Today was an early morning, my alarm was set for 6:15am but I was up at 6 and we were at Disney's Hollywood Studios by 6:30am to get in line for boarding passes. They opened the park about 6:45am and we had our boarding pass for group 66 at 7:11am. After booking my group we turned around and walked back to the hotel to get some breakfast and ready for the day. Decided to walk to Epcot and arrived just before park opening (which was 9am). International Gateway guests were being held near Canada. At 9am they let us go. We walked around to Norway and waited a few minutes for Frozen Ever After. Then walked to Future World. Used the single rider line for Test Track and then walked through Future World to the front of the park. It was starting to rain so hopped on the first bus we saw which took us to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Spent some time in the lobby looking at the Christmas decorations then on an overlook at the savanna and rain. Once the rain let us caught a bus to Disney Springs for lunch. Ate at D-Luxe Burger and then walked over to the Marketplace and then back through the Landing and out to the West Side before catching a bus back to the Boardwalk. Regrouped and waited for our boarding group to be called, which happened just before 3pm. Walked over to Disney's Hollywood Studios and made my way out to Batuu and experienced Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. After the attraction met up with the rest of my group at Rizzos for something to eat then we walked through the park and out to the Skyliner. Took it to Epcot. Walked along World Showcase Lagoon to Germany and caught the seasonal entertainment Chilli Da Mur. After their performance walked back to the American Adventure for the 6:45pm Candlelight. Then made my way to the United Kingdom for the 8pm British Revolution set. Hung around waiting for Epcot Forever at 9:30pm then walked back to the Boardwalk to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- This morning set my alarm for 6:15 am with the goal of being in line by 7 for a Rise of Resistance Boarding Pass. We were up early and on our way to Disney's Hollywood Studios in the dark. Arrived at the park around 6:30am and found mild security waits and then a giant mass of guests waiting to be let in the park. We were closer to the security check points than the ticket booths and it was a solid group of people between us and the park entrance. They opened the tap points about 6:45am and the group inched forward. We eventually made it into the park about 10 after 7:00. Picked up my boarding group assignment, number 66, then started to look for the exit. They had not set one up as all lanes were being used to enter the park. There were some other guests doing the same and we found a cast member who guided us upstream and out through a space between tap points. I was back in my hotel room by 7:30am and preparing for the day. It was really nice staying at the Boardwalk and having a short walk to and from the park.
- After eating breakfast and preparing for the day set off and still managed to enter Epcot International Gateway prior to park opening at 9am. They let those of use entering walk all the way up to Canada where they were holding the mass/queue off to one side of the walkway. I had no plan for the day and no FastPass+ so decided to walk around to Norway once they opened. It was a little under 20 minutes to walk the queue and ride. Then made my way to Future World and walked right onto Test Track using single rider.
- The weather forecast said no rain.. but the skies said differently as it started to drizzle. I spent some time looking at the construction in Future World and trying to stay dry. Had a call to make to go back to the room for rain gear or continue on. Decided to continue on based on the forecast (not sure why I trust the internet). As we made our way to the bus stop the rain picked up. The first stop was for the Animal Kingdom Lodge and a bus was there so we hopped on and headed that way through the pouring rain.
- Spent some time roaming around the lobby of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. The animals seemed to be hiding from the rain too and we saw only a couple birds in the distance this morning. The Christmas decorations looked the same as always (which is not a bad thing).
- It was nearing lunch time and we wanted to stay dry so decided to head for Disney Springs. Noticed quite a few wrapped buses featuring characters, films, etc.. going in and out of Disney Springs, more than other routes we have seen so far this trip.
- Managed to arrive at D-Luxe Burger before the lunch rush and found a table outside with a view that was dry for a relaxing meal.
- The rain stopped so walked through the Marketplace checking out the Christmas decorations and Christmas Tree Trail. Overall nothing too new or interesting jumped out to me. It seemed on par with last year. World of Disney was relatively calm to walk through too. Hiked out to the West Side and there is a fair amount of construction with Bongos being removed and work on several other locations underway. The NBA Experience has opened since my last visit in May. I took a quick look at it, but it did not draw my interest enough to pay to enter.
- Went back to the room to change for the evening and while there our boarding group for Rise of the Resistance was called at 2:55pm. So walked over to the park and then paid a visit to the attraction. It took about 30 minutes to go through the queue and a total time of 50 min from entering to exiting so our quickest visit. I was disappointed with the pacing today. After exiting the transport we were directed through the hanger to the queue.. no stopping or looking around (I shot a quick video..). This was ok for me since I spent quite a while there the previous visits but for a first experience for people it was not ideal. You do not get to absorb the detail and scale of the hanger.
- Grabbed dinner at Rizzos since it was close by and no lines. The upstairs was closed/blocked off. They said for an event but it just looked closed for the evening to us.
- Took the Skyliner from DHS to Epcot. The Epcot transfer was backed up and over flowing the queue. It seems they did not build enough queue space for the system. The line moves quick and it was about 10 minutes to transfer but it looked a mess. It seems the two park queues should be substantially longer since you have the most guests going park to park and hotel guests joining in.
- Epcot was extremely busy with walkways slowing to a shuffle or stopped at several points. The choke point by Morocco and Japan were both challenges. The dining package return queue for the Candlelight stretched almost to France so it was using one side of the walkway. Then in Morocco there was a performance so that left a small area for regular traffic flow. Overall it was not a pleasant walk in the dark and crowd to reach Germany and I should have gone the long way but did not think about it until it was too late.
- Speaking of the Candlelight I think it would bother me to pay for a dining package and reserved seating then have to wait in a queue that stretches for a very long ways and a long wait to enter for a seat that may or may not be good based on where you get seated and who is in front of you.
- My reason for going to Germany was to see a performance by Chilli Da Mur. This vocal group put on a Christmas concert. I did not care for their style that much. I preferred some bands of the past more.
- Stopped by the United Kingdom. The British Revolution was performing. They only included one Christmas song in their set. Each time I watch them I realize how much I miss the previous Beatles group. I enjoy Beatles over the rock music.
- By 8:30pm there were very few choices for entertainment around the park. Everything had wrapped up or was wrapping up with an hour still to go before Epcot Forever. With a 9:00pm closing this is not bad but having to wait till 9:30 this meant a lot of dead time.
- I choose to watch Epcot Forever from the bridge near the International Gateway to minimize my walk back to the park. I went and found a bench to wait on showing up just before show time so I was several groups back but it meant minimal time standing around waiting and I could see most of the show anyways.
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