Briefly, yes, I did almost die, which is the reason for the lack of updates, but I am back, fully healed to 100% curmudgeon, and probably even more bitter than usual. I’ve never been a big fan of the metric system, but when they tell you that you’re within a centimeter of having a hole drilled into your head, you’re awfully glad they’re not basing their calculations on feet.
In this post, we’ll enjoy a leisurely, scenic walk around Crescent Lake near Epcot and Hollywood Studios to get back into the swing of things. Then I’ll see how quickly I can come up with the website’s 403rd different way of describing the consistency of flan (hopefully “soft and custardy” is good enough this year) for the Festival of the Holidays, and then get into the nitty gritty of Genie+ and precisely what order you need to press the 72,918 buttons on your phone in case you’re deemed worthy of the blessing of an Alien Swirling Saucers Lightning Lane pass before noon instead of Muppet*Vision for sometime next week.
With the Parks opening as much as an hour early for resort/eligible guests during the 50th anniversary celebration and no end date in sight, the parking lots should be accessible to all guests earlier than they had been as recently as September 2021, rendering our Swan/Dolphin trick to get to the Studios largely unnecessary. You might remember that we snuck ahead of everyone who was parking, since the lot was closed, everyone on the Skyliner, because it wasn’t yet open, and everyone on the buses, because they weren’t transporting guests yet, simply by taking this joyous 20-minute sojourn by being dropped off or parking at the Swan/Dolphin. The upside to the third-party resort drop-off was that it was (as far as your normal guests is concerned) security-free. With Disney, you never know if you’re getting Burt Macklin, who is pretty sure that they’re guarding Fort Knox, or Ronald McDonald, who just wants to get back to his Chicken McNuggets.
Since I enjoy the scenery, had gotten out of bed approximately twice in three weeks, and was actually headed to Epcot without a care in the world other than the pricing panic on the Italy Festival menu front, I decided we might as well arrive early and hope I (don’t?) collapse before arriving at whatever flavored glue Patina decided to serve up this year for $12-$15.
If you’re traveling to the Studios (in particular) in the morning, walking is almost always faster than the boats. The rush is on because thousands of other guests are trying to beat you to the entrance and will cause much longer waits most of the day should they arrive before you. While I might have been bedridden, and partially paralyzed, you can be sure that I completed my daily elbow-sharpening routine. Exercise is important. Knocking kids over is just a bonus.
Back to what may or may not technically be boats, they are frustratingly slow, are so musty that they make my apartment smell like a Glade commercial in comparison, and on top of all of that, you have to wait for the “opportunity” to board a vessel that should be named, “The Slowest Cruise That Ever Sailed.” At least there isn’t an accompanying song. Although learning how to sing, “It’s a big world after all. And we’re going to traverse it very, very slowly” in Aramaic may get the kids hyped up for World Showcase. Protip: No matter how slow the boat might be moving, try not to do a cannonball off it. Or if you do, wear brain-eating-amoeba-armor. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
You can see that we have some late walkers heading in direction of Hollywood Studios or to sleep off a hangover underneath that bridge. Not that I know anything about either. But if you look far in the distance, there is already a boat underneath the bridge at 8:30am. Those transportation start times do change, of course, which makes our foolproof walkway plan all the more infallible.
For a complete look at what to expect from the walk to the Studios from Beach/Yacht/BoardWalk, see this, and again what it looks like coming in from the Swan/Dolphin here. Bottom line: in almost all cases, you want to walk to Hollywood Studios as early as possible, and ideally leave the room about 90 minutes before official opening. That may sound like a lot, but you could be in for a full hour of extra morning ride time every day of the week. When we (eventually) get to the Studios, we’ll enjoy the same hour-long head start coming in from the All-Star Movies as the Grand Floridian Resort. At worst, you’ll just be among the first to board the ride of your choice once Disney is ready for the
onslaught calm walk to not Alien Swirling Saucers.
The walk over to the Studios is 15ish minutes from this area depending on where it is you’re traveling and how many times you fall over. The boat is closer to a 20-minute jaunt, plus time to board, depart, stop at what feels like every resort in the metropolitan Orlando area, and not then even have the decency to go through the McDonald’s Drive-Thru on the way over. Epcot takes about half as much time, with the Swan/Dolphin/Why Did I Reserve This Resort a couple extra minutes away. It all basically evens out, which doesn’t mean you can’t go into a full rage at any moment.
While we’re here, we can take in a glimpse of the Swan Reserve as the glass building in the very back, which is conveniently and largely blocked behind this tree. The pictures are only as good as the payouts. I’m not sure why they named the resort in that manner, other than the fact that they may be reminding you that you have the option of reserving another resort. See what I did there? You may need to give me a few weeks of grace before the knee-slappers return to one post per week.
That’s a better look at the Swan (Please Book Here) Reserve in back. We’ll check it out when the mini golf next door calms down a bit, but I don’t think there’s much worth sneaking into over there. That doesn’t mean we can’t jump on our motorbike, grab our second generation GoPro, and see if we can get any YouTube attention. You’d think the Reserve would be a prime spot for another rooftop restaurant, but maybe there is a quota, not that anybody follows the law in Florida anyway. Right? They may also have thought Disney was actually going to build their own Festival Center with rooftop bar/restaurant access. Haha. If it were up to me, I would have pulled a Fairfield Inn a la Disneyland and put a Pizza Hut up there. It’d be the most popular location on property and I don’t even think you’d need to post the receipt of your $45 personal pan pizza.
There are few scenes more calming than Crescent Lake in the early morning. I’ve tried bottling it up, but Home Depot refused to deliver any more bathtubs to the various lobbies.
Anyone lucky enough to stay along the water knows what I’m talking about. At least minus the honking boats. But it just adds to the atmosphere of a bustling Atlantic City marina, right? Sort of like a pterodactyl coming for your french fries at T-Rex Restaurant at Disney Springs. Or being dissatisfied with Morimoto Asia. Or a blogger trying to take a picture of your food over your shoulder and then pretending to review it. It’s just what you would expect.
There’s a small amount of construction going on in front of the BoardWalk. I wouldn’t expect the work to last long, but we’ll try to take an aerial look if Launchpad McQuack ever puts down enough Dramamine to sort of get us back in the air.
But Launchpad is ready to go, which means we can see that the area behind the walls looks like routine concrete work that will be completed shortly. Of course, it could also be the foundation for another Italian restaurant.
The BoardWalk’s Christmas Tree is roughly up in the same outdoor location. The website has joked about pictures being “artsy because they’re tilted” for years, but the truth of the matter is that I simply can’t hold a camera straight. While there are walls in back, you’ve still got plenty of angles for a clear shot, including one looking back at the water or a horizon that seems like it should be a little more horizontal. The 50th anniversary wall coverings may also provide additional opportunities as you can tell your kids how great Walt Disney World was just five or six years ago. They probably can’t count to 50, anyway. Or if they can, send them to China, because they’re not going to get any smarter here.
While we lack a gingerbread village again this year, the BoardWalk Resort is still brimming with holiday spirit, and these pictures don’t even include the coffee bar decorations, which were impossible to get to with so many people ordering…coffee. And yes, the flower picture below is slightly different than the one used to open the post. It’s not like I’m going crazy. If anything, a bigger brain is better, right? High-res thinking:
And we’re back outside, now closer to BoardWalk Bakery and the floaty-ish vessels that make me look like Michael Johnson (remember the gold shoes) at the Atlanta Olympics. Hopefully these people are headed to like Spaceship Earth as 9am approaches. Alien Swirling Saucers may be calling.
Poor Trattoria, which opens for breakfast at 7:30am.
Depending on Park opening times and where you’re coming from, there is some value to be had at the restaurant, so long as you’re on your way to the Parks in plenty of time for rope drop (60+ minutes before opening) or taking things leisurely by taking the slow boat to Spaceship Earth if that’s what the Genie demands you to do. Heck, after getting off one of those boats, Spaceship Earth might feel like a real roller coaster.
We’ll make our way over to the Beach Club to check on the spinning gingerbread situation there:
And some additional decorations:
The Little Mermaid is a fun theme that works relatively well, though I’m not sure of the underwater horse situation. Maybe if you go deep enough they are down there. Personally, I’m not checking. Maybe ask James Cameron from his personal submarine as he completes work on Avatar 1.5 Or Thereabouts.
We’re headed over to the Yacht Club next door. You can see how close the Beach Club is on the right in blue (the building, not the water), making a visit to both resorts a piece of
cake gingerbread that only takes three or four minutes of walking.
Without the gingerbread, and with no other business in the area, it may or may not be worth the venture over to the BoardWalk. Of course, you could always hop on a bus to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, or Disney Springs. You could do the same at Yacht/Beach. Or about a hundred other locations.
Taking the boat over to BoardWalk may also be the exact amount of Disney water transport that you can handle before considering your options to hurdle yourself off in any direction. They say you shouldn’t jump off moving objects. But I’m not sure the watercraft are technically in motion. The flowers are pretty.
We can also continue on the boat back to Epcot to hop on the Skyliner to Riviera/Caribbean Beach/Pop Century/Art of Animation. Or as the case may be, to actually enter Epcot via the International Gateway on the left. There’s also the Skyliner connection to the Studios.
Going to a theme park. What a novel concept. We’ll be back.
We’ll head over to the Yacht Club to check out the model train set that 9-year-old-me, thumbing through the JC Penny holiday toy catalog, would have done just about anything to acquire just one piece. Maybe my parents would have purchased me some track if I promised never to become a blogger. I didn’t even need the engine or caboose. They were trying times.
And we’re walking:
Your moment in the vicinity of zen pic.twitter.com/3D03YmxPdb
— josh (@easywdw) November 26, 2021
I have a very lousy video of this year’s train set should you wish for a little more kinetic energy than pictures provide. You know, like at Tron at Shanghai. So kinetic:
I wonder if you could sponsor the sign the snowperson is holding. Thinking snow here in Florida, is a harmless, albeit worthless exercise, minus the whole devastation to the entire economy thing should it actually happen. Just wait for Global Cooling to become the hot topic again in a dozen years. You’ll be happy you flew around in that private jet.
By my calculations, these boats need to be at least three times bigger. Unless there is an ant infestation we don’t know about. Either way, they’d probably still be faster than Disney’s watercraft:
Even with all of the picture taking, the occasional fall, thanking people for their well wishes, and whatnot, I spent almost exactly 90 minutes on my tour around Crescent Lake. Add shopping or exploring the resorts more and you’re looking at additional time. Deep thoughts, right?
Above is the walkway over to Epcot. You can tell because the most confused-looking people are headed there (many with the nine-ride stare from Hollywood Studios from the previous day), in addition to boats and the Skyliner.
We’ll very briefly head into Epcot before visiting each of the various Festival outdoor/holiday/prison/Patina kitchens individually:
Festival reviews here we come. Maybe we’ll even get to all of them.