Disney – summer 2018 – round 3!

It was back to the Walt Disney World resort for me and the kid in late July! We spent several days in the Florida sun trying out even more new things on this last trip. How is that possible, you ask? Disney is ever-changing and no matter how many times you go (even in a row), there’s always something new to do. So let’s talk about what was new this time!

  • Disney’s Coronado Springs resort
    • LOVED it! I haven’t stayed here for about three years and have to say, I hated it last time. The rooms were old, resort too spread out, had too much of a business traveler feel, etc. This time… such an improvement!
    • First, the rooms are all being renovated to a modern, crisp new style with laminate flooring, new walk-in showers, a beautiful new vanity area with tons of storage, and a huge countertop surface that is perfect for working or managing all of your vacation goodies in the room.
    • The resort will never lose the business travel vibe because it is a main convention resort for Disney. It also has a new 15-story tower being built at its entrance to support more convention traffic. That being said, this resort is great for families with older children or adults traveling alone because the vibe is so relaxed. The buses are rarely crowded, we had one all to ourselves and several with just a handful of other guests onboard. There are four bus stops at the resort but they go very quickly. The food court was never even remotely full, even at peak breakfast time. I could see families with small children there too, although there are other resorts that fit that demographic a little bit better.
    • The construction for the new tower didn’t impact our stay at all. It is HUGE but actually looks like it will be pretty nice in the end. I’m not sure how the extra traffic from that tower will affect the resort overall, so I’m holding my final thoughts until I can stay there after that is fully operational. I think, between now and whenever that is done though, Coronado Springs is fair game in the moderate category! They’re also building an over-the-water restaurant which I’m sure will be a hit with guests.

      Coronado Springs room

      Check out all of that counter space and drawers! Loved these renovated rooms at Coronado Springs!

  • Pirates and Pals fireworks voyage
    • First and foremost, if you’re seeing the Magic Kingdom fireworks (“Happily Ever After”) for the first time, see them IN THE PARK. If you want a special viewing area, do the Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden viewing in the park. Definitely do not watch those fireworks from outside the park for the first (or even second) time. You need to be in full view of the front of Cinderella Castle to enjoy the projections shown on the Castle. This is an important part of the new show and just is not the same if you miss them.
    • This is a separate event with an additional fee that is prepaid at the time of booking.
    • The fun starts with a pirate party at the Contemporary resort that includes snacks, drinks, and frozen treats plus a meet-and-greet with Captain Hook and Smee. From there, you move on to board a boat to sail to the Seven Seas Lagoon, where you’ll drop anchor for the fireworks viewing. You’ll wrap back at the Contemporary, meeting another special guest before continuing on your way to finish out the evening.
    • We had a great time on the lake and watching the fireworks from afar, but we’ve also seen Happily Ever After many times from inside the park. Meeting Hook and Smee plus the special guest was a nice treat as were the frozen goodies (Mickey ice cream sandwiches, strawberry popsicles, lemonade popsicles, to name a few.) You’re hosted by two pirates during the party and one of the pirates was hovering on the inappropriate side from time to time as far as jokes made (which was really surprising to me, being Disney, but there were very few small children in the group so maybe that changed the vibe?) so I’m not sure how that left me feeling overall.
    • Would I do this event again? Probably not. I much more prefer the dessert party from inside the park with the better fireworks viewing, way more dessert/treat options, and ease of going back to the rides (or shops!) after the fireworks end.

      Pirates & Pals

      Welcome to the voyage!

  • Toy Story Land (at night)
    • We had already done Toy Story Land during the day but didn’t have time to experience it at night on our last trip. So this time, we made a point to go back in the late evening. It was so worth it! The land takes on a whole new look in the nighttime with everything aglow! Alien Swirling Saucers is a much better ride at night with the lights and music – you can enjoy them a lot more after the sun has gone down. Not to mention, nowhere near as hot when the blazing sun isn’t cooking you from lack of shade.
      Andy's Footprint

      One of Andy’s footprints in Toy Story Land. Much easier to see when the land isn’t packed!

       

  • Painting with a View
    • I have been a Disney Vacation Club member (Disney’s timeshare program) since 2006 and wanted to enjoy one of the new offerings for members called ‘Painting with a View’. This is a private event for members only and runs around $55/person for the two-hour painting session that takes place at the top of Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The 16th floor lounge hosts a small group of painters to recreate a Disney themed painting with a local artist.
    • Our session included light snacks and drinks as well as a killer view (see the blog cover photo) of the Seven Seas Lagoon area. The painting we worked on was from Moana and featured Moana in her sailboat, sailing into the sunset with her Grandmother ray sailing alongside.
    • I loved this experience and would definitely do it again!

      Painting with a view

      The Kid, creating her Moana masterpiece

  • Rivers of Light
    • We’ve seen Rivers of Light, the nighttime show at Animal Kingdom, a few times now. I wanted to swing by the show area though to see how the crowds were looking and wow… the outdoor theater was already really full well before the show was to start. The ‘standby’ section for those without a FastPass or tickets from a dining package (what I recommend for my clients) was at standing room only at least 30 minutes prior to the show starting.

      Everest looming over Rivers of Light

      A full moon glows over the mountain that is guarded by the fierce Yeti!

  • Epcot fun!
    • Lots of fun in Epcot this time too! We enjoyed the new Kidcot activity sponsored by Ziploc that recently replaced the ‘Duffy on a stick’ coloring activity that had been at Epcot for the last several years. I have to say, the new activity is so much better! You go from country to country to collect a little info card about that country. The Cast Member at the Kidcot station writes a phrase or a drawing on the card related to their country and you collect those cards and a sticker at each location. You’re given a cute little Ziploc slider bag that looks like a suitcase at the start of your journey to collect the cards in. For those who liked the coloring downtime, don’t worry! The back of each card features a scene with Disney characters related to that country.

It’s amazing to watch how the construction is progressing at Disney on a variety of projects like the Riviera Beach resort being built near Caribbean Beach, the tower at the Coronado Springs resort, the entire Skyliner (gondola) system, and even the new attractions in Epcot. The Guardians of the Galaxy ride in Epcot is really starting to take shape. It looks to be HUGE! You can see its frame going up in the photo below, look for Spaceship Earth (the big ball), then the tree to the right. On the right side of the tree, you’ll see the Guardians ride building. Crazy how big that is compared to Spaceship Earth! Can’t wait for that one!

Guardians of the Galaxy ride building

To the right of the tree, you’ll see the frame of the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction building!

 

That’s it for now! Catch me next time…

Amber

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