Walt Disney World (FL)

My Upcoming Long Weekend at WDW

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It’s that time again… I’m going to Disney World!  This time around I’m heading down for a long weekend mostly to participate in the Tent Fest events put on by the guys at the wdwtoday podcast.  They have some fun events planned for all of their fans and I can’t wait to hang out with my fellow Disney geeks, er enthusiasts.  So what’s on the docket for my latest journey to the mouse?

I’m experimenting with my travel schedule on this trip.  I’m going to work for part of the day on Thursday March 4th and have my dad drive me to the airport midday.  I’ll enjoy a few fabulous days in the parks with my Disney geek friends and then head home on the first flight back to Newark on Tuesday morning and head straight to the office.  I’m not sure how well its going to go, but I’m trying to squeeze out as much time in WDW as possible this year with the fewest days off from work.

The main focus of this trip is the activities the guys at wdwtoday have planned for Tent Fest.  Some of you may be wondering why the weekend has been dubbed Tent Fest.  Well, several people have signed up to spend a night at the Fort Wilderness Campground.  Yes, I have agreed to spend the night at Fort Wilderness with the group.  My friends and family have been shocked to hear me say “I’m going camping.”  I’m not exactly the camping and hiking type so they all think it’s hilarious that I’ve signed on to do this.  I promise to take lots of photos of me making a sad attempt being one with nature.  Other Tent Fest activities include a meet at La Cave del Tequila and an opportunity for annual passholders to take advantage of an offer to try The Richard Petty Driving Experience free of charge.  The weekend should be a blast!

Also on the agenda are some restaurants I have not tried before.  Shortly after I arrive on Thursday my friends and I are heading to Jiko.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about this signature restaurant, but I’ve never been there.  As an added bonus we’ll be celebrating my friend John’s birthday with this special meal.  We’ll also be trying Trail’s End a buffet at Fort Wilderness.  This eatery is said to be a good bang for the buck and many people don’t realize it is available.  I’ll let you know if it lives up to the hype after I give it a try.  And lastly we’ll be eating at Tokyo Dining in Epcot’s Japanese pavilion.  This one is known for its sushi menu and other Japanese culinary treats.  Expect to see blogs on all of these table service restaurants in the future!

Aside from my night in the woods, I’ll be staying at Pop Century to try to keep the budget under control.  I’m sharing a room with my buddy Tom and have taken full advantage of annual passholder discounts.  We’ve elected not to get a car this time (although we strongly considered it) in order to save our pennies for another trip.  With so many of our friends in town and the bus service, I’m sure we’ll never be left stranded.  This means we’ll also be making use of Disney’s Magical Express which will be picking me up at approximately 5 a.m. on my departure day!  Ouch!  Saving money on lodging and transportation means we’ll have more money for fun.  I’m sure my friends and I will be spending plenty of time in Epcot between the Flower and Garden Festival and wandering around World Showcase with drinks in hand.

I’m really excited for this trip because it is an excuse to see my Disney friends.  Though not all of them could make it this time, the ones I’ll be hanging out with with be a riot.  When you go to WDW as much as I do you form a bond with the people you travel with and meet along the way.  To share a weekend of Disney magic with people who love it as much as I do is always a great time.  I’m also really looking forward to having dinner with my favorite Unofficial Guide and touringplans.com staffers at Kouzzina on Saturday night.  I really liked Kouzzina on my last trip and to dine with such fun companions will be a blast.  Hopefully I’ll also be able to cheer for some of the touringplans crew who are running in the Princess Half Marathon.  Good luck guys!

As always when I’m traveling, you can follow my adventures on twitter (@khelmstettter) and I’ll try to blog while I’m away as well…

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Kristen Helmstetter

Kristen Helmstetter is an Unofficial Guide researcher who will share her 20-something perspective of all things Walt Disney World with blog readers. Kristen’s email address is khelmstetter05@yahoo.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @khelmstetter.

15 thoughts on “My Upcoming Long Weekend at WDW

  • So excited to hear all about the trip! We had a last-minute, budget tent fest trip planned, but traded it in so that we could stay at the Grand Californian on our Disneyland trip (good choice? remains to be seen…).

    I can’t wait to hear what you think about Jiko, Trail’s End, and Tokyo Dining. All are wonderful restaurants, and Trail’s End is indeed a great bargain!

    I admire your choice to do the fly-in-and-to-the-office thing! When I was working in Manhattan, that was often a tempting option! Good luck 🙂

    • Hey AJ! I’m sure your trip to DL will be great!

      I’m really excited for all of the restaurants since I’ve never tried them. I’m sure I’ll write about all of them in the future.

      I go straight from the shore house to the office several weeks every summer. So I’m thinking it will be like that. Its an experiment and we’ll see how it goes. Last time I flew home from MCO i didn’t get home until 3 a.m. due to delays so at the very least I won’t have to deal with that.

  • Can’t wait for the weekend!! So excited to see you. It is going to be great! Super fun post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks for the tips! I’m really looking forward to our meal at Jiko. I like trying different restaurants and one of the guys I’ll be dining with suggested Jiko. I was all for it and now it turns out we’ll be celebrating a birthday to sweeten the deal.

    • Kristen,
      I love your blogs! I’ll be at Tokyo Dining at 7PM on Sunday.
      When are you going to be there??

      • we’re going to be there at the exact same time! will you be going to any of the Tent Event activities? either way id love to meet up. thanks so much for the kind words!

      • No, i’m actually taking my Mom for a 65th b-day celebration.She has NEVER been to any Disney property in her life. She thinks ‘theme park’ means ‘Six Flags’…LOL!
        She is going to be in for quite a surprise!
        I will look for you and try to recognize you from your thumbnail pic. I will be at a table for two – just me and Mom.
        Hope to see you!

      • Have fun with your mom! Look for me and other people who’s pictures have been a part of the blog in the past. Or just look for the group who’s laughing the loudest because that’s generally us. Listen for a Jersey accent, a British accent, a couple Chicago accents, and maybe a few others for good measure.

      • Hey, Kristen – I looked for you but didn’t see any likely candidates.
        What did you think of Tokyo Dining? My Mom and I were really not impressed. She commented it was the dirtiest place she’d seen at Disney and it was really loud.
        If you didn’t want sushi, there wasn’t much else,but I guess I should have expected that.
        We LOVED Jiko and CA Grill though.
        Hope Tent Fest was a blast!

      • its too bad we missed each other! i was actually not feeling very well when we went to tokyo dining but what little i ate i enjoyed. my friends seemed to like their selections as well. no one in our group was into sushi and all found something we liked. its too bad you didnt enjoy it. i went to Jiko on this trip for the first time and loved it too! CA Grill was a treat on a past trip as well. I hope you and your mom had a great time. Tentfest was awesome and I’m sure you’ll get to read more about it from my end in the very near future.

      • Sorry you weren’t feeling well, Kristen, but glad you enjoyed Tentfest.
        I guess we should have hit Tokyo Dining first before Jiko and CA Grill. Expectations were a bit high after those two!

        Looking forward to more of you blogs!

  • Jiko really is great – you’ll enjoy it. And we tried the Trail’s End breakfast during our visit a couple weeks back. It’s not life-changing food, but it’s good and there’s lots of it (I would definitely go back, even if it is out of the way for most resort guests).

  • Mmmm… Jiko… The ‘Taste of Africa’ app is incredible.


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