Started off my morning with a long bus wait and then slow bus trip to the Magic Kingdom. Once at the park security and park entry moved ok. Strolled up Main Street USA and into Tomorrowland. The Carousel of Progress was just about to board so headed that way and went for a spin then a trip on the People Mover. Roamed around Tomorrowland, Storybook Circus and Fantasyland on my way to Liberty Square to watch the Muppets. After their performance returned to Main Street USA and picked up some Sorcerers Cards. Exited the park after playing one station and caught a boat to Fort Wilderness. Arrived ahead of schedule so walked around the Tri-Circle D area then headed for Trails End and brunch/lunch. After eating caught a boat to the Contemporary. Took a look at the Gingerbread then hopped on the monorail. The plan was to see the Grand Floridian but it took too long so went to the Magic Kingdom and caught a bus to the Caribbean Beach Resort to meet some friends there. Walked around and took some pictures of the recently finished work and ongoing Riviera project then went over to Coronado Springs to see the work there. Visited with friends for a while then headed for the Animal Kingdom. Spent some time watching the Tree of Life Awakenings while waiting for the rest of my group then went to dinner at Pizzafari. After dinner stopped by Donald’s Dino Bash then caught the 7:30 Rivers of Light. After the show exited the park and caught a bus to the Boardwalk. Walked to Epcot since there was no boat in sight. Heard from another friend and we met at Mission Space, went for the Green Mission then used single rider for Test Track before finding a spot for Illuminations near Mexico. After the show walked to the International Gateway and headed back to the boardwalk to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- The morning started off with one of the longest bus lines I have seen at the boardwalk. The Magic Kingdom bus line was backed up the walkway. It was nearly two full buses of guests. The station board was still out of order and the app just said every 20 minutes for the Magic Kingdom (that seemed to be the normal with the app.. where ever I was going said every 20 minutes and the other routes all had times!). Eventually a Magic Kingdom bus showed up and started to load the waiting scooters. Then a second one showed up and took another scooter and guests started to board both. We made it onto the 2nd bus.
- As soon as the bus turned onto World Drive we saw brake lights ahead. Traffic came to a near stand still just past the Epcot exit and was bumper to bumper all the way to the toll plaza. The bus worked its way to the left lane and used the new flyover which was slow going but saved several minutes I think compared to the old route that would have been in that traffic through the toll plaza.
- We had no real agenda this morning so just started to roam the park. As we were walking toward the PeopleMover we noticed the Carousel of Progress was loading so went for a spin there instead. I enjoy the carousel but I would really like to see an update to the last scene.
- From the PeopleMover I was unable to see any work for the Tron project yet. They had some equipment on the walkway and looked be preparing but fencing was still going up so no work yet.
- Stopped by Liberty Square to see a performance of Great Moments in American History by the Muppets. I really think their show is well done and works perfectly in the land. I wish the times guide and app would have the show times. There is a sign with them in the area but if more people knew the times it may draw a larger crowd vs just those walking by.
- I headed for Fort Wilderness for lunch today and thanks to some good timing with the boat arrived earlier than planned so I had some time to walk around and visit the ranch. It is such a change of pace to leave the Magic Kingdom and after a short boat trip arrive at Fort Wilderness. I had expected to see some initial work for the new Disney Vacation Club resort on the former River Country site but no real visible progress jumped out to me as I walked around and cruised by.
- We had a great brunch at Trails End. It was not very crowded so it was a relaxing meal.
- Stopped by the Contemporary Resort next and took a look at the gingerbread display. It was more or less the same as previous years. Cinderella and her castle. There was a photo backdrop nearby which was new.
- The plan was to take the Monorail to the Grand Floridian to see the gingerbread house but as I arrived on the platform the line stretched beyond the elevator and it was going all the way to the far end of the platform and filling all the space. I just barely made it onto the second train to arrive. The Monorails were slow arriving, slow boarding, and slow departing. Each station took quite a while and had waits. The Grand Floridian looked just as bad so I opted to just stay onboard and head for the buses since I was going to meet a friend soon. It took substantially longer than it should have to make it around the Seven Seas Lagoon. The Monorail system in its current state is not efficient at all.
- I took a bus to the Caribbean Beach Resort because I wanted to see it now that most of it had reopened and the renovation work has wrapped up. The first change is the resort entrance is now off of Victory Way vs Buena Vista Drive. As you enter you see the large Disney Skyliner complex where the three lines come together on your right. Due to the Riviera resort buses no longer go in a circle around the resort, they go down three streets and have to turn around. This appears to have extended travel time to most of the stops. The new lobby and dining areas look great though and work well. I enjoyed spending some time checking out the resort.
- The Skyliner still looks very out of place at the resort and the Riviera looming on the far show seems even more awkward. The large tower does not fit at all with the low profile Caribbean village. Having such a different theme for the tower seems odd to me. Why not build something to compliment the Caribbean Beach Resort theme vs a different style?
- Next up we traveled to Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort to take a look at the Gran Destino Tower. This tower is slightly more integrated into the hotel theme but its massive scale is still drastically different than the surrounding resort. It is going to be interesting how these two large towers transform the resorts once they open.
- Made my way to Disney’s Animal Kingdom as the sun was setting. As I was entering there was a wave of guests leaving. It was early evening, well before park opening, but it seemed a large number of guests were not interested in Rivers of Light or the other after dark offerings.
- Stopped by Dinoland USA to see the Dino-Riffic Dance Party! The dance party takes place near Chester & Hesters and features a couple DJs and characters. There were some guests but I would not say it was busy. There were a lot of bubbles and snow which the kids really seemed to like, my camera and I did not.
- I stopped by to see the second Rivers of Light show. There were plenty of seats available in the stand by area but I opted to stand out on the bridge to have a more centered view. The show has been altered slightly. The live performers on the two boats have been cut from the show. Also during the performance I watched one of the four small lotus blossoms was not in use. It seems every time I watch the show at least one barge is out.
- After the show my original thought was to try to make it to the studios for Jingle Bam but the bus line looked really long over there so instead decided to go to Epcot. That bus line was long too so headed back to the Boardwalk and then into Epcot to meet up with a friend. In the end with the hike to Future World from the Boardwalk I probably did not save any time but felt better to be moving vs standing at the Animal Kingdom bus stop, plus I had a seat on a not jammed packed bus.
- Walking through Epcot the park felt less crowded than yesterday. For a Saturday I was expecting it to be close to the Friday night crowd, but it was not.
- Walked onto Mission Space and then waited about 20 minutes for Test Track using the single rider queue (that was posted at 10 minutes).
- Watched Illuminations from between Mexico and Norway due to the extra time Test Track took. This evening the Illuminations Holiday tag finale was cut to almost nothing. People were looking around wondering where the rest of the show was. It just sort of ended. Of course I was talking and not taking video tonight to share what it looked it.
- After the show returned to the Boardwalk. The Friendship boats were operating still this evening. Since it was a Saturday night guess no work was scheduled.
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