Resorts

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.

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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….

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View from the shared area of the Atrium Club Level.

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

by on September 30, 2014

MMM positiveIt’s the end of September and the streets of Orlando are still wet from the constant rain during the month. Or maybe it’s the tears of the fans of Off Kilter, Mo’Rockin, Spirit of America, or the World Showcase Players, all of whom performed their last shows this week. We also saw the closure of the Studio Backlot Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the first attraction in recent memory whose demise was met with almost unanimous support from theme park fandom. Oh, and we also had the start of a little something called the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, which has at least two items this year (a Duffy bear wearing a chef’s outfit and a new shirt featuring Figment) that we just may be covering in this article sooner than later.

With that out of the way, who is ready to hit the outlets?! Remember, you can click on any picture to see it in full size (although that’s actually more of a warning than a reminder.)

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A water bottle filled with so many rare characters it should be sold during a hard ticket event.

First up is this aluminum bottle that blew my mind the longer I looked it at.  So many great characters. Mary Poppins. Figment. Lightning McQueen (in scale with the other characters to boot!) Marie from the Aristocats. Russell from Up. Pete’s Dragon. Mushu. Eve. The Rescuers. This cup is amazing. Originally $9.95, it was now reduced to $4.99 and you better believe I bought this.

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Mr. Toad?!!

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Disney Dining: ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

by on September 22, 2014

It has been years since I have been to ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and I have been looking forward to a return for a long time. Getting dining reservations at this popular restaurant can at times be as frustrating as Cinderella’s Royal Table or Anna and Elsa at Fairytale Hall, so when Tim Grassey – my co-host of the E-Ticket Report podcast - scored a dinner reservation and asked me to join him, I jumped at the chance to see if ‘Ohana was as good as I remembered it being. (Please note that all pictures in this article can be viewed at full size by clicking on them.)

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‘Ohana Bread Pudding a la mode with Bananas-Caramel Sauce. More on this later…. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Best Places to Find Pins at Disney World

by on September 21, 2014

Disney Pin Trading has become somewhat of a Disney vacation pastime and is one of my personal favorite things to do when I visit Disney World. What is Disney Pin Trading? Well, all throughout Disney World you will find metal pins for sale representing everything from characters to resorts to attractions to special events. The more pins you purchase, the greater your collection, plus you have great mementos to remember your vacation by; but this souvenir experience is also interactive in that you can trade with Cast Members, or with other guests, if they so choose. It’s a fun activity that everyone can enjoy while exploring the parks and resorts!

Disney Pin Trading - A Glass Slipper Vacation

Disney Pin Trading

Now you will find Disney Pins for sale almost everywhere throughout the parks and resorts, but there are some corners of Disney World where you may find a better selection of pins or those rare, special edition pins or just maybe that one you’ve been hunting for the whole trip. So read on to check out my best places to find pins at Disney World!

Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion – This particular Epcot pavilion is one of my favorites because there’s a lot more to see than just the fountain and restaurants found at the front. The Morocco Pavilion actually extends back farther than what you may realize in a network of exotic, winding streets which contain lots of things to see and a few shops. It’s impressive and trust me, you will have a hard time reminding yourself that you’re actually in Central Florida and not Morocco! Anyway, back to Disney Pins. So because most guests don’t realize that the Morocco pavilion offers more than just what’s at the front door, the Cast Members who work at the rear of the pavilion, and their lanyards, aren’t visited by guests nearly as much as at others. While nothing is guaranteed, Morocco, in my opinion, is a good bet for those rare Cast Member pins!

Stores & Service Locations – Most shops and stores at the parks have their own individual pin boards from which you can trade from. Some stores have their own “themed” boards that match the theme of the land or attraction they belong to, which only makes trading even more fun! Some of the pin boards at the Disney World Resorts are only brought out at certain times and may have a trading limit. If you’re not sure, feel free to ask! In addition, many service locations at Disney World, such as stroller rentals, also have their own pin boards. I’ve even heard of a pin covered stroller with a stuffed Mickey Mouse in the seat from which you can trade at the Magic Kingdom! Pin boards are where I go to in order to trade because you never know what you might find, and very few guests realize that service locations have their own pin boards.

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Disney’s Aulani Resort: Small Tips to Make a Big Difference

by on September 18, 2014

Aulani back view

Photos by Sarah Graffam

One of the benefits of being a frequent Walt Disney World visitor is starting off a vacation at the World with virtually no learning curve. Knowing ahead of time exactly what plans need to be made before visiting and being able to navigate the entire resort and every park make it easy to become immediately immersed in the magic. So, although my family felt that familiar Disney welcome when we arrived at Aulani this summer, we knew ahead of time that it would take some time to get familiar with the ins and outs of the resort.

This article shares a few of these ins and outs in the hope of helping future visitors to Aulani ease into their vacation a bit faster. Because, believe me, everyone who stays at this gorgeous resort will want to enjoy every moment and relax at every opportunity.

Shopping for groceries, sundries, and souvenirs. Before settling into their room on the first day, many Aulani guests want to pick up at least a few basic grocery and sundry items. Aulani’s Kālepa Store has lots of Aulani/Disney souvenirs as well as a limited selection of groceries. Some of the grocery prices at the Kālepa Store aren’t too bad by Hawaii standards, but if you are looking for more selection or better prices, there are a couple of off-site options. These include a shopping area in Kapolei with stores such as Target and Costco about 10 minutes from Aulani. If coming from Honolulu, take H-1 West to Exit 1, or if coming from Aulani, take HI-93 East to Exit 1A.

Another option is Island Country Markets (an ABC Store) within walking distance of the resort. This small grocery store also offers souvenirs, beach items, beer and wine, and more. The prices for some items seemed good while others seemed a bit high, but (after an initial stop at Target) we made a couple of visits here during our stay and found everything we needed. Hawaii-themed baseball caps were a bargain at only $12-15, and goggles for the pool started at $3.99. In addition, the store had good-quality waterproof smartphone pouches for around $20, which allowed us to use our phones to take many fun photos as we floated along Aulani’s lazy river or cruised down the two water slides.

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Universal Orlando Sapphire Falls Resort Opening in 2016

by on September 10, 2014

Only a few months after opening the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal Orlando has announced that its fifth on-site hotel will be called the Sapphire Falls Resort and will open in summer 2016.

Universal’s latest Loews-branded hotel will sport a Caribbean theme and contain 1000 rooms, 77 of which will be suites. Landscaping will feature a tropical lagoon and large waterfall. The new resort is located between the Royal Pacific Resort and Cabana Bay Beach Resort, on the south side of Hollywood Way just east of Adventure Way.

Sapphire Falls concept are wide shot

Concept art of Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando. Cabana Bay Beach Resort can be seen at the top center, with IoA’s Ripsaw Falls ride at the top right. (Images courtesy Universal Orlando/Loews)

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