We’ve already seen a few highlights from Veterans Day Weekend – the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, the Cheshire Cafe opening, Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade, the Animal Kingdom decorations and Camp Minnie-Mickey characters, the Grand Floridian Gingerbread House, the State of the Monorail 8pm Close Edition, and the Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney.
But there are a few things that didn’t fit into those categories and since the theme of this website is “posts that are longer than anyone actually wants to read,” we might as well continue doing what works.
Veterans Day Weekend, specifically Friday November 11th and Saturday November 12th, was busier than either of us would have liked. I had ratcheted up the overall crowd level to a “6” to signify above average overall crowds, but an “8” would have been more accurate. Because the crowd predictions you see on this website are in line with what Disney is predicting internally, we see major problems when the crowd level is heavier than expected. Specifically, Disney staffs the various theme parks based on the number of people that they are expecting. When more people show up and they’re unprepared for the onslaught, we see longer waits at attractions because variable capacity attractions aren’t running at full capacity, longer lines at quick services because fewer registers are operating, more people in line for a limited number of characters, more “sold out” shows because there aren’t enough scheduled over the course of the day, and other similar “issues.” In other words, there can be a similar number of people in the Park on two given days and depending on staffing, operating hours, show schedules, etc. the two days can “feel” very different. A good example of this was this past April when Disney was expecting far more people than actually showed up around the Easter holiday. The theme parks didn’t “feel” crowded because Disney was prepared to serve far more people.
We’ll start at Magic Kingdom (Most Recommended) on Friday November 11th and then visit Animal Kingdom (Not Recommended) and Hollywood Studios (Not Recommended).
We’re arriving at about 12pm on a day when Magic Kingdom was only open from 8am – 7pm. That means most everyone that’s going to be in Magic Kingdom has already arrived and few people are entering.
A lot of people in line at Guest Relations outside the Park. Grand Floridian upgrades must have still been available. If you have Park admission, you’ll want to visit City Hall just inside the Magic Kingdom on the left side of Main Street if you have a question for Guest Services. They can do anything that they can do outside the Park, there are far fewer people in line, there are more cast members working, and it’s air-conditioned.
Amusingly, Disney doesn’t even have the right operating hours listed on their sign inside the Park. Magic Kingdom opened at 8am.
Since we’re friends, I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anyone before. I’ve never been to the Festival of the Masters. This being the 36th year, that means I’ve missed it for 35 straight years, 26 of which I’ve actually been alive to miss.
Disney describes the Festival as:
The 36th Festival of the Masters presented by Michaels® is a vibrant, open-air art festival in the Downtown Disney area. Featuring more than 150 award-winning artists, this world-renowned show is a highly anticipated annual event for Guests, artists, collectors and art lovers.
Showcasing one-of-a-kind and limited-edition painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry and more, this prestigious show is ranked among the country’s finest outdoor art festivals. And there’s a lot more to enjoy, like amazing chalk art, live music, specialty foods and family-friendly activities.
Let’s check it out. Very quickly, I will say that if you are an artist or know one of the artists that would prefer that photos of your work not appear on the internet, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don’t think Disney has ever met a ledge, railing, or building that it didn’t want to hang a wreath on. This one is on the top of the Cirque du Soleil “tent.”
Most of the exhibitioners will be on the West Side of Downtown Disney, of course assuming it’s still called the West Side next year (wink).
There were three information stations set up. Of course, you would first have to find one of these information stations in order to get the map with the information station locations. Anyway, you can pick up a booklet with the list of exhibitors, food/drink locations, and a fair number of advertisements. Since the Michaels chain of craft stores was sponsoring the event, there was also an opportunity to pick up propaganda. Let me know if anyone wants information on the Creatology Coloring Playhouse and Rocket or the Topping Tornado.
When the news broke that Disney would be reducing Monorail hours back in August, people were wondering what transportation options would be available on Mickey’s Party nights where Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm. My worry was what transportation options would look like when Magic Kingdom closed at 8pm without Extra Magic Hours. At least on a Mickey’s Party night, we knew that Disney would be running buses all night – until at least 1am to all resorts. At the very least, people would be able to catch a bus from the Monorail Deluxe Resorts to Magic Kingdom and then transfer there if necessary. Or better yet, a bus would service all three resorts and the Magic Kingdom, making it easy to use the bus in lieu of the Monorail. Now that the Resort Monorail runs until at least 12:30am on Mickey’s Party nights, that “issue” is mostly resolved. But what about days when Magic Kingdom closes at 8pm and doesn’t offer evening Extra Magic Hours. Today was the first one of those days.
The Magic Kingdom Resort and Express Monorails closed at 9pm, one hour after regular Park close. The Epcot Monorail closed at 10pm, one hour after regular Park close.
After the Resort Monorail shuts down, a bus will take guests from the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary Resort, Ticket/Transportation Center, Polynesian Resort, and Grand Floridian Resort. This bus will run until Magic Kingdom is “clear of all guests” and usually until Epcot is “clear of all guests” as well, depending on the time of day and whether or not Disney is offering direct bus transportation from Epcot to the Monorail Deluxe Resorts. When I say “clear of all guests,” I mean that Magic Kingdom is empty and all guests are back to their resorts or the parking lot.
The Grand Floridian Gingerbread House is up and ready to greet guests every day from 10am to 10pm throughout the holiday season. Taking the monorail trip over to the Grand Floridian to see it is probably (definitely) the single most popular non-theme-park-related-holiday-thing-to-do at Walt Disney World.
You may remember that just a week ago, the Gingerbread House was a bit less gingerbread-y.
That’s better. The Gingerbread House is located in the corner of the main lobby. The Grand Floridian Cafe is behind it and check-in/concierge is not far away. From the Monorail, you’ll just need to walk in the building and take the stairs/elevator down to the first floor. From the bus stop/main entrance, just head inside and you’ll see it. I promise.
The recipe. “It takes 840 hours of labor to produce, cut and bake the 5,089 ‘shingles’ used to decorate the Gingerbread House.” That’s only 35 days. 17.500 days if you have a buddy! If you start now, you could build the same thing by Christmas!
You may remember that we know the gentleman in charge of overseeing the building of the Gingerbread House – Bill Clark. Name drop!
While not often thought of as being particularly “Christmas-y,” Animal Kingdom actually has a lot going for it in terms of holiday cheer. It’s the only Park where you’ll find key characters dressed up in holiday outfits outside of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. There’s a gorgeous Christmas tree that greets guests as they enter the Park. Camp Minnie-Mickey is decked out for the holidays with Christmas trees themed to individual characters. You’ll also find holiday garlands, wreaths, and lights strewn around the Park. Let’s see what Animal Kingdom looks like this year.
The Christmas Tree:
I feel like they’ve added something, but it’s hard to put my finger on what…
These are real humans standing near it, not miniatures. Not that miniature people aren’t humans.
A closer look: