2013/2014 Bringing in a New Year at the Place Where Dreams Come True!


#1

Our 2013 holiday started with an Eastern Caribbean Cruise on the Royal Princess.


Embarkation Photo by vshingl, on Flickr


12.26.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

If you’d like to read my full review on the Royal Princess, go here.

We planned to visit Walt Disney World for New Year’s Eve because we purchased annual passes when we visited in October. However, hotel prices for that time of the year are steep - more than we wanted to pay. So we started looking into other alternatives. We had narrowed it down to the Swan or Dolphin resort which would be convenient, and we know that they are nice because we have stayed there before… or the Bonnet Creek resort area because I’ve heard great things about Bonnet Creek, and I’ve always wondered about it. We realized that this was our opportunity to try it out. With our annual passes, we got free parking at the parks, so transportation was not an issue. We also already had Magic Bands, and I had already made FP+ reservations on My Disney Experience. It was the perfect time to see if an off-site resort could work for us, so we booked the Waldorf Astoria at Bonnet Creek.


#2

Good-bye, Royal Princess!


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

Hello, Walt Disney World!


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


#3

Yay…it’s a “Victoria” trip report…


#4


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


#5

The rooms at the Waldorf are huge.


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

One of our views -


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


#6

The bathrooms are also huge. However, I would’ve prefered a vanity outside of the bathroom to get ready at… or maybe a double vanity in the bathroom, at least.


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

And clear showers aren’t so good with families…


#7


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

It was a big room, but I thought it was missing furniture… or furnished oddly. See the little table by the window? Why is that there? They could put two armchairs on either side of it. Or they could put a table in that little alcove. Why is it furnished with a lone tiny glass table???


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

Rachel just needs Disney Channel to be happy. Also, the beds were great. Rachel thought it was even more comfortable than a Heavenly bed.


#8

That evening, I had made us a 4:30 ADR at Tokyo Dining for the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package.


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

Now, I didn’t really know what all the Candlelight Processional Dining Package entailed. I did zero research. I just thought it looked cool and booked it. It turns out that Tokyo Dining is one of the most expensive places for the dining package at $74.95 per person (which might have been why it was available). With the dining package, you get a soda or non-alcoholic drink of your choice, appetizer, entree, and dessert.

Rachel and I got the Bento Box…


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

Mom ordered the salmon. She said that it was the best salmon that she’s ever had in her life. Dad got the filet mignon.


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

The chocolate ginger cake was amazing. I highly recommend it.


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

Rachel got the green tea and vanilla ice cream swirl and wasn’t a big fan.


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

The green tea cheesecake, however, was really good.


#9

Yeah! I’m looking forward to more!


#10

I read your review of the cruise and it was fabulous! I can’t wait to read this one also.


#11

The lone table is hilarious. I’d love to know the hotel’s thinking behind that arrangement. :laugh:
The chocolate ginger cake looks amazing. Yum!


#12

YAY! A Victoria report! Awesome so far - looking forward to more!


#13

Hey, guys! Glad to have you reading along!

After dinner, we had FP+ reservations for Soarin’.


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

The gingerbread structures in The Land Pavilion were amazing.


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


#14

One of the CMs at Soarin’ was hilarious. He busted through the gate to our loading area and exclaims, “I’m FREEEEE!” He then mouthed along to the entire safety video. “Put the belt through the loop.”

After Soarin’, we headed to get in line for the 8:15 Candlelight Processional. They had us wear stickers for the dinner package. The line stretched all the way to the Japan Pavilion when we entered and grew towards Morocco. We had done a dinner package for a show in the American Garden Theater before… way back in 2001 when Blast! was at Epcot (great show), and the dinner package got us seated in the front section. Well, it turns out that the Candlelight dinner package is so huge that it just guarantees you entry into the show. If you want to sit in the front section, get there early. We could have sat in the front, but Dad griped that he couldn’t see everything, so we relocated to the middle section. They didn’t let people who weren’t participating in the dinner package in the theater until right before showtime. The show was not packed out, so I think people who weren’t on the package were fine getting in. I think we would have been okay just doing stand-by, but I’m glad that we did the dinner package just because otherwise, who knows if we would have ever even gone to the show? I think the dinner package would be a good idea for the more popular narrators, such as Neil Patrick Harris.


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

It’s easy to just watch the Christmas tree choir the entire time, but the singers in the gold were younger and generally more animated.


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

Our narrator was Amy Grant, the Contemporary Christian singer. I thought that she did a fabulous job at narrating. She had a good voice for reading the script and great delivery. Also, while the choir was singing, she was very attentive and appeared truly interested in the lyrics (I read a blog several years ago about Abigail Breslin who wore a face which said, “I can’t wait until this stupid show is over so I can go text my friends,” the entire time). Sometimes, you would catch her singing along.


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

Rachel thought Amy Grant’s introduction was awkward. It had been raining earlier today, and apparently Amy didn’t know that it had stopped. “Everyone look to the person on your right and tell them how wet you are.” Except it had been two hours since it had rained, so no one was wet (and apparently Rachel has a dirty mind).


