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Old 12-14-2021, 12:50 PM   #1
Mickeyfan0805
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Default Our 20th...for our 20th...on WDW's 50th...

I finally got around to getting started on our trip report from the beginning of the month. As I did last time, I will post a day at a time, each day, and I will break things up a bit to keep any individual post from becoming unruly. This was a trip for just DW and me, and you'll learn more along the way. So, here we go...
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Old 12-14-2021, 12:52 PM   #2
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Intro…





Twenty years ago, this past August, I married my best friend, the best partner one could ask for, and the love of my life. In the two decades since, we’ve known great joys and deep sorrow. We’ve lived in 4 homes in 3 different states, raised 3 children (still raising, in fact), buried two parents, and nurtured 3 dogs, 3 hamsters, 2 Guinea pigs, and more than one’s fair share of fish! And, in the midst of it all, grew our love affair with all things Disney!







With the exception of 36 hours as part of college concert band tour in 1996, I’d never truly visited Walt Disney World prior to our marriage (DW had been twice – once as a child with her family and another with a friend around the same time I’d been there in 1996). It wasn’t long after our first visit in 2007, however, for things to take off. A few days as part of a wider FL trip in 2007 led to a return trip for DW and I that fall, which led to our purchase of our DVC points the next summer, and things unfolded from there. By the time we reached this most recent trip, we’d been to Walt Disney World 19 times, Disneyland 3 times, and on 2 Disney cruises. So, what better way to celebrate our 20 years of wedded joy than by embarking on our 20th WDW trip (and 25th Disney trip overall) in the midst of WDW’s 50th celebration?





So, our 20th at WDW’s 50th began…


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Old 12-14-2021, 12:58 PM   #3
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Day 1, Part 1 – Settling in…

A night at the airport hotel near O’Hare allowed for an easy trip into the airport on the morning of day 1. My one notable surprise for DW on the trip was that I had managed to swing two first-class seats for the trip down. A first-ever experience for me (second for DW), it was something we could quickly get used to. Lots of comfy room next to each other on the plane…



A decent spread for an early lunch…



And DW just loved the little salt and pepper packs…



Anyway, the flight was smooth, easy, and early. We did have to wait quite a bit for our luggage to come through, but walked straight to our ready rental and hit the road. After landing around 2pm, we had stopped at a grocery store and were pulling into the bubble well before 4pm…



Our room ready text had already come through, so it was straight to our ground floor corner studio in the Grandstand area (thank you DVC for coming through on our requests!). People have different takes on the remodel, but we really thought a lot of it. As SSR owners, this was great to see. DW was quickly snapping shots to send home to DD in advance of their trip next month…













A light lunch on the plane only goes so far, so we were ready for our early dinner at Chef Art’s. Kicking off an anniversary trip the right way, drinks came first…





Mine was a Stella. Can’t remember what DW’s was, but she liked it! DW had the traditional chicken, and I the chicken and doughnuts. We both very much enjoyed it, and then it was time to head over to MK for the evening.
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Old 12-14-2021, 01:03 PM   #4
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YAY!
Congrats on 20 years! Following along to see the celebrations, hijinks, and shenanigans!!
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Old 12-14-2021, 01:04 PM   #5
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Day 1, Part 2 – Making the Most of Genie+

We met a nice couple who used to work as greeters at the MK gates prior to Covid and were hoping to soon return. Anyway, they offered to take our picture in front of the birthday cake as we first entered the park…





Entering MK for the first time this trip, this is a good place to make a quick note about Genie+. There are a lot of different thoughts about G+. None of us love that we now have to pay for something little different than that which was once free, and it certainly appears that G+ will have some enormous limitations on the truly heavy park days. With that said, I will say that we managed to use G+ very much to our advantage for this trip.

In general, for most days, a rope drop approach to park touring would still work quite well and would allow many to be content without using the paid service. For us, as those who don’t get down too often, and who had multiple late nights planned (and thus didn’t want to be up that early every day), G+ allowed for a different kind of touring. In general, we used more of a late-day strategy than a rope-drop one. Utilizing the day to stack up G+ selections allows you to enjoy a lot of rides with very minimal waits in a very short period of time. We did this recurrently during our visit, and you will see how it played out a few different times in this report.

Having purchased G+ that morning while still in Chicago, I was able to make selections as they progressed to the right timing throughout the day. To be sure, this is a slightly more ‘advanced’ strategy than a typical guest might use, as you have to have a decent sense of which rides tend to run through their G+ times throughout the day, but by the time we entered the park at 7pm, we had G+ selections for Jungle Cruise, Pirates, Big Thunder, Haunted Mansion and Peter Pan…all of which (in addition to IASW), we were able to ride in the 2 hours from 7-9pm.

It all started with the Jingle Cruise – our first ride of the trip…









The queue was worth noting. Take a look at the standby queues as we boarded…







This was posted as a 70 minute wait! No question, that 70 minutes is likely notably inflated, but what we consistently saw was that G+ lines were full and yet consistently loading, while standby lines would get very few through at any given time. Most standby lines seemed to be inflated by 15-20 minutes from our experience, but the truth is that a short line could still be a long wait due to the overwhelming priority of loading G+ guests.

Anyway, I tried (and failed) to get a few pics of the Christmas lights on the Jingle Cruise on this first round, but it was off to the other rides from there. By the time we got to IASW, it was fireworks time and the park was soon to close, so we road with nearly no one in sight…






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Old 12-14-2021, 01:08 PM   #6
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Day 1, Part 3 – Extended Evening Hours are a YES!...

The park was now closed to most guests, and we were into Extended Evening Hours – what a great opportunity! If you can make it, go! We made our way from Adventureland towards Tomorrowland, but stopped for a bit of an opening night picture-fest along the way.

I’m not generally a huge fan of how projection mapping has become such a big part of the fireworks shows, but the anniversary and Christmas projections on the castle throughout the evening are absolutely spectacular!











I was particularly proud of this one…





DW makes the cutest faces when she starts giggling…




(More on that in a bit.)


Daisy is DW’s favorite. Lighting isn’t the best, but we found the golden statue for the matching pose!





After our photo-fest, it was off to Space Mountain, where we encountered quite the daunting crowd…





I’ll say it again. If you can make EEH on a trip – go!
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Old 12-14-2021, 01:13 PM   #7
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Day 1, Part 4 – Enjoying the Atmosphere…

Having enjoyed so much in just 4 hours, it was time to begin to make our way back to the room for the night. Not a lot to say, but we took a slow stroll and grabbed a few more pictures on the way out…

We roamed near the castle and visited Mickey and Minnie’s golden statues…







And then took in the Christmas sights on Main Street as we exited…










We stopped with a Photopass photographer on the way out, and she took a magic shot…





She then told us to put our noses together, which DW couldn’t do with a straight face. Remember what I said about her cute faces when she starts giggling…







A quick bus ride back to the Grandstand and we were in for the night.

Tomorrow is another day…
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Old 12-14-2021, 02:01 PM   #8
MinnieSueB
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Happy 20th Anniversary!

We love the SSR refurb as well. Bought them resale for SAP but really enjoy staying there.

Glad you had a great trip!
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Old 12-14-2021, 02:58 PM   #9
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Happy Anniversary! Glad you had a great trip!
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Old 12-14-2021, 06:05 PM   #10
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Happy 20th Anniversary!

Thanks so much for taking the time to share. Great pictures!
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