Started the morning with a 3:15am alarm and was on the road to LAX by 4am. Parked, took a bus to the terminal, checked in, went through security and was sitting in the Delta Sky Club at a little after 5am. Boarded our flight on time just before 7am and then we sat there. Everyone was onboard but there was a problem. After a maintenance worker showed up and did something we pushed back 8:15ish. Then sat on a taxi way for a while as they worked another issue. A little after 9am we returned to the gate and were told a different plane would be ready at 10:50am. So we hung out and then boarded that flight. Pushing back a few minutes earlier than planned even. We were in the air just after 11am and arrived in Orlando around 6:20pm. Grabbed our suitcases, a bite to eat and boarded a waiting Mears Bus at 7:20pm. Sat there until 7:45pm and were finally on our way to Disney. Stopped at Art of Animation, then Pop Century before our stop at the Swan. Checked in at 8:20pm and headed up to the room to drop the bags. Was on my way to Epcot at 8:45pm arriving inside World Showcase at 9:00. Had about half an hour so walked to the front of the park to watch the Beacon of Magic show. Saw the regular one, then the new Holiday one and finally at 9:30 the Epcot 40th Anniversary one. Then walked back to World Showcase. Harmonious was just starting, about 10 minutes late, so stood in the back and watch the show before walking back to the Swan to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- This trip to Orlando we decided to change things up a bit and try a day time flight. We have been taking the red eye for years now because the thought of spending the entire day traveling just did not appeal to me. It was hard to judge if this was a good idea or a bad idea because of the mechanical issues we encountered with the flight.. you can have that any time so unfair to blame the day time flight on that. So jury is still out on red eye vs day flight…
- This was my second time visiting the new Delta Sky Club at LAX. First time seeing it in the daylight. Overall it is nice and big, but filled up quickly as the sun came up. I was not overly impressed with the breakfast choices. The bakery was fresh but limited.
- With the delay of our flight I found it interesting we were getting information via text and on the app faster than the flight crew. For example the rescheduled departure time. We all had notices and someone asked if they could leave the plane and the crew knew nothing about it and had to make a call to confirm.
- It was nice to get a $15 food credit but the information on where it was good, etc.. was hard to come by. Also $15 does not get you far in an airport dining location.
- The flight itself was uneventful. It was my first time on an A321Neo and the seats were really nice. The plane itself was fairly quiet.
- I am still annoyed that Wi-Fi is not included if you pay for a 1st class ticket. This flight had the newer Delta Wi-Fi for $5 a device. That is not bad, but out of principle I did not want to pay more. Also that new system is not free for T-Mobile customers like the older one is.
- The breakfast options onboard was not to my liking either. The food seemed like it was prepared for the first flight then moved over to this one and had been sitting. The croissant was hard as a rock. Also why not have some sort of plain option.. like French Toast or Waffle or something and then have toppings available for those that want it.
- The luggage was slow to arrive at MCO and it seems having the bags tagged with Priority stickers gets you nothing now a days.. ours was well into the distribution.
- The food court at the airport was really quiet. We were able to walk right up and order at Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s with no problem. One interesting note the McD’s has mobile order and let’s you use your points as well as most deals. The Chick-fil-A does not have mobile order or allow you to use your mobile deals.
- This was my second time using Mears Connect. There was not line and we were directed right onto a bus. The bus already had a handful of parties onboard. We sat there another 25 minutes before departing. The people on board had been there for up to 20 minutes before us too. The stopped at Art of Animation and Pop Century before dropping us at the Swan.
- The last time I stayed at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel was 1994, 28 years ago.. I had not realized it had been that long. The last time I stayed I had a room overlooking the construction site for the Boardwalk Resort to put it in perspective. This trip our room was the opposite side of the building in the corner so we looking at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and then out the other window toward the Swan Reserve (or Animal Kingdom in the distance). The checkin process was quick and no issues. We were only staying one night and I was not planning to use anything at the hotel really. You still had to pay the $35 resort fee though, even when using points for the room.
- The bus dropped us off about 8:30pm and I was walking by the chocolate display on my way to Epcot at 8:50pm. So checkin and dropping my bags in the room was a quick process.
- The walk to Epcot is slightly longer from the Swan but still quick at 10 minutes including going through security and the tap point. I was looking at France from the International Gateway at 9:00pm.
- As I walked through Epcot the park did not feel overly crowded. This evening the Magic Kingdom was open late, no party, so that seemed to draw the crowd away.
- I decided to make my way to the front of the park and watch the Beacon of Magic. There is a new holiday sequence this year and the Epcot 40th sequence is playing in the rotation too. This was in addition to the Beacon of Magic one. In between was background Christmas music and the lights cycling. The Epcot 40th was playing around the top and bottom of the hour during our stay.
- The new holiday show uses “When We’re Together” from Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. I found this sequence not up to par. I thought the holiday ones last year were better. This just did not have an Epcot feel to it for me and the lights were not that different/interesting.
- The Epcot 40th anniversary one on the other hand is by far my favorite now. It features classic Epcot music and some interesting lighting effects. It was great to hear Illuminations Music in the park again as well as One Little Spark and Listen to the Land.
- I walked back toward World Showcase and found it odd that it was after 9:30 and Harmonious had not started yet. The show started over 10 minutes late this evening. I still am not a fan of the show being at Epcot nor find the infrastructure in the center of the lake worth it at all. Disney has announced the show will be ending with the 50th anniversary next year and a new show for will premiere later in the year. No details have been announced yet but looking forward to seeing what they do and the day we can see across the lagoon again during the day.
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