Last fall my dad began working in Orlando, Florida (a long story which I’m not going to get into to save you from boredom – you can thank me later). After Thanksgiving I took a couple of days off work and went to visit him. As a treat, my dad bought me a 2-day hopper pass to the Disney parks (he already had an annual pass) and made a plan to show me around and generally have a good time 🙂
On Day #1, we didn’t use the passes. Rather, instead my dad took me to some of the other Disney sites that people can visit for free. First up was the Boardwalk, a .25-mile promenade my dad kept comparing to the Boardwalk on the Jersey Shore (I wouldn’t know, having never been). Disney’s Boardwalk is mostly composed of an Inn (or, at least, what Disney considers an Inn), shops, and a few restaurants. It’s also one of the stops along the ferry, or water taxi, route that takes tourists to and from the Disney World parks and resorts – an easy (and free!) way to get around if you have to patience to wait a bit.
After our quick trip to the Boardwalk, our next stop was the Polynesian Resort, where we hopped on the monorail and took a tour of a few of the resorts. Apologizies in advance for no photos of the Polynesian, but it was under major construction, covered in tarps and temporary walls, so not really photo-worthy in my opinion.
The next stop on the monorail was the Gran Floridian Resort, which is massive and gorgeous. It reminded me of a beach-side resort, but obviously on a much larger and grander scale. **Side note: that does seem to be a specialty of Disney, taking something small and humble and magnifying it on a grand scale.** What made the Floridian even more magical was the Christmas decorations. I must say, when Disney does Christmas, it goes all out. There was a life-sized gingerbread house with cooks inside baking gingerbread, tons of wreaths, and one giant tree in the main lobby.
After dropping some riders off at the Magic Kingdom, the monorail then took us to the Contemporary Resort, where we ate lunch (a Mahi-Mahi sandwich for me), and looked around the shops. To me, the most interesting part of the Contemporary Resort is the large mural in the main lobby. I recognized it instantly as being a Peruvian scene (a quick Google search showed the mosaic was by Mary Blair), but I never found any explanation as to why this mural exists in this place. I couldn’t take my eyes off the walls, but what it had to do with the contemporary theme, I’ll never know.