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My very first blog on Touring Plans was all about doing a Disney World weekend trip. The reason for that is because in years past, I had always taken a trip around the first weekend in December, as part of a holiday tradition. There’s so much to do around Disney at the holidays that one weekend was never enough, but we gave it a try anyway.
These trips were such a part of my holiday traditions that in my computer’s picture folders, there’s one for “Christmas at WDW” every year beginning in 2001 all the way through 2007. We did not take that trip in 2008 or 2009 because of other issues, but this year, we’re heading back to Walt Disney World for the holidays, as part of Reunion 2010!
The things I missed about these trips were the little things. We would always leave my office in Atlanta on Thursday night and stay at the same exit off I-75 that night, exit 5. At that exit, there’s a Days Inn and a Travelodge we would stay in, cramming ourselves in a tiny, cheap room because we wanted to save as much money as we could for Disney.
The next morning, we always ate breakfast at the Cracker Barrel. They have a holiday sampler every year that includes cinnamon biscuits. Those biscuits, combined with a cup of coffee, the roaring fire in the fireplace and the fresh pine wreaths hanging on the wall, were a signal to me that Christmas was on the way.
After a hearty breakfast, we drove from Lake City, Georgia to the Ocala Disney visitor’s center (sorely missed), then all the way into Orlando and straight to Downtown Disney for shopping. I know everyone goes shopping for the holidays, but with a son who’s a diehard Lego fan, a daughter who loves princesses and two devoted Disney fans for parents, in our family Downtown Disney was the shopping mecca. Hearing the carols around the walkways, grabbing some hot chocolate or buying some candy were all getting us in the mood.
Friday night, after checking into the hotel, we went over to Trail’s End for dinner. Stuffing ourselves again, it was good preparation for the weekend, as right after, we’d take the boat over to the Magic Kingdom and enjoy Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. I know it’s overpriced and the quality has gone down over the years, but there’s something magical about the party, especially the parade. My fondest memories of Disney include sitting at Sleepy Hollow and watching my 2 yr old son gasp with amazement as the parade goes by.
Saturday morning, we’d get up bright and early to ride all the rides in Magic Kingdom that we missed the night before, then head over to Epcot for the rest of the day. We’d start with lunch at the Garden Grill, so my son could see Mickey. I loved the food there, and I’m sad we won’t get to experience it that way again.
As a “grown up” I found my appreciation for the holidays at Epcot grew every year. Seeing the different Santas from around the world, browsing the shops to see the holiday traditions and foods and of course, Holiday Illuminations were all highlights. As well as the Lights of Winter, but I won’t start that discussion. (Bring them back, Disney!)
Notice all the things at Disney that I didn’t mention? The gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian, the Osborne Lights, touring the resorts and many other things were left off our list for many years. It wasn’t that we didn’t like these things, it was that we had so little time. Still, these annual short trips hold so much joy for me, that I am dying to return. Now, the trip holds extra meaning, because not only will I get to relive these old memories with my children and make more, but I’ll get to meet a bunch of the Disney fan community I have not seen yet. And I get to do it all while living out my Disney holiday tradition.
What about you? Do you have any special Disney holiday traditions that you are doing again this year? Or some that have lapsed that you want to bring back?