WDW - 1st week of December 2012

Associated parks:

My wife and I recently returned from our annual “early December” WDW trip and I am convinced that the first two weeks in December is one of the best times to visit.

Crowds were light with most attractions having less than a 15 minute wait and at many times a walk on. Even Toy Story and Soarin had less than 30 minute waits at times. All of the Christmas stuff was up and as always, the weather was beautiful all week in the mid 70’s every day. Not one drop of rain.

For this report, I’ll focus on some of the “firsts” we experienced, which is surprising as this is probably our 15 trip to WDW.

BEACH CLUB RESORT – Stayed at the Beach Club Resort for the first time. While we had a great stay, and would certainly stay there again, I don’t know what all the hype is about this resort. Many people live and die for this resort, and other than the location and the pool, it really isn’t worth the $300+ a night room rate. It is crazy that you basically pay mid-town Manhattan rates for this resort.

Don’t get me wrong, it's a decent joint but for more than $200 less a night, you can get a room in the Pop Century. And if your ego can handle the “value” category, it is a steal for under $100 a night.

In the end, we had a great stay at the Beach Club and we certainly took advantage of the incredible pool area and location. Being able to walk (stumble) back from Epcot or the Studios at the end of the night and not have to deal with the busses and mass crowds exiting is a real plus.

ANIMAL KINGDOM – I have ridden the safari ride dozens of times but never noticed a walk through trail located near the exit that is really cool. It is called the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and it is a self guided trail through the Gorilla reserve probably around ¼ mile long. I am not sure how long it has been there, but I am glad we stumbled upon it as we probably spent a good hour exploring and observing the gorillas and other wildlife in the exhibit.

CASTLE ROYAL TABLE – For the first time, my wife and I were finally able to get reservations for dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table in the castle. We booked around 170 days out.

The food was decent, but I wish I could have had a beer or glass of wine with my meal. Probably just a matter of time as long as the Be Our Guest concept works. Please bring beer to the MK...

While I am not a huge character fan, it was cool to snap a photo with Cinderella and her peeps. By complete accident, our dinner time afforded us the opportunity to view Wishes from inside the restaurant toward the end of our meal and that was pretty cool. Obviously some of the views were blocked, and you don’t see the entire show, but the music score is pumped into the room and the lights are dimmed and it was a cool experience.

While you would think that the fireworks are directly over the castle, most are actually launched well behind it, probably a good 1/2 mile behind. You would never know watching from Main Street USA.

NEW FANTASYLAND – You read all of the reviews, all are pretty accurate. From a walkway perspective, it really isn’t that big….Disney is marketing this “double the size” tagline…and perhaps with everything included it is.

The new area has a bit of a “harry potter” feel with great attention to detail to many of the design elements, even the walkways. The new areas are so nice that it makes you think about when the "rest of the park" will be “updated”.

The new Little Mermaid ride is neat….basically the same as Nemo in Epcot, same clam mobiles with obviously a different theme. And as another omni-mover style attractions, this thing cranks guests through. It was a walk on the night we were there.

Rode Dumbo for the first time as well. It was a walk on and pretty much a yawner…but at least I ticked it off the bucket list.

BE OUR GUEST (LUNCH) – Don’t bother trying getting a dinner reservation, completely booked for like 27 years.

The line for lunch was all the way back to the end of the bridge. They were quoting an hour wait….we waited and were seated in about 35 minutes. In a nutshell, I would say it is the best food experience in the park.

Basically after you enter, you order your food and pay at a kiosk and get an RFID “puck”. After paying, you grab any open table and in about 5-10 minutes, your food gets delivered by a host. The food quality was very good and the atmosphere in the restaurant is incredible. Plan to pay. Two sandwiches, two sodas and one dessert set us back about $35, but totally worth it.

LE' CELLIER (EPCOT) - Another first. Meal for two, bottle of wine and dessert...$175. Best meal I have ever had at WDW, period. Seriously, one of the top 5 meals I have ever had. I will be paying this CC charge off for months but totally worth it...

NEW TEST TRACK – I don’t get it and I miss the old version. Perhaps I completely missed the connection, but I never got the point from the design activity, to the ride, to the post show. I was completely lost and just didn’t see the point or any story line to the new attraction.

The actual ride is boring other than a ton of neon, lighting and futuristic effects that had no continuity and story. Again, maybe I missed something but making everything “blue” isn’t a new attraction in my mind and I give the re-vamp two thumbs down.

NEXT GEN - Our room keys for the Beach Club were RFID and that is how we entered our room. RFID is the future of WDW and you could see it all over the entire complex ready to be rolled out. Not sure how I feel booking my fastpass times months in advance.

The actual ride is boring other than a ton of neon, lighting and futuristic effects that had no continuity and story. Again, maybe I missed something but making everything “blue” isn’t a new attraction in my mind and I give the re-vamp two thumbs down.

BUSSES – Random observation, but what is up with the busses traveling at basically a walking pace in all depot areas? I never thought the busses were lightning fast, but it was obvious some VP of Safety decided that bus movements at a crawl will keep kids from blowing out tires and getting run over.

I am all for safety, but come on?? It was just painfully slow at times, especially at the larger depots where it felt like forever to get to the drop off point.

Also, I noticed multiple new exterior and interior cameras on many of the busses.

In conclusion, another great WDW trip and I can’t wait for NYE in Epcot in a few weeks!

Last edited by Hanging n' Banging,

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