Laura and Lee's 2003 December Disney Vacation

December 7-13, 2003

Friday - Resort hopping, Epcot

Our last full day...sigh.

We started the day off by doing some resort hopping to see the Christmas decorations. We drove to Wilderness Lodge and had breakfast at Roaring Forks, and wandered around the Wilderness Lodge and the Wilderness Lodge Villas enjoying the decorations. Wilderness Lodge is one of the prettiest resorts at Christmas time with that huge lobby and tree. They changed the base around the tree this year, I think - I wondered if they were using the new LED lights on this tree, too, but it was still the old style. The lobby area was very pretty but we were disappointed that there was no gingerbread village this year - as I recall there wasn't one last year, either.

The decorations in the lobby of the Villas are much more's not a very large tree, but it's always nicely decorated and every time we've been there we've found it to be a very quiet area. There are nice rocking chairs if you just want to sit there and enjoy the tree and the ambience for a while.
We'd seen the Grand Floridian's decorations on our tour, and weren't interested in the Contemporary or the Polynesian, so we drove to Coronado Springs - I've always found it to be the best decorated of the Moderate resorts. The decorations featured LOTS of white poinsettias and soft earth tones - it was very pretty. Over in the Pepper Market Bakery the chefs had set up a traditional gingerbread village, complete with a train.

Oh, and speaking of gingerbread villages...we'd seen one at the Swan on Wednesday night that was cute, too.

We returned to the Boardwalk and parked the car - of course we'd been seeing the Boardwalk decorations all week, but I haven't described them yet. :-) It's one of my favorites - I just love those trees and garlands that are almost completely covered with old-fashioned (and of German origin!) glass ornaments. I even found pickles on a couple of the trees. (And my prize was a trip to Disney World! :-) )

This year they had the same chocolate/candy amusement park that they had last year. Santa is riding the roller coaster (with his arms in the air) and one of the things that Lee pointed out to me this year was Santa's sleigh parked on top of the building next door, with the reindeer patiently waiting for Santa to return. :-)

Continuing our tour of the Epcot resorts we walked over to the Yacht Club. It was pretty disappointing this year - they had the usual tree in the lobby, plus an "alpine village" train layout that I don't remember seeing last year. I didn't notice anything very "Disneyish" about it - it was pretty generic.

The Beach Club had the tree and the chocolate/gingerbread carousel they had last year. They had little "baker Mickeys" on the carousel, and those were cute. The whole thing was pretty, but not new. But as we now know, they only change the resort decorations every 3-5 years. :-) Hopefully the Yacht Club will get an update soon.

The Beach Club Villa decorations are done on a smaller scale, but they were nicely done...I like the tree in the lobby.

As we took the "secret back way" from the Villas to Epcot (to avoid backtracking through the lobby), we noticed that the exterior paint isn't looking too good on that side of the Beach Club resort - the parts that face Crescent Lake have been repainted fairly recently, though, and those looked clean and bright.

Our first stop was Canada to see "Alberta Bound" - the musical group that performs on the days that Off Kilter is off. (Does that make them "On Kilter" on those days? :-) ) Alberta Bound includes a bass player, two guitar players, and another guy who plays fiddle and mandolin. We recognized the latter as the guy we've seen fill-in for various members of Off Kilter.

Alberta Bound has a much different sound than Off Kilter, though both groups say they play "Celtic Music". They are quite talented, but they don't have a lot of stage presence, and unfortunately I have to say that they really weren't very interesting. Most of their performance focused on the fiddle playing - and a little of that goes a long way, at least with me. I enjoyed their vocal numbers much more.

We got lunch from the Fish and Chips place and ate in the little "secret" area behind the Fish and Chips place right by World Showcase lagoon. It was a gorgeous day - blue sky and sunny and very comfortable. There were quite a few of us down there on the benches eating our fish and chips lunches, and there were a lot of seagulls looking for handouts. I can't help it, every time I see seagulls now I think about the seagulls in "Finding Nemo" screaming "MineMineMineMine" all the time. :-)

We wandered around World Showcase seeing more of the holiday storytellers as well as the new "Reflections of China" movie in the China pavilion. I always enjoyed the old movie. This one is shorter, but it has updated footage of Shanghai and Beijing and Tienemen Square, as well as new footage of Hong Kong and Macao, which were not part of China when the original movie was made.

And it's not an afternoon at Epcot without catching at least one set of Voices of Liberty. :-) We saw them do several songs we had not yet seen - "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", and "Jingle Bells" - complete with the sound effects of a spitting horse. :-)

We went back to the room with a detour to the Boardwalk Bakery where I got one of their chocolate frosted brownies. Those are very chocolatey and yummy. We hung out in the room for a while and I worked on the trip report while Lee rested (it seemed he had come down with a NEW cold strain and was not feeling well), then drove over to Downtown Disney around 5:30. We knew from past experience that you want to get to Downtown Disney early before it gets horribly busy like it does in the evenings.

We got take-out from Wolfgang Puck's, and didn't even walk INTO the World of Disney Store...that's definitely a first! We didn't buy much on this trip at all, actually...

We walked around Downtown Disney a little bit, and saw a nice tree, decorated with toys, outside the "Once Upon a Toy" store. The former Gourmet Pantry is being converted into an "Earl of Sandwich" shop - I'm curious to see what kinds of sandwiches they will serve once it opens. The candy store is still there but the bakery/pastry counter is gone...I always enjoyed the Turtle Cake, but I guess I won't be getting any of that any more. :-(

After we'd enjoyed our dinner back in our room we went into Epcot and went all the way around World Showcase lagoon so I could take pictures of all of the "Holiday Storyteller" signs - to refresh my memory when I go to write that part of this trip report. :-)

We saw Illuminations for the last time on this trip from our favorite spot near Germany - I got a couple of pretty good pictures. It's still a wonderful show, though I think the fireworks they use in Wishes are better.

After Illuminations we walked back to World Showcase Plaza and stood in front of the Tree Lighting stage and watched the Lights of Winter archway for a while - it wasn't quite as cold as it had been the previous night! I've suggested to Lee that his holiday decorating project for next year should be a "home version" of the Lights of Winter. :-) (He built a Santa's Workshop for me this year, which was very popular with everyone who came through our neighborhood to see the Christmas lights.)

The only disappointment was that we didn't get to see the fountain dance to the holiday music this year - it didn't seem overly windy any night we were there, but the fountain was only doing its usual "static" pattern (I don't know what you call that) and wasn't dancing at all.

*** Did you know that there are no other "Did you knows" in this part of the trip report? :-)

Mileage for the day: ~5.22 miles, 12,258 steps

Various Distances:
Around World Showcase Lagoon: .9 miles

Woo hoo! of the day - Illuminations

Disappointment of the day - overall the holiday decorations just didn't seem quite as nice this year.

Pet peeve of the day - People who smoke in non-smoking areas and walk around trailing a cigarette in their hand, like no one is going to notice.

Saturday, December 13 - Home

And so we come to the end of another trip...We had one last breakfast at the Boardwalk Bakery, checked our bill (love that $0 balance for the room since we used our DVC points, though we charged most of our meals to the room), packed everything up (or so I thought), and took one last walk all the way around Crescent Lake. It was another beautiful morning, and looked like it was going to be warmer than any other day on this trip.

Our flight was at 12:50 so we left our room around 10:30, and still had plenty of time to return the car and check in and go through security.

*** Did you know there are two different security areas that feed the shuttles to gates 60-99 and 100-129? The one that's further away from the ticket counters (though you can't see it at first because of the elevator) always has a shorter line!

By this day Lee's new cold had really hit with a vengeance, and he was pretty miserable. The flight to Dallas was completely packed, and I'm sure the people sitting around us weren't too happy to hear him coughing and sneezing, either. :-( Fortunately our connecting flight to San Diego was maybe 1/4 full and we had lots of empty seats around us. We were both pretty happy to get home.

The next day I realized that I'd left a book in the nightstand in the room...wouldn't have been a big deal except that the book wasn't mine! I called Lost & Found at the Boardwalk and described exactly where I'd left it, and they found it and I received the book in the mail about a week later. Very good service!

*** Did you know that the resorts have a "Lost & Found" department?

Woo hoo! of the day: Umm...well, it was nice to get home, I guess.

Disappointment of the day: Having to come home at all!

Pet Peeve of the Day: People who fly when they are sick...oops, I guess that would be Lee. :-)

Final Thoughts

*** Did you know that I can be very long-winded when I'm writing a trip report? Thanks for making it this far! :-)

Other Links

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Epcot's Holiday Storytellers
Tigger's Christmas Carols
Holidaze with Tigger and Stitch
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Text and photographs copyright © 2003, 2004 by Laura Gilbreath. All rights reserved.

Laura Gilbreath lgil at lgil dot net
Last updated 1/4/04