Monday, March 29, 2010

Tail Of The Tape: Sunshine Seasons vs Columbia Harbour House

There are some GREAT counter service restaurants in Walt Disney World. Several months ago we outlined our best (and worst) of counter services around The Mouse (Best And Worst Counter Service Restaurants in WDW, Nov. 26 2009) and decided we'd narrow it down further by pitting two of the biggies up against one another in more detail, head to head: Sunshine Seasons in Epcot and Columbia Harbour House in Magic Kingdom.

I'll start off by saying Seasons and Harbour House are two of my absolute favorites on property. They are definitely two heavy-hitters, and for very different reasons.

Sunshine Seasons is about the variety and quality of the food. What it isn't about is theming. Located inside The Land across from Soarin', it poorly themed, but that's OK. It's especially OK when the food is as good as it is.

It's broken down into 4 main sections: Asian Wok Shop, Sandwich Shop & Bakery, Soup & Salad Shop and the Wood-Fired Grill Shop. Each have some great choices and some of the healthiest options in The Mouse. This is important, because one thing many people have trouble with at Disney World is the ability to eat healthfully, and Sunshine Seasons at least gives you a fighting chance to do that. For example, the Black Bean Soup, the huge Caesar Chicken Salad (go easy on the dressing - ask for it on the side), the Grilled Salmon, the Seared Tuna Salad and the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich are relatively good ways to go from a healthy-eating standpoint.

It also has a tremendous amount of snacks and desserts to choose from including a cheese & grapes platter, cous-cous, turkey wraps, yogurt, key lime pie, strawberry shortcake and many other sinful and not-so-sinful options. It also has a self-serve drink station. Now, we're not really sure if you're technically "allowed" to have free re-fills at Sunshine Seasons, but I've never seen them stop anyone. And usually at counter services, when it's a self-serve drink station, it's OK to get re-fills. That is probably the case here, too.

In the end, because the food is awesome, Sunshine Seasons is simply one of the best counter service choices in The Mouse if you don't mind bland theming.

Columbia Harbour House is great for a whole different set of reasons. They aren't so much about variety, but the quality of (most of) the food is good and they also have some relatively healthy options. Where they REALLY score big points is the theming...and location. But while theming definitely takes a back seat to food (we are talking about restaurants here), the combination of both at Harbor House makes the place a fantastic and attractive option.

The theming and decor of Harbour House is amazing. Based on the history of sailing and seafaring (especially of the 18th & 19th centuries), they have relics and art displayed all throughout. This restaurant was designed with such care that you'd think it was meant to be an attraction. It's really worth taking the time to explore and savor the attention to detail. What's also cool is the fact that's it has two floors - and the second floor is usually rather empty. And if you get the right window seat, you can overlook Liberty Square (and the Haunted Mansion!). Eating in peace and quiet with a great view of the outside along with the theming of this place makes it a can't-beat atmosphere for Counter Services.

The food? It's good. Not great, but it's good. It holds up its end enough so that you can justify going there for something other than just the surrounding theme and location. If you're a fan of battered/fried chicken and fish, then this is a wonderful option. If you like some semi-healthy options, then you can also survive here as well. The Lighthouse Sandwich is pretty good (hummus with tomato-broccoli slaw) and the Anchors Aweigh Sandwich (white tuna with lettuce & tomato on whole grain bread) isn't bad a option either.

Tail Of The Tape

Sunshine Seasons
Menu Variety: 5 Mouse Ears
Menu Uniqueness: 5 Mouse Ears
Food Quality: 5 Mouse Ears
Cost: 4 Mouse Ears
Theme: 2 Mouse Ears
Total: 21 Mouse Ears

Columbia Harbour House
Menu Variety: 3 Mouse Ears
Menu Uniqueness: 5 Mouse Ears
Food Quality: 3 Mouse Ears
Cost: 4 Mouse Ears
Theme: 5 Mouse Ears
Total: 20 Mouse Ears

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Ode To The Magic Kingdom

Ah, the Magic Kingdom! The crown jewel of Walt Disney World. What is it about the original Florida park that makes it so special? What is it about this particular park that draws us to it again and again no matter how many times we've been there?

It's an interesting question. The kids, Hope and I have been there as a family too many times to count. And before that on solo trips, and with my brother Kevin and sister-in-law Melanie, and friends and other family members like my parents. We've done every ride, show and attraction in the place. Over the years we've tried Casey's, Pecos Bill's, Columbia Harbour House, Starlight Cafe, The Plaza Restaurant, The Main Street Bakery, Pinnochio's Village Haus, Aloha Isle and more (probably everything they have except the table service restaurants for some reason). We've explored most every nook and cranny.

Yet it's still magical.

Wishes can still choke me up.

I still look at details of the Haunted Mansion with awe and respect for such imagination.

Space Mountain may not be the biggest or baddest coaster on the face of the planet, but it still makes me laugh like crazy person. Every time.

The site of Cinderella's castle emerging into sight as we turn the corner past the Emporium still takes my breath away for an instant. Especially when the Holiday Lights are up during The Season.

The smell of the Confectionary out on Main Street USA still gets me in good mood.

How about the surge of adrenaline you get every...single...time... you hit the peak of Splash Mountain and get ready to drop?

Does any 3D movie touch Mickey's Philharmagic? I think not. I still love the Be Our Guest and Lion King sequences every time I see them.

How about the theming of Pirates of the Caribbean? Or that distinctive smell of the water? Or the unbelievable Captain Jack animatronics?

It never gets old trying to pull the sword out of the stone. And it's especially awesome to see your 6 year old son actually pull the thing out and get named "Prince of Fantasyland" for the day. And THAT is even better when it happens after a group of college dudes just tried to get it out...and failed. To the great amusement of their girlfriends and everyone else standing around.

Magic Kingdom knows how to throw a party, too.

It never gets old trying to get your kids soaking wet courtesy of Aladdin's camel. Especially when they aren't paying attention.

Two words: Dole Whip.

Two more words: Mickey Mouse.

Isn't it awesome seeing grown adults wearing Mickey Ears and not caring who sees them? They're amongst like-minded friends. And we all love it.

Two more words: Cast Members.

I'm reminded every time I go there and stand outside of the hub looking at the castle, that it's the place I knelt down and proposed to my wife.

And I also remember the feeling of wearing the Mickey Top Hat during our Disneymoon, walking through the Kingdom and feeling on top of the world.

It's reading all the signage on the windows of Main Street, USA.

It extends outside of the park as well...

It's riding the Admiral Joe Fowler on the second deck, breeze in your hair, heading toward The Kingdom.

It's entering the Contemporary via the Highway In The Sky.

It's watching Wishes from the beach of the Poly.

It's seeing the ever-changing colors of the Castle at night from a distance as you make the loop around the Monorail.

It's the Castle in the morning light.

It's riding Big Thunder while Wishes is going off.

It's the tiki music on the bridge to Adventureland.

It's experiencing a little part of Walt in Carousel of Progress. And its air conditioning.

It's that little part of Walt in Small World, too.

The Magic Kingdom has a feeling attached to it that is unique in Walt Disney World. This is why we can never get enough of it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Missing In The Mouse: Italy Pavilion's Living Statues

What do you miss in The Mouse? There are many things that are long gone that I miss, and the Living Statue in Epcot's Italy pavilion is one of them. These phenomenally talented individuals attracted crowds of gawkers in much the same way DiVine still does at Animal Kingdom these days. I wish they'd bring them back...

The statues had the amazing ability to stay perfectly still for minutes on end - seemingly without breathing or blinking. They would move only when they knew it would freak out a guest or would provide a great picture opportunity for another. Some of the reactions were priceless. And the makeup and costumes were incredible. They were very much part of the many little things that added to the unique atmosphere that is Walt Disney World.

What are some of the long-gone things YOU miss in Walt Disney World?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day From Around The Mouse!

In honor of St. Patty's Day, I've posted one of my favorite Disney pins - the 2008 St. Patrick's Day "Mickey Mouse In A Bowler Hat". The image is from one of the best sites on the web for looking up and referencing Disney Pins: I traded for this pin from a Cast Member lanyard a few months ago.

"Ha ha, oh boy! Where's my green beer?"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Mouse Is In The Details: The Nooks Of World Showcase

So many times at Walt Disney World we're running. Running from one attraction to another. Running to an ADR. Running to catch Wishes. Running to get in line at the Character Spot. Running to get the best seat possible at Fantasmic. Running to the bathroom.

And while it is necessary to boogie sometimes, at times it's just better to...chill. Relax. Take in the little things that separate The Mouse from most all other forms of entertainment. One of the great things about the product Walt Disney World provides is their attention to detail; it is the single most important factor in their theming.

This is why I love World Showcase at Epcot so much. Sure, is has great restaurants (Les Chefs de France, Biergarten, San Angel Inn, etc.). It has great live entertainment (Voices of Liberty, Off Kilter, Dragon Acrobats, etc.). And it has great shows (Illuminations, American Adventure). They even have a great, old-school, classic EPCOT Center attraction (Maelstrom).

But more than anything, World Showcase is wonderful for its detail. The little things that are hidden away that aren't immediately apparent. They may take a little digging and exploring to find...but when you find them, it helps you to appreciate just how special and unique a place this is. And these are some of the best places in Walt Disney World to take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy.

These nooks and crannies of World Showcase are too many to count. So we'll start with just a few of our favorites:

Canadian Rockies Waterfalls & Bridge, Canada Pavilion

This is an easy one to miss. Most everyone can see the Canadian Rockies jutting up high at the back of the Canada pavilion. But not everyone has taken the bridge path at the base of these mountains where beautiful waterfalls rain down in mesmerizing fashion into the stream that leads out toward the Queen Victoria Gardens. It's also easy to skip if you take the left down the stairs at the top of the pavilion on your way to the O, Canada! 360 degree movie. The movie empties out into the far end of the bridge and leads out past Le Cellier. But if you decide that at the top of the pavilion to take the right down the stairs toward the mountain waterfalls, you can find this gem.

Mask Shop, Italy Pavilion

This is artistry at an incredibly high level. The Venetian masks sold at this little shop which is tucked away inside the Italy pavilion can be mind-blowing and breathtaking. Even if you don't lay down a pretty penny to take one home, just admiring the incredible detail and beauty of these masks is a wonderful, and hidden, experience.

Tomb Warriors Exhibit, China Pavilion

Just to the left of the massive Temple Of Heaven in the China pavilion is a large room hosting an amazing exhibit: Tomb Warriors, Guardian Spirits Of Ancient China. This can't miss attraction is actually easy to miss, so don't overlook it. I love the sense of authentic ancient history this exhibit exudes. This is what the plaque reads describing the warriors:

"Tomb Warriors - Qin Dynasty (221 - 210 B.C.). These tomb warriors were intended to be the protectors of the emperor beyond the grave. Because nearly all the faces of the tomb warriors are unique, some archaeologists believe that the figures were modeled after real soldiers. Many other emperors followed Qin's example and created their own special armes. One tomb even provided a mess hall for the convenience of the terracotta statues."

Other ancient artifacts spanning China's history line the walls of the exhibit room. This place is amazing. Don't forget to stop and smell this incredible rose.

Japanese Garden, Japan Pavilion

I've mention this place before in previous articles - the Japanese garden that resides behind the massive temple in the Japan pavilion is one of the most serene, beautiful and peaceful spots in all of Walt Disney World. And because it's hidden behind that huge temple, it's easy to overlook. Stroll the garden over little bridges, admire the koi fish pond, take in the gentle sounds of the bamboo trees creaking as it compliments the low bubble of the small waterfalls found throughout this lush and hidden garden. Beautiful.

Marketplace of Morocco, Morocco Pavilion

Talk about a feeling of authenticity. The Morocco pavilion is not only one of the most beautiful of the 11 that surround World Showcase Lagoon, but it is perhaps the pavilion that enables you to feel most like you are literally in that country. You can get lost in the marketplace and winding paths that create this phenomenal pavilion. Everything from the cross-hatched roofs (as shown above), which create beautiful light and shadow, to the architecture of the front entrance of Restaurant Marrakesh, the subtle detail of this pavilion is almost unmatched in Walt Disney World. Get lost in here and enjoy.

There are many more spots like these dotted throughout World Showcase. And whether you're strolling the Showcase under beautiful, bright sunlight or during the more romantic glow of the evening, there are plenty of incredible little places to find and explore.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tail Of The Tape: Boma vs Tusker House

Let me preface this by saying that Boma and Tusker House are two of my absolute favorite restaurants in all of The Mouse. Same goes for our whole family. So to compare them is like comparing Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle - you simply can't go wrong with either. Basically, they both offer many of the same phenomenal qualities and they're both great at what they do. And as with DiMaggio and Mantle, it's the little things that make the difference when it comes to picking a favorite.

Boma has nostalgia and sentimentality on its side for me. It's one of the first "sit-down" restaurants I ever tried at WDW and over the years we've had several celebratory meals there, as it's tried and true and great - a known commodity.

Tusker House is a recent player on the scene. For several years it was a counter service restaurant in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom. It was a good counter service, and I was actually disappointed when I learned they were shutting it down. But I didn't know what they had in mind to take over when it opened its doors again. But it has not only cracked the lineup of great table-service restaurants in WDW, it shot its way up to the top like a Rookie Of The Year candidate. It's now a stand-out.

The similarities are interesting. Both are inspired by African and Mediterranean cuisine. Both have interior design schemes that may be completely different in tone and atmosphere, but they share an authentic African feel. Both are located amongst the Animal Kingdom park and resort areas. Both are buffets. Both have not only an incredibly varied menu to choose from, but a high-quality menu; the food is top notch at both establishments.

So, as in comparisons when there are many similarities, it's the differences that make the difference in the end.

Boma is open for breakfast and dinner - not for lunch. This, in my opinion, is the biggest ding in Boma's armor. First, lunch is usually a cheaper meal than dinner. For many people who are interested in saving money, they can eat lunch at a great restaurant and save some pennies in comparison to eating dinner at the same place...yet the menu offerings are very similar (dinner will usually feature an extra entree dish or two and desserts that aren't offered at lunch). Second, if I'm going to eat at a buffet or have a large meal such as the kind you can get at Boma, I'd rather have it earlier in the day so I have more time to digest it and work it off (at least work part of it off). Huge meals late at night to me are not a good idea.

Tusker House, on the other hand, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You have all your options available, including a slightly cheaper lunch offering.

Boma is located outside of the Animal Kingdom theme park - meaning if you're in the park, you have to actually leave to enjoy Boma. This isn't a problem for most people who have dinner ADRs for Boma, as Animal Kingdom is usually closed by about that time, but it's still not optimal. Tusker House is located inside Animal Kingdom and you obviously don't have to leave in order to get there.

Boma has some of the most incredible soups you will EVER taste. The carrot ginger and butternut squash soups alone are worth the price of admission, and honestly there isn't soup there I've tried that I didn't LOVE. They are masterpieces. Tusker has a few soups, but they don't hold a candle to Boma's selection.

Tusker's buffet set-up is more user-friendly. It is wide open and spacious, allowing for minimal crowds and lines at each food station - plenty of room to move. Boma has very little room by its buffet tables and sometimes the lines get ridiculous.

Boma has Zebra Domes. One of the best desserts you will ever try. Tusker doesn't have Zebra Domes. Tusker does have the 7-layer cookie, however. At least they used to - I haven't seen it since the first visit a year ago. If they still have it, it at least gives the Zebra Dome a run for the money...although I'd still pick the Dome.

Tusker has their orzo pasta with feta, spinach and kalamata olives. Incredible. No side dish at Boma touches it.

Boma has a spit-fired prime rib that is out of this world good. No entree at Tusker touches it.

Basically, both restaurants offer a few dishes that are unique and not available at the other...but most of what they offer is similar in style and flavor, being African/Mediterranean in origin. It's more the experience and circumstances in each that is the main difference. If you want a darker, more beautiful and even romantic (for a buffet) atmosphere, Boma is the way to go. It also has a huge selection of beers, wine and mixed drinks that Tusker doesn't have. If you want the convenience of in-park dining, Tusker is the way to go. If you want a slightly cheaper lunch option, Tusker is your only choice.

In the end though, I have to pick Boma. Partly for nostalgia reasons, partly for the fact that it's still great and hasn't lost its quality, and partly because its atmosphere is far superior. Tusker, while it loses this battle, loses only by a nose. Boma set the bar very, very high and Tusker House is right there with it.

Tail Of The Tape
Food quality: Slight edge to Boma
Food variety: Even
Service: Even
Price: Tusker House (option for a cheaper lunch)
Overall Experience & Atmosphere: Boma

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Interview: A Kid And Her Coasters

Do the kids in your family love or hate thrill rides? In particular, how do they feel about the prototypical thrill ride: roller coasters? Well, our kids love coasters, so we decided to sit down and get the scoop on 10-year-old Katie's favorite coasters in WDW.

Around The Mouse: Katie, what's your favorite roller coaster in Walt Disney World?
Katie: I'd have to say Space Mountain.
ATM: Really? What about Space Mountain makes it your favorite coaster?
Katie: I like how dark it is and all the surprising turns and drops. You can't see where you're going and I like that.
ATM: What else do you like about Space Mountain?
Katie: I like the long hallway with the video games. Those are fun. I don't like the windows into space though - they make me feel a little sick to my stomach. But I just don't look at those any more.

ATM: Which coaster is your second favorite after Space?
Katie: Hmm. I'd say Primeval Whirl.
ATM: Wow. You like Primeval Whirl better than Everest?
Katie: Yeah. Everest comes in third though.
ATM: OK, what is it about Whirl that lands it so high up on your list of coasters?
Katie: I love how it spins so fast and has those fast drops. I also like the bright colors of the ride. It's different than all the other coasters.

ATM: Alright. You said Everest comes in third?
Katie: Yeah. It's my third favorite roller coaster.
ATM: What do you like about Everest?
Katie: I like how the Yeti attacks you as you ride by. I also like the backward drop in the dark and the big drop after the Yeti rips up the train tracks.

ATM: OK, which coaster comes after Everest?
Katie: Rock & Roller Coaster! I love Rock & Roller Coaster.
ATM: But you like Space, Primeval and Everest better than Rock & Roller Coaster?
Katie: Yeah, it's close, but I like it fourth best.
ATM: What's makes you love this one?
Katie: I like the corkscrew and loop a lot. I like how it's dark.
ATM: What makes the top 3 better than this one in your eyes?
Katie: I don't like the beginning - the zero to 60.
ATM: Really? I would have thought you'd like that the best.
Katie: makes me feel a little sick.
ATM: I didn't know that!
Katie: Yeah, it does a little. It's not my favorite part.

ATM: Alright, that leaves two coasters...Big Thunder and Goofy's Barnstormer. What comes in 5th after Rock & Roller Coaster?
Katie: Big Thunder is 5th.
ATM: Why that over Barnstormer?
Katie: Well, Barnstormer is for little kids, but that's fun too. But I like Big Thunder better because it's faster and it has the wilderness theming - I like that.

ATM: OK, so that leaves Goofy's Barnstormer for last, but you said it's fun too. What's fun about Barnstormer?
Katie: I like how they have Goofy as part of the ride. That's the best part.
ATM: Ah, so you like how they have part of the Fab Five as part of the theming? By the way, who are the Fab Five?
Katie: Oh, that's easy. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy!
ATM: Thank you, Katie.
Katie: You're welcome, dad!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What's the best time of year at WDW?

What's the best time to visit Walt Disney World? This is an important question because when you visit Walt Disney World can greatly effect your vacation experience. Personally, I've always considered there to be four distinct times of year in Walt Disney World, and they correspond loosely with the seasons - but not exactly so.

I'm thinking about this topic because after having just completed the "holiday season" at The Mouse, we're moving quickly toward actual spring time (although the weather hasn't felt that way!) and things change greatly between those two times of year. But in Disney terms, one major "spring" event has already taken place (ESPN The Weekend), and one is about to begin (International Flower and Garden Festival). This has me wondering about which season I truly love the most at WDW? And if you're planning a visit, which time of year should you choose?

Brian and Hope at the Flower & Garden Festival
3 years ago (see the wand!).

They all definitely bring great things to the table. However, they all have cons as well. I guess this affects people more who have to pick and choose a certain time of year to come down and visit. Questions such as: which events do you want to see? What do you want to be able to do? What do you want to be able to experience that isn't available other times of the year? These are important to consider.

With that being said, let's compare with four main "seasons" in Disney World:

"Spring" (Slow) Season (mid-January through mid-late May)

Pros: Beautiful weather; Low crowds; Flower & Garden Festival; ESPN The Weekend; Comfortable "Strolling" atmosphere; Easier ADRs
Cons: Sometimes not hot enough to use water parks, water rides or pools

This time of year is wonderful, mostly due to weather. If you don't like the extreme Florida heat, this is a great time to come. Also, if you like just enough heat to be able to enjoy your resort pool, this is a great time to come (especially the latter half of this season). If you like to be able to enjoy a Dole Whip or Premium Mickey Bar outside in the parks, this is also a great time to come. If you want to experience the International Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot, come mid-April. If you want to experience ESPN The Weekend, come late-February.

These are all things that would make me want to visit this time of year - after the holidays and before summer break. The crowds are generally lighter (except for Spring Break and Easter), but most of all, it's the weather. This is the time of year to stroll the parks; to take your time and enjoy the details. Most of the time you can't do that and not sweat at the slightest movement. But spring time? Ohhh it's beautiful...enjoy all the all the sights and or night.

"Summer" (Peak) Season (beginning of June through 3rd week of August)

Pros: Refreshing usage of water attractions, pools and water parks; Refreshing treats provide extra enjoyment; Ability to experience everything a standard WDW vacation has to offer
Cons: Insanely hot weather; Massive crowds; Limited dining options; Huge attraction lines

I must admit that this is my least favorite time of year at Walt Disney World, but there are still a lot of pros to a visit this time of year. Of course, two factors can make for a challenging time: extreme heat and extreme crowds. This is peak season; school is out all across the country and families take advantage by coming to The Mouse. And when you're shoulder to shoulder to thousands of people, it's bad enough - but when you're shoulder to shoulder and it's 98 degrees out - that's another thing. Summer in Florida usually creates that combination.

However, there's many things in Walt Disney World that was MEANT for summer fun. Walt Disney envisioned a complete vacation destination in sunny Florida for a reason, and water-based activity and sport was a big part of it. And the hotter it is, the better we like our water activities. Whether it's swimming at the pool at the Beach Club or Pop Century, or hitting the wave pool at Typhoon Lagoon, or testing the water sports options at Fort Wilderness, Walt Disney World and water activities are meant for one another. Plus, ice cream tastes and FEELS a lot better when it's 90+ degrees out.

"Fall" (Slower) Season (Very end of August through Thanksgiving)

Pros: International Food & Wine Festival; More comfortable weather; Lighter crowds; Halloween decorations; Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party; Still have the ability to use water attractions and pools most of the time
Cons: Can still be extremely hot; May regret not going during Holiday Season when it's right around the corner with nicer weather

Yaaaaaarrrrrrr! Downtown Disney has offered
free trick-or-treating every Halloween

A lot is offered this time of year, but it really begins to rock and roll in mid-to-late October. In fact, the last week of October is when I would suggest to go. Not only is the weather beginning to cool down some from Florida summer highs, but Halloween is in full swing, as is the International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot. It's also still warm enough to use the pools, water rides, and water parks. But it's the special events that take place in the fall that take the cake. Food & Wine in particular is in my opinion the single best event WDW has to offer. And if you can throw in a Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, that's highly recommended too.

The only possible con to coming this time of year is if it forces you to miss the Holiday Season, if you can only come down once. Other than that, Fall is an incredible time to be at The Mouse.

"Winter" (Holiday) Season (Immediately after Thanksgiving through beginning of January)

Pros: Cooler weather; Lower crowds (except from Christmas week through New Years Day); Beautiful Christmas and decorations and music; Special Christmas events going on at each park; Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Cons: Can be truly cold, not just cool, weather; Can't make as much use of water parks, water rides and pools; Short window of opportunity to visit without the massive crowds of Christmas week through New Year's Day

I still consider this my favorite time of year at The Mouse. Cooler temps, Christmas Decorations and park music, and a general change take place altogether. The first couple weeks of December is lighter crowds and you STILL have Christmas decorations and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Visiting the resorts becomes an event with what they do for the Holidays. The Holiday Storytellers at Epcot are wonderful as is the Osbourne Family Lights and Holiday Wishes. After doing Epcot at New Year's Eve this year, I can't imagine a better party. It's a different place this time of year.

That being said, if water parks, water attractions and pools play a big part in your WDW experience, they will be hard to come by this time of year. Sometimes the weather does get downright cold rather than cool, and it can be rather uncomfortable.

All in all, every season offers something great. But if you only have one longer trip to make in a year, the decision will be tough. Perhaps the solution is to make multiple shorter trips instead of one long one? Or to rotate the seasons you visit from year to year to experience the scope of it all.

Katie and Chance prefer the summer, because they love the water aspect of WDW. Hope loves the early spring because of the lower crowds the Flower & Garden Festival. I love the Holiday season and everything about it.