Blessings of the Season!
This is our first Christmas on the road. Having sold everything, including all the decorations, we were pleased to find this nativity on the wall in the country of Mexico at Epcot's World Showcase, to put on our bulletin board.
We're looking forward to a simplified holiday where we are not exhausted with work, decorating, shopping, wrapping, cooking and entertaining. To be sure, we'll miss the family in general and Lora and J. Michael in particular, but we're not missing the frenzy.
We wish for you some quiet moments to reflect on the greatest gift we could receive...a relationship with our Father through His Son Jesus, that we might enjoy abundant life in Him. May He who is worthy of all our praises bring peace, hope, and love to all your days.
Following our Savannah explorations, we headed for Disney World. Last time we visited was in 1979 when our daughter, Lora, was 6; and at that time there was only the Magic Kingdom. Because this time we were staying about 35 minutes from the park, we opted for 7-day tickets which we used over 9 days.
We had purchased "The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2007" by Bob Sehlinger while in Savannah. It was well worth the $20. In researching for our visit, we found that the addition of Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and MGM, can make a vacation overwhelming.This book was an invaluable tool for strategizing to make the best use of our time and to see everything we wanted to see. It helped us answer the questions: Where can we get the best price for tickets? How to do Disney on a budget? What is the best way to navigate the WDW complex for parking and getting into the parks? What is Fastpass and what is the best way to use it? How can you beat the crowds during each park's busy days? ...and many more we wouldn't have even thought of.
The first week of December is supposed to be one of the "slowest" weeks of the year for visiting Disney. It still seemed very busy to us, and we couldn't believe the number of children who were out of school for a Disney vacation, but we never had to wait more than 10-15 minutes to get on any ride and never needed to use a Fastpass. We kept saying we couldn't even begin to imagine Disney in the middle of summer or during Christmas week.
It is a retelling of the Christmas story narrated by different guest celebrities during the season. (Dancing with the Stars' Mario Lopez was the narrator the night we saw it.) A 400-voice choir, joined by a 50-piece live orchestra tell the story of Christmas in words and music. It was a moving performance. We were blessed to have been there.
Everything at WDW is well-done. We found only one or two exceptions to the pleasant, extremely helpful, and well-informed "cast" members. Everything is immaculate EVERYWHERE...including the corners in the bathrooms! They are ingenious in their ability to move large numbers of people and they make waiting entertaining by cast members engaging the crowd ...from skipping rope to playing the Hokey Pokey .
Some of the highlights of our visit were:
Fantasmic, a production that uses lasers,images projected on a shroud of mis, fireworks, lighting effects and music in stunning combinations.
and Epcot - Soarin'; Living with the Land; and Illuminations, the after-dark program of music, fireworks, erupting fountains, special lighting and laser technology.
The last day we went to the Magic Kingdom. As much as we enjoyed the other parks, the Magic Kingdom IS the essence of Disney World...and it is still for young and old. You can view more pictures of a Disney Christmas in Photo Album: 010: Disney in December.
Following our trip to Disney, we headed to the Escapee park, Sumter Oaks, in Bushnell where we plan to stay through Christmas. In addition to our Nativity, we have simple decorations which are working well. A quilted Christmas table runner, a wreath hanging on the outside of the motorhome, and some greenery around the bulletin board, and we're ready for the holidays.
The Saturday after we arrived, we were able to see the space launch of Discovery from the campground. Against the dark sky we were able to watch the Discovery rise above the horizon, drop the booster and, continue until it looked like a bright star. We were amazed that we could still see it three-quarters across the state.
Next week we'll gather with other folks here at the campground for carols and hot chocolate around a campfire and there's dinner on Christmas in the rec room. Contrary to what I always believed about Christmas in Florida ("Seasons Greetings" on a card with pink flamingos and palm trees), Christmas decorations seem to be about the same as in the north... even the inevitable snowman!
On December 28, we'll leave Florida to head out to Arizona for Quartzsite. Held every January, Quartzsite is a small town of 2,000 people the rest of the year but swells to over 1,000,000 over the winter months. We'll be camping on the desert with upwards to 40,000 - 50,000 other RVs. We should have some tales to tell.
We'll post our adventures of our trip to Arizona on the weblog in mid-January. We wish you and yours a happy new year!