With Hurricane Dorian threatening to cut across the state of Florida, we weren’t sure our annual Labor Day vacation to Walt Disney World was going to happen. But as it turned out the storm curved away, up the eastern coast of the state and stayed away from Orlando. As a result, we had a really nice weekend trip without a lot of crowds.
No high school football this year, now that my daughter is away at college, but the Cleveland Indians were in town to play the Rays so we went to the baseball game Friday night. Unfortunately (for me), the Tribe was shut out 0-4.
Saturday morning (after checking the track of Dorian), we drove over to Orlando and went right to our hotel, the new Grand Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs resort. We were planning in dropping off our bags at the concierge and then heading over to the parks, but amazingly they had a room ready so we were able to check in and unpack right away! From our room we could see Everest and the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom, very cool. There are nods to Dalí and Destino all over, which we really enjoyed. Unpacked, we took the bus over to Epcot and had lunch at the Food & Wine Festival.
We knew this weekend was the grand opening of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge over at Hollywood Studios and expected heavy crowds. But the threat of the hurricane probably changed a lot of people’s plans. We figured we would walk over to the park and at least see the new area, with no expectation of actually waiting in line for any of the attractions. When we got there in the mid-afternoon, however, the standby wait time for the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run ride was 85 minutes! I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Avatar: Flight of Passage wait time that short and it’s been open for two years! So we waited in line (I wanted to see everything in the regular line and they’re not using the FastPass system yet anyway) and rode it on opening weekend. Amazing! Let me tell you, walking around the corner in the Black Spire Outpost and seeing a full-sized Millennium Falcon parked there turned me 6 years old again. Now I know how the Harry Potter generation feels when they go to Universal Studios and see Diagon Alley. 🙂 Getting to ride in the Falcon was a lot of fun, I was just giddy.
On Sunday started at Epcot (again) for the Food & Wine Festival and then took the bus over to Disney Springs in the afternoon to do a little shopping. We discovered while you can take a Disney bus from a park to Disney Springs, there aren’t any buses from there back to a park. We needed to get to Animal Kingdom so we ended up taking a bus to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and then transferring to the Animal Kingdom bus from there. It was raining on our way over so we got a notification that our Everest FastPass had been changed into (what we call) a Super FastPass. This was perfect as we went to the Rivers of Light show that evening, and then rode Everest in the dark right after that. Pretty sweet.
Monday morning, we checked out of the hotel and took the bus over to the Magic Kingdom. The place was empty! I mean, we thought the crowds were low before we’ve never seen Magic Kingdom as empty on Labor Day as it was this time. We went on about 12 rides in 4 hours, without FastPasses. We literally walked onto Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain, Dumbo, etc. It was crazy. We had FastPasses for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Thunder Mountain Railroad, which we used, but didn’t really need them. We even rode the riverboat since the renovation was completed. Check out some of photos below. We didn’t want to take the monorail over to Epcot (Food and Wine Festival again!) so instead we took a bus to the Boardwalk resort and then walked into the back gate from there. Epcot was a little more crowded than the Magic Kingdom, but not much. We got rained on a few times but if the showers were Dorian-related, they seemed more like our regular 5 minute Florida sprinkles. We never got soaked and were able to just wait them out for a few minutes until they stopped. Later afternoon we took a bus back to Coronado Springs, got in the car, and drove home.
So all in all it was another successful Labor Day Weekend vacation at Disney!
Disney was definitely preparing for the storm. We saw a lot of glass lamps being wrapped in plastic, all of the Skyliner cars were off the cable system (I’d like to see the holding area where they all go!), all of the outdoor ceiling fans had their blades taken off, etc. They even ended up closing the parks early on Tuesday.