DVC

25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 10: Bay Lake Sunset from Top of the World Lounge

by on December 10, 2014

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TEN: Bay Lake Sunset from Top of the World Lounge (Bay Lake Tower)

25xmasdrinks_baylakesunset2_stewart

Bay Lake Sunset at the Top of the World Lounge.

 

We love Disney’s Contemporary Resort for many reasons, but one of our favorites is straight out of a real estate agent’s handbook: location, location, location. Located mere steps away from the Magic Kingdom, it’s impossible to be closer to the Most Magical Place on Earth. One of our favorite things to do at the Contemporary is head over to the Top of the World Lounge at the Bay Lake Tower DVC wing. With a breathtaking view of MK, the Top of the World is home to several signature drinks, including the Bay Lake Sunset cocktail. Ingredient list: Stoli Vanil vodka, Parrot Bay coconut rum, and pineapple juice with a splash of grenadine.

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Review of a Disney’s Beach Club One Bedroom DVC Villa

by on December 4, 2014

While Disney World offers a vast variety of different resorts to choose from for guests staying on property, the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Villas offer even more options and experiences, particularly when it comes to room sizes! During my last few trips to Disney World, I had the opportunity to enjoy stays at several different DVC Villas; but today, I’m zeroing in on Disney’s Beach Club Villas in this review of a Disney’s Beach Club One Bedroom DVC Villa. 

Disney's Beach Club Resort

Disney’s Beach Club Resort

First of all, the Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s own timeshare program where members purchase and use points for their vacation experiences. It can be difficult to understand, but Disney Vacation Club (DVC) 101: What is DVC? can help fill in the gaps. If you are not a Disney Vacation Club Member, the good news is that you can still stay at a DVC Resort! You can do so by booking through Disney, just as you would any other resort; however, other guests like to rent points or even buy points from other members, but you definitely want to make sure that the seller is legitimate and reliable.

Earlier this year, my family and I booked a stay at one bedroom DVC Villa at Disney’s Beach Club. This resort is very popular and has one of the best locations at Disney World in that it’s next door to its sister resort, the Yacht Club, as well as the Swan and Dolphin Resort. Across the water, there is the Boardwalk Inn Resort and the Boardwalk itself with it’s dining, shopping, and live entertainment to take advantage of. But wait! It’s get even better! The Beach Club is also a short walk from Epcot, and a somewhat longer walk, or boat ride, to Hollywood Studios. In fact, during my stay, I could see the fireworks from Epcot’s Illuminations from the Beach Club grounds.

The Beach Club features a light and airy, beach theme with a vintage flair. Pastels and little seaside details can be found all throughout the resort, from the carpets to the light fixtures; but one of the things the Beach Club is most known for is it’s pool, Stormalong Bay. Many say it is the best pool on Disney World property and I would agree!

The smallest villa offered at the Beach Club Villas is a Deluxe Villa, which sleeps up to four adults. It’s similar to a standard resort room, just with more amenities. The next size villa is a one bedroom, which is what I’m focusing on today. This villa can also sleep up to four adults, but it offers more space than a Deluxe Villa. Finally, the largest villa offered at the Beach Club is a two bedroom villa, which can sleep up to eight adults.

My family and I had stayed at the Beach Club before, but never in a villa so we were excited to enjoy a whole new experience at this gorgeous resort.

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DVC Merry Member Mixer Brings Holiday Cheer

by on November 30, 2014

The trees and garland are up all over Epcot. The holiday music wafts through the air as you enter the gates. It’s a balmy 85 degrees. Feels like…winter?

Even with the heat, many families were standing in line in their holiday finery and heavy winter sweaters for the first DVC Merry Member Mixer of the year. Located at the World Showplace between Canada and the United Kingdom, this event is held during the holiday season for DVC members and their guests. It is a tradition for many families to enjoy holiday cheer at this free event.

Snow falls at the entrance to the Merry Member Mixer. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Snow falls at the entrance to the Merry Member Mixer. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

I brought my personal self-described expert on all things holiday-related (my four-year-old daughter), and into the winter wonderland we went.

As you enter through the snow, make sure you are nice to Santa’s elves standing outside. One had the naughty list, and one had the nice list – I didn’t look to see which list I ended on, but my daughter was assured she made the nice list….so far.

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TouringPlans #Everywhere – Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort Review

by on October 24, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

I can’t believe #Everywhere has come and gone. Our last few cruisers are off their ships and everyone is back on the clock. I hope everyone enjoyed all the live tweets from Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Hong Kong, the DCL Magic, Wonder, Dream, and Fantasy, Aulani, Vero Beach, and my destination, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

So how was it? I can’t believe I didn’t go sooner and that it took “taking one for the team” to get me to check it out. Both my travel partner, Len Testa, and I were very happily surprised at how much we loved this resort. I’ll try to break down the review into logical sections, but first the small print – for all the #Everywhere trips, TouringPlans picked up the bill for lodging, transportation, and food. We booked at rates available to the public and didn’t receive any incentives from Disney or the travel agents we booked with beyond what anyone else would get. In the case of the three DVC resorts, those were all booked using my own points as opposed to booking with cash through Disney or renting through a 3rd party.

Location

The resort feels secluded, but not so much as in this publicity shot. Photo © Disney

The resort feels secluded, but not so much as in this publicity shot. Photo © Disney

The photos on the Disney site, make Hilton Head Resort look like it’s really secluded. This is clever cropping though. The resort is at Shelter Cove Marina, which is a fairly commercial site with moorage, restaurants, retail, condos, and other resorts. Disney’s resort is on the edge of this area with the actual marina on one side and undeveloped marshland on the other. The clever thing about how the resort is situated is that once you’re actually there, you do feel like the resort is on its own island. As a coastal town, Hilton Head has mostly mild weather; you can see the forecast and weather history at Weather Underground.

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Cast Member Chronicles: Chef Kevin Marshall

by on October 12, 2014

Photo Credit - Derek Burgan

Crystal Palace

I met Chef Kevin Marshall at a dinner party while visiting Orlando this past September. He is a friend of my Uncle Keith, and was gracious enough to share his culinary talents as our personal chef for the evening. As he prepared a scrumptious feast for us, I interviewed him about his diverse and fascinating career at Walt Disney World.

In June of 1989, he was a man fresh out of tech school. He applied at Walt Disney World, but soon learned there was a hiring freeze for positions he originally desired. Because he had previously managed a Wendy’s restaurant, he was offered a job in food and beverage at The Crystal Palace. As part of the culinary staff, he moved around to different positions, soon cooking alongside professional Disney chefs.

While working at the Crystal Palace, he and two other coworkers were asked to carve a 700 lb pumpkin for Halloween. They were told to carve and hand paint the ‘Blustery Day’ scene from Winnie the Pooh. It took two weeks of overtime and 90 man hours to complete this masterpiece. It was displayed outside the restaurant, surrounded by bales of hay to prevent guests from touching it. One day, a Cast Member saw a little boy ignoring the bales and and putting his hands on the carved image of Pooh. Originally thinking the boy was causing mischief, the Cast Member told the boy to refrain from touching the pumpkin. As it turns out, the little boy was blind. He never knew what Pooh and his friends looked like. From the carving, the boy was able to feel and learn the character shapes. It was his own personal braille pattern. Kevin said it made all his hard work truly worth it and is a memory that touches him to this day.

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TouringPlans #Everywhere – Meet Schedules

by on September 30, 2014

t_logo_fbHave you ever wanted a chance to hang with TouringPlans staff in locations throughout the globe? Sunday, October 12, is your opportunity. This is the day of TouringPlans #Everywhere. We will have our people posted at every Disney location in the world on the same day, blogging and tweeting for your reading pleasure. And we’d love to see you while we’re at it.

Here is where everyone will be available. All times are local. DCL meet ups may change due to what’s happening on the ship that day – watch Twitter for updates.

If possible, please RSVP via email to the person who’ll be there so we’ll have an idea what to expect:

Meet Up Locations

Europe
Disneyland Paris – meet Brad Huber (developer and Saints fan) at 3:00 pm at the Market House Deli on Main Street in Disneyland Park. Email brad@touringplans.com.

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Walk Disney: Jogging Trails of Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

by on September 24, 2014

The Walk Disney series will provide a description and review of activities that can be done while walking the grounds at Walt Disney World resorts. You can find maps of all the resort jogging trails in Krissy Murphy’s excellent article  from last year.

A great jogging trail provides you with sensory details that encourage you to move forward and rewards you for your hard work. The beautifully crafted jogging trail at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa does just that.

Saratoga Springs Trail

Just look at what awaits you on your run!

While the jogging trails map of Saratoga Springs indicates that there are two jogging trails, there exists only one main trail that can be halved. When looking at the map, the longer version includes a trip around the Congress Park area. The map shows that the larger version of the trail is 1 mile, but my GPS enabled pedometer app measured it at 1.5 miles total. The shorter version was both .75 miles on the map and in actuality. A busy street, Broadway, cuts through the trail and will cause exercisers to cross it at least two times on a single trip around the longer version of the trail.

My wife, Kelly, and I began at the Springs-Carriage House corner and started walking clockwise around the jogging trail. The serene views of the pond immediately came into view, and once we got just a few feet past the Carriage House walkway, there was nary a person in sight. The paths were wide enough for a solo jogger to comfortably run past two walkers going the other way, but on our mid-afternoon walk, that issue never arose.

When we came to the beautiful bridge that divides the lake, the jogging trail indicated that we make a left to go around the lake, thus extending our walk. The bridge looked inviting, but we wanted to stick to the designated plan.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! August 2014 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on August 31, 2014

MMM positiveHave we reached the end of August already?!  What a month. We saw a new hard ticket event - Villains Unleashed - have its first ever party (and possibly last ever considering all the refunds that were given out to unhappy guests). Speaking of hard ticket events, Disney announced the first ever hard ticket event during a hard ticket event with the Sinister Soiree experience during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. We said goodbye to the American Idol Experience and hello to Falcon’s Fury at Busch Gardens Tampa, which finally allowed human beings on months later than expected. The “busy” season is finally over, and with kids back in school, we Florida residents can finally enjoy the slow days at the park where Anna & Elsa only have only a two hour wait!

With that out of the way, who is ready to hit the Outlets?!

Our first find is FRONTIERLAND PLUTO. I bought one of these as I enjoyed the elaborate theming. From the ‘coon skin hat, the various supplies being carried on his back and sides, and the moccasins on the paws, this is one plush that stands out from the rest. I’m also a sucker for the big tongue sticking out in in pure puppy happiness.

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TouringPlans #Everywhere – I’m Going to Vero Beach Resort!

by on August 22, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Many, many months ago an article was posted announcing the coolest project ever. A group of Touring Plans bloggers was going to take the Disney universe by storm, dropping one of us in every location around the world for a first of its kind blogging event. It’s called TouringPlans #Everywhere, and much like all of you I was looking forward to reading about it. Imagine my shock and absolute delight when I was invited to join the event by heading to Vero BeachI’m still pinching myself, and the best part is I get to take you all with me!

So what have I done to plan? Well, I suppose writing this article is a start. To be fair, I’m planning a vacation to Tokyo Disneyland first that has been taking up most of my time. Also, since Vero Beach is just a couple hours away, it doesn’t feel like a vacation that needs a ton of planning. It feels more like a beach weekend where you don’t pack more than your bathing suit. I don’t want that to make it sound like I’m not excited, though. If you can believe it, when I’m heading to Vero Beach it will be the only Disney location aside from Hong Kong I haven’t visited! So let’s take a look at what’s there:

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SATURDAY SIX: Six of Disney’s (Not So) Secret Plans for the Next 5 Years

by on August 16, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six of Disney’s (Not So) Secret Plans for the Next 5 Years. This past week The Unofficial Guide’s Disney Dish with Jim Hill podcast went over a lot of exciting possibilities for Walt Disney World’s near future.  The show was the talk of the theme park world, and while it was loaded with a metric ton of information, scintillating rumors, and insider scoops, we’re going to count down the six biggest takeaways of this audio starting with…

# 6 – The Sorcerer’s Hat ain’t going anywhere…

SATURDAY_SIX_DHSHAT

Haters gonna hate. (photo by Matt Cleary and Brandon Glover)

 

The era of nightmares doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Jim Hill says that despite the fact that many guests see the giant Sorcerer’s hat sitting in the middle of the park as the biggest eyesore since Cinderella Castle was turned into a giant pink birthday cake, it serves an important purpose to the park. More to the point, the stage below the ugly hat plays a vital roll in allowing DHS to hold various live shows and draw the crowds away from popular attractions such as Tower of Terror and Toy Story Midway Mania.

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