Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wild Christmas

We’ve shown how amazing it can be to visit some of the WDW resorts during the holidays. From huge Christmas trees to small details that fit a resort’s theme, everywhere you look is something that will get you into the holiday spirit. Walking into Animal Kingdom Lodge is an amazing moment no matter how many times you’ve done it. Coming through the second set of doors you are greeted by an almost blinding blast of light from the all-glass back wall. As your eyes slowly adjust you can make out the wonder that’s before you. During the holidays, there is one, enormous silhouette rising up through the middle of that light and it’s strung with large, African-inspired ornaments.

The Lodge differs a bit from other Disney resorts during the holidays. There won’t be any huge red bows, Santa on his sleigh or anything that will jump up and smack you with a “Merry Christmas” but the holiday spirit is still there. That’s the real fun though, isn’t it? There are lost of things related to Disney that we either know are there or know must be there. The fun is finding those things! True, you’d be hard pressed NOT to find that tree but take a look around. You may be surprised what else you find!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cinderella's Sweet Suite

I know, I know, this isn't about Christmas or the holidays at all. Many of you live in areas that have been ENTIRELY too cold recently so I thought it'd be fun to take a little detour from Winter/Holiday-land and into something equally magical but not often seen......

Probably Disney’s most successful and well-loved promotion in recent memory has been their “Year of a Million Dreams” (yes, both of them). So many people have had the fortune of being handed a pair of “Dream” ears, or a Fastpass or pin and lanyard (except, maybe, those of us who go 7-10 times each year and STILL haven’t managed so much as a set of ears but, I digress……). A select few, amazingly fortunate souls have had the pleasure and once-in-a-lifetime experience of spending a night in the “Dream Suite” in Cinderella Castle.

In preparation for the original “Year of a Million Dreams” beginning in 2007, Disney built a suite within Cinderella Castle. Long rumored to have been originally intended as an apartment space for Walt and his family the space now housed an amazing dream within a dream experience for families on the receiving end of the biggest burst of pixiedust EVER to have been flung at guests by Disney (Jealous? I’m not jealous. I’m truly happy for those people – he said through gritted teeth ; ).

Believe it or not, those who have won this experience actually check in at a small desk behind a door under the castle. Near the desk is a tall clock that never, ever strikes 12. After checking in the guests are whisked into an amazing dark wood elevator that opens into a foyer with a mosaic of Cinderella’s coach on the floor, a ceiling paneled with different paintings and a glass case housing her scepter, tiara and of course, her slipper. Within the foyer is the main door leading to the suite and a hidden panel door, behind which sits a guest concierge desk that is staffed 24 hours. Open the door from within the suite to the foyer and they will appear, asking what it is that you need.

The suite opens into the bedroom which houses two queen-size beds. At the foot of the beds you’ll find a beautiful fireplace with the bathroom to the left of it and doorway leading to the sitting room on its right. As you can see in the pictures, the bathroom is expansive with a double-sink vanity, a separate sitting vanity and a tiled shower. The jewel of this area though is the Jacuzzi tub, surrounded on three sides by mosaic walls, a blue light beneath the water and a ceiling full of twinkling stars.

As with anything Disney though, things within the suite are not what they seem. The picture above the bedroom fireplace and the mirror in the sitting room are actually the televisions for each area with the sitting room also carrying a mini bar, DVD player stocked with (of course) Disney movies and a cache of board games. That fireplace in the bedroom isn’t really a fireplace but it is lit to look like one including a spark that ignites a hidden Mickey and the sitting room also contains a pull-out capable of sleeping two additional people.

The attention to detail is amazing, with small touches here and there that keep the suite beautiful but undeniably Disney. So what will become of it next year when the “Year of a Million Dreams” is over? One can only guess but let’s hope that, in some way, guests will continue to enjoy this amazing little “hotel room” for years and years to come!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

New Year's Eve at WDW

Up to this point, we’ve left out a huge part of the holiday season, New Year’s Eve. It’s hard to decorate for New Year’s Eve but Disney more than makes up for it with fireworks and celebrations both on the actual day and the days leading up to it.

This year’s New Year’s Eve festivities include:

Magic Kingdom:
- Holiday Wishes at 8:30pm
- Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks at 11:50pm

- Special NYE Illuminations at 11:40pm

Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Lights! Camera! Happy New Year! Fireworks at 11:50pm

Bringing in the New Year at any WDW park is an awesome experience and we can’t recommend it enough. Be warned though, as we’ve mentioned before regarding the holidays it will be very, VERY crowded. We recommend that you find your perfect spot for the fireworks at least an hour early and hunker down while you wait for the fun. It’s a sure thing that wherever you are in the park, you’ll be surrounded by several thousand of your closest friends and you’re likely to be shoulder-to-shoulder with them (last year I turned to my wife and, referring to the guy next to me said “I think he and I are dating now.”).

Don’t let the crowds discourage you though as there is so much to enjoy! The fireworks and fun and just the general atmosphere is something that defies explanation. Listening to everyone count down as those numerical fireworks explode in the sky is something that you just can’t imagine until you’ve seen it. Like anything, Disney does all the work and does it right, all you have to do is get there and have fun!!!