We kicked around several resorts for Christmas 2022, but Wilderness Lodge just seemed like the perfect place for Christmas. Especially when Christmas Day was that super cold day (somewhere in the 40s)–freezing for Florida. It was too cold to walk the property so we spent our time inside the Lodge.
We booked lunch at Whispering Canyon, which served a traditional Christmas turkey skillet dinner. It wasn’t what we were expecting and it seemed rather average in idea, but it was amazingly delicious!
And now we’ve caught up with our Disney adventures since we arrived back in Florida the end of June.
To many more adventures!
Happy New Year!
We made a lunch reservation at Ale and Compass and while we waited to be called, we took a look at our favorite Yacht and Beach Club Christmas decorations. Picked up some treats at the Beach Club, and bought an amazing Yacht Club Christmas ornament, something we’d wanted for years!
And then we walked over to the Epcot gate to catch our first glimpse of the Epcot Skyliner station. I know, I know. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
It looked much better than we’d imagined, and a good use of that space instead of the crowded area we’d feared. We couldn’t go into the park due to blackout dates (we have the Florida resident AP). Then it was time for lunch.
After lunch, we’d thought about having a drink at Hurricane Hanna’s, having such great Christmas Day memories from the past there, but skipped it and headed for the Boardwalk. We turned around at the bridge near the Dolphin, and decided we were ready for the 90-minute drive home.
Thanksgiving at Sanaa is one of our favorite places at Disney to celebrate. The African spices really kick up what can be a pretty boring meal. But, first, we stopped in at the bar for a cocktail. I had the Paloma I’d had at Victoria Falls on my Jiko Birthday, and Rich had a chocolate martini.
Then our table was ready so we moved over there and our incredible server really made our Thanksgiving. I forgot his name now but we put in a good word for him on the Disney App. He was from Casablanca.
Afterwards, we enjoyed the Christmas trees and animals out on the savannah. Really fun day!
With so much going on with the house, we weren’t sure we’d make it to Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival this year. First, we had to get our Florida driver’s license, which caused some confusion because Florida had changed the process since we last lived here. Anyway, after 3 visits to the DMV, we finally got our driver’s license and car plate. Whew! Don’t want to do that again! Everything is harder and more expensive these days.
Anyway, we finally made it to Epcot. By the time we arrived, the closer parking was full and there still was no tram, which we did not realize. We’re older now and the trams are important! We were exhausted for days after this and a little hesitant to plan any more park days (unless we stay over, which is what Disney would prefer).
We made just one round. We enjoyed the booths but it wasn’t as exciting as in previous years. Or maybe we’ve just been through too much and it was too soon and we were exhausted, dealing with so many house issues, which we are still dealing with. We haven’t really relaxed into the Florida lifestyle yet, which I hope is still coming.
But I do want to say we absolutely love our house. It’s exactly what we needed, especially with Rich working at home full-time. This is the best one yet! And we got pretty settled by Christmas. Woo hoo!
Our two favorite places for brunch at WDW lately is Raglan Road at Disney Springs and Whispering Canyon at Wilderness Lodge. We posted some pics from the first one back, but here are some photos from two more times at Ragland Road (one at the bar, the other outside) and Whispering Canyon at Wilderness Lodge, where you might not think brunch and Whispering Canyon in the same sentence.
Raglan Road Bar
Raglan Road Patio
When it was obvious the new end of August date “promised” by the builder was not going to be met, we had to extend our Airbnb stay. Of course, by this time, where we were staying on the beach in Cape Canaveral was already booked for September so we booked a Disney-themed townhouse with private pool in Kissimmee. Hey, why not make it fun, right?
The location was quite convenient for catching up with some Disney fun at Disney Springs, although we were saving the 3-day ticket we didn’t use on our March “househunting trip” to upgrade to an Annual Pass once we actually moved into our house and could prove Florida residency. Btw, when we finally were able to upgrade, we owed absolutely nothing. It was a straight trade. Wasn’t that awesome?
Our Disney fun was cut a bit short, though, when Rich hurt his back packing up and grabbing cats and moving into the new place. He did have a massage at our favorite spa at the Dolphin. Totally awesome! But mind you, throughout all of these shenanigans, Rich was working. Sitting on uncomfortably hard dining room chairs surrounded by me and our 3 cats. Not a time any of us would like to relive.
