Disney World December 2007

Disney World Pictures

Epcot Dome & Christmas Tree

The following pictures and commentary describe my brief Disney World trip after having completed my cruise to the Western Caribbean. The cruise ended on 22 December, but with the holiday travel we were not able to get a flight home until Christmas Eve, so I had a massively compacted two day trip to Disney World.

Wilderness Lodge

Wilderness Lodge We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge, once again getting an awesome rate because Sara's family has this as their home resort as Disney Vacation Club members. I can see why, because the resort is beautiful, and since it's mimicking the wilderness, it feels much like the Northwest.
Wilderness Lodge Support Tower The inside of the lodge is fabulous, with a true wilderness feel. This light fixture is about 15 feet in diameter and the support poles goes up about 8 stories.
Wilderness Lodge Totem Pole One of the other support columns is decorated as a totem pole all the way up to the ceiling.
Wilderness Lodge Totem Pole with Sean & Sara Of course you need the Disney characters thrown in somewhere, so here they are on a smaller totem pole.
Wilderness Lodge Tree with David, Mom & Sean You can't really tell it from this picture, but that huge decorated green thing behind us is a Christmas tree. The winter decorations were amazing, so I have a whole section of trees at the end this page.
This picture isn't exposed correctly, but I still like it because the whole background is just a solid tree.
Wilderness Lodge Friendly Ducks 1 Helping bring that wilderness feel into things are a mother duck and her two ducklings.
Wilderness Lodge Friendly Ducks 2 This picture shows the baby ducklings a little better. We are about 15 feet from the swimming pool, so I'm guessing that's where they are headed.
Wilderness Lodge Friendly Ducks 3 This gives a better idea of who friendly this ducks were, since we could get within a few feet of the babies.
Wilderness Lodge Disney Ship Model The lodge also had a nice model of the cruise ship to remind us of where we had recently been.

