SAT 1st JAN 2000

Despite the late night I wake up at 9:00. I leave the rest sleeping and sneak out to the food court and drink 2 large mugs of coffee to clear my head. While there I catch up on my trip notes. I am using a different method this trip. Last time I just made brief notes as I went along but the trip is so long this time that I am practically writing the report as I go. This tends to take much longer but hopefully will mean that I don't forget too much.

Back in the room we have breakfast and everyone gets ready to leave. The plan today is to take it easy and tour the resorts to see the Christmas decorations, ending up in the Disney MGM Studios tonight to see the Osbourne Family Lights.
Tammy buys a phone card and phones her mother to see how the New Year was for her family. Her mother and one sister had it at home, her brother was in London and her other sister lives in Sydney, Australia. They all had a great time.

We clamber aboard a bus to the Magic Kingdom at 11:00 where a kind American gentleman offers his seat to Grandma. So much for my moaning last night.

The first stop is going to be the Grand Floridian, so we catch the boat across. It is another beautiful day and the sun is glinting on the waters of the 7 seas lagoon as we enjoy our brief crossing. We walk in to the atrium and are stopped in our tracks by the sight of the huge tree.

It is so perfect that you have to go up to it and get a closer look. Some of the decorations are enormous, hang one of these on my tree at home and it would collapse! The rest of the decorations are very pretty as well. Tammy has decided that this is probably her favourite resort now, just ahead of the Wilderness Lodge. I suppose the girl can dream.

The monorail takes us round to the Contemporary. This has never been our favourite resort and the Christmas decorations are minimal here except for the large silver tree out front.
The Polynesian resort is next where the Christmas theme is again understated. We try to get into the Kona Cafe for Tonga toast (something that we have never tried but is on Tammy's 'must do' list) but they stop serving at 11:00 so we catch the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom to get the boat across to Fort Wilderness. The idea is to have a meal in the Trails End Buffet and then walk to the Wilderness Lodge.

The boat ride is very relaxing. On a balmy afternoon there is no better way to travel. At Fort Wilderness we have the Southwestern Chicken Salad and the Philly Cheesesteak accompanied by beer. The food is very good and reasonable value for money. Afterwards the girls spend some time in the playground and Tammy and Grandma spend some time in the shop. It is soon time to set off for the Wilderness Lodge and Tammy has the bright idea of hiring bikes as she thinks we get them free with our unlimited magic passes. I think that we should walk, pointing out that it is a fair walk just to get to the bike barn. As usually happens with these disagreements I mumble and grumble and then let her have her way. Well, we troop off to the bike barn where one of the very few miserable CM's that we meet all trip informs us that we have to pay. So we all trek back again with Kevin harbouring dark thoughts about females in showers and sharp knives.

We aim in the general direction of River Country and come across the petting farm and stables. There are peacocks wandering around and the girls enjoy petting the goats and looking at the horses. From here we set off in what we think is the right direction. We walk for a little while and it seems to be getting quieter as we go. I am starting to think about strange men asking me to squeal like a pig when we come across a sign for an exercise trail. This seems about right so we head off along it. Very soon we arrive at the shores of Bay lake and enjoy a stroll along to the Wilderness Lodge in complete isolation. It is very beautiful and peaceful and I can't help thinking what a complete contrast this is from yesterday. It reminds me that there are many ways to enjoy WDW. You can rush around enjoying the theme parks or you can relax around the pool or the water parks. I think that my favourite way to enjoy things is to just walk around looking at the magnificent scenery and seeking out the quieter, off the beaten track areas.

The Wilderness Lodge is, in my opinion, the best decorated of all the resorts. The tree seems to be completely at home here and the all round effect is quite stunning. The gingerbread village is also lovely but what do they do with all that food when Christmas is done? All I can think of is, what a waste. We climb up to the second floor and spend a peaceful few minutes sitting around the fireplace. This is one of my favourite places to just sit and relax. Sorry, you can keep the Grand Floridian, this is the place for me. One day I will stay here, if only for a couple of days.

After a happy hour or so absorbing the atmosphere we catch the bus to the Studios. It stops at the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian before finally heading for MGM. I must agree with the people who say that if you pay the big bucks to stay at the Wilderness Lodge you deserve a better bus service than this.

At the Studios we head directly for the Osbourne Family Lights. I had seen lots of pictures of this on the internet but none of them did this justice. Understated it is not but breathtaking it is. I wouldn't want to pay the electric bill for this lot. Grandma is enthralled by it all and Tammy says she could spend hours here. I am told that there are 5 million lights here and I believe them. Good job they are not like the old Christmas tree lights where if one went out they all went out.

We had intended to head home after this but we are on such a high that we decide to catch the last showing of Fantasmic! Another first for the Stringer family.
We enter the theatre half an hour before the show and there are plenty of seats available. There is no pre-show entertainment so the note book comes out again, after getting a beer of course.
Poor Georgia is whacked out and goes to sleep on Tammy's lap. I know that some people have said that the water screen sections are too long but I thought that they did a very good job of explaining the battle between good and evil in Mickey's imagination. Tammy and India are asking if there are any loud bangs in the show and I just get through saying I don't think that there are when a loud explosion goes off at the start of the Pochahontas section. Accusing eyes are turned my way. Hey, I didn't know!
We all think the show is excellent although the fire when Mickey fights the dragon fails to work. We will see it again later in the holiday so we are not really worried. The paddle steamer at the end is much larger than I expected from what I had read and is greeted with cheering and clapping from the crowd. It is one of the advantages of reading RADP that when you read a lot of bad reports about something and are expecting mediocrity you can be pleasantly surprised.

I can't understand all the fuss about clearing the stadium at the end of the show. We wait for 10 minutes and then walk slowly out. Have a little patience people. Mind you, I suppose you must have if you have read this far.
We catch the bus back and once again all have to stand. I thought it was too good to last. Don't misunderstand, I don't want to sit down personally. Most of the time I stand if the bus is full anyway, it is just that the elderly and young children should always get a seat.
Nice to end with a good moan. It makes me feel better!