It’s hard for me to believe that we’re in the final hours of 2019. What a year this has been! For me, it’s been a year of unexpected travel. I’ve been on two Disney cruises, and headed to California twice! These trips were all because of my work for Disney Dining. My family and I also enjoyed a vacation in The Bahamas, that one was work related for my husband. Thanks to discount airlines, I was able to fly up to Massachusetts five times in 2019. My parents live there, and every moment with them is precious.
I was also able to cover many local events at Walt Disney World in 2019. Again, I covered the events for Disney Dining. Most of the time I was hosted by Disney. Since I live just minutes from the parks I also got my money’s worth with my Annual Pass over the past 12 months. Living so close to Walt Disney World still seems surreal, and we’ve lived here for several years now.
I thought that it would be fun to reminisce on some of the highlights of the past year. A lot has happened, and I know that there are going to be things that I miss. I hope that you enjoy this trip down Memory Lane. I wish you and yours a bright and prosperous 2020.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
One of the two top highlights of 2019 for me was the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. I was lucky enough to cover the openings and dedications at both Disneyland Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I’ve been obsessed with Star Wars since 1977, and this for me is a dream come true. The new lands aren’t perfect, but they’re close. In my opinion, Rise of the Resistance is the best ride on the planet, and that’s saying a lot. Well done, Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm. You’ve exceeded my high expectations.
Disney Cruise Line
My other top highlight was my two Disney cruises. I had never been on a cruise before, and I wanted to go so badly that it hurt. In January we sailed on the Disney Magic for a Marvel Day at Sea Cruise. In November we took a Very Merrytime Cruise on the Disney Dream. Like they did with Galaxy’s Edge, Disney exceeded my expectations. The service was unparalleled, the ships are gorgeous, and the themes fun. I can’t recommend Disney Cruise Line highly enough. It is not just for families with young children.
If you’ve followed Disney Over 50 for a while, you know that I’ve been infatuated with the construction of the Disney Skyliner. I watched with interest from the moment that they started clearing the land. The newest form of transportation at Walt Disney World has been carrying guests since the end of September, and it is a hit! Sure, there have been a few minor bumps along the way, but that is to be expected with an undertaking of this size. The Disney Skyliner is not only an efficient way to get guests where they need to be, it’s also fun to ride in.
Disney Villains After Hours
I love the Disney After Hours events because you can get so much done in just three hours. Throw a few Disney baddies into the mix, and it becomes even more exciting! Disney Villains After Hours took place ten times during the summer of 2019. It is returning in February, and it will be held 24 times! If you’re going to be in Central Florida at that time, buy a ticket. You won’t regret it.
Wow, did Epcot have some great concerts this past year! I think that I went to more concerts at Epcot in 2019 than in all the previous years combined. Just a few of the artists that I saw were TobyMac, Mark Wills, Lauren Daigle, Jimmie Allen, Joey Fatone, Tiffany, and Rick Springfield. That’s a lot of fantastic music! The beginnings of the Garden Rocks list has been released, and already I’m counting down for a couple of the artists.
In June, Gran Destino Tower opened at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. This moderate resort has the feel of a deluxe. The rooms are spacious, and the views are unbelievable. There’s rooftop dining that seems like a signature restaurant, without the signature price. In December, an entire new resort opened. Disney’s Riviera Resort is a deluxe resort, and also a Disney Vacation Club property. The rooms range from intimate to gigantic. Disney’s Riviera Resort also has unforgettable views and rooftop dining.
In August I was able to attend the D23 Expo in California. The bi-annual convention for all things Disney is a whirlwind, and packed full of information. It was during the D23 Expo that we learned about the changes that are coming to Epcot, and also about the newest Disney Cruise Line ship, the Disney Wish. It will sail its maiden voyage in 2022.
The saddest part of 2019 was saying goodbye to IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. I was at the final show on September 30. It was cold, wet, and beautiful all at the same time. The next night Epcot Forever debuted. I personally like the new show, but I see it for what it is. Epcot Forever is a placeholder, a show that will run until HarmonioUS takes its place in 2020. The fireworks are great, the kites are a nice addition, and there are glimpses into the past and the future. Some people say that Epcot Forever isn’t a proper replacement for IllumiNations, but it’s not supposed to be. The other choice was to go several months without fireworks, and I’m glad that they didn’t decide to go that route. Epcot Forever is the perfect temporary replacement.
These are just a few of the exciting things that took place in 2019. There were plenty of other things that deserve a mention, such as the openings of Jaleo at Disney Springs and Takima-Tei at Epcot. Disney’s Hollywood Studios celebrated its 30th Anniversary. Plant-based diets received more respect and an icon. Star Tours was updated for The Rise of Skywalker, which is the final film in the Skywalker Saga. Disney’s Animal kingdom celebrated the Silver Anniversary of The Lion King, and we also saw a new version of the classic. Disney+ has given us more to watch than we ever dreamed possible, and Baby Yoda (I know it’s really The Child) has become an overnight sensation. I’d say that it’s been a pretty good year. I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store!