Trip Report You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home - September 2020

Hello friends, and welcome to another K and J trip report!

We will be returning to Walt Disney World together after basically a year away…more on that later. This is my fourth trip report so I’m sure many of you know us by this point, so I’ll keep the introductions brief…well, brief for me anyway.

Who: Me, Katie

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And my husband, Jason

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We both visited Walt Disney World as kids, but our love for the Disney parks truly blossomed when we went to Walt Disney World together for the first time, for our first wedding anniversary back in 2014. We had the best time and made so many cherished memories, and we loved it so much that we ended up booking our next WDW trip before we even checked out!

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In total, we have been to Walt Disney World together 11 times, and Disneyland twice in the span of 6 years.

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In December 2017, we finally took the plunge and became annual passholders at WDW, and that’s when our trips started becoming more frequent – we average 3-4 Disney trips a year…with the exception of this year. As you may remember, I went on a Disney cruise with my mom, sister, and SIL back in February, and we spent one night at WDW, where I flew solo in Epcot for a couple hours. J and I had plans to do a WDW trip in April, and then COVID-19 happened. April became May, May became June, and then when our June trip was cancelled by Disney, we decided to cancel that trip altogether, and go to the beach in Palm Coast, FL instead. While in Palm Coast, we made a quick trip over to Disney Springs for a few hours. Aside from that time in Disney Springs, Jason and I have not been to Walt Disney World together in nearly a year. In fact, it will have been almost exactly a year when we return. I know we are so fortunate to be APs and be able to visit as often as we do, so I hate to feel like I’m complaining about my champagne problems, but I know many of you have felt the same way we have over the last few months. Being unable to be in our happy place, our home away from home, has been so hard for us, emotionally. We are so beyond ready to be back in Walt Disney World. Speaking of being back…

When: September 8th-13th

We had originally booked our trip for September 9th-13th, but then an Annual Passholder room discount came out in July, and we were able to add another night to our trip and still be paying less than what we were originally going to pay! Since we were going to be going down the Wednesday after Labor Day (the 9th), we were already planning to take the 8th off, since we didn’t see the point in being off work the 7th, working the 8th, and then being off the rest of the week. We’re excited to have a nice long weekend to get packed and prepared for the trip, rather than working all day the day prior, coming home and finishing last minute packing and preparation, and going to bed way too late the night before our trip.

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Where: Pop Century!

We have not stayed at Pop since March 2017, prior to the room renovations, so we are excited to be back. We have stayed in a renovated room at All Star Movies and loved it. I know a lot of people view the new theming as sterile, but we don’t mind it. I view it as a clean, modern look, and we absolutely love all of the added storage and USB portals/outlets. I know many folks don’t dig the “hardwood” floors and prefer carpet, but our entire house is hardwood and tile, so we’re used to it.

Our last (and only, up to this point) experience at Pop was defined by what felt like hundreds of school groups and sports teams staying at the resort at the same time as us, so we don’t exactly look back on our time at Pop with the fondest of memories. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the resort, it can just get frustrating to be surrounded by tons and tons of teenagers any time you go to ride a bus to the parks or eat in the resort food court. None of them were poorly behaved, as far as I can remember (at least not as poorly behaved as the cheerleaders when we stayed at CBR during a cheer competition, but that’s another story for another day)…there were just so many of them, everywhere, all the time…We are excited to make new, hopefully fonder memories at Pop. Jason is very excited about the Skyliner. I….am anxious. If you read my Disneyland trip report from this past December, you may remember that I have a pretty intense fear of heights. I told J that I would try the Skyliner at least once, since it’s important to him. If I absolutely can’t stand it, we’ll have our car with us, so we can drive to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

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Why: We love visiting Walt Disney World in the Fall (and the Spring, and the Holidays, and…). Typically, September/October trips mean Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. While we are totally bummed that MNSSHP is cancelled, we understand why. There will always be other years. As far as Food and Wine…we are actually looking forward to the new, scaled-down version of the festival. I have always felt the usual 30+ booths to be overwhelming, especially if you’re only at Epcot for one day. We’ve already made a big list of things we want to enjoy at Food and Wine, and I know we won’t be disappointed!

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So there’s my “brief” summary of the trip…look forward to more detailed plans coming soon!

Up next: Daily plans
 
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ajrwdwgirl

Premium Member
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I'm looking forward to seeing your adventures!
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I'm looking forward to seeing your adventures!
Yay! So glad to have you following along!
I, too, have a fear of heights but I was pleasantly surprised when I rode the Skyliner that I was ok with it. I think the fact that it isn’t an up and down climb but a horizontal path that made the difference (for me).
I've heard a similar sentiment shared by a few people...hopefully that will be the same case for me! It really does seem like a super convenient mode of transportation.
Following along!
Thank you for following along!
I’m in!
Woohoo! Thank you for reading!
Oooh excited! Love the Hannah Montana reference
Haha, I'm glad someone caught that!
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Daily Plans - Tuesday, September 8th

Now, let’s talk about the daily plans for this trip! I’ll break this up into multiple parts and try to sprinkle in some photos from past trips so it doesn’t seem so word heavy.

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We will be up and at ‘em super early this day. Jason likes to beat the morning rush traffic, which means we have to leave our house no later than 6 am. Usually, it’s more like 5 am. We live about an hour North of Atlanta, and WDW is roughly a 7-hour drive for us. We prefer driving over flying for a few reasons. 1) We like the freedom of having a car onsite. If we go out to the bus stop at the resort and the lines are crazy long, we can just hop in the car and drive to the park. Or, if we have plans to have lunch or take a mid-day break at Disney Springs, we can take the car, since you can’t catch a bus from the parks to Disney Springs. 2) Flying really would not save us much time – maybe 2 hours max – but driving saves us a lot of money. 3) We like being able to pack whatever the heck we want, and buy whatever souvenirs we want, without worrying about fitting everything into suitcases.

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So, we’ll be on the road probably around 5 am. We always, always stop at the same Chick-Fil-A in Perry, GA for breakfast (and more importantly, COFFEE), and then again at the Pilot in Jennings, FL for gas and more caffeine. Both of these stops have become traditions in themselves, it wouldn’t feel like a normal WDW trip without them. After both stops, as long as we don’t hit any traffic jams, we are usually driving through the magical purple gates around 12:15/12:30 or so. We have requested for our room at Pop to be ready at noon. We have about 50/50 luck with early check-in. If our room is ready, we’ll go ahead and unpack and settle into the room. If it is not ready when we arrive, we will leave our stuff at the resort and carry on with the rest of our day.

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I mentioned in my last post that I’m anxious about riding the Skyliner, but I told Jason I would try it at least once. So, I’m thinking that we’ll get that out of the way first, and maybe pop over to Riviera to check it out and grab lunch at their quick service. If I absolutely can’t handle the Skyliner, we’ll plan to drive to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

After lunch, we plan to hit up Fantasia Gardens mini golf. We absolutely love the mini golf courses at WDW – they are so fun, and vastly underappreciated. We haven’t done Fantasia Gardens in a couple years, so we’ve been itching to go back.

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Then, we have dinner plans at Raglan Road in Disney Springs. We have never eaten there, but literally every time we pass it, we say that we need to go there “someday.” Well, someday has finally arrived! Our reservation is for 7:30, and we’ll probably do some shopping in Disney Springs beforehand. After dinner, it will be back to the resort and early to bed, so we can be well-rested for our first park day in a long time!

Up next - more daily plans
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Let's continue with our daily plans, shall we?

Wednesday, September 9th

Animal Kingdom day! I always say that Magic Kingdom is my favorite WDW park, but I think I miss Animal Kingdom the most when we’re away. It is so different from any other Disney park, and we enjoy soaking in the quiet moments, admiring the beauty of Animal Kingdom.


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The park will be open from 8am to 6 pm this day. Since Animal Kingdom is the hottest place on Earth, we like to get as much done as possible before lunch, and take a break in the hottest part of the day. We have not ridden Flight of Passage, my favorite ride in WDW, since May of last year, so we definitely plan on hitting that one up multiple times! Honestly, we’ll probably hit everything up multiple times, if the wait times continue to be as low as they have. We also enjoy meandering around the different trails located throughout Animal Kingdom, watching the animals, and just enjoying the scenery. We’ll probably do lunch at Satu’li Canteen, and take a break in the afternoon.

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We have a 5:00 pm dinner reservation at Sanaa, so we may go back to Animal Kingdom for an hour or so before dinner, or we may call it a day after lunch. We are so excited to return to Sanaa, it is one of our favorite restaurants in all of WDW, and we have not been since October 2018. I have been dreaming of the bread service and butter chicken ever since I made the reservation! After dinner, it will be back to Pop for some downtime before bed.

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Thursday, September 10th

Magic Kingdom Day! My “favorite” park at WDW. Honestly, I think the rankings change every trip.


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MK will be open from 9am to 7pm this day. We may wait a little while after rope drop to head to MK – it seems like rope drop is the most crowded time of day. We are definitely looking forward to being back in MK – it holds such a special place in both of our hearts, as well as some of our favorite attractions! I’ve already told Jason that we’re riding Big Thunder at least 5 times this trip! We're also anxious to see the new castle paint job. I'm not sure how I feel about it, based on the pictures I've seen online. I don't mind the pink as much, but the blue is really, really blue.

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I’m really hoping that they’re still planning on putting out the Fall decorations, even though there are no Halloween parties this year. The Mickey Pumpkin wreaths are some of my very favorite seasonal decorations at WDW! We will plan to be at MK until around 1:00 pm, when we’ll be heading out for a lunch reservation.


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We have a 2:00 lunch reservation at Homecomin’ this day. We have waited FOREVER to finally try Homecomin’ – everyone raves about it, and the menu is definitely up our alley. We prefer to do our table service meals at dinner, and we always have the hardest time finding a dinner reservation at Homecomin’ that’s not at 9:30 pm. We had finally snagged one for our April trip, and then that got cancelled. So, I was determined that we were going to eat at Homecomin’ this trip, and when I found an open lunch reservation, I grabbed it for us. After lunch, we’ll probably head back to the resort for some downtime before returning to MK for a couple hours before park closing.


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While we are certainly bummed about no MNSSHP this year, it definitely made sense to cancel the parties, considering the fact that the main draws of the party are the parade, fireworks, and character meets. I am secretly hoping that they’ll still do Space Mountain in total darkness like they do at the parties – probably a pipe dream, but you never know!

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Up next: September 11th and 12th plans
 

pkkurz

Member
Daily Plans - Tuesday, September 8th

Now, let’s talk about the daily plans for this trip! I’ll break this up into multiple parts and try to sprinkle in some photos from past trips so it doesn’t seem so word heavy.

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We will be up and at ‘em super early this day. Jason likes to beat the morning rush traffic, which means we have to leave our house no later than 6 am. Usually, it’s more like 5 am. We live about an hour North of Atlanta, and WDW is roughly a 7-hour drive for us. We prefer driving over flying for a few reasons. 1) We like the freedom of having a car onsite. If we go out to the bus stop at the resort and the lines are crazy long, we can just hop in the car and drive to the park. Or, if we have plans to have lunch or take a mid-day break at Disney Springs, we can take the car, since you can’t catch a bus from the parks to Disney Springs. 2) Flying really would not save us much time – maybe 2 hours max – but driving saves us a lot of money. 3) We like being able to pack whatever the heck we want, and buy whatever souvenirs we want, without worrying about fitting everything into suitcases.

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So, we’ll be on the road probably around 5 am. We always, always stop at the same Chick-Fil-A in Perry, GA for breakfast (and more importantly, COFFEE), and then again at the Pilot in Jennings, FL for gas and more caffeine. Both of these stops have become traditions in themselves, it wouldn’t feel like a normal WDW trip without them. After both stops, as long as we don’t hit any traffic jams, we are usually driving through the magical purple gates around 12:15/12:30 or so. We have requested for our room at Pop to be ready at noon. We have about 50/50 luck with early check-in. If our room is ready, we’ll go ahead and unpack and settle into the room. If it is not ready when we arrive, we will leave our stuff at the resort and carry on with the rest of our day.

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I mentioned in my last post that I’m anxious about riding the Skyliner, but I told Jason I would try it at least once. So, I’m thinking that we’ll get that out of the way first, and maybe pop over to Riviera to check it out and grab lunch at their quick service. If I absolutely can’t handle the Skyliner, we’ll plan to drive to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

After lunch, we plan to hit up Fantasia Gardens mini golf. We absolutely love the mini golf courses at WDW – they are so fun, and vastly underappreciated. We haven’t done Fantasia Gardens in a couple years, so we’ve been itching to go back.

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Then, we have dinner plans at Raglan Road in Disney Springs. We have never eaten there, but literally every time we pass it, we say that we need to go there “someday.” Well, someday has finally arrived! Our reservation is for 7:30, and we’ll probably do some shopping in Disney Springs beforehand. After dinner, it will be back to the resort and early to bed, so we can be well-rested for our first park day in a long time!

Up next - more daily plans
Don’t stress over the skyliner. I too was very concerned as I too have a fear of heights. I was fortunate 😨to ride the old skyway at MK as a kid. It scared the crap out of me. The skyliner is totally different. Very smooth and being enclosed helps. It is a fun ride as well as a very efficient travel alternative and the views from above are spectacular.
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Can't wait for your trip report! And YAY for the Hannah Montana song lyrics in the title!! ;)
Thanks for following along!
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I predict you will like the POP renovations.
Boom baby! Glad to have you along!
Don’t stress over the skyliner. I too was very concerned as I too have a fear of heights. I was fortunate 😨to ride the old skyway at MK as a kid. It scared the crap out of me. The skyliner is totally different. Very smooth and being enclosed helps. It is a fun ride as well as a very efficient travel alternative and the views from above are spectacular.
I'm trying not to overthink about it!
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
September 11th

Epcot Day! Epcot is the one park I have been to this year, for a grand total of 2 hours back in February after we got off our girls’ cruise. The park will be open from 11am-9pm this day, and we are looking forward to sleeping in! We’re actually kind of excited for the limited park hours – as much as we’ll miss the late-night ambiance, especially at MK, it will be so nice to actually get a decent amount of sleep on a Disney trip.


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We had originally planned on breakfast at Kona Café this morning, since Epcot will be opening so late, but we’re now leaning toward cancelling it and saving our appetites (and dollars) for the Food and Wine Festival. As much as I love and have missed the pineapple macadamia nut pancakes, $50 is a lot to cough up for breakfast the same day that we’ll be spending I’m sure $150+ at Food and Wine. We’ll more than likely cancel Kona and just do breakfast in the room that morning before *hopefully* taking the Skyliner over to Epcot. Since we’ll be coming in through the International Gateway, I don’t know if we’ll go ahead and start in World Showcase, or if we’ll make the trek over to Future World and start there first.


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Epcot is always a fairly leisurely day for us – we can usually get Future World knocked out in 2-3 hours, and then the rest of the day is spent meandering around the World Showcase, watching some of the entertainment, perusing the shops, and eating lots of tasty Festival food. We’re looking forward to riding Spaceship Earth again, since we thought that last September would be our last time riding it in its current version. I also may or may not have cried at my desk at work a couple weeks ago when I heard the Living with the Land ride-through audio on DParkRadio, so looking forward to doing that one again as well. Of course it goes without saying that we’re excited for Food and Wine. It’s not our favorite festival of the year (that title goes to Flower and Garden), but it’s always fun to graze around the different booths. No dining reservations this day since Food and Wine will serve as our lunch and dinner.


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I was so sad to see that they cut several of the live entertainments acts from the World Showcase. We will especially miss the drummers in Japan. I hope that these cuts are just temporary. I’m also more than a little bummed that the Voices of Liberty won’t be playing during this trip. I totally understand why, since everyone has to squish together to be able to hear them really well, but it just won’t be the same without them. I’ll also miss IllumiNations. Definitely NOT sad to be missing Epcot Forever, since I haven’t exactly heard rave reviews. I’m sure we’ll still stay until park close – we love the World Showcase at night. Also…it’s so crazy to think that the last park closes at 9 pm!

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Up next: September 12th plans
 

k8einwdw

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
September 12th

Hollywood Studios Day! This will be our last full day of the trip. The park will be open from 10am to 8pm, and I know we’ll be there for rope drop to try to snag a boarding pass for ROTR, since we have yet to go on that attraction. I’m so anxious about that whole process. We also haven’t done Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, so we’re looking forward to that, although we definitely miss the Great Movie Ride.


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We’re also looking forward to being back in Galaxy’s Edge. We more or less skipped over it when we were in Disneyland back in December, so it will have been a year. We’ve both been looking forward to another Ronto Wrap as well – since Woody’s Lunchbox is currently closed, I think Ronto Roasters is the best quick service in Hollywood Studios at the moment. And of course, we’re looking forward to being back in Toy Story Land, and hopefully riding Slinky Dog multiple times! And maybe just maybe, I can beat Jason at Toy Story Mania like I did in DCA back in December.

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We have a 6:00 pm dinner reservation this day, at Beaches and Cream! I’ll be interested to see the newly refurbished and expanded interior. I’ve seen pictures online, and it seemingly lacks some of the charm of the original, but the dining area definitely needed to be expanded. Hopefully we’ll be able to make it back to HS for a little while before park closing, but I’m not counting on it, since Beaches and Cream is notorious for taking forever to seat you after you check in.


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And that will wrap up our time in the parks! I know a lot of people are disappointed that you can’t really park hop right now, but we’ve almost always done a full day in each park, so it won’t make a huge difference to us. I’m just so happy to be back in the parks together.


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September 13th – Check Out Day

This will be brief, so I’ll go ahead and tack it on here. This day, we’ll be waking up early, finishing up any packing we didn’t get done the night prior, and loading up the car before an early breakfast. We have a 8:00 breakfast reservation at Topolino’s Terrace, which we’ve been looking forward to forever! I initially booked it with the thought that we’d take the Skyliner from Pop to Riviera, but since the parks are opening later and the Skyliner won’t be running that early, we’ll just drive over. While it certainly won’t be the same since the characters can’t come up to your table for pictures, we’re definitely looking forward to a new character meal. We avoid the character meal buffets like the plague (I know, joke’s on us when we have young kids), so we’re excited that there’s a new non-buffet character meal option. It’s certainly pricey, but the menu looks great, the location is beautiful, and those character outfits are just so dang cute. I know we will enjoy it. After breakfast, it will be time to head and out make the long drive home. It always feels so much longer driving home than it does driving down to WDW. Part of it is because we inevitably hit traffic coming through South Metro Atlanta, but part of it is also that there’s no longer the palpable excitement of just starting out on a Disney trip. But we won’t have to be sad for long, since we’ll be back the week after Thanksgiving!

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So there are our plans for our September trip! I hope you all enjoy following along!
 

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