Tiffany chatted with Shannon about her 10-year anniversary trip she took in November 2020 with her husband, which was also her first visit since the parks reopened during the pandemic.
These are notes from this episode. There’s much more info included in the audio so be sure to listen to the episode for a better explanation.
Tiffany discussed her November 2020 trip to Walt Disney World, in which she visited alongside her husband, Ryan, for their 10-year wedding anniversary.
She went over each of their four park days at each of the theme parks, what it was like doing a split-stay at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort & Gran Destino Tower and Disney’s Contemporary Resort, spending time at Disney Springs, eating at several Table Service restaurants, and experiencing the holiday decorations.
This was Tiffany’s first time being back at Disney World following its reopening in July 2021.
As an Annual Passholder, she also shared her thoughts on returning to the parks during an ongoing pandemic.
Pre-Trip Chat (Oct. 30)
Before heading to Disney World, Tiffany broke down her trip plans. They planned to drive down to Florida from upstate South Carolina (about 8 hours) on Wednesday, Nov. 4 and return on Monday, Nov. 9.
Tiffany noted this was her first time returning to Disney World since they reopened following its temporary closure.
Her last trip before this was February 2020, which was when she signed up to be an Annual Passholder. She was hoping to be able to run in several of the runDisney events, which were ultimately cancelled for health and safety reasons.
The November trip ended up serving as a 10-year anniversary trip for Tiffany and her husband, Ryan. They also have two children, who stayed home during this particular vacation.
Since Tiffany and Ryan work in healthcare, she had no reservations about visiting Disney World with all of the health and safety protocols in place.
They were comfortable with the safeguards, especially because they wear masks and have temperature checks at work.
Tiffany said they were doing a split-stay in November. They would start their trip by staying in the Gran Destino Tower at the beginning and then transfer to Contemporary. Both of these resorts were a first for them.
That said, Tiffany previously stayed at Coronado Springs, but never in the Tower.
She went over their schedule and said it was important for them to sleep in a couple days and take time to relax, which they never do when visiting Disney World.
Arrival Day (Nov. 4)
While chatting with Shannon on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, Tiffany started her trip report at the very beginning.
She and her husband left on Nov. 4. Tiffany dropped her daughter off at school, so she could say goodbye, went home and said goodbye to her son, and then they left.
They only made one stop along their 8-hour drive and arrived at Gran Destino Tower between 5 and 6 p.m. She also received a text at 3 p.m. notifying them that their room was ready.
Tiffany really loved being able to walk into the lobby at Coronado to get to their room inside the Tower. She described the moderate resort as “very upscale” and said it even had a “deluxe resort” feeling.
Upon their arrival and after checking out their room, they chilled at the resort, shopped at the gift store, and tried a couple dining locations.
They first ate at Three Bridges Bar and Grill at Villa del Lago, which doesn’t take reservations. They arrived at the restaurant around 8 p.m., were told it would be a 40-minute wait, but got a text after only 10 minutes saying their table was ready.
After, Tiffany and Ryan went to the Dahlia Lounge, which has great rooftop views including being able to see Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lit up at night.
Epcot Day (Nov. 5)
Their first full day was at Epcot, but before heading to the park, Tiffany and Ryan made a point not to rush and explore the resort.
They grabbed coffee at the Barcelona Lounge and had to use the Business Center to file an insurance report, so her hsuband could be shipped a new phone (his stopped working).
Tiffany said there are two Business Centers: a bigger one that is open later in the day and a smaller one referred to as an “Express Business Center” that opens earlier.
It costs $6 for 10 minutes to use the center’s computer. There is also a fax machine and copier.
They also went to the main pool, The Lost City of Cibola Pool, which is inspired by Mayan ruins. It has a water slide and a small pool for kids.There are also three leisure pools, but Tiffany didn’t check out those.
Tiffany said that the feature pool at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is better for kids, but she recommended Coronado’s pool for adults.
Instead of driving, they chose to hop on an Epcot bus at 11:50 a.m. and arrived at 12:10 p.m. Tiffany said the contactless security was really nice and seamless.
As they ate around the World Showcase for the Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Tiffany and Ryan did the Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt.
They rode Test Track almost immediately and only waited a little longer than 45 minutes, which was the posted wait time.
They also saw the new Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360 show, which Tiffany liked until the end song, which she found a little boring.
After eating at more food booths, they had a meal at Le Cellier in the Canada pavilion and ordered cheese soup and the filet, which she said were just ok.
Eating here was more of a “bucket list” option for them and not a top choice for Tiffany.
They were able to ride Soarin’ (her husband’s favorite) and it was only an 8-minute wait and then hopped on Living with the Land, which didn’t have a wait.
She wanted to ride Frozen Ever After, but it was under refurbishment at the time. Spaceship Earth was also a walk-on.
After eating more at the festival booths, the park closed at 8 p.m. and they were able to hop on a bus immediately without waiting.
Hollywood Studios Day (Nov. 6)
Tiffany got up early to make sure she could join the 7 a.m. virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance. She snagged boarding group 61.
Before heading to Hollywood Studios, they discovered Tiffany’s car battery had died because she left on a light.
But, they asked for help at the hotel and were able to have someone jump the car and still made it inside the park at 9:25 a.m. for a 10 a.m. official opening time.
They got in line first for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The posted wait time was 70 minutes, but they only waited 38 minutes.
After that, they rode Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, which had a posted wait time of 70 minutes, but they only waited 45 minutes.
She said it’s hard to judge the lines sometimes and they often look longer than they are.
The spent time in Galaxy’s Edge getting photos, including the Superzoom Shot near Docking Bay 7, and having a couple drinks and a snack at Oga’s Cantina. Tiffany even downloaded the Disney Parks Play app to interact with the land, but as a non-fan, she lost interest fast.
However, Tiffany said Star Wars fans would probably enjoy playing with the app and unlocking codes throughout the land.
After Galaxy’s Edge, they conquered Toy Story Land. Toy Story Mania had a posted wait time of 35 minutes, but they only waited 12.
They didn’t ride Alien Swirling Saucers, but they did get on Slinky Dog Dash after a 62-minute wait (there was a posted wait time of 70 minutes).
At 3 p.m., their Rise of the Resistance boarding group was called and it took about 25 minutes to get the start of the attraction. Tiffany said you don’t have to know anything about Star Wars to appreciate the ride.
Right after at 4 p.m., they ate at Hollywood Brown Derby for the first time and really liked it. They got martini and chardonnay flights, butternut squash soup, the Cobb salad with lobster, and a burger, which she said was “so good.”
Not long after at 5 p.m. they were in line for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and waited 50 minutes, even though the posted wait time was 60.
They also rode Tower of Terror, which had a posted wait time of 70 minutes. They waited 65 minutes.
At the end of their day, they sat and watched the holiday projections on Tower of Terror, and walked around enjoying the holiday decorations, which quickly became Tiffany’s favorite Christmas decor.
Overall, she said they had a really great day. Once they got back to the hotel, they packed a little before going to bed, since they moved to the Contemporary the next day.
Animal Kingdom Day (Nov. 7)
Tiffany and Ryan finished packing in the morning and opted to not use bell services to move their luggage from Gran Destino Tower to Contemporary.
Rather, they put their luggage in their car, since they were driving anyway.
They chose to have “another lazy morning day” and enjoyed their last moments at Gran Destino, before driving over to Animal Kingdom. The park opened at 8 a.m. and they arrived at 9:40 a.m.
Tiffany said they got in line for Flight of Passage right away and there was a posted wait time of 55 minutes, but they only waited 46 minutes.
This was the first time she got see the entire queue, since they usually use FastPass, which has been temporarily suspended since the parks reopened.
While in line, they put in a Mobile Order at Satu’li Canteen. After getting off the ride, Tiffany hit “we’re here” in the My Disney Experience app and their order was ready as soon as they arrived.
She said the beef bowl they ordered was one of the best things they ate all trip.
In addition to trading pins with the new health and safety measures, they were able to ride Expedition Everest twice (both times only took 24 minutes), Kilimanjaro Safaris around noon (only a 15-minute wait and they saw the lions during the day!), Kali River Rapids (only 26 minutes and they didn’t get that wet), Na’vi River Journey (a 60-minute wait), and walk both the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Tiffany said it actually wasn’t too hot out and they were able to see the tigers on the Maharajah Jungle Trek, which is rare during hotter park days.
They made sure to take time to relax by sitting in the Rivers of Light stadium, where they had a snack and were able to see most of the character cavalcades float by.
Later in the day, they placed a Mobile order at Flame Tree Barbecue. They got macaroni topped with barbecue and some onion rings. They ate in front of the Tree of Life as the Holiday Awakenings played.
After ending their night by getting more photos thanks to PhotoPass photographers and walking around Pandora to see the bioluminescent lights, they drove to Contemporary for their stay in the Main Tower.
Tiffany said the room was nice, but she liked Gran Destino Tower better. Though, they had a beautiful water view at Contemporary and she loved having access to the Monorail.
Magic Kingdom (Nov. 8)
Their final park day was at Magic Kingdom.
Instead of taking the walking path from Contemporary to Magic Kingdom, they rode the Monorail. Tiffany said they got on at 8:10 a.m. and were inside the park by 8:25 a.m.
Tiffany and Ryan took their time on Main Street, U.S.A., walked through the shops, and then headed to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. They were in line at 8:42 a.m. and only waited 25 minutes. The park officially opened at 9 a.m.
After, they hit up Big Thunder Mountain (waited 15 minutes), Splash Mountain (waited 13, even though it was a 35-minute posted wait), Haunted Mansion (waited 10, but was a 25-minute posted wait), Jingle Cruise (the 35-minute posted wait was accurate), walked onto The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, waited 22 minutes for Peter Pan (had a 30-minute posted wait), and Space Mountain at 12:30 p.m. (posted wait of 40 minutes, but they only waited 26 minutes).
Tiffany Mobile Ordered from Cosmic Ray’s while they were in line for Space Mountain. She said this was the first time they had to wait for their food when Mobile Ordering. They waited about 20 to 25 minutes.
They ate their food on Main Street as they watched cavalcades, which Tiffany said worked really well in placed of the daytime parade.
Later, they rode Dumbo and Barnstormer, which were both walk-ons. They also only waited 5 minutes for Little Mermaid, which had a posted wait of 20 minutes.
They also rode Mine Train (35-minute wait) and Splash Mountain (17-minute wait) again and hopped on Pirates of the Caribbean. Despite higher wait times during the day, they only waited 20 minutes at night for Pirates.
Before leaving, they rode Astro Orbiter and took photos of the holiday projections on Cinderella Castle. They officially ended their last day by eating at California Grill at the Contemporary.
Tiffany said they had a 9:15 p.m. reservation and the views of the castle from the observation deck were really pretty. She got a filet and it was much better than Le Cellier.
Last Day (Nov. 9)
They didn’t do a park on their last day, but went to Disney Springs. Tiffany said they usually visit Disney Springs on their final day instead of going to a park.
They did some shopping and Tiffany learned that the Art of Disney store has a digital catalog of sketches that you can have an artist personally sketch and design for you. There’s also another catalog for paintings.
Tiffany said she planned to try this during her next trip.
- You can see stunning views of Galaxy’s Edge from Gran Destino Tower’s Dahlia Lounge
- If you ever need access to a computer, printer, or copier, select Disney resorts have Business Centers
- Make sure you’re up early for the 7 a.m. Rise of the Resistance boarding group distribution time
- If an attraction queue looks long, don’t worry, because physical distancing may play a part
- Hollywood Studios’ holiday decorations are even better than Magic Kingdom’s decor
- If you have a split-stay, bell services can transfer your luggage between Disney World Resort hotels
- You can Mobile Order from an attraction line (you don’t have to wait until you’re ready to eat)
- Rivers of Light stadium is a great spot to see the Animal Kingdom character cavalcades
- You can usually enter a park at least 30 minutes prior to official opening time (and sometimes even ride attractions)
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