shoreline99

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  1. Bonus update today to finish up our Friday evening at Disney Springs, and our last night at WDW. Our tour wrapped up at the very end of the West Side, and I was meeting my lovely bride at Raglan Road for some pre-dinner drinks and people watching. I hoofed it back over to the Landing, and was able to get some refreshments prior to her arrival. Slainte. We have been to Raglan Road several times, and have already tried the Hangar bar, so we headed up to the Boathouse - I had heard that the dockside bar there has some great views and atmosphere. An Amphi-car was just arriving up the dock when we walked by. According to the Imagineers we toured with, the restaurant owner has the largest collection of these unique vehicles in the world (42 in running condition), and there are 12 of them here at WDW. We think they are really cool, and would love to go for a ride in one, but the cost ($100+) for a half hour is too steep for me. Plus the view is really nothing special, IMHO. There are many historic boats along the docks here, as the name would imply, both pleasure craft and racing boats. Drinks arrived, and we had a lovely time chatting with the couple next to us about the boats. Their bar menu is pretty substantial, and I would highly recommend it - even over a place like Raglan Road - especially on a nice day. It was still hot out but the shade and breeze was beautiful. We didn't want to leave, especially as there was a 'Dapper Day' cocktail event happening there later in the evening that we would have liked to sit back and watch, but we had dinner reservations at Morimoto Asia. We were seated right away, and had a nice view of the restaurant from the balcony Neither of us was starving, so we split some sushi (yum) and a few pieces of Dim Sum. For an entree we split an order of the 'Angry Lobster Chow Fun', which is a whole Maine lobster, split up and wok fried. It's served over some spicy noodles with a coconut curry sauce. Holy cow, was that amazing. We only had room left for some tea - they have quite an extensive menu there, as would be expected. Everything we had there was great. I'd totally go back again, any time. It was dark when we headed out, and you can see how the building changes at night - there are Japanese characters carved into the sides of the building that are illuminated from inside, making the entrance quite striking. The observatory at night, with the Springs in the foreground: I think the MK closed relatively early, and we were both beat after a long day, so we headed back to the Lodge for a drink and some dessert from the club lounge. Good night, Magic Kingdom One thing I neglected to mention was that on a couple of occasions while we were there they were testing the lasers and projections for the new nighttime show (no fireworks though), so we had a good view of that. Tomorrow was checkout, and our last day at WDW. Since it was Dapper Day at the MK, in the next post we will head there and check out some of the sights!
  2. Thanks, I think overall they did a nice job of tying it all together, and over time the new back story gives them some flexibility in developing new areas or adding to the existing ones. As I mentioned before, they do need to address the wayfinding in the Town Center area, particularly where you arrive in from the Lime garage or the bus drop off area. That's one thing that was planned for early in developing Celebration. If I recall correctly, there are seven houses of worship in Celebration, covering most of the major faiths. From what we were told, they are all pretty active parishes.
  3. After drinks and snacks, we strolled down towards Jock Lindsay's and the Landing area. "A few years ago, Disney shut down the Pleasure Island nightclubs and bulldozed them. The re-imagined area is now known as The Landing. Located next to the Town Center, Hoffman says that according to the storyline, it serves as the community's transportation hub and has more of an industrial feel. An old billboard advertises the passenger train that used to stop in the town. There are some stray rails still embedded in the pathways. The former train station now serves as an upscale chophouse, STK (which is so upscale, it has no need for vowels). The elegant paddlewheel riverboat that used to be Fulton's Crab House (and The Empress Lilly before that) will become Paddlefish, while The Boathouse provides upscale meals to compliment the views of the amphi-cars that offer tours of Lake Buena Vista. Opened in 2015, Jock Lindsay's Hangar Bar is named for Indiana Jones' pilot. The whimsical lounge is crammed with vintage airplane parts and other artifacts." This is probably my favorite area of Disney Springs. Lots of open space, views to the water and activity everywhere. This building will be the new Edison restaurant, and is supposed to be the old Disney Springs power plant. Adjacent to it will be another establishment, in what is being themed as the old railway terminal for the area. The re-imagined 'observatory' of Planet Hollywood It's definitely easier to navigate around this area, with so many landmarks. We looped back around to the other end of the Springs: img]https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4175/34025375330_4a668efcff_z.jpg[/img] Has anyone tried Blaze pizza yet? I haven't, but have heard great things. Even the light fixture in the welcome center (guest services) is meant to evoke the water from the springs: Old equipment and machinery that can be turned to draw up water: From here we walked through the old 'farmer's market', where there are many retail stores in a covered outdoor mall. From this area or from the landing, you can head over towards the old West Side. Themed bathrooms: The new Coca-Cola store The theme here is supposed to be of an old industrial building surrounded by glass, like a museum. I'll have to see if I can find a night-time photo, it's really quite striking when it's lit up. "According to Hoffman's story, the leaders of Disney Springs developed The West Side as a town expo in the 1950s. A pedestrian bridge connects the outlying area to the rest of the town. A circus tent (which serves as the theater for Cirque du Soleil's resident production, La Nouba) and hot air balloon remain. The expo buildings now house Splitsville bowling lanes, an AMC movie theater, and a House of Blues, among other venues." Pedestrian Bridge: This area is a little narrower, and feels more urban. Portions of the old 'Disney Springs elevated railway' were left in place as shady spots, locations for entertainers, and for future vertical growth. Eventually there may be a walking portion on the upper level like the high line in NYC. Themed walkways where portions of the old railway were removed: Disney Quest is still here, for a few more months: From one end to the other: More to come, thanks for reading along. Dinner at Disney Springs, Dapper Day, and a Monorail crawl on our last day.
  4. Bonus post for today, to make up for my slacking. We spent some time walking around the Spring, and checking out some of the restaurants in the area, both old favorites (Raglan Road) and new (Hangar Bar, there in the distance). However, this side of the springs is dominated by the old 'Disney Springs bottling plant', which is now converted into the Morimoto Asia restaurant. It was really hot. And humid. And hot. It was April, not August. Next thing we know, we are brought into the restaurant, which is absolutely stunning. Up the stairs, to the second floor. There, we were introduced to Jay Valgora, principal of the firm that designed the restaurant along with Chef Morimoto. He was on our tour that day, and was kind enough to show us around and discuss his design for the restaurant and bar. There is a small area on the second floor that can be closed off, and we all squeezed in there to hear him speak. And then they brought us drinks. Mo, where the heck were you. Apple Sake-tinis. While Chef Morimoto enjoys spending a lot of time at this location, he was not there today. However, they brought us food as well. Lots of appetizers for all! We strolled around and checked out the place. These light fixtures are custom made curtains of glass beads, surrounding copper mesh Japanese fish traps. The restaurant seats over 500 people, but it feels very intimate. The centerpiece of the bar is a continuous ribbon of white material that forms both the upper and lower bar tops, while swooping around the restaurant to give a sense of motion. Above the bar is a piece of industrial bottling machinery, complete with bottles, that acts as a light fixture. The bottling line extends into the foyer of the restaurant to act as the main chandelier, visible at night from outside. The floors are end grain cuts of wood, and are very cool. Second floor sushi bar. This restaurant is the first fusion restaurant opened by Chef Morimoto, and was originally designed without a sushi bar. It was redesigned about 3/4 of the way through construction to include this feature. Main stair: Doors on the second floor lead to an outdoor dining area. Too hot to be out there now, but lovely at night, with some nice views of the area: The front entry is a custom glass wall, 36' high. So, we got a little Disney magic even on our tour. Well done. My wife and I had dinner reservations at Morimoto Asia that evening, so I'll have a review of the food later as well.
