Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A FLORIDA Christmas!

Florida brings a special kind of MAGIC to Christmas!  There are lots of great towns with many things to enjoy during this beautiful season!   Winter Park is such a quaint town, only 3 miles north of Orlando, that has an Old World European flair.  There is a LIVE Christmas tree that continues to live and grow, but is decorated each year. Check out the calendar of events at http://cityofwinterpark.org/calendar

 Another great place to take in the beauty is Cranes Roost Park, in Altamonte Springs, Florida.  It is only 15 minutes north of Downtown Orlando (just off Interstate 4 at Exit 92).  Cranes Roost Park celebrates "Light Up The Holidays" with all sorts of wonderful events throughout the month.   
The Lighting Ceremony takes place just after Thanksgiving and the displays can be viewed until January 1.
The Christmas Tree measures 60 feet tall and 27 feet in diameter.  The tree has more than 8,000 lights.  There are more than 2,600 ornaments on the tree and over 1 mile of garland.

There is a beautiful walkway around the lake that measures approximately one mile around.  There are over 175 holiday displays throughout the diameter of the lake.  Some of the other 2012 events included each week are:  Nightly Holiday Fountain Show at 6p, 7p, 8p & 9p.  On Tuesdays, Santa & Mrs. Claus are available to pose for pictures under the tower.  On Thursdays, enjoy "Holiday Movie Nights.  On Fridays, enjoy Free Live Holiday Concerts.Free movies, live musical performances and all sorts of events happen throughout the year here- check out their Events Schedule at:  http://uptownaltamonte.com/events

Another interesting town that I found to be FUN this year was Leesburg, located around an hour drive Northwest of Orlando.  The City of Leesburg does a neat light show with a great Christmas tree that is synchronized to music.  I like some of the odd animals that they have on display and was especially attached to the bunny, as I felt like it found the wrong holiday...but it made me SMILE!  I also enjoyed the train and snowman display that has various sizes for you to get a FUN picture alone or up to a family of four.

And my FINAL stop on this tour of "A FLORIDA CHRISTMAS" is on Christmas Tree Lane in Leesburg - this is such a great FLORIDA thing to do!  The residents of this retirement community of Leesburg Lakeshore Mobile Home Park have been transforming Christmas Tree Lane into a winter wonderland for over 54 years.  Residents take turns dressing up as Santa & Frosty the Snowman and hand out candy canes to everyone in the vehicles that pass through.  Carolers sing as you drive by, some sit on their doorstep enjoying the faces of people who admire their work.  The residents do this for around 2-3 weeks around Christmas.  Beware of the long line to get on the street, but enjoy this "feel good" Christmas tradition for locals.

I think that I will always have a magical feeling when I see a palm tree.  It just makes me FEEL like I am in a special place when I see it.  So, with this in mind, I am now enjoying every moment of my tropical Christmas!
In our own yard, my hubby said "Nothing says Christmas like palm trees, blooming roses, a blow up Polar Bear & a rotating Christmas tree in the front window.  I tend to agree - From our family to yours, May you have a very Merry Christmas! 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party


T'was the night before Christmas and A Disney Girl in Orlando is thinking of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!
My hubby bought two tickets as a Christmas present for me.  This is an extra ticketed event and tickets can be around $54.00 per person, so I do understand that it's not for everyone, but it was a very special night for me and I was so thankful to enjoy it!

If you have never attended, I will include some notes to keep in mind if you ever do have the privelidge to participate.

First of all, there are several "Cookie and Cocoa Locations" where you get FREE Holiday Treats including:  Snickerdoodles, Sugar & Chocolate Chip Cookies.  If you don't want Hot Cocoa, you can get Apple Juice.  Just check around or check out all the spots if you want to explore your options.
In 2012, the giveaway locations were at:
-  Crystal Palace on Main Street, USA
-  Sunshine Tree Terrace, in Adventureland
-  Columbia Harbour House, in Liberty Square
-  Pinoccio Village House, in Fantasyland
-  Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe, in Tomorrowland
-  Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant, in Tomorrowland
We only got cookies twice...so you may find things we didn't, or things can change from year to year.

There are several "normal" rides and attractions that are open, but in the three times that I have experienced this party, I have NEVER done the "normal" things during this SPECIAL party.

This year, hubby & I started the PARTY with "A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show."  It happened 5 times through the night, so plan your entire night before the start of the party so you can get in the things that YOU want to do most!  Especially if you are a fan of Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski or Stitch.  We truly enjoyed this show!  Stitch was tracking Santa, but when things got a little crazy our alien friend did save the day!

The next thing we stumbled upon were Phineas & Ferb in Christmas attire.  Hubby & I enjoy odd "Family Photos" so we decided to do something special with them this year.

This is the special time of the year when you can COUNT on SNOW in FLORIDA...but you won't be as cold as in many other parts of the world.  It's practically a blizzard of MAGIC!

Our next stop was to stake our spot at the castle.  I do have a special spot that I like to be in, so I know that I need to be there early to get that spot.  It's worth the wait to me, but when I did not live here, I don't know that I would have spent that much time in one spot.  

"Celebrate the Magic" allows you to watch Cinderella Castle to transform from the daytime spectacular to a night-time "Ice Castle" as the amazing lights adorn the castle at night.  I do know that they start putting these lights up in SEPTEMBER because there is so much to be done in order to get ready for this "winter wonderland."

"Holiday Wishes-Celebrate the Spirit of the Season" is wonderful!  You get to watch Cinderella Castle light up with a holiday fireworks event that is spectacular!  It is NOT your normal "Wishes" fireworks show and is absolutely breathtaking!

We had a good spot that allowed us to see "Celebrate the Season" Castle Show which was full of characters and Christmas SPECIAL Characters like Frosty, the Reindeer, Toy Soldiers...it is such a sweet and special show!

Our next goal was the LAST "Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade" of the evening...Hidden tip:  The LAST parade of the night is the BEST to ENJOY!  The first show is much more crowded and you will appreciate the last show, if your party is all old enough to enjoy it.  This is my favorite parade on Disney property (according to my present experience) and I truly love the SPECIAL characters like the Reindeer, Toy Soldiers & enjoy the Snow People!  You can see the small white horses that pull Cinderella's Coach & actually see Cinderella & Prince Charming riding together in the coach - such rare and beautiful sights.  You can also catch some "characters from the past" that always bring a reminiscent smile to my face.  The floats are special, the characters are special and every piece of this parade is just MAGICAL! And Santa makes his GRAND Entrance which is wonderful!
After the parade was over, I had one final goal:  To see if Beast Castle & Prince Eric's Castle had any special lights or wonder for it's first "unofficial" season...the Official Grand Opening for those Castles was December 6, with NEW Fantasyland - but we were well into the Christmas season at that time...I didn't see anything special - but this will also be something to watch next year to see if or how they may incorporate the NEW Castles into the holiday celebrations.  At this point, the fact that there were THREE Castles in the Magic Kingdom was AMAZING enough to bring us SMILES!  Lots of characters were available for SPECIAL Meet N' Greets that you don't normally find.  So this can defnitely be a SPECIAL night!  MERRY CHRISTMAS ONE AND ALL!  And to all, a GOOD NIGHT!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

O Disney Christmas Trees & more!

It's the most wonderful time of the year at Walt Disney World! 
Well, it feels like EVERY day is the most wonderful day...but Christmas IS definitely quite special!
 The next time you complain about how hard it is to decorate your home for Christmas, think about this:  There are 1,300 decorated trees throughout 24 resorts,4 theme parks, Downtown Disney and other places throughout Walt Disney World brought in on 150 semi trailers. 
There are 8.5 million lights, 300,000 yards of ribbon 
& more than 11 miles of garland around Walt Disney World to celebrate the season.
And you know that Disney pays attention to ALL the little details, so make sure you pay special attention to the ornaments, base of the tree and all the special care to make every single piece magical!

The Theme of every Disney Theme Park and Resort is very much in line with the area it is in:
Magic Kingdom includes larger than life toys around it's 25 foot wide base.
EPCOT celebrates Peace on Earth and includes ornaments designed with the flags from the countries represented in World Showcase.
Hollywood Studios has a movie theme and Animal Kingdom celebrates animals.

We sing "Oh Christmas Tree" but in Walt Disney World, there is so much more to sing about than trees!  Don't miss 10 miles of twinkling rope lights of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in Hollywood Studios or the Holiday Storytellers in EPCOT that tell us how Christmas is celebrated in their country...and the resorts!

The Contemporary Resort hosts a 70 foot tall Christmas tree with nearly 35,800 white LED lights.  Also very impressive is the giant not-so-Hidden Mickey on each side of the resort where the Monorail passes through.  
The Grand Floridian is celebrating 14 years of creating a Gingerbread House that takes 160 hours to create! Cast Members actually sell Gingerbread shingles from inside.  This house is 16 feet tall and is made from 1,050 pounds of honey, 140 pints of egg whites, 600 pounds of powdered sugar, 700 pounds of chocolate, 800 pounds flour and 35 pounds of spices.

The Grand Floridian is truly a   spectacular resort at Christmas, with live bands and pianists playing Christmas music.  I would also recommend a step outside to see the reindeer feeding in a field of Poinsettias and turn of the century vehicles.

The Boardwalk Resort has a display made from:
50 pounds of icing, 402 sugar & gum paste flowers, 301 pounds chocolate, 2012 Gingerbread pieces, 1 Donald Duck & Hidden Mickeys.

Beach Club has a life-sized moving Gingerbread Carousel including adorable horses, castles, characters, poinsettias and so much more!  It is made from 36 pounds of honey, 96 pounds flour, 100 pints eggs, 10 pounds spices, 10 quarts syrup, 150 pounds icing, 50 pounds dark chocolate, 50 pounds modeling chocolate, 200 gum paste flowers, 2012 pieces gingerbread, 13 Hidden silver Mickeys.
Boardwalk & Beach Club have bar codes that you can scan with your cell phone and see how the display houses were made.

Disney's Yacht Club Resort hosts a whimsical train set that has lots of great Disney Villages and a ski lodge!

 The Swan and Dolphin Resorts are all decked out too.  The Dolphin has a nice train and beautiful theme to check out if you're resort hopping for Christmas decor.

Swan Resort has an incredible display that weighs 1500 pounds and takes 500 hours to create.  It is made with Dark, milk & white chocolate...The Swan is otherwise known as Santa's Favorite Resort on twitter:  #Santasfavoriteresort

The Animal Kingdom Lodge is a sight to behold with it's amazing African Theme.  Plus, you can always go outside and check out the animals in the savannah, as well as talk to people native to the area that can tell you stories and facts about the things you see around you.

The Wilderness Lodge is a wonderful mid-western theme with amazing sights to behold for the season.  You can sit by the fireplace or walk across an indoor bridge with a small stream below as you look outside. 

And for me, part of this year's Christmas celebration was seeing the Art of Animation Resort's FIRST Christmas.  The interesting thing about this tree is the ANIMATION that decorates the tree...as it should.  It just fits for this cute "Value Plus" Resort.

Let me know what YOUR favorite part of a DISNEY Christmas includes...and don't forget to "Join the site" on the right...don't miss the FUN AHEAD!