Started off the morning bright and early catching a bus to the Animal Kingdom a little before 8am. Arrived at the park and headed for the entrance line then joined the mass making our way to Discovery Island for the opening ceremony. After the opening ceremony took some pictures then joined the crowd marching to Africa. Saw the massive merchandise line as I walked by. Once in Africa hung out at the Safari exit waiting for the rest of my group that left me in their dust at opening. Grabbed Fastpasses and then hopped on the Wilderness Express to Conservation Station. Roamed around looking at the Earth Day exhibits and then returned to Harambe to ride the Safari. Once back walked through Pangani Forest then headed for Pizzafari and an early lunch. After lunch circled Discovery Island on our way to Asia. Watched the gibbons for a while then walked the Jungle Trek. Once back went to see the Flights of Wonder show and then walked back through Africa and stopped at the merchandise line at Creature Comforts to pick up some 15th Anniversary merchandise. Wandered toward the park entrance and decided to take a bus to the TTC and a monorail trip to Epcot to get some Flower and Garden pictures from above. Then hopped on a ferry to the Magic Kingdom. Picked up some Sorcerers cards and watched the band a while before heading for a bus to the Yacht Club. At dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse and then walked to Epcot. Strolled past the United Kingdom and Canada and into Future World. Stopped by the butterfly house and then hid from the rain in by the Character Spot. Walked through Innoventions Plaza and out to the Seas with Nemo and Friends. Wandered back to the park entrance to take some topiary pictures then went for a ride on Spaceship Earth. Then walked by Mission Space and Test Track before heading back to World Showcase. Had about 45 minutes or so and decided why not take a lap around World Showcase so set off toward Mexico and worked my way all the way around with about 5 minutes to spare before Illuminations. Watched the show then joined the mass exiting the park. Took a bus back to Pop Century to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- Thought it was a good sign to start the day off spotting one of the newly painted buses and it stopping to pick us up. Was surprised to find they did not change anything inside the bus, just a new paint scheme outside.
- Made it to Animal Kingdom with time to spare compared to our plan. The lines were already on the long side when we arrived.
- The crowd just kept building as opening approached. There was a large mass of guests heading toward the Tree of Life. The venue for the opening ceremony was a bit awkward. Adding to the hassle was a large number of guests pushing their way to spots since they wanted to be in position to run to the attractions or merchandise area and did not care about the ceremony. Wish there could have been a way to separate them out to make it more enjoyable for all.
- The crowd did seem to respond to and enjoy tossing around the giant earth ball.
- The merchandise lines seemed really long and slow moving all day. I jumped in line after lunch and it took a good 45 minutes to work my way through the process. The bottleneck seemed to be they only had four cash registers open. Seems they should have had easily had double that to help keep things moving. There were a lot of cast members on hand to keep the line in order, fill orders, and answer questions but things ground to a halt at checkout.
- Still not sure what everyone was angling for so early with the long line. The only items sold out were iPhone cases that had insanely small limits of 50 or so. Everything else was still available late afternoon.
- I was surprised there was no D23 presence at the festivities. Thought they missed an opportunity.
- I thought the commemorative maps and buttons were a great touch for all guests. I saw quite a few wearing their buttons. I would have liked to have seen a wider selection of 15th anniversary merchandise. Too bad commemorative tickets have fallen out of style.. also would have liked to have seen more events. At the 10th they had a Joe Rhode presentation that was great!
- The rest of the Party for the Planet Activities that were going on for Earth Day around the park seemed on par with previous years. Nothing really jumped out at me as vastly different or unique this year.
- Dinner this evening was at one of my favorites, Yachtsman Steakhouse. The meal did not disappoint and was great as expected!
- Walked through Epcot this evening and the park seemed very relaxed to me. The walkways were not congested and it was peaceful to walk around. Between it being a Monday and the rain it thinned the crowds.
Pedometer Information for the day: