Disney July 2021

July 2021 Disney Trip

    This will be our first trip since Covid hit last year. The pandemic caused us to cancel plans three times, July 2020, Oct 2020 then Feb 2021. There will be a total of 16 of us on this trip, but not all the time.

    It will start with eight on Wednesday; Joan, Rich, Tim, Marissa, Maddie, Liam, Kelli and myself. Lauren, Mike, Hunter and Mikey will arrive first thing Thursday morning and Kevin, Caitlin, Dylan and Hannah will join us at the park mid Thursday morning.

Tue, July 20, 2021

    On Tuesday both Kelli and I took the day off to pack and to drop off our parakeet, Wisper off at my sister’s house. It was great to see Jeanette and Anthony in person after over a year of not seeing them.

Wed, July 21, 2021

    Our JetBlue flight 1099 was scheduled to depart at 6:00 AM. We were up at 2:15 to drive over to Rich and Joan’s house by 3:15. Tim, Marissa, Maddie, Liam also met there to take one large van to LaGuardia. JetBlue still flies out of Terminal A (the old Marine Air Terminal); a separate terminal from the main area. This makes it easy to get there, check-in and get through security.

    We arrived at LGA just before 4 AM and had to wait for them to open up the terminal. We used the QR code on our JetBlue phone app to quickly print our luggage tags. We were all at the gate by 4:40 AM

    Kelli and I had purchased Even More Space, Even More Speed and we were one of the first people on the plane. Our plane’s name was Hopelessly Devoted to Blue.

    We took off on time. I watched Godzilla vs Kong. It was just an Ok movie.

    We landed early, about 8:15 AM. Kelli and I always play a game to guess what species of bird we will see first. She guessed Great Egret and I the White Ibis. As the plane made its way to the gate, we spotted Eastern Kingbirds, Little Blue Heron, Great Blue Heron. But not the birds we picked.

    After deplaning we heard that Marissa may have injured her ear drum.

    I spotted a JetBlue plane whose name was Do Be Do Be Blue. On the tram over to the main terminal we spotted over 25 Wood Storks in the pond, finally followed by our egrets and ibises.

    Marissa had arranged a car service (Pegasus Professional Transportation) over to Old Key West. The van picked us up right outside our luggage carousel and we arrived at the resort at 9:30 AM. Marissa set up an appointment with a medical service and they will come by once our room is ready.

    Our villa wasn’t ready so after repacking our backpacks, we all stored our luggage with bell services.

    We then hopped on a bus and were at the Magic Kingdom by 10:30 AM. We briefly stopped to see the Magic Kingdom Cavalcade passing through the hub with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Daisy before heading to Tomorrowland.

    Tim, Marissa, Maddie and Rich went to ride Space Mountain. Joan, Liam, Kelli and I rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover with a 15-minute wait. A service dog boarded with his people on a car in front of us. We got a good look at the new Tron coaster being finished.

    Next was Carousel of Progress followed by lunch with everyone at Cosmic Rays. We had to wait in the heat and humidity about 15 minutes to be let in. Kelli and I split the Chicken Fingers, two Cheshire Cat Tails and Diet coke for $26.59. We both loved the cat tails.



    The kids wanted to ride the Barnstormer coaster. We headed over with them, but the heat was getting to Kelli, so after a few pictures of the Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station, we headed out. We shopped Main Street and Kelli purchased Groot of Guardians of the Galaxy, who sits on your shoulder.

    We saw Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Daisy on the Train Station as we exited the park.

    The bus back to the resort took only 12 minutes to the Hospitality House. We stayed on the bus to tour the resort. It took another 19 minutes to cycle back to the Hospitality House as the bus stopped at the Peninsular Road, Turtle Pond, South Point and Miller's Road bus stops.

    We shopped in Conch Flats General Store, checked out the Gurgling Suitcase bar and Goods To Go, the resort’s very small counter service. The others arrived back around 3. Most walked to our villa in building 30. Kelli, Madeline and I were going to take the resort bus, but then there was room on the stretch golf cart with Rich taking all the luggage over. So, we hopped on. BUT they also loaded it up with our huge food order for the week, some 20-30 grocery bags plus cases of water! So Rich wound up walking to the villa.

    At the resort Marissa was having her ear tended too. We put away the groceries while the kids watched some Mickey cartoons.



    We walked over to Olivias for our 5:20 pm ADR. I started with a Turtle Krawl - white rum, coconut rum, and spiced rum with grenadine, pineapple, orange, and key lime Juices.

    The two appetizers were; Crab Cake - pan-seared and served with jalapeño aïoli sauce, grilled pineapple salsa, and chayote slaw and Conch Fritters - served with key lime-mustard and rémoulade. Maddie tried a conch fritter and liked it.


    For entrees I had the Caesar Salad with Shrimp and Kelli had the Southernmost Buttermilk Chicken with mashed potatoes, southern gravy, biscuit, and vegetables. Our bill came out to $ 97.68 with tip and DVC discount. Joan also enjoyed the chicken entrée while Rich had the - Cayo Hueso Shrimp Pasta with sautéed shrimp, zucchini, yellow squash, grape tomato, and spinach tossed with penne pasta and pesto cream sauce. Liam slept thru dinner. The day was too much for him.

    We all then hit the main pool. Liam slept thru that as well. The water was just cool enough to be quite enjoyable after a long day of travel and park rides. I liked that the resort had table games set up outside for resort guests to enjoy.

    Back at the resort Kelli slept on the pull-out chair and I just slept on the sofa without pulling it out to a bed. We were so tired we slept well.


Thursday, July 22, 2021

    I was up early at 5:40; just after Marissa left for her morning run. I took a picture of the hidden Mickey on the stove top. We all ate breakfast in the villa.

    Our plan is to get the first bus to Hollywood Studios. We did try to sign in for Rise of the Resistance but each of us failed before the virtual queue was filled.

    We got the bus for Disney's Hollywood Studios at 7:30 AM and entered the park at 8:15. Then waited at the entrance to Mickey’s and Minnie’s Runaway Train for rope drop at 8:30 AM. While waiting Hunter was cute. She looks at Joan’s magic band that said Disney Mom and said, “You’re not a mom!” Not knowing that a grandma is also a mom. We were let in online at 8:30. The preshow surprised all of us. Everyone loved this new ride.

    We walked over to Toy Story Mania! The line for Slinky Dog Dash coaster started well before Disney’s One Man’s Dream. Inside the queue for Toy Story, Mr. Potato Head was quiet. We did get to hear him later. We had good scores with Kelli scoring 96,700 and 124,800 for me. Next was a fun ride on Alien Swirling Saucers. The group split up with most headed to Slinky Dog Dash.




    Kelli and I were looking forward to trying the Seasonal Lunch Box Tart at Woody’s Lunch Box. We did the mobile ordering and it was ready very quickly. It was raspberry and was as good as it looks. We also brought some Babybel cheeses for a snack.


    We shopped at the Beverly Sunset Boutique and the other stores. Kelli spotted a cute dress but passed on it, once out of the store we decided she should try it on as it may not be there next time. Glad we did. She tried it on, and it just didn’t flow right. It was good to know so we wouldn’t have any doubts later.

    We met Kevin, Caitlin, Dylan and Hannah at the park entrance, with Joan and Rich. Mickey was on a building veranda nearby saying hello to the crowd below. Madeline and Hunter headed back with their parents for a princess makeover back at the resort.

    The rest of us headed to Toy Story Mania! We rode but the ride broke down just as we finished playing all the games. The lights came on. We waited a while to get evacuated off the ride. They offered some fast passes that were only good for the day. We passed since we were all heading out shortly but not before riding Mickey’s and Minnie’s Runaway train again with Kevin, Caitlin and their kids. The ride had a few glitches, stopping very briefly, but it was still fun.

    Back at the resort, we found the girls finishing their princess make overs. We all ate lunch in the villa.

    We were all planning to eat at Be Our Guest at the Magic Kingdom for dinner, but Kelli was wiped from the heat, so we passed. Kelli stayed and rested at the resort while I later went to Epcot for a quick look at the Food and Wine Festival.

    The princesses took a few pictures in front of Cinderella’s castle before heading onto dinner.

    There everyone enjoyed:  Herb-salted Pork Tenderloin, Vadouvan Spiced Vegetables, Center-cut Filet Mignon, Pan-seared Sea Scallops or Poulet Rouge Chicken. The Dessert Trio consisted of Lemon Jam Macaron, White Chocolate "Chip" Cup with Grey Stuff and Crisp Pearls and Dark Chocolate Truffle.

