Christmas Trip Report Part II

If you missed my ramblings about the first part of my trip you can check it out here! Plus I added pictures so check them out!  Today I’ll share the details on the second half of my trip.

subjects 205On Thursday our friend Don joined us for some fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  We met up with him after taking the boat from the Boardwalk and headed off to hit some of our favorite attractions around DHS.  In the afternoon we took a break to walk over to Boardwalk and try out the Big River Grill.  I’m sure I’ll write more about this restaurant in another post, but it was pretty good pub grub and the beer was lovely.  We decided to wander around the area to check out the Christmas decorations at the Yacht and Beach Clubs while we were close by.  Since I love all things nautical I really enjoyed our time wandering around these resorts.  After our break, it was back to the Studios to use our fastpasses for Toy Story Mania, hit a few other attractions, and see the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  However, there had been some light rain that day and it apparently did a number on the lights.  A good number of them were out and after the first dance upon being switched on, it was announced that they would not dance again.  We’ve seen them several times before so we took it in stride and headed out of the park.  We had intentions of going to Jellyrolls, but never quite made it.

subjects 207On Friday we moved over to Pop Century.  Don was nice enough to pick us up at Boardwalk and bring us and our luggage over to Pop.  We grabbed some breakfast at Everything Pop before heading to Epcot.  We rode the usual attractions in Future World before heading to World Showcase for the rest of the day.  We returned to Le Cava del Tequila in the Mexico pavilion to sample some other goodies off their menu.  This time I went for the margarita flight which includes samplings of five of the bar’s margaritas.  I liked some better than others, but it was a great way to try most of their menu.  We saw other folks eating off of the tapas menu and it looked tasty, but we had lunch outside before coming into the bar.  After exploring WS for the afternoon, we watched the Candlelight Processional standing at the back of the theater.  The narrator that night was Whoopi Goldberg and she did a great job!  Shortly after it was time to check out Illuminations for the third time that week!  There were extra magic hours at Epcot that night, but we were all too tired to stay so we headed back to Pop Century.

Saturday morning started off with getting Julie transferred over to the Fort Wilderness Cabins.  Her family would be joining the group that day and they opted to try the cabins.  She reported several folks were begging to be able to stay an extra night or two so they wouldn’t have to drive their motor homes back in the snow storms hitting the Northeast.  After getting her settled in we headed toward Magic Kingdom.  Whoa was it crowded!  It was a mob scene at the Ticket and Transportation Center so we decided the buses running from TTC to the MK gate were the best option.  After getting through the long security lines and up a very crowded Main Street, we headed to Tomorrowland to grab fastpasses for Space Mountain.  We decided to take it easy that day and focus on doing attractions with high capacity and generally small queues.  I had never been there when it was this crowded and it was hard to handle for a first timer.

tta1The main reason we headed to Magic Kingdom that day was to see Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade and Holiday Wishes.  We staked out a spot for the parade early and watched in on the hub.  I’m glad I got to see it without paying for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party this year.  Shortly after the parade Julie’s family arrived and it was so nice to meet people I’ve heard about for the last few years!  We hung out with them the rest of the day and tried to take in as many attractions as possible.  When it came time to see Holiday Wishes it was so crowded we couldn’t get onto Main Street!  We opted to watch from the front of Chrystal Palace restaurant instead.  After the fireworks we hung out to let some of the congestion clear out before hitting a few more attractions and calling it a night.

On Sunday Tom and I got up and got packed up to make the journey home.  I have to say the folks working at the airline check in desk at Pop Century were very helpful to all of us weary northeastern travelers.  As you may have heard on the news, the northeast got hit hard by a snow storm on Saturday.  Many families were stranded in Florida after getting up to two feet of snow back home!  The woman who helped me made sure my flight was still scheduled and I heard several others explaining what would happen should a flight be canceled.  Kudos to those CMs!  After getting checked in we hopped on the bus to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The traffic to get into the parking lot was crazy!  After we finally got into the park we met up with our friend Adam as well as Julie and her family.  They wanted to get fastpasses for Toy Story Mania, but Tom and I would be leaving for the airport during the reported return time so we opted out.  We wandered around the very crowded park for a little while and decided to try the single rider line at Rockin’ Roller Coaster.  We got in the queue, but after standing in it for a little while a cast member let us know it would be at least an hour long wait from where we were standing.  No thanks!  We hopped out of line and headed to Star Tours which had a posted 30 minute wait, but it was actually about 10 minutes.

After Star Tours it was time to head to Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge for lunch.  We had a lot of fun and the food was great as usual!  At this point we said our goodbyes to all of our friends we had dined with since they either headed back to the parks or home to get ready for the work week.  Tom and I decided not to head to a park after lunch since we would have to get on Disney’s Magical Express in a couple of hours.  One of our friends gave us a ride back to Pop Century to hang out for a little while before starting the very long journey home.

Now it’s always rough to leave WDW, but this particular trip home was made worse by airport delays and angry passengers aboard my flight.  Although the runways in Newark had been cleared of the ice and snow, air traffic was backed up all over the Mid-Atlantic and New England.   My flight was listed as being on time for most of the day and then shortly before I boarded the Magical Express bus, it was pushed back an hour and a half.  I was sort of expecting this to happen, so I wasn’t too upset.  Luckily Tom was headed to the airport at the same time for his flight back to England so we could keep each other company.  While we were hanging out my flight got further delayed and was now slated to leave at 9:15 pm.  The situation was bit annoying, but understandable given the conditions.  The time to board rolled around, and the flight crew did not call upon us to get on the plane.  There was no announcement about what was happening until almost an hour later!  It appeared our first officer (co-pilot) for the flight was among the missing.  Jet Blue had no idea where he was and no idea when we’d be able to leave.  After telling us they would update us every 15 minutes, another 45 minutes went by before they announced they had called in a replacement first officer.  However, he had a two hour window in which to show up and no one knew when that would be.  Needless to say, at this point people were getting pretty upset (us Jersians can be a tough crowd).  Eventually a replacement arrived with applause and cheering.  We finally got on the plan around 11 p.m. and didn’t land back in Newark until about 2 a.m.  I spent about 11 hours in transit.  I have to thank my dad for never complaining about having to come get me at the airport at 2 in the morning!  I suppose I should count myself lucky since the same flight on Saturday was canceled all together, but it was still a long night.

This entry is going to do it for me for this year.  I’m going to take the next week and a half or to off the enjoy the Christmas season with my family and friends and catch up on everything I put off while I was in WDW!  I want to take this opportunity to wish all of the readers and staff the happiest of holidays and a wonderful new year!   I also want to say thank you for reading and leaving such great comments in my first year of blogging!  See you in 2010!

Kristen Helmstetter

Kristen Helmstetter is an Unofficial Guide researcher who will share her 20-something perspective of all things Walt Disney World with blog readers. Kristen’s email address is You can also follow her on Twitter: @khelmstetter.

One thought on “Christmas Trip Report Part II

  • April 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm

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