Started off this Walt Disney World trip with a red-eye from LAX to MCO. We arrived just after 5am EST. Grabbed a quick breakfast at the airport then hopped on a Magical Express bus to the Boardwalk. Checked in and a room was available for us so we dropped our bags, unpacked a bit and were on our way to the Magic Kingdom by 8:30am. We arrived at the park and headed for guest relations to update our passes and as we did the park opened. Once we had our annual passes fixed and linked we ventured into the park and roamed down Main Street USA. Made my way to Liberty Square and grabbed some Sorcerers cards. Then walked through Frontierland and out to Adventureland. Grabbed a Fastpass for the Jingle Cruise and then continued on through Adventreland and circled back through Frontierland. Country Bears were just opening so stopped for the first show of the morning then returned to Adventureland to use the Jingle Cruise Fastpass. Once back on land strolled back toward the hub and took the walkway to go by the Castle to Fantasyland. Went through a couple windows of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom then walked out to check out lunch options. We ended up in Columbia Harbor House. After lunch crossed through the hub and over to Tomorrowland. Grabbed a Fastpass for Buzz then went for a ride on the People Mover. Then walked out toward the Mine Train work while waiting for my Fastpass return time. Used my Fastpass then walked through the hub as the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Party was going on. Circled back to Storybook Circus and caught the Giggle Gang performing near the entrance. Walked by Little Mermaid and out to Belles Village then back to the Circus to what Wowzer. After his performance walked back to the traditional Fantasyland area and finished my first round of Sorcerers. Decided to head for Main Street and then the Monorail. Took the Express to the TTC and transferred to the Epcot line. Once at Epcot hopped on a bus to the Studios. Hiked out to Lights, Motors, Action and arrived a minute or two before the show started. After the show met the rest of my group near Star Tours and we hung around the Streets of America waiting for the Osborne Lights to come on, while we waited took in the Mulch, Sweat, and Shears Concert. Watched the lights come on and roamed around taking some pictures for 45 minutes of so then headed for the front of the park and to catch a bus back to the TTC and monorail back to the Magic Kingdom. Made my way up a busy Main Street and into Tomorrowland. Grabbed a quick bit at Rocket Tower then walked through the Incredibles Dance Party before returning to Main Street to find a spot for the Main Street Electrical Parade. Ended up watching from Liberty Square. After the parade found a spot for Celebrate the Magic! As that show was wrapping up worked my way through the crowd as Wishes started. I hopped on a Monorail to the TTC then Epcot and made the hike out to World Showcase. I came up a few hundred yards short as Illuminations started as I was passing by Journey Into Imagination. Continued around to the bridge near the International Gateway and watched the show from there. After Illuminations took the stroll back to the Boardwalk to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- This trip marked a milestone for me... my 30th WDW vacation!
- We arrived in Orlando before 6am. Actually we arrived, ate breakfast and were boarding a Magical Express Bus at 6am and by 7am we were unpacking our carry-on luggage in our room at the Boardwalk. There were no problems or waits with the Magical Express nor the Resort Checkin at this hour. Interesting note they said we could not use our Magic Bands because it was too early and instead I needed to dig out the paperwork for the bus. This seemed odd to me..
- There is a new Video that plays on the Magical Express Bus now. It is called DME TV and features a hostess, think like the resort TV. The character video is gone. The new video does the normal routine of plugging the parks, some top items to see, myMagic+ as well as the Parks Blog. The one part of the video that I am sure will send my fellow Disneyland bloggers into a writing rampage is the use of the original Disneyland Dedication Speech. They play the speech and the B-roll is Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom but in Black and White.. how is that blurring of history? I found it a little annoying. Why did they not use Roys speech and color? Does everything have to have that direct of a link to Walt? It just seemed odd to me. Others on the bus did not even notice, think they were trying to sleep.
- After dropping our bags our first stop today was at the Magic Kingdom. As is the norm had to go to Guest Relations and deal with my annual pass. Seems each time I move between resorts (Anaheim & Orlando) I end up having to do the drill and get my pass re-issued. Seems they have yet to work out the kinks.
- Once issued my new pass then I had to link it to my MagicBand using the online app. This took some time and learned the bar code scanning does not work well and to just type it in. Also an interesting note the guest relations at the Magic Kingdom was not able to process an upgrade using a Magic Band as payment.. their machines were not ready.. so we had to use our old fashion room charge.
- The castmember we drew for all this was great. At the end he apologized for how long it took and gave us a voucher for free popcorn! That was a first.. usually its just a sorry have a nice day. Actually the last time they gave us fastpasses because we had to go back a second time to get the RFID passes.
- After roaming the park a bit I attempted to use the Fastpass+ system and get one for the Jingle Cruise. After about 10 minutes and still feeling no where closer to getting one I just walked over and got one. The online system was responding extremely slow. Couple that with the fact that we could not just pick times we had to do three attractions then go back and try to edit the time it was a pain.
- I spent some time visiting several other Magic Kingdom favorites of mine... the Country Bears and People Mover too. I am still very disappointed they no longer do the Country Bears Christmas show.
- The Jingle Cruise here in Orlando is very much like its cousin in Anaheim. Some props in the queue then its all on the skippers. The skipper we had was ok. She threw in a couple Jingle Jokes but not that many. I included the video in the update. The overheard sentiment was pretty much on par with Anaheim.. people were expecting more. Should be interesting to see how it evolves next year.
- Lunch was at the Columiba Harbour House. We were very lucky to time it right and it was not crowded nor loud so it was a great meal!
- Spent some time in Belles Village and by the Little Mermaid attraction. The Christmas decorations this year are on the light side. They work in the village but there just is not that much. One of the more detailed spaces to open is the large space devoted to the Disney Vacation Club kiosk. This was very well done but it is just time share sales which seems a bit of a waste.
- Worked my way over to the Studios in the late afternoon. Arrived just in time to watch Lights, Motors, Actions. The show fell rather flat for me. But around me this time were several groups that had never seen it before and they were all really into it and on the verge of amazed most of the show. So for first time guests it still has some magic.
- Waited around for the Osborne Lights to come on. Nothing too new or different jumped out at me this time through. They were selling Glow with the Show Ears but not enough to really make an impact or see them in motion. The Streets of America were packed as usual and moving around was a challenge. Finding the cat this year was not a challenge and I just stumbled onto it. Years past I really had to search but this time it jumped right out to me.
- To return to the Magic Kingdom I walked out and walked right onto a waiting bus which pulled away a few seconds later. Given this great timing plus no wait at the Monorail Station and it still took me over 30 minutes to park hop.
- Decided I wanted a hot dog for dinner.. not sure why but it sounded good. I was disappointed to find that if you ordered a plain hot dog they were not going to give you the nice large bun.. instead you were given one of those not so good regular buns they have. I was talking to the cast member and she said they changed this recently at the Launching Pad and she thought Caseys had too. (Note on a later day I found out Cosmic Rays still did the good buns). After waiting and talking a bit she did ask and they accomodated my request for the larger bun, which I thought was very of them.
- After eating walked through the new Incredibles Dance Party that premiered this evening in Tomorrowland. It is basically the same as the old dance party, just some new signage, DJ costume, and difference characters out. I have never been a fan of the dance parties and this did nothing to change that. The DJ was not very good compared to some I had experienced at Disneyland and having three characters roam around and dance seemed on the lite side.
- Watched the Main Street Electrical Parade from a vantage point that the Caslte would be the backdrop. As usually really enjoyed the parade.
- The crowd control at the Magic Kingdom was terrible. I forgot how they do not know how to move guests around and it became gridlock at several points and the cast members did not seem to know how to regain control of the walkways. Eventually I did push my way through and head for Epcot. Due to the unforseen delay I was several hundred yards away from my destination in World Showcase when Illuminations started.
- I had not stayed in the Epcot Resorts since 2004.. even after just one night I remembered why I liked it so much. The total time from Illuminations to my room was 10 minutes!!
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