Florida Vacation & Walt Disney World Day One

Merry Christmas, everybody! I hope you're spending the holidays exactly how you'd like to be spending them.

My family and I just got back from the first vacation we've taken in a while and it was fantastic. We left December 13th and headed to the Memphis airport and flew to Orlando. From there we rented a car through Budget and drove to Bradenton to visit my Gramma. We ate at Anna Maria Oyster Bar (twice!), went to Anna Maria Island, grabbed a crab cake from The Sandbar, stayed at the Shorewalk Vacation Villas (loved them), and had a really great time. When we first got to Gramma's house Presley was so excited she jumped out of the car and ran up to Gramma for a big hug. The girls also loved spending time at the beach. 

We left Bradenton on the 15th to head back to the Orlando airport to drop off our rental and board the Magical Express! I definitely did not anticipate the amount of people who would be waiting to board the Magical Express as well... oh.my.goodness. I should have known better since it was the first day for free dining but we've never been at this time of year or for this promotion before so it was uncharted territory. We got on the bus and made it to the Caribbean Beach Resort - our home for the next week! The bell hop was so great. When we told him we were in a hurry and cutting it extra close for our brunch reservation at Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort, he took our information and had our bags held for us until we returned that evening and told us to hurry along to our reservation. 

After some real hurrying on our part, we made it to brunch 15 minutes late and they fit us in right away. This was our first time at Chef Mickey's and I made the reservation after hearing nothing but great things about the place. And holy moly... it did NOT disappoint. The food was INCREDIBLE for brunch!!! The waffles were incredible, they had macaroni and cheese for the kids, and the salmon was definitely a favorite for me. There was so much food and it was all incredible. I am not a huge buffet enthusiast, but this has got to be the best of the best out there.

Aside from the food at Chef Mickey's, the characters that come to your table to visit is such a huge draw, especially if you have children. When we walked into the restaurant and gave our names we got to visit Pluto and take photos with him while we waited for our table. (Our pager got buzzed before we even got up to see Pluto! Amazing.) This was our first character interaction of the Disney trip and Presley did WONDERFUL. She was so excited to see Pluto and to give him a hug. 

Follow that up with visits to our table from Minnie, Goofy, Mickey, and Donald and it's incredible that we ate any food at all from the excitement! Molly made it very clear that she was not interested in the giant characters and instead was very afraid of them. We'd have to pick her up and hold her each time they came over. By the time Mickey and Donald made it around she would stay seated in her high chair and almost seemed to like Donald by the end of our meal. 

We also had a window seat with a beautiful view at brunch. We enjoyed Chef Mickey's so much that I can't imagine visiting Disney without stopping in here each time.

From there we hopped on the monorail and headed into Magic Kingdom. We didn't get very far into the park when the Festival of Fantasy parade began and we enjoyed the sights from Main Street. What a gorgeous parade!

Molly took a nap in our stroller as soon as the (very loud) parade started. I don't remember exactly what our fast passes were on our first day but I know we didn't ride very many rides as the park closed at 7pm that day if you didn't have tickets to Mickey's Very Merry holiday party thing. (Which we did not.) We did meet up with my in-laws for dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern - which was our FAVORITE meal from our honeymoon! The food was just as delicious as I remember and had just a few alterations since our last visit in 2011. 

Liberty Tree Tavern wasn't either of our favorite meal experiences from this trip, but it was a delicious meal that we really did enjoy!! (What's not to love about all-you-care-to-enjoy Thanksgiving food??)

This ended our evening at the parks as we were all tired from traveling, Magic Kingdom closed early, and we still had to check in to our resort and wrangle up our bags. We (eventually) made it to our room and I cannot say enough wonderful things about the updated, gorgeous, spacious rooms at the Caribbean Beach Resort!!! 

Room 4117 - Jamaica
But more about our resort in another post on another day! There is so much more to share about our amazing time at Disney including what it was like at Disney with an almost-four-year-old and an 18 month-old, what we liked and liked least about our resort, making FP+ and ADR's, and what the heck those letters mean! Stay tuned for more ;)


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