Walt Disney World Decorations & Holiday Celebrations

Holiday cheer has begun to hit the Walt Disney World Resort, and we are so excited!!!

Here is quick rundown of some of the great Holiday parties, decorations, events, and more that you will be able to find at the Walt Disney World Resort!!!

Walt Disney World

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Select Nights November 8 – December 20, 2013

Walt Disney World
Santa

In case you aren’t familiar, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a separate ticket event that takes place on select nights at Magic Kingdom Park throughout November and December.

 

Parties give you an opportunity to celebrate with snow flurries on Main Street, U.S.A., Disney characters in holiday attire, and very special entertainment offerings, including Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade and Cinderella Castle Dream Lights. For the first time this year, the Celebrate the Magic! castle projection show and Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season fireworks will be enhanced with “Glow With The Show” ears – what an amazing sight this will be!

 

Also new for this year, attendees can experience Jingle Cruise, the first-ever holiday transformation of the Jungle Cruise attraction, which will feature seasonal decor, new holiday jokes and more. Party goers can also pick up a complimentary, event exclusive Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Card that features Donald’s nephews. And when it comes to character greeting opportunities, look for Merida’s Fairytale Garden to stay open for parties this year.

 

This year’s parties will take place from 7 p.m.-midnight on November 8, 11, 14, 15, 17, 21 and 22, and December 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19 and 20. Tickets (which are separate from a regular park ticket) are already on sale now and purchasing ahead of time can actually save you money. Click here to learn more!

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

November 8, 2013 – January 5, 2014

Marvel at millions of glittering lights perfectly synchronized to holiday music.  Share in an awe-inspiring seasonal treat for the entire family. Brilliant multi-colored bulbs wrap the buildings, changing hues and brightness throughout the show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.   As joyful music surrounds you, a sea of twinkling lights form twirling carousels of heavenly angels, toy soldiers, a spinning Earth, and even Santa and his trusty reindeer. It’s something you have to see to believe!

Holidays Around the World 

November 29 –December 30, 2013

Walt Disney World

Share in the sights and sounds of some of the world’s greatest holiday festivities during Holidays Around the World at Epcot. Amid joyful music and seasonal food favorites, time-honored traditions come alive as costumed performers share their country’s holiday heritage throughout World Showcase.

 

Although subject to change, holiday festivities may include:

  • American Adventure
    Meet Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, celebrate the traditions of Hanukkah and discover the spirit of Kwanzaa.
  • Canada
    Follow the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs on a musical tour as you explore seasonal customs of the Great White North.
  • China
    Watch the agile Monkey King weave his tall tale with twists and turns celebrating Chinese New Year.
  • France
    Discover the magic of Père Noël and the joy of the season through a Christmas letter from a child.
  • Germany
    Listen as Helga tells the story of the first Christmas tree and the tale of her first Nutcracker.
  • Italy
    Meet the kind-hearted witch La Befana who arrives on the eve of the Epiphany to grant gifts to good children.
  • Japan
    Hear the fascinating story of the Daruma doll and the Japanese customs of the New Year.
  • Mexico
    Celebrate with Los Tres Reyes Magos, the Three Kings, as they tell of their journey to the Posada and traditions today.
  • Morocco
    Join Taarji, a Moroccan drummer, as he reflects on family traditions commemorating the holiday of Ramadan.
  • Norway
    Spend time with Sigrid and learn about Julenissen, the Christmas Gnome.
  • United Kingdom
    Share in the vivid stories of Father Christmas, dating back to 15th-century England.

Be sure to check the Times Guide for a complete list of appearances and performance times.

Candlelight Processional

November 29 – December 30, 2013

Each night, a celebrity narrator tells the biblical tale of a savior born to a virgin in Bethlehem. All the while, gorgeous choral pieces are woven into the narration as an orchestra and choir provide an inspirational backdrop with songs of hope and joy.

 

For the hearing impaired, an American Sign Language interpreter translates the legendary account, allowing Guests of all kinds the opportunity to enjoy the event.

 

This year, an exciting line-up of narrators—including a few all-new additions to the Candlelight Processional—are set to lend their voices to the storytelling, including:

  • Gary Sinise
    November 29 to December 1, 2013
  • Neil Patrick Harris
    December 2 to December 3, 2013
  • Ashley Judd – NEW! 
    December 4 to December 5
  • Whoopi Goldberg 
    December 6 to December 7, 2013
  • Sigourney Weaver – NEW!
    December 8 to December 10, 2013
  • Dennis Haysbert – NEW!
    December 11 to December 13, 2013
  • James Denton 
    December 14 to December 16, 2013
  • Edward James Olmos
    December 17 to December 19, 2013
  • Trace Adkins
    December 20 to December 22, 2013
  • Steven Curtis Chapman
    December 23 to December 25, 2013
  • Blair Underwood 
    December 26 to December 28, 2013
  • Amy Grant 
    December 29 to December 30, 2013

Show times take place 3 times during each day of the event at 5:00 PM, 6:45 PM and 8:15 PM, except on December 8, 2013, when show times take place at 6:45 PM and 8:15 PM only. Celebrity narrators, dates and other entertainment are subject to change without notice.

Festival of the Seasons

November 15 – December 29, 2013

Celebrate the holidays with live entertainment, photo opportunity and so much more!

 

The Downtown Disney area invites you to embrace the spirit of the season as you enjoy the twinkling lights, a grandiose tree and yuletide touches at every turn. Be sure to bring your little ones to see Santa Claus and then shop for unique gifts at the specialty shops.

Discover a variety of delightful diversions with plentiful holiday sights and sounds.

 

Joyous live entertainment includes:

  • Holiday carolers
  • Latin, jazz and pop performances of cherished holiday songs
  • Costumed stilt walkers and street performers
  • A lively holiday dance party with deejay

Visit with Santa
You can even visit with Santa, share holiday wish lists and enjoy a unique photo opportunity!

Jingle Jammin’ Jungle Parade

November 7, 2013 – January 2, 2014

 Walt Disney World

Ring in the season with some familiar faces in a wild, yet whimsical setting!

 

This music-filled celebration offers a seasonal twist to the popular Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade. Enjoy a harmonious mix of holiday wonderment, colorful creatures and festive music as Mickey and his friends parade through the park.

Disney’s Contemporary Gingerbread House

November 14, 2013

While the Gingerbread house is always up, you are able to purchase gingerbread goodies of your own from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm!

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa Gingerbread House

November 16, 2013

 Walt Disney World

Construction of the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is well under way, and once it its open you will be able to purchase gingerbread goodies from the house of your own from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm!

Walt Disney World Resorts

have these great decorations to come soon:

  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Gingerbread House
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort Gingerbread Carousel
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort Holiday Train and Village
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Christmas Tree
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa Christmas Tree
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Christmas Tree

If you are looking for a really unique gift, you may want to kick off your holiday shopping at this weekend’s Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney November 8-10, 2013!

Festival of the Masters

We will be bringing you great information and photos of these great Holiday Celebrations at Walt Disney World! So make sure you follow our holiday adventures on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!

 

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Escaping to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Wilderness Lodge Lobby
Wilderness Lodge Lobby

When someone asks me what I love most about Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, I almost always answer with the way it transports me to a different time and place. Part of what vacation is to me is that escapism.

I live here in Florida and to me, the Wilderness Lodge is the Walt Disney World resort that most makes me feel like I am in a completely different place. Maybe it is partially because I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest and this may just be a respectable facsimile of the real thing, but I’d never know any better. To me, this resort epitomizes that portion of the country. It speaks of adventure in its cavernous lobby, dramatic background music, and lush non-tropical surroundings.

I heard someone say a while back that the resorts around the Magic Kingdom were loosely themed around lands of the park. The Grand Floridian correlates to the Victorian stylings of Main Street USA, the Polynesian is modeled after the tropical themes of Adventureland, the Contemporary reflects the clean modern lines of Tomorrowland, and Fort Wilderness and the Wilderness Lodge exude the rustic spirit of Frontierland. One can absolutely see the parallels between the western feel of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (the wildest ride in the WILDERNESS!!!) and the Wilderness Lodge. From the rockwork, to the animals carved into the lodge pole pine beams in the lobby to the elements of railroad in the decor, it isn’t hard to see that the Wilderness Lodge was designed with Frontierland in mind.

Part of what makes this resort so fantastic, is the feeling of being surrounded by nature and wilderness. There is a babbling brook, the Silver Spring, that starts in the lobby and trips over rocks and even small waterfalls until it empties onto the shores of Bay Lake. A geyser spouts off hot water and steam several times throughout the day, lending the resort the feel of a National Park. Pine trees are prevalent throughout the resort, and animals, or at least representations of them, can be seen from before you even enter the lobby. Topiaries of birds and buffalo greet guests before they pull up to the magnificent entrance to the resort of the Wilderness Lodge. Wildflowers bloom and grasses grow in a way that feels very natural to the landscape and not overly manicured by the fabulous horticultural team at Disney.

Wilderness Lodge exterior at night
Wilderness Lodge exterior at night

There are so many great spots to just relax and enjoy the scenery at this resort. It always makes me way to just pull up a rocking chair and read a book, whether by the pool, out on the upper level balcony off the lobby, or in one of the hidden nooks hidden above the entrance to the lobby. I find myself slowing down to enjoy this resort more than others.  The resort lends itself to a pace where you can amble along the shore of the lake to discover the path to Fort Wilderness. If you want, of course, you have many recreation activities at your disposal from boating to biking, spa services, fitness center, and the Magic Kingdom is just a short 5-10 minute boat ride away.

I can remember the first time I stayed at the Wilderness Lodge the week before Christmas in 2008. It was the first time I ever stayed club level and it was amazing. Although this is not my favorite overall resort, at Christmas it wins for me, hands down. I don’t know if it is the fireplace, or the absolutely perfect background music, or the incredible 7 story tall Christmas tree in the atrium lobby, but it all adds up to what Christmas looks, smells, sounds and feels like in my book. This is the resort I must visit at some point during the Christmas season above all others at Walt Disney World. Maybe this is partially why I have such a great connection to this resort, due to the first stay being so magical. I almost always stay in a Courtyard view room and have lucked out with views of Bay Lake each time. I’ve even before fortunate enough to be able to lay in bed to watch the Electrical Water Pageant cruise by at night and open the doors to my balcony to enjoy the show.

Wilderness Lodge room
Wilderness Lodge room

The accommodations are some of the most affordable in the Deluxe resort category at Walt Disney World, and that may have something to do with why I have stayed here more than any other resort, other than Pop Century. I have stayed at least once a year since 2008, and don’t see that changing any time soon. I adore the peacefulness I feel when I set foot in the lobby. I look up at the totems and remember hearing their stories from Ranger Joe several times. If you haven’t met the Rangers at the resort, make sure to take time out to take the Wilderness Lodge tour, which is given at least once a week typically around 10am. The animals carved into the poles representing the different levels of elevation they would be found at in the mountains are beautiful. Similarly, the effort that went into creating the amazing fireplace cannot go unnoticed. The rockwork (some real and some faux) is stunning! Layers of rock are stacked on top of each other representing different strata of the Grand Canyon.

If you get an opportunity to stay here, I highly recommend the Wilderness Lodge. If not, please at least take the time to explore the resort. Take a few hours and come early or stay late after a reservation for a lively meal at Whispering Canyon Cafe, or a nice quiet dinner at Artist Point, the resort’s signature dining restaurant. Or even just come to enjoy a night cap at the Territory Lounge, but please come. Examine the Native American artifacts like the recreated headdress in the lobby, the display cases on the upper level by hopping on the elevator to the 3 – 6th floors, or find those hidden seating areas above the entrance. There are so many places to explore, including one of my all time favorites, the Carolwood Pacific Room in the Villas. You can read more about some of my favorite Quiet Places to Relax here. I just stayed at the Wilderness Lodge again for the sixth time last week, and I have another reservation coming up in November when friends are in town to visit. I cannot stress enough what a fantastic resort this is and that everyone should stay here at some point. Have you stayed at the Wilderness Lodge? What did you think?

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Biking Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Over the past month we’ve taken many laps biking around Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Resort.

WildernessMap Biking

If you’re staying at or visiting either Wilderness Lodge or Ft. Wilderness, you are able to rent bikes on property ($18/day). Since we live so close and now have our own bikes (yay!), we load them up on the car and go explore for a hour or so.

IMG_5930 Biking

We’ve started each ride from the Wilderness Lodge parking lot (but you can start from either) and we take one of two trails that connect between the lodge and the campground.

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If you leave the parking lot and go toward the right (near the bus loop), you can take the paved trail all the way to the campground.

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But, if you’re up for even more adventure, head toward the left of the parking lot (by the lake) and you will find the bike rental area and an unpaved trail.

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This unpaved trail leads to one of my favorite spots on Disney property.

Contemp_sunset Biking

What a view!

The unpaved trail comes to a fork. Head towards the right where you will meet up with the paved trail.

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If you see this sign…you’re going the wrong way…

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Both of these paths are great and I forget I’m even on Disney property.

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Well, that is until I see the Contemporary or Disney busses passing us 🙂

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You enter the campground area going by Tri-Circle-D Farm and you can visit with the ponies, head towards the hall where Hoop Dee Doo Review is held, grab lunch at a quick service restaurant, view the lake or not stop at all and make a couple of laps around the campground.

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Don’t worry about getting lost. It’s quite a big area, but we’ve always found our way back to Tri-Circle-D Farm area. While the campground can be kind of busy depending what time of year you visit, there is always plenty of room to bike.

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If you have kids with you, there are a couple of playgrounds along the route that they can play on while you catch your breath!

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Once you feel like you’ve had enough, you can take one of the two trails back to the lodge.

Oh and you never know what you’re gonna see! We’ve seen so many bunnies along the path and even a deer once!

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Please be sure to stay hydrated when you’re biking around the resort. I’ve seen a water fountain at the trading post, but I’d almost bet that there would be some around the comfort stations as well.

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The last souvenirs you’re going to want to take away from Disney World are bug bites, take some big spray with you!

So, go explore!

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Touring Walt Disney World with newbies

Dad, Debbie and me at MK

In the last few months I have had somewhat new experiences to me: touring the parks with guests who had never been to Walt Disney World before. It was also a bit unique in that last month was with my mom and my 86 year old grandma and the following week was with a friend from school, her husband and their eight and a half month old son. Previously I had met up with friends with young kids and others with parents and grandparents, but had never really spent the entire day with people this far on either end of the age spectrum. With these ages there are certainly considerations that must be taken into account when planning.

Back in December I had what I consider to be a major coup: I was finally able to get my dad to go to WDW after 30+ years of resistance. I think the fact that I told him he wouldn’t need to pay to get in the parks and that I could get a discount on the rooms helped. This was the man who had never set foot on Disney property until January of 2011 when he came to visit while I was around for marathon weekend running the 5K. On that brief visit, he did not want to purchase a ticket, so he asked the front desk clerk at the Wilderness Lodge, where we were staying, if he could go in for a few hours and try it out for free. I left the front desk dragging him away and shaking my head in disbelief. He did take a trip around both monorail loops and claimed he technically went to Epcot since he was in their air space (okay, sure dad), but we mostly visited resorts.

So we planned a trip for my dad and his wife, Debbie, to come down and make a side trip to Disney World since they were coming to Florida for my brother’s college graduation anyways. Debbie had been to WDW, but it had been well over twenty years since her last visit, so it was all pretty much new to her. Trying to plan a trip for someone has never been before presents the challenge of how much do you want to and can you get done in one and a half days of park time. You don’t want to overwhelm them with every single bit of minutia, but you do want to give them a good taste of the parks and the magic they hold.

With my dad, he wanted to have nothing to do with planning other than he expressed a mild interest in visiting Epcot. Since we were traveling in December, we were able to experience the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on our first evening. Both my dad and Debbie were visibly impressed with the presentation as we were fortunate enough to be there as the switch was flipped to turn the lights on for the evening. The only attractions we rode were Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, Toy Story Midway Mania and the Great Movie Ride. I think this gave them a nice overview of the park since we didn’t get there until around 5pm and the park was closing at eight that night. My dad appreciated the theming and neon luster of the Studios at night.

Dad's first ride on Dumbo!

The next day was our most challenging as they hoped to fit in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot both. We first stopped for breakfast at Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian and then made our way to MK shortly after park opening at nine. We hit mostly classics between Dumbo, It’s a Small World, the Haunted Mansion, the Carousel of Progress, Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Peter Pan, Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise. A lot was accomplished in a short period of time before we made the jaunt to Epcot. The afternoon was spent mostly exploring World Showcase and a bit of Future World with Soarin’, Test Track, Living with the Land and Spaceship Earth. The fact that they are both morning people and were up a bit earlier than I was, factored in to us not experiencing any fireworks or nighttime parades while they were here.

Overall, a good time was had by each individual. My dad was continually amazed by the sheer size of the WDW property and the inner workings and mechanics of how things were operated and went so smoothly. There is a ton that we didn’t do, but for the short period of time I had to work with, I think we accomplished what we set out to do, which was to introduce my dad to Disney World and to have a good time. My mission was a success insomuch as he admitted he really enjoyed himself and wants to come back. Score!

Dad trying to hide his grin, but it isn't working

Fast forward a few months to March of this year and my trip with my mom and grandma. This was a bit different from the previous trip in that my grandma wanted to know what there was to do in each park, wanted to see maps and plan out for the most part what she wanted to see and do in each one. She had been to the Magic Kingdom many times over the past forty years, but it had been quite a while for her and she had only been to Epcot once or twice in the past twenty years or so. My mom is an annual passholder and typically makes it to the parks every three to four months. The impetus for this particular trip was the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot.

My mom, grandma and me at Epcot

The first day of our trip the first order of business was Epcot. If we had any additional time we determined we would try to made it to the Studios as well, but there wasn’t much there of interest to my grandma, so Epcot was definitely the priority. Unlike the relatively slow time I had visited with my dad and Debbie in the beginning of December, the middle of March was smack dab in the middle of peak season and spring break. This was very evident when we arrived at Epcot and it literally took 30 minutes from the time we arrived at the line for security to the time we entered the park. The time was pretty much evenly split in waiting between the security and entrance lines.

While my grandma is generally in good health, she does have some mobility issues having had hip replacement surgery a little over a year ago. So, we thought it in everyone’s best interest for her to have a wheelchair for her park touring at least. When we arrived at Pop Century to pre-register for their room (I arrived the night before), we inquired at the front desk about a wheelchair to use while on property. They directed us to bell services who kindly provided us with one to use free of charge for the duration of our stay. We were even advised we were able to take it to the parks. This was great as it saved us $10.+ per day for wheelchair rentals. The only caveat to this is it can be kind of a pain hauling the chair around and having to lift it in and out of your car everywhere you go if you are driving yourself. I became quite a pro at it after two full days.

Now being the klutz that I am, I have experienced several of the parks in wheelchairs, with ECVs and on crutches, but have never accompanied anyone for days in the theme parks who was using any of them. Let me tell you, it is a totally different experience. You have to take into consideration not only energy to push someone up hills (okay inclines) and ramps, but also to be able to hold them back to keep them from careening down them and running over unsuspecting guests. Very quickly you learn the turning radius of wheelchairs and that you do need extra clearance from the guests in front of you as they do tend to stop abruptly to study that park map you may have memorized. I honestly think the wheelchair is more work for those traveling with the guest in the chair than for the mobility challenged guest themselves, but I didn’t really realize this until we were well into the day.

Later that night at DHS

I have to say that Norma, my grandma, was a trooper. We were in Epcot around 9:30am, didn’t leave to go to the Studios just see give her the old Hollywood feel and ambiance until around 7pm. After an hour of wheeling her around DHS, we went to get dinner at Downtown Disney at Wolfgang Puck Express. We didn’t get back to the room to eat dinner until after 11pm and they had been up since before 6am to drive up from Bradenton.

