News and Views around Walt Disney World and the Gingerbread hunt begins:
Today I want to take you to the Magic Kingdom and the Disney resorts on the Monorail line. I am on a Gingerbread hunt today as well as seeing what else is changing in Walt Disney World. When I was at home in the cold north and could not get to see Walt Disney World for myself it was so nice to read other people’s accounts of being here. I hope that this helps you plan your visit or at least makes you feel like you are here for a short visit.
Let’s head over to the Ticket and Transportation Center. It is too early to get into the Park but we can hop on the Resort Monorail here. It is a foggy morning. I can’t even see the top of the Contemporary hotel! The top of the Cinderella Castle is out of sight as well. The temperatures are so pleasant now a little fog doesn’t matter. The monorail has several guests aboard with us and they are excited about eating breakfast at one of the resorts. First we come to Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Just walking into this resort seems to be stepping into the lush isles of Polynesia. Its tropical beauty is so relaxing. Holiday decorations here are low key but perfect for this environment. The lush plantings have a border of red and white Poinsettias and you will find a decorated Christmas tree making a nice vignette for taking a photo for Christmas cards or greetings on your social media site. There are lighted Christmas garlands outside the shops that make the resort feel decorated but not overstated. Hopping back on the monorail now we head to the next resort.
The Grand Floridian resort is a turn of the century architectural masterpiece and the Holiday decorations are very fitting to this style. There are gorgeous garlands on the grand staircases, garland hanging from the balconies, Christmas trees next to the live band stage, and at the entrances beautiful wreathes. But stealing the show is the three-story Christmas tree in the center of the Lobby. This large tree is decorated with white lights, gold bows and glass balls, red balls, white and gold birdcages, and large pairs of swans with necks intertwined. Your eye is then drawn to a large house made out of gingerbread. There is a life-size door in the side of it. The beautiful house has a covered wraparound porch, gabled roof; it has a tower and several balconies. Santa can be seen from almost every perspective. Giant candy canes adorn the house making it all the more desirable to take a bite. From the balcony above you can look inside part of the house that serves as a bakeshop where you can purchase your own miniature gingerbread house kit and other baked goodies.
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Surrounding the base of the house are red and white Poinsettias. This is the 15th year for the large house to be constructed by the pastry chefs. It is made of 1050 lbs of honey, 140 pints of egg whites, 600 lbs of powdered sugar, 700 pounds of chocolate, 800 pounds of flour, 35 pounds of spices and as the chefs say “Tons of Creativity, Disney Magic & Pixie Dust!” Congratulations chefs, it is indeed a masterpiece! Another area that was so cute was two child-size areas next to the elevator that consisted of a table with chairs, a small television playing Disney cartoons, and a small Christmas tree for each. Nearby is a wreath with little Santa’s, baubles, flowers, cards, ribbon and bow all in the Victorian design. What a beautiful and warm lobby they have created for the Guests staying here during this Holiday season! You almost feel like you are a very special family of a very rich relative who has invited you to enjoy this Holiday season with them. You may purchase Stollen bread, gingerbread “shingles” and chocolate peppermint bark from the Gingerbread House shop. Most of these special Holiday displays open at 10AM.
Let’s jump on the monorail; I can’t wait to see the next creation made out of Gingerbread so we are heading to the Contemporary. That means we will be stopping briefly at the Magic Kingdom monorail station. After loading everyone wishing to go to the Contemporary I hear Dad’s talking about how hungry they are. Upon arrival I hear children gleefully shout “Chef Mickey’s!” as they excitedly disembark from the monorail. It does smell so good in here, just like breakfast. My craving for Mickey Waffles is kicking in, how about you? I need to stay focused, I am on a Gingerbread hunt today.
Turning away from Chef Mickey’s I see the giant Mickey Head wreathe that hangs on the outside of the Contemporary Resort. It is covered in “greens” and small sparkling lights, almost like a beacon to lead the monorail into the resort this morning. The shops are full, the decorations are up, and there is indeed a giant Gingerbread cookie Christmas tree. It even smells like gingerbread! The tree is above a gingerbread “brick” wall. On the wall are blocks that spell out “HAPPY HOLIDAYS”. Behind the tree is a collage similar to Small World. On the bottom row of the tree are little dolls representative of many nations. Also on the tree are blue, green, purple, and orange floral elements. At the top is the sun. Behind the tree and illustrated wall are large gold curtains creating a more neutral background. To the left is a shopping area with baked goods on the counters. To the right are two wooden soldiers standing beside a guard house that is also made of gingerbread and adorned with candy canes. You can purchase chocolate peppermint cookies and Monorail shortbread here.
There is a gift shop right next to this and I can’t help wandering in as I am still looking for some Christmas gifts. There are some new Disney t-shirts that are hilarious. The fronts have an image that relates to another image on the back. There is a Donald Duck scratching his head looking at his empty ice cream cone, and on the back you see Chip and Dale running away with a dip of mint chocolate chip ice cream. There is a Grumpy on the front and his bear being pulled to the back where Dopey has it wrapped around his head. Mickey is pulling on a leash with all his strength on the front of a shirt, and the back shows Pluto staring happily at a fire hydrant. My favorite is a gray shirt with a classic black and white Mickey on the front and an arm coming around to the front holding a sign that says “The Original”, and on the back is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (whose arm is stretching around to the front holding the sign.) That is what I need to get for my Oswald-loving daughter. There are some shirts in this style in the children’s sizes with Cars characters.
Let’s hop back onto the Monorail and head to the Magic Kingdom. If we get off the Monorail at the Ticket and Transportation Center we can ride the Ferry Boat across Bay Lake to the Magic Kingdom. I am very happy to see there are three ferry boats running right now. The boats are pretty full each time. While waiting a very short time before boarding the boat let’s check out the progress on the construction of the new DVC buildings here at the Polynesian. From the monorail earlier we could see the large piles of dirt behind construction walls and earth moving equipment and now we can see why. There is more land area created and construction poles in the water that could be there to hold Tahiti-style rooms on the water accommodations/or maybe a boardwalk. That has not been officially revealed yet so we can’t be sure. Thank you Disney Transportation for providing three ferry boats to transport all of us to the Park quickly.
At the Magic Kingdom I am anxious to get to Liberty Square because the Disney parks website said there is “a miniature replica of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, created from the artistic culinary talents of Magic Kingdom park Pastry Chefs.” It doesn’t say exactly where it is, so we are going to have to hunt it down. After searching all over Liberty Square to no avail I ask a Cast Member, who is not aware of it, and they ask another Cast Member and in turn they ask another Cast Member who finally decides it must be in the American Adventure at Epcot because they have not heard of it being in the Magic Kingdom. They also tell me I am not the only one to ask about it being there and to disregard the fact that it says the “chefs of the Magic Kingdom” because it is definitely not in the Magic Kingdom. Let’s take the path next to Cinderella Castle and Sleepy Hollow Refreshments toward Fantasyland. The Cinderella Castle is so beautiful at night with all the lights on, but I am a big fan of the back of the castle with all the windows and intriguing balconies. I see two Cast Members descending those sought-after stairs and wonder if someone is in the Castle suite tonight. (I later heard that Neil Patrick Harris was in the Magic Kingdom today. He is participating in the Candlelight Processional program in Epcot this week.) The simple blue ribbon and greenery swags adorning the castle are beautiful. They are adorned with blue, gold, and champagne color balls, and a champagne color fleur-de-lis. Around the corner it looks like we won’t be able to see what is still happening in the Pinocchio Village Haus outdoor area because walls are still up. The seating area is also roped off until the restaurant opens so don’t plan on coming over here with your coffee to enjoy it in the morning. Next door is Small World which is currently under renovation until December 12.
I can hear the sound of tools and before I see the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train construction site. The scaffolding still covers much of the mountain but there is a lot done since we visited the site last week. The mountain is getting painted, electrical work is getting done, some more “rocks” are popping out in various spots, decorative elements, safety elements, a staircase near the top of the ride necessary for any evacuations is being worked on, and there is an addition of a pair of Buzzards sitting atop wooden poles that was not seen before. The path way that went between Ariel’s Grotto and the Storybook Circus is closed off so you will have to walk around to get to the other side of New Fantasyland. The two buzzards at Splash Mountain are one of my favorite elements of that ride, so I am wondering what part the buzzards play in the story of this ride. There are many workers all over this ride today. I am really looking forward to experiencing this ride and this story they are working so hard to create. It has been an amazing journey so far to be able to walk around this attraction and see it grow.
Come on, we deserve a gingerbread cookie for all this hard work we have been doing. There are some available in Fronteirland, and at Big Top Treats, and I know we can find one at the Confectionary on Main Street. Let’s go! There they are! Those delicious Mickey Gingerbread cookies, thick and with just the right amount of spice and chewiness, a cookie you do not want to miss out on. If it is your last day here, grab a Gingerbread Cookie Mix here that comes with its own Mickey cookie cutter and you can make some at home.
Just outside I see there is a new FastPass+ Kiosk two door down toward Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. These are popping up all over the parks making it easier for guests to arrange their schedules, make fast pass and meal reservations if they are part of the MagicBands program still in testing for the Walt Disney World Resort Guests.
Stay tuned for more adventures as we hunt down Walt Disney World Gingerbread creations and look for more news as we continue our journey to Epcot and more Disney resorts.