Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pre-Christmas at Disney World 2011

The holidays are upon us and we as a family embarked on our annual Christmas at Disney getaway! As Fl residents, we hold annual passes...seasonal ones. Seasonal ones are great because the only blackout dates are the times we would never want to go, ie; the hottest times and the busiest times!
Get annual pass info here
Nothing brightens your holiday like the Christmas magic of Disney. The decorations, performances, parades, even the "snow" that falls overhead while walking down main street toward Cinderella's castle, all warm your spirit. By this point we are self-proclaimed "Disney Aficionados", but there are always new things to experience and explore! New to us this year was the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party, the Magic, Memories and You show, the Caribbean Beach Resort, the Cape May Cafe character breakfast , space mountain (for my 6 year old), the Seas with Nemo and Friends and Turtle Talk with Crush.
Let's start at the top with the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party! This was amazing! We will never again view the fireworks standing up amongst a crowd of people! This experience was far better than we anticipated. The tomorrowland terrace faces Cinderella's castle in the Magic Kingdom. You have an unobstructed view of the castle in an open terrace with tables and chairs that are reserved specifically for families that book this event. Reservations are limited so it is never crowded and you have plenty of space. A gourmet dessert buffet is laid out to enjoy and enjoy we did! The cost was around $90 for the four of us. It is worth every penny. From our comfortable seats, we could see the crowds standing shoulder to shoulder and we couldn't help thinking of ourselves as VIPs with the inside track! We entered the terrace at around 9:30, in time for the Magic, Memories and You show. This is a fantastic new projection show that appears on the castle. During the show, pictures of families from the park that day are projected onto the castle and the castle itself appears to go up in flames, be made of gingerbread, have hundreds of bouncing balls come out of the windows and many more special effects that are really cool. We enjoyed this while sipping coffee and sampling cheesecakes, tiramisu, custards, chocolate confections and much much more! Following the Magic, Memories and You show was of course the most spectacular fireworks you will see anywhere and being the holiday season it was the Holiday Wishes display. Afterwards, we stayed and enjoyed ourselves until about 11 pm. I grabbed another cup of coffee and we enjoyed conversation about our day while the crowds thinned out vying for the exits. When we had our fill, we leisurely made our way out, easily maneuvering our double stroller once the crowd had dissipated. This will be the only way we do the fireworks from now on!
Each time we visit Disney we choose a different resort. This time we chose the Caribbean Beach Resort because of their pirate themed rooms. We thought the boys would enjoy the pirate ship beds and they loved it! We try to have a "down day", when we stay and enjoy what the resort has to offer and take a break from the parks. The upside to this resort is it has a great pool with two slides and poolside games during the day for the kids. You could rent boats, bikes, play in the arcade or just relax in a hammock on the beach. In the evenings they had a campfire for toasting s'mores and movies projected outside by the pool. The downside is how spread out the resort is and how far away it is from the parks. We always have a vehicle, but if you are relying on Disney transportation, you could waste alot of time just trying to get from point A to point B. Especially if you want to come back to the resort during the day for the kids to rest so you can party all night! That's what we like to do.
The Cape May Cafe character breakfast was the only one we had yet to try. The restaurant is located in the Beach Club resort. This one is a buffet and features Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Donald....but no Mickey! Why??? If you ask me, Mickey should make an appearance at all of the character breakfasts! It is great if you want to ensure one on one time with characters. They come by one at a time to each table and you are not rushed. You have plenty of time to get autographs, pictures and hugs. The buffet was good, with plenty of options, but it was pricey at about $110 for four of us.... and no Mickey.
My six year old was so excited to finally be tall enough to ride space mountain! He loves splash mountain and thunder mountain, so naturally the next step was space mountain........wrong! It was too fast and too dark and he hated it! Then we felt like crappy parents for allowing him to ride it! He was not ready.
This trip was the first time we have taken the kids to Epcot. We have previously avoided this park because there didn't seem to be enough there for little kids. We wanted to try the new things available for the little guys, so we ventured over. The Seas with Nemo and Friends was a cute little ride, you board a clamshell and go through an aquarium while the characters appear inside the tank and talk to you. The highlight was absolutely Turtle Talk with Crush! Inside a room facing an aquarium, Crush appears to be swimming right in front of you! He interacts with the audience, engages the kids and is really funny! Overall, Epcot is still not a great draw for little kids and it lacks the "Disney Magic" found in the atmosphere and scenery of the other parks. Unless you have a pass or a hopper ticket, I wouldn't spring for a day at Epcot if you have little kids. Bigger kids and adults will definitely enjoy it though. Adults 21 and older will love Epcot as it features plenty of adult beverages!

As always, we had a great time and made plenty of family memories on another holiday Disney adventure! We'll be back throughout the year, but the holiday trip is always something special!

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