Resorts

Cabanas, Casabellas, and More at Disney’s Aulani: When a Lazy River Is Not Lazy Enough

by on September 5, 2014

Interior of an Aulani cabana (photo by Sarah Graffam)

Interior of an Aulani cabana (photos by Sarah Graffam)

When guests of Disney’s Aulani resort in Hawaii are looking to experience even more luxury beyond the resort’s beautiful rooms and grounds, they can consider booking one of the premium seating options found in several locations among the various pools, whirlpools, winding lazy river, and play areas of Aulani’s Waikolohe Valley.

Whether renting one of these upgraded seating options is worth the price is a highly individual decision based on factors such as budget, how much time you are likely to spend enjoying the premium seating, the ages and interests of people in your party, and what other activities are planned during your stay. If you are considering splurging, read on for details about prices, what is included, locations, and views for each option.

Aulani casabellas (photo by Sarah Graffam)

Aulani casabellas

One benefit to note before looking at each option individually . . . all of them guarantee your party a home base for a day at Aulani’s extremely popular pool and beach area. The resort’s pool complex has proven to be so popular that it was expanded only two years after the resort opened, and many guests claim poolside lounge chairs early in the day. Knowing that you have a guaranteed seat will give you one more reason to savor that cup of Kona coffee on your balcony before heading to the pool.

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Hidden Details of the Disney World Resorts

by on September 4, 2014

There are many reasons why the Disney Parks stand apart from other theme parks around the world, but one of the biggest has to be Disney’s incredible attention to detail. You can see the extra mile in the form of details just about everywhere on Disney property, from attractions to parade costumes to resorts to transportation to even the bathrooms! Personally, I love the details. They are not only appealing to the eye and fun to find, but almost always meaningful to the history of an attraction or to the story the Imagineers are trying to tell. For today’s post, let’s take a look at the hidden details of the Disney World Resorts!

Deluxe Resorts

Grand Floridian Wedding Pavilion - A Glass Slipper Vacation

Grand Floridian Wedding Chapel

The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa: Disney’s flagship resort is also home to Disney’s Wedding Pavilion, a fairy tale location with a view of Cinderella Castle! Even if you’re not getting married, you can still walk over to the pavilion area where the chapel and Franck’s Bridal Studio are located. Be sure to look up to notice a special detail: a heart-shaped weather vane of Mickey posing as Cupid!

Animal Kingdom Lodge: Throughout Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Kidani Village you will find African quotes and proverbs on the walls and rock work; however, one of them is different from the rest in that it’s a quote from Walt Disney. You can find it around the Samawati Springs pool area!

The Contemporary: For years, guests have been reporting a small, metal Mickey perched on the edge of a rooftop at the Contemporary Resort. When riding the Express Monorail, keep your eyes open when you approach the entrance to the resort.

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La Cava del Tequila to Host Patron Party at Coronado Springs on Friday, September 12

by on September 3, 2014

On Friday, September 12, at 7:00 PM La Cava del Tequila (the tequila bar located Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion) will host a party at Rix Lounge at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Limited to 150 people, each $30 ticket includes a shot of PatrĂłn Single Barrel Reposado, a PatrĂłn margarita, and light appetizers. Guests can RSVP via email to CavadelTequila@me.com 

laCava

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Where to Stay at Port Orleans Riverside!

by on September 2, 2014

Ed. – Today the blog is taking you to Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter. These resorts are connected by a very pleasant walk along the Sassagoula River and are favorites on the Unofficial Guide reader survey.

PortOrleansRiversideDisneyOfficialIf you are staying at the Walt Disney Resort, one of the first decisions you will make is where you will be staying. If you decide that you are going to be staying on Disney property, next you get to decide between Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas.

Many people form strong opinions on which hotel is the best, and I’m not here to argue the point. I mean, there’s not really a point to argue, since the clear winner is Port Orleans Riverside.

Once you have made the best (the only!) decision to stay at Port Orleans Riverside, you can either be assigned a location, or you can request a particular area.

Port Orleans Sign

The first time I stayed at Port Orleans Riverside, I didn’t know much about it, and didn’t know enough to request a certain area of the resort. Now, after staying there multiple times, I know what I like and I always request an area in advance, though specific room or area requests are just that: requests. While Disney does their best to make you happy, sometimes it’s just not possible to accommodate your request.

The entire resort is gorgeous, but there are obviously some areas that are better than others. Even then, what makes it better for some makes it worse for others, so here’s a question-and-answer guide to help you choose the best area for your needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pineapple Lanai Opens at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

by on August 29, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Do you miss getting Dole Whips at Disney’s Polynesian? Well I bring good news, as the sweet/tart pineapple treat is now back! Guests looking to purchase a Dole Whip must now head to the all new Pineapple Lanai kiosk window, which can be found near the pool area, taking up part of the space occupied by the former Wyland Gallery. This new addition is all part of the current renovation project taking place at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

The Pineapple Lanai menu features only Dole Whips:

  • Dole Whip Soft Serve: vanilla or pineapple – $3.99
  • Dole Whip Soft Serve Swirl: pineapple swirled with vanilla – $3.99
  • Pineapple Float: vanilla or pineapple soft serve in pineapple juice – $4.99

Guests can also choose to purchase these items in fun tiki-themed souvenir containers. The two Soft Serve options can be served in a Tiki Bowl for $8.79. The Pineapple Float can be served in a Tiki Sipper, which can be purchased for $9.99.

One other change: the Lanai is not a self-serve location, so for those of you who liked to see how high you could fill a cup with the treat over at Captain Cook’s, I’m sorry to say that option has gone the way of the dodo.

Who else is excited that Dole Whips are back at The Poly?

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IllumiNations Cruise: A View Worth Every Penny

by on August 26, 2014

Epcot lights up the sky.  Photo by Disney

Epcot lights up the sky. Photo by Disney

If you are one of the unfortunate ones to never have experienced IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth before, you have really been missing out. IllumiNations is the story of our Earth’s history, its present, and the hope for its future, showcasing people, flora, and fauna. This fireworks, laser, and video show will be the culmination of your extraordinary day at Epcot. After visiting Future World and then stuffing yourself with wonderful delectables throughout the many countries around World Showcase, find a seat or standing area around the Lagoon and be prepared to experience pyrotechnic greatness.

The only downside to IllumiNations is that I sometimes find it a waste of good Disney time to be camping out around the World Showcase hours before the nightly showing to get a prime viewing location. If this has ever crossed your mind or if you are just looking for that over the top experience, perhaps to celebrate a wedding, birthday, or anniversary, then you should try an IllumiNations Cruise.

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After the Touring Plan

by on August 19, 2014

2015UGAs many TouringPlans.com subscribers do, we buy the most recent Unofficial Guide, download the Lines app, read the blog posts, plan our days in Walt Disney World, and have our trip in order well before we depart our homes. This advanced planning helps us make the most out of our vacations in the Happiest Place on Earth.

However, there are times on our trip where our advanced planning works too well. For example: you have decided to spend the morning in Magic Kingdom park, utilizing the morning Extra Magic Hours that are in place. When you show up, you are some of the first people at the tunnel, and you go on to conquer your entire morning Touring Plan…in two hours.

I’m being a bit unrealistic in my example, but there can be points in your trip where things work out so well that you are blessed with that glorious object we Disney fans all crave: extra time. 

So what is there to do if this happens? Plenty, my friend. Plenty.

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Review of Loews Loves Pets at Universal Orlando Resort

by on August 15, 2014

Loews loves pets goody bag

The goods. Photo – Laurel Stewart

Fact: I travel. A lot.

Fact: I like my pets more than I like most people.

Fact: Until my pets get opposable thumbs and learn to Face Time me while I travel, I will miss them terribly when I’m on the road.

With this mind, I decided on my last trip to Orlando that it was time to bring the dog along. Lucky for me, Loews Hotels, the company that runs the four onsite resorts at Universal, is pet friendly – a program called Loews Loves Pets. And, as this trip was especially to visit Universal and Diagon Alley, it seemed a natural fit to take advantage of this policy.

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Hitting the Trail: Taking on the Disney World Walking Paths

by on August 13, 2014

I know what you’re thinking. Why would anyone want to take a walking path when it seems like all you do at Walt Disney World is walk? Well, just hear me out, I do have a few good reasons! You see, walking paths allow you two big luxuries that are hard to come by at Disney World: no lines or crowds and the ability to make your own time.

Hollywood Studios Walking Path

Hollywood Studios Walking Path to the BoardWalk

Nobody likes fighting the long lines for buses, boats, and monorails, especially at closing time. It’s not unusual to have to wait for several of your own resort buses to fill up before you can board yourself following Magic Kingdom’s Wishes, which is hard to bear when your feet hurt and the kids are crying, right? Although, there can be lines or standing room only on buses, boats, and Monorail during the day too. However, the walking paths are never crowded, offering you and yours a reprieve from the shuffling lines and seas of strollers. Also, many are in open, beautiful settings that are well-lit, paved, and serve as great decompression zones from all the hustle and bustle.

But the lack of chaos isn’t the only reason to take on a walking path. Guests who have visited Disney World before know that getting from one place to another can be time consuming! Disney even recommends those with dining reservations to allow at least an hour for transportation time. Why? Well, for example, if you were to have a reservation at one of Epcot’s World Showcase restaurants, a lot of time can be wasted in waiting for transportation, actual travel time, going through security and the turnstiles, and then actually walking across the park to your restaurant. Whew! That can really take awhile and there are a lot of variables to contend with! That’s why, when I can, I prefer to take a walking path so that I can make my own time without checking my watch in nervous frustration for the umpteenth time at a resort bus stop.

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Disneyland Hotel: The Happiest Hotel on Earth Tour

by on August 7, 2014

Disney World resort tours are common at Disney Deluxe Resorts, highlighting their immersive themes and design elements. Some feature unique collections of artwork, some thoughtful tributes to architectural movements in history. But none of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels offer such a Disney-specific historical experience as The Happiest Hotel on Earth Tour at the Disneyland Hotel.

A tiny selection from the massive case of tags, trinkets, and photos in the Convention Center at Disneyland Hotel.

A tiny selection from the massive case of tags, trinkets, and photos in the Convention Center at Disneyland Hotel.

The Disneyland Hotel, after all, has one simple theme: Disneyland Nostalgia. The Walt Disney Company turned three 1970s-era glass towers into a one-of-a-kind collection space for Disneyland concept art and vintage Disney photos, plus displays filled with maps, tickets, and trinkets. And just like at the theme parks, every design element, from the wallpaper inside to the trees outside, has been specially created to heighten the theme and create total immersion.

The Happiest Hotel on Earth Tour helps guests see the stories being told by the towers and the central pool area. Within and without the Adventure, Fantasy, and Frontier towers, Disney fans will find tributes to three of the four opening-day lands from Disneyland. And out on the pool deck, you’ll find the fourth — Tomorrowland.

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