Resorts

Send Your Hotel Room Request to Disney – Automatically!

by on April 27, 2015

Today we’re announcing the launch of our Automatic Room Request feature for Walt Disney World. Starting now, your specific room request can be automatically sent to your Disney resort, a few days before you arrive. This increases your chances of getting exactly the room you want.

Our Automatic Room Request feature works with our Hotel Room Views – our collection of more than 30,000 photos showing the view from every Disney hotel room. (Here’s an example from room 4063 at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.) Once you find the room you want, click the link in the upper right corner to choose it for your trip:

HotelFax-SelectRoom

Finally, add in any special celebrations, such as birthdays or anniversaries, along with your name and reservation number for the fax:

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The Best Dessert and Breakfast at Universal Orlando

by on April 20, 2015

We’ve already taken a look at the best full-service and counter-service restaurants at Universal Orlando Resort. Now it’s time to take a step back from the bigger picture and dive into the scrumptious details, considering some of the best individual meals instead of a holistic dining establishment.

And it just so happens that these best of the best dishes at the ever-expanding resort are probably ones that you’d normally – and tragically – pass by, making this spotlight all the more necessary.

Let’s tuck in.

Dessert: Cinnamon Berries

NBA City

Image © Universal

If you would normally eschew NBA City during your rounds at Universal CityWalk, we could hardly blame you. The first location of a proposed chain that never really managed to take off, the restaurant features bland décor and, should current scuttlebutt prove true, an incredibly short lease on life (Universal is currently in the midst of booting all older or under-performing venues from CityWalk and replacing them with more original – and more intriguing – fare).

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Camping 101: Getting around Fort Wilderness

by on April 12, 2015

The third installment in an ongoing series about the ins and outs of camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness, this entry will focus on the different methods of getting around the campground which can be overwhelming due to its size. Please be sure to catch up with Part 1 about RV rentals and Part 2 which was about getting groceries to your campsite.

Now that you have the basics of food and shelter planned out, how about a convenience factor such as how you will get around the campgrounds. Of course you can always opt to just schlep it on foot, but this may be an unwise move. The trading posts, restaurants, and recreational activities are spread throughout the complex. And, although it is camping, hiking everywhere you need to go may just not be feasible.

The most important thing you must know about transportation at Fort Wilderness is that the is no car parking except at your own campsite or cabin, at the front of the resort (the Outpost) for check-in and day guests, and 15 minute parking at the Meadows Trading Post for picking up supplies from the retail outlet there. There is no parking at the Settlement (where you find Hoop Dee Doo and Trail’s End) except for bikes and golf carts.

Options

1) Disney Transportation

Disney's map of Fort Wilderness including bus routes.

Disney’s map of Fort Wilderness including bus routes.

Disney busing is a wonderful amenity to all of the Disney resorts, and the Fort Wilderness campgrounds is no exception. Not only do they have busing that takes you to the parks and Downtown Disney, but they also have internal loops that will take you to the different areas of the campground. Lines are labeled as Orange, Yellow, or Purple. All three begin and end at the Settlement Depot and the Outpost Depot, but take different paths through the campground. It is always best to check the color coded map in the bus depot to see which bus line you need, as things do change, but I will give you a brief primer. Click the map to the right to view full size.

The purple line runs through the 2000-2800 campsite areas and passes a those sites’ sports areas with volleyball, basketball, and quiet pools. The orange line runs through the 600-700 and the 1000-1300 campsite areas. The yellow line runs through the 100-500 and 1400-1900 campsite areas. Both the orange and yellow lines will take you to the Meadows which includes: Chip and Dale’s Campfire Sing A Long, the Bike Barn where you can rent golf carts, bikes, canoes and kayaks, the Meadow recreation area which contains the Meadow swimming pool, snack bar, Daniel Boone’s Wilderness arcade, shuffleboards, and horseshoes,  and the Meadow Trading Post.

There is also bus transportation to the Wilderness Lodge at the Settlement, and boat transportation to Wilderness Lodge, the Contemporary, and Magic Kingdom from the Settlement dock.

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10 Places to Stay the Night before Your Disney Cruise out of Port Canaveral

by on April 10, 2015

So where should you stay the night before your Disney cruise out of Port Canaveral?  My number one answer is – not in your own bed!  Well, unless your bed is within a few hours driving distance of the port that is.  In Port Canaveral, everyone must be onboard the ship by 4 pm, so while for many people there is certainly time to travel in on the day of the cruise, recognize that you are taking a risk!  That ship is sailing with or without you, so any travel delays won’t just make you late for your vacation, they could make you miss your vacation!  On an Alaskan cruise, a one hour flight delay due to wind was enough to make us miss our connection and we couldn’t make it into Vancouver until the next day.  But thankfully the ship wasn’t leaving until the next day!  So we made it.  Another hundred dollars or so for a hotel room within driving distance of the pier is the best insurance you can buy in my opinion.  So here are a few options for you!

