Disney Divas Trip – Dec 2013 Trip

In December 2013 a group of ladies from the DIS Dining Review board met at Disney World for a fun-filled week of Disney dining.  Here is a photo of most of our group from our arrival day meeting:
From left to right: Philip (Linda’s husband), Linda (Linda67), Beth (Couchy), Me (Emmysmommy), Rachel (Rachel09985), Paula (smile4stamps) and Barb (jabead)
 
And another photo from my favorite dinner of this trip at California Grill.
Photo 2: Barb (jabead), Brenda (emmysmommy), Em (justemmy), Chef Eddie, Vicki (GoofySon’sMom), Paula (smile4stamps) & Hunter (Mr. smile4stamps)
And making a guest appearance at one of our dinners was Patty (emmebear) and her daughter, Emme.
Arrival Day

Most of us arrived at Disney World at various times on Thursday, Dec 5th (with just a few arriving earlier in the week and a few a day or two later). I was one of those who arrived on the 5th and I had a wonderful surprise awaiting me when I reached my first destination. So I would like to begin our dining report by telling you about the big dose of Disney pixie dust that was bestowed upon me, courtesy of the Yacht Club.

But first a little background info. During my many previous Disney resort stays with my family, I can only recall receiving one small complimentary upgrade. Back in 2006 I had booked 2 standard view rooms at the Wilderness Lodge and we were given rooms with a woods view. Woohoo! :laughing: But with this trip, my first time traveling solo, my luck changed…and in a pretty big way.

Here’s how it all went down…

As usual, for this trip I had booked standard view rooms, which for me usually results in a lovely view of the parking lot. Also, in order to get the Annual Passholder discount for all 8 nights of my trip, I ended up with the first three nights at the Yacht Club, then two nights at the Boardwalk Inn, and the final three at the Wilderness Lodge.

I had just gotten off the Magical Express bus at my first resort, the Yacht Club, when a cast member approached me and asked if I was Ms. Jacobs? For just a moment I was impressed by her power of mental telepathy, but then I remembered the Disney tracking device (aka Magic Band) I was wearing around my ankle (ummm…I mean wrist). However her next statement did leave me a little puzzled. She said, “Your room is ready for you and I will escort you.”

Now the fact that my room was ready at about 11:30 in the morning was a bit of a surprise, but add to that her offer to escort me to it really threw me for a loop. In this somewhat dazed and confused state, I dutifully followed her into the lobby where I was no doubt greeted by the Captain…

 

…walked by the beautiful globe

 

…and glanced at the Yacht Club Christmas tree, wonderfully decorated with a nautical theme!

 

Of course I recall absolutely none of this, including the ride on the elevator with her up to the very top floor of the hotel…the Concierge/Club Level. Along the way there was probably some small talk, but I have no idea what I said. I was then handed off to one of the CL staff and was seated at her desk. This conversation too is pretty much a blur, although I do recall asking her (and probably more than once) if she was certain that she had the right Barb Jacobs? :laughing: In addition to her assurances that I was in fact in the right place, I received further confirmation when she escorted me to my room and with a “Mickey to Mickey” touch of my Magic Band the door actually opened.

 

This appeared to be a standard Yacht Club room with a King plus a daybed and a lovely view of the parking lot. :laughing:

But more importantly for me, it was very close to the Regatta Club lounge…

 

Regatta Club Lounge Food Offerings – COMPLETE

Then it was off to Epcot for my first meal and DIS meet of the trip at…

 

San Angel Inn Lunch – COMPLETE

That evening we all met for cocktails at the Dolphin’s bluezoo lounge.

 
Then five of us walked to the Boardwalk to have dinner at…
 
Day 1

For my first meal on Friday, I headed over to the Wilderness Lodge to have breakfast with Brenda, Em, and Linda (who was staying at the lodge). I had forgotten just how beautiful Wilderness Lodge is when it is decorated for the holidays, since it had been 13 years since I had been to WDW in December. While the lobby is beautiful year-round, the magnificent Christmas tree and other holiday décor take it to a whole other level…one that is a step above all the other Disney resorts, IMHO.

I was happy to discover that I was the first to arrive at Whispering Canyon Café because I then had the time to take some photos…

 

Decorations above the front door…

 

 

There was a Christmas tree…

 

…and then there was THE CHRISTMAS TREE!!!

 

So beautifully decorated…

 

With tomtoms…

 

and many different beautiful teepees…

 

 

 

My iPhone photos really don’t do this tree justice. If you have never had the chance to see it for yourself, I highly recommend doing so if you ever have the opportunity.

Now moving on to our breakfast at…

Whispering Canyon Cafe Breakfast – COMPLETE

After our breakfast at Wilderness Lodge, we headed to Epcot where Brenda, Emily, and I had lunch at…
 
This lunch was booked with the Candlelight Processional (CP) Dining Package. We booked a 2pm lunch for the 5pm Candlelight Processional show featuring Whoopie Goldberg as the narrator. The Candlelight Processional dining packages allow you to enjoy a meal at one of Epcot’s restaurants, while guaranteeing you a seat for the Candlelight Processional show.  It’s important to note that at times this is THE only way to get a seat.  Those with Dinner Packages are the first to be seated – those waiting in line (a.k.a. those who didn’t buy the package) will be given the very few seats that remain.  And if you’re at Disney World during the holidays the Candlelight Processional show  is a “Don’t Miss” event.
With our Dining Package passes in hand, Brenda, Emily and I were able to get pretty good seats for the 5:00 Candlelight Processional show with guest narrator, Whoopi Goldberg.

Whoopi added her own unique “flavor” to the readings…think Sister Mary Clarence in Sister Act. ;)

We then returned to our respective resorts to change for our dinner, which was at the Grand Floridian’s Citricos.

Citricos Dinner – COMPLETE
Day 3
This day was packed full of Disney dining and for our small group it started with a morning at Magic Kingdom. Beth, Brenda, Emily  and I had breakfast plans at Crystal Palace which meant we would not only be having to make some serious buffet choices but we would also get a squeeze from Pooh and his friends.

After our breakfast at Crystal Palace, Brenda, Emily, Beth and I left Magic Kingdom and headed to Animal Kingdom. But first we made a quick stop at Animal Kingdom Lodge to see the holiday decorations there.

 

The tree was very beautiful, but the best part of our visit to AKL was that we met up with Vicki (GoofySon’sMom) there. She had finally arrived at Disney World!!! :woohoo:

 

The five of us then went on to Animal Kingdom, where we were joined by Paula & Hunter for our lunch at…

 

Yak & Yeti Lunch – COMPLETE
Following lunch we made our way towards Africa to view Animal Kingdom’s Christmas parade. I think we did a 360 of the park and ended up where we started for our viewing spot.  After the parade we all returned to our hotels and then met again later for dinner at the Yacht Club’s…
After dinner our group (minus Patty and Emme but plus Brenda’s friend, Rob) walked out to the Yacht Club dock to board our two boats for an Illuminations Cruise.   I shared a pontoon boat with Linda & Philip, Hunter & Paula, and Beth.  Linda & Philip were celebrating their anniversary so our boat was decorated with anniversary balloons.  They had some complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages for us, however since we had just had a big dinner at Yachtsman I don’t think any of us had any.  We did take some with us though at the end of our cruise.
 Here is a photo Paula & Hunter seated on our boat…
Needless to say, the cruise was wonderful!  Our boat captains took us on a great little tour on the water, traveling all the way over to Hollywood Studios and then to Epcot where we parked side-by-side under the bridge between the UK and France in perfect time for the start of Illuminations.
This gave us an outstanding, unobstructed view of the show.
The photos in no way do this view justice. I have seen Illuminations a bazillion times before, but the bazillionth + 1 time will be one that I will forever remember.:goodvibes
We all agreed that this experience was worth every penny!
After our cruise, Paula & Hunter, Beth and I went to the Crew’s Cup Lounge for a night cap.

So of course I didn’t pass up the chance to have another…

Santa’s Little Helper :santa:
Bailey’s, Butterscotch Schnapps, and Goldschlager (a cinnamon schnapps liqueur)

So between this and the delicious truffles that Hunter had made for us to have on the cruise, my sweet tooth was satisfied that night.  All was right with the World again! :laughing:

Day 4

I began my day by packing up and checking out of the Yacht Club, as I was staying across the lake at the Boardwalk Inn for the next two nights. I entrusted my bags to a bell man for the transfer and took a cab to the Polynesian, the home of my favorite breakfast location on Disney property…

 

Kona Cafe Breakfast – COMPLETE

After breakfast we went to Magic Kingdom, where we met up with Vicki and then met talking Mickey…

We had a great morning together at Magic Kingdom and then it time for our “Tea for Ten” at the Grand Floridian’s…

Following our loooo0ng tea at the Grand Floridian, we were very short on time so Brenda, Em, and I jumped into a cab back to our resort, the Boardwalk. This morning before breakfast I had checked out of the Yacht Club and sent off my bags to the Boardwalk, where I was going to be staying for the next two nights. Thankfully the check in process went quickly but I did have some difficulty finding my room because it was on the first floor, which turned out to be below the lobby. In the many times that I have stayed at the Boardwalk, I had never stayed on this floor and didn’t really know it existed. :confused3 But I did finally find my room and made a beeline for the bathroom, as I had needed one for about the last 20 minutes. :hyper: And of course as soon as I had sat down, there was a knock at my door…the bellman with my luggage. Traveling solo for the first time, I had never before encountered this problem. :laughing:

But I digress…my apologies. :blush: Anyway I quickly changed clothes before meeting up with Brenda and Em to take a cab to the Contemporary, ’cause there was absolutely no time to mess around with waiting for a Disney bus. ;) We met up with our dining companions (Paula & Hunter, Vicki and Rachel) by the California Grill check-in desk and took the restaurant’s private elevator up to the 15th floor.

Day 5 
Monday began with breakfast at the Boardwalk’s…

 

I kept all my dining receipts from this trip in order to help jog my memory when months later I’m trying to remember what the heck I ordered, as sometimes my photos just aren’t enough. :laughing:Looking at the receipt for my Kouzzina breakfast I found that I had paid for two entrees, one that I remembered eating (and have photo evidence of) and the other I was drawing a complete blank on. :confused3 Then it dawned on me that I had treated Em to breakfast this morning as a small token of my appreciation.

But once again I’m getting ahead of myself {hitting the rewind button now back to Sunday night}.

Needless to say I was in a very happy mood when we left California Grill. It had been a wonderful day which started with my favorite Disney breakfast food (Kona’s pineapple-macadamia pancakes), included a very special but emotionally “draining” Afternoon Tea (remember the tears ;)), and had just concluded with a fantastic meal at my favorite restaurant. But since I had been up since the butt crack of dawn to get packed up for my move to the Boardwalk before going to breakfast at the Polynesian, I was beyond tired and offered to pay for a cab back to the Boardwalk…since I’m pretty sure that Brenda had treated on the last two cab rides. After we had gotten into the cab I remembered that I had quickly switched purses before leaving for dinner and had forgotten to transfer over any cash. But having seen Brenda use her credit card to pay, I was confident that I could do the same. So I was sitting there in a state of nirvana (the blissful kind :cloud9:, not in Washington… the home state of Kurt Cobain ;)) thinking about our great day and before you know it we pulled up to the Boardwalk entrance. I quickly pulled out my credit card and swiped it in the machine, just as I had seen Brenda do. Though the transaction seemed to have gone through ok, our cab driver (we will call him Mr. Buzz Kill :rolleyes:) said it didn’t. We argued back and forth with him for a bit (well, mostly Brenda did, and I just nodded in agreement ::yes::). But Mr. BK insisted that he wasn’t going to get paid unless he did the credit card transaction manually. I was so tired at this point and a little afraid he was going to hold us hostage in the backseat of his car, so I surrendered my card to him to make an imprint in his manual machine. I figured I would just monitor my account for the next few days and contest it if I was charged more than once. So Mr. BK finally stopped whining about not getting paid and Brenda, Em, and I got out of the car and started to walk towards the hotel door. It was then that the very smart and observant Miss Emily asked if Mr. BK had given me my credit card back. Hmm…I thought so, but let me check just to make sure. Well, Emily was right…no card!!! :scared1: Luckily the cab was still parked there, as he was waiting for another group (that was standing there talking) to get in. I opened up the front seat passenger side door and told him that he had not given me my card back. Well, the other people thought I was trying to steal their cab and started yelling at me. Thankfully, Brenda was right there to hold them off and prevent a fist fight from breaking out. ;) So Mr. BK does the whole innocent act…”I gave you your card back ma’am”, while showing me his empty credit card machine. But I persisted and lo and behold my credit card suddenly appeared under his left leg!!! :headache:

So now you know why I am indebted to Em for life…or at least for breakfast the next day. :laughing: But in all seriousness, she saved me a huge hassle and for that she will always be my hero. But my story doesn’t end there folks….

Now I’m not sure if it was because I was so mad or because old age is settling in but for the life of me I couldn’t remember my new room number and of course in my rush to leave I had forgotten to put the key card with the room number in my purse. So I had two choices a) Walk up and down the hallway of my floor doing the “Mickey to Mickey” with my Magic Band until I found a door that would open, or b) Embarrass myself by going to the front desk and admitting that I had no idea what my room number was. I chose “b” as I thought it was the fastest way to get to this…

 

 

The next morning I got to sleep in a bit later than usual as we were meeting for breakfast right there on the Boardwalk at Kouzzina. Yay…no cab!!! :thumbsup2

Breakfast at Kouzzina (restaurant closed on Sept. 30, 2014)

OUR EPCOT BAR CRAWL

It was around 9:45 or so before we finished our breakfast at Kouzzina and paid our bills. I had set a meeting time of around 10:00 at the bakery in France to kick off our Epcot Bar Crawl. So we headed off to Epcot’s…

 

Epcot Bar Crawl Stop # 1 – Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie – COMPLETE

When we were done at Boulangerie Patisserie, I had asked a castmember working in the shop which is adjacent to the bakery and was told that the slushie kiosk (also located in France and the next stop on our Bar Crawl) would open at 11:00. So at 11:00ish Brenda, Vicki, and I ventured out of Les Halles and started making our way to the home of our much-loved slushies.

 

 

Les Vins de France Kiosk (aka the Adult Slushie Stand)

But once again the photo of the slushie stand was taken on an earlier trip. Sadly, the kiosk was not yet open for business. There was no one there except for these two familiar faces…

 

Linda & her DH, Philip

Though the slushies were there in plain sight, taunting us…

 

…there was no castmember there to serve them. We waited for a bit but finally gave up (for now) and forged ahead to Italy, the home of…

 

Epcot Bar Crawl Stop #2 – Tutto Gusto – COMPLETE

We ended up staying at Tutto Gusto for quite awhile. By the time we left, we were only able to fit in one more adult beverage before our lunch reservations. And since no Epcot DISmeet would be complete without partaking of a slushie together, it was back to France.  Thankfully the booth was now open for business.

Of the two slushie flavors…

 

Grey Goose Citron Lemon Slush and Grand Marnier Orange Slush

– Photo credit to Patty (emmebear) –

…most of us chose the orange one.  However, Linda prefers the lemon one…

 

 

 

And Hunter and Paula ordered the Grand Marnier Slush with the shot of Grand Marnier!


– Photo by Paula –

Two drinks for the price of one! Since they charge less for the shot this way it allowed Paula to have the slushie and Hunter the shot!

Since it was then time for our lunch reservation, we sadly had to abort the rest of our Epcot Bar Crawl plans after just three stops.