    I headed to Epcot at 4:30; Pluto and Goofy were greeting guests just inside. It was brutally hot and humid. I needed to step into the Nemo ride exit to cool off, then the new bathrooms on way to Showcase. I did see a cool butterfly, called an Atala (Eumaeus atala). This is an endangered Florida butterfly thought to be “probably extinct” in the 1950’s. But it survived and has recently been making a wonderful comeback.

    My first stop for Food and Wine was at Australia. I had the Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp. Very delicious.

    I caught my first look at the Stargate SG-1. I know it will be a water feature for the future nighttime show but come on – it’s the stargate!

    At the Swanky Saucy Swine, I had to try the Crispy Pig Ear Salad while a raggedy Fish Crow eyed my meal. The pig ears were thin crispy fried strips that gave a crunch in the salad, but didn't seem to have much flavor. The salad tasted wonderful containing fire roasted tomatillo Sauce, pickled red onions, queso fresco, roasted corn salsa, and avocado cream.

    I needed more relief from the heat, so I entered the Mexico Pavilion. I’m so glad I did since I got to see “Remember Me!” – La Celebración del Día de Muertos, an exhibit that captures the beauty and spirit of the Day of the Dead holiday. One of the most important events on the country’s calendar, the celebration honors the dearly departed with parades, elaborate costumes and vibrant arts and crafts.

    The gallery included intricately cut pieces of papel picado as well as calaveras, or decorative skulls made of sugar. In the middle of it all was the iconic sculpture Bridal Couple. Off to the side there was a place to digitally design your own Dia de Los Muertos Skeleton.

    Back outside I finished my dinner at the Mexico Kiosk with a:
Taco de Ribeye – ribeye, red onions, and poplano peppers on a corn tortilla with ranchera salsa, cotija cheese and chives and a
El Tigre Margarita – Ojo de tigre Mezcal with pomegranate, prickly pear, pineapple , and ginger juices with a hibiscus salt rim.

    I also purchased and brought back a Capirotada de Chocolate – an Abuelita chocolate bread pudding with chocolate crème anglaise to share with Kelli.

    On my way to the front I stopped at the Odyssey Center. Inside I found The Epcot Experience. It has some exhibits that showcase the relentless innovation, energy and excitement driving the park’s unprecedented evolution! There were some photo opportunities here as well.


    After exiting Epcot and on the way to the resort buses; I found out where the refurbished Leave a Legacy exhibit was. Kelli and I will have to look for her and her mom’s picture when we return in October.

    Meanwhile Kelli had fun positioning and photographing some of the stuffed toys back at the resort for all of us to see.

Fri, July 23, 2021

    We left for the bus stop at 7 AM and caught a Magic Kingdom bus right away. But all the buses were held just before the Magic Kingdom bus station. We sat motionless for 10 minutes till 8 AM before the driver pulled into a stop to let us off. We even had to wait momentarily for security to open up. We were waiting for Fantasy Land to open by 8:25, but they did not do rope drop till 9. It got crowded behind us! So much for social distancing. While waiting, I was staring at the ground, and I noticed that Disney even grounds the small metal fences against lightning strikes.


    We also noticed that Disney put up the 50th anniversary symbol on the castle overnight. It looked great in the morning sun.

    Some of us headed straight to the Mine Train. Kelli and Joan took Dylan and Hannah on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel then, it’s a small world. Dylan did not like Pooh or the first part of it’s a small world.


    I met up with them and did the Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room as the others headed for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Dylan enjoyed and danced to the songs in the Tiki Room.


    Next was Peter Pan’s Flight. After that we left the group and headed towards the exit through the castle. We saw the barber shop quartet on a moving trolley as they came down main street.

    I’ve been taking pictures of all the different overlays on the Disney buses. A bus featuring Loki came by. Once we were on our bus; Kelli took this awesome photo of Loki looking into our bus.


    Inside the park half of our group had a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean.

    Back at the resort we quickly ate lunch then walked to nearby Turtle Shack Pool. We sat down on one of the covered picnic tables and ordered a Pina Colada and two chocolate chip cookies from the Turtle Shack. Great cookies! A few of the others joined us later. After a refreshing swim and showers, we headed back to the Magic Kingdom at 4 PM.

    We lucked into a Cavalcade with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Daisy on a double decker bus. The group took some pictures on Main Street


    Kelli and I did a quick picture on Main Street and then a quick selfie at the purple wall on the way to ride Buzz Lightyear before our dinner.


