Joy and Sadness, A Trip Report (9-23 to 9-27)

Who: Me and DH
What: 3rd trip to WDW since re-opening
Where: Caribbean Beach Resort (Room 5542)
When: September 23rd to September 27th

We have been fortunate enough to make two prior visits to WDW since their re-opening. The first was for the MK re-opening AP preview then we returned about a week later after the public re-opening of all of the parks. I had seen a few trip reports and watching wait times, so I was going into this trip anticipating that the unicorn of our July trips was probably not going to happen on this third trip. Spoiler Alert – it definitely was not the same experience. So, for those who went in the first weeks after re-opening and are planning to go again, I will try to include my observations comparing the two trips. YMMV

Day 1 – Arrival Day and Hollywood Studios

Our flight arrived on time at MCO at 10:20 am. Mask compliance at MCO was far better than what we saw during our last two trips (both in July) so that was a plus. We got our luggage and headed to DME. There were 3 families in front of us, but it moved quickly. We boarded the bus within 5 minutes. The seating was assigned and staggered as it was on our previous visits. The bus was definitely more full than previous trips and we made a lot of stops! We stopped individually at Boardwalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club, CBR (our stop) then Pop Century. It was nice to see that the DME video has been updated to include the Incredibles and the safety/mask/social distancing message. That wasn’t there in July and it just felt odd to see all of these people excited about Disney and not wearing masks :slight_smile:

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Our room wasn’t ready yet so we stored our luggage and headed for the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios. We were in the park by 12:30 and made our way to SWGE (DH is a HUGE SW fan so this is now our first stop in HS on every trip). We grabbed some Blue Milk (with Rum is the best!), saw some characters and, went to lunch at Docking Bay 7.

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I will say, it was hot out, so so hot out. And it was crowded. Mask compliance was great (I had made a conscious effort to not let lack of mask compliance get to me during this trip so maybe I just wasn’t paying as much attention to it but for the whole trip, it really did seem very good).

When we took our July trips, those were the first times we had really been out and about since COVID so, during those two trips, I was much more anxious about masks, physical distancing…etc. That was also a time when FL positivity rates were out of control so I really was second-guessing our decision to travel there at that time. But after the first trip, we were so impressed with the measures Disney took, we felt very comfortable returning a week later.
Now that the positivity trends are so much better, there was never a second thought about returning for this trip.
On this trip, I wasn’t too concerned if we did see someone not wearing a mask properly if we were outside (whereas in July, it really did make me nervous). We were vigilant about where we walked, if we saw a large group (and there were lots of them!) we could adjust our path. It was crowded (far more crowded than July) but it never felt unsafe or hindered our ability to move about. Did it impact some of the things we chose to do, yes. But more on that later.
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After lunch and doing some Photo Pass shots, we tried to determine what to do next. This was my only day at HS (DH would be coming back tomorrow while I hit EPCOT) and I really wanted to do ToT (we didn’t do it on our trip in July) and some of the non-star wars things. I enjoy SWGE but I can’t stay there all day the way DH can.

This is where I made a few realizations: Arriving at HS in the middle of the day is a horrible idea. I really thought that with it being a Wednesday, it wouldn’t be that bad. I am sure it was better than being there on a weekend day but not being able to do rope drop was a real hindrance. Luckily, we did MMRR on our last trip. It is cute and I would do it again but not if it meant waiting 70+ minutes.

We headed out of SWGE and it was getting close to 2 so we wanted to try for a BG. We found a spot across from Indiana Jones and waited. We have had amazing luck with getting a BG but the process just stresses me out so much. We knew that since we weren’t arriving until the afternoon, the chances of getting BG were greatly reduced. And even if we got one, we may not ride due to the regular breakdowns. That is why DH was going to hit up HS again tomorrow. But, we didn’t have to worry because we were able to get back up BG 78!! Such relief.
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There were a few things I wanted to do that we hadn’t done before and the first was to see Vacation Fun. So we headed there next and it was a super cute short. I don’t think I had ever been in that theater and it was a nice break from the heat.
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After that, we walked down to ToT but the line was out near BATB. Now, with the distancing, I understand the wait wasn’t as bad as it looked but honestly, I wasn’t going to wait 40 minutes. I am so spoiled with having mastered the prior FP+ system and not having to wait long, it just didn’t seem worth it. And, knowing the lines/wait would be longer, that meant more time inside in cramped spaces with lots of people. We are lucky that we get to the parks frequently so there is really no “must do” ride at this point (DH would disagree because for him Rise is a must-do).
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We spent some time going into the shops and got some ice cream now that Hollywood Scoops is back open.
We caught all of the cavalcades (we missed the one with Mickey and Minnie on our last trip). I really love the cavalcades. They are so much fun.
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An observation about the cavalcades – I understand the intent is to make these spontaneous so that people don’t line up to wait for them and to aid in distancing. In reality, only part of that is happening. As soon as people hear the music signaling the cavalcade is starting, everyone stops and lines the route. Again, this didn’t bother me this trip because we are outside and it really isn’t for very long. The cavalcades are so short that you are maybe in that crowded area for 5 minutes tops. But, you will likely not be 6 feet apart from anyone when they go by!

Consistently on this trip, I found a few things to be true:

  • when there are no “wait here” markers, distancing falls apart.

  • When there are no “stand here” markers (like in MK) but there is a cavalcade, distancing falls apart.

  • When people are in shops, distancing falls apart (this wasn’t horrible since they do limit capacity to the stores but still good to anticipate).

  • When waiting for mobile orders, distancing falls apart.
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We headed to Toy Story Land – TSMM was down to a manageable 20 min wait so finally, at 3:30, we rode our first ride of the day!
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We finished that just in time to head back to SWGE for our 4:00 Oga’s reservation.

It definitely has a different vibe with fewer people but we actually got to sit (in real bar stools) at the bar so that was nice.

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As we were finishing up our drinks, our BG got called (4:30)!!!
Amazingly enough, we actually got on the attraction after 31 minutes and we made it through the whole ride. We have ridden over a dozen times and I think there have only been 2 times that we haven’t been evacuated off the ride or stopped during the ride. We have great luck with getting a BG but not always making it onto and through the whole ride.
Personally, I love getting placed on number 4 (back of the transport) or 6 (front of the transport) and we got number 6 this time.
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When the ride works, it is amazing. This time the audio was slightly glitchy in a few parts but otherwise, all was seamless.

Star Tours was a pretty short wait (I think 20 min which is the lowest it had been since we had been there) so we did that next. Yes, by 6:00 we had done a whopping 3 rides 

We had a 6:50 dinner reservation at Sci-Fi Dine-In so we killed some time by walking through SWGE again and then checked in online at 6:30 and were seated by 6:35.
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One of the reasons I booked a later dinner was to see the park at night. I really miss the Disney parks at night and seeing all of the lights. After we were finished with dinner, we walked back to the front of the park. By this time, it was about 7:30 (park close was 7) but there were still lots of people around the theater and milling about. It was such a beautiful night and I loved seeing things lit up!
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We headed out to the Skyliner at around 7:45 and I was shocked to see the line. It stretched all the way back to the bus directory sign and then looped back to the Skyliner station. Even with the distancing and only loading 1 family per car, it was still only a 15 min wait so not bad at all.
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We had received our room ready text so we walked to the lobby and got our bags. We also had our Owners Locker (first time!) so had to pick that up. We were so tired but figured walking to the lobby and requesting the bags be brought to our room would be faster than calling bell services from the room. We loaded up on snacks and water in the gift shop (mobile order looked like it was going to be a while) and our bags arrived about 10 min later.

Channel 74 plays a loop of HEA from 6 to 10….I may have watched it for over an hour :slight_smile:

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I loved the location of our room (room request was just 1 door off from what I requested). We were in Aruba and so close to the Riviera and that Skyliner station. We stayed at the Riviera in February and I fell in love with the resort so it was great being so close for easy walking to their QS (and just to walk in and smell the Riviera lobby smell!).
I also love the look of it, especially at night.

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Thoughts from the day:
• In late September, it is still ungodly hot out. The humidity wasn’t quite as bad as in July but heat index was still over 100.
• No rain! That was a true blessing
• Mask compliance was great both in the airport and within Disney (hotel and parks)
• Lines were long. If you don’t know any better, they are fine. But if you do know better…not so much!
• I’m glad we didn’t feel the need to ride all the rides (or even half of them) because it would have been a really disappointing day. Instead, we did things we hadn’t done before, got lots of Photo Pass shots, ate a lot, shopped a lot, and just paid a lot more attention to the little things
• There were so many kids! Far more than I was expecting. Lots of EVCs too. In July both of those were few and far between and it was so nice. I don’t know if there were more kids because some schools haven’t started yet or because they are virtual, there isn’t the need to be home but it was really surprising (especially on a Wednesday!)

Tomorrow: I go to EPCOT for F&W, Merch, and Cavalcades. DH goes to HS to try for another BG and enjoy the day in SWGE

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So excited! I really appreciate the analysis on crowds and masks and ride line waits!

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Wow! Good to know! I don’t think we even turned on the tv in our room when we were there. But I will look for this next month.

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Loving this recent trip report, and the commentary on crowds and safety/mask compliance. Can’t wait to see the rest!

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Can’t wait to read more! Great pics!

Thanks for sharing your perspectives on how things have changed. I was surprised as well about how hot it is at the end of Sept. I can do either hot or crowded, but not both. The only month we haven’t been is July for that reason. :blush: Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip!

This was great! And so helpful. Question for if you can’t get to HS in the morning: what time would you recommend heading in? Closer to 4;00? 3:00?

I’ve been debating a lot about HS on a Monday or a Wednesday, Since theoretically Wednesdays should be the lowest crowd days, but it sounds like it won’t make much of a difference either way.

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I’m so excited for this too!!! My littles can take a bath then “see the fireworks” and still be in bed by 9 pm :blush::exploding_head:

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Day 2 – EPCOT and HS

Today was a nice and late start for me since I was headed to EPCOT. However, DH was headed to HS so he was up early (although later than he planned) to head out via the Skyliner. His main focus was arriving in time for a boarding group so the Skyliner was fine, he wasn’t trying to ride MMRR, SDD, or any other headliner which required beating the majority of the crowds.
Now, the night before, I told him to be sure to go to the main CBR station (not the Riviera station closest to our building). I was half awake when he left but then shortly after, he returned to the room saying the Skyliner hadn’t started yet. I think it was around 8:40. I asked why he returned to the room and didn’t just wait in line and he said there were only 2 people in line. That didn’t sound right so I asked which station he went to and he said the one that is right next to our building. I told him that one goes direct to EPCOT which didn’t open until 11 so not surprised there weren’t many people there. I suggested (again) that he go to the other station because I had a feeling by now, it would be really backed up. So he left (again) and got to the main station around 5 til 9 and sent me a text that the line was really long (:woman_facepalming:).

On this morning, the Skyliner didn’t start running and loading until around 9:10. And he observed that the people who got on at Riviera were having to get off at the CBR station and get in the long line to transfer to HS. Same with people coming from Pop. Needless to say, there were a lot of unhappy people having to do this because, by the time they got to the CBR station, that line was super super long.

This is something that I honestly didn’t think about being an issue because when we went in July, we stayed at Pop but didn’t have an issue transferring at CBR. Looking back, this was because, at that time, CBR wasn’t open yet so it didn’t dawn on me how big of an issue this would be. We are scheduled to stay at AOA when we go in December but I was able to change to CBR for not too much more so that we wouldn’t have to deal with that issue when we go back.

DH finally boarded the Skyliner at 9:25. He was still able to make it to HS, through temp check and security with plenty of time to try for a BG (he entered the park at 9:35). But, if you are trying to head to any of the headliners, Skyliner isn’t the best transportation option. If you are only concerned with getting in the park in time for the 10:00 BG drop, it seems you can line up at the main CBR station as late as 9 and still be OK (obviously this could change if hotel capacity increase and could be impacted once AoA opens and even more people are coming from those stations).

DH also said that it seemed about ¼ of the people headed to MMRR, ¼ headed to TSL, and half to SWGE. He also observed that it seems that maybe people think you need to be over by RotR or in SWGE to try for a boarding group because a lot of people were just standing around but there was a pretty long line already at MFSR, it was outside but not wrapped back to TSL yet. After the boarding group drop, MFSR line stretched back to TSL.
But, if you want to go to Dok Ondor’s, hit it first thing in the morning before it gets crowded. When we tried to go yesterday, they were doing a virtual queue to get in the store and the line just to give them your cell phone number for a return text was really long.
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Sadly, DH was not able to secure a BG at the 10:00 drop. This is the first time in all of our attempts that he wasn’t successful. There seemed to be an issue with the automatic selection of the party. He said it just spun and spun, almost like it was looking for other people in the party to add but there was no one else since he was solo. Those precious seconds were enough to lose out. He was really bummed but the fact that we had success at the 2:00 drop the day before gave him hope to try again.
I’m going to switch over to EPCOT but DH was able to get a 2:00 BG and got to ride for the second day in a row!

I was really in no hurry to get to EPCOT. It was open until 7 pm and I knew I wouldn’t spend 8 hours there so I figured I would head over closer to lunchtime and start with Food and Wine. My only goals were to sample the food, walk around world showcase, pick up some merch, and catch the cavalcades. So, it would be a leisurely day.

I absolutely loved the location of our room (5542). These are the views from right outside our door.
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I walked over to the Riviera to check out their gift shop and honestly, just to smell the Riviera lobby smell! :slight_smile:

I was so happy to find the Pumpkin Spice Candle that @DumboRunner posted in her trip report so I bought a few of those for gifts and dropped them at the room before heading to EPCOT.
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image I arrived at IG around noon and it was hot but with a really lovely breeze. As we entered IG tap styles, a CM was reminding each guest to wear face coverings and be sure they cover the nose and mouth. There were hardly any people around which was such a nice change from HS the day before. I went right because I really wanted a crepe :yum:

I am a huge fan of Photo Pass and take full advantage of it being included with the AP. So, I stopped in France and they did probably 6 different shots and poses - so much fun.
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I walked back to check out the Ratatouille sign (OK, secretly hoping someone would see me and say hey, want to test the ride? But that didn’t happen) and settled for a selfie with the topiary instead.
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Next up, Les Vins des Chefs de France (I really don’t think I knew this place had a name!) for the orange slush and Crepes des Chefs de France for a Strawberry Crepe. A perfect start to the day.
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I decided to go back into the shops in France and their new (to me) line of cookware with macaroons is so adorable. I couldn’t resist and bought a spatula. I don’t cook but it will look cute!
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I had yet to see the new Beauty and the Beast sing along and a new show was starting in less than 10 minutes so I jumped in line. It was meh. I loved the songs from the original but not so sure about the new “twist” and missed the voice of Josh Gad.

My goal as I ate around the world was to try all new things. There are some F&W items that I get every time because they are so good (Canada, I’m looking at you) but I always end up getting so full that I miss out on new things. So, today, everything new! I spotted Brazil and the cheese bread and that was a must. It was great.
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Another thing I wanted to do was take my time walking through the pavilions. I had a lot of eating to do and needed to pace myself. I love the Morocco pavilion. It is always so peaceful.
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I saw a set of doors and went in to find a really nice exhibit called Race Against the Sun. It really is too bad that people don’t go back into these little areas.
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Spicy Hummus Fries – another new dish to me and it did not disappoint. It was such a huge portion that I only ate about half because I had lots more food to try.
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Japan offered another respite from the heat. I had never been inside Mitsukoshi and took the opportunity to wander through there. It was definitely crowded and I stuck to the main path through the store because it was hard to distance in some of the smaller areas. Japan is another great pavilion to just relax.
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The Teriyaki Chicken bun was excellent
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At this point, I still hadn’t seen any cavalcades. When we came in July, this is the only park where we missed the cavalcades because we were in FW for a large part of the time. I knew the cavalcades were around WS but they were elusive to me for most of the day.
I skipped the food at America (I love love love the lobster roll but decided that if I still had room after my first loop of trying new foods, I would come back) and popped into the bathroom. As I exited, I heard different music and it dawned on me that maybe it was from a cavalcade but kept progressing towards my next stop.

Italy was another Photo Pass stop with 4-5 different pictures. Glad it wasn’t crowded because he was having me go all over the place but got some great shots.
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Nothing says enjoy 104 heat index like a dish of hot pasta :slight_smile: This is another dish that I ate less than half, not because it wasn’t good but because it was so hot and I was getting full. image image
I stopped to check out the train outside of Germany and thought it was so cute that there were little F&W banners in the little town.
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Germany is another favorite for the Schinkennudeln but I held strong to my “new foods only” rule and kept walking! But, I did stop into Karamell-Kuche to get some popcorn, a caramel flight (booze-infused caramel, yes, please!) and a Werther’s caramel butter bar….oh my gosh was that good (I ate it as a late-night snack).
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I debated stopping in China to see Reflections but the line looked long and I was really running out of steam. I did some shopping at a few of the F&W kiosks and found some things I had been eyeing.
I also stopped to try my caramel and take a little breather. They have done a good job with providing more tables to sit but still lacking some shade around this half of WS.
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I was sad to hear that the Alps booth wasn’t open (although I had sampled the Raclette so that wouldn’t have made the cut anyway). I think this must only be open on weekends.
I still had not seen any cavalcades, so I stopped to ask a CM if they were still running. Turns out there isn’t a set route (per the CM). Some start in one place, some start in another. Some go one direction and only half-way around, some go the opposite direction. So, instead of sitting waiting for something that had no schedule, I soldiered on and resigned myself to the fact that I may miss them again.

The next booth was Earth Eats and I wanted to try the Farmhouse Meatball (made with Impossible meats). I am a mid-western, meat and potatoes kind of girl but DH has been moving more and more to the Impossible meats so I thought I would give this a try. It was delicious! I also tried the Bloomin Blueberry Lemon and Ginger tea. It comes in a version with vodka which I really wanted but between the heat and feeling a little dehydrated, I stuck to the non-alcoholic version.
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At this point, I was continuing my stroll and a couple was walking next to me, no mask, carrying a bottle of pop. A CM politely reminded them that masks were required, and the woman said she was drinking. The CM politely said that if they were going to eat or drink, they needed to be stationary. The woman was not having it. She proceeded to say that she wasn’t going to follow that rule because it was a stupid rule. I feel so bad for the CMs who have to deal with these types of people. If you don’t want to wear a mask, wear a mask properly, or follow any of the other rules set in place by a business whose property you are on…then just stay home. It is your choice. I thanked the CM for trying to enforce the rules.
I did some more shopping, found lots of great things, including another spatula I won’t use :wink:
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I really intended to go into Mexico, get the NPH margarita and ride three caballeros but, I was hot, carrying too many purchases and was frustrated by still not seeing a cavalcade. So, despite the fact that there wasn’t a line to get into the pavilion, I passed it buy and headed towards Canada.
It was close to 4:00 and I was stuffed. There were so many other things I wanted to try but I was done. I passed the UK and saw the relaxation station and decided to get a drink and sit down by the water for a little bit and check to see how DH was doing with his BG being called.
This was such a wonderful area to rest, especially if you walk all the way down by the water in the lower seating area. There was only one couple down there and there were tables with umbrellas to provide some shade.
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As I was trying to decide what to do (go back to the hotel or head to FW to try some rides), I heard the music start and like angels signing, a cavalcade was coming! So, I walked up to the bridge leading to IG and saw the princesses.
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I decided to head back to the hotel and get in some AC. I also wanted to get a drink at the pool bar and sit on the beach outside of our room. I was walking past the UK and noticed that Alice was out so walked by there for a quick picture.
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As I was heading out, I noticed that it was starting to get more crowded. Not uncomfortably crowded but definitely more people. Overall, I found that the majority of people were really good about stopping to sit down when they wanted to eat and drink. I wasn’t sure how this would be since in July, they hadn’t instituted the eat/drink when stationary rule. But, I was pleasantly surprised that most were being very aware of their surroundings.

DH was getting ready to ride RotR so I decided to head up to the Banana Cabana and get a drink to enjoy on the beach.
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Once DH got back from HS, we decided to mobile order dinner at the Riviera’s QS location Primo Piatto. I got the Croque Monsieur and it was so good. DH got the pizza and said that it was great as well. While we were waiting for our order to be ready, we headed upstairs to Le Petit Café and checked out the desserts. The pumpkin spiced mouse was outstanding. I loved the cheesecake filling. The pumpkin spice wasn’t too overpowering at all. image image
DH and I shared our stories, photos, and shopping finds of the day. He said HS was crowded and he almost left around noon because he was facing the same issues we had yesterday – everything had long lines. DH can stay immersed in SWGE all day and be happy but with the heat, he also spent a lot of time trying to find respite from the heat. If he hadn’t gotten a BG at the 2:00 drop, he was not going to stay. That ended up being a non-issue since he got one so it ended up being a pretty good day.

Observations from the day

  • CMs are doing an outstanding job. The number of guests who give them a hard time about the rules has got to be so discouraging.

  • Even though not all of the food booths were open and some of the selections were scaled back, it was a great way to spend the afternoon

  • I didn’t really miss not venturing to FW. When we were at EPCOT on our last trip, I really hated the vibe in that part of the park. All of the construction walls just really interrupt the flow of things. That coupled with low crowds just made it seem sad. Not sure what crowds were like in that part of the park today but I didn’t mind only hanging out in WS.

  • Cavalcades are like anything else, the more you look for them, the harder they are to find. I get the premise of not announcing a schedule but EPCOT, more than any other park, seems the place where it is easiest to miss them.

  • I still miss park hoping. EPCOT was open until 7 and it would have been nice to head back there for dinner after DH was done with HS.

  • The early close of the parks doesn’t bother me. Again, maybe because we go often, there isn’t the need to be go, go, go from sun up to sundown. We were perfectly fine to go back to the room, grab a QS dinner and just chill and relax for the evening (OK, and watching HEA on repeat). Plus this was Thursday and football was on so this gave us a chance to watch the game.

  • EPCOT is built for social distancing! Food booth lines weren’t bad at all so I am sure that helped. I actually think the cavalcades make it a little worse because they take up so much of the path and there aren’t a lot of ways to avoid them. So, just be aware. But, they are so short, the crowds disperse quickly

Tomorrow: MK!!! Initially, we were going to do a really early breakfast at the Wave to be in the park in advance of park opening and had a late BOG reservation in order to be in the park past park close. But, I really didn’t want to get up early. Again, we are so fortunate that we come frequently so I didn’t feel the need to be up early. If we missed some headliner rides, that was OK.

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This is how I feel. I would much much rather go during the winter months. After SWGE opening last August, I said I would never go back in the summer. And here we are having gone twice in July of this year and again in September lol

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I think either 3 or 4 (depending on what time park close is) would be perfect. Some of the lower tier rides should be pretty short and the headliners will start to get ore manageable. Park close was 7 when we were there.
I think until they open up some of the shows, it won’t matter which weekday you go, they will be similar.

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glad you found the pumpkin spice candles – I had mine burning for dinner tonight :slight_smile:

I also, like you, bought the adorable functionally unlikely -to-be-used festival purple spatula – It looks perfect on my counter and in my drawer :slight_smile:
So sorry for DH’s RotR and Skyliner travails – I really look forward to getting past this. I may not even try in December given the stress

Have All the Fun in MK tomorrow!!!

Oh my. Something else I need to add to my must-do list.

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i’m really enjoying your trip report! It’s so detailed.

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Your view is gorgeous! Love all your photopass pics. It sounds like a great day!

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I totally agree about the cavalcades in Epcot being the easiest to miss. We saw the frozen sisters cavalcade once in three EPCOT days.

Hahahahahaha this is my fantasy for October too!

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Glad I am not the only one!

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This has happened at Universal on a few occasions! They’ve done unannounced “soft opening” on a few rides, just by ushering in guests walking by. It’s been a fantasy of mine as well.

(I don’t think we’ll get Ratatouille until next year. My belief is they will wait to use that as a WDW “weenie” to draw people in when they expand reopening)

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We started our day by getting a Lyft from the Riviera to the Contemporary for our breakfast at The Wave. Breakfast was at 8:30 and we were seated within minutes after checking in. This is becoming a new tradition of eating here prior to walking over to MK. I simply love this restaurant and today, they had some fall drink specials :yum:
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The Harvest Punch – so so good. image
I especially love the fact that their kids size Mickey Waffles is just the right size for me. No wasted food but enough to be full. I also love that they bring a plate for you to set your mask on while you eat.
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Fueled and ready to go, we walked over to MK and arrived at around 9:30. Like others have said, MK is definitely experiencing Halloween lite. I really miss all of the décor on the train station.
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We arrived in time to see the princesses. One group was already up on the train station and left right after we walked up, only to be replaced by another group. This side of the train station had very lite Halloween decorations with just a few sparse wreaths. I get it but still sad. Also, there are no pumpkins or scarecrows in the main area around the flag pole.
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At least the Mickey Halloween Pumpkins were still up!
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Even though we didn’t arrive until 30 min after park open (this was a Friday) the crowds weren’t too bad. Definitely more crowded than our July trip but we were able to head to Fantasyland and ride PPF (13 min wait) and IASW (18 min wait). Mine Train was already posted at 45 min, BTMRR posted 50 min and Splash posted over 50 min. So, if those are your priority, pre-park opening arrival is a must but you can still ride some of the popular but lower-tier without too much trouble.
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It had been 2 hours since we ate so of course, that meant it was time for a Dole Whip! I pulled up mobile order and could not get it to load. I tried over and over with no luck. I gave up and we decided to head to HM when a cavalcade started in Frontierland. This was Mickey, Minnie, and pals with the ‘Boo to You’ music. We always go to MNSSHP and I was really bummed when it was canceled. I love cavalcades and these were perfect for the Halloween theme. Big thumbs up and Pluto was hysterical – he was feeling it today!
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We tried again to mobile order and this time I got a message that it was unavailable. This proved to be quite disastrous for the day because mobile order was down in all of the parks for the better part of the day. I will say, the CMs did such a great job adjusting to this on the fly and getting lines organized. So, we jumped in line, pre-COVID style. The line took a while, maybe 20 min (everything is relative, a 20 min line for food is long to me now!) and while we were standing there, I heard the music for another cavalcade (unlike EPCOT where I couldn’t find a cavalcade, at MK, I couldn’t NOT find a cavalcade). This one was the Villains (I love how the Country Bears got to watch the parade too!)
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Found DH in the Aloha Isle line and we got our Dole Whips. The Kakamora Float was fabulous – Coconut Dole Whip…yum!
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HM was too long (I think over 30 min) so we walked back through Fantasyland and the PPF line was super long.
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All of fantasyland was quite a bottleneck. Part of it may have been due to mobile ordering being down. The line stretched all the way back towards BOG and they were handing out paper menus. I was so happy that we had two TS reservations for both lunch and dinner. We rarely do TS but between the heat and lack of QS in MK (please open Casey’s!) I had decided to do TS instead. I am so glad we did so we could avoid the lack of mobile order chaos.

