Arrived at MCO just before 7am. Grabbed a quick breakfast at McDs and was boarding a Magical Express bus around 7:30am. Arrived at the Boardwalk resort around 8:15am. Check in, changed, checked out bags with bell services and strolled through the International Gateway just before the 9am opening of Epcot. Passed through a very quiet United Kingdom and Canada on our way to World Showcase. Soarin had a 10 min wait according to the app so headed that way. At the entrance it was posted at 15min but turned out to be a walk on. Next up Living with the Land. Then stopped by the butterfly garden and MouseGear. Caught the Muppet Mobile Lab at 11am in Future World and then an early lunch at the Electric Umbrella. After eating strolled around the rest of World Showcase taking a first look at the Flower and Garden Festival. Returned to the International Gateway and walked back to the Boardwalk. The room was still not ready so boarded at bus to the Magic Kingdom and made my way to Tomorrowland. Hung out there and caught the new performer/visitor – iCan. After observing his interactions went for a voyage on the PeopleMover then waked through Fantasyland, Liberty Square, Frontierland and Adventureland before returning to Main Street USA. Our room was ready so returned to the Boardwalk and unpacked a bit then walked over to the Dolphin and an early dinner at Shula’s Steakhouse. After dinner took a bus to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Wandered around and out to Harambe to use a FastPass+ for the Safari. After our adventure I roamed around the Tree of Life and then headed over to use a FastPass+ for Rivers of Light around 8pm for the 8:45pm show. After the show joined the mass exiting the park by way of Asia. Was able to board the first Boardwalk bus that showed up and returned back to the resort arriving back around 10pm to conclude my first day.
Thoughts & Observations:
- This trip began like many others with a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Orlando. This time the flight arrival time was slightly later than the past so the sun was rising as we were landing. The flight path took us over Walt Disney World. I was looking north and able to see most of the Magic Kingdom as we flew in a north/west direction over it. Of course my camera was in the overhead bin and cell phone off so no pictures! The flight was uneventful, we left a little late but got in on time and I slept for almost all of it.
- Nothing eventful to report from the airport, breakfast or the Magical Express trip to the Boardwalk. We had one other family on our bus and made a stop at Art of Animation for them. One advantage of early arrivals is almost no wait for a bus and minimal stops.
- We checked in online but stopped at the front desk anyways to see about getting a room. Always nicer to drop bags in a room and having a place to change. Unfortunately the room was not ready so we headed to the park but kept an eye on the phone. Nothing popped up so we checked around 3pm with the front desk and still nothing could be done. Check-in is 4pm for the villas. A cast member struck up a conversation with some of our group and said they would look into it. Turns out if we were willing to take another villa on a different floor we could get in. This one had a better view but was higher and further from the lobby. I was really surprised the front desk cast members did not offer that option at any point during the day when we checked with them.
- Started the morning with a leisurely walk through World Showcase. One of my favorite things to do and only was able to do it once this trip and that was the first morning.. I always had plans elsewhere it seemed! We ended up in the Land and walked right onto Soarin as well as Listen to the Land.
- Saw the Muppet Mobile Lab performance near Spaceship Earth in Innoventions Plaza. I has been a decade since I last saw it back in 2007 at Disney California Adventure. This was my first time seeing it at WDW. They put on a fun show and I really enjoyed it. I wish they had would share the schedule either post it, share it on the app, the information board nearby or website so guests would know the dates and times. Cast Members in the area seemed to have trouble knowing too. There were shows at 10am and 11am but I did not find out any others. Also it is not everyday, I learned this when I tried to catch the show on Monday.
- The International Flower and Garden show is going on at Epcot, it started March 1st and runs until May 29th this year. As I roamed around the festival it was on par with previous years. A couple new topiaries, an updated Belle and new Cars 3, some tweaks to the gardens and photo ops and more food offerings seem to sum up the changes.
- The annual Eggstravaganza is running the length of the festival. There are 12 eggs hidden in World Showcase. I had not had the opportunity to do the egg hunt at Epcot before so this was a first for me. It is usually over by the time I arrive. I thought they had a good mix of difficulty levels with the eggs. Some were extremely easy and others were much more challenging. I always find the ones inside to be harder since I do not spent a lot of time in shops normally.
- I traveled over to the Magic Kingdom in the afternoon with the hope of meeting the newest visitor to Tomorrowland. His name is iCan and he can be found rolling around the area between Space Mountain and the People Mover throughout the day interfacing with guests. I enjoyed seeing him and thought he was really quick and had some great one liners. It seems as if the target is brief interactions.. maybe a couple minutes and then you move on. He does repeat himself during a given set.
- Returned to the Boardwalk and finally got into a room just in time to change for dinner and head out. We had last stayed the Boardwalk Villas in December 2013 and at that time the room was a little worn/run down. Since then they have been renovated. The room looked great and featured a very large TV now.
- Dinner this evening was at Shula’s Steakhouse. The reason being it was the last day to use a birthday certificate for someone in our group.. and hard to pass up a free entrée there. Our meal was great as expected. Shulas has been extremely consistent over the years with the quality of the meal and level of service.
- Made my way to the Animal Kingdom for the evening. Had a FastPass+ for the Safari as well as Rivers of Light this evening. The first two thirds of the Kilimanjaro Safari was decent with a lot of animals out and moving around. The last third was a little frustrating due to the high burlap fencing up throughout the rhino/cheetah/lion/warthog areas. The driver said it was to introduce a new animal but he either did not know or could not share what. It made for a very poor experience, especially for first time guests. At least the cheetah were up and moving so you could see them. If they would have been laying down as usual no such luck… that was the case with the lions.
- I was really happy to see the Tree of Life Garden Trails have all reopened and are now net free again. So you can walk up to and around the tree with clear unobstructed views. I found it odd that they have installed projectors on the backside of the tree for the awakenings show but did not bother to camouflage them at all yet. They appear to be installed and operational so it seems something should be around them to hide them some. It is very poor show. Being able to see projections on the back side of the tree should be great. They are supposed to be up and running by the end of May.
- This was my first viewing of Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Overall I thought the show was just ok. It was not a spectacular in the traditional sense of the word. It was a “pretty” show but did not impress or really draw me in. The show “platform”/tech was very interesting in what they were doing but anytime you are focused on the how and not into the show it is not a great sign. I did not have a big “wow” moment for me. The music supported the show but did not engage me either. I found the story a bit abstract and hard to follow for my tastes. The theater itself was not very comfortable and I could only imagine how miserable it is come summer to sit out there and sweat. The seats were hard and with no back were not comfortable for the long wait time. The number of seats with good sight lines seemed very limited due to the projection screens and angles. The Disneynature clips used in the show were nice but hard to see clearly. Also some of the staging choices were odd.. for example they have four barges with animals. But they stay two on each side of the theater so you only get to see two up close.
- One note, I had a FastPass+ and learned quickly that you should not follow the return time.. they let you in earlier than posted and if you were to wait you would be on the far end of the theater
- The park exit flow after Rivers of Light was much smoother than I had thought. I was expecting it to be very crowded and slow going but I was able to walk at a normal pace and thanks to staying at the Boardwalk it was a minimal wait for the bus. Other resorts were not so luck. The Caribbean Beach Resort was really backed up as were the value resorts on the other side.
Pedometer Information for the day:
Other Picture sets from today: