A Disney Christmas: My review of our Disney Vacation!

All I gotta say is WOW! All of the Christmas decorations in the parks and at the resorts, WOW! The Art of Animation Resort itself, just WOW! The crowds, WOW! The seasonal shows and entertainment, WOW! The weather, WOW!

First off I wanna say Thank You to the Cast Member at Art of Animation that created a Magic Moment for us at check-in! See we arrived at the Art of Animation resort a day earlier than expected, so to make a long story short. We were able to get a room for the night we arrived early and were able to check-in to OUR NEMO ROOM that next morning at 9:00 am! That my friends is unheard of!

Now let me talk about the weather situation. IT WAS HOT! Not like summer hot but like that real muggy humid hot. Which we are used to that kind of weather because we live in Mobile, AL so it’s pretty much like that all the time. But come on it’s December! And with all the Christmas decorations around us, it just felt weird wearing shorts and t-shirts! I really wish we would have packed out bathing suits!

Our Nemo room at the Art of Animation was amazing! This was our first time staying at this resort and in a family suite. It was really nice! It felt like a small apartment almost and we had so much more space than a regular hotel room. I would definitely recommend staying in a room like this if you are a family that has older children or a family of different age groups.

The overall crowds in the parks were really not that bad. Compared to the last time we went, which was during May of 2013, the crowds were about the same. The only time the crowds were just plain ridiculous were when we went to see the Osborne Lights and while watching Wishes on our last night in the parks. Which I can understand why the crowds were so big at those events so they really didn’t bother me because it was expected. And the longest wait that we had was 3o minutes. We had a FastPass for Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, Soarin’ and Toy Story Mania so we didn’t have to wait for those rides. Also, we hit the other more popular rides at either park open or almost park close so we didn’t have to wait for those rides as well.

The thing that did bother me is how RUDE the people were in the parks. Not the cast members just the general park goers. Some people have just got to realize that everybody else is most likely trying to get to the same place that you are, see the same show and get that great spot that you are, ride the same rides as your are and see the same characters as you are. Why be rude? Why push people out of the way? Why WALK THROUGH A GROUP OF FAMILY? Why stand right in front of someone when they’ve been there waiting in their spot when you just walk up in front of them? Why stop in the MIDDLE of the walkway to check the map? Why make a mess in the restrooms? Why leave your blinky souvenir on while you ride a dark ride?

As you may know, we attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It was awesome! There was literally no one in the park during the party. I would highly recommend attending this if you are going to be in the parks while they are offering tickets to this event. The only downside to the party is that it rained that night, the whole night. If it wasn’t a light sprinkle it was a down pour. For Elsa’s lighting of the castle, non of the characters came out on stage due to the rain. They just turned the lights on with her music which was kind of disappointing. The Celebrate the Season show was awesome! I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it but it was really good! During the Once Upon a Christmas Parade it poured. Like you could hardly see the castle. We watched Celebrate the Magic from inside Starlight Cafe’ while we ate our dinner, which was pretty nice because we actually got to see the show. We watched Wishes from Fantasyland behind the castle. I had never done this before but I would definitely recommend watching Wished from that spot at least once during your trip! The fireworks feel as if they are going off right on top of you! It is amazing! We rode Peter Pan at a 30 min wait and it broke down on us. We rode Big Thunder Mountain while it was pouring!

Disney Bus Transportation is not reliable. If you are going to park hop or resort hop, be prepared to leave from wherever you are at least an hour before you need to be at your destination. Bus Transportation made us last for our dinner reservation by 45 min. We were lucky that they still held our reservation for us. 

There are only a few things that I regret not doing that we just simply didn’t get to do because of time or the weather. We didn’t get to take a lap around the park on the Walt Disney World Railroad, it had closed for the night before we could get over to it. We didn’t get to meet talking Mickey at Town Square, he wait was always way too long. I really wanted to take the Resort Monorail loop around to see all of the Christmas decorations at the Polynesian, Grand Floridian and Contemporary. BUT I can always just watch YouTube videos.

Speaking of YouTube! I have uploaded some of my videos from our vacation! Do me a favor and check them out and tell me what ya think in the comments!

Disney Travel Day_12.10.15

Day One at EPCOT_12.11.15

Day Two Part One Hollywood Studios_12.12.15

Day Two Part Two Hollywood Studios_12.12.15

Day Three Part One Magic Kingdom_12.13.15

Thank you for your time!

EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival

Every year, sometime in March through May,Walt Disney World puts on EPCOT’s International Flower & Garden Festival. EPCOT is always beautifully landscaped but the amazing Disney Magic truly shines during this festival. Exquisite plantings, topiary’s of your favorite Disney characters and specially themed gardens as well as gardening tips and weekend concerts are some of the many amazing things that you can experience while attending the Flower & Garden Festival.

Go on over to the Walt Disney World Website to get the official dates and schedule for the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival.

Besides all of the beautifully designed topiaries that are placed throughout Future World and World Showcase, you can also enjoy the Outdoor Kitchen Booths. Similar to the pop up stands for the Food & Wine Festival, these booths are all around World Showcase and feature small serving plates of goods as well as interesting drinks from all of the different countries. (Hints International Festival). 

Each weekend during the Flower & Garden Festival you can attend “hands-on presentations” and “demonstrations” for select gardening tips. Also, each Friday, Saturday and Sunday night during the Flower & Garden Festival you can catch some amazing singers and bands at the America Gardens Theater. You can find a complete schedule of the Garden Rocks Concert Series on the Walt Disney World Website.

Just like any special event that goes on at Walt Disney World, crowds impact how much you enjoy yourself. The Flower & Garden and Food & Wine Festivals bring in fairly large local crowds to these invents, especially on the weekends. If you are interested in seeing the Garden Rocks Concerts plan to get there early to get your spot and enjoy some of the foods. But if you are just going to see the displays and enjoy some food, go during the week!

 

A Disney Christmas: They’re Here! Our MagicBands are Here!

I got our MagicBands in the mail yesterday!!! I am beyond excited! This will be our first trip since Disney introduced the MagicBands! In case you don’t know what they are, the MagicBands have replaced your hard tickets! Meaning, that you no longer have to have a hard plastic ticket to get into your hotel room or inside the parks. You just put the Mickey head up to the device reader and wait until it turns green and you’re good to go! I will be posting videos on how all of this works once I get back from our trip! In case you were wondering my MagicBand is the pink one! I wanted to get a red one but I didn’t want my mom and I to get ours mixed up, even though they do have our names on the inside! Ha!

Also, I am going to be adding some fun vinyl images to our MagicBands! I haven’t decided what exactly I’m going to put on them but maybe our names and I know I want to do something with Minnie or Christmas but I haven’t decided yet! There are just so many options! But I will post my designs when I do decide what to put on my MagicBand! I may even put some Alabama stuff on there, Roll Tide!

I wish I would have known how to get one of these MagicBands! They also have a store inside the Magic Kingdom in Tomorrowland or at Disney Springs where you can customized your MagicBand. I just might be stopping inside one of those stores!

There are so many Christmas items that I have been looking at online at the Disney Store that I would LOVE to get while I’m down there! I wish we still had our Disney Store in the mall here in Mobile. The closest store that I can go to is in Gulfport, Mississippi and that is an hour away! But Black Friday is coming up and I think that my mom and I are planing to do some clothes shopping for our trip over at the Gulfport Outlets so we’ll just have to see if we can make a quick stop inside the Disney Store! (We ALWAYS do when we go over there!) If we do go to the Gulfport Outlets I will post a Disney Store HAUL post to show you what all we picked up!

24 Days to go!

 

Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon

Anytime that there is a race weekend at Disney World, be advised that weekend will be very busy and crowded. The most popular races is the Annual Disney World Marathon Weekend. It is typically held the first full weekend after the New Year. Disney’s Annual Marathon Weekend has become the largest combined running event in the country. So if you are a Disney Fanatic and love to run you might want to check into this event one year!

The even starts with a Family 5k Fun Run on Friday, the Half Marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday and the Full Marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday. Be advised you do not have to be a World Class runner to compete in these races. Disney has set a 16:00 min/mile pace time to compete in the race. So run, walk, speed-walk whatever it is that you do and come and compete! Each participant receives a medal for completing the run.

While you are running your marathons you will be running through the theme parks themselves! You will be able to stop and take a quick photo with your favorite character or a rare character or two. There will also be bands, high school cheering squads, DJs, dancers and lots of entertainment along the course of the race.

Be advised that registration spots for the races fill up quickly! Register as soon as possible!

How to Survive Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at Disney World!

Christmas and the holiday season at Walt Disney World is an amazing sight to see! It is also the most crowded and busiest times of the year!

THE best advice that I can give is make sure to pack your patience! And just remember that everyone is going to have the same mindset as you; avoid the crowds, see all the shows and fireworks, eat at the best restaurants, meet all the characters and ride all the rides!

Let’s just get real, you are not going to be able to avoid the crowds all together! So if you are really not a “wind through the crowds” type of person I would strongly suggest you not go during the Holiday season. Although, there are a few things that you can do to make your vacation a little less of a headache.

  • Get to the parks super early! Meaning get to the park an hour to 30 min before park open. That means whether or not the park is offering Extra Magic Hours that morning!

  • Reserve FastPass+ and Dinner Reservations ASAP! Once you book your trip calculate what day is your 180 days out mark and 60 days out mark. Make sure to be up at 7:00 am eastern time to select your restaurants and FastPass+!

  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! This separate ticketed event let’s those that have purchased tickets to this party into the Magic Kingdom at 4:00 pm on party nights. Only those that have purchased tickets are allowed into the park from 7:00 pm to 12:00 am on party nights. Which means only a select few will be in the Magic Kingdom to enjoy the special shows, character meet and greats and shorter lines for the rides. For more information on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, click here!

If you are going to the parks during the holidays and your main interest is seeing all of the shows and fireworks that are unique to this time of year, I would suggest not worrying too much about the rides. Make your FastPass+ selections for the rides that you absolutely HAVE to do. Pick a spot early on the parade route to get a good view of the floats and characters. There is one castle stage show during the day that is pretty cute and is a great way to see all of the characters in their Christmas best. And let’s not forget the nighttime shows and fireworks that everyone knows and loves! The best way to get a good view for the parades and firework shows would be to pick a spot that gives you a great view for both.

To make sure that you get your top pick for restaurants make sure to get your reservations in order on the 180th day out from your arrival date! Have your list ready and be sure to make reservations for the character dinning FIRST as they are the first to get all booked up!

Again if your main reason for going to Disney is seeing as many characters as you can, don’t spend too much time worrying about getting on rides. Like I mentioned before make your FastPass+ selections for the rides that you HAVE to do and then don’t worry too much about riding anything else unless the wait is low. In order to see characters you will most likely have to wait through at least one or two character meeting sessions before you get your turn to meet your character.

If you are planning to be at the Magic Kingdom on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, plan to stay there all day. It’s more often than not that the Magic Kingdom will close due to capacity on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Disney goes all out for the fireworks on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and it most definitely a must see if you are going to be in Disney World on these days. What many people don’t know is that you don’t have to be inside the Magic Kingdom to see the fireworks. If the Magic Kingdom is closed due to capacity don’t worry just hang around at the Transportation Center (TCC), you can get a great view from there and they play the music that goes along with the fireworks. You can also view the fireworks from the surrounding resorts on the Seven Seas Lagoon; the Contemporary, Polynesian Village and the Grand Floridian. Please note that sometimes the hotel security may not let you go into certain places on the hotel’s property as some of it is designated for Disney Vacation Club Members only. Also, please know that you can view the fireworks on any night from these locations as well not just on busy nights.

If you are not wanting to go to the Magic Kingdom on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the next best park to go to is EPCOT! EPCOT is so spread out and has many Christmas decorations and activities to enjoy. Although, the lines will be VERY long you will still be able to enjoy the seasonal offerings from all of the featured countries.

A very simple way to get away from all of the crowds but still enjoy Christmas in Disney World is to just stay at  the resort that you are staying at. Chances are they are all decked out for the holidays and have Christmas activities planned for their resort guests. You can also resort hop. Just as the theme parks go all out for Christmas decorations, you can only imagine what the resorts do. The deluxe resorts have the most decorations, but since they are near the Magic Kingdom the traffic getting there could be a pain. My best advice for resort hoping would be to take a bus to EPCOT and ride the monorail to the TCC and then take the resort monorail around the loop and take your time to take in all of the decorations. Just remember everyone else is trying to get somewhere as fast as they can too. Just don’t be in a hurry and bring your patience!

Spending Thanksgiving at Disney World!

If you are planning on taking your family to Disney World during the Thanksgiving holidays, plan on experiencing longer wait times than normal! The week of Thanksgiving kids are pretty much out of school a few days if not the whole week. Thanksgiving and Christmas are most likely the time for families to take vacations during those holidays.

As far as decorations go, don’t expect to see cornucopias and pilgrims all over the parks. Nope, Disney will already be decorated for Christmas! In fact you can expect to see Christmas decorations in all of the parks and resorts as soon as November 1st! Yup that’s right a whole month and half away from Christmas Day!

The week of Thanksgiving is going to be pretty crowded! Not as crowded as the week of Christmas and New Years, but there are very good chances that the parks can close due to capacity during this week. My best advice that I can give as to which park to visit is pick one and stay there! DO NOT PLAN ON PARK HOPPING! If you are staying on property however, I would suggest taking advantage of Extra Magical Hours if they are available and then going to your park of choice for the day. I the reason I say don’t park hop is because you could have plans to do one park in the morning and then maybe want to eat dinner at the Magic Kingdom, well the Magic Kingdom could close to capacity and then you are out your dinner reservation.

Another tip about getting the most out of your park experience is to ARRIVE EARLY!  I know that I have said this many times but it is true! The earlier you arrive the faster you get in the park with fewer crowds and less wait times. Now if you are there for the experience of being there and not really concerned about riding the rides besides your FASTPASS+ choices, then take your time!

Make sure to always have a plan. Have everyone in your party say what it is that they absolutely HAVE to do that day at the parks. If it’s riding the rides, get there early. If you are wanting good spots for the shows and parades, make sure to stake out a spot at least 45-30 minutes before showtime. If meeting the characters is your top priority, make sure to check out the Times Guide BEFORE arriving to the parks!

If you are going for the food, make you reservations during the non-usual meal times. Like say you want to eat dinner at a pretty popular place, schedule your reservation for as early or as late as possible and not around the normal dinner time. There are so many places to indulge yourself in Thanksgiving style feasts! 

Remember to bring with you a lot of patience. Everyone is most likely trying to get to and do the same things that you and your family are trying to do. Be polite and patience with others even if they aren’t towards you. Remember that it is a time to be Thankful for what you have.

Epcot’s Dining Locations that Offer Thanksgiving Meals:

  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

  • Biergarten Restaurant

  • Coral Reef Restaurant

  • Le Cellier Steakhouse

  • Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room

  • Sunshine Seasons (Quick Service)

Magic Kingdom’s Dining Locations the Offer Thanksgiving Meals:

  • Be Our Guest

  • Tony’s Town Square Restaurant

Hollywood Studios’ Dining Locations that Offer Thanksgiving Meals:

  • 50’s Prime Time Cafe

  • Hollywood and Vine

  • The Hollywood Brown Derby

Animal Kingdom’s Dining Locations that Offer Thanksgiving Meals:

  • Tusker House Restaurant

Disney World Resort Hotel’s Dining Locations that Offer Thanksgiving Meals:

  • Wilderness Lodge – Artist Point and Whispering Canyon Cafe

  • Port Orleans Riverside – Boatwright’s Dining Hall

  • Contemporary Resort – California Grill and The Wave

  • Beach Club Resort – Cape May Cafe

  • Yacht Club Resort – Captain’s Grille and Yachtsman Steakhouse

  • Grand Floridian – Citricos, Grand Floridian Cage, Narcoossee’s and Victoria & Albert’s

  • All-Star Sports Resort – End Zone Court

  • BoardWalk – Flying Fish Cafe and Trattoria Al Forno

  • Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jiko the Cooking Place

  • Polynesian Village Resort – Kona Cafe

  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – Mickey’s Backyard Thanksgiving Feast and Trail’s End Restaurant

  • Old Key West Resort – Olivia’s Cafe

  • Animal Kingdom Lodge Kindani Village Resort – Sanaa

  • Caribbean Beach Resort – Shutters at Old Port Royale

  • Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa – The Turf Club Bar and Grill

Disney Springs’ Dining Locations that Offer Thanksgiving Meals:

  • Planet Hollywood

  • Raglan Road

  • Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe

HOLIDAYS AROUND THE WORLD RETURNS TO EPCOT NOVEMBER 27

Beginning Nov. 27, 2015, you and your family can celebrate a world of cheer as Holidays Around the World returns to Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort. Amid joyful music and seasonal food favorites, time-honored traditions spring to life as costumed performers present holiday heritage throughout World Showcase.

This year, you and your family can enjoy new live musical performances by American Music Machine. This five-member a capella group will perform modern and nostalgic holiday hits, including “White Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “All I Want for Christmas is You.”

“Joyful! A Gospel Celebration of the Season” enlivens the Fountain Stage throughout the day, while the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs take us on a musical exploration of holiday traditions from across the Great White North in the Canada Pavilion. In Mexico, “Feliz Navidad” features colorful dancers and mariachis, who celebrate the holiday customs of Mexico in an interactive, musical performance, and the China Pavilion bursts to life with the vibrant Chinese Lion Dance, bringing good fortune and happiness to all in honor of major holidays such as the Lunar New Year and Lantern Festival.

Plus the Candlelight Processional, one of the most beloved holiday traditions at Walt Disney World Resort, takes place at America Gardens Theater at 5, 6:45 and 9 p.m. each evening. 

Holidays Around the World at Epcot takes place Nov. 27-Dec. 30, 2015.