It's Saturday, and what do you normally do on Saturday's? That's
right...GO SHOPPING!!! This was our second "bad" weather
day in a row as temps were hovering in the high 50's, but certainly
bearable for us Chicagoans. The sun was out, so it really didn't
feel all that bad. We had decided that today was going to be our
souvenir hunting day, and that we would be taking a day away from
the hustle and bustle of the parks. This probably ended up being
a bad idea, because when we arrived at Downtown Disney's Marketplace
area it was packed!! I guess everyone else had the same idea as
well. Unfortunately we were committed to this, so off we went
in search of all things Disney.
Our first stop was at the World of Disney store. I'll tell you
this, you'd better keep a watchful eye on your money in here because
your souvenir budget can get busted in no time. I'm not going
to bore you with the details, but let's just say that we dropped
a goodly sum in this store. Next stop was the Christmas Store
to grab some ornaments for the family tree back home. We also
found a really nice advent calendar that was made out of a cloth
and you hung little ornaments portraying different Disney characters
and scenes for each day.
We had spent a considerable amount of time in both stores, so
it was now getting near lunchtime. We weren't through shopping,
so we walked over to the McDonald's. Wow...I have never seen a
McDonald's so crowded in my life. The prices weren't the greatest
either, but we didn't have much of a choice. I went up to order
the food, while Deb took Michael and Elisabeth to see if they
could find a table. She lucked out as she was walking past this
table near the windows, the family asked if she was looking for
a seat as they were about to leave. Whew!! that was a load off
our mind, as there really wasn't a single table or booth that
wasn't occupied. What an odyssey. After lunch it was off to the
Disney Sports store, and the pin depot for a little more shopping
before afternoon naps. Tonight was our last character meal at
Our Priority Seating time was 5:00
P.M. on the dot, and so after our experience with The Crystal
Palace, we decided to make darn sure that we arrived early. I
think we arrived in the Contemporary's parking lot around 4:30
P.M. Being our first time in the Contemporary we were quite impressed
at the structure itself. It is really something to experience
the monorail coming through the building. We checked in at Chef
Mickey's at about 4:45, and there already was a nice crowd forming.
We went right over to have the gratuitous family "portrait"
taken behind the Chef Mickey's sign.
Chef Mickey's doesn't open for dinner until 5:00 P.M., so we
thought we had a bit of time before we would get seated judging
by the amount of people that had checked in before us. To our
amazement we were seated at 5:05!! We were seated fairly close
to the buffet, but if I had my pick of tables I would have rather
had been out in the main seating area as it was a little more
of an "open" feeling. The characters started making
their rounds right away which was good because we really got most
of the character greets out of the way before it became too crowded.
Then we were able to relax and eat our food without worrying about
scrambling for pictures and autographs.
I don't know if the food selections change much, but I was
quite impressed with the variety of choices for both adults and
children. The fried chicken was my favorite item on the menu,
and of course dessert!!
There were plenty of characters to go around. Goofy made his
way around first followed closely behind by Minnie. Chip and Dale
were there as well (they seem to be everywhere), and of course
the head Chef himself, Mickey. Donald was also present, but as
was the case with Minnie at the Cape May breakfast, you had to
go to Donald. At various times throughout the meal music began
playing and all of the characters began dancing with some of the
children. Elisabeth shocked us by actually getting out of her
chair this time and waving her napking up above her head. You
may remember that she was a bit timid at The Crystal Palace.
Most of the characters made it around to our table twice, although
I don't think this would be the norm. I think it was more of a
product of our being seated extremely early and the dining area
wasn't quite full. The characters didn't have as many tables early
on, so their rotation was a bit quicker than normal.
Oops!! forgot about the gratuitous family "portrait"
that we took earlier. While you're eating, a Cast Member will
come around to your table with a nicely packaged array of items
containing your picture. I believe there was a 5x7 photo in a
picture binder, 2 keychains, and a refrigerator magnet as well.
They inform that you can purchase this "package" for
something like $25, or you can select from other packages that
contain fewer or more items. Well... we fell into the tourist
trap, and of course we just decided to take the package "as
We really had nothing planned for after Chef Mickey's. We had
originally intended to take in the Osborne Lights Festival, but
since it was closed due to construction of the new Auto Stunt
Show, we decided to hop on the monorail and take it over to the
Grand Floridian. We had heard that there were going to be some
carolers over there, plus we wanted the kids to see the big tree
in the lobby, and the gingerbread house. The kids really loved
it every time we rode the monorail. I was hoping to be able to
get a chance to ride in the front car, but we weren't able to.
Maybe next time.
As we walked into the Grand Floridian from the monorail station,
down below us were a couple of lighted reindeer grazing amongst
a sea of red Poinsettias. Directly in front of us was the main
lobby and its tree reaching up into upper levels of the lobby.
The kids wanted to go down to the main floor to hear the carolers
sing, and look UP at the tree from below. The tree was even more
impressive from this view. It was just time to relax and take
some of the holiday magic that Disney had to offer. The CMs singing
Christmas Carols added just that little bit more to an already
festive atmosphere. I really enjoy being down here during the
holiday season, and wish we were going back this same time in
Elisabeth and Michael really liked the Gingerbread
House that the Grand Floridian staff had built in the lobby. They
couldn't believe that a majority of the house could actually be
After about 45 minutes, the kids were starting to get a little
"goofy" and wanting to run around, so Mommy and Daddy
decided that it was time to head back up to the monorail station.
I was hoping that we had timed it just right to be able to see
some of Wishes from the train, but then I remembered that this
was a MVMCP night, and Wishes wouldn't be starting for another
hour yet. We did get a brief look down Main Street before the
train pulled out and headed back to the Contemporary.
As we walked back to the van in the Contemporary's parking
lot, two more monorails passed overhead. Elisabeth and Michael wanted
to go back and take another ride, but it was getting close to their
bed time, so we piled into the van and headed back to the villas. This
is where I got lost, I hate to admit. This was the first time that I
actually drove to the Contemporary, and the roads within the Magic Kingdom
resort area are a bit confusing to negotiate in the dark. I think I
ended up driving us around a good portion of Walt Disney World ending
up all the way over by Animal Kingdom before getting back on Buena Vista
Drive headed back towards the Epcot resorts. I guess I made a wrong
turn somewhere. That'll teach me to follow a Disney Transport bus labeled
Epcot. As it was, I did find that there was a McDonald's down by Animal
Kingdom, which worked out well because I had to make a Happy Meal run
on our last night, which would be Monday.
Tomorrow...Day 7. A day at the Animal Kingdom.