Walt Disney World

1. Walt Disney World Resort – The most obviously fun place to stay would be any resort at Walt Disney World! Walt Disney World is a little over an hour away from Port Canaveral and has a lot of options and price points. Who wouldn’t want to visit Disney World for a night (or six) before you sail away? If you would like to take Disney transfers to the port, they cost $70 per person roundtrip and will pick you up from any Disney resort. Be aware, if you are in a hurry to get to the port for the earliest possible boarding, transfers from Disney World won’t usually get you there until noon at the earliest. Your hotel will give you a pick up time the night before. If you are desperate to be there earlier and want to stick with Disney transfers, you can also take Disney Magical Express back to the airport and catch a transfer from there. It’s a little more time consuming, of course, but you could be on one of the earliest transfers if that’s your goal! The transfers from the airport usually start leaving a little after nine and those first busses are the first people in the terminal.

2. Shades of Green – If you are eligible, Shades of Green is a great place to stay on property. Located within walking distance of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Shades of Green is owned and operated by the U.S. Armed Forces. It’s open to all active duty U.S. military personnel, including members of the National Guard and Reserves, retired military, employees of the U.S. Public Health Service and the Department of Defense, foreign military personnel attached to U.S. units, and some civilian contractors. The rooms are some of the largest on property, and rates are determined by rank. Disney Cruise Line transfers will not pick up at Shades of Green, but if you wish to take Disney transfers, you can walk over to the Polynesian and catch them there. Shades is a beautiful, peaceful resort and I’d recommend it to anyone eligible to stay there.

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Camping 101: A Fort Wilderness camper’s gotta eat!

by on April 5, 2015

Part Two of a series. Be sure to catch Part One, RV rentals, in order to get the skinny on renting an RV for your stay at Fort Wilderness, and the soon to post Part Three which focuses on transportation methods within the campgrounds.

So, you’ve chosen an RV rental company, made all your arrangements and are just counting down the days. Anything else you need to keep in mind? Food of course. If you plan on utilizing the full potential of the RV and cooking meals or just having beverages in the fridge, you will need groceries.

©istockphoto.com

©istockphoto.com

While Moore’s will stock the camper with groceries based on your grocery list for a small fee, you will need to find some way of getting your supplies to your camper if not booking through them.

  1. Carry on / checked luggage

If you like to be in control and possession of your groceries at all times, this may be an option for you. Depending on the length of your stay and the amount of cooking you intend on doing at the RV, you may be able to pack a few essentials in a carry on and call it a day. However, if you are thinking of a more authentic camping experience, you may consider an extra checked suitcase. Of course, this will only work for non-perishables such as boxed and canned goods, such as a bag of marshmallows, boxes of cereal, or small cans of coffee. Gallons of milk, packages of hot dogs, and other items that need to be kept cold will be better purchased once in Orlando. And, airline luggage fees would need to be considered. As an example, if you fly Southwest you are charged nothing for up to two carry ons and two checked bags. The third checked bag, however, will cost $75. The benefit, however, is there is a pretty good chance your groceries will arrive with the rest of your luggage.

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Camping 101: Fort Wilderness RV rentals

by on March 29, 2015

Author’s note:  This is Part One of a Series on the ins and outs Disney’s Fort Wilderness.  Part One focuses on Fort Wilderness RV rentals.  Part Two will focus on how to get groceries and supplies to the RV when you will be flying into Orlando, and Part Three will explain transportation within the vast campgrounds.

Some of the best vacation memories I have from my childhood involve some element of nature and camping. Whether it was a weekend at a family member’s cabin in the woods or staying with my grandparents in an RV at the lake, I cherish each memory. Into adulthood I have wanted to experience the closeness of nature again. I’ve fantasized about cashing it all in, buying an RV, and traveling the country, working odd jobs (or blogging more steadily) as I go. Nothing but me, my husband, the fur kids, and nature in my day. Sounds peaceful, but delusional, I know.

Instead of camping, most of my adult vacations have been spent in Disney World. These vacation memories are just as cherished as those nature themed ones of my youth. I have often thought that combining the two would make for one amazing trip, but quickly dismissed the thought because we do live out of state and don’t own that coveted RV yet.

