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Thread: Sue (Holland) Rayford - Riviera Resort, March 5-8, 2020

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    Sue (Holland) Rayford - Riviera Resort, March 5-8, 2020

    Who/When/Where:

    Who: Sue (61), DVC Member
    Amanda (31), daughter-in-law
    Ari (3), grandson

    Dates: March 5 9, 2020
    Resort: Disneys Riviera Resort
    Experience: Very Experienced but 1st stay at Riviera (2nd for Amanda & Ari)

    INTRODUCTION:
    After the last 2 trips having unbearable crowds, Im not sure Im looking forward to this one in the traditional ways. Im mostly looking forward to trying out the new resort and spending time with my grandson & daughter-in-law. Beyond that, Im not very optimistic. The weather should be nice this time of year, and the Flower & Garden Festival is pretty and has nice food, but if its as crazy crowded as it was in December & January, it will leave a bad taste in my mouth.

    A few weeks before the trip I received an email from DVC about member gatherings occurring daily at Riviera. They take place in a Grand Villa, and since thats the only model I have not seen yet I immediately called to sign us up for a slot Saturday afternoon. Amanda loves stuff like this, and Chris is jealous he wont get to see the grand villa in person (I suggested facetime).

    A couple long-time Disney friends will be at WDW during my trip, and I hope to get to see each of them Judy & Tom and Patti & John. Judy is a friend I met in person once over 20 years ago, while Patti I met in person in 2004 and SB & I spent an evening with her & John this past January while in the Sarasota area. Judy & her husband are staying at Swan or Dolphin, and if they get an early enough boarding group for Rise to the Resistance Thursday well meet for happy hour at Blue Zoo Lounge. Otherwise, well probably meet up at Riviera or somewhere else. Hopefully Ill catch up with Patti & John for some Epcot World Showcase touring either Thursday or Friday evening. Amanda & Ari wont arrive until around 8pm on Friday.

    Initially I wasnt sure if SB would be joining me for the first night or not. Hes off from work Thursday/Friday so he could, but that would mean taking both cars and driving 2 hours each day for basically a 24-hour stay. I left it up to him Im fine solo but also fine if he wanted to be there. He eventually decided to skip it.

    Riviera food looks more interesting than the usual Disney resort food, so Im looking forward to trying some of that. Ive seen the pool areas and frankly wasnt overwhelmed, but I need sun badly so if the weather cooperates I hope to get some time out there. We have no dining reservations, but Amanda really liked the character breakfast at Topolinos on their last trip so we may try to do that as a walk-in. Normally I wouldnt pay $41 plus tax/tip for breakfast, but its less pain when its just me vs SB & me. If it works out, itll probably be a 1-time thing for me. If she doesnt want to do it, even better <g>.

    Flower & Garden Festival starts this trip, and I usually like that a lot. I say usually because its possible this year will ruin it with the ridiculous extra crowds due to Galaxys Edge. While I wont have the luxury of strolling over from my room, Im hoping the Skyliner ends up being a good 2nd best. I dont normally like that it dumps people into the International Gateway area, except when Im one of those people <g>.

    The plans so far are:
    Thursday 3/5: Drive to WDW, Epcot
    Friday 3/6: Animal Kingdom, Pool, Epcot
    Saturday 3/7: Magic Kingdom, DVC event, Epcot
    Sunday 3/8: Studios, Pool, Epcot
    Monday 3/9: Drive to Gainesville


    DAY 1 Thursday 3/5/20
    Who: Sue (61), DVC Member

    Plan: Drive to WDW, Epcot

    Actual: Work went smoothly, with me leaving at noon to change clothes, pack the cooler and get in the car. I was on the road by 12:15, pulling in to Riviera by 2:15. On the way in I received the notification that my room wasnt quite ready yet, and I noticed the skyliner was not moving at all. Thankfully by the time I reached the resort the skyliner had started up again my plans were to head to Epcot and I did NOT want to be dealing with some stupid bus and the godawful Epcot front entrance!

    With me Id brought a suitcase (heavy due to the laptop and a couple bottles of water), the cooler, a half-full gallon jug of water, and a reusable grocery bag with assorted light stuff. After parking the car I took just the suitcase and cooler, figuring if the room wasnt going to be ready Id leave this stuff with bell services. The other items were fine in the trunk until later. In the lobby the cast members were very nice, and I was set up with someone to check me in. My room still wasnt ready, so I asked if there were any others available. She disappeared into the back room and when she came out she reported they were just putting the finishing touches on my room, and it would be ready very quickly. With that news, I decided to sit in the lobby to wait.

    The lobby here is small, with a fairly low ceiling and marble floors. Its VERY noisy! I prefer a nice relaxing lobby like Jambo House (except when drums are beating, lol) or Grand Floridian. Even Beach Club and Boardwalk are calmer than this. I took care of some work stuff, then Amanda texted to say shed gotten a notification the room was ready. WTF??? Somehow my account is messed up on the My Disney Experience thing and after an hour on the phone several weeks ago they werent able to fix it. Instead, they did a ticket for an IT tech to resolve it and told me to check it again in a week. Well, its been multiple weeks, it still isnt right, and I havent had the energy for another lengthy ordeal on the phone. The issue is I cant do online check in the page doesnt fully load. For this trip since Amanda is listed on the reservation, she was able to do the online check in. I was then able to modify it to take out her email address, her credit card, etc replacing them with mine. So how she got a notification about the room is a mystery. I checked my mail, and Id also received another message but mine said not quite ready again.

    This is so friggin frustrating. I tried accessing the app, and at first it wouldnt let me log in. Then when it did, I logged in and it shut down. I went to the front desk and asked can someone PLEASE tell me my room number. By then I had an email that the room was ready, but it wouldnt open. The cast member (Jen) looked it up and wrote it down for me 7th floor, room 8787 on the east side. Finally! I rolled my suitcase on the marble floor to the elevators, rode up to the 7th floor with the family from hell (LOUD), and then dragged my heavy suitcase down the carpeted hallway to my room. Tapping my magic band gave me a red light. I tried my other one and got the same result, so I had to drag my stuff back to the elevator and find my way back to the lobby, where of course now there was a mob of people at the front desk.

