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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Buy 4 nights, get 3 free offer extended!

I was checking the WDW Web site and I noticed the buy 4 nights get 3 nights free offer has been extended to January 24, 2009. So if you were thinking about taking advantage of this amazing offer, you still have time!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tip Tuesday: Safely carrying tickets, FastPasses, PhotoPasses and receipts

Welcome back to the DisneyDaddy blog!

In this week's Tip Tuesday, I'll share a new tip I discovered during my December 2008 trip to Walt Disney World (see my trip report posts that are still ongoing about this trip).

If you're like me when you're at WDW, you're usually the one carrying all the tickets (or Key to the World Cards in my case), FastPasses, PhotoPasses, receipts, etc. while in the parks. I've seen many guests put their tickets in a lanyard-style holder. While this does keep the passes safe, I'm not a fan of showing the world where your tickets are. Many of those lanyard have break-away points, for safety reasons. The bad news is that someone could give your lanyard a good hard tug and it likely will come free - and there go your tickets and anything else that might be in there (like credit cards, licenses, etc.).

A better option, in my opinion, is to use a small credit-card or business card wallet. This is a very small wallet-like item in which there are some pockets to hold a few cards. This is not a full-size wallet. I've included a link to something similar I used during the Dec. 2008 trip.
http://www.amazon.com/Regal-Leather-Business-Wallet-SAM81220/dp/B000A6V0YE

Here's the benefit to using a business card wallet: It fits easily in a front pocket and can be quickly pulled out when needed. Best of all, it's much more secure than a lanyard. With the different pockets, you can easily keep the tickets separate from passes to make it easier to grab when you need them.

For those of you who use the Disney Dining Plan, this wallet also helps you keep easy track of your dining credits. Each day I would put the receipts from each restaurant in the holder. At the end of the day, back at my resort room, I would pull out the receipts and see what we had left. The next day, the previous day's receipt would go into a master envelope and I'd start the process all over again.

So the next time you're going to WDW (or any Disney park) give this tip a try, I think you'll find this much easier.

Monday, December 29, 2008

"Dawn Treader" movie sunk

According to a CNBC.com report, Disney has decided it will not make the third installment in the Narnia series, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader." The report says Disney made the decision based on "budget considerations and other logistics."

The second Narnia movie, "Prince Caspian," apparently didn't do as well as the studios hoped. The report says "Caspian" cost about $200 million to produce and it grossed $420 million globally. This is significantly smaller than the $745 million the first Narnia film, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," made.

I'm no economist, but making $220 million isn't shabby. The movie made a decent profit, why not produce the final film featuring the Pevensie family? Besides, "Dawn Treader" is a story that is made for action, while "Caspian's" story didn't lend itself to as much action (without major changes to the storyline).

Personally, I think Disney has made a bad call here. I understand the economy isn't doing well, but why give up on the while project? I could understand putting the film off a year or two until things do better, but to give up entirely? I hope another studio will work with Walden Media to produce "Dawn Treader," and watch it do much better.

Disney, there's more out there than Pixar. While Pixar does make some great movies, they aren't the only game in town. Stick with the plan - produce the third film.

Also online: a second CNBC.com article.

DisneyDaddy featured on the WDW Radio Show

Last week, I had the distinct privledge to record a segment about pressed pennies with Lou Mongello of the WDW Radio Show. Together we discussed one of the "Best of the Best" of Walt Disney World and fun collectibles - pressed pennies.

Be sure to check out the show #99. You can download the show in iTunes, or go to the WDW Radio Show site.

For more information about pressed pennies, be sure to check out my two Tip Tuesday posts on the subject.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

WDW Dec. 2008 Trip Report - Day 4

Well I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah and/or Kwanzaa. It's time to bring you day four of my December 2008 trip to Walt Disney World.
Day four started out about as nicely as any day ever could. What could be better than a bit of Soarin' during morning Extra Magic Hours at Epcot? This (and Toy Story Mania) are my two most favorite attractions in all of Walt Disney World. I could ride this a hundred times in a row. The music alone is outstanding and the sensation of flight is quite realistic -- and there's nothing like the scent of orange groves! If you haven't taken a flight on Soarin' - it is a DisneyDaddy Must Do!

After a pretty short wait on Soarin', we hustled over to Test Track to jump in the standby line before Epcot opened to the main crowd. This would be my daughter's first ride on Test Track. She was nervous and was a little startled by the high speed bank-turn, but she made it through (oh, she's not done with Test Track -- just wait).
After Test Track, we walked along the Canada-side of World Showcase to a pastry stand to grab a small bite before a late lunch. It was before 11a.m., so most pavilions weren't open yet. I have to say it was nice to stroll along the western side of World Showcase when there weren't many people around. You get a chance to really take in the architecture of the Canada and Great Britain pavilions. As we were finishing our pastries, I noticed a person in a Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure outfit. I asked if they were testing the system today and the cast member said that they were and invited us to test it out. I've already posted a spoiler-free review on the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure, so see that post for more. Once it's up and running, this is most definitely on the DisneyDaddy Must-Do list.

We continued our walk around World Showcase, stopping in a few stores including one in Great Britain where we managed to complete the Harry Potter quiz to win a magical moments certificate. My kids had a great time interacting with the cast member as they were working on this quiz - yet another reason why it's the cast members that make Disney such a magical place.

Later that night, we were going to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, so we took the monorails back to the Grand Floridian in order to change for the party and let the kids (and us!) rest a bit. We were in the Sago Cay building at the Grand Floridian, so we had views like what you see above from our balcony. Just to the right of this vantage point is the outside patio for Gasparilla Grill and Games. This is a great place to sit and watch the evening fireworks at the Magic Kingdom.

Early that afternoon, we hopped on the resort monorail for the short trip to the Magic Kingdom. We had an ADR at the Crystal Palace before MVMCP started. We had breakfast at the Crystal Palace back in March and loved it, so I was hoping dinner would be just as good. The Crystal Palace didn't disappoint. It was wonderful! We also had a great server who had a lot of fun interacting with the characters and with our children. Even the topiaries from the Hundred Acre Wood had decked the halls.

After dinner, we watched the lighting of the Cinderella's Castle. It was incredible! I had been waiting to see this for a year and it was worth every second of the wait. As the lighting wrapped up, we checked in and received our wristbands for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. This might be the only real disappointment of our entire trip. I understand the intent behind MVMCP is to create an exclusive event, but the park felt more crowded than it had been (and would be) for our entire trip. We stood in line 45 minutes just to get a picture with Mickey Mouse and the Twas The Night Before Christmas shows were standing room only! The lines to get hot chocolate and cookies were huge. I never got a chance to sample this part of the party. We skipped the first parade and managed to slip into a short line to see Santa just as the fireworks were wrapping up. Of course the lines were huge within a few minutes.

The kids were getting pretty tired, so my wife took them back to the resort while I stayed to see the second parade. Expecting a big crowd, I staked out a prime standing spot about 30 minutes ahead of time. I had a tripod, so I was back from the curb a few paces so others could sit in front of me and, for the most part, I had a great view. There was one person who kept trying to step in front of my lens. I guess rude people are everywhere, even at WDW. I do have to say this is the best nighttime parade I have ever seen. I am a big Spectromagic Fan, but this parade was fantastic. I also was amazed with how LONG it was! It ran for more than 20 minutes!


Once the second parade had ended, there was a huge throng heading for the exit. Following my own tip, I hung around and made my way towards the Partners statue to take a few million photos of Cinderella's Castle. There was a near-full moon as well, which made for some very beautiful shots.


Probably the best part of of MVMCP was being in the castle forecourt with no one around you. It was just me and the castle as the party came to an end. I joined the last part of the throng leaving the park and found a new tip for getting back to a Magic Kingdom resort -- look for that on an upcoming Tip Tuesday.
Well that does it for day 4. Stay tuned for day 5!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from the DisneyDaddy!

As we get into the heart of the holiday season, I wanted to take a moment to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa. It really doesn't matter what holiday you celebrate, they all recognize the spirit of giving to others.

It is with that in mind that I ask you to consider the spirit of giving.

Many Disney fans know a friend of mine, Lou Mongello. He has a project called the Dream Team in which he helps the Make a Wish Foundation send seriously ill kids to Walt Disney World. The Dream Team has a goal to raise $45,000 by the 100th episode of the WDW Radio Show, which is in a few weeks.

As of this post, they've raised a little more than $43,000. Please consider helping to send a seriously ill child experience the magic of Walt Disney World. For many of these kids, it can make an enormous difference in their life. I hope you will consider supporting this program.

You can make a donation at this Web site: http://www.firstgiving.com/dwtdreamteam

Thank you and may you have a very happy and safe holiday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tip Tuesday: Divide and Conquer

This week's Tip Tuesday comes courtesy of Mickey (no, not the mouse, my wife Mickey) and is for families visiting Walt Disney World: Don't be afraid to split up. One of the challenges Walt Disney World can present to families, especially larger families with several children spanning a wide range of ages, is that not everyone wants to do the same things.

My first grade daughter won't set foot inside Space Mountain (aside from the TTA), while my 3rd and 5th grade boys will melt the pavement trying to get there as fast as possible. In a similar manner, my two boys may die of embarrassment if they get caught inside the Voyage of the Little Mermaid.

This difference of interests is a common problem for big families (and groups for that matter).

The easy solution is to split up. In our case, myself and the boys will go off for a few hours to do "boy stuff" while my daughter and wife will go do "girlie things." We set a time and place to meet back and then go our separate ways within that park (we have even split among two parks before -- if you can handle it - go for it).

One extra tip from Mickey: Have two photopass cards. You never know when you might run into a great photo opportunity. By the time we finished our Dec. 2008 trip, we had four photopass cards. They all go to the same place later so there's no problem with multiple cards.

So the next time you have a larger family or group and are planning a visit to Walt Disney World, don't be afraid to divide and conquer. You'll be surprised how much more you will get to do!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

WDW Dec. 2008 Trip Report - Day 3

Day three at Walt Disney World started out with a return to Hollywood Studios were we got into the park early because of an ADR at Hollywood and Vine. This is another character breakfast featuring stars from Playhouse Disney. This breakfast was quite good and we had a very good waiter who helped make it fun.

After breakfast, we hustled over to Toy Story Mania to get some Fastpasses. When we got there (around 9:30), the standby line already was at 60 minutes! Our Fastpasses were up in a few hours, so we went across the park and took the first of what would be several runs on Star Tours (one of our favorite attractions). We then stopped by Muppets 3D and walked down the Streets of America where the Power Rangers were doing meet and greets. New this time was the White Ranger (he wasn't there during our March 08 trip), so we were able to get a picture with him.


We then walked over to Pixar Place, which was quite crowded (no surprise there). We still had some time until our Fastpasses were up so we stood in line at the new Toy Story picture spot called "Woody's Picture Corral". This was pretty interesting. While you're waiting to see Buzz and Woody, there are cutout picture opportunities all through the queue.

By the time we got out of the picture spot, our Fastpass window had opened, so we went across the street to for our first ever ride on Toy Story Mania. When people ask me what my favorite attractions at WDW are, Space Ranger Spin at the MK is in the top 3. This is because of the high re-rideablity factor. I'm always trying to get that 999,999. Toy Story Mania is like Buzz, version 4 - it was incredible. I was totally blown away by the live 3D rendering. I can't imagine the computing power this attraction requires. It immediately became our most favorite attraction at WDW.

From TSM, we journeyed into Narnia. The set reconstruction is awesome! It was so neat to be at the Stone Table. We also walked through One Man's Dream. Walt is a key figure for me so I very much enjoyed walking along his life's work.

By now it was the afternoon, so we took a Friendship boat to Epcot. We had wanted to catch some more of the Santas around the world. This time we saw the Norway Santa (and his "assistant") and the Three Wise Men in Mexico. We took a ride on Malestrom and the Gran Fiesta Tour and then made our way to the walkway between Future World and World Showcase for the lighting of the Epcot tree. Unlike years past, there was no character show for the tree lighting. There was just an announcer with a quick spiel and then the tree lit up.


The walkway lights were pretty cool. Disney did a nice job synchronizing the lights to the holiday music. After the tree lighting, we walked over to the America Gardens Theatre to try to catch the Candlelight Processional. Here, I was in for a rude awakening. Disney has reserved seats for guests who book the dinner package. I knew this was the case, but I didn't know that everyone and their brother had reserved seating! The theatre was filled with dinner package people - hardly any other guests could get seats. I ended up standing to the left side of the lighting room. The view was pretty good, aside from a tree or two in the way. As we read the program, I saw that three choirs from my hometown were performing later in the week. I'll have more on this in another post coming soon.
While I really enjoyed the Candlelight Processional, the kids weren't as enamored, probably because they had to sit on the ground or stand. The performance was inspirational - these people really can sing!
After the processional, I could tell the kids were quickly running out of steam, so we made our way back around the lagoon and through Future World to the monorail. It's so nice that the monorail is our main form of transportation as opposed to waiting for a bus that might come someday. Within 15 minutes we were in our rooms and off to sleep.
That's it for day 3 - stay tuned for day 4 and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!

Friday, December 19, 2008

WDW Dec. 2008 Trip Report - Day 2

Day 2 at Walt Disney World could be summed up thus: Go Wild!

After a nice character breakfast at 1900 Park Fare, we hopped a bus from the Grand Floridian to Animal Kingdom. I have to say up front this is not my family's favorite park, so they went here at my request and with some grumblings (at first).

My goals for this part of the day were pretty limited: ride on the safari, see Rafiki's Planet Watch and see the Jingle Jungle Parade. I didn't have much interest in Everest - I rode that in March and I wanted to do new things.


We first went over to Camp Minnie Mickey and walked right into a showing of the Festival of the Lion King. We were in the elephant section (insert elephant noise here). I had not seen this show before and I was quite impressed. The monkeys were very good!

Afterward, we went over to the Kilimanjaro Safaris and grabbed a pack of Fastpasses for a slot about an hour later. We went up to Rafiki's Planet Watch while we waited for our time slot. I managed to catch a quick shot with one of my favorite characters and I found a hidden mickey I really wanted to see in person (see below).

When our Fastpass time arrived, we returned to the safaris and waited in a relatively short line for our ride vehicle to pull up. I had not been on the safaris and was pleasantly surprised. The lions weren't out, but other then that, there were animals everywhere. It was a photographer's dream - shots everywhere!

After the safari, we walked along the Pangani Trail. My kids found the gorillas pretty interesting, though my daughter said as her nose wrinkled, "They smell."

The time was coming to stake out a spot for the parade. We sat near the entrance to the It's Tough to Be a Bug and waited for the parade to come down the path. I have to say the Jingle Jungle Parade has to be the best daytime parade of any at WDW.


After the parade, we booked out of the park and hustled over to Hollywood Studios to catch the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Here I was totally BLOWN away! I thought I did a decent job of outdoor lights -- I'm not worthy!!! There were so many lights, there was no way to really take it all in! This lived up to all the hype I had heard - it really is amazing. Any pictures and/or video you may see can't do it justice. You have to see this in person to really get the experience.

After a bus ride to the TTC and a monorail to the GF, we were back in our room and off to bed to rest for another busy day tomorrow.

Stay tuned for day 3!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Disney is celebrating YOU in 2009!!

As you know by now, the big Disney Parks event for 2009 is "What will you celebrate?" Now Disney has come up with one more way you can be a part of the magic and I have to say this is really cool!



Enter your information and you will get a video like the one you see here (click the play arrow to watch).

Just go to http://www.sun7news.com/ to get started.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

WDW Dec. 2008 Trip Report - Day 1

Alright Disney fans, it's time to take you along with me as I review my recent trip to Walt Disney World.

