November 2012 Christmas Spectacular Trip Report, Day 1
First, the questions on everyone’s mind-
Who? Us, Tom & Kayla, plus our friends and their two young children
What? Walt Disney World, of course!
When? The week after Thanksgiving
Where? 1 Bedroom Villas at Bay Lake Tower
Why? Christmas in the most magical place on Earth, need I say more?
We started off this trip like any other, bright and early before the sun rose. We got to the airport early enough actually sit and wait for our plane to start boarding. Usually we roll up just as they start boarding zone 1. With some time to kill, and nothing but airplane cookies on the horizon, I bought a yummy, buttery croissant from Starbucks. Mmm.
Soon enough, we arrived in Orlando and made our way to Magical Express. The area was fairly busy, but we didn’t wait too long for a bus. We stopped at the Polynesian and Grand Floridian before making the final stop at the Contemporary. We checked in, and still before noon, neither of our rooms were ready.
We were all hungry, so we ventured over to Contempo Café for lunch. They have a strange, counter-intuitive set up. You have to pay for your food after you order it, but before you get it. Not only does it not make logical sense, but it’s even more confusing to walk by the pick-up counter to the cash registers, then back to the pick-up counter. Luckily I heard someone else say how crazy that was, so I knew what to do.
I got the smoked turkey sandwich, which ended up being one of the better ones I had on the trip. Tom got a boring cheeseburger. I thought I’d be healthy and get the chilled green bean side instead of fries, but I regretted that. I now know I don’t like cold green beans, particularly when they are on the verge of being icy green beans. The few bits I had with flavor were good, but those bites were in the minority.
Tom and I also shared a red velvet cupcake, which was yummy. No Starring Rolls red velvet, but still good.
While we were eating, our friends got a text that their room was ready, so we all ventured up to the 14th floor of Bay Lake Tower. I think their luggage was already there, so they started unpacking and we just hung out in their living room, checking out all the monuments on the horizon. They had a nice view overlooking the Contemporary beach, and could see the Electrical Water Pageant from their balcony every night.
Soon enough we got our own text telling us our room was ready. We were across the hall and down one door, with a view of the courtyard. Luckily our luggage also showed up, so we threw a few things around, then got ready for our first park of the day.
Animal Kingdom was open late this night, and since I experienced my first and last evening Extra Magic Hours there in 2011, I’ve been wanting to go back for nighttime hours.
We got there just as the parade ended, so we very, very slowly made our way to the Safari, which would soon be closing for the night. Back in May, we had one of my favorite safaris at the close of the day. This time, it was my least favorite. We saw hardly any animals, and the zebras, which were new since our last trip, weren’t out at all.
After our disappointing ride, we headed over to Festival of the Lion King. This is a fun, visually interesting, and well paced show. Fantastic option for families with young kids.
Once the show let out, we split up so our friends could deal with some baby duties and eat at different locations. Tom and I ate at Flame Tree BBQ, which is our favorite in Animal Kingdom, and the very first meal we had together in Walt Disney World (and incidentally, the first meal we ever had after our wedding reception dinner!). I think I got another turkey sandwich here, which was also good. We sat near the water. We were alone for some of the time, but even late at night in the dark, other families had also ventured down to our little pavilion.
I took advantage of the great location to try out my camera in our first night in the parks. I was pretty sure Everest was missing lighting that night, and after looking at some other pictures after I got home, I know that was the case.
Expedition Everest at night is so fun, and such a different experience than during the day. My riding partner had left the park, so Tom bailed at the end of the line and I rode with a mom whose family also didn’t want to ride with her.
After that, we walked over to Dinoland, but did not ride anything.
We left the park shortly after its official closing time. We hadn’t adequately anticipated how cold it was going to be that night, so we were happy to get on a warm bus home.
Soon after we got back to Bay Lake Tower, we ventured up to Top of the World Lounge to see Wishes at 10.
After Wishes, we walked around and enjoyed some of the Christmas decorations in Bay Lake Tower and the Contemporary.
That was the end to our first, long day of the trip!