall" for Disney means like December 20, we'd beat the GE crowds and have a hopefully pretty chill week. The only thing we'd have to contend with would be the heat.

We sort of ran around like chickens with our heads cut off when they announced the GE opening dates (it was opening the day before we checked in), and debated canceling. But we'd already booked our flights, and we figured we'd just try to avoid the inevitable crowds and still have fun. This was before GE had opened in DL, so we were still expecting huge crowds.

What we got turned out to be way different.

Please join me on a trip filled with plans rearranged on the fly, surprise private tours, a literally EMPTY Magic Kingdom, more humidity than Tatooine on a bad day, and a little thing called Hurricane Dorian. Oh yeah, and we did hit up a galaxy far, far away, too. ;)
 

carriehpotter

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

carriehpotter

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Wow,, can't believe I' m 6th! I'm always like 240th, or the last one. LOL
Can't wait to see how you and your father fare!
Welcome! It was definitely an interesting trip, that's for sure!

Following!
Yay! Welcome!

Within the top 10 😉
Awesome, haha!

Yay! And love the pic!

I'll round out the top ten. Can't wait!
Thanks and welcome!
 

carriehpotter

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
AUGUST 30, FRIDAY: TRAVEL AND CHECK-IN

And away we go!

I had a half day on Friday, due to the long weekend, so I got out of work at 2:30. Since I work in Manhattan, I cajoled my boss into letting me work from home, so that we could head straight to the airport at 2:30 for our 5:38 p.m. flight. My dad also took a half day and was home by about noon.

My dad hasn't flown for about 15 years, so he wanted to give us plenty of time at the airport for security, etc. I'm always one to arrive too early for a flight, too, so I was fine with that. He was a little stressed, because our dentist had gone and told him that the Friday before Labor Day was the second busiest travel day of the year. I'm not sure if that's true, but it had my dad stressed, lol.

It's only about a half hour drive from our house to Newark International, so we were doing great. Check in at JetBlue was painless (there wasn't anyone else there!) and the security line was super short. We'd gotten Even More Space seats, which come with Even More Speed at select airports. It's fast like TSA pre-check but you still gotta take your shoes off. Of course, my carry-on was pulled for inspection, and it ended up being the Frog Toggs chilly pads causing the problem (since they're meant to be kept damp). But as soon as the TSA agent saw what they were, he laughed and was like, "I still have to swab them, but I'm sure it's fine." Sure enough, no dangerous chemicals and we were soon on our way. (Though my dad had to get patted down because he left his tube of Vaseline lip balm in his pocket :banghead:).

But we made it through quickly and unscathed, so we had about two hours to our flight. Since we still had to eat dinner, that was fine by me. We debated the one table service place by our gate, but the wait was like 45 min, so we went with sandwiches. And then treated ourselves to a treat from the Ben and Jerry's stand for dessert! Things were going great. (Is my foreshadowing too heavy handed? Can you sense the "but" coming?)

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(Happy and carefree waiting for our flight...before the "but.")

But then we checked our flight again, and suddenly it had moved back by almost 40 minutes. OK, not too bad. But over the next hour or so, the flight proceeded to be moved around nearly constantly. Our gate changed, it was going to be delayed by 3 and 1/2 hours, then two, then one, then two again. Finally right around 8:00, we boarded our flight. So just over 2 and 1/2 hours delayed. I know plane delays are a fact of life but 1) Fun fact, I'd only flown 8 times before that and never had a delay and 2) We had a very early morning scheduled for the next day, perhaps foolishly.

The flight itself was great. No turbulence, super smooth take off and landing, super fast (we arrived like 25 min "early"), and the flight wasn't nearly full, so my dad and I had our own row!

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(I enjoyed rewatching Good Omens and settling my sensitive stomach with ginger ale.)

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(Dad...did something.)

Soon enough, we had touched down at MCO and we were on our way to...the Fonorail! I had to explain to my dad why I called it that, and I said people here called it that, as well as Joe and Ashley from SYRS (Ashley "coined" that, right?), who my dad knows of and likes, so then he accepted it, haha.

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We headed down the escalators to meet our ride. We'd decided to splurge and had hired a Minnie Van to drive us. While Magical Express is awesome, I knew that there's a chance you could wait a while for it, and since we were getting in so late (originally "so late" was a little after 8...ha) and had an early morning, we decided it was better not to take the chance. Well, I know this isn't for everyone, and it is expensive ($150 plus tip), but this had to be one of the highlights of the trip! Our driver was Bonnie (who we'd had drive us around WDW before) and he was incredible! If you ever get a tall, bald, Southern gentleman as your Minnie Van driver, listen for his name...if it's Bonnie, you're in for a real treat!!

The Minnie Van was stocked with all sorts of complimentary drinks and some snacks (I stuck to the Disney-branded Ghirardelli squares), including Minnie Van mints! We had a lively conversation with Bonnie for the entire ride (about 30ish minutes since it was late at that point so no traffic), and he shared a lot of fun stories, tips, and we all swapped "favorites" (ride, show, after hours party, etc.). It never felt forced or awkward (you know those conversations with drivers where they're desperately trying to keep the convo going). It truly was a magical way to start the trip! And Bonnie also assuaged my fears about Dorian, telling me about his experience with Irma and how WDW is the safest place to be in Orlando during a hurricane.

