We stayed 6 nights in Orlando but chose to stay offsite. I’m a fan of WDW hotels (well, except the value resorts…) but since I wanted my mom to come, it made sense to rent a condo offsite. TravelZoo had a great deal a few months ago and we paid less than $400 for 6 nights in a 3 bedroom/3 bathroom condo at Windsor Hills, a gated community right outside of WDW.
Overall, we liked the location and amenities but didn’t love the 2 story unit nor the decor of the condo we stayed in. We all much preferred the (same size) unit we rented last year at WorldQuest Orlando and would choose that over Windsor Hills again.
We all arrived in Orlando on Sunday night so after being reunited, we drove to the Grand Floridian Resort for dinner with Cinderella! I booked the character dinner at 1900 Park Fare because it features a combination of Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia & Drizella, and Perla & Suzy. Unfortunately… we were there on one of the rare nights that didn’t feature the stepsisters, which is one of the reasons why I booked it. Prince Charming wasn’t there either. However, we still enjoyed it!
1900 Park Fare has always been one of my favorite restaurants and we weren’t disappointed this trip, either. Our waitress was fantastic, the food was varied, fresh, and tasty, and the character interactions were great. The buffet had sushi, Chinese, salads, prime rib & ham carving station, fruit, Indian, and more. No one went hungry, that’s for sure!
Following dinner, I asked mom and Jason if they would humor me and watch HalloWishes. I’ve been trying to master my camera (failing miserably, by the way) and I had done a lot of reading on how to photograph fireworks. If you travel to the Ticket and Transportation Center boat dock, you can get a straight on shot of the Magic Kingdom across the Lagoon. So, after dinner we took the monorail over, I set up my tripod on the dock (with 3 others doing the same!) and held my breath.
For my first attempt, I was pleased. If only I lived near a park that shot off fireworks nightly!
HalloWishes is awesome, since it has perimeter fireworks, and the dock was a great view!
Notice the boat lights blurring past? I shot at a 4 second shutter so it smeared. Unfortunately, the boat doesn’t stop running during the fireworks…
The next day, Jason golfed first thing in the morning and we went to breakfast at Kona. Again, a favorite breakfast spot of ours.
Mom and Bobby both ordered “The Big Kahuna” which had a little bit of everything:
I ordered the macadamia nut pancakes, which I looooove.
The Magic Kingdom was crammed that day – and hot.
Since we got in with a castmember maingate, we couldn’t make any advance FastPass+ reservations. There were some still left by the time we arrived but of course none for the new mine train, which we opted to not wait for this trip. We’ll be back and can catch it next time.
One of the new things we did this time was visit Tom Sawyer’s Island. I hadn’t been since I was a kid, and Jason had never been, and we both really thought it was cool! Bridges, pitch black dark caves, forts, etc.
We even watched the 3pm parade from the rocking chairs at Aunt Polly’s and had a decent view!
You also get a great view of the Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain from the island.
We had an early dinner at our favorite counter service spot, Columbia Harbour House, but none of us were thrilled with the food this time. It was okay, but definitely not as good as years past. Still a nice quiet space to retreat to, though!
To be honest, the heat and crowds were too much for these spoiled WDW guests and we found ourselves leaving long before we thought we would. And didn’t regret it!
More to come!