Trip Diary: WDW 2020 December 4-7

We took a weekend trip to WDW, and enjoyed independent adventures. I did not have a park pass for this trip, so I spent my time in and around Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. December seemed to be the perfect time to escape the cold of PA and embrace the warmer FL temperatures.

Friday, December 4:

Fortunately, weekend trips don’t require much planning or preparation. I packed that afternoon, and was ready to leave by 4 p.m. We arrived to BWI by 5:15 p.m., so we had plenty of time to get through security and find a restaurant for dinner. The airport felt very safe. Everyone we encountered was properly wearing a mask, and the capacity was severely limited in comparison to normal travel times. The drastic shift in volume of travelers created a much more efficient experience as well. We were able to get through security, order and eat Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, and Arby’s, and be seated at our gate with over an hour left before our boarding time. Southwest provided a very smooth flight and enjoyable travel experience. We arrived to MCO and traveled via the Magical Express to Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. We joined family members staying in a 2 bedroom suite, and it was absolutely amazing! The room was outfitted beautifully, and was so spacious. It was fairly late when we arrived, so I showered and headed to bed.

Saturday, December 5:

Pennsylvania requires a COVID-19 test or 14 day quarantine upon entering the state. We drove to a testing cite at 7:30 a.m. because the wait time was expected to be long. This decision proved to be worthwhile because the line grew significantly as it approached the opening time of 8 a.m. The test was self-administered and the overall experience was very efficient and convenient.

We spent the remainder of the morning taking pictures and walking around because I wanted to get more acclimated to the layout of the resort. It was a gorgeous day outside, so I spent my afternoon on a 10 mile walk. Saratoga Springs is conveniently located between Disney Springs and Old Key West Resort. There is a trail that connects the two resorts, but I used Apple Maps to direct me towards Old Key West because I could not locate the walkway. Disney Springs was lively and vibrant, and was the perfect first destination for my walk. There were temperature checks upon entering and social distancing reminders throughout the different areas. Old Key West was beautiful, as always. I returned back to Saratoga Springs via the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course route. I loved every moment of my walk, and enjoyed the fresh air and warmer temperatures of Florida!

I had a BMC meeting for Tri-CASC later in the afternoon, so I spent that time on my iPad Pro in the room. At the conclusion of this, I headed back outside to enjoy the remaining time of daylight and sunshine.

We were staying in the Congress Park building, so the walk to Disney Springs was very short. The warmer temperatures allowed me to wear shorts after sunset, and I loved this. I walked back to Disney Springs to check restaurant availability for dinner time. Many of the restaurants were accepting walk-in guests, but the wait times were over an hour for two people. My mom met me at 8 p.m. in Cookes of Dublin. This is the quick service location of Ragland Road Irish Pub, and was the perfect dinner destination. I ordered two Kids Meals: battered chicken tender and cheeseburger. It was delicious and efficient! The French fries were my favorite because they were thick-cut, and the indoor seating was very appreciated too because it was getting chillier outside.

We stopped in a few shops and picked up a Christmas Tree Stroll activity paper before walking back to the resort. The Ghirardelli line was obnoxiously long, so I ate a sprinkle sugar cookie from Artist’s Palette later that evening. Many of the quick-service restaurants and shops are using a QR Code scan to further mitigate the risk of COVID-19 and enhance efficiency measures. This allows guests to virtually wait in line before ordering or shopping in-person. At Artist’s Palette, the My Disney Experience App allows for virtual food ordering and pick-up. My sprinkle sugar cookie was delicious, and satisfied my dessert craving!

Sunday, December 6:

We spent the morning taking pictures by the Congress Park pool and enjoying the resort. Saratoga Springs offers multiple pool locations, and each are unique to the building area theme. The temperatures were similar on both days, but the absence of humidity on the later was highly appreciated!

I took advantage of the jacuzzi in the bathroom, and spent an hour soaking in the tub. I much prefer fresh air and time outside; however, this amenity is perfect for someone who enjoys this type of activity and appreciates convenience.

My afternoon was spent on a 15 mile walk around Saratoga Springs Resort, Disney Springs, Old Key West Resort, and the Treehouse Villas. It was a glorious way to explore the area and enjoy the warmer climate before leaving in the evening. I found the Conch Flats Nature Trail, and the walking path to the Treehouse Villas. I believe the Conch Flats Nature Trail is closed; there were signs located at the entrance/exit in Saratoga Springs, but each were blank without indication of the walkway.

At a final attempt to soak in some more Vitamin D, I changed into my Midori Bikini and lounged by the main pool. Face masks are not required when on the pool deck, but social distancing is still enforced. I was able to relax and feel safe, but still be accompanied by other guests enjoying their time as well. I spent an hour or so tanning and basking in the sun before the Magical Express transported us to MCO. I ate three of the bakery sprinkle sugar cookies from Artist’s Palette on the way to the airport; these treats are too delicious to resist, and I highly recommend trying one when visiting WDW!

The security wait times at MCO are usually very high; however, the significant decrease in travelers provided us a much quicker travel experience. The only interference was at baggage check; my mom had her luggage flagged for over 30 minutes because of a hot chocolate package bought at the parks. The Magical Express schedules pick-up times hours in advance of scheduled flight departure, so we had plenty of time to eat dinner before boarding. The airport restaurants close much earlier than normal, and a few are shut down completely for the time being. We both ordered Chipotle before walking to our gate. Hudson News was still open as well, so I picked up a few snacks to eat on the plane ride home. I wrote a paper during this time, and wanted something to munch on while working.

My grandma was kind enough to drop us off and pick us up from BWI. She drove us home by 11 p.m., so I showered and fell asleep shortly thereafter. I was exhausted from a full weekend of travel and adventure.

I am very appreciative of this weekend getaway in the midst of Bryn Mawr College Finals. My classes and assignments are virtual, so it was very easy to transport my work and complete it remotely. The change in location and atmosphere provided a much needed opportunity to reset and refuel as I finish up the Fall 2020 Semester. We are traveling to Vero Beach December 26-30 for Winter Break, so we will be back very shortly to enjoy some more Florida sunshine!

Love,

julia grace

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