Walt Disney World Christmas Report – Part 1

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Not this year. We aren’t going to go because we went for Halloween and are going back again in January for the Walt Disney World Marathon. Or so we said. Famous last words when you have an Annual Pass, right? Then, an invitation to the wedding of friends we met through the online Disney fan community came in the mail. Well, we had to go to that! Naturally, that meant we would have to go to Walt Disney World, too.

What was to be a short, weekend trip then ballooned into something longer.  We found an airfare sale that allowed us to each fly for $188 roundtrip from LAX to MCO and we took Guy “Shia LaBeouf  Super-fan” Selga up on his offer to split a room with them at All Star Sports. (There are some people who question our ability to travel so much, and to answer those questions, it’s much easier to travel when you’re incredibly frugal. Also, I suspect not having kids helps.)

One of the big downsides of traveling from the West Coast to the East Coast is that you lose basically an entire day in transit thanks to the distance and those pesky time zones. Whoever invented time zones should be forced to watch Carrot Top sing country music. To combat this, someone invented something called a “red eye flight” which leaves at night and arrives in the morning. It basically saves you a hotel room for a night. Seriously, get that person a Nobel Prize for that efficiency.

Our flight was scheduled to land in Orlando at 6:02 a.m., which was just a little too early. Most of the time when traveling, you’re hoping there aren’t any delays, but in this case, we were rooting for them. No such bad luck.

Our flight arrived on time (or maybe even early). Then, our Disney’s Magical Express was also efficient and we were the first stop. Of course we were the first stop. Whenever we want to get there quickly, we are dropped off last, but on the day when we wouldn’t mind if the bus drove around the block a few times, we arrive early.

At this point, it’s something like 7:00 a.m. during Pop Warner weekend as we are arriving to the front desk of All Star Sports. (“ASS” from here on out because Disney is all about acronyms, and this hotel really got cheated by the official one just being “AS”…or because I’m super immature and find that acronym hilarious. You pick.) Chances were slim our hotel room would be ready, but we held onto hopes, because our luck up until this point had been good.

Predictably, this is when the streak of good luck stopped, as there were no rooms available in the fully-booked hotel. For whatever reason, we hadn’t discussed in advance what we would do in the inevitable event that this happened, so we headed to the food court where we just sort of sat around and screwed around on the internet, all half-asleep.

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After about an hour of this, the food court started to fill with pubescent teen jocks. How dare they converse with one another at appropriate decibel levels while eating breakfast…didn’t they know we were trying to rest?! Say what you will about Pop Warner, but this one was totally on us.

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Realizing this was only going to get worse, I suggested we head to Port Orleans Resort (hence the alligators above). One goal for this trip was to get a bunch of photos of resorts at Christmas to update our Self-Guided Yuletide Resort Tour post, and that would be a quick way to knock out 2 of them.

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We dropped our bags with Bell Services and headed to Port Orleans French Quarter. The decorations were simultaneously impressive and disappointing.

What was up was pretty, with color choices and classy pieces of decor that worked very well in the New Orleans theme. However, the decorations felt sparse, and there was nothing that stood out as being iconic.

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The decorations at the Moderates are intended to be a nice touch for the guests staying at those hotels to get them into the spirit of the season rather than a draw for guests staying elsewhere, and this is understandable.

As I reflect upon my disappointment, I can’t help but wonder if my expectations are informed by New Orleans Square at Disneyland. French Quarter is charming and intimate by Moderate Resort standards, but it’s no New Orleans Square.

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From there, we walked over to Port Orleans Riverside. Its decorations were less impressive than French Quarter’s, but I didn’t have as high of hopes, so I was less disappointed. French Quarter just has so much thematic potential and it demonstrates flashes of this, but it would be great if more of that potential were realized.

Thinking about this, in turn, has me wishing French Quarter were a Deluxe Resort. If this were Theme Park Tycoon, I’d “trade” one of the Epcot Area Resorts for it, since they are all pretty similar thematically, it wouldn’t be a huge loss to downgrade one of them.

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In fairness, the decor at both of these resorts was typical of the other Moderates (and even some Deluxes), so it’s my expectations that were probably off.

We probably should have headed to one of the Deluxe heavy-hitters if we wanted exceptional ambiance. I could have really gone for a nap by a fireplace in a tucked away alcove at Wilderness Lodge.

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Instead, we ended up kicking back in River Roost Lounge at Port Orleans Riverside. There were some overstuffed couches and chairs by a fireplace here just far enough from the lobby to keep things quiet, and we set up shop. I quickly fell asleep. Not just the light, one-eye-closed type of sleep you might get on a train or at an airport–I was in the hardcore nap zone, and stayed there for a good couple of hours. It was glorious.

Given that the four of us were there for so long, all obviously asleep, I do wonder how hotels typically deal with this sort of thing. Maybe Walt Disney World hotels are more lax because people get worn down easily at the parks and fall asleep just about anywhere (and because the parks are isolated away from a city center), but I suspect in a bigger city we would have been shooed along in an effort to keep vagrants out.

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This makes me want to go around and find the best free places to take naps at Walt Disney World. All in the name of research, of course. I already know 3 of them, but I’ll bet I could find 7 more and come up with a killer top 10 list.

The thing preventing me from doing that is not self-respect (that ship sailed long ago–I’ve been known to sleep at fast food restaurants on road trips), but the fact that such a list would probably prove useful to exactly no one.

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Nevertheless, now you know that the fireplace chairs and couches in River Roost Lounge earn the (coveted? scorned?) Bricker Napworthiness Award. I should print out a certificate and mail it to the hotel manager. I’m sure they would be thrilled…or thoroughly confused. I don’t want to hype this spot too much, but if ever you find yourself with daytime sleeping needs at Walt Disney World, I wholeheartedly endorse it. Seriously.

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Around noon we received a text message from the ASS that our room was ready. Part of me was a bit reluctant to leave for ASS, as I wondered whether the beds in ASS would be as comfortable as those glorious couches by the fireplace. However, ASS was where we belonged, so we dragged our behinds to ASS. As expected, the ASS room was basic, but it did the job. A lot of people don’t like ASS, but we think ASS is sufficiently comfortable for a no-frills experience.

Okay, I’ll stop before I lose the 2 of you who are still reading this thing, but if you didn’t at least crack a smile at the above paragraph, you are waaaay too mature for your own good. (Also, you’re welcome: I refrained from a couple of sentences that might have “crossed the line.”)

Continuing reading about our day at Walt Disney World, including our experience using Uber, our night in the Magic Kingdom, and the after-party at Wilderness Lodge on Page 2.


42 Responses to “Walt Disney World Christmas Report – Part 1”
  1. Brooke October 19, 2018
  2. Douglas McClentic January 16, 2016
  3. Kayla January 7, 2016
  4. Kelly January 7, 2016
  5. Cassie December 30, 2015
  6. Deanna December 29, 2015

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