Jolly Holidays, 2007 Arrival in Orlando

After a flight where Granuaile has kicked the hell out of the seat in front of her enough times that the person sitting in it has relocated; my bag took a tumble, spilling all of the important contents out onto the floor, which then slid down to the back of the plane; and losing the SeaWorld passes when a flight attendant finds then, assumes they are trash, and tosses them, we have arrived safely in Orlando, very late at night. We are supposed to be in at around 11:30, we make it in around 11:50, so not too bad considering the weather across the country is reported to be terrible.

We head to the car rental counter after collecting our bags, and we get the keys to our shiny new car that won’t hold the four of us, let alone all of the luggage we’ve brought. Okay, back to the counter. Keys to a new car in hand, we set out to find it. And there, in the far end of the parking garage, is the shiny new Lincoln MKZ car that won’t hold all the luggage we’ve brought. I’m going to stay here at the car, Grace straped into her seat, Eilis waiting to doze off, bags scattered all over, while Jim walks back to the counter to exchange the car again. Finally, he pulls up with a Jeep Liberty – a car that will barely and uncomfortably hold the four of us and all of the luggage we’ve brought!

The kids are transferred to the new car, we are packed in like sardines in a can, and we are headed to Poinciana to Jim’s mother’s for the weekend. We get on the road, hopefully headed the right way, when we hear, “I wanna burger. Eilis, do you wanna burger?” Eilis says no. “Come on, Eilis, you wanna burger. You wanna chock-it milk? I wanna chock-it milk.” And there we are, at nearly 1 AM, trying to find a burger and chock-it milk for Granuaile.

After a pit stop at Burger King, sorting out the order, opening the happy meal toys, passing out the drinks, we are back on the road to Poinciana. I tell Jim he should call his mother and explain why we’re running so late. He doesn’t have the phone number. I don’t have the phone number. Brighid has the phone number programmed into her cell phone. Brighid is in New Jersey, sleeping soundly in her bed. Jim calls the cell. No answer. He calls the home phone. No answer. I tell him Ann is probably sound asleep and has no idea in the middle of the night where the phone is. He calls it again. I was right. Ann answers and finds Brighid, who is going to call her grandparents and tell them where we are.

Finally, sometime around 2 AM, we are there, the bags are in, and we are fighting with Granuaile to go to sleep. I fall asleep around 3, and Jim sometime after that. The first day of our vacation promises to be a drowsy one tomorrow.

EPCOT Candlelight Processional

If you are spending any part of your holiday season in Disney World, this is a not to be missed event that will have you wishing you could come back to Disney every year at Christmas time.  This is a very popular, celebrity hosted event, and there are two ways to get in to see it.  Anyone who purchases a ticket (any ticket – annual pass, seasonal pass, park hopper, single day ticket) into EPCOT center, can go to see one of the three nightly performances that takes place from the day after Thanksgiving up until the day before New Year’s Eve.  There is no extra charge to go and see this spectacular holiday event.  HOWEVER…

Disney sells what are called Candlelight Processional Dining Packages.  These packages include your dinner at one of the participating restaurants and reserved general seating for one of the three shows.  The packages are sold at three different price levels, depending on the restaurant you choose.  For example, Tier I is about $30 per adult (not including tax or gratuity), and you are limited to the Garden Grill restaurant or the Biergarten.  Tier II is about $39, and includes restaurants like the San Angel Inn and the Rose and Crown Pub.  Tier III, the most expensive at about $46 per adult, includes the most restaurants.  With that package, you can dine at Chefs de France, the Coral Reef, and Le Cellier, and a few others.  The meal includes an appetizer, an entree and a dessert.  Alcoholic beverages are not included, and park admission is still required – this price does not include your admission to EPCOT. 

With the package, you will be able to enter the American Gardens theater, and everyone who has purchased a package is escorted in first.  There are no reserved seats, just the guarantee that you will have a seat in the theater.  As the line of package purchasers begins to dwindle, they then allow those people who have not purchased packages to file in to the theater.  People line up at least 30 minutes prior to the start of each show to get standby seating, and closer to Christmas, I have seen people waiting an hour or more.  You are NOT guaranteed a seat if you do not purchase the dinner package.  If you have your heart set on seeing a particular celebrity perform this event, I HIGHLY recommend the package.

The show itself is a 150 member choir, providing the music that weaves together a retelling of the story of Christmas.  The story is told by a celebrity narrator, and in the past, the narrators have included Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump, CSI:NY); James Caviezel (Passion of the Christ); Rita Moreno (Broadway); and other stars of stage, screen, TV and music.  The music is beautiful, the story is, of course, beautiful, and the experience is one of the best for your money at Disney World. 

If you plan on doing a dinner package, book it as soon as possible once the packages are available.  They do sell out, as the restaurants book up quickly.  You DO need to make an advanced dining reservation when you purchase the package.

And look for the CD of the Candlelight Processional when you leave.  We find ourselves listening to it at all times of the year!