We had the opportunity to take a no kids trip to Walt Disney World for a conference. This wasn’t a camping trip, but it was Florida in December - so we went.
We didn’t do a lot of planning or preparation for this trip. We did grab a few dinner reservations, but otherwise planned to walk and run a lot, relax by the pool, resort hop, check out Fort Wilderness, and find good food.
As opposed to our normal trips, we drove less than five miles to get to our destination, just a short drive to our regional airport.
We landed in Orlando and caught the Magic Express to Beach Club, our home for the next several days. We had an InstantCart delivery within an hour of arriving, which is a great tip to have some healthier food around for the trip. For the afternoon, we enjoyed the pool and pool drinks. The pool complex at the Beach Club is huge. They have a sand bottom pool, water slide, lazy river, three hot tubs, and a lot of lounge chairs.
Before dinner, we wanted to explore a bit. We walked to the Boardwalk, found a nice bar on the second floor, took the boat to Epcot, the Skyliner to the Caribbean Resort, tried to get to the Rivera Resort (but it was opening two days after our visit), and made our way back to the Beach Club. We loved using the various Disney transportation, but the Skyliner was probably our favorite.
We had dinner reservations at Ale and Compass. We previously been on the dining plan at Disney and not having the plan was liberating. Instead of being required to order certain types of items, we were able to share a couple appetizers and an entree.
One thing high on our list was renting bikes at Fort Wilderness. We discovered the best way to use the buses to resort hop was to take a bus to any of the parks or to Disney Springs, and then from that destination to the resort we wanted to visit. So we would grab the first bus heading to a destination, and then catch a transfer. At the Fort, we also waited for a bus to take us to the back of the campground. So it took three different buses, but we made it to the Fort! We biked the campground picking out the best future sites and weighing the pros and cons of different campground loops.
From the Fort, we caught a boat to Magic Kingdom, then the monorail to the Polynesian. We partook in a Dole Whip, which might be worth the hype. From the Polynesian we were able to easily walk to Grand Floridian to enjoy the beautiful Christmas decor and have a drink at the Enchanted Rose. Next stop was the Wildness Lodge where we had a drink and an appetizer in the bar before dinner at the Whispering Canyon Cafe.
The rain came down hard as we joined the conference group for a reception at Epcot before a viewing party of Epcot Forever Fireworks. Although we were soaked, the rain stopped and the firework display was great. It was a combination of fireworks, music, lasers, and performers on jet skis with kites filled with lights and fireworks.
Jessica attended the conference all day Friday while I took time to take a long run, enjoy coffee at a couple coffee shops, relax in the hot tub, and work a bit.
That evening, we caught the bus to Disney Springs. We found a couple gifts for our kids and had a much-anticipated dinner at Frontera. Being fellow Illinoisans and avid PBS fans, tacos from Rick Bayless’ restaurant had to be on the list. We both had cauliflower tacos with a premium tequila, not the Disney food fare we’d expect.
Saturday bought the last of the premium resorts on property we were yet to visit, Animal Kingdom Lodge. This property is similar to Wilderness Lodge except with wildlife roaming the grounds. We ate lunch in the bar at Sanaa, an Indian and African fusion restaurant. The favorite dish, which we didn’t partake, was naan with a dozen dipping sauces.
Once we felt we’d seen the best of all of the properties, we decided it was time to soak up sun by the pool to get us through the winter. That evening, we paid a return visit to Ale and Compass.
Sunday morning. We had a flight in the early afternoon. The forecast at home was bad - a winter storm was sure to delay flights into STL and we knew our connecting flight home could be canceled, leaving us to figure out how to make the final 100 mile trek home in the storm. Instead of worrying about this or changing travel plans, we again basked in the warm Florida sun.
The travel home did not disappoint. We made it home six hours later than scheduled.
We loved this experience, but equally anticipate our next camping adventure.
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Shane and Jessica
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