A Few Observations from Thanksgiving Week

Discussion in 'Theme Parks Attractions and Strategies' started by subtchr, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. subtchr

    subtchr DIS Veteran

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    Hi, All,

    I was at WDW from Wednesday - Saturday last week, and I had a blast in spite of the high crowd levels. It was not your typical vacation trip, because I was the tour manager for a marching band from Cleveland, OH. I work for a travel company that organizes trips for high school bands and choirs. It's a great job if you have the right sensibility for it!

    The downside to traveling with a large group is that the decisions about which park each day, and when to be there, are taken out of your hands by the group's performance and travel schedule. But my attitude is always that I'll enjoy the time I have to explore the parks, even if the schedule is not ideal.

    I have quite a few pics to include, but it's not really a trip report, just a few observations. I had not been to WDW for over a year, so it was great to see a few new things (like FLE), and I was also interested to see how the new FP enforcement affected my day. Not so much for work trips, but for family trips, late FP use was a cornerstone of our touring! It was definitely not a big deal.

    We departed Cleveland aboard a couple of charter buses at 10:30 Tuesday morning, and we arrived at Rainforest Cafe at AK by about 7 am on Wednesday. We had a group breakfast booked. They always do a good job with these - standard buffet items plus good fresh fruit and their version of Tonga Toast - a french toast casserole that is delicious.

    The weather for our entire stay was the best I've ever encountered in Orlando. A little cool in the mornings and quite cool in the evenings, but with a sweatshirt or light jackets those times, the low humidity, beautiful blue skies, and warm afternoon sunshine were ideal!

    We were at AK after breakfast from about 8:30 to 12:30. I rode EE and KS and watched FotLK; and I walked around taking pics, one of my favorite things to do. The safari was one of the best I have been on, with many animals out, including two lionesses interacting. A few pics:

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  3. Lyndria

    Lyndria Fort Junkie

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    I bet that is a fun job. Your pics are breathtaking!
     
  4. carrie1626

    carrie1626 DIS Veteran

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    I would enjoy a job that took me to WDW anyday!!
    Great pics from KS. I've seen the greatest sights early in the day, too.
    NOV is one of the best months to vacation in WDW!!!

     
  5. gojoe

    gojoe DIS Veteran

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    Sound like a great time. Great pictures.
     
  6. subtchr

    subtchr DIS Veteran

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    After AK we went to Blizzard Beach. It was a little cool for less hardy folks, as indicated by the very low crowd level, but these northern kids had a blast! And the adults in the group just MAY have enjoyed resting their eyes a bit on the quiet lounge chairs, to recover from an overnight bus trip!

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    We stayed at the Holiday Inn Maingate East. It worked out fine for the group. A little worn around the edges, but it's clean, and it has nice big rooms. We had arranged a pizza buffet the first night, and breakfast buffets each morning. I have stayed with groups at the All Stars, and while the food courts and pools are terrific, the outside doors to the rooms make them hard to chaperone, and the rooms are pretty small for four high schoolers.

    The band marched in the Magic Kingdom at 10:00 on Thanksgiving day. It wasn't a scheduled parade, just three marching bands performing for the crowd up Main Street and through the park to Frontierland. They loved it!

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    After the parade we had the kids change backstage, then took the buses around to the TTC (mostly so that they would see how the process works getting to and from the bus via monorail or ferry, for familiarity for the end of the day!). We were staying through Wishes, so I was excited to explore the FLE.

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  7. subtchr

    subtchr DIS Veteran

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    I love the Christmas decorations at WDW!

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    It was wonderful to have a new area to explore in FLE. I think they did a stunning job with the design of the area, and it will be even better when the coaster is finished.

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  8. subtchr

    subtchr DIS Veteran

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    I decided to try BOG for lunch. The line looked pretty long (to the end of the bridge), but it moved well, and I was inside at a table within about 20 minutes. Of course I took pics on the way in:

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    I LOVED the way the service is structured for lunch here. For those who may not be familiar, there are several screens as you wait in line that show the menu available, then when you enter the room to order and pay, you are given an "enchanted rose":

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    You order via a touch screen or a cashier, then your rose is activated, and you enter the dining room area and are guided to an open table, where you place your rose. You can then serve yourself from the drink station, and wait at your table until your food is delivered to you. I enjoyed this on many levels - not having to carry a tray of food through the crowd, not having to fight for a table, and being able to get drink refills myself, including one at the end of my meal to take with me. I had the grilled steak sandwich, and I enjoyed it very much.

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  9. lynn46356

    lynn46356 DIS Veteran

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    I'm enjoying your observations and pictures, which are outstanding. Thanks for sharing! Welcome Home!:)
     
  10. mesaboy2

    mesaboy2 DIS Veteran

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    Not a trip report, huh? ;)
     
  11. subtchr

    subtchr DIS Veteran

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    I ate in the main ballroom, which was gorgeous. I love the windows at the end of the room showing the mountains and snow! I also walked through the other rooms; sorry I didn't take any pics of those.

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    After lunch I decided to try Enchanted Tales with Belle, in spite of the 60 minute posted wait time (which turned out to be a 35 minute actual wait). I had all day to explore! The details on and in Belle's cottage are amazing:

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  12. subtchr

    subtchr DIS Veteran

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    I guess I just can't help myself! Once I get on a roll...

    More from Belle's cottage...

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  13. subtchr

    subtchr DIS Veteran

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    These guys were great - musically talented and hilarious:

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  14. Sweettears

    Sweettears 50 years of Disney and counting

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    Just curious. You said you are leading a band group but sounds like you are touring by yourself? :confused3 Pretty cool gig. :cool1:
     
  15. subtchr

    subtchr DIS Veteran

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    Some more pics from around FLE:

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  16. subtchr

    subtchr DIS Veteran

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    The crowd was very heavy, as expected, for the holiday. But I have been with groups during Christmas week, and this was not even close to what I have experienced that week.

    I had a delightful afternoon and evening. I rode Arial with a FP, did Philharmagic, Buzz a couple times with FP (had to get my Galactic Hero pin for the day!), Pirates, and a few other rides. I also watched the castle forecourt show, and later caught the Move, It, Shake It parade before the castle lighting ceremony.

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  17. subtchr

    subtchr DIS Veteran

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    Once we are in the parks, unless they are performing, the kids tour on their own. They would not have nearly as much fun if we made them all do the same thing! (Which is why I do not understand the Brazilian tour group model, but that is fodder for another thread!)

    It is definitely a cool gig - we handle all the logistics (tickets, activities, meals, lodging, transportation, etc.), but we have some free time to explore on our own, when the group is doing the same. I do spend some time each day calling ahead to confirm activities, researching options, solving any problems that arise, etc., so it's not always easy! My first priority is to ensure that my group is having a great time, and I take a lot of pride in what I do. I'm a very detail-oriented person, so it is natural for me to try to anticipate any contingencies and have answers to any questions my clients may have. I am also always available via cell phone. I do not enter any attractions that would compromise my availability to drop what I am doing to handle any situation.

    More pics from the park:

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  18. subtchr

    subtchr DIS Veteran

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  19. subtchr

    subtchr DIS Veteran

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  20. subtchr

    subtchr DIS Veteran

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    The castle lighting ceremony is SO cute!

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    I found a spot for MSEP and Wishes about an hour early, in front of the ice cream parlor. There was a woman there in an ECV with a sleepy grandchild on her lap, holding spots for the remainder of her family, so she and I chatted and helped each other save space. I really enjoy meeting other guests in the park; it makes the time waiting go faster, and we can always find something we have in common!

    A few pics from the parade and fireworks:

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  21. subtchr

    subtchr DIS Veteran

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