    All of us enjoyed the Liberty Tree Tavern on two different reservations. We all enjoyed this All-You-Care-to-Enjoy Bill of Fare. I also had a BluePoint Lager. Food consisted of Declaration Salad and Patriot's Platter. On the platter was roasted turkey breast, pot roast, and oven-roasted pork with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, herb stuffing, and house-made macaroni and cheese. Everything was good and I was surprised on how much I liked the pot roast, something I am not too keen on. Dessert was a delicious Oooey Gooey Toffee Cake - vanilla toffee cake, chocolate sauce, and vanilla ice cream. Cost for Kelli and me was $109.56.

    After dinner our group split up with half riding Pirates and some the Haunted Mansion.


    Kelli and I followed this by Jungle Cruise. The wait time said 60 but we were on the line and off the boat in 32 minutes! We saw some of the new and refurbished scenes.

    We were tired so we staked out a spot in front of the flagpole at the base of Main Street for the Happily Ever After fireworks show. We had some ground to sit down on and a fence to sit or lean against. Kelli and I enjoyed people watching and relaxing for the 50-minute wait. We did see someone get engaged near us.

    We let people know where we were and that there was some room still available. Tim, Marissa, Maddie and Liam made it to our spot 10 minutes before the show began. Marissa took Maddie into the Emporium to get her Tinkerbell light-up wings and a Mickey bubble wand for Liam. They made it back just before the fireworks. Both Liam and Maddie had big smiles.

    Kelli and I did see this new firework show two years ago but preferred the old Wishes. This time we were able to hear the music better, since we were away from the booms of the big shells. We enjoyed it much more this time. Happily Ever After will stop on September 30 for a new 50th anniversary fireworks show.

Tinkerbell Flies!

    Liam wanted to sit next to me on the bus back to the resort. But quickly passed out next to me. At least he made it to see the fireworks.


Sat, July 24, 2021

    We got a later start than we wanted and arrived at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park at 7:30am.

    The line was already long for Avatar Flight of Passage. It took 45 minutes to get to the floating mountains, and another 40 minutes to get on the ride.

    In the meantime – Kelli, Joan and kids went on Na'vi River Journey ride, we met them later across from Everest at the top of the stadium seating at 9:30.

    They saw a few boats pass by with characters like Pocahontas and the drummers who usually play near the Tamu Tamu restaurant. I did get to see Simon and Rafiki motor by.

    Everyone then went on Kilimajaro Safaris. Plenty of animals were out, but not the lions.



    The group split up. Hunter, Mikey, Maddie, and Liam went to sign up for Wilderness Explorers with their parents and will meet us at Rafiki's Planet Watch. The rest of us took the Wildlife Express Train to the Planet Watch. Kelli and Joan relaxed at the train station while others went to the Affection Section and Conservation Station where they watch some veterinary care on an injured opossum.

    I also headed to Conservation Station but at a slower pace and saw the Animation Experience at Conservation Station in progress. Kelli and I will try for that in October. The restrooms had wildlife questions in front of the urinals, for the answers you had to go wash your hands.

    As we were waiting for the train to go back. The other group comes in on the train. They continued on to do more Wilderness Explorers stations.

    Lunch was at Flame Tree Barbecue. Caitlin and I used the mobile ordering app to preorder while we walked over. Worked great!  I had a Mandarin Orange Vodka Lemonade featuring Skyy mandarin orange vodka and lemon zest.  Kelli had the Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich with coleslaw and signature baked beans plus an Onion Ring Basket and Cornbread. I had the St. Louis Rib Dinner with Beans and Coleslaw. We split a Tiger Tail Cupcake -cinnamon cake with vanilla buttercream icing and apple-pie filling. I loved the cupcake, Kelli was disappointed. It was a lot of food, so we took leftovers back to the resort.

    In the meantime, Maddie and Hunter had their first ride on Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden mountain. Asked about how the ride was and if they wanted to do it again – Nope. A little too scary.

    Kelli, Joan and I shopped our way out, stopping in both Island Mercantile and Discovery Trading Company, but did not buy much. Kelli and I agree that there still seems to be a lack of unique merchandise.

    We relaxed back at the resort for the afternoon. Dinner was in Disney Springs at Ragland Road. Joan and Kelli first stopped at Vera Bradley where they brought some deeply discounted Disney/Vera Bradley masks. At the time I thought it was a waste of money. Little did I know the US was in for another surge of Covid, mainly in the unvaccinated population.

    We had two reservations. Some of us were seated in the back room and the others were in the main room at the side of the main stage. Kevin, Rich and I had beer flights. Mine was called the Raglan Road Signature Collection - Raglan Irish Stout, Bloomsday Pale Ale, Tri Wishes Grand Irish Red Ale, and De Cider Belgian Witte Cider. I enjoyed the stout the most.

    Kelli and I shared the Whiskey BBQ Lollipop Chicken appetizer - chicken lollipops with roasted corn and bacon crumble. I had the Drunk Mussels - in a Bloomsday pale ale, white wine and garlic broth, with skinny chips & garlic aioli. I counted over 40 mussels. Kelli wanted the Join our Club sandwich, but it came on a multigrain bread. Our waiter was inexperienced and did not know what type of seeds it may contain, so Kelli asked for a different bread. Our waiter lied to us and said there was no other bread (just lazy I guess). So, she ordered the Worth the Wait Beef Sandwich with sautéed mushrooms, crispy onions, garlic aïoli and smoked cheddar and that came on a ciabatta!  Rich had a huge rack of ribs with a reduced red wine jus with colcannon mashed potatoes. The servers brought out the kid’s meals first, so that the parents could help them eat first before getting their meals.  The best part of the meal was the lollipop chicken.

    We were too full for dessert. Our bill with the 10% DVC discount was $79.29 before tip. We watched some Irish dancers before leaving.


    We all split up to shop Disney Springs. There were new Star Wars Legos out front. There was no wait into the Disney Store. It was a bit crowded and sure enough, I came down with a sore throat later in the vacation. Viruses are back! Fortunately, it was a typical summer cold which had started to go around.

    We stopped at Sprinkles for some cupcakes for later, vanilla milk chocolate, triple cinnamon, black and white and salty caramel. We headed back to the resort at 7:30 pm.


Sun, July 25, 2021

    We slept in a bit since Epcot opens late, 11 AM. The park will let resort guests in early and usually rope drop is 30 minutes prior to opening. We were waiting in line to enter park at 10:10 am.

    We first did Soarin’, Kevin and Caitlin were doing child swap. Once off the ride I saw the wait was still short, so I headed on the regular line again and met the child swap group, Caitlin, Maddie, Marissa and Kelli at the merge point to go into the same theater.

    Kelli and I split from the group to ride Living with the Land. No cucumbers were harmed or stolen during the ride. (Cucumber Thief) Once upstairs we saw Chip at the Garden Grill Restaurant entertaining patrons.


    We saw the new movie Awesome Planet. Certainly worth seeing at least once.

    We headed to the Imagination Pavilion and found Pooh in the grass trying to catch butterflies. We also found our group nearby taking a break.


    We rode Figment (some of the group followed in behind us) and visited the DVC lounge for a quick refreshment and some Oreo cookies.

    We headed toward the World Showcase and met the group again near the Starbucks.

    We brought two cards for the Remy’s Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt and started to look for him and taste some food.

    At Australia, Kelli and I shared:  
    Roasted Lamb Chop – with sweet potato puree, bush berry pea salad and pistachio-pomegranate gremolata – best dish of the Food and Wine
    Deconstructed Pavlova – with pastry cream, citrus-macerated berries and lemon myrtle meringue.


    In England we took a look at the shops and in an impromptu decision we decided to head out the back way into the gardens and ran into (from afar) Mary Poppins. We exchanged greeting and she posed for a few pictures. We texted everyone else that “Mary Poppins is out in England” Auto correct made it “Mary popping out in England”. People wanted to know what parts?

    In France we tried the: 
    Beignet aux Trois Fromages: warm beignet filled with three cheeses, 
    Croissant aux Escargots: escargot croissant with garlic and parsley, 
    Crème Brûlée au Grand Marnier: vanilla crème brûlée with Grand Marnier liqueur, and a 
    La Passion Martini Slushy: vodka, Grey Goose le citron vodka, cranberry, and passion fruit juice. I really liked the beignet. Kelli didn’t care for the sweet and savory combination. We both thought that the added Grand Marnier took away from the crème brûlée.

    We found out that the France theater switches from Impressions de France to Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along during the day. So, we sang along. We also noticed the entrance to the new Ratatouille ride coming in September.

    We stopped in the Moroccan Pavilion and looked at the exhibit called “Race Against the Sun” It showcases two incredible modern-day competitions. One is Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sands) and the other is Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc (Rally of the Gazelles), a women’s only car race. The exhibit also showcases the rich history of the ancient inhabitants of the Sahara, the Berbers.

    We stopped into the American Pavilion for some AC. The American Adventure started in a few minutes, so we took in that.

    We stopped at the Funnel Cakes kiosk for their special Food and Wine Mini Candied Bacon-S’mores Funnel Cake, topped with vanilla ice-cream. It was OK, not as delicious as we hope for.

    A horse drawn trolley was making its way toward us, inside were four Disney princesses.

    At the Hops & Barley kiosk we tried the: New England Lobster Roll, lobster with herb mayonnaise on a griddled roll; and the Hot Beef Sandwich with horseradish cream and pickled vegetables. We both enjoyed these as we listened to the Voices of Liberty in the America Gardens Bandstand.

    At the Italy Food and Wine kiosk we tried the Bomboloni: cream-filled Italian doughnut with raspberry sauce and powdered sugar and an Italian Margarita with tequila and limoncello. The margarita tasted like lemonade, quite good and refreshing in the hot weather.

    In Germany I had to try the Schöfferhofer Wild Cherry Hefeweizen, Mainz. It had a great sweet cherry flavor. I’m not sure if it’s a beer or dessert. I wished I had gotten the larger pour.

    In the meantime, the others really enjoyed their ride of Frozen Ever After. Just look at those smiles!

    After finishing up the show case we headed out and discovered the Flavors from Fire kiosk and ordered: 
The Corned Beef Corner Route: smoked corned beef with crispy potatoes, cheese curds, pickled onions, and beer-cheese fondue; 
The Chimichurri-up Offense: charred chimichurri steak on a smoked corn cake with pickled vegetable slaw and cilantro aioli; and the 
The S’mores Whoopie Pie-lon: smoked chocolate cake, graham cracker, marshmallow, chocolate ganache, and candied bacon. We both loved the whoopie pie and the steak.

    Total cost of lunch, dinner and drinks all at the F&W kiosks was $101.00. Cheaper than a counter service lunch and a sit-down dinner meal.

    Before leaving we found a Photopass photographer and took some magic shots in front of Spaceship Earth.


Mine! Mine! Mine!




    We were out of the park and on a bus by 7 pm

    The others enjoyed dinner at the Biergarten.


    Back at the resort it was more relaxing pool time in the main pool.


Mon, July 26, 2021


    The whole group was at the bus stop early at 7:15 AM. And we waited and waited for a bus. At 8 the bus wait time board shows a bus imminent at our stop but nothing arrived, then the sign shows no bus arrival times for another 25 minutes. The sign then says a bus is here, but nothing arrives, and the wait time goes blank again. Both Tim and Rich call Disney to complain and try to get a bus sent over. The CM talking to Tim, first claims that buses don’t start till 8, which is an outright lie since we got on a Hollywood Studio bus at 7:30 four days ago. Then he claims buses have been stopping at our stop, another CM lie. The CM then hangs up on him! Finally, a bus shows up at 8:35. An hour and twenty-minute wait for the bus! We will not make rope drop and will be way back in the pack to get to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

    We got our first look at the new land, Star Wars: Galaxy Edge featuring the Black Spire Outpost. It was awesome. Tim, Marissa, Madeline, Liam and I get in line for Smugglers run and now have a 45-minute wait to get to the preshow.




    Thank god the area and the queue are amazing with detail. A guy next to us points out the mini Millennium Falcon hidden beneath the huge one we are standing next to.

    The next shock is finding Disney selling water and soda half-way through the queue at inflated prices! Bob Cheapskate (Chapek) is price gouging on the Smugglers Run queue selling water and soda up to $6. It is a couple of dollars cheaper anywhere else in the Disney parks!

    The inside of the “Millennium Falcon” looks so real. Tim and Madeline pilot the ship, Marissa and Liam are gunners, and I and a single rider girl are the engineers. The ride feels real as well. Well done Disney Imagineers!


Dejarik or holographic chess board game table on the Millennium Falcon


We are off the ride at 10:20 and I split from this group to meet up with Kelli, but not before taking some more pictures of the Black Spire Outpost on the way out.

Kelli, Rich, Joan, Kevin, Caitlin, Dylan and Hannah did Muppets Vision 3D and I met them at Mickey’s and Minnie’s Runaway Railway for another ride on that. Next was the Frozen Sing-along.

I found the Eddie Valiant Private Investigator window (from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) above the Hollywood and Vine restaurant.


Kelli and I were hot so headed back to the resort at noon for lunch.

I ate my leftover ribs, beans and cornbread and watched some of the Olympics. We did see Kate Douglas, from Pelham NY win her heat in the 200-meter individual medley. She eventually won the Bronze medal the next day. I also went online and see Florida Covid numbers spiking. (It will get way worse than this in the next number of weeks).

In the meantime, the others enjoyed rides on Slinky Dog Dash.


    We headed back to Hollywood Studios at 4:20 for our group dinner at the Hollywood and Vine Character Dining.

    Inside the entrance to the park we saw Daisy and Donald greeting people up in the veranda over the rest rooms.

    We waited outside the restaurant for everyone to gather and spot Goofy and his nephew Max walk by and start fishing the lake. They end up catching a rubber boot and a rubber chicken!

    We have three different reservations for all 16 of us. The late one is only for 4 so Joan, Rich, Kelli and I take that one. But when we are seated, we are right next to Caitlin, Kevin and their kids!

    Cost was $55 per adult, plus tax and gratuity. The inside looks like a diner. I had the Asparagus and Summer Truffle Risotto while Kelli had the Spice-rub Pork Loin, Joan had the Carved Herb-roasted Turkey Breast and Rich had the Garlic and Cracked Black Pepper Sliced Beef Tenderloin.  We were very happy with the food, despite this restaurant having some mixed reviews. It shares the same kitchen as 50's Prime Time Café.

     Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto visited us from afar in their summer attire. Since I was facing away from the floor, I took some selfies with the characters behind me. They were great at interacting with the kids from a distance.


    For dessert Kelli had the Lemon Cake with fresh Strawberries. Joan and I had the Vanilla Crème brûleè, Rich had the White Chocolate Cheesecake.


    We left the restaurant at 7 and got a ride on Toy Story Midway Mania. This time Kelli beat me 129,100 to 123,200! Afterwards I took some pictures in the area with some great late evening lighting.


    Kelli, Joan and Rich headed back to the resort while I headed by boat to Epcot to see Epcot Forever. This is a temporary smaller nighttime show before Harmonious starts October 1. The boat ride over was a bit stuffy and very humid.

    I grabbed a Blood Orange Mimosa with sparkling wine and blood orange juice and a Shimmering Strawberry Soft serve in a Waffle Cone at Simmering Sips to pass the time. The ice cream was served upside down in a cup, since the heat was melting it so fast.

    The show was nice, not a lot of big fireworks, and something I only have to see once. I’m glad I did to see it one time. I was able to quickly exit Epcot to a waiting bus and miss the crowds going home.


Tues, July 27, 2021

    So, after the Hollywood Studios Bus debacle, we heard from others at the resort of the same problem. Disney sends out an apology to all those staying at Old Key West apologizing for the Animal Kingdom bus delay! Disney Transportation could not even apologize right!

    We were at Magic Kingdom early once again and were let into and down Main Street at 8:30. Marissa and Caitlin hit the Starbucks and we took another group picture in front of the castle. Kelli and I got a nice picture with four of our great-nephews and great-nieces.

    We were again held in the hub till 9 AM for rope drop into Tomorrowland. There were annoying announcements that until 9 AM we can shop in the stores on Main Street. Another money-grubbing move by Bob Cheapskate Chapek.

    Most of us were never on the Astro Orbiter and were excited to ride it. We had a short wait up the elevator. Woah, what a ride. It was slightly dizzying with a fast-tight turn and way more fun then I remember.

    Tim and Maddie headed to Splash Mountain while the rest of us did Buzz twice since it was a short wait and visited Buzz on the Galactic Gateway stage nearby.

    Tim, Marissa and Maddie followed Splash with a ride on Space Mountain.

    Kelli and I rode the TCC alone then hit the Joffrey’s Revive stand for two Frozen Kona Mochas and a delicious cinnamon roll. We headed to the Little Mermaid but decided on Mickey’s PhilHarmagic instead.

    We did some shopping on Main street and saw the Tinkerbell float pass by.

    Kevin, Caitlin, Dylan and Hannah rode the Dumbo, Barn Stormer, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and a Photopass photographer captured them enjoying some ice-cream. They are flying back home later tonight.


    Back at the resort we got off at the hospitality house and grabbed lunch at the Goods To Go take out place next to the main pool. I ordered the loaded Nachos and Key Lime Tart while Kelli got the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich and Cherry Danish. We walked back to our room ate and relaxed there. The nachos were not really nachos, it was house-made potato chips with barbecued pulled pork, cheese salsa and sour cream. It was just OK.

    Kelli and I just relaxed at the villa for the afternoon and were very happy to do so.

    Tim, Maddie and Marissa headed to Animal Kingdom.

    In the evening, I decided to hit the food and wine one last time and got to Epcot at 7:45. I shopped Mouse Gears for Joan who was looking for an item she saw previously. I also picked up some Food and Wine merchandise including the T-shirt. At the Hawai’i kiosk I had the Teriyaki-glazed SPAM Hash and the Pineapple Wine. The hash was so-so and needed more spam. On the way out I grabbed another Smore’s Whoopie pie for Kelli and me to share on our wedding anniversary tomorrow. 

    At the last second, I decided to ride Spaceship Earth. What a mistake! I had just gotten into my time vehicle when the ride stopped. I was still in the loading area and I can see a few red lights flashing on the control panel. I was stuck there for fifteen minutes and really wanted to get off. It began moving. It was a stressful ride wondering if it would break down again. It slowed a few times, stopped momentarily on the way up, then stopped while heading down backwards Ugh! Fortunately, it did move after a few minutes and I happily departed the ride and headed back.

    We heard later that Kevin, Caitlin. Dylan and Hannah's flight back was delayed but they eventually made it home.


Wed, July 28, 2021 Happy Anniversary!

    Today is our last day with a 7:30 PM flight. The flight was originally set for 5:54 PM but Jet Blue kept changing the time till later that evening. (It would then be further delayed first to 8:55, then 9:30 and finally 10 PM!)

    We woke up early to finish packing and ate any leftovers for Breakfast, including the Smore’s Whoopie Pie.

    We are heading over to the Studios again but this time we walked to the first bus stop in the resort, about twice as far away, to make sure we get on a bus. Sure enough a bus arrives before 8 AM and when it goes around the resort skips our closer bus stop!

    We get there for rope drop in front of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. We then did Toy Story.

    Tim, Marissa, Maddie, Liam, Rich and I headed to Star Wars: Galaxy Edge for some Photopass photos followed by another Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Maddie and I were gunners and Maddie shot down more Imperial ships then me.



    Marissa took Liam over to the Droid Depot for Liam to build his own Astromech unit. He named his droid "Ranger". No surprise since he is a NY Ranger fan. Ranger then interacted with other larger droids found around the outpost

    I then tried both the Blue and Green Milk and met Kelli outside the Brown Derby. We both preferred the blue milk as it was sweeter. The green had a refreshing hint of mint.

    The Incredibles caravan with Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, Edna Mode in a car followed by Sully, Green Army Men, Buzz and lastly Woody and Jesse drove by.


    We met up with Joan and Rich and rode the Skyway over to the Caribbean Beach Resort then switched Skyways over to the Riviera Resort. 

    The resort was nice, the pools and lobby were on the small side. We were glad we checked it out to discover that this resort is not our sort of thing, much like the Grand Floridian; too sterile and plain for us. 

    We did some shopping at the store and checked out the menu and pastries at Le Petit Café. Lunch was at Primo Piatto. We both had the Bacon Cheddar Burger. Kelli got the romano-herb fries and I the tomato soup for a total $27.67. The burgers were pretty big and we did not finish them. Our radar on our phones showed rain was on its way so we hurried back to the Skyway. At the Caribbean Beach Resort, we heard an announcement that lightning was on its way and the Skyway may be stopped. We hurried to catch the Skyway over to Hollywood Studios. Once on we knew we would make it back. We then took a bus back to Old Key West.

    We hoped to swim while waiting around for our Disney Magical Express ride to the airport, but it started to rain, lightening and thunder.

    Kelli and I had ice cream to pass the time. Me a Mickey bar, Kelli a Mickey ice-cream sandwich. It was a long wait.

    At the airport, JetBlue delays our flight first to 8:55, then 9:30, then 10 PM due to waiting for a flight crew, then a missing clipboard that someone walked away with. They had to wait for the guy to bring it back.

    Our plane's name was Bluesville. We did not land till after midnight and got back to our home around 1 AM.

    Two days later Disney started requiring face coverings on all indoor areas, rides and transportation.

Note: Kelli and I don’t do many character meet-and-greets; but we really liked seeing the characters out and about, even at a distance. I hope they keep some level of this when things get back to the new normal.

Disney Buses (Which is your favorite?)


Thanks for reading.

Michael and Kelli

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