Day Twenty: Disney’s Days of Christmas
During our 2019 short trip to Universal Studios Orlando, we managed to squeeze out a quick day to visit Disney Springs (which we had never visited in our previous three family trips to WDW). We browsed the shops and had a scrumptious BBQ lunch at The Polite Pig. Our favorite shop at Disney Springs was Disney’s Days of Christmas. It was a no brainer for us – we all love the Christmas season. We were there in April, but the decor, the music, and the beautiful merchandise put us right in the Christmas mood. Disney’s Twelve Days of Christmas list provided our kids with a scavenger hunt through the shop to find all twelve sets. Outside, a Snowman Mickey and Pals scene was primed for photo opps.
Day Nineteen: Duffy
When we visited WDW for the first time as a family in 2013, little did we think one of our family favorites would turn out to be a teddy bear we never knew existed. But that’s exactly what happened. While staying at Art of Animation, the WDW resort television channel played “Duffy the Disney Bear – Mickey’s New Friend” several times a night. Our son Ben (two years old at the time) instantly fell in love with Duffy. It wasn’t until day four of our trip that we made our way to Epcot, where we got to meet Duffy, and Ben got a Duffy of his own to take home. Our family has also added a Christmas Duffy plush, Tsum Tsum Duffy pillow, and two Duffy Christmas ornaments to our tree.
Since then, Duffy has come with us on every Disney trip, and many other vacations as well.
We were hoping to see Duffy again on our second trip to WDW in 2015, but he had moved on from Epcot and was no longer greeting guests. We got incredibly lucky on our third WDW trip in December 2017, when we were able to attend an Epcot Annual Passholder Christmas Party as guests of our very generous friends. To our surprise, Duffy was one of the characters greeting guests that evening. He even dressed for the occasion, wearing a festive hat and scarf.
Duffy even made our family Christmas card in 2017. Have you included a Disney character on any of your family Christmas cards?
Day Eighteen: Serenity Now – Real Deer in WDW
There are few places in WDW where you can feel a true sense of quiet and peacefulness. The parks are almost always crowded, as are the restaurants, results, food courts, you name it. But if you can peel yourself out of bed early enough, most resorts offer access to walking and running trails, where you can have some quiet you-time while getting in a bit of exercise. I’ve done this at several resorts we’ve stayed at, but never was I more at peace, yet still connected to the Disney magic, than when I ran the trail from Wilderness Lodge to Fort Wilderness.
The sun was barely rising when I set out, and the trail connecting the resorts was slightly foggy and mysterious. I actually passed a full family of deer – in Walt Disney World. While in Fort Wilderness, I explored the different campsites, which were fabulously decorated for Christmas at the time. I wove myself through the Tri-Circle-D Ranch area and met several horses and ponies, before heading back to our Wilderness Lodge room to start our day as a family.
I didn’t break any speed records that morning, as I stopped a great many times to admire and photograph the sights along the running route. I even ended up with a free Christmas ornament – a thin plastic snowflake I found on a path in Fort Wilderness, which I assume must have fallen from one of the decorated carts that many use for transportation around the resort.
Have you walked or run any of the resort trails at Walt Disney World?
Day Seventeen: The Dead Lady on Test Track
Ok, this may sound a little morbid, but this ride photo really does beg the question – is that lady alive? Single rider lines can do strange things to your ride photos, and this very sweet lady happened to luck into our rowdy Test Track car.
This particular ride on Test Track was boys vs. girls, so Ben and I rode with a couple friends from town, and Nicole and Abby did the same. The lady has since gone on to achieve legendary status in both of our families, coming up as a topic in many conversations, and while playing a Disney version of Fishbowl.
(By the way, she was alive and well when the ride ended – just going for an evening drive)
Day Sixteen: Goofing off in line for Haunted Mansion
As all Disney guests know, much of our park time includes the not-so-magical process of waiting in line. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time doing it. We tend to play family games, introduce conversation-sparking Disney topics, play Heads Up (Disney version), or sometimes just goof off. Here are a few pics from our time in line for Haunted Mansion in 2017.
Actually, Haunted Mansion’s queue itself is one of the most interesting of all the attractions, and having become a student of Disney history, I have come to recognize a great many of the names in the graveyard as the Disney legends they are, with deserved recognition. But poor Mister Toad…
Day Fifteen: Carrolwood Pacific Railroad Room
This is one of those true “hidden gems” at Walt Disney World. The Carrolwood Pacific Railroad Room is tucked away near Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort Villas lobby – quite far off the radar screen, and out of the path of guest traffic. I only found it because I was looking for it. It offers an amazing collection of photos, narratives, and memorabilia that celebrate Walt’s love of trains. I will post a more complete take on my experience there in the future, but suffice to say, if you have a love for Walt’s sense of wonder and childlike enthusiasm, you will absolutely cherish the time to spend a while in this remarkable room.
Have you visited the Carrolwood Pacific Railroad Room?
Day Fourteen: Hoop De Doo
There are so many experiences in Walt Disney World that people rave about, and when discussing an upcoming trip with someone who’s already been there, we often hear “you’ve got to do this!” That was the case with Hoop De Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness Resort. Everything I heard about Hoop De Doo was positive, fun, and memorable. The show’s name and description didn’t immediately hook me, but with so many positive reviews, how could we go wrong? So we took the plunge and went one night of our 2017 trip.
It was one of the best experiences of our trip. It’s hard for me to describe Hoop De Doo – sort of or a western-themed vaudeville variety show including singing, dancing, corny humor, and comedy skits. The audience is invited to interact with the show at times, which helps to make the experience feel even more personal and unique. The energy, the goofy jokes, the chicken and cornbread. It all worked perfectly together, and it gave us an evening we’ll never forget.
If you’ve been to Hoop Dee Doo – who was your favorite performer? For our family, it was Six Bits Slocum!
Day Thirteen: Legos!
Stepping out of the WDW parks, and into Disney Springs, brought our Lego-loving son Ben face to face with some exquisitely designed Disney creations. The texture and details incorporated into these designs demonstrate how the blocky shape of a Lego brick can be massaged and smoothed over a larger area to form any shape and scenario one can imagine.
We are currently in the process of building the Disneyland Railroad set. Do you (or your kids) have any Disney Lego sets at home?
Day Twelve: Chip ‘n Dale
Who doesn’t love to meet these playful pals? We’ve met them several times, and at Animal Kingdom we got to meet them together! They are never afraid to get down on ground level with the kids, and make them feel like big shots. They crack silent jokes, enjoy a belly laugh, and ham it up for the camera. These nuts are among our favorite characters to meet!
Day Eleven: Wilderness Lodge
Our one and only time (so far) staying in a deluxe resort at WDW was in 2017 when we stayed at the amazing Wilderness Lodge. It is the least expensive of the deluxe resorts, has convenient boat access to Magic Kingdom, and feels like living a world away from the bustle of the parks. The great American northwest shines through in every corner of the resort, from the grand wooded lobby, to the stone fireplace, to the geyser by the resort pool.
We visited during Christmastime, and the tree standing tall in the center of the lobby was incredible! In one of our luckiest Disney moments to date – our fourth floor room balcony just happened to look out over Magic Kingdom, and we could kiss the castle goodnight every night (BTW – the blue castle lights were on ALL NIGHT several nights – talk about a perfect nightlight).
Geyser Point Bar and Grill was a relaxing outdoor dining spot, and Whispering Canyon Cafe was…well, let’s just say it had a little more energy than Geyser Point (but lots of fun)!
What’s your favorite WDW resort?