Happy Graduation to Her (May/June '21) - THE TRIP REPORT (10/17 FINALLY COMPLETE!)

kittylady1972

Disneyholic
Joined
Oct 20, 2003
It appears that no amount of begging and posting here can get my other PTR moved over...so I guess we'll just have to START at the beginning here. I've moved my BIRTHDAY trip report to the Universal Trip Reports area since much of that was focused on the Universal Parks...even though we had plenty of Disney sprinkled in throughout the trip such as resort stays and dining. You can check my signature for the link for that one.

This will start as a PRE-Trip Report for May/June as I finalize our plans...but will eventually be the POST Trip Report. It's just easier to do it here rather than request that it be moved later. You can check my signature link for more details though.

So details for this trip...we are celebrating my daughter's graduation from high school next month. It's been a tough year of course, with her junior year cut short last March thanks to COVID. They were out and then just virtual March-June last year, and this year they started out totally 100% virtual until about MARCH. That's when they were given the option for hybrid learning, which meant coming into the school for TWO days a week for classes or staying virtual. My daughter wanted to do some in-person school so she did that, but it's a very small school (less than 60 in her graduation senior class) so she maybe sees about 4 to 6 other seniors on her 2 days a week.

I honestly didn't think she would want to do a Disney trip, she didn't seem very into it when I had asked before. I took my son, who graduated 3 years ago, on a mom-son trip to Disney for a few days and we had a great time. We focused on things that I knew he would like and it was just an overall nice trip. This would have been a mom-daughter trip also but I told her she could invite her BFF who has NEVER been to Disney....and also who is moving from Maryland to Texas next month. They are both going to different colleges as well anyway, but she is such a sweet kid that I didn't mind adding her to the trip.

Fast forward a few months when I bring up this trip to one of my own BFFs who I have known since I was in pre-school. I mentioned we have a 1 bedroom at Bay Lake Tower so I have a King Bed all to myself. The girls will take up the couch in the main room. She has been VERY heavily involved in the drug trials for COVID and she has been working long hours and days. She loves Disney like me though. So a few weeks later she sent me an email with her plane ticket booked!

So now there are 4 of us on a lovely girls trip for a few nights. We will arrive on Memorial Day and spent our first two days at Universal parks. We have a night booked at HRH so we will have Express Passes which will be great. We are undecided if we actually stay the night at that hotel since we also have BLT booked Monday through Saturday. It's an ongoing debate especially after our recent Universal parks experience and their parking fiasco. However since that centered a lot around the temperature checks which are GOING AWAY now...we may be fine.

Wednesday through Saturday will be Disney Parks...one park per day minimum but we have hoppers as we were unable to book a reservation for HS park. We'll hit that park in the evening only, once or twice, to ride some of the good stuff like RnRC and Tower (we have no interest in Star Wars stuff) and I would like them all to try MMRR which I find adorable.

We have some dining booked but that will be subject to change. We are also going to try (well mostly ME) to meet up with a few other mostly internet friends who will be there at the same time as us. Plus I have a good friend from HS who lives there (and works for Universal) who we will try to meet up with at least to say hello as well. Busy busy busy.

So stay tuned as we work out the final details of this fabulous trip. Up next: Current Plans!
 

kittylady1972

Disneyholic
Joined
Oct 20, 2003
HAPPY GRADUATION to HER: The Plan

So we have somewhat of a plan in place for this upcoming trip though I'm forever stalking the dining for some other reservations. I'd love to eat at Yak and Yeti...but that's been impossible which is okay as we also all really like Satuli.

MONDAY: We have a flight that leaves around 10:45am. My husband will likely drop all of us off at the airport that day. Arriving at MCO before 1pm (hopefully) we'll pick up our rental car and drive out to Hard Rock Hotel. Once there we will check in, get our Express Passes, and head over to the parks for a while. Still unsure if we'll sleep here for the night or head back to Bay Lake Tower to check in there. I do have a dinner reservation at Toothsome.

