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Old 02-25-2011, 07:26 PM   #1
tksbaskets
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The Craziness of WDW between Christmas & New Years-Wilderness Lodge, Merry Mixer

Did you ever wonder what possesses those crazy Disney fans to vacation the week between Christmas and New Years?? From the thousands of people who pack the parks this week we are not alone.

Why would anyone choose to go to WDW during the busiest week of the year? Admit it, you are thinking that. Well, DH is a teacher so we need to vacation on a school break. Our DSs are sophomores in college so their spring break never seems to line up with our local school district.

The main reason? We love to see the parks decorated for the holidays and spending a week with our sons away from it all is our real gift to each other (and this year literally our gift to everyone)

Meet the gang:

Me, tksbaskets, at this point I guess I'm a Disney veteran as I seem to be getting lots of emails from our friends and acquaintances who want park and dining advice I must admit to CDPD (Compulsive Disney Planning Disease!)

DH, AKA 'Sarge', although our DSs demanded time off for good behavior. (Details to follow)

DS, almost 20, code name 'Grumpy'

DS, almost 20, Code name 'Donald'

The Plan:
We joined DVC in 2006. BEST decision we've ever made. Not a minutes of buyers remorse. Booked a 1 BR at our home resort Boardwalk Villas at the 11 month mark and wonder of wonders got our wait list for Villas at Wilderness Lodge! We've tried for this many times. Not that we don't like our home resort, we just wanted to stay at a different resort for a change.

Leave for Florida early Sunday 12/26 arriving at MCO around 11 am. Return late Saturday 1/1/2011 so DH can have a day home before going back to work.

Here is a tiny example of my CDPD. I laminate one slightly reduced copy for my backpack and carry a spare.


We had chosen the DDP (the one where you get a snack, CS, and TS each day/each person) and my family likes to have one nice sit down TS dinner each day. I try to schedule around our target park for the day. Our target park in the morning is most often the early entry park.

Enough of the pre-planning - let's get this trip report started!

Next up, Heading to warm, sunny, Florida (NOT)
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Old 02-25-2011, 07:56 PM   #2
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Day One, Wilderness Lodge!

Still remembering our airport nightmare last year, we woke from a short slumber at 3:30 am and were on the road headed to the airport at 4:30 am. It seems every Christmas we are blessed with a White Christmas which is lovely but makes for some treacherous road conditions. Our luggage drop and trip through security was relatively painless. I had an extra gift - I was chosen for the full body scanner Seriously any measures that keeps my family safe in the air is fine by me.

We like to begin shelling out for food as soon as possible on any vacation and had a decent breakfast at the Coney Island at the airport. At our gate we began to hear many announcements trying to entice travelers to change their flights. Our flight was overbooked by 42 seats We were very happy to have seat assignments even if we were scattered throughout the plane and our travel plans were not flexible.

Grumpy and Donald with our obligatory airport gate photo:


I have a great one of Sarge sleeping but felt I had better leave that in the personal album

Our flight was uneventful and soon we were getting on the tram to skedaddle to the Magical Express. Who doesn't smile when they see the DCL and WDW buses?

Here is our chariot:


Soon there was another happy site:




We stopped at a few other resorts before we pulled into Wilderness Lodge. Here was the view from my seat on the bus:


We entered the stunningly beautiful, photos do not give it justice, lobby of WL at 12:40 pm. I had done on-line check in and it was really smooth. Guess what? Our room was ready!! Donald and Grumpy went over to Whispering Canyon Cafe to check in for our 1 pm reservations while Sarge and I got our room keys and Welcome Home packet.

Spent a few minutes exploring the lobby. Here are a few of my favorite pics:
BIG tree in the lobby




A picture for Deej




There is an indoor creek


Totum outside the gift shop


WHEW all this picture taking and traveling has made me hungry! How about you?

Next up: Lunch at Whispering Canyon Cafe and our 1-Bedroom accommodations.
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Old 02-25-2011, 09:30 PM   #3
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I can't wait to start reading it! Thanks for giving me a heads up. I'm about half way done making my Disney Snapfish calendar, so when I finish up with that I'll get back over here and read.
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Old 02-25-2011, 09:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by deejdigsdis View Post
I can't wait to start reading it! Thanks for giving me a heads up. I'm about half way done making my Disney Snapfish calendar, so when I finish up with that I'll get back over here and read.
You've got work to do! My calendar came today and I love it I may post pics of it at the end of this trip report.
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Old 02-26-2011, 10:55 AM   #5
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Whispering Canyon Care

Good thing we were hungry. We waited a bit to be seated so of course I took the opportunity to take a few photos.





