December 5, 2007





Another Magical Moment at the Animal Kingdom!

The Osbourne Lights and dinner at the California Grill!



Today we had to get up on time, since we needed to be at the Animal Kingdom Lodge for our breakfast at Boma. We arrived and checked in and even though the restaurant seemed full we were seated within 10 minutes. Our table was right at the window overlooking the walkway to the Mara.

We both ordered Frunch and coffee and tea before we went to the buffet. There are just too many choices. We both had a plate full of savoury food first, then Tom went to bring a sampling of the sweet options. He brought a HUGE plate full of them!!! I wanted some fruit to go with the sweets, so we got some of those as well. The melon and pineapple were very nice, but the grapes and strawberries were rather tasteless. After having finished our huge breakfast we went to explore the Lodge itself.

Even though we had stayed there a few times before it looked so different with all the decorations. And again we were stunned by how much detail went into the decorations. Our next stop was the Gaylord Palms Resort. We had read about ICE and seen photos of ICE, so why not see for ourselves if we had time. We made time for it.

The Gaylord Palms Resort was new to us, even though we had passed it a lot of time on our way to Publix. We parked the car and went into the resort where we purchased our tickets, then were told to look around and wait for the next group to be let into the exhibition.

About 15 minutes later we were let in. There were two short movies in two different rooms before we were taken to another room where our photo was taken and we received some thick parkas. Then we were led into the exhibition itself. It was amazing. There were giant sculptures made of pure clear and coloured ice.

We walked through slowly and took lots of photos. There were animals, ice-covered trees, buildings, a train set, oversized sweets made from ice and a walk in icy “gingerbread” house. There was a live size nativity scene and even an ice-slide. A lot of other sculptures as well.

After we had left the exhibition we drove over to Publix and got a few items for a light lunch and breakfast the next day. We then went across the street to Walgreen’s to pick up a few medications before we were to fly back home.

While in the store Tom fell in love with a Mickey and Minnie on a sledge display that can be filled with air and be placed outside. We had a lengthy debate whether we could use it at home as well, since we have different voltage, but then decided, what the heck it was not expensive, so why not just buy it while we are here. Tom was really happy with it and tried it as soon as we got back to Old Key West.  Before we went to our room we went to the front desk to pick up a birthday button. No, it was not one of us who celebrated a birthday, but my little pal’s “dad’s” birthday is on December 5th.So we asked the very nice CM for it and she was stunned that there were actually guests who wanted a button in honour of Walt Disney!!

Another CM got in on the conversation and we had a lot of fun pinning the button onto my little pal’s Santa hat. Now it was time to go back to the room and try out Tom’s Christmas display and have some lunch. We had some ham sandwiches and salad, relaxed for a little while and then decided to drive over to the Animal Kingdom to watch the afternoon parade.

When we arrived at the toll plaza at the entrance to the parking lot we were stopped. Unusual, since we had our parking permit displayed. The parking attendant got out and congratulated us. Hmm ……… He then handed us a pen and another Magical Moments Certificate, to fill in our name! He explained about the Year of the Million Dreams again and we listened with our mouths wide open. We were allowed to park at the diamond parking lot – in walking distance to the Animal Kingdom Entrance.

We were sooooooooo stunned. This was our 6th day and we had 2 Magical Moments and a Dream awarded to us. Even though these were no big dreams, but these were things we had always joked about, would be fun, now this really WAS a dream come true vacation!!

We followed the line to the diamond parking lot and strolled over to the entrance. There was some time left, so we had another set of Photopass pictures taken, walked over to find that they still had Fastpass for Everest and picked one up. Then we went to find a spot to watch the parade. The first spot where we could squeeze into second row was ours.

The parade was fun to watch. All the vehicles were decked out for the holidays, there was an alligator with antlers and Minnie had a whole bathtub full of hot chocolate. Well, at least it smelled like it, the hot chocolate itself looked kind of plastic to me. Mickey had a huge Happy New Year display at the back and everyone seemed to enjoy the parade a lot.

We walked around for a bit more, than we went over to Expedition Everest and used our Fastpasses. By then it was time to leave and hop over to the Disney Hollywood Studios to see the Osbourne lights. While we were walking towards the diamond parking lot we noticed that the Cast Member who had given us our first magical moment was now on the tram that went to the parking lot. This time we had a pin from Disneyland Paris with us!! We walked over to the tram and asked the Cast Member if he could remember us.

We gave him a few clues and he could. We than told him that it was now our time to give a little magic back and handed him the pin, explaining it came all the way from Paris. Now he was stunned, thanked us and showed it to the other Cast Members while we were walking away! These moments when you stun the Cast Members are the very best!! Time to go to Disney MGM/Hollywood Studios! When we arrived we couldn’t help but pass the time by riding Tower of Terror.

As we left it started to get dark and we went over to see the Osbourne lights. The streets were packed with people and the lights were already on and it was breathtaking. Just a few minutes after we had arrived the lights started to dance and the sight of it was just unbelievable.

We stood and watched in amazement, then went a little further to take in all the different angles of the dancing lights. We had walked the streets by day and imagined what it could look like, but this was just wonderful. We spent about 1 ˝ hours there until they turned off the lights. The park was to close by seven, because there was a private party scheduled that evening. We went back to the tram, went to our car and back to Old Key West.

We had a 9.20 reservation at the California Grill, so we got changed and drove over to the Contemporary. It was shortly before 9pm when we parked our car and went into the hotel. We signed in on the second floor and were taken upstairs to the restaurant to watch “Wishes” while we waited for our seating. There are two “walkways” out onto the roof of the Contemporary and as always we chose the one to the back of the restaurant. There were just a handful of people on our side, while the other side was really crowded. We just enjoyed the view of the fireworks for once without taking any photos of the fireworks.

Since we had a buzzer anyway we stayed out there a little longer after the fireworks were over and went back inside once it got a little too cool. We still had to wait for some more time, but it was really worth the wait, since we were seated at one of the tables for two right at the window overlooking the lagoon and the Magic Kingdom. I still don’t get over the fact that waiters actually kneel down when they explain the menu to you, but it is one of the things that make the California Grill so special. Our waiter was very nice and explained the menu to us, then left us a little time to decide what we wanted to order. We decided to share the Oak-fired Mushrooms Flatbread with Creamed Baby Spinach, Onions and Gorgonzola Cheese. It was just wonderful. Our waiter then brought out a basket of bread and some olive oil for dipping.

Very strong tasting olive oil, but very yummy.

Tom then decide to have the Oak-fired Filet of Beef with Roasted Root Vegetables, Edamame and Teriyaki Barbecue Sauce while I went for my favourite, the Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta, Cremini Mushrooms, Zinfandel Glaze and Sage. That is so tasty. No wonder it is one of their signature dishes. We both then decided we could not do without dessert, even though we were full already. Tom had the Valrhona Chocolate and Coffee - Warm Chocolate Cake with Molten Center, House-made White Coffee Ice Cream and Cappuccino Anglaise while I had the Honey Crunch Cake with Chantilly Cream, Oven-roasted Golden Pineapple and Crunch Candy Crumble which is inspired by "The Year of a Million Dreams". After we had finished our meal we went back down and had another good look at the Christmas Tree in front of the Contemporary. This is my favourite tree especially when it is lit at night! We slowly walked over to our car and drove back to our resort. Another late night, but it had been a wonderful day with lots of wonderful memories to treasure forever.