Orlando gets a bit Rice-ier: A Trip Report (11/16-11/25)

I have wanted to do a Trip Report for years, and darn it, I am finally going to start living my dreams! This will be a trip report covering our family’s recent visit to Orlando from Wednesday the 16th until the 25th. We are the Rice family and we are from rural Missouri. We have beautiful (I am biased) twin girls and we tend to visit Disney 2-3 times per year. This will be our 4th trip since the re-opening after the pandemic, though this is the longest trip we have taken in quite some time. I will try and come back each day to add more until I am done. I apologize if I am away for a bit, as I am doing 90 loads of laundry.
Our journey begins with:
DAY ONE: Tuesday the 16th. With all the recent pandemonium in the airline industry, we decided to drive to Florida. I know what you are thinking - these people are not intelligent - and you would be 100% correct. To be honest, getting down to Disney was not that bad. We ended up driving 10 hours straight and staying at a lovely Holiday Inn Express in Locust Grove, Georgia. We crashed, slept 5.5 hours (we are not smart, I know) and got up early to eat our free breakfast and hit the road.

DAY TWO - Wednesday the 17th. We arrived at the Four Seasons - our home for the next week - around 2pm. This was our second time at this resort. Both times have been for a conference. I cannot put into words how nice this resort is, but it is like staying in a movie. The resort is in Golden Oaks, Disney’s private community, and when we pulled up we were warmly greeted by the valet. The bellman took our bags with a huge smile and the front doorman stopped to talk to our girls about all the things the resort has for kids. They also gave them free cinch/drawstring bags with scavenger hunts inside. I did not encounter one person who worked at this resort the entire time we were there that was anything less than stellar. They went out of their way to make us feel welcome at every opportunity. They had daily thorough housekeeping and turn-down services and were very approachable if we needed anything at all like towels/coffee, etc. It is a ridiculously beautiful resort, but it is not stuffy and they are always so kind to our kids. I would stay here every trip if it did not mean putting us into bankruptcy.

We got a 12th floor room with a giant balcony and view of Epcot and DHS. I was not expecting this and some tears were shed. It was beyond amazing. We unpacked and then headed to the pool. This report has a pool dedicated to adults only (21+), and then a family pool, lazy river, splashpad with these huge Roman/Spanish columns made to look like ancient ruins, and two giant slides that are off to the side. I like it b/c I never have to worry if the kids are bothering the adults in the pool with splashing or anything. They also have a kids “camp” that you can take your kids to each day from 10-5 that is included in your resort stay. They watch your children and take them to activities throughout the resort. We did not use this service this trip. The counselors were all young and full of energy and I honestly thought if I took my kids there they would not want to leave. The resort also has a playground, rock climbing wall, pool tables, and other outdoor games.
We swam for a brief hour, then headed to our first ADR at Kona Cafe. I tried to do ADRs for places we had never gone and this was a waonderful way to start the trip. It is pretty casual and located in the Polynesian, which is my favorite Disney resort. We had the tuna roll, wings, and the braised short ribs. My kids had their faves - macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets - true connoisseurs of fine cuisine. Everyone was happy and the service was great. We left via Uber and headed back to the room. The resort had robes for the kids and the adults, so of course we all took showers (individually - don’t make it weird) and put those babies on over our jammies. We then sipped our complimentary bottled water and just chilled, living our best life ever.
True story - when we got back from dinner, my kids opened the curtains and saw Spaceship Earth in all her glowing glory and they FREAKED OUT. Seriously, they lost it. They just kept screaming “MOM - THE SPACESHIP IS GLOWING!!!” And guys, it really is one beautiful sight. We slept soundly, filled with eager anticipation of a magical trip. END DAY TWO

I will add more later - but as a teaser - we are talking pre-fireworks dessert party; Steakhouse 71; the point of buying Genie+ on CL10 days at DHS (spoiler: there is no point); the 50th Anniversary dessert pyramid of chocolate at La Hacienda; we meet our favorite vlogger; AND MORE!!! I am bad with tech, so I am also going to try and add pictures, but please be patient, I don’t computer well.



That bathroom…


It has a TV in the mirror! You can watch TV while showering! I mean…what?! What genius mother invented this to get their kids to take a bath? I want to thank her for a job well done.


Oh! I don’t think I have ever looked at pictures of the Four Seasons. Thank you for posting!


As someone that hates what commercial flights have become, I think this is smart. Also, we drive from the Dallas area.


Absolutely beautiful!!!


What a good writer you are! I grinned several times reading that.


OK so the driving thing had me all :thinking: but this choice? Girl don’t mess around! Nice!!! I was there just for dinner in April and in just that short bit of time they blew me away with their level of service and attention to detail.

Any pics?? The views from the resort are - based on friends’ photos - incredible! Edited: Oh - pics in the next post. Sometimes I’m too quick with the “Reply” button!

Love it :laughing:

OK for the adults - obviously. But the kids too?! THAT is awesome! You’re selling me on this place!!

OMG where have you BEEN?! I love your sense of humor!!!


I want to say it wasn’t that bad, but apparently I have reached the age where sitting for 10 hours straight can cause injury. Who knew? But having our car down there was a game changer! We have never driven before, and that aspect of it made it almost entirely worth it. Almost… lol


Are you using your car to get around, or the park transportation that FS provides. Would love to know more about staying there!

Love your girls’ star wands! Have so much fun!

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We used it to go everywhere. FS offers valet-only parking at $38 a night, but they let you come and go as you please. You text the valet people your claim number and they had it ready to go within 5-10 minutes each time. And they always offered a cold bottle of water or two for the road, which is the best. We actually had a 32-pack of water delivered to our room from Garden Grocer, and we didn’t even open it up. But, I digress - the bus service for Epcot, DHS, and AK only comes once an hour through FS. They have a schedule, but we worried we would just miss the bus, and then have to wait almost an hour for the next one. It goes to MK two times each hour, but it will only take you to the TTC. We visited the parks with a good friend of ours who is an AP holder and got free parking. That also was a huge advantage for us. If we had to pay for parking, we may have just taken Lyft or Uber.

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I did use a bus from HS to FS to meet friends for dinner at Ravello and it was INTERMINABLE. Took me well over an hour. I only used the bus because back in April Uber and Lyft (and heck, regular old taxis) were near impossible to come by. If I were to stay at FS I would absolutely want my own car or to use Uber and Lyft exclusively.

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So, funny story - the first night we wanted to go to Kona Cafe, so I asked my husband to ask if we should take an Uber or a private car (I was NOT driving anymore that day). The FS has private cars offered anytime you need them, they are just parked right out front and are ready to go 24/7. So while my husband was asking about it, I got a bit distracted talking to other guests at the resort we knew, and he says something to me about it being a little pricey, but I say “that’s fine, we will just use the private car.” The driver is so nice and it is this fancy black Escalade, and we hop out at the Poly, and my husband says “well, he was super nice, but I am not sure that was worth $45.” I almost DIED! FORTY-FIVE DOLLARS?!?!??!?! Apparently I should have been paying more attention to him when he told me this at the hotel. He just assumed I was really, really, really hungry and needed to get to the Poly immediately. We still laugh about it.


Wasn’t that right around what a Minnie Van cost back in the day?


We do have a rule that first day of any vacation is a rest day. But, then we needed a rest day to recover after the last time we flew.

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You know what, I think you are right. I cannot imagine why that service is no longer offered… :wink:


Us too! Tickets are also so expensive that I hate to waste a park day if we get delayed or something. I have enough travel-induced anxiety, I don’t need all that on top of it!

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I am going to continue, with:
DAY THREE - Thursday the 18th - This was the first day my husband had conference from 6pm-10pm, so we decided to do breakfast at Steakhouse 71. Our ADR was for 9:25, so we drove to the TTC, parked, then took the resort monorail to the Contemporary. I must mention, the monorails were awesome this trip. We never had to wait more than a few minutes for a monorail. They seemed to have the whole fleet in operation and they ran like a well-oiled machine. This was maybe to make-up for the lack of parking trams, but more on that later.

I had never been inside the Contemporary. As a Disney fan, this is hard to admit. We have stayed at the Poly and the GF before, but the Contemporary is always super pricey when we go. This resort was so neat inside. The decor was mid-century modern and I loved it. I just loved it. I could have stayed inside all day and just looked at every picture/couch/etc.

We were seated right on time and the breakfast was pretty great. The service was a bit slow, but nothing out of the ordinary for a busy restaurant. We had the fruit platter to start, then I had the American breakfast (eggs, toast, taters, bacon), the girls had the Mickey waffles (of course), and my husband had Walt’s favorite hash. Everything was delish and our server, Carlos, was lovely.
We then spent the afternoon by the pool until we went to conference. (pics of slide to follow).

Then we went to our conference where the guest speaker was - and let me tell you, I fan-girled a bit - DISNEY LEGEND BILL FARMER!!!
Bill Farmer has been the voice of Goofy himself for nearly 35 years. He also voices Pluto, Hop-Pop on Amphibia, and a ton of other characters in various films and animated series. The man is a legend. He spoke for 2 hours, going over his early life and career, his current projects, and explaining how voice acting is basically done these days. I could have listened to him for 2 more hours easily. He was so unassuming and kind, just very down-to-earth. He then stayed and took pics with everyone (below). This was such a highlight of our trip. To think that this man just walked into our hotel and most people probably had no idea of his importance to Disney, is nuts. He went into Goofy’s voice on multiple occasions and the kids grinned ear-to-ear each time. What a blessing.