    I went to Jen again, put both magic bands on the counter and said neither band is working to open the door. She fiddled with her tablet, then turned it over and picked up a gray band to tap against it. I pointed out that one wasnt mine, lol and she put it down and picked up one of mine. After a bit she assured me it was fixed, but she was coming up with me just in case.

    This time the elevator ride was pleasant (not LOUD) and after dragging the suitcase to the room she tried my bands and they did NOT work. Neither one. But, her master key worked, so at least I got out of the hallway. She took my bands and said shed figure it out downstairs and bring them back up. Since I was planning to get my other 2 things from the car I said Id just stop by the front desk on my way back in.

    I then unpacked the laptop, emptied the cooler, and took some pictures. I tried turning on some lights, but every switch I hit did nothing. However, the time on the clock in the microwave was visible, so I knew the room had power but didnt know why none of the lights worked. Finally near the front door I saw a switch labeled master light switch (or something like that) and hit it. Then when I went and hit a light switch the light came on. Geez how annoying this trip has been!

    The studio is nice a little on the small size because the split bathroom takes up more of the square footage than in a studio with a traditional bathroom. Poly is the same way. I do think they need a splash of color on the bed its all white. This is a preferred view studio, which is all I could get. Its a high number of points, and I cant quite figure out whats preferred about the view except that Im not looking at the parking lot or dumpsters. I see a manmade lake, and I can see the kiddie splash play area (oh joy), and some of Caribbean Beach Resort (yuck). I see offsite hotels or timeshares too. I was hoping for a view of fireworks but well see what happens later. Im not sure Im facing any Disney park.

    I was about to head down to the car for the other 2 items when I heard the lock on the door opening. Jen was back with my magic bands and both worked now. Whew! I thanked her and she apologized for the inconvenience. I went down to the car for the other items, and brought them up to the room. I didnt bother to unpack, since with all the issues earlier it was getting late and I was at risk of missing my first fastpass. Being new here, I dont know my way around the resort and the signage could be a little better.

    I found my way down to the skyliner, which is through the west side. Once outside its a long walk to the side of the skyliner going to Epcot. This really isnt very convenient at all compared to being at Beach Club Villas and just walking over to Epcot! At the skyliner I waited behind some people who were already there, while gondolas full of people came by. Eventually there was an empty gondola, so those people, me, and a couple behind me were able to board. I had more work stuff, so I did that during the ride.

    At Epcot the boat was just arriving so there wasnt any wait at bag check. When the cast member checking my bag moved it, my phone when flying out and crashed to the ground. I was NOT happy, but thankfully there was no damage. When I got the phone I looked at the pretty Disney phone cases but decided against them because at the time they were nothing but decorative fluff I went with something that protected the phone. Today I was glad for that decision!

    There was no wait to enter the park, and I noticed now that Mickey and friends have moved to their spot in Imagination theyre no longer clogging up the International Gateway, but now they have other characters there! I saw lines of people waiting, and one princess out there. It's bad enough they ruined this entrance by bringing hordes of people in via skyliner, but then we have character greets in there too. I know I sound like an old grump, but I miss the old days!

    World Showcase was surprisingly busy, but it wasnt horrific like the last couple of trips. Of course, its still relatively early. The food stands didnt have terrible lines. As a picky eater, theres not much that really appeals to me, and the few items that did were not in the direction I was headed. Id already missed my first fastpass (the grace period ended before I got off the skyliner), and I was in the window for Soarin.

    I fought my way through the crowds (boy do people walk slowly) into Future World, and went to the Land. The new Amazing Planet movie (replaced Circle of Life) listed 2 minutes until the next show, so I stopped there. Id meant to do it last trip, but would have had a much longer wait and therefore skipped it. The movie is all about our planet, with lots of pretty scenery and a save the planet message overall I liked it, except I thought the misting (during a mention of rain) was unnecessary.

    When it ended I exited quickly and noticed there was no wait at all at Living with the Land. But, I had no time for that today. Soarin had a 15-minute standby wait, which was also surprising. I used my fastpass and ended up in the 2nd row of the center section good to not have the distortion you get when on the sides.

    I exited Soarin at 4:15 and began the walk over to the Dolphin. I wasnt sure Id make it on time, depending on the crowds, but I was able to maneuver through the Epcot crowds pretty easily and didnt lose much time there. I ended up arriving at Dolphin by 4:45. Happy Hour at Blue Zoo Lounge starts at 5, so I sat just inside and within a couple minutes Judy spotted me there.

    As I said before, we only met in person once before, and that was 20 years (or so) ago. However, the conversation flowed easily and we had a great time visiting for a couple hours. I met her husband Tom, who seems very nice. Thankfully they had sports on some tv screens (with captions) so he didnt have to follow all of our conversation but hed respond appropriately, so he wasnt ignoring us. He was a good sport!

    At happy hour theres a limited selection of food and drinks that are included. I had the house white wine and the classic flatbread. Thats the only food item Id eat <g>. Judy had the smoking sangria and the fried green beans. We couldnt figure out what the smoking was, because the sangria didnt have smoke coming from it. She loved the green beans, and kept trying to offer me some even saying to just pretend theyre French fries. Um, I think not, lol. Tom had a cocktail they have on the happy hour menu, and the fried calamari. I assume he liked both. I took half my flatbread to go, for another day.

    We left just after 7, and Judy & Tom headed back to their room in the Swan. It was great seeing Judy again, and meeting Tom hopefully it wont be another 20 years before the next time (well be REALLY old by then, lol). I had originally planned to see Peebo Bryson at Epcot, but happy hour was so enjoyable it was later than Id expected. Plus, I had a carryout container of flatbread, and didnt really feel like bringing that into Epcot. So, I decided to skip Peebo (also had no idea if World Showcase was mobbed by now or not) and head back to the resort.

    I walked back along Yacht/Beach to the skyliner station, and rode back to Riviera. The walk to the resort when exiting from Epcot is quite a bit shorter. I checked out the pastries in Au Petit Caf but although they were very pretty, nothing really called out to me. I went up to the room and dropped off the flatbread, then went down to the counter service place on the ground level.

    They have a nicer menu than most Disney locations, and one of the desserts was a chocolate lava cake. Evidently you have to order that at the register, so I wasnt able to see it. In the marketplace section if found some of the cold items on the menu, and a small bakery case that was more than half empty. They had small loaves of banana bread, that looked to be topped with chocolate, so I bought one of those. After buying it I asked the cast member how good it was and he said it was one of his favorites. Ok well see. I hope hes right.

    I went back up to the room and started working on the trip report. 9pm came and went, with no fireworks noise. I went out onto the balcony shortly after 9 and I have no view of any fireworks at all. The preferred view studios are NOT worth the high # of points. But, with standard view those are also high compared to some of the other dvc resort and your view is likely to be a parking lot or worse, the service road for trash, laundry, etc.

    When I returned tonight, something had been left on my bed a folder that included a nice print of the Riviera Resort. Theres was also some advertising piece about getting additional fastpasses by stopping by the dvc desk in the lobby. I didnt bother to read that perhaps tomorrow Ill take time to see what it says, but Im not in the market for a dvc tour or adding more points to my membership.

    Today started out VERY rough it was one thing after another, and all negative. Thankfully once that was done the rest of my day was very nice. Im glad I saw the new Awesome Planet, although I know Ill see it many more times since SB will want to see it & thats right up his alley (sitting down). Happy hour w/Judy & Tom was the highlight of the day great company, great fun. My studio is very comfortable and I do like it I think maybe this is a good spot for a resort trip (without parks or with just minimal Epcot or Studios time), but well see how the rest of the weekend goes <g>.

    Tomorrow I have fastpasses at Animal Kingdom, but ones in the morning and then Flight of Passage isnt until around 5pm. I dont know that I see myself going over there twice, so well see what happens. What I WANT to be able to do is get some sun enjoy pool time. But, Im not sure thats going to happen either. Amanda & Ari arrive around 8 tomorrow night, and hopefully I can catch up with Patti & John at Epcot sometime before then.


    DAY 2 Friday 3/6/20
    Who: Sue (61), DVC Member
    Amanda (31), daughter-in-law
    Ari (3), grandson

    Plan: Animal Kingdom, Pool, Epcot

    Actual: Last night before turning in I cut a small piece of the banana bread and found it to be delicious! Id definitely buy this again. I also slept really well the room was silent and the bed was very comfortable. Someone had commented that these platform beds werent as comfortable as a bed with box spring and mattress, but I didnt find that to be the case for me at least. I also like how the studio is laid out, with the bed(s) far from the entry point, so youre far less likely to hear people passing by in the hallway or neighbors in the connected 1-bedroom villa.

    I was up around 4:30 and made my cappuccino, then took it back to bed to enjoy while I got online. I ate a little more of the banana bread, but saved the rest to have with my breakfast. Around 7 I got up and showered, then fixed my egg and slice of bacon. Along with that I finished the banana bread absolutely delicious! Around 8:15 I washed my dishes, made the bed, and finished dressing. I was out the door by 8:30, and headed to the bus stops. Today I decided to be a little smarter than I normally am, and didnt take any bag. Since I was taking a DCL windbreaker with a zippered pocket on either side, one phone went into each pocket. My fitbit and Disney rewards card went into a pocket in my skort, I wore my band and carried the camera on my shoulder.

    It was so overcast I really looked like it wanted to rain, but none was forecast so I took a chance leaving the umbrella behind. As it turned out, the weather wreaked havoc on hair this morning, but there was no rain. When I approached the bus stop my bus was sitting there, so I jogged down and got on board. I even got a seat!

    It's a fairly quick ride to Animal Kingdom, and here the Riviera bus stop is way out with the All Stars. Glad I wont be taking the bus back to the resort! Its quite a walk to get to the park entrance, plus theyre doing construction of a building or cover for the tram station. It was so nice just walking through the guests without bags lane and when I got to the park entrance there lines at all of the magic band stations except the passholder lane. That one was empty! As I approached, the cast member asked if I was an annual passholder, and when I replied yes I was able to tap and enter the park with zero wait. I thanked her for actually enforcing it Ive never seen anyone bother in the past.

    Everything went so smoothly this morning it still wasnt even 9am yet, so I wandered around a bit. At 9 I checked the wait times and decided to do Dinosaur since it only had a 5-minute wait. In reality, I walked right through the empty building and into the empty preshow room and had to wait a minute or 2 for that to start. Buy then there were a handful of other people. We managed to get back safely from the cretaceous period, without being killed by the asteroid blast.

    From there I walked through Dinoland, then through Asia stopping to watch a monkey swinging around. When I got to Harambe I was still 9 minutes ahead of my 9:35 safari fastpass, so I browsed in one of the shops, then tapped my band about 9:31 and joined the queue. The standby wait was 75 minutes, and they were barely moving. Our line was backed way up too, and when I got to the loading area I saw they were only loading from one platform! Thats ridiculous a popular attraction like this should have both sides loading right from the start.

    Our guide/driver was excellent articulate, lots of information, and she did a great job. I was hoping the cooler weather would bring out more animals, and I cant think of anything we didnt see and they were all actively moving around! We must have seen 20 giraffe in a few different spots, and we saw the baby zebra (so cute). The 3 cheetah were up walking back & forth. The male lion was awake and looking off into the distance, while the 2 females were sprawled out on other rocks one awake, one asleep. Several Rhinos were marching around too. It was an overall terrific safari, and well worth the trip over here.

    With the safari done, so was I there wasnt anything else I wanted to do here and I wasnt successful in moving my Flight of Passage fastpass up from 5:30. So, I exited the park knowing Id take either the Yacht/Beach or Boardwalk bus and then walk into Epcot. The Boardwalk bus had just pulled in and was discharging passengers, so I walked right on when I got there. We waited about 5 minutes for any others, and one more person showed up. I did some work stuff while waiting, and part of the ride back to Boardwalk.

    I walked over to Epcot, again using the no bags lane, and was in France about 15 minutes before 11. I saw the new (this year) Remy topiary and took a picture, and took one of the Beauty & the Beast topiaries (with the Eiffel Tower in the background). Then I sat on a bench outside Chefs de France and waited for World Showcase to open. The sun started trying to break through about this time, which was nice! It was only upper 60s or low 70s, so very comfortable for walking around.

    I walked around to the entrance to Future World, checking out the menus and pictures along the way. Im a picky eater, and theres really not many things (festival booths) that Id eat. I thought about the margarita flatbread in Italy, but then I saw the photo & review small portion, disappointing review. Plus, I have leftover flatbread in the fridge. I decided to get the tandoori chicken flatbread from the Honey Bee-stro stand, and took it to a sunny bench facing the lake. I had this last year, and its pretty good something Id get once a year since otherwise my options are pretty limited <g>.

    After eating the flatbread I reversed course and decided to save the warm cheese strudel w/berries in Germany for another day. Thats really good but its pretty filling. I stopped in America and the food I saw people eating outside Regal Eagle looked pretty darn good. They no longer have the barbecue stuff at the festival stand, since I guess they didnt want to compete with Regal Eagle. Instead, they have food stuff I wont touch, and a couple desserts that sounded good. I got both the pecan cake and the pecan praline. Thankfully the praline comes in a plastic wrapper, so I was able to easily carry that back. Its big, and I hope I like it not exactly sure what it is, but I figured it was worth a try.

    The pecan cake had gotten an excellent review online, as perhaps the best of the festival, so I had to try that. Its a healthy portion (much better shared I was struggling), but for me the pecan pie tart they had in previous years is much better. The warm caramel is great (and plentiful), there are lots of pecans, and the scoop of whipped cream is nice. But, the cake itself was nothing special to me and without the other stuff probably would have gone into the trash. So, Im glad I tried it, but its a one and done for me.

    At this point I headed back towards International Gateway. Passing through Japan I saw someone eating the slider, which is the other food item that sounded interesting to me. It looked pretty good, although I may try to find a mustard packet and order it without the mayo that will also ensure the one I get is freshly made vs sitting under the heat lamps.

    At the skyliner I was the only person boarding, so I had a gondola to myself. Riviera is the next stop, and I wandered through the counter service place before going up to my studio. They have warm sticky buns with slivered almonds all over the top thats a variation on pecans and might be worth a try some day. I wandered through the dining area hoping to catch a glimpse of the chocolate lava cake, to no avail. This place takes mobile ordering, so thats the way to go vs standing in line to order.

    I went up to the room and downloaded the photos off the camera, then uploaded the ones going into an album. Once that was done I changed into a swimsuit and went down to the quiet pool. This pool is weird, in that the water comes to the very top of the pool walls not sure what its called, but its pretty cool. Recreation cast members were playing games on the grassy area between this pool and the main (with water slide) pool. Overall theres a nice relaxing vibe here and since the weather is nice (vs feeling like youre burning in hell) it makes it even easier to enjoy being here.

    I grabbed a couple towels and set up camp on a chaise lounged that I pulled over a bit out of the shade of the nearby umbrella. At times I needed the other towel as a blanket, as when the sun was behind clouds it was rather chilly. Still, it was nice to be relaxing/reading in a pretty setting, and when Id look up Id watch the skyliner passing by. There are a lot worse places to be than here! I think it was too cool (and cloudy) to tan, but I enjoyed my time out there lasting over an hour.

    Around 3 I went back upstairs, and soon Maria from Venezuela was knocking on the door to get my trash. She was very nice, and we chatted briefly before she continued on her way. I got changed back into clothes, then sat out on the balcony with a glass of wine and worked on the trip report. On the balcony Im mostly sheltered from the wind I can see blowing the palm trees down below. I have to think this room is preferred view only because of the 2 bodies of water visible (and lack of parking lot or dumpster). I can see the blue village with orange roofs at Caribbean Beach, and their pool directly across from me. The paved path going around the lake connects both resorts. I checked out Caribbean Beach on a recent trip, and was still not impressed at all, so I dont have any reason to go over there unless Im just looking to walk.

    Eventually I went back inside to catch the early news most of which was coronavirus related. This could be a serious issue, but the hype right now is a bit much. For me personally, Im not concerned at all Im elderly but I havent let myself be sickly. At work our residents are a concern. Theyre old, frail, and frankly have outlived their life expectancy due to the intense medical care theyve received (way overboard compared to what people without intellectual disabilities would receive). However, the reality is we dont want to see a flurry of deaths if theyre tied to this virus, as that creates a logistical nightmare and everyone (including the residents) suffers. So, well go overboard on the precaution stuff, so on paper it looks like weve done all we could.

    Around 5:30 I got up and headed out taking the skyliner to Epcot. Amanda & Ari were already on the road, so I figured I might catch the second ELO concert and get back before they arrived. Again, I made a bagless journey. This time I had to wait behind a couple people at the bagless bag check area, and at the magic band readers. But, it wasnt bad at all even though it would be nicer without all these skyliner-dumped people entering <g>.

    I turned right and caught the last song of the 5:30 Orchestra (former members of ELO) concert, then continued to kill time before turning around to get a seat for the 6:45 concert. The theater was not entirely full, even though its a Friday night. The wind was blowing and it was pretty chilly out there! The concert was very nice, and I left during the last song I was cold enough! To my great pleasure, World Showcase wasnt as bad as it had been on the last 2 trips tonight was more normal. Perhaps WDW hasnt been ruined after all.

    I exited the park and joined the queue for the skyliner. I shared a gondola with a dad and his LOUD little girl. Not only did he do nothing to shush her about her volume, but then she either bit her tongue or some such nonsense and started crying loudly. Ugh. I think of Ari, and this crap wouldnt be happening. When we arrived at the Riviera station I bolted off the gondola as soon as the door were partway open!

    I made a stop at the counter service place and bought another banana bread, then walked through the dining area again hoping to see someone eating the chocolate lava cake. I struck out again, lol. So, it was back up the elevator to the studio, where I chilled out waiting for Amanda & Ari to arrive. I was finally hungry, so I heated up the rest of the leftover flatbread from last night.

    Amanda & Ari arrived between 8:15 and 8:30. Once they dropped off their stuff we went out to walk around a bit, and Ari rearranged all the chess pieces outside. Another little girl (with her mom) came over and did some too. Eventually we dragged him away from there and heard the fireworks, so we walked out by the skyliner and watched the Epcot fireworks until they ended. After that we went back inside, and I gave Ari the surprise Id promised him a new pair of Mickey slippers. He was thrilled with them!

