Well, did the 4th of July weekend trip to Disney World, my first time back since Covid lockdown happened just after I last visited in early March 2020. That marked the longest stretch I've ever gone not visiting a Disney park since 1971 when Disney World opened. Really! 50 years, and that was the longest stretch without Disney. My biggest reason for returning was the dropping of the outdoor mask requirement...I could stand indoor masks, but not outdoor, at least until winter. I have been vaccinated, and was just waiting for that one bit of normalcy to return - knowing there might still be social distancing on lines or rides, some places still closed, and the park ressie system, not to mention I'm without annual pass for the first time in decades, and they aren't selling new ones so I had to go with a regular ticket for this trip (My AP was originally going to be good through October 2020, then they extended it to March 2021, and I let it expire (never claimed a refund) as I heard no more APs were for sale and I wasn't going back until the mask rule dropped...I actually never knew they were allowing current AP holders to renew - and never got any renewal notices, otherwise I would have re-upped. Of course, things change fast, and by the time I was ready to head up to Disney, the indoor mask requirement dropped too (I wasn't complaining!), and by most accounts, all the social distancing rules were pretty much dropped, though they might not mix parties on rides in the same row. Friday July 2 I drove up, checked in at Saratoga Springs at 3pm, got my requested Congress Park 3rd floor room, building 2, overlooking Disney Springs. I had no parks reserved for day 1, so just went over to Disney Springs to walk around, have dinner, visit a bar or two - and just enjoy being back to social and nightlife again (though I never stopped going to work and continued most of my work life traditions, ordering lunches and even meeting clients, I hadn't been OUT to a restaurant, bar, movie, etc since March 2020). It had been a heavy rain day - and periodic showers and downpours kept coming through - I had an umbrella so didn't really mind. The already inflated prices of Disney were up even more with Covid inflation effects like the rest of the economy, but since I hadn't spent on a vacation in over a year, who cares! Dinner at House of Blues, hurricane on the deck listening to live bands, margarita at Frontera Cocina, and then walk back to my villa. Day 2 was Magic Kingdom. I'll say right now I dislike the park reservation system as I don't like planning everything I do months ahead, but that's the way it is now, so you have to take what you can get. I knew in July's heat, miles of walking a day, I wasn't going to be hitting the parks bell-to-bell, and running from ride to ride - so I could accept a little more scripted park visits this time. No fast passes still sting a little, but not as bad most of the time as I planned for. Being 4th of July weekend, it was crowded - and social distancing was not observable in any way walking around. People bumping shoulders squeezing through crowded streets just like before the pandemic - lines were packed in, etc. Rain was still around - just passing showers, nothing hard this time...but it definitely impacted my photo-taking (almost none!) Ride-wise, I didn't take too many - but what I did weren't too bad for waits - Pirates of the Caribbean had a sign saying 15 minutes, but people were not lined up there - it was free entry with just handfuls of people walking in - so I tried it - I pretty much walked all the way through and right down the ramp to the boats, with just 10 people in front of me, and was sitting on the boat in less than 5 minutes. Big Thunder's wait said 45 minutes - that didn't sound intolerable, so I gave it a go - actual time was about 20 minutes. I went over to Haunted Mansion and the line looked huge - the girl with the sign said 50 minutes, but there were already 60-80 people past her...so I decided to skip it and headed over to Tomorrowland. Peoplemover's line said 15 minutes, so I did that - the actual ended up being 20 minutes because of a few stoppages of the ride. Circled back to Haunted Mansion and the sign now said 15 minutes...so jumped on line and the actual was about 10 minutes. Columbia Harbour House was still closed so I lost my cool 2nd floor break spot on hot days. I left before any evening shows or fireworks, around 8pm, and headed to Disney Springs for some late night drinks and entertainment then walked back to my villa again. Day 3 was Animal Kingdom...always one of the hottest parks. Rain chances were still high, but it ended up not raining at all the entire time I was there. Lines were the worst so far - it was 4th of July, so that might have had an impact. Kilimanjaro was showing 1 hour, 30 minutes at the sign - but the last people in line couldn't even see the sign...they were standing in line at Zuri's Sweets and the line snaked through the entire fruit stand and courtyard, and even up the nature trail entrance. Knowing how much more line was inside, I wrote off that ride entirely...and just walked the trails. I love the animals, and that's the main reason I'm there, so I can enjoy my day walking both trails and seeing the random animals throughout. I spent two nice long visits to Nomad Lounge to cool off with Leaping Lizards, then ate dinner at Rainforest on the way out, as I didn't need any reservations to snag a seat at the bar. Knowing AK was the only park ressie I could get on 7/4, I figured on missing all fireworks for the 4th...I wasn't going to bus over to one of the MK resorts just for that, it was a long hot day, and my villa at Saratoga faced Disney Springs, so I wouldn't see any distant park fireworks from there...oh well. Sitting on my couch in the living room having a Coke and cooling off in the AC, I was rather surpised to hear booms and see light flashing through my balcony door at 9pm. And voila! Fireworks were directly out my window, unblocked view, over Disney Springs...I got an entire 4th of July show without leaving my couch...thanks to Marriott World Center hosting their own fireworks show! They sit directly behind Disney Springs in my view, so the show felt like it was put on just for Congress Park. Day 4 was Epcot, which is still quite a mess of construction walls through Future World, which definitely takes a bit of the magic away. Also, staffing issues steals a bit of the fun and magic out of World Showcase, as I always loved having people of all the various countries in each World Showcase pavilion - heading into France or China or Mexico and having the same 20-something disassociated American slurring out a barely audible comment while looking like he's going through withdrawal without his phone in his hand just isn't the same. But that's not all Disney's fault right now with the travel restrictions! Sampled a few of the food booths and enjoyed some of the Flower & Garden walk-throughs, had some drinks around the world, and only rode Living with the Land and Spaceship Earth. It was just nice to be back. No rain again on Epcot day - those last two days were also the hottest due to the lack of rain or clouds. Day 5, July 6th, was packing my car, and driving home! Left at 9:30am and was at home in my living room by 12:45pm...had lunch, unpacked, and got ready to go back to the work grind again.