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Walt Disney World Day 1 Report

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Trip Log:

Landed at Orlando airport just after 6am.   Headed to baggage claim while some to the food court.  Then met up and ate a quick breakfast on the lower level before boarding a Magical Express bus to Walt Disney World.   Arrived at Bay Lake Tower around 8am, checked in, dropped our bags and headed for the Magic Kingdom.   Some of the group needed coffee so roamed around the hub while they waited at Starbucks then we all made our way into Fantasyland.  Visit Neverland on Peter Pan and then went for a cruise at It’s a Small World.   A couple stopped for the Cinderella Coach photo op and the rest of us wandered around Fantasyland.  Some went paid Ariel a visit then went for a flight on Dumbo.  Hung out with Casey Jr for a few minutes then took a look at the TRON construction site before making our way to the Indy Speedway.   After our lap decided it was lunch time.  Half went to Tomorrowland Terrace the others to Cosmic Rays to grab food then ate with them at Tomorrowland Terrace.  After lunch headed to the west side of the  park.  Strolled through Liberty Square and watched a character cavalcade and took some pictures of the drained Rivers of America.  Walked through Adventureland on my way back to Main Street USA.  Caught a performance of the Dapper Dans then stopped by guest relations to sort out my annual pass.   Took a walk on the new walkway to the Grand Floridian.  Walked through the hotel and up to the Monorail.  Road around to the Contemporary then walked over to Bay Lake Tower.   Waited for our room to be ready then headed up to unpack and relax for a few minutes.  Around 5pm we ventured out again catching a bus to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Walked up Hollywood Blvd to the Chinese Theater and experienced Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway for the first time.  After our ride we retraced our steps to the park entrance and hopped on the Skyliner to Epcot.  Some grabbed dinner in France others the Smokehouse.  Then we walked around World Showcase.  The park was closing (8pm) so we made our way to the buses and returned to Bay Lake Tower to call it a night.   Caught the Electrical Water Pageant from our room while unpacking.

Thoughts & Observations:

  • This was my first time traveling by air (and second time anywhere) in over a year. The freeways were on the busy side considering it was a holiday Monday. Parking and LAX were both on the quiet side though. For example Delta check in had no line at all. We walked right up to the regular counter. At TSA I did not have precheck this time and was able to walk right up and go through, one person in front of me only.
  • The terminal had a fair number of people but most were spread out. Almost all seemed to be complying with the mask policy. There were a few people not wearing theirs fully but I would say over all it was well above 90% compliance.
  • The flight itself went well. We were on Delta and the middle seats were blocked and the flight was not full so people felt spread out. Mask compliance on the flight seemed really good. People were listening to the instructions on boarding and even deplaning, allowing for extra space and time.
  • The flight was uneventful for the most part. Some rough air leaving the Los Angeles area but I fell asleep then and did not wake up until the coast of Florida was in view. Caught a glimpse of Spaceship earth as we flew near Walt Disney World.
  • Some of our group grabbed breakfast while the rest of us went to get the suitcases. Magical Express is operating until the end of the year, but the luggage service and resort airline check in have not returned. So this was my first time at Orlando baggage claim in 15 years. I think its been about 26 visits with Magical Express/Luggage Service for me. By the time we arrived at the carrousel our bags were going around so we pullet them off and waited for breakfast. We ended up moving down to the ground floor and finding a place to eat there.
  • As usual the Magical Express area was really quiet at this hour of the morning. We were given our own bus and on our way quickly.
  • As expected there was no room ready at Bay Lake Tower when we arrived so we changed clothes and checked all our bags.
  • This was my first experience with the temperature check and new screening machines. Overall the system is much quicker than the old one. Unfortunately my camera bag set off the alarm and required a secondary screening almost every time.
  • We arrived at the Magic Kingdom before the posted opening time and were greeted by Characters
  • Arrived at MK before opening.  Caught characters on Main Street. The character meet and greets are currently not operating so your only interaction with characters is waving from afar. Sets of characters rotate throughout the day and wave to guests from the train station into Town Square.
  • Made our way up to the hub and while waiting for some of the group that stopped for coffee we tried the super zoom PhotoPass out. The cast member was not really that interested and our picture turned out average at best.
  • This was my first time seeing the new color scheme for Cinderella Castle in person. No one in our group particularly liked it. The best were a couple neutral reactions. Some said it made the castle look more "fake". I thought it just looked odd and was not a fan. I liked it better than the pink birthday cake makeover but that is a low bar to clear.
  • Without FastPass+ and with the more moderate crowds the wait times throughout the park were reasonable for most attractions with many under 20 minutes. The longest was the Dwarfs Mine Train and that was under an hour most of the day.
  • Several of my go to attractions at the Magic Kingdom were closed for renovation. This included the Railroad, PeopleMover and Rivers of America. I was disappointed the trio was unavailable.
  • While crossing Main Street saw the Winnie the Pooh characters onboard the Main Street Trolley. It was nice to see characters out in the park.
  • It was a little odd to walk around Frontierland with the Rivers of America drained and no construction fences up. You were free to look in and check out the work. There were a couple signs up but nothing else. It was not very good "show", but for those of us who enjoy construction views it was great.
  • In Frontierland characters wave from the second floors. It was nice to see the Country Bears out.
  • My second visit to Town Square I was met with the Dapper Dans performing on the Train Station. Always great to see them.
  • I have a Premier Annual Pass and it is set to expire on January 20th. The pass has been extended a couple of times due to Disneyland's closure and is due for one more extension through March before it will be cancelled. I have been waiting for the extension and as of today no luck. While in Town Square I saw no line for Guest Relations at City Hall so I went over and talked to the cast members. Inside there were a half dozen cast members and no guests. A couple ended up helping me and trying to find out when the extension would show up since I was now within 48 hours of needing it. They made some calls and could not get a good answer so they went decided to issue me a ticket for the rest of my stay. They issued a six day ticket. This went quickly then they tested it and of course we hit a snag.. instead of using my AP for today it used one of the new days. They could not get it to work properly. So they decided to issue an 8 day ticket. They learned they could not do that so they did a 1 day then 7 day ticket. The CMs then made sure to set up my park reservations to match the rest of my group. In the end it all worked out and the cast went above and beyond to make sure I was all set.
  • Our room was still not ready but much of the group was running on empty so they headed back to Bay Lake Tower to wait. Some of us had some energy so we decided to try out the new walkway to the Grand Floridian. It was a nice walk and some different views of the Seven Seas Lagoon. The first section had some trees which had shade and some benches. But much of the walkway had no cover and no seating. Also I thought the end of the path at a service area for the hotel was a little odd.
  • The Grand Floridian seemed really quiet. The lobby was a near ghost town as was the Monorails station.
  • Once we arrived back at Bay Lake Tower I met up with the group and a friend who was dropping off some items for us. As we were talking we received a notification that the room was ready.
  • This trip we stayed in a Grand Villa at Bay Lake Tower. This was my first time in one and the rooms are impressive. They are two stories, three bedrooms, four bathrooms and plenty of space to spread out. The first impression of the room was "WOW" by our group. Our view looked south so you could see Bay Lake, the Contemporary, and in the distance other parks.
  • After unpacking and resting a bit we set out for the evening with a plan to experience a new attraction and eat. We arrived at Disney's Hollywood Studios just before 6pm and waited about 10 minutes for Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway.
  • This was my first experience with the attraction. Overall I thought it was fun. The use of the trackless system worked well and jumping into the cartoon world was creative. The mix of projections and physical props was well done. I still do not think it is an optimal fit for the Chinese Theater. I think its going to be interesting how people compare the ride experience of this to Ratatouille. They are similar in terms of use of trackless system, screens, and physical sets. Railway takes things a bit further and comes off much better to me. I have ridden Ratatouille in Paris several times and to me it is just ok. I think Railway is a better showcase of the tech and a more complete experience.
  • After our ride we decided to head to Epcot for some dinner. We opted for the Skyliner and arrived just before 7pm. With the park closing at 8pm that allowed us just enough time to get a bite to eat and walk out.
  • Some of the group headed for the Regal Eagle and the rest to France to grab dinner. I joined the France group to take a look at the recently opened addition. The street and rest rooms for the Ratatouille area have opened (due to the Morocco rest rooms closing for renovation).
  • I did not really have time to take in the sights of Epcot. By the time we ate and rejoined the group it was time to head to the bus because the park was closing.
  • Of course the bus for the Contemporary was one of the longest lines this evening. Other bus stops had one or two parties at most. Ours filled several switchbacks. Other bus stops had buses showing up and none were dispatched to ours for quite a while.
  • The Electrical Water Pageant has returned and runs nightly. We learned the times that were listed one the website in the detailed text were not correct. You had to look at the time for the specific day. Learned this by it showing up outside an hour early. From our room we could see most of it at the Wilderness Lodge and some when it was at the Contemporary. Always a great way to end the day seeing lights.

Pedometer Information for the day:

Steps 23,786
Miles 11.2
Moderate 16,448
Walking Time 145


WDW Pictures Part I: Magic Kingdom
Arrived at MCO before sunrise and after stopping at Bay Lake Tower spent the morning at the Magic Kingdom..
WDW Pictures Part II: Grand Floridian Walkway, Bay Lake Tower & Two Quick Parks
A stroll along the new walkway to the Grand Floridian from the Magic Kingdom, a first look around our Grand Villa at Bay Lake Tower then a quick visit to Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot.

Addition Blog Picture Posts from today: