Our Last Florida Winter? 2023/2024

It has been a while since we updated the blog, the last update being the loss of our cats in Tennessee.  It is time to renew the effort of documenting our travels so that we will have a permanent recollection when we need it later. We returned for another predictable, but our last, season at Winter Garden RV Resort for three months. We celebrated our 25th year wedding anniversary in January! Since we were petless we both could fly home in January and we had visitors from the East Coast join us for some time with the mouse.

Site 182 at Winter Garden RV Resort, a Thousand Trails Collection related Encore Property where we stayed from the beginning of December 2023 through February 2024.

This was our last winter in Florida in the way that we have for the last five of our six years. The first year we wandered around trying to find reservations on the fly because we started this adventure in the fall and did not know we needed reservations for wintering in Florida. We decided to purchase a Thousand Trails membership instead, if you are interested in why we made that decision check out our “Why Thousand Trails Adventure?” blog article.

Pigeon Forge to Winter Garden

While we have made the trip from Tennessee to Florida in one long exhausting day in the past, this time we decided to break up the distance just before we cross over the Florida/Georgia line. This puts us in Winter Garden late morning or early afternoon, which makes it much easier to park and get set up for the three-month stay.

About halfway from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, to Winter Garden, Florida, is a Harvest Host stop at Caroll’s Sausage and Country Store. You can either flat-out pay for a spot in their RV park or stay in the gravel lot as a Harvest Host member and make the suggested purchases. Of course, again, we found some great stuff here and spent double the program’s recommended $30 a stop!

Christmas 2023

We maximized our Disney time in the first two weeks of the month, including the traditional Candlelight Processional event at Epcot. After our pass is blocked out for the holidays we then put in several days of shifts at Give Kids the World village. Spending time with the Village families over the holidays is a great way to lift your spirits.

Our first day back for the season at Magic Kingdom!
Barb was quite the attraction at Walt Disney, sporting her flashing Christmas tree hat smuggled in from Dollywood! You could spot her from across the lagoon at Epcot!
The Candlelight Processional has slowly been returning to pre-pandemic size. The first show each evening was guest high school choirs and the second and third were cast members.
We love it when Neil Patrick Harris (NPH) is the narrator for the Candlelight Processional, you feel his connection with the Christmas story.

January 2024

We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in each other’s company and that of the Give Kids the World Village families while we volunteered that day.  We were even able to get some “professional” photography done at Disney Springs to commemorate the day!

25th Years of Marriage! We celebrated together by volunteering at Give Kids the World Village!
Jason surprised his Wisconsin family with a visit at the end of his week at work there. While it was a few weeks early, he was able to visit with Verna his now 105-year-old grandmother!
Barb got 22 nights of Oma time when she braved the cold of Minnesota in January 2024. Lots of time between Ceci and Oma one-on-one and with the whole family. Even Opa got an opportunity too when he flew in for a week.
Barb was content with the static photo opportunity at the Epcot Festival of Arts, little did she know what was going to come a few weeks later!

February 2024

This winter was really dark, cold, and dreary, while the rest of the country had one of the mildest and dryest winters on record. We had several bright shining moments with guests visiting that were so much fun and a lifetime of memories were made in those few days.

We were surprised to see that Christopher Robbin’s bedroom was open and Winnie the Pooh got to pose with our clan. He was so fun!
Barb and Jason will never forget Elijah’s deep gasp when Vader stepped around the corner in front of us. What a cool meet and greet perk of the Chase Disney Visa card at Hollywood Studios.
Last day! A quick pause before hitting the last few attractions and shops for souvenirs!
One of our favorite attractions at Animal Kingdom is the animals on the Safari ride. On this occasion, lots of hippos were out!
Time to celebrate that the sun finally came out at our last visit to Animal Kingdom!

March 2023

March 3 we headed Northwest out of the Orlando area, but that did give us a couple of days at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. This is one of Barb’s favorite festivals, all of the beautiful natural colors. (or, and of course, the penguins are out too!)

Some of Barb’s favorite orchids are these patterns at the Mexico pavilion in Epcot Center at the Flower and Garden Festival.
Barb, that’s a lotsa matcha on top of that chocolate mouse! One of the best foods we had at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival this year.
On our last visit to Epcot for the season, we popped into the Journey of Imagination and got our free character photo with Goofy and Mickey thanks to our Chase Disney Visa perks.
Barb was in her “happy place” with Mary Poppin’s penguin chattering in her ear and even a great big hug! This time Barb did not knock down any children and properly waited her turn!
Barb and Mary Poppin’s Penguin allowed Jason to join them in a quick pose and then they returned to their chattering together!

Where to next? Tallahassee, Florida!

Leave a Reply