I hope you enjoyed my recap of our Royal Caribbean eight-night western Caribbean cruise. We returned to Ft. Lauderdale on December 30th. We said goodbye to my parents and brother, and my mother-in-law, as they made their way back to the airport for their own long journey home.
The night before, the DH and I talked about spending the night in Orlando to break up the drive. We were still on cruise time and weren’t yet ready for reality to set in. So we booked a night at the Embassy Suites Lake Buena Vista – one of Disney’s Good Neighbor Hotels and set off.
The Embassy Suites Lake Buena Vista is an ideal location for a long stay in Orlando. It has a resort-style pool, cabanas, outdoor movies, and patio dining. Inside, the rooms are spacious with separate sleeping quarters for the parents, and a kitchenette.
There are regular shuttles to many of the major attractions including Disney, Universal, and Sea World.
For larger families, those not looking to stay on property at Disney or Universal, or for families simply wanting more space, this is a fantastic option.
We literally dropped off our bags and headed to Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside for some resort hopping. The Christmas decorations were still going strong. I adore how Disney customizes the decor to match the theme of the resort.
As we were leaving Port Orleans French Quarter, we ran into the Mayor.
While French Quarter has a distinct New Orleans vibe, Riverside is a combination of Alligator Bayou (the bayou) and Magnolia Bend (plantation-style mansions).
Riverside is much larger than French Quarter. We used this as an opportunity to rent a surrey. Stinky and Blinky weren’t quite tall enough to help us cycle. But they got to chip in near the end by getting out and pushing us over a small hill. It was hysterical!
Apart from the decor and overall Louisiana vibe, what I love most about these moderate resorts is their location. It’s approximately a ten minute walk from one resort to the other. Both resorts are just a short bus ride away to the theme parks, which can be super convenient when you’ve closed a park and are bone tired and just want to get back to your room to sleep. (Don’t ask me how I know that!) Finally, both resorts have a water taxi to Disney Springs.
The resorts did not seem crowded at all. We found out later it was because everyone was at Disney Springs. Oy! The parking lot signs were full and traffic was at a standstill. Eventually, by circling the parking garage, we found a spot.
I am so in love with this view at Disney Springs:
We fought the crowds to make it to dinner at Paddlefish. I’ve been excited to dine in the paddle boat restaurant docked at Lake Buena Vista for some time. Looking at it, it just seems like an entire experience. The service was unusually slow, especially since the restaurant wasn’t crowded (we missed our first table because we went to the bathroom after checking in, which took all of five minutes), and the food was just ok. I guess once you’re used to shrimp boils from the real French Quarter, nothing else compares.
After dinner, Stinky insisted on slushies from Goofy’s Candy Co. It must have been in the 60s, but no trip to Disney Springs is complete without a trip to Goofy’s Candy Co. Can you guess her favorite flavor?
Next, we ventured over to Rainforest Cafe to watch the volcano explode. We tried to make our way to the Marketplace Stage for the next scheduled DJ Kids Dance Party, but the crowds were so overwhelming, we decided to head back to the resort.
Fun Fact: During our Thanksgiving stay at the Art of Animation Resort, we took multiple art classes. The artist explained to us that the correct spelling of Goofy’s catchphrase is in fact “GWARSH” and not “GAWRSH” as its often spelled.
Back at the resort, Stinky and Blinky quickly changed into their swimsuits to enjoy a poolside movie. Stinky didn’t last long in the water (it was much too chilly) but Blinky toughed it out.
A little after 10:00 pm, we all retired for the evening. Our Christmas vacation was officially done.
Thanks for tagging along on our journey. Even more exciting adventures are in store for 2019. Where are you hoping we go to next?
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