Started off the morning with most in the room having an early wakeup call. A group was fishing out of the Yacht Club at 7am so they were up around 6:00 and out the door by 6:30. Others had a character meal at Cape May at 8am. I opted to skip both and get caught up on some posts and email. Once everyone was back we headed for Epcot arriving just before 10am. Stopped by the Land and went on the Living with the Land boat ride then scanned our Magic Bands at Imagination to clear a FastPass+ on our way to catch a Friendship Launch across the lagoon. Disembarked near Morocco and wandered through the Morocco, Japan, stopped for lunch at the American Adventure then continued through Italy and Germany. Had to pick up the pace to meet a quickly closing window for a Frozen FastPass return. After Frozen headed for the front of the park. One member had to clear some FastPasses so we did Pixar Short Film and Nemo then met everyone at the Monorail. It was closed so had to take the bus to the Transportation and Ticket Center then opted for the ferry boat to Magic Kingdom. Along the way picked up a Little Mermaid FastPass+ so used that then most went on Haunted Mansion before we reassembled in Town Square. Exited the park and hopped on a launch to Fort Wilderness for dinner at Trails End. After dinner took a bus to Animal Kingdom and did a very quick lap through Pandora, then Africa and Asia on my way to see the 7:45pm Rivers of Light show. After the show joined the crowd marching to the buses. Took one to the Boardwalk. Dropped my gear off and strolled over to Epcot to close my evening with Illuminations. After the show back to the room to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- The morning started early with one part of the group fishing at 7am out of the Yacht Club and another part going to the Cape May breakfast at 8am. Both groups had a good time. The fishing group really enjoyed spending some quiet time in World Showcase Lagoon fishing. The breakfast group said it was a good meal.
- Once we re-assembled we headed for Epcot and Future World. Decided to stop by the Land. The first hope was to do standby for Soarin but we arrived too late and the line was longer than our patience. So we used a FastPass+ for Living with the Land. It was nice to see more Christmas decorations through the green houses. It livens up the area a little. I miss the gingerbread displays that were in the Land for a couple of seasons.
- We opted to take a Friendship Launch across the World Showcase Lagoon to save some steps. It saved steps but cost time. Some of the group walked and including a couple stops still beat the boat from Canada to Morocco. It was just pulling out of Morocco when we got in line, so we did not have a long wait, but it was a slow ordeal.
- I always enjoy World Showcase in the morning. It is a much calmer pace and less crowded than later in the day.
- I grabbed lunch at the Liberty Inn. They had an interesting meal. $13.99 for a burger, fries, drink and dessert. I told them I just wanted a burger and that was $10.99 (it still came with fries.. I could not get it without them).
- The plan was to take the Monorail to the Magic Kingdom but it was down. So they had buses running from Epcot to the Transportation and Ticket Center. The good news is they had quite a few running and it was no wait. The bad news is it meant no Monorail ride, a longer walk to the bus, and having to go through security at the TTC. I really miss the Express buses!
- We arrived in the Magic Kingdom in the early afternoon but due to the 6:00pm closure for the Christmas Party it meant there were not many FastPass+ options left today.
- After a couple of attractions it was time to head to Fort Wilderness for dinner. We had some great boat luck and it was boarding as we walked up. Once onboard it was a little annoying. Guests had parked their ECVs in the middle of the walkway so you had to climb over them to get to the empty seats up front. Cast Members did not seem mind this and said nothing. They had to climb over too to come outside.
- We were early for dinner since we had no delays in transportation. The plan was to relax at Fort Wilderness. We decided to check in early to tell them we were around since we had a large group. We then had the option of eating early and close to the buffet or waiting until our time and eating on the lower level. We opted for the early seating. The food was good as usual but our experience was not as good as previous ones. Our server was not on top of things. He did eventually clear plates but drinks were a challenge and just overall friendliness was not up to the standard Trails End expectations. Also we noticed the food selection was more limited. They had two buffet lines set up and some items like the potato bar and baked chicken were not there to make room for this. Also finding white meat meant extra digging through the chicken or asking a cast member where as in the past it was in its own dish and easy to access.
- After dinner the plan was to go to the Animal Kingdom and spend some time in Pandora, maybe do a night Safari then the 2nd Rivers of Light show. The two bus trips plus wait time between them meant it took longer than planned to reach the park.. so in the end we were at Animal Kingdom for just under an hour and did a quick run through of Pandora then caught Rivers of Light. The buses and distance did not work in our favor tonight.
- I spent a few minutes walking around Pandora to see it at nights. Some of the plans and effects looked good, but nothing was overly impressive or “WOW”. I was expecting more.
- It would have been a nice peaceful walk through the park taking the trail from Pandora to Harambe and then out to Asia but since we were late it was a brisk walk through a nearly empty portion of the park. I did pause to see part of a Tree of Life Awakenings segment from the backside. It appeared on par with the front side, with the advantage being it was deserted! I was the only person around watching.
- Arrived in Asia a couple minutes before Rivers of Light show time. I looked across the bay and there was plenty of stand by seating but you would be off to the side. I opted to grab a spot on the bridge between Everest and Nemo which is close to show center. The audio is not as strong there but the viewing angle is substantially better.
- Unfortunately Rivers of Light was having some problems. One of the lotus blossom floats was not working properly and had limited effects (lighting, water, etc). Then the big disappoint was the large one that comes out for the finale was MIA. The regular finale I found lacking, but without that float and the fire effects it is really a letdown how the show ends.
- After the show we walked back to the bus and caught one to the Boardwalk since the park was closed. It really bothers me that they do shift changes for buses at park closing. Seems they can pull those buses into another stall, do the change and assign a bus that is in service to guests waiting. Or schedule the driver changes no during park closing/busy times.
- There was a light off/on rain so stopped by the room and dropped off some gear and picked up rain gear before walking over to Epcot for Illuminations. Being a 10-15 minute walk really spoils you..
Pedometer Information for the day:
Other Picture sets from today: