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Travel Talk: Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival

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The last time we were together, we were looking at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Disney’s Magic Kingdom.  Today I want to share with you a bit more about that trip.  First, I want you to see where we stayed – Disney’s Contemporary Resort.  Normally we try to book our accommodations at one of the Epcot area resorts, but this time, we wanted to be on the monorail line so that it would be easy to return to our room for a rest if we wanted.

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We had never stayed there before, but I would definitely recommend it for adults.  I am not sure I would take young children there though because it is very lacking in the normal Disney theme-ing you find in other properties around the parks.  We had two queen beds and a fold down sleeper sofa, but the room looked like it could be in any other nice hotel anywhere.

contemporary-resort-sofa-sleeper-wdwThe views from our balcony were gorgeous.
You can see Bay Lake in the photo below.

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Looking to the right was this view of the pool and the Garden Wing.

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If you walked right outside our room’s door and looked over the balcony there, this was the view:

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Pretty cool, huh?  🙂 The Contemporary Resort is the only Disney hotel in which the monorail runs right through the lobby.

Thanks to our Disney employed daughter, we were staying on the Atrium Club Level.  Because I had done all the planning for this trip, we did not really need the concierge services that came with that, but what we did enjoy was all the food available to us at that level.  Our room had a coffee maker, but right down the hall from us was the club lounge with coffee, espresso, and cappuccino available from 6:30 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.  A continental breakfast of pastries, fruit, cereals, and hot oatmeal was provided to us from 7:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.

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If we had been in our hotel room anytime from 11:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. we could have enjoyed snacks in the lounge.  We were in the parks during those hours, but I know they had cookies, candies, potato chips, and more fruit…along with a number of beverage choices.  From 5:00 pm. until 7:00 they served cheese and crackers and hot hor’devours, and from 8:00 p.m. – 10 p.m. cordials and desserts were available.   So we certainly could have eaten our way through the Contemporary Resort! (And that doesn’t even count the restaurants that are there. 🙂 ) Oh, and let’s not forget the view from the lounge.  Do you see how close we were to Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain?!

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And how about this view of the castle? 🙂

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Not only does the Contemporary Resort have food and restaurants to enjoy, but it also has a number of nice shops.  I was very tempted to get one of those black quilted Vera Bradley bags.

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And can you believe this is a Disney Dooney and Bourke handbag? 🙂

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Not sure who made these red polka dot ones, but they were cute.

contemporary-resort-shop-handbagsIn addition to the shopping and dining, one of the biggest reasons to me for staying at the Contemporary is its proximity to the parks. It is actually just a short walk (10 minutes) to Magic Kingdom (or a monorail ride), and it is only two quick monorail rides to Epcot.  So on our second day there (which happened to be my mother-in-law’s birthday 🙂 ) we hopped on the monorail and headed over to Epcot.

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We rode Spaceship Earth, The Seas with Nemo, Living with the Land, and our favorite, Soarin‘.

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Then we headed over to World Showcase.  I love love love looking at the various styles of architecture represented in each of the “countries” there.

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Norway…

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Italy…

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France…

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epcot-french-gardensand many more (China, Mexico, United Kingdom, Germany, United States, Japan, Morocco, and Canada.)  On this particular trip, there was even more to experience in Epcot because the Food and Wine Festival happened to be going on. 🙂

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They have concerts, cooking demonstrations, special programs, and even creative landscaping for this major event!

epcot-food-and-wine-festival-topiaryBut the best part of the festival is….the food!  (Of course! 🙂 )  Each of the countries and several companies have kiosks set up all around World Showcase where you can purchase small plates of their food and drink.  Here is the one for Scotland.

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And at each kiosk you will find a board with the menu.  My absolute favorite food was in Canada, and my filet mignon was perfect.  Bowls of their cheese soup were flying out of there, so I know it must have been delicious as well. (You can see all 30 menu boards from the festival in a post here.)

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We ate our way around Epcot sampling Italian Parmigiana, French creme brulee, American smoked beef brisket, and several other dishes.  In between each food stop, we enjoyed the film attractions offered at each country, and later in the day, we took a 2 hour break back at the hotel.  We returned around 7:00 p.m. to ride the Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico, Soarin’ one more time, and then believe or not, we went to dinner (yes, we ate again) at Via Napoli. 🙂 We had gotten my mother-in-law a “Today’s my birthday” pin to wear, and everywhere she went that day, cast members and Disney guests sweetly wished her a happy birthday (and a few even sang to her on the monorail!)  At Via Napoli, the servers surprised her with a dessert complete with their rendition of Happy Birthday to You and a candle to blow out.

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The day ended with our viewing of Illuminations on World Showcase Lagoon.

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Pretty music and lots of fireworks!
(which look kind of like a battle on the water, don’t they?)

epcot-illuminations-wdwTwo more monorail rides and we were back at our hotel for the night.  It was a fun (although exhausting) day!  If you have the opportunity to attend the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, I would highly recommend it.  It runs from mid-September to mid-November each year.  I understand that weekends get very busy with not only park guests but also local area residents. So you would probably enjoy it more mid-week.

I am busy working on Thanksgiving decorating this weekend and (fingers-crossed!) will have a post up for you to see it next week. Enjoy your weekend – whether it is with football, food, family, or friends.  I hope it’s a fun one! 🙂

Until next time…

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Linda - November 7, 2016 - 7:00 am

Thank you for sharing your beautiful family and trip to Disney with us. I just love your home and style. This posting could not have come at a better time as we are leaving for Disney on Thursday. I as well will celebrate my birthday with our family. This will be our grandchildren first visit,twins are 5 and granddaughter is 8. Was the weather warm for you? We have our days jam packed,but so exciting for all of us. Thanks again for sharing.

Gabrielle - November 7, 2016 - 5:54 am

What a lovely trip for you to enjoy with your family. As usual, you have captured the mood and taken some wonderful photos. Thankyou so much Kelly. I look forward to your Thanksgiving decor.

Garden, Home and Party - November 6, 2016 - 10:00 pm

What a fun trip. I do love Disneyland, but I clearly remember when Disney World was being built and I’m pretty sure they had more room and therefore, more details in the park. Thanks for showing me some of the details of the park on the other coast.
xo,
Karen

Kathy - November 6, 2016 - 5:05 pm

How fun! Disney is such a magical place! I took our two children to Disney with a fellow teacher every spring break for ten years. We have wonderful memories of being there. I have to tell you a funny Disney story on my mom. She and my dad went with my brother’s family and while there had breakfast with the characters. When she was telling me about it she said, “You know, it wasn’t the real Mickey Mouse!” I still laugh when I think of her telling me that. She said, “You know what I mean! It was somebody dressed up like him.” I am happy you took your mother and mother-in-law. How sweet! I hope they got to see the real Mickey Mouse!

Debbie - November 6, 2016 - 9:32 am

Oh Kelly, thanks for sharing. It truly is a Magic Kingdom. I have been there only as an adult. It’s Magic because your innocence returns in the sweetest way. Just watching that video, I felt warm and happy ! I would love to go back someday. How nice to take your Moms….

Marianne in Mo. - November 6, 2016 - 9:23 am

Thanks again for the travelog, I sooo enjoy these!
Looking forward to seeing your Thanksgiving decor, I’m sure it won’t disappoint.
We enjoyed a gathering outdoors with our new neighbors last night, sitting around a couple of fire pits, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows and eating too much food. It was a chilly night! Today we have family coming to celebrate my brother in laws 62nd birthday and recent retirement. Should be a good time. and also too mush eating I’ll wager! Hope you are enjoying your weekend too!

Tricia - November 6, 2016 - 6:50 am

Hi Kelly. Nice to see another trip report fom you. The Food and Wine event would be, in my mind, the perfect time to experience Epcot!

Your mother-in-law would feel very special spending the day in such a happy environment being greeted by everyone.

Love the idea of the monorail going right through your hotel. Especially convenient for much needed afternoon breaks. How nice to experience the perks of the Atrium Club Level.

Looking forward to seeing Thanksgiving decorating. I just love your home.

Enjoy your week, T

Leslie Anne Tarabella - November 5, 2016 - 11:32 pm

You and I would be good Disney buddies, because you did all my favorite things! However, I’ve never stayed at the Contemporary, although it’s on my list of places to stay just because my Grandparents stayed there years ago, as did my husband’s grandmothers, and I think that’s so retro-nostalgic! We’ve had the character breakfast there, then caught the monorail right into the park, which like you said is such a major convenience!

So happy you had a fun time, and the food sounds fabulous!

martha - November 5, 2016 - 10:06 pm

Oh Kelly, do you ever just sit? What a lovely trip for your mother-in-law’s birthday.You are a wonderful daughter-in-law (and daughter), I hope she is doing well. I always enjoy your pictures from your trips, you show things I find interesting. However, I do wish you had placed the price tag on the Dooney and Bourke handbag so we could see it (and gasp)….I mean really, a person would have to be a true Disney fanatic to buy it. I look forward to your Thanksgiving decorating post. My husband turns 70 on the 22nd and my daughter and I are planning a surprise party. It will be nothing as elaborate as you would do and frankly if we can surprise him I’ll be pleased. My daughter wants to do an outdoor firepit type party at her home so I am hoping the lovely weather we have been having will stick around for a few more weeks.

Louvina - November 5, 2016 - 8:43 pm

Nice seeing your trip and the view from the Contemporary– perfect for adults!! Always loved going through there on the monorail. The Food and Wine Festival is always a great time to visit EPCOT and the weather is usually somewhat cooler in the evenings. My daughter and her friends go there several times during the month and were there today. Thinking about Thanksgiving– she ordered a Willy Bird Turkey from WS for us -should arrive the day before already cooked and ready to reheat!! Everything we have ever gotten from William Sonoma has been excellent!! Hope you get your post up for Thanksgiving soon. Always look forward to it. I hope to do my decorations tomorrow. Trying to keep it simple this year. Wanting cooler weather to arrive — but not yet!! 🦃🍂🍁

Travel Talk: Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World

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What??? Yet another Halloween post?? Well…what do you do when you love Halloween (the cute and silly stuff – not the gory things) and you are a major Disney fan?  Why, you go to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, that’s what!

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With our daughter working there, it made the perfect time for us to plan a trip.  We decided to take both my mother and my husband’s mother for a short 2 park vacation a few weeks ago.  If you have not been for the Halloween party, you may not know that it is a separate ticketed event that does not require a park entrance ticket.  Because you can enter the park at 4:00 (and stay until midnight!) with this ticket, it made sense to do the party on our arrival day and not use an expensive day’s admission for only a partial day in the park.

theater-main-street-magic-kingdom-wdwWe entered right at 4:00, got our armband for the party, and made our way down Main Street.  The Magic Kingdom was decorated for the season with a large supply of pumpkins and fall colors. (I think they were copying me. LOL) Of course I made our crew stop in front of Cinderella Castle for a photo. 🙂

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You can wear actual costumes (as long as you follow Disney’s rules) for the Halloween party, and there were many people who did the night we were there.  I had purchased Ghostbusters costumes for everyone, but my husband was not too keen on the idea.  Plus with the Florida heat and humidity, it made more sense for us to just wear matching t-shirts (so the Ghostbusters went back to the store.  🙁 ) Our glow-in-the-dark Mickey skeleton shirts (from Target) worked out great, and we saw a number of other people in those same matching shirts.

I had made Fastpass reservations for our first few rides.  We began with the Jungle Cruise then moved on to my favorite after that – The Haunted Mansion. 🙂  Perfect for a Halloween party night!

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(They were doing renovation work on the exterior, so I am borrowing the above photo so you can see it better.)

Now these are a few of mine.

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 haunted-mansion-wdwhaunted-mansion-tombstoneAnd if you would like to enjoy the entire spooky experience, watch the video below. 🙂

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After the Haunted Mansion, our next stop was Pirates of the Caribbean (another good one for Halloween!) Click on the link below the photo, and you will find a video that takes you on this ride as well.

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Remember we entered the park at 4:00 so when we finished our Pirate ride, we headed back to Main Street for dinner.  Along the way we passed a small fun parade.

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Over on Main Street we enjoyed a nice sit-down dinner at The Plaza restaurant.

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Being the snack-er that I am, I really loved their loaded fries!

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And my mother-in-law enjoyed her dinner with a rootbeer float. 🙂

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It was getting close to sunset but not yet time to find a spot to view the Halloween parade, so we decided to walk over to Tomorrowland and ride The Peoplemover (a few times!) and Buzz Lightyear, Space Ranger.

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The real “party” begins at 7:00 when the sun goes down.  That is when guests who have not purchased tickets must leave the park (and yes, Disney cast members do check to make sure you have on an armband.)  The park takes on a different mood after dark…more Halloween-ish. 🙂

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7:00 is also when dance parties begin in several locations and everyone of any age can begin meeting characters and trick-or-treating.  Disney gives out tons of candy on these party nights! But better than all the candy to me is the parade, led by the Headless Horseman.

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Instead of their typical princess characters, this parade features villains…

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and spooky characters from the Haunted House.
(The ballroom dancers were my favorite. 🙂 )

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You can watch highlights from the parade in the video here (and get that darn song stuck in your head!)  The ballroom dancers are near the 2 minute mark in it.

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Besides the character meet-and-greets, trick-or-treating, dance parties, and the parade, there is also a Hocus Pocus stage show on these special event nights.  If you are a fan of the movie, you won’t want to miss this! (I gave a homework assignment to my mom and mother-in-law to watch the movie before we went. 🙂 )

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But the biggest highlight of the evening is the fireworks show at 10:15- possibly the best they do at Walt Disney World, and this fireworks spectacular is only done for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

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fireworks-show-wdwThey really are amazing set off behind the castle…

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they darken it…

fireworks-cinderella-castleand the grand finale is 360 degrees of fireworks exploding all the way around the park!

An amazing experience!

(and impossible to photograph while you’re swiveling your head around like someone from The Exorcist. 🙂 )

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Our daughter was able to join us for the show when she finished her job that night, so we took a group photo after the fireworks were over.

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And after the fireworks, many many people left the park (including us.)  But remember the Magic Kingdom is still open until midnight for the Halloween party, and that last hour or so is the perfect time to enjoy all the rides with little to no crowds.  Most rides are virtually walk-on at that point (or you can continue trick-or-treating if you would rather get more candy. 🙂 )

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We were there on a Thursday night in late September, so the crowds were not bad at all.  I understand that the later dates in October have very large crowds.  I loved the Halloween party and hope we will go back again next year at the same time, or perhaps the first week in October. But I want to stay until midnight when we go again (for the rides, not the candy. 🙂 )

magic-kingdom-exit-sign-in-fallThanks for popping in here for a visit!  I hope you have had a fun and sweet Halloween, and thank you to all of you who read the post on our Halloween house decorations and left your kind compliments in the comments today.  You all are the best blog readers out there!

Happy haunting on this Halloween night. 🙂

Until next time…

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Nan, Odessa, De - November 1, 2016 - 5:51 pm

I know you had a grand time! Lucky to have your Moms and they are lucky to have you and hubby. Not to mention, your lucky daughter! What company.

Thanks for sharing Disney.

Now I have been thinking about your gingerbread houses. Guess what was at the bottom of this post, your dining room from last year. So I checked it out. YES, still like it. Good as I remembered. So in your busy life give us a post SOON on how to make them/buy them. I am not crafty. So I will need lots of time. Where do I order a kit, what is the best way for me to have JUST ONE? Please, and thank you.

Even better, give us 12 things we should be doing now to prepare for Christmas and make the gingerbread house HOW TO one on the list. I know you are a teacher at heart.

Waiting for your next post.

Gina - November 1, 2016 - 1:01 pm

What fun you must have had! And how wonderful your mothers were able to go too. I’m sure they had a fabulous time. 🙂 It’s been years since we’ve been to Disney. All my memories are hot and crowded it was. It looks like this would be a great time to go. I’m sure you’re planning a Christmas trip too. It would be very festive in December. Your pictures of the fireworks turned out well and I love your adorable (er, I mean handsome for your husband 😉 ) tee shirts!

Donnie - November 1, 2016 - 11:59 am

Kelly – I may just have to go next year. Haven’t been to Disney in probably 20+ years, but you inspire me. So glad you had something fun planned for your mother in law. Hope she is doing well. Love your posts.

Sandy from FWB - November 1, 2016 - 10:20 am

I hope your mother in law is doing well. The holidays will be tough for her and y’all this year. I remember taking my mother in law on a vacation with us shortly after my father in law passed. New territory. The group shot was adorable.

Garden, Home and Party - November 1, 2016 - 9:19 am

Kelly,
I’m so happy you shared this…our California kids and our 2 year old granddaughter went to this event for her birthday (at our Disneyland). Our son was Smee, our daughter in law mommy was Peter Pan and our birthday girl went as Captain Hook. (all from Jake and the Neverland Pirates cartoon show). They took so few pictures! Kids! So thanks for the more extensive tour. 🙂
xo,
Karen

Cheri - November 1, 2016 - 7:46 am

How fun…I felt like I was there. I bet all our Grands would LOVE this. I never thought about Disney doing something like this for Halloween, duh, this is really great. When does the Halloween start there since you went in Sept.?

Tricia - November 1, 2016 - 5:09 am

Oh, this would be so much fun! I love a Mickey-not-so-scarey Hallowe’en, it’s beautiful. Your t-shirts were just perfect for the event. Loved seeing the photo of you all. that’a a real treat!

Gabrielle - November 1, 2016 - 2:58 am

Thank you Kelly for the trip around Disney World. I have only been to Disney World once, but I have been to Disneyland 5 times. John took me to Disneyland on our honeymoon 26 years ago, and, despite the jet lag, after the first ride I was hooked. Of course, Disneyland is closer to Australia than Disney World. My absolute favourite ride was the California Soaring ride in the California Dreaming Park. We were discussing our favourite Disney rides the other day, and I think I like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride the best, but it is very hard to decide, I really do love them all.

Judy - November 1, 2016 - 12:20 am

Kelly, your photos are wonderful! No one does holidays like Disney! I’m expecting a new grandchild soon, and I can’t wait to get my yearly pass to Disney so we both can enjoy all these fabulous celebrations . Makes me glad I’m only a few hours away from the “happiest place on earth”.

Marianne in Mo. - October 31, 2016 - 11:23 pm

Thanks for this trip! My family insists I could not handle Disney World, so I guess I’ll never be there. This post made me feel as though I were there, without all the walking and heat! Must be fun there at the holiday times! Your daughter is so lucky to work there, and she’s perfect for it! Is she still doing the same character?

Louvina - October 31, 2016 - 10:54 pm

Yay! Love the Kingdom during the holidays — used to go to this event every year with my girls and we dressed up every year! So much fun and the evenings were cooler and we loved the errieness of all the decorations and the candy too! So glad you got to go and take the mothers!! And you got to see your baby girl! Loved the family picture!! Once again I felt the Magic of the Kingdom!! And if you haven’t been there at Christmas– you need to do that and The Christmas party and all the extra things they do!! All the seasons there are grand!! Just viewing all your pictures have made my Halloween– while I prepared apple pie and pumpkin bread — best friends are coming tomorrow– carpets/floors being cleaned early in the morning!! And I will be done with the endless summer of projects!! November is a few hours away and All Saints Day!! Bring on the holidays!! I’m ready and feeling healthy!💕🎃🍂🍁👻 Love you, Kelly!

Vicki - October 31, 2016 - 10:25 pm

What a fun time to go to Disney. I will have to pass this info on to family – and maybe I will even get to go! I have never been. A lifelong dream!
Thanks!

Barbara (WA) - October 31, 2016 - 10:01 pm

I have a young friend who went to the California version of this in early October and had quite large crowds with long waits for the rides. Maybe September is better? Your evening sounds very fun, however!

Gwynne - October 31, 2016 - 9:52 pm

The happiest place on earth! Awesome photos, Kelly – looks and sounds like you all had an awesome time! Thanks for sharing. I’ve been six times, but never for Halloween – will add it to the bucket list :).

At Rivercrest Cottage - October 31, 2016 - 9:30 pm

thanks for doing this post and letting us know about this party. My sister moved to Orlando 4 years ago because she loves Disney World so much. She finally went to work there a year or so ago and loves it more than ever! We will be going down next year for this party, which we weren’t aware of. I hate crowds and she’s only asking us to come, so this will be perfect.

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