Discussion in 'UK Trip Reports Board' started by dolphingirl47, Dec 2, 2012.
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I was a little worried after the experience at Fantasmic how long it would take for the theater to empty out, but this went very quickly. I headed over to the German pavilion to have another look at the Christmas shop and took a few photos of their Christmas trees. One thing had intrigued me on my previous visit this trip and this was the pickle ornament. Supposedly it is a German tradition to hide a pickle ornament on the Christmas tree. Well, I grew up in Germany and I had never seen a pickle ornament before this day nor do I know anybody of German origin who has. I was curious though and asked one of the German cast members whereabouts in Germany this tradition comes from. There was a good possibility that this is something regional and this is why I had never heard of it. She got very defensive and could not give me an answer beyond saying that they are made in Germany. I left with the distinct feeling that this is another thing that Germany produces exclusively for the export market. I have since done a bit of research and this appears to be correct. Apparently in 1890s, Woolworth started to import glass Christmas ornaments from Germany and the pickle ornament was a marketing stunt for that. Shame on Disney to try to pass this off as a German tradition in an area of the parks that is meant to be all about celebrating the culture of the host nations of the pavilions.
As I walked on to head towards the exit, I did notice that a little Christmas market had sprung up in Germany, too. They were selling predominantly the same things as the Christmas shop, but there was also a stall selling Gluehwein and some seating. I just had a quick look, but did not really stop. On my way past Mexico, I noticed that Donald was out in this Mexican outfit and had no line. So I stopped to have my photo taken with him.
I then crossed over back into future world and had some more photos taken with the Christmas tree and the topiaries. Epcot after dark really looks stunning, especially during the holiday season. I finally saw the "Pixie Dust" on the pavement that I had heard so much about and this is really magical. I also noticed near the exit that they had projected Happy Holidays on the monorail beam.
I left the park and went up to the monorail. I did not have to wait for very long before the monorail came. When I got to the Transportation and Ticket Centre, I encountered a problem. The express monorail to the Magic Kingdom was down and they were directing everybody to the ferry boat. I was not too bothered about this. There seem to be a lot of people waiting, but when the ferry boat arrived shortly afterwards, everybody got on. I went upstairs and found myself a spot near the front where I had a fantastic view of the monorail resorts and the castle. This looked truly magical all lit up.
When I got to the Magic Kingdom, I quickly went inside to pick up my spell cards and then I headed over to the resort monorail to go to the Contemporary Resort. With hindsight, I should just have walked. I assumed that as they were not allowing people heading for the Magic Kingdom to get on the resort monorail at the Transportation and Ticket Centre, they would apply the same rules at the Magic Kingdom for people wanting to get to the Transportation and Ticket Centre. This was not the case. Rather than directing people towards the ferry, they directed everybody towards the resort monorail. I saw 5 monorails come and leave until I finally got on one. I started to get worried that I would be late for my dinner reservation at The Wave. I did make it in time even though I somehow managed to get lost in the Contemporary Resort. Graham arrived around the same time as I did so all was well.
We had dinner at The Wave before and I liked the food, but the experience was somewhat spoiled as there was a screaming toddler at the next table. So I figured it was time for a do over. As there was also a nice perk for DVC members at the time that allowed any DVC member staying anywhere on property to visit the Top of the World Lounge at Bay Lake Tower, this seemed perfect. I had a Coke and Graham had a glass of White Zinfandel. Graham chose Oven-roasted Chicken with Blueberry Bread Pudding and Locally Sourced Seasonal Vegetables. He said his food was just ordinary. I really enjoyed mine. I had Locally-sourced Thompson Farms Pork Tenderloin in an Apple-brine on Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Polenta and Vegetables of the Moment. This was absolutely delicious. The service however was atrocious. We seemed to be waiting forever until our server took our drinks order. Then it took a while for the drinks to arrive. Rather than taking our order for food at the same time, she told us she would be back and that took forever. I started to get antsy as I really wanted to see Wishes from the Top of the World Lounge and that was creeping ever closer. I checked with Graham and he did not really want a dessert. I had been looking forward to the Fall Ice Cream Trio, which consisted of Pumpkin pie with Maple Glazed Pecans, Double Chocolate Chip, Salted Caramel Swirl, but when it came down to it, the fireworks won. We asked to pay and this actually happened quite quickly.
We walked across to Bay Lake Tower. They had some rather lovely Christmas decorations, but I figured I could come back for them the next day. We checked in at the new check in desk for Bay Lake Tower and then were escorted to the lift that goes to the Top of the World Lounge. Because of the new perk and the fact that we were relatively late, I expected that it would be packed and I was a little worried that we would not get a decent view. Well, there was hardly anybody up there. I took a view photos of the castle and Space Mountain while we were waiting for Wishes to start. Wishes was amazing again and I took loads of photos. I was so glad that I had this opportunity.
Once Wishes was finished, we went back downstairs and walked over to the Magic Kingdom to get a bus back to Old Key West. This time we had a bit of a wait for the bus, but that actually turned out a blessing in disguise as while we were waiting, we saw the Electrical Water Pageant go by. When we got back to our room, we got ready for bed. It had been a long day.
I agree about the cheese soup, or should I say salt soup. it was not great at all. no flavor other than salt. I love salt and it was too much for even me. Actually our whole meal was like that.
I can't believe you didn't know Santa was married!
I know you didn't grow up in the US at all, but didn't you guys have tv Christmas specials? Like the year without a Santa Claus, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, or Rudolph? Santa always has a wife in all the shows. And then the whole Santa Claus 2 movie is about Santa picking a wife. I am just shocked you didn't know.
I have heard the same about the pickle as well. My dis friend Karin is from Austria and she says that is not true at all. I have since heard others tell me that as well. I was telling MIL about it one day a few months ago and she got defensive with me as she had a "German" Aunt who always had a pickle. Now she wasn't from Germany, but she supposedly held all the traditions, but my guess is she fell for something commercialized as real.
lovely update, love all the pictures...
Sorry the soup was not up to par and I think it is a shame that Disney is putting the pickle ornament in the Germany pavilion, maybe it should be in the American one, or not at all. My DH lived in Germany and graduated from High School there, and he had never heard of it either, when he saw it in EPCOT.
I have very little tolerance for salt at the best of times. I was raised on a low sodium diet as my dad had to severely limit his salt intake.
I grew up in Germany and I don't think any of those movies ever made it over there. Christmas in Germany is an entirely different proposition from how it is celebrated in the UK or the USA. It is more about family and traditions and the commercial aspect is not as strong. I have seen them on the TV listings since I have lived in the UK, but never felt the urge to watch them.
I have to say I considered for about a minute to get a pickle ornament, because I tend to like things that are quirky and some of them were real little pieces of art. However, in the end my annoyance about them passing this off as a German tradition won and I did not want to support this.
I don't think anybody in Germany or with links to Germany has.
Just posting to say I'm still reading along, just hopelessly behind. Every time I think I'm caught up. There is another update!
I have not explored Camp Minnie Mickey either. Just did FOTLK and left. I've never had a lot of time to explore Epcot in detail. Mostly the countries where I have ADRs!
Take your time. This is not going anywhere. Graham and I have a deal that I cannot go on a trip before I finished the trip report for the last one. Well, we are having a sneaky weekend in Dubai planned for the weekend starting March 8th. So I have to get this finished by then.
I was going to buy a pickle next time I went to WDW but I don't think I will now. We didn't love the Wave either.
Yay! I'm finally caught up again. We were going to try the wave, but now I'm not sure. I haven't heard many good reviews of it.
The fireworks from TOTWL looked great. We went up there on our recent trip, but not at fireworks time. We just figured we should spend some money there so they don't take it away as a DVC perk.
Sounds like a lovely day!
I have enjoyed the food at The Wave every time we went, but the service is awful. Graham liked breakfast well enough, but did not rate dinner at all either time we went.
I have been lucky enough to see the fireworks from the Top of the World Lounge three times now. When we stayed at Bay Lake Tower, we watched both Happy HalloWishes and regular Wishes up there.
This day was going to be a bit more leisurely proposition. I did not set an alarm call as we did not have to be anywhere until lunch time and I would have a late night. We woke up around 9:30 and Graham announced that he would do some laundry and go for a swim. When I was ready, I headed over to the pool, but could not see Graham anywhere. I decided to head over to Hospitality House to take some photos of the Christmas decorations there. While I was there, I had a quick look in the shop and spotted a holiday pin for Old Key West. I had to get this. I had brought my refillable mug and filled this up with ice tea and then I made my way back to the room. I stopped by the pool and Graham was back. He had been to Hospitality House, too to get some coffee. I went back to the room and got changed into my swimming stuff as the laundry still had a little while to go.
When I had looked for Graham before heading to Hospitality House, there were some people in the pool, but at this point, we were the only people around. The water temperature was lovely even though it was a bit nippy outside. I swam a few length and Graham joined me once he had put our laundry in the dryer. After a while, I decided to try out the hot tub, which was also lovely. Once all our stuff was dry, we dried ourselves off and headed back to the room.
When we got back to the room, we got dressed, gathered the things together that we needed for the day and headed out to the bus. We had a bit of a wait. We saw two buses coming past for each of the other parks before a Magic Kingdom bus came. We still had plenty of time so there was no rush. When we got there, Graham went to sit on a bench on the boat dock for the resort launches and enjoyed the sunshine. I quickly went inside the Magic Kingdom to get my spell cards. When I got to the boat dock, the boat was just pulling in and soon we were on our way to the Polynesian Resort although the boat stopped at the Grand Floridian first.
I had a ticket for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party for that night so I had made a reservation for a table service lunch. We had breakfast at Kona Cafe in 2010 and enjoyed it. So I decided I would like to try lunch there. We got there a little ahead of time and checked in at the podium. We were given a pager and had a quick look around. The pager went off pretty quickly and we were seated. Graham just had some water and I had a Coke. I really wanted to try the Pot Stickers, which are wok-seared Pork and Vegetable Dumplings with Creamy Ginger-Soy Sauce, but did not think I could eat a three course meal. Graham kindly agreed to share them with me and we both enjoyed them. For our main course we both went with the Kona Surf and Turf Burger Deluxe, which was a grilled Angus Chuck Burger topped with Spicy Fried Shrimp, Black Garlic Aioli and Sweet Potato Fries. I was in two minds about this as I really don't like Sweet Potato, but I really liked the Sweet Potato Fries. When it came to ordering dessert, the chef came out to see us. Graham quite fancied the White Chocolate Cheesecake and we just wanted to make sure that there was no real chocolate in it. Unfortunately there was, but the question made our server nervous. In the end he settled for Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Lemongrass and Caramel Sauces. I had the Kona Kone, which consisted of Ice Cream in a Waffle Cone with Cotton Candy. Graham had some of the Cotton Candy and really liked it. I was quite partial to it, too.
After lunch we had a proper look around. The Polynesian is a very pretty resort. I had heard before the trip that the Polynesian is the least impressive of the Deluxe Resorts as far as Christmas decorations are concerned and I would agree with this assessment. It was still very pretty though. The Christmas decorations were very understated and had a Hawaiian theme. We had accumulated quite a bit of loose change over the course of the holiday. I had told Graham that Disney regularly empties their water features of coins and that all the coins are donated to Give Kids the World. So he had brought our coins. When he saw a lot of coins in the water feature in the lobby of the Polynesian, he added ours as well.
Once we had seen everything we wanted to see at the Polynesian, we took the monorail across to the Grand Floridian. I had always heard that the Grand Floridian had the prettiest Christmas decorations of all the Disney resorts. So I was really looking forward to seeing them. When we got off the monorail, we spotted some decorations right away. We went inside and I had a quick look inside Basin White. Then we headed downstairs to see the Christmas decorations. The Gingerbread House was pretty impressive as was the Christmas tree. I also loved all the wreaths and the garlands on the bannisters. I still have to admit that I preferred the decorations at the Epcot resorts. I think if I had seen the decorations at the Grand Floridian first, my reaction may well have been different.
Our original plan had been to head to the Contemporary Resort next and then finish our tour at Wilderness Lodge. At some stage we decided to have a drink at the Top of the World Lounge before I headed off to the party. So we left the Contemporary Resort for last and headed back to the Magic Kingdom to catch a boat over to Wilderness Lodge. We had a bit of a wait for a boat at the Magic Kingdom and the cast member at the boat dock was a bit of a comedian. Eventually our boat arrived.
I had been to Wilderness Lodge twice before, but I have never really had the chance to have a look around. The first time we changed buses there coming from one of the water parks and I got something from the gift shop while I was there. The second time round we had a reservation at Artist Point. This time round we just were there to explore. We had a wander around the grounds first. When we came to the pool for the Villas at Wilderness Lodge, this was completely deserted. This was the first day that pool hopping was allowed again for DVC members after the Thanksgiving holiday so we had brought our swimming stuff just in case. The main feature pool was pretty busy, but as this pool was in the shade, people seemed to be avoiding this. We found the changing rooms nearby and got changed. The water was quite pleasant and I was fascinated by the little whirlpools that turned up at various spots in the pool. After we had swum for a bit and played around in the whirlpools, we headed for the hot tub. The jets were not working, but the water was nice and hot and this was so peaceful so I was quite happy to just sit in the hot water and relax.
After about 20 minutes we got showered and changed and headed to the main building. We walked past the spring that goes from the atrium all the way to the main pool. The atrium is truly breathtaking. I have always been impressed by the atriums at Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Grand Californian, but this was even more impressive. The Christmas decorations were truly gorgeous, too and I preferred them over the decorations at the Grand Floridian. There was a Photopass photographer by the tree so we had some photos taken. We also headed upstairs so that I could get some nice photos of the lobby.
For once I had actually brought my trading pins and there was a cast member in the atrium pin trading. As my areas of collection are quite specialised, it is not easy to find pins to trade that I do not already have. I was just about to give up when she asked me if there was anything I was looking for in particular. I told her that my main interest are Figment pins and she asked me if I had seen the silver Figment paint can pin. I had not and got rather excited. I took one of my spare Figment pins off my lanyard and we completed the trade. Then we headed back towards the boat dock. We did not have long to wait for a boat to the Contemporary Resort and on our journey across the lake, we saw the most amazing sunset.
We went to the Contemporary Resort first to look at the Christmas decorations. Because of the layout of the hotel, they were quite hidden. The Christmas decorations were behind the lifts going up to the monorail platform. They had a Gingerbread Tree and some nutcrackers. Considering how much an issue space is at this hotel, it was impressive. We then headed back downstairs and walked across to Bay Lake Tower. I took a few photos of their decorations and then we went to the check in for the Top of the World Lounge. We were escorted to the lift and then we were on our way. When we got there, we were the only people up there apart from the bartenders. When we had our second drink, another family arrived. I will never understand why this is not better used as it is a true gem. Anyway, we sat down and looked at the drinks menu. I was a bit disappointed that the Key Lime Martini that I was hoping to have was no longer on the menu. Graham suggested that I should check if they can still make this. Our server checked with the bartender and he said no problem, but they did not have the Graham Cracker Crust. I was fine with this and shortly afterwards I had my drink. It was as delicious as I remembered. Graham had a Samuel Adams beer. Once we had finished our first round of drinks, we decided that we had time for another. Graham had another Samuel Adams and I had an Agave Nectar Margarita, which was also very good. Once we finished those drinks, Graham walked with me to the Magic Kingdom.
It was about 19:15 when I finally entered the Magic Kingdom. I picked up my map and my wristband and then I checked out where some of the special character Meet and Greets would take place. The information was quite vague. I showed the Meet and Greet locations on the map, but there was no mention of which characters would be at those locations. I had heard That Mickey would be wearing his holiday outfit so I figured it would be a safe bet to start at the Town Square Theater. The waiting time was about 15 minutes and when I got to the front of the queue I realised that both Mickey and Minnie were there in their festive outfits.
When I came out of the Town Square Theater, I noticed that a line was forming by the little patio area next to City Hall. I had noticed earlier in my visit that this area had been transformed into a Christmas themed garden with candy canes and a countdown calendar. So I was intrigued what people were queuing for. I headed across Town Square and checked it out. It turned out that Santa was holding court there. I figured I was there for a Christmas party so I may as well go and see Santa. This turned out to be a very wise decision as I got talking to one of the cast members in the area and he asked me which characters I had already seen. I told him that I had seen Mickey and Minnie, but that the map is a little mysterious as to what characters are out and about. He took my map and pointed out various locations and told me what characters would be there. In the Town Square Theater, the princesses were with their princes. Near Splash Mountain, all seven dwarfs would be out together and near the Winnie the Pooh ride, Scrooge McDuck would be holding court. I thanked him profusely. That was the rest of my evening planned out. I went to see Santa. In the line I was given a kit for writing a letter to Santa and at the exit, cast members were giving out mini candy canes. I thought that this was a very nice thing.
I took a little detour and headed to the Fire Station. I had heard that there would be a special spell card for The Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom that was only available during the parties. I was given another pack of the normal spell cards and a different key card that would only work this evening. Then I was advised that the special cards were given out just outside the Fire Station. I picked up my card and then I headed back to the Town Square Theater to see the royal couples. They had a bit of longer line then Mickey and Minnie at 35 minutes. I was in a bit of two minds about this as this was quite a big chunk of the party, but I figured that it is so rare that the royal couples are out together that I would regret it for a long time if I passed on this. So I got in the line. I have to admit that I was hoping for Cinderella and Prince Charming. However, the royal couples that were out that evening were Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder, Snow White and her prince and Aurora and Prince Phillip. They were all rather talkative. Rather than just posing for photos and signing autographs they had a lengthy conversation with everybody. I would rather just had my photo taken, but I am sure that the kids loved it.
Once I had finished with the royal couples, I headed up Main Street towards the hub to get into position for the fireworks. I got a bit of a surprise when I got near the hub. I had heard that The Magic, The Memories and You would be replaced with a new show at some point in November. I had never seen The Magic, The Memories and You, but what I had heard about it was not exactly glowing. So I was a little cynical about Celebrate the Magic. I have to admit though that this absolutely blew me away. A number of classic Disney stories literally came alive on the castle.
Celebrate the Magic set the scene nicely for Holiday Wishes. Apart from stunning pyrotechnics, Holiday Wishes also included a number of projections on the castle. I am so glad that I have developed a certain tolerance to the loud noises during the fireworks. Over the last three years, the fireworks have become an important part of my Disney trips and it is a real shame that I could not enjoy them on earlier trips. I also figured out the best way to take photos of the fireworks. With the slower shutter speed when taking photos at night, I often ended up with photos with just the black sky instead of the fireworks I wanted to capture. This time round, I just pointed the camera in the general direction of where I expected the fireworks to come from and just kept the shutter pressed. I deleted hundreds of photos that did not work out, but I also got a lot of really nice photos.
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