Started off the morning hanging around the resort a bit later than we have been since our destination was Blizzard Beach and the buses do not run there till 9:30am. Arrived at the park about 15 minutes before opening and headed for the rope drop area. Found a place on the beach to drop our gear and headed up the mountain. Due to the chair lift being down had to hike it. Went on Teamboat Springs and then noticed the chair lift was running so used it to go up to the top again and take some pictures. Teamboat Springs looked the most interesting to us so went down that again. Walked around back and went on the open Runoff Rapids before hopping into Cross Country Creek for a trip around the park. Spent some time roaming around taking pictures then headed for Melt-Away Bay to find our gear. Decided it was time for lunch so caught a bus back to Pop Century, took a shower, grabbed lunch, then headed off to the Magic Kingdom. Wandered down Main Street and into Liberty Square to get some Sorcerers cards and then into Adventureland to play. Completed my third quest before heading back to the bus area and going to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Met up with the media group and took a bus over to the Art of Animation Resort for a reception and tour as part of the Summer to Remember event. Spent a couple hours exploring the resort and taking pictures before boarding a bus to EPCOT. Was dropped off just behind the American Adventure. Hiked through the park and over to the Yacht Club for dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse. After dinner took the Friendship Launch back to EPCOT and roamed around to the entrance to World Showcase to find a spot for Illuminations. Watched the show and then joined the masses heading for the exit. Took the bus back to Pop Century to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- It has been quite a few years since I visited one of the water parks. I always seem to run out of days or have bad weather on the day I want to visit (since half my trips are in December that is understandable). But things lined up and I spent a couple hours roaming around Blizzard Beach this morning. There was a healthy crowd waiting to get in and it was quite a mess to get through the turn stiles but they kept it moving and we were still in the park before the 10am opening. Note we learned the buses from Pop Century were not running to either water park until 9:30, half an hour before opening.
- At park opening the chair lift was not working so we had to hike up the steps for our first ride of the day. This allowed for some great pictures and since it was not too hot out was not too bad. But on our second trip up it was much nicer to ride.
- My favorite attraction is Teamboat Springs, this is the large family raft ride. Not sure why I enjoy it, you really do not get to see much besides the giant path but it is fun to ride and talk with others. Also since it is so long it makes you feel like you got something in return for the hike up the mountain.
- Also spent some time in Cross Country Creek before it became crowded which was a nice relaxing trip around the park. As the crowds grew, the heat index went up, we decided it was time to get going and were out of the park around lunch time to head back to Pop Century to get some lunch and I needed to prepare for the afternoon.
- I have been trying to make it through the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game so made a quick trip out to the park after lunch to get some more cards and visit a couple portals.
- Thanks to some great timing and a generous invite from my friends over at Allears.net I was able to attend a preview of Disney's Art of Animation Resort as part of the Summer to Remember media events that were going on. This new value priced resort will be opening in phases with the first being the Finding Nemo area on May 31st. Cars will open June 18, and The Lion King will open August 10. The value rooms at The Little Mermaid wings will open on September 15. The first three phases all feature family suites. There will be a total of 1,120 family suites starting at $248 a night and 864 conventional rooms starting at $94 a night.
- The Art of Animation Resort is built across the lake from Pop Century. It was originally intended to mirror Pop and construction started before the economy turned. They had partially completed the lobby building and a couple buildings on one of the wings (which will be the Little Mermaid wing). So you will see many elements that a similar but just slightly off if you are used to Pop Century.
- My first impressions:
- WOW! As soon as you walk into Animation Hall the colors, artwork, and detail are amazing. The Imagineers have packed a lot into this resort and I am betting this will become a fan favorite. We had a brief time to tour the resort and take pictures so I had to move quickly and on a future trip I cannot wait to spend more time there. On this brief trip we were able to explore the lobby building and some of the Nemo area, plus a glimpse into the Cars area and I managed to click off over 500 pictures and I feel like I still missed a lot.
- The attention to detail in this new Resort is definitely going to set a new standard for the value resorts and now curious if they will do some major upgrades to the others in the upcoming years to meet this new level.
- The first thing that struck me as I entered the Nemo courtyard was again, WOW! The colors, scale, and immersive nature was incredible. Then walking over to look at the Cars courtyard it just continued.
- There seems to be some overlap between the Cars area and Cars Land out at DCA. Some of the signage appeared to be the same, which made sense but when pressed the Imagineers and representatives really did not say too much.
- It should be interesting how the cabanas work out. There are eight cones that make up the Cozy Cone Motel and they will each be a cabana that will be available on a first come, first serve basis. The cast member said there will be no additional fee or reservations. It will be curious to see if this holds or if they become a premium service.
- Next up I was able to tour the family suites. These are the first family suite rooms built from the ground up that way. The others were converted rooms. The rooms seemed spacious even with quite a few guests with cameras trying to work their way around for pictures and video. The colors and immersion continued to be just as bold and engaging as the out door spaces.
- I did not see the dimensions anywhere so not sure how the square footage compares to getting two Pop Century rooms.. it seemed larger to me (we have done the two Pop rooms several times over the years), but this may be due to the layout/furniture more than real size.
- Another interesting note is for the family suite buildings they all have interior hallways. This could be interesting come checkin/checkout when navigating with maid carts, etc... they felt a little narrow to me.
- The dining area seemed smaller to me than Pop Century which seemed odd. I did not get a chance to compare but I am assuming they are the same size, just with the new layout it felt different. Also they may not of had all the tables in yet.
- The gift shop looks great and there will initially be a large selection of resort specific items, even shower curtains and lamps from the rooms. Hopefully this does well and is expanded to other resorts!
- Wrapped up the evening with dinner at Yachtsman. This is one of my favorite places to eat and they did not disappoint. We had a great meal as usual!
Pedometer Information for the day: