Disney Springs has transformed for the holidays. Of course, it also just completely transformed itself this past year, adding many new shops and restaurants, with many still being added, but Disney is really adding special touches that will make you want to go over and over this holiday season, including a Santa meet-and-greet!
While there recently, we took a stroll through the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail!
The trail is located in the Marketplace section of Disney Springs…right before you reach the bus stations and right behind the Christmas store.
There are several themed Christmas trees to enjoy, with themed, detailed ornaments…let’s check them out!
Princess, look away from the mirror!
Each tree has a handpainted sign along with all of the themed ornaments.
I’m not sure I could pick a favorite tree…but the kids certainly enjoyed the “snow” 🙂 Every few minutes, some fake snow is sprayed all along the trail, making it a very festive trip along with the Christmas music playing in the background! There are many photo opportunities, and I’m sure you could even make use of all the decorations to create a nice family photo!
In addition to the Christmas Tree Trail, we walked all along Disney Springs and watched the new Starbright Holidays Drone Show!
Starbright Holidays Drone show is shown over the lake on the West Side. Hundreds of drones light up the sky and make fun holiday shapes in the sky. It’s only 5 minutes long, but is played twice a night and definitely a must-see if you are here.
Since our little family is in our new city, and the rest of our family will be traveling down in a few days, we decided to take advantage of all the Thanksgiving meal options available at Walt Disney World and enjoy an easy dinner (late lunch, more specifically) at Trail’s End Restaurant at Fort Wilderness.
A Thanksgiving meal at Walt Disney World? Yes! In fact, in addition to all the restaurants open normal hours, there are several restaurants that offer a special Thanksgiving meal:
Cinderella’s Royal Table
Liberty Tree Tavern
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Coral Reef Restaurant
Le Cellier Steakhouse
Rose & Crown Dining Room
The Hollywood Brown Derby
Tusker House Restaurant
Boatwright’s Dining Hall
Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Grand Floridian Cafe
Victoria & Albert’s
Flying Fish Cafe
Trattoria Al Forno
Mickey’s Backyard Thanksgiving Feast
Trail’s End Restaurant
The Turf Club
Whispering Canyon Cafe
Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe
At Trail’s End, lunch is normally an a la carte menu, while dinner is a buffet, but on Thanksgiving, lunch is also a buffet. You can see that the meal is special for the holiday on your reservation.
On a nice 81 degree day (helloooo Florida) we headed to Trail’s End. Add in extra transportation time when going to Fort Wilderness if you drive, because once you park, you have to take a bus deep within the resort to where the restaurant is. Christmas decorations add to the holiday ambience.
The buffet includes all the standard Thanksgiving fare…all you care to eat smoked turkey, cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Some of the usual buffet items, like shrimp cocktail, salad, fried chicken and pork ribs, are also included. And the best part…SWEET TEA!!
We love buffets with the kids because kids under 3 eat for free!
Both kids loved the turkey and ate quite a bit.
Dessert options are plentiful…my plate below didn’t even include everything to choose from. The pumpkin pie was a must on Thanksgiving, but the strawberry shortcake is my favorite and they offer it at dinner every day!
After dinner, the kids played on the playground and watched the horses.
Again, the downside to Fort Wilderness is the bus ride, with the ride going back to the parking lot making many more steps and taking much longer. I would say the trip back took about 10 minutes. The kids enjoy looking out the window at the Christmas decorations and wildlife (we saw about 10 deer in various spots).
I can see something like this becoming our tradition! Yum!
Get excited…Gilmore Girls is returning for your binging viewing pleasure this month! Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life will debut on Netflix on November 25, 2016 as four 90-minute episodes. The original Gilmore Girls series aired from 2000 to 2007, and this new mini-movie mini-series will catch fans up on what’s been going on in Stars Hollow, Connecticut.
I’ll admit, I haven’t watched the entire series, but I would catch episodes here and there, but do remember the importance of Pop-Tarts…
Netflix even hinted about the Gilmore Girls happenings with this photo on their Instagram account.
I thought it would be fun to recreate the Gilmore Girls Pop-Tart Appetizer with this yummy recipe!
1 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 cup raw white sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons water
1 package refrigerated store-bought pie crust (two sheets)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place blueberries in a small sauce pan. Add 1/2 cup raw white sugar, 2 Tablespoons cornstarch and 2 Tablespoons of water. Set saucepan over medium low heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until fruit is soft and mixture is thickened; about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Roll out the packaged pie crusts to 1/8 inch thickness and cut each into 9 rectangles.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the pie crust on top.
Add a dallop of the berry mixture to the top and center of each pie crust rectangle.
Then place another pie crust rectangle on top of each one. Use a fork to crimp the edges of the pop tarts.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow pop-tarts to cool completely.
To make the glaze, mix confectioners sugar with vanilla extract and 1 Tablespoon of water. You can spoon the glaze over the pop-tarts or you can place the glaze in a piping bag, even a makeshift piping bag made from a ziploc bag will work, and make pretty glaze swirls. 🙂
To go full Gilmore Girls style, place pop-tarts on a serving dish surrounding an apple.
ENJOY…until the pizza comes!
These were so so good…especially with the filling and glaze still warm! Enjoy these while watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life on Netflix on November 25th!
This post was written by me as part of my membership in the Netflix Stream Team. Thanks for reading!
Brett attended the very first Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Holiday Party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios yesterday…he was able to snag a single ticket the same day since he wanted to see the first showing of the new fireworks/projection/laser show Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! This new show replaces Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular from Nov. 14 through Dec. 31, 2016.
The Holiday Party is held in the Great Movie Ride Courtyard. Since this is not a great fireworks viewing spot, there is actually a reserved location for party attendees out in the hub area where, dare I say it, the Sorcerer’s Hat used to be (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Party guests are escorted to the viewing area shortly before the show begins. This is one of the reasons Brett booked the party, so he didn’t have to stand somewhere for hours, because the parks get insanely crowded when a new anything debuts in the parks. This way, he was able to walk around the park, enjoy some yummy food, and then get a nice spot as the show begins!
Fancy wristband for party attendees.
Nice, festive tables are set up all along the courtyard. How cute are those green tree candle holders?
There was even a small table set up with coloring pages and crayons for kids.
Brett said that there were plenty of tables left empty, which makes us wonder why there was only one ticket left for that night…were they only doing a limited number to see how it goes?
Before we get into the photo details, here is a short video Brett took upon first entering the party so you can get a feel for it.
This is not a typical “dessert party” as there are also some savory meal-type dishes included.
There was a station where a Cast Member made Liquid Nitro Frost Bites, with either Chocolate or Wintergreen Mousse.
There was no sign, but this was the Warm Salted Caramel Cottage Pudding.
Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks were included.
The line for the alcoholic drinks got quite long almost immediately, so definitely get there early if you plan on taking advantage of that!
Guests are escorted to the reserved viewing area about 15 minutes before the show, but are welcome to head over early if desired. Brett went over a little early so he could grab his preferred spot since he would be taking photos and live-streaming the entire thing to Facebook.
The nighttime extravaganza features iconic music, fireworks, special effects and state-of-the-art projections that display heartwarming moments from some of your favorite Disney films including Bambi, Cinderella and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. All of the projections are on the Chinese Theater/Great Movie Ride.
Plenty of lasers add to the fun effects.
The main fireworks are off-center, something that many people were disappointed in when first seeing Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, but I like how they offset them with closer fireworks on both sides.
Party guests were given a pair of 3D HoloSpex® glasses to enhance the show. Bright lights are turned into little light reindeers…so cool!
Each guest also received a chocolate-dipped gingerbread man!
The party details also list an appearance by a “special guest” – Brett did not see anything, but thinks that Santa Goofy was there somewhere after seeing other people’s photos after the party.
Overall, Brett was happy with the party. He didn’t eat everything or drink any alcohol, so there was plenty more to benefit from, but it was worth not having to wait for a viewing spot.
From the official WDW site:
Make the most of this fun-filled seasonal event—select nights from November 14 through December 31, 2016!
From November 14 through December 17, 2016, tickets can be purchased for $69 per adult or $39 for children ages 3 to 9 (tax and gratuity included). Then, as the holidays draw closer from December 18 through December 31, 2016, tickets can be purchased for $79 per adult or $45 for children ages 3 to 9 (tax and gratuity included).
Today, we headed to Epcot for a few hours to FINALLY enjoy some yummy goodies from the Food & Wine Festival. I say finally because we’ve lived here for 2 months now and we have yet to go anywhere other than Magic Kingdom!
I started out with a Kahlua Pork Slider from Hawaii. It was my first time trying it and it was pretty good. The pineapple provided a nice sweetness, but the bun was a tad dry. The spicy mayonnaise wasn’t spicy at all, thankfully.
Brett had the Irish cheese platter, which he shared with Aubrey. That girl loves cheese!
Next, I had the Crispy Pork Belly with beans from Brazil. I’ve had this before and liked it…it’s like a big piece of bacon, can’t go wrong there! I had already taken a bit when I remembered to take a photo…so impatient!
Next, Brett got the Garlic Shrimp and Pineapple Breeze Sake Cocktail from the Japan kiosk.
The kids loved the buttery rice and even ate it with chopsticks!
Our entertainment while eating.
The item I was looking forward to…the Limoncello Margarita from the Italy kiosk! So lemony and good.
Another favorite, the Pierogies from the Poland kiosk. This dish comes with kielbasa, but I asked for an extra pierogi instead and they did it!
With all the culinary delights to be enjoyed, our picky son enjoyed his hot dog and french fries haha. At least he had a nice view while eating it on the steps in front of Italy.
Aubrey was fascinated with the trains in Germany.
We also did the Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure for the first time. We thought it would be fun for Trent to experience it and he had lots of fun. We even had people ask us what we were doing while we were exploring.
You pick up a device from the start/end station and start in a selected country.
You follow the clues given on the device, leading you around the country you selected.
You even interact with Cast Members, who may give you secret items…like this Chai tea haha
After you’ve accomplished your mission, you return the device. There are a few different missions, so we will definitely be back to try the others since Trent enjoyed it so much.
I was surprised to see the wait for Anna & Elsa at only 20 minutes. This isn’t something we do (yet, we DO have a young daughter who has not yet been sucked into the Frozen sensation) but I expected it to be longer. The wait for Frozen Ever After was 75 minutes.
On our way out, we let the kids play in the splash area. We don’t mind it when we are on our way out and actually have changes of clothes with us. Aubrey barely gets a drop of water on her, but Trent goes all out.