So after our slushie rendezvous in France, our group split up for lunch. Linda & Philip were off to their homeland (or at least the Epcot version ;)) to have their Candlelight Processional Package lunch at Rose & Crown. Brenda, Vicki, Paula, Hunter and I headed in the opposite direction, back again to Italy, only this time to…

 

Lunch at Via Napoli – COMPLETE

Following our tasty lunch at Via Napoli, we had planned to meet Linda & Philip at La Cava for one last drink…which for me, would have of course been an Avocado margarita. :thumbsup2 Brenda though decided after lunch that she would go back to her room at the Boardwalk to check on Emily, as she had stayed back to do school work. The remaining four of us got as far as Germany before we were diverted by this cart…

 

 

If my memory serves me correctly, Paula & Hunter bought us each a shot.  There was a Jagermeister shot, a Barenjager, and two Apfels (apple), one of which was mine…

– Photo by Paula –
I really have no recollection though as to how this tasted, as it was my 6th drink of the day. :laughing: I guess I’ll need to try it again sometime to find out if I liked it or not. ;) Paula and Hunter were then off to DHS for a FP+ ride that she had scheduled. So that left just Vicki and I to forge ahead toward Mexico. I believe that we made a few more stops though along the way, as Vicki was shopping for some surprise Christmas gifts for her son, Andrew. Just as we walked into the Mexico pavilion I received a text from Linda saying that their lunch had run longer than expected and they needed to get in line for the CP show, so they wouldn’t be able to meet us at La Cava after all. I must admit though that I was a tad bit relieved, as I was afraid that a 7th drink might do me in. :faint: I then left Vicki at Epcot to do a little more shopping while I headed back to the Boardwalk to pick up my camera. Our group had some great plans for the evening and I did not want to be without my camera. ;)

Once retrieving my camera from my room, I went out to the boardwalk to wait for Brenda and Emily, as we were going to walk together to DHS. While standing there waiting and enjoying the view, Rob (DisneyKid4Life) came walking along on his way to Hollywood Studios. So it ended up being the four of us, and then the five of us once we got to the park and met up again with Paula. We began our great evening together by checking in for a brief stay at the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

 

{This photo taken by DonaldDoleWhip for the live thread is one of my favorites so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use it again. :thumbsup2}

Anyway, I have “stayed” at this hotel many, many times before but this time was just a tad bit different and yet, very much the same. ;)

The five of us were seated in the back row of the elevator and I was at the end of our group, next to a nice lady and her adult daughter. As we prepared for take-off they asked me what the ride was like, as they had never been before and were a little scared. I tried to calm their nerves and told them there was no need to worry…it was not bad at all. This reminded me of the first time that I rode TOT, which was years ago when my son had reached the minimum height requirement and I no longer had an excuse to sit out. :laughing: On our first ride, my son and I both started out nervous…much like the ladies who were sitting next to me. By the time the ride photo was taken though, my young son had his hands up in the air and a big goofy grin on his face while his mother kept both of her hands tightly gripped around the handles on each side of her seat.

So fast forward about 12 years and here I was, an experienced rider sitting next to a couple of TOT newbies. The ride begins and then it happens…the first big drop. The lady’s initial response was to grab onto my arm, but she soon let go and seemed to relax and enjoy the rest of the ride. As for me, being grabbed by a stranger took me a little by surprise but really didn’t bother me in the least.

Nope, I maintained my usual cool, calm and collected demeanor throughout the ride…

 

…and had my hands firmly gripped around the handles on each side of my seat. Ahhh yes, I guess some things never change. :lmao:

So twelve years later my son (now 18) is begging me to lend him the money to go skydiving with his friends while they are in Florida for Spring Break later this month. Meanwhile, his mother can’t even manage a hands-free ride on Tower of Tower. So I guess that apple has fallen quite far from this tree…and perhaps did a little damage to his brain when he hit the ground. SKYDIVING?!?! :faint:

Anyway, after being “Terror-ized” ;), we met up with Vicki and Hunter and made our way over to the other side of the park to see the awesome holiday light show known as…

 

Though I had known what to expect, as I had seen the Osborne Lights two or three times previously, they again managed to take my breath away. :goodvibes

A couple of pics of my favorite light displays…

 

 

 

And a couple of photos of some of my favorite DISers…

 

 

Millions of beautiful lights dancing to the beat of “Feliz Navidad” and other great holiday songs … if that doesn’t put you in the Christmas spirit, then I say, “Bah humbug, Scrooge!” :laughing:

 

Next it was time to meet up with Rachel for our dinner at…

Day 6
I woke up to another beautiful, warm day.  However, it seems like the rest of the country was not so lucky…
– Photo courtesy of Vicki –

Anyway, Tuesday morning included two firsts for me. One of these was being on the Mexico/Norway side of World Showcase prior to park opening. Since I frequently stay at the Epcot resorts and enter Epcot through the International Gateway, I have often seen the UK/Canada side looking relatively deserted during the early morning hours. But for the first time, I got to see an empty Mexico…

 

An empty Norway…

 

And no one in sight for as far as the eye could see…

 

Of course, the presence of strollers on the left-hand side of the photo meant that other humans besides Brenda, Emily, and me did indeed still exist in this part of the “World”. ;)

Anyway, it wasn’t long before Rachel joined us in Norway and we checked in for my first-ever character meal at Akershus.

Following our breakfast at Akershus, Em and I headed back to the Boardwalk, as she needed to do some more school work and I needed to pack up for my final move of the trip, this time to the..

 

Wilderness Lodge

Once my bags were packed and I had arranged for their transfer to the Wilderness, I had some time to kill before I needed to head to Magic Kingdom. I had three goals that I wanted to accomplish before leaving the Boardwalk area though, so I was off to the Screen Door General Store to see about completing the first. I had admired a bag that Beth had and decided to see if I might be able to get one like it for myself. I didn’t have any luck finding it there, but then I went to the small hotel gift shop (Dundy’s Sundries) that is located just off the lobby and voilà…

 

With my first mission accomplished, I turned my attention to the second. For this I went to Guest Services right there at the Boardwalk. I had enjoyed the Candlelight Processional so much that I decided I wanted to see it again with my daughter, who was arriving at Disney World that afternoon. After discussing this with her, we decided that we wanted to do the CP dining package on Thursday and she was feeling like Asian food so requested that we dine at either Teppan Edo or Nine Dragons. Though I inquired about both, I was pretty confident that there would only be openings at Nine Dragons. But much to my surprise, the CM told me that neither of these were available. I then asked what was available for Thursday. She then refreshed her screen and voilà…availability came up at both restaurants. Wow, this was my lucky day…or so I thought. (but you will have to wait until our Thursday reviews to find out the final outcome of this story). ;)Anyway, I chose the Teppan Edo lunch CP package that was available and handed over my credit card for the required guarantee. The CM gave me the whole spiel about the cancellation policy, which with the CP package requires 48 hours notice of cancellation otherwise you are charged the full amount of the meal (not just $10 per person). She then handed me a reservation ticket, which I promptly stuck in my purse along with my credit card and happily was on my way to accomplish my third goal at the…

 

But first a Napoleon history lesson… :teacher:

 

No, not that one silly.

I’m talking about one of my favorite Disney World dessert snacks…

 

The above photo of the Boulangerie Patisserie Napoleon was taken a couple of years ago. This version was wonderful…loved it!!!

Then a travesty was committed when following the bakery makeover which occurred in late 2012, they came out with a different version of the Napoleon.

 

– Photo by DonaldDoleWhip –

This version looked very much like the one offered by DHS’ Starring Rolls Café…

 

I had tasted this one and didn’t like it nearly as much as the old Boulangerie Patisserie version. The icing on top was sickly sweet and the custard filling was not as good.

My suspicions regarding the new French bakery version were confirmed when DonaldDoleWhip gave it a negative review. I sadly resigned myself to the fact that one of my Disney World favorite desserts had “deserted” me. But then later in his trip DDW sent me photos and a very positive review of the Napoleon at the Boardwalk Bakery…and once again I had hope.

So my final goal before leaving the Boardwalk was to try the Napoleon at the Boardwalk Bakery.

Boardwalk Bakery – COMPLETE

So with my missions accomplished, it was time to get myself to Magic Kingdom.  I went to the Boardwalk resort’s bus stop to catch a bus to the park. I took a seat and waited, and then waited some more. After I had been waiting for about 20 minutes, Brenda and Em showed up, also hoping to get to Magic Kingdom in time for our lunch at Liberty Tree. After waiting another 15 – 20 minutes while multiple buses for all the other parks came and went, I finally picked up the bus stop phone and called to find out where the heck the MK bus was?!?! :mad: First they tried to tell me that there had been one there at the Boardwalk stop about 10 minutes ago. Ummmm….NOOOO! :rolleyes: Then they said there would be another one coming in about 10 minutes, which also proved to be inaccurate information, as it was at least 20 more minutes. So that was why were late and almost missed our lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern…DISNEY BUS TRANPORTATION!!! :sad2:

Ok, my rant is now officially over and I’m moving on to something much more positive, our lunch at…

 

Immediately following our Liberty Tree Tavern lunch, I left the group and headed out of Magic Kingdom toward my new resort, Wilderness Lodge. My daughter, Emily, had already arrived there and checked in for us and was now waiting for me in our room. She hadn’t had much to eat since her breakfast at Wolfgang Puck’s at O’Hare airport that morning, so I pulled out the Boardwalk Bakery box from my new bag and offered her its contents, which was a chocolate croissant and a chocolate chip cookie. She decided to save the croissant for her breakfast the next day, but quickly devoured the chocolate chip cookie…

 

She liked it a lot and asked for another one. Oops, I had only one. :guilty: So I told her that we would get her more food once we got to Magic Kingdom. And so we were off to the park to rejoin the group and together attend tonight’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. :santa:

We still had plenty of time before the official start of the party at 7:00 so our entire group of 9 (Hunter stuck around for awhile until the party started) decided to do some rides together…Pirates of the Caribbean, Enchanted Tiki Room, and the holiday version of the Jungle Cruise were the ones that I remember, but there may have been more. It was so much fun to do these together as a group. :)

Then Emily reminded me that I had promised her more food so we broke away from the group for a bit to get her a snack from…

 

 

 

And she ordered the Chili-Cheese Fries…

 

I was still too full from our late lunch at Liberty Tree, so I didn’t ask her for a taste. But she had no problem with eating them all by herself, so I guess she liked them. :thumbsup2

Anyway, the fries were all we ended up having that night, other than the cookies and hot chocolate which were provided to everyone. I had planned to finally try the popcorn at Magic Kingdom, as I’ve never had it here :eek: but have heard that it is the best popcorn ever! :thumbsup2 Unfortunately though, we never got around to getting any so it remains on my “WDW Snacks to Try” Wish List. Maybe on my next trip to the World??? popcorn::I’ll share just a couple of the many photos that my daughter took of the castle decked out in its holiday bling…

 

And one of the fireworks, Holiday Wishes…

 

Despite our attempt to remain together, our group got separated while we were scouting out a place in front of the castle to view the fireworks. Emily and I were able to locate Brenda, Em, and Paula after the fireworks and we headed away from the massive mob of people on Main Street and toward Frontierland to find a less crowded spot to plop down and wait for the second showing of the parade. This ended up being across from Liberty Tree Tavern. While sitting here I received a text from DeeDee asking where we were. I believe that she and her family were getting a snack at Sleepy Hollow at the time so we were just right around the corner. A few minutes later, I was able to see DeeDee for the second time of my trip.

 

Sadly this was the last time that I saw DeeDee, but hopefully our paths will cross again someday at Disney World…maybe in October???

Shortly after the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parade, Emily and I said our goodbyes and headed back to Wilderness Lodge. She had been up most of the night packing and then had taken a very early shuttle to the airport to catch her morning flight to Orlando, so she was exhausted. In our haste to leave, I don’t think I got to say a proper goodbye to Paula (as she and Hunter were flying home the next day), which I felt bad about. However, now that I know that I will be seeing them again very soon (in about 6 weeks), I’m feeling much better. :)

And so it was back to our room, where this was calling my name…

 

But before getting ready for bed, I opened up my new bag that I had carried around for our entire evening at Magic Kingdom and found that I had forgotten to remove my holiday cupcake. So what had looked like this when I bought it at the Boardwalk Bakery that morning…

 

Now looked like this…

 

So glad I’d put on that “show” for my neighbors and taken all those photos of my beautiful cupcake that morning.

DAY 7

Wednesday, December 11th was both a happy and sad day for me. It was happy because Emily was now with me and we had some great mother/daughter time together. However, it was also a sad day because both Paula and Vicki left for home on Wednesday.

I started my day by getting some breakfast to go from…

 

Emily and I then headed to DHS and rode all of our favorite rides, including Toy Story Mania. Emily thoroughly trounced me and of course then documented her triumph by taking a photo (“snap”) of our scores and “snapchatting” it to all of her friends. :laughing: Oh well, at least I was shamed for only a few seconds, instead of being forever shamed on Instagram or her Facebook. ;)

Anyway, soon it was time to head over to Epcot to meet up with Vicki, Brenda, and Em for lunch at…

 

 

Rose & Crown Lunch – COMPLETE

After marking off the Rose & Crown Pub from our Epcot Bar Crawl list, we had just two remaining locations to visit…La Cava de Tequila for a margarita and L’Artisan des Glaces for an ice cream martini. But before leaving the UK area, we had some shopping to do for my son.

 

He is a huge fan and had discovered that they sold a few Doctor Who-themed t-shirts at one of the gift shops here during our March 2013 trip. As soon as Emily and I entered the Crown and Crest gift shop (located directly across from the R & C Pub) we discovered that it was now a mecca for Doctor Who fanatics. One whole wall was completely devoted to Doctor Who merchandise. I started on one end of the wall and Emily the other and we took photos of nearly everything and sent them to my son…not thinking about the fact that it was early afternoon on a school day. So there he was sitting in class and his phone starts blowing up with photos of Doctor Who stuff…oops! :worried: Luckily his art teacher is also a fan, so didn’t mind the interruption. So anyway, if you are a Doctor Who fan or need a gift for one, this is the place to go! :thumbsup2

Our next stop was in France, where we were torn between having an ice cream martini from…

 

Or another kind of dessert from…

 

I left it for Emily to decide and she chose to have something from the bakery and then return later for our ice cream martinis. So here is what we chose…

 

Strawberry Tart and Raspberry Mousse Cake

Mine was the strawberry tart and while it was good, afterward I kind of wished that I had gotten the creme brulee instead. I had had the creme brulee here in March and enjoyed it more than the strawberry tart. Also, seeing the reviews of the Sticky Toffee Pudding at Rose & Crown makes me wonder if we made a mistake by skipping dessert there. {Especially since it has received Philip’s, “connoisseur of puds”, stamp of approval. ;)}

Next was a stop in Japan at the Mitsukoshi store. Nearly every trip to Disney World includes a visit by my daughters to the Pick-a-Pearl counter here. Emily is determined to find a clam shell which contains one of the elusive black pearls.

 

But unfortunately for Emily (and my pocketbook ;)), her quest did not end here. :sad2:

Then we had a quick stop at the American pavilion to pick up some of these ornaments…

 

Notice the backdrop of the new carpet in my son’s bedroom? Doesn’t it complement the ornament quite well? :laughing:

At our next destination we purchased some treats of the edible kind…

 

Here we got a large bag of this…

 

A couple of these…

 

And a few marshmallow caramel rolls (my personal favorite here) …

 

 

The relationship between the delicious caramel treats at KK and my will power is much like Superman and Kryptonite. :lmao: But hey, at least I saved a whole $2.30 by remembering to ask for the Annual Passholder 10% discount. ;)

After a quick look in the shops at China (where we actually didn’t buy anything :eek:), our last shopping stop was at Mexico’s Plaza de los Amigos.

 

Here we picked up a gift for my older daughter and also Emily found a ceramic elephant to add to her collection.

Then finally it was time to visit the home of my beloved Avocado Margarita…

 

La Cava del Tequila Margaritas & Snack – COMPLETE

We then realized that we were out of time and needed to make a quick exit to get back to the Wilderness Lodge for our DISmeet. Though we were in a hurry to leave, that didn’t stop Emily from snapping a hundred photos with her phone on the way out of Epcot. :rolleyes: Here are just a few of those…

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and you may have noticed that we didn’t ever make it back to France for those ice cream martinis…but there is always tomorrow. ;)

Once Emily and I returned to the Wilderness Lodge, it was time to meet up with Brenda, Em, Linda & Philip at the…

 

After our wonderful dinner at California Grill on Sunday evening, I had decided that I wanted to return there with Emily. Since she was only there for three nights, tonight was the only time it could be fit into our jam-packed schedule. So we soon had to say our good-byes, and with Linda and Philip it was sadly for the last time. :(

 

However, I look forward to seeing them again in October! :goodvibes

Then Emily and I were off to the Contemporary Resort’s…
 
Day 8
On Thursday morning Emily and I met up with Brenda and Em one last time.  We had a lovely breakfast together at the Grand Floridian Resort’s Grand Floridian Cafe.

 Following breakfast we decided to take some time to enjoy the Christmas decorations and the gingerbread house in the lobby.

 
We were all headed to MK for some park time so we took the monorail over there. Unfortunately, that is where we said our goodbyes. It was wonderful to not only finally meet Brenda and Em but to share no less than 18 meals and/or cocktails with them. I’m looking forward to a seeing Brenda again next month and meeting her husband, Michael. 

After saying our good-byes to Brenda and Em, Emily and I were off to the new Fantasyland, but first Emily took an obligatory photo of the castle…

 

Emily was not with us during our family trip in March 2013 so for her this was the first time seeing the new area during the light of day (we had spent a little time here during the MVMCP). We used our FP+ to go see the Enchanted Tales with Belle and then rode Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid.

 

 

Then we had some time to kill before our FP+ lunch ADR at Be our Guest, so we did a little more exploring of the area. Unfortunately we didn’t see the real Gaston but Emily liked the bronze statue in front of his tavern.

 

We also checked out the sweet treats at…

 

 

 

Emily especially liked the snowflake Mickey apple…

 

But I bought each of my three kids something a little more basic and easier to transport home…

 

Then it was time to head to our first lunch of the day at…

Be our Guest Lunch #1 – COMPLETE

After our lunch at Be our Guest, Emily and I headed back to the Wilderness Lodge to meet up with her friend that was joining us for the remainder of our trip. Emily went to school in Florence, Italy last summer and her friend (who is from Florida) was one of her roommates there. After a quick photo of the two of them in front of the beautiful WL tree, we were off to the bus stop to catch a bus to Epcot for our second lunch ADR in Japan.

 

Once at the bus stop, we waited…and waited…and WAITED for a bus to either Epcot or even DHS where we could either walk or take a boat to Epcot. I must say here, that on this trip (which included stays at three different resorts) I experienced the worst ever bus service. I have never before been forced to take so many taxis…it was quite frustrating! Our ADR time was quickly approaching so I finally gave up and called a taxi to take us to the Boardwalk. (I did however first make sure that I had enough cash on me, as I will never again surrender my credit card to a taxi driver ;)). From the Boardwalk, we walked at a fast pace to Epcot’s International Gateway entrance and then on to Japan for our Candlelight Processional Package lunch at…

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Teppan Edo Lunch #2

Right after our lunch I got in the already forming line for the Candlelight Processional package people. Meanwhile the girls had a little “selfie fun” around World Showcase. The first photo is from Morocco…

 

And this one was taken in Germany…

 

But does anyone know where this might have been taken?

 

Anyway, when the line started moving into the theater I called the girls back and we found some great seats with a perfect view of the stage…well, until the lady sitting in front of us decided to put on her huge hat! Thankfully, not long after the show began the sun went down and she removed it.

This was my second time seeing the show, but it was just as wonderful the second time around.

 

The guest narrator this time was none other than DeeDee’s friend, Dennis Haysbert…”the Allstate Guy”… ;)

 

I would have to say that I enjoyed Whoopi Goldberg’s narration a little more because of her “style” but Mr. Haysbert did a great job. And of course, I just love his deep voice. It reminds me of Morgan Freeman’s.

 

After the Candlelight Processional Show, it was time for me to take the long hike from the American Gardens Theater to Guest Services at the front of the park to try and get my money back for the CP package that I had been wrongly booked for on Tuesday. This turned out to be a very long process which involved standing in line for my turn to be helped, explaining the Boardwalk CM’s mistake multiple times, having to present and have copies made of my ADR slip and receipts from our lunch at Teppan Edo, and then completing some paperwork for the refund. But since this was a nearly $200 error, I stuck it out to the end. Sadly I missed out on the fun that Emily and her friend had though, first in World Showcase…

 

 

 

And then they rode Test Track, before test “driving” some new cars…

 

Thankfully I was able to catch up with them at Soarin’, which despite the fact that it is my favorite Disney World ride, I hadn’t yet been on it this trip. :eek: Soarin’ is almost always my first ride of every trip but on this trip it ended up being my final ride.

But then I had one more thing to attend to at Epcot before we found a spot to view Illuminations, and that was to complete our Epcot bar crawl at…

 

Yes, having an ice cream martini was the final item on our group’s Epcot Bar Crawl list from Monday, and though it took me three more days to finally do it…

 

Coupe Arrosee (name per my receipt) – Pineapple Sorbet, Coconut White Chocolate Ice Cream, and Rum – $11.50

I had been wanting to try this “pina colada-like combination ever since DonaldDoleWhip reported on this for the live thread. Since I love pina coladas I thought this would be perfect for me, but sadly I was a little disappointed with it. Now mind you, as Brenda said in her Teppan Edo review, it was freezing outside, so that might have had something to do with the fact that I didn’t find this frozen ice cream martini particularly enjoyable. I should probably give it another try when it’s warm outside and I’m in more of a “tropical” mood. ;)

The girls each had a scoop of ice cream in a cup, but it seems that we failed to take a photo. Then it was off to the bridge between France and the UK where I held our spot for Illuminations while the girls went into the UK shops to get warm.

 

After watching the show from the bridge (hmm…I wonder where DeeDee watched it from that night, was she in the vicinity? :scratchin), it was a fast and easy exit from the park through the International Gateway and then a short walk to the Yacht Club for our late dinner at the…

 

Day 9

This was the last day at Disney World for Emily and me and the plan was to spend it shopping and eating at Downtown Disney until it was time to head back to the Wilderness Lodge for our Magical Express pickup at 4:30. During our May 2012 trip, we had had breakfast at Wolfgang Puck Express and Emily had the breakfast pizza and loved it.

 

Smoked Bacon Pizza with scrambled eggs, tomatoes, mozzarella and cheddar cheese and Ranch Dressing

So per her request, the plan was to get up early, pack up our stuff, and take a bus to DTD sometime during WPE’s breakfast hours of 9:00 – 11:00. But sadly, things did not go quite as planned.  Emily of course had a hard time getting up so we were later getting to the bus stop than I had hoped…but we still would have made it if there had actually been a DTD bus come during the 15 – 20 minutes that we waited. Not being able to wait any longer, I was yet again forced to take a cab. This driver though was great and tried his very best to get us there on time, but was unable to stop in the area close to WPE. He got as close as he could though and I sent the girls running ahead to the restaurant, as we had only about 5 minutes before breakfast would be over. Well, they got lost and I ended up beating them in the door…but it was a little after 11:00 by then and we could no longer get breakfast food. Once the girls arrived we discussed our options for lunch and decided that since we were already there, we might as well stay.

And so, our lunch (not breakfast :( ) on our final day was at…

 

 For my final review of this trip, I’m actually going to be reviewing two very popular Downtown Disney restaurants…actually two of the four top-ranked restaurants in all of Disney World. Let me explain.

I was talking to a friend at a bridal shower on Saturday and she asked me about my trip to Disney World in December. While talking to her about the trip, the DIS boards (especially the Dining Review section) naturally came up frequently in the conversation. She and her family have also been to Disney World many times and she said that though she was familiar with the DIS boards, she didn’t find them to be helpful when planning her Disney trips. :eek: Instead she uses TripAdvisor, even when planning her Disney dining. Now I have often used TripAdvisor when planning trips outside of Disney World, but had never really researched Disney restaurants there. So out of curiosity I checked out this site to see what the top-ranked Disney World restaurants were according to TripAdvisor members. While I was not at all surprised at the #1 ranked Disney restaurant, actually #1 ranked for all 1,997 Orlando restaurants…

 

…I had to chuckle when I saw the #2 and #4. :laughing:

 

So though I have never been to #1, I did dine at #2 and #4…both on the same day. :thumbsup2

Following our lunch at Wolfgang Puck Express, we did some shopping at World of Disney, as well as a few other shops.

 

Then it was time to have our dessert at the #4 ranked Disney World restaurant…

 

Then before catching a bus back to the Wilderness Lodge, we made one more stop at Downtown Disney’s…

 

Earl of Sandwich – COMPLETE

Surprisingly we didn’t have to wait long for a bus this time, so we made it back to the lodge with plenty of time to spare before our Magical Express pick-up. So to pass the time we sat on the comfy couches in the beautiful Wilderness Lodge lobby and did some people watching. The most interesting of these was a couple who was apparently taking their afternoon nap on one of the lobby couches… ;)

 

Though I had suspected that they were also waiting for a ME pick up, now I’m not sure since they were still sound asleep on the couch when we boarded our bus to the airport. So during my bus ride I couldn’t help but ponder this question…Just how long could one camp out in a Disney resort lobby before they would “show you the door”? Would you be ok as long as you didn’t pull out your pjs and toothbrush? :lmao:

And with that perplexing question, I will conclude my reviews from this trip. Oh, but since I will back at the Wilderness Lodge in less than 3 weeks, I’ll let you know if I see a certain couple still napping in the lobby there. ;)

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