New Experiences – Buena Vista Palace and Pixar Pals

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Despite the snow and ice, my family was able to pack up and leave Atlanta this weekend to enjoy a few days at Walt Disney World.  Because of the weather, we had to switch plans, and that led us to try something new at the World.

Although we have been down frequently in years past, most of the time we stay on property in a Value or sometimes a Moderate resort.   Sometimes, if we’re trying to really save money, we’ll stay at a hotel on 192, and we had booked one for this trip.  However, due to the weather, we weren’t sure we were going to make it.  So Thursday morning I made the sad call to cancel our hotel reservation.

That turned out to be a good thing, though, because as things cleared up I was able to look for a new room and find a great deal.  Looking on Expedia, I found a great rate at the Buena Vista Palace in Downtown Disney.  For only $79 a night, I could stay in this hotel across the street from Downtown Disney, plus get a $25 a day room credit.  Not only that, but my two children ate for free in the hotel restaurant.  For that price, it was a no-brainer.  How was it?

I have to say the rooms in the Buena Vista Palace are fantastic.  Our room had two double beds, a fridge and safe, a bathroom with a separated sink, a balcony, an office style desk, sitting area and a nice flat screen TV.  The real glory of these rooms are the beds, though.

Each bed had a nice pillow top mattress with fluffy down comforters.  After a long day walking the parks it was heavenly to fall into one of these beds.  In fact, they felt so good that we turned off the alarm and missed rope drop at Epcot on our second day there.  That’s something this TouringPlans.com family never does.

Where the resort failed a little though was in the little things.  Saturday night I came back to the room excited to watch the NFL Playoffs on the flatscreen TV, only to turn it on and get horrid reception.  It was worse than rabbit ears, no lie.  Then, the next morning, we went to the hotel buffet for breakfast, because the kids ate free.  As it turned out, there was a character breakfast that ran every Sunday, so we agreed to go.  After all, we had that room credit to spend!

The food was good, but really on par with your average Disney buffet.  The price was on par as well, at $22 per adult.  It ate up our credit entirely, but would be a steal if we got to see all the characters.  However, only Pluto made it to our table before we finished eating.  Pluto was fabulous, hugging and kissing the kids as well as giving high fives.  But if you pay for Pluto, Goofy and Minnie, but only Pluto shows up, you get a little miffed.  Not to mention that our waiter disappeared when it was time to get our check and hurry to our theme park destination.

All that said, I would still recommend the Buena Vista Paace for families looking to save a little money.  The beds will help everyone rest better than some of the threadbare Disney sheets, and the rates are quite affordable.  The rooms are very nice and worth minor hassles like I described.

The other new experience I got to have came Sunday afternoon, when I met up with the crew from StudiosCentral.com for the debut of the Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade.  Everyone was so excited waiting for the parade as the famed Citizens of Hollywood street performers entertained the crowd.

To be honest, that was the best part of the show.  When the parade started, I had high hopes.  After all, I have loved Block Party Bash since I first saw it years ago at Disney’s California Adventure.  I know Block Party Bash.  I saw Block Party Bash.  You, Pixar Pals, are no Block Party Bash.

Now, I’m not entirely down on Pixar Pals.  I had my kids with me at the parade, and they really enjoyed the parade.  Seeing all the characters from their favorite Pixar films was a treat.  The music, a Disney version of “I Don’t Want To Work,” was also fun for dancing to on the street.

The problem is that the parade is too short.  One of the people near me timed it out at only 8 minutes long.  That’s not the worst thing in the world when you’re trying to get some park touring done, but it’s definitely not the right length for a parade experience.  That’s the big difference – Block Party Bash was an experience, while Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun is an amusing distraction.

Both Buena Vista Palace and the Pixar Pals Parade were new experiences for me at Walt Disney World.  I have been often enough that it’s always hard for me to find new things, so both were welcome additions to the trip, despite any issues I might have had.

What about you?  Have you experienced some new things on a recent trip?  Were they good, bad or ugly?

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Posted on January 17, 2011

6 Responses to “New Experiences – Buena Vista Palace and Pixar Pals”

  • I actually try to do at least one new-to-me thing on each trip. Most recently, it was the Pasta in the Park party, which I probably won’t do again. Last summer, my new things were MSEP, Summer Nightastic Fireworks, and Captain EO. I’m of the pretty firm opinion that WDW is huge and complex enough that there will ALWAYS be something new. :-)

    Thanks very much for the reviews of the new parade, Ryan. I think it will be better when my expectations are properly set when I see it in March!

  • What is the point of traveling if it’s not trying new things? On my upcoming WDW trip (1st week Feb…YEA!) I will be trying a few new things due to my 6 1/2 years away from the World. Toy Story Mania, Expedition Everest, etc. will all be 1st time. I’ve also never been on Dumbo, but my toddler will surely break that streak for me.

  • Great seeing you and the family at the parade!

  • My family always stays in Lake Buena Vista when we are visiting Walt Disney World. It feels very comfortable and safe, and isn’t nearly as difficult to navigate as parts of 192 can be. In November, we stayed at the Quality Suites on Palm Palkway for the second time, and it is now the hotel that I recommend to everyone. The rooms are huge, being true suites, with a full living room & fully equipped kitchen, and a separate room for beds & bath. Both rooms also have full-size TVs, and the sofa in the living room folds out to a surprisingly comfortable bed. The regular beds are amazingly comfortable as well. The kicker is that a full breakfast buffet is included for everyone, and the food is exceptionally good. All of this for a rate that is usually obtainable in advance for $79/night or less. My wife & I both worked a semester at WDW in the College Program 19 years ago, and have always wanted to stay on property, but the simple fact is that when a budget is required, there are much better options just off property. I can’t imagine a better one that this Quality Suites. In addition, Palm Parkway provides very quick & easy access directly to Sea World & Universal without fighting I-4 or International Drive. I hope that you will try it sometime. Thanks for your blog, I really enjoy it!

  • We have stayed at the BVP twice and really like it – the rooms are comfortable and the price cannot be beat – great location b/c you can walk across the street to Downtown Disney – and we cannot say enough good things about the bus service (very quick, few riders, nice drivers). Thx for the post – always enjoy your comments, opinions and expertise!

  • Are you guys aware that Lines isn’t working for Blackberry currently?
    I hope that it can get fixed by Sunday!!!!!

    Thanks!!

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