The Walt Disney World Swan Hotel (along with its sister, the Walt Disney World Dolphin) are two resorts smack dab in the middle of Walt Disney World property, but aren’t actually owned by Disney. The resorts get many of the same benefits as on-site guests (I got to book our fast passes 60 days out like on-site guests for instance) but one disadvantage for us was having to pay for parking. (There is also a resort fee, but with a special rate I booked it was waived for us.) The location is amazing – in the Epcot resort area, but at about half the price of the neighboring Disney resorts for our dates.
I had been wanting to visit the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen at Universal CityWalk since it opened. This past November I scheduled a few hours away from our Walt Disney World vacation to venture to the other major theme park in the area, Universal Orlando, to finally check it out!
Everyone knows that I’m happiest when I have a vacation to plan. Since I can’t vacation 365 days a year (one day, one day!), I decided to become a travel planner so I can help others plan their dream vacations. Recently I parted ways with my previous agency, and I’m very excited to have found a new home with Discover the Magic Vacations.
“YOU’LL SHOT YOUR EYE OUT KID!”……….is something I never really heard as a child. Frankly, I couldn’t care less about BB Guns, pistols, rifles, slingshots, water cannons………well, you get the idea. I’ve just never been that kind of guy. So, why did “A Christmas Story” resonate with me so strongly?
The Candlelight Processional is a show at Walt Disney World’s Epcot that features an orchestra, choir, and a celebrity narrator telling the story of Christmas. The shows are held daily in the America Pavilion from Thanksgiving to around New Year. We attended the November 30th show, and our narrator was Ana Gasteyer, mostly known for Saturday Night Live.
Kennywood Park is a nice old-timey amusement park located right outside of Pittsburgh. This is our “local” park – it still takes us around 2 hours to get there, but at one time we were season passholders.
I absolutely love Kennywood. We’ve been for the regular season, during Halloween (Phantom Fright Nights), and last year we went to the Kennywood Holiday Lights for the first time.
Well, we had to come home eventually. The two of us just returned from an awesome 10-night Christmas-themed vacation to Walt Disney World. (And the countdown has begun for our return in April!)
We had not visited the Walt Disney World Resort during the Christmas season since 2013, so I made it a priority to get into the holiday spirit while we were there. We did not attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but we did attend the Candlelight Processional, visited Sunset Seasons Greetings at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and took about a hundred photos of various Christmas trees at the resorts and parks.
Speaking of Christmas trees…
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We’ve been counting down for 7 months, and now we’re less than 2 weeks away from our “Christmas” trip to Walt Disney World!
Our last visit was in April, a trip we planned to coincide with the Star Wars Dark Side races. We also usually go to a Disney park in early fall, when the parks are decked out for Halloween. (Last time was 2016, when we went to Disneyland.) This time I wanted to shake things up and go when the parks were decorated for Christmas. Our last trip during this time was in 2013, when we were there the week before Thanksgiving.
Our original idea was to leave for Florida on Thanksgiving afternoon, after Gary was stuffed from turkey and I had probably eaten too much mashed potatoes. We would arrive at Port Orleans French Quarter on Black Friday, and our celebration “Vacation is Finally Here!” meal was for Boma that night.
Then Gary decided, yeah, let’s just get out of here. And now we’re leaving the Tuesday before Thanksgiving! Yay for longer vacations!
And we are back in Pittsburgh! You may remember our last trek north for a visit to Picklesburgh and the Andy Warhol Museum over the summer. This time we spent the weekend celebrating the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins! We attended the Penguins vs. Florida Panthers game on October 14th (Pens won 4-3) and the next morning the two of us participated in the fifth annual Pittsburgh Penguins 6.6K Run.