TUESDAY: This is our second Universal Day. We may need to arrive early to try to ride Hagrids at least. Beyond that is just bonus stuff...riding and enjoying our day at the parks. Now we did do a quick trip to these parks LAST March, just for the day, it was me and my daughter and her BFF so she has done a few things here already. Having the Express Passes will enable us to do so much more though. We'll likely call it a day around dinnertime, head to Bay Lake Tower, and I have dinner at The Wave for us.

WEDNESDAY: Wake up and head over to the Magic Kingdom. We can walk from our resort of course, or catch the monorail. We'll spend all day here for the most part, with lunch planned for Tony's if we are up for it. If not, we'll skip it and take a break at our hotel for a while. I would like to try to head to HS around 3/4pm as we have dinner at Brown Derby and then we can try to do a few rides there as they approach closing.

THURSDAY: Our park reservation is at Animal Kingdom, so we'll head there in the morning. Planning to likely have lunch at Satuli. We'll hang for as long as it takes to knock out all the stuff we want to do, then head back to our resort. I do have dinner at The Plaza that night if we want to do that.

FRIDAY: Park reservation for EPCOT, so we don't have to be there until close to 10am or so, provided those hours don't change too much for the summer. We'll spend some time here hitting up rides like Soarin', Test Track, Mission: Space and maybe Frozen. We'll check out some of the Flower and Garden booths too. I do have lunch booked at Via Napoli if we want a break. We'll likely leave by afternoon, come back to our resort, and that evening we'll have dinner with CHEF MICKEY. Really looking forward to trying this new experience. The menu sounds pretty good. Maybe head to MK that evening or HS.

SATURDAY: Our final day...always a sad one. We have MK in the morning so we'll head there first. We'll stay until around 1pm or so, then head to HS. We have lunch at Brown Derby here for SIX of us so hopefully if we haven't met up with @angryduck71 by now this is our chance. We will leave around 3:30pm for the airport to catch our 5:45pm flight back home.
 

kittylady1972

Disneyholic
Joined
Oct 20, 2003
Joining over here! Of course we're there again a few days after you leave lol but glad you're going again!
But of COURSE you are...I would expect nothing less. I'm really excited about this upcoming girls-only trip. I think we are going to have a blast. It will be so fun introducing somebody new to our Happy Place.

Following along here too 😀. Looking forward to reading more.
Yay and welcome!
 

kittylady1972

Disneyholic
Joined
Oct 20, 2003
I've made a few minor tweaks (of course) to our ADRs for later this month. I still can't believe we will be there in THREE WEEKS! Of course I also can't believe my daughter is DONE with high school in a little less than 3 weeks. To say I'm going to miss here when she is off to college in a few months is an understatement. This is one of the things she gave me yesterday for Mother's Day:
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She also got me chocolates and a card. The boys all signed the card too, and I know my youngest son went with her to buy the "gifts" yesterday...but it was all her. She also got me a gift card. My FIL got me some beautiful flowers and a card. We had a great seafood dinner Saturday night which I considered my Mother's Day dinner since this is just my favorite meal
574201

My husband made me breakfast yesterday morning and we did some grocery shopping. Then we headed to watch my daughter play her first softball game this season (a double-header) and probably the last season she will play softball. She was so excited when her doctor medically cleared her to play, and her old coach was great about putting her back on the team and getting her last minute registration details. It was a pretty decent weather day to watch my girl do something she loves:
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574203574204

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Stealing her way around the bases after getting walked.

Anyway we got home and chilled and then just ordered pizza from a local chain for dinner. That was my request. A pretty good Mother's Day overall for me, hopefully all of you here had a nice one as well.

So the rest of the weekend was pretty chill. It rained AND HAILED on Saturday. I had some people trying to put together some tennis but the weather just kept putting a halt to that. Instead I think I pretty much just relaxed at home for the day. Plus I did some additional Disney ADR stalking.

The only thing I've modified is that we now have a La Hacienda reservation for Wednesday. I really did enjoy that restaurant and would love to eat there again. We also have Brown Derby that same day...so we can't do both. I guess I'll see what the girls want to do and go from there, and see which park we end up hopping over to that afternoon as that's the plan. Our morning will be at MK and though I have Tony's booked...part of me is thinking we may drop that, as I would almost rather head outside the park to the Wave or GF Cafe or even Contempo Cafe and grab some food.

I dropped a La Hacienda I had for Friday...well it got moved to Wednesday...because with Chef Mickey's Friday evening that takes priority. I still have Via Napoli on Friday since it's our planned EPCOT day though. Yet we may just find some good Flower and Garden booths to grab food at instead around EPCOT for lunch.

That's about it for now. For the most part, I'm pretty satisfied with our current plans and know we'll be fine with what we have so far. Honestly I'm still thinking about that meal over at Mangino's at Shades of Green and if we are really in a bind for dinner plans we can always go there since it's right around the corner from us.
 
  • DLo

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 14, 2006
    I had pizza last night too : ). My son and husband were going to grill for me but I just wanted something easy (and so I wouldn't have to answer all those questions while they were cooking) .
    I have HBD next week for the first time . Do you like it ? I am going solo and usually avoid the more signature/fancy places.
    Our USTA season starts Thursday. Hoping for good weather .
     

    kittylady1972

    Disneyholic
    Joined
    Oct 20, 2003
    I had pizza last night too : ). My son and husband were going to grill for me but I just wanted something easy (and so I wouldn't have to answer all those questions while they were cooking) .
    I have HBD next week for the first time . Do you like it ? I am going solo and usually avoid the more signature/fancy places.
    Our USTA season starts Thursday. Hoping for good weather .
    I am with you on the dinner thing for sure.

    I haven't eaten at HBD in a few years and that was when my son and I did the Dine with an Imagineer. However I do love the Cobb Salad there and I make a version at home that my daughter also likes so I think it will be great to go back and have that there. I think you'll enjoy it.

    YAY for USTA season for you. I'm so glad it's back this year but I do miss some of the leagues. I am playing on fewer teams but I'm getting in lots of extra "fun" tennis elsewhere at least.
     

    kittylady1972

    Disneyholic
    Joined
    Oct 20, 2003
    COUNTDOWN: 18 DAYS :tigger:

    CHANGES:
    I did add an ADR for Mama Melrose for one of our days, though the ADR is for 1:50pm and we would have to park hop there which I think is 2pm. Anybody know what time they REALLY will let us into another park? Are they sticklers for the 2pm time? If so, we'll just have to be there right at 2pm and sprint over to our reservation if we keep it. I'm torn that day on if we will hop here or to EPCOT.

    Things are changing at all the parks now, so it will be interesting to see what we experience. Temperature checks should be gone at Universal and Disney...bonus. Though Disney handled it well, Universal did NOT but now I wonder how will they line us up at the gates for social distancing? Those temp checks sorta served as a way to slowly filter in guest without bogging down lines at the tapstyles. I also see the space will go from 6 feet to 3 feet in some areas, so maybe some of those queues won't look quite as scary though most stretched so far outside of their "normal" areas already that you were just guessing on the spacing for the most part until you got closer to the actual inside queues.

    Shows...here's hoping some of the night shows will return. It sounds like EPCOT could be close so that would be fun to see that new thing. From what I've read about Lion King now reopening, the new show has NO monkeys and really that was part of the fun. I'm not sure we'll got out of our way to see the revamped version in the current state.

    I saw something about Monster's Inc as well and I'd love to see that one open. That should be easy enough to do with spacing out rows of people, just won't have the capacity and can't have us all hanging in the lobby area before the doors open any longer. The lines for that had started looking crazy PRE-COVID for some of our visits but that was with full capacity. With limited capacity and COVID spacing...well we shall see. If we can still do COP I think we can do this one even though it's a small theater.

    LIFE: My daughter's last day of school as a HS senior is two weeks from today. They have graduation practice next week and now that the state is opening up more things and no longer limiting capacity at places they might consider allowing more than two people per person for the graduation ceremony now. We shall see, she is hopeful of course. She also just got asked to MC her graduation and she doesn't like being the center of attention but the teachers nominated her. She is on the fence so we'll see what she decides to do.
     

    CruellaNY

    It’s Good to Be Bad
    Joined
    Jul 9, 2020
    Anybody know what time they REALLY will let us into another park? Are they sticklers for the 2pm time? If so, we'll just have to be there right at 2pm and sprint over to our reservation if we keep it. I'm torn that day on if we will hop here or to EPCOT.
    So it depends on the CM's and the park and the day lol. It is technically a hard 2:00 but usually parks will start letting people in anywhere from 1:45 on but again depends on the day. As you said worst case you don't get in until a few minutes before 2 and just go right there, even if you're a few minutes late it won't be a problem; believe me we're late often lol.

    I hope your daughter ends up with a good graduation ceremony whatever it may be! Ricky's last year ended up being better than we thought it would be but we parents needed to FIGHT for what we did get. Glad there (should) be more options for this years' graduates!
     
  • kittylady1972

    Disneyholic
    Joined
    Oct 20, 2003
    So it depends on the CM's and the park and the day lol. It is technically a hard 2:00 but usually parks will start letting people in anywhere from 1:45 on but again depends on the day. As you said worst case you don't get in until a few minutes before 2 and just go right there, even if you're a few minutes late it won't be a problem; believe me we're late often lol.

    I hope your daughter ends up with a good graduation ceremony whatever it may be! Ricky's last year ended up being better than we thought it would be but we parents needed to FIGHT for what we did get. Glad there (should) be more options for this years' graduates!
    Of course this doesn't surprise me (about park opening variations) so we'll just get there as early as we can and be prepared. I know they will hold our reservation so it's all good *IF* that's what we end up doing that day. I'm always open to changing it up depending on how we feel, the weather, and whatever else comes into play.

    Thanks for the kind thoughts about my daughter's ceremony. She HAS decided to "Host" the event and speak in front of all of these people. I'm very proud of her for that. She was given the chance earlier to speak as one of their Summa Cum Laude graduates, but she told me she had no interest in that. Now at least she doesn't have the pressure of coming up with her own speech...she just has to sit on stage the ENTIRE time and speak throughout the ceremony now. She doesn't like being the center of attention but I know she'll do great.

    Thankfully there are less than 60 people in her graduation class so the even usually moves pretty quickly even if they do end up being allowed to walk across the stage. My daughter just had her 2nd covid vax this week so by that time (and by the time we travel to Florida) she will have all the immunity she can get from those two shots so that's good as well. It will be great if they allow a few more people to attend the ceremony as I know her grandfather would LOVE to be able to attend as well. She is the only granddaughter on both sides of our family after all.
     

    kittylady1972

    Disneyholic
    Joined
    Oct 20, 2003
    THE GREAT luggage DEBATE

    So here is our latest situation that I'm trying to work out. Due to us having a ton of credit and it being a very cheap option, we chose to fly out for this trip on Spirit. We've done it before, no big deal, and it's worked out. As most people know, they nickel and dime for everything so you need to be prepared. I did NOT select carry on luggage for any of us. I figure that it's summer so the clothing choices will be lighter anyway, we have a washer/dryer in our room, and if I can pack for 3 nights in my small "carry-on" Spirit sized luggage roller I figured the girls could do the same.

    My daughter is not so optimistic.

    So now what I'm thinking, since I will have to pay $49 each for carry-on luggage ($44 if I want to check a bag...I do not) that I might just pay for 2 bags. My daughter's BFF can bring one for herself and my daughter and I can pack our stuff in another rolling bag and we each get a backpack as well. Even with shelling out that $98 for the luggage, I would have ended up paying about $230 for all 3 RT tickets for us. We are flying home on SWA so bags are free and 2 of those tickets were purchased with SWA points. So we will see how we do with packing and I'll decide how to handle the luggage as we get closer.
     

    kittylady1972

    Disneyholic
    Joined
    Oct 20, 2003
    CH-CH-CH-CHANGES

    So of course I had to revisit our plans this morning. Nobody should be surprised.
    Friday night my lovely awesome friend @angryduck71 was texting me rapid fire with messages like:

    • UNIVERSAL is going maskless
    • DISNEY has increased park capacity...more availability for HS now (the one park we couldn't book before)
    • DISNEY is going maskless
    Over the weekend I briefly talked to my daughter about changing our plans but she didn't seem interested in engaging in that...and then by the time I checked again over the weekend and was contemplating some changes...that availability was gone.

    Fast forward to this morning, where on a whim I checked...and found more availability. And so I've changed my plans. I think we are okay with just HOPPING to EPCOT on any given day (since it is open until 10pm the whole week anyway) so I dropped my Friday park reservation for EPCOT and made one for HS. Now I am not sure if we will try at all for RoTR but we'll see. This also meant dropping a few ADRs that just didn't fit. So here is the update with changes in
    RED:

    MONDAY: We have a flight that leaves around 10:45am. My husband will likely drop all of us off at the airport that day. Arriving at MCO before 1pm (hopefully) we'll pick up our rental car and drive out to Hard Rock Hotel. Once there we will check in, get our Express Passes, and head over to the parks for a while. Still unsure if we'll sleep here for the night or head back to Bay Lake Tower to check in there. I do have a dinner reservation at Toothsome.

    TUESDAY: This is our second Universal Day. We may need to arrive early to try to ride Hagrids at least. Beyond that is just bonus stuff...riding and enjoying our day at the parks. Now we did do a quick trip to these parks LAST March, just for the day, it was me and my daughter and her BFF so she has done a few things here already. Having the Express Passes will enable us to do so much more though. We'll likely call it a day around dinnertime, head to Bay Lake Tower, and I have dinner at The Wave for us.

    WEDNESDAY: Wake up and head over to the Magic Kingdom. We can walk from our resort of course, or catch the monorail. We'll spend all day here for the most part, with lunch planned for Tony's if we are up for it. If not, we'll skip it and take a break at our hotel for a while. I would like to EITHER EPCOT OR HS that evening. We have dinner at La Hacienda OR Brown Derby...we will see how we feel. We can try to to a few things at HS or EPCOT in the last few hours.

    THURSDAY: Our park reservation is at Animal Kingdom, so we'll head there in the morning. Planning to likely have lunch at Satuli. We'll hang for as long as it takes to knock out all the stuff we want to do, then head back to our resort. I do have dinner at The Plaza that night if we want to do that. We could also hop to EPCOT for the last few hours this evening after dinner.

    FRIDAY: Park reservation for EPCOT, HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS. Arrive close to 8:30am. Either knock out ToT and RnRC first thing or hit the TSM area and do the rides there. We'll see how crowds build as that will determine how long we stay. We will take a break in the afternoon at our resort most likely, our last day to enjoy some pool time. That evening we'll have dinner with CHEF MICKEY. Really looking forward to trying this new experience. The menu sounds pretty good. Maybe head to MK that evening or EPCOT (though with the possibility of Friday night local crazies there, maybe we'll stick to MK).

    SATURDAY: Our final day...always a sad one. We have MK in the morning so we'll head there first. We may just spend the entire day here OR we can head to HS in the afternoon for lunch at Brown Derby for SIX of us IF we haven't met up with @angryduck71 by now this is our last chance. We will leave around 3:30pm for the airport to catch our 5:45pm flight back home.

    I dropped two ADRs with this new plan...Via Napoli lunch Friday and Mama Melrose lunch on Thursday. It's okay if I can't book them. They weren't a nigh priority. We can keep trying for maybe Mama Melrose on Friday for lunch but if not I'm down with checking out ABC Commissary based on some recent reviews of their new menu.

    Well it's been a very busy weekend, I'm dealing with some back pain today for some reason, and we have a busy week ahead of us as well. These new maskless rules are interesting so far. Maryland has opened up a lot of stuff to allowing no masks but individual businesses still require them so it's like you arrive at each place and don't know if you need one or now. My daughter is only 1 week past her second shot and both boys get their second VAX next week. It will be really interesting to see how things have changed at the Florida parks in two weeks.

    TWO. WEEKS. TO. GO.



     

    angryduck71

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 9, 2010
    Yay! Tell me again what time you have for lunch at Brown Derby?
    I also emailed you an idea for Thursday night but it might be a pain for you. Or not. LOL. Let me know.
     

    kittylady1972

    Disneyholic
    Joined
    Oct 20, 2003
    SO YOU KNEW THIS WAS COMING RIGHT?

    So if this was your very first trip to Walt Disney World and you were 18 years old...how would you feel about eating inside of the castle?

    I'll admit it's been years since I have eaten in Cinderella's Castle, back when you really had to be on your game to get a reservation there.

    This is about how long it's been:

    576516

    That is my now 18yo daughter in my arms and my 21 year old son standing with Snow White....and this:
    576517
    is my 16yo son. This was back in 2006 with my kids ages 5, 3 and my 18 months old.

    Obviously things have changed a lot since then...in many ways not just the cost. However I found a reservation on our first day at the Magic Kingdom for lunch...and I thought why not? Will I cancel? Perhaps. It's a prepaid meal of course and expensive...but I think a fun surprise. I don't care about characters I just think the experience of eating in the castle is just something fun.

    So I dropped our Tony's Town Square lunch for this...because we've done Tony's before...and of course NO CASTLE.

    Thoughts? I figure I'm okay having NO other table service meals this day but this one. That means dropping La Hacienda or Brown Derby also booked for this day. I think we may end up at EPCOT this evening after MK but who knows. I made La Hacienda for 9:45pm which would mean we could do some late night drinks and snacks there and be done after the park closes. Kinda cool.

    Could this be the last change? Probably not. I'll see what happens next but at this point I'm happy with what I have for now.
     

    reluctantoranges

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Apr 15, 2021
    So if this was your very first trip to Walt Disney World and you were 18 years old...how would you feel about eating inside of the castle?
    I think it really just depends on the person. I think at 18, I would have appreciated it but would have felt a bit self-conscious. But for most of my peers, they would probably not have been interested in a castle experience. I feel like it's a great idea if knowing your kids, you think they will enjoy it and can shed self-consciousness. Without knowing them though, it's hard to say.
     

    kittylady1972

    Disneyholic
    Joined
    Oct 20, 2003
    I think it really just depends on the person. I think at 18, I would have appreciated it but would have felt a bit self-conscious. But for most of my peers, they would probably not have been interested in a castle experience. I feel like it's a great idea if knowing your kids, you think they will enjoy it and can shed self-consciousness. Without knowing them though, it's hard to say.
    Thanks for your thoughts and interesting perspective. I'm curious about what would make somebody feel self-conscious? The fact that you are eating in the castle or the character interactions which I don't believe even exist there any more, but admit I haven't looked into it. I'll have to check out some reviews and see about the details. I figured this was just a very very scaled down experience from it's pre-COVID form and it was just the chance to see inside the castle, which most people don't get to see, and eating there was just a bonus and the food sounds pretty decent albeit expensive.

    Maybe I'll run it by my daughter to get her thoughts after all.
     


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