Jaime & Ethan’s Thanksgiving Trip, Day 1

Ethan and I are both planners and love researching future destinations. Almost as soon as we got home from Ethan’s First Disney Trip in February, 2013, he started firing up websites and videos of the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.  He was going to be prepared for next February and that “pinkie-swear” promise to return to Disney in one year.  We started watching Disney movies on Netflix and Red Box and came across Tangled.  It became “our” movie, and we got very excited about New Fantasyland and the Tangled-themed bathrooms that were built.

One night last spring, Ethan suggested a “stretch goal”: a Thanksgiving Disney Road Trip. His definition of “stretch goal” is “if we manage it, great; if not, well it was fun trying”.  He quickly learned that “stretch goal” to me means “We’re going, come hell or high water, don’t you dare think of backing out or I’ll rip your heart out”. Just a slight difference in thought processes. I begin a spreadsheet with a plan: Leave Wednesday night after work, get there Thanksgiving Thursday, leave there Saturday afternoon, and get home Sunday night.  It was rudimentary, but just the start.

After tons of talk and planning, the plan is set: Hollywood Studios Thursday, Magic Kingdom Friday, and EPCOT Saturday. Animal Kingdom will just have to wait for February.

Then a storm is predicted to move across the ENTIRE United States right before Thanksgiving! We didn’t panic, but suddenly our Wednesday departure is actually Monday afternoon (made for a very interesting Sunday, what with all the packing I was going to do Tuesday night!)  We didn’t beat the rain (Ethan drove all night long in pouring rain – he’s my Hero! And I drove all the way to Ocala in the lighter rain) but we did beat the cold front, which would have turned all that rain into very dangerous ice!


We find ourselves in Orlando on Tuesday, instead of Thursday, with no plans! I Expedia’d a room on 192 called Seralago (not much more than a motel, serviceable but not repeatable).

After checking in and dumping our stuff, we head over to Animal Kingdom Lodge (it’s where we’re staying in February) for lunch and looking around. Back in June, I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy and Ethan and I went gluten free. We both noticed a big difference in our energy levels and in our ragweed allergies. (Ethan was not officially diagnosed with anything, but we’re read enough to know that if you go gluten free and notice a change, then you probably had some type of gluten sensitivity). All that to say, this trip is our first gluten free Disney trip. Did you know about Disney and food allergies? It’s the place to be! They are amazing about helping guests with whatever food issues they have.

So for our first meal, we headed to The Mara and ordered the chicken pita sandwich with fries. They substituted the pita bread with an Udi’s pizza crust (we do that at home sometimes with burgers now). It was really good and slightly on the spicy side.

After lunch and some safari viewing, we headed over to Art of Animation to walk around and see this fairly new Disney Value Resort. It’s on the list of places to stay.

We have dinner plans at The Wave in the Contemporary (we made the ADR in the car on the drive down!) Ethan suggests driving to the Wilderness Lodge (another place we wanted to tour) and taking the boat over to the Contemporary.

Wait, what???

When did the Disney Newbie learn more about the Disney Transportation System then the woman who’s taken almost 40 trips here???

Turns out, Ethan sat on our balcony at Bay Lake Tower in February and watched the boats travel to the different locations. He memorized the routes. Works in my favor tonight!

We boat over to the Contemporary and check in at The Wave a little early. We go into the bar area and order a couple of drinks. This may have been a mistake – other than some napping in the car, we’ve basically been up for a day and a half!

We are offered gluten free rolls by the chef, but all they have is Udi’s bread (fine) with their normal salted butter (yum).

Two meat dishes later and we are completely wiped out.

Boat back to Wilderness Lodge, drive back to Seralago, and pass out on a bed made of concrete! Tomorrow awaits!!!

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