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Walt Disney World Day 2 Report

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Trip Log:

Slept in today until 7am then got rolling.   Was at the bus stop by 9am and roaming Disney’s Animal Kingdom around 9:30am.   First stop Kilimanjaro Safari.  Posted at 15 minutes but jumped to 20 as we passed under the sign.  It took 20.  Strolled through Gorilla Falls then visited Conservation Station.  Once back saw the Feathered Friends in the Flight show was about to start so grabbed a seat.  After the show decided to each lunch at Yak & Yeti then spent some time in Asia.  Walked through the Jungle Trek then around Expedition Everest. Stopped by Dinoland USA and picked up some Annual Passholder magnets we missed then spent some time with the Merry Menagerie before existing the park.   Took a bus to the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Spent some time in the lobby and looking out on the savannas.  Next up the Magic Kingdom.  It took almost an hour to get there via bus.  No time was listed then when one finally was it was over 25 minutes.  At the Magic Kingdom roamed around Main Street USA and stopped by Sleepy Hollow for some snacks.  Passed through the hub and Tomorrowland then Fantasyland before deciding to go for a cruise on the Liberty Belle.  Once back visited the Country Bears then walked through Adventureland to reach the hub.  Found a spot for the Frozen Holiday Surprise at 6:15pm then walked through Fantasyland and Tomorrowland before heading to Main Street USA to find a spot for Happily Ever After at 8pm.  Took the Resort Monorail to the TTC then transferred to the EPCOT line.  Strolled through World Celebration Gardens on my way to World Showcase.  Decided to watch Luminous from the International Gateway bridge.  After the show hiked back to the Swan Reserve to call it a night.

Thoughts & Observations:

