Christmas Shopping at Downtown Disney
Who: Kathy and Rich
When: November 24, 2005
Where: Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World
Why: Christmas Shopping
The holidays are a popular time to visit Florida – family and friends come down here to visit, the snowbirds begin their annual trek and sometimes the locals like to play tourist – even when not playing tour guide to family/friends. Last year we hosted family and played tour guide – this year we get to play tourist. First stop on our itinerary: the Port of Tampa.
As cruise lovers, the only thing more exciting than going to Disney is getting on a cruise ship. And if we can’t actually get on the ship, we love to go down to Channelside, see what cruise ship is in port, and have lunch and margaritas at a portside restaurant and watch other people board the ship. Although it was a week day, we were in luck: the Inspiration was in port and even a Carnival ship can thrill us.
We then stopped in and browsed a wine shop and were pleasantly surprised at the wide selection of California and Northwest wines. We picked up 2 of our favorites: Argyle Pinot Noir from Oregon and Kiona Ice Wine from Washington State.
When we mentioned we had not only lived near the California wine country but had also lived near the Oregon wine country, the shop owner said we had been blessed twice. So true. We do miss living near wine country – one reason we love the Food&Wine Festival at Epcot. So we feel we’ve been blessed thrice – living close enough to Disney to take a day trip is a pretty nice blessing in itself.
And that’s exactly what we did 2 days later: drove to Downtown Disney to do a little pre-Thanksgiving Christmas shopping. Before we hit the road, though, we fortified ourselves with some tasty Hazelnut Coffee so reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest. And along with that coffee, we had some mini cinnamon rolls in honor of Tusker House at Animal Kingdom (we are planning a future trip to AK). But our hour-long drive turned into almost two hours due to heavy traffic on 75. I-75 serves multiple purposes and is a big pain on weekdays. Not only is it an interstate, but it serves the Tampa Bay area, points south all the way to Fort Lauderdale and as an access road to I-4, eventually connecting to I-95. Grrrr … (As a side note, we’re so used to doing “recreational driving” in the west but driving in Florida is just an evil means to an end and never pleasant.)
We waved at Minnie, Mickey and the gang (as we always do) as we drove under the gate and headed for Downtown Disney. We love,love,love this place and would love to think of it as our local shopping center. This is when we’re so tempted to move to Windermere or some other nearby location. In fact, we did take a tour of the latest condos in Celebration: Artisan Park ($400K+ just seems too steep for the privilege of living in a small condo in Celebration.)
Once we parked at DD, we headed for the Christmas store and did most of our shopping there. The decorations are so inspiring and the atmosphere so festive. It was getting more crowded as we went along but not too bad. The weather was absolutely perfect – sunny and a little on the cool side but wearing a light sweatshirt, we felt just right. It really was a “Wow” kinda day. We stopped in at “Earl of Sandwich” for lunch and managed to sample several offerings by splitting them between the 2 of us. We had the yummy Le Frenchy sandwich – ham with creamy French brie and dijonaise sauce – with a split of Glen Ellen Chardonnay, a bag of gourmet chips and a home-made ice cream sandwich. After wandering through a few more shops, including buying our kitties some Christmas gifts, we topped off the day at Goofy’s Candy Company where we purchased gingerbread men cookies and some fudge to go with the Kiona ice wine for later in the evening as a kickoff to our Thanksgiving Celebration.
We have busy plans for the next several weeks. WDW, as you know, goes all out for the Christmas holidays and we hope to see the Magic Kingdom, the Osborne Lights at Studios, and the Christmas parade at Animal Kingdom just to name 3, the latter being the first to go if we can’t fit it all in. One thing we do know we’re doing for sure is the Candlelight Processional – we’ve already reserved a dinner package at Rose & Crown.
With all of our past experiences and plans for future experiences, we do feel quite blessed and are quite thankful. We wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. And hope that you have some Disney in your future, too.