A Disney Family Holiday

Do you ever have those moments when you wish you could freeze time? Those moments when you want to stay in your Fantasyland a little bit longer? That was me over the Christmas holiday. Our children are spread out across the country with only one teenager still at home, so holidays offer a chance for everyone to get together. Ever since our oldest daughter started working at Disney World following an internship after graduating from college, that family celebration has had a Disney twist.

We’re a blended family. We have kids from previous marriages and a daughter together, so there’s always more than one holiday gathering. The Disney celebration includes the kids from my side of our family while Ken’s boys get a chance to celebrate the holidays with their mother’s family. As anyone with a blended family knows, there’s an art to organizing the schedule so that everyone has an opportunity to be together. When it comes down to it, that’s what it’s all about- being together with loved ones.

We did something this year that a few people have questioned. We invited my older kids’ dad to join us in Florida. Yep- we invited my ex-husband for Christmas at Disney World. I’m here to tell you that we didn’t do anything extraordinary. We simply invited family- and he’s family- to celebrate Christmas together. He waffled for a bit before accepting our offer, probably wondering if it would be weird. Besides his brothers and the kids we share, he has no other immediate family. We didn’t see our invitation as a grand gesture. We simply didn’t like the idea of him being alone at Christmas when he could be celebrating with his kids, our kids. You might be wondering if this kind of thing would work with your own blended family. I say that you should give it some serious thought. Evaluate your current situation and see if it would be a healthy thing for everyone concerned. For us, it was awesome!

Our family loves Disney. We loved it even before our daughter became a cast member. That’s probably why she wanted to work there! While we have our favorites, we do like to try new things whenever we venture to Orlando. We love to experience new resorts because each one has unique themes that encompass everything from the overall design to the foods and shops.

We stayed at Coronado Springs Resort this time and it didn’t disappoint (Does anything at Disney World ever fall short of expectations?). We booked adjoining rooms to allow our family to spread out in separate rooms, but have the closeness we needed for things like opening gifts on Christmas morning. The lobby was beautiful with a gigantic angel-topped tree and a cart of freshly baked cookies. The food options in the restaurants were varied and delicious. The gift shop was large– almost seemed bigger than some others with a wide array of snacks, necessities, and Disney souvenirs. We didn’t spend time at the pools because of the cooler temperatures, but the running/walking trail and the gym were excellent.

img_3207While we didn’t make it over to Hollywood Studios on this trip (I’ll have to wait to experience that Slinky Dog ride!), we did go to every other park. With unseasonably cold temperatures for Florida, our attire involved layers for warmth rather than tank tops and shorts. Our day at Magic Kingdom was uncomfortably cold after the sun went down. I typically beg to ride the People Mover multiple times- much to my family’s chagrin. One time of riding with that cold wind blowing over my already cold body was enough! We warmed up a bit with Mexican-cuisine at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe for lunch following a trip down memory lane to see the Country Bears Show. The girls and I had popcorn and other snacks, like LeFou’s Brew from Gaston’s Tavern, throughout the day. My husband had to grab a hot dog with everything at Casey’s Corner.img_3284

The cooler temps worked in our favor over at Animal Kingdom because the animals were out and about with much more activity than usual. The gorillas were especially playful and the zebras were running all over the fields, which caused the meerkats to take cover in their hole. We love the Festival of the Lion King, so that’s always a Fast Pass. Dinosaur isn’t my favorite ride due to the wild bumps along the journey, but my husband and kids love it. So, I always tag along and hold onto the handrails! If you plan to eat at Animal Kingdom, try the Satu’li Canteen in the Pandora area– definitely not your average park food.

img_3341Our daughter made reservations for a family dinner on Christmas Eve at Whispering Canyon Cafe at Wilderness Lodge. We had a delicious meal of veggies, pork, chicken, ribs, brisket, beans, salad, and sausage in an “all-you-care-to-enjoy” family style platter. Following that, we did some hotel-hopping to see the holiday decorations via boat and monorail rides.

My favorite Disney Park is Epcot, which is where we celebrated Christmas Day. We sang carols with Father Christmas in the United Kingdom Pavillion, listened to the drummers in Japan, nervously watched a mime on a tower of chairs in France, and heard the story of Julenissen in Norway. As usual, we ate our way around the World Showcase! No need for dinner reservations at Epcot! There’s something delicious everywhere you turn. We even had the chance to ride Soarin’ a second time without a Fast Pass when there was only a 20-minute wait in the Stand-by line! I know–it was a Christmas Miracle!

Christmas 2018 was one of joy. It was a time for gratitude. A time for hope. A time with family. A time to remember.

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