by Caitlin Corsello
I just returned home from WDW after a four night stay with my mom at the Caribbean Beach Resort, and we had a fantastic time! We got to experience Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, and the New Fantasyland! While I’m currently in the obligatory depression that follows returning home after each trip, I thought I would share with everyone a short trip report to share the experiences we had and supply a little dose of Disney parks to your day!
We flew down from New York to Orlando on a 6:30am flight Friday morning and had the great luck of landing forty minutes ahead of schedule! We were at Caribbean Beach by 10:00am! To make things even better, our room was ready for us even though it was technically before check-out time. Once we were settled, we headed straight over to Epcot to sample lots of goodies from the Food & Wine Festival in order to avoid visiting over the weekend days and dealing with crowds since it was the very last weekend of the festival. Upon stopping by the Festival Center, we even got a quick surprise- Buddy Valastro the Cake Boss was giving a demo and we got to watch him make cannolis for a few minutes before heading back to the booths.
To give a quick recap, here are the foods we sampled: from the Canada booth we had the “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce, the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup, the Chicken Chipotle Sausage with Sweet Corn Polenta & “Minus 8” Onion Jam, and the Neige Premiere Apple Ice Wine, from the Ireland booth we tried the Kerrygold Cheese Selection, the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Seashell Truffles from the Belgium booth, the Pumpkin Mousse with Ocean Spray Craisins and Orange Sauce from the Hops and Barley booth, the Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio (my favorite white wine for years- so happy they had it!) from the Italy booth, and the Kielbasa and Potato Pierogie with Carmalized Onions and Sour Cream from the Poland booth. Out of everything we ate, my favorite things were the Apple Ice Wine and the Filet Mignon from the Canada booth!
After stuffing ourselves, we wandered Epcot for a while and then headed over to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. We had a fantastic time at the party and thoroughly enjoyed all of the exclusive activities it offers, but I don’t want to go into any details here as next week’s post will be all about Christmas time at WDW and will include a bunch of information on the party! At the very end of the party, we even got an additional special treat of being allowed to enter into the New Fantasyland! We only had enough time to wander and go on Under the Sea since the park was closing shortly, but it was fantastic! I’ll write a little more detail about it when I get to Tuesday when we were able to explore the area again!
Saturday morning we headed to Hollywood Studios to take advantage of the morning Extra Magic Hours and ride Toy Story Mania (three times!). One of my all time favorite things to do in WDW is visit Muppet Vision 3D, so between that and experiencing a bunch of new scenarios on Star Tours, we had a great morning! Once done in Hollywood Studios, we headed over to the Magic Kingdom to explore the new Big Top Circus area before heading over to the Polynesian for dinner. I personally love this new area as I am a huge fan of classic circus theming and the area captures it just perfectly! I think the biggest shock of the whole area was seeing The Barnstormer with an hour long wait! Haven’t seen that in a long time.
We then headed over to the Kona Café for the first sit down meal of our trip. I decided to be daring and ordered the Lapu Lapu, a $14 cocktail prepared in a pineapple. It was well worth the money as it was delicious and adorable. Our food was fantastic as well, we both ordered the strip steak and had the banana crème brulee for dessert. Sufficiently stuffed and happy, we headed back over to the Magic Kingdom to hit all three mountains before calling it a night.
Sunday morning we headed to Epcot for the morning Extra Magic Hours in order to avoid a long wait for Soarin’. We grabbed FastPasses, waited in the Stand-By line once, ate breakfast in Sunshine Seasons, rode Living with the Land, and then returned with our FastPasses…all within an hour! You’ve got to love those morning Extra Magic Hours! We then hopped a bus over to Saratoga Springs and walked to Downtown Disney. I won’t bore you with the details of our shopping, but as always I spent a little too much money on Disney merchandise (how can you say no?). After a quick stop back at our resort to change, we headed out to the Magic Kingdom to walk around and ended up riding the Railroad and Carousel of Progress.
We made the quick decision to leave the Magic Kingdom a little earlier than planned and try and catch Fantasmic! over at Hollywood Studios, but unfortunately arrived just too late to get into the show. Oh well. This just gave us even more time to enjoy the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights on the Streets of America. Being a huge Christmas person, I was channeling my Clark Griswold and thoroughly soaking in the Christmas atmosphere, music, and incredible lights. I loved searching for the purple cat and countless Hidden Mickeys while wandering through the lights. After about an hour we stopped by Star Tours one more time and caught a bus to the Contemporary Resort to head back to the Magic Kingdom to finish off our night.
Monday morning marked our Extra Magic Hours visit to the Animal Kingdom where we headed straight for Kilimanjaro Safaris. I literally think we were the third car to head out for the day, and we had the absolute best safari we have ever experienced! To start off, the giraffes were roaming across their area, many times blocking the roads so that we had to stop and were within touching distance of them multiple times. In the next area, a Rhino walked directly in front of our vehicle, again stopping us right next to him for a few moments. We then saw one of the cheetahs actually walking through their exhibit, before we had only ever seen them sleeping. Perhaps the best part of the safari though came when we reached the lion’s habitat. Two female lions were wrestling and playing in plain view, and the male lion was perched sitting up on a prominent rock right in the line of view from the safari vehicle! We have amazing pictures and memories from this safari, enough that as we got off we hopped right back on line to experience it again!
After our awesome safari morning, we wandered through Asia, visited with the Yeti, and I finally saw the Finding Nemo Musical! It was amazing, and I am sorry that I never took the time to go see it before this trip. After a quick stop at Dinosaur we were off to our room to relax a bit before heading to Epcot for the night.
We arrived at Epcot just in time for our dinner reservation at Coral Reef, and were even able to obtain a table seated right up against the tank windows! We had an amazing view including one very active sting ray that enjoyed circling right next to us the whole meal. Once again we both ordered the steak and indulged in the Chocolate Wave for dessert. After dinner we were wandering Future World when I heard a familiar sound…there were cars running on the track of Test Track! While they weren’t going full speed, it’s great to see that the ride is in testing phase since its set to open so soon. I love Test Track, and I can’t wait to see what the new version will be like. We then worked our way around World Showcase and ended up right by the cranberry bog to watch Illuminations. With this being the very last night of the Food & Wine Festival, World Showcase was a little crazy, but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. The one thing I am upset that I didn’t get to try was the lamb chop from the Australia booth, but I was way too stuffed from dinner at the Coral Reef to eat a whole lamb chop…there’s always next year!
Tuesday morning brought our last day at WDW and of course we devoted it to the Magic Kingdom as is our tradition. We arrived at 8am for the opening and it was literally empty. As we walked down Main Street and through the castle, there were barely any people around. We walked onto pretty much every Fantasyland ride and then saw that they were letting people into New Fantasyland again! We headed in and went straight for Enchanted Tales with Belle where I was chosen to play the part of the wardrobe in the show! While the experience is definitely aimed more towards young children, it was still a lot of fun for the adults. The mirror in Maurice’s workshop is absolutely stunning as are the animatronics of the Wardrobe and Lumiere. We then explored Belle’s village and Be Our Guest restaurant which is stunning inside. We once again rode Under the Sea and while some people are complaining that it’s just a copy of the same attraction in California, we both enjoyed it as it brings a breath of fresh air to the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland. My favorite part was where you are meant to be submerging under water, and it really does feel like you are actually diving down to where Ariel lives. Stay tuned for an upcoming post all about New Fantasyland with lots of pictures!
Once we had explored all of New Fantasyland we started a loop of the park hitting all of our favorite attractions once last time. A highlight of the trip was my mom somehow scoring 999999 on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. We ended our trip with one last spin on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority and one last viewing of Carousel of Progress and sadly headed back to the resort to catch our Magical Express bus.
We had an amazing trip complete with great experiences, perfect weather, and low crowds. While I’m sad to be home, I expect the feeling won’t last too long as we were already planning our next potential trip in April for the Flower and Garden Festival by the time we boarded our plane. As Mickey says, see ya real soon!!
Any comments or questions on my recent visit to WDW? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.