Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

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Holiday Magic Already

Sunday & Monday                                                                                Most Recent Posts:
December 3 & 4, 2017                                                                         Easy Pace at Gamble Rogers
Fort Wilderness Campground                                                              My Week Alone
Walt Disney World
Orlando, Florida

We left our nice but amaingly hard to get into site at Lake Louisa on Sunday morning for the 21 mile drive to Fort Wilderness Campground in Disney World.   They had the roads all torn up as usual but differently than the last time we were here so David tried to do what he was used to instead of following the signs.   Only a tiny detour.   Winnona makes it through the gateway..

DisneyWorld Entrance 3

IMG_6950By 1:00 we had pulled into our site in the 200 loop which we thought was going to be great because it is close to the ferry dock for Magic Kingdom.  Makes it an easy walk to the ferry in the early morning and back in a tired state in the evening.   BUT I neglected to consider the noise downside of this loop which is a huge consideration for me.  More on that later.

The sites at Fort Wilderness are nice enough.  Not spacious by any means but then we’re never here so what do we care.  They are paved and have full hook ups. 

IMG_6952We have annual Florida Resident passes to Disney World since it turns out to be as inexpensive to do that as it is to pay for 5 separate days.  The pass we have is a “week days only” version.  That means we cannot go into the kingdoms of the park on Saturday or Sunday.  But we don’t care since we only have a few hours of daylight left anyway by the time we get here on Sunday and there are lots of other things to do. 

We walk around the campground and enjoy some of the campers’ decorations before taking the ferry over to ride the monorail and look especially at the holiday decorations at the Grand Floridian Hotel.   Which one of the characters above is not full of hot air??



Happy Campers on the ferry ride.


The monorail brings us in on the second floor of the Grand Floridian and the view is spectacular.


They’ve been making this life size gingerbread house for 19 years.   It’s open from November 15 to December 31 and is large enough to have a store inside from which they sell – you guessed it – all things gingerbread.  It’s just an amazing thing.   On a giant gingerbread cookie in the very far left of the picture and partly cut off they give the ingredients for this year’s house.

1050 Pounds of honey
140 pints of egg whites
600 pounds of powdered sugar
700 pounds of chocolate
800 pounds of flour
35 pounds of spices
Tons of Creativity
Disney Magic and Pixie Dust

With this we head down the beautiful stairway to get a closer look.



We read that the window detail is hand painted with colored cocoa butter.  Definitely sounds good enough to eat.  But this doesn’t seem to fit with the recipe which doesn’t list butter as an ingredient.  Could cocoa butter be made out of anything other than chocolate and butter?  And how could you get a chocolate butter to be blue?   Why do all these questions jump into my mind?

Few things could be better than Winnie the Pooh except one made out of cocoa butter.

We make our way on outside where David finds what he wants for his next toad.

Not sure we could have persuaded our horses Monocan and Nakoma to pull this carriage but I sure would have liked it.

If your carriage, of whatever type, brings you to the Grand Floridian, this is where you will enter the hotel.   We feel a bit like royalty seriously underdressed.


The Grand Floridian looks as beautiful from the outside as it does from the inside.


On the ferry back to the campground I catch the Magic Kingdom lit up.


As we approach the dock, the full moon lights our way.

It’s a magical place indeed!


IMG_7027So now I’ll mention the drawback to a site in the 200 loop.  At least for me.

It seems the ferry runs until midnight every 20 minutes and blows its horn long and loud several times as it approaches and leaves the ferry dock.  Kind of fun during the day. 

While being so close is great when you are walking over to catch the ferry, it’s not so nice when, noise travels so well after dark.   AND there is also a water parade every night from 9:00 to 10:00 with music and fireworks.   And then there are other extraneous fireworks we found over the course of the week for reasons unknown to us.   If you are a very sound sleeper, none of this will matter to you at all.  Unfortunately for me, I am a very light sleeper and began my first full day in Disney World with a serious sleep deficit.

But, despite that, we were out early and on the first boat headed to the kingdom.   Epcot was our destination for the day so we caught the monorail and this is the kind of seat you can have if you get there first thing.

When you enter any of the parks during December you are faced immediately with the Christmas Tree.  These are GIANT trees with GIANT ornaments.   This year I particularly liked the crowning ornament on top Epcot’s tree.


Did I mention GIANT ornaments decorating the tree?


Of course no blog in Epcot could begin with out the iconic geosphere. 


IMG_7033First thing we do inside is hustle over to Soarin’ and take advantage of the short walkin time this early.   In less than an hour the wait is over 30 minutes and climbs the rest of the day.  But it’s such a great ride it’s no wonder.  Best to have a fastpass if you can get it.

We watched three Pixar Short films and have some fun with the water games all around.  Check this out to see just how much fun we had.

We eventually moved over to World showcase when it opened up at 11am.   The goal was to just enjoy ourselves around the lagoon and end up in Germany in time for our lunch at 1:30.

We started in Canada where their architecture catches our eye.  Love their Northwest totems.
We walk through what we assume is Ottowa on our way to see their 360 degree film narrated humorously by native Canadian Martin Short.


On our way out, we walk through lovely gardens.   Nice job all around Canada.


From there we walk through Britain


We walk on and watch a mime in France stand on his hands on a stack of chairs on 4 bottles.  Good grief!

We watch the amazing Japanese women drummers.



And before you know it, it’s time for lunch.  Looks like everyone else thinks so too.  Sure hope they don’t all have reservations at the Biergarten.  

But I know this man does becasue I made them.

Inside the lights are dim and we are seated with 6 of our new best friends at a table for eight right in front of the dance floor.  Our waiter takes our drink order and off we go to the all you can eat traditional German food buffet.


David is all smiles with his Dunkel and his first plate full of every sort of wurst, meatballs, red cabbage, German potato salad warm and cold, sliced pork, some token green beans, schnitzel and heavens I don’t know what else.  David’s idea of a VERY good time.

The band comes out and plays a mix of polka and Christmas music.  This trumpeter was amazing playing the bells.   Cow bells mind you.   They kept playing faster and faster and his hands were nearly a blurr.


They also played the Bavarian Alphorn which they told us was the form of communication before cellphones and email.   With no valves, the tones are made entirely with the lips.  It must take an amazing amount of air to make such a sound through those long horns.  They are very beautiful.  If you’d like to hear them, this is a short video, about 30 seconds long.


We had fantastic food and wonderful entertainment.  We even got up and danced the polka.  Thanks to Nancy Mills for recommending that we splurge.  We pass the recommendation on.
$33 each for lunch plus drinks.  $41 to do the same thing for dinner.

Outside we felt much better about what we’d spent for all we’d enjoyed when we saw these two girls with the biggest prezels we’d ever seen and learned that they were $10 each.


On around the Lagoon we meet this Viking in Norway.

We’ve made the full circle when we stop in Mexico to hear the music of Mariachi Cobre and enjoy some traditional Mexican Dancing.


The dancing is fast and furious.  These two are fantastic!  Their feet just fly.


We think we are finished for the day when, as we are headed for the exit, we hear the unmistakable sound of soul.   We follow our ears and what a treat to hear the group Joyous perform their Gospel Soul.  




There is such a variety of things to do in Epcot from rides to education, from food to performances and music of every nationality.  They always seem to be having a festival of some sort and this one is the Festival of the Holidays.


And what would a winter festival be without a snowman – Florida style.

Sun is setting as I take this picture from the monorail headed for the ferry back to the campground.  The best thing is that we get to do it all again tomorrow in the Magic Kingdom!



  1. Loved seeing Epcot again. Always the same, always different. I have great memories of that parade and the music as the flames lit up over the lake. Made me cry.

  2. Looks like you had a great time at Epcot as usual. I love sunset photos with palm trees in them.
    Can't imagine carrying and setting up all those elaborate Christmas decorations at a campsite. So can you stay there long-term?

  3. I so enjoy your posts from the mouse house. We aren't all that far from Disney (about 5 hours), I would love to spend a vacation there. Haven't been since I was in high school.
    Epcot is so cool!

  4. Really looks like fun. We should go sometime, maybe when Arya is a little older. Would be great to go with her.

  5. I'm so glad that you get to be at your very favorite place for your birthday! Have a wonderful time! Happy Birthday- I love you!

  6. Well, you are off to great start!! Love that Gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian...such an amazing hotel. We too grew up on German (PA Dutch) food so the Biergarten restaurant was one of our very favorites:o)) I think my favorite new thing was when they turn Cinderella's Castle into Ice...SPECTACULAR!!! Just do not know how you have time to blog while you are still at Disney??!!???

  7. One of these years we'll have to do WDW during the Christmas season. We've never been there at that time. Hoping to visit next February but sadly without any grandkids this time.

  8. I so love these trips to Disneyworld. Your lunch date looks wonderful, but I'd need a nap after that glorious plate of David's! How fun to see the talented Mexican dancers. I still think I'd make the Japanese drummers my first destination if I ever get here myself.

  9. I would love to see the Grand Floridian! That gingerbread house looks amazing -- and by the way, cocoa butter. although it seems like it should be chocolate-colored, is pale yellow. It's just the fat from the cocoa bean. :-) We haven't been to Disney in years and years, but we liked Epcot best when we visited. Your posts make me want to go back. Have fun!!!

  10. I always love your Disney posts. It's like being there. That is, I guess it is since I have never been! Thank you.

  11. I stayed in Fort Wilderness many years ago near Christmas and was blown away by all the decorations people set up. Even though I sleep soundly I wouldn't like all the noise so close to the dock. But give me that German buffet! I love when you visit Disney.

  12. I believe all 3 characters are full of air, but only one might be 'hot air'. ;)

    You have an inquiring mind, so you must ask cocoa butter could be blue.I just wonder if they do this from scratch each year given how many days it must take to bake and construct the Gingerbread House, complete with electricity and a cash register. Thanks to Nancy & Bill for recommending the German dining experience! I would do that again in a heartbeat - wonderful food!

  13. The Disney posts are so fun! I enjoyed the videos :) Bummer about the night noise..now you know! That German lunch sure did look scrumptious!! :)

  14. I am looking forward to more of your Disney/Epcot post for I felt like Im with you each time you tell your story and pictures. I know that German meal is sooo filling, we had one of those in Germany!
    I know you are having a blast spending your holidays in Disney, the best place to be at this time of the year!


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