A Walt Disney World Christmas In July Trip Report: 11/19/23

Harambe

Christmas in July is here! I held back my Thanksgiving Walt Disney World trip report due to time constraints, and I’m so excited to finally share it with you. Click here for the setup, and read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

It was our first full day of the Disney trip, and I was up and at ’em early. As the acknowledged expert of the group, I was in charge of our Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane selections. No pressure! (Remember this is last November, so we’re still playing by the old LL rules. No pre-selections for us.)

A LEISURELY DISNEY MORNING

Luckily I was able to secure my preferred first spots, and then my morning was free. I was not touring with a rope drop, end-the-day-on-fumes kind of group, and you know what? I think that’s fine. With reasonable expectations and smart strategy in place, you can have an equal-to-better Disney day with a lot less stress.

Since I was therefore in no further rush, I snuggled back into bed for a bit, then took my time getting ready for the day. Pat was up shortly after, and we wandered down to the Contemporary Grounds coffee shop on the lobby level. Lattes then in hand, we perused the concourse gift shops before finally meeting up with Egon and company for our early lunch reservation.

Coffee from Contemporary Grounds on the lobby level of The Contemporary

Where were we headed? Glad you asked; the valet driver who brought around Egon’s van did too, in the same breath offering to give us directions to our destination. “Kidani Village!” we replied, at which point he shrugged and counseled plugging it into our GPS. 😂

Thankfully the GPS did in fact know how to get there, and we were parked at Animal Kingdom Lodge in no time. Indeed, we were so early as to have plenty of time to admire the savanna animals before our meal. The Cast Member manning the area was very impressed by my ability to name the Ankole cattle; I had to tell her I had simply ridden Kilimanjaro Safaris that many times. 😅

OFF TO THE OTHER DISNEY KINGDOM

Then it was actually time for lunch, which was of course at Sanaa. Thus fortified with appropriately themed food, we were ready for an afternoon at the best park: Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Disney's Animal Kingdom parking lot sign

For once in my life I managed to put together a geographically logical Lightning Lane starting lineup! First we knocked out our River Journey slot, followed almost immediately by Flight of Passage. I know I just finished whining about how Avatar is dumb, but the rides are fun and admittedly must-dos for first timers. Well, maybe River Journey less so, but the girls loved the gentle thrills of banshee wrangling.

This was of course all a lead up to our next Lightning Lane slot, because it was time to up the ante. Over we went to Expedition Everest! This coaster remains one of my Worldwide favorites (remember that time I rode it during the marathon?), and received a similarly positive review from Alice and Cindy. The drop didn’t even faze them. Great success!

The one downside to their rapidly developing taste for danger was a correlated dip in their interest in anything tame. Our next Lightning Lane slot was for Kilimanjaro Safaris, which both Alice and Cindy declared comparatively boring. Boring?! We saw elephants, children!!! Although admittedly we did so while moving at apparently unforgivably slow speeds.

Road closed sign in front of an elephant in Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Well, I would have my (minor) revenge, for our next Lightning Lane was for Dinosaur. (Yes, immediately next; I was really racking ’em up and knocking ’em down that day.) Dinosaur looks pretty chill and friendly on the outside, doesn’t it? Aladar with his little empty fountain and goofy Dr. Grant Seeker?

Don’t worry, nobody came off crying! In fact, both girls liked it a lot. But the Carnotaurus bit definitely got them (if ever there was a time to violate the don’t-post-other-peoples’-children rule, it would be now; as it stands, you’ll have to trust that our on-ride photo is pretty hilarious). Add to that missing lighting creating an extra-special-dark experience, and Dinosaur was undoubtedly the scariest ride so far.

Triceratops Spin was just the silly little palate cleanser the moment called for, so we hopped in the reasonably short line. I can’t remember the last time I rode… any spinner ride, really, but it was cute! Should I take another stab at Dumbo? Things to ponder.

WDW trip report - Dino Santa

It was getting on in the evening, and we decided to see about dinner. Our original plan was to hit up Rainforest Cafe. I found this lacking in distinctly Disney flavor, however, so I suggested we instead attempt to join the walkup queue for Nomad Lounge. I was shocked upon hitting the “join” button to get a callback immediately, and we were soon seated in one of those little wicker couches on Tiffins’ outside patio. It was snug, but we made it work!

IMPORTANT SOUVENIR DECISIONS

By the time dinner was over the park was closed, and we piled back into the van for the trek back to The Contemporary. I diverged briefly from the group to use the bathroom, meeting up with everyone again in the concourse central gift shop. Speed was imperative, as my expertise was required. The girls were picking out stuffed animals, and my advice was needed to be sure they were selecting the best one.

In their typical fashion, Alice made her choice quickly while Cindy circled the store, unable to land on anything she liked. My suggestion of a cinnamon roll Munchling was rejected; “It would just make me hungry,” Cindy said. See, this is why Disney is practically giving Munchlings away.

She did ultimately decide on a Jack Skellington Pillow Pal, Alice got the panda from Turning Red, and our order of business was complete. Egon and Ariel took the girls up to their room while Pat and I headed over to the corner sundries shop for a bottle of room wine. Ya gotta have room wine. (Pro tip: they should have a wine opener behind the cash register if you need to borrow one.)

Pat and I knocked out some showers before rejoining the others in their room to watch the fireworks from their balcony. This is an enormous perk of staying at a monorail resort, but I do wish The Contemporary would pipe in the music like Wilderness Lodge does.

And that was it! Pat and I went back to our room and watched a bit of Elf before heading to bed. Many days of Disney joy still awaited us…

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

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