Saturday, November 12, 2022

On This Day Last Year: WDW Trip Report - Day 3 // A Great Big Disney Day & Checking in for our 2 Bedroom Savannah View Villa Stay

Welcome back for another trip report capturing my family's magical memories from this day last year.  I'm so glad you're here!  Today's post will begin in Animal Kingdom, take us through Christmas decor and more throughout Disney Springs, find us in Epcot, and checking into a sensationally spacious villa at Animal Kingdom resort!  If I were doing my old Trip Report Tuesday series I'd likely break this one into a three parter, but since I'm recapping day by day I have a lengthy show and tell to share today.   You may want to take a moment to grab a sip or snack to enjoy as you scroll, scroll away!

 Day 3 - Friday, November 12, 2021

Our day started bright dark and early!  We arrived at Animal Kingdom so early that the parking lot wasn't even open yet!  That was a first for us.  Ha!  What do you do when turned away from parking?  

We decided to hit a McD's down the street for a couple of bottled waters.  With hydration in hand we looped back around to the parking lot and this time were welcomed inside.

The trams weren't running during this trip.  It was a bummer to see them just parked there when they are such a helpful tool to save guests lengthy walks to and from their vehicles.

I love seeing the parks adorned for Christmas!  

Today wasn't just any Friday, it was Disney+ Day.  What does that mean?  Well, it was the first one, so at the time we had no idea.  Ha!  We read that there would be some special things happening throughout Walt Disney World and we were about to see what goodies awaited the Animal Kingdom early morning guests.  

Different spots offered different freebies, at Animal Kingdom Lodge (while supplies lasted) guests were offered free hats and buttons.  Later while wearing the hat to different parks and Disney Springs fellow vacationers asked where I got it and wished they'd scored one too.  I didn't hear about the offerings elsewhere, so I'm going to just pretend we got the cream of the merch crop!


First stop, Pandora!  There is something extra special about Pandora in the early morning hours.  It always takes me back to our very first trip to Pandora the day after Thanksgiving 2017 when we were let in extra early and in line here at 6:30am.  That was a magical morning!  It's a sweet moment when fresh Disney trips beckon treasures memories of vacations past!

While I've never been matched with an avatar whose face looks remotely similiar to the shape of my own, I find the ride on the back of the banshee to be exhilarating!  


Time for a float through Na'vi River Journey.

I love seeing these little footprints up above.

The four of us enjoyed a ride down the Expedition Everest mountainside.  With that awesome early morning 5 minute stand-by wait the girls wanted to ride a second time.  Jason gets a bit motion sick if he repeats thrill rides, so we walked over to a fresh fruit stand for a breakfast break as they reentered the queue.  

I adore the attention to detail in Disney Parks that lend to the feeling that you have truly stepped into the story Disney is telling within them.  On this fine Friday morning I took the time to read those signs posted for fantastically faux businesses and to admire the tracks and footprints in the pavement along the way.  I got a little snap happy while I was at it! 

Soon we met back up with the girls and headed into Dinoland U.S.A. to find "our dino".

We popped back by Animal Kingdom Lodge and got settled into the accommodations where we'd be spending the remainder of our trip.

We popped back by AKL just before it was time to check-out of our club level room and freshened up before heading off to lunch.  I can never resist a moment to see the wildlife from a savannah view balcony and there were lots of four legged friends to greet us this morning.

Disney Springs

We headed to Disney Springs for lunch, shopping, and festive fun!  When talking about lunch options I was all in on returning to D-luxe Burger.  It's probably good it's not nearer to our home, because I can't get enough of that yumminess in my life!  The burgers are fantastic, but honestly the draw for me are the fries and dipping sauces.  Delish!  My youngest sweetie wasn't keen on the idea of a repeat of the meal she'd had there two days before, so I offered to take her to the spot of her choice to grab something else while Jason and our oldest mobile ordered, picked up our food, and chose a table for us all Spring side.  

She chose some cheesy yumminess from Blaze just across the way.  

When we sat down I found the goodness my hubby had right there ready for me with a s'mores milkshake to wash it all down.  He's too good to me!

We all enjoyed our meals, each other's company, and the lovely view too!

Following lunch I was eager to check out the fun Disney Springs Christmas Trees.  If you've read previous Christmastime trip reports you may remember that the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail has been a longtime favorite of mine.  Unfortunately they decided to scratch the tree trail and instead scatter them throughout Disney Springs.  While I preferred having them all together in that one special spot, I still looked forward to now "hunting" for the cuteness.  I suspect their reasoning for the change was to bring people like me who want to see them all nearer to each shop the trees are placed beside.  I see what you're doing there, Disney, but I can't blame you.  That makes good marketing sense.  Off we went to look for some trees and to hit our favorite shops while we were at it!

Cinderella Tree

Beauty and the Beast Tree

Disney Parks Tree

Time to get our shop on!  

The Co-op is such a fave for my oldest and I!  I adore the dresses and Dooneys and she admires every last piece of art on display (and usually leaves with quite a few in postcard form).

Back to tree hunting!

Lion King Tree

Nightmare Before Christmas Tree

The Haunted Mansion Tree

Around 2pm we made our way from Disney Springs to Epcot for some afternoon fun in our favorite park.


Making a bee-line for the passholder lane!

The seas with Nemo and friends, followed by a some dolphin and diver entertainment kicked off our time here.

Next up, a stop at the Disney Vacation Club Lounge.  We love this place!  Here DVC members can relax in the a/c, enjoy a complimentary soft drink and snack.  It also offers a pretty cool view of Spaceship Earth!

Usually guests help themselves to the Coke freestyle flavor of their choice but in this time a cast member kindly did it for us.

For WDW's 50th there are 50 golden characters throughout the parks.  

The girls went for one of their many visits to their favorite shop in Epcot, Mitsukoshi in the Japan pavilion.  Jason and I decided we'd relax a bit so we chilled by the fountain in the America pavilion momentarily before finding a seat for a Voices of Liberty show. 

 Voices of Liberty performances blow me away, every time!  Such truly talented cast members!

She scored one of her favorite rare Sanrio characters, Cinnamoroll, in pretty plush form.  Shopping success!

Time to sample and share a few things from the Food and Wine fest!

The Corned Beef Corner Route.  I only remember what it was called because I took a super short video of it.  I do not remember at all if I liked it, so I guess what I can say about it is that it wasn't memorable.  Ha!

Jason got the Lobster Chowder and I went for the Baked Lobster Dip.  I remember enjoying mine, while Jason doesn't even remember his at all!  Friends, it can be so funny recapping posts from a year ago!  Haha!  Most of the time photos and videos jog the memory helping me to recall and share stories, but then there are times when we see something that leaves me singing unforgettable, that's what you are ... unforgettable in every way and forever more that's how you'll stay. :D

Gotta love that early evening glow on Spaceship Earth!  It's swoonworthy!

We took the girls back to the resort before Jason and I made one last drive for the night.

The sight of this beautiful bridge brings me a happy sigh!

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, having skipped Disney vacations from 2020 and on through to the end of 2021 we'd accumulated some extra Disney Vacation Club points.  We had fun putting them to use in a way we'd yet to do!  We got a savannah view two bedroom villa for the four of us, giving us so much room to spread out and enjoy!  We'd gotten this type of accommodation back in 2015 when we brought my parents along for the trip, and while even then it seemed spacious, for just the four of us it was a dream!  

Two bedroom villas are basically a studio (regular resort room) plus a one bedroom villa which itself offers a full kitchen, living room, master bedroom and bath, and a couple appliances that allow us to pack a bit lighter - a washer and dryer!  The girls were thrilled to have the studio portion of the villa all to themselves, essentially giving them their own resort room, complete with their own bathroom, shower, and double sinks to get ready each day, their own kitchenette with fridge, and microwave.  They also had their own tv, couch that also pulled out to a sleeper sofa, table and chairs, and balcony opening up to that spectacular savannah view!

Here's a look around the space in our 2 bedroom villa they called their own (and I'll share a room tour of the rest at the conclusion of this post) . . . 

Look at that stunning sunset!  The heavens declare the glory of God!

It was a bit dark for photographing, but this gives you a look at the layout.

The white peak you see there out the window is actually Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom!  So cool!

Back at Disney Springs

Jason was having some foot issues, so he and I buzzed back to Disney Springs and he was fitted for an insole that was just right for his feet and eased the discomfort he was experiencing.   

Being in this section of Disney Springs provided the opportunity to catch a few more Disney trees!

Disney+ Tree

Coco Tree

 Great shop, helpful staff, and worthwhile purchase!

Meanwhile, I popped in the Vera Bradley shop.  

I saw a Disney bag that I thought was pretty cute, but then reminded myself that I'd scored a deal on one recently that I brought on the trip with me and had yet to use.  Temptation to buy, resisted!

As I sat outside the athletic shop for a bit, without realizing it I was in front of this Disney+ tree on Disney+ Day wearing my Disney+ Day hat.  A guy walking by asked where I got the hat.  In that moment I felt like I was advertising for Disney+, but instead I should choose to remember the moment as one in which I was celebrating Disney+ Day to it's fullest, hanging out there in my gear with the appropriately themed tree! :D  Maybe I should've streamed Disney+ on my phone while waiting there and invited those resting their feet beside me to join in on the party?  ;)

Ready for more room pics?  I've got plenty!  Admittedly this wasn't the best time to capture it in low lighting with suitcases still scattered in the kitchen.  Yet this was when I snapped them so we'll work with what we've got. ;)  Here's a peek around the rest of our villa . . .

This photo shows the entrance to the girls' room beyond the dining table.

This couch is a sleeper sofa and the oversized chair pulls out to a bed as well.  The two bedroom villas can sleep up to 9 people.  We know it's unlikely we'll accumulate the number of extra (use or lose) vacation club points we had for this trip again, so we soaked up the sweet spaciousness and throughly enjoyed this extra special stay!

Master Bedroom

Unique ostrich egg lamps adorn both bedside tables.

The bed frame in Animal Kingdom Lodge's master bedrooms is my favorite!

My reflection in this photo cracks me up!  I was really concentrating on capturing this art. :D

I put our dressers and armoires to excellent use.  I love fully unpacking and feeling like we're "home".

Master Bath 

It seems I can't photograph a bathroom mirror without waving.  Ha! :)

And back to the girls' portion of the place . . . 

Time for a late night bite from AKL's quick service restaurant, Mara, at the end of a very full and fantastic day!

Cheers to rapid refill mugs!  Pay once and fill for the entire trip, always equals a win in my book!  

We also grabbed a very familiar meal of burgers, chicken and fries for the girls, while Jason and I opted for flatbreads.

On vacation it seems I'm always tidying and getting things ready for the following morning keeping me up a bit later than my sweet hubby, so here he is off to dreamland.  Simple pics like this make my heart light.  :)

Goodnight!  Thanks for joining me for another round of reminiscing!  I hope to see you real soon for another pixie dusted post!


  1. Can't beat a stay on Disney property! This makes me excited to see Disney dressed up for Christmas this year.

  2. The details at Animal Kingdom are amazing. You really got around this day!


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