Our Postponed 50th Anniversary Trip (Report?)

George

The ratio of people to cake is too big.
We're finally set to embark on our postponed WDW 50th Anniversary trip, foiled by Omicron last October, and I plan to detail our activities in this thread.

Our dates are Sun-Sun, 1-8 May. Cast of characters is me, DH, and our friend R (whose birthday was yesterday, so we'll have an excuse to celebrate all week), who's meeting us from NYC. We've traveled with him before to WDW and DLR, and we always have a blast together and are good travel mates. We'll be staying at PVB, in two (hopefully) connected STD Studios. I requested Tokelau, which is pretty centrally located on the resort map, close to DVC wing parking, TTC, bus stops, and GCH.

Scheduling was a bit tricky this time, given Extra PM hours at Epcot (Monday) and MK (Wednesday), so we'll only be doing two RDs, which we usually do every day. This Genie+ nonsense had me rethinking our park days. Funny, back in the TGM/Josh days I often carped about how, even though RD procedure was efficient, all the days seemed to be the same, with the same priorities. Well, as they say, careful what you wish for, because things have really shaken up.

Here's our schedule:

Sunday: Arrival. Late afternoon MK, with 4:45 dinner at Skipper Canteen, some second-tier attractions (maybe fight our way to see Enchantment at 9, and hang around a bit after (park closes at 10) until the exiting crowds die down, though resort monorail lines, I've found, aren't as bad as resort buses upon exit.

Monday: Since we'll have a late (until 11pm) evening at Epcot, I thought we'd take the day to take it easy in the morning and visit Disney Springs to avoid weekend crowds. I have a noon ADR at Jaleo. After a leisurely mid-day, we'll head to Epcot around 5, catching my favorite, Impressions de France, which only shows in the evenings, and a 7:00 ADR at Rose & Crown. Then we'll catch Harmonious at 9, probably from the "front row" viewing area. After that, it's WS for Extra Hours, and Frozen, Remy, and maybe some FW (do they still call it FW?) stuff before that. I cheated and made a Cape May ADR (I'll do the reschedule/cancel trick) for access to the Beach Club parking lot to cut down on walking so late at night. Don't judge.

Tuesday: This will be a tough one, as it's the most logical time to do AK, so we'll be up at the crack of dawn (please don't tell Dawn!) for onsite guest RD at 7am. Ugh. We'll be able to knock out most of AK by lunchtime. I don't have an ADR, but will probably do the Darden check-in at Yak & Yeti. I figure we'll be pretty exhausted by 2pm, so back to to the Poly for a nap. I have a Steakhouse 71 ADR for 7pm. After that, if we're up to it, an evening nitecap at Trader Sam's.

Wednesday: Another weird non-RD morning, since we'l be up until 1am at MK tonight. We'll probably have a big breakfast (Kona? Olivia's?) at a resort, then hit MK in time for Festival of Fantasy at 3. We'll hit some anytime attractions until dinner at Plaza (5:20). We'll do Enchantment tonight if we decided to skip it on Sunday, then start our crazed headliners dash around the park taking advantage of lower lines, in increasing order of popularity up until closing time.

Thursday: Having not gone to bed until, probably 2am, we're going to his HS late-morning and concentrate just on shows today, starting with Indy at 10:45. We have a Mama Melrose ADR at 11:30, then we'll hit BATB at 1, and Frozen at 2:30. Depending on crowds (I'm not very optimistic), we might get to MMRR. Another early departure, and nap, in preparation for a big deal dinner at Topolino's at 7:10. Maybe Trader Sam's after if we didn't go on Tuesday, or at least Tiki Terrace.

Friday: This is our hardcore Studios day, arriving for EE at 6:45-7:00, for the 7:30 EE. We'll hopefully knock out Rise, MMRR, and Slinky. This is the one day we'll get Genie+, and we'll try the stacking trick for later in the afternoon/evening. We don't plan on getting too much done (we'll have been to all the shows already) before crowds get unmanageable. Maybe TOT and/or RnR early-ish? We'll leave at 11:30-ish to make it to WL and WCC lunch to see our favorite server, MT. I stopped in to say hi to her back in March, relieved to see that she's still there and doing OK. She hollered at me that we'd better come and visit in May! After a break at the resort, we'll head back to Studios and our (hopefully) stacked LLs. We have dinner at HBD at 5, and the park closes at 9. I'm hoping this strategy of rides-only on a RD-break-Closing day will work out.