Can you have too many castle pictures? If you answered “yes”, you may want to skip the rest of this report :slight_smile: I have a love/hate relationship with the new castle. The first time I see it, I hate it – it is way too pink. But, as the day goes on and as it changes with the time of day and the sun, the more I love it.
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We headed back to the hub to do some photo pass pics and to pick up the Mickey Halloween popcorn bucket. We decided to go to the Tomorrrowland Terrace relaxation station. I like this one because it is outside but still under cover with good air circulation. But first – another cavalcade!
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At this point, it was maybe 12:30 and we had a late lunch scheduled for 2:30. Ride wait times were pretty long across the board with the exception of Buzz and Barnstormer. I really didn’t want to ride Buzz. One thing I forgot to mention from our HS day is that TSMM was now running every ride vehicle one after the other so when one party excited, you got in that same vehicle. This was different from when we were there in July when they were running more empty vehicles between parties. Mentally, I just can’t get around how ‘hands on’ that ride is so I took a Purell wipe and wiped down the joystick before we played. I didn’t really want to ride Buzz in MK so we wandered aimlessly up Main Street (very un-liner like, I know).

Another cavalcade! I love the Princess Cavalcade at the Magic Kingdom- it is truly the best. And, today, the princesses were walking instead of riding.
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There were still two groups we hadn’t seen yet – Pooh and Friends and the Cadaver Dans. As we continued up Main Street and over by City Hall, we saw Pooh!! I love them in their Halloween costumes, they are so sweet.
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We decided to walk to the Barnstormer to ride it. I have never ridden it and it was only a short wait plus a great way to see the progress on the Tron coaster. We walked through the castle and came upon the Step Sisters, they were outside of Princess Fairytale Hall instead of up on the Castle, as they had been in July. Not sure if they randomly change places or if this is a new change to make it easier for people to see them?
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Worlds shortest ride ever :slight_smile:
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We now had about an hour before lunch and decided to head to HOP. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw this – 20 years? 30 years? We had about a 20-minute wait but it was inside so I was OK with that (it was 105 heat index at this time).
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We got out just in time to head back up Main Street (when you have no plan, you walk more!) and passed Peter Pan and Wendy outside Crystal Palace. I just love all of these characters in random places. It was one of the most magical things from July and the magic is still there when you stumble upon them.
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Lunch was at Tony’s at 2:25 and we checked in online at 2:24! This was by far our longest wait for any TS our whole trip. The lobby was pretty packed with people waiting and it was around 2:50 when we got the text that our table was ready.
I know Tony’s gets bad reviews and people think it is horrible but we don’t mind it. DH loves the pizza and I enjoy the Caprese salad.
Despite the number of people waiting in the lobby, the spacing of the tables was the same as in July and it didn’t seem like the restaurant capacity was different (thankfully). This is one area that makes me a little more nervous if capacity increases back to higher levels.
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After lunch, as we excited Tony’s we saw Mickey and friends at the train station dressed in their holiday gear!
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We also caught 3 more cavalcades (2 Halloween and the princesses again but this time they were on the float and not walking) – we were tripping over cavalcades today and I loved it.
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I really wanted to try to ride HM so we checked wait times and it had dropped to under 20 minutes so we headed in that direction. Unfortunately, I got sidetracked and saw the Liberty Belle. I had read that it was going under refurb in October and would be closed when we are back in December and I love the ride so we hopped on. They were holding boarding until all of the railings were wiped down.
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As we departed, I noticed a group of performers near Country Bears (up where the bears come out for socially distanced greetings) and low and behold – it was the Cadaver Dans!
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By the time we got off the Liberty Belle, the HM wait time was back up closer to 30 min and the line ran all the way down by the Liberty Belle disembarkation point. So, we skipped it. We decided to head towards Little Mermaid because the wait was 5 minutes.
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We debated doing Mine Train – the wait was only 30 min, which was the lowest it had been all day. Maybe it was the heat or being tired, but I just didn’t want to wait that long. So, Philharmagic was super low wait. I particularly love the colors of the castle at this time of day – it appears to be a much softer pink than the salmon of earlier in the day.
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By this time of day (about 6:30) the park had really thinned out. Park close had been extended to 7. When we initially made our ADRs, park close was 6 and I had snagged a BOG reservation for 6:50 (thank you reservation finder). So we wandered around Fantasyland taking pictures and then checked in for our BOG dinner. Our table was ready at 6:45 and we were the last party to be called for the night.
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So glad it is just me and DH because BOG is pricy for lunch (now) and dinner but it really is so much fun and who doesn’t love Mickey butter?
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As we finished up dinner, it was close to 8:00 so just one hour after park close but the main reason I wanted a later dinner was to see the parks at night.
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Seeing the castle lit up at night was joyous - Enjoy!
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We left the park at around 8:30 and it was so hard to leave! Between the lights, the music, the atmosphere…I wanted to stay forever. But, instead, we headed towards the bus stops and a Riviera bus was there so we hopped on that. The nice thing is the Riviera stop at MK is right across from the CBR stop so we could get one whichever came first or had the shortest line.

Thoughts from the day:

  • CMs continued to do an outstanding job. Especially with the outage of mobile order and dealing with the swells of crowds waiting for food. They were organized and did their best to adapt to the situation

  • We also noticed the CMs doing a great job adjusting the lines as needed due to increased people. In many of the queues, the lines extended past the “wait here” stickers so masking tape lines were added to encourage people to socially distant.

  • I love the new material that Disney masks come in. I have more masks than I care to admit and while I don’t mind the heavier cloth that Disney used for their first round of masks, I know many people don’t like it. This new material (our Halloween masks are in the new material) is much more lightweight and is the same material as the CM masks. It feels lighter and more breathable. I still find them to run small like the others. I have a pretty small face and a large fits well

  • For this trip, we purchased some mask lanyards to try to have one less thing to juggle and hold on to when drinking or eating. They worked really well and had the added benefit of tightening to make the masks fit better when they were a little loose.

  • The park was busy. But, due to the number of rides/attractions, there were options to find things that had lower waits. I can’t stress this enough, have a plan (I know, based on the group I don’t have to say that but in July, we didn’t need a plan at all). I created a touring plan but didn’t use it because we really just didn’t put importance on riding rides. But, if you do, this will be crucial to move around the park and not end up waiting for hours on end. In the end, I probably should have used it if for no other reason than to avoid wandering aimlessly, undecided on what to do next. Normally that drives me nuts but it was fine this trip.

  • Like the other parks, the first hour wasn’t bad at all (and we got there 30 min after the official park open) and the last few hours are also less crowded.

  • Mask compliance was still good but definitely a little worse than our prior two days. Maybe I was paying more attention or maybe it really was an issue, it is hard to say. But, as we were waiting for a photo pass picture, the family in front of us had two kids (definitely older than 2) and neither were wearing masks. The longer we stood behind them, the more annoyed I got so, instead of letting it eat away at me, we got into a different photo pass line. But, I did see the photographer take their pictures and he didn’t make the kids put on the masks. I was really disappointed by that.

  • If you want to catch the cavalcades, this is the park to do it! They happen frequently and go along the normal parade route so unless you are deep in Tomorrowland or new fantasyland, you can easily see them. The music switch for the cavalcades is also more prominent in MK than the other parks which also helps to know they are coming.

  • Book dinner after park close if you can! This may not be as much of an issue if park hours are extended or once it gets dark earlier but having that extra time at night really was a great perk. There were still plenty of people in the hub after dinner so you definitely don’t need the late reservation but if park hours close early, it is worth having.

  • A common observation in the stores – the social distancing really didn’t bother me too much because we could just keep moving and leave if we needed to. But, the amount of people who touch the merchandise and then put it back is mind-boggling. Nevermind that there are signs asking you not to in order to aid in cleanliness. People were trying on ears and hats then putting them back on the shelf, touching blankets…etc. That bothered me more than the crowdedness!

Up Next: Animal Kingdom and our last full day

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