To say we thought long and hard about what we wanted out of our latest trip to Walt Disney World would be an understatement, because planning for "Operation Dole Whip" started almost a year ago, soon after returning from our last trip to the most magical place on earth. Somehow we managed to convince our parents (Franks and mine alike) to let us head back home for an eight day trip only a year after our January Extended Family Vacation that included eldest sister Megan and younger brother Jonny. This time, however, the middle "siblings" headed out on our own with Mom.
Considering the fact that this would be Frank's (remember...her real name is Ashley!) third time to Walt Disney World, we put in some extra thought as to what we might make different about this trip in comparison to the other two. The first trip for my dear friend came as a part of the 2014 High School, and that trip, even by my standards, was insane. Not necessarily insane in a bad way, but just crazy busy as I attempted to pack as much into a few days and hours in the parks as possible. What we accomplished I'm still incredibly proud of, but it certainly didn't leave a lot of time to relaxing. Let's be honest, it hardly left time for walking.
Last January was a bit better, but there was still a lot they had yet to see, so we definitely kept ourselves moving then too, exploring resorts, hidden corners of the parks, and seeing as much as we could in our 9 day trip. I like to think they enjoyed it, especially considering the fact that we have pictures from that trip scattered pretty much everywhere we can find.
But this January was going to be different, and we knew that from the start. Keeping in mind that the operation name of the trip was inspired by our craving for Dole Whips, it shouldn't be surprising that we had plans to slow things down a bit. You know, enjoy the little things. And enjoy them we did. Our first day in Florida was probably one of the more relaxing days, and that's why I figured I'd share some of the things we did to kick off our "Chillcation." After all, there's plenty to do at Disney without really doing much of anything, and I firmly believe that those things are just as important as running yourself out of energy in the parks themselves.
In our typical fashion, we started out the trip by "chilling" by the pool at Old Key West, my home DVC resort and home away from home for the week. Having more or less grown up at Old Key West, it was awesome to be able to share it on such a deep level with one of my best friends, and I hope I can have the same opportunity with Shovell soon! It was, honestly, a bit cold by Florida standards for the majority of our trip, but the first day found us in the 60's and much warmer than the snowstorm and negative temperatures we'd left back in Wisconsin.
Following our relaxation by the pool, we headed to Olivia's for some lunch, and boy were we starving. In fact, we were so hungry that we basically just told the waitress to bring us some food and ate it so quickly that we forgot to take a picture until after it was already gone. What was once on the plate was some spectacular buttermilk chicken, mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables, all with a delicious gravy on top. We actually loved it so much the first time that we returned on our last day for a second portion, and I definitely recommend it if you find yourself over at Old Key West!
By the time we finished our lunch our room was ready, so we caught a ride with bell services and headed to our room for a much needed nap (I only slept about an hour the night before in between driving two hours to Milwaukee in a snowstorm and a 3 A.M. wake up call to fly down to Orlando). I honestly didn't really want to get up and already felt like I could sleep for a week, but even 45 minutes helped before we were off to my beloved Epcot.
As you saw up above, there's always time to stop for pictures with Trash Cans, which is sort of an inside joke with my family (long story short my brother has a weird thing with Trash Cans), and pictures like that became a sort of standard throughout our trip, which I'm sure you'll see later in a few other posts. We really ended up documenting the off kilter things we did rather than the more common experiences posted by many, and that's certainly something I loved about this trip.
One of those off kilter experiences is certainly my ability to run into my favorite Disney artist, Larry Dotson. My parents brought home one of his prints for me in 2004, which still remains my favorite of the prints I own today, and they started a whole new addiction. Now I must own somewhere along the lines of 15-20 of his various prints from Walt Disney World, and I usually track one down each time I'm in Florida. Of course, I've also had the wonderful opportunity to meet him in person various times, and when I learned his last day for the winter would be at Epcot the same day I happened to be arriving, I made sure to stop in and find a new addition to my collection.
From there we had plenty of other experiences, but there's seven other blog posts to help narrate the rest of my trip, but I think you can sort of get the idea. It's certainly amazing to see what you're missing at Walt Disney World if you slow down and look around, and that's what a chillcation is really all about.
Have a magical day!
(Note: This blog post was written on January 22 due to travel).