We always try to do a little something different each time we drive south for the winter. This time we decided to include a stop at Disney World and a holiday cruise before our time spent in Key Largo, Florida. We still made our regular stops in Dobson, NC, for dinner at the Harvest Grill and then at Amelia Island's Fernandina Beach, FL, for shrimp and grits at Brett's Waterway Cafe.
Since our drive to Disney World was only about three hours away from Amelia Island, we decided to do something we've always wanted to try--driving south on A1A. The road goes all the way down the coast of Florida but we were only going to Daytona where we would cut over to get to Orlando. At one point, we had to ferry across the St. John River. We probably could have driven up and over a bridge farther away but A1A stops at the water's edge and then picks up again on the other side. The trip takes about 10 minutes or less and only costs $6.
When we stopped for lunch, Bob got a text message that told him our room was ready at Disney's All Star Sports Resort. We were still an hour away but it was nice to know that when we got there all was ready for us.
Disney World is such a large place that even when we entered the area we still had lots of driving before we found our hotel. There were nine buildings in our complex alone and the All Star Music and Movies complexes were just as large.
Now I love sports and football is a favorite but this place was a bit over the top with giant helmets framing a small football field that our "touchdown" buildings surrounded. The All Star Resorts are the least expensive of the places within the World to stay. This was our first time to try them out. They are okay but there are no frills and the only option for eating is a food court. We made do. We weren't going to be here that long.
As soon as we settled in, using our Disney wristbands to enter our room, we struck out for Disney Springs, the new name for what was called Downtown Disney. We had reservations for dinner at the Fulton Crab House, a huge restaurant that looks like a steamboat. Before dinner, we explored the new changes to the old Downtown Disney. No more Pleasure Island and lots more fine dining with more to come. The largest Disney store I've ever seen as well as lots of upscale shops. Our waiter told us that there were two parking garages being built and then the old parking lot would become a new lagoon with 200 more shops and restaurants.
After a great dinner of crab, clams, and Jambalaya, we wandered some more and stopped to listen to some of the entertainers. There was a great guitarist playing at one of the spots.
Seeing all the changes to Disney Springs, we decided to hop a Disney bus to the Polynesian and check out how much had changed there since we'd last stayed there
. The biggest thing we noticed was a small water park type area near the swimming pool. There was another similar one at the Floridian when we took the monorail there.
What really awed us though was the beautiful tree in the middle of the huge atrium of the Floridian. Next to it was a gingerbread house that was larger than a child's playhouse. In fact it's large enough to house a small shop that sells all sorts of treats from the Floridian bakery including gingerbread shingles.
The magic had begun.