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Walt Disney World May 2016 Trip Report, Part One
DisneyDan  Monday, June 20, 2016 4:00:27 PM
Hello everyone,

At the end of May Jon and I spent a week at Walt Disney World. We hadn't been down there since February since we travelled to Australia in the spring instead. You can read my currently-ongoing Australia trip report here on my Two Lost Boys blog.

In this part of my report I will be sharing with you our adventures at the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, the resort hotels we stayed at and visited, the Boardwalk, and Disney Springs.

Let's start with the Magic Kingdom.

Since our last visit, the stars of the billion-dollar-breaking movie Zootopia debuted in the Move It! Shake! street party. Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps replaced Genie and Stitch, but unfortunately do not come down from the float to greet guests (though Nick does walk around the float at one point to switch sides). Despite not being able to meet them at Walt Disney World, or not even being able to dance with them in the street party, it was nice to see some fresh new faces in the park. The characters are super cute and we love their movie, so we were really happy to see them.
One other good change with the addition of Nick and Judy seemed to be that they were using more Disney songs than before, which makes the street party more bearable than it used to be. Some of the previous songs were too much for the Magic Kingdom's Main Street, and so toning it down with more Disney related material is a nice alteration.

Characters we met over multiple days at the Kingdom were as follows: Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Stitch, Tinker Bell, Woody, Jessie, Chip, Dale, Alice, Mad Hatter, Constance Purchase (Main Street Citizen) and Peter Pan. The only one I don't have a photo of to share is Mickey, as we have met him many times in Town Square Theatre and more just went to say hi than have a photoshoot.

We also caught part of the Captain Jack Sparrow Pirate Tutorial in Adventureland, joined the Hoedown in Frontierland, watched the Main Street Trolley Show, passed by the Dapper Dans and saw the Main Street Philharmonic on Central Plaza. We saw Festival of Fantasy several times, too, but since I have a huge backlog of photos of that already from multiple previous viewings, I didn't take any photos this time.

As you all well know, we have been to WDW too many times to count now, and have done the attractions over and over again, so we don't usually spend too much time on them any more, but we were with friends that we don't usually visit with on this trip, and therefore we decided to ride some attractions that we had not done in a long time. It actually made a nice refreshing change. Obviously it's hard to get photos on attractions, so I don't have any to share, but I can tell you at least what we did: Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Stitch's Great Escape, PeopleMover, Peter Pan's Flight, Journey of the Little Mermaid and the Enchanted Tiki Room.

With that said, I did take photos inside the recently redesigned queue line for Peter Pan's Flight. Disney did a good job of updating it and adding in some nice special effects.

The Magic Kingdom Welcome Show is a show that we hadn't seen in a very long time, for several reasons. First of all, it is always before park opening, and while we are no stranger to getting up at the crack of dawn, it can be hard to get to the Magic Kingdom before opening because of the distance involved and the WDW transportation system (especially getting across Seven Seas Lagoon) being a real chore. One morning though, I made the especial effort of getting there super early, and I managed to finally catch it after many years of missing it. It's a fun little start to the day, and I'm glad I got to see it again.

We ate at Skipper Canteen for the first time on this trip, and I have to say, it wasn't bad. They did a pretty good job of the inside, but I do feel they could have done more. That isn't to criticise them for no reason, but I do think it could have felt a little more like the interactive experience given at Trader Sam's than just another Magic Kingdom eatery, but it was fun nonetheless.

Now let's hop on over to Animal Kingdom! We didn't spend too much time at Animal Kingdom on this trip (as is the case on most trips for us in reality), but we did get to see some of the new offerings there. The Tree of Like Awakens is the new projection experience on the Tree of Life. I actually think they did a good job of this. It looks really pretty, and adds that extra touch of magic to the park.

We tried to see the carnivale stuff, but both times we walked past, it wasn't happening. We'll try to see it on our next visit, if we have time. We also didn't get chance to do the new nighttime safari, but, without sounding like we were too dismissive without having tried it, we met with friends who did it, and they didn't give it a particularly great review - not enough for us to want to make an extra effort to see it! Anyway, other peoples' opinions aside, as with the carnivale, if we get time, we'll see it next visit. We did however get to see the new Jungle Book: Alive with Magic show.

The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic is the new temporary filler to replace the perpetually delayed and troubled Rivers of Light show. We had FastPasses for the 9pm show (or thereabouts, I don't remember exactly). The FastPass entry time was somewhere around 8.15pm. We thought that it would probably be very busy, so we got in line around 7pm. There were indeed already people waiting. While waiting in line, there was confusion about which entrance we would be going in, and although there were cast members, ropes and signs clearly marking where we should be, at one point we were all suddenly told we had to move, and that we were in the wrong place. The disorganisation was an epic mess, and a lot of people who had been waiting for even longer than we had were not happy at all. We were actually let into the theatre very early, and so at least we could be seated. Cue the next problem! About two thirds of the seats are stone, and they are not covered. It had been well over 30C in the day time, and exposed to the intense Florida heat, stone seats become ovens. Add into the mix being sat in a tight space surrounded by hundreds of other hot and sweaty people, it was a completely miserable experience. Two and a half hours of our time sitting in an oven on uncomfortable stone seats is not my idea of fun, and I shall not be repeating it.

The show itself was just ok. The performers were talented and I don't doubt that they gave it their all, but the over all impact was underwhelming and not worth two and a half hours of my time with FastPass.

I did manage to get a t-shirt for the show though, and while I don't think the show was that great, I thought the t-shirt was nice, and I wanted something to show for my two and a half hours of misery!

Just before our visit, the new Nomad Lounge and Tiffins had opened on Discovery Island, so we went to check those out. Tiffins is exceptionally expensive, so I don't think we will be eating there any time soon, sadly.

While we were in WDW, Pocahontas started greeting in her new outfit, so we went to see her on her first day wearing it. I know a lot of people have had complaints about the look of it, and I realise it doesn't look like how it does in the movie, but in person it does look nice at least.

I also took a photo of the signs at what will eventually become the entrance to Pandora. Perhaps it'll be finished in the next ten years...

During our visit we had breakfast at the Grand Floridian one morning, where we met Mary Poppins, Tigger, Alice, the Mad Hatter and Winnie the Pooh. While the characters were fun as always, and the food fairly decent, I really dislike 1900 Park Fare as a location. The room is extremely dark and dull, and does not lend itself to a fun and cheery character dining location at all.

We stayed at three resort hotels on our trip, two of which were new ones for us. We had previously stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and were back again, but we also added to our list this time the Polynesian and the Boardwalk. My thoughts about Animal Kingdom Lodge remain the same (overrated for what it is, though, we got a good deal, so we weren't complaining), but Boardwalk and Polynesian were both absolutely stunning.

For reference, here is our room at Animal Kingdom Lodge:

One evening before bed we had a drink at the Victoria Falls bar at the Jambo House lodge.

Our room at the Polynesian was beyond exceptional. For some reason that I don't have an answer for, we had two bathrooms! As well as our main bed, we also had a pull out sofa and a flip down bed that had a really pretty painting on the wall behind it. The room was really stunning, and given the chance I would love to stay here again.

One evening, like with Animal Kingdom Lodge, before bed we stopped for a drink at Trader Sam's. I love Trader Sam's, and would probably spend a lot of time hanging out there if we lived in Florida!

The Boardwalk was the most surprising stay of all for me, though. I knew what to expect from Animal Kingdom Lodge from previous stays, and the Polynesian, while it was new for us, I had high expectations of it simply for what it was. Boardwalk though was another matter. I found myself expecting something akin to the blandness and overall feel of Saratoga Springs, but instead ended up loving it. Our view over the Boardwalk entertainment area, towards Epcot (complete with view of Spaceship Earth) was really pretty, and the room was bright and cheery, and well equipped.

At night we had a great view of IllumiNations at Epcot, over the top of the Boardwalk. It was a really great way to end the day.

We spent some time down on the Boardwalk area itself, one day getting lunch at the pizza place there. It's a pleasant little area, and now that we have stayed at the hotel there and had more of a rounded view of it, I would be inclined to leave Epcot sometimes to go there for lunch or dinner because it is on a different pace than the parks, and of course very easily accessible from the back of World Showcase.

We visited Disney Springs a couple of times during the trip. The very thought of going to Disney Springs usually fills me with sheer dread, and I generally avoid it where possible. In the recent past it has become over crowded and a nightmare to get in and out of. It never ends up being a happy experience for us, and I would rather just avoid it. However, we did want to see the new stores and restaurants that opened, and so we braved it down there. I have to say, they have made it easier to get in and out of now, and since the new Town Center area opened, the crowds have seemingly dispersed a lot more, but it still wasn't a "nice" place to just stroll around. I didn't take any photos there, as trying to take photos with the people there would have been frustrating, though I did get just one of the cute logo for the new crepe place in the Marketplace area.

Finally, saying goodbye to friends at the Pop Century resort one day, I did get lunch at the counter service restaurant there, and was happily surprised by the vegetarian sandwich they had, which made a nice change.

That's it for this part of my report. I will be writing part two after we get back from Europe in a couple of weeks, at which point I'll be writing my trip report for Disneyland Paris, too! So look out for those here on the blog.

Have a great day everyone,

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