by Meghann on December 18, 2012

Happy Holidays from Walt Disney World!


Last week I received an email from Suzanne, a fellow Disney fanatic Tampa local, asking if I was interested in being her +1 for a Disney Parks Blog Meet Up at the new Splitsville opening in Downtown Disney for Monday night. Was I interested?!?! Hell yeah!

If you’re not a huge Disney Parks Blog nerd, here’s a little background to the event: Disney Parks Blog usually hosts amazing meet-ups that revolve around grand openings for new attractions, restaurants, or other cool things happening around Disney property (they do them at both Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World here in Florida). These meet ups are free to the public and are usually done on a first-come-first-served basis. Basically, in order to get the RSVP, you have to be on the computer right when the invitation is posted to the Disney Parks Blog and email them immediately letting them know you’re interested. Rumor has it that the Splitsville meet-up filled up the 125 spots in less than 9 minutes, and Suzanne was one of those lucky few (a right place, right time kind of deal).

I originally missed the sign up for the Splitsville event, but I have tried emailing for others in the past and failed to make the cut-off. RunDisney offers similar events before all of their races and I was lucky enough to attend the RunDisney meet-up before the the Princess Half Marathon last February. Based off of how amazing that event was, I knew this one was going to knock our socks off.

So after I used up all the exclamation points I could muster in a single email, I accepted Suzanne’s offer and suggested we head to the parks a little early to soak up the holiday spirit before the event. (Suzanne is a fellow annual passholder as well).

Before we met up, I wolfed down a snack plate for lunch. I was running late and only had 5 minutes to throw together something quick and tasty.


I met Suzanne in Tampa, then we drove to Walt Disney World and headed over to our first stop of the day: Animal Kingdom.


Sometimes I feel like Animal Kingdom is the forgotten Disney Park. It’s the park I’m the least familiar with and the one most people can go either way on seeing when they visit. I honestly wouldn’t have given it much thought yesterday, but I heard a rumor that Animal Kingdom goes all out for the holiday season and wanted to see the park all dressed up in its holiday finest.


‘Twas a warm day in ye ole Florida. High of 80 and tank tops and short shorts everywhere you see. I’m sure all of the tourists were enjoying our Florida winter weather.


We had some time to kill before the Jungle Jungle Parade and decided to check out the Festival of The Lion King.


Can you believe this Disney nerd (who was at Animal Kingdom the week it opened!) has never been to the Festival of the Lion King? I probably would have skipped it yesterday as well if it wasn’t for MomJovi raving about it in a recent blog post. When she compared it to the broadway version of Lion King in terms of costumes and musical talent, I knew I had to see it.


The show was so much fun. Unlike other live shows at Disney World based off of animated movies, this one doesn’t try to recreate the story of the Lion King. Instead it introduces acrobats, music, and dancing in a fun celebration of all the animals from the movie and beyond.

IMG_5532.JPG IMG_5539.JPG IMG_5543.JPG IMG_5545.JPG

This is also a great show for kids since it encourages a great amount of audience participation. I may have let this show slip in the past, but I promise I will be back.


When we left the Lion King show, I noticed beautiful decorated Christmas trees that lined the street. If you looked closely you’d see each tree represents a famous Disney character. We were able to kill 15-20 minutes trying to guess which tree belonged to which character.

IMG_5553.jpg IMG_5554.JPG IMG_5556.JPG IMG_5555.jpg IMG_5557.jpg IMG_5558.JPG

Then we headed to the main street to get a good seat for the Jingle Jungle Parade. Pre-parade snack was courtesy of Beka who baked Doubletree Cookies for Sunday’s TBLB cookie exchange party. yum!

IMG_5559.JPG IMG_5560.JPG

The Jingle Jungle Parade has been on my list of holiday “must sees” at Disney for a while now. It’s the only daytime holiday-themed parade at Walt Disney World and it’s so fitting to Florida’s weather this time of year. Christmas time may be cold other places in the U.S. and around the world, but it’s warm and sunny here just as it is in the jungle. The parade celebrated the heat with holiday decked out jeeps and jungle animals.




IMG_5578.JPG IMG_5579.JPG IMG_5581.JPG






IMG_5604.jpg IMG_5605.jpg




They did a great job with the parade. Not only were the floats all gorgeous, but the character interaction was top notch. If you’re at Disney World during Christmas time, I highly recommend heading to Animal Kingdom to check the parade out!

With the Jingle Jungle Parade behind us, we had one more holiday-themed item we wanted to see at Disney. This one required a trip to Hollywood Studios (which will always be MGM Studios in my heart!)



We needed a little snack before moving on. Since the RSVP said “light snacks” for the Splitsville meet-up, we decided to split a chicken and cous cous salad at the ABC Commissary.


The salad was the perfect hearty snack when split between two people. It was tasty too, just a little heavy on the dressing for my taste (next time I would order it sans dressing).


We rode Star Wars, then ran into one of the Disney street bands performing Christmas music on Streets of Americas.


LOVED them! Disney performers never fail to keep a crowd entertained. Bravo.


Then it was time for the main event.


The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.


I swear photos do not do this scene justice. As soon as they flipped the lights on, it was pure magic. Beautiful, colorful, magic. Something you’d really have to see in person to truly understand the beauty of it all.


I posted a videos of the lights dancing on the Meals and Miles Facebook page. You can head over to check it out.

IMG_5644.JPG IMG_5645.JPG


IMG_5656.jpg IMG_5658.JPG

I wish we had more time to enjoy the lights, but we had a party to get to in downtown!

IMG_5659.JPG IMG_5660.jpg

Welcome to Splitsville, where bowling ally meets bar and dance club.


There’s a Splitsville in Tampa that I’ve never been to. I’ve heard good things about it, but once you figure the price for parking, the overpriced fancy drinks, and higher rate you’re paying to bowl at the fancy lanes, you start to lose interest in the concept and just head down the street to the hole in the wall bowling ally that works just fine. However, that’s not to say it wouldn’t be a cool place to bring someone for a first date or friends from out of town that you want to impress.

IMG_5670.jpg IMG_5672.JPG

The new Splitsville in Downtown Disney is gorgeous. Hard to believe this was the same building that used to house the Virgin Record Store I would beg my parents to let me explore when I was a kid.


Everything inside was sparkling, shiny, and still smelled brand new. Even the bowling balls were vibrant and colorful.



The meet-up took place in the upstairs (yes, the bowling ally was two stories) which felt more like a nightclub than a bowling ally. There was a dance floor, a DJ booth, a sushi counter, multiple bars, booths for ordering food at, pool tables, and bowling lanes, of course.


Disney and I have different interpretations on what consists of “light appetizers” Example A: the pork slider I was handed almost as soon as I entered.


Or the delicious cheeseburger slider that I tossed the pork slider away for and about tackled the server to take one. Probably one of the best cheeseburger sliders I’ve ever had (I think the sautΓ©ed onions, extra cheese, and copious amounts of lettuce helped).


There was unlimited soda and water at the party and we were handed one free drink ticket for an adult beverage of our choosing. I decided on the Skinny Margarita Martini, which went down way too easily if you ask me.




p.s. outdoor bar + gorgeous view of Downtown Disney = Amazing!

Also, leave it to Disney to hire professional dancers to stay on the dance floor all night and try to encourage people to dance.

IMG_5701.JPG IMG_5702.JPG

Poor guys, they were pretty much on their own all night.


More great food: BBQ Chicken Pizza and sushi. Yes, sushi. A bowling ally and sushi bar in one – go figure.

IMG_5700.JPG IMG_5723.JPG

Suzanne and I waited in a decent line for our shoes and be assigned to a lane. Since there were so many groups of 2 (every RSVP only included a +1) they were grouping us all together in shared lanes. No big deal, that just gave us a chance to make new friends. πŸ˜‰


The lanes were super nice, but the booths were a little awkward to get in and out of if you were stuck in the middle. The service was also top notch. Our attendant was responsible for two lanes and was happy to help. We mentioned something about trying the sushi and – bam! – sushi appeared. The same thing happened when I mentioned coffee. Gotta love Disney and their amazing service.


Perks of knowing you’re one of the first to bowl the lanes? The shoes are brand new! πŸ™‚


Now as far as my bowling game was concerned, eh. It was bad. The floor felt super slippery and I was sliding everywhere. Plus, I was too busy talking and enjoying myself to put too much serious effort in the game. I bowled a whopping 63 (woo hoo!) and managed a single spare and a lot of straight lines (-). Still had fun, though!!

IMG_5734.jpg IMG_5731.JPG

As a special treat, we were handed some fun character Mickey ears to take home.


And in the small world of all small worlds, blog reader Alyssa was placed in the same lane as us and Amanda (who I met at the Princess meet up) was in the lane next to ours. The group of us traded RunDisney stories throughout the night. Alyssa and Amanda are running their first full marathons in january – you go girls!!


I spoke with the head of the Disney Parks Blog last night and rumor has it we should all be on the look out for more exciting meet-ups in 2013! All you have to do is follow the blog and be the first to email when an event is posted. That’s it! *Hint* They usually give a few hints via their twitter feed the day or so leading up to the posting. πŸ˜‰

The party ended and we drove back to Tampa, where I promptly crashed in my bed before midnight. It was a good day.

What’s your favorite part about Walt Disney World during the holidays?

1 lisa fine December 18, 2012 at 11:44 am

So cool! I’ve been reading about Splitsville on the Disney Food Blog, and while I’m not into bowling, I would definitely check it out for a game and some food.

I love the Osborne lights, and the tree at the Animal Kingdom (loaded with beautiful animal ornaments) is also very cool.
lisa fine recently posted..the no television for five months update

2 Liz December 18, 2012 at 11:57 am

Those lights are so amazing. I’m a fan of disney also. I don’t think you can live in that area and not be. I care what anyone says. πŸ™‚
Liz recently posted..FD220 – Victoria Falls..a Once in a Lifetime Experience

3 Natalie @ Free Range Human December 18, 2012 at 11:57 am

This post makes me happy! I love Disney!
Natalie @ Free Range Human recently posted..A Prayer Offered

4 Megan December 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Love this!! you have to check out Splitsville Tampa some day! I love that place! We used to go there in college and split the fish bowls (no idea how we afforded them on a college budget!). There’s plenty of places to park for free near channelside.

5 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More December 18, 2012 at 12:28 pm

What a fun day! I’ve never been big on rides or anything but I LOVE disney – so fun and brings out the kid in everyone! πŸ™‚
Katie @ Talk Less, Say More recently posted..Workout: Maximize Your Time

6 Annette @FitnessPerks December 18, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Oh wow! WHat a fabulous light display!!
Annette @FitnessPerks recently posted..Be Kinder

7 Courtney December 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I’ve never been to Disney for the holidays, but I have always wanted to! Your night sounds like so much fun πŸ˜€

8 Julianna @ Julianna Bananna December 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm

that video on your facebook page is incredible!!
Julianna @ Julianna Bananna recently posted..hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near.

9 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats December 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Seriously. You are SO LUCKY to live right by Disney!!!
Katie @ Peace Love & Oats recently posted..Reviewpalooza

10 NYC Fit GIrl December 18, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Looks like fun! I wish I lived closer to disney!
NYC Fit GIrl recently posted..Sweat Pink

11 Katie @ Balanced RD December 18, 2012 at 1:18 pm

That looks like so much fun! I am so jealous that you are walking around outside in shorts…I am in Montana so it is below zero here!! πŸ™‚

12 Karen @ Runner Girl Eats December 18, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Omg I had no idea Disney did this! I’m checking out the blog right now!
Karen @ Runner Girl Eats recently posted..Something has got to change.

13 Bethany @ Accidental Intentions December 18, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Those lights look absolutely unreal. I can’t even begin to imagine how amazing it must have been in person. I’m crazy about Christmas lights, so that looks like something I’d love to see someday!
Bethany @ Accidental Intentions recently posted..Playing Hotel

14 Krissy @ Shiawase Life December 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm

AWW! Love this post, Meghann! Alyssa is one of my IRL friends and it was so nice to see her smiling face here πŸ˜€
Krissy @ Shiawase Life recently posted..Confessions of a Chocoholic, Pt II of II.

15 Meghann December 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Alyssa mentioned your name last night, she said you guys worked together at Disney. I told her I knew you through twitter and blogging. She had nothing but nice things to say about how wonderful you are. πŸ™‚

16 Rebecca @ Blueberry Smiles December 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm

What a fun day! I haven’t been to disney in forever

17 TorontoRunner December 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm

wow @ those lights!
That looks like SO much fun and amazingness!
TorontoRunner recently posted..Heavy Heart

18 colleens December 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm

We love the Osborne lights! It is so magical and amazing. It was a first and last stop at Disney last year. Unfortunately, our vidoe wasn’t as good as yours, but the music gives me goosebumps.

19 jamie December 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I used to be a safari driver at Animal Kingdom! Best job EVER!! Definitely check out “flights of wonder” @ AK if you haven’t seen it before. Sounds lame but it’s actually quite good.

20 Sara @ fitcupcaker December 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm

It’s funny to see Christmas trees where there is warm weather. I know its celebrated everywhere of course, but I just think of snow and cold weather when I think of a big Christmas tree!!
Sara @ fitcupcaker recently posted..Back to work Blues

21 Joelle (on a pink typewriter) December 18, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I sooo wish I lived near Disney– how fun!
Joelle (on a pink typewriter) recently posted..Right Now

22 Jenn December 18, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Sounds like an awesome day! I can’t wait to see Splitsville!
Jenn recently posted..Race Recap: Wine & Dine Half Marathon

23 Andrea December 18, 2012 at 10:02 pm

I love the Spectacle of Lights! In fact, we got engaged there 2 years ago tomorrow (and will be heading there tomorrow night to celebrate!)

And I am always to late to do the Disney Parks Blog meet ups! I so want to do one of the running ones, one day!
Andrea recently posted..In My Mailbox- December 17, 2012

24 Angela December 19, 2012 at 1:36 am

Such a fun night! When I went to Florida in April they were just starting Splitsville. Can’t wait to check it out!
Angela recently posted..Date Night.

25 Hope @ With A Side Of Hope December 19, 2012 at 7:01 am

Ahh! I love Disney so much! I am a Disney fanatic. You are so lucky you live so close! I saw the Osborne lights a couple of years ago when my husband and I went to Disney, the week before Christmas. It was beautiful! I love it there so much. I cannot wait to go back πŸ™‚
Hope @ With A Side Of Hope recently posted..Keeping It Simple!…

26 Sara@RunningInPinkProject December 19, 2012 at 7:22 am

The Splittsville in Tampa is fun. You should check it out! Parking wasnt bad at all and going on a week night it really wasnt that crowded AND the bowling part didnt cost any more than anywhere else…..Now the fruity drinks might be where I racked up the $$$ but everything else was totally reasonable! πŸ™‚
Sara@RunningInPinkProject recently posted..The Mad Dash

27 beka @ rebecca roams December 19, 2012 at 10:26 am

Yay for DT cookies!! <3 So.much.FUN.in this post!!!! The Osborne lights are so pretty! I'd be exhausted at the end of a day like this. I have never been to Splitsville here in Tampa on an actual outing, just poked my head in one day while I was in Channelside to see what it was. πŸ™‚
beka @ rebecca roams recently posted..Weekend Getaway Cruise – Part 2

28 Katie December 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I can’t believe you’d never been to Festival of the Lion King before! It’s my absolute favorite thing at AK. Unfortunately, they’re saying that the new Avatar land is going to take the place of Camp Minnie-Mickey. Also, I’m so jealous about the meetup! I’ve been trying to make it to one since they started but the sign-ups almost always open while I’m teaching.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: