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CHRISTMAS - Our family had finished 10 days at Disney World the week before Thanksgiving. However we were in Florida for the entire month of November. Needless to say our girls, ages 6 and 10, were very bored and missing Disney very much before our time had ended in Florida. We wanted to go back to Disney, but couldn't afford more tickets. We had seen a special on HGTV about how Disney decorated for Christmas. We wished we could see some of the resorts after seeing this special. I called guest relations and they told us that we could see each of the resort decorations, such as the gingerbread house (amazing) at the Grand Floridian. The simplest way to do this is to park at a monorail resort and take the monorail to the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary Resorts. Of course if you wanted to see the Beach & Yacht Club, and the Boardwalk resorts then that is a separate drive or a bus ride. These decorations are absolutely breathtaking. Unbelievable how gorgeous these lobbies are. We have never stayed on property, but after seeing some of these resorts up close we plan to make a future visit. On our way to the resorts we passed by something we had no idea was at Disney World -- miniature golf courses. There was Winter/Summerland miniature golf, and Fantasia miniature golf. We had planned on going to a mini golf course that day around Orlando after touring the decorations. The prices are not any higher than any other course outside of Disney. These courses were so much fun and you have all the Disney magic surrounding you. Our girls loved it. We played the Wintertime course and then went to the Fantasia course and played that twice. Our favorite was the Wintertime course though. We finished up with a drive to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to see their decorations and had dinner at the Boma restaurant. We were able to have a great day at Disney even though we didn't have tickets to the parks. You get to see a lot of Disney property that you wouldn't normally see. I highly suggest touring the resorts and especially playing the golf courses. They are a blast. Thank you Disney for making our final day magical outside the parks. - Noelbigmac99 EDITOR'S NOTE: During peak times, many resort parking lots are closed to everyone except those staying there and those with dining reservations.
Categories: Special Events, Christmas
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After eating out at great Disney restaurants the week prior to actual Thanksgiving Day, we found we were really no longer "up" for another huge meal. We cancelled the dinner reservations we had made and picked up the Beach Club Marketplace Thanksgiving prepared individual meals. They were both delicious and affordable. AND we had our traditional Thanksgiving turkey! - JoAnne Miller
Categories: Special Events, Thanksgiving
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Our family (included parents, grandparents and two teenage daughters) traveled to Disney World for Thanksgiving week. It was the first time we spent the holiday away from home and were able to keep some of the many traditions alive that we kept each year. That included catching Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on TV in the morning, watching college football, and being together. We even included some non-traditional swimming in the pool... nothing we could have done in New England. We investigated the many dining options available and finally chose a restaurant at the Polynesian, which is where we were staying. The meal was truly NE traditional including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, squash, mashed potatoes, and yummy pie (we even took extra pie back to our room to have later in the day... just like at home!). The waitstaff at the restaurant made us feel as if we were guests in their home and shared that very special Thanksgiving with us. Another treasured Disney memory. - Carol Trainor
Categories: Special Events, Thanksgiving
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We had a very delicious Thanksgiving meal that evening at the food court in All Star Sports. They served turkey, dressing and all the trimmings. Just like we would have had if we would have been home in Louisiana. Another note is to dine early on Thanksgiving. - Alyce S. Miller
Categories: Special Events, Thanksgiving
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On Thanksgiving Day we went to the Studios early in the morning. (I spent the day wishing all the cast members -- from the bus drivers to the Streetmosphere players -- Happy Thanksgiving and thanking them for working to make our holiday special. We saw the shows, rode the rides and had a great time. We ate dinner at the Biergarten. What a treat! My sister's kids (high school and college ages) danced and sang and had a blast. Everyone loved the food. They still say that it was one of the best Thanksgivings ever! Great food, fun music and a wonderful show. So my advice is try something non-traditonal for your Thanksgiving at WDW. Go see a show, fireworks or have a special meal, but it doesn't have to be right on Thanksgivng Day. And don't forget to wish the cast members you meet a Happy Thanksgiving too. After all, they are making your day special! - Nancy L. Gessner
Categories: Special Events, Thanksgiving
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We go to "The World" every other year at Thanksgiving and love going at that time of year. The decorations are breathtaking and the weather is wonderful! We have always had Thanksgiving lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom because it feels like you're being waited on by the pilgrims themselves. The decor of the place and the costumes of the staff, not to mention the way they call you in for you reservation ("Hear Ye! Hear Ye!") really sets the mood for our Thanksgiving meal. Also, even though we are at Disney I don't miss out on my "Black Friday" shopping. I take care of most of it shopping in Disney Springs! - Peggy Benoit
Categories: Special Events, Thanksgiving
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The parks got pretty crowded in the afternoon [on Thanksgiving] so we traveled to Disney Springs and did some Christmas shopping. After shopping we stopped at our villa (we stayed at Saratoga Springs) to watch a little football and drop off our purchases. That night we made our way to Hollywood Studios to see the Osborne Lights. As "snow" fell we sat on a curb, sipped hot chocolate and experienced all that is the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing lights. What a wonderful day! - Penny Urell
Categories: Special Events, Thanksgiving
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Early evening, we made our way to Fort Wilderness for a carriage ride (which is wonderful this time of year, with all of the personal Christmas decorations on the campsites!) Our ride was extra special because I told our driver, "Thank you for working on a holiday." She almost cried! She really appreciated just the simple gesture of "thanks" -- all of those cast members miss out on seeing their families on some holidays so that we can enjoy ours! After that it was time for 'Ohana. I love this restaurant, but I was especially excited to see they had a special Thanksgiving menu (as do many restaurants in WDW). It was a typical Thanksgiving dinner, 'Ohana style -- and of course delicious. We asked if we could please have a window seat, and even on a busy night they accommodated us. We timed it perfectly that we were able to watch Wishes while eating dinner, and it was beautiful! Our server had to ask if I was all right because I did start to tear up. We had seen Wishes several times, and this was a very nice, different perspective, and I thought of the thousands of people standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the MK while we enjoyed a wonderful meal. We ended the night grabbing hot chocolate and sitting on the Poly beach, watching the Electrical Water Pageant go by. To me, it was a perfect Thanksgiving! I did not have to deal with crowds, and I got to experience several unique things WDW has to offer. - Carissa
Categories: Special Events, Thanksgiving
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All Resorts - In the room at the hotel, there typically isn't any place to store your bathroom stuff. Toothbrushes, makeup, medicines, shaving supplies, or whatever else ends up sitting on the counter where it either gets moved or is subject to cleaner overspray when the staff comes in to make up the room. My wife found this tip on a cruise ship website and it worked great for our Disney trip over Thanksgiving. She found a clear plastic hanging shoe holder, the kind that has pockets for holding individual shoes. We hung this in the closet and put all our bathroom stuff in there. It was out of the way, but easy to see where individual items were. The holder went down to the floor, too, so we could put things our 5-year-old needed towards the bottom so she could get them herself. Everything had a place so the bathroom countertop was completely clear when we left for the parks each day. - Pete Johnson
Categories: Resorts
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Epcot - Just returned from our annual Thanksgiving trip to WDW. At Epcot there is now the Character Connection (by Innoventions and Club Cool). This is replacing the Double Decker bus that used to travel through Epcot with multiple characters. At the Character Connection we found Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Chip & Dale. This is all inside and kids can get to see all of them and get autographs, too. While I loved the bus, the Cast Member said that they had a lot of complaints that the bus took off too quickly and kids did not get enough time to see their favorite characters, and also it is very hot outside in summer and the bus would not come out in the rain. This area was not very busy; my kids waited about two minutes to frolic with the characters. My tip would be go get a FastPass for Soarin' and go to the Character Connection! - Amy G.
Categories: Characters, Epcot, Characters, EPCOT
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When my family was planning to go to WDW last Thanksgiving, my wife, Kathy, started a game we would play at the dinner table called "Who Am I?" The rules are simple. Describe yourself, either a character, ride, resort, restaurant, or anything that is found at WDW, with the fewest clues and have the others guess who or what you are. Some are simple like, "I'm small, green and fly from Cinderella Castle." Answer: Tinker Bell... It puts the family in a WDW frame of mind for the trip. We started playing it this past weekend, because my girls and I are trying to convince my wife to go during Thanksgiving this year! - Mark Oldmixon
Categories: Countdown
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Know your "high" seasons intimately! I called recently to get a room for a business trip to Orlando from November 29 to December 4, and was told by WDW reservations there were no rooms available. Same story from Shades of Green (I work for the Navy).

When I called back later that day and asked for November *30* to December 4, there were all sorts of rooms available (including discounted ones), in both Disney hotels and SoG! Seems the Thanksgiving crowd doesn't check out until Saturday. Bottom line: be flexible about your arrival and departure dates (stay in an off-site hotel the first or last night, if necessary), and don't be afraid to keep Disney personnel on the phone, asking about availability for this date or that date, as long it takes to get the answer you want!

Also: If you're active or retired U.S. military or a civilian working for the U.S. armed forces, and you don't already know about Shades of Green, you need to! All the details are at shadesofgreen.org. Right now SoG is being remodeled, but this actually represents an extraordinary opportunity! SoG is still taking reservations, they're just placing all guests in rooms apportioned to them from Disney hotels, at the normal SoG price (based on your rank or pay grade). A friend of mine got placed in Coronado Springs, but I scored what I consider the jackpot: the Contemporary Resort -- at $95/night! - Brent York

EDITOR'S NOTE: Additional information on Shades of Green can be found at:
http://allears.net/acc/faq_sog.htm

Categories: Planning
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