Arrived in Orlando around 6am, a few minutes earlier than scheduled, on a red-eye from Los Angeles. Grabbed a quick breakfast in the food court then headed for the Magical Express. Boarded a bus with no delay and had to wait only about 5 minutes before we were rolling toward WDW. Unfortunately had several stops, first up Saratoga Springs then Wilderness Lodge then finally our resort, Bay Lake Tower. Checked in, as expected the room was not ready, so changed then checked out bags with Bell Services. We decided to walk over to the Magic Kingdom and pick up passes for some in our group and then wait for some friends we were planning to meet to finish their breakfast at Chef Mickeys. No delays at the ticket window so decided to go into the park for a little while. Main Street was open and no delays getting in. Spent some time wandering around Main Street USA and made our way to the hub. Found a seat around 8:30 and waited for the park to open. Watched the opening show then decided on Tomorrowland. Went for a ride on the PeopleMover the Buzz Lightyear. At this point some in the group returned to the hotel to wait for our friends and I decided to do a lap of the park. Strolled through Tomorrowland and took the trail nearest the train tracks out to Fantasyland station. Then passed through Storybook Circus and Fantasyland on my way to Liberty Square. Cut my tour short at the entrance to Frontierland and passed through Adventureland back to the hub. Roamed the stores on the west side a bit then caught part of a Dapper Dans set before opting to take the Monorail back to the Contemporary. Found the group and we spent some time at Bay Lake Tower then ate lunch at the Contempo Café. Bid them farewell and met up with another friend. The weather had turned and some thunderstorms were rolling in. We checked and luckily our room was ready now so we got the luggage and unpacked as the storm blew through. Once it subsided we walked back to the Magic Kingdom and used FastPasses for Peter Pan and the Dwarfs Mine Train. A couple of us went on Winnie the Pooh since it just reopened and there was no wait. Then some decided to call it a night and head back to the room. I continued on through Fantasyland to Tomorrowland. Stopped by the Merchant of Venus shop which is now all Pixar. After taking a look around walked through the hub and Liberty Square then cut over to Adventureland and used a FastPass+ for Pirates of the Caribbean. After our ride walked out to Frontierland and boarded the train. Took it all the way around and then continued to Fantasyland. This was the last train of the night so watched it back away from the station and down he spur line toward the Roundhouse then walked to Tomorrowland as it started to drizzle. As we reached Main Street it continued to pick up so we walked quickly taking the bypass to the park entrance and hopped on the Monorail to the Contemporary. Walked back to the Bay Lake Tower and watched the fireworks from the elevator lobby. Then I returned to the room to wrap up the evening. Caught the Electrical Water Pageant from our room as I was writing up these notes then called it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- Arrived in Orlando before sun rise thanks to a red eye flight from Los Angeles. I was able to sleep for most of the flight so I was ready to go. I choose to take the red eye most trips since I do not like loosing almost an entire day to travel thanks to the time change and cross country flight.
- We were able to board a Magical Express bus immediately upon arriving, but unfortunately since we were staying at Bay Lake Tower we were the last drop off which meant several resorts before ours.
- This was my first time staying at Bay Lake Tower. I had never visited the lobby even since it seemed locked off. It has a very different feel than the Contemporary. It was much more relaxed and peaceful than the busy Contemporary. Bay Lake operates as its own resort in many respects. It has its own drop off/pick up for the Magical Express Service, Bell Service, Front Desk and Concierge. Other services such as Disney Transportation and dining are shared with the Contemporary. The check in process with Disney still seems awkward to me. We did the online check in but still had to go through the entire process again at the resort.
So I started receiving double notifications, one from each check in process. The cast member that checked us in was not overly friendly nor efficient so the process was slow. As expected with a very early arrival the room was not ready so we checked our bags and set off for the park.
- Decided to walk over to the Magic Kingdom for a couple hours, the walk from the Contemporary is easy and much quicker than the Monorail (since you do not have to go all the way around the Lagoon). The security check point is on the walkway before you reach the bus stops. There were several cast members working and it was very efficient this time through with no delay.
- Some in our group needed to pick up their annual passes that were purchased online so first stop was the guest relations windows to the right of the front entrance. We lucked out, no line this morning and the process went very quickly.
- We were in the park well before opening and unlike December they were letting guests onto Main Street early. Also noteworthy there were a couple of Main Street vehicles making the rounds. It was great to see them in action and before the park opened!
- Since I was in the hub I watched the opening show/moment. It is nice to see something being performed but I enjoyed the characters arriving on the train more than this current castle moment.
- We had not really planned to be in the park this morning but since we were ahead of schedule decided to visit a couple of our favorites.. so we were one of the “odd” people at rope drop who went straight for the Peoplemover. (we did note a couple groups going to Carousel of Progress).
- Thought it was interesting that Buzz Lightyear’s queue backed up right at rope drop but by the time we exited the Peoplemover it was a walkon. Wonder if there was a hiccup at opening or just a lot of people at once. After experiencing Shanghai a few weeks prior this was an extreme let down. It would be great to see them update/renovate this attraction to at least the standard of all the other parks. It is really showing its age.
- Decided to walk the trail between the Speedway and train tracks to see what if anything was visible of the Tron preparations. There was a narrow line of trees left to obstruct most of the construction but you could see through it if you really looked and notice they have cleared the land all the way to the roadway. I am really curious to see how the Tron attraction will fit in here. I hope they installation is an impressive as the Shanghai one. The integrated lighting and kinetic energy of the attraction really bring Tomorrowland to life in Shanghai.
- Took the Monorail back to the Contemporary to meet the rest of my group and friends. This was the first of many slow and inefficient trips on the WDW Monorail System this trip. The system really seems to be on its last legs and in desperate need of new trains and an overhaul. After experiencing the extremely efficient Resort Line in Tokyo it seemed even worse than usual at WDW. It seemed as if they had less trains running and those that were they were holding longer at the stations which meant the transit times were longer and cabins more full.
- Spent some time roaming the grounds of Bay Lake Tower since our room was not ready. There were quite a few activities available including mini golf, pool, table tennis and shuffleboard plus the pool and community hall with games and movies.
- Had a good lunch at the Contempo Café. We have always thought it was one of the better quick service locations and today did not disappoint.
- After lunch we were going to walk over to the Magic Kingdom for the afternoon as a rain storm started. So we stopped by the Bay Lake Tower Lobby to see what was going on with our room. We had not been notified and it was midafternoon. They made a call and eventually got us a room. The process was odd and a little off putting. For example at one point we were told they had a nice room for us on the 10th floor, then oops its gone so we will put you on the 7th floor. We have had similar comments at other resorts too so the check in process always seems a little off to me. I am curious if it is always this way or because of our early arrivals things are thrown off.
- Our room was facing Bay Lake and Contemporary, on the south side of the Tower, on the seventh floor. I was in a one bedroom villa. On a first impression the room was impressive. The large window looking out to the lake was great! The tradeoff was a smaller balcony just in front of the bed room. Everything was in working order and looked great. The room felt much larger than the Boardwalk, or at least more usable space, plus the configuration with two bathrooms was an improvement.
- A fairly typical Florida thunderstorm rolled through in the afternoon so we hung out in the room and watched the rain blow through. We saw no reason to go out in that and the view was great.
- Returned to the Magic Kingdom in the late afternoon and used some of the FastPasses we booked prior to arriving. The system was being a little wonky with it being unresponsive then showing ones that had closed windows.
- Went for a cruise on Pirates of the Caribbean to see the updated auction scene. While enroute managed to get very wet from a cannon in the battle scene. The replacement of Redd with a full motion figure is a plus, but the dialog left something to be desired. Redd looked slightly different than the other figures. I could not really put my finger on it.. not sure if it was just because of the change or if something with her face/style was different than the others in the scene.
- Merchant of Venus shop in Tomorrowland has become all Pixar. The Incredibles took over a large section and other Pixar characters the rest. This is in preparation for the upcoming film and the Incredible Summer promotion that starts later in the month. Not quite sure how this fits into the theme of Tomorrowland.
- As the evening went on the rain returned and picked up. We made the decision to head back to Bay Lake Tower and watch from there. Ended up trying from the elevator lobbies. This offered a nice dry view but there is no audio and glare is a challenge.
- While I was working on backing up my pictures from the day and going through email the Electrical Water Pageant started on Bay Lake. It was quite loud, even with the doors all closed in our room. I went out on the balcony and watched as the rain continued to fall. I think it is great this classic attraction still makes the rounds of the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake nightly. From our room we were able to see it in front of the Wilderness Lodge then later in the evening in front of the Contemporary.
Pedometer Information for the day:
Addition Blog Picture Posts from today: