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Thread: Sue (Holland) Rayford, Saratoga Springs, April 13-18, 2021

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    Sue (Holland) Rayford, Saratoga Springs, April 13-18, 2021

    Who/When/Where:

    Who: Sue (62), DVC Member
    SB (63), my husband (Wed/Thu)
    Tiana & Jonell, friends (Wed/Thu)
    Chris (34), son (Sat)
    Amanda (32), daughter-in-law (Sat)
    Ari (4), grandson (Sat)
    Dates: April 13 18, 2021
    Resort: Disneys Saratoga Springs Resort
    Experience: Very Experienced 19th stay at SSR

    INTRODUCTION:
    This was booked as a solo trip (which now sounds ridiculous given the 7 people on some part of this trip <g>), slightly expanding the time Id normally spend since my cruises have been canceled lately (for the past year +). At 7 months it wasnt possible to get Beach Club Villas, and Boardwalk either wasnt available or I abandoned it in fear of having noisy neighbors in the connecting 1-br (the connecting door is poorly located close to the bed in the studio). Bay Lake Tower was available, so I booked that since it had been a while since I stayed there.

    As the months wore on, and monorail access to Epcot still wasnt happening, Bay Lake was quickly losing its appeal. We stayed in a 2-br villa with Chris & family at Saratoga Springs last November or December, and fell in love with the refurbished rooms there. Transportation sucks, but I figure as a solo I could deal with it since my park time would be so limited. I switched resorts, booking preferred view to be certain of getting a refurbished studio, and requested Congress Park thinking although Im not a fan of Disney Springs since Im right here I can easily wander over and at least get some steps in.

    Fast forward a few months and SB kept asking when he was going to Disney again. A studio for 5 nights just doesnt work for us (ok, for me when its the both of us <g>). I dont want to spend the trip bickering over when to turn off the tv, what to have on the tv (if anything), etc. I didnt have the points to upgrade to a 1-br villa so I suggested he, Tiana & Jonell come down for a couple days and Id book them (Tiana & Jonell) a studio for the night. They were all in agreement, and availability at Saratoga is pretty easy to get, so I booked the studio for 1 night. Ill have to give up my pool time while theyre all here, which is the only negative if it was just me, the trip would be spent relaxing around the resort and maybe going to a park later. Last trip I didnt do a single attraction, although I did go into Epcot every day for Flower & Garden Festival since I could walk in from Beach Club Villas. Coming from Saratoga with the pain in the butt bus stops and the long walk through Future World, Epcot falls down on the priority list.

    Ill arrive solo Tuesday, and did book Epcot so Ill head over there for some part of the afternoon or evening. SB, Tiana & Jonell arrive Wednesday so I booked Hollywood Studios (my least favorite) since Tiana & Jonell have never seen the Star Wars stuff. Im not sure Ill bother trying for Rise of the Resistance, and if I do I probably wont tell them unless I get a really low boarding group number because well only be there a few hours at most. Hopefully we can do the Runaway Rail thing first thing, and Toy Story Midway Mania, then walk through the Star Wars stuff maybe hit Smugglers Run if time permits, or Star Wars. Tiana talks about Rock n Roller Coaster so they may want to ride that. SB wanted to do a restaurant meal, so I booked Planet Hollywood for lunch. Its been many years since I ate there, and its close to the resort so assuming their room is ready Tiana & Jonell could move their stuff over. After that wed planned to hit Epcot, but with being full from lunch who can eat at Flower and Garden???? I think a better plan would be to hop to Animal Kingdom, where the only priorities are the safari & Flight of Passage.

    Thursday we have Animal Kingdom booked, but assuming we do that Wednesday via hopping well hopefully rebook for Epcot. This lets them enjoy the food and lack of lines by being there before opening, and since Epcot opens at 11 we dont have to get up as early. Theyll all be heading home at some point that day if its early enough, Ill head to the pool.

    Friday is a pool morning for me, and then a 1:30 lunch at the Boathouse. Not sure what else I may or may not do. Saturday Chris, Amanda & Ari are up for a day trip so Ill join them at Magic Kingdom and were all doing lunch at Skipper Canteen. Sunday I head home, most likely early since Im not doing any parks. I cant believe during a 5-night solo trip I only have 1 day where I can relax by the pool & be lazy!

    The plans so far are:
    Tuesday 4/13: Drive to WDW, Epcot
    Wednesday 4/14: Hollywood Studios, Planet Hollywood lunch, Epcot or Animal Kingdom
    Thursday 4/15: Animal Kingdom, Pool, Epcot
    Friday 4/16: Pool, Boathouse lunch, maybe Epcot
    Saturday 4/17: Magic Kingdom, Skippers Canteen lunch
    Sunday 4/18: Drive to Gainesville


    DAY 1 Tuesday 4/13/21
    Who: Sue (62), DVC Member

    Plan: Drive to WDW, Epcot

    Actual: This morning was a short work day, and with our executive team meeting and then the staff meeting with the department heads who report to me, the time passed quickly. I have some anxiety about being away for the rest of the week, and really hope nothing major comes up (unlike last trip). When I did online check in Id used a 1:30 arrival time, but knew I wouldnt actually get there until 2. My wishful thinking is if they run a little late, the studio should be ready when I arrive, but I know there are no guarantees. With it expected to be almost 90 degrees today (YUCK), I would prefer to not leave my stuff in a hot car, and dont want to be waiting on bell services later.

    I was shocked when less than halfway through the 2-hour drive I checked my phone and saw the your room is ready message!! That doesnt typically happen (so early). The next shock was checking the room number and seeing its a 1-bedroom villa! I booked a studio, but gave serious thought on more than one occasion to switching it to a 1-bedroom. In the end, I decided not to since it would have been twice as many points and after all, this is a solo trip, lol!

    I finished the drive, arriving at Saratoga Springs just after 2pm. Im in Congress Park as requested, and have a great location. The bus stop is very close, and the pool is right outside my slab. Thats the only negative having a slab/patio vs a balcony. Ive never gotten stuck with ground floor before, and would never ask for it, but given the upgrade Ill keep my mouth shut and just be appreciative of what I have.

    Moving in on the ground floor is certainly easy no elevators or stairs to deal with. This evening Ill go outside and see how much people can see inside & then figure out what adjustments Ill need to make. The walkway from the pool to the building goes right past my patio, so I expect there will foot traffic.

    I turned on General Hospital while I quickly unpacked & put everything away. These villas really are pretty! I love so many of the little details and the finishes. I had some work stuff to deal with, which took until nearly 3:30 the rest can wait until later this evening. Right now its 90 or more degrees outside, so since arriving I havent been in any mad rush to get into a park. I thought about canceling my park reservation, but Ill give it a try & make it a very short trip if it feels too hot out to be pleasant.

    I updated the report, to get that much out of the way, and talked w/SB. He suggested with the upgrade, maybe I want him to just stay the rest of the week now, lol! Um, what part of SOLO TRIP do people not understand??? <g> In his department they have to submit their time off requests by the 13th of the month before, but I did call him back to throw out the option of him driving separately from Tiana & Jonell, and leaving Friday sometime to be back at work Saturday (his normal days off are Thurs/Fri). He declined, so I guess he wasnt too serious about crashing my solo trip!

    Im still on the fence about tomorrow & Thursday, and was hoping hopping to AK tomorrow afternoon made sense. But, right now (3:45pm) the safari wait is 70 minutes! Flight of Passage is only 50. At Epcot Soarin is 45 so no clear winner in terms of short waits between the 2 parks. If I was solo it wouldnt matter, but with the others theyll want to do some attractions.

    I left the villa just before 4 and made the very short walk to the Congress Park bus stop. Unfortunately, I saw the Epcot bus pulling away before I could have gotten over there. I decided to just walk over to the Springs, since I needed to get something for Amanda. The bus easily beat me there, but I figured I had time to run my errand. I went up to the Carriage House and went inside by the front desk. Three masked cast members were all standing around in the lobby, ready to pounce on me not sure they see many actual people with all the signs outside reminding us we dont have to go inside (we can do stuff online) <g>.

    One of the cast members went behind the counter and gave a couple of the Happily Ever After buttons for Chris & Amanda their 6th wedding anniversary is this week. I put them in my bag and walked back down to the bus stop. While there I saw a bus from every other park, including Disney Springs. The Epcot bus arrived at 4:28. Theyre using all the seats on the bus now, but they have those silly dividers up to separate the sections. Its so fortunatel that covid sees dividers and says crap, cant go anywhere, better stay inside my human.

    The bus wasnt crowded, and in no time we were at Epcot. Its a long walk to the entrance, but there was no wait for the useless temperature check (I passed). At security I set off the alarm most likely it was the 2 anniversary buttons, since Id left the umbrella back in the villa. Entering the park was pretty quick the lines werent more than 2 parties deep.

    The park was pretty busy, but the worst part was the heat. Once out on the pavement the heat just radiated upwards and the breeze seemed to die. I didnt feel like waiting in line for any attractions but did want to get some steps in, so I headed to World Showcase hoping to find some shade along the way.

    I started on the Canada side. The Honey Bee-stro stand had a long line, yet at Canada there was nobody in line at all. This trend would continue Id see a long line then the next stand(s), even though I would have thought them more popular, would have little or no line. There were lots of people wandering around though definitely busier than Id hoped but also not nearly as bad as a weekend. Ill be glad when fastpasses come back!

    I stopped in a shady spot in Japan for a few swallows of ice water from my metal water bottle, then continued on. In Germany I went into the caramel shop since there wasnt a line other than 2 parties ahead of me inside. I bought a caramel apple oatmeal cookie w/pecans, and the cast member told me that was her favorite. She asked if I had any discounts, so I mentioned DVC and passholder. I looked at the receipt after leaving, and evidently they consider the stuff in here merchandise, so I got my 20% off (saved $.92 would be more significant if I was buying cookies for a whole family). The cookie will go back to the villa to be enjoyed later, so I continued walking around the countries. Boy was it hot!!

    One loop was all I was willing to do, as it was just not pleasant. At Honey Bee-stro the line was short so I ordered the lavender chicken flatbread and took it to a table that was partially in the shade. I really should have taken the flatbread back because it was all dried out crisp like a cracker, with dried up chicken pieces. I saw others pass by that looked normal, but if I left my table I might not get another one so I crunched & munched, being careful not to cut the inside of my mouth with any sharp edges, lol! Another party (4-5 people) was dining on a trash can nearby, so when I finished I asked if they wanted my table and they gladly moved over.

    I headed for the exit, taking a brief detour through MouseGear but not buying anything. There was no wait to get inside, but lines at both sets of registers, so Im glad I didnt see anything I couldnt resist. From there I left the park and started the queue for the Saratoga Springs bus. Being the first in line is usually a bad sign, and once again I saw a bus for every other resort in this bus stop area before mine finally arrived. To make things worse, an older couple joined me in the queue, she on a scooter, and I didnt think to tell them where they should have been waiting. It dawned on me when the bus finally pulled in, so by then the driver let the back ramp down and the woman awkwardly tried (repeatedly) to get onto the ramp, but coming from the wrong direction it wasnt easy. Finally the driver grabbed the scooter by the handlebars and just pulled her onto the bus. In the meantime, her husband was still standing in the queue behind me, so I told him he was ok to stay with her - he didnt have to wait in line. He got on the bus through the back door while she was getting tied down, and soon the rest of us could board.

    After we got into Disney Springs the driver asked scooter lady what stop she was getting off at, and she said Paddock. I decided Id get off there as well, and just walk back to Congress Park, even though its a distance away. As I was walking another passenger from the bus asked if I was Sue, and said shes read my reports for years (and thinks Ari is so cute one of many watching him grow up who he doesnt know). We had a nice chat as we walked, and I continued solo once we passed her building in Paddock. The walk was lovely shaded, nice breeze, etc. It felt a million times better than Epcot did!

    Before going inside I checked out the quiet pool, since its been so many years since Ive stayed here. To give you an idea how long, my evenings were spent at Comedy Warehouse! The pool looked the same, and the convenience cant be beat. Its too bad I wont have much time to enjoy itsigh. I tried to see what I could see inside my villa, but the sun was reflecting off the glass so all I could see was what was behind me. Ill try later.

    I went into the villa just in time for the 6:30 news, which I didnt really catch much of because I had a report from work that I needed to edit. That took an hour its pitiful how poorly some adults write!! When that was finally finished I started working on the report, but got distracted by Aris school pictures omigod so cute! If Amanda doesnt mind Ill include 2-3 in the album. He graduates preschool and will start kindergarten in August.

    Id brought crackers, cheese & wine with me, so I opened the bottle, prepared some crackers & cheese, and moved to the dining table. Im enjoying having this villa, even though to be honest the space is wasted on one person. Its a nice luxury, but certainly not a necessity.

    Today was an overall very nice day, other than it being too hot. Its always good to be out of Gainesville and somewhere people are generally nice. In Gainesville we have homeless people who keep putting their tents on our property at work, and the city/county does nothing. Our guys go over there and have to clean up human feces, tons of trash, have encountered people having sex, today encountered a guy injecting himself with whats probably an illegal drug, and they get cussed out repeatedly. Its a mess but I guess Gainesville thinks its a good thing. Give me the Disney environment!

    Tomorrow the others arrive, which should be early. It will be a long day and unfortunately its supposed to be hot again, but slightly better (only 88) than today. Im leaning strongly towards Animal Kingdom to hop to, and waiting until around 5 to do so. That would mean we can do Epcot at opening on Thursday, assuming any park reservations are available still. Tomorrow we also have lunch at Planet Hollywood, which Im actually looking forward to. Hopefully the work stuff will be less, because I just dont have time for it when Im with other people.


    DAY 2 Wednesday 4/14/21
    Who: Sue (62), DVC Member
    SB (63), my husband
    Tiana & Jonell, friends

    Plan: Hollywood Studios, Planet Hollywood lunch, Epcot or Animal Kingdom

    Actual: Last night I went outside after dark, and could pretty easily see into my villa through the sheers. So, its drapes closed after dark. I also checked to see that Epcot availability was still there for Thursday, then canceled our Animal Kingdom reservations and booked Epcot. I moved into the bedroom shortly after 9 and did stuff on the laptop until turning out the lights a little after 10. I ate part of the cookie, which was good but I dont think Id call it the best cookie Ive ever eaten. I might get it again, though.

    I got up at 4:30 and made my cappuccino, taking it back to bed to enjoy while online. I like that the local news starts early here (I think 4am), so I can catch whats going on before its time to take my shower even on a somewhat early day. My computer said it had updates to run, so just before 6 I started that and got up to take my shower.

    I called SB around 6:30 and theyd already done a McDonalds drive through for breakfast and were on the road. Yay they seem to be on schedule! I got dressed and then made my breakfast egg, slice of bacon & half a blueberry bagel. I finished getting ready after cleaning up the breakfast dishes and waited out in the living room for them to arrive. Id received notifications that I can try for Rise of the Resistance, but didnt bother. The likelihood of getting a really low number is very small, and honestly the length of time it takes to do this attraction is simply not worth it to me. I dont believe Tiana & Jonell are Star Wars fans, so it wouldnt be a loss to them Id rather they get to do a few different things during the time we would have spent in line and then waiting through each stage of the attraction.

    I called SB again around 7:45 and they were on Disney Property. I asked if Tiana was using maps or a gps and he said no they were looking for signs. Id texted Tiana the resort name, section & room number yesterday and she replied back with thanks so I dont understand the confusion over where to go. While I was on the phone with him, she entered the resort name into maps or her cars navigation system so hopefully theyll at least get to the front entrance. The next challenge will be finding Congress Park. The plan was for them to be here around 7:45, or no later than 8. That way theyd have time for a restroom break before we drove over to Hollywood Studios to be let in the park by 8:15. Clearly thats not happening.

    They arrived about 8:30 and when I asked Tiana if shed done the online check in she had a blank look. That confirmed my suspicion that shed never linked the reservation to her account, because when I canceled Animal Kingdom for Epcot for tomorrow, it made me do each couple as a separate party because we were in different groups (resort guests for us, passholders for them). We found the reservation # and she was able to link it, but online check in would never come up. We tried several times, and then I just assumed it was because today was their arrival day and they needed to check in online prior to today. Sure enough, when she called later she was told shed have to come to the front desk.

    We were out the door by 8:45 and drove over to Hollywood Studios. I hated that we were so late, as it basically prevented us from being able to do another attraction or 2. For me I didnt really care, but since theyre not here that much and havent seen everything I felt bad for them. We were parked at almost the far end of a very long row in the Mickey section, and walked into the park. Temperature, security and entry were quick & easy, but the park itself was very crowded. I havent seen it like this since before the pandemic!

    We hustled down the street and joined the long queue for Mickey & Minnies Runaway Railway, which was posted as a 20-minute wait (pretty accurate). I knew it would easily double and triple before too much longer. SB & I have done this once before, but the others had never even heard of it. We ended up in the front row of the car, which was ideal (no obstruction). I enjoyed it much more this time its really a fun little ride, and isnt over as quickly as some of the kiddie rides. Tiana & Jonell enjoyed it too, laughing their heads off through the various scenes.

    When we came back outside we walked over to Toy Story Land but before we reached it we saw the end of the line for Toy Story Midway Mania, which was our next destination. Earlier while in line at the Railway I saw the line for Slinky Dog was backed up to the Little Mermaid show! I checked the wait times and everything was long by now (around 9:30) so we decided to bite the bullet and join the queue. Or rather, Tiana & I joined the queue while the lazy guys found a bench further up and sat there until they joined us <g>.

    The posted wait time was 40 minutes and I would guess were were on in less than that but didnt pay close attention. It was a fun ride, and finally SB listened to me when I told him what hed been doing wrong. As a result our scores were only 5,000 apart (I still won), instead of me wiping the floor with him. To be fair, in at least 1 room I was distracted by watching what he was doing so I could give him tips, so my score of 116k was low. Tiana and Jonelle enjoyed it as well he beat her.

    Back outside we checked wait times again and everything was even longer than before no surprise. They really need fastpass!!! We decided since nothing was reasonable, wed go ahead and wait for Slinky Dog. It was down to 60 minutes (and was higher after we got off), so Tiana & I joined the queue while the guys went to sit. They noticed the Marketplace and went there to get a couple beers. When we got to the entrance of the queue area at the Slinky Dog building and we hadnt seen them, we started calling them. SB of course had left his cell phone at the villa, turned off. Jonell thankfully had his, and Tiana urged them to meet us at the entrance NOW. When we reached the cast member we were told to stand off to the side since the rest of our party wasnt here. We waited, and called Jonell again they were at the entrance to the walkway so we told them to walk over the bridge! From there we still had quite a long queue area ahead of us, but we were off the ride about 45-50 minutes after joining the queue.

    Our seats were near the back, which is the most fun. Everyone loved it, and they said that was worth the wait! Next up was Alien Saucer Swirl, but the queue looked longer than the 40 minutes posted. If we took a chance and lost, then we might not have time for Rock N Roller Coaster, which was top on Tianas list. In the end we skipped Alien. Tiana had arrived wearing uncomfortable sandals and brought her sneakers to change into (why not just wear them from the start???) but she forgot to change shoes. By the time she realized, we were on our way, so she took a chance and now her feet were killing her. They dont care about Star Wars so didnt want to walk through there. We walked back out of Toy Story Land and down to Sunset Boulevard.

    I thought SB would ride Rock N Roller Coaster with them, but he wanted to stay with me. The posted wait time was 40 minutes, and they were back in 35. SB & I found a shady concrete slab outside Tower of Terror and waited there. With the shade and a breeze, it was very comfortable.

    Tiana called as they exited, and we met up & exited the park. It was a long walk down the row to the car, and we drove back to Saratoga Springs so she could change into her sneakers. The guys waited for us at the bus stop. Once again it felt like a long wait for the bus to arrive, and then the driver was one of those guys who felt 5 miles under the speed limit was the maximum. It would have been faster to walk, but when a bus is an option, thats what the guys go for.

    Surprisingly there were no crowds entering Disney Springs and it wasnt busy inside. Its much busier later in the day and on weekends. While at the resort Id been able to push our lunch reservation back 15 minutes, but when we arrived we could have walked right in and been seated without a reservation. They were only seating the downstairs area (and an outside area we didnt look at). Its been decades since I was here and although the physical structure is the same, the interior design/dcor is all different. I liked the look of the bar area, and thought it would be a great option during a future Saratoga Springs stay.

    Our server was good, and all the food was excellent. Tiana had a margarita and the buffalo wings appetizer. I had a glass of wine and the chicken crunch appetizer. The guys each had beer and a burger Jonell the plain Jane and SB the Ringer. Everyone loved all the food and SB was thrilled with the restaurant. After lunch we sat at the bar for another round of drinks, then headed out to the bus stops. Here we had another wait longer than before. This is getting really tiresome!

    Coming from Disney Springs the first bus stop is the Springs, so we all got off there to let Tiana & Jonell get checked in. Initially they had them in the Springs section, but she asked to be closer to us & got moved to Congress Park. Theyre in the building next door. We all walked back to Congress Park, checked out their studio, came to our villa so they could pick up their stuff, and agreed to meet at 5 (about an hour away) to drive over to Animal Kingdom.

    SB went in the bedroom to get online & watch tv, while I sat at the dining table and updated the report. I didnt feel like dealing with much work stuff, so I put most of that off until after I return. Wed agreed to meet at 5 to go to Animal Kingdom, so at 5 I texted Tiana to let her know wed be at the car. She called after we got outside and said they were heading out (classic Tiana, which means maybe in about 10 minutes, lol). I told her we were already at the car, then we drove & parked outside of her building where we would see them when they came out.

    Animal Kingdom and Saratoga Springs are about as far apart as any 2 points at WDW can be, but it was an easy drive. The parking booths were unattended, so we were able to drive right in. The parking lot cast members were gone, so we easily found a fairly close space just beyond the handicapped parking area.

    Coming into the park we had no wait at temperatures, security or entry, and the park itself was much less crowded than Hollywood Studios was this morning! It was also good to see more people leaving than arriving. Id checked the wait times and Expedition Everest was staying at 10 minutes so we headed there first. Tiana wanted to ride this, as it had been several years since her last time.

    Everest is something Ive always skipped, and SB has never ridden it. We joined the queue with the others and in no time were in the boarding area and then were seated on the train. Overall, SB hated it and never wants to do it again, while I thought it was fun and would most likely ride again. I wasnt expecting so much darkness, and there wasnt much to see in the dark. But, its a fun ride.

    From there we walked over to Harambe since the safari had a 30-minute wait. By the time we arrived it was down to 15 minutes, so we basically walked briskly through the queue and boarded a truck. For much of the time we couldnt see any other guests in the queue with us, and when getting assigned to a truck there were no people behind us so we were able to take 2 rows instead of sitting 4 across in one row. Being late in the day and pretty hot still, there werent as many animals out as youd expect to see in an early morning safari. But, we saw most of them, and the female lion even got up and moved to a new spot.

    The wait for Flight of Passage had been constant at 30 minutes since we arrived, so we walked over there next. Of course once we arrived it had jumped to 50 minutes. Once you get inside the building it still feels like forever, since the queue area is so long. When we got to the loading ramps it looked like theyd recently moved to only loading half I assume because the park would be closing in about an hour. We were on the upper section and both Tiana and SB insisted the ride was more intense than last time. The video wasnt any different, so it had to be the perspective from being up higher.

    We were off the attraction around 7:20 (after joining the queue at 6:36) and decided wed had enough of parks. SBs legs were bothering him, and his shoulder hurt. Jonell was walking stiffly too we were up over 20,000 steps today, which is not normal for either of them. We headed to the exit, got the car, and drove back to Saratoga Springs. Earlier today the plan was to go to Turf Club Bar/Lounge for a nightcap, but I knew the guys werent going to be walking over there and we were all a bit tired from being up so early. We made plans to meet at 8 to get breakfast at Artist Palette, and returned to our respective rooms.

    SB pulled up a baseball came on his computer, but was dozing off and on pretty early. I joined him in the bedroom and finished up the report, and will probably watch a little HGTV before lights out which will probably be before 10!

    Today was a long but fun day were having a good time with Tiana & Jonell. Im really sick of the long wait times and bigger crowds in the parks, and need fastpass to come back. At times today it was very hot outside unpleasantly hot, but thankfully the humidity isnt here yet. This trip will most likely be the end of me bothering with the parks until Food & Wine, especially if fastpass isnt back. Planet Hollywood was a big surprise how much we loved it! Well definitely be back there, hoping today wasnt a fluke <g>.

    Tomorrow well do breakfast and then head to Epcot at 10 (opening is 11). Theyll want to do some attractions in Future World, and then well do a loop of the countries for Flower & Garden Festival. Tiana said they wouldnt be staying late, which makes sense once we do a few attractions and a loop of the countries were basically done. I may head to the pool once they hit the road!


    DAY 3 Thursday 4/15/21
    Who: Sue (62), DVC Member
    SB (63), my husband
    Tiana & Jonell, friends

    Plan: Animal Kingdom, Pool, Epcot

    Actual: Last night by 9pm SB was still watching the baseball game while snoring. He never noticed me move my stuff out to the living room, including the extra blanket we were going to share <g>. I decided to use the kiddie bed, but sat on the living room couch with the blanket & my laptop until I turned in for some sleep just after 9:30. He doesnt snore all the time, but unfortunately tonight was a snoring night and that doesnt work for me.

    We were both up around 5 me just before, and him just after. I made my cappuccino and brought it into the bedroom to enjoy while watching the local news & we both got online for a while. The local news starts repeating itself here, so once that happened I switched it over to ESPN. I took my shower a little before 7, then SB followed.

    In terms of the kiddie bed, it worked fine for me but I dont plan to make a habit of it <g>. I had to be careful when sitting up to not hit my head. The small mattress size wasnt a problem, because I dont tend to move at all when sleeping. When I was recuperating after the 2nd time w/breast cancer I had to learn to sleep without rolling or moving, and its stuck with me even though that was 11 years ago.

    Tiana texted a little before 8 saying they were ready, and since we were too we met at the bus stop. They put their bags in the car, which turned out to be a good thing later. SBs was still in my villa, which was fine since Im not checking out today. A bus was at the bus stop and they all go to Springs next, so we hopped on. Once seated I was showing Tiana how to order breakfast on her phone, while doing our order on mine. The guys both claim they said something Dont we get off here? at the Springs bus stop but neither of us heard them, so they sat there quietly as the bus continued on its way out of the resort. By the time I realized we should have been at the stop by now we were almost to Old Key Wests entrance! I was so pissed at myself for missing the bus stop, and I could only hope that this bus was going to the closest park, which would be Epcot.

    Of course thats not how it played out we went all the way over to Animal Kingdom! If the bus was going to be returning to Saratoga Springs we would have been all set, but of course that wasnt happening either. We went to the Saratoga Springs bus stop and it was at least 30 minutes until we had a bus and that was only because we eventually asked another bus driver to radio in to request a bus for us (after 20-25 minutes of watching them unload and drive away. Finally an empty bus pulled in and the driver said he was sent for us. We probably should have walked over to the parking lot and taken a cab, but each driver kept telling us 10 minutes for the Saratoga Bus to get there.

    By now we were outside of our breakfast pick-up window so the orders were on hold. Once we got on the bus and were close to Saratoga Springs we set a new return window. We got off at Grandstand and walked from there, which was faster than riding the bus to the 5th stop. Perhaps the guys were afraid wed miss getting off again, lol they were hungry! Once we got to the top of the ramp we hit the were here button so our food would start getting prepared.

    At Artist Palette you enter from the far side (near Turf Club), and when your food is ready they let you walk in to pick up your bag and walk out to the tables. Ours was ready first, so SB came in with me. He grabbed a bottle of chocolate milk and got behind a lady at one of the registers. Unfortunately, that wasnt following the rules he was supposed to walk further around and loop back in so got pissed off and put the chocolate milk back rather than join the end of a line that had formed since he had gotten there.

    Tiana & Jonells food was ready not long after ours, and wed managed to grab the last table. The guys had the bounty platter, which was a bit of everything scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, bacon, sausage, Mickey waffle and biscuit. They both loved it, and said everything was perfect. Jonell was especially impressed with the Mickey waffle, which hed assumed would be lousy and was set aside to be eaten last. I told him Mickey waffles were always good <g>. Tiana and I each got the breakfast sandwich scrambled eggs, cheese & bacon on a croissant. The was delicious too, although messy to eat. I ate half and gave the other half to SB, but I also ate part of his Mickey waffle and a few potatoes.

    After breakfast they all bought some water to wash it down, and since it was around 10am we needed to get on a bus to Epcot! Originally with our 8am breakfast we would have returned to the villa to relax for an hour or so, but not after the bussing fiasco. Thank goodness Tiana & Jonell had moved their stuff out of their room already!

    The bus stop was busy, with all benches occupied. I stood near the curb, figuring as more people came I wanted a good chance of actually getting on the bus! Once again it was a nightmare we waited and waited and then waited some more. In the meantime we saw buses to several other parks, which helped clear out some of the people, but many more were arriving. It was probably 30 minutes before an Epcot bus came, and the driver pulled into the first (of 2) stop. A bunch of us formed a line headed to the door and I waved to the others on their bench to get up here!

    The driver was a guy I remember from before he gets off the bus, asks about your party, then directs you do your assigned section. He was assigning a group ahead of me to 2 sections and one of the ladies told him that I was here before her wow! He then told her to step aside and asked me how many were in my party, then put us in those 2 sections. Thankfully there were more seats nearby and her party got on I did thank her, as that was very considerate.

    So, our plan was to be at Epcot by 10:15 so we could knock out a couple attractions before the lines got long. Instead, we arrived a little before 11, along with hordes of other people. Knowing we werent going to get to do much, I told Tiana & Jonell to pick, and they chose Test Track. We went straight there and found a 50-minute wait ugh. It actually ended up being closer to 40, but that meant we were getting off when it was almost noon. I checked the wait times on the app and everything was long except for stuff we didnt want to bother with. I know the guys didnt want to be zigzagging across the park, and it was hot in the sun.

    They decided to get their margaritas, so they went to Mexico while I stopped at First Aid to pick up a couple ibruprofen to replace the ones Id given SB last night. I like to keep a packet in my Disney bag, for when hes with me. When I came around the corner, they were pretty far back in a long slow line at the margarita stand. I hovered until the shady section freed up and staked out our spot (with Tianas help). I think Jonell bought margaritas for everyone, including me. Mine and SBs were the frozen strawberry, I think Jonells was lime and Tianas was the 3-flavor. We sat there in the shade enjoying the margaritas. I was still full from breakfast, so I only drank half of mine and gave the rest to SB.

    Tiana mentioned wanting tacos, since margaritas and tacos go together. When SB heard tacos he wanted some too I couldnt believe they could eat again so soon! We went over to the cantina and had to wait to be let in. The guys came in with us and grabbed a table while Tiana & I ordered the food. SB had his beef tacos, which look really small (especially for $14.99) but he said they were delicious. Tiana got them as well, and got the nachos for Jonell but with chicken rather than the beef/beans mixture. I drank my water and tried a bite of a taco.

    SB went up to get something to drink and came back with a lime margarita. Later Jonell mentioned another margarita sounded good. We were going to be heading out rather than doing a loop around the countries, so I suggested he go ahead & get one, and Id run to Germany to get a cookie, which would give him time to drink the margarita. He liked that idea, so I took off but immediately got caught behind the princess cavalcade. They dont let you pass. The cast member told me thered be an area in Germany where I could get by, but I told him Germany was my destination. So, I walked at a slower pace than normal.

    The caramel store was empty except for a few cast members, so I quickly bought a couple of the apple caramel oatmeal pecan cookies and walked back to Mexico. They were still at the table, and all 3 of them had margaritas, lol! Eventually we headed on out, making the long HOT trek through Future World to get to the bus stops. Epcot was very busy/crowded today more than Id expected. It probably wouldnt have been so bad if I was just coming over from Beach Club, but this front entrance is horribly inconvenient.

    Thankfully this time the wait for the bus was only about 10 minutes, and we made it back to Saratoga Springs and got off the bus at Congress Park without any trouble. I gave them the 2nd cookie to share in the car, said my goodbyes, then went inside with SB so he could get his bag. They made it home safely, and everyone had a nice time.

    It was 2pm so I changed into a swimsuit and went out to the pool. Its so convenient! I ended up spending 2 hours out there, doing some reading and playing on my kindle. There was a nice breeze that kept it feeling better than Epcot! At 4 I went inside and got dressed, then updated the trip report. I had a few work emails & things to approve, but that didnt take long.

    Around 5:30 I noticed the temperature according to the local news was down to 73. The sky had been completely covered with clouds since shortly after I came inside, so perhaps its accurate. Since its supposed to rain later I decided to put on my sneakers and go out for a walk. While I was putting my sneakers on I saw people wearing light jackets walking past my bedroom window. Sure enough, when I got outside it was significantly cooler and with the strong breeze it almost felt a little chilly.

    I walked out to the lake separating us from Disney Springs, and watched one of the car/boats from the Boathouse go by. Its a pretty setting out here and I decided to go back inside to get my camera since I havent used it all this trip. I took some photos as I walked and noticed the volcano erupting with flames over at Rainforest Caf. How did I not know about that before?? I walked over towards Disney Springs but didnt enter. Instead, I returned to Saratoga Springs, getting back around 6.

    I was hungry now, so I cut up some cheese & crackers and poured some wine, taking it to the dining table. I dont plan to go out anywhere else today, so if this isnt enough Ill either cut up some more or eat breakfast food. I do have that cookie from Germany, too. The rest of the evening was spent at home some HGTV, some online stuff, and relaxing.

    Today started out like a nightmare, with not getting off the bus in time to avoid a long detour at Animal Kingdom! I still cant believe I did that it was so stupid! Thankfully breakfast was terrific and made up for it. The parks continue to be a disappointment in terms of the crowds, and today the long wait for a bus at Saratoga Springs meant we missed the uncrowded first hour. With the hot weather, I couldnt wait to get out of there we did one attraction. My time at the pool was delightful just what I needed!

    Tomorrow was intended to be my only pool day, but the weather looks like it could be a problem the only day of the trip with rain, at 30-40% all day. My pool window is the morning, since I have a 1:30 lunch reservation at the Boathouse looking forward to that! Ill most likely cancel my park reservation for Epcot, but Ill wait to decide for sure tomorrow.


    DAY 4 Friday 4/16/21
    Who: Sue (62), DVC Member

    Plan: Pool, Boathouse lunch, maybe Epcot

    Actual: I was in bed (lights out) around 10 last night, and although I woke up at 3:30 thinking it was morning, I slept another couple hours before getting up at 5:30. Since showers are expected today I figured my planned morning at the pool was not likely to happen, so I moved my lunch reservation up from 1:45 to 11:45. That will give me more flexibility for the rest of the day, and increase the odds that Ill get into Gideons if I decide to join that virtual queue.

    I made my cappuccino and brought it back to bed, where I did online stuff while listening to the local news for a while. Around 7:30 I moved out to the living room, and made my breakfast an egg and slice of bacon but no half bagel since I moved lunch up earlier. Since it looked like Gideons was in my future I ate another piece of yesterdays cookie Im really liking this one.

    I noticed on the app that Amanda had moved tomorrows lunch up from 12:45 to 11:40. That works for me, as tomorrow afternoon looks like pool weather. I can spend the morning with them and after lunch head to the pool. Im not sure what time theyre heading home, so meeting back up with them later may be a possibility. If not, well see them in a couple weeks when were all at Hilton Head.

    Around 9 I got up and took my shower and was walking over to Disney Springs by just after 10. The cloudy morning ended up being bright sunshine oh well. My plan was to wander around, maybe sit & read my kindle, but join the virtual queue at Gideons in hopes that my time would match up with the end of my lunch. Based on how my plans have been working this trip, I should have known that wasnt going to happen.

    Walking over to Disney Springs was easy, and there was no line to get in from this end. There were quite a few people inside, but it wasnt what Id consider crowded at all. I walked through the old Marketplace and tried to decipher the directory/map to see where Gideons was located since I couldnt remember. Its hard for me to make sense of the map it would be so much easier if theyd have kept the old names of Marketplace, Pleasure Island & West Side! Gideons is in Pleasure Island, close to where Mannequins used to be, across from Raglan Road. Its actually very close to the Boathouse, where I was having lunch in 1.5 hours.

    At Gideons the line was down the block and around the corner. I asked the employee at the door how long the wait was, and she said she didnt know because she cant see the end. I walked around the corner and found a couple more Gideons staff who told me the wait at this point was 45 minutes. I asked about the virtual queue and they said it hadnt opened, and might not since it hadnt opened all week. They only do that if the line gets longer than a certain point. So, my choices were wait in line or skip it. I had my kindle in my bag, so I decided to get in line and read while standing there.

    It got pretty warm in the sun, but when I was almost to the front of the line it got very overcast and I wondered if it was going to rain. Overcast felt better than sunny! When it was my turn I was let inside they have 3 stations where you can buy your stuff, and a short queue where another 3 parties can be waiting. I got 2 of the cookies the special one for April, which is orange pecan chocolate chip, and the pistachio toffee chocolate chip. Theyre very big, and they should be since theyre $6 each (plus tax). They do take Disney gift cards here, but there are no discounts for passholder or dvc. I was back outside 45 minutes after Id joined the line, so it was pretty accurate.

    I had 30 minutes until my lunch reservation so I sat in a cushioned chair facing the water and did some more reading. At 11:40 I went inside the Boathouse and was seated for lunch I chose inside and was at a window next to the boat/car ramp. I like the feel of the restaurant, and would definitely come here again even just sitting at the bar would be fine, or sitting outside on the deck in cooler weather.

    They had my cruise buddy Frans favorite sauvignon blanc on the menu so I ordered a glass of that, and the filet mignon sliders. My waiter said they came with fries and asked if that was ok. I said fine, but I think next time Ill ask what my options are since I barely made a dent in the fries and I didnt find them all that great. Simple cole slaw would have been more to my liking. The sliders were very good the meat was a good portion and it was incredibly tender. These beat the filet mignon sliders at Wise Guys last December.

    While at lunch the sun came back out, and stayed out the rest of the day. So much for rain today! At Boathouse I got the passholder discount on the sliders (not the wine), and once I settled the check I wandered around to find the new M&M store. This is located in the West Side, and its a cute & colorful store but I cant see paying $17/pound for a plastic bag of M&Ms or even more for some of them in a plastic container.

    At this point I headed back through Disney Springs and walked back to Saratoga Springs, getting there a little after 1. I took a photo of my cookies, and used a fork to cut a small bite from each one both are very good. I think itll take a while to eat them, but no doubt SB will help. I sat down at the table and updated the report, then did some other online stuff.

    Around 2:30 I started thinking about what to do next, since it wasnt expected to rain until possibly this evening. That Epcot front entrance is still a major turnoff, so I decided to catch a bus to Hollywood Studios and then ride the Skyliner over to Epcot for a bit. I was out the door around 2:45 and had a short wait at the bus stop for a Hollywood Studios bus (about 4-5 minutes). We sat there while the driver unhooked a couple who were both in rental scooters. At the Springs we discharged the only other party, and then I had a solo ride to the Studios.

    I checked out the location of the Saratoga Springs bus stop in case I decided to reverse my trip later, and its very convenient to the Skyliner. The Skyliner had no wait, so I basically walked right onto a gondola. In no time I was at Caribbean beach, where I was behind 1 other guy in line. The Skyliner stopped for less than a minute but when it started up again I was permitted to board my gondola. When it stops, they stop loading even though youre right there and doors are open.

    It was a nice ride to International Gateway and I had no wait anywhere to enter Epcot. It was busy, but didnt seem any busier than it had been yesterday in the first hour it was open! I checked wait times later, and they were a little bit shorter than yesterday morning go figure. I did one loop around the countries, starting with France. After the sliders for lunch I was not hungry at all, which is just as well since most of the booths I would have been interested had fairly long lines. Oddly enough, Canada had no line at all. They also had several portions of the food plated up and sitting under the warming lamps no thanks! That was probably the problem with my crunchy chicken flatbread the other day it dried out sitting there.

    I didnt stop in any shops either, and certainly not in Germany for another cookie! On a future trip, definitely, but not when I have Gideons cookies too. Today ended up being warmer than expected mid 80s instead of 81. In the sun it felt hot, but without the awful humidity well have by next month. It will be unbearable during my next few trips, but that means Ill enjoy more pool time.

    When I came back around to International Gateway I exited the park and walked over to Beach Club. Right now its still only the dvc portion thats open, but the regular resort opens May 30th. Thats a shame, as its been nice with the smaller crowds especially if Stormalong Bay is a priority.

    At the bus stop I could see Id recently missed the Disney Springs bus, as the board was showing it would be about 15 minutes for the next one. That was pretty accurate, so I did some emails to pass the time. Once it arrived it was more than half full from Yacht Club, but the 3 parties here were all able to get on.

    Surprisingly, Disney Springs wasnt a mob scene. It was busy, but I expected it to be much worse. The major stores had people queued up waiting for their turn to get in, and I have no idea how the virtual queue was at Gideons. I assume at least 2-3 hours, and I knew I wasnt going to be waiting around. I continued to the exit and made the short walk back to my villa. Much of the walkway is shaded, which made it especially nice. By 5 I was back in the villa, and turned on the local news while updating the report. Theyre still expecting rain tonight, but not much tomorrow. Itll be another 88 degree day tomorrow, unfortunately.

    The rest of the night Ill just be hanging out in the villa, relaxing at home. I dont know if Ill feel hungry later, but if so I still have some crackers and cheese and cookies, lol! More importantly, I have wine and a nice comfortable place to kick back and relax.

    Today was a really nice day. Im somewhat surprised I waited at Gideons, but now that its done Im glad I did. Lunch at the Boathouse was very nice, and Ill definitely do that again. Planet Hollywood, Boathouse, Gideons I need to stop finding good places because theyre only really convenient from Saratoga Springs and I dont stay there often!

    Tomorrow Chris, Ari & Amanda are planning to arrive at Magic Kingdom by 8. Im assuming the park will open by 7:15 so I plan to head over there early (if the buses cooperate) and do a few things I know they wont be interested in (like Space Mountain). Itll be nice spending the morning with them, and getting some pool time in the afternoon.


    DAY 5 Saturday 4/17/21
    Who: Sue (62), DVC Member
    Chris (34), son
    Amanda (32), daughter-in-law
    Ari (4), grandson

    Plan: Magic Kingdom, Skippers Canteen lunch

    Actual: I tried a couple more bites of the Gideons cookies last night. The orange pecan chocolate chip also has some pieces of salt. I know most people like the sweet/salty thing, but I hate salt. The last thing I want when eating a cookie is to have a piece of salt on my tongue to ruin it. The cookie would be perfect without the salt, but mine may be a minority opinion! The pistachio toffee chocolate chip is excellent no salt, so just chocolately goodness.

    I slept well again last night and had set the alarm for 5 but got up at 4:30. I made my cappuccino and took it back to bed and followed the usual morning routine. Amanda texted around 5:15 to say they were on the road, and just before 6 I got up to get showered, dressed, and have breakfast. Shortly before 7 I went outside and saw a bus sitting at the bus stop. It only said Saratoga Springs, which made me think it was an internal bus, so I didnt run over. As I was almost there it pulled away & left, and the sign became Magic Kingdom! I yelled for the driver but he couldnt hear me, and I tried to get his attention to loop back around to get me but that failed too. What a PAIN these buses are this trip!

    I sat on a bench, and eventually another solo lady joined me. When the next bus came (about 12 minutes later) only 2 of the sections with 2 seats were empty so each of us got one of those. At the Springs bus stop people were waiting, but the bus was now full so they had to wait for the next bus (and hope that wouldnt be full). If I was staying in the Springs section (which is NOT likely to ever happen), Id walk my butt down to the Grandstand and get on the empty bus there at the first stop.

    It was almost 7:25 when I arrived at the Magic Kingdom, and had a short wait at each step of the entry process. Once on Main Street I noticed the lights were still on, as it wasnt light enough for them to go off yet. That was weird having them on at the start of the day! I decided to try Mine Train, so I walked through the castle and saw the Mine Train queue was roped off. Plenty of people were in line, but they werent going past that point. I asked the cast members what time the line would open and they told me 8am! They said Main Street opens up early, but the attractions start at 8. That made no sense, and was very disappointing. In the other parks we get on attractions right away.

    Since the line was long at Mine Train I decided to go check out Space Mountain, and its a good thing I did. This was also closed, with the line formed outside, but it was a much shorter line. Later after the park opened when I checked the app, Mine Train wasnt even operating it had a late start. At Space Mountain they let us into the building about 7:45 and it was a steady walk all the way to the loading area. They still put 1 party per rocket, so if you have 2 solos you have 2 people riding the pair of rockets. I ended up with the front seat, which was cool I prefer last seat or first seat.

    Chris & Amanda were at the parking lot entrance so I headed back down Main Street and waited for them across from the train station. For some reason I forgot the parking lot is a long distance away, until they texted to say they were waiting for the monorail! Eventually they were in the park, and we met up around 8:30. It was great to see them, and Ari was excited to see me. Most of the time he walked instead of riding in the stroller, because he said he wanted to hold my hand <g>.

    We went to Big Thunder first, which had a 10-minute wait. We got the last 2 rows, which Amanda & I love but Ari prefers the front where its a bit slower going down the hills. For all the attractions today Ari & I rode together, and Chris & Amanda rode together. He was a bit scared on Big Thunder, even though hed ridden it multiple times last trip, and he said it was the faster speed.

    Next was Pirates, also with a 10-minute wait posted. We were given 2 rows, so nobody had to sit on the sides of the boat where youre likely to get splashed. But, both seats were very wet not a good sign. We didnt get splashed going down the hill but when we were almost out of the first scene a cannonball did cause water to splash on us briefly it was a shock because it was cold and we thought we were in the clear, lol! The rest of the ride was uneventful.

    From here we decided to go to Fantasyland, and walked to Barnstormer. Chris, Amanda & Ari rode that while I sat on a wall to watch them. Those seats are so hard, its not a pleasant ride for me. Next was the Tomorrowland Speedway, which had a 10 minute wait posted but it looked longer. Amanda & I thought wed ride Space while Chris & Ari were doing the car, but when we got there the line looked much longer than the posted 10 minutes and wasnt moving at all. We skipped that idea, and wandered back towards the raceway. After browsing through a shop we went up and sat in the bleachers to watch Chris & Ari drive by.

    Buzz Lightyear still had a short wait (10 minutes) so we did that next. Ari was concentrating more on driving/spinning the car than shooting, so he only got 100 points to my 70,200. Im surprised I got that, since I can never tell what Im aiming at here. Amanda ended up around 40k but Chris was the winner with over 800k. By now it was getting busy in the park, with most waits at 25 minutes or longer. Mine Train was finally running, with a 65 minute wait. The only short wait was the Little Mermaid so we walked back over there and joined the queue. Its a long queue now, and a very long exit as well.

    It didnt take too long to get in our clamshells, since the line was constantly moving. While in the scene with Ursula the ride stopped and we sat there for quite a while. Thankfully they turned her volume down so although we heard you poor unfortunate soul over and over and over again it wasnt blaring. Just when I was thinking they may end up evacuating everyone, it started up again and we enjoyed the rest of the ride.

    While in the park we saw a couple cavalcades, and took some pictures of Chris & Amanda in front of the castle. Their 6th wedding anniversary was this week, and they were wearing their buttons or at least Amanda was. She told me Ari had told her recently that he wants them to get married again so he can go to the wedding because he missed the first one, lol! We also browsed through the Emporium and looked at a couple things from the new movie Raya. Thats the theme of Aris birthday party this July, so I asked Amanda if shed like me to get them for him & she agreed.

    By now it was time to head to the Skippers Canteen (Jungle Navigation Company) to check in for our lunch. Amanda took care of checking in on her phone, and we sat in the chairs outside. The restaurant opened at 11:30 and we were called in about 5-10 minutes later for our 11:40 reservation. Theyve been here before & like it, but it was my first time. I like the looks of it, and it reminded me a little of the Adventurers Club at Pleasure Island.

    The menu here doesnt really have anything for me, which is why Ive never come here before. We shared an appetizer that had 3 small corn pancakes topped with pulled pork & some other stuff. That was pretty good. I ordered the wedge salad and added chicken breast it was good, but I wouldnt make a trip back here for that. Amanda got the sustainable fish, which was a corvina and she said it was excellent. It was a large portion too, and looked really nice. Chris got the Thai noodles w/chicken, which he said was very good. Ari had kids crispy chicken tempura fried pieces with a sweet/sour sauce for dipping. His came with green beans & carrots, and a volcano cake for dessert.

    We ended up with 2 of the volcano cakes a small mound of what tasted like warm flourless chocolate lava cake with some red (cherry?) sauce & little balls sprinkled on there. This was outstanding! It seems to only be on the kids menu, but I saw a couple without kids get one too so it must be well known! Chris bought lunch, so once that was settled we headed back out. I left them to go buy the Raya stuff at the Emporium and then headed to the bus stops. They were going to monorail over to the Grand Floridian so Chris could get the Honey Bee cupcake at Gasparilla Grill. He texted a photo of it and said it was really good its definitely adorable, and nice when the taste is as good as the look!

    The bus came in about 10 minutes and I decided to get off at Grandstand & walk back to the villa. The bus was already at the Congress Park bus stop when I arrived, so walking isnt faster unless the bus gets slowed down by scooters at least. I changed into my swimsuit and headed out to the pool for about 2 hours.

    It was hot out there when the sun was shining, but very comfortable when clouds would pass by. I did some reading and just enjoyed myself. The pool area was busy, with mostly adults. Several were in the pool, and not many chairs werent taken. Chris, Amanda & Ari were heading to Epcot after the Grand Floridian, so hopefully theyre having a nice time there and are able to get some of what they wanted from the Flower & Garden Festival.

    At 4 I went back inside the villa and packed up a few things before sitting down at the table to update todays report. I started getting hungry but wasnt sure I wanted to walk over to what I was pretty sure was a madhouse at Disney Springs. I checked the weather and the feels like at 5:30 was 89 degrees, so that pretty much clinched it. Ill finish up the crackers and cheese.

    There arent many photos from this trip, but theyre in an album on Snapfish at https://www.snapfish.com/share?via=l...63060/SNAPFISH

    Tomorrow I head home, and will most likely be on the road by 8-9am. Thatll get me home in time to have most of the day before returning to work Monday. There wont be a report for tomorrow, since I wont be doing anything before I leave (cappuccino & breakfast in the villa, then loading up the car).

    Overall this was a great trip. There were some negatives, though. The weather was too HOT not anything Disney or I could control, so it is what it is. This time of year some days are beautiful but some are hot. Unfortunately I got the hot. The parks are way too crowded for me, and when combined with the heat theyre very unpleasant. I dont know how I did summers in the parks when Chris was a kid, if I cant handle April today, lol! With all the people flooding the parks Disney needs to reinstate fastpass its a slap in the face to be expected to get to a park at opening and right off the bat be in a hot 50-minute queue for your first attraction. This trip was booked to be a solo trip, but it morphed into something else. That was my fault though, and I did enjoy the company of others while at the same time wishing I wasnt standing in these long lines vs lounging around the pool <g>. In the end, Im glad SB, Tiana & Jonell came for that day & a half, and I enjoyed spending time with Chris, Amanda & Ari. Finally, the buses were a pain in the ***, with frequent long waits. Missing our stop at the Springs was a major blunder, which cost us an hour to go to Animal Kingdom & back thankfully the mobile order thing let us reselect our window.

    There were far more positives. Getting the upgrade to a 1-bedroom from my studio was a HUGE plus!!! Its been happening to a number of people at this resort, as it must not be selling out. Still, DVC never used to really upgrade, so I am extremely thankful for this villa. Our lunch at Planet Hollywood was outstanding, and we had a lot of fun there! Ill definitely be willing to return there, and the others vehemently agreed. Breakfast at Artist Palette was really great too especially for a counter service where your stuff is in a bag waiting for you to pick up <g>. Once again, everyone raved about their food. To continue the food theme, Gideons cookies are excellent, but the queue is in the direct sun so its going to be miserable from this point until it starts cooling off in November! My plan will be to arrive after the virtual queue is open and hope that its not 4-6 hours long. The Boathouse was also very good, and somewhere Ill return (booked it for Holli & me in late May with a hope for Gideons virtual queue) for those sliders and a glass of wine.

    Our next trip is in 2-3 weeks, at Disneys Hilton Head Resort. I booked a 2-bedroom villa for SB & I, Chris, Amanda & Ari. Our friends Pete & Judy booked their own 1-bedroom villa, and my childhood best friend Linda & her husband Wiston booked a 1-bedroom villa at Shelter Cove. Well be there for 5 nights enjoying the beach each morning and eating at Serg restaurants.

    The next Walt Disney World trip is a couple weeks after Hilton Head over Memorial Day weekend. I had Jambo House concierge level booked, but we all know thats not happening. I switched it over to a 2-bedroom at Kidani, since it has the 3rd full bathroom. That trip will include Chris/Amanda/Ari in the 2nd bedroom and Holli will take the living room. She doesnt have a park pass, and as hot as its been this trip I am not planning to spend any time in the parks either. Hot, humid & holiday weekend = nightmare for me! Ill look forward to it as a resort trip.

    Until then, thanks for reading!

    Sue (Holland) Rayford
    WDW1972

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  3. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    I was so happy to see another report from you. I stayed at Saratoga in 2019 and I thought it was very nice. I liked being able to walk into Disney Springs. We used the boat once too. I plan on trying to get a reservation for Boathouse for my trip in Oct. so I enjoyed your review of it. Not sure if I will get to Gideons but I might try just to see what its all about. I think its so sweet that Ari wanted to hold your hand walking around MK. I think its awesome when kids get to spend time with their grandparents. I saw Aris school pictures that you posted. He is so adorable. I look forward to your reports because they help me bide the time until my trip. Thanks for posting


  4. #3
    MousePlanet Columnist
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Florida

    Thank you! Enjoy the Boathouse - I liked it more than I expected.

    Sue (Holland) Rayford
    WDW1972

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