Beyond the Parks

Ask It: Inexpensive Activities at Walt Disney World

by on February 8, 2017

Ask It. Best Inexpensive activity at Walt Disney World

It’s Wednesday, and time for another Ask It!

Last week, we asked you:

Which inexpensive activity is worth the time and money during your vacation?

This poll was our closest one yet!  With more than 600 votes cast, the final results were (in order from least to greatest):

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Disney Bakes: Disney-Inspired Rice Cereal Treats + Video

by on February 2, 2017

I may be an amateur baker, but that didn’t stop me from making a delicious Disney dessert for you!

These Disney-inspired rice cereal treats are yummy, easy to make and are a great activity for the whole family.

Enjoy the video by clicking here!

Have ideas for future videos? Let me know here!

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The Best Disney Phone Wallpaper Images

by on January 23, 2017

As you may have guessed, we’re really focused on helping you plan your vacations. Plan is in our name after all. And we share a lot with our readers and subscribers. But we love it when you share with us too! Over the weekend we sent out one simple tweet asking you to share your favorite Disney images that you use as your phone’s wallpaper or background. Soon the responses came flooding in.

It’s hard to imagine not having our phones at our sides so naturally we dress our phones up with images that make us smile. We wanted to share some of our favorites and some of the best Disney phone wallpapers sent in by our followers.

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Disney Romance at Old Key West

by on January 18, 2017

With Valentine’s Day a month out, we’re looking at some places at Walt Disney World that offer the chance for couples to get away from the usual park experience and enjoy some romance – Disney style. Disney’s Old Key West Resort is a surprisingly great resort pick if you are looking for some Disney romance with your significant other. At least it was a surprise to my husband and me when we made a recent adults-only getaway and stayed there for the first time.

As Disney Vacation Club members, we often plan our trips months in advance, but this trip was planned within a much shorter time frame. Old Key West is one of the DVC resorts that is more likely to have availability when planning just a couple months out.We were thrilled to find a room there for our dates. While we were excited for our first stay at this resort, what we didn’t expect was how much a part Old Key West would play in the overall romantic mood of the trip.

© Sarah Graffam

Covered walkway leading to the riverfront

So here’s a rundown of reasons why you should consider Old Key West Resort when planning your next couples trip to Disney World.

Disney Romance Factor 1: Setting

Old Key West’s layout is very spread out, with a central Hospitality House and two- to three-story buildings in pastel colors throughout several “neighborhoods.” This layout, especially for the buildings that are a bit tucked away, is extremely conducive to the feeling of privacy that enhances romance. The abundant foliage, palm trees, water features, and golf course fairways create an atmosphere of relaxation and seclusion away from the busy parks.

The slow pace extends to the Hospitality House where you can wander with your sweetie under a wide covered walkway that opens onto the riverfront and dock area. Upon arrival at the resort, take a stroll together through the walkway out to the river. This transition creates a similar reveal, and a feeling of “you are here,” as when walking under the railroad station into Magic Kingdom’s Town Square—but without the crowds. This first impression of the resort was one of the earliest indications that our time at Old Key West would be even more relaxing and romantic than we expected.

© Sarah Graffam

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Disney World Valentine’s Day Romance: Mix and Match Your Plan

by on January 17, 2017

Valentine's Day Romance at Walt Disney World

While Disney World is known for being a magical place for families, its fantastic variety of dining, attractions, entertainment, and recreation options also make it a great place for couples to find some romance. With the approach of Valentine’s Day, you may be thinking about how to spend an ideal day of romance, Disney World-style. This article offers a framework for a plan and plenty of ideas to inspire your own Disney World Valentine’s Day.

Disney World Romance Step #1: Breakfast

What better way to start off Valentine’s Day than with a leisurely breakfast. Although taking a park by storm at rope drop is a key strategy in time-efficient touring, Valentine’s Day is a perfect day to take a slower approach. Here are some great resort and in-park options. Keep in mind that the location of your choice can be a stepping stone to the next part of your plan.

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TouringPlansTV – Part 2 Review: Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels + Video

by on December 20, 2016

Time for my Part 2 Review!

To check out the dining options, recreation and amenities at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels, click below.

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TouringPlansTV: Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels + Video

by on December 13, 2016

The Dolphin at Walt Disney World

Welcome back to TouringPlansTV!

Ever heard of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels? Well, you’re about to!

To find out more about the theme, rooms, transportation and pools, click below.

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TouringPlansTV: BoardWalk Inn – Dining and Amenities + Video

by on December 6, 2016

I’m finally here with part 2 of my BoardWalk Inn review!

Here, I delve into the dining options, pools, recreation and amenities.

You’ve all been so patient, so I won’t keep you waiting any longer.

Check it out below!

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How you can make a positive impact in Orlando

by on December 5, 2016

What a year 2016 has been for all of us. It seems now more than ever we all need a little escape and to take some time to enjoy the good things in life, and Orlando is the perfect place to do just that. And perhaps while you’re here, in the vacation capital for millions of people, you would like to make a positive impact, to give back to the place that has given so much to so many. There are many volunteer opportunities in Orlando.

With all its charm, magic, and fantasy it is sometimes forgotten that Orlando is a real place, with real people, and faces the challenges that many other communities face. In the spirit of the holiday season and as we wrap up such an interesting year, I’d like to share with you some charities and organizations that make a distinct difference in Orlando. Some of these are personal favorites in which I am involved, others are suggested organizations from friends and other prominent members of the Central Florida Community.

Find something that speaks to you and consider making time in your next Orlando vacation to volunteer, or set aside a little bit in your budget to make a donation.

Yours truly and my co-workers at Clean the World

Yours truly and my co-workers at Clean the World

Clean the World

Do you load up your suitcase with those little bottles of hotel shampoo and conditioner? Did you know there are organizations that collect bottles of unused shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and shower gel, as well as unused bars of soap all left behind in guest rooms?

Clean the World is the largest of such an organization and they got their start in Orlando! Hotels that participate with Clean the World train their housekeeping attendants to collect the unused bottles and bars and place them inside special shipping boxes that are sent to Clean the World’s sorting warehouses. There is one warehouse in Orlando and one in Las Vegas.

The unused products are sorted and sanitized. The soap is reformed into larger bars of soap and sent to impoverished countries, including remote villages where thousands of lives are often lost to disease that could be prevented just by the regular use of soap. The other products (shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and shower gel) are sanitized and then packaged into care bags that are distributed to shelters and centers to be given to anyone facing hard times and in need of such products.

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A Recap of Black Friday at Disney Springs: Boom or Bust?

by on November 28, 2016

Spoiler Alert: This is not the kind of crowds that Disney Springs merchants were hoping for.

Spoiler Alert: This is not the kind of crowds that Disney Springs merchants were hoping for.

This year, with a wide variety of new stores opening throughout Disney Springs, it wasn’t a huge surprise that Disney Springs announced that it would be getting into the holiday shopping spirit with its own Black Friday sales.

In conversations with one of the merchants, the consensus was that neither the merchants nor Disney had any idea whether or not this would be successful. And although I’m anti-crowds and an anti-“stuff” semi-minimalist, I wanted to see exactly how Black Friday at Disney Springs would compare with the stories you see on the news. Full disclaimer: I have never door-busted any stores for Black Friday in my life, but have had a few years of experience as a sales floor manager at Target way back in my youth and got to see the best and the worst of Black Friday behavior. There were a couple items that I was looking to purchase for some family members this year, and so if I could get a small discount on them, I’d be happy with that as well. Just to say we’ve had the experience, we decided to rope drop the Black Friday event at Disney Springs.

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