My Sept 2020 Hurricane Irma Reunion Disney Blowout Trip!

bravenyc

Mouseketeer
Joined
Apr 8, 2016
So sorry about your brother and your mother. I know full well the stress associated with caring for your parents as they age - we have been going through this for the last several years with my in-laws. It is never easy. It is so nice that you were able to take the time to be there for both of them. What is your field?

We are planning a trip just before yours - 8/26 - 9/5 - at AKL and Boardwalk. We are renting DVC points again. My dining window is opening soon and I need to get on the ball with planning things out - I agree that it is really hard to plan dining so soon before they announce park hours, etc. We are also trying to shoot for taking a slower pace this trip and relaxing more at the resort. My mom is coming along again and she is starting to have less endurance - she is 78 - so we especially want more downtime for her. But it is so hard to do once you are there and feel the pull of the parks!!! Wish us luck.

Good luck with the planning to come. I know it can be a drain but it is also a lot of fun and makes it feel like a year long vacation!
 

useakiss

Am I there yet?
Joined
Jan 11, 2017
So sorry about your brother and your mother. I know full well the stress associated with caring for your parents as they age - we have been going through this for the last several years with my in-laws. It is never easy. It is so nice that you were able to take the time to be there for both of them. What is your field?

We are planning a trip just before yours - 8/26 - 9/5 - at AKL and Boardwalk. We are renting DVC points again. My dining window is opening soon and I need to get on the ball with planning things out - I agree that it is really hard to plan dining so soon before they announce park hours, etc. We are also trying to shoot for taking a slower pace this trip and relaxing more at the resort. My mom is coming along again and she is starting to have less endurance - she is 78 - so we especially want more downtime for her. But it is so hard to do once you are there and feel the pull of the parks!!! Wish us luck.

Good luck with the planning to come. I know it can be a drain but it is also a lot of fun and makes it feel like a year long vacation!
Thanks for the kind thoughts. It's hard enough dealing with aging parents, but made even worse by living 1,000 miles away and feeling helpless most of the time.

Although my degree was in history, I work for one of the Big Four accounting/consulting firms as a lead federal pursuit specialist, doing desktop publishing of business proposals. Because of the intense competitiveness within the industry, our benefits are better than average and pretty progressive. I'm well aware of how fortunate I was to get paid during my family medical leave. It allowed me to focus all my time there on my family without worrying about paying my bills as well (as it was, it threw my vacation budgeting off because I'd just visited home two months before, and this new expense was obviously unplanned).

I'm a new believer in breaking up your days if you have the luxury of time. No more marathon days in a row. Half-days in the park while the other half is spent in the resorts or pools not only means you feel less exhausted and in pain, but you actually get to SEE more because staying late for the fireworks is doable, something I rarely had energy left to do on my first solo trip. Once you embrace the concept of accepting that you simply can't see and do everything on a trip, it frees you up to do the things that are important to you and focus on enjoying them. I intend to take my time and really soak up those things because I don't know if/when I'll get back.

One thing I learned by traveling with my mom was that by taking a slower pace, I noticed more. I tried to put myself in her shoes, and that helped me enjoy my time with her even more. That's priceless! Trying to do all the attractions wasn't the point--those are only seconds long and then over. It's what you do in between the attractions that are the real memories. That's where the real gold is found. For example, we had more fun waiting for the parade than during the parade itself.

Yeah, this very long planning process has been equal parts draining and exciting. Now that we're starting to ramp up a little again, I'm finding my enthusiasm stoking again. Part of me is very depressed right now by the state of our union and I'm struggling to find my bliss (I have real fears of what might happen between now and September, and if spending all this money right now is a wise decision), but at least the planning is a nice distraction.
 


useakiss

Am I there yet?
Joined
Jan 11, 2017
Thursday, March 19th

It’s both a happy and a sad time. We finally reached our 180-day Advanced Dining Reservation window this past week! But we also saw the announcements of all of the rest of the Disney properties closing indefinitely due to reasonable fears concerning the Coronavirus pandemic. Because I’m solidly within the risk category (I’m 53, have high blood pressure, and a proclivity for contracting bronchitis—I was just in the ER back in November because I feared I had pneumonia), I have legitimate concerns and am taking appropriate precautions. Our vacation isn’t until mid-September, so we are crossing our fingers and proceeding forward with our planning in the hopes that by then things will have settled down and the economy isn’t so bad that I’m afraid to spend this kind of money.

My friends in the UK and I have been conducting Skype voice/video calls to compare notes, review menus, and discuss daily plans.

