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Trip Report Yia-Yia, Yetis and Epcotonians. A sweltering Summer of '22 adventure!

It was the night before our Disney trip and I found myself scrambling. So much to do besides "Disney but "Disney" needed to get done. Where are my SD cards? Where are all my Star Wars shirts? Where is my camera bag? We had just moved after-all and things were not where they should be because well we were in a different house. Toni was scrambling too. She is spending the Summer waitressing in Bethany Beach Delaware and came home THAT DAY to get everything ready for Disney. Her Mom however also wanted her to help get her "crap" ready for college (leaving in a few weeks). Tensions were running high and the early morning flight out of Baltimore was like lighting a fuse to a stick of dynamite. Time was ticking away!

This was going to be a different trip for us. Just three of the five in the family as my wife Val decided to sit this one out and my daughter Alex couldn't get her schedule to work. So Val will be going to New Mexico to visit Alex in a month as the final three, the triumvirate headed to Walt Disney World to meet up with my sister Marina's family and my mom (Yia-Yia).

The Triumvirate -

Toni (center), Sterg and yours truly.


As you may or may not know, one of the things I love about going to Disney is honing my photography skills. For this trip I decided to rent two fantastic (and expensive) lenses. The Sony GM 50mm f/ 1.2 and the Sony GM 14mm f/1.8 lenses to be exact. The cost to buy both of those lenses would be as much as the cost of the entire trip. Additionally I rented a lens adaptor to pair with my old Minolta 70-210 "beercan" lens that I wanted to try out on the Safari.




I've been crazy after the 14mm lens due to it's wide angle nature. It's actually so wide it's referred to as an "ultra-wide angle" lens. Wide angle lenses have wonderful applications at WDW and I was going to see how this baby was going to work for me. The 50mm 1.2 is a lens with a great reputation. Very fast, very sharp and producing beautiful bokeh as your sharp subject stands in front of a background that literally melts into a dreamy blur of photographic delight.

By 11pm all that was packed, what was left of my Star Wars shirts was packed - "Chris, aren't we just getting a bit too old for Star Wars shirts?" Val quipped - and everything else on my list was packed.

Toni was also packed and had full-filled her "getting ready for college" obligations.

Val said her goodbyes and goodnights..
and went to bed.

It was soon time for me to lay down for 3 hours of sleep. The hardest thing left for me to do was wake up with my alarm. I think I'll have a glass on wine (or two?). After-all, what could go wrong?
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Well-Known Member
Hah! 3rd in!! Can't wait to read about your adventures!
And with sexy camera talk like "lens with great reputations, beautiful bokeh and sharp subject stands" it should be amazing!!
(Not that I understood a word of any of that, but as a person who bought a few of your last trip photos. I'm all a quiver)! 🤣
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Well-Known Member
Yay! I'm in! I just hope you came home with your rented lenses instead of leaving one at the bottom of Pirate's (if I'm remembering that correctly!)!! Can't wait to see all your pics! I was hoping you would take a bit longer to get started so I could finish my report first because I just can't compete with you and Tuvalu!!


Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I think I was dreaming about Walt Disney. In fact, I know I was. Walt and I were having a nice conversation walking down Main Street USA in Disneyland talking about all sorts of amazing things. I think the last thing he told me was "don't forget - your flight boards at 6am."

Then the trolley bell started ringings, and ringing, and ringing, except it wasn't a bell it was more like the chime of my alarm clock. "OK, I'm up" I thought to myself as I turned off the 2am alarm. "but just five more minutes..." I thought as I laid my head back down on my soft warm pillow. "besides, I want to finish my talk with Walt...zzzzz".

Toni screamed as she shook me. "It's 2:45!"

2:45 AM was the time I wanted to leave the house for our 2 hour drive to Baltimore. The stick of dynamite just went off. After 15 minutes of a mad dash, we somehow packed the car and pulled out of our driveway by 3am.
"Why didn't I get Wally to drive us?" I thought to myself.

around 5am we were "at" the airport but still had to park and shuttle over. I'll let Toni explain...

From there on things got better.


Plane was ready! (Toni's pic)


And so was Toni!


We made our flight and within no time we were at Orlando International Airport. With no Magic Express we needed a way from there to our resort (Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs). Sterg happened to be in the process of moving from the north Miami area to the Tampa area and was staying with my in-laws near St. Petersburg. It was an easy ride for him to pick us up and drive to Walt Disney World.

We didn't have to wait too long for his arrival...

On our way!


Sterg did an exemplary job steering our ship down the Florida highways and soon enough we saw this!

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Well-Known Member
Original Poster
During the flight I used the $8 Southwest internet connection to book my first Genie + of the trip. With tax it came out to just short of $50 for the three of us. Mickey Mouse caught me in another human trap!

Our Park Reservation was at DHS but RISE of the Resistance was down that morning so no virtual queue. Our first Lightning Lane was a date with Steve Tyler and crew if we could make it.

I was excited to stay at Gran Destino Tower as I loved the photos of and @coachwnh spoke so highly of it. Now it was time to see for myself...


Our room wasn't ready yet so we left our bags will Bell Services, parked the car and checked out the lobby.



Can you see me in the mirrored ceiling?



I loved the look of the bar!


OK - we can take more pics of the lobby when we get back. Right now Hollywood Studios is calling our name!

On our way...


It felt good to be on a Disney bus again! Even if I missed focus.


We were all excited to get into a Disney Park again!





The last time we were at WDW was right after it reopened during the Pandemic in July 2020. What a relief not having to wear a mask!


Can you spot the airplane in the upper left corner (below)?


It felt great to be back! Now I just had to get used to this 14mm lens. Man is this thing wide!!

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