Just Keep Swimming - a January 2019 TR (updated 4/10)

Discussion in 'Disney Trip Reports' started by cinderaimee, Jan 23, 2019.

  1. cinderaimee

    cinderaimee Mouseketeer

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    Hello friends! This is my second trip report here on the boards and I hope you enjoy it. The last time I visited WDW was in November of 2016 and you can read about that trip here. I also had a PTR for this latest trip here, if you want all the planning details. But for a quick introduction, here's the who, where, when, how and why:

    WHO

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    Me - Aimee, a 30-something government professional living and working in the Washington, DC area, mother of two, commuter extraordinaire, Netflix junkie.

    Favorite park: Magic Kingdom
    Favorite ride: Expedition Everest
    Favorite character: Cinderella
    Favorite snack: popcorn
    Favorite restaurant: 'Ohana

    DH - also a 30-something government professional living and working in the Washington, DC area. Loves fishing and tinkering with his motorcycle.

    Favorite park: Epcot
    Favorite ride: Soarin'
    Favorite character: Goofy
    Favorite snack: churro
    Favorite restaurant: Geyser Point

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    DS1 - six years old, in the first grade. Loves Mario, Minecraft, Legos, cooking and learning piano. My sweet, helpful boy.

    Favorite park: Animal Kingdom
    Favorite ride: Flight of Passage
    Favorite character: Chewbacca
    Favorite snack: Mickey pretzel
    Favorite restaurant: Woody's Lunch Box

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    DS2 - four years old, in preschool. Loves dinosaurs, snakes, bugs, cars, and trains. Full of mischief and energy and is the reason I have to dye my hair.

    Favorite park: Animal Kingdom
    Favorite ride: Seven Dwarves Mine Train
    Favorite character: Chip and Dale
    Favorite snack: popcorn
    Favorite restaurant: anywhere with french fries


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    You will also hear about Fairy Godmother (FG) and her DH - very sweet family friends who own approximately a billion DVC points and gifted us our BRV room. They were actually in Disney at the same time as us, so we shared a few meals with them and spent a lot of time together. FG and her DH spent most of their time relaxing at the resort instead of in the parks.

    WHERE

    A split stay between a preferred room at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort and a one bedroom villa at Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge, with the DDP.

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    WHEN

    January 10-19, 2019 - started out with Marathon Weekend and finished with MLK weekend.

    HOW

    If you read my pre-trip report, my personal goal for this trip was to have it 100% paid for without putting anything on a credit card, since our 2016 trip was really annoying to get paid off after the fact. A big part of this was helped by FG, but between the days we added on at CBR, park tickets and dining plan, we still had a big bill to cover. I didn't want money to come out of our regular budget, so I spent the last 15 months doing freelance closed caption jobs for rev.com in my spare time (I can take out that link if it's not allowed, I get nothing for referring people). I spent hours and hours every night, weekend, and even on my commute and lunch break captioning videos. Even if I only had time to do a small job that only paid a few dollars I would tell myself that $5 would pay for a churro at Disney. I'm telling you all this just to say, even if you have the tightest budget in the world, you can make a Disney trip happen if you work hard enough.

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    WHY

    When we booked this trip, the "why" was more like "why not?" We had so much fun on our last trip and couldn't wait to go back. DH and I both work full time so we don't get a ton of uninterrupted time with the kids and Disney is such a nice change of pace for us. Pretty simple "why", right?

    Well, two months ago, our world was turned upside down. My mom very suddenly and very unexpectedly passed away the week after Thanksgiving. She was my rock, my best friend, someone I talked to every day and helped watch our boys after school. She was a huge presence in my life and losing her was devastating to the whole family.

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    We contemplated cancelling the trip as it didn't feel right to go to such a happy place when we were all still mourning, in addition to the unplanned expenses related to her funeral and travel (she was actually on vacation when she passed, so my sister and I had to fly to Miami and back to deal with all the paperwork down there and bring her home), plus DH and I both burned through a lot of vacation days that we had been banking. But on further reflection, the trip was already mostly paid for. It would be a gigantic waste of money to cancel, and my mom hated wasting money so I know she wouldn't want us to do that. So the trip became a time to heal and find peace and come together with DH and our boys, away from the hustle and bustle of work and school, chores and homework, swim classes and piano classes. We all needed a serious break from the real world, and what better place for that than Disney World?

