Matt took me to the Italian restaurant there for our first date, and for our first wedding anniversary, we dined at that restaurant again and spent the night at the hotel. I'm tempted to tell some of our inside jokes and memories from both those visits (maybe another post :0) but for now, here's a run down of our Christmas visit last week...
Me and the girls in front of the hotel's main entrance (Magnolia Lobby) dodging cars and horse-drawn carriages. Kate thought the horses were cool, but with a $5 charge even for kids (I didn't hear how much for adults) I can't imagine it would be worth it, especially since I don't think you see anything you wouldn't see from your car on the way in or out.
We'd had "see lights at Opryland" and "see Santa" on our list of Christmas family-fun to-dos, and we found that there was actually a Santa at Opryland to see, which seemed preferable to battling lines at the mall. There were huge crowds to battle on the little paths making our way through Delta Conservatory to where Santa was, but since there was higher demand to see the Dreamworks characters featured this year (Shrek, Po, etc.) than to see Santa, there was actually no line to see jolly old St. Nick! And, unlike the movie characters, there was no cost to see Santa!
The official photos and baubles they sold were exorbitant, of course, but unbelievably, they actually let you take your own photos at no cost!! So, Matt took at least twenty shots while the official photographer took his (which we didn't even bother to look at) and we had plenty of great pics to choose from! Here were a few of our faves:
The crowds in the conservatory were so crazy we didn't really look up and around at the decor there (which actually wasn't as elaborate as before the flood, especially as they've put more effort into attractions like ICE, with the Dreamworks movie theme, etc.) but we made our way back to Magnolia and ate dinner at the Irish pub. Great beer and some good bangers and mash, plus live music.
(Matt making Kate laugh, since she wouldn't smile.)
Locals know it's best to park for free at Opry Mills and walk, but we'd heard that they were now validating the crazy $18 parking if you eat in one of the restaurants. It turned out that was only if you ate in one of the "fine dining" establishments, of which the pub is not one, and yet still charges $20+ per entree. The whole thing is a racket, and we would have been better off paying $15 for a mall Santa photo and another $60 to eat at Carrabas, but if done rarely, the Opryland Hotel makes for a fun (if expensive) family outing.