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Julia’s Best Week Ever, December 1, 2016: Thanksgiving Time Out

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2016-11-24-10-37-09Most years, Orange County Public Schools gives kids the entire week off for Thanksgiving so that everyone can travel. This year, because they want school to end in May (!?), they decided to hold school on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. No travel for us, and no one coming in town, so we got some fantastic family time. How much can we cram into one holiday weekend? Come along and find out!

Cooking a Thanksgiving meal at my house is unique. Kiddo doesn’t often eat turkey. Husband isn’t crazy about pumpkin pie. I’m the only one who eats sweet potato casserole. I don’t like mashed potatoes too much, but kiddo doesn’t like dressing. No green bean casserole for the kiddo. Kiddo does love chocolate pie, but I’m not a fan. When planning a menu, the only thing we could agree on was dinner rolls. Time to book a meal at Disney where everyone can get what they want! Thankfully, we were able to get a brunch-hour reservation for Trails End at the last minute. In our grand tour of all the holiday décor in one day, we never made it back to this part of the resort. I really love the simplicity of the decorations on the buildings here.


Always a great meal, and our server Ed was amazing. How can you go wrong with smoked turkey, slab bacon, and tater tots? And just like Thanksgiving with the family, multiple plates were required.


Afterwards, instead of taking the bus back to the front, we decided to walk and look at the decorations. If you haven’t seen the amazing extent that people will decorate their campsites, it’s worth walking around to see it all.


That night, we headed to Disney Springs to see the nightly light show with drones. Somehow, one of our mobile devices didn’t get charged, so we needed to pick up a new fuel rod over at the DisneyQuest store. Inside, they had one of the drones on display.


While we were waiting, we did some wandering around to look at the holiday decorations. If Disney ever wants to sell this diamond-encrusted reindeer, I’ll buy it!


For the first Intel’s Starbright Holidays show (aka the drone show), we ended up on the bridge near Rainforest Café. Although we could see the drones lighting up the sky, the only effect that we could identify was the Christmas Tree. We decided to wait for the second show and try it again from the West Side. In the meantime, we wandered through the Christmas Tree Trail. Each tree was decorated with a character or movie theme.


This is a really neat addition to Disney Springs — not something you’d want to make a trip just to see, but a nice break from shopping or a great place to wander after a meal.


Oh, and of course there’s “snow” to get you in the holiday spirit.


After grabbing some empanadas from the express window at Bongos, we camped out for the second drone show in the area behind House of Blues along the waterfront. This was a much better location, and the effects were stunning.


This was a great way to end the night. The next morning, we got up early and returned to Disney Springs for Black Friday. You can read about our experience here.

On our way out, we did another loop through the Christmas Tree Trail. I think that I like the way they look in the day better than at night.


On the way home, I saw a message asking if I was going to the first DVC Merry Member Mixer. After years of having them on Tuesdays when my husband couldn’t go, I had forgotten that this year they’d be on Fridays. We wolfed down some lunch and headed over to Epcot. As always, the Merry Member Mixer is a grand experience of how many people you can get into lines in one building at the same time. Eventually, we got in a line at random, and thankfully it was the one for our snack vouchers.


The real reason we go was to get our annual DVC ornament. Mission accomplished, it was time to head home.


As our plan for Sunday was to stay at home and decorate, we looked over our list of everything we want to do for the holidays to see if there was anything we could knock off the list on a very busy holiday Saturday. We decided that visiting the Grand Floridian and Contemporary for their gingerbread displays was our best option. After parking at the TTC, we headed over to the Grand Floridian to see the gingerbread house. As we arrived, there was a handbell choir playing in the lobby, which I had to stop and listen to, recalling my days of playing handbells way back when.


The gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian has such a wow factor no matter how many times we see it, and of course we had to look for at least some of the Hidden Mickeys.


After our oohing and aahing, we headed to the Contemporary for the smaller gingerbread display and spent time searching for the Hidden Olafs.




During our free time over the weekend, we had been searching for Pokémon in Pokémon Go, and our daughter stumbled upon a big surprise when she tried to catch a lowly Pidgey outside the arcade at the Contemporary.


Meanwhile, I was putting items on my wish list, and fell in love with these different highlighter sets. Way too pricey, and I doubt I’d ever use them, but I had to take a picture because they were just too cute for this office-supply-loving geek.


As we were all getting tired, it was time to head home. For Sunday, we decorated for the holidays Florida-style for our home at Gold’n’Oak.





We are all so thankful to live in such an amazing place and to have the ability to share our experiences as we live our Best Weeks Ever. Thank you all for sharing this journey with us, and Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to one and all!


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Julia Mascardo

Former writer, editor, and social media manager of TouringPlans. Embarking on new adventures with husband, kid, and cats.

5 thoughts on “Julia’s Best Week Ever, December 1, 2016: Thanksgiving Time Out

  • Vanessa

    Great to know that location really matters for the drone show! I love reading your posts, thanks for sharing.

    • Julia Mascardo

      Thank you so much! There’s one effect in the show that is identifiable from all angles, but the one I put the picture of above absolutely has a “right” and “wrong” view.

  • Ruth Woodhouse

    Anyone any idea what the “snow” is made of? Just curious!

    • Julia Mascardo

      Pure Disney magic!! (And a healthy amount of soap bubbles that glob together so they fall like snow. Sometimes people call it “snoap” for that reason.)

  • Amy W

    Thank you for another lovely post!!! I always enjoy them!!! We arrive on January 1st for six days. We won’t have been for 10 months. We miss it!! We’ve never been near Christmastime. I hope there’s still many decorations to see in the parks at at the resorts.

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