Slept in a bit, well for me, to 7am. Waited for the others then set off for Animal Kingdom around 9am. Thanks to a slow bus arrival reached the park around 10am. Made our way to Pandora arriving a couple minutes before our River Journey FastPass+ window closed. After the River Journey walked out to Africa and through Gorilla Falls. Then used our FastPass+ for the Safari. Made our way to Asia and used our third FastPass+ for the new Up! Bird show. Then walked through the Jungle Trek. Had a late lunch at Yak & Yeti then made our way to the front of the park as it started to drizzle. Took a bus to the Studios where it was not raining. While in enroute managed to secure a Toy Story FastPass+. So we strolled up Hollywood Blvd to Pixar Place and used that FastPass+. Took a look at the construction there then stopped by One Man’s Dream followed by the Launch Bay. Walked by the Commissary and out to Grand Ave to see Star Wars from there. Circled the area and had a FastPass+ booked for Star Tours but no one wanted to go so cancelled it and booked Spaceship Earth instead. As we were heading to the bus called an audible and took a bus to the Boardwalk instead (boats are not running to the Studios due to bridge work). It started to rain as we entered the International Gateway but by the time we reached France it had passed. Strolled by France, Morocco and Japan. Stopped in Japan for a few minutes then continued on to the American Adventure. Had a half hour until the show so pulled up a seat and worked on some posts. Watched the 6pm American Adventure show and when we came out you could tell a thunderstorm had blown through. As we walked toward Germany it started to drizzle. We stopped for caramel corn and the skies opened. Hung out in the Christmas shop and watched the rain then when it let up walked toward the Outpost and around to China. The rain was picking up so we walked quicker and ended up seeking cover at the Odessey (or whatever they call it now a days). Watched the storm blow through then headed for MouseGear and the Electric Umbrella area. The skies opened again so we pulled up a table and watched. Once it let up continued to the front of the park and walked up to a waiting Monorail. Seems there was an issue and it sat there. They announced buses were running as an alternate. The CM nearest us said it should be less than 5 min more so we waited. They were right and we were on our way to the TTC in the rain. It was raining pretty good as we walked down he ramp and then up the Resort Line one. Hopped on a crowded Monorail and took it to the Contemporary. Disembarked and walked out to the Bay Lake Tower Bridge and watched Happily Ever After from there. After the show back to the room to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- Disney Bus Transportation can sometimes be frustrating and this morning was one of those instances. We were heading to the Animal Kingdom around 9am. The monitor at the bus stop had no time for our bus for a while then it showed up and kept moving later. While waiting a stream of buses to other destinations arrived. Several to the Studios pulled up and left and the line for the Animal Kingdom just kept growing. It took about an hour from when we left our room to reach bag check at the Animal Kingdom. Not a great way to start the day.
- We made it to our FastPass in Pandora with a few minutes to spare only. It was my second time on the River Journey attraction and much more pleasant this time with only three adults in a row. Four adults plus all our stuff last time was extremely tight. On a second cruise I was able to take in more details than the first time through, but it still felt too short and a bit awkward.
- I had a FastPass for the Safari but the return line backed up outside the queue and was wrapping so I bypassed it and walked through Gorilla Falls (which I still want to call Pangani Forest) and then returned to find the line had inched forward but was still long. Decided to get in line and it moved ok thanks to cast members holding up the stand by line at the merge point but it was still a long time for a return.
- Up! A Great Bird Adventure opened in April replacing the long running Flights of Wonder show. I was curious to see how they used the characters in the new show and if they were adding new birds to the show. The theater itself received new lighting and some exterior upgrades. Also the show received FastPass+. I booked one to see if it made a difference. The theater was filling up fast when we arrived and the FastPass+ did not impact our seating at all. Maybe on a more crowded day it will but for us it did not.
- I thought they had a good mix of birds in the show. It seemed on par with the previous show. The host dialog and character interaction was disappointing to me. I found it awkward and slowing the pace of the show. I did not find the show entertaining and at times it was a little annoying. I enjoyed some of the humor of the old show. The jokes in this version did not land as cleanly and at some points seemed forced.
- Walked through the Maharajah Jungle Trek after the show and was disappointed that the tiger cubs were barely visible. They were resting along a far wall. Also found it interesting there was a rope up forcing you through the aviary at the end now.
- We had a late lunch reservation at Yak and Yeti but were in the area an hour before so I stopped by to see if we could move up our time. Thanks to have an Landry’s Select Card I was able to get a table in only a few minute wait. For one reason or another over the years I had not eaten at Yak and Yeti, so this was my first time dining there. We had a great experience. The food was really good, the cast members were all friendly and helpful and we had a good table in an uncrowded area. The down side is it seemed on the expensive side, even for WDW.
- After lunch decided to head over to the Studios on our way to Epcot. At this point we were all missing the Express Bus service from a couple visits ago. It took a substantial period of time to walk out front, wait for a bus, get to the Studios, then go through security there.
- While enroute to the Studios checked available FastPass+ options and was surprised to see Toy Story availability so booked one. FastPass+ worked smoothly in this instance.. while on the bus booked it and upon arriving in the park walked out and right into the attraction.
- Arriving at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is like arriving at a Construction Zone. There are quite a few projects underway in seemly all corners of the park. The most interesting to me was the Disney Skyliner work. This is a gondola system that will connect this park to the Caribbean Beach Resort, Pop Century/Art of Animation, Riviera Hotel and Epcot. The support towers are now installed along most of the route and the station is taking shape. The system is visually very intrusive. The towers dot the parking lot and through the trees beyond. They have cut a path through the trees for the system. I thought this was interesting vs going over them but I am guessing this is a guest safety/evacuation necessity unfortunately. It will be interesting to see how the system works once it is up and running next year.
- Toy Story Mania is being worked on too. They are reconfiguring the queue to swap it around so you will enter in the new Toy Story Land opening in June vs from Pixar Place. The good news is all three tracks were in operation during my visit and there were plenty of FastPass+ slots open.
- Walked through Walt Disney Presents to see if anything new was out (it was not yet). I found it funny they have the model for Paradise Pier out from the last renovation. It is interesting to see what was proposed then and what came to be. And now it is changing again. The Guardians of the Galaxy Meet and Greet in the back is still a very odd fit to me and having a small merchandise location in the lobby of One Man’s Dream seemed poor.
- I took a walk through the Star Wars Launch Bay to see if anything new was going on for Solo which opens soon. There was nothing new. Wait times for the meet and greets were mild too.
- I enjoy watching new projects at the parks take shape. Unfortunately at Disney’s Hollywood Studios you really cannot see much of either the Toy Story or Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge projects. The way the park is laid out you get just a few small glimpses from guest areas.
- The Friendship boats are currently not running to the Studios because of work on the Dolphin Hotel bridge. So there are buses running to the Epcot resort. They had two different routes running but sharing one bus stop and nothing was marked. We opted to take one to the Boardwalk and it was a quick bus trip across the street.
- The Disney Skyliner work at the International Gateway is even more intrusive and a potential eyesore than the Studios. There are tower up behind France and you can see the path from the International Gateway. The station had not really risen above the construction walls yet. The towers come right behind France and from some angles actually conflict with the Eiffel Tower view.
- Also visible from the International Gateway (and several points in the park) is the steel frame for the Ratatouille show building. This is being erected behind the area between France and Morocco.
- The American Adventure has had a renovation since my last visit. The finale video sequence has been redone and I believe the sound system and projection system (or at least screen) in the theater too. It is nice to see the video updated with more recent pictures. The new rendition of Golden Dream is well done. The audio for this finale sequence does not blend well with the rest of the show and stands out as being different. It is not at the same level nor feel/depth as the rest of the show.
- The rest of the evening was spent avoiding downpours and rain. I do not necessarily have a problem with the rain but my camera gear does not appreciate it and I do not enjoy being soaked to roam the parks.
- The rain picked up as darkness approached so I decided to head back. From Epcot to the Contemporary this can be a bit time consuming. The Monorails were being held for some reason. We arrived on the platform and they had both doors open and were making announcements that buses had just started running if you wanted to go that route. We found a cast member after about 5 minutes and asked if they had a time estimate. They said no but it sounded like it was going to be very soon.. so we opted to stay and a few minutes later they closed the door and we were off. Noticed a crew was working on something under the beamway after the parking lot.
- Walked up to the Resort Line at the TTC and the first train that pulled in was very full. Not many guests disembarked but enough did that we were able to board. We sat there for several minutes (no clue why since the train ahead had pulled out quite a while ago). The doors for our car all closed then one opened and shut again. It did this at every stop.
- As we pulled into the Magic Kingdom I debated about disembarking to watch the fireworks or continuing back to the hotel. I stuck with my initial plan to return to the hotel since when I was last outside at the TTC it was raining and no signs of letting up. Of course this being Florida and storms move quickly by the time I reached the Bay Lake Tower Bridge the storm was gone. Since it was only a few minutes until show time I opted to stay on the bridge and watch the show.
- The view of the fireworks was pretty good and you could sort of see a couple projections on the castle. Best of all they piped the audio in so you could hear the show, this was great!
- Closed out my evening in the room with another viewing of the Electrical Water Pageant. I was really enjoying being able to see it from the room and it was a nice way to end the evening.
Pedometer Information for the day:
Addition Blog Picture Posts from today: