|04-11-2013, 05:07 PM||#1|
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Apr 2013
Spectacular Christmas 2012 Trip Report 12/21/12 to 12/27/12
Travel dates: 12/20/12 arrive, 12/27/12 depart
Travel method: SW airlines and Magical Express
Resort: Contemporary tower (1st time- wanted to try a MK monorail resort and ruled out the GF due to kids)
Ages Represented in Group: 3 adults in our 30's, 1 4yr old, 1 2yr old
Disney Resort Experience Represented in Group: a mix (see below)
Comments: We went with the Deluxe Dining Plan and monorail resort and had a wonderful holiday blast!
-Skippydoo 4th WDW trip
-Mad 5th WDW trip
-Mad's DH Josh 5th WDW trip
-Kid 1 -4yrs old 2nd WDW trip, most adorable little man ever
-Kid 2- 2 years old 1st WDW trip, the baby girl who knows she’s got me wrapped around her little finger
Let me introduce us. I'm Sheilla, AKA Skippydoo and my friends Mad and Josh and I have been close friends since Josh and I met in middle school and then met Mad in college. Mad and Josh got married a few years ago and added Kid 1 and Kid 2. We've been taking WDW trips together many years (January 2010 for my birthday being the last one). When Mad and Josh said let's do Christmas at WDW I thought that's a bit crazy. It'll be crazy crowded and insane... and it'll be WDW so it will still be fun.
Mad got us a planning, we had a scare that they wouldn't get the dates off from work, but then it all came together and Mad made the reservations just shy of an entire year in advance. We wanted to have the convenience of the Monorail this trip so Contemporary Resort was the pick plus Deluxe Dining Plan (it's so convenient-it's a ton of food but we really prefer table service and we're foodies who love fancy dinners). We Skype'd a planning meeting in January set out our park schedule, special events schedule, and a rough plan of what we wanted for ADR's (which would have to wait until 180 days from date of trip to make). Then I started looking around to see what had changed since our 2010 trip. And of course the Disney bug had bitten me with news of Star Tours updates, new MK stuff, and a few other things that had jumped out from other holiday trip reports. The one big planning thing I wanted to do for this trip is to get myself in shape, so that the massive walking and standing in line thing that almost kills me every trip doesn't happen to nearly the same degree. So, taking the miles walked from a Steve Russo report (love his reports) I set out to get myself in shape to a point where all those miles a day of fast walking was no big deal. Sigh... it's easier said than done.
12/19- I fly to Seattle
12/20- Travel day fly out of SEATAC to St Louis for layover then onward to Orlando (after 4 hours) arrive in Orlando 6:30pm, catch the ME and collapse at the hotel... .
12/21-Epcot day, La Cellier (L), Garden Grill (D)
12/22-DHS (MGM to me still) Hollywood and Vine (L), Kouzzina (D)
12/23-Chef Mickey's (B), shopping at Downtown Disney and Hoop de Doo (D) that night
12/24-MK Crystal Palace (B), Liberty Tree (L), Be Our Guest (D)
12/25-MK Cinderella's Royal Table (B), Plaza (L), California Grill (D)
12/26-AK Tusker House (B), Flame Tree BBQ (L), Via Napoli (D)
12/27-Kona Cafe (B) fly home
What actually happened:
Well, part of my woes for the trip started a couple weeks before when I strained a muscle in my back. It was very painful and I dreaded having to walk all around Disney World leaning to one side... I ended up taking almost an entire week off work to let it heal as much as possible. This helped a lot, but I wasn't 100% by any means.
12/19/12: I almost immediately regretted about 1/2 of the stuff I packed as I was dragging my luggage into the airport. Of course when 1/2 of my luggage went missing in Seattle the lighter load didn't necessarily make me happy. The airport finally delivered it about 9 pm that night to my friends’ house. I had a great time visiting my friends and we enjoyed an little Christmas party though the missing bag of mine had the presents I'd brought for my friends and the kids... But we all had fun.
12/20/12 Travel Day
We flew from Seattle to Orlando… It was long and mostly uneventful. Kid 1 sat with me for most of the trip and we played games and did puzzles. We had a delay in our layover, but not too bad.
When we got to the downstairs section of MCO we saw a huge line and were very thankful it wasn’t the Magical Express line. Some rental car company. I was worried we were seeing the famous holiday crowds early. But the Magical Express had no line and after a few minutes we were on the bus and on our way. After the DVC movie they showed a Donald cartoon and it made us all happy.
We got to the hotel; we’d done online check in so we picked up the packet and headed to the room. Easy Peasy. We freshened up and went down to the Contempo Café for something. I got the Mahi Mahi, but didn’t want the aioli (which is just flavored mayo and I hate mayo) they messed up my order. So I just ate the fish. That was tasty. Special orders hardly ever work out for me. We also got our refillable mugs and checked out the gingerbread display.
We made it back to the room and settled in. The kids drifted off to sleep and Mad heard the electrical water parade so we adults watched that as it passed by our balcony. I attempted to get online, but the wifi was abysmal and would only get worse as the week went on.
12/21/12 Day 1: EPCOT
Finally after a year’s worth of planning and dreaming it was finally here. Everyone was excited. Mad went down and grabbed breakfast while everyone was getting ready. We made our way to our first Monorail ride, a brief visit to the TTC and were at Epcot for opening.
We hauled… moved quickly to Soarin’ and while Kid 1, Josh and Mad rode Kid 2 and I drew some pictures. Then I went to ride while they looked through the shop. Child Swap was awesome as I got to bypass the line almost entirely.
From Soarin' to Finding Nemo. Where Kid 2 declared the sharks were scary and the dark was scary. But she liked the ride… After we found Nemo we went to talk to a turtle. The Turtle Talk show was very funny. There was one girl he talked to who when asked pointed out the person she’d come with, when he was asked how many little ones he had he answered 0… which was very confusing to us and Crush. Turns out he was the uncle.
After Nemo we were doing well schedule wise and grabbed a snack and took a ride through Figment’s Imagination. Kid 2 did not appreciate the dark or the blast of skunky smelling air. Now were headed back toward the center of the park, stopped for a bathroom break and found the new Character Spot. Mickey, Pluto and Minnie were all met while Josh did a Fastpass run for Test Track.
After the character meet we stopped into Ice Station Cool for a Beverly reaction. Stopped and got Kid 2 her Ears (which she loved). Then we tried to fit an Agent P assignment before lunch… it didn’t work out to well. But we did meet Alice, Pooh and TIgger. Once Kid 2 saw Pooh and Tigger she was determined despite our secret mission to stop Doof. Oh well, maybe next time.
Then we were on to lunch at Le Cellier. Best meal of the trip. The Mushroom Filet was sooooo good. I’m hungry thinking about it now. I had the no sugar added dessert and it was perfect after the heavy beef and risotto main course. Yum.
After lunch we rode Test Track and made our way to Mexico and then the rest of World Showcase. Kid 2 did not enjoy the boat ride in Mexico. It was dark and there was a volcano. No Bueno. We continued on around the lagoon. We met Snow White in Germany and then rushed back to the land pavilion for dinner at Garden Grill with Chip, Dale, Pluto and Mickey. It was a lot of fun, but we were pretty tired and headed back to the hotel to rest up for the next day at Hollywood Studios.
12/22/12 Day 2: Hollywood or Bust
We got up bright and early for DHS. We were there before opening and I ate my breakfast while standing in line (thanks to Mad who went down to grab breakfast stuff while everyone got ready).
Once in the park we joined everyone in the crazy dash to Toy Story Mania. Josh grabbed fast passes and we got in the standby line. The line was moving pretty steady and we only had a little bit of time to enjoy the cool toys before we were on the ride. Mad, Josh and Kid 2 went in one car and Kid 1 and I in the other. I got a decent score and Kid 1 and I had a blast! Evidently there were blasts of air that Kid 2 did not like. We hot footed it to Star Tours Kid 1, Josh and I rode and then did a child swap and I stayed with Kid 2. We grabbed fast passes after and then went to use the Toy Story fast passes. We did child swap this time so we took Kid 2 into the animation. Kid 1 got to ride it 2 times on the fast pass because of the child swap and he raised his score every time he rode it. Josh and Kid 2 and I waited in the animation building and enjoyed the New Fantasyland model while Mad and Kid 1 took the last turn on TSM.
Then were off to use the fast passes for Star Tours. Honestly we’d have been pretty happy just going back and forth between these two rides we were having such a blast. But we were getting close to our lunch ADR and started heading back to the front of the park. On our way we met Stitch and got some pictures with him.
Then we had a great lunch at Hollywood and Vine. The food was pretty good. They have a build your pasta station which was yummy. And the characters from Disney Jr. were great. Kid 2 and Kid 1 had a blast.
After lunch we grabbed fast passes for Little Mermaid and then went to meet Wreck it Ralph and Vanellope Von Sweets. The area was set up very cool like the movie. Afterwards we went into Little Mermaid… which even with fast passes was a long wait for some reason. Kid 2 napped through the show.
Then we caught the Disney Jr Playhouse and had a blast watching them get ready for Minnie’s Birthday party! Afterward we grabbed a snack and decided to head toward the Muppets.
The line for Muppet Vision was the longest we’d faced. Kid 2 was not a fan, but the rest of us enjoyed the show. Afterwards we got into line to meet Phineaus and Ferb. They were very cute. I insisted on a picture with the Ducky Momo statue too (cause I’m very Candace like).
We got a couple of pictures with Lightening McQueen and Mater then wandered back toward the tables near Pizza Planet. We got some snacks from Writer’s Shop. The carrot cake cookie was good, but the icing was too sweet and too plentiful for me.
Here is where we made a change to our plan. We were pretty wiped and had an ADR for Kouzzina. Our plan was to wait for the Osbourne Lights to be turned on and then run to the ADR. We decided to come back the next night and see the lights and go check in at the restaurant and see if we could get in early for dinner.
We took the boat over to the Boardwalk. On the boat I overheard the cutest conversation. A little British boy was talking to his father about The Hobbit and what he really wanted to know was why Gollum lost the ring. The kid sounded very young (5 maybe) and he was just too cute.
Once at the Boardwalk we were almost an hour early. We checked in and they said they would see what they could do and gave us a pager. We’d just a minute later gone into the candy store next door when the pager went off. We got seated and no sooner than we’d sat down did Kid 1 fall asleep on my lap. He remained that way as we ate our appetizer course, main course and dessert. He was totally out. We decided to take a taxi back to our hotel from the Boardwalk… but ran into a problem… getting into the Boardwalk… we couldn’t find any way except the very large and daunting staircase… with one kid was being carried and one in a stroller. Not easy… Surely there was an elevator somewhere, but we couldn’t find it. Eventually we made it back to hotel… very tired.
12/23/12 Day Three: The “Free” Day
We didn’t have a park to visit today, but it wasn’t free. We had Chef Mickey’s at 9ish. We really enjoyed the food and the characters. Then we split up. Mad, Josh and Kid 2 headed to Downtown Disney and shopping. Kid 1 and I decided we’d rest and then a Monorail treats tour.
We headed to the Grand Floridian and enjoyed gingerbread from inside the Gingerbread house. We spotted at least 11 hidden Mickey’s on it. After that we went around to the Poly where we enjoyed a huge cupcake and a Dole Whip.
After that we headed back to the room. We got ready and headed to the boat to Fort Wilderness… only instead we got on the Wilderness Lodge boat. I think they should change the name of one of them. If it’s windy and children are yelling it’s very difficult to hear. So at the Wilderness Lodge we got a cab to the Fort then the Fort internal bus to the show and we really only missed the opening of the show.
The show was awesome, as usual, and the food tasted even better for the very long round about path to get there. Kid 1 also plays a mean washboard. He didn’t want to give his back…
Then we went to DHS. We grabbed fast passed to Star Tours and went to see the lights. Wow. Minds were blown by these Christmas lights. All other Christmas lights will be rubbish in comparison for the rest of time. Kid 1 and I danced under the dancing lights, we spotted hidden Mickey’s and Mad spotted the Black Cat. The only thing I don’t recommend is tasting thee snow… Yuck! But it was so beautiful.
We capped it all off with one more trip to the stars on Star Tours. It was an amazing night.
12/24/12 Day 4: Christmas Eve, or “Len Testa is right. Get there EARLY”
Up and out the door by like 6 something. Magic Kingdom via the resort Monorail and then the opening ceremony. This was our first time to see it and there were some watery eyes. We were moved. And then we were moving! Peter Pan showed a 5 minute wait, we walked on. Then we jump on the carousel, no wait. Then we wanted to see New Fantasyland. It was really very cool. You’ve heard all about the excellent attention to detail, so I won’t say it again. We got Photopass pictures in front of Little Mermaid (even a couple of magic shots) and then we got in Little Mermaid (no wait). The ride broke down while we were on it. We were in the section with the cool stuff while Mad and Kid 2 were in the dark section with the eels. We were stuck there for a good 5+ minutes. When we got out returned to Old Fantasyland. Winnie the Pooh with no wait (which was a pity because the line area looked like a lot of fun). Next up was the Teacups again no wait. I will now admit I am a convert to arriving early. We did 5 rides in under an hour and had pictures taken.
After a short pit stop we made our way to the Crystal Palace I had Josh run ahead to Jungle Cruise for fast passes because I was sure the crowds would be there by the time we got out of breakfast and my early magic hour strategy was “always have a fast pass”. We checked in a Josh was back before we were seated. We enjoyed breakfast and the characters, but I actually liked the food at Chef Mickey’s a bit better.
Then we were off to see the exotic rivers on the Jungle Cruise. There was a tiny bit of a line, but we sailed right on with our fast passes. Where we the much feared crowds? Even our Skipper was wondering where they were. We enjoyed our cruise. I always like to think of the Jungle Cruise as family bonding at its best. The family that survives all the bad jokes is bound to survive anything.
Then onwards to Pirates which was showing a 10 minute wait. Amazing I thought. Christmas Eve and only 10 minutes to get in Pirates? Mad and Kid 2 sat it out (this needs a baby swap) and went and grabbed fast passes to Big Thunder Mountain. Kid 1 got a bit scared. I’d told him about the ride (he likes to know what’s going to happen and then he’s fine) but I’d forgotten (or blocked) that the drop is in TOTAL darkness. He called me out on it too. Brave little man. Then we were enjoying Pirates. We saw the new mermaid skeleton, but no other signs of mermaids which was quite sad. We met Mad and Kid 2 in the shop. Then Mad and Kid 1 went back on it while Josh and I took Kid 2 to get a Dole Whip. Mad and Kid 1 met us outside and we proceeded to the Tiki Room.
Now, freshly out of the Tiki Room, this was when we found the famous crowds. As we made our way to use our BTM fast passes they were everywhere, but especially around Splash Mountain. We had our first wait of the day using our fast passes (probably 20 minutes). Kid 1 loved it. He wanted to go again, but the huge line was a no go for us. Once would have to hold him over.
After Big Thunder we were in a bit of a quandary. Kid 2 had fallen asleep so we thought about Hall of Presidents, but she woke up before we went in. So we made our way to It’s a Small World. This was I think mistake number one. We should have done IASW before breakfast. It was packed. I don’t think IASW is really worth that kind of wait. But we did. Afterwards we found ourselves in Liberty Square waiting for the parade. I should have skipped IASW to stake out some better spots for the noon parade. We enjoyed the glimpse we got of it.
After the parade we just missed a Country Bears showing and went ahead and checked in at Liberty Tree Tavern for our 1:30 ADR. Liberty Tree was wonderful. I really appreciate being able to sit and relax during lunch in MK. I shared the fried cheese with the kids as my appetizer; I think I had the pot roast for my entrée and then the apple cake thing for dessert. Yummo! Here is where we made our second mistake of the day: we waited until after we left the restaurant to go to the bathroom. Huge mistake. The park at 2:30 was now PACKED and all of them were trying to use the ladies restroom that connects between Liberty Square and Adventureland. I think it was probably an hour long line to go wee. Instead we went to go see singing bears. I just tried not to laugh too hard.
After the bears we made our third, and possibly fatal mistake. We decided to ride the train. We headed toward Splash Mountain where the people we massed. I think we spent about an hour in line to get on the train. Big mistake. Huge. By the time we really realized we were stuck on the stairs and I coulda just cried.
Eventually we made it on a train and took it around to the front. I broke off to do some shopping and rest while everyone else went to try out the Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom game. I spent a bit in the emporium then slowly made my way to the rose garden which was not crowded and crazy. Heaven. I sat there for at least a couple of hours after a table came free. I shared my hard won table and chairs with four Japanese tourists who were looking for a place to sit while they ate. There were nice and as the sun set I gave up my table to them and headed up to the walkway on the castle side and used my zoom lens to see the castle stage and watch the lighting ceremony. After the castle was made all shiny and sparkly I headed toward joining everyone in New Fantasyland for dinner.
Dinner was at Be Our Guest. Both Mad and I had spent hours on the phone trying for this ADR and we’d gotten it for the day and darn close to the perfect time (6.45pm). We met back up outside the entrance bridge to the castle door. We had a bit of a wait and then were led in. They made an amazing place here. After we were seated (in the Ballroom) Josh, the kids, and I did a look through of the side rooms. Amazing. The artwork was enchanting. We really enjoyed our meal and just as we were about ready to leave the Beast went on break so we waited a few minutes so we could meet him. There were some repeated instructions from the cast members but eventually we met the Prince and had some pictures taken. Then we were off to get out of the MK. We got directed to a back path behind the scenes of Tomorrowland. It was very industrial, but soooo much better than trying to fight through the crowd.
We were back in the hotel and asleep by about 9pm.
12/25/12 Day 5: Christmas is here!!!
My Christmas present to myself was a morning off. So I stayed in an rested. Hoping my back and feet would be able to recover a bit for Animal Kingdom the next day. Mad, Josh and the kids went to MK. So what follows is as reported by them.
Enchanted Tales with Belle was wonderful as Kid 1 was picked to play the Beast. He rawred and danced and bowed to Belle. There’s video of it. It’s enchanting. Josh said he got choked up watching his kid play the part so well. They rode Dumbo and Josh and Kid 1 did Buzz Lightyear. They took both kids on Haunted Mansion and this was probably the one ride Kid 1 did not like. He got scared. They also had breakfast in the castle. Kid 2 got to meet Cinderella at last. She was so happy!
Then we met up for lunch. I enjoyed sauntering in just for lunch at the Plaza. Our ADR was as 12:20. I had a salad, the burger and the chocolate milkshake. Yum! Afterwards I went with Josh and Kid 1 who were going to continue their Sorcerer’s game from the day before while Mad and Kid 2 went to go do other things (I think they ended up at Winnie the Pooh just to play in the line).
I really enjoyed the Sorcerer’s game. The effects are awesome. We had trouble with one spot and went back and asked them to reset us to Main Street. We played for about an hour on Main Street and then decided we’d better get back to the hotel to get ready for our special Christmas dinner at California Grill.
I was having some trouble viewing pictures from my Photopass+ on my ipad, so I took a quick Monorail ride over to GF, but the Photopass+ desk was empty so I jaunted right back to the Contemporary (best part of this little waste of time was that I got to ride the Avengerail which was so cool). Then we got all fancied up and checked in for our 5pm ADR.
California Grill was fantastic! We had a couple of extra dining credits (I had skipped breakfast that morning) so we got 4 adult meals and shared all of it around the table. The pork was really good. I liked the steak best. I was not a fan of most of the cheese plate (but I have strong feelings about mold and not eating it on purpose). We ordered after dinner drinks. I got the Ice Wine. Which was excellent. Josh and I had planned on heading back up to watch the fireworks, but even though I hadn’t even ridden a ride I was just too tired and went to bed.
12/26/12 Day 6: Animal Kingdom
We had an 8am ADR for Tusker House inside Animal Kingdom which had an 8am opening. This I had been led to believe would get us into the park before opening so we could check in at the restaurant. Nope. Denied. We had to wait along side everyone else. Then head with everyone else went toward the Safari and we and a rather large group went to the check in kiosk for Tusker House. The food was good. Though I still preferred Chef Mickey’s. The characters were great and we had a good time.
Afterwards we continued to the safari where there wasn’t much of a line yet so we skipped fast passes and just got in line. We had about a 10 minute wait and then we were off. I got a ton of pictures. The zoom on my new camera was amazing. And there was a Rhino in the road so we got to wait about on the Savannah and enjoy the animals. The male lion was up and surveying his kingdom. The new zebras were cute.