    While he was getting ready for his bath, he took water from the tub and was wiping it on the top of his slippers. When asked why, he said he was cleaning Mickey, lol. After his bath he got into his bed, I finished up the report and we all turned in pretty soon after that.

    Today was a much better day than yesterday! Everything seemed to go right today, and it was a great day. The safari was terrific, and I was thrilled to find Epcot wasnt a nightmare like it had been the last 2 trips.

    Tomorrow were headed to Magic Kingdom in the morning, a dvc update in the afternoon, and Epcot for the evening. Should be fun!


    DAY 3 Saturday 3/7/20
    Who: Sue (61), DVC Member
    Amanda (31), daughter-in-law
    Ari (3), grandson

    Plan: Magic Kingdom, DVC event, Epcot

    Actual: Everyone slept well last night, and Amandas murphy bed definitely looks like it would be more comfortable than the traditional sleep sofas. She loves how easy it is to pull down, vs unfolding a sleep sofa. I didnt get up until just before 5, and since I have the others in the studio I was a bit limited in terms of my normal routine (didnt want to disturb them, and realize that 5am isnt when most people expect to get up on vacation <g>). Im not completely sure, but I think Ari may have worn his new slippers in bed, lol.

    I brought my hot pot from home, since its quieter than the coffee maker. Last night Id filled it water and plugged it in on the bathroom sink. I also prepared my mug with cappuccino powder and left that on the sink as well. Getting up this morning I closed the bathroom doors and flipped the hot pot on so the water heated while I was brushing my teeth and getting the day started. I took the cappuccino back to bed and got online, but didnt turn on the tv to catch the news that will have to wait until theyre up. While the whole Covid-19 thing isnt a concern to me personally, its becoming a huge deal at work. Our residents fit the high risk group, as theyre mostly elderly, medically fragile, and have weakened immune systems (from what the medical professionals tell us).

    Speaking of Covid-19, last night I received a letter from HAL (Holland America Line, coming from the president of the company). Given all the uncertainty and concern, theyve temporarily changed the cancelation policy and now people booked on cruises leaving through May 31st can cancel by March 31st (as long as its at least 72 hours prior to departure) and receive the amount they paid in a future cruise credit to be used in 2020 or 2021. In addition, those of us who dont cancel will receive an extra $100 per person in onboard credit very nice gesture.

    Ari was up by 6, so Amanda got up then as well. He watched me finish a jigsaw puzzle online, and then wanted breakfast. While Amanda showered I fixed Aris egg and sausage. Sometimes hes a slow eater except when hungry, and evidently this morning he wasnt really hungry. At 7:15 he still had a bite of egg left on the plate! I fixed my breakfast and ate with Ari, then when Amanda was ready I fixed hers and then went in to get cleaned up and dressed.

    Today we head to Magic Kingdom, but theres no point going too early since its no fun standing around in 50-degree weather waiting for the park to open. Once Ari finished his breakfast I gave him a 48-piece jigsaw puzzle, and we worked on it together on the coffee table. He did really well, and we headed out shortly after 8.

    It was chilly outside, and with the wind blowing 20+ miles per hour, in the shade it wasnt very pleasant. Wed just missed the Magic Kingdom bus, so we had about a 15-minute wait. During that time a guy in a wheelchair arrived, so we had to wait for him to get loaded. With his wheelchair, he ended up blocking half the entry to the seats in the back of the bus, making it hard for anyone big to get up there. Thats where Ari wanted to sit, so I went back there with him and Amanda stood by the back exit door since she couldnt get back to us with the stroller (and the guy blocking half the entry).

    We arrived at Magic Kingdom to a mass of humanity at the bag check area, and the lines moved very slowly. This is frustrating, and somewhat surprising when you consider everyone coming from the MK resorts and the TTC gets screened before arriving. Thankfully the lines at the magic band tap stations were not as bad, and we got through there fairly quickly. It was still a few minutes before 9, so we wandered down Main Street and caught the little fireworks burst from the castle.

    We headed directly to the Tomorrowland Speedway, which Ari loves. I rode with him, and Amanda rode in front of us. We hit the rail a number of times, but for a 3-year old he did fine. The Tron construction is coming along nicely. We were lucky to have almost no wait & were on the first batch of cars to go out. Later the wait was 50 minutes, which is ridiculous for this attraction!

    From there we went across the park and rode Pirates of the Caribbean, this time NOT getting wet! Afterwards we walked back over to Tomorrowland and used our first fastpasses Space Mountain for me and Buzz Lightyear for them. We agreed to meet up at the entrance to People Mover.

    At Space Mountain the standby wait was 45 minutes, and that line pretty much filled the entire inside area. It was barely moving, while I zipped by in the fastpass lane without ever seeing anyone ahead of me or behind me it was so quick! When I got to the final tap point the cast member asked if I was solo and when I said yes he had me detour behind the wall and take a right at the end where the loading cast member rushed over and got me directly onto a rocket. This is a new thing their way of doing single rider without posting signs. It was a fun ride, and I went over to wait outside People Mover for the others.

    They arrived just a minute or 2 after me, and we were able to board People Mover without a wait (for a change, lol)! It was a little brisk at times, but a nice ride. From there we walked over Dumbo and parked the stroller, then walked over to do the Little Mermaid ride with a very short wait. We always enjoy that one. We walked back to Dumbo and used our fastpasses, sharing an elephant. Ari controlled the lever, which means he got us up as high as it would go and left us there until the ride ended.

    At this point it was so crowded in the park we knew we didnt have time to do anything else standby before our fastpass window to meet Mickey opened. We wandered down Main Street, and I saw my friend Mary was working (Miss Inga). She was interacting with a family, so I stood further down the sidewalk from where she was, and she spotted me.

    We all had a nice long visit, and when the Assistant to the Mayor showed up he & Ari started racing each other and having a great time. Ari won every time, but first he took off before the guy said go, so he said Ari was cheating. Then he told Ari to not go until he said go and I think Mary said it early & Ari took off running, lol. Eventually it was time to let the Citizens of Main Street interact with other people, and we were in our window for Mickey, so we said our goodbyes and headed over to Town Square.

