WDW Trip Report - August 13-30, 2020

Greetings!
In the past 10 years I (Lisa) have been to WDW every summer for a 10/15 day vacation, but I’ve never written a trip report. Mainly because I don’t think I write that well, but also because when I’m in the bubble, I just relax and enjoy myself to the point I even forget to take pictures, let alone be active on social media. Why is this time different? Read along and you’ll find out!
A little bit of background first. I’m the daughter of an Air Force MSGT, Charles, who fell in love and married an Italian lady from Naples, Italy, my mother Tina, in 1952. My brother was born a couple of years later, while I waited until the family was stationed in Paris, France to come along! After living in France, California and Germany, my father retired and we moved to Italy, where I’ve spent most of my life since I was 10. My sons, DS18 and DS21 were born in Italy, but have been raised bilingual since birth.
One of my first memories is visiting Disneyland when I was 5 years old, but my attachment was formed when visiting my brother every summer in the late 1980s when he lived a little over an hour away from Epcot. We would often drive over to spend the day, and I got hooked.
Then work and family got in the way of costly intercontinental trips, so I decided to wait until my boys were old enough to enjoy all the rides before returning to WDW. I was definitely more excited than anyone in the family when we finally set foot on Main Street in May 2011. Since that memorable day, we’ve been back every summer, a break in the two glorious summer months we would spend on Cape Cod, in the beautiful home that is no longer ours.
My father passed away in March 2019, and his wish was to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Not a straightforward process since he died in Italy. But my brother and I were absolutely keen on making his final wish happen, and we did. This trip to WDW starts on August 13 2020, the day my sons and I flew to MCO from BWI after attending my father’s poignant burial service.

Day 0
DS21, DS17 and I had arrived in the Poconos at the end of July to spend two weeks with my brother and his family. We had flown from Naples to Paris, where we stayed overnight at the Hilton which is walking distance from the Charles De Gaulle airport. I was truly incredulous that we were finally travelling after having been though 10 weeks of lockdown, during which not one but two perfectly planned trips to WDW had been cancelled, one over Easter, and one in June to celebrate DS’s 21st. The airport in Paris was eerily vacant, and no food was to be found when we landed at 8pm. I was prepared, though, so I had made a “frittata di maccheroni” before leaving home. (If you’d like the recipe feel free to PM me)

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So we happily dined in our nicely appointed hotel room – me with a nice French white wine that had been offered on our Air France flight, which I squirreled away for the end of the day when I knew I’d appreciate it more. The next morning we walked back to the terminal, where we boarded our flight to Philadelphia after having a quick breakfast. I was looking forward to this trip because as a splurge, and also because I had found a tempting deal, we were flying business, for the first time in a long while since our bichon Daisy usually flies with us in cabin, and dogs are not allowed in business class. This trip, though, Daisy stayed in Naples with her daddy.
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The Delta One cabin was so comfortable that I was almost sorry to leave it when we landed 9 hours later! My brother was patiently waiting for us while we worked out a missing suitcase issue, and a short ride later, mercifully with no traffic, we were lovingly ensconced in my sister in law’s warm hearth, surrounded by her incredible homemade pies and expertly mixed cocktails. We were finally back in the USA!
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I’m sorry for the loss of your father.
Glad you could make the trip happen.

Looking forward to your trip report.

Sorry for your loss. Excited for the trip report.

I’m so happy that your father was able to be buried at Arlington! I’m guessing that was a very emotional day for all of you. I know it’s been over a year since his passing, but condolences on his loss.

And Yay! for another trip report! We were there the exact same time - August 12-19.

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I am sorry for the loss of your father. I am so glad you and your family were able to make the trip happen this year. Can’t wait to read the rest of your report! And I’m absolutely going to plan to squirrel away in-flight wine as a way to cope with travel days!

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Day 1 – August 13
Our Southwest flight from Washington BWI landed on time at 9pm. Having always arrived in daytime, the surrounding darkness immediately put me in a state of “newness” that would accompany me throughout this trip. I weirdly felt like this was my first time here.
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After collecting our luggage we swiftly walked over to the DME counter, me leading the way having already donned my new Minnie magicband, the boys hoping I would tone down my excitement.
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The airport was devoid of people, heightening the surreal feeling I had. The CM directed us to a minivan that was waiting, and after a few minutes we were off, headed to the Boardwalk Villas. Earlier in the day upon checking MDE I had discovered that we had been upgraded to a one-bedroom villa. I was quite thrilled, but also consoled. I had originally booked a Garden Cottage at BWI at a 70% discounted rate due to an early morning glitch in the reservation system. I was till mourning the loss of that unique Club level stay, cancelled by Disney due to Covid, so I was quite cheered up by the unforeseen upgrade. The Boardwalk is my favorite place on site. We had previously stayed at the Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Swan, so I was looking forward to see how the BWV compared. We rolled our luggage straight to room 3093. This turned out to be a great location, both the resort, which is an easy walking distance from both Hollywood Studios and Epcot, and the room having discovered, during our stay, multiple staircases and hallways that would take us where we needed quickly, sheltered from the sun and rain. I would definitely book here again. The only sorrowful note was the current lack of good dining options (more on this later), or any dining at all after a certain hour! So, we were finally settled in our room, and quite hungry after a rather long, intense day of travelling. It was around 10pm, so I set out to search for some food. Everything was closed at the resort, so I head outside and start walking my way around the Boardwalk. As I pass by the Pizza window (closed), the Bakery (shut), I start to feel a little worried. So, I say to myself, the QS at the Beach Club will be open! And while I intensely enjoyed my walk around a shimmering Crescent Lake, coming out of months of excruciating lockdown, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed to find out that nope, there’s no food to be had here after 10pm! So back to the room it was, to nibble on the airline snacks I had timely tucked into my bag for emergencies. Tomorrow we were visiting Galaxy’s Edge for the first time. Would I be able to secure boarding passes for Rise of the Resistance?

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I’d love to hear about your stay!

I did a little trip report while we were there, if you’re interested.

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Day 2 August 14

DS21 was on his last day of an internship with Barclay’s UK, so I had planned the day around his schedule. My first objective was, of course, to procure food after the fiasco of the previous night. The Boardwalk Bakery provided me with sustenance in the form of a very tasty everything bagel with egg and cheese, and a decent sandwich on brioche bread with ham, scrambled eggs and fontina cheese, which I took back to the room. I don’t think I had ever started the first full day at WDW at such a relaxed pace, and I have certainly never not rope-dropped! Instead, around 1:15, we casually strolled over to Hollywood Studios to attempt getting a BG for RotR at 2pm. We had our temperature scanned, walked through the new scanners (holding my umbrella straight out in front of me as directed), and stopped at guest services to enquire about our annual passes in regards to the water parks being closed. As I was chatting with a very affable CM, I realized that 2pm was fast-approaching, time to put into action all the information I had gathered after months of reading detailed descriptions on how to secure a BG for Rise of the Resistance. As it turns out, the kind CM offered to do it for us! Ta da! Just like that, with no effort at all on my part, we found ourselves in Group 51. Feeling incredulous and pixie-dusted, we went to ride Toy Story Mania, Alien Swirling Saucers and Star Tours while waiting on our 3:15 lunch reservation at the Hollywood Brown Derby, and, of course, on our boarding group to be called. Luckily, RotR was glitch-free that day, so it was a straight walk on to the ride.
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Did we fully enjoy the ride? Yes, for sure. Was our first time experiencing RotR as exciting as our first ride on Flight of Passage? Nope. We were completely bowled over the first time we came off FOP. We couldn’t stop smiling. Not to say that RotR isn’t a fantastic ride experience, it’s just that for us it lacks the physical engagement that the FOP ride vehicle offers. Hollywood Studios was closing at 8pm, so we had time to ride Millennium Falcon (that would be just the DSs. I waited for them outside people watching and having a fun photo session with a CM photographer), SDD, and the ride I had been looking forward to the most, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad.
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MMRR was the ride that always had the longest wait times of all the parks, but throughout our stay we gladly stood in line anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes to ride. It’s fun and creative, very enjoyable. At 8pm we slowly made our way out of the park, stopping for some shopping to take full advantage of the last day of the 30% passholder discount! Our stroll back to the Boardwalk was pleasant even though I had made a rookie mistake deciding that day to wear my most unsuitable sandals, flat with no support. The blisters I had to endure for the entire two-week stay will be a reminder of things not to do in the future!

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Ha ha! We were at HS that day too!

I loved ROTR. I loved FOP. I did feel that exhilaration and joyfulness after riding FOP that you describe. ROTR doesn’t have that feeling, but it is very immersive and thrilling. I don’t know that I would rate one over the other. Luckily, we get to have both!

I also loved MMRR. We had an umbrella with us, so could provide our own shade for that queue which is a brutally hot sun spot.

Our first day, I wore flip flops to Epcot. Big mistake. So I feel your first day pain!

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Day 3 – August 15

My eyes opened to the sounds of … nothing! Blissful quiet, no alarm clock, no traffic, no neighbors. I was in paradise. No need to rush, as Epcot was opening at 11 am. Our plan was to skip breakfast so we could start eating around Food and Wine at park opening. This was my first time at the festival, so I was quite looking forward to it. I had downloaded the app, marked all the foods and drinks I wanted to try, and hoped I could get a few good pictures to share. Even with the late morning start, though, we didn’t get to the park before opening, as planned, in order the hit the headliners. Getting a teenager out of the room in timely manner is never a given, no matter what time of the day. But I wasn’t going to let any hiccup matter on this trip, as a) I was still incredulous we were there and b) I had quickly realized that there were so few people in the parks that keeping a schedule wouldn’t be at all necessary. This coming from an uber planner par excellence. We entered Epcot from the International Gateway and walked straight to the Mac and Cheese stand, quickly followed by poutine at Refreshment Port, and the crispy citrus chicken at Citrus Blossom. None of these were big hits with us, unfortunately, but we knew that the best was yet to come! After riding Figment, Living with the Land, and Spaceship Earth we leisurely circled around to the other side of the World Showcase stopping at the stand in Japan for the food item that turned out to be our number 1 favorite of the Food and Wine Festival, the Chirashi Sushi Flowerpot: fresh-cut salmon, salmon roe, and spinach served over sushi rice with furikake and topped with poke sauce. I even brought the cute little containers home with me!
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One more stop in Morocco to try the hummus fries, before stopping at the Boulangerie Patisserie to stock up on tasty treats for breakfast, and the lovely little package of assorted macarons that I will have on an afternoon, deep in the winter, potentially on lockdown again, when I’m missing WDW too much! We made our way back to our room at the BWV for a rest and to cool off a bit. The heat was intense but not unbearably so. We were so enjoying finally being outdoors for extended periods of time just walking around to be bothered by any weather-related discomfort, I think. Our plan was to head back to Epcot later in the evening with hopes to ride the headliners we missed in the morning, and to have dinner at the Biergarten. When we returned to the park around 6:30, however, the lines for Test Track were still rather long so we split up. The boys went on Soarin’ while I watched my beloved Impressions de France, which was only playing for an hour or so in the evening, so I didn’t want to miss my chance of seeing it. I’m still quite worried that it will soon be replaced entirely by the new Beauty and the Beast sing along film that plays during the day! I had made our dinner reservation for 8:50 because I always love walking through Epcot after the park is closed.


The meal is currently being served family style at the table instead of the usual buffet, which actually makes for a comfortable experience. The food was fine, but our palates seem to have evolved quite a bit from the time the boys were young children, so I think maybe we will favor new dining experiences in the future. Truth is, the options were rather limited on this trip, due to many restaurants not having reopened yet. For instance, Takumi Tei was on my list of new restaurants to try, but that didn’t work out as it was still closed. The walk back to our resort was indeed lovely, even without fireworks in the background. I was keenly aware that I was living a memorable, unique experience in the parks.

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Day 4 – August 16

The boys had been warned: today I wanted to be at the bus stop no later than 8am. We were going to the Magic Kingdom, and even with low crowds, I still wanted to be ahead of everyone on the way to riding 7DMT! Surprisingly, they were amenable to my wishes, so at 8:05 we walked down the path to the bus stop where a bus was waiting for us, a script that would be repeated many times over. I believe that during our 15-day stay we had to wait just once for a bus, and even then maybe 10 minutes. We arrived at the park around 8:30, just in time for them to open temperature and the new, covid-safe bag check. In just a few minutes we were walking down Main Street, and through the bright, freshly painted castle into Fantasyland, and straight onto 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. Then in smooth sequence, with no waits, Peter Pan, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash, Pirates, and Jungle Cruise. It was barely 10 am when we stopped at Sleepy Hollow to share a Nutella fruit waffle. Incredible! Haunted Mansion, my favorite ride, was up next. The stretching room is currently a walk through, but the ride is just as perfect as always. We continued walking on rides until it was time for lunch at Skipper’s Canteen. On paper, this would be my favorite restaurant at MK, but for some mysterious reason the food always seems to miss the mark for us, having eaten here three times already. We shared the falafels and the Brazilian cheese bread, followed by our entrees, the Thai noodles for me and the pork dish for the boys. We weren’t crazy about the flavor profile, nor the presentation, and ultimately we felt that the meal was a little overpriced. I say this with regret because I do want to love Skipper’s Canteen. After lunch we decided to digest our food sitting down and out of the heat, so we lined up for PhilharMagic. The rain started as we exited, so we decided to call it a day. Relaxing at the resort was beckoning to us!


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Day 5 – August 17
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Can you imagine not having to set an alarm clock to go to the parks? Because it really won’t matter what time you get there, all the rides will be walk-ons? Even though I had been reading the blogs, nothing would prepare me for the most relaxing park day I’ve ever had at Animal Kingdom. We woke up when we did, got ready at our own paces, left the room around 11:30, had a bus waiting for us when we arrived at the bus stop, did not need to use our “secret” turnstile at the Rainforest Cafe’ because there was NOBODY in line at the entrance of the park. Flight of Passage? A walk on. Also the first time ever going through the standby line as we had always had fastpasses for it. Expedition Everest? Ride it as many times as you want, no waits. Kilimanjaro Safari? All the animals were out and about, I guess they were enjoying the low crowds after the long break, too. No bumping into people on the tight walk ways. Oh, and what about the Photopass photographers? They would take dozens of photographs of us including lots of fun magic shots. The only lines were at Navi River Journey, on average 20/30 minutes, and Yak and Yeti for lunch, but armed with our Landry card we were seated within 10 minutes. We always enjoy our meals here, and today was no exception. Animal Kingdom is our favorite park for food, breakfast, lunch and dinner all have lots to offer. While we were having lunch there had been quite a downpour, so we headed to Kilimanjaro Safari when we emerged from the restaurant as the animals are usually out and about after it rains.
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I didn’t want to miss the modified bird show that was now running, Feathered Friends in Flight. We really enjoyed this, because without the Up! characters the birds become the true protagonists. This reminds me to mention that the only thing I truly missed, especially here at AK, were the shows. I would never have imagined not being able to see Festival of the Lion King, but there you go. A few more re-rides, and we were ready to return to the resort. Before leaving the park we picked up some food to go because of the limited choices available around the Boardwalk. We decided to take some Satuli Canteen and Flame Tree Barbecue food home. If you plan on doing this, I suggest you bring some containers, or at least some bags because the quick service places do not provide any. Here I should also insert that not being able to park hop to Epcot while staying in the Boardwalk area was a big loss for us. But where there’s a will there’s a way, and being the foodies we are, procuring satisfying dining experiences was the one thing we had to work on. I found out that reservations were necessary considering the lower capacity of the restaurants, and with parks closing early dining needed to be planned out in advance. Not to mention that the menus in general had fewer options and many of our favorites were unavailable. This is the main reason we were doing a split stay with Old Key West – being closer to Disney Springs was better for food choices. Meanwhile, tomorrow we had reservations for Sci Fi as we were returning to Hollywood Studios. Would we be able to get a Boarding Group for RotR on our own, without the help of a friendly CM? And would the line for MMRR be any shorter at park opening? Stay tuned!

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What’s this you say?

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So, if you walk through the gift shop, at the exit you’ll find a relatively unknown entry station to the park, complete with CM and MB reader!

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Loving this report so far! Your trip sounds so relaxing (except when you try to find food after park hours!). Can’t wait to read the rest.

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Where was this elevated picture of the castle taken from in the Day 4 post?

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oh yes, this was lovely!

Added to notes! Thanks for letting that secret out the box! Its just us liners that know so, shhhhhh, dont tell your friends :joy:

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