Thursday, April 23, 2015

Surviving a Kidani Christmas

Kidani Christmas

Even though it has taken 4 months to start writing about this trip, it was so fabulous that it has be documented!

Anyone who knows me is well aware of my love for Disney World, evident in the number of times I've managed to visit in the last few years.  One thing I never thought I'd do was spend Christmas at Disney. Well, last year, my family did just that. That's right- my parents, my brother, and I braved the Christmas week crowds to celebrate the season at Disney.

And you know what? It was wonderful. In many ways, it was the best trip we've ever taken. I could never put into words just how wonderful our trip was, but I do want to document a few thoughts and highlights about our trip, which took place December 21-27, 2014.

  1. For this trip, we rented points from The DVC Rental Store. This was my second experience working with Lauren, and it was great from start to finish! Originally we booked at Coronado Springs with free dining, but found that for about the same price, we could rent points at Kidani Village and just pay out of pocket for the dining plan. We booked a Savannah View Studio at Kidani, and it was amazing! There's nothing like waking up to this view every morning! We did take an air bed with us, and we never really felt crowded in the room, even with 4 people staying in a studio. Of course, we didn't spend a ton of time inside, and having the balcony and really helped!
  2. We went in with realistic expectations about crowds. During Christmas week, Disney is crowded. In fact, it is one of the most (if not THE most) crowded weeks of the year. We've been lucky enough to experience Disney during very low crowd periods and knew that this trip would be drastically different. We planned accordingly, making our dining reservations at the 180 day mark and Fastpass + reservations at the 60 day mark. We went in not really expecting to ride much other than what we had Fastpasses for and planned on spending a lot of time exploring resorts and taking advantage of things we wouldn't normally do instead of fighting crowds in line for rides. This worked perfectly! We got to ride all the head liners thanks to our Fastpasses without waits.  
  3. We enjoyed a few amazing meals! We did the Deluxe Dining Plan, which was way too much food. But, it was great to have two meals a day scheduled so that we knew we had a break from crowds. As always, we tried to do an early lunch or late breakfast along with a signature dinner each day. This worked out well, and there was no way we could have eaten three meals every day! Not only was the food amazing, but it was great to end each day with a relaxing dinner where we could all just talk and rehash the day. 
    California Grill dinner
  4. We took advantage of what our resort had to offer. Kidani's table service restaurant, Sanaa, offers free cultural tours each afternoon! Animal Kingdom Lodge does the same for their restaurants, Boma and Jiko. My family were the only ones in attendance the afternoon we toured Sanaa, and there weren't many others for the Boma and Jiko tours. It was really interesting to learn more about these restaurants, meet the cultural ambassadors, and get to taste a few appetizers! We also spent time just relaxing at the animal viewing areas and walking around the resort. Usually we're only in the resort long enough to change clothes or sleep, so it was really nice to relax a bit, especially at a resort as beautiful as Kidani!
  5. We were flexible. Remember how I said that all our dining reservations and Fastpasses were made well in advance? They were, but we also were open to change. For example, we ended up canceling a pre-park opening breakfast at Crystal Palace. After a long first day in the parks, we realized we weren't going to want to get up and ready early enough to make our breakfast, so we cancelled it. We did it before midnight so that we wouldn't be charged, and were even able to find a later breakfast in our resort so that we could sleep a little later and not have to travel to eat. My brother and I also spent a last minute late night in Magic Kingdom after dinner on Christmas night and it was one of the best decisions we made! We ended up there because it was the first bus that came after dinner, and even on Christmas night we managed to ride 8 rides in two hours! It was amazing how empty the park was after Wishes, even on Christmas! We rode Pirates, Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Big Thunder, Space Mountain, and the People Mover all between 10pm and midnight. In fact, the longest line we stood in during the whole trip was for Winnie the Pooh! We laughed at ourselves, but it was the only ride in the park that I had never ridden, so we waited 15 or so minutes to ride. During those two hours we also managed a stop at Starbucks, shopping, and Photopass stops. It was pretty magical! 
Spending Christmas at Disney with my family was a once in a lifetime experience that I'll always be thankful for!


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