Quantcast Fest 2 of 4 done! A Salute to All Holidays but Mostly Christmas, Day 1
 
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Ithaca, NY
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    Default Fest 2 of 4 done! A Salute to All Holidays but Mostly Christmas, Day 1

    I returned from Christmastime at Disney World yesterday and had a spectacular time. This trip was one of a lot of firsts for me. I've been visiting since 2007 but I've never been at this time of year. It was incredible! Here's some play-by-play of my travel and arrival day.

    Day 1, Travel, Hotel, and Hollywood Studios
    I left my home airport on my 1:30 p.m. direct flight. Taking Southwest this time, I am usually on Jet Blue but in August I saw an $84 each way rate on a non-stop flight and couldn't pass that up! I haven't flown roundtrip direct to Orlando for under $200 since before the 2008 financial crisis. Anyway, I arrived right on time with no issues, quickly got in an Uber and in about 30 minutes I was pulling up to Animal Kingdom Lodge.

    I've never had a hotel experience at Disney like this one. Wow, AKL is a really special place! I visited once before for dinner at Jiko in 2014 and remember thinking "I'd love to stay here one day" but circumstances really prevented that for a long time. I almost changed to a value resort the week before my trip because I was getting cold feet about the expense. I am so glad I kept it! The moment I stepped through into the lobby my jaw was on the floor and the tears sprang to my eyes. The gorgeous tree and Christmas decor, the warm and rich wood tones, the African art, the cultural ambassadors, the smell of the fire pit. That instant I knew this would be my favorite stay anywhere on property.

    My room was ready so I swung by Bell Services to have my Owner's Locker delivered to my room. Owner's Locker is a great service if you travel to central FL frequently and don't want to keep paying to check bags or pack suitcases every month. I rent a large plastic airtight bin that I can store all my essentials, full size toiletries, park items, and clothes in. A year's subscription is less than what it would cost for me to pay for checking luggage after 2 trips! All I need to do is log into the website and schedule a delivery and pick up, they will also deliver to any hotels in central FL, not just themeparks!

    I booked a standard view, so I didn't have high hopes I'd see anything good. I was on the 4th floor on the Zebra trail. When I arrived at my room, I wasn't sure what to expect other than I knew from the map I might have a small chance that I'd see some animals from the balcony. It was dark, so I wouldn't know until the next day. Well, turns out I had the most amazing view of the gate where the staff bring the animals in and out of the main Savanna. So several times a day I was treated to a parade of all the animals going back and forth from backstage to the Savannas!

    After settling in, I hopped a bus to Hollywood Studios. I wanted to see the park all decorated and lit up at night and catch Fantasmic! I went to Baseline Tap House for a beer and charcuterie. I took a seat at the end of a long high top table and ended up chatting with another solo traveler. She and I became fast friends and wound up doing some rides together and watching Fantasmic. One of the best parts of going solo is when you spot another solo traveler you just understand each other!

    After Fantasmic! I headed back to the hotel, unpacked, and set my alarms for the next day. MK was open super early for resort guests and I was determined to make rope drop.
    ~Nikki~
    Last Trip: February 2024
    Next Trips: April 2024

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  4. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    York, PA
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    Default

    Sounds like a great start!

    I have amost always flown Southwest. Since they are not on the 'standard' cheap flights listings, it took me a while to find them the first time, but once I did I started saving time and money. 2 bags fly free was a good thing, but I tend to use only one carry on now. (If you can't live for a week with only one carry on and a backpack, you shouldn't go! Hahaha)

    I have visited AKL (and Wilderness Lodge, its big 'sister,') but haven't been able to justify the cost to stay there. I'm glad you did and are enjoying it! If I ever get "rich and famous" I might give it a go.

    Looking forward to reading more about your trip!! To do all 4 "Festivals" in a single year sounds like a blast! Just what an AP is made for!
    -Bud

    Walt Disney World:
    9/03 - CBR
    1/09 - BWV
    9/05; 2/07; 12/07; 9/08; 9/09; 9/10; 9/11; 12/13; 12/17; 4/18; 10/18, 4/23 - PC
    5/15 - POR
    1/22 - ASMO
    10/22 - ASMU

    Disneyland: 12/15 - Paradise Pier Hotel

    Next up: ???

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  6. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    York, PA
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    Probably not the right place to post this, but it just occurred to me that I got 3 of the 4 Festivals in on my last AP...Only due to a major *bleep*-up which gave me an extra 5 months on my pass. It is not the easiest, or the cheapest, thing to do from PA, or anywhere north of the Carolinas!!

    I did Festival of the Arts on my 60th Birthday trip (Jan. 2022)...
    Food and Wine Festival during Intercot 25th Celebration (Oct. 2022)...
    Flower and Garden to 'use up' my AP 'extension' (April 2023)...

    Just couldn't pull off 2 trips in 2 months or I might have hit Festival of the Holidays last year...nor did I really think about it...
    -Bud

    Walt Disney World:
    9/03 - CBR
    1/09 - BWV
    9/05; 2/07; 12/07; 9/08; 9/09; 9/10; 9/11; 12/13; 12/17; 4/18; 10/18, 4/23 - PC
    5/15 - POR
    1/22 - ASMO
    10/22 - ASMU

    Disneyland: 12/15 - Paradise Pier Hotel

    Next up: ???

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  8. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Florida
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    Good start!! Congrats on having a great view of animals from your room - even if it isn't actually a Savannah View room!!
    Linda aka: Faline
    INTERCOT Staff: Vacation Planning,Trip Reports and Disney Camping
    [email protected]

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