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Monday, December 24, 2012

Disney World from the Swan Hotel

We spent 3 nights at the Swan hotel, at the edge of Disney World.  I talked about our visit to the Hollywood Studios park the first night in my last post.  The next day we visited Epcot.  A boat from the Swan & Dolphin docks takes visitors to a back entrance near the Great Britain pavilion.  This is a very convenient, uncrowded entrance,  since it is only used by guests coming in on the boats from one of 4 hotel resorts. 

Epcot World Showcase Tree
Most of the pavilions in the World Showcase were decorated for Christmas and there were odd Christmas trees every so often around the park.  At the France site, a photo shoot was going on with the French version of Santa - Pere Noel.  At the U.S. pavilion, Santa and Mrs. Claus were having their photo taken with a line of children.   In the center of Italy's courtyard, an old woman was on a platform telling an Italian Christmas fable.  Germany and Norway were well decorated, but I didn't see anything else going on.    In the Future World section, a large Christmas tree was decorated in the center.  Throughout the park, poinsettias were the only other decoration.  Other than that, the park looked like it always does. 

Santa and Mrs Claus, U.S.A. Pavilion
Each night we went back to our hotel room and watched fireworks from there.  We were on the 10th floor, with a view of the Dolphin hotel and the lake.  At first we weren't sure which fireworks we were seeing.  We could hear the Epcot fireworks but were at the wrong angle to see them and the display we saw was in the opposite direction.  By the second night we figured out that we were seeing the display at the Magic Kingdom.  Although the park officially closed earlier, they were selling tickets to a special holiday party after hours, which included a special fireworks display at 9PM. 

The third day we visited Magic Kingdom.  There was a Christmas tree at the entrance and Main Street USA was decorated for the holiday, but the rest of the park appeared to be unaffected.  Although our phone app said this was a very low attendance day for Magic Kingdom,  it seemed that the most people were in the new Fantasyland section that just opened.  We went on a few rides in other areas with wait times of 15 minutes or less while to new rides had wait times of 45 minutes and up.

We left Disney World in the afternoon and headed for Universal Studios.  They also offer discounted annual passes for Florida residents, and they are much less expensive than the Disney passes.  Even if you don't go into one of the 2 parks there, you get free parking for the City Walk section at the entrance.  This area has movies, restaurants, nightclubs, and the Blue Man Group theater.  We had tickets for the Blue Man Group show Friday night, so that's where we were headed.  This show was unique and excellent.  I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it, but will only say it was loads of fun and worth the price.  Just don't sit in the front center section the first time you see it.

Best of all, the drive home after the show was only about an hour and a half.  The Villages are located so that it is very easy to enjoy all the entertainment options of the Orlando area, and still make it home at a reasonable hour.

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