Started off the morning grabbing a quick bite to eat in the room and then walking over to the Magic Kingdom. We arrived just after 9am. While enroute I booked a FastPass+ for the Jungle Cruise. We strolled up Main Street USA and into Adventureland. Used the FastPass+ and I booked Pirates next. After our cruise through the jungle walked over to Pirates for a cruise of the Caribbean. While walking the queue booked a Fastpass+ for the Haunted Mansion. After Pirates walked through Frontierland checking the wait time for the Country Bears (it was not open yet) so continued on to Liberty Square and stopped to see the Hall of Presidents before using the Haunted Mansion FastPass+. Once in the Mansion booked it’s a small world. After visiting the ghosts continued on to Fantasyland and used the FastPass to cruise the world on it’s a small world. It was about 20 till 11 so we started to make our way through Fantasyland, around the Castle to Main Street USA. Caught a little of the Street Party and then headed for the boat dock to catch one to Fort Wilderness. We arrived around 11:40am and had 30 minutes until our reservation at Trails End for brunch. Took a look around then checked in. After brunch we returned to the boat dock and noticed the sky turning darker as we waited for the launch to the Contemporary. Felt a light drizzle as the one for the Magic Kingdom showed up so we decided to hop on that one since it was enclosed. We reached the Magic Kingdom dock and started to rain. Walked through security as lightning struck and the sky lit up. Seemed to be back behind Adventureland. We quickly walked to the Resort Line ramp as the skies opened. Took the Monorail back to the Contemporary and walked over to Bay Lake Tower. Hung out in our room for a couple hours as the storm blew through then walked back to the Magic Kingdom and hopped on a bus to Coronado Springs. Took a look around at the construction as the rain continued to fall and then took a bus to Animal Kingdom and another bus to Caribbean Beach Resort. There looked at the Riviera construction as well as Skyliner before taking a return bus to the Magic Kingdom. Made my way up Main Street and decided to grab a hot dog from Caseys. After eating threw out my trash and noticed the sky getting brighter and a rainbow. Took some pictures of the sunset and rainbow from the hub and Tomorrowland then hopped on the PeopleMover for a tour of Tomorrowland. It was just after 8:30pm so made my way back to Main Street and found a spot for Happily Ever After. Once the show had concluded made my way back to the Resort Line and returned to Contemporary/Bay Lake Tower to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- Spent the morning at the Magic Kingdom and decided to visit several classic attractions that had FastPass+ since there was good availability. Thanks to the large number of FastPass+ attractions you can sometimes time it right and if you are flexible schedule quite a few in a short amount of time. We were in the Magic Kingdom for less than 90 minutes and visited 5 attractions (Jungle Cruise, Pirates, Haunted Mansion, it’s a small world and Hall of Presidents). We had a couple of others for the Mine Train and Pete Pan but cancelled those to allow for other/more attractions since those could not be moved efficiently.
- I stopped by the Hall of Presidents to see the show that opened after my last visit. I thought it was a very well done show. I have always enjoyed the Hall of Presidents and this version seemed an improvement in show story/flow to me. This version continues to take a look at the presidency and offer some historical context and highlights several presidents. The new images/film look great with the new projection system. The audio is also clear. The technical upgrades to the theater really shined. The new Trump figure looks slightly better in person than the close up images that I had seen online. But I still find most of the modern presidents just look off slightly. I think the problem is we are so used to seeing them on TV we have an idea of what they look like, whereas the older presidents we do not so if they are slightly different we just do not know. I also thought the audience was much more respectful than some of the previous ones over say the last 10-15 years. They sat there, watched the show, applauded at the end and left. I find it a disappointment that Disney feels the need to have two security cast members plus the attraction cast member in the auditorium now. I understand the decision given some guests political views but if you feel that strongly why visit the attraction and be disruptive to others, many of whom are there just to see the audio-anamatronic presidents and maybe a learn a little history along the way.
- Haunted Mansion was really backed up to board the Doombuggies. I am surprised no other mansions have gone to the animated ghosts at the end like the WDW version has.
- It’s a small world felt sparse to me with the dolls being distant. Not sure if this was because I had recently seen the renovated Tokyo version or just my mood of the morning? The screens at the end were not in use today.
- I tried something new today, went out to Trails End for Brunch (Brunch was new to me.. only done dinner and lunch over the years). It was most of the dinner menu plus some breakfast items. Noteworthy changes – no fresh corn bread instead muffins. No ice cream available either. On the breakfast side they had Mickey waffles, pastries, donuts, eggs, cooked to order omlets. I thought it was a great meal and at $25 per adult before discount one of the better deals on property for food.
- Traveling to/from Trails End can sometimes be an adventure and today was no different. As we were waiting for the boat to return to the Contemporary we could see a storm quickly approaching. The larger boat for the Magic Kingdom arrived first as the first rain drops started to fall. We had to make a decision. Go on this one or wait and take our chances on the smaller/open launch to the Contemporary. We opted for the enclosed/safe bet but longer trip. As we cruised Bay Lake we crossed paths with the smaller boat and the rain started. As we went through security at the Magic Kingdom the skies opened and lightning hit nearby (seemed like the far side of backstage past Adventureland). We ran the short distance from the boat dock to the Resort Monorail and were mostly dry as we arrived back at the room. Assuming if we had waited we would either have been quite wet from the trip or stuck at the Camp Grounds due to them shutting the smaller craft down with the storm. (The small launches shut down if there is a nearby lightning strike and are closed for at least 30 minutes I believe it is after).
- The plan was to do some hotel hopping this afternoon but as the storms blew through I was content to sit in the room and on the balcony and watch them blow through. I had no desire to be out in the rain and get soaked.
- First stop on my resort construction tour this afternoon was Disney’s Coronado Springs. The centerpiece here is a new tower that will have guest rooms, suites and a top floor with viewing/lounge/restaurant. The tower lines up directly with the main entry way and is to the right of the current lobby and convention center when you are looking at it from Buena Vista Drive. Coronado Springs has always had a different feel to it. With the large convention center it has always seemed slightly different than other Disney Resorts, especially moderates. The addition of this large tower is really going to change the feel. I found it interesting there is a small preview center with a model, concept art and a short video highlighting the improvements. This center seemed to be aimed squarely at those considering the resort for an upcoming convention. It is located in the convention center space and fairly far from the lobby/regular guest areas.
- Next up was the Caribbean Beach Resort. The construction and changes here are even more imposing and drastic than at Coronado. The main guest areas are an active construction site, as they have been for at least a year now I think. Dining is out of food trucks or in temporary tents at Old Port Royale Centertown. There are a lot of fences up and temporary facilities set up. They are reconfiguring the resorts core functions and relocating the lobby the Custom House to Old Port Royale Centertown and it appears moving the entrance to Victory Way from Buena Vista Drive. This is being done to accommodate a new DVC resort, the Riviera, which will be a Tower on the northern end of the property along Buena Vista Drive at the original/current main entrance for the resort. Some buildings in Aruba and Barbados were removed for this construction.. With all the construction going on the relaxed Caribbean feel is really diminished and I would be hard pressed to recommend staying there until the work progresses more.
- The new Riviera Tower looms large on the shore of the lake and is visible from within Epcot too. I am not a fan of the large/tall towers that are being built. Yes they offer some nice views for those staying or dining on the top floors. But not being able to see the outside world from within the parks was one of the nice attributes of Walt Disney World. This is slowly being eroded.
- The Disney Skyliner system will have its central hub at the Caribbean Beach Resort. This station/complex is being construction near Victory Way and the new entrance to the resort. It is across the street from the Jamaica section across the water way from Trinidad South. The Pop Century/Art of Animation, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the Riviera/Epcot lines will all meet here.
- The Skyliner is going to really change the feel of the resort too. One line will be passing directly through/over the Jamaica and Aruba parts of the resort. The support towers for this are just starting to be installed. It may be a nice view from onboard but from the resort not so sure. It will be interesting to see the final product then people’s opinions who stay there.
- Another interesting note is the station location. It is on the far side of the resort and across the street. So it is not very convenient for most rooms. So you may have a big hike or have to take a bus to take a gondola to a park. Not the best option for some. Curious if they will still run buses to Epcot or the Studios once the Skyliner starts operation.
- Walked by the new Spyglass Grill quick service location. This is in the Trinidad South area. It had a good crowd, more guests than we saw elsewhere at the resort. The covered seating is very limited though. Did not eat there so cannot comment on the food, but it appeared standard quick service fair.
- Bus transportation from Caribbean Beach Resort to the Magic Kingdom was extremely slow. The bus took a while to show up then had several stops within the resort before the drive to the park.
- I was not overly hungry so decided to just grab a bite to eat at Casey’s on Main Street. The footlong hot dog was really good and for the size not a bad “upgrade” from the regular one. For a couple dollars more you end up with a hot dog that is 2 or 3 times the size of the standard one.
- While eating the rain let up and a rainbow appeared toward Tomorrowland as the sun was setting. I was able to grab a couple quick pictures before it disappeared which was a nice plus to a very rainy afternoon.
- Decided to stake out a spot for Happily Ever After on Main Street and cross my fingers that the rain would hold off, unlike the other night. To my surprise it did. So I was finally able to see a full Happily Ever After show from Main Street. Thanks to the rain most of the day the crowds were lighter than other nights too! I really enjoyed the show, its great to see the Magic Kingdom with a great night time show. My largest complaint is the projections did not look that crisp to me. Not sure if it is the distance or the projectors, but compared to Tokyo they just did not “pop”. The Magic Kingdom has an advantage over all other castle parks in that it can use much larger firework shells and they look great above/behind the castle.
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