We down at the Boardwalk Bus stop around 8:20 am and made it onto Main Street USA as the welcome show was wrapping up for the 9am park opening. Strolled into Adventureland and joined the long queue for the Jingle Cruise. Waited about half an hour to board our boat. After the cruise continued on into Adventureland and decided to give Pirates of the Caribbean a try. The wait was posted at 35 minutes but turned out to be 8. Walked around to Frontierland. Stopped by the Shooting Gallery then boarded the Liberty Belle for a cruise. The plan was to go to Tomorrowland but the Peoplemover was down so skipped it and walked to the front of the park. Boarded a Ferry Boat to the Transportation and Ticket Center then a Monorail to the Polynesian. Explored the lobby then walked out and caught a bus to Disney Springs. Ate lunch at the Chicken Guy and then did the Christmas Tree Stroll and walked around. Boarded a bus back to the Boardwalk. Our bus driver cut the corner at the Boardwalk a bit short and hit the curb so we were delayed while they did an accident report. Stopped by the room then headed back to the Magic Kingdom. Once in Town Square hung around and caught the princess cavalcade and the Flag Retreat. Then strolled into the park. Stopped by Casey's for a quick bite while others stopped at Sleepy Hollow. After eating walked through Liberty Square and Fantasyland, stopping in Storybook Circus. Circled back to Tomorrowland and back to Main Street USA. Walked to Town Square where my group left for the night and I turned around and returned to Tomorrowland and walked onto the Peoplemover Spent some time in Tomorrowland then cut across to Adventureland and Frontierland. Returned to Main Street and took the west by pass to Town Square then came back up the street to find a spot for Enchantment. After the show joined the masses leaving the park. Boarded a bus to the Boardwalk and stopped by the room for 20 minutes before setting out for Epcot. As I reached the Boardwalk the Epcot boat was boarding and the CM held it for me so I walked right on and was at the park in a few minutes. It was under 10 minutes total time from my room to France (including the boat ride, security, and park entry). Walked around a bit trying to figure out where I wanted to go for Harmonious this this evening. Ended up near Italy. After the show watched the post show as I hiked back to the International Gateway and then my room to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- I arrived at the Boardwalk Bus stop at 8:20am and the next bus to the Magic Kingdom was scheduled for 8:41am. This seemed like a very long time for a morning bus wait. The bus showed up around 8:30 and we were at the Magic Kingdom just as the 9am opening announcement was made. One other quick note the bus wait times in the app did not work this entire trip.
- My primary goal this morning was to visit the Jingle Cruise. Seems a lot of other guests had the same idea and the line stretched back into Adventureland. The attraction is not an early morning one for resort guests so that could account for some of the crowd. The posted wait was 65 minutes. Luckily this was inflated and it took about 30 minutes to reach our boat this morning. There were almost no Lightning Lane returns so the line moved at a good pace the entire time.
- This was my first cruise since the changes have been implemented here. They are very similar to Disneyland's and work OK. I am happy to see the Jingle Cruise returned again this year. I really wish Disneyland would bring it back. The cruise was entertaining thanks to a fun skipper!
- The Pirates queue seemed to be moving quickly and was not really that visible and again we saw very few Lightning Lane returns. The posted wait was 35 minutes but that seemed exaggerated. My hunch paid off and it was only an 8 minute wait.
- My secondary objective this morning was the Peoplemover. Unfortunately it was having issues again and was down more than up this morning. So no ride for us.
- Took the Ferry Boat across the Seven Seas Lagoon. The idea of loading/unloading via direct ramps to the second floor of the boats is great to improve speeds but the ramp system they have installed is really terrible looking. I would like to hope this is a proof of concept and at some point they will install something nicer looking but I would venture to guess this is the way it will look for the foreseeable future. Due to there being light crowds when I was riding they were not in use. I do miss having the ability to stand near the front, you are back from the front/back now with the new fence/railing at the back of the drivers area.
- Spent some time walking around the Polynesian Resort lobby area. The renovation work is complete. The enlarged Monorail platform is nice. I would have likely to have seen it slightly larger as it still seems cramped but better than before. Inside the Christmas decorations and overall lobby looked more or less like usual. No gingerbread houses this year.
- We went out to the bus stop to catch a bus to Disney Springs. Still kind of surprised at the tiny bus stop and very little cover. I thought after the renovation projects they may do something to it, but it looks untouched.
- Disney Springs felt busy, especially for early Friday afternoon. We did the Christmas Tree Stroll. I enjoyed seeing the trees spread out vs in the former bus loop. I think this allows for more guests to see them and less congestion. Photographing them was a little more challenging as people seemed to like to sit right in front of them.
- We grabbed lunch at the Chicken Guy. The meal was good and we had a decent table in the shade off by itself a bit. Only issue was the audio was distracting with two or three different tracks colliding. We had the Planet Hollywood and general background colliding.
- There was a fairly long wait for a bus back to the Boardwalk and of course we hit every light. The bus lane did not seem to gain any time as cars were moving along the same pace or faster. Overall the way the signals were set up this afternoon it looked like cars beat us. Then to top things off as we were making the right hand turn into the Boardwalk our bus driver cut the corner short and scrapped the bottom of the wheel chair load ramp on the curb. So we had to go through the accident reporting process. She gathered our information and we waited for security to arrive. The bus was barely moving so there were no injuries and most likely only minor damage to the bus. So it took about 40 minutes to get from Disney Springs back to the Boardwalk.
- At 4pm I showed up at the bus stop to head to the Magic Kingdom. It said next bus was not until 4:21pm. This turned out to be wrong and it showed up at 4:15pm and at 4:30 I was walking to the Magic Kingdom security check point.
- The Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat Ceremony included the Dapper Dans this evening. It was interesting the Dans sung along to a pre-recording instrumental track vs on their own.
- For dinner some ate at Sleepy Hollow others at Caseys. The wait and pickup experience at Casey's was much better this evening than the other afternoon. Sleepy Hollow was extremely quiet too especially considering it was just after 5pm.
- As I walked around the park there were a lot of people but it felt lighter than other evening. This evening the park closed at 8pm and there was a Christmas party so I was expecting it to be busier.
- Wait time postings in the app continued to be off by quite a bit. I was monitoring the Peoplemover and it had 30-40 minute waits this evening. I walked over there and found it was a walk on! That is a big difference no wait vs 40 minutes.
- Lighting effects and photo ops for the holiday Merriest Nights events. So I was able to see some of them and get pictures which was a nice bonus. They seemed rather basic though.
- The west side by pass for Main Street USA was open. This side is not that impressive and is really just a gate and coned walk way through the backstage areas. They have no walls up like the east side.
- I found a spot for Disney Enchantment about 20 minutes prior to show time. I was early and could have gotten a similar spot showing up 5 or maybe even 10 minutes later.
- This evening I took a bus back to the Boardwalk to drop a couple things in the room before heading to Epcot. I was back in my room by 8:45pm.
- I left for EPCOT around 9:00am having plenty of time to walk over to the park and find a spot for Harmonious. As I reached the boardwalk a Friendship boat was boarding so I walked on and was the last person to board. No waits at security or to enter the park. It was about 10 minutes from my room to France in EPCOT. If I was in a hurry I don't think I could have done it any quicker.
- I looked around and settled on a spot near Italy behind a private wedding party for Harmonious. It seemed this was an OK angle to the screen and not that obstructed of a view. Turned out to be OK and the walk out from there much more pleasant than the front of the park. You could enjoy the exit/post show. I used the opportunity to look around at other possible spots for my remaining nights.
- I reached the International Gateway about 10:20pm and the Skyliner queue was full, the extended queue was full, and the line was backing up the walkway. It was almost to the top of the bridge when I passed by and took a left to the Boardwalk. It was moving but there were just too many guests all at once given the three large resorts and one smaller resort that.
- I opted to walk back to the Boardwalk this evening. There was a Friendship boat loading at the International Gateway but I was unsure if I would make it onboard. I was walking at a normal pace and taking some pictures and I still managed to pass by the Boardwalk boat dock before the boat had tied up.
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