Walt Disney World Honeymoon Part 4 | Spending Thanksgiving at Disney?

Walt Disney World Honeymoon Part 4 | Spending Thanksgiving at Disney?

After defecting to Universal Studios for two days in Part 3, it was time to return to the Disney bubble for the lead up to Thanksgiving. But this time around, we explore some things you might not know you could do at Disney World…

PS Make sure to read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three if you haven’t already! Unless you are just here for some honest reviews of Walt Disney World over the Thanksgiving period…

Day Nine – Two days before Thanksgiving

After walking around Universal Studios for two days, and feeling it in the arches of our feet, we treated ourselves to a little lie-in and breakfast at our hotel, Coronado Springs. With the weather warming up from the unexpected 15 degrees and rain-storm the day before, we slapped on some sunscreen, pulled on our swimming costumes, and made a dash for the bus to Blizzard Beach. Blizzard Beach is one of two water parks at Walt Disney World and is themed to a winter ski lodge. Think fake snow, ski lifts, and white mountains – but in the middle of humid Florida. 

An image of the dark wooden entrance to Blizzard Beach, with a blue sign reading 'Blizzard Beach Water Park'
The entrance to Blizzard Beach

Despite entering one of the busiest times of year at the Resort, Blizzard Beach was empty. It was a cloudy yet balmy day, settling at a lovely 22 degrees. You know that as soon as it hits eighteen degrees, us Brits get our legs out, so this was perfect water park weather for me and my husband. But for native Floridians and those not from a chilly and damp country, twenty two degrees doesn’t scream ‘let’s cool off in the wave pool!’ We drifted around the lazy river, meandered up and sped down slides, and let our feet get sandy at the faux beaches. My favourite aspect of Blizzard Beach was the ski lift. Sure the rides were fun and all that, but there was no beating looking across the views of the park whilst the warm air swirled around you.

An image of a green covered boat on a water covered track, surrounded by fairy lights. There are three people in the boat and you can see their backs.
Living with the Land at night

After grabbing lunch on our way out of the water park, we headed back to the hotel before moving over to EPCOT for the night. Our first stop was Living with the Land (again), as a Christmas overlay had been added. Sparkly lights? A greenhouse at night? That’s my kind of adventure. This ride had previously been a walk on for us, but even the slow-moving Living with the Land had developed a queue. The holiday crowds were here. 

The rest of our time at EPCOT was dedicated to finishing our Drinking Around the World challenge. In a tragic turn of events, Rory wanted to not continue clockwise around World Showcase, as is the correct way, but continue on anti-clockwise. Shameful in my books, but it is what it is.

We continued our challenge with a beer from Canada, a white wine from France, a blood orange mimosa from Morocco, and a sake and dragon fruit cocktail from Japan. But it was between Canada and France, in the United Kingdom pavilion, that we had our favourite drinks of the night. As a Welsh and Scottish pair living in England, we didn’t fancy the genuine British delicacy of a Guinness as we could get that at any pub back home, nor did we fancy a Snake Bite as we were no longer students (and why would we pay $11 for that?). So we went full heritage mode. I got a Welsh Dragon, a startling strong cocktail featuring peach schnapps and crème de menthe, whilst Rory got a flight of single-malt Scottish whiskeys. After grabbing some chips from the ‘traditional’ Yorkshire fish and chip shop, we stumbled across possibly the best entertainment I had seen so far. It was only a band from Britain playing covers of rock songs! They were incredible, and we genuinely considered staying around just to see them play again.

However, with the fireworks creeping up on us, we continued on and finished our Drink Around the World challenge. If you are over the age of twenty-one, it’s such a fun challenge to do and a great way to explore the World Showcase. After settling down on a bench with our final drinks, we watched the fireworks and projection show that takes place in the middle of the lake; Harmonious. They had a glorious mix of songs from the films playing, all sung in different languages as is the ethos of EPCOT. But we got hit in the gut (emotionally, of course) when they ended on Someday from the stage show version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame – a show both Rory and I had just been in that year. I’m not sure whether it was the nostalgia or the crème de menthe talking but some tears were shed. And with that, we tipsily meandered back to the buses with the rest of the crowd and returned back to the hotel.

