Started off the morning doing some packing and catching up in the room since it is our last full day and was raining early. Ventured out to the Animal Kingdom for a 9:40am Flight of Passage FastPass+ time just as the rain was letting up. After visiting Pandora made our way to Africa for a Safari ride then strolled around the Tree of Life to the Adventures Outpost for pictures with Minnie and Mickey. Next up lunch. Some grabbed pizza, others headed for the room and the bulk of us ended up in Dinoland. After lunch most of the group went to Disney Springs for some shopping. I strolled through Dinoland and out to Asia to watch the gibbons for a while then explore the Jungle Trek. Made my way back to the buses and over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Wandered around the lobby and outlook then back to catch a bus to the Studios. Walked up Hollywood Blvd to the Echo Lake area then out to Grand Ave and circled the Muppet Courtyard. Took Commissary lane to the center of the park and then made my way to the end of Pixar Place. On the way out of the park picked up an AP magnet and walked back to the Boardwalk. Met up with the rest of the group and we all walked over to the Yacht Club for dinner at Yachtsman. After dinner took a look at the Beach Club lobby then walked back to the Studios for Jingle Bam. After the show back to the hotel room to warm up then strolled over to Epcot around 9pm for Illuminations to close out my last evening.
Thoughts & Observations:
- We have had really good weather this trip but it started to turn yesterday with some passing showers. Overnight it rained pretty good and this morning it was cold dropping down to the 50s. The rain let up as we ventured out for the day so that was a positive. The cold front that was coming through had been originally forecasted to start a couple of days ago so having to deal with it the last two days of the trip vs half the trip was good luck.
- This morning had another set of Flight of Passage FastPass+ times so the rest of my group that had not ridden could. On a second pass the long process to start the ride seemed even longer. The experience itself was a little less dramatic and my 1st impressions held solid. I asked the people who had not ridden before and they all said it was a good attraction but would not rank as one of their favorites. No one in our group was a big Avatar fan so that weighed against It.
- We had a FastPass+ for the Adventure Outpost to meet Mickey and Minnie. I typically do not do the meet and greets so this was new for me. I was disappointed with the experience. I thought the wait to get to the characters was long, even with FastPass+ and then I felt very rushed. We had no time to really interact with the characters. It was drop your stuff, line up, smile, and we were shown the door. The pictures came out good so we had a nice group shot with Mickey and Minnie but the experience was less than stellar.
- I spent some time in Asia in the late morning. The gibbons were really active and we enjoyed standing there and watching them for quite a while. Took a walk through the Jungle Trek and it turned out to be a bust. With the cold weather the Komodo Dragon and Bats were not out. Only the male tiger was out and he was just sitting around. The cast member did have a tablet with video of the female and cubs playing backstage. She said they were not expected out until the new year (this turned out to be wrong and they came out a couple days after our trip, so my streak of missing openings and new experiences by days or a couple weeks continued).
- Stopped by the Animal Kingdom Lodge to check out the Christmas decorations and show someone around who had never been there. The resort is impressive as always. There were a fair number of animals out on two of the savannas. Nothing new on the Christmas decoration front jumped out to me.
- Returned to the Studios to get some construction pictures and take a look around since the other visits I had not. Unlike Disneyland there are very few angles that give a good view of what is going on so you cannot see anything too interesting from the park for either Star Wars or Toy Story projects.
- It was nice to see the Muppet Courtyard Fountain is back, it was a planter last visit. The water seems to add a little more to the area than the plants did.
- A free magnet was available to Annual Passholders at the Studios this year. I picked one up on the way out. It is a nice little gift. Nothing too interesting but it is something.
- Dinner this evening was at the Yachtsman Steakhouse. I thought the meal was just average. I had to send my steak back because it was undercooked and the fries were not as good as past trips. I thought my past several meals at Shula’s Steakhouse were substantially better.
- Dinner ran long then the rest of the group was slow in getting going so we arrived back at the Studios with only a few minutes to find a spot for Jingle Bam. This meant viewing choices were limited. We lucked out and one of the Star Wars stages was having problems and they left it out. No one wanted to stand behind it so we opted to. This meant the bottom ¼ or 1/3 of the projections were not visible but you were close and had not one in front of you blocking the upper portions. The lasers were not fully functional with many not firing. The show lacks some of the “wow” without the laser effects.
- Closed out my last evening with Illuminations. There seemed to be a hiccup near the finale of the regular show and some of the higher fireworks were not launched. Not sure if this was technical or wind related. For the holiday tag most shells appeared to go up though.
- Walking back to the Boardwalk encountered some guests who had a little too much to drink at Epcot. They were making comments and you could tell looking for trouble. I did not turn back when they tried to engage me. The rest of my group stopped at the bakery but I kept walking. They followed then got sidetracked doing something dumb. I heard from the others that they ended up falling over some chairs then for some reason starting running and jumping into the Christmas tree. They told the first CM they saw by the lobby and they said they would alert security.
Pedometer Information for the day:
Other Picture sets from today: