Started my day moving hotels. We packed up from the Swan and rolled our bags next door to the Boardwalk and dropped them off. Met some friends and visited for a while then walked over to EPCOT. Strolled around World Showcase stopping in France, Morocco, Japan, the American Adventure and Italy. Made it to the trains near Germany then doubled back to the American Adventure to listen to the Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers. After their performance some grabbed a bite to eat then we all walked around the to World Celebration and the rest of us ate at Connections. After lunch walked through the Guardians gift shop and then to the front of the park. Met some friends and went for a round trip ride on the Monorail. Once back returned to the park and went for a cruise on Listen to the Land to check out the holiday decorations. Then walked out to World Showcase and around starting in Mexico and ending at the International Gateway. Our room was ready so returned to the Boardwalk to settle in. Around 5pm set off for Disney’s Hollywood Studios by foot. Decided to grab something to eat on Sunset Blvd and then watched some of the projections before setting off on a round trip through the park starting in Toy Story Land, passing through Galaxy’s Edge and then through Echo Lake. Returned to Sunset Blvd and decided to give Fantasmic a try. We were seated about 30 minutes prior to show time. After the show walked up Sunset then Hollywood Blvds to reach the exit. Hopped onto the Skyliner to reach Epcot. Walked out to the American Gardens Theater for the Candlelight Procession. After the performance found a spot nearby in Japan for Harmonious. Then walked back to the Boardwalk to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- Today I took a more in depth look around the Swan hotel room. Last night between dropping my bags and running and then returning and going to sleep I did not spend a lot of time looking at it. Overall it was a nice hotel room. Nothing out of the ordinary. The table/desk was awkward as it moved and there was no power near it. There were very few accessible outlets around the room which was a challenge for multiple people charging multiple devices, for one night not a problem but if we were there the full week it may have been more of an issue. Having a corner room with two windows was a nice surprise.
- The Swan front desk offered to move our luggage for us to the Boardwalk but since I wanted to move my own carry on I figured I might as well just move the suitcases too. It was not bad, but the pavement had some bumps that were a bit challenging. Dropping the bags at the Boardwalk was easy as usual.
- We had done the online checkin but always like to check with the front desk if we are there. We were in line and a cast member grabbed a tablet and checked us in from there. They were not overly friendly and actually seemed annoyed when they saw we had already checked in online but were there. Not the most pleasant of greetings.
- The Boardwalk lobby gingerbread display was only one building this year which was not nearly as impressive as the display used to be.
- I spent the first part of my morning roaming around Epcot World Showcase. It is still fairly peaceful except for Norway and France which have attractions that draw crowds. We noticed many locations still do not open until 11am though.
- Stopped by the American Adventure, which is closed for renovation still. I found it odd the sign out front said temporarily closed which makes you think it may reopen today.. vs something else like unavailable today.
- The Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers are performing in the rotunda as usual, even though the attraction was closed. They were great to see, but the renovation work was so loud it bothered the performers and guests. They kept calling it the “Disney Magic”. Seems they could pause work during their sets… or move the performances elsewhere.
- This year the gingerbread displays were broken into three small cases again, not nearly as impressive as they used to have.
- Stopped by the Connections Eatery for lunch. We mobile ordered and the experience was mixed. We did not have to wait in the line and the food came up at a reasonable speed but then sat there and it took the cast members several minutes to put it in the system and page us as I watched it sit there getting cold. I thought this was rather poor and inefficient. Interesting to note the dining area by the windows looking out to the Monorail had cast members at the entrances and they were only letting in those with food. This approach worked to have tables available during the peak lunch time, but I think it is a broader indication that the park needs more seating.
- I stopped by the Treasures of Xandar shop by Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind since I was not able to visit during my May visit due to it not being open for the AP preview. The store is very tiny for that big of an attraction and in an awkward location. It did not have that many guests inside but felt crowded.
- Went for a round trip Monorail ride to take a look at the Epcot construction. It was interesting to see the changes since May. Overall things are moving along but at a very slow pace.
- Living with the Land is celebrating the holidays with Glimmering Greenhouses. This year there seemed to be more than previous and it was great to see. I look forward to seeing it at night.
- As I walked around World Showcase this afternoon it felt the entertainment offerings were on the thin side. The storytellers are all back but you could still walk around and not encounter any entertainment if you timing was bad/off. Also most wraps up will before park closing.
- I was in the WDW App and decided to check on our room. The number showed up around 2pm. I did not receive a push, text or email until after 3pm, almost an hour after I noticed it was available. I found this funny because earlier in the day I received a dozen messages via all three means saying the room was not ready.
- We had a standard view one bedroom villa this trip. They honored our request to be near the elevator, we had the first room, so it was a nice short walk. The room was on the 5th floor with a view of the front entrance to the resort which was not bad for standard view. All in all we were pleased with the room draw this time.
- Decided to head over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios after unpacking a bit for the evening. Once we arrived I checked the wait times and everything was much longer than my patience and the entertainment choices were limited at this hour. So we ate, walked the park then went to the first Fantasmic. Overall the park was rather disappointing with limited entertainment and holiday offerings.
- The Sunset Seasons Greetings were running and we watched it for a while, but the snowfall and lasers did not seem as engaging as the first season, not sure why.. but it just did not draw us in like a couple years ago. The lasers seemed more focused maybe if that makes any sense.
- My main reason for visiting the Studios today was to see the changes to Fantasmic. We arrived just over 30 minutes before show time. There was plenty of standby seating on the two outer sections and way back. We had a choice of the far left side or the back and opted to go back and closer to the center. This worked out well as it was not nearly as crowded as the lower seats but you are really far from the show. The new heroes segment is a nice addition and well done, but overall the show still has too much reliance on the water screen films and just feels long to me with long segments of not much happening.
- After Fantasmic we joined the very large crowd leaving the park. I was pleasantly surprised to find no real wait at the Skyliner. We were basically able to walk right on at DHS and then again at the transfer station to Epcot. So not sure if that meant few people were using it or it was able to handle the Fantasmic exit rush with no problem.. or we just had good luck.
- Once at Epcot I made my way over to see the Candlelight Ceremony. This year they had smaller choirs again and the Voices of Liberty were the focus. The music arrangements and the readings were tweaked a bit too. I am not a fan of the new arrangements. The mixing of Joy to the World and the Hallelujah chorus was extremely awkward to me. The odd introduction to Silent Night is gone which is a plus. The show ends with Let There Be Peace on Earth which is a tad different.. not sure I like it but not horrible.
- I stopped in Japan to watch Harmonious. I would have liked to have seen a Holiday Tag added this year.. the Candlelight finale brought that up again in my mind.
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