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Walt Disney World Day 4 Report

Friday, December 9, 2016

Trip Log:

Started off this very cold and dreary morning heading for the Pop Century bus stop about 7:45am. Had to wait about 5 minutes for a Magic Kingdom bus and we were off in no time. There was a road closure near the Magic Kingdom and traffic was a mess. Eventually we made it to the Magic Kingdom then waited for a Resort Monorail and took a long trip around to the Polynesian. Made it with 1 minute to spare before our 8:55am breakfast reservation at Kona Cafe. After breakfast walked around the Polynesian then hopped the Monorail to the Grand Floridian and walked around there then did the same at the Contemporary. Boarded a bus to Disney Springs there. Spent some time in the shops at the Town Center then the Marketplace before visiting the Christmas Tree Trail. Decided to go to the Magic Kingdom so walked over to Saratoga Springs to catch a bus, had to wait half an hour for it. Got to the Magic Kingdom just as the parade was making its way around Town Square so found a spot and watched it. After the parade caught the Dapper Dans then went to catch a boat to Fort Wilderness. One pulled in after several minutes but it had mechanical problems so we waited for the next while while several CMs worked on that one. We were in line for the boat before 4pm and made it to our 5pm dinner with not that much time to spare. Ate dinner at Trails End then hopped a bus to the front of the campground and then transferred to one bound for the Hollywood Studios. Arrived at the park entrance as the 10 min announcement for Jingle Bam was playing. Walked around looking for a spot and settled for Hollywood Blvd near Sunset. After the show hiked from there over to Epcot to use a Frozen FastPass+. After Frozen decided to go on Soarin. A posted 40 min wait turned out to be 35. Hung around the Fountain of Nations until 9:20ish then went to find a spot for Illuminations. After the show joined the masses heading for the exit. Was lucky and walked onto a waiting Pop Century bus, one of the last guests and it pulled away almost right away. Was back in my room at Pop Century by 10:15pm to call it a night.

Thoughts & Observations:

  • Today was the coldest day of the trip. A cold front came through and highs were going to be in the low 60s with off and on rain in the morning. So it was definitely time to break out the big jacket and umbrella.

  • Found it odd they started blowing leaves and cleaning the public areas of Pop Century at 7:30am. That seems early in the morning for equipment to be running. I was up so it did not matter but seems after 8 would be more reasonable.

  • Walt Disney World has a lot of road construction projects going on. It seems almost every major road has cones up and some project going on. This came to a head today with a road closure near the Magic Kingdom that snarled traffic heading to the park and the resorts. There had been signs warning of the closure and there were several scheduled but it was a mess. Of course this morning we were meeting a friend for breakfast at the Polynesian. So we had to deal with the bus traffic and they had to drive in it.

  • The Monorails were not operating smoothly and appeared to be down right before we arrived and were slow in getting going again. Seemed they had ongoing maintenance issues all day. For example our Monorail door would not close/latch so at each stop a cast member had to walk over and shove it into place.

  • It had been a while since I ate at the Kona Cafe. We had a good meal. I had the regular french toast and it was served hot with plenty of bacon. One in our party ordered the Tonga Toast and said it was on the cool side of warm and not as good as the previous time they had it.

  • Since it was raining off and on we did a loop of the Monorail Resorts to stay dry then headed for Disney Springs, arriving as the sun came out. The ride to the Springs seemed really long with the construction and traffic and this was mid day. It is nice to have a single drop off point and bus stop which saves a couple minutes vs the old routes for Downtown Disney.

  • Spent some time walking around the Town Center and the stores. The area is impressive and looks great, but the stores hold little interest for me. I saw a fair number of guests walking around but very few bags. The restaurants seemed to be fairing better. They have one of the drones from the StarBright show on display in the pin store. Great to see what puts on the show, but a very awkward location for it. Walked through the Marketplace and took a look at the Christmas Tree Trail. The concept is good, character and movie theme trees, but the execution came off as rather cheap and last minute. It is held in the old bus loop and looks extremely temporary and not up to a Disney show standard.

  • Decided to take a bus form Saratoga Springs to the Magic Kingdom. The theory was good but we had to wait a very long time for a bus. The posted wait time was 30 minutes and grew as we waited.

  • At the Magic Kingdom I did not leave Town Square. I watched the Festival of Fantasy Parade, noticed there are no crossing breaks in it. So you are trapped and cannot relocate once it starts. Then the Dapper Dans performing.

  • Dinner was at Fort Wilderness and we left the Magic Kingdom an hour before the reservation and arrived with only a few minutes to spare. The boat pulled in but had issues and two mechanics were onboard working on it. A second one did show up and we piled on to that but it was a slow trip and guests were left at the dock.

  • The Wilderness Lodge DVC expansion is inching along. It seems to really be moving slowly. The new cabins along the water really change the look of the area. Will be interesting to see the final look, hoping some more trees are brought in.

  • Trails End is one of our favorite restaurants. The relaxed environment of Fort Wilderness, great comfort food, and reasonable (well for Disney reasonable) pricing has always made it a great place. This trip was sub par. First up they had no fried chicken wings nor breasts. They did not bother to tell you this. It was only after asking several times at the counter then talking to our server that we learned there was a supply issue and they would not have any all night. They were trying to source from elsewhere and maybe in a couple hours but they were not expecting anything until the next day. Does not help us! I thought it was poor they did not tell you this up front. The price for dinner for an adult is up to $30 plus tax. On the positive side with an Annual Pass you get a 20% discount now.

  • After dinner decided to head to the Studios for Jingle Bam. It was close but I made it with 10 minutes to spare for the show. I did a quick walk up Hollywood Blvd and the central area seemed really busy and I did not think it was right to wedge myself into a spot, so I walked back down and found an open space near the intersection of Hollywood and Sunset Blvd. This vantage point confirmed my original theory that there are very few great spots for the show. You could see about 1/3 of the projections and some of the fireworks but it was obstructed and not impressive at all. As the show started the area around me thinned out as guests gave up and left. Many grumbling as they did so. Not having the main fireworks centered is a big loss. Also having the two large projection towers block the view is not ideal. Seems they should have done projections along Hollywood Blvd like Disneyland did for the 60th to really immerse the guests and bring a quality experience to more guests. The finale snowfall does span the street, but why is it is a blizzard.

  • After the show I walked to Epcot to use a FastPass I had for Frozen. If you were curious it is about 1.4 miles from Hollywood Blvd to Frozen. It took me 35 minutes, this includes a couple photo stops, security, and park entrance.

  • Interesting note as I walked through the Frozen queue there was a child sitting it crying. Guests in the Standby were talking to him so I assumed he was theirs and just refusing to come in line. Behind me was a Disney guest relations CM escorting a VIP. She stopped and discovered it was a lost child. Interesting the VIP party sat down with the child to talk to them. The CM went alerted the attraction CMs who called it in. At that point I boarded and when I came out everyone was gone.

  • On a second ride through Frozen was just as impressive as the first time through. It is a very well done attraction. I think a little too much water ends up in the boat though.

  • It was cold outside so I decided to go spend some time inside and opted to visit Soarin. It was posted at 40 minutes, turned out to be 35 only. The queue was extremely hot though.. ended up shedding the jacket and sweatshirt (as did just about everyone else in line). The Soarin' Around the World is the same as the Anaheim version except for the finale. Here it features Epcot. Great to soar over the park at night. Spaceship Earth looked off to me though, like they did some CG work to it or maybe it was the distortion of the projection? Also found it funny to see the same fireworks sequences just placed differently at Epcot as they used at Disneyland. (I saw video online and Shanghai uses the same shells over the city there too).

  • While in line for Soarin I was playing with the myDisneyExperience App and became annoyed. I wanted to book a FastPass for Illuminations, since it showed availability. But it would not let me. The reason being I only used one FastPass and that was for Frozen which is also a tier 1 attraction. It said I needed to book and use experiences at the other tier first. The problem was all those attractions were closed already or booked for the night. So I missed out on Illuminations because of this and watched from a standby location. I did not have enough time to go to guest relations to see if they could help.

  • I watched Illuminations from near the Canada Friendship dock. This meant it was quick to get out after the show. I was actual back at Pop Century by 10:15pm thanks to being ahead of the masses and some good bus luck.

  • There was an odd voice mail on the phone when I got back to the room. It was from the Art of Animation front desk saying they would be turning off water to building 9 off and on the next day for some scheduled work. Funny thing is I was staying at Pop Century in building 10. So they had the wrong resort and building number.

Pedometer Information for the day:

Steps 22,346
Miles 8.4
Moderate 15,446
Walking Time 134


WDW Pictures

Part I: Magic Kingdom Resorts
A visit to the Monorail resorts.

WDW Pictures

Part II: Disney Springs
A look around the Town Center and the Christmas Tree Trail

WDW Pictures

Part III: Magic Kingdom & Bay Lake
A quick stop at the Magic Kingdom for the Festival of Fantasy Parade and Dapper Dans then a check of the Wilderness Lodge DVC work on the way to Fort Wilderness.

WDW Pictures

Part IV: Studios & Epcot
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! @ Hollywood Studios then over to Epcot for Frozen, Soarin and Illuminations.

Other Picture sets from today: