Disney, Featured, Opinion, Theme Parks, Themed Cafes, Travel

My Disney World October 2 – October 9, 2021 Upcoming Travel Planning Trip Itinerary – As COVID and Delta Variants Rage Across Florida

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Many of you may know that I am getting married in about 3 weeks. And that for my honeymoon – since I can’t go to Japan because the borders are still closed – I plan to travel to Walt Disney World. Right now the trip is scheduled to occur October 2nd through October 9th of 2021. I wanted to wait until their 50th anniversary – and also until it was not so hot and humid.

The only other time I’ve been to Walt Disney World was for the 25th anniversary which, I’m 40 now, so that was 25 years ago when I was 15 – or possibly 16 – because their celebrations last a year+. I remember it being a sweet 16 present from my grandma (nana). But I can’t remember if I had turned 16 just yet or if it was before that. Anyways, needless to say, a LOT has changed since the last time I visited Walt Disney World.

For starters, some of the rides and attractions have been removed and/or refaced to make room for more modern Disney Movies. Such as Honey I Shrunk the Kids is now where Toy Story Land is I believe. Also you can no longer watch the animators actually drawing the cartoons at Disney World. I remember watching them animate Pochahontas when I was there 25 years ago, with like a backstage tour thing.

While not being able to see the animators working on the latest Disney projects is a bit of a let down to me, there’s a flip side to this as well. That area in Hollywood Studios has been filled with the new Star Wars attractions. The most popular ride right now in Disney World is Rise of The Resistance – which is more than a ride – it’s a fully immersive interactive experience.

Another thing that’s changed is that to get onto this ride, you have to use an app on your phone. They literally don’t let you just line up and wait in line outside because the ride is so popular and lines are so long. The app allows you to try twice a day (as long as you have Hollywood Studio Park reservations for that day (we’ll get to the park reservations in a moment)). At 7AM and 1PM, and it’s completely filled in under 2 seconds. This isn’t a cutesy form of expressive writing, this is an actual fact. If you don’t have the phone app ready, or if you take time to try to read anything on the screen, you’re screwed. Also don’t try it on Wifi, use your cellular data. Disney Wifi is overloaded and too slow. Even then, May the force be with you – because it is not an easy task to try to get on this ride!!!

I’m not the hugest Star Wars Fan – The last film I saw was the one set before the newer films, probably released about 10-15 years ago, where everyone died at the end. I can’t remember the title. It came out after the first film in the newest trilogy (with the female heroine) – After that, I did not see the concluding 2 films in the triology with the female heroine and black storm trooper. I will probably at some point watch them on Disney+ but not in any hurry to watch them.

I don’t DISLIKE Star Wars or anything, I’m just not a super duper mega Star Wars fan. – Now if it was Sailor Moon – that’s another story LOL :).

Even still, despite my somewhat limited knowledge of Star Wars, I still want to ride Rise of the Resistance because it’s supposed to be an amazing experience, more immersive and interactive than any other themepark ride in the world. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know because I have yet to experience it for myself.

I will be staying at Coronado Springs. When I booked my trip back in June, it was the cheapest resort available. All of the budget resorts – Pop, Art of Animation, etc, were all booked up. The next resort – Animal Kingdom Lodge was several thousand dollars more. And I’m already spending around $4,000. More once you factor in airfaire, food, souvenirs, travel essentials, etc. Probably coming out around $5,000.

When I had my trip to Japan booked prior to Covid – it only cost me between $4,000-$5,000 again not counting food, entertainment, experiences, and souvenirs (or in my case Dollfie Dream shopping LOL). It’s pretty ridiculous I can travel literally to the other side of the world – OH and stay longer too – I had 14 days booked there – for the same price it is costing me to go to Disney World…. Crazy.

That’s why Disney World is a once in a lifetime trip for most average American families. For me, this will be my second time, but first – and possibly only – time paying for it myself as an adult.

I am 40 and getting married in days now – and we have talked about having, or adopting, children in the next year or two. Add to that that kids over 9 are charged as adults – and well Disney can get expensive QUICK. I’m glad it’s just us two this time. And food also at Disney World is expensive. I paid $154 for Cinderella’s Table – Prepayment is required. That’s for 2 people. That’s like $80 a person (or adult).

I do have memory maker added to this trip – although I’m not even sure if it’s worth it now with fricken masks being mandated again. Memory Maker lets you meet designated photographers at each park and pose for professional photos which are downloaded to the Disney App. I do have park hopper – but I’ll get to that in a moment when I cover park reservations later.

The Disney App sure is used for a lot of things! 25 years ago when I last traveled to Walt Disney World, Cellphones weren’t even a readily available thing. The first cellphone came out in the 1960s or 70s – but for most Americans we didn’t have cellphones until early 2k. I still remember my first cellphone was an LG Chocolate candybar style phone (with fold out keyboard) – shortly after that the first ever android phone came out (also with a fold out keyboard). I had the first 2 android phones – and a few androids after that. My first Iphone was Iphone 6S. I left 6S for Google Pixel (2 or 3 can’t remember). My camera started getting hacked and I traded it in for Iphone 11 – I feel safer on Iphone because they heavily screen and vet the app store there – Anyways Iphone11 had some serious problems and I had it less than 2 years. Now I have Iphone12 Pro. I don’t know if I will get Iphone13. I’m more interested in the newly leaked Iphone(14 presumably) that’s a clamshell design fliphone in “fun colors” The leaked image shows a purple flip phone.

Sorry I love phones and technology so much that I get carried away. Anyways back to Disney. The Disney World App is where you’ll find your tickets, reservations, support, maps of Disney. You can even use it to unlock your hotel room door. And you’ll need the app as mentioned for rides like Rise of The Resistance.

There are Disney Magic Bands – they’re no longer free though – and the colors and designs and choices are very limited now (at least online back in June when I purchased mine.) I went with the black with the castle and fireworks thinking it’ll match any outfit. Later though when I saw my fiance’s Toy Story one i wish I had picked that one too because Tiffany Blue is one of my favorite colors.

There were no Disney Magic Bands 25 years ago when I was there either. But Disney World is already getting rid of those wanting everyone to download and use the Disney World app. This has a few problems. 1.) Wifi at Disney World sucks (for me, no problem I have unlimited uncapped unslowed unmetered data.) – but for other people 2.) This causes you to use Cellphone Data which might incur some expenses if you don’t have unlimited Data. 3.) Your phone’s battery is going to drain quickly – Yes, there are plenty of charging stations I’ve read in the parks and hotels – but you’ll probably want to pack a few extra charging banks just in case because society has changed so much! You’re going to be taking millions of pictures and videos on your phone so of course, you want to make sure it’s charged up.

There also was no Pandemic and no (stupid) Face Mask mandates 25 years ago. I say it’s stupid because why should I protect people who won’t protect themselves. It angers me greatly. I have to wear this stupid mask just because people won’t get the vaccine. Now before you choose to write a nasty comment here – I do understand there are people with a valid medical reason why not to get the vaccine – and my comment is not directed towards these people. I also do understand that children under 12 years of age cannot yet receive the vaccine – again my comment is not towards them either.

However, on the flip side – it kinda is… At least this next part – This comment is to those above who have a reason why not to be vaccinated – Maybe don’t go to somewhere like Disney World in a Global Pandemic? Just Sayin…. I mean it’s your choice… but I wouldn’t go to Florida – or especially Orange County (where Disney World is) – Or somewhere like Disney where it’s literally shoulder to shoulder people – in a Pandemic – without a vaccine.

Now yes, I am very intelligent, and I do understand the risk I am taking even WITH the vaccine. I am well aware that there is a strong possibility I can still catch COVID… But with the vaccine in almost EVERY case, once you’re vaccinated, if you should happen to catch COVID, it is just a cold or flu at worst. At best, you won’t even KNOW you have COVID – 99% of people who get the vaccine will be asymptomatic – they will have ZERO symptoms – Now, that might be scary if you live with someone or work with someone who cannot be vaccinated – because yes, you could spread COVID to those people – or even to other vaccinated people – but again those people would have no – to very minor – symptoms. Now yes, very tragically and sadly there have been cases of people with the vaccine who have died or been on life support in intensive care. BUT those cases are SO RARE. The media has hyped up these “breakthrough” cases to the point of panic levels – over something we should not be panicked about!! Did you know people can still catch the black plague and polio and other deadly diseases?! It’s TRUE! We have vaccines so you don’t hear about it as often – but people STILL get it, and STILL die – it’s sad, it’s true, it’s a fact – and well it’s life. We live and we die.

It should be every individual’s choice whether or not to get a vaccine AND ALSO every individual’s choice whether or not to wear a mask.

I do not mind at all wearing a mask on a plane, monorail, inside a restaurant, a movie theater, etc. But Disney has it OVER THE TOP EXTREME – you have to wear them literally everywhere – even when outdoors!!! Not just on/in rides and attractions or on/in transportation or inside restaurants – but literally EVERYWHERE – except for “common areas” which are roads, sidewalks, and pathways – so yeah – EVERYwhere… Waiting in Queues that can be over 2 hours long – YUP – and they’re REAL strict about it too – YOU CAN GET BANNED FOR LIFE FROM DISNEY WORLD FOR REMOVING YOUR MASK – It’s TRUE – Look it up. They don’t even want you to lower it to take a drink of water – Which frankly, seems dangerous!!!!! It’s triple digit heat and 100% humidity right now in Florida – plus everyone’s body heat – PLUS a face mask – People are passing out and collapsing from dehydration and heat exhaust even prior to the mask mandate – and now THIS?!

I SERIOUSLY thought about canceling or at least postponing my Disney World trip due to the newly reissued mask mandate…. But, after a day or two of thinking about it… I decided – let’s just go. Let’s go and have our honeymoon. Our Disneymoon. Mask and all. Pandemic and all. Heat and Humidity and all. Let’s do it. Why? Because it’s too hard to plan around an unpredictable pandemic and unpredictable mandates that may arise as a result of the pandemic (such as the mask mandate). I could fly out one day and no masks required, and that same day, or the next, CDC comes on and advises everyone to wear masks again, for a 3rd time, and Disney World announces its mask mandates again.

I only have 18 months to experience the 50th anniversary. I was there for the 25th. And it is my honeymoon (although delayed by a few weeks, sure.) – And I want to be there on the 50th. I couldn’t go the first day it started – but the celebration lasts for 18 months. But you know what else will probably last for 18 months (or more?) This pandemic.

So as much as I hate masks, and hate that I’m being forced to protect people who “are the problem” by not protecting themselves – as much as I hate that I’ll be masked in all my photos and not even know who I am, behind my long curly bangs and my mask that goes up almost over my eyes at times – and Sunglasses at Disney too. Or a sunhat to prevent sunburn – I’ll look like a little bank robber – LOL. And as much as I hate that I’ll be hot, humid, thirsty, and miserable in a wet sweaty awful hot face mask – Well…. Even as much as I HATE ALL OF THAT….. I Love Disney MORE. I love Disney World enough to say fuck it. Throw caution into the wind. Risk my life and health in a pandemic. Put up with my physical and mental and psychological discomfort by wearing a mask 24/7 for 8 days… Yeah – THAT’s how much I love Disney World…..

Another thing that’s changed thanks to this pandemic is character dining experiences – MOST of them are closed. Only 3 or 4 are open – and like half of those are at other hotel resorts that I’m not staying at – and don’t want to take Park Time away to go eat at. BUT there are 2 or 3 character dining experiences still open – but VERY modified – In one, the characters sail past you on a boat. In the others, the characters briefly walk by your table, at a 6 foot distance. No hugs or posing for cute pictures – You might get lucky and get the character to pause briefly enough to snap a pic – but from what I have read – they don’t stop long at tables without children – which SUCKS FOR ME – because the character dining – HONESTLY – is my FAVORITE thing about Disney World – I still remember the character breakfast I went to 25 years ago. It was an Aladdin themed one back then. It was awesome. The cast member playing Aladdin was pretty handsome. lol and the big blue Genie was sooo big and fluffy looking. And the girl playing Jasmine was amazingly beautiful. It was a great experience with lots of wonderful pictures and memories.

Of course, not everything is bad. A lot of POSITIVE changes have happened at Disney World in the past 25 years. New themeparks have been added – There was no Animal Kingdom 25 years ago – And I love going to all of my local zoos and love animals so that’s a HUGE plus for me – I have 2 days booked there – although most people only do a half day.

New hotels and resorts have been added. I’m staying at Coronado Springs – some people hate it – because it’s not over the top Disney – and it’s huge – and it’s used by convention and business people – but I think I will like it – Like I said, I picked it because 2-3 months ago it was the cheapest one I could book. I read some really BAD reviews at first – but afterwards, started watching tours of it on Youtube – from within this past year – and honestly, I like it.

My fiance – who will be my husband by then – is from Lima Peru – and the Spanish influences of this hotel seem perfect for us celebrating our honeymoon. I did get to go to Peru with him a few years ago and it’s an amazing country – especially the food LOL.

Plus just yesterday, I found out the 3 quiet pools (not the dig site) are open 24/7 (as long as you are quiet). – This is perfect. I LOVE swimming – SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much – seriously, Kalahari (a nearby indoor waterpark) is probably my favorite place on earth – yes probably even more than Disney World – but it’s not as exciting/inviting as Disney World, because it’s close to home and I go once a year. I have ridden every slide at least once – but I hate them. I chickened out last time I attempted to do a waterslide – which was embarrassing because I was on a date (before I met my now fiance years ago) – and I turned around halfway up the stairs and came back down. I’m like you go have fun, I’ll wait here LOL. – So why do I STILL go to Kalahari every year? Adults only hottub, indoor/outdoor hottubs, lazy river, wave pools, huge arcade too, minigolf, restaurants, african theme with animal statues, and so on…. Man now I want to go to Kalahari lol – I will have to plan a trip for that soon :). There’s another indoor waterpark near me too called Splash Lagoon – but Kalahari is better. Much better. I do need to eventually take my fiance to Splash Lagoon though because I have literally taken almost every other person I’ve ever dated (which well hasn’t been many) since it opened. But I prefer Kalahari.

Anyways back to Disney – another thing different right now is one of the waterparks is closed down. I don’t know / don’t think we will do the other currently open waterpark – like I said I have Kalahari here close by home – and I found out the 3 quiet pools at Coronado Springs are 24/7. So not much need to take time away from one of the main parks to go to the Water Park.

I did purchase Park Hopper + with the ability to go to the Water Parks – for that reason – thinking I might want to go to one. Plus we DID Park Hop 25 years ago, we’d leave go back to our hotel at the hottest parts of the day, and then venture back out (sometimes to another park) in the afternoon. I like that option.

But Park Hopper has changed a lot and may not be worth it now. I still decided to buy Park Hopper. But here’s some reasons you might want to pass this time:

  • Park reservations are required now. Disney World is operating at limited capacity due to COVID. You must secure a Park Reservation prior to your arrival. You can’t just go up to the gates and get in. That’s why I’m not traveling until October 2nd. October 1st at Magic Kingdom was COMPLETELY booked. I want my first day and first thing I see to be that castle! That just sets the whole Disney theme state of mind.
  • Because Park reservations are required and park capacity is being checked daily – you might not be able to park hop to the park you want to go to. If it’s full you’ll have to go somewhere else. I also wonder what happens if you leave to park hop and they’re all full – can you go back to the original park you had reservations at – or will it then be full too?
  • You might spend time on buses or monorails or walking or driving or ubering trying to get from one park to another that could be better spent just enjoying the one park you were already at.
  • You have to enter your main park – the one you have reservations in – first. You can’t switch on the fly or skip that park completely.
  • You have to enter that main park before 2PM – otherwise you forfeit your reservations and park hoppers. Not nice for sleeping in, lounging by the pool, expoloring other things like Disney Springs, etc.
  • With all these restrictions, and with one of the water parks closed, Park Hopper is probably not really worth it.

The Disney App is also used to book all of your dining reservations. You used to be able to book 120 days in advance, but because of COVID again, it’s now 60 days in advance. Yesterday was my turn to book. I was able to get reservations at every restaurant I wanted.

I guess now’s a good time to share my actual Itinerary (as per the title of this blog post) so you can see what I chose.

Saturday, October 2
Flight Leaves Pittsburgh: 7:50AM
Flight Arrives Orlando: 10:00 AM

Take Magic Express Bus. By the way, this bus is free right now – but they’re doing away with this bus after January 1st – which was another reason I didn’t want to postpone my trip, I don’t want to have to rent a car or drive. Anyways take the Magic Express Bus from Airport to Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – Leave luggage at concierge – They will text us later when room is ready. Head to Magic Kingdom – Hopefully arrive by 11AM-12PM. Have to arrive by 2PM to guarantee our reservations there.

Magic Kingdom Park Reservations
Park Hours:9:00 AM – 9:00 PM

This is the most Iconic part of Disney World with the castle and majority of the most popular rides and attractions.

Dining Reservation:
3:05 PM
Be Our Guest Dinner Prix Fixe – The only place in Disney World where you can see someone dressed up like The Beast from Beauty and the Beast (because in the story, he’s never allowed to leave his cursed castle)

I don’t know if we will stay to watch Fireworks or not this first night – I have 2 other Magic Kingdom nights to watch them – We will be tired from flying – and I want to make sure we get our luggage and find our room and don’t have problems. Might return to hotel after dinner – if our room is ready by then. – If it’s still early – and not too tired, might explore hotel and go swimming back at the hotel.

Sunday, October 3
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park Reservations
Park Hours:8:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Dining Reservation:
12:35 PM
Sanaa Lunch – Here we can watch safari animals – real ones – not robots – while we eat – pretty cool.

After lunch we will Walk and Ride around looking at animals all day until…

Dining Reservation:
6:20 PM
Tusker House Dinner – Character dining experience with Donald Duck (and friends)

Animal Kingdom closes super early (7pm) (They do allow you to stay to finish dinner and buses keep running for awhile after) – So after dinner we will head back to hotel and swim and explore our resort for at least 2-3 hours (I don’t imagine we’ll sleep before 10PM).

Monday, October 4
Epcot
Park Hours:11:00 AM – 10:00 PM

The food and wine festival is going on – so you don’t really need reservations anywhere (It’s not free, but it’s walk up quick service bitesize food EVERYWHERE in Epcot) – but I made one for the character dining restaurant with Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers

Reservation:
5:15 PM
Garden Grill Dinner

When I was young, I didn’t like Epcot very much – but that was 25 years ago. I do know they sell hello kitty stuff in one of the stores there someone told me. And I do think it’ll be fun to get photos with the mini eiffel tower and Japanese shrines/gardens and whatever else.

Tuesday, October 5
Magic Kingdom Park
Park Hours:9:00 AM – 8:30 PM

Reservation:
11:15 AM
Cinderella’s Royal Table Lunch – You get to go INSIDE Cinderella’s castle – I am not happy about the time – so early that we won’t be very hungry – but it was all I could do – everything else was booked. I’m happy just to get to go – it’s the ONLY way you get to see INSIDE the castle – It normally is also a character dining location – but it is not right now due to Covid – that might change before October – but with Florida’s numbers these past weeks – that’s not looking too likely. Normally all of the Disney Princesses are inside and take photos with you. I hope that returns – but if not – still cool to see inside the castle. It is the busiest most requested restaurant at Disney World – and it is Prepay – It cost me $154 for 2 people – you pay admission price and then order whatever you want to eat – from what I understand.

That’s all I booked at Magic Kingdom this day – I rather spend time riding rides and watching shows and attractions. The park is closing early because of Boo Bash – I have Boo Bash tickets but not on this night. I don’t know if they will have a nightly firework show because they are closing early. I don’t want to be on a rigid schedule, so we will check out Magic Kingdom for as long as we both want, and then can park hop and/or go back to the resort and/or Disney Springs (100 shopping and dining experiences).

Wednesday, October 6
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Park Hours:9:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Hopefully get into the boarding groups for either morning or afternoon Rise of Resistance – It’s the most popular ride at Disney World – it fills up in seconds – they don’t let you stand in line outside. You use an app on your phone at 7:00AM or 1:00 PM to reserve a spot – and they text you when your group is boarding the ride. It’s an interactive “experience” similar (I guess?) to Universal Studios (I have never been to Universal and sadly can’t afford to do both on this trip). I’m not the hugest star wars fan – the last one I saw was the “flash back” one where everyone died at the end. But just the experience of the ride – it’s supposed to be amazing.

Reservation:
1:40 PM
Sci-Fi Lunch – It’s a drive in movie theater restaurant – You don’t actually have to drive – the tables are made to look like cars – as a movie plays on a big screen outside.

Reservation:
6:50 PM
Hollywood & Vine Minnie’s Seasonal Dine Dinner – It’s a character dining restaurant (people in costumes for photos)

Between those 2 times – just check out the park. When I was there 25 years ago, you got to go on tours and watch the animators drawing the cartoons, but I heard they don’t do that anymore. So not sure what else is here – besides Star Wars.

Thursday, October 7
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Park Hours:8:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Reservation:
1:30 PM
Rainforest Cafe Lunch – AK – Their food is not that tasty and also it’s expensive – but it’s a fun restaurant – animatronic robot animals inside

Reservation:
6:00 PM
Yak & Yeti Restaurant Dinner – I don’t know – don’t think – you can see animals from here – it looks like it’s an asian infusion restaurant – I was sold when I saw the desserts – mango cheesecake – yes please lol.

Friday, October 8
Magic Kingdom Park
Park Hours:9:00 AM – 8:30 PM
Ticketed Event:9:00 PM – 12:00 AM (Boo Bash – I have tickets for this night)

It’s our last full day at Disney – and I spent like $150 a person for Boo Bash tickets – So I want us to stay until midnight this one time – If he gets tired any other night, I’d be like OK we can go back – but just this one day, I want to stay the whole time and watch all the fireworks – and ride all the rides – after 8:30PM the lines are basically walk on for the rides – because it’s a limited ticket event – so it’ll go from millions of people in the park, to a few thousand people in the park lol. Plus they’re giving free unlimited candy (and other foods and drinks) with price of admission – and you can wear a costume (after 9PM). (I don’t know if I will wear a costume – I love costumes – but it’s so hot in florida lol.)

Reservation:
5:35 PM
The Crystal Palace Dinner – This used to be a character dining experience with Winnie the Pooh – but now it’s just a very beautiful restaurant – The characters might come back by October though who knows – It’s an indoor greenhouse (and yeah probably pretty hot and miserable – and yeah, technically we have restaurants like that here – like Phipps Conservatory – but I dunno I thought it was pretty – and I’m hoping Pooh and Tigger and Piglet come back before October lol.

Saturday, October 9
Epcot
Park Hours:11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Check out before:
11:00 AM
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Boo – Very sad we will be flying home this day!!
Our flight is scheduled to leave Orlando at 7:35 PM – But with TSA you have to be 2 hours early – so we need to be at the airport at 5:30PM – Need to catch a ride via Magic Express probably no later than 4:00PM to be safe – Prior to that, we can check out Epcot again if we want – that’s where I made the park reservations – or spend time at our hotel resort – we have to be out of the room by 11AM though – or go check out Disney Springs (100 restaurants and shopping malls). I purposely didnt make any dining reservations or special plans this day because I know we will be tired, stressed, and rushed to get through the airport.

We are scheduled to land back in Pittsburgh at 9:50PM – By time we get home it’ll be 11:00PM or later probably. We are going to be exhausted.

But very worth it – It’s going to be an awesome time!

Now I just hope Florida gets their act together – or else Disney World might close down again 🙁

Fingers Crossed — I’m excited now – despite being very against the idea of wearing masks at Disney World – but whatever – still going and having a great time!

There were other places I would have liked to dine at like California Grill, Toppolino’s, and Chef Mickey, but they’re at hotel resorts – and not the one I’m staying at – which would leave me switching busses trying to get to the hotel – and on a tight time schedule – and taking time away from time that could be spent inside the parks.

I’m very excited about my upcoming trip. By the way, if you haven’t already read my post, and if you’re a woman with a wide foot like me, check out my post about Best Women’s Wide Width Shoes For Walking At Walt Disney World – I’ve tried probably 30 pairs by now – and have finally found 3 or 4 I like.