I love reading trip reports and was planning on writing one for our December 2016 trip, but of course life gets in the way and that never happened … until now! I noticed that a lot of people are planning their December vacations now, so I thought a Christmas trip report might still be interesting, even if it is coming a little late.
Here are the basics:
Who: My husband and I and our three kiddos DS6, DS4, and DD2
What: A Disney Christmas! My husband and I have been to WDW various times over the years, but our first visit to WDW with the kids prior to this was in September-October 2015; we stayed offsite with another family and had a blast but wanted the onsite experience this time around
When: 12/16/16 – 12/24/16
Where: Walt Disney World, of course! More specifically, we stayed at the Grand Floridian with free dining
Since this trip report is rather belated, I probably won’t be able to come up with the minute details of everything, so it will be more overall impressions and suggestions for traveling with kids (and husbands that are maybe a little less Disney-enthused … haha!).
Here is the day-by-day breakdown of our itinerary including where we ate (in case you want to skip ahead to what is most interesting to you):
Day 1 – 12/16/16: travel day, arrival to St. Petersburg
Day 2 – 12/17/16: Clearwater Beach and arrival to the GF, dinner at ‘Ohana
Day 3 – 12/18/16: Brunch at 1900 Park Fare, MVMCP
Day 4 – HS, lunch at Mama Melrose’s
Day 5 – AK, breakfast at Tusker House and dinner at Victoria and Albert’s
Day 6 – MK, breakfast at Crystal Palace
Day 7 – Epcot, lunch at Coral Reef and dinner at Biergarten
Day 8 – MK and HS, breakfast at CRT and dinner at BOG
I loooove planning trips … and I think all the intense planning is probably a big reason I love Disney trips so much. Here is a quick list of sites/blogs that I used and referenced while getting prepared for this trip:
touringplans.com (definitely the best – and I’m not just saying this because this is the touringplans forum. It just is.) I need to give a special shout out to the touringplans reservation finder – Best. Thing. Ever.
DAY 1 – 12/16/16
Travel day! Not much to report here – just happy to be leaving snowy, sleety Iowa for lovely Florida! Because of said sleet our flight out of Cedar Rapids was delayed, but the kids took it in stride and did great with the delay. We opted for a direct flight even though that meant arriving in St. Petersburg rather than Orlando and had no regrets – we thought we might want to have a car anyway and are really glad we went this route (I’ll talk more about renting a car vs. Disney transportation later). As a side note, these are the booster seats we use while traveling for our two oldest, and they’re great – compressible and easy to inflate when we need them. https://www.amazon.com/BubbleBum-Travel-Booster-Seat-Black/dp/B00AQYZCXK/ref=sr_1_2_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1501766221&sr=8-2&keywords=bubble%2Bbum&th=1 This way, we only had to transport the carseat for DD2. And for those of you traveling with young kids – there is nothing better than a direct flight. Nothing. Do it.
Because of the delay, we got into St. Pete pretty late but were able to get our rental car and get to our hotel without any problems. Early in the planning process, we decided we were going to stay overnight in St. Pete rather than driving to Orlando right away to save some $$ and allow for a travel buffer – which was a good idea, as it turns out, given the flight delay. We stayed at the Residence Inn Clearwater Downtown, which was perfect as it had breakfast and easy travel to the beach - see Day 2!