  5. Thanks, I took a lot of photos! You all will pay the price for that. Proper 'placemaking' is a common problem, and not an easy one to solve. Things are relatively easy to read on a plan, or a map, but translate that to three dimensions and it can be difficult to see where you are and how to get somewhere without landmarks. Think large college campuses or even a place like Celebration. In certain areas of DS it's fairly easy to figure out where you are going, but in others it's very confusing. The Imagineers have tried to install low scale visual clues - roadway materials, the lighted spring, walkways along the water and other methods, but to me it's not entirely successful. It's definitely on the radar, so expect some changes as the development in the area continues. I wholeheartedly agree with you, TCD - as I said before, 1.2 miles is a lot of ground to cover, and a lot of area to fill with restaurants and retailers.
  6. Sorry, it's been a busy week! The walking tour of Celebration took up most of the morning, and I was headed back to the OCCC for a class and some lunch, and a walk around the expo floor. If you've never been to the Orange County Convention Center, it is certainly one of the largest I've ever been to! After lunch I was headed back to WDW for a walking tour of Disney Springs with several of the Imagineers that were directly responsible for the redevelopment of Downtown Disney into this new iteration. We started off by the old bus drop off area, and the temperature was already well into the high 90's so the first priority was to find a shady spot. The woman in the middle is the director of operations for Disney Springs, and the gentleman to her left (that you can't see) is taking over as her assistant director after several years developing Shanghai Disneyland. The four men to her right are all Imagineers, so we got a pretty good reception by the mouse on this tour. They spent a while describing the logistics of operating a retail center in the middle of a themed area, which was very interesting. I definitely felt, on all the tours, that Disney was very happy to show off their projects and really were extremely accomodating hosts. I'm sure most of you have heard the 'history' of Disney Springs by now, but for those of you who haven't I'm going to quote here and there from a USA Today newspaper article as I start: "The rebranding is the latest in a series of makeovers for the complex. It began in the mid-1970s as Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village and later became known as Disney Village Marketplace. In the late 1980s, Disney added Pleasure Island. At night, visitors initially paid a cover charge to enter the nightclub-filled playground. In the mid-1990s, The Mouse gave the whole shebang the generic-sounding name, Downtown Disney. A couple of years later it expanded with the introduction of Downtown Disney West Side and welcomed flashy new tenants such as House of Blues and Planet Hollywood. Inspired by real Florida coastal towns like Coral Gables and St. Augustine, the new Town Center gives Disney’s fabled Imagineers the opportunity to develop an elaborate backstory and weave together the mishmash of areas at the sprawling complex into a more cohesive whole. Dave Hoffman, a creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering, conducted a pre-opening construction tour of the area. The Mouse-made "natural" springs, he explained, are the heart of the town. "Each neighborhood reflects its function and its [fictitious] time period when it was developed," Hoffman noted." Dave Hoffman, who was quoted, was also one of the Imagineers giving the tour. Our tour started off in the Marketplace, but I'm going to jump around a bit as we go to follow the theming and 'backstory' of Disney Springs. "The resort's original shopping area is now known simply as Marketplace. Per the story that the Imagineers have concocted about Disney Springs, it was developed in the 1930s and displays the American Craftsman style of architecture that was in vogue then. It is home to an expanded World of Disney Store (which already was the world's largest shop selling Mickey Mouse and other Disney-themed tchotchkes)." One of the questions that came up right away was how did the Imagineers plan on integrating some of the more uniquely themed restaurants into the overall master plan (T-Rex, Rainforest Cafe). Their answer was interesting, that they are treating them like 'Roadside Attractions' (more on that later) and that they would be updating the facades over time to better reflect the overall themeing of this area. Think Dinoland, I guess. The new bridge was constructed to avoid the giant pinch point for crowds by the Lego store, and also to open up the views of the new areas. From here we split into two groups; Dean and Jeff were the imagineers that stayed with our group. Jeff is the current head of art direction for Disney Springs, and Dean is one of the project leads. Looking back towards the Marketplace The back story for the World of Disney building is that it was originally a hotel that was built for the Marketplace and converted into the store. To the right of the bridge is the new Landing area, including the renovated Paddlefish restaurant. Under the bridge is effectively a dam that keeps the water level in the Marketplace area constant and separate from the open lake and river areas. Lego Store: One of the new food kiosks. Part of the operational logistics is getting food in and trash out to these areas. The other shore of the Marketplace still has the look and feel of the 30's Craftsman style. Signage is carefully controlled and integrated: From here, the architectural style and building massing start to transition into the Town Center area. "The Town Center that grew around the springs features architecture reminiscent of the 1920s. There are stucco facades, terra cotta tile roofs, coral stone, lovely fountains, and other Mediterranean touches typical of the era. Remnants of the old town remain. Ancient machinery sits unused next to a weathered sign, which indicates that the apparatus was used for a spring water ice works operation." They really did a wonderful job with the themeing of these retail areas, but they are still having difficulty with directions and placemaking by landmarks. For example, there are no towers or other visual clues - 'wienies', Walt Disney used to call them, to guide people and to draw them from one area to another. Most of the Springs is fairly level and view corridors are narrow, which disorients some people. Disney Springs is roughly 1.2 miles wide, so directionality is important. This area will continue to evolve. This is the new Polite Pig Restaurant, which had just opened. I wanted to get back there to try it out, but never made it back over there. We will have to save it for the next trip. As you move down this 'street' you head into the 'old town' area, and the architecture reflects the change. Here is an example of what I mentioned earlier - signage and themeing displaying the T-Rex restaurant like a roadside attraction. TCD's favorite cupcake place: The aforementioned springs: The original 'Rancher's Cabin' is located in the center of the photo above. The springs run over towards the Landing And in the opposite direction, towards the Planet Hollywood 'observatory' At night the springs are lit by site lighting and the floating lanterns, and the effect is pretty cool. The buildings directly surrounding the springs all relate to the purported original operations of the area and the architecture of the era: The central spring area is very well tied together stylistically, low buildings in an older style, including several restaurants and the 'welcome center' This area serves as the hub, and from here you can see how the layout runs from there into the different areas of Disney Springs. Much like the Magic Kingdom, areas are differentiated by changes in the architecture, finishes and even music: I will stop here, and my next post will be an unexpected interlude and welcome break from the heat.
  7. Agreed. It's also an industry rule of thumb that most people don't shop where they live, and will actually drive fair distances to purchase items. Plus, you know, the internet. Well, I never argue with a Sicilian when death is on the line either. CVS/Walgreens/Rite Aid/etc are the new five and dimes. What I don't understand is the logic of placing them on opposing corners or across the street from one another. I could talk all day about the pros and cons of new urbanism, but I need to get this trip report moving. We can revisit it later as I'm certainly interested to continue the conversation! Next up, Disney Springs. I'll try to get a post up later.
  8. Yeah, this seems to be the current mix in Celebration, and it looks to have leveled off - I didn't see much vacant space.
  9. That is one of the issues with the retail there, to address both of your points. It's a small community - restaurants do well, so do the stores that cater to tourists - but most residents shop at the larger retail areas outside Celebration. I would assume that it's hard to attract and retain chains that would lose money in that location. Also, Celebration prohibits short term rentals, which would really increase traffic to the area if it were allowed. We heard a lot of stories and anecdotes about both the good and the bad of living there and the challenges of the community. Thanks to all still reading along, I know this isn't really a standard type of trip report!
  10. I had the pleasure of meeting Andres Duany and his wife/partner Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk back in like 1991 and toured their offices in Miami. The NU school of thought was all the rage then and they were crazy busy. Very smart people and great planners. It has been interesting to see which of their concepts have lasted and have become mainstreamed, and which have not worked out and have fallen by the wayside.
  11. Yeah, it was the AIA convention. I could have written five posts just on all the info we got from the tours. Celebration is a great example of the New Urbanist style, but like I said it's about the location. Seaside has the sea, Celebration has Disney, but only sort of. Its also going through a lot of growing pains right now, there are lots of gaps and overlaps in authority and oversight, who is responsible for what, etc.. For example, there is an ongoing dispute with the OC fire department on apparatus access and the narrow streets of Celebration (which is one of the tenets of New Urbanist planning - traffic calming and pedestrian ways). The theatre is another. Maintenance and replacement materials of the retail downtown. The list goes on. In general, Disney is what brought the people there and to some extent it's what keeps them there. The schools are good, the hospital is great (run by the Seventh Day Adventists), and it definitely feels like you're in a bubble compared to the surrounding areas. In fact, Philip Swift put together a decent documentary on Celebration called 'The Bubble', which was skewed more towards an exposé but is an interesting look at some aspects of the lifestyle.
  12. The alarm Friday morning came way too early, and I was going to have to schlep in to the OCCC again. I grabbed some coffee at the lounge (we were up and out before breakfast was served), and thankfully they had to go cups. Lots of activity in the smokehouse this morning. One thing I learned on this trip early on was that the garbage man arrives at 4:30 AM, so you may not want to leave your window or door open all night. A grey day over the MK, but that would burn off soon enough. Sunrise over old faithful: The ride in to the convention center was quick at that time of the day, and I was on my way to our next stop before I knew it - we were headed to Celebration, for a guided tour with three local architects. For those of you that don't know what Celebration is, it was originally part of the Reedy Creek purchase by the WDC , and is located south of I-4 and FL 192. It was developed in the early 90's, when Michael Eisner was running the Walt Disney Company. Part of the decision to develop this property as a new town was that the area was effectively cut off from the rest of the property by the Interstate, as well as the amount of wetlands and swampland in that portion of the property making it implausible to put any sort of resort or theme park in that area. The master plan for the Town took several years to develop, and ground was broken in 1994. All the residential architecture is based on a pattern book that was put together as part of the master plan, which determines the styles and other aspects of the town development. If anyone is interested, the current pattern books are available on the Town web site, here: http://www.celebration.fl.us/town-hall/community-standards/ The bus let us off at the steps, at the end of Market Street, by the main shopping district. All the retail in the town is small, with all the big stores just outside on 192. All of the commercial buildings in Celebration were designed by well-known architects, so I'm sure you will recognize some of the names as we walk around. The Bohemian Hotel, designed by Graham Gund. The Celebration movie theatre, by Cesar Pelli: This theatre is managed by AMC but has been closed for several years. The contract to run the theater was awarded to AMC as a contingency for them to operate the big theatre at Disney Springs, but apparently there is a loophole in the contract and there was no minimum amount of time the theatre had to operate. After losing money there for several years, AMC closed the theatre and is refusing to renegotiate the contract. The town is trying to do something about it, but no luck so far. Celebration is basically a giant homeowner's association, so there is also a clubhouse and common recreation area. Part of the allure of the town is the varied housing types - multifamily condos, single family homes and townhouses. There are roughly 5300 housing units in the town now, in 5 different 'neighborhoods', and the town is zoned for up to 7500 units. All of the architectural detailing is delineated in the pattern book(s), and is all fairly traditional: SunTrust Bank Building by Robert Venturi (Venturi Scott Brown) Celebration Avenue - retail on the first floor and condos above. There are no short-term rental units allowed in the Town. Much of the downtown commercial property is owned by a few holding companies, and the town is having difficulty getting the companies to keep up some of the buildings as repairs are made - an example is the lovely 6x6 pressure treated posts on these porches instead of nicely detailed columns. One of several churches in Celebration: A walk through one of the residential neighborhoods: Pocket garden: Views up and down Water Street, which turns into Market Street. Here you can see the different types of housing all in one area. The Town was developed according to the school of 'New Urbanism' planning, which produced other developments like Seaside (Where the Truman Show was filmed). Savannah Square Founder's Park Thanks for reading this far! a few more of the major buildings in Celebration: Bank of America building, by Charles Moore The original town hall, by Philip Johnson, and the Celebration Post Office, by Michael Graves (who also designed the Swan and Dolphin hotels): Much of the Market Street downtown was designed by Robert Stern, who also did the Boardwalk and Grand Floridian hotels: This restaurant sits where the original town market was, there is no grocery store in the downtown any more - as i mentioned before, most of the major retail is out on the main surrounding roads. I guess Market Street is a misnomer now. All in all it was a neat tour to see the area and the town, and it truly feels like a community but I couldn't see myself living there. It seems like you could be anywhere - that this town could have been picked up and plopped anywhere along the coast, with no reflection of the surrounding area. And it does feel like the Truman Show! Celebration is no longer part of Disney, although the company still controls a lot of things in the area. It's part of Osceola county and has a K-8 school in the town, but I believe the high school is in Kissimmee. It is definitely going through some growing pains, but seems to be thriving as a community. Sorry for the deluge of photos and info, I hope some people enjoy the report! I'd be happy to answer questions about the tour or Celebration. Next, we're off to Disney Springs!
  13. A short update just to finish up our day at EPCOT. Thanks again for following along! After making a few stops to pick up some gifts for family in a few of the pavilions, we decided to grab a bite in a place in the one pavilion that we had never eaten before - Italy. I know there are people here that love Via Napoli, but that wasn't where we were heading. We had heard good things about Tutto Italia, and especially the wine cellar, so we stopped there to see if there was a table available. There was, and the a/c was certainly welcome in the heat. The Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar is a lounge adjacent to Tutto Italia, and even though it's on the same level it feels like you are in the basement. La Cava has a similar feel, but this is definitely more upscale. Some of the seating is low, and we were brought to a small setee with a low table near a fireplace. It was pretty cozy, and the tables around us filled up quickly. The menu tends more towards small plates, although some of the same items that they have in the main restaurant are available here. Anyone that likes a charcuterie or cheese plate would definitely enjoy the selections. The offerings are priced about the same as some of the other similar restaurants. We split a caprese salad (the only disappointment we had with the meal was the tomatoes, as you can see they were not much better than grocery store hothouse tomatoes, but the cheese was creamy and delicious) and one of the cheese plates. All of the cheese we had there was fantastic, and we each had a glass of wine to go with it. With a great vibe and wonderful service, I definitely think we will be back to try out a few other items and another glass of wine. I'd recommend it for a date or a pre- or post- dinner stop, not really a place for kids though. from there we made our way around the other pavilions, heading towards Germany and Norway. Glad to see the trolls are still around! The three caballeros were awash in flowers and all kids of hot peppers, including ghost peppers and carolina reapers. I was surprised that they had those on display, near where someone could effectively reach over and grab one... The sun was dropping, and as we headed toward the front of the park I was able to grab a couple fo great sunset shots: One more, I've always liked this canopy by the pin trading booth We hopped the express bus over to the Magic Kingdom to catch Wishes, as it is ending (tonight, actually). The park wasn't that crowded, and we were able to walk into the Haunted Mansion, but the ride stopped and it looked like it might be a long delay so we bailed out to watch the fireworks from behind the castle. Glad we didn't wait any longer: The park was pretty empty, and we strolled back around through Frontierland and into Adventureland. We had paper return passes that we had been gifted for Pirates by some friends that had been there a few weeks prior, so we rode that then headed for the park exit. Sad to report that Johnny Depp was not in Florida that week. We took the launch back to WL, then a last look at the castle before bed. This week was flying by: Tomorrow was an early day, and I had a few more interesting tours that I'll share with you in the next post.