Tree right by the entrance to the restaurant:


This restaurant is known for giving the patrons a Disney version of a hard time. Ask for a straw you get 20, ask for catchup get many bottles. Our waitress Roxy teased DSs about their love lives. We ordered the all-you-care-to-eat skillet. It was very tasty.

Warning small rant, skip to the next paragraph if you want to.
Now here is my only complaints about our waitress/meal. She would serve us...I mean, lean over and take food from the skillet and put it on our plates. Also when it was time for refilling she just brought items to the table....not asking us what or IF we wanted more. I freely admit my family does not look like it misses many meals but I was a bit miffed at the amount of food that arrived that we didn't request.


Sorry my DIS friends we were too hungry to take pics before anyone dug in! The cornbread was as good as it looks here! See another example of my CDPD here?







Donald even had a shake for his DDP drink


The atmosphere was definitely fun and family friendly. DH kept threatening to tell Roxy it was their birthday Alas, he held back and our DSs didn't have to ride a horse around the restaurant of be sung to by 200 of their closest friends.

Luckily Roxy did box up all our extra ribs and we took them to our room with us. We love having a full size fridge!

Ready to go see our room? We were feeling pretty travel weary by then and ready to see our home for the week!

Our DVC Wildereness Lodge Home

Last edited by tksbaskets; 02-26-2011 at 10:42 PM.
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Old 02-26-2011, 11:31 AM   #6
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Home Sweet DVC and the amazing disappearing Mickey

We were really pleased that our 1-BR home was ready when we checked in. We had been up since 3:30 am and after only about 4 hours of sleep. Who knew that today would be one of the warmest of our trip?

To get to the Villas at Wilderness Lodge you walk by the gift shop and exit the main building. Take a walk with us!

Lookup:




I love the topiaries around WDW. Who knew this was the last day before 1/1/11 that we'd see this one? He was safely wrapped up against the Nordic winds that came this week.


Villas 'lobby'




Again my camera could not capture the whole effect of the many story lobby. Here is another pic showing the elaborate theming.


Some of the quickest elevators I've ever been on. We feel the same manufacturer did the TOT.


Tree in the 5th floor elevator.


The long hall. For the first time our DVC family was not at the very end!


Here we are~


A room with a forest view:


Kitchen now stocked with many ribs and our dessert. See the hidden Mickey's in the next photos?


Living area with what our sons tell us is the hardest, most back breaking, sofa bed they've ever had to sleep on.




We really tried not to tell the guys how wonderfully comfortable our humongous bed was!


DH always says this is one of the reasons he loves DVC - his own TV:


What we call the tub room:




The loo....I held back posting a toilet pic. I'm sure you appreciate my restraint:




Great theming continues!


The guys all sacked out while I walked back to the front desk to get a card key that actually functioned as a door key. I found the third time was a charm on that but used it as an excuse to wander and take pics.

Next up, exchanging paper for plastic and a short evening at MK
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Old 02-26-2011, 01:26 PM   #7
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We have the same problem trying to schedule vacations. When my school is on break, my daughter's is not and when she is on break, I am not... This even happens during the summer months. My daughter's last school day in the spring is my first day for summer semester. We have learned to be very creative in finding family vacation time.
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Old 02-26-2011, 02:36 PM   #8
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I just closed on a contract at the lodge. I hope to stay there in Nov. this year. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of your report. I'll also be renting some points to a friend who wants to travel over NYE. Her DH is a teacher too. I'll send her over for your park pics as she is curious how busy it actually gets.

Your spreadsheet looks almost identical to the one I make! Great idea to laminate it! I bring mine in a folder with all my other documents in sheet protectors.

Looking forward to more!
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Old 02-26-2011, 04:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kid-at-heart View Post
We have the same problem trying to schedule vacations. When my school is on break, my daughter's is not and when she is on break, I am not... This even happens during the summer months. My daughter's last school day in the spring is my first day for summer semester. We have learned to be very creative in finding family vacation time.
We once thought that it would be a great idea to go in late June when everyone was out of school. That was a great time to go if you enjoy sweating like crazy! That is my 'First trip home and Star Wars Weekend' report. LOVED SWW. The heat, not so much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by franandaj View Post
I just closed on a contract at the lodge. I hope to stay there in Nov. this year. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of your report. I'll also be renting some points to a friend who wants to travel over NYE. Her DH is a teacher too. I'll send her over for your park pics as she is curious how busy it actually gets.

Your spreadsheet looks almost identical to the one I make! Great idea to laminate it! I bring mine in a folder with all my other documents in sheet protectors.

Looking forward to more!
One of my DIS buddies makes a binder each trip too. We had to laugh at a mutual friend who said she didn't really like to make any advanced plans for meals. The though of going without a plan made me shudder! To each their own. Leaves more spaces at the TS for those of us afflicted with CDPD!

Off to finish day 1.

TK
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Old 02-26-2011, 05:13 PM   #10
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12/26/10 Evening at the Kingdom

At 6 pm we got up from our power nap, ate our dessert from lunch for energy, and stopped in the lobby for our first Photo Pass picture!





We then hopped a bus to get to the Magic Kingdom. We had no problem at the park ticket gate having our paper ticket voucher put onto our room keys.

We usually don't go to the park on arrival day. Our park hopper tickets ended up being only a few dollars more for the 6th day so we said, 'what the heck'.

Since we weren't men and woman on a mission like during early entry, we stopped for a couple more photos.


First stop was Mikey's Philharmagic. We just love that 3-D show! We were surprised that we didn't have a long wait.



Next we worked our way through a crazy-packed Fantasyland and rode The Haunted Mansion. Our holiday trip the year before had been to Disneyland where they had the Haunted Mansion Holiday. We enjoyed the original and walked right on. This luck did not continue the entire trip but we got lucky this night.

By this time it was dark and we next visited the Hall of Presidents. Along with having the current president represented, the show has been updated to include 9-11. We love this show and would see it a couple more times this trip.

When we exited from the Hall of Presidents the Electric Light Parade was going by. We watched the parade till it passed and then headed to Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square for a funnel cake for Donald. It was DELISH.

We worked our way to the hub and enjoyed the Holiday Wishes fireworks.



We did a little shopping on our was down Main Street USA and took the boat back to our resort. We loved this mode of transportation. Donald and Grumpy choose a couple of DVDs from the gift shop (a perk of our DVC membership) and DH got half and half for his morning java fix.

It was now about 10:45 and Grumpy and I headed down to Roaring Forks to split a CS meal. Unfortunately the grill was closed and we settled for warmed up ribs in our room.

This completed day 1 of our adventure. Next up:
Magic Morning at Disney's Hollywood Studios
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Old 02-26-2011, 07:02 PM   #11
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I really enjoyed your pictures. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.
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Old 02-26-2011, 07:55 PM   #12
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Well hello fellow Michigander! Love your TR so far! You did well...raising boys who still love WDW at 20! Please share your tips...I hope my boys will still go with us at that age!
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Old 02-26-2011, 10:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
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I really enjoyed your pictures. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.
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I'm happy to do it Sandi! Thanks for reading

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blessed_wth_Triplets View Post
Well hello fellow Michigander! Love your TR so far! You did well...raising boys who still love WDW at 20! Please share your tips...I hope my boys will still go with us at that age!
We are blessed that they still want to come with us. Are your triplets all boys?

DH and I both say that we'll keep paying if they keep coming! I feel doubly blessed that they smile for pictures too I think the fact that every Disney vacation we have has been wonderful helps.

We were a bit more flexible due to their age and body clocks this trip. You'll see that in the next couple of days.

Thanks for reading!
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Old 02-27-2011, 07:34 AM   #14
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Ahhhhh! My favorite home away from home! There is definitely something magical about the Lodge during the holidays. This year will be our 1st year going over the actual Christmas holiday. We're coming home on the 27th though. So I'm definitely interested in your reports on the crowds for the few days just after Christmas.

You've taken some beautiful pics! Also, the photopass ones of your family in MK are lovely. Looking forward to the rest of your TR!
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Old 02-27-2011, 08:09 AM   #15
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Ahhhhh! My favorite home away from home! There is definitely something magical about the Lodge during the holidays. This year will be our 1st year going over the actual Christmas holiday. We're coming home on the 27th though. So I'm definitely interested in your reports on the crowds for the few days just after Christmas.

You've taken some beautiful pics! Also, the photopass ones of your family in MK are lovely. Looking forward to the rest of your TR!
It sure is a stunning place during the holidays! We love the GCH as well so this has much of the same flavor.

Thank you for the compliments and joining in to read about our trip. I'll be talking about our crowds and crowd strategy coming up.
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