This morning started off a little later since our first FastPass was not until 9:20am.. so did not leave the Boardwalk until after 8 for the Animal Kingdom. Made our way into the park and Pandora to experience the River Journey. After those couple minutes wandered around Pandora trying to avoid the long line for Flight of Passage that seemed to be everywhere. Saw some of the drum circle show then walked toward Africa and caught the 10am Festival of the Lion King. Strolled through Gorilla Falls then used a FastPass for Kilimanjaro Safari. Once back some of the group ran for a quick trip on Everest using another FastPass and the rest of us made our way toward the park exit slowly. Met up by the bus stops and I headed to the Studios and the rest to Epcot. They had lunch at the Coral Reef and paid a visit to the Seas. I ended up at Rizzo’s and did a quick lap of the Studio before heading back to the Boardwalk for a couple hours. Returned to the Studios in the evening and walked around a bit. Met the group on Grand Ave, some were on Star Tours, then we all walked to One Man’s Dream to check out the models. Used a FastPass for Toy Story next. Then some went for dinner and others joined me on Sunset Blvd to see the Sunset Seasons Greetings projections. Watched the cycle 3 times then moved to Hollywood Blvd to find a spot for the evening shows. Enjoyed Disney Movie Magic followed by Jingle Bam before walking back to the Boardwalk to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- This morning made my first visit to Pandora. We had a FastPass+ for the River Journey. I should put the disclaimer up front that I am not a big Avatar fan. I watched the movie once, and that was on TV and only because the Pandora project was announced and I wanted to see what I could expect. Walking into Pandora the environment is well done. There is a lot of detail and the look works for Animal Kingdom. My problem was I was just not engaged. I strolled around and saw the plants, waterfalls, floating mountains, etc.. and they were interesting and impressive but I did not have a wow moment like Cars Land. Entering Ornament Valley from the Pacific Warf is a wow moment for me. Or entering Tokyo DisneySea Mysterious Island, or even the park itself. I just did not get that with Pandora. I would have enjoyed exploring the land more but so many walkways were closed off or filled with the overflow queue that it really interrupted the flow too.
- We walked right into the River Journey with our FastPass+ Our group of 8 adults plus a baby was given two rows which was a tight fit with all our camera and baby gear. So it started off on a bad note. Riding through the forest I thought was interesting. There were a lot of little details and I look forward to a future ride to try and pick up on more of them. I thought the overall experience was too short and not really engaging though. As we were exiting the consensus of our group was it was ok with a FastPass+ or maybe a 5-10 minute wait but if they had waited hours they would be extremely disappointed in that short of an experience.
- Caught the Drum Circle. It was interesting for a few minutes but most of my group lost interest and wandered off. It was not entertaining to us.
- Timing worked out and we were able to walk into the Festival of the Lion King. As always this show did not disappoint.
- Most of the group had a lunch reservation at the Coral Reef so they left for Epcot. I opted to head to the Studios. My plan was to grab lunch and then check out some of the construction then meet them. The park to park transportation was extremely slow and inefficient this trip for us. My bus to the Studios took almost 20 minutes to show up and there were a dozen guests waiting when I walked up and the other bus to Epcot showed up a good 5 minutes or so after that so nearly 30 minutes they waited. This was frustrating after the great experience we had last time with the Express Transportation option which really spoiled us and made park hopping pleasant with a set schedule and no security or entrance lines. It is too bad they could not figure out a way to make that service work, or to improve the basic service.
- I looked into using the mobile ordering as I waited and was disappointed by the lack of customization options in the system. For example I was heading to Rizzos and just wanted a pizza, no salad. I saw no way to do that in the system. So that meant I had to wait in line. It always amazes me at how slowly the lines move. The menu is limited and there are plenty of cast members moving around but it still take what feels like a long time to get your food.
- At this point the plan was to go see what could see of the Star Wars and Toy Story construction but instead I opted to go back to the Boardwalk and take a break, as I was still not at 100% (still blaming the undercooked Sleepy Hollow corn dog) and I wanted to return to the Studios in the evening with the rest of my group. It was nice to have a less than 15 minute walk from the center of the park to my room.
- I returned to the Studios in the evening to meet my group. We stopped by Walt Disney Presents and took a look at the new models inside for Toy Story and the partial Galaxy’s Edge one. I was disappointed to see such a small portion of the model for Galaxy’s Edge. The D23 model was so impressive and this was such a small portion of it, it really did not do the expansion justice. The Toy Story Land model was more interesting. Maybe once Toy Story opens in 2018 they will update with a large/more impressive Star Wars exhibit.
- I spent some time on Sunset Blvd watching the Sunset Seasons Greetings show. I watched through two cycles and thought they were a nice touch but not a big draw unto themselves, compared to say the Osborne Lights. It seemed most guests would pause watch maybe one of the segments and move on. Sunset Blvd was busy but moving. My only real complaint with the show is the audio was extremely loud, you could not really talk to someone standing next to you. That seemed unnecessary.
- I was glad to see the Disney Movie Magic projection show was running this holiday season. I missed it in the spring. I thought this was a nice package and worked as a good preshow. It played 20 minutes before Jingle Bam so those waiting for the show had something to watch.
- Both the Disney Movie Magic and Sunset Seasons Greetings seemed to confirm in my mind that projections work nice as an element of the show and not as good as a singular draw.
- Jingle Bam was a fun show as usual. This year there seemed to be more fireworks/pyro closer to the viewing area compared to my memory of last year’s version. The rest of the show seemed the same.
Pedometer Information for the day:
Other Picture sets from today: