Quick Unplanned (sorta planned) December Trip **Trip Report Complete**

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JMed's picture
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Quick Unplanned (sorta planned) December Trip **Trip Report Complete**

Back in October and November all I wanted to do was head down for a couple days to take in all of the Christmas decorations. When I got home I searched and searched but rooms were scarce and I didn't want to pay an arm and a leg. After that I got really sick and I thought for sure it would NEVER happen this year. Then, I got better. I've had a couple of bad days but nothing I can't handle so I started talking about it again. Joe looked at me a week or so ago and said "use the Hilton points, you deserve it", now if you tell me to do something Disney related, it is usually done and booked before you can finish your sentence. USUALLY. I was still on the fence. What if I had a flare up. What if we go down and I get really sick again. I am also really good at stressing out and making myself worry. So after thinking it over and talking to mom, I booked!

This adventure will be Jennifer (that's me, JMed), my mom Kathy and my daughter Blondie! I have a followup doctor's appointment on Wednesday where I will hopefully get good news and we will head out after. My dad booked us a room in St Augustine so we can get a head start and not have to leave so early on Thursday.

Thursday we will head on to Orlando with a quick stop at the Character Outlet before heading over to AKL to check out their trees. AKL and AK have my favorite decorations of all the resorts/parks so I decided it would be our first stop. From there we will head to Coronado Springs before going to check in at our hotel. We will head back and start the Monorail Loop to check out the decor before meeting Robyn, Sy and Joanne and her family at TotWL

Friday we are going to check out Wilderness Lodge, Art of Animation, POP and the Epcot resorts. Dinner is at Homecoming before the Drone show and the Christmas Tree Trail.

Saturday we will be lazy and start making our way home with a stop in Jacksonville for 4 Rivers and who knows what else we may get into.

I'm really excited about this no park trip (which I figure we may end up in one LOL) I won't be doing a live report this trip but I will update when we get back! Merry Christmas!

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"I do not like the cone of shame."

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell."

"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

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Sounds like a wonderful trip. Hope you get a good report from the doctor. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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PirateGirl wrote:
Sounds like a wonderful trip. Hope you get a good report from the doctor. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It is going to be a whole new experience not staying on property and not visiting the parks! But it will be fun!

Hopefully the doc has answers I need if not, life goes on and I feel better so that is all that counts!

MC & HNY to you too!!!

__________________

"I do not like the cone of shame."

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell."

"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

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Well deserved, JMed! I hope you and your mom and Blondie have a great time!

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Thanks Ali, we made it to St Augustine for the night. We went into town to see the Christmas lights along with more people than are probably at Disney! It was CRAZY!!! And we didn't even see that many lights but we did have some AHHHHHH-MAZING pizza at a little place called Pizza Time biggrin biggrin . If we are friends on Facebook check out the pics, I will post some on here later. SOOOOOOO good!!!

Blondie still doesn't know we are going to Disney tomorrow! laugh laugh laugh

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"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

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See you tonight

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JoAnn C wrote:
See you tonight

Saw ya last night! LOL I totally forgot to call you and Robyn today and let ya know where we were.

It's been a long couple of days and we are safe in our WARM room resting already!!! Will post a quick rundown of the trip in a bit when Blondie goes to bed!

__________________

"I do not like the cone of shame."

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell."

"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

Jennifer Huotari | Create Your Badge

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Short trip is over and done! Honestly, I can't say it was one of my favorite trips... I will get into all that in a bit but you will see it all starts day one...

Wednesday Dec 28.

I had an appointment at 3:15 to follow up with the rheumatologist on this day. I called Tuesday to see if there were any cancellations and boom, 8:45 appointment! While all of my tests were "normal" and "negative" I walked out a little dumbfounded that NO ONE can figure out what was wrong with me. I am very glad to feel better, I just don't know if it is something that will reoccur or if there is anything I should be doing to avoid it. Anywho, it set the tone for the day. BUT I was on the way to Florida!!!

I got home around 10 and my mom and Blondie weren't far behind me. We loaded up the truck and headed out. At this point, Blondie still didn't know where we were going! Traffic getting out of Charleston wasn't too bad and we were soon on the road. First stop was in Pooler, GA at the Tanger Outlets. I needed Peanuts and Pandora! I love the Virginia Peanuts and they have a store there! I ended up with 2 Pandora rings for less than 40 bucks and mom got 5 charms for $80!!! I love when outlets have sales! yay They recently built a Krystal by the outlets so there was no surprise where lunch came from! awesome

Back on the road, the next stop was the Florida Welcome Center to stretch our legs, grab more Shutterfly free photobook cards and free oj! We were staying in St Augustine so we weren't very far from our destination at this point. This is when I told Blondie we were going to St A for the weekend. The rest of the surprise comes tomorrow morning!

We were staying at a Hampton Inn by I-95 Exit 318. We've stayed here several times and really like it there. I wanted to nap but mom was ready to go. St A has a Christmas light display and even though it was STILL LIGHT outside she wanted to go go go! Well, SO DID THE REST OF FLORIDA. It. Was. Packed! It should have given me an indication of what was to come. It took us 15 minutes of driving in circles in the parking garage to find a spot. When we got down stairs, the line for the trolley tour wrapped all the way down the parking garage, around the side, down the sidewalk and out to the street... (it was longer when we came back to leave) mom wanted to do this but I said NO WAY!

