Sue's 2021 F&W Trip - Day 1 of 9

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Nov 6, 2021, 8:10:51 PM11/6/21
DAY 1 – Saturday 11/6/21
Who: Sue (63), DVC Member

Plan: Drive to WDW, Gideon’s, Lava Lounge, Martha’s Vineyard

Actual: It was unusual to not be leaving from work, but when I was planning this trip and I realized I wanted to take the entire week off from work I thought I could do without arriving on Friday afternoon. As it turned out, the weather was horrible today, plus I was extremely busy at work from organizing & working a vaccination clinic for 300 of our residents and staff (all boosters – 3rd dose of Pfizer). As of Friday night I still wasn’t fully packed, but I guess that’s what Saturday morning is for. Good thing I’m an early riser!

In Gainesville it was a miserable dreary day – steady rain that won’t end until Sunday, temps in the 40’s. I puttered around, did the last bit of laundry, packed up the rest of my stuff, and took it to the car during periods the rain was lighter. I’d had the sense to put some stuff in the trunk 2-3 days ago, knowing it would be rainy last night and today. I should drive out of this awful weather on the way to WDW, and once there it should be around 60 degrees and not raining any longer. Never thought that would sound good, but I guess it’s all relative.

It was 10am before I hit the road and it was an easy drive. At 11:30 I checked my phone and was shocked to already see the “your room is ready” notification! I needed this on Tuesday, not today! I stuck with my original plan and went straight to Disney Springs, parking in the Orange garage. I could tell it was quite busy, because there were far fewer parking spaces available than what I’m used to. Many rows had zero spaces available. I parked on the 3rd level and then discovered a huge long line of people walking around the barriers to head through the metal detectors. Again, I haven’t see so many people here in a very long time – and it was barely noon!

I walked over to Gideon’s thinking there’d be a good chance the virtual queue would be open today, and sure enough it was. However, the return time was expected to be 4 hours at this point! I’m not hanging around Disney Springs that long, so I didn’t join the queue. I have a Plan B in mind for something sweet. Overall Disney Springs was very crowded, with people lined up at all the restaurants.

My destination was Lava Lounge, where there was one empty seat at the bar. The tables were mostly open and would have been great if the cold north wind wasn’t gusting through there! I took the empty seat at the bar, wedged between 2 other parties who blocked some of the wind until they left. They need some of those heaters out there.

Sadly my lunch wasn’t very good. Holli & I have gotten the chicken strips with coconut curry dipping sauce at least 2-3 times and have always loved them. I ordered them today and they were heavily breaded – small pieces of chicken coated in layers of dried up fried batter. I didn’t finish them, and didn’t take the leftovers! I also had a glass of sauvignon blanc, and that was fine (it was one I’ve had before, at home). My birthday credit was enough to cover the lunch, with a little left over. I left a cash tip and headed out.

My plan was to check out World of Disney but it was so crowded at Disney Springs I quickly dropped that idea and walked back to the garage to get my car. At Beach Club Villas I took most of my stuff up to the studio, and of course the magic band did not work. Housekeeping was in the room next door but first I dug through my bag and an older magic band worked to open the door. Once I put my stuff inside I tried my 3rd magic band (a DVC member one) and that one didn’t work either. I needed one more thing from the car, so took my magic bands with me to get them fixed. The cast member was busy with a guest that was taking forever, so I decided to go to the car and stop on my way back in.

As I approached the Villas lobby I could see the cast member was available, but then Fran walked by (returning from Epcot). I stopped to chat with her, and she said Epcot was miserable – crowded, ridiculous long waits for every little thing, etc. That’s NJ week for you – and that’s why her daughter & son-in-law come down at this time (from NJ). We confirmed out meeting time/place for later, and I let her know we’d facetime Holli. While we were talking 2 other parties arrived to be helped by the cast member. I joined the back of the line, but the lady up front was yammering on and on about something that wasn’t being quickly resolved. I bailed out and brought my item up to the studio, then came back down. By now the 2nd party was up there, but almost done, so it wasn’t a long wait.

The cast member fixed my magic bands and told me the problem was probably that I have too many. I pointed out I’ve made most of them inactive, and she could see that but said I still had several. Well, if that’s a problem Disney shouldn’t have taken away the option to decline new magic bands with every trip, lol! I used to decline them more often than not.

Once the bands were fixed I went up to the studio, checked the bands, and then got settled in the room. I have a park reservation for Epcot and I was curious how bad it really was. Plus, my sweets Plan B was over there, so I walked over. The entry points were backed up, and several people were having issues tapping into the park. The cast members were being kept busy, and it was frustrating standing in non-moving lines.

I turned right into France and was shocked how long the Food & Wine booth’s line was! I’ve never seen so many people waiting there at one time. The line for the regular booths with drinks or crepes was equally crazy. Brazil was unbelievably long too. I knew then Fran hadn’t been exaggerating. Luckily my lunch was sitting like a rock in my stomach so I wasn’t hungry for any of the F&W offerings <g>.

At the first Festival merchandise shop I saw the festival spirit jersey and found one in size XS. I grabbed it, and had no wait at the register. The spirit jerseys have gone up $10 recently, and I did get 20% for being a passholder (DVC would have worked as well). I continued walking and since my Plan B was Karamel Kuche in Germany for a cookie I decided to check the app to see they had mobile ordering.

They did, with the arrival window being 2:45 (it was currently 2:23). I ordered the caramel chocolate chip pretzel cookie, and since my pass is connected to my account it automatically gave me the 20% passholder discount. This is considered merchandise rather than food, so the discount applies. I was able to change my window to 2:45 but not any earlier. Voices of Liberty were performing so I sat in the theater for their last 2-3 songs.

When the show ended I continued to Germany, noting the line for Italy’s booth was almost to America. The line for Karamel Kuche was longer than I’ve ever seen it – thank goodness for mobile ordering, or my Plan B would have been abandoned! I browsed some of the shops in Germany, and at 2:37 received a notification where I was able to say I’m here – make my order. Just before 2:40 it was ready, so I walked in, picked it up, and was on my way. That couldn’t have been easier!

The rest of the walk around World Showcase was slow at times, due to the crowds/congestion. Once I got to International Gateway I went back to the resort and updated the trip report. After that I spent an hour or so on the phone with a former co-worker who’d recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. I had the port webcam on because a HAL ship had a 5pm departure time, but it went out quite a bit later. I left the room about 10 minutes before 6 and it was still at the pier.

It was a quick walk over to Martha’s Vineyard Lounge to meet Fran, and she was already there. It was surprisingly busy and she said last night when she walked by around 7 or 7:30 people were literally standing along the walls and all the seats were taken. When did this place get so popular??

We each had a glass of prosecco and we facetimed with Holli. We’re all so excited for our cruise December 1st, after seeing so many canceled in the past 20 months! It was fun catching up with her in person, and talking cruise stuff. I met her daughter and son-in-law when they came to retrieve her – they’re doing an 8pm dinner at Topolino’s. Last night they did Yachtsman Steakhouse and the day before was Chefs de France – all excellent. They also did breakfast at Cape May and really liked it.

When they headed to dinner I went up to my studio and checked the webcam. The HAL ship was gone (all the ships had sailed), so I looked on the radar and saw it had been the 3rd from the last ship to sail (there were 2 following it on the way to somewhere in the Bahamas. I had brought a small amount of crackers and cheese so I prepared some of that and poured a glass of wine. I set it on the nightstand and got in bed to finish up the report while watching tv. Instead of HGTV I ended up watching the rest of a My 600 Pound Life episode even though I have a hard time understanding what the doctor is saying most of the time. Unfortunately this wasn’t an episode where the person finally got their act together and lost the weight after surgery. When Hoarders came on next, I switched to HGTV – can’t take all the dysfunction!

Today had some good things and some pretty crappy things. The weather sucked – very cold for this time of year! The chicken strips were disappointing. Epcot’s crowd level was disgusting – how can anyone really be having a good time when all they do is stand in line?? The 4-hour virtual queue 2 hours after opening at Gideon’s was disappointing too. On the good side, the room was ready really early, and I’m fine with the location. I’m 4th floor, past the laundry – looking at the grassy area between Beach Club and Beach Club Villas. I love my F&W Festival spirit jersey, and the fact I bought it with no wait, lol! Mobile ordering for the cookie worked well, and it was great spending time with Fran.

Tomorrow I obviously won’t be spending the morning at the pool or beach, since it will be in the low to mid 50’s. Epcot opens at 10, and 9:30 for resort guests, so I’ll probably head over there and do lunch at Food & Wine before it gets crazy. I’m pretty sure it will be awful by late afternoon & evening, thanks to the marathon after party (those people get in starting at 5pm or 6pm). Pete & Judy arrive from NJ and Bonnie arrives from South Florida – they’ll all be at Boardwalk Villas but we’ll meet up somewhere for something. They won’t have any park admission tomorrow, so that’s another reason for me to do it before they get here.

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