I have a rule where I make sure that I take time off at least once a quarter. Travel has been challenging, to say the least, in the last year, and it's still not ideal since Simon is not yet vaccinated. Our go-to summer cruise wasn't an option either because the industry isn't back yet. But every few years, we like to do a short stay on-property at Walt Disney World, to enjoy the pools and resort life like a tourist. I also feel pretty good about spending money in Orange County as it rebounds, and while Disney is certainly an enormous multinational company, in this case it employs more people in one place than anywhere in the US, and that happens to be where I live.
So two months ago we decided to do two nights, as Simon had been asking since the last time we did it, at Coronado Springs in the fall of 2019. The trick was not telling him. The second trick was just finding a room, because there weren't many to choose from that were under $400 a night. The resorts are not fully open yet, and apparently it's less an issue of demand and more about available workforce. We did find a Cars themed room at Art of Animation, which is a weird property on the map. It's one of the furthest away from Magic Kingdom, sitting opposite of Pop Century, the massive budget complex across the lake. Both of these became better when they opened the Skyliner gondola system, connecting the hotels to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Art of Animation is mostly suite rooms though, so parents get a little privacy and a separate bathroom. As well designed as the rooms are, they're a little utilitarian, with a lot of very durable materials, and in this case, without any carpet. They're not "cheap," they're just not the kind of luxury you'll find in the premium resorts. But they're also not bargain priced, because they're suites.
I was already taking the week off, so we scheduled our stay to be Wednesday to Friday. We started by going to Epcot in the morning, and around 1, when I got the notification that the room was ready, I told Simon that I had to run home to handle a "work emergency." What I really did is go straight to the hotel. Even pre-Covid, they were doing direct check-in, so I just went to the room indicated in the app, used any of my bazillion magic bands, ticket cards, or my phone, to enter the room. Our suitcase was already hiding in the car. From then on, Diana just had to execute a ride on the Skyliner to "check out" the hotel.
Of course I recorded his reaction below, which was totally worth it. I wish I could say everything else went as smoothly, but it didn't. Thursday was a total wash-out because of the tail end of tropical storm Elsa. We didn't get a boarding group to Rise of the Resistance on either try, and spent a good half-hour sheltering in the inactive Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular venue as it rained. We saw the Lightning McQueen Racing Academy show, had lunch, and nothing else. We put in solid pool time in the afternoon, fortunately. Friday I missed completely, sick with what I believe was a sinus infection, fever and all. Again, happy that the surprise worked out!