We drove this year (as we did back in March) and, once again, I was surprised at the general lack of major traffic as we were arriving on a Saturday afternoon. We pulled right into the front of the Grand Floridian Resort (what a resort!!! -- I'll do a resort report later) and were able to check in after only a few minutes wait.
Our rooms were ready early, so after hauling (and I do mean HAUL) our luggage to the room, we were off to the Magic Kingdom. Boy is it nice staying on the monorail loop, especially when you're just one stop again from the Magic Kingdom. As we stepped onto the monorail, the infamous "Please stand clear of the doors..." brought a shiver to me as it sank in that I was home again.
On arriving at the MK, I remembered the annual Christmas Day Parade taping was going on. As we walked into Town Square, we were asked if we were joining the crowd lining Main Street for the parade or heading further into the park. We were headed to Tomorrowland, and so the cast members directed us through a backstage shortcut to the right side of Town Square.

I happened to get a shot of this poster above what I can only assume is the center for cast members portraying characters. I thought it was pretty interesting.

After a spin on Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin (yes, I hit 999,999!) and the TTA, we grabbed some lunch at Cosmic Rays and then spent a little time in Fantasyland before walking back through to the hub. There we lucked into a real treat, especially for my 1st grade daughter.


Who did we see getting ready to tape her performance by Miley Cyrus herself! My daugher flipped! Granted we were nearly at the partners statue, but she could still see Miley. It was interesting to watch the performance stop and start as crews taped different segments.
After watching Miley for a bit, we hopped over to Epcot for the evening. We took a ride on Spaceship Earth, The Seas with Nemo and Living with the Land. Soarin would have to wait until another day.
For dinner, we had an ADR at Cape May. I'll do a more in-depth restaurant review later, but I'll say up front this was not our favorite. I expected a clam bake to have a bit more seafood on the buffet than just clams. Also Disney changed the kids menu, much to the chagrin of my older son.
After another wonderful monorail ride back to the GF, we watched the Wishes fireworks from one of the docks at the resort and then called it a night.
So there you go -- day one of our adventure (and this was really only a half day). Stay tuned for the next day. Here's a preview: "Happy Unbirthday and Jambo!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tip Tuesday: Kids' dining at WDW

For most adults, eating at Walt Disney World is a true culinary delight. The same, however, can't always be said for kids, especially special needs kids who are picky eaters.

Case in point is my son who has a mild form of autism. He is very unwilling to try new foods - because he is very uncertain about new things. While I may push him to try new things at home, Walt Disney World is not the place to try new foods and risk a tough night.

Here's the problem: the folks at WDW are jumping more and more onto the "healthy" bandwagon. While I don't have a problem with offering healthy options, I don't want that choice made FOR me. The end result is that many of my son's favorite foods (chicken nuggets being the top of the list) are slowing going away in favor of baked chicken, which he is less then enthusaistic about.

Here's the tip: If you have a picky eater - it's a good idea to check out restaurant menus ahead of time to plan where you want to eat, especially if you're on the Disney Dining Plan and need to make those ADR's. I have used these sites for my past three trips and, for the most part, I've been pretty successful.

Here are a couple of sites to check out restaurant menus:
WDWinfo.com: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28194763/
AllEars.net: http://allears.net/menu/menus.htm

Take these menus with a grain of salt - Disney changes their menus without notice. These two sites do a good job of trying to keep up with the changes. A great example of this would be at the Cape May Cafe. Both sites listed chicken strips on the dinner menu as of October -- yet when I was there last week, the chicken strips were gone and baked chicken leg was there in it's place.

So parents, do your homework ahead of time and you stand a good chance of a good dining experience.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure - in beta testing

For those of you who follow this blog, you well know that I was looking forward to playing the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure during my recent trip to Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, as those who have read my posts will know, Disney delayed the launch of the new World Showcase event until 2009. Or so I thought. Imagine my surprise, then, when I happened to stumble into some cast members wearing Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure shirts parked at the bridge between Great Britain and France. I asked if there might be any testing going on and one cast member asked me if I would like to be part of the test group.

"Are you kidding?!?!?" I said, "I would love to!"

So here's the sitch about the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure. Each country will have their own separate set of missions. I happened to test out the Great Britain missions. The entire experience took about 30 minutes and was a real blast. I won't go into detail about what the missions were except to say the Imagineers hit this one out of the park, over the parking lot and into the next county. It was A LOT of fun! You have to interact with all sorts of things all across the pavilion, including cast members who were "in" on the game.


One important part to note for those not interested in this -- you don't see Kim Possible all over the place. If you don't have the "Kimmunicator," you won't even notice anything is going on unless you happen to watch someone else who is on an adventure. Each interaction is quite secluded.

The Imagineers put a lot of thought into making this a "secret" world - and you never know who or what you may interact with.

Based on this one-country test of the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure, I would say Disney has another knock-out hit on their hands. One possible suggestion -- keep the number of "Kimmunicators" out in the field at one time limited so there isn't a big line of people standing to interact with the various hotspots -- that would kill the undercover nature of the adventure.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Back from WDW!!!

Well I'm back from a week at Walt Disney World and boy do I have a number of items to talk about.

I'm working on upcoming posts, so stay tuned!

Oh, and for those of you still at Mousefest -- have a great time, I wish I was still there!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tip Tuesday: Pin trading -- the family fun way

Walk into a few Disney Stores or shops in a Disney Park and you will quickly notice they all have something in common (besides being owned by Disney), they all have pins. In the case of some shops in the parks, there are hundreds, if not, thousands lining the walls. What do you do with all these pins? Well many collect them. There are standard pins, special edition pins, limited edition pins, limited special release only for a certain event and to a certain group pins, it goes on and on. Some pins can become quite rare and VERY valuable to serious collectors.

Then there's the fun part of pins: Pin Trading.

Now in my opinion, there are two kinds of pin trading, serious trading and family fun trading.

Serious pin trading is akin to trading baseball cards -- two collectors looking to find that super rare pin or score a deal. It's a lot like buying a car, there's haggling, multi-pin offers and all that mess. Personally, I don't like to trade with a serious collector. I always get the feeling they're trying to rip me off, kind of like me trading away a Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle for some obscure card. I don't pay attention to the values of pins, so I really don't know what's a good deal and what's not.

Many of these pins were acquired by pin trading with cast members.

I much prefer the family fun trading. How does this work, you ask? Family fun trading takes place with Disney cast members only. Nearly every cast member walks around with a lanyard full of pins. You can approach any cast member and offer to trade any pin of yours with one of theirs. It's as simple as that. This also is a great chance to talk with some of the cast members - they are wonderful people who work hard to make your time at Disney as magical as it can be.

My kids love this kind of pin trading. They especially like it because my wife and I collect pins and our kids get a real kick out of showing us new pins they've traded for. This makes our pin collection priceless, not because the pins have some incredible value of their own, but because each pin has a meaning and a memory associated with it. Pin trading is another great way for families to enjoy Disney.

So what's the tip in all this? In order to trade with a cast member, you have to have pins, or "pin fodder," as I call it. You could go to a shop and purchase a few pins (at anywhere from about $6 to $15 each) OR try this little trick I'm trying out next week.

I went onto Ebay and searched for "Disney pin lot." There are some folks out there who have access to TONS of pins and they sell them in lots. They are usually basic mass-produced pins. The trick is to find a group of pins for less than $2 a pin. I won a bid for 40 pins for less than $70. Of those, we decided to keep about five or six. The rest are on lanyards and ready for trading. We did get a few duplicates, which is no big deal since I'm trading them away.

Like anything with Ebay, you have to be careful what you bid on. You want authentic Disney pins that come from cast members. No off-quality pins (like sedesmas or European pins).

If you do some careful shopping ahead of your trip, you should be able to get a good stock of "pin fodder" at a far less cost than what you would pay in a Disney Store or in a park shop.

