LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Any trip to Walt Disney World Resort is memorable, but it is extra special during a holiday.
After visiting during Christmas and the Fourth of July, we thought it would be fun to celebrate the second birthday of our newest addition to the family at the Happiest Place on Earth. Dylan, son of my niece Alisha, was turning 2 on Oct. 27, 2011.
With football season in full force, along with the Texas Rangers in the World Series, it took a bit of juggling, but our group of eight worked out our schedules and headed to Florida.
It was well worth it to see the smile on Dylan's face as well as his papa's and nana's and the rest of the family.
Another bonus: The parks were decorated for Halloween. Mickey Mouse pumpkin carvings were everywhere, along with splashes of festive fall colors.
All the parks from the Magic Kingdom to EPCOT to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom had a different feel with the orange decorations everywhere.
Of course in the Disney mantra, this would not frighten anyone, although be alert around the Haunted Mansion. The party is on select nights from mid-September to the first couple of days of November. This year, it concludes on Nov. 2. It is also a separate admission fee.
All ages are encouraged to dress up in their favorite ghouls and goblins or your favorite Disney character. It was fun to see the many Mickey Mouses, Captain Jacks and Tiggers; or as young Dylan did, he decided to go as Lightning McQueen from the “Cars” movies.
Also at various stops — spotlighted by the Goofy's Candy Co. lantern — you get to trick-or-treat. Well at Disney, it is treats. And if candy is not to your liking, raisins are an option.
Along with the many rides, there is Mickey's “Boo-to-You” Halloween parade with Mickey and his friends, along with stars of the Haunted Mansion (watch out for those hitchhiking ghosts).
The parade begins with a ride by the Headless Horseman from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Also during the trick-or-trick portion, many of the Disney characters and villains are in special Halloween costumes giving out treats. There is special lighting, music and different effects that transform areas of the Magic Kingdom into “happy haunted hollows.”
And to top off the night, there is the Happy HalloWishes, a truly spectacular fireworks show where the Disney villains “go trick-or-treating in the sky.”
The tone is really “Not-So-Scary,” so all kids can enjoy.
You can't beat the combination of Disney and food as far as I'm concerned.
This is an opportunity to try foods and drinks from all over the world; and not just the countries that are on permanent display in the International Showcase.
Throughout the festival, there's lots of food, fun and entertainment. Each day get a passport and schedule. At each stop, be sure and get your passport stamped. It was quite fun talking with folks at each stop; many from their native lands. Needless to say I was forgoing my Fit City pledge (although I was walking quite a bit).
The food prices are reasonable at the various “fast food stops,” but some of the restaurants can be expensive. We pick a different restaurant each visit to Disney, and this time it was Via Napoli (I just knew Mike Napoli was going to lead the Rangers to the World Series championship with that connection).
It features the “flavors of southern Italy including pastas, salads, gelato and, of course, authentic Neapolitan pizza cooked in wood-burning ovens.” Prices range from $15.99 to $35.99.
Dylan likes to rise early, so we picked a character breakfast at Cape May Café at the Beach Club Resort.
He enjoyed getting his cake with candles. Dylan (and the rest of the family) also had the opportunity to have his photo made with each character — Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy.
It was quite a treat.
- Under the Sea~Journey of the Little Mermaid: Enter Prince Eric's castle, board a giant clamshell and rock out on this new musical attraction.
- Be Our Guest Restaurant: Feast in one of three dining rooms in the middle of Beast's Castle.
- Enchanted Tales with Belle: Become part of a lively retelling of the “tale as old as time,” hosted by Belle and Lumière.
- Ariel's Grotto: Take photos and get autographs with everyone's favorite undersea princess.
- The Barnstormer: Take to the sky with The Great Goofini on spiraling stunt plane adventure high above the Storybook Circus grounds.
- Dumbo The Flying Elephant: Soar high above Storybook Circus with Dumbo on a ride that puts a new twist on an old favorite — and offers twice the fun.
- Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station: Adjacent to the Fantasyland Train Station, this is a circus-themed water play area where guests can enjoy cooling refreshment.
- Fantasyland Station: It is newest addition to Walt Disney World Railroad. The area has “multicolored circus tents, lively characters and other nods to Dumbo.” And scheduled to open in 2013.
- Princess Fairytale Hall: The elegant royal court is home to Disney princesses who are ready to meet their subjects.
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: Embark on an exhilarating journey inspired by the classic Disney film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”