Epcot

Epcot Dome So I had two days to kill in Disney World before my flight home. Unfortunately Disney World does everything they can to make you stay longer, and you get royally screwed when only buying tickets for a couple days. I tried to get a military discount, but it was a measly one, where you don't have to pay tax, and then if buying for more than 4 days, you get a 10% discount. For the two day park hopper, I was out about $190.
Epcot Dome & Fountain with David & Mom I did try to make the most of my ticket by getting to all four resorts in those two days, however, if you want to ride the rides, then Christmas time is not the best time to visit. All the parks were super crowded with about 50 to 85 minute lines on all the major attractions. I did still get to tour and take pictures and go on a couple rides. I did get to see a couple impressive things, such as the Epcot Dome in the background.
Epcot Pyramid Here's a shot across the lake to a pyramid in the trees. I was on the super speed tour, so I don't know any of the significance of the different buildings, so don't expect much in the way of informative captions.
Epcot Castle Here's a castle and some blue building behind it, now you know as much as I do.
Epcot World Mexico So if you are just going for the walk around tour, then I recommend Epcot's around the world path. It is a path around the lake that showcases architecture, souvenirs and food from around the world. We started off in Mexico, because my brother had a favorite restaurant there to buy some tacos and burritos.
Epcot World China 1 The next stop was China, I'm not sure what type of map we are following here, but that's the way it was done.
Epcot World China 2 I bought some really good Chinese Oolong tea here, and almost bought a sword collection. My brother has bought one on a previous trip, and now I'm wishing that I splurged and got some. Next time I will.
Epcot World Italy After China, we have Italy. I guess they have nice wine there, but I'm not a drinker, so I passed on that. I think Germany was next, but I grew up visiting a bunch of small German towns in Washington, so that just seemed like a normal place to me, so I didn't even get any pictures. Good beer, but I passed on that, too.
Epcot World Japan Okay, from China to Europe, and then back to Japan. Once again, I don't understand the map, but I guess it juxtaposes the architecture better. Also, at this point in the loop the sun was starting to backlight everything, so all my pictures are too dark.
Epcot World America The final stop was America (actually France was left, but who cares about them). In case you are wondering what you get when you stereotype America, you get a brick colonial building that sells hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.
Epcot Hungry Bird This was a large bird that was looking for leftovers. He found a piece of a churro between the tables while we were eating.
Epcot Living World Hanging Plants So I missed out on the Epcot Soaring ride, since there was an 85 minute wait, but I did get to go on a cool Living World tour. The idea behind it is to create better ways to grow food so we can keep feeding our over-populated planet.
Epcot Living World Mint One of the main philosophies seems to be minimizing the use of soil, so many of these plants are grown free hanging in the air.
Epcot Living World Tomato Tree Meanwhile, many other normal plants are instead grown out of a single tree stem. Here is a tomato tree!
Epcot Living World Watermelon Tree Then there is a watermelon tree! You can imagine the ground space saved by having everything grown up high.
Epcot Living World Pumpking Tree Size doesn't seem to matter, because you can even have a pumpkin tree.
Epcot Living World Mickey Pumpkin 1 Never one to forget their roots, here is a Disney Cinderella pumpkin in the form of a Mickey Head.
Epcot Living World Mickey Pumpkin 2 They give away the secret to their trick here.
Epcot Living World Nine Pound Lemon So not only is it a goal to make stuff easier to grow, but also to make the growing more productive. Here is a nine pound lemon as an example.
Epcot Living World Fish Tank Not limited to just fruits and vegetables, there is also a fish growing tank.
Epcot Living World Alligator Tank I'm not sure how this fits in with food growth, but there is also an alligator tank. I guess they wanted to sneak in some preservation, too.
Epcot Living World Nasa Plants Of course, one of the main reasons I'm so intrigued by all of this is the applications to space exploration. One of the hardest parts about going to Mars is having vehicles capable of lifting enough mass into orbit. If you can grow your own food, then you don't have to pack as much. Also, having a more varied and natural diet will help astronauts from going insane on longer space flights, so I'm glad to see that NASA is doing some research here, too.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom Car Entrance This is the only picture I took on the ride into Disney World. I guess I was still recovering from the cruise and not thinking clearly. Here are how all the cars get into the park, but once you are in, then you can take a bus everywhere. They come by every 20 minutes, so no pre-planning is needed. It's one of the good examples of when mass transportation can work well (of course it's also free).
Magic Kingdom Entrance My actual visit to the Magic Kingdom occurred after it got dark, so not too much in the form of pictures. Here is the entrance lit up with Christmas lights.
Magic Kingdom Main Street If you thought that things would calm down after 9pm, then you (and me) were completely wrong. The park is still as crowded as ever. Although they do spread the Christmas feeling including the snow being made and falling from the roofs of the buildings nearby.
Magic Kingdom Castle 1 There was a pretty cool light and music shown at the castle here. I took a bunch of pictures and managed to get some that turned out clear. It would have been a nice time to have a tripod.
Magic Kingdom Castle 2 This is a pretty nice picture, so all my trials turned out to pay off. Plus the lines did shorten to about 20 to 30 minutes, so I got to go on a couple rides towards the end.

MGM

MGM Entrance When you see MGM, you think Grand, but for some reason this entrance just seems bland compared to everything else around here. Maybe it's just me, but I think they need to elaborate a little more here.
MGM Tower of Terror I did get to go on the Tower of Terror ride here, so that was fun. Otherwise it was a quick lunch stop, and that was about all I saw of MGM. It was my least favorite of the resorts.

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom Entrance My favorite resort turned out to be the Animal Kingdom. Since I like most animals more than most people, then this probably shouldn't be that much of a surprise.
Animal Kingdom Tree of Life Here's the Tree of Life from the Lion King movie. I felt like climbing it, but they tend to discourage that.
Animal Kingdom Parrots One of the reasons I like this park is the lush vegetation, and the random animals that you can walk by, like these Parrots.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 1 I waited in line for about an hour for the African Safari tour, which was my longest line that I waited in the whole time. But it was totally worth it, because you get about a 15 minute tour and get to photograph all sorts of animals.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 2 While waiting in line we passed these birds. As with most of the animals in the tour, I have no clue what exactly they are.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 3 This is a turtle, at least I know that much.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 4 This is some cousin of the Zebra, but I don't think I've ever heard of it before then, so go ahead and make up your own name.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 5 For most of these pictures I was in a moving, bouncing tour bus, and consequently many of them turned out blurry. Too bad, because they are still cool. I'll just have to back and try to take some more. I also need to figure out how to set my camera to force it to use a shorter exposure time. Here's a blurry picture of a rhino.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 6 Here's a most focused picture of the rhino, well more focused on the branch and tree in front of the rhino, but oh well.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 7 Some bird. Yeah my knowledge is lacking a bit there.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 8 Here's a hippo that was nice enough to climb out of the water just before we passed. Most tours only see them lounging in the pool, so we were lucky.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 9 Here's the most typical view. Also, for your trivia knowledge, hippos don't usually swim, but are instead walking around on the bottom of the pond.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 10 Some more birds. Looks like some sort of vulture trying to be menacing to scare off other scavengers.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 11 These guys do a much better job of looking scary than the birds do. Anyone feel like a swim?
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 12 Some desert tree known for looking like it grows upside down. It loses the leaves during the hot months to help hold in moisture.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 13 Through the trees you can see one of the other tour buses. This gives an idea of the open land and trails that you get to pass through.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 14 Here is a termite hill. These can get really strong, and elephants will then use them to scratch their backs.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 15 This is the largest cousin of the antelope family, but I don't remember their names.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 16 Here is another shot with them grazing.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 17 Here are some zebras. At least I can correctly recognize these.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 18 So I was on the wrong side for this photo, but there are some giraffe hiding in the trees.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 19 Another nice picture of an upside down tree. I wonder if its root system looks at all like a mirror image?
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 20 So for the most part I had a good side to be on, but the elephants were also to the other side of me. If not for the long ride I would have gone again on the other side, too.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 21 Some flamingoes, plus one of the rangers out doing research.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 22 These eggs didn't make it to hatching, but they are displayed to show the size of an ostrich egg. The birds themselves were hidden and I didn't get a picture.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 23 I was on a pretty good role here, but then got some blurry pictures. Here's one with some cheetahs lying around in the shade.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 24 This is a blurry picture of the foot of a lion doing what they do best by sleeping all day long.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 25 You can just make out the head of a white rhino sleeping behind the rocks.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 26 Here's some form of antelope or gazelle (or simply food) to the other predators.
Animal Kingdom Safari Tour 27 Then concluding the tour is a nice waterfall. There is also a made up bit about capturing some poachers to turn this tour into more of a resort "thrill ride" but I was fine with just the basic tour itself.

Christmas Tree Extravaganza

Orlando Airport Christmas Tree That concludes the four resorts in two days tour, but as I've alluded to in previous comments, there were Christmas trees and decorations up everywhere! I don't know what they do to celebrate all the other religions in the world, but they definitely go to a lot of trouble to make it festive around here. This first picture is actually inside the Orlando airport right after walking out of security. This tree is probably 40 feet tall, and I thought it was huge until I saw some of the other ones at the resorts.
Disney Magic Christmas Tree This tree is probably only 25 feet tall, but it's remarkable because it's on the cruise ship! The ship is big enough to have a huge Christmas tree that doesn't even look out of place.
Castaway Cay Christmas Tree Then on to Castaway Cay, which is really an extension of the Disney ship, with its own huge tree. Although decorated with a nice island theme with the buoys and star fish shown here.
Wilderness Lodge Christmas Tree Then of course the huge wilderness lodge must have its own huge tree inside it. At its base, this tree is at least 12 feet in diameter and slowly tapers to the star way up at the top.
Wilderness Villas Christmas Tree Also, the adjoining villas, while not as spectacular as the lodge itself, they still get their own tree. (They also are much cheaper to stay in and have their own pool that is not nearly as crowded.)
Epcot Christmas Tree Then on to the resorts. First at Epcot, with a bridge covered with lights and the tree in the background. Each of the trees at these resorts are probably 40 to 60 feet tall, and are setup outdoors where wind could be a problem, so they each usually have about five wire cables hidden around keeping them supported.
Magic Kingdom Christmas Tree The Magic Kingdom tree, which is surprisingly, then only tree I got a picture of at night.
MGM Christmas Tree The MGM Christmas tree. I can't help but wonder what Disney does with all these trees during the rest of the year. Do they wear out and buy new ones for the following season, or is there a huge warehouse somewhere that just houses tons and tons of Christmas decorations?
Animal Kingdom Christmas Tree The final tree and final picture of my page. The Animal Kingdom tree, keeping with its animal themed decorations. Hopefully you've enjoyed the narrative, and luckily I don't have to explain it again and again, but can instead just refer people here!