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Walt Disney World December 2016 Trip Report, Part One - Animal Kingdom and the Resort Hotels
DisneyDan  Friday, February 17, 2017 4:08:15 PM
Hello everyone,

During the last week of December we visited Walt Disney World for Christmas and New Year. In this first part of my trip report I am going to share with you our adventures at Disney's Animal Kingdom and some of the resort hotels, including character dining and more.

Let's start with Animal Kingdom.

At the front of the park, the giant Christmas Tree was on display, looking exactly the same as it has for the past ten years! Despite its age, it is a nice tree.

When I arrived in the Oasis one morning, Chip and Dale were greeting guests in their Christmas hats and scarves. I was pleased that they were at the front to save the the trek up to Rafiki's Planet Watch!

The resort had recently implemented new annual passholder lines to get into the park. While it is a good idea in theory, it didn't always work out in practice. People seemed confused about the concept of an AP only line, and more often than not throughout the trip I found myself behind people who needed to have the cast member tell them they are in the wrong line, etc, holding up the single AP turnstile, when the regular ones were open and virtually empty.

On Discovery Island I noticed that some of the kiosks had changed colour schemes and names. I don't know how recently that happened, but it was the first time I had noticed it.

I waited in line for Pocahontas to see if Meeko or Governor Ratcliffe were appearing that day (they are known to show up unannounced periodically), but sadly they weren't.

I also met Mickey and Minnie in their cute Christmas sweaters at the Adventurer's Outpost.

In Asia I stopped by to let it all go and celebrate the bare necessities with Baloo and King Louie, who were also wearing Christmas scarves.

After Asia I headed to Dinoland to meet Goofy, Pluto and Donald in their Christmas attire. Anyone who reads my reports here on the blog on a regular basis will know my frustration over dance parties and what Disney thinks is a great way for guests to interact with characters. For some reason this year, WDW decided that people would just love to see Donald and Pluto in their Christmas attire, dancing to terrible music and being surrounded by a million people trying to do exactly what they really want to do - take pictures. Needless to say it was awful, and I just hate dance parties. I did get to met Santa Goofy, though.

While in Dinoland I made a quick stop into the store, and took a photo of the Santa-Saurus there. On a separate day we also made time to go take a quick trip through time and visit Santa-Saurus' ancestors on DINOSAUR. I know that Disney recently did an extensive refurbishment of DINOSAUR, but I have to admit, it has not aged well.

Finally for Animal Kingdom, although this isn't specifically Animal Kingdom related, I saw these (below) at a store in the park. They are parade mats! This is a concept that the Japanese have had at Tokyo Disney Resort for many years, and an idea that Jon and I have tried to actively promote here in the US. We have bought a bunch of themed mats from the Japanese parks in the past and usually use them when visiting any other park, since they are convenient for marking your space, and it means you don't have to sit on the dirty ground. While these new US ones are not quite the same - or as easy to carry - as the Japanese ones, it's definitely progress.

On Christmas morning we visited the Pop Century and Art of Animation resorts to meet some of the Disney characters in their Christmas wear. We also had breakfast one morning at the Art of Animation, which was a new experience for us. While it was fairly simple, it actually tasted pretty good, and I enjoyed our dining experience there. The Christmas Tree at the Art of Animation was also really pretty.

At the Contemporary we went to take photos of the Frozen gingerbread display, which is always impressive to see. They have had the same display for a couple of years now, though, so I hope that this year they mix it up a little.

For part of our trip, we stayed at Old Key West. We have stayed there before and I never have any complaints about it. I really like Old Key West. It has a certain calm and charm about it that really captures me. One morning during our stay there we had breakfast at Good's Food to Go, where I got the bread pudding, which was again very tasty.

Another first for us this trip was having dinner at Kona Cafe at the Polynesian. Despite there being limited choices for us, being vegetarian, what we were able to eat was pretty good. The service was good, too, and we enjoyed our time there.

Finally for this part of my report, we had breakfast one morning at Ohana, also in the Polynesian. Ohana has always been a favourite of ours, and this trip did not disappoint. We love meeting the characters here - if you don't know already, Stitch is my favourite character - and the food and service are always very good. The cast were very accommodating to our dietary needs, and the chef came over personally to talk to us, offering to prepare something just for us, which we did not ask for nor expect.

Ok, that's everything for this part of my report! Stay tuned to the blog over the coming days for the next part.

Have a great day everyone,

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