Finally, we reached Port Orleans French Quarter! I'd been stressing just a bit because we'd done online check-in (my first time doing that) and I hadn't received a room ready text yet (and it was about 11:30 at that point). But wouldn't you know it, I got the text just as we arrived! We'd requested a corner room close to the lobby (I also faxed this request directly to FQ about a week before we left), and we got Building 2, Room 2124, which was close to the lobby and right next to a corner room. I was a little disappointed, but then we noticed as the week went on that there never seemed to be lights on in any corner rooms ever, so we wondered if they didn't use them with Dorian on its way (an extra window = extra risk, perhaps?).

I made my dad wait outside with the bags so I could photograph a clean room :angelic:

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It was really nice! I appreciated the hardwood floors and I liked the raised beds where we could store our luggage. Plus, actual drawer space!! That was our one complaint about the Beach Club Villas...with the addition of the pull-down bed, there was no drawer space. We got everything inside and then I asked dad if he was hungry. "A little." Boy, do I have the solution for you!

We hurried over to the main building and Sassagoula Floatworks to grab a snack. And not just any snack....Mickey Beignets!!! This was probably the thing I was most excited for staying at FQ. I'd never had a beignet at Disney before. The "late night" menu ended at 12 and it was like 11:50 at that point, so we were hustling! But we made it with time to spare.

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We got it with caramel sauce (my dad loooooooves caramel), and they were so good!! We also picked up our reusable mugs for the week (we don't do the dining plan, but we find the mugs pay for themselves for us).

Back to the room we went, where we got our stuff all ready for the next morning and then collapsed into bed right around 1 a.m. We had an early morning ahead of us!!

UP NEXT: Probably the best experience I've ever had at Disney!!
 

carriehpotter

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
AUGUST 31, SATURDAY: ANIMAL KINGDOM

Even though we'd gotten to bed pretty late the night before, we were up bright and early at 7 a.m. The beds were super comfy, but I never sleep well my first night in a new place, so I ran on adrenaline and excitement for most of the day! We got ready quickly and decided to grab a Minnie Van to our destination, Animal Kingdom, as the app wasn't listing an arrival time for an AK bus and we had places to be and things to do!

We were tapping in at about 8:15 and hurrying along to Africa. We grabbed a croissant to split from Kusafiri and then made quick bathroom pit stops. Why all this rushing around? We were doing the 8:45 Wild Africa Trek, and you're supposed to check in 15 minutes early. We walked up at like 8:32, excited for our first ever Trek! I love animals (so does my dad) and the safari is in our top 5 fave things in Disney, so when I read about this tour (and read a lot of awesome trip reports that recommended it!), it sounded perfect! We'd decided to do the 8:45 instead of the 8 because that was just a little too early for us. And we hoped to avoid the heat and humidity of tours later in the day.

We gave the CMs in front our name and tour time, and I noticed that our name was the only one on the sheet they pulled out. Thinking that was strange, but not really giving it too much thought, we went in and signed away our lives with the required waiver and got weighed in (you plus gear have to be under 300 pounds). It was only when we met our guides, Christina and Paula, and were starting to get help being outfitted with our gear that it occurred to me that there was literally no one but CMs in the staging area. I asked how long we'd wait for the rest of the tour before we left them, and Christina, who was fitting my vest, grinned and said, "Oh, they didn't tell you? It's just you two on this tour!"

:eek::eek::eek:

Excuse me??!!

But I hadn't heard her wrong...we were indeed getting what amounted to a private tour, as we were the only ones who'd booked the 8:45 tour that day!!

Holy cow.

Once we were all decked out with our gear and had gone over some safety instructions, we started things off by getting a picture!

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The Trek has two tour guides, who take turns leading the tour and taking pictures. Usually the one taking pics has to be sure to get them of everyone, but you know, it was just us. So every picture was of us or stuff we got especially excited about seeing (let's just say a LOT of giraffe pics were taken for me!!). After our mini photo shoot, we were on our way. Christina explained that usually we'd get headphones to hear the guides, but since it was just the four of us, it wasn't necessary. I hate those earphone things Disney uses, so I was more than fine with that!

As an FYI, these next few posts are pretty much going to be one long spoiler for the Wild Africa Trek!

To start, we headed through the regular entrance of Gorilla Falls and stopped by the Colobus monkeys, where we were given some interesting facts. To be honest, I don't remember most of the actual facts we were told on the tour, but I remember being very fascinated and engaged at the time!

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(All pics were taken by one of our guides unless I specify!)

We then made our way to check out the Okapi, which I like since they're the only known relatives of giraffes!

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Then we went into the building where the naked mole rats are, but we were there to check out the African Bullfrog. His name is Cletus and he's apparently the favorite of all the CMs! He even has an Instagram account! :hilarious:

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(Cletus looking oh-so-regal...)

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Up next we walked through the aviary.

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And then onto the hippos (though we were assured we'd be getting more hippo action, later!).

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UP NEXT: More Trek!!
 
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