DVC

SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

by on February 14, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Each of Walt Disney World’s onsite hotels have their own unique feel, and that rings true from the value end (such as Art of Animation) through the moderates (including Port Orleans French Quarter) and all the way up to the deluxe resorts like The Contemporary. That said, no hotel in Orlando stands more by itself as a one-of-a-kind original experience than Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

AKL_logo

Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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Located directly next to Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park (and absolutely nothing else,) many guests consider Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) too far out of the way to consider staying at. While the wait for the Disney buses may be a little bit longer than other resorts on property, today’s edition of the SATURDAY SIX is going to count down six reasons we feel everyone should consider staying at AKL as part of their next vacation, starting with…

# 6 – Indian-style Bread Service at Sanaa

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Sanaa bread service. A first ballot hall of famer for Disney food. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Animal Kingdom Lodge is broken up into two parts, the main hotel (Jambo House) and the Disney Vacation Club wing (Kidani Village.) In these two areas there are three of Disney’s best restaurants including Boma and Jiko at Jambo House, and Sanaa at Kidani Village. Unlike many restaurants at WDW that have dumbed themselves down in order to maximize profits as part of Disney’s Dining Plan, AKL’s restaurants deliver an experience that is true destination dining. The standout of these three venues is Sanaa’s bread service. With five different types of Naan bread available and up to nine different accompaniments to go with it, this is a bread service like no other.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six of our Favorite WDW Snacks Outside of the Theme Parks

by on January 31, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six of our Favorite WDW Snacks Outside of the Theme Parks. Let’s get this out of the way: we love theme park snacks. We think you know we love theme park snacks, but did you know that there are just as many great treats – if not more – outside of the parks? Today, in part one of planned 27 part series, we’re looking at six of our favorite WDW treats available at the Disney resorts, water parks, and Downtown Disney, starting with…

# 6 – Zebra Domes (Animal Kingdom Lodge)

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Zebra Domes from Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Kidani Village. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Zebra Domes are synonymous with the Animal Kingdom Lodge and one of its signature restaurants, Boma. Thankfully, these tasty treats are also available elsewhere at AKL including The Mara and Johari Treasures at Kidani Village. The base of a Zebra Dome is a small layer of cake with a dollop of Amarula liqueur mousse on top of it. The Dome is then coated with white chocolate, while dark chocolate is used to create the zebra stripes. Run, don’t walk. to try this one on your next WDW vacation.

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Guests Can Purchase DVC at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Soon

by on January 7, 2015

Ed. note – Disney has not released points charts or pricing information for this Disney Vacation Resort yet.

Good news for those of you who are looking into purchasing DVC at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. You may begin to do so soon! Sales for the Disney Vacation Club property go on sale for current Disney DVC members on January 12. They’ll then go on sale for everyone else beginning February 9 .

The first phase of this property is scheduled to open on April 1 with the introduction of the Bora Bora Bungalows and the first connecting Deluxe Studios.

DisneyÕs Polynesian Villas & Bungalows at DisneyÕs Polynesian Village Resort

©Disney

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Things We Can’t Wait to See in 2015

by on January 3, 2015

This week’s  SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Things We Can’t Wait to See in 2015. It’s going to be impossible to forget the year that was 2014 (no matter how hard we try), but there are many things to look forward to in the coming twelve months. Today we are going to focus on the theme park resorts, but keep in mind that a lot is happening in general around Orlando, including the massive I-Drive 360 project finally opening. There’s never been a better time to plan your next Florida vacation, but let’s look at six reasons you should be double checking those airline ticket prices more closely, starting with…

# 6 – The Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

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The Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. (photo by Daisy Lauren)

I’ve got to hand it to Disney, the work they have done expanding DVC into the monorail resorts has been exceptional. The Villas at the Grand Floridian and Bay Lake Tower at The Contemporary are great accommodations, but the upcoming waterside Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort Village could be the new jewel of the DVC crown. Granted, it’s going to take us forever to save up in order to afford just one night at these Bungalows, but this was a brilliant idea.

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Review: Animal Kingdom Lodge DVC Deluxe Studio Villa at Kidani Village

by on December 31, 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 Animal Kingdom Lodge in this review of an Animal Kingdom Lodge DVC Deluxe Studio Villa at Kidani Village.

Kidani Village Lobby

Kidani Village Lobby

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 from a 3rd party or directly from other members. If you chose the latter, we recommend that you go through a reputable third party or from a member you know personally (as opposed to a random person on the internet).

My family and I had never stayed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge before. We had dropped by the resort in years past for a dinner at Boma and to do some exploring, but that was the extent of our experience. However, for many years, we had been hearing from others that Animal Kingdom Lodge was one of the best resorts at Disney World and a big favorite; and so when we got the opportunity to stay a week in a DVC Deluxe Studio Villa at the resort’s Kidani Village, we couldn’t turn down the chance to check it out for ourselves.

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

by on December 31, 2014

MMM positiveIt’s the last day of 2014 and forget about what a year it has been for theme park merchandise. There was The Good: Both Universal and Disney upped their game with the new Film Vault and Memento Mori stores.  The Bad: There is an actual movie using nothing but Disney Vinylmation And The Ugly: Turns out the heavily anticipated Adventureland-themed gift shop in the Magic Kingdom will instead be a Sunglass Hut. Here’s to even better (and weirder) happenings in 2015.

Also, before we go on, be sure to check out our Year End “Best” of the Disney Outlet Store article.

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

Our first item could be a foreshadowing of things to come. It’s rare to see Muppet related items at the Outlets. Especially based on the popular Kermit the Frog. Out in Disney California Adventure, Muppet*Vision 3D has been jettisoned for Frozen Fun, and rumors persist that the attraction could join the Studio Backlot Tour, American Idol Experience, and the Legend of Jack Sparrow in the recycling bin at Disney Hollywood Studios here in WDW. If that happens, expect the Outlets to be flooded with items featuring Beaker, Dr. Honeydew and the rest of the gang.

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“It’s not easy being green…or being sold at half price.” Originally $24.95, now $12.99

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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)

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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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