The Traveling Steve's

Happy New Year 2018 from Orlando!

Happy New Year from the beautiful Hyatt Cypress Creek Resort in Orlando!  Like last year we stayed here for a 3 night ‘stay-cation’ and also had a wonderful time, despite the chilly weather this December and misty New Year’s Day.  The 2 days leading up to New Year’s, fortunately,  while a bit chilly were sunny and clear, as seen in the photo below.

The inside of the Hyatt was beautifully decorated with a large Christmas tree, several gingerbread houses, poinsettias, and a running train set, all displayed under the soaring 17 level open-air lobby.

We checked into the Hyatt on Friday around 4:30, Dec 29th, and immediately began setting up the decorations we had brought in our room, 1239, a two room suite similar to what we had last year with a large outside 12th floor terrace.  If the decorations look similar to our recent trip to Jekyll Island; then your would be correct; we took many of the same Christmas decorations with us, although we did add some New Year’s hats and some snacks and beverages.

I worked on decorating inside the room, while Steve (DOS) worked on putting up the lights on the terrace; no small feat for him as our private terrace was over 30 feet long with a private seating area and spectacular 12th floor views.

At night-time the terrace was lit up, and I brought my mini disco boom box for some music and additional lighting effects!

We love staying at the Hyatt Cypress Creek as it’s located next to Disney Springs (just barely off of Disney World’s property), but is a true resort setting of over 1,500 acres, and unlike even many of the Disney deluxe hotels, has a more private feel to it as it’s gated and not easily accessible by non-hotel guests, vs the Disney hotels along the monorail which get a lot of sightseers.

Friday night, DOS and I had dinner at Shula’s Steak house in the Dolphin Resort at Disney World, a wonderful resort located on the Boardwalk area of Disney.  We booked Mear’s town cars for dinner transportation Friday and Saturday night, which was not only inexpensive (around $25 each way), but so much more convenient than driving thru the massive pre-New Year’s crowds, not to mention having vino and driving.  

Shula’s was very nice as always, and we had attentive service and good food and drink.  We had a leisurely night of dining before heading back via Mear’s around 10:30pm.

After dinner we had a few minutes before our 10:30pm ride back to the Hyatt, so we walked around the Dolphin Hotel a bit admiring their decorations.  They have remodeled the lobby since last year, and it has a more modern and practical look to it, with a lobby lounge and nice seating area, and some fancy hanging lights and Christmas trees.

The Dolphin Hotel even had a Christmas tree inside their large revolving front door!

On Saturday, our Orlando friends Ben and Tom joined us for the next two nights at the Hyatt for the New Year’s festivities.  The Hyattl had pre-booked them in the room next to ours, which was convenient for everyone, as well as being close to the 12 floor Concierge Lounge.  After settling in, we walked a bit on and off the property, eventually heading to Chili’s up the road for lunch.

Later, as we walked back to the hotel, we ended up ‘crashing’ thru an outdoor wedding! LOL! From our terrace, we had saw the hotel staff setting up earlier in the day an outdoor covered seating area, but thought it may be a bit too cool for an outdoor wedding.  It wasn’t freezing, but by Florida standards, high 50’s/low 60’s with a bit of wind felt a bit cool.  Maybe they were from Canada?

Anyway, as we walked along the trail thru the hotel property, (talk about timing) we had accidentally stumbled upon this afternoon wedding,  and we were literally right in the middle of it!  We didn’t know what time the wedding was (aren’t they usually later in the day?) but we had to pass right by the 2:30pm wedding to get to our room, as the frantic wedding planner emerged from the bushes and  told us to hurry on by.

 I guess we looked like “wedding crasher trash” as we walked by on this public outdoor trail they were taking over.  It turns out the groom’s men were walking in from one direction, and the bridal entourage was walking in from a distant opposite direction, and we innocently and unintentionally had to walk by both line-ups. literally as the wedding was about to start!

The harpist was already playing as we walked by, and the guests were anxious (and probably chilly) while waiting for us to move on so the ceremony could start.  Not the nicest looks we received from the wedding guests, but it was in a public outdoor area not unlike the weddings at Disney World with throngs of tourists walking by.   Anyway, we continued walking until we got to the safety of the bridge and stopped to look across the lagoon to the wedding ceremony we had just walked by.  But no, wait – not another wedding planner woman!  Yes a second woman appeared and basically threw us off the bridge as we were delaying their wedding processional!  Who knew?  We thought the bridge was far enough away from the wedding we could take a peek across the lake; I guess not.

Apparently the bride would be walking across that bridge momentarily, as we later watched from our 12th floor terrace.

As we retreated back to our suite at the hotel, we ran into (literally) the bridesmaids and bride’s entourage, secretly hiding inside the a corridor of the LakeHouse Restaurant, right by the elevator we had to take to escape this wedding madness! Help we thought – we can’t get away from this freaking wedding!   Fortunately for her (as our patience was waning), this third wedding planner woman let us ‘break thru’ the entourage line-up and get on the elevator.  As the elevator doors closed, I snapped  a couple photos of this our third run-in as the terrible “wedding crashers”. LOL!

We then watched the long and dramatic wedding processional from our 12th floor terrace, and provided waves at the party and the seated guests with our Mickey Mouse, reindeer, and Santa  hats we put on in the room!  The groom’s party came s-l-o-w-l-y from one direction, (evenly spaced out a good 30 seconds apart per groomsman) while the bride’s party came later from the other direction, even slower spaced out, across the long curved walkway, over the bridge we had just been standing on only moments before.

It was a bit over the top;  I mean really, having the covered seating area closed off was fine, but they were blocking off large sections of the walking/jogging trail (which extends from 1 to 5  miles), as well as the restaurant corridor leading to the public restrooms and elevator, just so the bridal party could make their grand entrance from afar quite a far to the ceremony site.

The Hyatt’s resort land area was so vast I couldn’t get the whole lake in one photo, but here is the rest of the lake, beach, and water sports located slightly to the left of the wedding party’s ‘lagoon’.  You can see in the distance how far the walking/jogging trail extends and they have 3 different levels of trails to choose from; either 1, 3 or 5 mile trails. I guess we could have rented a canoe or paddleboat and sailed up to the wedding for a better view. LOL!

Anyway, best wishes to the mystery wedding couple and hopes for lifelong happiness together, after we three-striked your wedding processional.

On Saturday night, Ben, Tom, Dos and I had dinner at Johnny’s Hideaway, where we ate last year.  Johnny’s is fairly close to the hotel, but as it was a bit chilly, we ordered up a Mear’s ride roundtrip.  We had a nice dinner there before heading back to the hotel.

Back at the Hyatt, we watched the Magic Kingdom fireworks in the distance from our terrace. Fireworks never seem to come out when taking photos, unless you have a great zoom lens, but we enjoyed them, even with no good photos to show for it.

The next day, Sunday, was New Year’s Eve 2017. We had a leisurely day at the hotel all day, as this is the busiest day of the year for Disney World, and the parks are normally at capacity by 11am.  We used to go to EPCOT on New Year’s Eve, but now we have seasonal passes which have  blackout dates  this week, but quite honestly we quit going on New Year’s Eve some five years ago, as it was just utter crowd madness.  Neither one of us are into Times Square type crowds, and it’s much nicer watching the fireworks from our hotel without getting to and from the parks, going thru the enhanced security, and waits for everything from rides to snacks to restrooms.

It’s also much nicer relaxing in the afternoon by the Hyatt’s uncrowded  pool area, than fighting the crowds or trying to secure the ‘best’ firework viewing spot in the parks several hours early.

The last year that we went to EPCOT for New Year’s Eve and saw the wait for Soarin’ was four hours we knew we wouldn’t do New Year’s Eve at the parks again. Not that we would wait that long or even use a fast pass, but that gives you an indication of the crowds. Likewise that year at the Mexican pavilion it was so congested you couldn’t even walk very easily along the pathway as it was person-to-person contact; and the crowd control ropes didn’t help any either.  People ‘camped out’ hours early for the fireworks, and the crowd masses couldn’t get past them; not fun, as well as dangerous!  

Tip: If you want to see the Christmas decorations and fireworks at Disney, go in early to mid-December when the crowds are lighter and the decorations are out, and yes they have nightly fireworks, including an added Holiday edition after the regular fireworks each night which is wonderful.  New Year’s Eve has an extended firework display also, but honestly it’s not worth the hassle of getting there for it; hence we stay at the nearby Hyatt.

Meanwhile, the weather had warmed up a bit on this New Year’s Eve, so we sat out by the pool for a bit; still too cool at 64 for us Floridian’s to get in the pool or wear shorts, but quite a few people did – they must be from up north!


Not us – jeans, caps, and an occasional jacket too!

While we didn’t swim, we did make our ceremonial walk across the swinging bridge, which crosses over the secondary and more distant ‘quiet’ pool.

We then headed over to the Hyatt’s LakeHouse Restaurant for lunch, (scene of yesterday’s hidden bridesmaids entrance entourage).  LakeHouse is a spacious and casual dining room with high ceilings, and offers lakefront dining views.  

We didn’t want to eat too much as we had dinner reservations at 7:30pm for the other hotel restaurant, Hemmingway’s, but their brick oven pizza is a manageable size so we all had that. DOS had the traditional round crust, while I had the flatbread; both delicious!

After a lazy New Year’s Eve afternoon, we headed back to the room for a short nap, and to get ready for the New Year’s Eve festivities at the hotel.  We had access to the 12th floor Concierge Lounge, and around 5:30pm we had some pre-dinner snacks of Beef Wellington, and a glass of vino,  We even had some time to see the early fireworks from Magic Kingdom at 6:30pm, as went back to our terrace and gazed in the distance.

We then headed down to Hemingway’s Restaurant, the hotel’s Key-West themed dining establishment for our 7:30pm dinner reservations.  As expected there was a bit of a wait even with reservations, but the 15 minutes or so gave us yet another look at the wedding party from yesterday, all decked out in their fancy clothes with Champagne in hand as they entered the restaurant lobby after us.  Of course they got seated before us, but I’m sure they had already pre-reserved the large group tables for some 20 people.  Anyway, we weren’t as dressed in tuxes and gowns, but we did look nice in our business-casual Florida attire, as we all had previously declined on wearing sport jackets this year.

Once seated, we had yet another nice dinner; our farewell dinner to 2017!  As we had dinner we all reflected on the year’s events, both good and bad, and commented on the usual (but so true) saying that this year went by quicker than ever.  While Hemmingway’s was busy, they offered both a price fix and the regular menu as well.  

We skipped the price-fix special, and ordered individually what we really wanted, including appetizers, salad, steaks, and dessert, paired with some nice wines. The entree size Ahi-tuna we split as an appetizer even had fresh flowers on it – a nice Key West touch!

Shortly before the final dessert course, I went to the lobby entrance podium to pick up some New Year’s Eve noise makers and hats, which we wore the rest of the night, well past the midnight hour.

After dinner we still had a couple hours before the midnight hour of New Year’s, so we all went up to our terrace, and added some of our light up necklaces to our outfits, got out the blinky plastic cups, and along with our brewski’s we had brought, had a mini-party out on the terrace.  

We could see fireworks literally all over the city; from Disney World to Sea World and everywhere in between, With the disco strobe going, and the lights from the terrace coupled with our blinking necklaces, and later a toast of Champagne, we had a great and safe time.

As the bewitching hour of midnight drew close, we hurried out from the terrace to the 12th floor hallway, and walked to the section overlooking the lobby, while first popping the cork to the Champagne, and pouring it into the glasses we took with us.

Last year, we went downstairs to the lobby level where the party was going on from 9:30pm to 12:30pm, but this year decided to watch the party from above, as we were making our own party anyway without the crowds, and wanted to go back to the terrace to watch the fireworks starting at midnight as well.  

As we waited in the hallway with others looking down as well, we looked up to the open-air ceiling at the three huge nets filled with balloons that would soon drop.

Then as we all counted down from ten at the stroke of midnight, the  thousands of balloons were released from the high ceiling of the hotel, slowly dropping some 17 stories to the lobby below, where scores of partiers, families, kids, and even us eagerly tried to catch them!


As we gathered our newly-caught balloons and headed back to our terrace, we paused for a bit to look out at the brilliantly lit-up pool and surrounding Disney fireworks.

Of course no trip with Tom would be complete without a goofy photo, so here’s Tom wishing everyone a Happy New Year’s!

Back at the room and terrace, we partied on for a while longer, before realizing it was after one am, and we did have to check out in the morning.  Fortunately we had arranged for a four pm checkout, but we still had lots to clean up before going home!


Heading to bed, we slept soundly and late in the morning, waking up to the New Year of 2018.  In an anti-climatic moment, we had to clean up the room, checkout, and take the 45 minute drive home.  In a funny packing moment, we soon realized we couldn’t fit everything in our 7 suitcases we had brought with clothes, decorations, snacks, beer etc and had to get some extra laundry bags from the maid to fit everything in!  

Like at Jekyll Island, the clothes and decorations seem to grow when packing them; you’d think that since we were leaving with less stuff; i.e. drinks, snacks, empty boxes etc we would have more room, right?  Oh, yeah, it must have been all those extra New Year’s Eve hats we acquired!

Happy New Year (and third anniversary from The Traveling Steve’s website), and we wish you a blessed 2018 with health, happiness, and much laughter.  May you travel when you can (like now while you are able to do so), enjoy the new experiences, smile when someone takes your picture, don’t try to be perfect (no one is) and don’t take everything so seriously!  Hugs!

Happy New Year!

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