Last week I took my annual trip to WDW for the holiday season. I was really looking forward to my stay at the Polynesian, seeing my friends, and all of the events I was going to attend! Things started off with a little stress when the weather forecast in the New York/New Jersey area called for high winds and rain on the morning I departed. Luckily, since I had a 7 a.m. flight I got off the ground (with some turbulence) and was on my way to Orlando International Airport. Some of my friends were not as lucky and faced delays and one couldn’t make it out of LaGuardia until the next day.
Like I said, my flight was a little bumpy in the Northeast, but smoothed out as we flew south. I was greeted at the airport by some friends and we grabbed a rental car and high tailed in to the Polynesian to check in, see more friends, and grab some lunch with our group. Lunch turned into drinks at the Poly’s pool bar and we were off to a good start catching up with friends and enjoying the Florida sunshine. Soon, we headed to the Magic Kingdom to hit a few attractions. The monorail seemed to be facing a lot of issues during our trip, making transportation to MK less
than timely. Eventually, we made in there and back and headed to Animal Kingdom to experience Extra Magic Hours (EMH) in the dark. The winter months are really the only opportunity guests have to see this beautiful park at night. We took a few spins on Expedition Everest and grabbed dinner at Flame Tree Barbecue before heading back to the resort to settle in.
We got back just in time to watch Wishes from the beach at the Polynesian! I really love viewing this fireworks display from this vantage point. The music is played on the beach so guests can enjoy it from afar without the crowds in a more relaxed atmosphere. Soon after Wishes, we headed to the Tambu Lounge to meet with others have a few drinks and catch up with each other for our first night. I got to hang out with old friends and meet some new ones at this fun gathering!
After a long day of travel and fun on Wednesday we decided to sleep in a little on Thursday. We had an impromptu breakfast at the Kona Cafe and took things slowly. Eventually we headed off to the Magic Kingdom for the Reunion events. First up, was the annual Dole Whip Meet. I was excited to see some familiar faces and meet some new folks as well. I also enjoyed a Dole Whip despite the chilly weather. We did a few attractions after the meet and then headed back to the Polynesian for a quiet dinner and to gather our stuff for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party was a lot of fun with our bunch! I met up with some friends and took in a few attractions before finding a spot to watch the parade. A group of us sipped hot chocolate and took in this festive celebration which weaves through Frontierland and Liberty Square and then down Main Street, USA. We roamed around, hung out, and rode some rides before it was time to head to Dumbo for another Reunion meet. We also met up with the Reunion group for a spin on the TTA before most of us called it a night. My friend, John, and I had to be up early for the Mouse Fan Challenge the next day so we bailed on the last meet of the evening.
Like, I said the next day I had to be up bright and early to meet the Touringplans team for the Mouse Fan Challenge. All of the teams gathered at the Beach Club Resort before hopping on a bus to the Magic Kingdom for the scavenger hunt. If you saw five people running around MK that morning wearing top hats, ties, and touringplans.com T-shirts it was us! There were several questions to answer and pictures to take all around the park. It was a bit overwhelming, but our team had fun anyway. Sadly, we did not win the challenge, but we came in at a solid second place.
Following the challenge, I had some time to do a little running around an a little relaxing with friends before I had to head to Space Ship Earth to meet with my fellow touringplans team members for a little photo shoot. Look for our bright shining faces in our official touringplans shirts in the future! Shortly after the photos were taken a huge group of Reunion attendees rode Space Ship Earth together! I took off to meet some friends who waiting in the standby line for the Candlelight Processional. We just made it to the first performance and a few of us had to sneak out a few minute early to get to the UK pavilion to staff the touringplans fish and chips meet.
The fish and chips meet couldn’t have gone better! Thanks to all of our readers who came out to support us! It was great to see so many of you there and share some fish with you. We were able to grab a spot out of the way down by the World Showcase Lagoon so we didn’t disturb the other guests while we mingled. All of us here at touringplans can’t say thank you enough for coming out to see us!
After the touringplans meet a few friends and I wandered the World Showcase with drinks in hand before heading to the MEI and Mousefan Travel Illuminations Dessert Party. Guests who booked with MEI were able to partake in this event as a token of appreciation. We met in Italy and were granted access to a special viewing area for the holiday version of Illuminations and treated to a table full of desserts. It’s always great to watch this show with friends and that night was no exception.
The next day my friends and I took it a bit easy again. We got a slow start and had lunch at Kona Cafe before heading to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS) for the Reunion events and a few attractions. We hit the Butterfinger cupcake meet at Starring Rolls to see some friends in between riding Tower of Terror, checking out the additions to One Man’s Dream, and a few other favorites. I got to ride Toy Story Mania for the first time in a while with some great friends before grabbing a quick dinner and meeting up for the night’s special event.
De-sserts and De-lights Party was special, indeed. Folks who were lucky enough to score tickets to this event were treated to a wonderful evening full of magic provided by MEI and Mousefan Travel and the WDWtoday podcast. We got to enjoy our own viewing area for Fantasmic! along with yummy treats served to us. Since I never want to wait in line to see this show, I hadn’t seen it in a few years so I was glad to have the opportunity to watch from our own area. After the show was over, we were brought to Toy Story Mania for a private ride! We all had a blast and we didn’t have to wait in the usual long queue! But the magic didn’t stop there. Our group was then lead over to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights! There are usually thousands of guests trying to see these lights every night, but we got the place all to ourselves. It was truly amazing to see this display without the crowds and with my friends. We could take pictures without many people in the background and wander around freely. Some of us even laid on the ground to soak it all in. This evening was a true highlight of my trip and I can’t thank the people responsible enough!
Sunday was the last day for several of my friends so a group of us gathered to have breakfast before they had to head to the airport. After a yummy meal, we headed to Magic Kingdom to take in a few attractions before going our separate ways. After a teary goodbye with some of my dear friends, a small group of us headed to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to catch part of the Inner Mouse meet being held there. It was great to show support to friends who host the videocast and see other folks at this gathering. Before we headed to Epcot for the evening we had the most wonderful cast member interaction which I will have to write about another time because writing a few sentences wouldn’t do it justice.
A small group of us (yes, six is a small group for me). We went back to Epcot that night to eat at Biergarten as part of the Candlelight Processional dining package. I normally wouldn’t spend the money on the dining package, but Biergarten is one of the cheaper options and I wanted to hang out with these friends. We had a great time eating, drinking, and enjoying the house band. Soon, it was time to get in line for the Candlelight Processional. Susan Lucci was the narrator that night and she did a fine job. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy her or not, but her personal message at the end made us all well up. After the show, we met up with some other friends to watch Illuminations from Japan before hitting one of the Boardwalk area bars into the wee hours.
My last day at WDW was full of another breakfast at the Kona Cafe and some time at Epcot. With checking my bags at the airline check in and breakfast, I only got to spend a little time at Epcot before I had to head back to the Polynesian to catch the Magical Express. The bus ride back to the airport was a sad one as always. My flight was slightly delayed due to winds in Newark so I got to hang out with a friend for a little while at my gate before we both boarded our planes. I got home about an hour later than schedule and was happy to be greeted at the airport by my dad.
It was another great trip to WDW! I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of the great people I met and hung out with this weekend! I especially want to thank the guys from WDWtoday and the stellar team of MEI and Mousefan Travel for the wonderful events they put on this week! I also wanted to say how terrific it was to share a room at the Polynesian with three great friends: Caroline, Erin, and Tom! I had a blast laughing and enjoying our favorite place with some fantastic people and I can’t wait to do it again.
Next week I’ll be back to share some off the beaten path holiday fun at WDW!