    The standby wait was 50 minutes (way too long), but with the fastpass it wasnt very long. Ari enjoyed seeing his old friend, and showed him the several pictures of Mickey on his shirt. They took several photos together, and then we headed out and went to the bus stops. Our bus pulled in as we arrived, which was perfect! We may have been the only guests on board, too.

    Back at the resort we stopped downstairs at the counter service place, where I was going to try their macaroni and cheese. However, when I ordered they told me they dont have that at this location. I could have sworn I saw it on the menu online as recently as yesterday or the day before. It was not on the menu posted on the wall, however. Chris tried to get it in January and was told theyd run out that day. Go figure. I ended up with the margherita pizza, which was more than I wanted but I didnt want to hold up the line behind me. There was only 1 cast member taking orders, which seems insufficient to me. Amanda had already ordered the bacon cheeseburger for her, and would be heating up some beef ravioli for Ari in the room.

    We ordered the food to go and after sitting around for a while with an overtired pre-schooler she took Ari upstairs to get his lunch started while I waited for our food to be ready. By the time I got upstairs he was sitting at the table, eating his ravioli. Her burger was enormous! Hopefully it tasted good it looked good. The margherita pizza looked & tasted great, but its 2 meals for me. I ate half and put the other half in the fridge. Amanda ended up doing the same with her burger.

    After lunch Ari went down for his nap, giving us some quiet time. I updated the report, and then worked on their tax return (Amanda had brought the documents). Ari slept for a good long time, so I also labeled the photos and went through the ones from today. By 3:30 Amanda needed to wake him up, as we had to be at the DVC booth in the lobby at 3:45 for the Member Update.

    He woke up with his hair all sticking up everywhere, lol Amanda did her best but ended up finally just wetting it all down. We brought a baggie full of Disney goldfish crackers for Ari to munch on, and went down to check in at the dvc booth. We had about 10 minutes to wait, so we sat outside on the sunny porch, which was nicely sheltered from the wind so it was nice out there.

    We went inside to join the group and were taken to a grand villa on the 4th floor. I was shocked to find the grand villa faced the same view as me basically nothing of significance! I later asked the guide if he knew what the criteria was for preferred vs standard view here, and he really didnt have any idea.

    The grand villa was pretty large, and had some similarities to the grand villas at Grand Floridian Villas, but it wasnt nearly as fancy in my opinion. It also lacked the media room. They had chairs set up for the presentation, so the living and dining room wasnt set up like it would be if you were staying here. I included several photos in the trip album.

    On our way out we were given gift bags containing a white chocolate covered rice krispie treat with the RR (Riviera Resort) logo on a white chocolate disc and a resort pin. We dropped the swag off in the room, grabbed the stroller, and headed out to the skyliner to ride to Epcot.

    At the skyliner we had to stand there waiting, while the gondolas mostly all came over full of people from the value & moderate resort up the line. We also had 3 wheelchairs ahead of us, but 2 were stroller-type chairs pushed by a parent one family of 4 people. When an empty gondola finally came around, ONE parent pushed ONE stroller/wheelchair in, and the other one stayed back. The cast member didnt pull any of the rest of us up, which was disappointing but she probably assumed the other parent would push the 2nd stroller/wheelchair in there (there was room). So then we had to wait for another empty gondola, even though there were some that had room for at least a few people. After the next empty gondola the cast member had the adult in a wheelchair/scooter pull off to the side, so she could load the walking people to fill empty spots in occupied gondolas while waiting for an empty one for him. This process is a pain!

    When we got to Epcot the line of people waiting to board the skyliner was extended all the way down the ramp and just out the entrance to the very long queue! We could only hope that meant everyone had left Epcot, lol but of course that wasnt the case. There were lines at bag check and at the magic band readers but the lines were due to not all the stations being open.

    When we finally got into the park we turned left and went to Future World to get our passholder magnets. It was quite chilly, and after the sun went down it got cold quickly. The line for magnets was ridiculous, but at least it moved pretty quickly. After we got our magnets we headed back outside because Mouse Gear was just too crowded. As we were walking over to the pretzel cart someone called my name, and it was Kristen (from a Disney group of friends). She said she actually recognized Amanda, and then spotted me, lol! We stopped to chat, and I learned she did VERY well with her boarding group this morning Ill let her break the specific number to our group.

    We got to the pretzel cart, where Amanda & Ari shared a Mickey pretzel with the cheese dip. I think the pretzel was cold pretty quickly, thanks to the cold breeze blowing. We returned to World Showcase and went in the direction of Canada to walk through the countries. Some of the festival booths had long lines, but others were not bad overall it was definitely busier than yesterday. The cold weather wasnt keeping people away!

    Our first stop was in Japan, where I was thrilled to see no line! I got the panko crusted burger, and it was such a surprise it was outstanding! I bought it hoping I wouldnt hate it, and its my favorite food item (non-dessert) of the festival, and Id definitely get it again. In America Amanda got the aqua frozen lemonade, without the alcohol since she was sharing it with Ari. They both liked it. It came with a paper straw, but we eventually picked up a spoon for Ari. He did better eating it like a snowcone.

    The final stop was Honey Bee-stro, where Amanda got a Spike the bee cup (empty), the honey mascarpone cheesecake, and the honey-peach freeze (that would have come in Spike) in a separate cup. She shared that frozen drink with Ari, ate the little scoop of ice cream that came with the cheesecake, and carried the cheesecake back to the resort. The line at the skyliner wasnt as bad, but there was still a wait. We got off at Riviera and went up to the studio, in for the night at 7:24.

    Amanda heated up more ravioli for Ari, and the other half of her burger and fries for herself. I was satisfied with my slider from Japan, but poured a glass of wine and can always eat a small package of cheese puffs or part of the banana bread or pecan praline later if Im hungry or craving something sweet.

