Started off the morning arriving at the Orlando airport around 5:30am. Stopped for a quick breakfast in the food court then headed for the Magical Express area. Boarded a waiting bus and we were on our way to Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Walked up and checked in and as luck would have it our room was ready. So took the carry-ons to the room, took some pictures, changed, and then headed for the bus stop. Had to wait a good 20 minutes for the Magic Kingdom bus then for a scooter, then we were almost full but still stopped at Jambo House and they tried to squeeze more people on. So in the end I finally made it to the Magic Kingdom just as the opening show was beginning. Watched from outside the turnstiles since it was backed up inside and then made my way up Main Street to the hub. Wandered out to Fantasyland and circled the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Then walked by the Mad Tea Party and back to the Hub. Took a look at the construction here and recent changes to the rose garden, old swan boat dock (which is gone) and Casey Corner. Made my way back to Town Square and watched the springtime Trolley Show and the rest of my group joined me at this point (they decided to sleep vs head to the park first thing). We walked down Main Street and into Tomorrowland and hopped onto the People Mover. After our spin wandered around the New Fantasyland since some had not seen it yet and made our way to an 11:15am Be Our Guest Fastpass+ After lunch we split up again. Some went fishing out of the Contemporary. Some to Downtown Disney and shopping. I hung around the Magic Kingdom. Grabbed a bite to eat at Cosmic Rays then walked by the Street Party on my way to Liberty Square. Circled around to Fantasyland and then doubled back and picked up some Sorcerer cards before walked through Frontierland and Adventureland and playing a while. Hopped on the train to Storybook Circus then walked to Tomorrowland. Paid a visit to the Carousel of Progress then walked back through the hub. Decided to find a spot in Frontierland for the Festival of Fantasy parade. After the parade walked quickly to Main Street and watched it a second time from the Main Street Train Station. Hung out there waiting for the fishing group and post some parade pictures to the blog. We then decided to take the ferry to the TTC and a monorail to Epcot. Arrived and saw no line for Spaceship Earth so went for a trip while waiting for the rest to arrive. As we exited the rain started. Ducked into the Electric Umbrella to get out of the rain and ended up eating there. Then hung out and watched the rain before spending some time in Mouse Gear. When the storm let up it was after 6 so we decided to call it a day and head for the bus and back to Kidani to unpack and prepare for tomorrow. I have an early wake up call.
Thoughts & Observations:
- Since I wanted to maximize my time at Walt Disney World and I did not want to waste a day traveling east I took the red-eye flight which touched down at the Orlando International airport just after 5:30am. Nothing too interesting to note from the flight except a couple hours out of Orlando we his a pretty big storm and the plane bounced around quite a bit and the other side of the plane had an impressive lightning storm out the window.
- It is always pleasant to walk through an airport in the early morning when it is not a madhouse. We arrived at the Magical Express area and were the only guests in sight. They scanned our MagicBands and we boarded a waiting bus. A few minutes later we were on our way to Kidani Village in our own bus.
- Checking in was a breeze at Kidani. Again we did not see any other guests and had several cast members to talk to as we checked in.
- This time I tried the online check in system and I do not think it saved me any time. It seemed like I had to answer all the same questions and stand around for the same amount of time. Maybe later in the day when there are longer lines it helps.
- We were extremely lucky and our room was ready when we checked in. We were in our room and unpacking carry-ons by 7:00am. Well I was snapping pictures of the room while everyone else unpacked.
- This trip we stayed in a two bedroom villa because we had a group of five traveling together and wanted the larger room. Having the three bathrooms and extra space was great! Even though I spent very little time in the room except for sleeping the others enjoyed it and having a space to relax in.
- I was out at the bus stop by 8am and waiting for a bus to the Magic Kingdom. Thought it was interesting there were several LCD screens with approximate arrival times of the buses. This was great and for the most part seemed relatively accurate. From time to time it seemed they kept pushing the bus arrival later for the one I wanted but all in all it was within a couple minutes of the posted time. I think this is great and would like to see it more places. Or integrated into the myDisneyExperience app.
- The trip to the Magic Kingdom was long.. the bus picked me up around 8:10 and I did not arrive at the bus area of the Magic Kingdom until 8:44 (the bus also stops at the main lodge before going to the parks).
- When I arrived the Magic Kingdom opening ceremony was just getting underway and the entrance area was jammed with guests. I waited outside until it cleared a bit.
- As I entered the park I noticed quite a few families walking quickly up Main Street and through the castle. Was curious if the Mine Train was soft opening or what.. so I wandered along and followed the group. In Fantasyland there were a lot of cast members directing the crowd around the carrousel and then into line for Fairtale Hall. It appeared they mass rush was to get in line for the Frozen sisters. It had a posted stand by wait of 210 minutes at 9:07am and the park opened at 9:00am!!
- I circled around the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to see how it was looking. All the walls were down and it looked ready to go. I spotted a large group inspecting the attraction and looked to be going over a punch list. So no testing this morning. The Cast Members standing at the entrance were vague when asked when it would open saying only “Next Month”. There was a stage set up for the formal dedication in a few days on the back side near Storybook Circus.
- All in all the exterior of the attraction looks ok to me. I am not a coaster fan at all and to me too much of the coaster track is visible. Also there seemed to be quite a few visual conflicts still. Ranging from random speaker placements to what looked to be the onride photo system. Should be interesting to see if more of that gets covered/hidden once it officially opens (opening date was announced later in the week as May 28th). While the Mine Train fits into the area nicely it is not as impressive to me as say Buena Vista Street or Cars Land on a first impression.
- I spent some time roaming around the hub area too checking out the construction. So far nothing overly interesting to see. Just some removal of things and preparation work. Should be interesting how it comes together and what effect it has on the park. I always felt the hub at WDW felt large. Hopefully with the new landscaping this enlargement does not make it feel even larger.
- For lunch I had a Fastpass+ reservation for Be Our Guest. I found this process very odd that it was outside the main app/website and had its own. Also my reservation did not show up in myDisneyExperience. The process to check in and eat went extremely smooth though and saved a lot of time in line so I was pleased with the end result. I was really disappointed with the lunch menu at Be Our Guest. The one item I really liked the steak sandwich had been replaced. Also since we had a Fastpass+ we did not use the self service kiosk to order. A cast member took our order (we did not use the pre-order option).
- Paid a visit to the Carrousel of Progress since it just celebrated its 50th anniversary since premiering at the New York World’s Fair. Always great to see classic attractions. I think the Carrousel could use some TLC and I believe it is slated for some renovation work in the near future.
- The Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom is new since my last visit. I was really looking forward to seeing this parade and I was not disappointed. It was extremely well done. It is lightyears ahead of the dated parade it replaced (I lost track of what it was called at the end). The complaint I have with this parade has more to do with the Magic Kingdom than the parade. The audio was really hard to hear and clearly understand to me. Several people asked me how I would rank it compared to other Disney Parades. This is tough. For me the Main Street Electrical Parade is probably at the top of my list. Followed by the old Lion King Celebration at Disneyland then Soundsational at Disneyland. It may be a toss of SpectroMagic and Festival of Fantasy for the next spot on my list though.
- Thanks to the long parade route I was able to catch the parade twice. Once in Frontierland near the start then I moved quickly to Main Street to watch it in Town Square.
- From the Ferry I saw the Polynesian DVC project and its moving along. I think its an interesting concept but I am not a fan of where they put it. The new buildings are out in the Seven Seas Lagoon right beyond the existing buildings. I would think they will block the view of the lower floor or two of the buildings. Should be interesting to see the sightlines. I would have rather seen them built on the other side near Luau Cove. I wanted to go down to the beach to see them closer but never made it there this trip due to weather (it rained several of the days and I had to make some choices and this got cut since I assumed I could not see much anyways).
- The plan was to visit Epcot in the evening but a large thunderstorm rolled in and I made it on Spaceship Earth only before heading for cover in the Electric Umbrella during the storm. As it let up we made our way back to the bus stop and called it an early evening. It was pushing 8pm by the time we got back to the room and I had a 7am tee time and wanted to get through some pictures and get some rest.
- One member of our group kept trying to charge things with his MagicBand and had no luck. After several attempts he gave up and went to talk to the front desk in the evening when he returned to Kidani. We learned for some reason they never assigned the PIN to his band. The other four got it but not his. They fixed that and he was good to go.
- One last Fastpass+ note. I had three booked for the Magic Kingdom today and managed to use none of them. First up was to visit Mickey in the morning, but got sidetracked with the Mine Train and then hub projects. Then had Big Thunder for most of the group but we missed that due to an early lunch at Be Our Guest. Then I had one for Festival of Fantasy and decided I wanted to try and catch it twice and could not do that from the location of FastPass+ viewing in the hub so skipped that too.
Pedometer Information for the day: