Labor Day Weekend 2016 at Disney: Day 1

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Time for our annual family vacation to Walt Disney World over the Labor Day Weekend! With school starting early this year (back on August 10th) it seemed like we had to wait a lot longer for our end-of-summer trip.

This year our vacation was threatened by Hurricane Hermine which passed through our area yesterday and today. School was cancelled both days and I ended working from home yesterday and taking today off. We had a lot of wind and rain, but luckily nothing too bad in our immediate neighborhood. Once we received word that the Friday night high school football games were also cancelled, we decided to head over to Orlando early, hopeful that Hermine would cross the state quickly and leave the rest of the weekend alone.

The drive on I-4 was just fine (for once!) and about 90 minutes after leaving home we were at Epcot. The storm must have helped keep the crowds away as the park was very uncrowded. The new Soarin’ Around the World ride had a posted 30-minute standby line and we were through it faster than that, which is unheard of. Too bad the new trivia game in the wait queue wasn’t working. Unfortunately, I don’t like the new ride as much as the old one. It seems less “filmed” and more “animated.” Yes, it’s very photo-realistic (and still cool) but it just seemed to me that the scenes were too perfectly timed to be “real” and not “imagineered.” I’ll have to see if I enjoy going on it as much as I used too (especially now that my favorite sequence, the fighter jets flyby, has been removed).

We used our single-rider line trick on Test Track and also checked out Turtle Talk with Crush to see if any new “Finding Dori” material had been added (spoiler alert: yes!). Next we started our journal around the World Showcase, seeing that the Food & Wine Festival booths were starting to go up already (it starts earlier this year). For dinner we ate at Tokyo Dining in the Japan pavilion for the first time (the sushi was pretty good).

We had a FastPass for the new Frozen Ever After ride in Norway (the re-imagined Maelstrom) that we had made months ago before we knew the football schedule and had never cancelled it once we found out there was a game that night. But since the game had been cancelled due to the weather we were able to use it! The water track is the same as the Maelstrom (including the backwards part) but the old opening where the boat would stick out into the Norway pavilion is gone (so you can’t see into the ride from outside anymore). Other than that, the entire ride experience is now Frozen-themed, complete with that song I won’t mention lest it get stuck in your head (oops, too late, sorry!). Afterwards, we found some seats along the lagoon to watch the evening IllumiNations fireworks show.

Since we came over a day early, we didn’t have a hotel reservation on Disney property (we check into the Polynesian tomorrow). I did get a good rate for a room at a new Marriott in Celebration, though, so we drove over there to check in for the night. Considering we hadn’t planned on being at Disney today, we got a lot accomplished (and no rain)!

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