Walt Disney World Refurb Update

Disney does a pretty good job of keeping their attractions and resorts refreshed with regular refurbishments but at the moment there seems to be a lot more going on than usual, so I thought I'd give you a run down of what's happening where to help with your planning.

Monorail The monorail is operating on a reduced schedule at the moment as an automated system is installed. For guests staying at monorail resorts, additional buses and/or boats will be available to pick up the load when the monorail isn't operating. Work is expected to be completed within the next few months but an exact end date has not been announced.

The current schedule looks like this:Epcot monorail - 9am-11pmResort monorail - 8:30am-midnightExpress monorail - 9:30am-11:30pm

As you can see, the biggest impact is the morning, especially with getting to the parks early for breakfast and to be ready to go pre-rope drop. 

Polynesian Village ResortOur favourite resort is undergoing some huge changes at the moment and there is construction every where you look. We've intentionally not booked anyone for a stay here as it has the potential to be quite disruptive for guests.

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Animal Kingdom Day - January 2014

Animal Kingdom is often hard done by and many refer to it as a half-day park. If you're only interested in riding the attractions it has to offer this is probably true but if you're prepared to spend time appreciating all the details, shows and beauty of the park it could easily become a one-and-a-half day park. After Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom is probably our next favourite and I always find it hard to decide what to cut from our condensed pre-nap time frame.

We were back on the bus nice and early at 8:20am and it was mighty cold again.

We stopped for the obligatory tourist photo and arrived at the park entrance at 8:50am, much later than I would normally like to be arriving.

They didn't let anyone into the park until right on 9am and everyone split at the Tree of Life for Expedition Everest or Kilimanjaro Safari. 

Since we were working around LJ's nap schedule we mixed up our usual plan and headed for Africa and Kilimanjaro Safaris.

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Walt Disney World Dining Review - Grand Floridian Cafe Dinner

My Mum had two things on her wish list for the trip, meeting Tinker Bell and visiting the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. The Grand Floridian has a slew of dining options but we opted for the Grand Floridian Cafe for a casual, relatively quiet dinner experience.

We had a 5:30pm reservation and the foyer outside the restaurant was absolutely deserted when we arrived. The inside of the restaurant was no different and there were four cast members waiting to check us in and show us to our table.

We were seated near the front of the restaurant (with all our friends) and it was freezing. I'm used to needing lots of layers with the air conditioning at Walt Disney World being set to sub-zero but this was worse than normal. Every time someone opened the exterior foyer door we were hit with a blast of freezing cold air. I'd make a point to ask for a table further in next time if I'm visiting in the cooler months.

As with all our meals we started with drinks and that meant cocktails for my Mum and Sam. They opted to try some of the restaurant's specialty cocktails, including the Grand Colada pictured above (blend of pineapple, coconut, Jamaican Rum, & Blue Curacao)

and the Key West (frozen blend of pureed strawberries, orange juice laced with rum). Sam much preferred her Yak Attack from our earlier visit to Yak & Yeti. The men stuck with beers, opting to try Bear Republic Racer 5 India Pale Ale. I think by this stage they were aiming for a different beer at each restaurant, the stronger the better! I stuck with boring Coke Zero.

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Walt Disney World Dining Review - Yak & Yeti Lunch

Animal Kingdom tends to close earlier than the other parks, which means scheduling a dinner here is a little tricky (unless you want a really early one that is). We often opt for a lunch and our restaurant of choice is Yak & Yeti in Asia. From Disney's website...

"Discover exciting pan-Asian cuisine at this quaint village home that’s been turned into a restaurant. At the base of Expedition Everest, decorated with the souvenirs collected by the proprietor and his family on their travels through Southeast Asia, Yak & Yeti Restaurant serves favorite dishes from regions across Asia."

This restaurant isn't owned by Disney, so they don't accept Tables in Wonderland but they do accept the Disney Dining Plan and offer a discount for Annual Passholders.

The restaurant's entrance is tucked in around the corner from the Flights of Wonder theatre with stroller parking off to the left in a little alcove.

The waiting area is quite small but LJ kept himself occupied trying to press a penny. This was an interesting reservation. The maximum number of people allowed at a table when I made the bookings were 6, we had seven since infants have to be included in the total guest count. I ended up making two reservations, one for four people and the other for three people. When we checked in we asked for tables close by and they ended up managing to put us all together at one large table.

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Walt Disney World Dining Review - 'Ohana Dinner

It's no secret that I have a huge soft spot for the Polynesian Resort and if I'm not staying there you can count on the fact that I'll be eating there! Since we were introducing the family to everything we love about Walt Disney World on this trip we couldn't look past Jim's favourite restaurant 'Ohana.

It didn't disappoint and LJ ate more food at this meal than he has ever eaten before in his entire life (he honestly ate more than me).

We had to catch the bus to the Polynesian since the monorail was down for maintenance. 'Ohana is very well known for running behind time so I was sure not to be late checking in. I sent the family to grab a spot in the waiting area and checked us in at 5:17pm for our 5:30pm reservation. We were seated by 5:35pm.

We were seated behind the kitchen on the lobby side of the restaurant. This area is new for us and it was quite nice to be a little removed from the fun and games in the main dining area. We also really enjoyed the view of the kitchen.

 

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