  14. Thanks, TCD! I remember that the TCD crew got the club level upgrade at the Grand Californian, but I thought you got the whole package - didn't you run into Beau Bridges in the lounge there? Either way, that's a beautiful hotel as well - it was designed by the same architectural firm that did the Wilderness Lodge (and villas). The bikes were a great amenity, and there were actually quite a few people taking advantage of the bike rental at WL even on a hot day. We still had to fill out a rental slip and liability waiver, but there was no charge. No separate KTTW cards - magic bands worked for the elevator, and we were never asked to prove that we were club level at the lounge, although we got to know the WL 'plaids' pretty well by the end of the week. There were signs saying the lounge was for old faithful club guests only, if I recall, but nothing else. We were talking with a couple in the elevator whose family was staying on another floor, and they had all just left the lounge, so they may need to tighten that up a bit, lol. I figured you would remember if that mural had been there a long time, but I couldn't remember seeing it before. It's a nice touch.
  15. Thursday we didn't have any formal plans, but I had to do some work in the morning and we hung out at the hotel for a bit. It was supposed to be another hot one so we figured we would go out and explore early, then see where we ended up for the day. Good morning, Magic Kingdom! I think we'll have to stop back later and check out the selections: Those were pretty typical for the week - different light fare, wine and cheese. A really nice perk. That's the club level lounge up by the top of the Totem pole: It wasn't too hot yet, so we decided to rent bikes and head over to the fort, for some quality time. My wife had ridden over the day before, and had found out that the bikes were free to use (not sure if this was a club level perk or not, but it was great). A stop at the concierge desk and we were on our way: TCD Horse barn: I wanted to take a ride around the Fort, so we stopped at the Meadow Trading Post. There were still some rockers on the front porch: No one was playing checkers: I walked down to Bob's Dock. There were a couple of kids fishing there, but they didn't seem to be having much luck. The food truck was in it's usual place across the pond: The bubbler was bubbling, and the fish feeder was, well, floating. The brown paint crew was working there and another group of workers were clearing some trees, so we headed over to the settlement. I counted 6 chairs and two picnic tables on the porch this morning. Miss Josephine was holding court and was having her photo taken with some guests when we walked by. It was a beautiful day at the Fort: We had to walk over and check out the trading post. Disney gardeners had been busy. Pioneer Hall and Trail's End (with no hoops ). It was pretty empty at that time of day. There were, however, plenty of lizards around. The sun was rising higher, so we decided to head back to the lodge for a swim and some lunch. We had to check out the swag at the WL and compare it to the Fort. Nothing really eye-catching at either place. The fireplace in the lobby really is striking. The new pool by the Villas is taking shape and while I don't know if you can quite see it, there is quite a bit of themed mining equipment that looks like it will be part of the pool area. Neither of us was super hungry, but we decided to try the chopped brisket and cheese dip at Geyser Point. They do poolside service at the moment, but there was no shade to be found at that time of day so we ate in the bar area. This was really good, and the house made chips are awesome. There was a large crew working on the boat rental dock that day, not really sure what they were doing but it was great that they all had their yellow vests on. After some discussion, it was decided that we would pick up at EPCOT where we left off the other day, so we hopped on the bus from the resort and headed over in that direction. The WL shares a bus with the Fort - not that I mind it, but it's a pet peeve that no matter when we get on the bus or which park we are heading to or from, the bus always goes to the other resort first! The big golf ball: I never noticed this concept art before - someone may know, has this always been here by the ball, or is it left over from the Art Festival? Looks like a Herb Ryman work. Either way, I think it's awesome. Some more EPCOT F&G sights: I hadn't seen the new totem poles in the Canada pavilion yet, they are really works of art. The lagoon was looking a little low. Maybe the lack of rain in Florida was catching up a bit. I'll stop here, but up next we go visit a restaurant in a pavilion that we've never eaten in before!