Instead we walked around downtown and found Pizza Time. The lady at the Hampton Inn recommended it to us. WOW was it good. There had to be about 25 people ahead of us and way more than that behind us in line. It moved pretty quickly but boy was it worth the wait! Some of the best pizza I've had in a while! Luckily as we paid, a table came open and I grabbed it. They don't have much seating so we got lucky. I had rapini and proscuitto, mom had eggplant and Blondie had pepperoni. Oh and the garlic rolls.... those garlic rolls.... YUM!!! This place is now on my must do list!

After we checked out the oldest wooden school house. It's a cute little place with a great garden in the back and a school bell that you can ring that can be heard a mile away!

After making our way back to the garage and spending another 20 minutes waiting to get out we were safe in the hotel room ready to rest and take on the next day!

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__________________

"I do not like the cone of shame."

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell."

"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

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Thursday

This is where my original plan starts falling apart LOL. We got up and grabbed breakfast from the lobby. After eating in the room we packed up and headed to Orlando. It was a little before 10 when we parked at Disney Springs. First stop was Guest Services to activate Blondie's renewed AP and mom bought a Park Hopper (there goes the plans). We grabbed a book to start Stitches Holiday Scavenger Hunt. I thought it was hard finding Remy in Epcot!!! Stitch is a cardboard cutout maybe about a foot tall or so. One was located IN THE WORLD OF DISNEY store. With NO CLUE where to look. I have NO IDEA how we lucked up and found him but we did. This game did cause us to go into many stores I have never been in nor would never go in. We walked all the way down to the Christmas Tree Trail. When we got there the CM said "sorry we don't open until noon." It was about 10:45 and I wasn't going to hang around for over and hour. So, there is one thing I really wanted to do that didn't happen.

We headed all the way back to the bus stop and hopped a bus for the Boardwalk Area. We decided to get off at the Swan and Dolphin first. I wasn't overly impressed with the hotels, they were a bit generic to me but hey, I have been in them now. I never knew they had a chocolate sculpture over there. It was really pretty and for some reason Blondie wanted to take a blow torch to it confused

We were all getting a little hungry and decided on The Fountain at the Dolphin. Mom and I both got The Big Cib -
Smoked free range Chicken, Applewood Smoked Bacon, SwanDo Pickles, Hellmann's Mayo, Chimichurri, Vermont Cheddar, Toasted Sub Roll which was really good and Blondie had chicken tenders. The mayo and chimichurri was actually a chimichurri aioli and was sooooo good, we had a side for our fries. We also grabbed a Christmas Sugar Cookie Ice Cream that was amazing! Vanilla ice cream with chunks of sugar cookie and peppermint sprinkles!

We walked over to the Boardwalk to check out the gingerbread houses and trees. While we were there they were setting up the tables to decorate your own gingerbread cookie. It is $9.00 and the proceeds go to Give Kids the World. Blondie of course wanted to make one. They had red, green and white icing and tons of candy!

Next we walked over to the Beach Club to check out the carousel and just sit in the lobby for a bit. We caught a bus back to Disney Springs and headed to our hotel. We stayed at another Hampton Inn on Palm Parkway, the staff was very friendly and went out of the way to help out and take care of us. Still not Disney standards, but very nice! It was only 3.4 miles from Disney Springs. With traffic, you would have thought we were staying in Daytona. It took us 30 minutes to get there from the time we left DS... I was not a happy camper. Every 5 minutes or so I said "I will never stay off property again!"

We rested for a bit and headed back for a monorail crawl. We TRIED to park at the Grand Floridian and was turned away, so we parked at MK and headed to TTC. First stop was the Poly, there is not much here in the way of Christmas decoration. They have plenty of room for a big tree but it's just a few smaller ones scattered around the lobby. One is a pretty good size but it is tucked in the corner by the gift shop. Next it was on to the GF. Now, I was prepared to be overwhelmed by the smell of gingerbread, it is all I hear when people talk about it. Nope, notta, nothing. I didn't smell it until I walked right beside the house... It's a cool thing to see but I guess I was honestly a little underwhelmed. Not sure why. I think it may be the whole Christmas season this year... On to the Contemporary. I never made it outside to see the tree and the Frozen display is just a little meh... We grabbed a good dinner at Contempo Cafe. Mom and I shared chicken alfredo and Blondie had pepperoni flatbread

By the time we finished, Robyn,Sy and JoAnn had all finished dinner too and we all met in the lobby to head to the Top of the World Lounge. It was pretty packed in there but we managed to get a table and a couple of drinks before the show. As we walked out onto the observation deck we were met with lots of wind and rain! Where did that come from. Luckily the rain stopped but the wind was kicking our butts! And it was getting cold!

Blondie was wiped out so we left shortly after fireworks. We monorailed it to TTC, hopped a tram and took the long HOUR ride to the Hampton Inn. The whole way me saying "I'll NEVER stay off property EVER AGAIN!!!"

Tomorrow, the entire day's plan falls apart!

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__________________

"I do not like the cone of shame."

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell."

"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

Jennifer Huotari | Create Your Badge

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I wonder why they have limited hours on the Christmas Tree Trail? Don't you just walk along it and look at the trees? Do they really need someone there to monitor it?

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Allie wrote:
I wonder why they have limited hours on the Christmas Tree Trail? Don't you just walk along it and look at the trees? Do they really need someone there to monitor it?

I wondered the same thing. Not really sure. I couldn't see around where the trees were from our vantage point but I don't understand why we couldn't go on thru...

__________________

"I do not like the cone of shame."

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell."

"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

Jennifer Huotari | Create Your Badge

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Friday

The day we "ended up in the parks"

I had more plans to see decorations, eat at Homecoming and see the drone show. The last 2 did not happen...

It was much cooler this morning than I anticipated so we ran to Wal-mart to grab jackets....

We decided to head to Hollywood Studios first. We headed right in to Rock n Roller Coaster. Blondie and I hopped in the single-rider line. We waited maybe 30 minutes. When we came out, the standby line was 150 min at 10:30. Blondie was hungry so we got in the line for Starring Rolls to grab a bagel and a drink. The tables were all full so we walked over near the stage to watch the SW shows. After we tried to check out the Launch Bay but we couldn't get close. I checked the wait time for Star Tours and it was over an hour...

We headed back to the car and planned on going to AK but ended up going to AKL instead to see the decorations. We ended up staying parked there and took the bus to Epcot. We made a beeline for Sunshine Seasons. Mom and I had chili and Blondie had mac & cheese. We took our time strolling around WS looking at decorations. I had a Grand Mimosa something or another in Morocco from the Holidays Around the World book and Blondie had the gingerbread ice cream in France. Biggest surprise was the trailer bathrooms set up between WS and FW! We did a little shopping in the shops and headed back for AKL. I ran out bags to the truck and headed to AK by bus around 5:45

I have NEVER seen AK as busy as it was. We walked to Dinoland to get Cheeseburger eggrolls - NOPE, Notta, bust...By this point, I wasn't having it anymore. There were more people than I can handle. We got around to Africa where I grabbed the new Jungle Juice Slushy. If you love the P.O.G. juice, this is a must. We made our way to the front of the park to a VERY LONG bus line...

It took us another hour to get to our hotel this night. We did stop at McDonalds and ate it like we had never ate before lol. I knew I would regret it and I did lol!

Oh and Homecoming.... I forgot to cancel the night before. I didn't want to leave the parks earlier and mom lose time for her park hopper she dropped a ton of money on. When I called this morning, I of course was charged 30 bucks. It made more sense to me to spend that than mom waste what she spent.

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__________________

"I do not like the cone of shame."

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell."

"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

Jennifer Huotari | Create Your Badge

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Guess I should finish this up. We were going to get up Saturday morning and head back to Disney Springs to finish the Stitch hunt but since we were all up at 7am and it was still 3 hours until they opened, we just decided to head home. Blondie got a Mickey waffle from the lobby and we hit the road. We had no issues getting out of Orlando which was a first and had a relatively easy ride home.

I will admit, as I walked to the truck to load it I was crying because I was a bit disappointed in this trip. I feel like this is happening a lot lately. There are highs but defiantly some lows

All in all, I learned a lesson. Never... NEVER again will I stay off property. Except this weekend when we go back laugh but we HAVE to stay at the team hotel.

Go early to enjoy Christmas decor. I feel like some was already taken down even though the Disney site said to enjoy decor until Jan 8. The big tree in Epcot was gone. Ak didn't seem to have much up IN the park. HS didn't seem to have as much as in the past unless of course some of it was already taken down also.

I was a bit disappointed in GF, EVERYONE says the smell of gingerbread overwhelms you when you walk in, not so for me.

The crowds were a bit much for me at times. I expected it but I still thought "this is enough"

I can't wait to go in October! Thanks for reading along!

__________________

"I do not like the cone of shame."

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell."

"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

Jennifer Huotari | Create Your Badge

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I'm so sorry that your short trip wasn't as hoped or planned. At least you have another trip planned and on property.

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PirateGirl wrote:
I'm so sorry that your short trip wasn't as hoped or planned. At least you have another trip planned and on property.

I think all the emotions of wanting to go, thinking I wasn't going to get to then the last minute going just had me in a tizzy and I was emotional from the get-go. LOL We will be there a couple of days this weekend and I am going to just go with the flow. We have 2 fastpasses and no ADRs. Lots of time in Epcot with the new festival!!!

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"I do not like the cone of shame."

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell."

"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

Jennifer Huotari | Create Your Badge

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Sounds like a great plan. I wish I was able to go but 2016 was not a good year and I probably won't get back for at least 18 months. waiting

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I've really enjoyed reading your report and looking at your pictures so colourful! Sorry for the lows, hopefulyl your next trip will make up for it.