Tag Archives: Disney World

Disney World Vacation 2017: Day 3 Magic Kingdom

Day 3 in the parks was at Magic Kingdom on 12/29/2017.

We were blessed again with the extra magic hour so we took advantage of it.

We woke up around 5:00 a.m. at the Swan Hotel, got ready, and jumped on the shuttle bus to Magic Kingdom.

We didn’t wake up in time to eat a breakfast before the 7:00 a.m. magic hour. So, we ate some mixed nuts that I brought in my pack. Disney allows you to bring in food and drinks.

When the gates opened we scanned our Disney Magic Bands and our finger print. This allows Disney to link your band to you in case you lose your band.

We had FastPass+ for Pirates of the Caribbean,  Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and the Haunted Mansion.

I had looked at the wait times at Magic Kingdom the previous day to find the most busy attractions. But, they were all really busy. With most wait times over 120 minutes.

So, we planned to go straight to Peter Pan’s Flight. We had decided not to even try to get on Space Mountain.

This was a good call because we were able to get right on Peter Pan’s Flight and then went right next door to It’s a Small World.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Flight of Peter Pan
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Flight of Peter Pan
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com It’s a Small World
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com It’s a Small World

Peter Pan’s Flight was a neat ride, but not worth a long wait. Same for It’s a Small world.  I would ride Peter Pan again, but It’s a Small World got a little too long with the song playing. I know the moving characters must have took a lot of work to create and keep running. So it is worth taking at least one ride.

The plan was to next run over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but they had the walkway closed until 8:00 A.M., so we hung around in that Fantasyland area a few more minutes.

We attempted to pull the sword from the stone and met a couple of princesses.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Cinderella
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Rapunzel
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Sword in the Stone
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Sword in the Stone

Then we headed over to wait for the path to open to Frontier land and to Big Thunder Mountain.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Big Thunder Mountain

Big Thunder Mountain was ok. It was not a big thrill but enjoyable. For my NWA friends, it was just slightly less thrilling than Thunderation as Silver Dollar City.

After Big Thunder Mountain we stopped for some breakfast. We had the best wheat croissant with bacon, egg and cheese. No joke, it was really good. It was at a little food cart in Frontierland.

Then we still had a little time before our Pirates of the Caribbean FastPass+ so we found a couple other small attractions.

First we stopped at the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. It was fun, you can control the height of the carpet yourself. No thrills but fun for the kids.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

Then we headed back up the hill near Cinderella’s castle and took in the Hall of Presidents. I really enjoyed this. The robotics were really good. The hand gestures and mannerisms of the most recent presidents were actually spot on.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Hall of Presidents
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Hall of Presidents
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Hall of Presidents

They had a lot of security in the show since it was only the fifth day of opening the show after adding the Donald Trump robot.

Then we did a little shopping behind the castle before stopping in to see Mickey’s PhilharMagic. We walked right in and only waited about 10 minutes. When we walked out there was a long line. We were blessed this way on several things we did.

Disney World 2017 Magic Kingdom Mickey’s PhilharMagic

Mickey’s PhilharMagic is a 3D show. It was fun to watch.

Then it was time for Pirates of the Caribbean.

20171229_103405.Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Pirates of the Caribbean
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Pirates of the Caribbean
20171229_103405.Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Pirates of the Caribbean

They actually model the main character to look like Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow.  Though I believe the ride itself was around before the movies.

After Pirates we started walking toward Magic Kingdom Park at the base of Cinderella’s Castle to watch Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire. But on the way we stopped by the Swiss Family Robinson Tree house.

20171229_103405.Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Swiss Family Robinson
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Swiss Family Robinson

Of course we saw Hot Chocolate again, so we bought some on the way to the Faire.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Cinderella’s Castle Friendship Faire
Disney World 2017 Magic Kingdom Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire OneChristianMan.com
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Cinderella’s Castle

We then headed back over to Frontierland. We wanted to get set to watch the Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade and also eat lunch in that area.

The parade was really good during the day. I know it would be even better at night, but the park would have been so packed along the parade route at night and I wanted to be able to see it. We were able to get right up to the road.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

After the parade we went straight over to Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café for lunch. The Fajitas were good.

The we headed back up toward Liberty Square to use our Haunted Mansion FastPass+.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Haunted Mansion

This is a fun little ride. The kids enjoyed it. Younger kids may get a little scared, but its not too bad.

At this point we started our way to the other side of the park toward Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

First stop was to see Gaston. Jamie wanted to see him. Apparently she had seen videos of Gaston having fun belittling guests.

Magic Kingdom has a lot to see and do. So we decided to skip on over to Tomorrowland after just doing a little shopping in Fantasyland. A lot of the rides at Fantasyland are geared for younger kids.

I wanted to see the iCan robot.  So we did that first. The robot is a human in an electronic suit. Smart guy.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Tomorrowland iCan Robot

Next we took a ride on the People Mover.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Tomorrowland People Mover
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Tomorrowland People Mover
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Tomorrowland People Mover
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Tomorrowland People Mover

After the People Mover we stopped by to see Buzz Lightyear.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Buzz Lightyear

Then, another blessed moment. We were able to quickly get into Stitch’s Great Escape in less than 10 minutes. Again, a big line was there when we got out.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Stitch’s Great Escape
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Stitch’s Great Escape
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Stitch’s Great Escape

After Stitch, we went into the Mainstreet U.S.A to check it out, but it was way too packed with people. So we went over to the Walt Disney World Railroad and road back over to Tomorrowland by way of the Fantasyland rail stop.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Christmas Tree
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Railroad

After getting back to Tomorrowland we were able to get into Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. This was a fun shooting competition ride.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Our next stop was the Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor, this was a great interactive comedy show.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor

Next we headed up to Repunzel’s Tower to take some pictures since it was getting dark.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Rapunzel Tangled Lantern
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Rapunzel Tangled Lantern

After the pictures, we went to our FastPass+ for Seven Dwarf Mine Train.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Disney World 2017 Magic Kingdom Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train

We stopped to eat dinner at Columbia Harbour House, this was good food. Really all the food we ate was good.

After eating dinner we started getting ready for the big fireworks and laser light show at Cinderella’s Castle.

They called it Happily Ever After. This was an amazing light show and fireworks display. They put Disney movie scenes up on the side of the castle with projectors and lasers along with the fireworks.

Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Cinderella’s Castle
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Cinderella’s Castle
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Cinderella’s Castle
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Cinderella’s Castle Happily Ever After
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Cinderella’s Castle Happily Ever After
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Cinderella’s Castle Happily Ever After
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Cinderella’s Castle Happily Ever After
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Cinderella’s Castle Happily Ever After
Disney World Magic Kingdom 2017 OneChristianMan.com Cinderella’s Castle

After the Happily Ever After show our feet were too tired to do anything else. The part was open until 1 a.m., but we just couldn’t keep going. So, we have a few things we can do next time.

Overall, Magic Kingdom was a great experience.

 

Disney World Vacation 2017: Day 2 Epcot

Day 2 in the parks was at Epcot on 12/28/2017.

We were blessed in that most days we went to the parks we took advantage of the extra magic hour. Animal Kingdom and Epcot don’t have the extra hour every day, but Cheryl planned our days to take advantage of this.

We woke up around 5:00 a.m. at the Swan Hotel, got ready, and jumped on the shuttle Boat to Epcot.

We didn’t wake up in time to eat a breakfast before the 7:00 a.m. magic hour. So, we ate some mixed nuts that I brought in my pack. Disney allows you to bring in food and drinks.

When the gates opened we scanned our Disney Magic Bands and our finger print. This allows Disney to link your band to you in case you lose your band.

We had FastPass+ for The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Journey Into Imagination with Figment, and Frozen Ever After.

So, our extra magic hour plan was to get to Test Track and Soarin’.

We hustled over to Test Track and got in line. We were in after only about 20 minutes.

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Test Track
Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Test Track Car Creator
Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Test Track
Disney World 2017 Epcot Test Track

Test Track was an awesome ride.

We finished Test Track and headed over to Soarin’.  Soarin’ was also an excellent ride that incorporated 3D as well as a ride.

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Soarin’

After Soarin’ we were done with the big rides, so we decided to eat breakfast in the Sunshine Seasons area.

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Sunshine Seasons

We didn’t eat too healthy here. I had a Chocolate Croissant. Stephen and Addison had chocolate chip muffins. Jamie had a Cream Cheese Danish.  All were delicious.

All our FastPass+ were after lunch to give us time to hit other rides in the morning hours. So we headed over to Spaceship Earth.  This line was the longest of the entire week for us, but we still only stood in line for about 40 minutes. This was good considering this is the busiest time of year for Disney. I think we got in a long line only because this ride is by the front gate which had just opened to the folks not eligible for the extra magic hour.

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Spaceship Earth
Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Spaceship Earth
Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth was a slow ride but enjoyable.

After spending some time playing in the area below Spaceship Earth (kids loved this area), we headed over to the Innoventions area to play.

While the kids were playing with the Innoventions, I saw a schedule for the Spectaculab. We then planned to come back for that show in about 30 minutes.

While we waited for that we decided to head back over to Test Track and play with some of the post ride attractions. The car you create for Test Track can be used again in different car commercials and mini-races. The car in attached to your Disney Magic Band.

Before getting back to Test Track I noticed in the MyDisneyExperience app that a street show called JAMMitors was about to begin. So we stopped for a moment and grabbed some hot chocolates and watched the show before heading back to Test Track.

Disney World Epcot 2017 JAMMitors OneChristianMan.com

After playing around at Test Track we went back over to watch the Spectaculab show. It was a good show but not great. I was expecting exploding chemicals but only received barometric pressure and force examples.

After the show we headed toward the countries to get lunch but then decided we didn’t want to rush any country because we had a FastPass+ at 1:15 p.m. for Nemo. So we ate at Sunshine Seasons again for lunch.

Jamie ate a Power Salad with seared tuna which she really enjoyed. Stephen ate roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and corn. Addison and I ate stir fry beef and vegetables.

After lunch it was time for The Seas with Nemo and Friends. This is a ride, but also the building has large tanks for fish, turtles, dolphins and many other marine animals.

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com The Seas with Nemo and Friends Dolphin Show
Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Diver Lock-out chamber
Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Dori and Marlin

After Nemo we headed over to our next FastPass+ which was Journey Into Imagination with Figment. This was a fun little ride which includes all of your senses including smell. Watch out for the skunk!

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Figment

Next we decided to start going around the other side of the park and experience the different country themed areas.

We took a picture on the way.

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Downtown

We started on the side closest to Norway because we had a Frozen Ever After FastPass+ in the evening.

First up was Mexico. We got lucky here and was able to walk right onto the Grand Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros. This was a little boat ride but no splash of water.

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Mexico Pavilion
Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Mexico Pavilion
Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Three Caballeros

Norway was next and we had to stop by and visit Anna and Elsa. This character experience had over a one hour wait time all day. But we ended up only having to wait about twenty minutes. The Lord really blessed us on timing of some of these rides and attractions.

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Elsa
Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Anna

China was next in line and we stopped for a moment to watch the Lion Dance.

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com China Area Lion Dance

Now Addison had been asking for sushi for dinner ever since she saw a sushi restaurant in the Swan hotel. So we were heading toward Japan for sushi.

But that was before we stopped by Germany. This of course meant Bratwurst and Pretzels! So Jamie, Stephen and I ate German and took Addison to sushi.

There was a beautiful Christmas tree in the Germany section along with shops at each country with related merchandise. I don’t mean cheap merchandise. I mean the real thing nice quality stuff.

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Small Christmas Tree in Germany area

After Germany we made our way to the Japan area for sushi. I also bought Addison a Ramune soda drink as she had seen on YouTube.

There were also some good picture of Spaceship Earth from a distance at night from Japan.

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Spaceship Earth from Japan Area

At this point it was time for the FastPass+ for Frozen Ever After. This was a great ride. There was a small splash of water but not much.

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Frozen Ever After

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.com Frozen Ever After

After the ride we headed to the other side of the park to the other countries. But we had to stop for a night time photo downtown.

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com The big Christmas Tree
Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Spaceship Earth as Night

Next up was Canada and the UK. Canada has a really big mansion with restaurant inside.

There was also a 360 degree short film with Martin Short talking about Canada. Called O Canada!

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com Canada Area

Now by this time our feet really hurt. So we started skipping through countries and didn’t hit them all. But Addison had a request to get a macaroon from France. So, here we go.  The Eiffel tower is there too!

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com France Area
Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com France Area Macaroons

Jamie got something called a Christmas Log dessert that looked really good.

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.com France Christmas Log

But you know I had to get Ice Cream with Stephen.

Disney World Epcot 2017 OneChristianMan.Com France Area

Guess which flavor I picked. Yep, Cinnamon and Caramelized Pecans.

After this we headed back to the UK and jumped back on our shuttle boat back to the Swan Hotel.  We were able to use the back entrance to the park since we stayed near Epcot around the same lake.

 

Disney World Vacation 2017: Day 1 Animal Kingdom

 

Day 1 in the parks was at Animal Kingdom on 12/27/2017.

We were blessed in that most days we went to the parks we took advantage of the extra magic hour. Animal Kingdom and Epcot don’t have the extra hour every day, but Cheryl planned our days to take advantage of this.

We woke up around 5:00 a.m. at the Swan Hotel, got ready, and jumped on the shuttle bus to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

We didn’t wake up in time to eat a breakfast before the 7:00 a.m. magic hour. So, we ate some mixed nuts that I brought in my pack. Disney allows you to bring in food and drinks.

When the gates opened we scanned our Disney Magic Bands and our finger print. This allows Disney to link your band to you in case you lose your band.

We had a Disney FastPass+ for Dinosaur, Expedition Everest and Na’vi River Journey. We didn’t care to ride the 3D Flight if Passage, so we headed to It’s Tough to be a Bug and then to Kilimanjaro Safari.

On the way to Its Tough to be a Bug, we walked around the base if the Tree of Life. We really enjoyed It’s Tough to be a Bug. The 3D effects were great and the seats and theater brought you into the show with squirting water, moving seats and strategically placed blowing air vents among other things. This included smells that were incorporated.

After It’s Tough to be a Bug we headed over to Kilimanjaro Safari. You actually sit in a real safari type tall jeep. This was an experience to be close to the animals. The animals were great, but not any more special than the St. Louis Zoo or Tulsa Zoo.

After the Kilimanjaro Safari we stopped in the Africa park section at a quick service food cart for a breakfast of cheese, fruit and soft pretzels. We had a Swan Quick Service dining gift card. It was not exactly like the normal Disney dining card, but it worked at all the Quick service dining locations. It may have worked at the other dining locations, but we didn’t try.

I love soft pretzels.

Then we journeyed over to the DinoLand USA section of the Animal Kingdom park.

Here we jumped on Primeval Whirl before using our FastPass+ on Dinosaur. We got on fairly quickly, but as we got off the Primeval Whirl the line was getting long.

Disney World 2017 Animal Kingdom Dinosaur

Both of these rides were fun. Not thrilling like a big coaster but exciting to ride.

After these rides we stopped by the Boneyard play area. This was a multi-story playground with a dinosaur bone dig site theme.

Next we traveled over to the Asia area of the Animal Kingdom park around Expedition Everest.

Disney does the scenery around the parks to a grand scale. The rides are not as thrilling as other parks, but the experience is a big deal. Expedition Everest was one of those areas. The ride was good but the landscaping and scenery were awesome. This is one of the bigger rides though and you will have a couple of heart drops. The pictures don’t do a great job of showing the grand scale of the mountain scenery. It was big. These shots were from a long distance.

Disney World 2017 Animal Kingdom Expedition Everest

We decided to leave the Asia area and head back over to Africa for lunch. We had noticed some enticing options over there earlier.

On the way to the Africa area we were blessed again by noticing a short line at Flights of Wonder. We walked right in to the start of a show. The birds were trained well and flew from each side of the audience to the other. We found out that this was one if the last shows for this attraction. It will be replaced in 2018 by an Up movie themed bird show.

After the show we saw a monkey exhibit on the way to Africa from Asia.

We ate lunch at Harambe Market. All the food we ate was delicious. I had chicken tikka masala. Jamie had the grilled chicken skewer with papaya slaw. We both had a side of corn and black eye pea salad. Addison had the kids ribs and Stephen had the sausage which was coated like a corn dog with a curried corn batter.

Then it was snack time for the kids. A Mickey shaped ice cream was in Addison’ s mind. I was saving my sugar limit for cinnamon sugar coated pecans later. Stephen went for a Minute Maid frozen lemonade.

Since we didn’t really plan each park day outside of our FastPass+ times, we took in an area at a time mostly. With the exception of the extra magic hour were we jumped on the most popular rides before everyone else arrived.

We stayed in the Asia area and jumped on the wildlife express train which took us to Rafiki’s Planet Watch and the Conservation Station.

We saw several animals and there was a petting zoo called the Affection Section. We also saw the doctors performing a procedure on one of the park animals (duck). The park had many animals including exotic birds that simply flew or waddled around the park.

Doc McStuffins was also there at the Conservation Station.

After riding the train back to the Africa area we headed over to the Pandora area. But not before I stopped by and picked up some cinnamon and sugar coated pecans on the way.

The Pandora area is themed to be like the movie Avatar. It is beautifully landscaped and the structures are enormous.

We looked around at scenery and at the shop. In the shop you can actually have a 3D model if your head created and transformed into a Na’vi creature. That is expensive so we didn’t do it.

At this point our feet really hurt and the early morning wake up was catching up to us.

After shopping we relaxed a moment before we walked over to the Na’vi River Journey and used our FastPass+.

The wait times on the rides after about 9:00 a.m. during this Christmas week were over two hours so you should either use the extra magic hour or FastPass+. These rides are not worth waiting two hours for. They are beautiful and well thought out. But I would wait max 45 minutes if I didn’t have a FastPass+. Your time is better spent enjoying the other park views and experiences like street shows.

We did just that after the Na’vi River Journey. We watched a street show called Swotu Waya Na’vi Drum ceremony. This was a neat show which also allowed audience participation.

After leaving Pandora we headed up to the Discovery Island area. There were many good shops and food options in this area. We bought Addison her Minnie ears here and a pin for each park for keepsakes. We all also picked up a free First Time visitor button at the checkout register.

As we were leaving we noticed another street show starting. It was the Discovery Island Carnivale with street dancers, musicians and stilt walkers. The audience was encouraged to join in and Addison happily joined in.

After the first Carnivale show we went over to the Flame Tree restaurant and had some great BBQ. Another band played on the stage while we ate which added to the experience.

By the time we were done, the next Carnivale was starting and Addison did some more dancing.

After the Carnivale ended it was dark. We had brought some LED glow sticks with us to hang on our packs, so we pulled those out. They ended up being the same color as our Magic Bands so we were color coded.

At this point we headed up to the Tree of Life for the nighttime awakening. This was an amazing light and projection show utilizing the big tree as the screen. It was amazing. The animals seemed to come to life on the tree.

After watching the first showing we headed back over to the Africa area to watch the Festival of the Lion King. We didn’t have a FastPass+ but we took a chance thinking that folks would be wanting to see the Tree and other outside night shows as it had just gotten dark. Well we were blessed again and made it into line and into the next show only waiting about ten minutes. The line had been over an hour all day so this was special.

After this show we were really tired and decided to leave before the fireworks show at ten. But I did hear it is a great show. We were out of the park by 8:30 and beat the crowds to the buses.

If I could add one thing to this day, I would have walked back through Pandora after dark.

Disney World Vacation Christmas 2017 – Planning and Arrival Day

We took our first family trip to Disney World this year between Christmas and New Years day (12/26-12/31).

If you know anything about Disney trips you’ll know that this is the busiest time of the year for Disney World. 

This December marks my fifteenth wedding anniversary and my son’s thirteenth birthday. Let’s go to Disney. 

My daughter turned ten in June and we wanted to go before the kids were too old but also at a time that they would remember the experience. This anniversary and birthday acted as the catalyst for the trip.

True to our family trip planning style we didn’t decide to commit on going until November. 

Jamie and I thought about other trips without the kids, but we never could settle on anything. Then on November 10th I reached out to Cheryl Daniel on recommendation from a fellow church member (Tracy). Cheryl helps plan Disney vacations.

Now I knew it was a long shot to get a good hotel at this late date, but I didn’t want a low budget hotel. I had looked on the Disney website and didn’t see any good rooms. 

I wanted this experience to be a great memory for my family. It would possibly be the only trip to Disney for us before our kids are grown. 

So, I contacted Cheryl with my request and started praying for our trip to be safe and joyously memorable. Well, ask and you shall receive.

Cheryl started planning and found us a room at the Swan hotel! She was amazed it was available for four nights. All other high end rooms on the Disney resort were booked for those dates and she was surprised anything was left with it only being forty five days before Christmas.

The Walt Disney World Swan Hotel was a fantastic hotel. The hotel had all the amenities you can think of. The beds were awesome and the showers were hot. An in-room safe and refrigerator were convenient, and it provided two sinks in the standard two queen bed room. 

Since the Swan hotel is on Disney, it had a free shuttle or boat to each park and we could use the extra magic hours and FastPass+. This proved to be instrumental in getting on all the rides we wanted to do at the parks since only three FastPass attractions could be planned in advance, and the parks were packed after about 9:00 a.m.

Cheryl booked the room and helped to quickly plan out the best day of the week to visit each park and get FastPass for the best rides that were available. She set everything up for us in the MyDisneyExperience app. 

This app helped us stick to our plans and add to our park plans including rides, shows and character experiences. 

The app had a map of everything on the Disney World property in great detail. It will even navigate you to attractions and rides within each park on foot. (This MyDisneyExperience app was very handy to help find the fastest route from one ride to the other during the extra magic hour.)

Some rides didn’t have FastPass remaining since we started planning late. So we would need to hit those rides during the extra magic hour from 7:00 – 8:00 a.m. that only Disney park hotel guests could use.

My wife talked to our church friend (Tracy) the next day and she was amazed that we found a room too. She had previously thought we were going to be planning for December 2018. 

Now the plan was set. Except it wasn’t fully. The week before we left for our trip I decided to add another night to the trip so that we could rest before our drive back. I called Cheryl. We couldn’t add another night at Swan. But since it was just going to be a one night stay and arriving after 10 p.m. we picked a value resort room at the Disney Pop Century Resort. (This Pop Century room in the 60s section was not as nice, but they are remodeling. The resort itself did have many amenities but not quite as luxurious as the Swan.)

Time to roll. We left from my parent’s house near Mobile, AL. We arrived at Walt Disney World in the late afternoon due to traffic issues on I75 in central Florida. We also unexpectedly hit toll roads along the way.

We unpacked the car and headed to a 7:15 p.m. character dinner that we had scheduled at the Garden Grove Restaurant at the Swan.

After dinner we went to Wal-Mart to grab a couple of last minute necessities for our first park trip the next day. 

We each brought a draw string pack in the parks each day with a bottle of water, a snack, and extra phone batteries. Disney does not mind you bringing in food or drinks, and you keep your bag with you on each ride.

When we got back to the room I set up our Magic Bands.

We each had our own Disney Magic Band which we linked to the MyDisneyExperience app. The App links your tickets, Disney hotel rooms and FastPass+ reservations to the Disney Magic Bands. 

The bands use RFID to allow you into the park and onto the FastPass+ rides. You can even pay for your food with them if using a Disney dining plan. Another cool feature is that you can scan the bands under your pictures on the monitors taken on some rides and the pictures then show up in the app.