Started off the morning taking a bus to the Animal Kingdom. Slowly made my way through the park and back to the Safari. There was a posted 10 minute wait so decided to use standby again. No problems and almost walked right on again. After stopped by Pangani then headed for Camp Minnie Mickey and the 11:30 Festival of the Lion King. After the show grabbed lunch at Pizzafari then made our way to Asia and Flights of Wonder followed by the Jungle Trek. Continued around past Everest and went to the 3:00pm Finding Nemo and ended the Animal Kingdom portion of my day with the Jingle Jungle Parade. Hopped on a bus to the Art of Animation. Took some pictures of the lobby decorations then went in “geek” mode and sat out front waiting for one of the new large buses to come and take me somewhere. Luckily it was only a 20 minute wait and it was the third Magic Kingdom bus to show up. Went for a ride on the brand new bus to give it a try. Once at the Magic Kingdom ended up grabbing dinner at Cosmic Rays. After dinner found a spot to watch the Castle lighting then joined the masses exiting the park due to the start of the Christmas party. Took the Express Monorail to the TTC and then transferred to the Epcot line. Strolled through the park because the rest of my group happened to be at the American Adventure (of course as far away as possible). Eventually caught up to them and walked around for a few minutes before they called it an evening and I returned to watch the 8:15pm Candlelight. Then wandered around to the International Gateway to catch Illuminations before returning to the Boardwalk for the evening.
Thoughts & Observations:
- Another non-existent wait greeted us at the Animal Kingdom for the Safari. I think the Fastpass+ as well as lower crowds this time of year have really made this nice.
- Went out to Camp Minnie Mickey for one last showing of the Lion King in its current home. Come the first week of January the show is slated to go on hiatus until mid year. So if that schedule holds I will not get to see the show in its new home for good year probably. I was disappointed they announced a gap in the performances. Originally the rumor/plan was to have a very very short turn over from the old to new theater. Should be interesting what upgrades the show will receive in its new home.
- Noticed they were emptying the theater again with the floats out. You did not have to wait until they pulled them off stage. This is how it had been for years but the last trip or two they changed that.
- Ate lunch at Pizzafari since it was on the way and we were hungry. There were a large group of Cast Members just milling around and getting in the way. They were actually blocking the walkway between the food pickup and dining area. And when I said excuse me they looked at me as if I was causing a problem. Very poor show and un Disney-like of them.
- Today we ran into some housekeeping issues at the Boardwalk. We were staying on points which meant Trash and Towel service on the 4th day, which should have been yesterday. We left our towels piled up and when we returned for the evening they were still there. Talked to the front desk and they apologized and had no idea what was going on, but it was late in the evening and housekeeping was gone so nothing we could do but they assured us Friday it would get taken care of. Also they said just to the pool to get towels. Friday same drill we left and when we returned nothing had happened. Again talked to the desk and same thing, apologies and said it would get done Saturday. We also called this time since we were out of toilet paper too. They did run some towels and toilet paper to the room and on Saturday they did the regular service.
- I made a trip out to the Art of Animation Resort because I wanted to see how they decorated for the holidays. The lobby had several garlands and trees around it. I did not have time to venture out but from what I have seen the decorations are confined to the lobby area. The art work in the garland and on the tree were nice touches and while not a lot of decorations it worked and seemed on par with the other value resorts.
- I hung around the bus stop waiting for one of the new double length articulated buses to show up, and it eventually did, the third bus to the Magic Kingdom. The new buses are really new.. you can still smell that new bus smell once you step onboard. The driver seemed really pleased with the new bus and said it was fresh off the line. There is a lot of standing space on the bus. I did not count the seats but it sure seemed there are not that many more than some of the older buses but it more than makes up for it with rails and other standing spots. I am guessing come crunch time that extra space is appreciated. I only saw the buses running on the Pop Century and Art of Animation Magic Kingdom routes. Not sure if they were being used at park closing on any other routes. The bus road nicely but it was really odd to see the front of the bus turning and you were still going straight (I sat in the last section).
- Once at the Magic Kingdom the Art of Animation Bus stop was number 34, the very last one in the new section. It is quite a hike from there to the parks.
- The Magic Kingdom was gearing up for a holiday party plus the normal Friday night crowd when I arrived so it was busy.
- WDW scheduling left something to be desired. This evening the Magic Kingdom closed at 7pm for the Christmas Party. Animal Kingdom at 6:00pm, and the Studios at 8:00pm. So if you wanted to do anything in the evening your choice was really Epcot which was open until 9:30pm for regular guests then three extra hours for Disney Resort Guests. So guess where everyone was heading as the sun set tonight!
- I ate dinner at Cosmic Rays and did something I normally do not do.. I got a hamburger. Which turned out to be seeping with grease.. I could hold it on its side and watch it run off. I knew there was a reason I never ordered one from here before.
- The guest narrator for the Candlelight at Epcot this evening was Dennis Haysbert. I believe he is new at WDW this year. I saw him last year at Disneyland and his voice/delivery works perfectly for the ceremony. I would say he is in the top 5 I have seen over the years. My favorite is still James Earl Jones (believe that was Disneyland 1991).
- Interesting note the dining package return line for the Candlelight for the 8:15pm show stretched all the way to Morocco. It was extremely long and seemed to take them almost up to show time to get everyone seated.
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