  • Started the day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom today.  The Swan Reserve shares a bus with the Swan and Dolphin that is run by Mears. It is not part of the Disney fleet so the drop off and pick up locations are in a different spot.  At Animal Kingdom that is near the ride share area.  Getting there is a long drive around the parking lot.  The bus was not crowded and we had a short wait so that was good.  Also worth noting at the Magic Kingdom the bus goes to the TTC not the park.  I did not see where the Disney Springs drop off location was.  For the Studios and Epcot you have to walk or take the boat.
  • I checked the wait times as we arrived and the Safari was at 15 minutes so we headed that way first.  As we crossed under the sign it jumped up to 20… it was pretty much spot on this time with about a 20 min wait.   We had an average driver and were able to see most of the animals this morning.
  • Stopped by Gorilla Falls where we noticed the two older male children from the family side were over on the bachelor side.  Cast members said they have been working up to that and most days now they are with the bachelors.  So there are five gorillas on that side now. The younger ones seemed to be still learning their places and were pushing the older ones a tad when we walked through.
  • We trekked out to Conservation station and there was nothing going on… I say this all the time but it would be great to see a schedule posted at the train station or available in the app.  One operational change since the last time I was there. If you enter through the main doors by the restrooms you can once again walk in.  They had that roped off last visit forcing you to use the back doors.   It is a little odd to walk in and walk by an ongoing animation class though. 
  • As we were walking to Asia the Flights of Wonder show was about to start so we found a seat and watched the show.  The birds did not seem very cooperative today which really threw off the pacing of the show.  Overall the show could us a refresh.   The current version is more similar to the original but lacking some of the energy/comedy of the original. 
  • For lunch we decided to eat at the Yak & Yeti restaurant since we were in the area.  The Landry’s Card turned out to be great again. They were telling people 30 minutes or more for a table, we walked up and were seated in under 10 minutes.
  • Spent some time in Asia after eating.  The Jungle Trek was disappointing. There were two tigers out, one on each side but neither was that visible/active.   Interesting to note the Gibbons have moved to the island closer to the main walkway now.  They used to be on the second one near the raft ride for years.
  • Stopped by Dinoland USA to pick up the Annual Passholder magnets. I had some good timing and they were doing a catch-up distribution of two I did not have, the Figment and Oswald ones.  There were a number of cast members directing you to the queue and then a trio inside scanning passes and handing out the magnets.  The process was quick and kept moving.  I found it interesting they had so many signs and cast members to get you in line.  A very different experience than Anaheim.
  • The Merry Menagerie has returned again this year and the cast members put on a great experience just as they have in years past.  If you are unfamiliar with them, throughout the day groups of puppets and performers come out on Discovery Island and interact with guests.  The musicians play along with the Christmas music. The puppets pose for pictures and interact with guests in the area.  They range from small birds and penguins up to large two-person polar bears.    They are definitely a highlight of the holiday offerings at the Animal Kingdom and if you visit the park be sure to spend some time with them.
  • Took a bus over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge to check out their Christmas decorations and see what was going on. The gingerbread giraffe and zebra are in an easy location to get pictures this year. Other than that the decorations were status quo.  We walked out to the outlook and there were quite a few animals visible on the savanna but they were in the distance unfortunately.
  • We decided to go to the Magic Kingdom next so waited for a bus which turned out to be a very long wait. It seemed a bus missed the cycle. It was nearly 40 minutes for a bus to show up and the total time from walking to the bus stop to arriving at the park was about an hour.  Our worst bus experience in a number of trips.
  • The Magic Kingdom was busy. This was one of a couple of nights it was open late during my stay.  I think there were parties 4 or 5 of the 7 nights which means a 6 pm closing.   We just roamed the park and took a look around for the most part since wait times were beyond our patience for most attractions.
  • Frozen Holiday Surprise is new this year featuring Olaf and the snowgies decorating Cinderella Castle for the holidays.  The show features a few performers on the stage but relies heavily on projections. It was ok to see but not nearly as impressive as the old Cinderella Castle Dream Lights.
  • Happily Ever After Fireworks were scheduled for a relatively early 8:00pm this evening.  So I decided to stay around and see them before heading to EPCOT.   Main Street was busy leading up to the show but there was still space.  It really bothers me at the Magic Kingdom the number of guests that put kids (and others) on their shoulders which blocks the view for so many. I understand wanting to hold your child up for the show but you should keep them at the same height as everyone else.   In typical fashion as soon as the lights went out my view disappeared and I was stuck trying to to see through/around a number of kids on shoulders. Others around me that were shorter gave up and headed for the exits.
  • As soon as the show ended I turned and made my way to the park exit.  The Express Monorail was already backed up down the ramp and at least a 3 or 4 train wait.  The resort line looked ok so I opted to go that route vs the extra hike to the Ferry Boat.  The boat may have been faster in the long run due to how long the Monorail was holding at each stop.  Not sure why the trains were operating so inefficiently this evening.
  • At the TTC the EPCOT train was slow to arrive and held for a good period of time too. So overall my Monorail experience this evening was not optimal but thanks to a 9:30pm start time for Luminous I still arrived at EPCOT with plenty of time to spare.
  • This evening the World Celebration Gardens were much less crowded as expected. This was day 2 and the newness was wearing making it a better experience to walk around. The line for your picture with Walt was a fraction of yesterday.   I did notice a number of lights already having issues which does not bode well for long term durability.
  • I decided to watch Luminous the Symphony of Us this evening from the International Gateway bridge to save myself some steps.  The show from that angle looked great and was a huge improvement over what Harmonious looked like from that vantage point.  Also I should note the audio sounded much better on the bridge than the night before in Japan.    On a second viewing the show held up to my first impressions. 

Pedometer Information for the day:

Steps 22,107
Miles 10.12
Walking Time 3:42
Total Time 13.3

WDW Pictures Part 1 - Swan Reserve & Disney's Animal Kingdom
The view from my room at the Swan Reservve then spent the morning exploring Disney's Animal Kingdom including a visit to Kilimanjaro Safari and Gorilla Falls as well with the Merry Menagerie.
WDW Pictures Part 2 - Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
A quick visit to the lodge to see the Christmas decorations and what was happening out on the savanna.
WDW Pictures Part 3 - Magic Kingdom
An afternoon & evening at the Magic Kingdom including a Liberty Belle cruise, Country Bears, Frozen Holiday Wish and Happily Ever After Fireworks.
WDW Pictures Part 4 - EPCOT
An evening visit to EPCOT including a walk through World Celebration Gardens and Luminous the Symphony of us from the International Gateway Bridge.

Addition Blog Picture Posts from today: