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Walt Disney World Day 6 Report

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Trip Log:

Started my morning by catching a bus to the Magic Kingdom just after 8am then walked to the Resort Monorail and took it around to the Polynesian arriving before 9am. We were early for our 9:25am breakfast reservation at Kona Cafe so spent some time walking around the lobby then checked in early and were seated early. After breakfast finished checking out the Christmas decorations then took the Monorail to the Grand Floridian where we circled the lobby checking out the Christmas decorations and recent changes. Back to the Monorail and over to the Contemporary to do the same. Returned to the Monorail then transferred to the Epcot Monorail. From there caught a bus to Coronado Springs and spent some time checking out the Gran Destino Tower and Christmas decorations. Took a bus to Hollywood Studios and where we took the Sky Liner to Caribbean Beach Resort. The plan was to go to Epcot but that line was busy and vs being crowded in we decided to go to Pop Century instead. Once there walked to the lobby and took a bus to Disney Springs for a late lunch at Chicken Guy. Back to the buses and back to Pop Century (thought about Art of Animation but the Pop bus was available first. Once there transferred to an Animal Kingdom bus. Entered our first park of the day just before 5pm. Spent some time on Discovery Island watching the Merry Menagerie. Then wandered over to Dinoland USA and enjoyed some ice cream at Dino-Bite Snacks. After eating circled Dinoland looking at the Christmas decorations then returned to Discovery Island for the start of the Tree of Life Awakenings just after 6pm. The rest of the group headed back to the Boardwalk at this point. I ventured into the park and out to Africa. The posted wait was 35 minutes for the Safari (the app originally said 90 then down to 80 when I left Dinoland). I saw no one in line so I decided to give it a go and was able to walk right onto the Safari. After my night time Safari walked to Pandora and spent some time looking around then made my way back to Discovery Island and headed for the Oasis and park exit. Caught a bus to Art of Animation and then took the Sky Liner to Disney's Hollywood Studios. Walked up Hollywood Blvd, around Echo Lake and down Grand Ave to reach Batuu. Returned to the central courtyard by the Chinese Theater just as the Wonderful World of Animation. After the show kept my spot for Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam. After the fireworks joined the masses exiting the park and I took a leisurely walk back to the Boardwalk to call it a night.

Thoughts & Observations:

  • This morning we had a breakfast reservation at Kona Cafe. Decided the easiest, least walking, free route was to take a bus to the Magic Kingdom then Monorail to the Polynesian. It took us just under an hour which did not seem too bad. A lot of time was wasted on the Monorail though. They were slow to board, sat in the station then moved to the Contemporary and did the same. The system does not seem to be looking to maximize throughput. Instead it almost feels they are looking to minimize mileage on the trains and hold them as long as possible to get them as full as possible.

  • The Polynesian Christmas decorations looked the same as previous years. There were cast member created gingerbread houses on display and these were great to see. The location was a bit awkward with guests trying to get their coffee and snacks and the creations a little off the beaten path though.

  • Our breakfast at the Kona Cafe was average. The food took a while to show up and was warm but not exactly hot. The restaurant did not feel overly busy for a Sunday morning. There were guests waiting but a scattering of empty tables too. I did find it funny we checked in they took our cell phone and said they would text when the table was ready. We walked maybe 20 feet away and the text came.. seemed odd to have to do a text for that short of a return.

  • After breakfast visited the other Monorail Resorts which took a while with security and backups for Monorails at each stop.. it was not a very enjoyable transportation experience. There were backups at every station to board. Security screening moved more efficiently than the boarding process and train arrivals.

  • The Grand Floridian looked about the same as previous years with no major decoration changes jumping out. The large gingerbread house was centered once again this year. I would really like to see more variation with this display. Some details change but overall it has the same feel year after year. I walked by the new Enchanted Rose Lounge. It was closed and roped off so I only was able to glance in. Overall it looked ok and the Beauty and the Beast elements seemed understated. The feel though seemed off for the Grand. I also miss having the orchestra up on the 2nd floor. They have a new bandstand on ground level but it is off to the side. They were not playing so not sure how it sounds. One advantage to the new location is guests can interact with the performers. I did find it interesting listening to conversations while I was taking pictures. I heard three different groups walk by the lounge and have negative comments. One woman was complaining to her family that they ruined her favorite hangout.

  • On the Monorail trip to the Magic Kingdom you can see the work on the new walkway path. The project seems to be moving very slowly. The new swinging bridge is installed and looking complete but the walkways are not. They have started removing the old bricks on the MK side but I saw very little progress on the path on the Grand side.

  • At the Contemporary the gingerbread display turns 10 years old this year... how time flies it feels newer than that... It is the same basic structure and design as previous years. It is once again located on the far end of the concourse out of the way.

  • Taking a look at the Epcot projects from the Monorail is really interesting. There are so many projects on both sides to see. I really wish the monorails were running more efficiently so I could ride more... with the time commitment per ride and crowds it is not the best experience right now.

  • Stopped by Disney's Coronado Springs Resort to see the Gran Destino Tower that opened since my last WDW visit. This tower is integrated with the hotel and the check in and other services for the resort have moved to it. From the outside the tower seems a little odd to me and does not really blend in with the rest of the resort. On the inside it felt very busy and like any other hotel. There were some Disney touches but I could have just as easily been at a partner hotel or any other international hotel. I did not really get a Disney feel there. There is a new central bus stop near the tower. It is a bit awkward to reach it, down some stairs or a long ramp. The station itself has very little cover and seating. Also it faces the sun most of the day so there is not shade even under cover. Each stop has a couple of buses that stop there. This happens at other resorts too but while there we observed quite a few guests confused by this trying to get on the wrong bus and then off. Not sure if it was the signage or just guests or my timing to see it.

  • For lunch made our way over to Disney Springs and decided to try the Chicken Guy! I did not make it there on my previous visits. The line was long stretching outside and wrapping around. Most of it was in the shade due to where the sun was so that was a plus. It moved at an ok pace. If you are curious they accept Magic Bands and Disney Gift Cards as payment options. I am not a big sauce person so the specialty of the restaurant did not really interest/apply to me. The chicken strips were good, but seemed a little on the greasy side. The fries were average.

  • Spent some time bus spotting while I waiting for my next bus. It seems the wrapped buses are the majority at Disney Springs this trip. I was able to spot more wraps here than any other route this trip. These ranges from simple single character to more complex attraction and multi character designs. I find the wraps interesting to look at and fun to spot but a little annoying to ride in as they obstruct the view some.

  • At Disney's Animal Kingdom spent some time on Discovery Island enjoying the Merry Menagerie. While there spotted some different puppets than I had previously. Again the cast and guests all seemed to be having a great time.

  • Decided to grab some ice cream from Dino-Bite Snacks. They feature hand scooped Haagen-Dazs. I ended up with the ice cream cookie sandwich which was great!

  • Kilimanjaro Safari was showing long wait times, over an hour, in the app most of my visit. The board said over 30 minutes when I walked by. I looked and saw no one in line so decided to give it a try. Ended up walking right on with no pauses or waits. As normal with after dark Safaris it was not the best. There were some animals out on the savanna and a strong finish with a lion roaring but not much else visible the rest of the trip.

  • Walked through Pandora to see it after dark and the Christmas decorations lit up. The Christmas decorations are very limited. Some of the walkways looked better than last visit, many have been renovated since my last visit.

  • Decided to make my way to Disney's Hollywood Studios and had some extra time so a night time Skyliner ride was in order. Decided to take a bus and transfer to save some steps. Something I always recommend is to think about alternative routes and keep an eye on queues around you. Walked up and the Art of Animation bus just left so I hopped in the Pop Century line which was long but I would most likely get a standing spot. The Pop bus showed up and started to load scooters just as a second Art of Animation bus pulled up and no one was getting on so I walked over there and onto that one and we departed while the Pop bus was still loading. Probably saved 5-10 minutes and was able to sit.

  • The Skyliner was nice and peaceful, had my own Gondola to Caribbean Beach Resort. Then to Hollywood Studios one other couple joined me. At night the view is ok but not nearly as interesting as during the day. The wrapped ones seem even harder to look out.

  • Spent some time walking around the park including Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Rise of the Resistance had reached group 123 which was more than I had seen on previous days.

  • Closed out my visit with the projection show Wonderful World of Animation then Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam Fireworks. It was nice to watch without the rain. The crowds were surprisingly manageable and I was able to get a decent spot just before show time.

Pedometer Information for the day:

Steps 21,550
Miles 10.2
Moderate 14,870
Walking Time 131
WDW Pictures Monorail Resorts & Sights
A visit to Monorail Resorts - Polynesian Village, Grand Floridian & Contemporary plus some sights from the Monorail.
WDW Pictures Monorail Around Epcot & Coronado Springs Resort
A ride around Epcot on the Monorail and then visit to Coronado Springs to see the Gran Destino Tower.
WDW Pictures Skyliner Flights & Bus Spotting @ Disney Springs
A couple of Disney Skyliner Flights then off to Disney Springs for lunch at Chicken Guy & Wrapped Bus Spotting.
WDW Pictures Disney's Animal Kingdom & Disney's Hollywood Studios
A to Disney's Animal Kingdom & Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Addition Blog Picture Posts from today: