I love all the pictures of the castle. I’m not too fond of the pink with the grays and shiny blue, but it does seem to change throughout the day!
Wonderful pics! I can’t believe how many characters you got to see.
It was great, I felt like I was tripping over them!
For me, its the grey. It just makes the other colors feel out of place. A more silver color may have worked better, IMO
I’m not sure if its the new paint or if they changed the lighting too, but the blue haze doesn’t seem to be as bad as it used to be for night time pictures. So even though I’m not a fan of the pink and purple there’s at least a positive that came out of it
I don’t hate the new castle paint job. I don’t love it either. I think I just made my peace with it early on as it’s not like I get a choice!
Once again, we decided not to get up early to arrive at the park for park opening. We ended up getting a far later start than I wanted. Part of this was due to the fact that DH decided (on our way to get a Lyft) that he wanted to have breakfast at the hotel. So, we mobile ordered but it was a pretty long wait to get food. So we didn’t end up arriving at AK around 11.
Our day was slow-paced but with this being a Saturday, we really noticed the increased wait times. We zeroed in on low wait attractions and some of the trails.
We did ITTBAB and that ended up being a 30 min wait!! But, we really didn’t have anything else to do and it gave us an opportunity to see some more of the TOL carvings.
We did the safari twice (one close to noon and another around 4:30 – glad we did, we saw the lions on the later safari) and Dinosaur. We got in line for FOP about an hour before park close and waited maybe 35 minutes (by far the lowest wait time of the day). We opted to skip EE because the line was back to the Nemo theater both times we passed. Lunch was at Flame Tree and we caught many of the river cavalcades.
We tried to do Nomad Lounge but it was waitlist only and had an estimated 45 min to an hour before getting called so we skipped it.
Again, with this park, like the others, go very early or later in the afternoon if you want to get things done without crazy waits.
Enjoy the pictures!
Some notes on the carnival games in Dinoland – they have numbered signs to stand on and they all have a max of 3 people playing at a time (both times DH played, he was the only one but later we did see all three spaces occupied) and they wipe down the balls before you play. If you win a prize, they grab it with a contraption like what is used to pick up trash and then hand the prize to you. We have never done these games before and you have to get tickets first ($5 per ticket) at a separate kiosk then deposit the ticket in a box at the actual game kiosk so no one else has to take the ticket.
We stayed until park close and got a Lyft – it was about a 20 min wait but it was a nice evening out. We got mobile order dinner at the Riviera and started the task of packing.
For the first time, we are now using Owner’s Locker so we had packed an entire suitcase of things to store in that and we needed to get that organized and inventoried. We had to get DME at 8:15 the next morning so it was fine that this was an early night.
Got up nice and early and called bell services to get our luggage and the owner’s locker. We called early, not sure how long it would take but they came really promptly, and they did accept a cash tip. We had no issues with anyone refusing cash.
We also learned that today (Sunday), CBR had 700 rooms checking out and only 250 checking in.
We still had around 45 minutes until DME was scheduled to arrive so DH mobile ordered coffee from the CBR QS. Here is one huge complaint – they really need an “express” lane for people who mobile order drinks only. This was an issue that we had in July at POP Century and it is so frustrating. The other issue is once you click “I’m here”, it charges you and there is no way to cancel the order. Well, the order of 1 coffee took an hour. No joke! DME came and we got the “your order is ready” text 1 hour after he ordered. Unacceptable. It is a lousy cup of coffee!! I’ve emailed Disney to see if they will refund the charge (I am not expecting it) and to give the feedback that it is crazy that you have to wait the same amount of time for a drink as you do for a whole meal.
The other thing that is odd (and this has been consistent for our three post-COVID trips) is that boarding DME to go back to the airport, there is no staggered seating or assigned seats. This makes no sense to me. I even asked the bus driver about this and he said, no, we don’t assign seats on your return. Why not? Am I magically protected because I am heading home??
I was anxious about what the airport would be like since the FL Governor moved the state into phase 3 the night before. I was expecting the airport to be the wild west with no one wearing masks but that wasn’t the case. In fact, they were still announcing that masks were mandatory on a pretty regular basis.
Another observation at the airport is that they do have their self-service drink stations open in the food court.
Our flight home was uneventful but they did announce that it was a full flight. We flew Southwest so the middle seats were still open but they said every window and aisle seat would be occupied. Mask compliance was great (at least among the people around us) but I was still happy to be off the plane!
People ask the questions should I go to Disney, is there still magic, is it crowded…etc. Here are my personal thoughts and observations based on our last trip.
Should I go to Disney? I am a solid “maybe” on this one. I think it really just depends on why you are going and how realistic you can be about expectations. If this is your first trip, I would advise waiting. Granted, you won’t know what you are missing but the crowds are increasing just enough that, unless you are OK with waiting 30+ min for a ride, it might be a frustrating experience. If you go frequently and just need a Disney fix, go for it! It will be different but not altogether bad. That leads me to…
Is there still Magic? My answer is yes. But, this will vary for everyone depending on how you define magic. Seeing people in masks doesn’t ruin the magic for me. I actually love the fact that people have to keep their distance and aren’t breathing down my neck in line. The lines and wait times aren’t magical but we found plenty of things to do as alternatives. Seeing the characters and the cavalcades are magical to me – I love them! Are things the same as before, no. But, for me, the magic is seeing the castle for the first time, hearing the music of the parks, seeing the characters without having to wait in line for them….all of that is still there! If you go into it expecting things to be how you want them to be, you will likely not feel the magic. It is still there, you just have to look for it in different ways. I do still miss park-hopping and fireworks. But the shortened hours didn’t bother us at all. It is nice to not be go go go and actually return home feeling well-rested instead of needing a vacation from our vacation!
Is it Crowded? Yes. Compared to our July trips when everything (literally everything) was walk on, it is significantly more crowded. But, if you have been in the parks during the holidays or on a crowd level 8, you will be fine. For us, it didn’t feel crowded walking around. It is more the fact that with lower ride capacity and no FastPass, everything is now a wait and in some cases, long waits. I would recommend using a touring plan. I created them but honestly didn’t use them because we just weren’t concerned about getting all the rides in. If you are, then arriving early, using a touring plan, and taking advantage of lower crowds closer to park close are key strategies. I was checking TP wait times and from our couple of days, they seemed really accurate. Disney’s times are often inflated so the actual wait time is almost always lower (YMMV!).
Did I feel Safe? Yes, very safe. I don’t think the safety measures have dropped off at all from our July trips to now. With additional crowds, you do have to be vigilant and still be prepared to change things up if you are in a situation where you don’t feel comfortable. For us, if we saw a large group of people, we just went in a different direction or gave them a wide berth. I didn’t go on some rides because I didn’t want to risk feeling uncomfortable (POC line, Buzz at MK). We did do indoor dining and never felt concerned in the least. But everyone has to decide that for themselves.
Will we go back soon? Well, I have a trip scheduled for December 9th to 17th. The first half of the trip is for me and my Mom, then Mom will fly home and DH will fly in. My mom is over 70 so a lot of that will be dependent on what COVID looks like both here and in FL. DH and I will likely go no matter what because even if it is just a small dose of the holidays, I know I will want to see them! But, I will be keeping an eye on crowds, easing of any restrictions like masks and social distancing, or opening restaurants in the parks to a higher capacity. If they relax social distancing or mask-wearing, I won’t go if COVID cases are still around, it just isn’t worth it. If they open up restaurants to more capacity, I wouldn’t eat indoors. If crowd levels increase more and there is still no FastPass, we will just focus on non-ride things. So, we are taking a wait and see stance.
Thanks for following along!
Thanks for taking us with you!
Thanks for the heads up about drinks taking so long. That tells me that I need to make my own coffee in the morning and we should bring our own sodas.
Thanks for another great trip report!
Yes!! or get them somewhere other than the hotel (could be unique to Pop and CBR due to size??)
This is great info to have - thank you! I feel like TP has been doing a pretty good job updating their program with current data, but it’s good to have it confirmed!
We’ll be staying at Pop.
Thanks for sharing your trip, it has been fun to follow! Great pics! I agree that an hour to get a coffee is unacceptable.
The food court was crazy busy when we stayed there late July. If you are planning on eating dinner there, I would recommend ordering on your way back to the hotel and clicking the im here button just before arriving at the hotel. For breakfast, I’d just wait in the room until you get the your foodcis ready notification. To me, that was the hardest time to socially distance due to the number of people waiting. Also at pop, they have the same issue if you just want coffee or drinks. So we always made sure we grabbed something at the park (bottled pop or water) before heading back.
Maybe it has improved since July but it was one of the more challenging experiences.
We won’t be eating at Pop, we plan to eat at F&W booths and we’ll be going on a lounge crawl on Sunday. However, we were thinking about getting refillable mugs so I can get coffee and my daughter can get soda. Since they probably won’t be self serve, that might be a bad idea. Oh my. That didn’t even occur to me in my planning.
We budgeted $30 + tax for the Star Wars refillable mugs because they look to be much better than the $20 ones. We still may get them, and hope that we can actually use them. Mornings doesn’t sound good, though.