As I’m writing up this post it’s a beautiful 20 degrees outside (although sunny). Having come from warm and beatufiful central Florida it’s quite a shock to the system going back to weather 50 degrees colder. I just returned from a great trip down to the ‘World to watch my brother run the Disney 10k as part of the Marathon Weekend.
I wanted to share some thoughts, notes and observations from my trip along with some of the pictures I took while there. Overall it was an amazing trip as always, all of the parks are looking good as usual but a lot of construction which I like to see. That means we’ll be seeing some new things coming soon which I’m very excited about.
Orlando weather in winter can be highly variable
When we arrived on Thursday 1/8 it didn’t feel like the usually sunny and warm Orlando that I remember. The high for the day was just about 50 degrees with the lows dipping into the high 30s which is very cold for Orlando standards. By the end of the trip four days later it was 80 degrees and humid.
If you’re visiting in the winter be sure to check the weather just before you leave and pack accordingly.
We needed winter clothing when we arrived and summer attire by the end of the trip.
Hollywood Studios Needs Work
One of the biggest disappointments during the trip was the state of Hollywood Studios. It used to be one of my favorite parks just a few years ago but it seems to have lost its way as of late. Outside of the three big attractions (Rock’n’Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Midway Mania) and Fantasmic there wasn’t a lot more to do and we had a hard time filling the day.
Star Tours is a nice refresh, but outside of that there was nothing really new to see or do.
Indiana Jones has been there seemingly forever, Muppets 3D while still fun is in need of a refresh and the Great Movie ride could use an update too. Many attractions have closed up without replacements – Backlot Tour, American Idol, Millionaire, Sounds Dangerous (I know not much of a loss there), plus the lack of an afternoon parade now.
The park just doesn’t really have enough to do right now to fill a full day. I feel that there will be some big changes (Star Wars? Marvel?) coming to the Hollywood Studios hopefully soon – because it needs it.
Goodbye to the Hat
On a related note we were able to see the beginnings of the removal of the sorcerers hat from the park. I do like the hat and am somewhat sad to see it go but I do understand why it is. It was obviously in need of an overhaul, it was showing its age poorly and probably won’t fit into future plans for the park. So farewell to the giant hat, you will be missed!
Constructions Walls Galore
Many may see this as a negative but I see a lot of positives when seeing construction walls at the parks. This means that something is either being rehabbed (good) or there is something new being built (better).
Animal Kingdom has construction walls everywhere you look because of the many projects taking place there. Avatar Land, rehabs and the Rivers of Light show are a few of the big projects taking place at Animal Kingdom.
I like MyMagic+…kinda
This was my first full experience with the new MyMagic+. For those of you who aren’t aware, MyMagic+ is Disney’s new push to use technology to enhance your experience in the parks with Fastpass+, Magic Bands, the MyDisney Experience app plus a few other enhancements. Gone are the days of paper Fastpasses, the ability to game the system or run from attraction to attraction collecting as many as you can.
You now plan your day ahead with only 3 Fastpasses per day that can be reserved through the app or at in park kiosks.
On one side I did like the ability to plan ahead my Fastpasses and know exactly when and where I’ll be going on attractions. Being able to set Fastpasses for my whole family was easy to do and using the app wasn’t difficult at all.
On the flip side I Fastpass+ needs much, much more flexibility. Yes they did recently add the ability to add Fastpasses from other parks when hopping but basically once you schedule your Fastpasses you’re stuck with those.
No adding more Fastpasses for attractions with long lines (they’re always all gone) or doing a general search for availability on other attractions. Basically what Disney gives you is what you’ll have to go with. I’m sure in the future they’ll continue to tweak how it works.
I’ll still say that Fastpass+ is an improvement but still needs some work.
Food Continues to Frustrate Me
One of my biggest pet peeves with Disney is the food which is overpriced, low quality, and never enough. We ate at counter service restaurants for all of our meals at the parks to save money compared to eating at sit-down restaurants. Most meals were $10+ and nothing was ever that great – it always reminds me of school cafeteria food.
Dear Disney – if you’re going to charge outrageous prices for your food can you at least make it better quality?
Yes, many of the sit down restaurant options do offer high quality food but you’re going to pay quite a premium for a table service restaurant. I know Disney can do a better job with their food quality, they just choose not to becuase they don’t have to.
Hungry guests are stuck in the park and will eat crappy high priced food. I did always eat breakfast in the hotel room which I always recommend but ate dinner and lunches in the parks.
My mission for my next trip is to come up with some more easy ways to save money on food in the parks – by avoiding it all together. Stay tuned.
That should do it for today – stay tuned this week and next for reviews of the hotels I stayed at as well as a recap on the total price of this trip. It wasn’t one of my most frugal trips but I still think I did pretty well with saving money.