Slept in a bit then hung out in the room to wait for the early morning Thunderstorms to clear. Made our way to the Animal Kingdom around 9am. Hung out on Discovery Island checking out the animals and puppets. Then strolled out to Africa and walked through Gorilla Falls. Found a seat in the Harambe Marketplace and visited with a friend for a while. Then we all crossed the park to eat lunch at Flame Tree BBQ (I ran to Dinoland to get something). After eating and visiting we made our way to the front of the park and bid our good byes. Took a bus back to the Boardwalk and met up with another friend there. We walked over to Epcot and hopped on the Skyliner, transferred at Caribbean Beach Resort to the Studios line and disembarked there. Took a bus to Fort Wilderness to check out the changes and then a boat to the Magic Kingdom. The park was very crowded so we grabbed a quick bite to eat, some at Casey's Corner and others at Sleepy Hollow. The wait times were more than any of our patience so we decided to take the ferry boat across the Seven Seas Lagoon to the TTC then the Monorail to Epcot. Grabbed a bus there to the Animal Kingdom and spent some time in Dinoland USA and then Discovery Island checking out the Christmas lights. Boarded a bus to the Beach Club Resort and stopped by the lobby to see the gingerbread carousel. Walked to Epcot and decided to take a quick stroll to Future World then back to World Showcase to watch Epcot Forever. After the show exited the park at the International Gateway and returned to the Boardwalk to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- The forecast this morning was not good with Thunderstorms coming through but they were to clear by mid morning. So started the morning off hanging out in the room watching the weather. Radar showed it clearing so we headed for a bus to Disney's Animal Kingdom around 9am. As we arrived a bus pulled up and we boarded with one group. It was a pleasant ride over to the park with only a few guests on board and as we arrived the skies began to clear.
- The first part of the morning was quiet at the park but the crowds built quickly. Seems everyone else had the same plan and waited in their rooms until the skies cleared so we were just ahead of them.
- Spent most of the morning visiting with a friend and just roaming around Harambe. We ended up at a table with a view of the Wilderness Express in the Marketplace.
- For lunch I walked out to Dinoland and found only a couple groups per register. A cast member was directing you into lines which in theory should have made for a quicker wait but the CM was not really paying attention and balancing the lines at all. I grew impatient and ended up switching lines and getting my food at least a group ahead of the original line.. the theory of a cast member assigning the lines is great but they need to pay attention to the queues and not just randomly send you to one.
- Met the rest of the group at the Flame Tree seating area and had a great table along the water. While eating a group sat behind us. A large bird spotted their plates and moved in to swipe their chicken when one of them went to get napkins and the other was not paying close attention. They took their tray back up to the counter and Disney gave them a new order.
- This afternoon decided to use the Skyliner again. There was an overflow queue of guests heading to Epcot. It was a Saturday night and guests from the hotels and the Studios were heading there for the evening. Luckily we were heading to the Studios which was not backed up, but we had to cross through the large queue for Epcot.
- Ventured out to Fort Wilderness to see what was going on there. Took the long bus route to reach the Settlement so we could see some of the Christmas displays (even though it was daylight). The Settlement area has started to change drastically. Walls are now up as soon as the bus pulls in and the old stable area is bulldozed. The fences wrap around Pioneer Hall and then out to the beach. So a very large area is closed off for construction of the new resort and new barn area. You can see steel for the new barn rising above the fences. It will be located across the street from where it used to be (further south, away from the water/Pioneer hall). I find it frustrating to visit this area as the key attributes that were a big draw for me are going away. I always liked the quiet change of pace out here. Being in the trees and trails was peaceful. This will be changed dramatically with the new resort taking over the area. I wish they would have built it further down the shore, closer to Wilderness Lodge or even somewhere else entirely.
- Arrived at the Magic Kingdom and it was extremely busy. Combine a non party night, decent weather and a Saturday (and I think it may have been an extra magic hours night too) and it was very busy. We grabbed some food and then decided to leave vs deal with the crowds.
- Speaking of food I ended up grabbing a hot dog from Casey's Corner. I learned if you go to a register you can order a hot dog without a side. This saves you about $2. It is still expensive.. $20 for two foot long hot dogs.. which I cringed at knowing $3 at Costco could get me the same plus a drink!
- Decided to take the Monorail to Epcot which was slow in arriving and very full. It seems they are not running enough trains on the line to accommodate the crowds. This led to some guests not making the train and those that did being in crowded cars.
- Since the weather was good decided to make a very quick visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom to see the lights. By the time I arrived I had under an hour until park closing. So took a walk through Dinoland and then around Discovery Island looking at the Christmas decorations. The park has added quite a few decorations this year and they looked great.
- Stopped by the Beach Club on my way to Epcot to check out the gingerbread carousel. This year it features a Peter Pan theme which was fun to see.
- Epcot did not feel nearly as busy as last night. It was busy but not mobbed. But then again I did not venture out to the American Adventure area and was in the park less than an hour.
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