Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Yuletide Hypothesis Chapter 9 - Mission: GINGERBREAD

After I photographed seemingly every nook & cranny of Main Street, we hopped on the resort monorail. I could not wait to see the life-size gingerbread house in the lobby of the Grand Floridian. I mean, I was seriously giddy that we were finally getting the chance to see it in person!!

Getting off the monorail. That's a whole lotta poinsettia down there!

Pretty trees adorn the lobby entrance from the monorail

Ooooooh Aaaaaah


I absolutely love gingerbread houses. They’re one of my favorite themes for holiday decorations, so it’s safe to say that it was love at first sight here.

We hitched a ride in the birdcage to get down to the first floor

Ain’t she purrrdy?!

I couldn’t believe how much detail there was. This was something I didn’t see on all of those WDW Christmas specials.

Proof that we were there! (grainy iPhone photo)

Some elves were busy putting together gingerbread houses to be sold INSIDE the big gingerbread house. So meta.

They were also making gingerbread cookie ornaments

After pouring over every last detail, we hopped in line to buy some goodies. I was still on a high from actually being there and may have gone a little overboard. Although, I did stay strong in resisting the urge to drop $70 on a gingerbread house, I couldn’t even imagine trying to get that thing home to CA. We bought a few shingles, 1 for us and the rest to take home as gifts, a chocolate snowman filled with little chocolates for my dad (he LOVES snowmen like I love gingerbread houses), and a pin made exclusively for the gingerbread house.

After we had our bag o’goodies and successfully searched out all of the hidden mickeys on the house, we decided to relax in the lobby for a bit. Our view:


A very sweet older couple came and sat down with us and we got to chatting for a bit. They told us about how they moved down to FL from the Northeast a few years ago, and that they liked to take weekend getaways to the Disney resorts every couple of months. This time they were staying at the Grand for a few nights with their friends. Fun!! I love how Disney becomes the common denominator and you can meet so many different people while you’re there.

After about 20 minutes, their friends appeared and it was time for us to get going, so we bid farewell and headed up to the monorail platform. One last shot on our way out (it’s like I can’t help myself)…

Since we had already been to the Poly and they didn’t have much to offer in the way of holiday displays, we opted to skip it and made way to the Contemporary.

Always a happy sight

Apparently someone wanted to sample the gingerbread before they bought a piece. Yeesh.

Their cute, albeit understated, display

“O’ Gingerbread Tree, O’ Gingerbread Tree, how tasty are thy branches”

I wanted one of each!

We figured the gingerbread shingles would be the same, so we just picked out one of the specialty cookies they had for sale. I can’t seem to find a picture of it but it was a double layered cookie with jam in the middle, covered in powdered sugar. Afterward, we wanted to check out the cupcakes in the quick service bakery, so our next stop was the Contempo Cafe.

I think they need to put up some “no drooling on the glass” signs here

In keeping with the holiday theme, we chose Chocolate Peppermint & Spiced Apple cupcakes to take back to our room. For the record, we were buying sweet treats left & right, but we hadn’t eaten any of it just yet.

We made our way out to the boat dock, which led us into an area of the Contemporary we’d never been to before.

Waiting on the dock

Our boat was practically empty!

Home sweet home

We stopped by the geyser in hopes that we’d get to see it erupt

On the boat ride back from Ft. Wilderness the night before, our driver pointed out that there’s a bear face within the building, so I entertained myself while waiting for the geyser by trying to capture it on my camera. Can you see it?!

Meanwhile this was still happening over at the geyser…

After a few minutes, we gave up and decided to try to catch it later (spoiler alert: we never did). We had some fun stuff scheduled for that night, and I was in dire need of a nap if I had any hopes of seeing our plans through.

We were greeted by this little guy in our room!

We brought a mini pre-lit tree along with us, so our new little friend had a perfect home underneath it (nevermind the unopened box of ornaments in bubble wrap in the background )

For those wondering how all of our goodies were: we ate our shingle from the GF later in the trip and I’m sad to report that it was NOT good. It tasted like bland dough filled with cloves; not at all what I was hoping for. We left the cookie from the Contemporary for too long and we didn’t get to try it because it expired a couple days after we bought it. Boo to that. The cupcakes, however, were quite tasty! Not our favorite of the trip, but they hit the sweet spot.

Next Up: The Best Cupcake EVER, and something about some dancing Lights.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Yuletide Hypothesis: An Ode to Pooh

We’ve had so many distractions over the last few months, making it hard to find time to update this trip report. Our next big plan is another family trip to WDW this December, and I finally have time to get into full pre-trip bliss mode. That should mean lots of TR updates to follow! So, let’s see…where were we? Oh yeah, the start of Day 4, Friday the 9th…

We woke up around 7:30 and it was clear that this head cold was going to put up a fight. My voice still hadn’t found its way back home, and my congestion was a bit heavier, but we had breakfast reservations at Crystal Palace – a must do on all of our trips (sometimes even twice, if our trips are long enough), so I wasn’t about to be holed up in our room for the day. I found some Theraflu in our toiletry bag, so I grabbed it on our way out and then we headed over to the boat dock.

I snapped some photos along the way. Walking the grounds, it’s easy to see why Wilderness Lodge is so popular. I wish we had taken time to enjoy more of the resort, especially the pool. Sadly, we never made it out there since I was Mrs. Sicky Sickerson during our whole stay.

Here comes our ride!
 I love taking the boats around the World... 

Almost there! 

Once we arrived we had to hustle a bit to make our reservation, so this was the only shot I nabbed (don’t worry, there will be MANY more after breakfast):

We booked it down Main St. and made it to our reservation just in time. Thank. Goodness.
I mentioned earlier that Crystal Palace is a must-do for us. For many guests, CP is all about the characters, which is understandable given that they’re all of the Winnie the Pooh variety. For us, it’s all about the food. Pooh’s Puffed French Toast to be exact (or Pooh Chunks as we lovingly refer to them). For those that aren’t familiar, they take wedges of French toast, batter and deep fry them, and then roll them in delicious cinnamon sugar. Seriously, people – we’re talking insanely delicious. They also have this ridiculously tasty breakfast pizza and yummy, cheesy potatoes. I could go on and on, but I think I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking … (Please don’t judge us by the mountain o’food)

My plate - veggie frittata on top, the cheesy potatoes, pile of sausages, biscuit w/gravy, and some breakfast pizza on the bottom. 

Obligatory plate of Pooh Chunks for the table

Thanking Pooh for the tasty breakfast

Piglet – The Hubs was up re-filling our plate of the chunks

I was in hog heaven (no offense, Piglet) and almost forgot about the Theraflu, so before we were done I asked the server for a cup of hot water. I have to say, I was so not prepared for just how incredibly disgusting it tastes. It's like they melted down a handful of the most awful cough drops you can imagine, and then forced you to drink it. I’m not sure what I was expecting, maybe something closer to tea with lemon. I don’t know, but it was not at all what I wanted with my yummy breakfast, BUT, I did want to feel better so I powered through it.

My reward for surviving the Theraflu (no, I did not eat them all myself)

After we were sufficiently stuffed, we ventured back out into the wild. Our friend Tom was in the park that day, so we met up with him for a bit. First stop: the PeopleMover (something sorely missed at home in DL).

Then it was off to Infinity and Beyond, where I hit my highest score yet!! Daniel made it to 999,999 after like two seconds, like he always does. That’s why we ride in separate cars. Someday, I’ll hit it…..someday. I think I’m the only one in my family that hasn’t done it, though. Woe is me.

I’m getting closer

Whatever. Show-off. 

I think we also went into Carousel of Progress, but oddly, I don’t have any photos. Afterward, Tom had to head out, and we moseyed around Main Street for a bit. Since we were going to be at the World for a while on this trip, we tried to just take it easy and soak it all in whenever we could.

We stumbled upon this lady, who asked if we were newlyweds. She was so sweet.

The Dapper Dans! This was on my must-do list, and there they were! I just love it when stuff works out like that. 

Look who we bumped into!

The holiday Christmas displays were adorable, especially the ones telling the story from Mickey’s Christmas Carol

I tried to get this shot for what seemed like 10 minutes, but the glare would just not cooperate.  You'll just have to imagine the Ghost of Christmas future looking down on poor Scrooge as he falls to his doom.

More window cuteness

Emporium Display

The cuteness factor of the area for Santa’s meet & greet was off the charts!

One last shot before we head out of the Magic Kingdom

Next Up: Touring the Magic Kingdom Resorts!