Saturday: This is our Epcot RD day, which we'll use to concentrate on FW (do they still call it that?). The Big News is that we have a Space 220 lunch ADR at 11:55. We'll poke around WS until we leave, probably somewhere around 3. Tonight's our last Big Deal meal, a blow-out at CG at 7:00. We might check in a bit early to wait for a window table, and also catch the fireworks part of Enchantment when the 9pm hour arrives.

Sunday: Our flights out are around 2pm, so we'll have some time to have a leisurely morning and nice breakfast before leaving for the airport.

I already have some regrets, things we won't be able to hit: Sanaa, since there were no ADRs available. We'd have broken for lunch on our AK day. Maybe it'll still happen. Also, dinner at Toledo, which is supposed to be flying-under-the-radar wonderful. No more dinner slots in our schedule. Ah, well.

That's the plan, at least. Having to make park reservations will ensure that we stick pretty close to it. Wish me luck!
 

bnoble

he's right
I am so glad for the two of you to finally get to take this trip together. I know it has been a long time coming!
back in the TGM/Josh days I often carped about how, even though RD procedure was efficient, all the days seemed to be the same, with the same priorities.
I definitely know what you mean about this. MK morning? Space->Astro->Buzz->Train->Wave-at-Them->Spalsh FP pull->...
This will be a tough one, as it's the most logical time to do AK, so we'll be up at the crack of dawn (please don't tell Dawn!) for onsite guest RD at 7am. Ugh.
We tried something similar, and couldn't quite make it to that 7AM RD. We paid for it with a longer-than-desirable wait for FoP, but que sera.
Maybe TOT and/or RnR early-ish?
I like this as a starting point for DS, because They all do something else. Depending on how things break for you, you can also get MMRR with a reasonable wait after these two. I think Tower is still running only one side, so that's where I'd start.

I will confess that if I never get on Slinky again, that's okay. I'm not sure how Intamin designed a completely forceless launch coaster, but they did it. It sure is pretty at night though.
I already have some regrets
Both of those might pop up in the day-before cancellation window. However, I did notice that the cancellations were not as bountiful as they once were. I'm not sure if that's because of capacity vs. overall demand or if the Park Pass system has people much less likely to change plans.
 

ThemeParkCommando

Active member
Following along! I just did that 'Close EPCOT and EE for AK' back in December. It was a little rough, but always overshadowed by 'Yay, we are at Disney, everything is great!'.
 

George

The ratio of people to cake is too big.
I am so glad for the two of you to finally get to take this trip together. I know it has been a long time coming!

I definitely know what you mean about this. MK morning? Space->Astro->Buzz->Train->Wave-at-Them->Spalsh FP pull->...

We tried something similar, and couldn't quite make it to that 7AM RD. We paid for it with a longer-than-desirable wait for FoP, but que sera.

I like this as a starting point for DS, because They all do something else. Depending on how things break for you, you can also get MMRR with a reasonable wait after these two. I think Tower is still running only one side, so that's where I'd start.

I will confess that if I never get on Slinky again, that's okay. I'm not sure how Intamin designed a completely forceless launch coaster, but they did it. It sure is pretty at night though.

Both of those might pop up in the day-before cancellation window. However, I did notice that the cancellations were not as bountiful as they once were. I'm not sure if that's because of capacity vs. overall demand or if the Park Pass system has people much less likely to change plans.
We’re excited to go too; more excited than we’ve been for a WDW trip in a long time. Guess absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Since we only have one RD morning at HS, we have to choose between ROTR/MMRR and Everything Else in an Hour. I do love Slinky. It’s fun but not nauseating (I’m gun shy after that horrific stop-and-go Incredicoaster which nearly did me in - CS never did that to me. They definitely monkeyed with the brake runs, to horrible effect), and does look lovely at night.

Following along! I just did that 'Close EPCOT and EE for AK' back in December. It was a little rough, but always overshadowed by 'Yay, we are at Disney, everything is great!'.
I’m hoping we still have that adrenaline that morning, 48 hours into the trip. :RpS_laugh:
 

puffyjj

Member
Sounds fantastic! I've had great success with lining up for EE RD at TOT followed by RNR and an elbows out speed walk to TSMM before the waits are exorbitant. It's a much shorter window than it used to be! Looking forward to hearing all about it.
 

George

The ratio of people to cake is too big.
I’m considering cancelling the trip since I’ll never finish the last episodes of Ozark by Sunday morning. 😥
 

George

The ratio of people to cake is too big.
I’m baaaaack!

We had a great time, every day. Here are some thoughts; I’ll post subsequent days as I have time.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Our 7:30am non-stop flight from O’Hare was uneventful. DH (G) and I picked up the rental car and our Visitor Toll Pass at MCO (no checked bags) and met our friend R at arrivals at MCO since his flight arrived just 20 minutes after his, from LaGuardia. After a brief Target run for sunscreen, 2.5 gallon spring water jug for the fridge, we stopped at Portillo’s for some Chicago-style food.

On the way to the resort, I got a “come to front desk for room” text. Huh? I fantasized that since we had two (hopefully connecting) studios booked at Poly that they decided to upgrade us to a Bungalow. No such luck. Instead, we learned there was a system-wide glitch (I was shocked. Shocked!), so we got our (connecting - yay!) room numbers in Tokelau, 3rd floor, as requested (via DVC, not TP’s room request service). Of course, the MBs didn’t work to unlock the door; fortunately the app did.

After unpacking the bags and the Owner’s Locker and getting a brief 45-minute nap, we went over to the front desk to have our MBs looked at. The front desk clerk was horrified, tired of such “glitches,” and pixie dusted us each with $75 credits applied directly to our Folio! Can’t argue with that, and I didn’t even have to go Full On Karen on him. I did quip that I’d pool two of those credits and attend the Halloween Party - by myself.

We then headed to MK on the monorail for our Skipper Canteen ADR at 4:45. This evening was planned to be low-key: dinner, maybe an attraction or two, and Enchantment. After a nice relaxing dinner, I checked wait times to discover that a good 10 attractions were down. Upon exiting, we learned why: the previously sunny, pleasant weather had turned into a monsoon. Seriously. It was raining sideways and blowing. Radar said it’d last for 30-45 more minutes, so we hung out at the check-in pavilion at Skipper Canteen to wait it out. A couple dozen others had the same idea, and we enjoyed alternatively laughing at the poor souls passing by in the rain and wildly applauding those brave types who made it to our impromptu shelter.

Once Mother Nature gave the all-clear, we took in a performance of Philharmagic (it was down previously too - when I asked why, I was told they use it as a shelter for people during such storms), and enjoyed the added Coco scene. After that, it was on to its a small world, something I haven’t done at WDW for probably 20 years, for obvious reasons. Then it was over to TTA for a spin around Tomorrowland before staking out a pretty good space for the 9:00 Enchantment, in the circle in the Hub, just left of center on the Town Square side. Good view, for the most part, occasional shoulder child or iPad Auteur notwithstanding. We were all kind of “meh” about the show, finding that it tried to cram way too much sh.., er, stuff into the running time and therefore lacked cohesion or purpose. Fireworks were largely relegated to the periphery of vision, since there was so much going on with the projections.

Lines weren’t bad; we didn’t wait more than 10 minutes for iasw at around 8pm, and TTA and Phil were walk-ons/ins.

We took our time leaving, stopping at Star - uh, Main St. Bakery so I could pick up a You Are Here mug for my nephew, who works at Starbucks and collects them and other Starbucks vessels. They didn’t have, nor have they had for a while, those mugs, but they did have the MK tumbler, so I grabbed one of those.

The line at the monorail wasn’t too long (we got on the second train) to get back to Poly, and after showers got to bed around 11pm.
 
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kgillen

Active member
We were all kind of “meh” about the show, finding that it tried to cram way too much sh.., er, stuff into the running time and therefore lacked cohesion or purpose. Fireworks were largely relegated to the periphery of vision, since there was so much going on with the projections.
This is exactly how we felt about Enchantment. It's a fine show and we enjoyed it. But, compared to Happily Ever After, it felt like a series of disjointed projections with no narrative.

Glad you had a great time. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip.
 

George

The ratio of people to cake is too big.
Monday, May 2, 2022:

After a long travel day and late MK evening the night before, we opted for a leisurely morning/afternoon, since we’ll be at Epcot for EMH until 11this evening.

We took our time in the morning getting up and ready, and went to Captain Cook’s for coffee and a light breakfast. After, we piled into the car for a trip to Disney Springs to browse the shops. I found my nephew’s other three Starbucks tumblers (AK, HS, and Epcot) at the Co-Op, so I picked them up rather than stopping at each park.

All this was prelude to our remarkable lunch at Jaleo. I’ve had this on my radar for some time now (never mind we have one in Chicago), and it did not disappoint. Not only was it the best meal of our trip, but it ranked up there among our finest restaurant experiences ever. We samples an array of food and drink, each thing better than the last. The black-foot pig jamon (at $32 an ounce!) was expensive, but ethereal.

After a major nap, it was time for Epcot. We took the monorail over (so convenient to Poly DVC buildings), and took a stroll over to Canada and Canada Far and Wide. I love the Old Epcot experiences, which are becoming few and far between. Can’t stop “progress,” I guess.

We had an ADR for Via Napoli, and enjoyed what we had, but I miss the international staff. It wasn’t the same. Our waiter was a bit gruff and they tried to throw things at us until I asked them to slow the pace down a bit. I realized that so much of the charm of WS places depended on the staff. Hope they come back as planned.

In lieu of paying $19 (!) for tiramisu at Via Napoli, we opted for a visit to Karamel Kuche, and some seriously good caramel popcorn and gingerbread sandwich cookies. Then it was on to my beloved Impressions de France, still one of my favorite things in all of WDW after all these years. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to Epcot and not seen it at least once. The digital projection is still gorgeous, and I noted that they did away with the five separate screens and now project the film on a continuous curved screen. There are still black bands between the five images, however. I never understood how people could have gone to Epcot so many times and never partook in the films. That was everything back in the day.

After absorbing more WS atmosphere, we headed to Japan to stake out our spots at 8:40 for Harmonious. DisneyTouristBlog’s #2 spot to watch, the balcony outside Teppan Edo/Tokyo Dining, was wide open. It proved to be a nice, stress-free place to watch, though some of the projections were a bit distant. Still, I’d trade that for up close and among the throngs any day. We all gave thumbs-up to this show, even though I thought most of the projections were unnecessary and preferred the pyro and music.

Our Extra Hours started at 9, so we got over to Remy and found a 25 minute wait. Since we weren’t planning on much, we waited, and enjoyed it quite a bit. The theming is just as fun as the ride itself, imho, and it’s a darling addition to the France pavilion. They outdid themselves theming the Streets of Paris, and it’s a nice place to hang out, day or night, for a break.

It was on to Norway next, and Frozen Ever After. The just-breaking Roe v Wade news put me in a foul mood (I shouldn’t read notifications while in the parks!), and we were on in 10 minutes or so. It was 11:15 or so when we got out, and we started dragging. The thought of the long walk and climb up to the monorail had us unexcited to make any more detours to anything else on our way out, since we had a FW morning planned for Saturday, so we headed back to the Poly. Why can’t they install an escalator to/from the monorail? Like TTC? Just a thought.

Shower, wind down, bed. That would become a theme during the week. Our 6:30 AK arrival the next morning hung over us as we ended the day.
 
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George

The ratio of people to cake is too big.
Tuesday, May 3, 2022

We were up relatively late last night, and had to get up at the crack of dawn, and boy, was Dawn surprised! This is our only AK day, and I refuse to pay for FOP ILL, so we were at the RD crowd at 6:30 for the 7am EE Stampede. We were quite far back, even at 6:30, and did the Slow Walk with the Crowd to FOP. The line stretched all the way out of Pandora and towards the bridge to FOTLK, but it never stopped moving. We were on and off by 7:45. R had never done either FOP or Na’vi River Journey, so we hopped into the NRJ line and waited about 15 minutes. Yikes, I still don’t “get“ the point of this, unless it’s just to show off lighting and bioluminescence.

I started to fret about not having G+, even though it’s not recommended for AK. You see, we’re not used to waiting for ANYTHING, having always maximized our FASTPASS/+ opportunities, and did RDs over previous trips.

Anyway, we took our morning coffee/danish break at Kusafari, sitting in our favorite “hidden” spot behind Tamu Tamu, noses buried deep in our iThings.

KS had a 35 minute posted wait after that, and we got into line. Our guide was quite funny, delivering his spiel with wit at a mile a minute. Think Maynard at Disneyland, if you get that reference.

Feathered Friends in Flight was next. We sat pretty much dead center about 2/3 of the way back, which turned out to be right under the birds’ flight plans. Cool. I was relieved to discover this combined the all the great aspects of Flights of Wonder, though there was no Guano Joe/Jane storyline. It was still entertaining.

Everest had a 35 minute posted wait, which turned out to be more like 25, which is the longest we’ve ever waited for this. It was kind of nice taking the queue a bit slower to absorb the details.

Hungry after not much of a breakfast, we did the Darden Queue Trick at Yak & Yeti and got seated within ten minutes. Y & Y is a nice air-conditioned respite, and the iced tea refills were most welcome.

After lunch, Dinosaur posted a 25 minute wait, but turned to be pretty much a walk-on. I still don’t care for that ride, they make it way too jerky. I get that they CAN do that, and if it served any kind of purpose, I’d be more onboard for it; it just doesn’t earn its jerks. It could be so much more enjoyable while still being thrilling without all the jostling. I have the same problem with Indiana Jones, and even though that one is much better thematically, I still don’t care for it. And the walk into and out of it is a royal PITA, taking us under the railroad berm into the show building and then back out.

One of my favorites, ITTBAB, was next on the agenda. We had a fantastic audience. This one always cracks me up, and this crowd was having a swell time.

I’m stunned that I remembered the TGM “shortcut to Africa” exit route, since we were heading to Celebrating the Highlights of the Best Parts of Festival of the Lion King Lite (but mostly Lion King), or whatever they’re calling it these days. Nice highlights show; I guessed that anything involving acrobatics and/or wires were omitted. Everything else seemed to be there. The show was pretty much a sell-out, seemed to be packed. We have been wearing our masks in dense crowd situations like these, as well as on Disney transportation, the whole time.

That wrapped it up for AK. We stayed longer than we expected in order to get everything done, and it was after 3 by the time we did. We started the slog back to the parking lot. I know it’s probably from lack of available drives still, but the no trams bulls$&t in the lots (save for MK) is really beyond the pale, especially when they’re charging whatever they’re charging to park. After a long park day it’s not pleasant hoofing it back in a sweltering lot.

It was nice to have a break, as we were all moving a bit slower due to the late night/early morning, so a shower and nap were most welcome.

Dinner tonight is at Steakhouse 71, a place that’s been getting a lot of love lately. We decided to stop off at GF and Enchanted Rose for a cocktail on our way to dinner, and appreciated the convenience of the Monorail from Poly. ER’s a beautiful space, and I can easily see stopping here for a light dinner and some drinks when we’re not in the mood for a large dinner. Steakhouse 71 was a bit of a letdown. The atmosphere is nice with the vintage photos, many of which I remember from childhood trips in the mid-70s. Heck, I remember when this space used to be the Fiesta Fun center, an enormous and loud arcade/entertainment place mostly for kids, a place that drove my parents (they were 45 and 48 at the time) bonkers, but that we kids loved. Back to S71, the food was by and large very good, though the sauce on my otherwise tasty pork chop had separated, so there was a greasy pool in the plate. The wine list was small and unremarkable, but we found a good enough Cab to go with dinner. We skipped dessert.

We were up for another ”weird” day tomorrow, as MK would be open until 1am for DX guests. This and the Epcot night really mucked up our usual RD/rest/evening park-or-dinner plans, as not having (free) FPs makes RD days even earlier, as you must be belly up to the rope, or do “secondary” things until lines start getting unwieldy; this happens much earlier than it used to. So we ended up doing far fewer RDs this week.
 
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Alcachofa

Active member
this space used to be the Fiesta Fun center, an enormous and loud arcade/entertainment place mostly for kids,
I remember that, too. They used to have a side room, IIRC, which played Disney movies back-to-back. I think that is the first place I saw an air hockey table.
 

bnoble

he's right
I guessed that anything involving acrobatics and/or wires were omitted.
My guess was slightly different: it was re-choreographed so that none of the performers ever needed to be "COVID close" to each other. But, that means that the pas de deux had to be very different.
 
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