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Top 10 Disney Christmas Memories 2013

As a part of our Christmas, my family packed up and headed on a family vacation to Walt Disney World! We went the second week of December which allowed us to see everything decorated but not have to deal with the killer crowds the two weeks surrounding Christmas. I have never been this time of year so I was so excited to see everything decorated and lit up in lights! I mean, Cinderella’s Castle is breathtaking on its own at night but with Christmas lights? Be still, my pixie-dusted heart!

Disney Christmas Memories

It was such an amazing week and while I could talk about it for days, I will share with you our top 10 Disney Christmas memories (in no particular order):

1. Landing!

I thought I had learned a lot about traveling from our first trip to Disney in 2011 but I was not prepared for the winter weather! It was such a stressful day of travel due to bad winter weather. We were flying out of Greenville, SC and my parents were flying out of Roanoke, VA and the forecast definitely had me biting my nails! Flying itself gives me anxiety but the stress of wondering if both of our flights would fly remotely on schedule gave me heartburn! My parents had the worst of the winter weather and while they had a delay, they landed in Orlando before lunch. Our flight was already scheduled to arrive 8 hours after my parents but while we didn’t have horrible weather at our airport, the flights were backed up because of delays elsewhere. We didn’t take off until almost 10:30pm but thankfully its only an hour flight. My parents were ready and waiting at baggage claim to pick us up and get the week of fun started! Aren’t glittery shoes the only way to travel to Disney?

Disney-Magic-Pixie-Dust-Sparkle-Shoes

 

2. The weather!

When we took off in SC, the temperature was hovering around 40 degrees but when we walked out of the airport at almost midnight, it was over 80! We were shedding layers as we walked to the car! We could not have asked for better weather the week we were there! It was warm enough to enjoy wearing shorts and skirts but we weren’t melting. It never rained. I’m not sure if we even had any overcast days! My joints were very happy with the warmth and sunshine!

Disney-Epcot-Spaceship-Earth

 

3. Tower of Terror & Expedition Everest!

I have always, always wanted to ride these rides but being that I was only 4 weeks post-op at our last visit, I wasn’t able to ride the bigger rides.While Abby wasn’t quite tall enough to ride and John definitely wasn’t going to ride so they checked out shows and characters while I got the chance to ride Tower of Terror (Hollywood Studios) and Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom) with my parents! Oh my goodness! These were amazing rides! I was worried about both of them being too jerky but I was pleasantly surprised! There was only one turn on Everest that was a tad rough (right after you started going backwards) but I was able to keep my hands up the whole time (earning me a $1 from a bet with my dad that I wouldn’t be able to do it). Tower of Terror wasn’t jerky at all surprisingly and the only thing that bothered me was the spinning stars that made me a little dizzy. I definitely give both rides 2 thumbs up! Hopefully by next visit, Abby will be tall enough for both!

Disney-Animal-Kingdom-Expedition-Everest

4. The Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights!

Oh my goodness. Seeing the dancing lights at Hollywood Studios is reason enough to travel to Disney World at Christmas! It was absolutely breathtaking! Words seriously cannot describe it!

Disney-Hollywood-Studios-Dancing-Lights

 

5. Gluten-Free Barbecue!

I have mentioned before that I think WDW is one of the best places to vacation if you have Celiac disease (or other food allergies) because they are so allergen-friendly. And its not just one or two things that are available at the parks that are gluten-free but a HUGE variety throughout all the parks (Allergy-Free Mouse is a great resource). When you place an allergen-friendly order, a manager takes your order and that is the only person who has contact with your meal from start to finish! That attention to detail to avoid cross contamination issues is worth every minute of the wait! We didn’t eat in the parks much for budget reasons but stopping at Flame Tree Barbecue at Animal Kingdom was not up for debate! Their gluten-free barbecue is AMAZING. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING (and yes, it worth all-caps!). If I could have found a way to box it up and ship it home, I totally would!

Disney-Animal-Kingdom-FlameTree-Barbecue-Gluten-Free

 

6. Test Track!

This ride was definitely at the top of all of our favorite rides list! Even my not-crazy-about-rides husband loved it! When you shoot out on the outdoor track to hit top speeds, it is a total adrenaline rush! It was so much fun building your car and then being able to check out how your creation would work on the track! Abby took charge of the design process and we basically ended up with a glittery Barbie jeep with a lift-kit! We killed it on all categories except being eco-friendly! Oops! We still earned 1st place!

