Magical Blogorail – Dreaming of a Disney Christmas

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Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Green. Enjoy the ride as we discuss Dreaming of a Disney Christmas.

Walt Disney World at Christmas

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug
Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

For so many people, Walt Disney World at Christmas is the perfect time to visit.  Since I’ve not been fortunate yet to be able to visit during the Christmas season, I’m dreaming of a Disney Christmas — and perhaps adding a few touches here at home to allow my family to have a bit of a Disney Christmas without leaving home!

My friend Andy is the creator of the Facebook Page WDW Shutterbug, and it is thanks to his wonderful talent and generosity that I’m able to share with you many of the sites that I could picture in my minds eye, even before he sent me these photos.  At the top is one of my favorite pictures of all time, featuring Cinderella Castle nestled at the end of a lit up Main Street, U.S.A.  For this post, I’m going to share with you some of the wonderful scenes you will be able to enjoy when you visit Walt Disney World during the Christmas season!

Magic Kingdom

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug
Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Cinderella Castle is all decked out in twinkling lights. This year, they have added a Frozen motif to it, and it looks incredible.  The picture above is from last year, but is still just as incredible to me.

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug
Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

One of my favorite ways to take photos at Walt Disney World is by including the reflection in the water in the shot, as my friend Andy did here.  Stunning, that’s all I can say about this shot…

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug
Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

As you can see, it’s not all Christmas lights at the Magic Kingdom.  Here, a Toy Soldier is proudly on display among all the great Christmas decorations on Main Street, U.S.A.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug
Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

The Christmas Magic isn’t limited to just the Magic Kingdom, though.  Here, you see part of the scenery for The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights!  What an incredible display of scenes to capture the imagination with!

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug
Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

The picture of the Nativity Scene is, to me, what Christmas is all about, and I really like this picture.

Epcot

Image courtesy and ©Denny
Image courtesy and ©Denny

In many ways, though, I think the true Spirit of Christmas is on display over at Epcot with the Candlelight Processional that is performed throughout the Christmas season.  Each night, a celebrity guest tells the Christmas story with the help of musicians.  I think that this will be my favorite part of Christmas at Disney when we are able to experience it for ourselves.  Special thanks goes out to my friend Denny for sharing this picture with me.

Back at Home

Of course, a Disney Christmas doesn’t have to be spent at Disney — although, that’s the way I want to do it one year.  For us, since that isn’t in the cards this year, we have decided to add a little Disney right here at home.  My neighborhood is big on Christmas lights and decorations, so we have added two significant Disney characters to our “blow-up” collection.  Here are pictures of them for you to enjoy!

Minnie adorns our front yard this Christmas!
Minnie adorns our front yard this Christmas!
Olaf is one of the ways we celebrate a Disney Christmas -- at home!
Olaf is one of the ways we celebrate a Disney Christmas — at home!

His name is Olaf, and he likes Warm Hugs!  It’s not like being at Walt Disney World, but my neighbor Harry told me that Olaf is the talk of the neighborhood!  What is your favorite way to celebrate a Disney Christmas?

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Heidi’s Head.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ My Dream’s of Disney – Dreaming of a Disney Christmas
2nd Stop ~ Heidi’s Head – Dreaming of a Disneyland Christmas
3rd Stop ~ Mommy To All Girls – Dreaming of a DCL Christmas
4th Stop ~ Frugal Mouse – Dreaming of a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Final Stop ~ Superheroes and Teacups – My Dream Christmas Trip to the Walt Disney World Parks

Magical Blogorail – Traditions of a Mexico Pavilion Christmas

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Welcome to those of you joining me from Rolling with the Magic and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 2nd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Image courtesy and ©DISTherapy
Image courtesy and ©DISTherapy

When it comes to Christmas at Disney, I think my favorite part will be when I get to experience Epcot’s World Showcase.  I know that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is over the top, and so is the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, but to me, I think the true meaning of Christmas is seen most clearly at Epcot.  Did you know that each of the pavilions shares their own traditions with us on how they celebrate the Holiday season in their native land?

In the Mexico Pavilion, the Three Kings greet you and tell you how they celebrate the Holidays.  The Mexico term for Christmas is La Navidad, and the main celebration is known as Las Posadas (Posadas is Spanish for “inn”).  The story revolves around the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, and their attempts to find a room at the inn.  Included in the celebration in Mexico is Three Kings Day, which takes place on January 6th, the day traditionally known as the day that the Three Kings arrived to see the Baby Jesus.  In our country, we sometimes call that day “Old Christmas”.

I’m a real fan of all of the lights that you can find at the Magic Kingdom and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but as I’ve gotten older — notice I didn’t say wiser — I really appreciate the traditions of Christmas, and I think that the World Showcase does the best job of reflecting what the true meaning of Christmas is.

What is your favorite part of the Holiday season, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or another holiday?  Please let me know in the comments, and thanks!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Home is Where the Mouse Is.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Rolling with the Magic – Germany Pavilion
2nd Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney – Mexico Pavilion
3rd Stop ~ Home is Where the Mouse Is – Holiday Treats from Around World Showcase
4th Stop ~ Journeys from a Follower – Holiday Happenings: How to Bring EPCOT’s Holiday Celebration Home
Final Stop ~ Mommy to All Girls – Candlelight Processional

Magical Blogorail – Best Resort for Fireworks!

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Welcome to those of you joining me from Heidi’s Head and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 2nd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Cinderella Castle and Space Mountain as seen from the Top of the World Lounge
Cinderella Castle and Space Mountain as seen from Bay Lake Tower

Hello everyone, and thank you for joining us today as the Magical Blogorail takes a look at the “Best Resort for…” series!  For my subject, I have chosen the “Best Resort for Fireworks!”

When it comes to Walt Disney World, there are a number of great resorts that give incredible views of fireworks, whether it be Wishes or Illuminations: Reflection of Earth.  I’m going to focus on the Magic Kingdom resorts, and attempt to give you some information that will help you pick the best place to see fireworks from your resort!  For this post, I’m going to take a look at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

This modern DVC resort is situated right next door to the Contemporary Resort, and features a Skyway bridge connecting the two resorts.  As you can see from the picture above, it offers up incredible views of Cinderella Castle and Space Mountain (and the rest of the Magic Kingdom), and for those staying there, you can go to the Top of the World Lounge for appetizers, drinks, and to see Wishes from the rooftop balcony.  The nice thing is that the music and narration of the show is also piped in so you are able to experience it all.

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

The California Grill is a rooftop restaurant located at the top of the Contemporary, and is a great place to enjoy dinner while also watching Wishes.  It is highly recommended that you get reservations when wanting to eat here.  The nice thing is that you don’t have to be eating there right when the fireworks start.  If you have, say, a lunch reservation, you can go, eat, enjoy yourself, and then come back that same day, and you will be given access to the rooftop balcony to watch Wishes.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

This signature resort for Walt Disney World is an incredible venue, and is located right next to the Magic Kingdom.  Like all the true Monorail resorts, you can watch Wishes from here too, and one popular place to watch them at is right by the water.  The music is piped in here, also, so it’s a great relaxing way to just sit down and enjoy the fireworks without a huge crowd.

Disney’s Polynesian Resort

In my opinion, though, the best resort to watch Wishes at is the Polynesian Resort.  Mind you, I’ve never done this, so I could be way off base, but I have always heard that going down to the beach with your special someone, watching Wishes and listening to the great narration of the show, that this is a true bucket-list item.  The romantic in me imagines it to be right up there at the top of the scale for romantic date activities.

What do you all think?  Am I pursuing a good idea, or is it nothing to write home about?  Please let me know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is In the Mouse House.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Heidi’s Head – Best Resort for Animal Lovers
2nd Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney – Best Resort for Fireworks!
3rd Stop ~ In the Mouse House – Best Resort for a No-Parks Disney Vacation
4th Stop ~ Love Our Disney – Best On-Site Resort at Disneyland
Final Stop ~ Dad for Disney – Best Resort for Transportation

Magical Blogorail – Education at Liberty Square

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Welcome to those of you joining me from Heidi’s Head and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 2nd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Liberty Square
The Hall of Presidents Stands Tall at Liberty Square

Walt Disney loved history, especially history that pertained to the history of the United States.  His childhood hero was Abraham Lincoln, and if you have never had the chance to see his attraction at Disneyland called “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln“, I urge you to do so one day.  This month, the Magical Blogorail is writing about all of the ways that Walt Disney World is uniquely suited to teach us as well as entertain us, and I am writing about all of the great things that you can see and learn from at Liberty Square.

In February my daughter and I will be running in the Princess 5K while my wife cheers us on from the side.  My wife and I have never taken Sophie out of school while it was in session before, so I was a little apprehensive about doing so for this trip.  However, Sophie is 13 years old, and it won’t be long before she won’t want to do as much with us as she did when she was younger, so Cindy and I talked it over and decided that taking up something like this is one way that Sophie and I can continue the bond that we have.  Last Saturday we ran in our first 5K, and this coming Sunday we will be walking in our first 10K together.  The point of my rambling is that one of the things that we are going to do during that trip is have Sophie research a lot of the historical elements, especially at Liberty Square.  This will help us justify to ourselves pulling her out of school for two days.

The Hall of Presidents at Liberty Square is a great attraction because it does so much to teach us more about the history of the presidents of the United States.  The audio-animatronic figures are incredibly detailed, and feature all of the presidents that our great country has had.  The narration in the story before the goes into some incredible moments in American history, and this show is one that should be on everyones list to see.

Liberty Square Riverboat
The Liberty Belle is the name of the riverboat that is the Liberty Square Riverboat!

Another attraction that I like that isn’t quite as educational is the Liberty Square Riverboat.  Featuring the Liberty Belle, which was named after Walt Disney’s wife Lillian, this riverboat takes you on the Rivers of America for a unique perspective on what it would have been like to navigate the mighty Mississippi in the 1800s.  For attractions such as the Liberty Square Riverboat, how much you get out of the attraction depends on how vivid your imagination is, so don’t be afraid to put yourself back in time and take a ride on the riverboat one day!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is For the Love of Disney.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Heidi’s Head – Disney for Homeschoolers
2nd Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney – Education at Liberty Square
3rd Stop ~ For the Love of Disney – Wilderness Explorers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Final Stop ~ Ashley Aspires – Educational Attractions at Disney World

Magical Blogorail – Ways Disney helps deal with Grief

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Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Green. Enjoy our therapeutic ride as we share ways that Disney has helped us through times of grief and sorrow.

Over the past year, a lot of my friends have had loved ones pass away — and in way too many cases, it was young children that were called home.  In this week’s Magical Blogorail post, we are talking about ways that Walt Disney World (or the other Disney parks) have played a role in helping us deal with our grief and sorrow.

My Grandpa died just over three years ago at the young age of 98.  While my Grandpa wasn’t as big a Disney fanatic as I am, my Grandma and Grandpa were the ones that first took me (and my sister and Mom) to the Magic Kingdom, way back in 1979.  When I was in my pre-teen and teenage years, my summers were spent visiting Grandma and Grandpa (primarily Grandpa) during the summer vacation, and he and I spent many a day having fun and doing cool things together.  It may be hard to imagine, but as you can see by this picture, my Grandpa was cool.

My Grandpa sporting my Safari Mickey hat!
My Grandpa sporting my Safari Mickey hat!

Now that I am a dad and husband, I have played a similar role to the role that my Grandpa played — I introduced Walt Disney World to my wife Cindy in 2000, and together we introduced our daughter Sophie to Walt Disney World in 2005.  One day in the future, I can’t wait until the day when Cindy and I introduce our grandchild to Walt Disney World.  Only God knows when that will be, but if He is willing, it will happen.

In some ways, I always thought that my Grandpa and Walt Disney had a lot in common, and now in my family, I am doing some of the same things that those two great men have done.  My daughter Sophie and I are training for our first 5K together — the Princess 5K to be held February 19-22 of next year.  While we aren’t running for any specific person or for any cause or in honor of a loved one that passed away, we are forming a stronger bond because this is something that only we are doing.  My wife Cindy is involved, but she’s choosing to cheer us on at the finish.  She knows that the days are coming when Sophie will not want to spend much time with us, and she is giving Sophie and I this event, the 5K, as a way for us to continue our Daddy/Daughter relationship for a bit longer.  In my minds eye, I picture it as similar to what Walt did by taking his girls to Griffith Park to ride the carousel.

Of course, there are other 5K events — you don’t need to travel to Walt Disney World just to run in a 5K.  In fact, we are going to be doing the Walk for Hope in Raleigh on October 12th — and that’s a 10K walk (we’ll run some too).  That event benefits mental illness research and treatment, so if you would like to donate to it, you can do so by clicking on this donate link.  But the point I’m making is that we’re continuing our bonding by participating in an event at Walt Disney World — and in my opinion, Disney is the mechanism for us to keep our relationship close, even though she is a teenager.  While I haven’t relied on Disney as a truly therapeutic way to deal with the loss of a loved one in a physical sense, like my friend Beth did when she lost her nephew, or my dear friend Dawn did when she lost her father, or my friend Kuleen did when her friends lost their child, I have used my connection and love for Walt Disney World — and my daughter’s love for Disney, too — as a way to keep us close when so many families see their daughter or son drift apart from them.  Regardless of the setting, whether it is Disney or the beach or the mountains or whatever, use those memories and experiences as the means to keep your loved ones close, or to remember their memory if they have passed on.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is In the Mouse House.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney – How Disney Helped My Grief
2nd Stop ~ In the Mouse House – Running in Honor of My Brother
3rd Stop ~ Heidi’s Head – How Disney helped with my illness
4th Stop ~ Saving Up for Disney – How Disney Helped after I lost my Father
Final Stop ~ Journeys from a Follower – How Disney Helped me through my own life challenge