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


#15

Lol at the CM…I am an Amy Grant fan—she does have a good speaking voice…

We haven’t done the CP in a while…these pictures make me want to go during the holidays again…

Continue on please… :slight_smile:


#16

Oh my gosh, I’m dying laughing right now! HILARIOUS!


#17

The Candlelight dinner package also gets you a reserved area for IllumiNations. The section is on the Future World side. It’s actually not a great viewing location because there is a large stage-like area which is elevated and in front of you. If we wanted to stake out a fireworks spot after the Candlelight Processional, there was plenty of availability, and we would have had a much better viewing location than the Candlelight area. However, we decided to go shopping at Mouse Gear instead because Rachel saw a man wearing a Minnie Mouse backpack that she really wanted.


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

I didn’t really care where we watched IllumiNations because I didn’t bring my tripod and wasn’t trying to get fireworks photos. It’s hard to not photograph fireworks, though. I ended up taking a few cell phone photos and videos to send my friends.


12.29.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


#18

That evening, we went to the Magic Kingdom for the New Year’s Eve (Eve) Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks. I brought my tripod with the intention of shooting the New Year’s Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks from inside the Magic Kingdom.


12.30.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.30.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

Well, we didn’t arrive at a good time. The Main Street Electrical Parade had just begun. We wanted to eat at Casey’s Corner which is on the left side of Main Street, but with the way that the parade runs, it is impossible to get on the left side of Main Street while it is running. My dad’s instinct was to cut through the shops along the right side and wait for the parade to end so that we could cross.


12.30.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

Crossing the street after the parade proved to be impossible with the way that the Cast Members were controlling the crowds that night. We had to take the backstage exit to the beginning of Main Street and then walk all the way back up Main Street. And then there was a long line for corn dogs and no place to eat.

At 8:30, Magic Kingdom had the Holiday Wishes fireworks show, and I wanted to do a test run with my equipment, so I went ahead of the family. I thought that in this situation, the best location to get fireworks shots was going to be behind a fence or some sort of barrier, and I immediately thought of the bridge from the Castle hub to Main Street. When I got there, all spots were taken except those which were obstructed by a tree. The tree didn’t really obstruct the fireworks at all - just the view of the castle.


12.30.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.30.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.30.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

I shot Holiday Wishes with my Tamron 17-50mm lens, tripod, and wireless remote.


#19

December 30, 2013 - Pool and Magic Kingdom

Rachel looked at the week’s forecast and decided that this was the best day for her pool day. The sun didn’t come out until the afternoon, though, so we spent the morning sleeping in and watching Disney Channel.

Also, something to note is that the Waldorf Astoria is kind of like a Vegas hotel in the way that you may be getting a five star resort room for a three star price, but the food is still the five star price. If you’re wondering prices, it’s like a bowl of cereal for $7 or a cup of coffee for $4 (though the room did have a Nespresso machine with free cartridges that the restocked throughout our stay). It’s just obnoxious because I could buy a box of Frosted Flakes for $4 - I find it immoral to charge $7 for a bowl. My point is it’s not higher quality food, it’s just more expensive. Food at Walt Disney World hotels is much more reasonable.


12.30.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

The pool was heated and fabulous.


12.30.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

I was relaxing by the pool when I received a phone call from Florida. I answered because we were in Florida. It turns out that we left our pink duffle bag (full of our dirty clothes and shoes… mostly Rachel’s shoes, as she packed first) at the port. How we forgot about it - I don’t know! But we didn’t even realize it was missing. I’m actually glad that they told us they had it before we realized we didn’t. But I went into freakout mode and the lady was trying to FedEx it to me. When she found out we were still on vacation, she wanted to wait to FedEx it, but I didn’t have a notepad or anything to write on. I asked her if they could just FedEx it to our resort, but she said that would cost a fortune. Her words, not mine. I’m wondering what a fortune is to her because I can’t imagine it possibly costing over $100 to ship a small duffle three hours north, and I’ve spent much more than that on baggage mistakes. Anyway, she said that she would just call me back in a few days and I hung up the phone.


12.30.13 by vshingl, on Flickr

They rent surrey bikes. I’ve always wanted to ride a surrey bike around Disney’s Boardwalk.


12.30.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.30.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


#20

The New Year’s Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks weren’t until 11:50, so we had time to use our FP+ for Space Mountain (we missed our FP+ for Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain just because we couldn’t get there with the parade and the crowds).

I was getting really antsy because I knew exactly where I wanted to stand on the bridge for the fireworks, and I didn’t want anyone taking my place. My family thought I was insane lining up two hours in advance for fireworks, but I really, really wanted that spot, and I would be devastated if I missed out on it. So I sent them to the Confectionary on Main Street to bring back treats (we had been eyeing the cute cupcakes earlier), and I staked out my spot.


12.30.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.30.13 by vshingl, on Flickr


12.30.13 by vshingl, on Flickr