Disney-Epcot-Test-Track-2013

 

7. Meeting All The Characters!

Abby had the opportunity to meet a lot of the characters on our first visit so this year we put the princesses she didn’t have a chance to meet at the top of our to-do list! The top ones on that list were Rapunzel, Ariel, Brave, and Jasmine! Her level of excitement in having her turn to meet the princesses was written all over her face! She was so enamored with all of them! She was wearing her Tangled wedding dress when she met Rapunzel so she thought that was amazing and maybe earned her some extra time posing for pictures! Abby was totally a natural in front of the camera! She ate it up!

Disney-Princess-Character-Spots
Disney-Princess-Character-Spots

Disney-Magic-Kingdom-Rapunzel

 

8. Introducing Abby to some “big girl” rides!

Abby has grown quite a bit since our first visit to Disney and she was so excited to cross the 40″ mark so she could ride some of the “big girl” rides! She absolutely loved the Goofy’s Barnstormer roller coaster that is part of the new Fantasyland and the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad coaster in Frontierland! She also thought the Star Wars ride at Hollywood Studios was a cool ride because she got to shoot the bad guys! Two “big girl” ride fails were the Dinosaur ride at Animal Kingdom and Splash Mountain! I had never ridden the Dinosaur ride before but it was quite a dark, rough ride so she came off the ride in tears. Mom fail! The reason she didn’t like Splash Mountain was because she didn’t like her butt getting wet from the seats! Mom scored some points back since I packed some spare bottoms! This is the before shot of Dinosaur when she was all smiles:

Disney-Animal-Kingdom-Dinosaur

 

9. Meeting Anna & Elsa!

Meeting the princess & queen from Frozen needed a spot all its own! Throughout the entire week, the longest line we waited in by far was to meet Anna and Elsa! We waited around 1 1/2 hours but a cast member shared that during the busier times the wait was a minimum 2 hours! I cannot imagine what the lines were the week of Christmas! Pure insanity I’m sure! Just before it was our turn to go in, Abby had her face plastered to the glass as she anxiously awaited her turn! When she was greeted by Anna and Elsa, I don’t think anything else in her world existed! You could just see the wonder in her eyes! As we were leaving she turned to me and said, “Mama, that was worth every single minute of the wait!” That definitely made it worth every minute for us too!

Disney-Frozen-Elsa-Anna-Epcot

 

10. Being a Family!

I soak up every minute we are able to be together as a family and there is just something magical about making memories together at Disney. Before we took Abby the first time in 2011, I never understood how people could visit year after year and not get bored. Then we took Abby and I saw the magic. I have always loved Disney but this visit definitely infused my veins with pixie dust for life! One of the most important lessons I learned from our first trip to Disney was to take the time to take it all in and just enjoy yourself! Put down the camera every once and a while and focus on seeing the wonder through your child’s eyes and making memories together is an experience I will never, ever trade for anything. Our first visit in 2011 was a total family affair (which was amazing) but we went this year with just my parents. When you live away from your family, it makes those times together even more special! I am super close with my parents and love any time that I get to spend with them! It was just a magical experience and I honestly cannot wait to plan our next visit!

Disney-Magic-Kingdom-Christmas-Family-Memories

Now to finally figure out this whole couponing thing so I can start saving and planning for our next trip!

All images are taken by Jamee Miller & are property of ANewKindofNormal.com
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31 Comments

  • Reply Miss Chronically Creative

    I really want to go to Disney World, I’ve heard it’s way better than Disneyland and much better (in terms of rides) for adults too. Judging by your photos, I think it is. Wow, that castle is amazing! I’m spewing I didn’t get to stay at Disneyland at night to see the fireworks and see everything all lit up, it would have been gorgeous! For now I’ll just have to live vicariously through your beautiful pictures. I did get to see the Christmas decorations at Disneyland though, which was cool. Although, I thought it a bit odd that they still had them up in January.

