Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re popping into the Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney for quick updates, exploring the Christmas decorations at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and Disney’s Beach Club Resort, then wrapping up with some holidays around the world at Epcot. Sounds like fun, right? Well then let’s get started! 🙂
About five years ago I decided to have Thanksgiving lunch in the Magic Kingdom. After spending almost an hour fighting to park and catch the monorail over, I vowed never to visit on the holiday again. Well, with the park open until 1am that night I broke down and decided to give it a try this weekend. I was pleasantly surprised, it was crowded but not too bad. We were able to hop on a couple rides with FastPass+ and noticed the Totally Tomorrowland Christmas show was already playing during regular park hours! This show is always offered during the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but it was nice to see it without paying for the additional ticket. It’s a cute show that I recommend! Want to see what else is new this week? Be sure to click below the photo to read more.
Without much other news happening at Magic Kingdom, I headed over the Downtown Disney to see what had changed. The new parking garage now has the first few floors open and we were able to park without any trouble. It’s worth noting that starting on the second floor there are lights above each parking spot to mark if they are occupied (red), available (green), or handicapped (blue). They weren’t working yet but it should make parking even easier once these are operational. In the meantime I’m just glad to be able to park without a fight!
The new Food Truck Park finally opened (below left). The area is very pretty but at the moment it only has Disney food trucks. I hope they’ll be bringing in some outside vendors from time to time. Below right, you can see the bridge has reopened leading you right into the heart of what once was Pleasure Island. I used to spend tons of time here so I was delighted to walk over this bridge again.
Continuing down memory lane, the Adventurer’s Club is still standing behind walls (below left). To my eye, it even looked like it might have gotten a new coat of paint. Maybe there is hope for the building to at least live on. Across the street where you used to be able to find 8 Trax and the Comedy Warehouse, you’ll now find new buildings that are currently empty (below right). The decor is gorgeous, I can’t wait for things to open!
As you know, I try to keep it mostly to Disney in these posts. However, this weekend we visited the Central Florida Auto Show and it was a really great time! Not only were there cars on display that aren’t for sale yet (like the mustang convertible below) there were also tons of cars available to test drive. We were even able to go on a the Jeep Test Track, which was wild! Tickets were less than $10 so if you’re in the area next Thanksgiving you might want to consider this as a fun detour from the parks. Despite the holiday it wasn’t too busy.
But enough of that side trip, let’s head over to the Beach Club to check out their holiday decorations! This first photo could be from any resort or park, but I wanted to make sure I mention all the flowers that are changed out this time of year. I can’t imagine how many poinsettias Disney must go through. There must be thousands all over Walt Disney World! Then in early January they will all magically disappear for another year!
Just inside the Beach Club lobby is their annual display of a gingerbread carousel. While you can’t tell from the photo, the horses rotate around the base. You can get an idea of how large this display is from the people standing around. To give you an idea how mesmerizing it is, I completely forgot to take a photo of the actual Christmas tree in the lobby even though I stood there for a good 15 minutes. Oops! You can see it in the background of this shot, though.
Also at the Beach Club, you can purchase gingerbread houses right in the gift shop. You just have to figure out if you’d prefer it assembled for $38 or unassembled for $20. Personally, I like the challenge of putting it together myself and I’m tempted to pick one up. Not to mention I love that gold box. What do you think? Would you tackle something like this yourself or leave it to the professionals?
All through the Beach Club there are additional trees, garland, and decorations. More so than other resorts it just feels like they went “all out” here! I don’t know about you but I was ready to just spend my day curled up on the below couch with a good book.
Over at the Yacht Club it was much the same with beautiful decorations everywhere. I bet that boat ornament on the front of the tree was four feet tall! Also, there was certainly no room for a star on top of this tree. The top of the tree looked like it maybe cleared the roof by 6 inches. Of course, I think that is by design so they can securely bolt it to the roof.
Another annual tradition is this chocolate ski village in the Yacht Club lobby. This is another one that I could write an entire post about. There’s so much detail in all the little buildings and characters. Most people we saw just casually walked by, but if you’ll be visiting this year I encourage you to take a little time to explore this display.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the World Gateway entrance to Epcot. Can you believe this was my first holiday visit to Epcot this year? It certainly won’t be the last as there are so many new things at Holidays Around the World. Plus, lots of your old favorites are back at this annual event!
Speaking of new things, while I was waiting for my first Holidays Around the World presentation I heard some amazing music coming from somewhere in England. I started hunting and found The Paul McKenna Band. Wow these guys were good! They weren’t on the daily schedule so it was just a fluke that I happened to see them. Online it says showtimes are at 11am, 11:50am, 12:45pm, 1:40pm, 2:35pm, 3:35pm and 4:50pm so I’ll be looking for them in the future! Here is a little taste of what you can expect:
After my chance encounter with the band, it was almost time to see Father Christmas. He’s the Holidays Around the World presentation in England and always a favorite of mine. Below you can see the entire show! 🙂
Moving on around the World Showcase, here is my first view of the Christmas tree this year! The ornaments all reflect different flags around the world and seasonal greetings in many different languages. I know they’ve had the same tree for ages but I still love it!
So I’ve been talking about the “reasonable” crowds over the holiday weekend, but I wanted to include the below photo to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. Was it crowded for a normal day? Yes, very much so! Was it crowded for Thanksgiving weekend? Well, not as much as I would have expected. You could tell that Disney was prepared for the parks to close to capacity, so it just being quite crowded was a relief. I just wanted to make sure I was clear before everyone decided they were going to come visit next year. 😉
Next we’re heading over to Mexico for a show that’s all new this year. Spoiler alert: so far this is my favorite Holiday Around the World! Below is a video from the beginning of the show, but I wish I had gotten there sooner and had a better spot so I could have filed the entire show for you. After the singing at the beginning a beautiful dancer comes out and, if you can believe it, they end with a pinata and singing Feliz Navidad! All that was missing was fireworks! 😉
Here’s a photo of the dancer that was part of the show. Please check back because I’m sure I’ll be watching this several times before Christmas and I’ll share a full video.
New to Canada this year are the Holiday Voyageurs. Below is a quick clip of this band, but looking back at it I’m not sure that it does them justice. They put on a solid 20 minute show and the female performer is an excellent singer! I didn’t realize I didn’t take video of her singing. It also brings back that feel of Off Kilter because you can hear their music all over the park. However, they still only have three benches out front, so get there early or plan to stand. Also, the lumberjacks aren’t performing while this show is in place.
Lastly, and also new for this year, is the Chinese Lion Dance. I was so excited to see this that I arrived 40 minutes early to be very sure I was right in front. However, like most Holidays Around the World events, a crowd only started to form about 10 minutes in advance of the show. But once it started all bets were off! It was so popular it was hard for people to walk by the area. I can understand why, if you never click on videos you should totally check this one out. (Psst – the lion falls asleep at 3:30, so cute.)
While I didn’t have time to explore more Holidays Around the World shows, I stopped by Germany to check out their glass ornaments. The area is marked with a topiary snowman and more of those beautiful, bright red poinsettias.
Inside, you’ll find lots of handmade ornaments that range in price from $20 – $32. They’re also making custom ornaments while you watch this year! There was quite a crowd, but I watched a few blown glass ornaments be made by request right in front of my eyes. They were also custom engraving the ornaments while people waited. All this was only $20, I can see why it’s so popular. I’ll be checking back on this for sure! Would anyone be interested in a blog about these custom ornaments from start to finish? Let me know in the comments below.
Over in America, an entire Christmas village has sprouted up! You can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, learn about Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, and taste a myriad or holiday treats. I’ll be exploring this area more in the next few week. Any requests from anyone out there playing at home?
Well, if you were thinking about requesting a gingerbread man, you’re too late! This was our one delicious detour in America last weekend. Of course, I’m sure it won’t be the last so just let us know what you’re interested in hearing about and we’ll check it out!
That’s everything for this week. Now let’s see what you can expect if you’re visiting next week.
Crowd Calendar: After last week, this week will seem downright sleepy! It’s the calm before the storm. Enjoy it before Christmas and New Year’s Eve bring the largest crowds all year.
Weather: While temperatures will be mild, it’s looking like we’ll get some rain this week. Be prepared for wet weather but nice temperatures.
Remember: Splash Mountain will be closed nearly the entire month of January. Get your rides in now.
Here’s my top tip for this week: However much time you’re planning for Holidays Around the World at Epcot, double it! We spent a day and couldn’t get to half of these presentations. The entire World Showcase is really at it’s best this time of year. Try to see it all. 🙂
Do you have any news I missed or any requests for coverage next week? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and thanks so much for reading! I’m wishing all of you the Best Week Ever, until next time!