Courtesy John Scanlan

Courtesy John Scanlan

Yes, we could stay at one of the Cabins at Fort Wilderness, but the thought of shlepping all the camping essentials in my luggage, just doesn’t appeal to me. I would rather just show up, clothes and toiletries in tow, and plop myself into the experience.

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Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto Preview and New Polynesian Lobby Photos

by on March 25, 2015

trader sam's grog grotto preview

Free postcards were available during the Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto preview event at WDW’s Polynesian Village Resort. (Photos by Seth Kubersky

 

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel is one of our favorite places in the entire Disneyland Resort, so it’s an understatement to say we’re excited about the opening of its East Coast outpost. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is about to debut at Walt Disney World’s newly retro-christened Polynesian Village Resort, and on Monday, March 23 the hotel held a cast member-only preview of their new watering hole.

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Photos from Inside a Polynesian Bungalow

by on March 17, 2015

These images happened to fall off a truck while I was walking around Disney World last week. They definitely are not the result of renting a pontoon boat, docking next to a bungalow, and hopping over a fence. Because that would be wrong.

Here’s the living room. I like the furniture choices – lots of natural woods and textured surfaces. Also notice how the couch faces the lagoon view, not the television.

PolyBungalow-LivingRoom1

 

Here’s the kitchen. Small, but functional enough to cook a light dinner if you wanted. I would have opted for a larger window over the sink instead of that decorative cupboard.

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Mama Della’s: The Best Full-Service Restaurant at Universal Orlando

by on March 9, 2015

There are so many different classifications one can sort a theme park restaurant into – best themed, best ambiance, best location, best food, best price. But what of the best overall venue, the one that most successfully manages to not only balance all of these different considerations, but to also be more than just the sum of its parts? That would surely be a difficult feat to pull off, and the eatery would probably be jam-packed full of people day in and day out.

Mama Della's Ristorante

Image © Universal

With Universal Orlando Resort’s best all-around full-service restaurant, Mama Della’s Ristorante, this is most certainly not the case. Maybe it’s because it’s located at Portofino Bay Hotel, which is tucked away in the corner of the resort. Maybe it’s because it’s overshadowed by a (growing) number of other eateries at the theme parks, from Harry Potter’s wondrous digs to the tasty fast food offerings of Springfield, USA. Maybe it’s just because it’s not Mythos, which has long been considered the best theme park restaurant in the world.

Whatever the reason, Mama Della’s is typically devoid of the long lines and online buzz that is associated with much of the rest of Universal’s lineup, making it a superlative dining experience in nearly every sense – terrific food, atmospherics, and wait times.

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The Demographic Disney Forgot: Best Disney World Resorts for Teen Boys

by on March 4, 2015

The Disney Parks were designed with families in mind, to serve as escapes from the real world where parents and kids can have fun together. But have you ever noticed that a certain element of the family tends to be overlooked? Do you know what it is? It’s the demographic Disney forgot: teen boys. Now I’m not a teenage boy, but I do have a teenage brother who loves Disney World, despite the lack of commercials and ads directed toward his age group; and so, I sat down with him for the scoop on what Disney World has to offer teen boys like himself. Last time, I covered the Best Disney World Restaurants for Teen Boys; but for today, I’m focusing on where to stay in this installment of The Demographic Disney Forgot: Best Disney World Resorts for Teen Boys.

6. Art of Animation Resort

Art of Animation

The Cars Wing of the Art of Animation Resort

Disney World’s newest Value Resort is a celebration of animation and lets guests walk right into the middle of several popular Disney films, such as The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Pixar’s Cars, and Pixar’s Finding Nemo. The Art of Animation Resort is unique in that it offers family suites which accommodate up to six family members, as well as more heavily themed rooms than what you find at other resorts on property.This particular resort may sound like a surprising pick for teen boys; but my teen Disney Bro has loved this resort since the first time he visited and was quick to name it to this list. The Cars wing is by far his favorite. You really do feel like you’ve walked into Radiator Springs with the life-size Cars characters, the Cozy Cone Motel, and other familiar fixtures from the hit film. The resort’s food court, Landscape of Flavors, is also a big hit with my teen Disney Bro. He likes the build-your-own stations where he can tailor dishes to his own tastes; and he thinks the Big Blue Pool is pretty cool as well. This pool is the largest hotel pool at Disney World and has underwater speakers playing Disney tunes! It’s amazing! The Art of Animation is bright, colorful, and packed with Disney characters, so it may not be for all teen boys; but if your teen still smiles at the sight of Nemo and Simba and Mater, or perhaps possesses some artistic talents, this resort may be for them.

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