Christmas at The Magic Kingdom, December 11, 2004
So many choices, so little time. That’s how we felt when we started planning our Christmas events at Walt Disney World this year. We wanted to see Main Street at the Magic Kingdom but then there were the Osborne Lights at Disney Studios—back after being closed for one year. Candlelight Processional at World Showcase in Epcot is a big draw and even Downtown Disney was hosting what they were calling, “Festival of the Seasons.” How many events could we cram in during on holiday season and which one should we attend first?
After tossing around ideas back and forth, we finally decided on the Magic Kingdom. We were really in the mood to see the Main Street decorations and we hadn’t been to the Magic Kingdom since Rich’s birthday in August. We had also heard that Osborne Lights wasn’t as good as before because it was moved to New York/San Francisco street instead of the Residence Avenue, which is no longer there. Also, because it was closed last year, we had heard that the crowds were heavy.
We had planned to leave the house around 3 pm so we could stay for the evening. The Magic Kingdom was open until midnight, which would give us plenty of time. But by 2 pm, we couldn’t wait any longer and we jumped in the SUV and headed for WDW. We parked at the TTC (Ticket & Transporter Center), and chose to take the ferry to the Magic Kingdom. Unlike Disneyland of yore, you cannot drive right up to the park. You have to park in a central location and either monorail over or ferry over. We’ve discovered that we much prefer the ferry over the monorail. Because we love being on the water, it feels like this is our first attraction.
The Main Street decorations looked wonderful even in daylight. We enjoyed touring Main Street, peeking into shops and discovering that we were hungry, we popped into our usual Main Street Bakery, looking for some cookies or other quick snack. It was mobbed so we headed on over to Adventureland where we stopped for some popcorn. Usually, we’re hot and thirsty in the MK and our favorite trips are Mickey ice cream bars or icy Dole Whips. But today it was sunny but quite chilly and the popcorn hit the spot. We headed over to Pirates of the Caribbean and the wait was the longest we had ever experienced at this Pirates but at 20 minutes, it moved rather quickly and we got to enjoy the pre-show area, especially the left hand side, which we didn’t even know it existed. We enjoyed riding Pirates, as usual wandered through the gift shop, debating on whether we should purchase the “Pirates of the Caribbean” game for our Christmas game. We decided to hold off and focused on getting something more substantial to eat since we really were hungry. There wasn’t much open in Adventureland so we wandered over to Frontierland and tried Pecos Bill for the first time. We had hot dogs and french fries but were quite impressed with their condiment bar, which had grilled onions, sauerkraut, mushrooms, in addition to the usual ketchup, mustard, relish, etc.
Afterwards, walking through Frontierland, we stopped in at the Shooting Gallery for Kathy’s shooting fix. As usual, she is quite the sharpshooter when she can stop to take aim. She admits that Buzz Lightyear is not her thing because the ride is constantly moving and it’s harder for her to take aim. Rich, on the other hand, is brilliant in that environment.
We couldn’t go to the MK and pass up the Haunted Mansion so we rode that next. The CM didn’t crowd too many people in at once and that was a nice change. We also like HM at WDW more than at Disneyland because at WDW, once the doors open, you’re right there for the line-up to the ride vehicle. At Disneyland, you have to stumbled around in the dark, tripping over other people rushing to get to the ride vehicle. After HM, we stopped in at the Christmas Shop and bought the red and white candy cane striped Christmas wreath decoration that we had noticed when we were at Downtown Disney with the parents but didn’t purchase it at that time.
We decided to purchase the Pirate games after all so we backtracked back to Pirates and then boarded the train to Toon Town Fair. In Town Town, we enjoyed touring Minnie and Mickey’s houses all decorated for Christmas. By this time, we decided to head back to Main Street through Fantasyland, taking one last stroll gazing at the decorations all lit up at night and then heading back home.
It was a very satisfying Christmas visit at the Magic Kingdom. We brought home a Christmas game and decorations and even found our cookies in the Candy Shop on Main Street. We arrived back at home early enough to enjoy our cookies and hot chocolate. While we had planned to return to WDW over the Christmas holidays, we never could decide if we wanted to go to Epcot or Studios and we ended up doing neither. But we had chosen to focus on the one park we didn’t want to miss this year. Who knows which park we will go to next Christmas?
Early Christmas Gift, December 15
We had received a special offer from the local Ford dealership in the mail and couldn’t resist checking it out. We were hoping to buy an ’05 Mustang at the end of ’05 but we figured if they could give us the deal we wanted, then we’d buy sooner rather than later. We’ve learned to play the game well and this was our best deal yet.
While the southern good ole boy sat there playing his part of trying to get us to state our price and appearing nonchalant at the prospect that we could get up and walk out, we declined to give him that advantage and when we stood up to put on our coats, they got a little more interested in dealing.
To clench the deal, Kathy took a trip to the restroom, temporarily relinquishing her California Independent Woman attitude for the good of the sale, to allow the “men” to talk. Sure enough, when she got back, they were ready to deal. But the ordeal wasn’t over. Thankfully, we had the fastest finance lady in Florida and we had signed the papers within minutes.
The car, however, was fresh off the truck and needed some final prep work so we were given a rental car so we could go out to lunch. We tried Johnny Carino’s Country Italian Restaurant, newly opened just down the street, and it was a wonderful experience, reminiscent of our special annual Christmas lunch at Piattis in the Stanford Shopping Center.
We’re loving our new car. While the SUV was practical when we lived in Oregon and our helped us on our cross-country moves, a fun, sporty car is more appropriate in the Tampa Bay area and parking is much easier. We can’t wait to drive it to Disney.
We gave the cats their Christmas gifts first thing because cats love Christmas, too. The toy mice was the big hit. Lovey loves to play fetch with them. Rich got out one of our Christmas gifts—a brand new Belgian Waffle iron—and Kathy made waffles for our Christmas breakfast. Weekend waffles are a tradition for us and our last waffle iron had finally made its last waffle in our Palm Harbor apartment. We played Christmas music and opened the rest of our gifts and watched the Magic Kingdom parade on TV.
Kathy made her special “gravy baked pork chops” family recipe that has become our annual tradition for Christmas dinner. Paired with a nice red wine, mashed potatoes and peas, it is an awesome meal. Rich chatted with Brother Bob through IM and talked with his parents on the phone. We also played our Christmas game, “Pirates of the Caribbean,” concluding that we are more trivia buffs and this type of game is not for us, especially since it really is a family game that needs 4 players.
We decided that next year we would try to get tickets for a Christmas Day performance. That would be more our style. We were tempted to buy tickets to “Phantom of the Opera” this year and wish that we had. We did watch a musical on TV—Fred Astaire in “The Royal Wedding.” The weather dictated that we stay indoors on Christmas Day and we have discovered that we are happiest indoors when we are involved in our artistic interests: either musical or literary arts, such as reading, writing, singing, dancing, or attending a musical performance.
Other Christmas Highlights
We felt especially blessed at Christmas this year. Little things that added up meant a lot. Purchasing the car at our local dealership was another step towards making us feel more at home. But the Christmas Eve service at our local church just reinforced the feeling of being at home here. We also had some Disney fun, which is Kathy’s connection to something familiar and even touring the local Hard Rock Casino was a connection to our fun Vegas trips in the past.
On one of Rich’s days off, we went to Citrus Park Mall, did some window shopping and then had a wonderful lunch at Rice & Company, complete with our favorite Sushi: the Tampa Roll. Now we’re hoping to cruise out of the Port of Tampa on the Veendam in the near future. The more we do in the Tampa Bay area, the more we’re feeling at home. The new Mustang got the neighbors’ attention and we enjoyed getting to know them a little bit better. Life is good here in Tampa Bay.