Resorts

Details at the Four Seasons Orlando

by on November 20, 2014

When I first visited the Four Seasons Orlando back in August, the first thing I noticed was how grand it was to drive back into the property (past the mansions under construction for Golden Oak). But when I walked into the lobby, the hotel struck me with an interesting blend of grandiose and intimate at the same time.

Unlike, say, a Disney Value Resort that will practically smack you upside the head with theming, there wasn’t a lot at the resort that screamed “Look at me!!” But after wandering around the beautifully tiled floors on the way to breakfast, I knew I wanted to spend some more time just looking around. When I slowed down to really take a good look, all sorts of details appeared. Here’s a few of my favorites.

Chandelier

The simply stunning fireworks chandelier is the first thing you will see as you enter the Four Seasons Orlando. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

The simply stunning fireworks chandelier is the first thing you will see as you enter the Four Seasons Orlando. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

 

The very first thing that caught my eye the minute that I walked in to the lobby was the amazing chandelier. This beautiful work of art was designed in the Czech Republic by Jozef Baca and Veronika Kopecna and can best be described as a chandelier that captures the magnificence of a fireworks grand finale exploding in the night sky. It is made of more than 30,000 crystal pieces illuminated by 250 sleeves of LED lights. It really puts the grand in grand entry.

 

 

 

 

 

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#Everywhere – A Review of the Anaheim Camelot Inn & Suites

by on November 18, 2014

Exterior (6)On my recent trip to Disneyland we stayed at the Anaheim Camelot Inn & Suites, which is outside the resort area, but by only a little bit. We chose this particular hotel because we were told it was clean and that it was definitely close to the parks. We found both of those things to be true and were, for the most part, impressed with the property. Of course, there is a little more to it than that, which is good because this would be a very short post otherwise.

The Price

For many travelers, the cost of the hotel is the largest single expense. The Camelot cost us an average of $150.93 per night, which meant our 6 night stay cost $905.58 (including tax). Here is how that number compares to some of the Disney hotels in both California and Florida for the same dates (Prices found on MouseSavers.com):

  • Camelot Inn – $151 per night
  • Disneyland Hotel – $455 per night
  • Paradise Pier Hotel (Disneyland) - $342 per night
  • Grand Californian Hotel (Disneyland) - $526 per night
  • All-Star Sports (Walt Disney World Value Resort) - $124 per night
  • Caribbean Beach (Walt Disney World Moderate Resort) - $217 per night
  • Beach Club (Walt Disney World Deluxe Resort) – $494 per night

Now all of those are the full price rate, most of which can be discounted with various promotions, but it is still illuminating. The cost for the Camelot was less than half the price of the closest Disneyland on-property hotel (Paradise Pier) and right in between the cost for a Walt Disney World Value and Moderate.

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Outdoor Movies at Disney World FAQ

by on November 13, 2014

At the end of a long day of park touring, sometimes the only thing you have the energy for is kicking back and watching a movie. Sure you can do that in your hotel room on the TV or your trusty iPad, but it can feel a bit more vacationy to watch a movie under the stars. And wouldn’t you know, Disney has you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about outdoor movie viewing at Walt Disney World.

Toy Story 3 poolside at All Star Music. (Not shown: me crying hysterically in the back row.)

Toy Story 3 poolside at All Star Music. (Not shown: me crying hysterically in the back row.)

Does every Disney hotel show outdoor movies?

In general, yes. There may be situations where construction or refurbishment temporarily halts the movies at that particular hotel.

There is one case where sister resorts, the Yacht & Beach Clubs, share a movie location. One resort, the Animal Kingdom Lodge, has two movie locations.

Is there a charge for the outdoor movies?

Nope, the cost is included with your resort stay.

Do I have to stay for the whole movie? Is it weird to leave in the middle?

Not at all. Since most of the movies are near the pools, guest will often pop in and out of viewing, alternating a few minutes of screen time with a few minutes of swim time.

I will often stop and watch just a few minutes of a film if I pass one while walking back to my hotel room in the evening.

Are movies shown every night?

Usually yes. Some resorts have experimented with twice-a-week movies in the off season, but for the most part you can expect that your hotel will show an outdoor movie every night, weather permitting.

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My Favorite Disney World Treats That Don’t Have Ears

by on November 10, 2014

Walt Disney World is not only magical, it’s also delicious. Disney World offers dozens upon dozens of restaurants and snack stands throughout the parks and resorts to tempt your taste buds and to keep you full; but my favorite dish is anything sweet! Most guests visiting the Most Calorie Laden Place on Earth who have a sweet tooth like me, tend to gravitate towards the traditional Disney treats, like the Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars and Mickey-shaped Candied Apples and those giant Mickey lollipops. I know anything Mickey-shaped is hard to resist, but there’s a whole other world of delicious treats to be discovered at Disney World that don’t resemble everyone’s favorite mouse. So take a look at a few of my favorite Disney World treats that don’t have ears!

Zebra Domes

Zebra Domes

Zebra Domes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This treat is a creamy, savory sweet treat topped with chocolate stripes, just like a Zebra! Naturally, this dessert can be found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Boma Restaurant as part of the dinner buffet. Boma is a popular dining destination for many guests and is priced around $35.99 per adult and $16.99 per child. If this doesn’t fit your budget, there is still a way you can enjoy delicious Zebra Domes. Animal Kingdom Lodge’s food court, The Mara, offers packaged Zebra Domes in the refrigerated section for $3.99!

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20 Things To Do When Your Hotel Room Isn’t Ready

by on October 28, 2014

Photo - Angela Dahlgren

A few more hours my beloved Boardwalk…a few more hours.

We were up at 4:30 a.m. for an early flight to Orlando. Taking no pride in my appearance, I hardly minded when my daughter spilled pureed peas all over my shirt during the flight. After all, I would have time to shower, change and decompress once we entered our hotel room right?

Wrong.

When we approached the front desk, we were informed the room wasn’t ready due to our extra early arrival. This wasn’t in the Touring Plan! We were now left with several unscheduled hours of time. What now?

While time did pass quickly and we managed to stay busy, it got me thinking. What else could we do should this happen again? Here are some ideas!

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How Much Do Toiletries and Sundries Cost at Disney?

by on October 24, 2014

Despite copious planning with packing lists, it’s all but inevitable that mishaps will occur when traveling. Little Billy gets a fever during your trip and you neglected to bring the Children’s Tylenol. You thought you husband was packing toothpaste and he thought you were, so now you have none. You accidentally left your sunscreen at the pool yesterday and are now about to be burned to a crisp by the thousand degree sun.

IMG_7076

All of these problems are easy to solve at Walt Disney World and on Disney Cruise Line. (Disneyland’s close proximity to the external world makes access to replacement items less of an issue there.) The ship and hotel gift shops are well stocked, with most categories of personal care items represented. So while you won’t be totally left in the lurch in any of the above situations, you will likely pay a premium purchasing these personal care basics at a Disney location rather than at home. But how much of a premium will you be pay? Let’s investigate…

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Disney World Planning Challenges: Managing Your Disney Morning

by on October 14, 2014

t_logo_fbTime is precious on any vacation, and a Disney World vacation in particular can create the feeling that time is passing at a far quicker pace than in everyday life. With so much Disney fun waiting each day (and the feeling that time flies at the World unlikely to abate), who wants to spend a lot of time getting ready in the morning. Whether your goal is to be at the parks at opening or to eke out a bit more sleep before you start your day, getting up and out of your room efficiently will help maximize your vacation time. And the rewards for your efforts can be significant.

Whether you need to get your entire family up and out the door or just yourself, there are several steps you can take to smooth the morning routine. These steps will not only save time but make the morning (and the people getting ready) more relaxed so that you can leave the room happy, stress-free, and ready for fun. This article highlights specific tips for your morning as well as TouringPlans tools and information that can extend the benefits of a calm morning to the rest of your day.

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Where to Find “Real” Sweet Tea at Disney World

by on October 13, 2014

Starbucks Shaken Sweet Tea

Starbucks Shaken Sweet Tea

If you’re from the South, you know that there’s a big difference between sweetened tea and “real” sweet tea; and if you have been to Disney World, you also know that it can be quite a challenge to find this Southern staple.

Now for those of you who don’t know, “real” sweet tea is Black Tea that is brewed with sugar while it’s still hot, as opposed to adding the sugar later. This process creates a smooth, blended sweet taste and consistency that can’t even compare to fruit flavored tea or the Gold Peak Tea found throughout the parks and resorts.

But if you’re like me, and sweet tea is your go-to refreshment after spending the day trekking through the parks, I have uncovered a few places at Disney World where you can enjoy a Southern-style Sweet Tea!

Starbucks – Starbucks locations have been opening up all throughout Disney World this past year, beginning with the Main Street Bakery at the Magic Kingdom, then Fountain View at Epcot, followed by two locations at Downtown Disney, and soon, a new location at Hollywood Studios. Now I know that Starbucks is all about coffee; but for me, it’s also a go-to for a sweet tea fix. Each Starbucks at Disney World now serves a Shaken Sweet Tea, which has all the flavor of real, Southern Sweet Tea. Plus, the variety of Starbucks locations means that I can grab a sweet tea almost anywhere at Disney World now with prices ranging from the smallest size at $1.99 to the largest at $3.29. Check out the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Bakery’s menu here!

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The Four Seasons Orlando (Part 1)

by on October 6, 2014

Ed. – To hear (literally,™ James Hill) more about the Four Seasons, listen to Steve and Paula Bloom on today’s episode of the WDW Today podcast.

The Four Seasons Orlando is the newest resort at Walt Disney World. My in-laws, wife, and two children visited the Four Seasons Resort September 18-21. After the Touringplans Everywhere trip in October we will do a blog post comparing the deluxe resorts in Orlando. This blog post is going to focus on our experience at the Four Seasons.Four Seasons View from 14th floor

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PHOTO REPORT: Atrium Club Level at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

by on October 1, 2014

Recently I had family staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for a week, and I joined them for one night to check out the Atrium Club Level experience. I have stayed Club Level at several of the Universal hotels, including the Royal Pacific Resort and Portofino Bay, and have always enjoyed it, so it was time to see what Disney provides. I’ve priced out options at staying Club Level at the Polynesian and Animal Kingdom Lodge before, but eventually get scared off by the price and ended up booking a room at value resorts like Art of Animation or Pop Century. For this stay I booked a Club Level room with the Special Offer: Passholder Room Offer for Late Summer discount. The total was $616.79 for one night. Was it worth the cost? Let’s check it out….

AtriumClubLevel_ViewFromMainRoom

View from the shared area of the Atrium Club Level.

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