Our hosts were quite lovely, especially providing a bottle of Sofia Rose Bubbly upon our arrival. We are able to extend our stay for 3 extra days when, once again, the builder didn’t meet their latest deadline. Eventually, we closed on the house (although delayed to the afternoon instead of the morning, which meant we had to pack up and gather the cats in the dark, pouring rain on move-in night.
We are laughing at all of this now. Sort of. 🙂
Ironically, we enjoyed our stay at the beach more than near Disney. Maybe because it felt more homey and less touristy.
Thankfully, we were both recovered from Covid by the time Rich’s birthday rolled around the following month. He chose the Yachtsman Steakhouse. We hadn’t eaten there in over a decade. So long ago, they still had the salted crusted baked potato. Our server was shocked when we mentioned that – lol!
Speaking of our server, he was amazing. His name was David and he gave us excellent service without intruding upon our personal space like the Jiko server did. The food was incredible, too. The Caesar salad (marinated white anchovies and olive oil croutons) – well, the croutons are the only reason I need to dine there again. I know, crazy, isn’t it?
First we started off with Martinis, dirty, of course. Rich had the Wedge Salad, I had the Caesar, Rich had his the Filet Mignon with Truffle Mac n Cheese, and I had the Filet Mignon with House Made Truffle Fries. We ordered Strawberry Shortcake for dessert and David brought us over some kind of chocolate birthday surprise. Overall, an unforgettable evening and birthday worthy celebration!!
We were due to switch air bnbs on my birthday so we made reservations for my birthday dinner at Jiko on the following Saturday. Jiko had recently reopened and we were excited about it.
We arrived at Animal Kingdom Lodge a bit early to walk around and have a drink at Victoria Falls. Then when it was time for our ressie, we carried our drinks in to dinner with us.
It’s been a while since then so I don’t remember the details, such as the server’s name, but she was very enthusiastic and thorough. She told us stories about the excitement and hugs the CMs gave each other when they reported back to work.
Rich was looking for a white wine to pair with his entree, so she recommended a wine for tasting and it was just what he was looking for. I had a South African red. She took our order and stopped by frequently to chat and joke around with us.
Maybe too much interaction because a few days later I tested positive for Covid. Two days after that, Rich did. We’d been so careful and this is the closest we’d come to interacting with anybody but it was also when that crazy contagious strain was making the rounds last summer.
Anyway, here are a few photos of our otherwise wonderful evening at Jiko. As I recall, I had the deliciously tender short rib and I have no idea what Rich had but probably some kind of fish. And everything was quite delicious! Disney does a great job at making your birthday feel special!
I did it! I finally finished She’s Not That Good, a romantic comedy novella set on – what else – a cruise ship! I posted this on Screamie Birds Studios, but thought I’d post it here, too. Check it out:
SHE’S NOT THAT GOOD
Failing to launch an adult career, haunted by thoughts of never being good enough, Brandi Redwine searches for something she is good at. After chasing music and the exboyfriend in Nashville, she returns to San Francisco feeling like a loser.
Her best friend steps in and recommends her for an opportunity to compete for a job onboard a cruise ship. Her high school sweetheart is also on board, and his girlfriend is competing for the same job. Will her entire future rest on a final performance, or will she finally realize she is good enough when she pursues what’s really in her heart?
Other novels and short stories set on cruise ships: Real Women Wear Red (Book 1) Real Women Sing the Blues (Book 2) Cougars in Cabo (Short Story)
Okay, one of our favorite places to hang out is Frontera, probably our favorite Mexican restaurant in Florida. So, of course, we were there within days of arriving back in Florida. Oh, and, I finally tried the Avocado Margarita, not a bad choice if you’re really hungry or eating a light meal – lol!
Besides Disney and cruising, our other favorite Florida thing is the tiki bar. Here are a few pics from the one we hit up first and most often when we arrived back in Florida.
Watch Shakin’ it at the Tiki Bar on YouTube.
One of the first places we went to after we arrived last June was Raglan Road at Disney Springs for brunch – a favorite hangout. You may start to see a theme here.