On the Third Day of Christmas in July, Pluto Gave to Me::
Traveling for the Holidays
Today we look at one of my favorite parks to travel to during the Holidays – Epcot. Epcot has so many wonderful things going on during November & December. The whole park is decorated and the World Showcase is definitely a merry place to be.
At each different country, you will be able to learn about how that country celebrates Christmas. All 11 nations will share their holiday music, decor, and traditions. It is a great way to learn about Holidays in different cultures. With the addition of The Festival of the Holidays, you can also taste some classic favorites that they enjoy during the season. There are “Holiday Kitchens” placed throughout World Showcase for additional bites & sips from around the world. See if you can learn what Santa is called in all the different Countries displayed!
The Candlelight Processional is a favorite of many guests, so much so that it can now be part of a dinner package. Here, each night, a different celebrity will narrate The Christmas Story backed by a 50 piece orchestra and a choir. This is performed 3 times each night from 11/29-12/30 for the 2019 season.
What would the World Showcase be without a little fun for the kids? In between trying yummy new foods and learning how different cultures celebrate Christmas, littles can hunt for Chip & Dale! This great little scavenger hunt is a fun activity for the whole family. You can purchase your map at select gift shops. Once you find all the locations, you return your map to the gift shop and they will give you a keepsake. The maps are inexpensive and the keepsakes are pretty cute. One year we got all different DIY Disney ornaments.
A Few Festival Tips:
This is included with your admission, so plan to take advantage of it
Many of the items on the Holiday Kitchen Menus are “snack credits” and it is most often a great use of them
This Festival is more quiet & less busy during the week than a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday
The first two Candlelight Processionals of each day are much more crowded than the third – either way, it can definitely be enjoyed from the courtyard in the American Pavilion
Visiting Epcot during the Holiday Season is a fantastic way for you and your loved ones to get into the Holiday Spirit!
Giving a Disney Destination as a Gift for the Holidays
Be the envy of all around you when you say you have a HUGE jump start on your holiday shopping. Purchase a Disney Destination Trip for your family and put it under the tree!
I have been focusing on different ways to do this and a dear friend provided me with one of the ways she surprised their children. She had purchased a Disney World Vacation Package for them as a Christmas Gift. When they woke up Christmas Day, they unwrapped present after present until they got to the bigger boxes closest to the tree. When they unwrapped those, they discovered suitcases that were already packed with their clothes & necessities and ready to go! They looked on top of the luggage and saw the signature yellow luggage tags we send to guests to have their luggage transported to their resort. They were leaving that day and all they had to do was change their clothes and get to the airport. What a treat!
Canada in Epcot has some outrageous Pecan Maple Bark during the Holiday Festival. Want to try it at home?
Ingredients: 2 cups butter 1 1/2 cups sugar 3/4 cup maple sugar 1/3 cup water 2 teaspoons maple extract
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips 1 cup chopped pecans 2 teaspoons sea salt
1. Line cookie sheets with wax paper.
2. Combine butter, sugars, water, and maple extract in a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat and stir continuously until mixture is around 270 Degrees
3. Pour mixture onto sheet and spread quickly. Let cool until it hardens
4. Place ice in bottom of large bowl and cover ice with a kitchen towel. Set aside.
5. Melt 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
6. Add 1/4 cup chocolate chips to melted chocolate and stir to melt
7. Spread melted chocolate onto cooled brittle. Sprinkle pecans and seasalt on top and let cool
8. Once completely cool, crack into whatever storage container you will use and Enjoy!
If you would like assistance reserving a trip to a Disney Destination for the 2019 Holidays or if you would like to beat ALL the Holiday crowds and book a Disney Destination to gift to your loved ones this year, contact me today! I would be delighted to help you find a great way to wrap up your gift to surprise your family! I look forward to hearing from you and helping you plan your Holiday Magic soon! If you would like assistance reserving a trip to a Disney Destination for the 2019 Holidays or if you would like to beat ALL the Holiday crowds and book a Disney Destination to gift to your loved ones this year, contact me today! I would be delighted to help you find a great way to wrap up your gift to surprise your family!
We got engaged at Disney, we Honeymooned there – it was time for another milestone trip. Our first trip in 10 years without our littles for our 10th Anniversary.
We arrived late afternoon to our home away from home for the weekend – the Polynesian. This was our first time staying here. We absolutely loved it and may or may not be thinking of joining DVC because of our stay here. The experience, amenities, and customer service were definitely elevated at this resort.
From the moment you check in and you get your Leis, you feel like part of their Ohana. We left our bags will Bell Services and went to check out our room. We had a balcony on the third floor in the Fiji Building (which was exactly what I requested when I called Disney with my room preferences; yay for Travel Agents!). It was beautiful. It was diagonal from the Great Ceremonial House where the restaurants, shops, & Monorail Platform are. Super close! Our view was of Bay Lake, the beach, and gardens. I spent each morning reading on that balcony and we sat out there one night to watch a beautiful storm pass through.
We enjoyed the beach & view of Magic Kingdom. Two of the nights we were able to watch the Fireworks over Magic Kingdom from the beach. Once was Happily Ever After and the other was the 4th of July Fireworks. We also saw the Electric Light Parade which I have enjoyed since I was a young child and I am SO glad they still show it each night.
We took full advantage of what the resort had to offer. We shopped in both shops at the resort. Between the two they have a wide selection of clothing, jewelry, accessories, toys, as well as things you would need that you may have forgotten at home, drinks, snacks, and more. The one thing I was looking for that I couldn’t find (a certain pair of earrings), a cast member looked in their inventory and found them for me at a shop in Epcot and had them for me the following day. Amazing service! We swam in both pools but we preferred the Lava Pool. The Oasis pool was beautiful but much more quiet. We liked the buzz and excitement of the Lave pool more. It is great that there are both options though! As for lounges & restaurants, we experienced Tambu Lounge, Capt. Cooks, & Trader Sam’s. The food and experiences were great at all 3 but my favorite would definitely be Trader Sam’s.
This is a must see for sure! We got right in without a wait which surprised me. The wait staff reacts differently to each item ordered off the menu and it becomes an experience the entire lounge takes part in. Between that and the decor, I could have spent hours there. Tip: Try to sit on a bar stool instead of on one of the couches – they have a fun surprise! Then there was transportation. I have not stayed at a Monorail resort in many years. In my opinion, it was worth every penny for that perk. It was super easy to come back for a swim mid-afternoon and took almost no time. It was great to visit other quick services and lounges along the Monorail line. We also had table service reservations at the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary so it was really nice to be so close to those. The buses for Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom were frequent so no issue there either. Transportation at the Polynesian is on point!
Just the general feel and environment that this resort offers is so great. We felt relaxed and as if we were on a beautiful lush island while staying there. It was very immersive and I hope to take the littles back on a trip in the not-so-far future.
We spent the first evening snacking and sipping our way around Disney Springs. Our first stop was the DockSide Margarita Bar. We were drawn right in by the music. There was a gentleman playing all kinds of fun music. He was quite talented and especially shocked me when he started playing the conch shell as an instrument. He was great!
We headed over to Paddlefish. Formerly Fulton’s Crab House, this large (docked) paddleboat is a great place to stop for food & drinks. I highly recommend heading to the rooftop. The view from up there is great and they have some amazing Ice pops!
The Hangar Bar was next on the list – Inspired by Jock Lindsay, Indiana Jones’ Pilot. We love the fun decor and all the nods to the movies and Jock’s travels. We always stop here for the pretzel – it comes with some great beer cheese & tasty mustard. Its a nice little snack that we like to order and snack on. We sit out on the dry-docked boat that looks like it is straight out of The Jungle Cruise. There, we listened to the music at the near-by stage and watched the Amphicars come and go.
Winebar George is a great little spot. This time we stopped at “The Basket” which is basically like a little grab-and-go window. You can get the Frozcato as well as the Dole Whip so it is worth a stop!
From there we needed a bite to eat. Figuring we would check out something new, we stopped in at D-Luxe Burger. Fairly typical quick service – you order at a window, get a pager and wait for your food. In the meantime you can help yourself to a number of amazing dips for your fries and burgers. They let you add on toppings-i.e. bacon, at NO CHARGE. I was kinda shocked honestly. So we got a bunch of dips and waited for our food to arrive and guess what? These. Burgers. Rock. Oh good gracious, it was tasty – stop there if you are looking for a delicious but quick burger. You will not be disappointed!
I wanted to show the Husband some of the neat places I learned about on my most recent training trip. I took him down the hidden staircase for Enzo’s. We grabbed a quick drink here (wishing we were not so full because this Italian food looked and smelled fantastic) and then I took him through the “secret” back exit. Once through there we arrived in the Basement of The Edison. It was super crowded and the house band was real good. After that, we called it a night – wouldn’t you?!
This is the weekend before 4th of July so this place is hoppin’! However the new fastpass+ system seemed to do a fairly decent job of spreading everyone around. We were able to do all the mountains and all the attractions we wanted to do (along with a meet-up with my favorite Princess) and we were out of there by 4! It all comes down to the way you spend your Fastpasses and which itinerary you follow. Using a few tips and tricks, it is not hard to see all that you want, even on a Holiday Weekend. One of my favorite parts of helping guests plan their trips is maximizing their time in the parks. It is kind of a Disney Science and I like to think I am not too shabby at it!
Construction is in full swing for Tron. They were not actively working during the day but so much progress has been made in just the few months since I was last here. I am getting super excited about it!
Delicious Bites worth Noting:
Loaded Waffle Fries from Golden Oak Outpost
Loaded Tots from The Friar’s Nook
Spicy Chicken Waffle from Sleepy Hallow
The only part of Animal Kingdom that felt crowded was Pandora – No surprise there. We avoided Pandora because we fastpassed Flight of Passage for later in the day and went out on one of the first Safari’s of the day. I think we will try to do each trip going forward. There was SO much animal activity. We were even chased by an ostrich and the driver had to drive straight through the next habitat to get us away from him. My favorite was watching a lion and lioness play. It was like watching two furry kittens – they were having a lot of fun.
It was my mission to find and smooch on Kevin-The Snipe from Up. He can be found roaming the Kingdom. Well, he actually found me and came right up to us and pointed to our Anniversary pins and clucked a bunch. Nothing like a congratulations from a Snipe – my vacation was complete.
Delicious Bites worth Noting:
Mac & Cheese with Pulled Pork from Eight Spoon Cafe
Haystacks from Zuri Sweets Shop
We also found a neat little Nook over by Dinosaur! It is a Paleontologist’s Tent with some fun decor. The mixologist we encountered was fun and really knowledgeable. It seems to be more of an adult place but it did not say children couldn’t come in. We just liked the quiet and laid back vibe with the great theming as a background.
As usual, I took my stroll around the tree to see what new animals I could spot. I found what I think are reindeer! I will be doing my Christmas in July soon so I thought they were fitting!
Pandora was amazing, as always. It is quite breathtaking when you sit back and just consider your surroundings. Grab a beverage at Pongu Pongu and have a seat and take it all in. It is so worth taking the 5 minutes to do so.
We got to the park 20 minutes before it opened and wound up very close to the opening line that they stop you at. We dropped back a bit because I insisted on going into the Trolley Car Cafe! We walked back to Toy Story to ride Midway Mania (already fastpassed Slinky Dog Dash for later). Wait was 5 minutes and when we came off, it was still 5 minutes. Swirling Saucers had no wait but Slinky was already up to 25 minutes. If you do not have a fastpass, go there first!
The highlight of the day was watching one of the Star Wars stage shows while facetiming our littles. We had a front row spot and I had a storm trooper come up to within a half-inch of my face. It scared the kids from 5 states away – but they loved it. I am excited to return in September and see what additional characters we can meet up with other than what they currently offer. My daughter would lose her mind if she could meet Rey and the same goes for me if I could meet Darth Maul. Can’t wait!
Delicious Bites worth Noting:
Peanut butter Crunch Cupcake at Trolley Car (OH my word…)
BBQ Brisket Melt at Woody’s Lunch Box
Chocolate Hazelnut Lunch Box Tart at Woody’s Lunch Box
We had a Fastpass for Test Track so we got to the park about a half hour after opening and went right to Soarin’. It had no wait. The park was still quiet so we were able to get in a few more rides before our first Fastpass.
We caught not one, but two showings of The Jammitors. They do not perform the same act so you can see something different each time. If you have never stopped to see this short sidewalk show, you should! They are my husband’s favorite so we always see at least one showing. They give out fun little stickers that say “Junior Jammitor” which the Husband proudly wore the rest of the day…goof.
We finished up in Future World and headed for the Countries in World Showcase. We really went in depth into each country. We saw the inside of buildings and shops that we had not been able to enter for years because of impatient littles.
Special Places to check out –
La Cava in Mexico – the Guacamole is fantastic and it is a neat little spot off the beaten path
The walkways in China around the water are very pretty and they are full of fish and polywogs
The Fountain in Italy – a quiet and shady spot that is a peaceful spot to rest – note the grape vines full of grapes!
The Bazaar in Morocco – walk through all the different shops, they are so neat and different
The fountains & shops in France
While I have tried the phone booths in the United Kingdom as have several others, I have not gotten them to do much of anything in the past few years. While messing around with the phone, a Cast Member came up to us and said, “No, you are trying the wrong numbers. Call this number.” So we turned around to dial it and when we turned back, he was gone. We were soon delighted with a congratulatory message from Mickey and Minnie on our anniversary. THAT was some crazy Disney Magic! I love when it isn’t planned and just happens. I teared up a little.
We returned to our resort that evening to find the Magical Express folder on our door. What a sad sight! HOWEVER! We took advantage of our in-room bounceback offer and are already booked to return in September. This way I can visit Star Wars and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and relay any and all information I learn! If you have questions about where to find these offers, reach out to me!
If you would like me to assist in planning your Dream Vacation, contact me today and let’s get started!! My services are free of charge and I can help save you time and money! My passion and knowledge of Disney can really save you some stress and make your trip more enjoyable. Plus, qualifying reservations receive our Minnie Box! Our special thank you gift that is sent to you prior to departure for your trip. It is full of surprises and Magic and other wonderful things to enhance your stay.
2019 is going to be a Very Merry Holiday at Walt Disney World. There will be new offerings all over the resort as well as the return to several favorites.
For the very first time, Animal Kingdom is going to completely deck the halls! New decor in every land, new street performances and entertainment, holiday lanterns that will glow, and even Pandora will celebrate and Earth Holiday thanks to some of the humans that stayed behind.
In the evenings, all the lands will sparkle with holiday splendor and the Tree of Life will take on a wintery appearance and holiday tunes will be heard. Starting November 8th, come see how the Holidays transform this magical land full of beautiful animals, far off lands, and some of your favorite Disney Pals!
The Candlelight Processional will return once again during Festival of the Holidays. Candlelight Processional Dining packages will also be available. From November 29-December 30, guests can discover holiday traditions, festive bites & sips, and special entertainment through 11 countries. In addition to the 11 countries, there will be Holiday Kitchens from additional places around the world. They will also be offering wonderful treats to try.
For the kiddos (and kiddos at heart), you will be able to hunt for Chip & Dal again in their Christmas Tree Scavenger Hunt. We always find this is a great activity to keep the littles busy while we check out the countries.
Many of our favorites will return to Hollywood this year. Olaf will make his grand appearance in a fantastic holiday Finale of “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Holiday Sing-Along”. This ending is different from the normal show and brought me to tears. It was so sweet.
“Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam” is set to return. We loved this display on the Chinese theater. It is a great combination of projections, fireworks, and great music. I recommend finding a good spot about a half hour prior to it starting because that street fills up FAST!
One of the neatest things I found last year was the show on Sunset that was projected onto the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Set to music along with some blustery surprises, this one was one of my kids favorites. It is on a loop so it is not hard to catch. We must have seen it at least four times!
WHO KNOWS what is in store for the holidays at Galaxy’s Edge. I wonder how they will decorate for the holidays! I am excited to visit and find out and maybe pick up a gift for someone special from a Galaxy Far, Far Away!
Magic Kingdom will be decked out in its traditional Holiday decor. The magic really comes to life when you visit during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. There is special stage shows, a beautiful parade concluded with Santa, himself, and NEW this year is a new Holiday Fireworks Display.
Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime is an all-new Nighttime Spectacular coming to Magic Kingdom this Holiday season. This Park-Wide display will be set to holiday tunes that will warm your heart. HINT: This is the one Fireworks show that we INSIST we watch from Main Street.
The beautiful Once Upon A Christmas Time parade will be back along with other favorites – “Totally Tomorrowland Christmas’ Stage Show, “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration”, and of course, Elsa’s “Frozen Holiday Wish”
We will update these as they are confirmed but as in years past, resorts will be decorated for the holiday. Some of my favorites to visit:
Gingerbread House at Grand Floridian
Chocolate Display at Contemporary
Holiday Tree at Wilderness Lodge, Grand Floridian, and several other resorts that display these themed Holiday Beauties.
In addition to all the amazing holiday shopping you can get done, Disney Springs is a Holiday Destination all on its own.
You can stroll down the Christmas Tree trail where you can see custom-decorated trees. Each tree will be decorated to a specific holiday theme. I cannot wait to see what themes there will be this year.
Guests are welcome to come visit Santa in his Chalet until December 24th when he has to head back north. From there, Santa Goofy will meet with guests until the 31st.
Need something to occupy the littles with while you get some shopping done? Experiment 626 is hiding in Disney Springs. You and your family can hunt for Stitch in his Holiday Gift Hunt.
These are just some of the few things we already know are lined up. There is so much more to be announced and it will be updated here as I learn of them.
If you are ready to start planning your holiday trip, contact me today for a no-obligation quote! My services are free of charge and I am happy to help you from start to finish with anythin you may need. Let me help plan your most Merry trip ever!
My Goal in 2020 is to run a race at Disney. I have been to Disney during races, and I have supported other racers but never raced myself. I am hoping to change that next year. I enjoy running and what could be better than doing it at Walt Disney World.
Disney just made it easier to book your race weekend trips. Now, we can reserve your room, tickets, AND your race registration. All at once! Done! It makes things more seamless for guests and it helps me offer you even more great customer service options.
We are now able to book for the January Marathon, Princess Marathon, and the Star Wars Marathon for 2020 pending availability. Let’s get it going!
Details announced for the 24th International Food & Wine Festival!!
This is one of my favorite festivals all year at Epcot and I am so glad I will be able to check it out once again! This year, the Festival will run from August 29-November 23. This is the longest running Food & Wine Festival yet. It tops out at 87 days and each one will be packed with tasty bites and delicious sips.
Here are some great things we know so far:
Due to the popularity of the “Disney Du jour Dance Party” in Future World, it will now take place 7 days a week.
Ratatouille Hide & Squeak will return this year. This is a great activity for the kids while the grown ups enjoy a tasty bite or two.
There will be a candy sushi interactive experience again this year
Eat to the Beat concert series returns again this year through November 19th
There will be a “Party for the Senses” featuring chefs and vintners from all over the world
Sunday Brunch will be available with celebrity chefs
“Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!” is a hands on workshop you can be a part of alongside famous chefs, bakers, and mixologists
Stay tuned for further details such as returning food booths, new booths, as well as menu’s and more!
With all the returning favorites and all of the new wonderful experiences being added, now is definitely the time to book for this fall and take full advantage. Grab your spouse, best friend, or a group of buddies and let’s get you reserved to eat & sip around the world!
Extra (additional), Extra Magic Hours are coming to Disney World this Fall!
Because of all the excitement surrounding Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Disney is opening adding more Extra Magic Hours to the calendar.
Extra Magic Hours are offered at a select Disney World park each day. They happen either before the park opens or after the park closes. They are available at no charge to Disney Resort Guests and other select hotel guests only. They typically last an hour or two and the park in which it is offered rotates.
Well now – With the addition of Extra, Extra Magic Hours, you will have way more options and a lot more time available to be in the parks. This is what they are offering now to Disney Resort and other Select Hotel Guests:
Hollywood Studios will open daily at 6am from September 1st – November 2nd.
Magic Kingdom will open daily at 7am from August 29th – November 2nd
Animal Kingdom will open daily at 7am from August 29th – November 2nd
Epcot will still have occasional Extra Magic Hours as it does now
This adds several hours of possible park touring time to your vacation. It also definitely has me rethinking how I will plan Fastpasses for my guests traveling in the fall as well as my own trips.
If you would like some guidance on how to take full advantage of these Extra, Extra Magic Hours or even if this just gets you so excited that you are now ready to book a trip, contact me today!
I feel that Epcot deserves its own separate #Adulting post. There are multiple things to do in Epcot that are either not kid-friendly or are easier and maybe even more fun when traveling without children.
Epcot has four great seasonal celebrations. There is rarely a time when there is not a Festival going on. These festivals are immersive and teach us about ours and other cultures. There is themed entertainment, merchandise, performances, food & beverages, and more. Admission to these festivals are included with your park admission!
The four Festivals are:
Epcot International Festival of the Arts
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
Many couples and groups love to travel to Epcot for the Food & Wine Festival. It is a great time and a perfect #Adulting opportunity. However, here is a little secret – all of these festivals have delicious bites & sips from around the world and often they are far less crowded than the Food & Wine Festival – especially on the weekends!!
In addition to the festivals, Epcot has some great restaurants that I personally find more for #Adulting. Within each country are table service restaurants. Each restaurant will serve delicious food from their native country and I find the menus and decor much more appealing for adults.
Epcot has the Wine Walk that we spoke about in #Adulting at Disney Parks. Guests can purchase a passport and have it stamped around the countries as they sample wine.
The shops in the World Showcase have beautiful merchandise from the native countries. If you enjoy shopping, shopping here is almost like a treasure hunt!
And Ohhhhh the entertainment! I love listening to the British Revolution (British Rock Band) in the United Kingdom, listening to the Rose & Crown Pub Musicians, or watching the Serveur Amusant in France – a French acrobat with some amazing talent!
There are also several tours that are geared for adults and have a minimum age requirement. Some of these look really great, especially the tour of The UnDISCOVERed Future World Tour. You get to go behind the scenes, head into cast lounges, hear about Walt’s original vision for EPCOT and even go “backstage” – like under the outside portion of test track where the SIM cars whiz by! What an amazing and informative adventure!
Regardless of how much time I have in a given trip to Walt Disney World, I go to Epcot. There are so many wonderful things to see, do, eat, and drink! This park is the perfect balance of #Adulting with Disney Magic and for that is one of my favorites!