Princesslindsey's Christmas Grand Gathering TR


Ok, now that the holidays are over I can finally sit down and work on this TR! This was an unusual trip for my husband and I because it was to celebrate my dh’s grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. The whole family came down so there was a total of 20 of us. I will try and keep the cast to a minimum so no one gets confused!!

Dates: December 15-22

Location: POFQ

Cast: Me 26
Husband Nic 25
My sister Ashley 22
Nic’s sister Kristen 15
Nic’s cousin Jason 27
Jason’s wife, Tanner 25

That’s all you need to know for now, but I may add more as I go along. Also, as you can see, my sister tagged along, so there were 21 of us total. She didn’t come until late on the 16th and left 2 days after us. She’s a seasonal worker at Disney, so she decided to get her hours in while we were all down there. She stayed in Nic and I’s room with us.


Day 1

Our plane left Bloominton, IL at 11 am and landed at 220 pm. Nice, smooth flight. Nic’s cousins (3 and 5) were so cute, they had never flown before and they couldn’t stop ooohing and aaahing the whole time. We headed down to ME and there was NO ONE else down there! We hopped right on a bus and took off! This was a first for us, maybe it was the time of day? We usually take an earlier flight and there’s always at least a small line. Our stop was first, so we headed to check in. I did the online check in several days before, so I walked right up and got my envelope with everything ready to go! Let me highly recommend doing this! No one else in the family did it and we were headed off to our room before anyone else could even get checked in! We were in building 4, room 4218. It was perfect! Close to everything. It’s a small resort, so no place is going to be much of a walk, but bldg 4 is closest, I think. Nic’s grandpa is handicapped, so I’m sure that’s how we all ended up in this building. We had never stayed at this resort before and we loved it! I loved that it was small, so there were no long hikes anywhere and all the buildings and little streets really make you feel like you’re in New Orleans. The decorations were great too!


After we checked out our room, Nic and I decided to head to DtD by boat. I love resorts with more options than just a bus! The whole family had ressies at Raglan Road at 530. Nic and I shopped a bit and got ideas for what we wanted to buy later on in the week. Nic is a HUGE Star Wars fan and collects the legos from the original movies, so we had to head to the lego store so he could make a purchase. He bought the only set left that he didn’t have, besides the Millennium Falcon and Death Star. We didn’t have $400-$500 to spend on legos! One day I will buy them for him, I suppose.

We had the legos sent back to the resort and wandered over to Raglan Road. We had never eaten here before, so I was excited about the new experience. I was also excited to try out the DDP. My family has never used it before because it never seemed like it would be worth it and we’ve kept track on previous trips and it didn’t appear like it would have saved us any money. So, this trip, Nic and I paid very close attention to how much was spent and how much would have been spent if we hadn’t used the DDP. I’ll put that part at the end. Anyway, it didn’t matter for this trip because the DDP was free! Gotta love Disney deals!

So, we sat down and Nic and I ordered the sirloin with mashed potatoes and Dunbrody’s kiss for dessert. It was all delicious! We boxed up my dessert and took it back to the room with us. I think this is the only place I took any pics of food, though. Sorry! We dug right in everywhere else! After supper, we hopped on the boat back to the resort and were in our room by 8. We unpacked and settled in for a good night’s sleep.

The first pic is of the dunbrody’s kiss. I don’t remember what the second one was, but they were both delicious!


can’t wait to hear more…I love POR, but want to try FQ…the pool there is awesome


Day 2

We had to be up early this day because we had a Grand Gathering breakfast scheduled at Tony’s for 845. We decided it would be a good idea to get to MK early so we could get as many pics as we wanted with the whole family while it was still closed. It worked out great! We got up at 615 and were down at the bus stop at 730. We got to MK about an hour before our reservations so we spent the time taking pics. I love being able to do this! It’s totally worth getting up early so you can get all the pics you want and not have to worry about it again.

Now, on to breakfast. Breakfast was plated for you, so you had no choices, although I’m sure if we had asked they would have accommodated. Everybody got a Mickey waffle, parmesan hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, and sausage. There were cinnamon rolls and other pastries put at each table, too. I am not a breakfast person at all. I had a piece of sausage, half my waffle, and a cinnamon roll. The rest was given to anyone who wanted it. I am lactose intolerant and allergic to eggs, so half my meal wasn’t edible for me anyway. Breakfast is just not the meal for me. This meal took entirely too long in my opinion (I’ve come to realize all Grand Gathering meals last this long and I would not bother with them again if we went as a big group). Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Pluto, and Goofy were all there, so they came around and we got pictures with them. Then, Tony invited all the kids out on the floor to dance. THEN, they announce birthdays, anniversaries, etc. THEN, Nic’s grandparents were invited out on the floor for a couple’s dance. FINALLY, we went up as a group and got our pictures taken with Mickey. This took about 2 hours. I was very ready to get out of there and get on with my day at the MK! At each Grand Gathering meal, you are giving a Grand Gathering pin, so Nic and I were pretty excited about that.

After breakfast we all headed over to Philharmagic, one of my favorite shows! There was no line and the park seemed so empty still! I was loving it! We all watched the show and then went separate ways.


More pics…Rock on in your 3D glasses!


Nic, Kristen, Jason, Tanner, and I stuck together today. Tanner and I ran to Pooh to get fastpasses while the rest of the group got in line for Peter Pan. We met back up with them and rode Peter Pan, another one of my favorite rides. It really gets me in the Disney spirit. Then we did IaSW, Snow White, Pooh, and HM.

Nic, Jason, and Tanner rode Splash Mountain next (I hate drops, so I opted out. I made a deal with Nic that I would ride it every other trip to Disney, since I love the rest of the ride. I just wish they’d let me get out of the boat before that big drop!). Kristen and I got a spot to watch Princess Tiana’s boat show. It was cute and I LOVE her dress! It’s my new favorite princess dress!

We met up with the other 3 and grabbed fastpasses for BTMRR. Then we went over to PoC and JC. By that time, it was time for our fastpasses, so we went back to BTMRR and rode it. This was my sister and I’s favorite ride when we were little, so I always get a little sad when she’s not riding it with me. But I knew we’d be back later in the week together!

We headed to Tomorrowland after that. We rode Space Mountain, TTA, Buzz, Stitch, and Laugh Floor. I love the new padding in Space Mountains seats…wonder how long that will last?! We got a bite to eat at Cosmic Rays then decided we’d like to ride BTMRR again. We caught the train from Toontown and headed over to Frontierland. Unfortunately the line was 50 minutes long and we didn’t want to wait! I don’t know why that line was so long, no other line was over 15 minutes, including Space Mountain! We went back up to the rose garden and watch the castle lighting ceremony. Simply gorgeous!!!

Then we headed back to the hotel. It was an early night for us, so Nic and I decided to watch our Netflix movie that we had brought. Ashley would be arriving tonight and I was getting excited to see her! Our movie was over by 10 and we got ready for bed. Ashley’s plane wasn’t supposed to land until 11 so I went to bed, but she was supposed to call me when she got close to the hotel so I could meet her in front and take her to our room. Well, she texted me when she was getting close, so I went down and sat on the benches out front. Next thing I know, she’s calling me all frustrated because the security guard won’t let her in (she had to take a taxi). She gave them her name and told her who she was staying with, but it showed that we had already checked in and since she didn’t know the room number they wouldn’t let her through! Ugh, I was able to give her the room number and they let her through. I understand the need for security, but if her name was on the list and they knew she was staying there they should let her in! I was not happy. When we got back to the room Nic was up and I was surprised because he had been sleeping when I left. He wanted to know if I had called the room and I hadn’t. He said someone did and Ashley said she thought the security guard had tried to. They tried to call our room to make sure Ashley was supposed to be coming and Nic had picked up the receiver and slammed it back down again! He thought it was the wake up call! He could have solved the problem, but hung up on them instead. What a nerd. Anyway, that ends day 2 and here are some more pics!

I love the castle covered in icicles, it’s stunning! Nic’s sister, Kristen is in the pic with me in front of the castle.


My dh and I walked over to POR to check it out. It seems nice and the pool seemed really cool. What I liked so much about FQ was the size. It’s so nice to stay at a smaller resort and not have to trek everywhere you want to go. I know POR is bigger, is it big enough that you feel like you’re walking miles just to get to your room?


We stayed in Aligator Bayou at POR…we walked through the gift shop and our room was right there. From a previous trip I think Magnolia Bends (the mansions) are a farther walk


Day 3

It was warm, but rainy all day. We slept in a bit this day. We had reservations with the family, but not until later in the day, so Nic and I headed to the park on our own and met up with some people once we got there. We got up at 8 and grabbed some breakfast at the food court. I have to say I loved the food court. There was quite a selection and Nic and I were happy with what we got each time. We were at the bus stop at 930 and then waited 30 minutes for a bus! This was not a good bus day for us.

Once we finally made it to Animal Kingdom, there was a photopass guy out front by the tree. I wanted a pic, so we waited in line. When it was our turn, all of a sudden a family shoved there way up to take their own picture where the photopass guy was positioning people. I can’t stand this! It’s so rude! The photopass guy moved us to a new spot and we got our picture taken. We entered the park and found Jason and Tanner. We immediately headed to EE and grabbed fastpasses. Then we rode Dinosaur and Primeval Whirl. By then, it was time for our fastpasses, so we headed back to EE. I won’t ride this ride, but it’s one of Nic’s favorites, so I was glad he had someone to ride it with. After riding, they grabbed more fastpasses. We watched a Bug’s Life and meandered through the Pangani Forest trail. We headed back to EE to use the fastpasses.

Once that was done, Nic and I headed to AKL to see the decorations (Jason and Tanner chose to do something else). Nic had never been here before and I had never been at Christmas, so it was a must do for this trip. After taking it all in, we went down to the bus stop. I wouldn’t think a bus to AK would take that long…but we waited for 40 minutes!! I was getting extremely frustrated. When we finally made it back, we had enough time to ride Dinosaur one more time before we were supposed to meet the rest of the family.


The Princess Tiana Riverboat Show looks so cool. We missed it when we were there in December.


So, most of the day went well besides bus waits. Now it gets ugly.:eek: We were doing the Safari Grand Gathering dinner and were told to meet at Tusker House at 415. On our way over, Nic and I ran into his aunt and uncle and cousin’s husband. So, there were 5 of us. When we got to Tusker House I gave them our name and told them how many and they laughed and thought I was joking. When they realized I was serious, they said they don’t take reservations for that many. That’s when I informed them it was for the Grand Gathering dinner. Oh……now they get it. Anyway, they tell us we’re supposed to check in at Pizzafari. Well, at this point, the parade is just starting. So, we rush down to Pizzafari so we don’t get stuck in the middle of it. Once we get down there, there’s no one there and all the cast members are looking at us like we’re crazy. Nic gets on the phone to his mom and finds out that there’s been quite a bit of confusion and we’re actually supposed to meet at Flights of Wonder. I am so aggravated at this point! Well, the parade is going full force in front of Pizzafari now and there is no way out. There aren’t sidewalks blocked off, so there’s literally no way for us to get out of there! The cast members just told us we’d have to wait. It was time for our reservation at this point and Nic texted his mom to tell her what was going on and her response is, “Be here in 10 minutes or we’re leaving without you.” :mad: Ahhhh, family time. I guess I hadn’t mentioned yet that I can’t stand her……well, now you know. It’s sad to say I’m not surprised at her response.

The parade finally ends and we rush over to Flights of Wonder….where the parade is still going on….and there was no way they were ever going to leave without us. Woo-hoo, we get to watch the parade again. Once again, the best part of this Grand Gathering was the pin we got. This Grand Gathering consisted of a ride on the Kilimanjaro Safaris and then supper at Tusker House. We did the safari….which was truly disappointing because it was late in the day and only a few animals were out. We literally didn’t see a single thing of interest until the last 1/3 of the trip. Then we went to Tusker House. I ate here in February and really enjoyed it. Well, since the park closes at 5 and the only people left were Grand Gathering diners, they only had half the buffet open. It was not nearly as good as it had been the last time I ate there. We ate, there was singing and dancing, etc. Once again, not worth it. It took 2 table service credits to do this. I could have rode the safari earlier in the day and probably seen more animals and not had to use a TS. Anyway, enough complaining.

By the time we were done it was 7pm and we all got escorted out of the park. They have specific buses for you since buses have stopped running to AK. Nic and I decided to head to the Swan and walk over to Fantasia Gardens. Ashley met us over there. It was a fun way to end the day. We took a bus to DtD and a boat back to the resort afterwards. It was late by the time we got back, but we were all hungry so we used a couple QS credits on a pizza from the food court and shared it.

The lion pics a little blurry…he was pacing. I was excited to get to see him up and moving around! That never happens!


Wow! I thought we were doing something with 13 of us. The picture with the empty streets were just great!


Day 4

Beautiful weather! We didn’t go with the rest of the family today because Nic and I had tickets for MVMCP this night and everyone else was doing the CP dining package. So, Ash hung out with us all day! We got up at 730, grabbed food at the food court, and were at the bus stop at 9, ready for Hollywood Studios. We were there just after opening and ran back to TSM, where we got fastpasses and also rode it. We waited in line about 20 minutes. Let me say, Nic always wins at Buzz, but I always win at TSM! I can finally beat him in a game!

After this ride, we did Backlot, GMR, and TSM. Then Nic went to ride RnRC single rider (neither Ash nor I will ride this) and Ash and I stopped to watch a street performance. It was the one where the director is trying to make a movie and there’s a klutz falling over everything and the star of the movie is a woman who can’t remember her lines. It was hilarious! About halfway through it, I got picked to help the star remember her lines. I was laughing so hard I could barely do it. I love being able to stop and watch those shows. By the time the show was over, Nic had been texting me wanting to know where we were. He was outside Beauty and the Beast. It was going to start in about 20 minutes, so we went in to watch. I haven’t seen this show since I was 8 and couldn’t remember it at all. It was great! I’m so glad I watched it again!

After the show, we shopped a bit and headed out of the park. We decided to hop on a boat to Epcot. It had started raining again and I was hoping it wouldn’t keep it up for the party. We walked through Epcot and did a little pin shopping at the big pin place. Then we got on a monorail to the TTC and then the GF. Ash left us to head back to the resort and Nic and I went to 1900 Park Fare for our 445 reservations. Good food, great characters, an all around good time! We filled ourselves up, took a few pics of the gingerbread house, and headed over the MK.

We got there about an hour before the party was to start, so we people watched for a bit, waiting for the crowds to thin out. The rain had stopped and it was a comfortable evening. We watched the fireworks and parade. I loved the little elf car that was driving through the parade! I swear I don’t know how he wasn’t hitting people! We snacked on cocoa and cookies (which ended up making Nic sick…but that’s because he doesn’t know when to stop!). And we rode PoC, TTA, HM, HoP, and took a stroll through Toontown since we have no idea what it will look like the next time we’re there! We headed to the bus stop about 1130 and could not believe the mess of people! There was literally no where to walk and the lines were so confusing, we couldn’t figure out where ours started. Apparently, someone had switched a chain so it was going the wrong direction and caused the line for Boardwalk and Swan/Dolphin to become horrendous! It went clear out the back end of the bus stop! When we finally made it to our line, there was a cast member talking on his radio calling for more buses to fix the mess. What a disaster! Just because someone switched a chain! We got back to the hotel and crashed after a long day.


More pics…I would have loved to get a pic with Mickey and Minnie at the Grand Floridian, but there was no way I was waiting in the line!


Pics from 1900 Park Fare…


I can’t get over all the detail on the gingerbread house!


My camera doesn’t take the best night shots, so here are just a few pics of the Christmas parade.


Last of the pics for day 4.


Day 5

It was so cold!! I have gone to Disney in the winter the last several times I’ve went and it’s never been this cold while I’ve been down there. We woke up to 37 degrees. I came to Florida to get away from that! It only reached into the 50s today and it was soooo windy. I shouldn’t be complaining but still, it’s Florida…keep me warm!

So, we got up at 8 and caught a bus to Epcot at 930. Ash went with us today too. Since Ash is a cast member we love going to the cast store behind the scenes with her. We got on the monorail to the TTC and then took a taxi to Cast Connection. It’s only about $8 from there. We did a bit of shopping and bought a few Christmas presents and I got my Tinkerbell Santa hat for $2! Yes, I wanted one of those the first time I saw them! We took a taxi back to the TTC and got on the monorail to Epcot. It was 1230 by then. Ash got us in for free this day because she had one day free admission to use up or it would go to waste.

We grabbed a fastpass for Soarin, which had a 75 minute wait! Our fastpasses weren’t good until 745! I knew it would get busy about half way through our week there, but I never imagined it would happen like it did. It literally went from NO crowds to HOLIDAY SEASON! I haven’t been in peak season since 2002 and never plan on going back in peak season. I had forgotten how horrid it can get. Lines were awful and I just can’t stand crowds.

We rode Figment and then walked over to Italy where Nic and I had CP dinner package ressies at Tutto Italia at 215. When we booked all this stuff, we didn’t know Ash’s work schedule so we didn’t put her on any of the ressies. I offered to ask if we could squeeze her in at some of the places, but she said she was fine. She snacked around the world while we ate. Lunch was delicious and there was no way I could eat it all. I don’t remember what I got but it was a pretty common pasta, according to our waiter. Nic got lasagna and loved it. After lunch, we met up with Ash again and headed to Norway to ride Maelstrom. By then we could get another fastpass, so we thought we’d try TT and see if there were any available. They had just ran out when we got up there. Bummer. So, we went into Mouse Gears and did some shopping.

Then it was time to line up for the CP. Nic and I made our way over there and I couldn’t believe the line! The stand by line was almost all the way back to the Outpost and even the dinner package line was almost back by Morocco. Needless to say, we got good seats. I don’t know when they let people in the standby line in. When I got there, they had just opened the dinner package line and it completely filled up the seats. I can’t imagine any stand by people getting in at all. Nic really enjoyed the show….I can’t say I did. Unfortunately, it’s not my type of entertainment. I knew that when I booked it, but knew Nic would like it, so I did it anyway.

After the show, the three of us headed towards France so I could get a grey goose slushie (Yummm!!!) and then we all got some fish and chips. We walked through Club Cool so Nic could get some coke, rode SE, Soarin’, and TT single rider. Then we headed back to the room and were there by 930.