Holidays

Holidays Around the Parks: Disney Cruise Line Edition

by on January 8, 2018

Yes, the holiday decorations are being packed up and put back into storage for another year. But I just couldn’t let the season slip by without including a round-up of the decorations on a Disney cruise. Technically, my cruise on the Magic for New Year’s wasn’t a MerryTime cruise, but the decorations were still up for us. My luck is your gain. Here’s how DCL decks the halls for the holiday season.

 

There’s nothing like boarding a Disney ship, is there? The applause, the moment of Wow as you step into the atrium. It’s marvelous, isn’t it? On every other cruise I’ve done, we’ve entered on Deck 3, but perhaps because we were docked in Miami, this time we entered in on Deck 4, which gave a wonderful view of the atrium’s Christmas tree. What a way to start a trip!

 

We tend to like to board after 12 PM so that people are getting ready to camp in the halls for access to their staterooms, and it makes for a less crowded time in Cabanas for lunch. To what do my wondering eyes should appear? It’s Gingerbread! These are the same miniature gingerbread bites that you can buy at the Grand Floridian gingerbread house. They really are marvelous, aren’t they? And as all-you-can-eat, it makes them taste even better.

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Holidays Around the Parks: Magic Kingdom Edition

by on December 25, 2017

Good morning and Merry Christmas to all! I hope none of you received coal in your stocking this morning, because I still have a ton left over from last Christmas. I mean, what can you do with it?!? Anyway, for those of you whom haven’t read any of our previous entries this holiday season, we’re bringing you a GLORIOUS full-page investigative report surrounding the holiday decorations from around the Orlando area theme parks. Some parks have delivered jaw-dropping new additions, while others…well, maybe I will have a few places to send that coal after all. So sit back, put on that new Derek Burgan mixtape (available now at an outlet bargain bin near you), and enjoy the festivities from the Magic Kingdom.

 

It’s a gorgeous afternoon at the Magic Kingdom, with plenty of reds and greens as far as the eye can see.

 

 

The Main Street Station is always well dressed for any holiday. While I prefer the Jack-O-Lanterns during Halloween, the red bows and garland are a welcome sight for passengers arriving from Storybook Circus.

 

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How to Escape the Disney World Crowds During the Holiday Season

by on December 22, 2017

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… It was the holiday season at Walt Disney World. Yes, Walt Disney World during the holidays is one of the best times to visit due to the magical holiday décor, festive treats and merchandise, special entertainment, ticketed events, and more. But it’s also one of the busiest times of year with gridlocked paths and extra-long waits not only for attractions, but for restaurants, monorails, and even the restrooms! Many Disney World regulars avoid the parks around the holidays and understandably so. But with a little strategy, you and yours can still enjoy Walt Disney World during the most wonderful time of the year. Take a look at a few of my strategies for how to escape the crowds at Disney World during the holiday season.

Rope Drop Mornings

If you don’t start your day at a Disney Park with rope drop, you’re doing it wrong. This is my philosophy no matter what the season, but even more so at the holidays.

First of all, you can walk on almost any attraction without the need for FastPass+, meaning you can save those reservation slots for when the holiday crowds descend. Cast Members are usually out and welcoming guests into the park, and many areas of the park are largely empty and give you the sensation of having the place all to yourself.

Mornings at the Magic Kingdom are definitely the best time to visit as this is when the Main Street Vehicles and the Main Street Trolley Show are out and about, something you won’t see any other time of the day. I also have to note that Main Street, U.S.A. now opens a full hour before the park does, meaning you can get your shopping out of the way, grab a coffee at Starbucks, and take one of those coveted crowd-free photos for before the park even opens.

Note: While I recommend rope dropping all of the parks during your vacation, I should mention that rope dropping Animal Kingdom does NOT mean a crowd-free experience at Pandora – The World of Avatar. Flight of Passage is still incredibly popular and pretty much everyone rope dropping the park are heading in that direction. However, a crowd-free experience is still a possibility throughout the rest of the park!

Visit Disney Springs Early in the Day

Shopping shouldn’t be your only reason to visit Disney Springs as Walt Disney World’s ultimate shopping and dining destination also offers live entertainment, decorations, a meet and greet with Santa Claus, and the Christmas Tree Trail complete with a 100% chance of snow!

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Holidays Around the Parks: Gingerbread Edition

by on December 22, 2017

One of the most well-known traditions of Walt Disney World’s holiday offerings are the gingerbread houses located around the resorts. The oldest of such, the Grand Floridian gingerbread house, has been a staple of the resort’s decorations for nearly twenty years. In the following years, we’ve seen gingerbread creations added to the Contemporary and Beach Club resorts, as well as a location inside Epcot’s American Adventure – which, I believe, is the first such display inside a park. To begin our journey, we will start off with Epcot.

In years past, this was the location for the Hanukkah storyteller during Epcot’s Holidays Around the World celebration. With the story of The Maccabees being told musically at a new outdoor location, we now have this massive gingerbread house, featuring a special appearance by Honest Abe himself. If my math is correct, it would take one person four score to consume this entire gingerbread National Mall.

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Disneyland Preview — Week of December 23

by on December 22, 2017

We’re at that point of the year when EVERYONE is off of school, and that means that Disneyland will be BUSY. What else is in store? Read on to find out in this week’s Disneyland preview!

Special Events and Notes

The same holiday festivities we’ve been talking about continue this week at Disneyland Resort.  This includes the Festival of Holidays at Disney’s California Adventure (featuring food and drink kiosks sprinkled throughout the park). Princess Elena of Avalor has a special show, and there’s also Disney ¡Viva Navidad! (celebrating Latino holiday traditions). During the Festival, Annual Passholders are eligible to pick up a Sip & Savor Pass for $45 that is good for eight Festival food and beverage offerings (excluding alcohol).

Still haven’t had a chance to meet Santa? The big guy will be at Ahwahnee Camp Circle at the entrance to the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail with other holiday activities. Santa will be taking a breather starting on Christmas, but Goofy will take over and will be available for photos in the same location. 

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Holidays Around the Parks: Dinosaur Edition

by on December 20, 2017

 

 

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and my gift to you this Christmas season is the gift of holiday cheer…in photo form. I’ve braved the unusually frigid temperatures and over-crowded parks to bring you complete coverage of each park’s holiday decorations. Today we are stepping it up a notch and visiting two parks in one day: Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. But why are we calling it the ‘Dinosaur Edition’? Well,  you’ll just have to read on to find out!

 

Our journey begins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where we encounter my all-time favorite theme park Christmas tree.

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Ask It: Best Fireworks, NYE or July 4?

by on December 13, 2017

There’s nothing like a Disney fireworks show. For certain holidays, Disney pulls out all the stops. You know that scene in Mary Poppins where the Banks family has to get to their posts to hold things in place as Admiral Boom sounds a charge from next door? It’s like that for the locals some nights as the sound like a wave of thunder rattles the windows and doors. (It’s a glorious time of year — we all love it!)

At Disney parks, there are two nights when the fireworks are their best: New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July. But which one does it better? This week we’re asking you:

Which holiday has the best fireworks shows at Walt Disney World?

  • Fourth of July (55%, 31 Votes)
  • New Year's Eve (45%, 25 Votes)

Total Voters: 56

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Voting is live here and on Twitter, and we’ll have your results next week. In the meantime, feel free to tell us in the comments what’s your favorite park or favorite place in the park to catch those holiday fireworks shows?

Ask It Results: Universal Orlando Holiday

by on December 13, 2017

Theme parks and the holidays go together like peanut butter and jelly, coffee and cream, computers and technical issues. But we’re ready to go for this week’s Ask It results. Although Disney in years past has the sentimental vote for best holiday theme park from out-of-town guests, losing things like Lights of Winter at Epcot or the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios does put a bit of Grinch into that holiday spirit. This year, Universal Orlando has added Celebrate Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to their previous offerings, and that has driven more buzz about whether Universal Orlando should be a destination for the holidays, either in addition or instead of a trip to Walt Disney World.

Last week, we asked you:

Does the increase in holiday experiences at Universal Orlando make you more likely to take a trip there for the holidays?

 

Here’s your results:

Yes, this year (102 votes, 12%)

Although many people would find it hard to book a last-minute trip for the holidays, you can never underestimate the power of fandom. Take, for example, the number of people who booked a single-day trip to Walt Disney World to ride The Great Movie Ride before it closed. So it isn’t surprising that there’s a small percentage of people who said “Harry Potter and Christmas? Book me a flight!” The benefit of coming for experiencing something like holiday overlays is that you don’t have to do a lot of advance planning–your main focus is just to do the holiday experiences and not worry about anything else. Now getting cheap flights or hotel availability…that could be challenging. Some people love a challenge, though!

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Holidays Around the Parks: Universal Orlando Edition

by on December 13, 2017

It’s the most wonderful time of the year to visit the theme parks – from a decorative standpoint that is. Last time I took you on a tour of Holidays Around the World at Epcot, but today we’ve taken a short trip up I-4 to check out the holiday cheer at Universal Orlando. Both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios parks have their own major attractions, with Seuss Landing transformed into Whoville, and the Macy’s Holiday Parade moving through the streets of Universal Studios. Oh, and there will be plenty of Potter along the way.

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Holidays Around The Parks: Epcot Edition

by on December 8, 2017

It’s that time of year again when theme parks roll out their holiday decorations to celebrate the season in their own magical ways. Whether you’re a fan of the mouse or the boy who lived, there is something for everyone this holiday season when it comes to décor in the parks. Today we’re going to take you on a tour through Epcot as we explore some of the elements that make Holidays Around the World one of the grandest, joyous celebrations of the holidays in Orlando.

One of the newer offerings this season is the Cookie Nook, located inside the former Odyssey building. As the name implies, you can find a wide selection of scrumptious Christmas cookies to pair with local brews that have a holiday flair to them. Having grown up in Titusville, I must recommend the Playalinda Brewing Company’s Sparkling Christmas Coffee Blonde, which emits a robust coffee flavor for a lighter beer. Holiday gifts are also available for purchase at this location.

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