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Walt Disney World Day 1 Report

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Trip Log:

A 3:00am alarm to get up and on the road before 4am.  No traffic on the way to LAX and we were in the economy parking lot in less than an hour.  No wait for the shuttle bus.  Delta checkin was slow but TSA was quick so we were at the gate with a couple of hours to spare.  Our flight boarded and departed more or less on time.  Looked like we would be early but instead we circled Tampa then went to Orlando and got to the gate about on time.   Grabbed a quick bite to eat then boarded a waited Mears bus.  We were the 4th of 7 stops so it took a while to get to the Riviera.   Our room was ready so headed up to grab some pictures then unpack.  Most of the group was going to do some Skyliner riding and a visit to Pop Century/Art of Animation.  I opted to make a quick run through Disney’s Hollywood Studios since the park turned 35 today.  Then took the Skyliner over to EPCOT.  Walked to World Celebration Garden and hung out for a few minutes then back to World Showcase to find a spot for Luminous the Symphony of Us.   After the show walked quickly to the International Gateway and got in line for the Skyliner back to Riviera to call it a night.

Thoughts & Observations:

  • We opted for an early morning flight today instead of a red-eye so we were up at 3am to head to LAX for the flight.   The Los Angeles freeways at this hour are usually nice to travel and today was no exception.  They are building a large animal crossing for mountain lions on the 101 and have had all lanes closed overnight.  Google said they were still working and so did the signs so I decided to be proactive and take a detour an exit early.. of course they wrapped up work early and I lost about 5 minutes on an unneeded detour. 
  • We ran into no delays at LAX parking or the shuttle to the airport.  I was really hoping by this point the new people mover system (similar to the trams MCO has) would be running but it is delayed for at least another year reports say.  Most of the construction is done, I read over 90% is complete but due to ongoing disputes the opening is in 2025 hopefully.
  • Delta checkin was not crowded but they were slow going, taking quite a bit of time per group.   So the process took some time.  TSA was a breeze today too, only a handful of people in front of me. 
  • The Flight to Orlando left more or less on time.  Breakfast was served and it was a tiny portion of French toast again, same as the Hawaii flight in Feb had.   We were on pace for an early arrival then decided to circle Tampa and the Orlando area on the way to land.  It still seems odd to me when they are landing north to south the flight pattern still has you come in over Tampa then go north, vs coming in further north and joining the flights coming from the north.  This route did offer a nice view of Disney and Universal out my side of the plane.
  • On the way to the food court after getting my suitcase a wheel popped off my suitcase, so not the best way to start the trip.  Thought about getting in line to talk to the airline but I was hungry and figured that would not get me far so I opted to just go with the broken wheel (not the wisest decision).
  • Noticed the McDonald’s no longer showed deals in the app.  This is the second or third trip I saw that so seems to be the new norm.   I opted for Chick-Fil-A which had a short line but still took a very long time. Everyone else in the group already had their food and some were done eating before I made it to the tables.
  • Mears Connect was busier than previous trips. They had a handful of buses loading and groups in the queues. Ours was empty as they had already loaded the bus. There was space so were some of the last people on and our group was split up to find seats.   The bus was nearly full and had seven stops planned.  We ended up being the 4th (Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach then us at Riviera).
  • We had received notices from Disney that the room was not ready starting at 3pm.  It was 4:43 when we received the text the room was ready, well past the 4pm checkin time.  It worked out since we were still on the bus but still it seemed really late.
  • Arrived at the Riviera Resort at 5:43pm and went straight to my room since we used the online checking.  I managed to convince the group to linger a bit and I went ahead quickly to try and get some pictures before they all took over the space. We had a 2 bedroom villa for 7 people this trip.  During the checkin I requested a high floor and was given that with the room assignment. We were on the 9th/top floor of the central building looking out toward EPCOT.  The view was great. You could argue it was a castle view too as Cinderella Castle was on the horizon.
  • I helped unpack a bit and get settled then set off for the parks just before 7pm.  Today was the 35th anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios so I decided to take the Skyliner there to see if the commemorative park map was still available.  It was as was some of the merchandise.   To mark the occasion there was a small event at 11am.  Nothing else was going on.
  • I arrived at the park at 7:06pm and did a lap of the park.  Waits were well beyond my patience except for Star Tours which was about 5 minutes.  So I went for a flight then returned to the Skyliner spending about 40 minutes in the park only.
  • I did luck out on Star Tours and was able to see something I had not seen before.  The Mandalorian and Grogu sequence.  This was added recently and out of the ones I have seen is the most fun.
  • It took just over 20 minutes via Skyliner to reach EPCOT. I could have walked it a few minutes faster but it was much more relaxing to fly there.
  • The crowds in EPCOT felt on the moderate side for a Wednesday in May. 
  • I was there to just take a quick look around and watch Luminous.  So I took a look at several topiaries and around World Celebration Gardens.
  • This time of year is a challenge if you enjoy the parks after dark. EPCOT closes at 9:00pm and it really does not get dark until around 8:30pm.  So there is not a lot of time.  What I did notice though was a number of lights not working on topiaries and in World Celebration Garden.  Areas were dark or underlit. 
  • My plan for the evening was to watch Luminous from the bridge near the International Gateway but the wind was blowing that way.  Vs dealing with the smoke I opted watch from near the Refreshment Port. This worked out well but meant a longer hike to the Skyliner.
  • As soon as the finale finished I walked quickly to the Skyliner and managed to have only a 10 minute wait.  The cast members were not really packing the gondolas that tightly. For example mine had a foursome and me so only 5 people.  This meant the queue was backing up quickly behind.  By the time I left it was probably 3 or 4 times the length of when I entered the queue.
  • Back at the Riviera I finished unpacking and did my normal backups and notes. It was great to be able to sit in bed and look out the window at Spaceship Earth.

Pedometer Information for the day:

Steps 13,495
Miles 6.18
Walking Time 2:06
Total Time 3:20


WDW Pictures Part 1 - Travel to WDW
My journey from Los Angeles to Walt Disney World.
WDW Pictures Part 2 - Disney's Riviera Resort
A look around our two-bedroom villa at Disney's Riviera Resort.
WDW Pictures Part 3 - Disney's Hollywood Studios
Today Disney's Hollywood Studios turned 35 so I made a quick trip to walk through the park.
WDW Pictures Part 4 - EPCOT
Closed out my first day at EPCOT visiting World Celebration Gardens to see the Spaceship Earth Beacon of Magic Lights then Luminous the Symphony of Us.


Addition Blog Picture Posts from today: