A Girl's First Solo Trip - August 2018 *updated 6/14 Toy Story Land!*

paradesintherain

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 17, 2013
Introductions!





Hello again! I’m back with a rather belated TR on a last minute trip I took in August of 2018. I've written three other TRs (and am currently doing some highlights on the Epic Girls Dismeet in Return of the Porg) which are in my signature if you should feel like reading!


Alright, how about some backstory? Usually I travel to Lake Tahoe in August and visit my aunt (if you haven’t been you should absolutely go!) but my aunt had a rough year and wasn’t really feeling up to visitors. So I had this open 8 days off (nurse perks - this didn’t use any PTO) and nothing to do! I eventually learned that one of my longtime online friends, and her boyfriend, were going to Disney August 2nd-7th. Hmmmm. Funny backstory, we “met” through a different message board for a band called Jacks Mannequin, but this trip would be our first time meeting in person.

So anyway, there I was with an Annual Pass burning a hole in my pocket, friends conveniently vacationing at the World at the same time as my break, and oh wait I also had enough Southwest points to cover a roundtrip flight to MCO! So on July 2nd I did what any rational Dis-er would do and booked a room at Pop Century with a great AP rate! I saved even more money by buying gift cards from Target with my RedCard which got me 5% off and using the gift cards to pay off my room and additional expenses while there. This trip was also really great timing for me because even though I’d just been to Disney World in June, Toy Story Land hadn’t opened yet, and I was dying to see it.

As an added bonus VIPassholder events were announced during that time and I was able to sign up for a Magic Kingdom night! Also worth mentioning that this would be my first "solo" trip. Although I'd have friends there at the same time, I booked a hotel room to myself and had plenty of solo time. Usually my dad goes with me to Disney World so this would be a whole new experience!


Here’s the cast of characters:

I’m Kara!



I’m 32 years old (but I was 31 at the time of the trip). I’m a nurse who has 2 cats, Princess Leia and Merida. My favorite resort is Animal Kingdom Lodge (and I worked there during my Disney College Program). My favorite park is currently a tie between Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. My favorite rides are Splash Mountain and Tower of Terror, though Flight of Passage is way up there! My favorite restaurant is probably currently Sanaa.


And this is Will and Samira!



They’re both 30-something and from Ohio. They have a sweet French bulldog named Millou. Samira is currently in school to be a nurse! On this trip they were staying at All-Star Movies, and thanks to my recommendation, they were able to get a refurbished room there!


Trip Details!

Dates
: August 2nd - 7th
Accommodations: Pop Century for me!
Tickets: My trusty Annual Pass (oh how I miss it), plus a ticket to Magic Kingdom After Hours, and a special VIPassholder event!
Transportation: Southwest flights!
 
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paradesintherain

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 17, 2013
August 2nd - Travel Day!






After going to bed at 5:30 pm (how did I do this? Why did I not write that down? I’m guessing I stayed awake after working overnight on the first so then I was exhausted nice and early). I woke up dark and early at 2:45. I was dragging a bit and didn’t end up leaving my apartment until about 3:30. I said goodbye to my kitties, who wanted nothing to do with me because I just fed them, then hit the road.



Predictably, there was no traffic at this time in the morning. The airport is only 15-20 minutes from me, so it was a very painless drive. At the shuttle stop in the economy parking there was a real life trash panda! If you’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy you know what I mean. If not, you’d better see Guardians of the Galaxy!




I called for the parking lot shuttle and then it took FOREVER to stop at every shelter and pick up everyone, and then the shuttle was super crowded. In the end I ended up getting to the airport around 4:30, with a boarding time of 4:50! Luckily I wasn’t checking a bag and security was a breeze. Sadly, Starbucks was not yet open, so I had to make do with a breakfast of champions which was an airport scone and some Diet Coke. I used my beautiful Away suitcase as a table and had a grand old time!



It’s hard to see but my plane ended up being the New Mexico livery! My second time flying with a special livery!





When I got on the plane I tried to sit in the two person exit row and the flight attendant stopped me, very urgently, and asked how old I am. Really?! The minimum age for a person sitting in the exit row is FIFTEEN!



On no planet do I look 15 or younger! I mean, I wasn’t wearing makeup yet, but still. The plane wasn’t full so I didn’t end up with a seatmate, and I got to watch the sun rise from the window. I’d call that a win!



I tried to sleep a bit, but I’m not great at sleeping on planes so I eventually gave up and watched Moana, and ate some Southwest snacks. Southwest always has the best snacks. They’re actually just the best, period.



After Moana I watched some of Coco and then we arrived! I hopped on the fake-o-rail, and then proceeded to get lost looking for Magical Express.



I went to the wrong terminal side, which I believe is A and then I wandered back through a part of the airport I’d never seen before. You’d think after visiting Disney 3 times in less than a year would make me a pro at getting to Magical Express… I eventually made it, and ended up no a Disney Cruise Line bus that was shared with Animal Kingdom Lodge. That was a little knife to my heart, how I’d love to be staying there!



I was able to sit in the front of the bus and snag some pretty decent photos of the most magical gates in existence!



At the time I was really excited to see the progress on the gondolas, though now they’re much further along. But let’s just remember when they looked like this!



Pop Century was the first stop and I soon forgot to feel sad about not staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge! I was actually very excited to be staying at this resort in the newly refurbished rooms.



I had purchased Disney gift cards electronically from Target so that I’d get the 5% discount on them so I could pay for the rest of the hotel room, so that meant I had to check in the old-fashioned way. It also meant that I had to read off 6 very long e-gift card numbers to the very patient CM. Next time I’ll get real gift cards! To save even more money I declined housekeeping for my stay which got me another electronic gift card. It was about 10:40 when I arrived at Pop Century, so I was very surprised when my room was actually ready AND in the location I had requested, basically. I had requested a room that was close to the walkway to Art of Animation, but also still close to the main building at Pop. My room was on the backside, facing Hourglass Lake, and I had requested building 4, but received building 5 in the same location!






Up Next: I check out my room!
 
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  • disneyAndi14

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 1, 2014
    At the shuttle stop in the economy parking there was a real life trash panda! If you’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy you know what I mean. If not, you’d better see Guardians of the Galaxy!
    Oh my goodness, that little stinker, he knew where the good trash was!
    I went to the wrong terminal side, which I believe is A and then I wandered back through a part of the airport I’d never seen before. You’d think after visiting Disney 3 times in less than a year would make me a pro at getting to Magical Express
    We did this same thing for some reason in January after we had been so many times! It was of course when my back was sore and we had to walk extra far!

    Excited to hear more about your solo trip! I enjoyed our 1 night at Pop in March, the rooms are really nice!
     

    buzzrelly

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 20, 2005
    So I had this open 8 days off (nurse perks - this didn’t use any PTO)
    Nice! One of the few perks we get :goodvibes


    As an added bonus VIPassholder events were announced during that time and I was able to sign up for a Magic Kingdom night!
    I have never been lucky enough to be there for wither these or the DVC events :sad2:


    In the end I ended up getting to the airport around 4:30, with a boarding time of 4:50!
    Crazy!:scared1:


    Pop Century was the first stop and I soon forgot to feel sad about not staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge! I was actually very excited to be staying at this resort in the newly refurbished rooms.
    POP is my favorite, go-to Value resort :thumbsup2
     

    missangelalexis

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 27, 2012
    Joining in! Sounds like it was the perfect reason to take a trip- the stars really aligned in your favor!

    Sounds like your flight down went smoothly! And so awesome that your room was ready so early!
     
  • paradesintherain

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 17, 2013
    Joining! And I'm first! I'll be back later to read!
    Hi, welcome! Glad to see you here!

    Oh my goodness, that little stinker, he knew where the good trash was!
    They just love the trash cans at the airport; they've frightened me multiple times popping out of the cans :rotfl:

    We did this same thing for some reason in January after we had been so many times! It was of course when my back was sore and we had to walk extra far!

    Excited to hear more about your solo trip! I enjoyed our 1 night at Pop in March, the rooms are really nice!
    Ugh that darn airport is just so confusing! Or, actually I'm just really bad at directions haha.

    I agree about the rooms, I loved them! And the resort is bright and fun too.


    Nice! One of the few perks we get :goodvibes
    Ain't that the truth!

    I have never been lucky enough to be there for wither these or the DVC events :sad2:
    I think that means the next time one happens you should just plan a last minute trip! ::yes::

    Yeah, it was a bit too close for comfort, but at least it worked out in the end.

    POP is my favorite, go-to Value resort :thumbsup2
    Me too! Although I haven't actually tried out All-Stars but I think I'd rather pay a bit extra for Pop. Could be a lot extra soon with the gondolas opening though...

    Joining in! Sounds like it was the perfect reason to take a trip- the stars really aligned in your favor!

    Sounds like your flight down went smoothly! And so awesome that your room was ready so early!
    Yay, thanks for reading another of my TRs! It really did work out just perfectly for a last minute trip.

    I was super stoked that the room was available so early! Made the early morning flight work out so much better.


    Following along! I also love Jack’s Mannequin (and Andrew McMahon in every form) 🥰
    Welcome! Thanks for reading! How fun to find another Andrew fan. What's your favorite Andrew song?
     

    paradesintherain

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 17, 2013
    August 2nd - Exploring Pop Century!






    After having arrived quite early I was very pleased that my room was available. I scampered off to find my room, 4155. It was a bright, sunny day and everything looked so beautiful! Weird story - when I opened the door to my room someone was actually in there! Turns out it was the housekeeping manager - I didn’t really get an explanation as to why she was in the room, but she left pretty quickly after making some small talk.




    And here it is! My beautiful refurbished room, which I looooved! The location was also perfect, and it was a very quiet area.




    This bed was very comfortable, and I loved not having a second bed in the way. The table was so useful!



    Also found this cute little coat rack useful. Actually everything about the room was made to maximize the space.



    Lots of storage in the bathroom, and so bright! Fantastic for putting on makeup.



    My room had a tub. I’m indifferent either way on tub vs shower.



    And here’s the view out my front door. It was really perfect for me.



    After admiring my room I went to the gift shop to look around.



    Pop Century certainly isn’t for everyone, but I found myself loving the vibrant colors and fun pop culture references.





    Then I walked across the lake to Art of Animation. Part of the bridge was under walls due to the gondola construction.



    I’m also a really big fan of Art of Animation!





    I checked out the gift shop in Art of Animation as well, and ended up finding the sweatshirt I had been wanting since March! I was surprised they seemed to have restocked the sweatshirt in the middle of summer, but very pleased. I ordered some create-your-own from Landscape of Flavors and parked myself in the Lion King section of the restaurant.


    Create-Your-Own Pasta: Choose from a variety of your favorite sauce and fresh ingredients, including Chicken or Shrimp

    The pasta was satisfying, if not overly exciting. And it was super filling. Not sure that I ate even half of it.


    After eating I made my way back to my room. I timed it and it took 5 minutes from Landscape of Flavors to my room! Exactly what I was hoping for from my location.



    I was pretty tired from my travel day so I thought it would be the perfect time to take a nap.






    Up Next:
    I take a nap... or do I?
     
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    suse66

    Mickey Bars should be a daily food group!
    Joined
    Sep 3, 2008
    So anyway, there I was with an Annual Pass burning a whole in my pocket, friends conveniently vacationing at the World at the same time as my break, and oh wait I also had enough Southwest points to cover a roundtrip flight to MCO! So on July 2nd I did what any rational Dis-er would do and booked a room at Pop Century with a great AP rate! I saved even more money by buying gift cards from Target with my RedCard which got me 5% off and using the gift cards to pay off my room and additional expenses while there. This trip was also really great timing for me because even though I’d just been to Disney World in June, Toy Story Land hadn’t opened yet, and I was dying to see it.
    Disney Math at it's best!
    I’m Kara!
    Such a cute picture!
    When I got on the plane I tried to sit in the two person exit row and the flight attendant stopped me, very urgently, and asked how old I am. Really?! The minimum age for a person sitting in the exit row is FIFTEEN!
    That's actually a nice compliment....
    I eventually made it, and ended up no a Disney Cruise Line bus that was shared with Animal Kingdom Lodge. That was a little knife to my heart, how I’d love to be staying there!
    I know, you always love AKL!
    Pop Century was the first stop and I soon forgot to feel sad about not staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge! I was actually very excited to be staying at this resort in the newly refurbished rooms.
    I am thinking of Pop for my December weekend trip.
    After having arrived quite early I was very pleased that my room was available. I scampered off to find my room, 4155. It was a bright, sunny day and everything looked so beautiful! Weird story - when I opened the door to my room someone was actually in there! Turns out it was the housekeeping manager - I didn’t really get an explanation as to why she was in the room, but she left pretty quickly after making some small talk.
    The resort looks gorgeous!
    This bed was very comfortable, and I loved not having a second bed in the way. The table was so useful!
    I love the refurbed rooms!
    And here’s the view out my front door. It was really perfect for me.
    Beautiful!
    Create-Your-Own Pasta: Choose from a variety of your favorite sauce and fresh ingredients, including Chicken or Shrimp
    Looks delicious and HUGE!
     
  • disneyAndi14

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 1, 2014
    The rooms really do have a good amount of storage and the bathroom works great for all our toiletries!

    How nice to have a 5 minute walk to AoA, it nice to have that food court for choices as well!

    I bet you couldn’t nap because you were so excited :stitch2:
     

    Christi0909

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 3, 2017
    Welcome! Thanks for reading! How fun to find another Andrew fan. What's your favorite Andrew song?
    Oh gosh, that’s hard, because I’ve been a fan since the Something Corporate days! I really love so many. Maybe I’m making this up, but did I also read that you’re a Hanson fan? If so, I am, too! If not, just ignore me 😆 I also used to live in KC! Love it and miss it, but I’m back home in OK now☺
     

    paradesintherain

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 17, 2013
    Disney Math at it's best!
    The only time I'm good at math!

    Such a cute picture!
    Thank you! It's several years old now, but I love it so much!

    That's actually a nice compliment....
    It is super nice... but also so unbelievable to me hahaha. Nobody every believes my age, but that's sure stretching it! :rotfl:

    I know, you always love AKL!
    It has my heart!

    I am thinking of Pop for my December weekend trip.
    I think you'd really enjoy it! It feels very Disney, and I loved that. Plus found it so convenient to be close to AoA, as well.

    The resort looks gorgeous!
    I was impressed too! It's really so bright and fun.

    I love the refurbed rooms!
    Disney did such a great job making them functional spaces that also look nice. There were so many places to store things it made me want to be tidy, because everything could have a place!

    Beautiful!
    Just perfect!

    Looks delicious and HUGE!
    It was enormous! Definitely worth trying if you do end up staying at Pop!

    I think that's the only way I'll ever get to see those.
    And you'd get an extra trip out of it! Although, I honestly wasn't terribly impressed with it. Spoiler alert... haha

    Yikes! Awkward!

    Your room and location look great! I love that you were super close to the bridge to walk to AoA.
    It was very awkward! At least it was over quickly.

    I was so happy with my room and the location, I'd happily stay there again.


    Glad you liked the new rooms at Pop! Looks like you got a great location!

    It's so great how easy it is to walk over to AoA!
    It was a fabulous location, I'd for sure request it again. Loved how convenient it was to both food courts.

    Perfect room location. Close to pool, main dining hall, AoA and buses!
    It was so perfect! I couldn't have asked for a better room!

    The rooms really do have a good amount of storage and the bathroom works great for all our toiletries!

    How nice to have a 5 minute walk to AoA, it nice to have that food court for choices as well!

    I bet you couldn’t nap because you were so excited :stitch2:
    That's what I thought too! Oh and those bathroom mirrors were gloriously lit!

    The location was perfect for me and I ended up using the AoA buses home most nights.

    You just may be right about that...


    Following
    Welcome! Thanks for following along!

    Oh gosh, that’s hard, because I’ve been a fan since the Something Corporate days! I really love so many. Maybe I’m making this up, but did I also read that you’re a Hanson fan? If so, I am, too! If not, just ignore me 😆 I also used to live in KC! Love it and miss it, but I’m back home in OK now☺
    Me too!! I think my current favorite Andrew songs are "Swim" (always and forever - has a special place in my heart since my friends and I were there the first night he played it live at Summerfest, plus the lyrics are just so powerful!) and "Love and Great Buildings". And yes, I'm also a Hanson fan! Did I maybe mention it cause I tried their beer at Epcot? Sounds right to me. How cool that you used to live in KC! OK is pretty close so maybe we'll run into each other at a show sometime... I've been known to travel quite a lot for Andrew!

    All caught up here too! I missed you by one day on this trip, I was there from Aug 8 through the 12th!
    Oh man that's so close! I'll have to go look for that TR to read!
     

    paradesintherain

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 17, 2013
    August 2nd - Toy Story Land!





    After my early travel morning I was pretty tired so I laid around in bed trying to nap. Emphasis on trying! I was very unsuccessful at sleeping, but I was successful at finding a Slinky Dog FP for 3:15, so I gave up on the napping thing, freshened up and got to the bus stop around 2:45.



    Toy Story Land was brand new at this point, and part of the reason I had booked the trip so it was pretty exciting to grab a same-day FP for a new attraction. I arrived at Hollywood Studios right as my FP was good so I pretty much beelined there.





    Glad they’ve actually done something with this area now.



    And there it is! After being taunted through the entire June trip I was finally entering Toy Story Land! And it was HOT. But very cute!








    So, it must be a bit before my time, but all these other Slinky toys are actually real! I googled them on my last trip and was delighted by that! I also didn’t realize that Slinky Dog was a real toy. I just assumed it was something Disney made up for Toy Story.



    One of my favorite details is that Wheezy, a bath toy, is not for use in water!



    Andy’s drawing of his Slinky coaster is pretty cute. It’s also fun to see some aspects that were scrapped, like the toy soldier area.



    And here’s my humble steed!


    I got on Slinky pretty quickly and was seated near the front.



    And there’s Star Wars Land! Looks very different now. And since then they’ve added tall trees to block the view a bit.






    My initial impressions were “cute but no thrill at all”. I’ve since changed that stance - maybe I was just tired that day, or maybe the front just isn’t as thrilling as the back. But I find it to be a lot of fun now, love the views from the coaster, and certain parts of the ride are really fun, like the bunny hills.

    I also enjoyed watching the coaster from the exit bridge. It’s just so colorful and fun! The area as a whole is very cute, but I have to agree with the people who say that it’s a bit poorly designed because it’s so out in the sun. I know they’ve installed umbrellas, but they really detract from the theme - they at least could have made them the little cocktail umbrellas!



    Alien Swirling Saucers was down, and I was melting in Toy Story Land so I peaced out.



    It was time to enjoy the rest of the park I love so much!






    Up next: more Hollywood Studios!
     

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