Then we were off to watch the bird show, but before it started Josh and Mad ran and got Everest fast passes while Kid 1 and I enjoyed a nice view of the Tree of Life. Then we went into the theatre. I really like this show.
After the show we went to Everest. Josh rode while everyone else waited in the shop. Mad bought a plush Yeti for the kids. Then we were going to get some lunch at Flame Tree but saw that a Nemo show was about to start so we jumped in line. When we got out of the show it was raining and as we were walking to the stroller it turned from raining to down pouring. And here we made another mistake. We left the park to go back to the hotel. Only we didn’t end up at our hotel. We ended up at the Beach Club, wet and cold and unhappy. Mad bought new pants in the shop and the kids had fresh clothes in the diaper bag.
Then Josh wanted to go onto Epcot where we were supposed to have dinner. Once in Epcot he wanted to go do something. But here’s where I had my meltdown. I was wet, tired, sore back, sore feet and hungry. It was almost 2 and we hadn’t even had a snack since breakfast. I get very, very grouchy when I am hungry and add all the other stuff on top of it. Just imagine the meltdown. I put my foot down and declared that Harry Ramsden was at this very moment the closest place with hot food and that was where I was going come hell or high water! So I got fish and chips for me and the kids while Josh and Mad watched. We decided to split and meet again in a bit. I went to France while Josh and Mad took the kids to Japan for food and treats.
This was the first time I had seen the France movie and I really liked it. It went up to my number one replacing the China movie.
I jotted down to Morocco and picked up a Fez for my Doctor Who crazy friend. Afterwards I grabbed a crepe and sat and people watched. When Josh and Mad joined me the crepe idea spread and she got one as well. I was really rather perfectly content in my little spot so Josh and Mad and the kids wandered off again and we determined to meet back at Italy for our Via Napoli ADR.
I mostly people watched, and then I decided to check out some shops in Germany and Italy until dinner. We got seated for dinner right on time for our 5:45 ADR. We had pizza. I don’t know if it was that we were tired and vacation was almost over but all the trauma of the day added up to Via Napoli not being worth all the trauma. I liked the cherry ice cream dessert, but overall there are several Epcot restaurants we like better including the other one in Italy.
After dinner we went to the monorail and back to the Contemporary for sleep, wonderful sleep.
12/27/12 Day 7: Last Day blues
The last day in the world had come. Christmas was over and we were tired but sad to go. We had an ADR at Kona for breakfast, but when we went to the monorail we found it was out of order due to the cold. This caused some consternation between us as we could not conceive of how we were supposed to get to the Poly if we didn’t have a monorail. It was inconceivable. Mind you we were a bit tired and groggy. A nice CM said they would run a bus for people and to just go down stairs.
So we did. Now, I should point out that one of the best things about the Contemporary is that the monorail is inside. You don’t have to go outside. And over at the Poly you only have about a 20 foot walk of outside time, so we hadn’t brought our coats. And it was so cold the monorail wasn’t working.
So as the doors rolled open and the blast of cold air hit us it was a shock. An unpleasant shock. Kid 1 actually collapsed to his knees. Mad went up to grab coats and we went outside to await our bus. Kid 1 was still cold and huddled under my coat with me. Shivering. Poor little man.
Eventually we made it to the warm tropics of the Poly and enjoyed a wonderful last breakfast. I had the pineapple macadamia pancakes and Mad had the Tonga Toast while everyone else’s breakfast was too boring to remember.
Of course a last meal in the world can only be alleviated by starting a plan for the next visit. Mad and Josh decided they’d look at the Poly for a trip in 2014 or 2015. After breakfast it was back to the hotel for mundane things like packing and getting luggage down to Magical Express and all the business of returning to the real world. Sad, but true every visit to WDW must come to an end- until next time
So that's my trip report. Hope you enjoyed it and if there are any people out there thinking about a Christmas trip I would say go for it. It's beautiful in so many ways and by following a few tips the crowds weren't too bad. Our only problems were when we didn't follow the tips.
|christmas 2012, trip report|
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