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    We spent the month of December trying to make sense of losing mom, and just doing everything to get through every day, holding on to each other a little tighter and putting one foot in front of the other, or as a little blue fish would say...

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    I can't promise I'll write this quickly (my 2016 trip was half the length and took me six months to finish, so reader be warned), but I can't wait to share all the details of our trip and hope you all enjoy reading it!
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  2. cinderaimee

    cinderaimee Mouseketeer

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  4. Belle stitch

    Belle stitch Earning My Ears

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    First, let me start by saying how sorry I am about the loss of your mother. I hope your treasured memories will make the healing a slight bit better.
    It is a dream to stay at BRV soon. I can't wait to see more pictures of your room here!
    "Why not" is what I always say to DH when I start planning out a trip.
     
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  5. Malyficent

    Malyficent Mouseketeer

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    Following along. I'm so glad you went ahead with the trip.
     
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  6. TheOneWithTheTriplets

    TheOneWithTheTriplets DIS Veteran

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    Joining in from your PTR. I can't wait to hear how things went.
     
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  7. cinderaimee

    cinderaimee Mouseketeer

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    Thank you for your kind words and for following along!

    Thank you!

    Glad to see you here!
     
  8. cinderaimee

    cinderaimee Mouseketeer

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    Thursday, January 10 - Travel day

    The week leading up to our trip was pretty hectic. I spent the weekend prior cleaning, trying to start packing, finish buying the last few things we needed, and I had my sister's baby shower, which took up most of Sunday. I spent the evenings of the rest of the week finishing laundry and packing. I had been following the weather forecast and saw we were supposed to have some warm days and some cool days, which meant I basically had to pack ALL THE CLOTHES. We were leaving straight after work on Thursday so we needed to have everything packed Wednesday night. I think I finished and got to bed around 2 am.

    I had an 8:30 AM meeting on Thursday, which meant I had to leave my house by 7:00, but it was DISNEY DAY so I had no problem getting up and out on time. My day at work was actually so busy that it went really fast. I had meetings until about 11, and I was planning to leave at 2:00 but had a big pile of files I had to hand over to my coworker who would be covering for me, so I was at my desk finishing those files all day, I didn't even take a lunch break.

    Around noon I got this text and started to freak out:

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    OKAY DISNEY WORLD, I AM COMING!

    I took a quick minute to look up on touring plans where my room was and was super excited that it was really close to Old Port Royale and not so excited that it had a lovely view of the parking lot, but whatever my room is ready and tonight I will be sleeping in Disney World!

    But first I had to finish up my stack of files. I finally handed them to my coworker at almost 2:00 on the dot and by time I finished setting up my out of office things and checking in with the boss and saying bye to everyone, it was about 2:30 when I walked out and was officially on vacation!

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    DH had originally planned to telework this day but ended up going down to his office because he wanted to talk to someone in person about a project he was on. He signed out of work at almost the same time as I did, but because he has a much shorter commute (about 20 minutes compared to my 60-90 minute commute), he had the kids picked up and home before I got there.

    The night before, I had set out all the things the kids wanted in their carry-ons, so they just had to take their school things out of their backpacks and then pack up for the plane, which only took a few minutes. We all changed clothes, DH put the bags in the car and we were on the road!

    I wanted to be out the door by 4:30, and we left almost exactly on time. The airport is usually about a 45 minute drive away from our house, but with DC-area traffic being pretty unpredictable, combined with news reports of long TSA lines because of the government shutdown, I wanted to make sure we made it to the airport in plenty of time. There was no traffic at all and I took this picture to remember where we parked at 5:19, so it took us almost exactly 45 minutes to get there.

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    We took the parking shuttle to the terminal, got our boarding passes and checked our bags pretty quickly, and made it over to the security line, which was a breeze, and we were at our gate by 6:00. We were all hungry at this point (neither DH or I had eaten all day), so we found the little airport food court and had dinner, which was actually pretty good. DH and DS1 wanted Subway, and DS2 and I had pizza.

    Once we were finished eating, we still had about an hour before boarding, so we found some seats and the kids colored and played with toys for a bit and DH and I took turns walking around with DS2. I learned my lesson on the last trip - iPads don't come out until we're on the plane. Last time, DS2 was tired of watching the iPad by time we got on the plane and it was a miserable flight home.

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    Our flight boarded right on time and since we were flying Southwest, we boarded with family boarding and got a row all together.

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    The flight was fine and we landed ahead of schedule, just before 10:00. I thought the kids might fall asleep on the plane since 8:00 is their normal bedtime, but we were all too excited.

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    We went downstairs to get our luggage, then back upstairs and over to DME and we were so excited by all things Disney in the airport!

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    There were no lines for the buses this late in the evening and we were sent right over to our bus and boarded a half-full bus around 10:40.

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    And then we sat and sat and sat, I think until after 11:00. Finally we were on our way, first stopping at Art of Animation, the Pop Century and finally, finally Caribbean Beach Resort!

    The kids fell asleep on the bus, so we had to get them moving again and get all the bags together and figure out exactly where the heck we were going. I had planned to go to bell services in the morning to pick up our rental stroller, but we were dropped off literally in front of their window, so we got the stroller and the girls working there were super nice and gave us directions to our building, which was literally around the corner. We were into our room just before midnight.

    I'm a bad TR writer here because I did not take any pictures of our room! I was just overwhelmed and so tired at this point. So here are just a couple of random pictures that DH snapped:

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    My first impression of the CBR room was that it was much, much smaller than I was expecting. There was nowhere to really unpack or put the suitcases, which was kind of annoying. But none of that mattered, we were finally here! We were all in bed and asleep in no time. Tomorrow we're going to Animal Kingdom!
     
  9. TheOneWithTheTriplets

    TheOneWithTheTriplets DIS Veteran

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    I'm not sure I could work on a travel day- I'd just be so distracted the whole time! Good for you for hunkering down and getting everything done before you had to jet (literally).
     
  10. Cloe Colton

    Cloe Colton DIS Veteran

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    Joining in! Its funny how fast a work day before a trip to Disney flies by! I usually get all of nothing done because I just can't concentrate! haha

    I'm glad your travels went so smooth though!
     
  11. TNGirlwCamera

    TNGirlwCamera Mouseketeer

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    I'm so sorry about the loss of your mom. Your boys are adorable. Look forward to the rest of your report.
     
  12. Brocoloco

    Brocoloco Earning My Ears

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    What a terrific family. So sorry about your mom.
     
  13. cinderaimee

    cinderaimee Mouseketeer

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    It was a great distraction!

    Thanks! So glad to see you here!

    Thank you so much <3

    Thank you <3
     
  14. ariane37

    ariane37 Dis veteran

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    Aimee I am so very sorry about your mom. There really isn't anything I can say that you haven't already heard a million times. Feb 12th will be 20 year since I lost my dad. Let yourself grieve and process as you need to.
    I think going to Disney was definitely the right decision :) As weird and wrong as it can feel, life continues for us.

    Can't wait to hear what you thought when you got to BRV! WL is my absolute #1 favorite resort and we've also stayed on the CCV side but not BR. Oh, and we arrived in Disney on the 19th when you left!
     
  15. Terra Nova guy

    Terra Nova guy DIS Dad #811 Newfoundland, Canada

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    Joining in!

    I'm looking forward to reading about your resort stays, especially Boulder Ridge. Wilderness Lodge is my "wish list" resort. I should really look into renting DVC points to see if it would be affordable for me.

    I stayed at Caribbean Beach in building 33. I found it good and still fairly close to the main building. But that was years ago before the room refurb and all the construction. After staying at ASMu last summer, I can't say I found the moderate room size that much better for storing bags. I did appreciate the double sinks, that's one thing I really missed at the value resort.

    Sorry to hear about your mom. I'm sure it was a difficult decision but the right thing to do.
     
  16. cinderaimee

    cinderaimee Mouseketeer

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    Thank you, glad to see you here! <3

    Thanks for following along! We did enjoy the double sinks at CBR, especially since we don't even have those at home and share one small full bath, so that was nice to have!
     
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  17. cinderaimee

    cinderaimee Mouseketeer

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    Friday, January 11 - Animal Kingdom - Part 1

    Our first FP was scheduled for 10:55 since I knew it would be a late night, I didn't want us to feel like we had to rush to wake up and get out. I woke up first and got ready for the day, then gradually H and the kids got up too. We decided to have breakfast at the resort before heading out, so we went over to Centertown Market, picked up our resort mugs and used 3 QS credits to order two breakfast platters and an order of Mickey waffles to share. We chose bottled water for our drinks and stuck them in our park bag for later.

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    The only thing DS2 would eat off any these plates is scrambled eggs and bacon, so that's why we just shared.

    I really loved Centertown Market, and the whole Old Port Royale building. It was so nice and new and colorful and there was plenty of space and tables. They were still decorated for Christmas, which was kind of silly to me, but oh well.

    After we ate, we dropped the resort mugs off in our room and grabbed the stroller and were on our way to Animal Kingdom. Even though our room felt small and had a parking lot view, we were literally across a small parking lot from the Old Port Royale bus stop, which is the first stop for park buses. It was a major improvement from the looooong walk out to the Boardwalk bus stop on our 2016 trip.

    We boarded the bus around 10:10 and after watching so many Tim Tracker videos with me, DS1 had to get the King of the Bus seat.

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    After making the other island stops, we got to Animal Kingdom at about 10:30.

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    Yay..... Christmas decorations.

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    Did no one at Disney get the memo I planned a January trip to avoid all the Christmas fuss?

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    We tried to do some Photopass pictures in front of the entrance and DS1 was not feeling it, so the photographer had him do this fun magic shot and he cheered up.

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    Just waiting in line for these pictures we had a bit of a moment with some fun park guests. There were two parties ahead of us in line to take pictures and when the photographer finished with one group and turned around to call the next one up, this whole group of international tourists like literally jumped in the picture spot and started having their own photo shoot. o_O


    Then, when we're next in line, two ladies on scooters and an older man come right up to the side of the family having their picture taken and get up so they can go next. I very nicely point out that there's a line here, and they're all OOHHHH and walk to the back of the line, leaving their scooters in the frame of the picture.

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    Anyway, we got through the tapstiles went through the path at the right and ran into DeVine doing her thing, which was really cool to see.


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    We stopped for a Photopass picture in front of the Tree of Life and the photographer here was so funny, really a great start to our day.

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    This was a gorgeous day, with blue skies and temps in the 70's, no humidity at all.

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    Our first FP was for Dinosaur, and we were inside the window so we headed up that way.

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    My kids love dinosaurs so I figured they would love this ride, but nope, they did not think it was a good time and requested to never ride it again.

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    Whoops!

    Really, off to a great start here, although I will say when I'm driving the car, the kids will scream in the backseat "We're not gonna make it! We're not gonna make it!" and laugh hysterically, so I guess they have a positive memory in there somewhere.

    Our next stop was Triceratops Spin since we thought they needed something a little less terrifying, t
    hen we had a bathroom break and I changed the boys into shorts since it had warmed up a lot and then we made our way up to the Finding Nemo theater for the 12:00 show and were able to walk right in without waiting in line, so that was good timing.

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    We missed this show on our last trip and I thought it was so well done and the kids liked it a lot!

    Up next: if they thought Dinosaur was scary, I am sure they will LOVE Everest!
     
  18. TNickell27

    TNickell27 If they had Butterbeer at Epcot, I'd never leave.

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    I'm so sorry about the loss of your mother! I lost my father suddenly and unexpectedly 5 months ago, so i can completely empathize. I have a Disney trip planned in February so that I can escape reality while i'm adjusting to my new normal. Love your trip report so far. I'm excited to read the rest!
     
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  19. sheri18

    sheri18 Mouseketeer

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    Joining in....sorry about the loss of your mom...we were there the same time...I just started my TR too...will most likely take me forever...

    now..you didn't care for the Christmas decorations...and I was thrilled to get to see them...I had never had the chance too...and thought I might never get to ..so it was like a bonus...and then a few days later...boom...they were gone...(hoe do they do that)...can't wait to read the rest...we had the same experience on dinosaur with ours too.
     
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  20. Cloe Colton

    Cloe Colton DIS Veteran

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    OMG I had terrible luck/experiences with rude people for photopass on my trip in October too! Its getting so bad!

    I also agree that the Christmas decorations were left up a bit too long this year...

    Omg that is too funny that they didn't like Dinosaur, like you said they must have had some fun to be quoting it!
     
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  21. cinderaimee

    cinderaimee Mouseketeer

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    Thank you so much. I'm so sorry about your dad. It's so hard to lose a parent.

    Thanks for joining in! It's honestly not the Christmas decorations that really bother me, it's the Christmas MUSIC that I just had enough of. I want my Disney music!

    Dinosaur was down for renovation on our last trip, so I hadn't been on it since 2001 or so and I honestly didn't remember it being quite so dark. Oh well, as you'll find out, this is far from the last ride I drag my kids on that they hate :teeth:

    Thanks! I just don't understand how people don't see the photographer or the line. I can't wait until the photographers are replaced with a box, that will be just great. :scared:
     
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