Happy pin trading everyone!

Oh, and here's a Disney news release about pin trading.

P.S.: There won't be a Tip Tuesday next week as I will be at WDW. I hope to bring material for LOTS of posts, so stay tuned!!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

WDW at the Holidays: The Resorts

Well we've gone to each of the four parks to see a sample of the holiday-related events. Now it's time to visit one more place (OK, several more places, but it's all the same concept). I'm talking about the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels.

If you think you go all out for the holidays, you probably are nothing compared to what some of these resorts go to (unless you happen to be another Osborne family, but we won't go there).

So let's take a quick tour of some of the deluxe Disney resorts to see how they deck the halls for the holidays.

Any WDW resort tour has to start with the grandaddy of them all -- the Grand Floridian.


(Image copyright Disney, all rights reserved.)

The resort lobby, stylized after the Victorian era, already is a spectacular sight anytime of the year. Add in the holiday decorations and it truly is a sight I can't wait to see. As the photo above shows, each year the Imagineers manage to construct a near life-size gingerbread house in the middle of the Grand Floridian lobby. Yes, folks, that's REAL gingerbread there - so please don't eat the house, even if looks delicious. A cast member can be found selling gingerbread cookies inside. It takes the Imagineers more than two months to make this gingerbread house, complete with more than 5,000 gingerbread "shingles." For more on the Grand Floridian gingerbread house, check out a post on the Orlando Attractions Magazine blog.


Next up, we travel across the Seven Seas Lagoon and into Bay Lake to view the tree at the Wilderness Lodge.

(Image copyright Disney, all rights reserved.)


Like the Grand Floridian, the Wilderness Lodge is beautiful anytime of the year. At the holidays, it gets even better. As soon as you enter your eye goes right to the enormous tree right in the middle of the lobby. With more than 60,000 lights adorning the 60 foot tree, it's worth taking a trip just to see the rustic holiday decorations.

Alright, we're taking the boat back to the Magic Kingdom, then the monorail to the TTC and the the monorail again to Epcot. After a quick walk through the park enjoying some of the decorations there (see my previous post about the holidays at Epcot), we walk through the international gateway and over to the Yacht and Beach Clubs.

(Image copyright Disney, all rights reserved)

At the Beach Club Resort, we find another gingerbread creation. This time the Imagineers are thinking more of an attraction (these are folks that know how to make good rides after all), so why not a gingerbread carousel? How in the world they create these things, I may never know. While the photo may not show it, this thing really does move. And somewhere on there is a full-body 3-D hidden Mickey. It's in a different place each year. I know my kids can't wait to see this one. Anyone going to Mousefest will be sure to stop and check this out as the Mega Mouse meet takes place at the Beach Club on Dec. 13.

While we're at the Beach Club, let's take a quick walk over to the Yacht Club. There we'll find another holiday sight.

(Image copyright Disney, all rights reserved)

Here we'll find a winter wonderland train model. I don't know much about this particular holiday decoration, but I found the picture and had to add it. It looks cool, so I'll be seeking this out as well.

Our final stop requires a quick bus ride to the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

(Image copyright Disney, all rights reserved)

Another resort with an amazing lobby throughout the year, the tree here towers over you just like at the Wilderness Lodge. Unless you happen to be staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, it's a bit out of the way to see this resort, but I have a feeling it is well worth the effort. I'm going to really try to find the time to bring the family to the AK Lodge to see these decorations. Like I said, this is another one of those hotels you just have to see in person.

Also worth checking out, (though I don't have photos) are the Contemporary, Polynesian and Boardwalk resorts. The moderate and value resorts also have some holiday decorations, so be sure to appreciate the work Disney puts into decking the halls no matter where you happen to stay.

Well that's going to do it for my preview of the holidays at WDW. I hope you've enjoyed my forward look at what I'm looking forward to seeing in a few days.

I will be at Mousefest for the Mega Mouse Meet. I don't have a booth, I'll just be walking around. Be sure to stop me and say hi!