    We got Ari to bed around 8:15, wearing Amandas sleep mask so we didnt have to turn out the lights or turn off the tv. Once he falls asleep its easy to remove it without waking him up that way Amanda can use it. Tonight the clocks go forward an hour at 2am, so my phones and laptop should do that automatically. Ill see when I wake up the microwave clock should be an hour different from my phone if all goes well. SB asked me to call him at 6 to make sure hes up for work.

    Today was a very nice day, at least overall. It can be challenging with an independent preschooler hes a good kid, but hes 3 and that means some degree of whining, not listening, etc. Lucky for him hes cute, lol and fun to be around <g>. It was great seeing Mary, and Ari had such fun with her and the Assistant to the Mayor. The slider from Japan was a huge surprise much better than I expected!

    Tomorrow were heading to Hollywood Studios early, and then back to Epcot for a bit before they hit the road. If its warm enough I may sit by the pool in the afternoon, before one last evening at Epcot. Although, if this skyliner continues to be a pain I may rethink it.


    DAY 4 Sunday 3/8/20
    Who: Sue (61), DVC Member
    Amanda (31), daughter-in-law
    Ari (3), grandson

    Plan: Studios, Pool, Epcot

    Actual: Once again we all slept well. Amanda turned in by 10 and I followed shortly after. The clocks on my electronics changed on their own, so when I got up at 5 the microwave clock said 4. I noticed Ari was wearing his slippers again, and I covered him back up with his blanket. I made my cappuccino and took it back to bed, where I spent some time online and watched a HAL ship sail in. This Covid-19 stuff is making a mess of cruising, and mostly due to hype/fear, with ships being denied entry at ports simply because a passenger is sick (not Covid-19). I understand being cautious, but this is a bit overboard.

    I got up before 6:30 to take my shower, get dressed, and dry my hair. That way if Ari wakes up early and were able to make it to the Studios by 8, I wont be holding us up. Ari was awake by the time I got dressed, so before I made my breakfast I made his since he sometimes takes forever to eat. He wanted a sausage, so thats what he had finally finishing it around 10:30 (while we were out). He did eat some of my egg, and brought a hard boiled egg to the park and ate it while at the Studios.

    We left for the skyliner somewhat after 7:30 and were met at the station by a cast member telling us the line to Hollywood Studios was not operating. Great. So much for guests from Riviera having any hope of a boarding group over there! We turned around and trudged back over to our side of the resort, and went out to the bus stops. There was a big crowd there, which left us wondering if wed make it onto the next bus. But, when it arrived there was just enough room, with a few seats leftover. Amanda stood up by the front door with the stroller, and Ari & I headed to seats in the back of the bus.

    At Hollywood Studios we made the long walk from the bus stops to the entry, and the lines at bag check were still ridiculous. Amanda suggested I leave my bag with her and go in with Ari to try to do the Alien Saucer Spin thing we had a fastpass at noon but didnt want to stay in this park that long. So, Ari & I went through the no bags lane but then saw the big lines for the magic band stations what a pain. By walking all the way over to the right we found a line that was a little shorter, and it didnt take too long to get into the park.

    The park had just opened, so we walked down Hollywood Boulevard and followed the sign to turn left before reaching the new Mickey & Minnies Runaway Train attraction (in the old Great Movie Ride). The queue filled in the entire outside space, and I couldnt see what the wait time was. They have a fastpass for it next month, and I can wait until some future trip, even if it takes a year to get one.

    I was shocked to see the end of the Slinky Dog line was at the Little Mermaid attraction!! The sign said it was 110 minutes. As we got closer to Toy Story Land, on the other side of the road the line for Toy Story Midway Mania was backed up outside of the land. I wasnt sure what wed find at Aliens, but it had a standby wait of 5 minutes score! We joined the queue, and I think the wait was a little bit longer than 5 minutes, but definitely shorter than it would be at any other time of the day.

    As we were ready to board our saucer I saw Amanda had arrived with the stroller and our bags. Shed texted me along the way, but my phone was in my bag, which was in the stroller <g>. Ari enjoys this ride, and likes to scream at each spin. Its a kiddie ride, and not something Id do without him.

    After it ended we met up with Amanda and wandered around a bit. We stopped at the Mickeys Shorts attraction (vacation cartoon) and enjoyed that although the cartoons are so violent! From there we walked through Galaxys Edge and then ended up back in Toy Story Land. We had 4 minutes to wait for our fastpass at Toy Story Midway Mania, so we parked the stroller and hung out near the entrance until it was time to enter the queue at 9:10.

    Ari broke his 3-D glasses while we were on the stairs, but thankfully they have spare pairs at the loading area and we were able to get them replaced. He and I rode together, and Amanda was behind us. She got the high score for the car, at 170,000. I only got 131,000 and Ari was the winner (per him) with 31,600. Thats a good score for him he gets better each time, and he loves this attraction.

    We retrieved the stroller and headed out of the park. By now the skyliner was running, so we hopped on that over to Caribbean Beach and transferred to the Epcot line with very little wait. Entering Epcot was a breeze sure wish it could be like this all day! On the skyliner Amanda was able to get us Spaceship Earth fastpasses, but for the afternoon. I was able to eventually change it to 11:00 (the current time) by fiddling with requested times on my phone, so we went straight there. We wanted to ride it one last time before it goes down for a lengthy redo. Ari rode with me and picked our ending, which was really cute.

    We were able to get another fastpass for Soarin for evening, but by modifying it repeatedly we were only able to move it 10 minutes. Then we remembered seeing we had 3 multiple experiences fastpasses, which must have come from attending the DVC member update yesterday. We used one to enter Soarin, but Ari freaked out and didnt want to ride so we left. In the meantime Id added Living with the Land but it was too late. While on the escalator up to the 2nd floor I finally was able to snag a time about 10 minutes away, so we went back downstairs to do that. Ari had some snacks while we waited.

    The boat ride was nice, but I was a little surprised they really hadnt done anything special for the festival. When our ride was done we went back outside to get the stroller and headed out to World Showcase. Our first stop was at Pineapple Promenade, where Amanda & Ari shared the violet frozen lemonade. Amanda says thats her favorite. We walked towards Canada and made a loop around the countries. In Japan I got the slider for lunch, and it was delicious once again!

