Ah, the finale! And a very photo based finale of the trip report at that. I used to wonder why Disney bloggers get tired of writing trip reports but it’s fairly obvious now that I’m the one writing. These posts take up the most time to write and often times I just feel like I’m constantly repeating myself. Don’t get me wrong, trip reports are still some of my favorite posts to write as I like the free-flowing form. But this trip didn’t offer much in the way of unique activities and our touring plan wasn’t aggressive, mostly revolving around our half marathon. I guess all of this is to say, thank you to those that have followed along with all of these posts even if they crossed the line into boring at some point!
I’ve chronicled our half marathon in full in this post and won’t rehash it here. Suffice to say, we were up early and I had finished my 13.1 miles of running before the time I would have liked to be awake. I’m not saying I’m a fast runner, just that I like sleeping in. Once we completed our half marathon, we hopped on a bus over to the Polynesian Village Resort for breakfast at Kona Cafe.
We should have taken the monorail from Epcot to get there, but I was tired and opted for the bus since it was a closer walk. Unfortunately, all of the roads hadn’t opened yet from the race and traffic was extremely backed up. Getting to the Poly took nearly an hour and we were late for our reservation. Thankfully, the staff there was very understanding, got us seated before long and we enjoyed our breakfast (a review will be coming in the next few weeks). I imagine Magic Kingdom was empty that morning as they tried to address the traffic situation. If you happen to be there on a race day, don’t go to Magic Kingdom in the morning or try to use alternate transportation if that’s an option.
After breakfast, I was pretty exhausted and decided to go back to the hotel, take a nap and shower. We met up with family later that afternoon for lunch at D-Luxe Burger in Disney Springs. This is one of my current favorite counter-service restaurants and I’ll have a review soon. The fries are especially delicious.
We washed down dinner with a drink at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, another gem in Disney Springs. While I don’t care much about shopping, Disney Springs is becoming a more and more inviting destination. Walking around there is generally enjoyable, especially if you go earlier in the day or late at night. The food options are excellent, especially in terms of table-service restaurants. Counter-service has definitely improved, as well.
After a drink, we sadly parted ways with our sister-in-law and niece and headed off to Magic Kingdom. Melissa hadn’t napped so she was quite tired but we both wanted to top off our half marathon day with fireworks. We got into Magic Kingdom just a few minutes before Happily Ever After started and ended up with a decent spot for the show. It was an emotional way to end our half marathon day and was especially fun to watch the show with thousands of other runners.
I had FastPassed Big Thunder Mountain for the hour before closing that night so we walked over there and rode the Wildest Ride in the Wilderness. Before heading back to the hotel for the hot tub and a good night’s sleep, I took a few photos in Frontierland. That’s become my favorite spot for nighttime photos at Magic Kingdom. Here are a few that I took, they aren’t the best because I didn’t bring my tripod.
The next morning we checked out of the Swan Hotel, dropped off our bags at Bell Services to be transferred to Caribbean Beach Resort and took the boat over to Hollywood Studios. Our first FastPass of the day was at Toy Story Mania and somehow I had never been on the third track that was built after the original two. The ride is the same but the building itself looks worse.
Old news but this is pretty poor show. I understand that it was probably a cheaper route to go and guests don’t typically stare at the ceiling in an attraction’s load zone but I still found the view above disappointing. Does it bother anyone else?
After Toy Story Mania, we shared a quick bite at Woody’s Lunch Box, the Grilled Cheese is a guilty pleasure, and checked out the temporary Incredibles area. I don’t think that area will last long but I guess using the space temporarily is better than not using it at all. The Edna Mode meet & greet is a fun addition and watching Frozone dance is better than watching any other character dance. Otherwise, I don’t think area is worth much time.
We had some bad luck with our Tower of Terror FastPasses this trip so doing it on our last day was essential. It’s one of Melissa’s favorite attractions and I felt bad for having missed it earlier in the trip. While I don’t love the dropping portion of Tower of Terror, the ride system and story remains incredible.
We rode Star Tours and walked around Hollywood Studios for a few minutes before heading off. We also saw the Star Wars March/Parade on the way out and it is still not worth your time. They should give those characters more to do! I preferred watching the Disney Skyliner testing.
We caught a bus over to Magic Kingdom and walked straight to the Jungle Cruise. Being our last day, we were doing a decent amount of park hopping but were still able to grab a few FastPasses throughout the day. Crowds had subsided relative to the previous week and walking around was far more enjoyable, especially in Magic Kingdom
Right before lunch, we were able to catch Main Street Philharmonic playing in the hub. They are always a treat to watch and worth stopping for if you see them around.
We ate lunch at The Plaza and thoroughly enjoyed it. This might be the most charming place to have a meal in the Magic Kingdom area. It’s far from the best meal, but a great experience nonetheless. I’ll have a review in the next week.
The weather had cooled down a little bit and the crowds subsiding made Magic Kingdom show off a little more than usual. The spring colors didn’t hurt either.
To be honest, I had grown frustrated with Magic Kingdom for most of our trip. The park has nearly 30 attractions and we hardly saw any of them under 20 minute waits. On top of that, there are a few areas in the park that feel like you’re being herded like cattle when it’s too crowded. Relative to other castle parks, Magic Kingdom isn’t my favorite and there are some operational aspects that bug me.
Our last afternoon there helped redeem the park a bit for me. Seeing the beautiful colors throughout the park without so many interruptions and people surrounding the area was a gift. Most theme parks are pretty in the spring but Magic Kingdom really shines.
As the afternoon came to a close, we hopped over to Epcot. The last day of Festival of the Arts coincided with the last day of our trip and that festival is a big draw to us.
We started off riding Spaceship Earth before heading back to World Showcase for the night.
Our only plan for the night was to watch the final show of the Broadway Concert Series and catch Illuminations. We took our time walking back to American Adventure and then got in line for the show. While most nights it’s fairly easy to get a spot for the show, this was the last night so lining up about an hour in advance of the latest show was essential. I’m glad we did.
Most nights the Broadway Concert Series showcased two performers but on the final night four of them took the stage. Josh Strickland, Ashley Brown, Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White (from left to right) were the performers and brought the house down. Epcot has an unfortunate identity as being a frat party, especially during Food & Wine Festival. Seeing this final show was a party environment but in an entirely different manner. Frankly, I’ve never experienced anything quite like it at Walt Disney World.
The best way I can describe the show was it being a rock show for theater fans. All four gifted performers took turns running through songs and each one was followed by long, sometimes standing ovations. The crowd was wild, but in a respectful way and it was easy to tell all four performers were having the time of their life. All four performers joined together to finish the set with a rousing rendition of ‘Let it Go’ and it brought the house down. I was very surprised that the crowd didn’t call for an encore, but Illuminations was calling and a Disney crowd doesn’t seem particularly versed in rock n’ roll shows. It was a performance that I’ll never forget.
Once the show ended, we took the short walk over to the Japan Pavilion to watch Illuminations from there. It was the exact same thing we had done a few nights earlier and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. This is the easiest spot to get for a good view of Illuminations. Here’s a few photos!
Having to say goodbye to Illuminations in a few months will be pretty hard for me. No Disney nighttime show has affected me more and while I think it’s probably time for a change, I’m not necessarily ready for one.
In a strange twist, Melissa was the one who wanted to stay up later while I was pretty wiped out after Illuminations. Generally, I’m the night owl while she prefers the morning. We opted to go over to Disney Springs to grab a late dinner and do some shopping. So instead of ending this trip report with something poetic about how beautiful Epcot is during Festival of the Arts, here’s this.
I ate at Chicken Guy and it was surprisingly good. Melissa went with Pizza Ponte which is becoming our go-to late night option. I probably wasn’t the best shopping buddy as my body was pretty tired after our race and week in the parks. We walked around for a while before heading over to Caribbean Beach Resort for the night.
It was our first time at the resort since it had been renovated and we both liked the aesthetic in the lobby and common areas. I’ll go into more detail in a review, but the resort has definitely been upgraded in the last few years.
Eventually, we got to our room and went to sleep. If you want a very easy check-in experience then just get to your hotel near midnight! We woke up the next morning and caught our Magical Express to fly home.
Our entire trip was exceptional, taking a laid back approach to Walt Disney World. Going over President’s Day would be an extremely frustrating experience if we had a goal of accomplishing a bunch of attractions and seeing every park in full. Fortunately, that wasn’t the goal. While I’m eager to go to other Disney Parks, Walt Disney World will always be a draw for us because of the amount the resort holds. This trip was no exception.
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Categories: Trip Reports