Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Disneymoon Part 1: The First Half of the Week in Disney World


Over the past year, I have written about the planning of the Disney Honeymoon. Finally after much anticipation we had gotten married in a Disney themed day. 

We arrived to the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World around 2 am on December 28. If we had made it during normal operating hours, we would have gotten to check in at the concierge desk in the Atrium Club, but we made due with our usually check in desk in the main Lobby.  That just sounded snobby, sorry it was not ment to be that way. 

Our first day in the parks was the 3rd anniversary to our engagement, that as you all know happened in Disney World. We originally planed on a Tusker House breakfast, but canceled that the night of the rehersal dinner, we decided that we may be to tired. This brought the opportunity to try out the free food offered at the Atrium level. There was nothing big, pastries and cereal with drinks. 

We made our way to Animal Kingdom to hit Everest and The Safari, both didn't have much of a wait and got on pretty fast. But didn't stick around in the park to long as we had lunch reservations at Akershaus in Epcot.  It should go to mention that I am a very picky eater, and most of these restaurants don't have my taste in food, but I tried to find something I may like and at least tried it. 

After lunch we walked a little around Epcot, only to find ourselves a little tired, so we made our way back to the hotel for a nap. It wasn't a long nap, as we had to be at Magic Kingdom for our dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table. 

Beth was able to request the table where I had proposed to her, and we were lucky enough to have gotten that table. The service was amazing, the princesses were entertaining and the food was perfect. As much as we wanted to stay in the park and watch Wishes, we had the Fireworks cruise booked that night and had to be at the Grand Floridian pretty soon after dinner. 

On this amazing cruise we had a driver named Kate. She was a part time worker for Disney and you could tell that she had a passion for what she was doing. I was expecting just a cruise around Seven Seas Lagoon to a nice spot to view the show, but instead Kate, and the rest of the drivers, took us on a tour of Bay Lake. Here she showed us the abandoned Discovery Island and River Country Parks, also the retirement shoe tree. All this was in the pitch black, and while she had a spot light, it didn't make much of a difference. We could see the turn styles but nothing more. 



We made our way back to the entrance of Magic Kingdom, this would be our place for viewing the Holiday Wishes. The music was transmitted over FM, so Kate was able to have the music synced for us while we watch the fireworks. Once Wishes was over we made our way back to Grand Flordian, where we had the best view of the Electrical Water Pageant, some this we had only seen in passing, but will make part of our ritual from now on.  While dated, it's still an amazing show. 




Monday morning we had our first Disney behind the scenes tour, the Yultide Fantasy Tour. This tour was completely worthy our time and money. Ralph was our guide for this tour. We started by heading to the Germany pavilion in Epcot, then to Italy and finally to American. Each spot we got the history of that countries celebration and why they decorated the way they did.  The next stop was Magic Kingdom, where we got a few tibits of the decoration of Main Street, but mostly the story of how Rudolph came about being a Christmas tradition.   

We then made our way backstage to the Holiday Workshop. This is were all the decorations for Disney World and some for the Disney Cruise Line get put together and ready for the parks. While most of the Christmas decorations where already out in the parks and resorts, the workshop was working on the Fall Decorations that had just come in or making from scratch new ones to replace the older decorations. 

The last stop on our tour was the Wilderness Lodge. This part was a more of an on your own tour. We had apple cider with the group and were then able to walk aboard the resort and enjoy the decorations and take pictures. 



We were taken back to where we were picked up, Epcot, where we had reservations for Via Napoli with the Candlelight Processional package. As always, their food was amazing. I had to make my new wife mad and have the pizza, while she couldn't because of a gluttien sensitivity. 

We enjoyed epcot for a few hours before we made our was to the American Theater, including listening to my favorite Vocies of Liberty. If you haven't taken the time to listen to this Acapella group, you need to do so on your next trip. They are a very talented group of people and always leave me wanting more. 

Steven Curtis Chapman was the guest reader for our Candlelight Processional. This was only the second time hearing this wonderful program in Disney, our church choir performed it this year as well, and the way that Mr. Chapman brought the story forth was amazing. The choir and orchestra were also breath taking. 

After hopping on the monorails, we arrived at the Polynesian Village Resort, which had just opened the newly remodeled lobby, for our dinner at Ohana. The lobby in my opinion is beautiful, of course it's not the old water feature, but it has it's perks. On the ground floor, looking through the lobby toward the Magic Kingdom, you get a view of Cinderella Castle. The Second floor feels more open as well as you have a few light fixtures hanging low. 

  



After our first horrible experience at Ohana, the waiter paid us no attention, we barely got any meats the first time around, and no one came close to us for seconds, we made our way back to the hotel room, where we would take advantage of the evening desserts that had been placed out in the club lounge for us and then head to the balcony to watch wishes from our room. This was an amazing treat. We weren't able to bring the music in, as we just barely go to the room in time for it to start, but just watching from the comfort of our room and knowing we didn't have to try and navigate the crowds afterwards was amazing. 

Tuesday we spent the majority of the day in Universal Studios so we could see Diagon Alley. The weather was wet and the crowds were of course horrible, but we had fun. The first thing we decided to do was Escape from Gringotts, the E ticket ride for Diagon. We made it to Universal shortly after rope drop, and made our way straight to the back because we knew there would be a line.  We thought we had gotten in line for the actual Diagon Alley but instead we were surprised to find out that we were making our way toward Gringotts. It was about a 2 hour wait, and in my opinion not worth it. The ride was a great ride, but didn't hold up to my expectations. 




Once off the ride we walked around Diagon for a while. Made our way to get some ice cream, I had to try Butterbeer and Beth got Earl Grey with Lavender. I loved the Butterbeer ice cream and wish I had gotten another. Beth said her's was just ok, but she enjoyed it. 

As we walked around everyone one stop in front of the bank to see the dragon breathe fire. It was an amazing sight, but one that clogs the walk ways in a crowded time frame. The sun would show its face every now and then, but when it started to rain, everyone went running for the dry awnings, we however made the desicion to go into Knockturn Alley, best decision ever. No one was really there, and we had plenty of breaking room. 





After we made sure to hit all the stores, we headed to Hogwarts Express to make  our way to Hogsmeade in Island of Adventure. The train ride was amazing, and we share both our trips with great people. This alone was worth the price of the 2 park ticket, unfortunately the weather wasn't holding up for us and we only spent a few minutes in Hogsmeade before we headed back to Universal Studios, so we could eat and let Beth enjoy the Simpsons area. 



We weren't able to get on many rides outside of Harry Potter because of wait times and the need to get back to the resort for dinner at 7. The mistakes that I made at Universal was waiting in to long of lines for food, and little things. Transformers, Simpsons, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey were rides we plan on getting to but didn't because of time/ weather. However, we did make it on E.T., it's been our tradition every time to go on it. 
 
Our reservations were for Califonia Grill, so we left Universal at around 3:30, to give us time to get back, as we were using Mears Transportation and they would make a few extra stops, and to freshen up before dinner. As soon as we were seated, our waiter, Walter, informed us that Holiday Wishes was about to begin and we could enjoy it from either our table or one of the viewing balconies. As the weather had been dry for a few hours now, we chose the latter. Once again, another breathe taking view, and of course they had the music synced so we could enjoy the music as well. 


Walter was the first amazing server we had on the trip, always giving his honest opinion on the food selection, and was great with conversation. After making our food selection, we started to hear rumblings that some one famous was up there with us, in fact it was Tim Allen that was sitting in just the other side of the resturant. While the young lady sitting to our left was wanting to stalk him, I told Beth that he was on vacation trying to have dinner, and we wouldn't want to be bothered if we were in his shoes, so we got our glance at a distance, and went on with dinner. 

The food and staff at California Grill was amazing. Beth had some Sushi for an appetizer, that she couldn't stop touch even when her main course came out. For my main course, I had bision, and usually I always have my meat cooked well done, but Walter told me to try it medium rare so I could get all the flavors. We It came out and I tried it, I knew I had been missing out in life. I don't get my food rare but I did learn not to go with well done any more. 

The Magic Kingdom was going to be doing their New Years Eve Fireworks that night to help with crowds on actual New Year's Eve, so Beth and I walked around the resort a little and then headed back to the room so we could enjoy Fantasy in the Sky around 11:50. It should go to mention that the New Years Eve fireworks are my favorite, mainly because they are perimeter and light up the night sky like it is day, but I have only seen them in the park. Seeing them from the room was jaw dropping. When the perimeter fireworks starting going, the hotel started shaking. Beth was actually trying to sleep when they started, but was soon awake. 




The next day was New Years Eve, as I mentioned a few minutes ago. We had reservations for Crystal Palace at 8:10, and Extra Magic Hours was at 7. We made it in the park at around 7:20 and got on TTA before we headed to breakfast. This was Beth's first experience at Crystal Palace and my first breakfast there. The resturant had just opened so after we waited a few minutes, and talked to a couple of new engaged couples, we sat down for breakfast. Pooh's friends made it around to us pretty fast, but it was a few minutes after we had finished that Pooh made his way to us. 




The crowds in the Magic Kingdom were crazy, castmembers said that it reach  maximum capacity around 9:30 that morning. We ran around a little, and had a few fast passes. We were able to see Cinderella  and Rapunzel, and had fast passed Seven Dwarves Mine Tain and Anna and Elsa meet and greet. We made our way to Be Our Guest for lunch, which we had utilized the FastPass for the resturant's lunch. You can choose to  preorder or just have the reservation, we chose the latter. Surprisingly it wasn't that crowded and we found a table in the Music Box Room. 

Because of the crowds, guest started to find spots on Main Street for the nights festivities around 4:30, so I made it back to Frontierland and got our free hats and noise makers, and we sat down in front of the Ice Cream Parlor at around 4:40 the best part of this experience is that you get to know the other guest. We had a great family sitting next to us, but left right after the Main Street Electrical Parade. 

As the night went on, the street only got more crowded, and the music changed from the background loops to DJ Elliot on the Castle Stage. You could feel the energy growing as the countdown came nearer. We made our way toward the center of the street in anticipation of the New Year. The fireworks went off and it was just as stunning as we remembered from 3 years before. We said no pictures during the show, because we wanted to be able to enjoy it. 

The Magic Kingdom had extra Magic hours till 3 am that operating day, and we chose to utilize this do to not doing anything for 7 hours. The DJ kept playing through out that time. The wait times were lower, as a lot of people had left after the midnight fireworks. After the park closed, we walked back to our hotel, and set the alarms for an early morning. 

That's the first part of the week! What do you want to know about? I will be updating later this week with the second half of the week. 

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