    I still havent gotten the warm cheese strudel w/berries in Germany, but I was too full after the slider to get it now. Amanda thought about the chicken skewer in China but when we got there the line was longer than she was willing to do. In Mexico the mariachi band/Coco show was due to start in about 5 minutes so we stopped there. Ari loves that movie, and Ive seen some of it at their house.

    The mariachi guys had nice voices, and it was a good show not sure Id bother with it again, and Im glad I did it on a relatively cool day rather than sweating to death out there in the sun! Coming back by the Citrus booth that line was really long, so Amanda didnt get her citrus chicken today. Ari wanted to do another ride, so we convinced him the skyliner is a ride since thats where we were headed, lol.

    We left the park and arrived to a skyliner that had just shut down. Within a minute though it started up again, and soon we were on our way back to Riviera. Amanda made Ari some microwave macaroni & cheese, then took most of their stuff down to the car while he was eating. I gathered up some stuff I wouldnt need, and when they were ready to leave I walked out with them. I put my stuff in my trunk, then walked down to their car to say goodbye. Ill see them again in about 2.5 weeks.

    Ari was funny in the room I told him Id see him at his house in a couple weeks, and said it was before I go on a cruise on a big boat. He looked puzzled and said again?? Omigod, lol! He asked why and I told him I enjoy it. He asked how and I told him I bought a ticket saved up my money and bought a ticket. He giggled at that. For a kid whos vacationed at WDW probably 20-30 times in his 3-year life, Im not sure why it seemed odd that Id be repeating a cruise, lol.

    I went back up to the studio and got to work on the trip report. I also checked a couple things on the Holland America site and emailed my travel agent regarding my next 2 cruises. I decided to make a change in my December 2020 booking (swapping out perks) and will inquire about getting the beverage package added to my March 2020 booking since the current price for my stateroom with the beverage package is $40 less than Im paying without the package. Cant hurt to ask, but if it doesnt happen because Id have a cancelation penalty & have to rebook, then not a big deal Im happy with the fare and overjoyed with HALs recent decision to give another $100 in onboard credit for not canceling. Lets hope nothing jeopardizes this cruise!

    Earlier Id hoped for time at the pool, but the afternoon was overcast and when the wind blew it was chilly. So, I enjoyed relaxing in the studio. I found a tower studio here at Riviera available for a weekend (Thurs-Sat nights) in mid-August, so I booked it. Thats the only room category I havent seen here, and Im curious. Itll be hotter and more humid than I care for, but I figure Ill sweat out by the pool in the morning, escape to the air conditioned room in the afternoon, and book fastpasses for evening at either Epcot or Hollywood Studios.

    At 4 I watched a couple HAL ships sail away, one of them being the ship Ill be on in December 2020 and March 2021. Finally, around 5:30 I changed into jeans and headed out to return to Epcot. This time there was no wait at the skyliner station and a few empty gondolas in a row were arriving. I was seated in one and enjoyed the solo ride to Epcot. Id gone bagless, so entering the park was very quick.

    I walked over to Test Track and used one of my multi experience fastpasses there. In hindsight, single rider line is better because you dont waste time designing a car (I could care less about that). I ended up being seated in the middle seat too, so no benefit of not being a single rider!

    After Test Track I returned to World Showcase, and walked around the countries. In Germany I got the warm cheese strudel and took it to a picnic table by the lake. The park was much less crowded than last night, thank goodness! The strudel was good, but not the big wow I remember from previous years. I may skip it next year although there was nothing wrong with it.

    In America I stopped and listened to some of the Orchestra (ELO) concert, then continued around and exited via International Gateway. Going up the ramp to the skyliner I was behind a family where the dad was smoking just disgusting! The queue area was filled in, so at the end I made sure to get myself in a different gondola than them. The cast members were pretty much filling them, and I didnt want to get stuck with a person who stinks like an ashtray.

    I was the only one getting off at Riviera, and I walked around to see the tower studios from the outside. I then went inside and it looks like there are 3 of them on each floor. At least 2 of the 3 would have a nice view of the fireworks from Epcot, so Im interested to try them this August. I went over to my side of the resort and up to my studio, where Im in for the night. Id packed up most of my stuff earlier, so I just have a little to do in the morning. I plan to be on the road by 6 possibly earlier, so I can get to a meeting tomorrow morning.

    Other than the aggravation at the start of the trip, a few preschooler tantrums and a chilly Saturday, this was a really nice trip. Im so happy the crowd level seemed more normal instead of the horrific awfulness Ive experience on the last few trips. Im not sure if its just the Covid-19 scaring some people off, but it sure was nice to be able to walk around World Showcase and buy what I wanted without long waits. The Safari was probably one of the best ones yet, and I enjoyed having Amanda & Aris company for the weekend.

    The photos are on Snapfish at https://www.snapfish.com/library/sha...61060/SNAPFISH

    The next WDW trip isnt until Memorial Day weekend, for a club level stay at Jambo House (no parks planned). Before then I have a HAL cruise in late March and then we are going to Hilton Head in early May with Pete & Judy. That trip begins May 6th, so the report should begin May 5th. Until then, thanks for reading and stay healthy!

    Sue (Holland) Rayford
    WDW1972

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  3. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Drexel Hill, PA

    Thanks for the report. Unfortunately I dont have a trip planned this year but I do have a long one planned next year. Most of it will be at CopperCreek if my nephew can get it at his 11 month mark. However, I am adding several more nights and I was undecided between Rivieria and Beach Club. After reading your report while the Riviera looks nice, I think Im booking the Beach Club. I like the option of walking or taking a boat to the studios and walking to Epcot without waiting for the Skyliner. I love your pics. I love Aris obsession with his slippers and keeping them clean. He is so cute. Hope the cruise goes as planned


  4. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Gulf Coast of Florida

    Thanks for the trip report "Old Grump" Great pictures of the animals. And great Skyliner play by play.
    We hope to book our next trip to Caribbean Beach soon!


  5. #4

    Thanks for another great report, Sue! I'm hoping to try the Riviera at some point when there's 7-month availability. Did you find the room to be similar in size to the Poly studios? We just got back from our first stay at the Poly and loved the huge studios. My dream would be having a studio with a king bed instead of queen--I'm spoiled.

    Jan

    "A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference." --Eeyore

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