Day Ten – The Day Before Thanksgiving

For the first time on our trip, things didn’t quite go to plan. This was down to our own assumption that when travel forums say Walt Disney World is busy on the days up to the holidays, they can’t be that busy, surely? Wrong. At the time of year we went to Disney World, having tickets was not enough to guarantee entry to a park and you had to book park reservations. This was due to COVID regulations, so for good reason. However, we had booked a lot of our reservations in advance, and kept some days free so we could see what we wanted to do on the day. Day Ten was a free day. So when we woke up and decided we wanted to go to Magic Kingdom that day, we were greeted by a fully booked reservation system for Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. Oof. Thanks, Thanksgiving crowds.

So, we grabbed an EPCOT reservation, and thank goodness we did. When I returned to the app a minute later, all park reservations were full for the day. Thankfully, you could park hop after 2pm if you had attended your first reservation, so that became the plan – EPCOT in the morning, Magic Kingdom in the evening. This was the first sign that it was going to be a darn busy day. 

As we were up at 6am, we managed to secure another Guardians of the Galaxy virtual queue reservation. And with that, we grabbed some breakfast and hopped on the bus to EPCOT for some early entry. By the time we arrived, our group had yet to be called for Guardians so we stopped by Test Track and Soarin’. Even first thing in the morning, the ride queue times were creeping up and I felt as if we were walking wall-to-wall with everyone else. We took a spin on Guardians of the Galaxy, and put in for our Disability Access Service pass for Ratatouille. The standing queue was 200 minutes long and coming out of the building and around the France Pavilion, just to give you some scale of the busyness. And this is just the day before Thanksgiving, a day a lot of American families don’t even have off for work! After securing a mid-morning funnel cake and riding Ratatouille, we decided to call it a day. But we were not going back to the buses, oh no. It was Skyliner time. 

The Skyliner is a gondola travel system that moves between Disney’s Riviera Resort, EPCOT Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. The gondolas travel at heights of 60 feet over roads, parks, and lakes and it is such a unique way to see the resorts and travel. Warm air comes through slits in the windows and we tried a game of spot the alligator (we only saw one…) A word of warning; if heights or wobbly rides aren’t your thing, the Skyliner may not be the best way for you to travel.

We got off at Hollywood Studios and then got the bus back to our hotel – this is the best way to ride the Skyliner if you aren’t on the direct gondola route.

A photo of Rosie taking a selfie of her and Rory in the window of the Skyliner. They are elongated like a funfair mirror. There is a wooden bench in front of then
Inside the Skyliner gondola, featuring our strange reflection

We made the most of the pool and the sunset before setting up for an evening at Magic Kingdom. Luckily, we managed to secure a reservation to The Plaza Restaurant in Magic Kingdom, and in doing so, continued a tradition. When my husband and I went to Disney together (this is our second trip), our very first breakfast was at The Plaza, and was a magical experience. This trip, I had spent many a moment refreshing the app, trying to get any reservation for The Plaza to keep that tradition alive. Luck would have it, someone cancelled their reservation that day and we nabbed it.

After some top notch burgers and milkshakes, we moved over to the Disability Access area for the fireworks. For someone with a variety of chronic conditions, having a DAS area for the fireworks was an absolute game changer. When we visited, I had a cyst building that was pressing on my sciatic nerve, as well as a multitude of other chronic conditions that made me valid for the DAS.

The purple and blue castle at Magic Kingdom illuminated, with the black sky in the background. In front of the castle is a huge crowd.
Cinderella Castle at night

Walking and moving wasn’t too much of a problem, but standing still for an hour and a half in a position where the cyst was pressing down on my sciatic nerve? Excruciating. It wasn’t about having any kind of special view – it was about just being able to stretch and sit in a safe place.

Seeing the fireworks at night is, of course, special. It pulls on every single one of your senses and is an absolute must do if you have a ticket to Magic Kingdom. However, being on Main Street in the dark was what it was all about. The bright lights were shining and twirling in the dark and you can believe, just for a moment, that you have travelled to a land truly built on magic.

One thing you might not consider is that once the fireworks finish, there will be a queue of thousands of people trying to exit the park. You do not want to get caught in that – it would take over half an hour to get out of the park (not including getting the monorail, boat or bus to your car or hotel) if you don’t plan ahead. So once the fireworks were finished, we sat in the DAS area until there was a path free, and we made the most of the park in the dark. Just because everyone else is leaving, doesn’t mean that the park is shut! We rode Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and Peter Pan in the dark of the evening, all with surprisingly low queue times. Most families had gone immediately after the fireworks, probably to get ready for the big day tomorrow, leaving plenty of space to explore. With the night-time taking over, we got some popcorn (a Disney World staple), and headed back to the hotel.

Day 11 – Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in America! Yeah… it wasn’t really something we were interested in, being on our honeymoon and being British. If there is one thing our research told us when having our holiday over Thanksgiving, it was to avoid the parks on the actual holiday day day, at all costs. With most Americans having the day off work and travelling to see their families, it’s a given that the parks were going to be a crowd and queue heavy mess. So, we chose to do something that you might not know you can do in Walt Disney World. We played golf.

Rolling green hills of a golf course, surrounded by palm and Floridian trees. The sky is blue with white clouds, and there are two people stood on the green.
Disney’s Pal Golf Course

Well, my husband played golf and I was the cutest caddy in the world. Despite me not being able to play golf (at that time – I’ll have you know 2023 Rosie is pretty powerful with a driver), this day takes the cake as my third best experience behind hiring a boat and building a lightsaber. We had an 8.30am tee time slot at Disney’s Palm Golf Course. It’s a championship course, kitted out with palm trees and lakes and as we soon learnt, plenty of wild animals. The booking came with a golf cart and my day was made.

Paired with a kindly American couple, we set off on a foggy morning that quickly opened out to pure, hot, Florida sun. On the second tee, we were greeted by wild turkeys! A whole flock of them walking and pecking the ground in front of us. I did not realise how big they were, nor how cocky – the audacity of them to come out on Thanksgiving, of all days. Speaking of big animals, what do you think you’ll find near big spaces of water in Florida? Of course – alligators. The first one was about eight feet long and was just chilling near the water on the third hole. During our few hours on the course, we saw nine alligators, from fully grown ones sunbathing, to babies just swimming around. I also had my first face to face encounter with a trash panda – AKA a racoon. He could smell the food we had in our cooler, so made a big effort to get into my cart. But after a few shouts of ‘oi, back off!’, he settled on rifling through the bins. 

I know Rory had an excellent time, absolutely in his element, but so did I. I sat in the sun, went wildlife spotting, listened to the birds, and drove us around the beautiful golf course, taking it all in. After that, we went back to the pool at our hotel. Rory fell asleep on a lounger, I had nachos, and then we drank frozen margaritas and played table tennis to our heart’s content. Safe to say I was feeling thankful indeed.

When it came to dinner time, we thought we’d settle for some chicken tenders and pizza in the hotel room. But, luck was shining on us again. We used the app to get a walk in reservation for the main, sit down restaurant at our resort, Maya Grill.

Honestly, I am salivating just thinking about it. Sticking to the Mexican and Southwest theme of our hotel, Maya Grill served traditional Mexican-American food. We had the most heavenly queso (which I tried and failed to recreate at home), and there were strawberries on top of my guacamole! We had fajitas and sizzling chicken, and ended the evening with even more churros. Even if you aren’t staying at Coronado Springs, I would recommend getting a reservation at this restaurant – both the atmosphere and the food were impeccable.

Going to Walt Disney World over Thanksgiving means that you will be up against crowds and queues, even in the run up to and a few days after the holiday. However, it shouldn’t turn you off going around this time. Be smart, and make the most of the parks the week before or the week after. There is also so much for you to do if you don’t want crowds or to celebrate Thanksgiving. As well as golf, you can explore Disney Springs for shopping and food. The water parks will be open, as will the resorts. You could make Thanksgiving a resort hopping day, or a day to just rest and relax. So don’t let the holiday turn you off from going – you’ve just got to be a smart and prepared traveller. 

And so, with that being the penultimate post, we are close to the end of my Honeymoon series! That actually makes me quite sad, I’ve enjoyed looking back at the memories we made. In the final post of my Honeymoon series, we’ll go over how we spent the last few days of the honeymoon in the Sunshine State, including where you can have the best meal on Disney property…

Thanks for reading,
Rosie x

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Educate & Donate:  Verity PCOS | MindStephen Lawrence Day Foundation | Stonewall |


One response to “Walt Disney World Honeymoon Part 4 | Spending Thanksgiving at Disney?”

  1. […] If you haven’t already, make sure to read Parts One, Two, Three, and Four to get the most out of this […]


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