Fortunately, we for the most part have similar interests and goals and body clocks (no sleeping late for us!). There are a couple of specific restaurants or lounges I want to hit, while they have a couple of different places they want to do, so we've agreed that spending time in the parks together is great, and we'll do it when it works, but that there's no harm or foul in splitting up for the day and then meeting up for a drink or meal or for a special event later. We're adults and veterans of previous long stays at WDW, so we’ve pretty much done everything there is to do attraction-wise. This trip, we’ve all agreed, will be more about memorable experiences. After all, the rides only last a handful of minutes, but it’s what you do in-between that matters—that’s where the memories are made. Plus, all three of us love good food, so this is definitely going to be more about sampling as much as we can, taking advantage of the meal plan.

With 14 Table credits and 14 Quick Serve credits to spend over those 14 days, we had a lot to mull over--which signature restaurants (which take 2 Table credits each) are on our must-do lists, and how to divvy up the remainder on single Table credit places.

We managed to book every single one of the places on our wish list, all but one of them at the exact times we were hoping for. Story Book character meal was the only one that was solidly booked the initial day we wanted, but after reviewing our schedule, we shifted it to a day in which we had no other plans, and it worked out better and we got in, so we’re all set now. I do wonder at the ease with which we were able to

Here’s what we’ve booked:

  • 50's Prime (1T) (lunch)
  • Story Book Dinner (1T) (dinner)
  • Be Our Guest (1QS) (breakfast)
  • Spirit of Aloha (2T) (first dinner show)
  • Chef Art Smith's (1T) (dinner)
  • Monsieur Paul (2T) (dinner & fireworks)
  • Rose & Crown (1T) (dinner & fireworks if they let us keep the table)(placeholder for whenever Space 220 opens and if we can book it)
  • Yak & Yeti (1T) (lunch)
  • Saana (1T) (dinner right before sunset)
  • Flying Fish (2T) (dinner)
  • Garden Grill (1T) (breakfast)
In addition, I’m doing these solo:

  • The Wave (1T) (lunch)
  • Skipper Canteen (1T)(out-of-pocket)(lunch)
My friends are doing Teppan Edo on their own without me (it’s a tradition for them so I didn’t want to intrude).

As for Quick Service joints, those will obviously be much more flexible and dependent on Fastpass timing, etc. However, I do have a list of ones I really want to try out.

  • Polite Pig (I tried this in 2017 and would like to go back)
  • Morimoto's Street Food (the spare ribs)
  • Ronto's Roasters (breakfast and dinner at some point for different sausage wraps)
  • Woody's Lunchbox (brisket sandwich sounds wonderful, and fruit tart)
  • Harambe Market
  • Regal Eagle (all about the BBQ!)
  • Capt. Cook's (Tonga Toast and Thai coconut meatballs)
  • Docking Bay 7 (more curious about atmosphere than menu, I’ll admit)
  • Les Halles Patisserie (likely a few breakfasts)
We also are planning one big meal that falls outside the Meal Plan:

  • Afternoon Tea @ Grand Floridian (I’ve done before and loved, plus how can I not with my British friends?!)
As for snacks, there are so many to chose from, and we’ll likely be so full, that it’s impossible to plan that. However, here are a few on my Must Try list:

  • Eight Spoon Café (the mac & cheese w/ pulled pork)
  • Gaston's (cinnamon roll, plus love the Brew—get it every time)
  • Kringla Bakeri (school bread, which I love, and something new like Troll Horn)
  • Aloha Isle (Kakamora dole whip or Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Dole Whip)
  • Woody’s Lunch Box (fruit tart)
  • Any sort of boba balls drink (I’ll probably hate it for being too sweet, but still)
  • Blue Milk (or Green, whichever sounds better—more about saying I’ve tried it than an expectation that I’ll like it)
Not food related, we’ve also booked:

  • Spa treatment at the Grand Floridian,
  • Keys to the Kingdom tour
  • Mini-golf (planned, unable to book quite yet due to the crazy phone lines thanks to Coronavirus closings)
We also are currently planning to do Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, but because the tickets are non-refundable, we’re holding off on purchasing them until we’re much closer and relatively certain the parks will be open and we’re going.

The rest of our time will no doubt be spent wandering around, enjoying the Food & Wine Festival, and soaking in the pools and lazy rivers.

My friends already have their airline tickets purchased (necessary coming from so far away), but I haven’t yet. They’re expecting to arrive around 2 pm, and at first I was thinking about arranging so that I arrive around the same time and we can ride Magical Express together, but after looking at airfares out of D.C., I’m better off flying earlier and getting in before Noon, in which case I’ll just go ahead on my own and get checked in if they let me. Honestly, though, I’m very nervous to buy this far out—since they’re nonrefundable and who knows if the airlines I pick will still be in business by September, I’m holding off. ☹

It’s a crazy time right now, something this nation has not seen in generations. It’s impossible to anticipate where any of us will be in 6 months. All we can do is take precautions, be prepared, and hope things work out the best for everyone.
 

momtoARQ

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jul 3, 2012
I’ve read all 3 of your trip reports over the last couple of days and want to thank you for writing them. Very entertaining and informative! My family has a trip booked for late August and I have all my fingers and toes crossed that we can go! We are Canadian so we also have to wait and see about the border opening. I look forward to reading more!
 

useakiss

Am I there yet?
Joined
Jan 11, 2017
We're into June now, and my Disney friends and I are having to make a painful decision. We had a long Skype call this past Sunday about the current events regarding both in the Disney parks and conditions in the USA in general, and it just doesn't make sense to proceed with this booking. There are just too many compounding factors that make it unlikely or impossible.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic is not subsiding in the USA, numbers are still going up, particularly in states like Florida where governments are either not taking appropriate actions or are prematurely reopening. We have pre-existing conditions that place us in the risk category, so it's simply not safe at this time.
  • Flight restrictions and 2-week quarantine on the UK side that likely won't be lifted by Sept make it impossible.
  • Mandatory masks in the September heat and humidity of Florida sounds intolerable. I struggled in 2017 because it was so oppressive. Wearing a mask in that would make what was already marginally enjoyable into a miserable slog, if not downright dangerous.
  • The curtailing or cancelling of all special events, parades, fireworks, live entertainment, character meets, pool closures, tours, etc., leave very little else to do, yet we're still paying full price.
  • Disney has cancelled the meal plan, which was a major feature of our vacation package--particularly since we were focusing our trip around the foodie experience. It was a significant part of what make this 2-week deluxe resort package affordable. We did not budget (and frankly are reluctant) for paying out-of-pocket for all meals on top of the package price.
  • All our ADRs have been cancelled, thus reducing the chances of us getting all the bookings we want when the new 60-day window opens.
  • All water parks and resort pools are closed until further notice. Not having access to the pools to cool down, relax away from the parks, etc., feels intolerable.
  • Disney has cancelled and refunded our Keys to the Kingdom tour tickets, as well as our booking for mini-golf.
  • On my side, the instability of the economy makes me hesitate to drop a ton of money right now on a vacation. My firm just laid off 5% of one sector last week, and while I want to believe I'm relatively safe right now (federal contracting is still booming), we're likely to see even more unrest and uncertainty in the next 6-9 months. I'm clutching my money!
  • My friends had already purchased their flight tickets a few of months ago, but they have a lot more flexibility with rescheduling (unlike here in the US). They have until Sept of 2022 to use their tickets, which is a real game-changer since they don't feel pressure to use it or lose it.
  • This vacation is just too expensive to come away with a negative experience by default. No pictures of smiling faces, only masks. None of the non-attraction magic that makes this sort of vacation worth the price. It might make sense for folks with Florida discounts or annual passes to go because much of their expense is already paid and because they go multiple times a year, but for us, this trip is a rare and big deal, and it's just not worth it at the moment. We'd be better off to save our money and go later when things are better.
One of the things we did talk about was contingency plans. What ELSE can we do, if this vacation is cancelled. We all automatically ruled out Disney World in 2021 because things might still be unsettled in the parks and because it'll be the 50th anniversary and it will be nuts in any case. We tossed around the possibility of going to Disney Paris instead (they're definitely probably going now in any case), but they did warn me that there are a lot of renovations and construction going on there for the next couple of years and I might be better waiting until 2024 or later to see it completed. Finally we sort of settled on two options, which happily are not conflicting so we might be able to do BOTH:
  1. We pick up our entire mapped out 2-week plan and drop it into the last week of April/first week of May of 2022. With any luck by then things will be back to "normal." Free dining will return for UK package deals, and even if it hasn't, it'll give us time to save up more. There's potential for the weather to be a little less brutal. It'll give us a chance to see the parks in a different time of year (aside from my last trip in December, I have only ever seen Disney World in August/September) (and without holiday overlays), and in particular the Flower and Garden Show at EPCOT. Finally, we can assume that all the projected renovations and new attractions will be completed by then.
  2. In the meantime, assuming travel restrictions are lifted and there's a vaccine for the Coronavirus, I may fly out to visit them in the UK in May of 2021 and spend a couple weeks with them touring the countryside. They threw out lots of suggestions of things they'd like to see as well, all of which sounded fantastic to me (TV and movie settings, regions like Cornwall and the Lake District and the Cotswalds, and even Scotland, etc.). It's something I've wanted to do for a long time anyway, so I'm keen for it. I'll need to keep saving as much money as possible to make sure I can afford both these trips, but it's very possible and I'm even more motivated now.
So while there's no question that we are severely disappointed by the turn of events here, particularly after over a year of heavy planning and anticipation, all is not lost. In the grand scheme of things, it pales in comparison to real life events. It's a set-back, but all hope is not lost. We'll just reschedule, and make other plans.

And you'd better believe I'm fully justifying splurging for that personal safari tour in 2022!! 🦓🐘🦏
 
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