The next day we were back up and at it and heading to the Magic Kingdom before 8am, arriving there by way of sightseeing at the Polynesian shortly after 9. Again, there are things that I really didn’t think of ahead of time. Very simple things like the path I usually take from the parking lot to the lobby of the Polynesian has a large pole in the middle of it, making it inaccessible for wheelchairs (lesson learned). I also tend to favor taking the boat over the monorail, but it is much easier to travel the highway in the sky with a wheelchair and ramp as opposed to stepping several feet down (and subsequently back up) to get in and out of the boat, also having to fold and carry the wheelchair.

We had a great time once we got to the MK and stayed until late afternoon before making a last minute decision to make a side trip to the Animal Kingdom before returning to MK for Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes. The only two things we were trying to do were Kilimanjaro Safaris and then the Festival of the Lion King. Based on the lateness of the day, we knew there was a chance that we wouldn’t be able to do both as there was only one more Lion King show by the time we arrived and you never know with the animals. We went straight back to the safari and were in for a treat. We had the best safari experience ever! The animals were all out, even both the male and female lions. As soon as we disembarked the vehicle, my mom started off for the Lion King, leaving me to push my grandma, making a mad dash for Camp Minnie – Mickey from the outskirts of Harambe. I thought I was going to die, but you can actually push someone in a wheelchair from the safari exit to the entrance of the Lion King in seven minutes!

I got to do some things that I hadn’t before over the two days with my mom and grandma. I learned there are boats for

Norma getting loaded on to a Jungle Cruise boat

Gran Fiesta Tour and It’s a Small World where you can just drive the wheelchair on and you basically have a private boat for your party as long as you are willing to wait. There is some great seating for guests with wheelchairs in many of the shows like American Adventure, the Hall of Presidents, Impressions de France, Mickey’s Philharmagic, the Carousel of Progress, etc. Some attractions are more challenging with constant loading via conveyor belts and speedramps that can’t be stopped like the Peoplemover. All throughout though, I have to say the Cast Members were great. They were very understanding and patient and helped us in loading Norma in and out of ride vehicles as necessary.

After that trip, I needed a break and wasn’t planning on visiting the parks for a couple weeks at least. That was until I got a message from a friend from elementary school, Laura, whom I hadn’t seen in 20+ years. She was going to be in Celebration visiting her mom and was down for a few days with her husband and son. We decided we would get together last minute on a Thursday since I had the day off and I offered to get them into the parks. Laura had not been planning to visit any of the parks since her son Riley was so young, she said she couldn’t justify the expenditure of tickets for the day for her and her husband Matt of almost $200. I totally understood, but told her I would take care of that if they wanted to go.

We met at the Polynesian mid morning since Laura and Matt decided they wanted to go to the Magic Kingdom. Matt had never been to WDW before, other than to run the half marathon earlier this year. So he had never experienced any attractions in any of the parks, nor had their eight and a half month old son Riley. The length and schedule of the day was going to be dictated by the boys since we had no idea how long Riley was going to last and what Matt was going to want to do. Laura had been a CM years ago and I’m in the parks practically weekly, so we had no problem ceding control to them.

Matt’s first ride ever was Space Mountain, and it is probably good we got that out of the way first since everything else was tame in comparison. Laura waited with Riley while I took Matt on what is admittedly my least favorite of the mountains. I tried to help assuage Matt’s fear of the unknown by pointing out the numerous kids in line and even striking up a conversation with the eight year old girl in line in front of us. I think she convinced him to ride more so than I did as his anxiety level was increasing as we neared the ride vehicles and could hear screams.

Matt's first ride in a Disney park ever!!!

After Space, Matt decided the tamer Dumbo was something he could definitely handle. It was very cool seeing the park through his eyes for the first time. He appreciated the theming and attention to detail on rides like Winnie the Pooh. The only rides Laura and Riley got to experience with us, partly due to timing and choice, were Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise. He did really well on Pirates until the drop when he got a little wet. We had discussed the drop and they were comfortable with his security on it, but we failed to consider how he would react to getting wet. After just a momentary break in composure, he returned to his wonderful smiling self and was fine. He did great on the Jungle Cruise as well. Boat rides tend to be soothing for young children, so I think JC was a good choice to end the day with.

Riley was a champ throughout the day. Aside from the getting wet on Pirates thing, he did not let out a single cry in the almost eight hours we were in the park. He did well waiting with his mom and people watching and even got to ride a couple rides. Later in the day, thanks to Riley, I was introduced to the Baby Care Center at the Magic Kingdom. It is tucked away in the corner by First Aid between Casey’s and Crystal Palace. There are small private rooms for parents to take their children to for changing or just for a quiet place to get away from the noise and sometimes crowds of the parks. My friends found this to be a great refuge even though it was only needed as a place to change Riley’s diaper.

At the end of the day Riley was still smiling

 

These three different groups of newbies of different sorts taught me many things. One thing is I don’t tour the parks like I do when I’ve got others with me who haven’t been before. By this I mean, I tend to go through the parks at a relatively leisurely pace when by myself or with my friends who are annual passholders. Since we go often, we are rarely compelled to have to do anything. If we don’t get to do something, it will be there next week or the week after. With guests from out of town who have never been, you want them to be able to soak in as much of the magic as possible. I certainly don’t force people to go at breakneck speed, but if they want to keep going, I’m not going to be the one to quit either (see the stupidity of me staying up for the entire 24+ hours of Leap Day in the Magic Kingdom). You live and learn. Next time with each group, things will be different. Everyone will be a little older, a little wiser, and have some more experience under their belts. We can go back and hit favorites or focus on the things they missed last time. I don’t know anyone who has done it all. Things are constantly changing in the parks, and I wholeheartedly believe that the experiences are made just as much, if not more so, by those you are with as opposed to just the parks themselves.

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Wilderness Lodge Jack-O-Lantern Parade

As we were walking through the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge last night, we couldn’t help but notice these great pumpkins created by the amazing Cast Members working there!!!

I especially love the one that is carved to look like the wall sconces!

It really shows how much these Cast Members love where they work and causes they care about!

At last I see the light...of the Jack-O-Lantern...
I thought this one was great!!!

 

AWESOME!!!!

 

These pumpkins are a great reminder that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!!!

 

You can't go wrong with the Big Cheese!!!

 

This one is cute!!!

 

MY FAVORITE!!!

 

The Inspiration...So clever!!!
Umm...Did the turtle EAT the pumpkin? That was Zoe's question...LOL!!!

 

This one was absolutely amazing!!!

 

Again, I loved the pumpkins inspired by the resort itself!!!

 

LOVE IT!!!!!

 

Don't mind if I do...

 

I know what we're going to do this Halloween!!!!

 

It's our Monster of Ceremonies!!!

 

This one was really creative!!!

 

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The Carolwood Pacific: Fair Weather Route to host a ‘Conversation with a Magic Kingdom Steam Train Specialist’

Nestled inside the The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, is a true Hidden Gem…The Carolwood Pacific: Fair Weather Route.

Now I am sure that the person who showed me this spot is going to KILL me for sharing, but I can’t help it!!!

This quiet and peaceful room is filled with comfy chairs, game tables, and tons of Steam Train Memorabilia!

This was my favorite Oil Painting!!!
This model of the Lilly Belle was made in celebration of Walt Disney's 100th Birthday, and was absolutely amazing!!!

But by far the most amazing thing inside of this space is two actual freight cars from The Carolwood Pacific!!! (I absolutely apologize for the the quality of these pictures. My enthusiasm is greater than my skill for taking photos!)

What I found to be super cool, is that this lounge will be playing host to a ‘Conversation with a Magic Kingdom® Steam Train Specialist’ September 13th and 27th at 11:30 am.

Learn how Walt Disney’s lifetime love of steam trains led to their becoming an integral part of the Magic Kingdom® in this opportunity to talk one on one with a knowledgeable Steam Train Specialist from the Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour. Hear the history of how the Magic Kingdom® Steam Trains came to be the magnificent and massive steam locomotives they are today. We’ll See you in the Carolwood Pacific Room at The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. All Aboard!

It never ceases to amaze me what you are able to find when you slow down and go off the beaten path during your visit to Walt Disney World!!!

If you are visiting the Wilderness Lodge, I absolutely suggest taking a moment to walk down to the Villas to visit this room that pays homage to such an important part of Walt Disney World’s history.

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