Celebrating New Year's in the Magic Kingdom
December 27, 2018 - January 3, 2019


Marissa Frusciante, Travel Consultant specializing in Disney Destinations
Travel Here 
and There .com
Road Trip Ideas and Travel Recommendations in and around New York State
 

Kelli has dreamed of being in the Magic Kingdom for New Year’s Eve. But is it possible to enjoy yourself with the crowds being the highest of the year? Well, if you have realistic expectations (ie expecting crowds at times and not going on every ride in every park), plan properly, and know how to avoid most of the crowds – it can be a wonderful, exciting, memorable time and even relaxing at some points.

The other benefit of the vacationing in Disney during the holidays is that I get to spend my birthday in my favorite park, Epcot.

Our plan is to relax some days, so we can get through the long days. Have three sit down meals on New Year’s Eve to relax, rest, enjoy and use up time. Plan Fastpasses for the more crowded times and rides. And enjoy the parks for more than just the rides.

Thursday December 27, 2018

    We had a very early 5 AM flight out of JFK so we woke up at 2 AM. My brother-in-law Scott picked us up at 2:30 and we were at the terminal by 3.

    We had done online check-in with JetBlue and already had our boarding passes. But we could not check in our bags. The kiosk would not let us print out the luggage tags. We had to wait in a long line to re-check in! What’s the purpose on online check in with JetBlue – nothing, we won’t bother next time. JetBlue is starting to suck like most of the other airlines   

    Our boarding passes said TSA Pre Check but the line was not open so we had to wait in the huge line. After about 10 minutes the pre-check line opened, so I made the decision to exit the normal line. We had to go under 4 or 5 roped off lines and push our way through people. A dozen or two other people saw what we were doing and they all joined in. We got to the entrance to the pre-check line before they did and were through security in no-time.

    We grabbed a bottle of water and soda for the flight and had to wait a while to board. Our plane’s name was “Don’t Mind if you Blue”.

    We made good time and after hitting the bathrooms headed downstairs for Disney Magical Express. We were on the bus by 7:50AM but had to wait for more people to board. On the ride over we saw a flock of American White Pelicans along 417.

    I thought we might be the first stop, however the bus stopped at Old Key West before arriving at our home resort Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. We used our vacation points for a Deluxe Studio Preferred. I got a text on the bus that our room was not ready which I assumed would happen at this busy time.

    We stored our carry-ons with bell services and headed to the Magic Kingdom by bus which was waiting for us at the Springs stop.

    This was our first time going through security with the checkpoints away from the park entrance and got through quickly. We needed to stop at Customer Relations to activate our Annual Passes and get my Tables In Wonderland card as well as buttons. Audrey from Indiana was very helpful and delightful to work with. She decorated my birthday button; which is tomorrow, and Kelli’s I’m Celebrating button.

    We walked over to the Contemporary Resort to have breakfast at the Wave. We were fifty minutes early but they sat us in 10 minutes. 

    I tried their Seasonal Spiked Latte - a Latte made with Rumchatta. This is the best breakfast buffet on property. We tried: Banana Caramel Parfait, Smoked Salmon, Deviled Eggs, Ham & Cheese Pinwheels, Cheddar Grits, Steel Cut Oatmeal, Apple Cinnamon Quinoa, Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise, Egg White Frittata, Sweet Potato Pancakes, Apple Compote, Pumpkin Spiced Butter, Cheesy Potato Casserole and more!

The Wave

    Stuffed, we waddled back to the Magic kingdom by monorail. Again, now you go through security before getting on the monorail.

    We made it to the park to see the noon Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade in the town square. We lucked into a open spot where we could see the floats from the front then turn for a close side view. Kelli’s day was made when she saw her favorite, the wooden soldiers. 

Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

    

    The holiday crowds were evident.

    After the obligatory picture in front of the castle thanks to a photopass photographer, we headed to Buzz Lightyear to just make the end of our fastpass period.

 

         

    We window shopped in Mickey Star Traders where Kelli wondered what it would take for me to wear a Donald Duck tee shirt. I reminded her that I would wear it just like Donald – without pants.

    We worked our way around to the back of the castle, first admiring the variety of Mickey hats in the Pooh store and passing by the Cinderella's step sisters.

    

    We were still early for our Peter Pan Fastpass so we relaxed and enjoyed the warm sun sitting near the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel till our FP. A few House Sparrows were flitting close to us and we notice how much nicer they look than our dingier ones back home.

    After riding Peter Pan's Flight we walked down to Sleepy Hollow - and tried their Vanilla Ice Cream Churro Sandwich.

    We started to make our way to Main Street to catch the parade again but stopped at the hub to see the Main Street Philharmonic band perform.

    We found a place half-way down Main Street for the parade. Cast members entertained the crowd playing with children with giant beach balls.

    This gave me another opportunity to improve my parade pictures.

More Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

 

    After the parade passed us, we made our way through the store and was able to catch the end of the parade again at the end of Main Street. I noticed that the marchers still dance after passing through the gate. They don’t stop till they are completely out of view of the public.

    We got a text that our Room 1223 was ready,  and being very tired, we skipped out on our fastpass to the Haunted Mansion and headed to our resort.

    A bus was waiting for us at the stop.

    At the resort, we shopped in the Artists Palette for new DVC T-shirts and picked up some provisions; butter, coffee filters, donut holes, chips and dip. We purchased dinner there too and brought it back with us to our room; Caprese Pie, Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza and the Saratoga House salad; Field Greens, Dried Cranberries, Dried Blueberries, Apples, Spicy Walnuts and Lemon-Poppy Seed Dressing. Bell services took us in a golf cart to the last building in Congress Park, as close to Disney Springs as you can get. 

    Our room was on the second floor with a great view of Disney Springs from our balcony, directly across from the Paddlefish. Our check luggage was already in the room. One odd thing, the faucet in the bath area was running full blast.

    We ate our dinner on the balcony.

    Bell services called that our Garden Grocer order was in – Bacon, Raison Bran, Lactaid milk and a case of water. We thought a case was too much but we went through the whole thing by the time we were ready to leave seven days later.

    Exhausted from only 4 hours of sleep; we were in a very comfortable  bed by 7:30 pm.

 

Friday December 28, 2018
Best. Birthday. Ever.

    I never thought I’d spend the day at my favorite park on my Birthday. But thanks to Kelli who wanted to ring in the New Year in the Magic Kingdom – I got to!

    We woke early around 6:30 AM, made coffee and enjoyed a short time on the balcony. On the way to the bus we heard a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in a nearby tree but did not see him. We caught a bus at 7:30 to get to Epcot before 8. We found the entrance line that lets you in early if you have a breakfast dining reservation and took a quick picture in front of Spaceship Earth.

    It was cool to walk to the Land Pavilion though an empty park.

 

    I noticed the unusual trees before the entrance and of course Disney has a sign explaining what they are.

    Floss-silk Tree (Ceiba speciosa) have spikes protecting the bark and when in bloom have showy pink flowers, the seed pods are filled with fluffy white silk.

  

    We had an 8:45 AM ADR (Advance Dining Reservation) for the Garden Grill. Mickey, Chip and Dale along with Pluto visited our table as we ate. I also got a good picture of the house in Living with the Land below before the ride opened. They knew it was my birthday and I got a card signed by the characters and a chocolate mousse with a candle on it. Kelli sang happy birthday to me.    The cinnamon bun was so good! We stuffed the leftover bun in a ziplock for later. 

The Garden Grill

    

  

    It was interesting to see the flood of people stream in after the park opened.

    We had a FastPass for Soarin' and we followed that with a ride on Nemo and spent some time with the manatees. We then double backed to use our fastpass for Living with the Land. Living had many Christmas decorations and wreaths throughout the ride.

Living with the Land

    It was back to the seas for Turtle Talk with Crush and both of us enjoyed taking Mr. Ray’s Pop Quiz before the show. Kelli got 5 out of 5 right.    We headed to the World Showcase and took the boat across the lake. An Anhinga was swimming in the water and caught a fish to eat.

    As part of Holiday Extras – Epcot had Holiday Kitchens – kiosks with holiday culinary traditions of different nations. In France we enjoyed Bouchee a la Reine Traditionnelle: Turkey and Mushroom in Veloute Cream and puff pastry and the Buche de Noel au Chocolat “Christmas log” – Chocolate cake with Dark Chocolate Caramel Ganache.

    France had some nice Christmas decorations.

   

   New this year was L’Chaim, a Holiday Kitchen for Hanukah.

    In Morocco we snacked on Grilled Lamb Kefta Kebob with mint yogurt sauce and harissa-cilantro dressing.

    Across the lake we could see the new massive Guardian of the Galaxies building. This will be a new indoor coaster.

    We took the boat back to future world and after a few pictures with a photopass photagrapher, stopped to see JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season, a band celebrating Kwanzaa with Gospel, R&R and holiday songs.

 

    Next we stopped in Club Cool and stayed away from Beverly but satisfied our thirst with all the other Coke products from around the world.

    We enjoyed the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival. I like that they have a short history of Disney and Pixar shorts in the preshow.

    We had a 5:00 PM ADR for Coral Reef Restaurant with the Candlelight Processional package. We had a moderate wait and were seated on the lowest level close to the aquarium.

    We enjoyed 

                Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli - Artichoke, Leek and Dill Cream, Baby Asparagus, Prosciutto Chips, Balsamic Glaze 
                Lobster Bisque - Cream, Brandy, Chervil
                Shrimp and Grits - Sautéed Shrimp, Cheddar Grits, Local Corn Succotash, Andouille Sausage, Creole Spice Emulsion 
                Oven-roasted Chicken Breast - Seasonal mushroom Risotto, Thyme Jus
                Key Lime Tart - Raspberry Sauce, Tropical Fruit Glaze, Boba Pearls
                The Chocolate Wave - Chocolate cake and Curls, with Raspberry Gelato

    A diving group later showed up in the tank. 

The Coral Reef

 

    Kelli made sure they knew it was my birthday but it was never acknowledged. Garden Grill has its act together, Coral Reef not so much.

    We walked to the America Gardens Theatre where there were long lines to get in, but with the package we got great seats to see the Candlelight Processional with Cal Ripkin Jr as narrator. We were blown away by the 50-piece orchestra, the Voices of Liberty and the Mass Choir. It was the highlight of the day and my birthday.

The Candlelight Processional

 

    We spent some time in the American Pavilion and the American Heritage Gallery with its current exhibition celebrating American Indian art.

   

    This was followed by our favorite drinks, Grey Goose Citron and Grand Marnier slushes in France followed by a trip into Boulangerie Pastisserie des Halles where we snacked on a Palmier pastry (Elephant Ear) and a crème brulee.

 

    We walked toward the Showcase Plaza but I noticed that the wind would blow the smoke from IllumiNations that way so we backtracked to the bridge between England and France.

    IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth was great and we saw the Holiday tag at the end consisting of more fireworks with children singing “Let there be Peace on Earth”.

 

    We let the crowd disperse and took our time walking out of the park.  "Good Night" in different languages was projected onto the geodesic sphere of Spaceship Earth.

    We arrived at our room shortly after midnight, end the best birthday day I ever had.

 

Saturday December 29, 2018

    We didn’t set an alarm, but I was up a bit early. We forgot to buy English Muffins so I took a walk to the Carriage House for them, so that we could enjoy breakfast out on the balcony of our room.

    After breakfast we took a walk and birded around the resort spotting Wood Stork, Hooded Merganser, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Tricolored and Green Herons.

    Today we head over to Animal Kingdom. We wore our new UP! T-shirts "He/She is my Greatest Adventure"

    We arrived at 10:15 AM and headed over to Kilimanjaro Safaris. The standby line was way out to Tusker House, a 2 hour 25 minute wait. Fortunately we had a fast pass and had good looks at a baby giraffe and both male and female lions.

   

We had time to shop in Mombasa Marketplace before our Fastpass for the noon Festival of the Lion King show.

Festival of the Lion King

    Lunch was from the Harambe Market, a Gyro Chicken with papaya slaw, and a child's meal Grilled Barbecued Chicken Skewer that had no bbq sauce on it. We also could not find a seat so ate at a table standing up. 

    I noticed this rock formation that looked like an alligator at the bridge to Pandora. 

    We fastpassed Na’vi River then headed over to 2 PM Holiday Extra - UP! A Great Bird Adventure which includes the Indian holiday festival of lights known as Diwali. Russell and Dug are in the show and we enjoyed this new version. We got some great slo-mo video of the Crowned Crane named Frasier flying over the crowd. The crowd also took the Wilderness Explorer’s pledge:

 “A Wilderness Explorer is a friend to all. Be it plant or fish or tiny mole. The wilderness must be explored. Caw-Caw, Roar!”

 

 

    We spent time shopping in the Discovery Trading Company. On Discovery Island we stumbled into Winged Encounters - The Kingdom Takes Flight. Parrots fly in and cast members talk about them. Then they tell you to get your cameras ready. All the parrots fly off together and we got another great slo-mo video.

 

 

    We exited the park via Rain Forest Café and shopped before getting a bus over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kidani Village. Our ADR for Sanaa was for 5:15 PM and we were 45 minutes early. We spent time outside and had amazing close view of zebras, elands, cattle, giraffes, wilderbeasts, storks and cranes. 


East African Crowned Crane

Grants Zebra

Ankol Cattle

Eland (female)

Impala

Marabu Stork

Ostrich

Giraffe

Eland (male)

Gemsbok


White Bearded Wildbeast

    Sanaa is known for its incredible bread service. It includes: Five Breads, Traditional Naan, Garlic-Ginger Naan, Spiced Naan, Onion Kucha, and Paneer Paratha along with 9 accompaniments: Cucumber Riata, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Mango Chutney, Tomato-Date Jam, Tamarind Chutney, Coriander Chuntey, Garlic Pickle, Red Chile Sambal, and Spicy Jalapeño-Lime Pickle.

    For drinks we ordered the Kanda Coconut cooler: a combination of Starr African Rum, Coconut, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Orange Juice and the Painted Lemur: Amarula Fruit Cream Liqueur and Van der Hum Tangerine Liqueur from South Africa combined in a Chocolate-striped glass inspired by the distinctive striped tail of the Madagascar Lemur.

    Kelli had the 10 oz Grilled New York Strip with warm New Potato Salad, Harvest Vegetables, and Bain's Butter and I had the Potjie Inspired Butter Chicken, Cilantro-Coconut Vegetables, and scented Basmati Rice. It was a great meal.

    After the meal we looked in the small gift shop, Johari Treasures before getting a bus to Disney Springs. We stopped in Vera Bradley and Kelli checked out the new Disney pattern. We walked through the springs, pausing at some of the musicians entertaining the large crowds. Kelli had never tried Sprinkles Cupcakes. The owner is a judge on Cake Cup Wars. There was a line out the door to get in. We ordered a Salted Caramel and a Chocolate Marshmallow. It took a long time for the order to be filled. We took the cupcakes back to the room but not before coming across some stilt walkers. We enjoyed the cupcakes on the balcony admiring the view of Disney Springs at night.

      

 

Sunday December 30, 2018

    It was an early wake up followed by another breakfast on the balcony, then some birding around the resort. It will be a long day tomorrow so the plan was to see the new Toy Story land then relax for most of the day. We arrived at Hollywood Studios at 9 AM. The construction of the gondola system had the bus area a half a mile back from the entrance but we were lucky that the Saratoga Resort bus stop is closest to the entrance. We headed straight to the new Toy Story area. 

    Toy Story Land had a light Christmas Overlay. My favorite was a Ham Christmas cookie held up by a green army man.

    The line for Toy Story Mania was only 25 minutes so we got online. The queue outside had a roof that looked like the inside cardboard box the game came in (with assembly instructions.)

 

 

    Inside Mr. Potato Head interacted with people, calling out a guy with his hat on backwards and asked him to make up his mind, “Are you coming or going?”

 

    Our scores were Kelli 97,300 and Mike 186,000; we never really improve.

    The new exit for the ride was even themed. My favorite was the Balsa wood flyer.

 

    We used a fastpass for Alien swirling saucers. Kelli was very nervous at first, but now it is one of her favorite rides. Later I brought an Alien Flying saucer pin for Kelli.

 

    I almost grabbed a snack at the counter service that looks like a tipped over lunch box but the line was too long. We saw the new Slinky Dog Coater take off, can’t wait to actually ride it in February.

 

    Kelli then shopped on Hollywood Boulevard.

    I heard the March of the First Order starting and we saw it both coming and going. We then left the park early to go to the pool.

    The Florida sunshine was wonderful. We got some sun and swam a bit. We didn’t feel like heading back to Hollywood Studios for our ADR at Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano, so switched the dinner reservation to the Turf Club Bar and Grill at the resort.

    After the pool we freshened up and took the first park bus one stop to the Carriage House.

    I ordered a Blood Orange Margarita from the bar as we waited to be seated.

    The Turf Club gave us Rosemary garlic bread with smoked sea salt butter. We appreciate restaurants that give good bread service. Kelli ordered a Godiva Chocolate Martini - Chocolate Liqueur, Vanilla Vodka, White Creme de Cacao, and Frangelico.

    We had a wonderful dinner of Turf Club Barbecued Ribs with Hand-cut Parmesan-Rosemary Fries and Creamy Coleslaw and the Sustainable Fish. The fish was called Corvina and it came with Couscous with Roasted Tomatoes, Corn, Sherry Vinaigrette, and Tomato Water

    For dessert we shared the Chocolate and Cherries - Brown Butter Mousse, Caramel Sponge, and Poached Sour Cherries. I also had the Cold Brew XO - Patrón XO Cafe Coffee Liqueur, Heavy Cream, and Cold Brew Joffrey's Coffee.

    On the walk back to our room we saw White Ibis sleeping up in the trees. We sat on the rocking chairs along the water and chilled while overlooking the water and Disney Springs.
We got to bed early for the big day tomorrow.

 

Monday December 31, 2018
Celebrating New Year’s Eve at the Magic Kingdom.

    We woke early, had coffee and we were out the door. We got to the Magic Kingdom at 7:25. They let people in up to the hub and Mickey statue. We had an ADK for breakfast at Be Our Guest so we were allowed pass the crowd at the ropes. We got to walk through an empty Fantasy land. We were still early so we rode Prince Charming Regal Carrousel and Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid before heading to breakfast.

     

    

 

    Kelli ordered the Feast A La Gaston - Scrambled Eggs, Herb-Roasted Potatoes, Apple Smoked Bacon, and Sausage.

    And I had a Peach Bellini and the Croque Madame - Open-faced Ham Sandwich topped with a Fried Egg, Gruyere Cheese, and Béchamel. Breakfast also included Fresh Fruit and a selection of pastries. We also saved some pastries in a ziplock for later.

  

    We spent the morning riding The Many Adventures with Winnie the Pooh, It’s a small world, (they had Kelli’s name at the end in the Good-bye section) and Pirates of the Caribbean.

 

    We heard that the park reached crowd capacity at 11:30 AM and were not letting anyone else in. 

    We sat outside across from the Hall of Presidents and saw the Muppets perform the Ride of Paul Revere.

     

 

    We had to move for the parade since we were in the wheel chair section. Before the parade, two school bands played along the parade route; Grandview High School "Blue & Gold Brigade" Marching Band from Missouri and the Dodge City High School "The Pride of Southwest Kansas".

 

    We enjoyed the parade for the third time. During it, a fearless squirrel made its way though the crowd looking for dropped food.

Even More Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

 

    Lunch was at the Liberty Tree Tavern and started with the Traditional Brown Bread with Apple Butter. I had the New England Clam Chowder along with a Sam’s Adams Winter Lager and Kelli the Tavern Battered Fish and Chips.

    After lunch we saw a second Muppets show, this time doing the Declaration of Independence. We ducked into the Hall of Presidents. I liked that in the waiting room they have artifacts from some of the recent presidents. They had Clinton’s pet Buddy’s Dog tag and Baseball cards owned by George W Bush. This was the first time we saw the Hall with Trump. The park was crowded now so we did rides that had shorter waits. We enjoyed a ride on the Liberty Bell followed by Mickey’s PhilharMagic. We had a fastpass for Tales with Belle. This is a much overlooked attraction that I enjoy each time.

 

Liberty Square Riverboat

     

    We saw people with New Year’s Eve hats and noise makers and tracked down the line giving them out.

    We made our way over to Tomorrowland hoping to see the stage show but it had ended. The line for the People Mover/Transit Authority was long but moving so we got on line. It was good to sit for a while and see how crowded the park was.

    For dinner we had to cross the park to get to our 6:15 PM ADR for the Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen. This new sit down restaurant featured a funny staff. When I asked where the restrooms were they said – go through the bookcase and 3 miles back. They also pointed out the highlights of the restaurant – the ceiling lights.

 

    For an appetizer, we tried the S.E.A. Shu Mai dumplings; a blend of Pork, Shrimp, Edamame Beans, and Spices wrapped in Gyoza Skin.

    Dinner was Taste Like Chicken because it is – fried chicken, jasmine rice, chili glaze and Sankuru Sadie’s Seafood Stew – shrimp, fish, mussels, octopus, coconut sauce, jasmine rice. Kelli thought her food was just OK but I enjoyed my seafood dish. Dessert was the Coconut bar with pineapple – basil compote and vanilla cream - Delicious!

    Our last Fastpass for the day was for the Jingle Jungle Cruise. The ride has a Christmas overlay. 

    The Tiki Room didn’t look crowded so we did that, followed by a vanilla and chocolate cone and an orange and vanilla Dole Whip from Sunshine Tree Terrace. We found a quiet spot to sit behind a kiosk and were visted by another brave squirrel at our feet.

  

    At 9 PM we found a wall to sit on to see the Castle projection show from the side.

    We tried to make our way through the front of the castle but the area was already blocked off by cast members. We made our way around the back of the castle. We didn’t think we could stand in one spot for more than two and a half hours so we caught a Monsters Laugh Floor show. When we came out, our plan was to make it to the tomorrowland bridge. However . . , it was already filled and roped off. 

    Our next plan was to go to the back of the castle. We found a spot to sit in back of castle and sat for two hours till 10 minutes to midnight. We had close views of the high fireworks but not the castle. They were great and we counted down to midnight a few seconds sooner than reality. High fireworks went off all around the sky in every direction you looked. We rang in the New Year with a kiss. After the celbration died down the crowd started to depart. 

    We waited for them to disperse and made our way towards Main Street where we discovered a DJ party on the Castle stage. We decided to stay till closing at 1 AM. The DJ ended the night with a sing-along with the crowd that remained. We sang the The Mickey Club House Theme Song. We end the evening with M-I-C-K-E-Y; M-O-U-S-E. That was great!

  

 

    We slowly made our way down Main Street where we found the exit stuffed and stopped with people still trying to make their way out at 1:30 in the morning. 

    We did a U-turn and took pictures on Main Street, then hit the Main Street Confectionery for a White Chocolate peanut butter cup and Peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. We sat outside Tony’s enjoying these first of the new year sweets watching the crowd still filter out. 

    We started our exit. It was still a mass of people not moving for the monorail and ferry at 2 AM. We were able to squeeze around this crownd to the Disney resort buses. We still had to wait two buses and got on the bus at 2:30 AM, and in bed after 3. Our first bird of the new year were squawking White Ibis trying to sleep in the trees at our resort.

 

Tuesday January 1 2019

    We did not wake until 11 AM. After breakfast on our balcony, we started our year bird list by walking around the resort. A surprise find was a Forster’s Tern spotted by Kelli. Other birds included Anhinga, Wood Stork, Red-shouldered Hawk, Brown Thrasher and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. 

    

  

    We walked over to Disney Springs to the Christmas Tree Trail. The location is where the old bus depot off East Buena Vista Drive used to be. It features 27 Christmas Trees decorated by a Disney theme. Some examples are Toy Story, Frozen, The Muppets, Tangled (with a frying pan in the tree), and Haunted Mansion. My favorite was the Monorail themed tree.

    There was fake Florida snow falling from the sky and at the exit, we received a Stitch's Holiday Gift Hunt button. 

    We spent time shopping in Disney Days Of Christmas, Trend-D, Marketplace co-op and enjoyed some performers on the main stage.

  

    In keeping with the Russo Rule: We had a late lunch featuring just ice-cream at Ghirardelli. I had the Golden Gate Banana Split and Kelli a scoop of cookie dough ice-cream with dark hot fudge in a waffle bowl.

    We split up to shop the completely refurbished World of Disney. It has a more open feel but with less Disney theming. 

    I finished shopping early and went outside to photograph the new Lego figures and views of the water. As I was walking back to meet Kelli, I realized that my Magic band was missing! I retraced my steps hoping to find it to no avail. I quickly headed to Customer Relations where a great cast member help me freeze the band using the My Disney App. I now needed a new band and he suggested that it would be easier to do at my resort's front desk. 

   

     

    I met up with Kelli and we headed back to our room. 

    I grabbed a bus over to the front desk where getting a replacement was easy!

    A little while after I got back to the room I looked through my camera bag. And guess what I found, mu magic band. The band must of ripped off my wrist when I reached in to change lenses. At least it wasn't lost or stolen.

    Our dinner tonight was at a new steak place called STK back in Disney Springs. We arrived on time for our 5:30 PM reservation. The restaurant played a lot of 80’s rock. Blue-cheese butter bread was served with a chive sea salt oil. Appetizers were Crispy Rock Shrimp with chili remoulade and Shrimp Cocktail with 3 gigantic shrimps. We both had the 6 oz filet; I had the Béarnaise and Kelli the STK sauce. We shared a side of Sweet Corn Pudding.

    

    After dinner we headed to Disney Hollywood Studios to see "Disney Movie Magic" a nighttime projection show and the Jingle Bells Jingle Bam! a holiday laser fireworks show. The crowds were way down. We had our choice of viewing area when we arrived. Besides the Candlelight Processional, the Jingle Bam really put you in a great Christmas mood ( a week after Christmas). I highly recommend this if you are visiting during the holiday season.

 

   

 

    Back at our room I switched our Fast passes to Epcot for tomorrow.

 

Wednesday January 2 2019

    After another relaxing breakfast out on our balcony we headed to Epcot.

 

    The wait for Spaceship Earth was short so we went on. 

 

    On the way to ride Mission Space the JAMMitors started their act. It was enjoyable as ever. Both of us got Jr Jammitor stickers after their performance. My ride on Mission space, orange side took longer than expected, but Kelli enjoyed shopping and people watching in the shade outside.

    

    We headed to the countries and stopped at the Agent P kiosk. We quickly did a mission in Mexico. The Mexico Folk Art Gallery had an exhibit celebrating Día de Muertos - or Day of the Dead;  featuring the work of prominent Mexican and Mexican-American artists.

     

    I stopped in the Stave Church Gallery in the Norway Pavilion and looked at the brand-new exhibit called “Gods of the Vikings.”

 

    We stopped at the China Tea Cart and got a BaiJoe Punch – Chinese Baijoe spirit , lychee coconut and pineapple and the Lucky Combo; curry chicken pocket and two egg rolls.
In Africa we played with some instruments.

    In Germany Kelli brought me a small glass boot in Glas Und Porzellan Shop along with these cool pewter bottle toppers.

 

    We also tried a dessert Wine; Shine Sweet Dornfelder and shared an Artisanal Cheese Plate.

 

    At the Sommerfest shop we tried the Black Forrest Cake; but it wasn’t as good as I remembered a few years ago. I also got the Konig Ludwig Weissbier in a souvenir stein.

 

    Sergio in Italy started the juggling show.

    Near the American pavilion we enjoyed a Mickey Pretzel with cheese sauce from the Fife and Drum.

    We headed out and tried to get coffee at Jeofreys but computer was down. I guess nowadays you need a computer to make coffee.

    Back at the resort we picked up some bread, milk, apples and PB&J Uncrustables for snacks later.

    Tonight’s dinner was in a new Restaurant called the Edison in Disney Springs at the site that used to be the Adventures Club. Themed like an early-1900s power plant and named after the inventor Thomas A. Edison. The restaurant shows late 19 and early 20th century silent movies on the wall. Thomas Edison’s company not only built the apparatus for filming and projecting motion pictures, but also produced films for public consumption. 

 

    The menu is somewhat basic, burgers and sandwiches. Kelli had the Organic Tomato Soup and Gooey Grilled Cheese (Fontina, Muenster, Gruyère, and Alpine Swiss cheese on Buttered Sourdough bread and I had the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

    We had the Casey's Peach Cobbler and Key Lime Brûlée for dessert.

    We were unfortunately underwhelmed by the food and the service. The night started with them seating us right under a cold draft from AC, even though the restaurant was empty. We moved ourselves. The fries were not hot; peach cobbler not warm with undercooked peaches. And the waitress dumped a beer at our table and onto Kelli.

    We returned to our room and found our boarding passes and temporary luggage tags in had arrived.

 

Thursday January 3, 2019

    We had our last breakfast on the balcony and birded around the resort one last time. We discovered that Great Blue Herons, Kelli’s favorite bird, had started to build nests right near our building. We can’t wait to come back in February and see their progress.

  

    We called Bell Services and they were at our room in 15 minutes. The bell hop drove us and our luggage over to the Carriage House. We checked our bags for our flight home. We had plenty of time so I tried the Chair of Death, also known as a massage chair inside the building. This torture machine felt like I was being hit by two ball peen hammers on my back.  The chair also squeezed my calves extremely tight! Oddly this was both almost painful and pleasant at the same time.

    Our Magical Express bus picked us up at 10:30 AM but the bus then picked up at Old Key West, then the Caribbean Beach Resort. Our 1:53 flight home was uneventful and our nephew Kevin picked us up from JFK.

    When Kelli opened her checked luggage she found a newly purchased Frozen bottle of perfume that she hurriedly placed at the front of the luggage had been stolen by a TSA worker. She wants to remind everyone that to store anything valuable deep in the luggage and hidden. And to carry on very valuable objects as long as they are not liquids or banned items,

    Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed the report.

Michael and Kelli

Read more of our trip reports at

Return to our main page