    Love the glittery shoes – so adorable! What a great idea that is. Abby is just delicious, and your t-shirt is super cute! These photos make me so happy. I’m so glad that you had such a great time and were able to enjoy more rides this time around. I think the rides are totally worth the pain – they’re just so fun!

    Love & cupcakes,
    Miss CC.

    February 4, 2014 at 12:29 am
    • Reply Jamee

      We only stayed at the parks after dark one night for the Electric Parade at the Magic Kingdom! It was the only night they did the parade that week so it was definitely crowded but she loved the parade so it was worth it! We didn’t stay in a Disney resort but it was on the Disney property and we were able to see the fireworks at Epcot every night from our balcony! It was amazing!

      I was going to pack different shoes but Abby insisted that I take my sparkly shoes like hers! It was a good thing I used a wheelchair all week because those would definitely not have been comfortable to walk the parks in all week! I was glad I used a wheelchair because it allowed me to save energy to actually be able to enjoy the parks and rides with my family! The only ride I passed on was Space Mountain because I knew it was rough and I didn’t want to risk missing out on all the others!

      February 5, 2014 at 1:43 pm
  • Reply Kate

    I am so glad you all had a great visit to Disneyworld. My 22 y.o. daughter said that the Splash Mountain ride was scary for her at 14-15 yrs old so she understands how Abby felt. I went to Disneyworld back in the 80s as a young adult and enjoyed my time there except for Space Mountain. Too scary and way too dark. If I can’t see where I am going I don’t want to go there.
    I am so happy for you and your family to get a chance to go and to try every ride that appeals for you. I enjoyed the pics you posted, especially the castle at night. I have seen it just on a regular night, but, the Christmas parade and events shown on television make me want to go at a very busy time of the year.
    Thanks for this posting. It brings back many happy memories for all of us.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:56 pm
    • Reply Jamee

      Abby was ok with all the hills on Splash Mountain except for the last one which was even a big one for me! Its just funny that when I ask her why she didn’t like it, she says that its because her panties got wet from sitting on the seat! We were on the front row so maybe that made it worse! I didn’t ride Space Mountain because I knew it was a bit rough and didn’t want to risk hurting the rest of the week! There too many other fun and more gentle rides to enjoy!

      I was worried about going at Christmas because of the crowds but the first and second weeks of December aren’t too bad since the majority of schools are still in session. On the crowd scale of 10, it was a 3-4. So while it was busier than when we went in September, it wasn’t too crazy. Our longest wait for a ride without a fast pass was around 45 minutes. We looked up the wait times the week of Christmas and the wait for Soaring at Epcot was 280 minutes! That is 4 1/2 hours for ONE ride! No thank you! The first two weeks of December are the best time to go see the holiday decorations without being swamped! I think we’ll stick to going in September when the crowd level is a 1!

      February 5, 2014 at 1:37 pm
  • Reply How To Be Courteous To Guests With Wheelchairs at Disney

    […] of my favorite experiences from our week at Disney was seeing the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios. It was […]

    February 5, 2014 at 3:55 pm
  • Reply Jamie

    Totally jealous! I’d love to visit Disney during Christmas.

    February 10, 2014 at 10:12 am
    • Reply Jamee

      It was definitely worth the trip! I have heard that the Mickey’s Christmas Party is amazing (they make it snow on Main Street)!

      February 12, 2014 at 6:18 pm
  • Reply J Carpenter

    This trip looks like it was a blast! It makes me want to go on vacation to Disney. Glad you had such a fun time in the most magical place of all.

    February 10, 2014 at 10:12 am
  • Reply Jamie @ Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom

    Looks like you had a great trip, Disney is on our someday wish list. #SITSBlogging
    ~Jamie

    February 10, 2014 at 11:13 am
    • Reply Jamee

      Thanks for stopping by!

      February 10, 2014 at 5:33 pm
  • Reply Jen

    Your daughter is adorable! What a wonderful experience for all of you. She must have been just THRILLED with seeing all the princesses!

    February 10, 2014 at 11:52 am
    • Reply Jamee

      Just seeing the sparkle in her eyes when she got to meet her favorite characters was worth every penny!

      February 10, 2014 at 5:29 pm
  • Reply Jen

    Your trip to WDW looks amazing! it looks like there is going to be so many new things to explore! I can not wait to take my boys there. Thanks for sharing your visit!
    #SITSBlogging

    February 10, 2014 at 12:53 pm
    • Reply Jamee

      I think we could spend two weeks at the WDW parks and still not see everything! So many things to explore!

      February 10, 2014 at 5:30 pm
  • Reply Jamie Rippy (@MamaMommyMom)

    I know I’m totally missing out, and so are my kids, but I’ve never been to Disney! I intend to rectify that this year, I hope!

    February 10, 2014 at 2:28 pm
    • Reply Jamee

      Going to Disney for the first time is both a good and a bad thing! Great for all the amazing memories to be made! Bad for your wallet because you get hooked! LOL! I’ve got to find a way to start couponing so we can go more often! 🙂

      February 10, 2014 at 5:27 pm
  • Reply Jennifer Dawn

    So sweet! It looks like ya’ll had a nice time!

    February 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm
    • Reply Jamee

      Definitely a ton of wonderful memories made! Abby is still talking about it!

      February 10, 2014 at 5:26 pm
  • Reply Jamila

    I haven’t been Disney Word since I was about 12. I can only imagine how much has changed since then. I would love to go back, one day an enjoy it as an adult and meet a few of the Disney Princess’s.

    February 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm
    • Reply Jamee

      It changed SO much from when I went as a kid and when we took my daughter for the first time! The New Fantasyland is a great addition with so many new rides and attractions and they aren’t even finished with it yet! My parents go all the time with just the two of them and I think love it just as much visiting as adults versus as grandparents! Ok, maybe not as much but pretty darn close!

      February 10, 2014 at 5:18 pm
  • Reply Jenn

    oh this was SO fun to read! We’re taking the family to Disney next year and it’s all we can talk about lately – I love hearing other people’s experiences!!!

    February 10, 2014 at 4:33 pm
    • Reply Jamee

      You will have such an amazing time! Pinterest is an amazing resource for planning a Disney vacation! Here is a link to my Disney board if you are interested!

      February 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm
  • Reply Jennifer Wagner

    We’ve gone to Disney World as a family many times. When my kids were young like your kids are now, my favorite memories were the characters. My sons loved them. As they got older, it became a variety of different rides and experiences. I see many things have changed see we were last there. We may have to go again soon.

    February 10, 2014 at 4:43 pm
    • Reply Jamee

      The New Fantasyland is great! So many new rides and attractions and they still aren’t done yet! I think we could spend a week in just the Magic Kingdom!

      February 10, 2014 at 5:10 pm
  • Reply Jelli

    I loved your photos! Disney with kids is so much fun. My favorite is Epcot though I haven’t been for 10+ years. I don’t even know some of the characters you took photos with. Apparently I need to do some Disney research before I ever take my kids there.

    February 10, 2014 at 6:03 pm
    • Reply Jamee

      For our very last day there, we let Abby choose which park she wanted to visit and she chose Epcot! This visit was the first time I spent time visiting the full park (our last trip Abby was so small, we didn’t spend a lot of time there). I came across this post with 23 Must See Movies Before Your Visit to WDW that you might want to check out!

      February 10, 2014 at 6:10 pm
  • Reply Jennifer

    It looks like you all had a great time! I haven’t been to Disney in years but am tempted to go again in the near future. It really is a wonderful vacation!

    February 10, 2014 at 10:22 pm
  • Reply Jenette

    To visit Disney World is one place I would really like to do with my family:) #SITSBlogging

    February 11, 2014 at 2:32 am
  • Reply Inez

    What a great place to go during Christmas! My husband and I can not wait to take our kids there. We both went before kids, but now with 2 in tow and 1 on the way, I think we will need to make that trek soon.

    February 11, 2014 at 7:57 am
  • Reply Inez

    What a great place to go during Christmas! My husband and I can not wait to take our kids there. We both went before kids, but now with 2 in tow and 1 on the way, I think we will need to make that trek soon.

    February 11, 2014 at 7:57 am
  • Reply jen

    Beautiful pictures! I went to Disney as a child during Christmastime. It’s changed a lot since then!

    February 12, 2014 at 10:03 pm
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