We Bounced Back to a Whole New World! A December 2012 TR Update:MK & MVMCP

Discussion in 'Disney Trip Reports' started by megan511, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. megan511

    megan511 Mouseketeer

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    Hello & :welcome:! Our trip took place from December 8th through December 16th and I think it may have been the best one yet. Our family is not new to Disney World, in fact this was our fourth family trip and our second trip this year, but we were able to have so many new experiences this time it felt like a Whole New World!

    Some of our new experiences included

    Our first split stay at two new resorts
    The QSDP after two trips on the DDP
    Our first time experiencing Disney in December with all the Christmas decorations
    Our first hard ticket party (MVMCP)
    New Fantasyland
    New Test Track

    I am so excited to share all about our trip but first here is a little about us. My name is Megan. I have always loved all things Disney. DH's name is Chad and he caught the Disney bug after our first family trip in May 2010. DS is Anthony; he loves Star Wars, Toy Story & Pirates. DD is Tessa; she loves Toy Story & Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Here is a family picture from our May 2012 trip outside one of my favorite rides.

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    This trip had many changes before we actually left home but it all started on our May 2012 trip. We stayed at the CBR and it just so happened that our room had a bounce back offer available. It was for the end of the year for up to 30% off stays at resort hotels. So we decided to book a bounce back trip for December! We originally had booked a stay at POFQ for 5 nights. When free dining was released we decided to switch to Pop Century with Free QSDP to save a few bucks. With the the savings we decided to add some days to our trip! We couldn't check into Pop with free QSDP until December 10th so we had to book a split stay for our first two nights.After several resort changes we finally decided on Animal Kingdom Lodge.

    This was an absolutely amazing trip. Our past family trips had taken place in May & August. Getting to go in December was a huge change! From the weather to the crowds we were in for a few surprises. (Spoilers: I LOVED December!) Being able to see the Christmas decorations and just experience all the fun & new activities for the holidays was terrific.

    We also had a super time because the kids had such a great time. Anthony had a few moments where he was trying our patience :rolleyes1 but overall he had a great time. And Tessa did AMAZING! Tessa has autism & is non-verbal. In the past we have had challenges with her at Disney with over stimulation. She does not like meeting characters & there have been times where we have had a hard time getting her out of the stroller due to crowds or what not. Tessa did so well with everything this time! She was so interactive with us and even with some CMs! She walked almost the entire time, in fact many times we were able to park the stroller and do everything in an area before we would go back and get it. It really was a magical time. :lovestruc

    I think that's enough backstory so I will start the report!
     
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  3. megan511

    megan511 Mouseketeer

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  4. megan511

    megan511 Mouseketeer

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    Saturday December 8th

    It was time to leave for Disney! We left our home at 4am and started the 12 hour drive to our happy place. After a few stops & several states we finally caught site of this wonderful sign!

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    We followed the road signs to our home for the next two nights.

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    Chad went to check us in while the kids & I waited by the car. I decided to take some pictures while we waited.

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    Mom, let us out of this car!
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    Chad returned with our room keys & it was time to go check out our room! Here's a map of AKL.

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    I don't have any pictures of our first walk into the AKL lobby because we were carrying all our luggage but WOW! I had seen pictures of the lobby before but my jaw literally dropped. That lobby is all kinds of beautiful, especially with the Christmas decorations.:lovestruc

    We made the walk down the hall and soon we were entering our room. I thought the theming of the room was fantastic!

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    Vanity Area:
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    Bathroom:
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    Close up of the shower curtain. Love all the Mickeys!
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    Walls next to the Vanity Area:

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    Closet:
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    Part 2
     
  5. megan511

    megan511 Mouseketeer

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    I'm guessing the fabric above the bed was imitating mosquito nets? I thought it was a nice touch.
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    Close up of the headboard.
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    Close up of the mattress.
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    Light Fixture:
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    Sliding Door & Curtain to our Balcony:
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    After we unloaded a bit we decided to walk around and go grab something to eat at the Mara. First we went to check out the viewing area that was not far from our room. There were some giraffes far off in the distance but I couldn't get any decent pictures.

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    Some art on the sides of the buildings.
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    We walked back through the lobby and outside to head towards the Mara. It was around 6:30 at this point so I was expecting the food court to be swamped. I was very pleasantly surprised to see the Mara looking like this...
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    We got in line and ordered quickly and were given a pager type device to put at our table for our food to be brought to us. After a few minutes our food arrived.

    Here is a close up of the mural on the wall:
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    Child Cheese Pizza & Fries:
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    Pepperoni Flatbread:
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    Coconut Chicken Curry Stew from Boma that was available:
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    Zebra Domes:
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    We all thought the food was excellent! I would book a reservation at Boma just for the stew. We were all very impressed with the Mara. :thumbsup2

    Part 3
     
  6. amandaw

    amandaw DIS Veteran

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    I'm here! So excited to see you've started a new TR!

    The AKL looks really pretty! Looks like there are details everywhere!

    And y'alls dinner looks yummy, too.

    We've gone during that week of December a few times and have always enjoyed that time of year. In fact, I just booked us yesterday for Dec. 7th - Dec. 14th for this year! :cool1:
     
  7. megan511

    megan511 Mouseketeer

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    Thanks, Amanda!

    We loved AKL. It was beautiful!

    Yay for another trip! We had such a good time going at that time of year.:goodvibes

    I am so behind on your TR, I will try and catch up soon. I don't know how but ever since the kids have started school I feel like time is in hyper drive.:sad2:
     
  8. smickchic

    smickchic Earning My Ears

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    I can't wait to read your trip report. Your daughter reminds me so much of my oldest. She is eight and non-verbal. Her issues are actually caused by brain damage that happened at birth, but I have never "met" another family with a girl who is non-verbal. We went to Disney in 2009 and found she loved the characters and benefitted greatly from using her stroller as a wheelchair. We waited in wheelchair access. It was a huge help to us!

    I look forward to finding out how things went for all of you!
     
  9. megan511

    megan511 Mouseketeer

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    After our dinner we went for a walk around AKL.

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    Some blurry giraffes.
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    Giraffe rug.
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    Even the cases for the fire extinguishers were themed!
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    We were all pretty tired after our walk so we settled in for the night.

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    The beds were super comfortable so we all fell asleep quickly. We were so excited to be at Disney and to kick start our Disney vacation the next day.:goodvibes

    An Early Morning Walk around AKL


     
  10. megan511

    megan511 Mouseketeer

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    Welcome. Thanks so much for joining in!:wave2:

    Thanks so much for sharing about your daughter. I am the same, I have never "met" anyone with a non-verbal daughter either. Tessa's teacher this year told me that she hadn't had a girl in her class for three years up until now. I am so glad your family had a great experience at Disney! Disney is so great at accommodating special needs children and their families.:goodvibes
     
  11. beachta1

    beachta1 Mouseketeer

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    Joining in! I went that time in December last year and thought it was perfect. Low crowds, not too cold, all of the holiday decorations up- it doesn't get much better. Can't wait to read more.

    PS- that picture with your daughter hugging mickey real tight is adorable.
     
  12. megan511

    megan511 Mouseketeer

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    I woke up early Sunday morning because I wanted to explore the grounds of Animal Kingdom Lodge.

    The door to our room.
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    There were a lot of Mickeys in the rug...
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    and a hidden Mickey!
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    Throughout the hallways there are many cases with artifacts from Africa on display. I think this was a mask but it reminded me of a Dr. Who episode.
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    Are you my mummy?

    I went to the observation area near our room and sat down for a while to watch the animals. I was up before the animals though because there weren't many out at all! After a while I did see one early riser out and about.
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    I went back to my room to check on my family. They were all still sound asleep so I went back out to explore and take pictures.

    The absolutely gorgeous lobby. My pictures do not even come close to doing it justice!
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    Here are some close ups of the tree's decorations.
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    Some more pictures of the lobby area.
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    Next I walked outside to the animal viewing areas. There weren't many animals out here either so I took some quick pictures and headed back inside.

    The fire pit
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    Part 2


     
  13. megan511

    megan511 Mouseketeer

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    Thanks so much for joining in! Welcome!

    We loved this time in December! I couldn't agree more with everything you said. I would definitely go back at this time of year.:thumbsup2

    Aww thank you. She had to give Mickey a squeeze!
     
  14. amandaw

    amandaw DIS Veteran

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    All your pics of AKL are so pretty!

    And I love the pics of the kids with their fuzzy friends....too cute!

    No worries! I know how easy it is to get behind and how hard it can be to catch up.
     
  15. megan511

    megan511 Mouseketeer

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    Thanks so much! I will get caught up eventually!
     
  16. megan511

    megan511 Mouseketeer

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    I walked back into the lobby and headed back outside to go check out the pool area.

    Some drawings on the wall.
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    Victoria Falls Lounge
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    I really liked the door mats.
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    Some pictures of the pool.
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    The Elevators are themed too.
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    Right before I went back to the room I went back to the viewing area. There were some animals out and about.
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    When I got back to the room Anthony was awake. We decided to sit outside on the balcony while we waited for the others to wake up.

    I love these chairs!
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    When Anthony & I went outside we realized we could see animals from our room!
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    Please do not disturb the sleeping animals.
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    Chad & Tessa woke up soon after. We all got dressed and just about ready to start our day. The kids needed some breakfast so I went to the Mara and got a Kid's Mickey Waffle meal for them.

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    Once the kid's finished eating it was time to go to our first destination of the trip!

    Winter Summerland mini golf

     
  17. amandaw

    amandaw DIS Veteran

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    All of the AKL pictures are really so pretty!!

    Those Mickey waffles look yummy! I could go for some of those right now. :rotfl2:
     
  18. megan511

    megan511 Mouseketeer

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    Thanks, Amanda! I could definitely go for some too!

    I am so sorry I am still behind on your TR. Thanks so much for taking the time to read along.:goodvibes

    I am sorry I have been so neglectful of this TR. I hope to update at least once a week here going forward. :thumbsup2
     
  19. megan511

    megan511 Mouseketeer

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    We walked out into the lobby and saw a PhotoPass photographer taking pictures in front of the tree. We stopped for a few pictures before heading out.

    Tessa always cracks us up.
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    We arrived at the Winter Summerland Gold Course located by Blizzard Beach right at 10am when it opened. Chad and Anthony love mini golf but it always seems like it's the one thing that gets pushed off during our trips. So this time we planned it first! We had been to this golf course once before in 2010 and Anthony was really excited to go back. I thought arriving right at opening would be a way to beat crowds but the golf course filled up really quickly. I guess everyone else had the same idea I did.:rolleyes1

    There are two mini golf courses themed to either Winter or Summer. It's $12 per adult and $10 per child to play. Chad & Ant chose to play the Winter course while Tessa watched & I took pictures.

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    All the holes have cute little poems that go along with them.

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    My favorite, I love a castle!
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    There were a string of holes in the middle where Anthony got three holes-in-one in a row!
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    We tallied up the scores and Anthony was the winner! His three holes-in-one really helped him out. We debated playing the Summer course as well but since it was crowded we decided to just go ahead and go. (If you decide to play one course after the other I believe the price is discounted.)

    We have played both the mini-golf courses at Disney (Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens.) We prefer Winter Summerland right now because it's a lot easier for Anthony. If you are looking for more of a challenge Fantasia Gardens is probably the better bet. Both courses are fantastically themed though and really fun!:thumbsup2

    We left Blizzard Beach and were headed to our next destination...Animal Kingdom!

    Next Update
     
  20. amandaw

    amandaw DIS Veteran

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    I love the family photo in front of the tree! Tessa is like, "Whatever! I'm so over this." :lmao:

    It's really interesting hearing about the mini golf course. That's something we've never done at Disney and I don't read a lot of TRs where people did that. Who would've thought they'd be busy right at opening? :confused3

    That's great that Anthony did so well! :cool1:
     
  21. megan511

    megan511 Mouseketeer

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    We made it to Animal Kingdom around 11:15. The weather was gorgeous! It was warm but not overwhelmingly hot.:thumbsup2

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    We are usually rope drop people so it was definitely a little different to arrive to a park so "late." Our first stop was Guest Services to pick up our park tickets. Here is where we encountered a hiccup.

    We were booked at Pop Century with a Magic Your Way package with our park tickets starting December 10. We had booked a Room Only offer at AKL for December 8 & 9th. We bought an extra day on our package tickets & planned to pick our tickets up a day early. We had done this previously (August 2011) and had no problems. I can't remember who DH talked to but they said to pick up our tickets at the park's guest services vs. going to the hotel.:confused3 It took at least 30 minutes to get our ticket situation figured out. I will never try & pick tickets up early again. Just a heads up for anyone else that has done this before that the process may have changed.

    While we were waiting the kids wanted to run/walk in a circle around the stroller...so we did. Whatever keeps them happy!

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    Some Christmas decorations:
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    The gorgeous tree:
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    The CMs helping us were so accommodating and even gave us two fastpasses to use on any ride for the confusion. I thought that was so sweet of them.

    We walked into the park & wondered where to go first. Anthony said, "I'm hungry!" so food it was!

    We decided to eat at one of my favorite CS locations at Disney World, Flame Tree BBQ. Chad & Anthony went to get the food while Tessa & I went to find a table. The first time I ate at Flame Tree I did not see any seating so I ended up carrying my food to Restaurantosaurus where the rest of my family was. If I had only looked behind the restaurant I would have seen a ton of tables...:rolleyes1

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    The view is beautiful.
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    The food was very tasty.
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    Kids' BBQ Chicken Sandwich $5.99
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    Pork Sandwich - served with coleslaw $8.99
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    We had to get a picture in front of Expedition Everest even though we didn't ride it this trip. Anthony rode it twice in May and said never again. Tessa isn't tall enough yet but I have a feeling she will love it when she can ride it.

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    After lunch we went to check on the wait for Kilamanjaro Safaris. I think it was about 20 minutes. We got in line & before long we were on our way. This is one of Tessa's favorites rides so she was excited.

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    Here are some pictures from our safari. I was super excited to try out my new camera.

    Sunbathing...
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    Anthony's favorite animal:
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    I think this picture shows how well giraffes can camouflage!
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    Wildebeests
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    I love their antlers!
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    The lions taking a nap.
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    Zebras at the end of the ride. I think I read they are gone now?
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    Next Update
     

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