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



And my husband, Jason



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!


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


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.


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.


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!


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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Wednesday, September 9th - Continued

After we wrapped up our time in Africa, we were both hungry, and we already knew exactly where we wanted to have lunch - Satu'li Canteen! This has become one of our favorite QS spots in all of WDW. The food is delicious, and so different from anything else in any of the other parks. We mobile ordered prior to leaving Africa, and pressed "I'm Here" as soon as Pandora was in view. To our delight, it took a whopping 30 seconds to get the notification that our order was ready! We headed in to grab our food, and we managed to find an empty table inside, so we were able to dine in the comfort of the A/C.

So, what's for lunch? I had the Grilled Chicken Bowl with rice and beans and the creamy herb sauce ($12.49). J had the Combination Bowl (beef and chicken) with noodles and creamy herb sauce ($16.99). To drink, we both got a bottled water ($3.50/each).


And for us, a meal at Satu'li Canteen isn't complete without the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse ($5.29). We split one between the two of us. It is both pretty and delicious!


Overall, it was another fantastic meal at Satu'li Canteen! We went right after 11:00, so it wasn't peak lunch time, and it was so nice to be able to relax in the A/C for a little bit, without having to fight the crowds for a table.

After our bellies were full, we contemplated heading to Asia to ride Everest, but decided to let our stomachs settle on something a little calmer first. Since we were already in the neighborhood, we decided to hit up Na'Vi River Journey. It's certainly not a must-do for us, and we don't ride every trip, but it is a nice, relaxing ride in the A/C, with pretty sights to admire.

While we were in line, we took the opportunity to grab some more pics of the floating mountains. If you look closely in the second picture, you can see a weaving of the shaman that you meet later in the ride.



We also grabbed some pics of some of the interesting "plants" and water features in the queue. The things you could easily walk right by if you're not paying attention!



While we were in line, an older woman in line behind us appeared to have passed out. It seems like she may have overheated. She was sitting on the ground, leaned against one of her family members, and another family member was fanning her. Thankfully, there was a nurse nearby who came to her aid, and a CM brought her some water. It was a tense situation, but I'm glad that people jumped into action quickly. Here is your reminder to DRINK WATER, PEOPLE!!! We drink AT LEAST half a gallon a day, every day (not just at Disney). We also carry handheld fans and cooling neck towels in our backpacks. Central Florida is hotter than you expect it to be, and it can be so easy to overheat if you overexert yourself. Take breaks, hydrate, and wear cool clothing!

Now that I'm off my soapbox...the wait for Na'Vi River Journey was listed at 35 minutes, but we only had to wait ~20. We also got our own boat, which was nice! Since the boats really only seat two parties max on a regular day, it makes sense that they're only loading one party per boat right now. I attempted a bunch of pictures on the ride, but this is the only one that turned out decent. I always forget how massive the shaman is!


Up next: Disco Yeti


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Wednesday, September 9th - Animal Kingdom Day - Continued

After our leisurely river cruise, we decided it was time to amp things up. We headed over to Asia by way of Discovery Island, determined to conquer the forbidden mountain.

One of my favorite picture spots in AK...


I can't remember if I saw it on here, or on YouTube, but the tall peak in the center here is the Forbidden Mountain. The shorter, righthand peak is Mt. Everest. The more you know...


Here we go! The sign indicated a 20 minute wait. Would that be the case? I honestly don't mind waiting a little in the EE queue, there are so many little details to enjoy.


First, we had to stop by the tour agency to grab some gear...



Anyone for tea?


We stopped by the museum on our way out...


This tent looks like it might get a little breezy at night....


Soon enough, it was time for our tour. But first, our train needed to be sanitized.



We made it! I knew we would! P.S. Zoom in on the lady in the front row for a surprise...


We ended up waiting ~15 minutes. Not bad, considering the fact that we got freshly cleaned seats. My only complaint? They had part of the museum portion of the queue roped off, so you didn't go through all of it. One of my friends/former coworkers is terrified of deer, so I always send her a picture of the creepy deer mask when we pass it in the queue, but we didn't get close to it this time. I'm a really good friend...

Up next: A really big kitty cat


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Hi friends, sorry this trip report has been progressing sooooo ssssllllooowwwlllyyyy...I was transferred into a different position at work right after we returned from WDW, and then more responsibilities got added to my plate at the end of September, so it's been a little hectic around these parts. November/December is our slow season, so I'm hoping to be able to catch my breath soon. For now, let's get on with the trip report!

Wednesday, September 9th - Animal Kingdom Day - Continued

After we conquered the Forbidden Mountain, we (I) decided to ride an attraction that we very rarely go on - Kali River Rapids! I think in the 11 times J and I had been to WDW together up to that point, we had ridden Kali River Rapids twice. Both times, we wound up being absolutely soaked, which is just not fun. However, I had heard from some magicians that they had toned down the rapids a little bit, so I decided to give it a try, and dragged J along with me. We hopped in the line, which was advertising a 20 minute wait, but we waited maybe 5 minutes. While in line, I took a pic of these statues that I didn't remember noticing before...


Unfortunately, this was one of the instances where people got uncomfortably close to us in line. There was a huge group behind us, and they were not paying attention to where they were walking. At one point, one man in the group ended up about half an inch away from me. I whipped around and gave him a "BACK OFF" look, and thankfully, he did. At least, a little bit. They still tailed us a little too closely for comfort, but at least they weren't breathing down our necks anymore.

As for the ride? I have to say, it was almost boring without the usual rapids. We were in a raft with a man and his two elementary-age kids, and when we pulled up to the dock to disembark, one kid looked at the dad and said, "That was it?" While I hate getting super wet, I almost think that they toned Kali down a little too much.

After Kali River Rapids, we headed over to the Maharajah Jungle Trek to check out some of the animals. First up was this big guy.


Then, it was on to my favorite part of this trail - the tigers! Can you spot Sohni in this picture? She is the mama tiger who gave birth to two cubs in 2017.


There was a CM nearby who told us that Sohni was about to get a snack, and to stick around to watch, and we're glad we did! First, she walked up to this door, and a window opened up so she could get her snack from one of the handlers.


Then, she walked over to this window, for more treats.


Wonder if there's any more?


Back to the original window...


We both thought that this was hilarious. Tigers really are like big house cats!

After watching Sohni for a few minutes, we made our way through the rest of the trail. We saw a couple of those mutant peacock-pigeon birds in the aviary area, but I wasn't quick enough to get a pic (see @fractal report for pics - those things are HUGE!). I was plenty quick enough to get some pics of the beautiful atmosphere though. We just love how beautifully decorated this whole area is.



Can you spot the hidden Mickey? Hint: it's in one of the clouds.


And that was it for our time in Asia!

Up next: Diggin' in Dinoland
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