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Thread: Here Now at WDW - December 2017

  1. #1
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    Default Here Now at WDW - December 2017

    We have been at Walt Disney World since November 30. This isn't a trip report, but there are a few observations and comments from our trip. They aren't arranged in any order, so bear with us as we ramble on about our stay.

    Construction seems to be going on all over WDW. Disney is revamping the traffic flow at the north end of World Drive where the Magic Kingdom turnstiles are located. Northbound traffic on World Drive that wants to skip the MK parking lots and go directly to Wilderness Lodge, Bay Lake/Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, or Shades of Green must use the far right lane. Sometimes that lane gets backed up, so there are some delays. Eventually, once all the road work is finished I think the traffic flow will be better than before.

    Disney has also improved access to Rankin Road north of the Magic Kingdom by installing a stoplight on Rankin and the Disney backstage area. This improves access to the Publix and Target that are in the Windermere and Winter Garden areas north of MK.

    Pandora is a huge hit with guests. Unless you have a FastPass, expect wait times for Flights of Passage to be 120 minutes or more shortly after rope drop. Pandora's other ride, Na'vi River Journey fills up fast, too, so expect long waits for it if you haven't snagged FastPasses.

    The good news about Pandora's popularity is that at rope drop in the morning almost everyone goes to Pandora, leaving Expedition Everest and the other AK rides as easy walk-ons. We arrived at Animal Kingdom about 15 minutes after rope drop and went directly to Expedition Everest. There was absolutely no waiting and, much to my surprise, most of the seats were empty. We rode it back to back and we didn't have more than 10 people on either ride.

    Bay Lake Tower no longer has its own valet parking lot. Last year, Disney experimented with using the smaller parking lot that is closest to Contemporary as a dedicated valet parking lot. It lasted only a couple of months because the demand was extremely low.

    BLT villas no longer have DVD players. However, DVD players can be requested from the Community Hall for length of stay.






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    One highlight of our stay at BLT: We watched a bald eagle fly by our balcony one morning. I keep hoping for a repeat appearance, but no luck so far.






  3. #3
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    SPOILER: Changes at Star Tours

    Since Star Tours was refurbished in 2011, a big part of the fun of the attraction is never knowing which two planets might be visited. It could be Hoth, Naboo, the Death Star, Coruscant, Kashyyyk, or Tatooine, resulting in 54 different possible combinations. You never knew where you visit, or which Star Wars characters will give you messages during your trip.

    As Star Tours fans know, Disney has added a "The Last Jedi" segment to the planets that are visited on the ride. Disney did the same thing when "The Force Awakens" came out in 2015.

    The good news is that its fun to see these new planets added to different planets visited on the ride.

    However -- and this is the SPOILER part -- it seems Stars Tours is currently only playing the segments from "The Force Awakens" and "The Last Jedi" and is not showing the other six planets. We rode Star Tours at least a half dozen times over two weeks and always saw those two segments. Like I said, its nice to see the new planets, but its more fun when they are randomly intermixed with all the other planets.

    By the way, Maz Kanata and Poe Dameron now give the messages to the travelers. It was nice to see them, but I still missed Princess Leia's "Help me Star Tours, you're my only hope."






  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by wdrl View Post
    One highlight of our stay at BLT: We watched a bald eagle fly by our balcony one morning. I keep hoping for a repeat appearance, but no luck so far.
    That's so great! The only time I've seen a Bald Eagle at WDW was over at Epcot, and it wasn't nearly so close. Saw one closer at HHI, but not by my balcony.

  5. #5
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    Default Pandora Advice

    Avatar land as I call it, is fantastic. You really feel like you have stepped into a different world. Disney imagineers really went all out to get it to look like the movie. But back to the real WDW, boy is it crowded. We were unable to get FPs for either of the rides at Pandora as we did not book our FPs for this trip until around 45 days out. A friend, idratherbeatwdw, Mar', repeatedly told me to keep checking as they often open up. It never happened and I checked almost every day sometimes twice a day. So if you really want to ride these attractions book at the 60 day mark! I heard rave reviews of the Flight of Passage attraction and only one negative, "it was a fabulous ride, but not worth waiting in standby for 120 minutes". That was the standard wait time 120 minutes for that ride if you didn't have a FP. And people lined up for it as soon as the park opened.

    The other ride, Na'vi River Journey, had shorter standby lines. People thought it was just an okay attraction. But those opinions could be suppressed because the other attraction was so popular.

    Good news if you like Expedition Everest it is really easy to walk on at that attraction in the morning. So many people go directly to Pandora or Kilimanjaro Safari that the trains were mostly running empty at Expedition Everest. We love the outdoor roller coasters at WDW so we were quite happy to the standby line a few times.

    New tour at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park - Caring for Giants - Cost $30.00 but a 15% discount is offered for DVC or AP holders. This tour runs about every 30 minutes so it is not hard to book. In fact we walked up to the kiosk they have set up in front of Kilimanjaro Safaris and took the next tour which started 15 minutes later. You went back stage and then were driven to the behind the scenes area for the elephants who would on display for the safari. You could see the trucks on the other side of the elephant compound. We were standing about 30-50 feet away from the elephants and they moved around so sometimes you could see them well and other times not at all. Of course we all wanted to see the newest member of the herd who was turning 1 years old this month. I think elephants are cute when they are still hairy. We talked to a couple of animal specialists and to an African Cultural representative from Namibia who had experience with elephants in the farming community near where she lived. It was an entertaining 1 hour tour. If you like elephants it is worth the money, part of which is donated to Disney's Worldwide Wildlife Conservation Fund. There were 3 children on our tour ages about 6, 7 and 13. They all seemed to have a good time. And the cast members definitely interacted well with them. It is a simple tour and nice way to get to know the animals. Some guests might be disappointed that they didn't get to see the elephants up close like you do other animals on the Sense of Africa Tour. But to me being that far away from a 10,000 - 12,000 pound elephant is a pretty good idea.

    After the tour we were returning to the Kilimanjaro Safari entrance area and the Cast Member that drove us asked us what we all planned to do next. We then realized we had just missed our FP time by 7 minutes. So the cast member walked us over to the FP line and arranged for us to ride the safari using the FP line. We actually entered the line at the closest spot where they park strollers. Before we knew it we were seeing the elephants from the other side of the compound and we realized just how close we had been during the tour.
    --Denise

    Scheduled upcoming Disney trips:


    11/30/17 - 12/14/17 - Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort
    03/01/18 - 03/08/18 - Copper Creek at the Wilderness Lodge

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