Left LAX on a red eye on Monday evening. We departed a few minutes late and arrived a few minutes early. No gate was ready so we had to sit and wait. Eventually the other plan pushed back and we pulled in. Stopped for a quick breakfast in the food court then drew a private Magical Express Bus to the Boardwalk. Checked in, changed and walked to Disney's Hollywood Studios. As we arrived they were setting up signs saying no more Rise of the Resistance Boarding Groups available. The others needed to activate their APs so they went to the ticket window and I entered the park to take some pictures. I took a look on the app just to see what it said and it let me join boarding group 116. About 5-10 minutes late the others arrived and I tried to add them but it was full. We took a look at the wait times then decided to go try out the Disney Skyliner. Took to to Caribbean Beach Resort then Epcot. At Epcot we strolled through World Showcase then around Future World. No luck getting FastPasses for the times I wanted so stopped and picked up the Passholder Magnet then visited the Epcot Experience. Took a stroll around World Showcase starting with Mexico. Stopped by the American Adventure to see the Voice of Liberty at their 11:30 performance. After their set exited and headed for the International Gateway and back to the Boardwalk. Decided to eat lunch at ESPN Club. While eating received a text that our room was ready. Spent some time unpacking and settling in after lunch. Walked out to the bus stop and decided to take the first bus that pulled in. Happened to be the Magic Kingdom. Once at the park stopped on Main Street to listen to the Dapper Dans then made my way to Tomorrowland for a ride aboard the Peoplemover. Once back on the ground walked out to Storybook Circus to see the TRON building then walked back to Main Street and out of the park. Received a notice that my boarding group was not going to be called and they gave me a FastPass for tomorrow and a free one day ticket. Took the Express Monorail to the TTC and then the Epcot line. Walked through Future World and stopped by the Land. Used a FastPass+ I picked up earlier for Living with the Land and then we walked out to World Showcase and took the boat from Canada to Morocco. Grabbed a snack in France before making our way to catch the tail end of the 6:445pm Candlelight featuring Isabella Rossellini. I walked around World Showcase for a while stopping to watch the Dragon Acrobats then doubling back for the 8:15pm Candlelight. Strolled around to the FastPass+ area for Epcot Forever and watched the fireworks from there at 9:30pm. Walked up stream to the International Gateway and back to the Boardwalk to wrap up my long first day.
Thoughts & Observations:
- The flight from Los Angeles to Orlando this evening was uneventful. We left a little late and got in a little early and had to wait for a gate. I slept most of the flight but heard the seat belt sign was on for most of it with some rough air from time to time.
- Since I had time on my hands waiting for a gate I checked the McDonald's mobile app and learned that you can mobile order and use coupons at the McDonalds in the central terminal at the airport. So I ordered breakfast and saved a couple bucks while waiting.
- As we approached the Magical Express area it looked empty as usual but had a sign out front saying 30 minute wait. This seemed odd. In the end we waited under 5 minutes and ended up with our own bus to the Boardwalk.
- I still have had zero luck with online checkin. I tried it again this trip and put in that I wanted a room close to the elevator since one in our group had a bad knee and I was trying to save him some steps. We arrived early and talked to the front desk and they had me go through the full check in process again. So not sure how doing it online saved me anything. Of course nothing was ready so we changed and set off for the parks. I got the alert that the room was ready at 2pm which was earlier than last time. The room was almost at the end of the hallway though.. almost the furthest you can get from the elevators. On the plus side we were able to walk outside and across the street to the bus stop which was really close and out the far door to the walkway to the Studios which was close too. So in the end it worked out but why bother doing the online process?
- I arrived at the studios after 8:30am and the A frame signs were up as you approached the park and once inside saying all groups were gone for the day and to check the app for more details. I checked the app after entering and to my surprise I could join a group. I did and got group 116. The rest of my party had to stop at the ticket booth to redeem an AP voucher and by the time they entered, about 10 minutes later, the groups were gone for the day so they were out of luck. Throughout the day I monitored the app watching the numbers creep up then stop for long periods of time then move again. Around 4:30pm I received a push notification from Disney saying my group was not going to ride and they were giving me a FastPass+ valid for tomorrow as well as a 1-day park hopper ticket. They were only on group 60 at this point. So my first attempt to visit the attraction did not succeed. I thought it was helpful that they told me fairly early in the day that my group was not going to make the cut today (the park was open until 9pm). The FastPass+ and 1-day park hopper ticket both showed up in myDisneyExperience. The FastPass+ was like a golden ticket. It was good on any attraction in any park on the 11th. The Park Hopper had an expiration date of 2030 but I checked later in the week and it was gone so I am assuming it was meant to expire the next day too. So the free ticket will not help most people since you have a multi day ticket already or an annual pass.
- Today went for my first Disney Skyliner flights. I really enjoyed the views and asked for ones without a wrap on them so I had unobstructed views. The sun was in a bad spot for pictures but was not a problem. I look forward to many more flight in the coming days and visits. I am still not a fan of what the system looks like from the ground. The sight lines it intrudes on at Epcot and the clear paths through the trees look odd to me. But onboard cruising along the top of the tree line and seeing Epcot or going over the Caribbean Beach Resort were both great!
- Epcot Future World is a major construction zone with the tram stop and entrance remodeling. The Guardians and Play pavilion projects. Plus several walkway projects and Innoventions west being demolished. More work is to come too. It was really interesting seeing all these projects from the ground and from the Monorail. I am disappointed with most of the projects and feel Epcot is loosing its theme/mission but that ship has sailed so now just curious how the new park will be and how much of my vacation time I will choose to spend in it once finished.
- Stopped by the breezeway between the Electric Umbrella and Mouse Gear and picked up the AP Magnet set for the holidays. This free set features Chip and Dale this year. They are slightly smaller than past ones which I like since I was running out of space to put the larger ones. We timed it well and there were more cast members than guests when we walked up but by the time we left the line was starting to grow.
- Stopped by the Epcot Experience to see the model and plans for the park. It gives a nice overview and is very similar to what you saw at the D23 Expo. A little more detail and a lot more projection mapping which was great to see. There are also several photo ops and displays around the outside of the space.
- Enjoyed the first performance of the Voices of Liberty this morning. We were walking by and happened to see on the schedule they were starting so popped in. There were only about 40 guests. Interesting after the set almost all, maybe one or two families stayed for the American Adventure and everyone else returned to the park.
- Decided to eat lunch at ESPN Club since we were hungry and it was nearby. It has been a couple years since I visited. The food and service were both good.
- Made our way to the Magic Kingdom before it closed for a Christmas Party (which meant 6pm closings on 5 of the nights we were there). My only objective was the PeopleMover to see the TRON work. The building looks to be complete and ready for the exterior paneling. Supports for the walkway and canopy are starting to take shape. It is too bad they could not have made the effort to have a construction schedule to open the railroad. Word now is the trains will be closed through all of 2020 too. If this holds it will be a 2+ year closure.
- Took the Monorail to Epcot, the WDW Monorail System is really showing its age and is no where near an efficient system anymore. The trains seem to hold for long periods of time and the objective almost feels like they want to fill the train or minimize trips vs minimizing time for guests.
- The first phases of the new Epcot entrance have opened since my last visit and this means that security screening takes place under the Monorail station where the trams used to drop off. So now when you arrive by Monorail you no longer need to be screened again. This is a great time saver for those arriving by Monorail as well as shortens the line for those coming by bus and car.
- Living with the Land has received more Christmas decorations this year. What started off as some random decorations years ago by the team has grown to a decent overlay. No change to the narration though.
- Picked up a FastPass+ for Epcot Forever and watched the show from that space. Due to the stage and an event in the center area there was a very small area for FastPass this evening, just the space behind the gift shop.
- From this vantage point the show was not very impressive. The pyro sound overpowered the sound track and the speakers were not working very good so when you could hear it almost sounded like AM radio (better but more like that then impressive audio). I was not a fan of the preshow music nor the kid voices throughout as the narrator and chorus. I would have much preferred mixes of the music closer to the original. The kites that are used in the show were a high point for me and looked good on the lagoon. Overall though the show was a let down. It seemed to peak before the finale and the A Whole New World finale did not sit well with me. The fireworks did not seem to build either. I was also disappointed there was no holiday tag this year. So all in all I walked away under whelmed It will be interesting to see how the permanent new show plays.
- Walking to the International Gateway from the FastPass+ area is always an adventure since you are traveling against the flow of guests. I should have waited for the crowd to go by but I was tired and just wanted to get back to the room so I pushed my way through the crowd along with a couple other groups of guests.
- The International Gateway is now much more crowded when you exit due to the Skyliner bringing thousands of more guests that direction. When I walked by the queue had filled the station and was starting to wrap in an extended area. They had quite a few cast members out to direct the crowds.
- As I walked along the Boardwalk the crowd thinned. It shrunk to the point that when I reached the Juggler near the boat dock he was performing to no audience at all this evening.
Pedometer Information for the day:
Arrived at MCO before sunrise. Stopped by Disney's Hollywood Studios then took my first Disney Skyliner flight to Epcot.
A morning walk around Epcot checking out the Innoventions demolition, other projects and the Epcot Experience then a stroll around World Showcase.
||Magic Kingdom & Monorail
Visit to the Magic Kingdom to see the TRON construction then monorail ride to Epcot.
An evening visit to Epcot including Living with the Land & Epcot Forever.
Addition Blog Picture Posts from today: