Started off the morning leaving the room just past 8am and making my way toward the boat docks at the Yacht & Beach Club. A Friendship boat heading to the Studios was arriving so walked onboard for a cruise to the park. Arrived just after 8:30 and the park was already open, posted opening was 9am. Walked up Hollywood Blvd and found the some of my group outside Toy Story. Waited less than 5 minutes for our ride then walked over to Star Tours which was almost a walk on (three guests in front of us and we paused right at the gate). Some of the group headed for Rock in Roller Coaster and I met up with the later arrivals at the Star Wars Launch Bay. Explored the area while waiting for the coaster group then we all went to Great Moments at the Movies. We then headed for the Muppets. Followed by a quick lunch at Pizza Planet for some while others went off on their own. I ate quickly then headed for the noon showing of Indiana Jones while the rest of the remaining group returned to the room. After Indy walked down Sunset Blvd to check out Club Disney and then the Hollywood Brown Derby gingerbread before leaving the park. Decided to take the boat to the Dolphin then hop on a bus to Disney Springs. Walked once there walked across the new causeway and through the Landing to the West Side. Went up on the Orange Parking Structure to see the construction then doubled back to meet friends for dinner at the Boathouse. After dinner walked around World of Disney and the Landing before catching a bus to the Contemporary. Walked to the Magic Kingdom. Took the train around to Storybook Circus and then wandered through Fantasyland and Liberty Square before finding a spot for the Main Street Electrical Parade. After the parade made my way out into the hub to catch Celebrate the Magic. After the show headed for the exit as Wishes was starting. Watched some from the hub then out front of the park before catching the finale from the bus stop. Took a bus back to the Beach Club to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- This morning I started off with the plan to walk to the Studios but as I was passing the pier I noticed a boat heading to the Studios arriving so I walked out and hopped onboard for a ride to the park. It was nice to sit but I could have gotten there faster walking.
- I arrived around 8:30am and the park was scheduled to open at 9am but they were already open. Walked out to Toy Story and went through the stand by line in less than 5 minutes. Interesting they were sending even groups to the left and odd number to the right to help with loading. For us it worked out and we boarded faster since the odd number line was shorter.
- No real signs of progress on the additional track for Toy Story. Was curious if it was going to open in time for the busy Christmas season. I saw no signs indicating it was (but then again no signs indicating it was not either).
- On Star Tours the opening sequence was the original Darth Vader one. No added characters like the Disneyland scene had. The Jakku and BB-8 segments looked the same to me.
- Due to the half hour of bonus time in by 10am we had already visited Toy Story, Star Tours, some the Rockin’ Roller Coaster and then the Launch Bay. We were able to take our time through each but encountered no waits or delays.
- Stopped by the Star Wars Launch Bay to compare to Anaheim. Here it is housed in the original Animation Building. The screening room features the Film Makers video and is a much nicer venue than the makeshift area in Anaheim for it. Walking around at WDW they have more larger props but Anaheim had more models and smaller ones. Also the gift shop in Anaheim seemed to have more. The character meet and greets I cannot compare since I only did Chewbacca in WDW and have done neither in Anaheim.
- Next up the Great Movie Ride. I had not been on since TCM took over sponsorship. The digital movie posters in the queue and updated segments in the screening room were nice additions. The attraction narration/audio seemed to be an awkward interaction with the live cast member. It would be really great to see some new scenes and updates added to the attraction. For the Science Fiction section would be great to see Star Wars over Alien for example. The final film sequence was also updated. It was a good mix of movies but it did not seem to have the same response as the original to me. Not sure why with many of the clips the same but it just felt off to me.
- After a quick lunch made it into the Indiana Jones show just before they cut the line. The show is really showing its age to me and needs some updates. Will be interesting to see how much longer this has in its run.
- Club Disney is a new addition to the Studios. It is located in the Sunset Theater which is in a far and awkward corner of the park. To reach it you have to pass through the Rockin Roller Coaster courtyard and then keep going. Once you do find the building and step inside you are greeted with a mix of Dancin’ with Disney and the Animation Building from Disney California Adventure. But unlike Anaheim which had an abundance of characters here I saw two. Daisy was on the dance floor and Max was near the door. There were a lot of seats around the room and some charging locations so that is a plus. The projections that ringed the room were well done for some songs too (not quite the animation building caliber but still good for music video mixes) The addition of some interactive coloring walls was a nice touch too.
- Next up I made my way to Disney Springs. It is still a hassle to get there. I opted to take a boat to the Swan and then a bus figuring that was the closest. It still took me an hour to get there. It seems that there should be a way for resort guests to catch a bus directly from a theme park there. I understand not wanting that route to discourage people from parking there but still checking Magic Bands or something would be helpful vs the wasted time of transfers.
- Disney Springs is still under major construction, I would say it is maybe half way open at this point. The parts that have opened look great. The new causeway and the Landing area are positive signs of things to come. The sense of place and atmosphere a much richer in the Landing area and looking forward to seeing how the Town Center comes out.
- I spent some time and walked around the Orange parking structure and the walkway over Buena Vista Drive to get a better look at the parts that are under construction. It is a very large project and this becomes clearer from the height of the structure (I did not have time to do Characters in Flight to really get a birds eye view).
- The Boathouse Restaurant in the Landing area was very impressive. It is an extensive complex featuring a couple of bars, the restaurant and a mini boat museum on the lake. We walked around the boats both during the day and night and it was a great experience and the collection was fun to see. Ate dinner in the restaurant and had a great meal. The service was top notch and the meals were all great. I tried one of their steaks (the filet mignon) to compare to Yachtsman and Shula’s. Out of the three Shula’s was the best this trip. Yachtsmans and the Boathouse were very similar but I would give the nod on the steak to Yachtsman slightly. The service at the Boathouse was better than Yachtsman and was more attentive and friendly than Shula’s too this trip. Others in our group tried the Shrimp and Filet Sliders and thought both were great. In terms of price/quality/service it would be hard to beat the sliders at the Boathouse. We also tried one of their large desserts. This was a hit with our group and two or three groups of friends we shared left overs with (it was a very large piece of cake weighing in at over 5 lbs so there was plenty for the 5 of us at dinner and two large containers of leftovers).
- Stopped by the World of Disney to check out the new expansion. The area fits in perfectly with the store and the added square footage appears to have opened up the walkways a bit (or maybe it just was not over crowded this evening). In any case it was pleasant to walk around compared to past visits.
- My “ bad bus luck” continued. We missed the one to the Contemporary and had to wait 15 minutes or so for the next one to show up then had a very slow drive to the resort.
- Arrived at the Magic Kingdom and it was very busy. This was one of three non party nights during my trip and the only one that I had planned to visit the park due to scheduling. One of the many side effects of the Christmas parties is it makes non party nights even more crowded as guests have few opportunities to be in the park at night.
- My main reason for going was to take some pictures of the castle then see the Main Street Electrical Parade. I always enjoy seeing the parade and found a spot near the Liberty Square bridge that allowed for a good view and then an easy walk to the hub for Celebrate the Magic.
- After seeing the other castle shows around the world this year (Disney Dreams and Once Upon a Time) I was really disappointed with Celebrate the Magic. It really comes off as a pre-show for the fireworks. The projectors looked rather dim to me too.
- Trying to leave the hub after Celebrate the Magic was a fun challenging. Guests were trying to push their way in for Wishes and others holding their ground for Wishes. So both were not pleased with me as I inched my way toward a walkway and exit. There was really no crowd control in the area where I was. Before Celebrate started there were a couple cast members trying to guide guests but once the lights went out they retreated somewhere and were no where to be seen once they came back on between shows.
- Watched some of Wishes from Town Square and then out front of the park and the finale from the bus stop. Not sure what it is but I am just not a fan of Wishes. I hope the park gets a new show soon.
- My streak of transportation troubles continued as I had to wait about 10 minutes for a bus to show up and by the time it did there were two scooters waiting to board. It took quite a while to get them onboard and by that time the masses from Wishes had joined the queue and the bus was packed and left another bus full of guests waiting at the stop. Eventually made it to the Yacht club where the scooters looked like they were going to get off so I exited and walked back to the Beach Club which due to the buses stopping at the convention center was only a couple hundred yard walk through the parking lot.
Pedometer Information for the day: