This holiday season, the DizFanatic.com gang headed out to Walt Disney World for an 11 day excursion. Yes, and dare I say that 11 days is still not enough time to enjoy the many pleasures of the World. Our plans to meet with some of the WDWmagic folks didn’t pan out as we just tried to pack too much Diz in 11 tiny days. Sorry guys, hopefully next time. (Note that the photos are located at the bottom of this page.)

  

We decided to take advantage of a few things we hadn’t in the past. One was Disney’s free Magic Express. Did I mention free??? Except for my children losing 3 gameboys and about 30 cartridges, the ride was free, and the magic was that it took us 4 days to realize that the gameboys had been lost. No, Santa will not be replacing them. At least not this year. Ok, back to the Magic Express… If you’ve taken a Disney cruise, it works the same way. For those who aren’t familiar with it, here’s the scoop: If you stay at a Disney resort, you can get free (I said it again) transportation to and from Orlando International Airport on a Disney decorated bus, run by Mears. Remember the $45 per person tickets??? Now it’s… repeat after me “free”. And as GasBagMike always says: “If it’s for free, it’s for me.” Reserve your spot on the buses and Disney will send you luggage tags that you attach to your bags when you leave home. You will not see your bags until you get to your resort as Disney will pick them up from Orlando and send them to your room. Our experience was positive as our flight was delayed and it did not matter to DME. We arrived at the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge about 12:30AM, and our bags were at our room by 2:30AM. A far better experience than waiting at the carousel with a hundred other people, tripping over our bags and trying to keep an eye on our 3 frisky young lads. For our trip home, we checked in our luggage at the resort concierge, with tears in our eyes, and we didn’t see our bags until we arrived at the crazy carousel in Newark Liberty. That’s when we really realized how great the service is. And remember… (you know, free!)

  

Our first full day in the world began at the Magic Kingdom. It seems that every trip must begin and end at the Kingdom, and a few tears. With all the talk of free, here’s more for you. Friday 12/1/06 we arrived at Magic Kingdom at 6:45AM with our FREE park passes in hand, courtesy of the Disney Vacation Club. The passes were for admission and a special early entry to view the taping of the Christmas Day Parade celebrity performances. Well, we watched some setup and rehearsals, but quickly realized that even in the second row, our children had not much more of a view than the guy’s large buttocks standing in front of them. We figured that the next 6 hours would be more fun doing the triple mountain whammy (yes we’re hooked on the Stacy show) than watching the production. Although DisneyAnna had her heart set on seeing some of those cute guys from American Idol, Briar Bear was more appealing. Don’t worry DisneyAnna, you’ll see them Christmas day on the big screen.

  

Well let me tell you, believe it or not, this was our first time at WDW during the holiday season; definitely not the last. The first week of December… “Where’s the lines?” (remember the “where’s the beef” lady?) We were able to just walk right on all 3 mountains. Even in the afternoon, any E-Ticket ride had no more than a 20-30 minute wait. Carousel of Progress was nice and spiffy. Still an all time favorite. Although I think some new far out technology should be added to the last scene. Philharmagic – now I remember how good it is! So we had a great time enjoying some of the best attractions the World has to offer.

  

We had dinner at the Concourse Steak House over at the Contemporary Resort. This had always been a secret getaway for just me & DisneyAnna, but now we decided to take the kids. Why you ask? Well that leads to new experience number 2. We decided to try the Disney Dining Plan. Yes, Mr. engineer did make an excel spreadsheet to figure out the economics of it. We figured that basically we can spend about the same dough that we normally spend; a few nice meals and the rest fast food; but get to eat at a premium restaurant every day. Well the long and short of it all (I like that expression even though it doesn’t make sense) is that it worked out real well for us. I mean almost too well. Our party consisted of 3 adults and 2 children (GasBagMike now counts as an adult). The cost for the 11 days/ 10 nights was a total of $1305.00. That’s a lot of dough, isn’t it? Not really. My spreadsheet of past trips scenarios concluded that we would spend over $1100.00 including tax & tip. Remember, mostly fast food and maybe a Concourse Steakhouse, Ohana’s and Chef Mickey’s. Probably 1 or 2 more nice ones for a 10 nighter, but you get the point. The bottom line is that the total of all our meals came out to just over $2100.00! Dude, that’s like a savings of about 800 clams!!! I like that! And we even left 1 counter service meal and a snack. The meal plan also includes tax and tip, so you pay once at the beginning of your stay, and that’s it. Would I recommend it? Yes. Especially if you want to enjoy more of Disney’s upscale eateries. Now hears a little thing that I was thinking; In the summer, when it’s like 200 degrees an 500 percent humidity, will you eat as much as in December when the temperature ranges from 55 to 85? I’m not sure, so you will have to examine your eating habits and decide. So the bottom line is that I feel it’s a good deal, and you get more food than you can possibly ingest. You can see Disney’s website for more info, but we will be posting the full details of the meal plan along with our experiences in the near future.

  

Saturday, we ventured over to Animal Kingdom. DisneyAnna had her heart set on exploring more of what he park has to offer, so we scheduled 2 days at the lush green utopia. Don’t even ask where we ran first. We headed where 98.2% of all other entering guests were running to. Expedition Everest! What a wild ride. I will spare the full description for now (we will soon have our park guide on line with details) but it’s a thrilling forward-backward-forward rush in and out of Mt. Everest with a brief encounter with the big hairy and likely smelly Yetti himself. Yes we did ride it over and over. And over. It’s like the Matterhorn on steroids along with a core 2 duo processor and a 454 Chevy big-block engine. Sorry, I lost it there for a moment, but you get the point. During our 2 day expedition to the famous “Natahzu” we managed to explore some trails, including the Maharaja Jungle Trek. All these years, and we were just feeding our hunger for rides and shows. There is definitely lots more to see at the Animal Kingdom than you would think, or than we thought. Next time you head out to AK, plan on spending a half-a-day or more exploring the natural side of the park. The animals and the theming of their environment is Disney & Mother Nature at their best. We also enjoyed the safari, Kali River Rapids and all of the attractions in Dinoland. We were selected as “Family of the Hour” when we walked up to Primeval Whirl. Yes it’s only an off the shelf mouse coaster with a spin, but what a spin. So we received a nice frameable certificate signed by a bunch of cast members, and we were escorted through the cast member entrance to the ride, bypassing even the Fastpass line, and got to stay on the ride. My head is still spinning. We even got a special Fastpass to Dinosaur. We also jumped on the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. No time to enjoy Conservation Station (next time) but the kids had fun at the petting zoo. Ok, we did too. Time to enjoy The Festival of the Lion King was on our schedule. We all still feel that it’s quite possibly the best show on the property. I mean the entire 47 square miles of WDW. We were told by several CMs that it is the most popular show in WDW, so it’s more than just our opinion. We were also treated to a viewing of the new “Nemo the Musical” show. A half hour reenactment of Finding Nemo is performed by puppeteers with larger than life characters. All new songs; remember that Finding Nemo the movie is not a musical. Unlike the Little Mermaid show at Disney Studios, the puppeteers are in full view, with dazzling costumes appropriately themed to the character that they are controlling. The vocals are all live and the choreography is splendid. I think this will become another Disney classic. All that talk of food before and I forgot to mention where we ate. We had lunch at the Flame Tree BBQ. That place was a nice surprise. I had the ribs. I was in the mood for ribs and was hoping that I wouldn’t be disappointed, and I wasn’t. Those were some of the tenderest and meaty ribs that I’ve had in a while. So when I was done eating, I shared my happiness with several of the people on line telling them how good they were. But it left me craving ribs for the rest of the trip. The boss had macaroni & cheese mixed with grapes. His own creation, but it was actually good. The hot sun must have been getting to me. For dinner, we headed over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and ate like a bunch of gavones at Boma. It’s a buffet specializing in African cuisine. We’d eaten there in the past and really enjoyed it. The selection is large and I tasted almost everything. I can honestly say that there was not a single item that I did not like. The chicken cocoanut curry soup was out of this world!!! So needless to say, I strongly recommend both the Flame Tree BBQ (get the freakin’ ribs man) and Boma. I will go back to both. Oh, one more thing, another day at A.K. we ate at Tuskar House. We had the Rotisserie Chicken which also was yummy.

  

The next morning we jumped on the bus to Disney/MGM Studios. Yes the “MGM” is still in the name, though it’s fading away. Most printed material and verbal references call it Disney Studios. First we checked in to the Hollywood Tower Hotel. It was The Boss’s first time. He finally makes the height requirement. Even last year at Disney’s California Adventure, he was just a nub too short. He liked it, but didn’t want to ride again, so, “in the name of all that rocks,” we hit Rockin’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (RNR). Sorry, can’t help the Stacy quotes. I still think it’s got to be the most exhilarating coaster out there. I just wish it as longer. Well with no line, there was no need for child swap; The Boss is still too small. We rode again, and again, and again… Then The Boss wanted some action so it was back to Tower of Terror for us, again and again with only a 5 minute line. I love this season. We also went to the Great Movie Ride, which is still a nice attraction even though it needs some updating of its scenes. The little mermaid show is also still a must see classic. Now, the next thing we went to see was the new Lights Motors Action Extreme Stunt Show. Get your F’in tuccas over there to see this show!!! No kidding when they say extreme. The theme of this show is that you are watching the shooting of an extreme (yes extreme) car chase scene for a James Bond like movie set in the streets of Paris. This show was originally created for Disneyland Paris and cloned for WDW. The talent, cars, motorcycles and choreography were amazing; yes extreme. You must, must see this show. And for the Herbie fans, young and old, there is a guest appearance from the Love Bug himself. No Lindsey Lohan, she was out partying too late last night. Must see, you get the point. We ate at Mama Melrose. Yummy. At night, we skipped Fantasmic this time, another must see. We wanted to spend all of our time during the dark ours enjoying the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. The “dancing” is new this year, although we’d never seen this before. Set up in the Streets of America area of the park, is the most breathtaking display of Christmas lights you will ever see. Every building and accessory is totally encrusted with richly colored Christmas lights. Millions of them, along with several animated and static figures. All I can say is “wow.” It only runs from November 20th through January 7th so you must make a trip during this time. Now the “dancing” part is that every little nook and cranny is synchronized to hard rocking, screaming metal guitar versions or some classic Christmas tunes. They play one song every 15 minutes or so. The rest of the time, the lights stay on steady with the exception of a few twinkles and spinners here and there. We spent a few hours watching with our jaws locked in the open position. I need to see that again. I did video tape it from every possible angle with my new hi-def camcorder, but being there or living there is where it’s at man!!!

  

Monday night we attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) which is a special ticketed event at the Magic Kingdom after the park closes for regular ticketed guests. It works like this: after the regular presentation of the Wishes fireworks show, the park “closes” at 7PM. Anybody who purchases the tickets for MVMCP can stay and get a wristband (they start distributing them several hours earlier) or enter with the ticket & wristband. If you don’t have the wristband, you can still “illegally” walk around the park, but they will not let you onto any rides, or into any stores or eateries, or even get a photo with any of the characters which are generously scattered throughout the park. So don’t be cheap and just buy the tickets, ok? Good. Now with that said, I’ll tell you what’s so special about the event.

  

  • You can watch the Disney Christmas parade, and it runs twice.
  • Christmas Wishes – the fireworks show that’s worth the admission price alone (I’m a pyrotechnics fanatic)
  • FREE hot cocoa, cookies and apple slices. (there’s that word again)
  • Many performers and characters walking around the park.
  • Mickey’s “twas the night before Christmas” show runs many times.
  • Most rides open with very short lines.
  • Special event merchandise

   

Last but not least… EPCOT. Although we hot all 4 parks twice, plus the extra night at MK for MVMCP, EPCOT was the last park to hit the first time. Did that make sense? Yep, we ran to Soarin’ second. We had to ride Space Ship Earth first. It’s an EPCOT requirement. Ok, I know it needs a little upgrading, but it’s still the classic SSE. Remember also that it’s the last original Omnimover, or people eater as I like to call it, ride in the park. Remember the World of Motion, non Test Track, and Horizons which was torn down to build Mission Space? This is not the time to argue over what was, should have been or should be done, but yes, I miss them too. I love Test Track, and Mission Space is pretty wild. I rode the new “Green” line, so I wouldn’t be green. For those who don’t know, Mission space has a choice of 2 experiences; the Orange line has the full G-force experience, barf bags and all, then there’s the Green line with no spinning but still some illusions of acceleration. It was good on the Green line. Last time I experienced the full ride and put it this way… I was in no rush to ride again, or to eat again. I was glad that they left us on Mars! We rode Test Track a few times as well as Soarin’. We did Soarin’ in California Adventure Park last year and it was a blast. It’s a must see, and on Stacy’s top 7 of course! We ate at Marakesh in the Moroccan pavilion. It was good but quite expensive. Thanks to the Dining Plan, cost was not an issue. Being a lover of Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, I was expecting more spice, but it was still tasty. Another night at EPCOT we ate at Alfredo’s in Italy. That’s always a treat. NickySticks loved the meat sauce, and he’s not usually a saucy kind of guy. GasBagMike was trying to talk the waitress into giving him the Cannoli Maximus on display in the front, but she refused. See our photo album for a picture of that monster Cannoli. Let’s not forget, what trip to EPCOT is complete without a visit to England for some fresh fish & chips. I asked the restaurant manager some questions and he told me that on a typical day they go through over 500 pounds of fish. Busy season they cook up over 800lbs and on peak days like the holidays they can fry 1200 lbs of fish. Holy kwap (as the Boss would say). We watched IllumiNations from 2 angles. We video taped both of course. The holiday finale blew us away. A nice Disney touch, as usual.

  

Well to sum things up, it was a fantastic trip. Too short of course. And no, we didn’t make it to Universal. But that’s ok because Disney handed us all of the entertainment, magic and Christmas joy that our big fat hearts could absorb.

Our advise is this:

  

  • The Disney Dining Plan is well worth the dough if you’re either a big eater or want to enjoy all of the finer Disney Dining experiences. If you eat like a birdie, or you’re looking to do Disney on an extremely limited budget, then maybe not. But do the math before you decline the plan as you may not save as much as you think by being “cheap”.
  • Disney’s Magical Express is a great thing. You can save the transportation cost from airport to resort, plus it’s ultra convenient. If you’re planning on spending lots of time off property, then rent a car. But if you plan 1 or 2 excursions off of the 47 square mile resort, use the Magical Express and then take a taxi to the other places. The resort concierge will even gladly assist you with a taxi service.
  • Park time… the more the better. If you try to do a Disney park in one day, you will be running around like a maniac and will not afford the time to take in all of the extras that are not necessarily rides. Don’t be fooled by the quantity of rides in Animal Kingdom either, this park is absolutely a two-dayer.
  • Stay on property at a Disney Resort. So many people have told me that they had missed nighttime parades or fireworks because their non-Disney hotel busses depart only at limited times. Disney busses, boats and monorails run usually for 1 to 2 hours after the parks close, and repeat after me: “FREE.”

Trip Report - Walt Disney World

December 2006


Submitted by The DiMare Family

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