Resorts

Disney World Situational Celebration Guide

by on July 14, 2014

Many guests plan Disney World trips, either in whole or in part, to celebrate an event. This phenomenon is such a truism that Disney even planned their 2009/2010 marketing campaign around the theme “What Will You Celebrate?”

While Walt Disney World is indeed a great place to celebrate, not all Disney celebrations should look the same. You’re not going to celebrate your daughter’s first birthday the same way you’re going to celebrate Grandma and Grandpa’s 50th wedding anniversary. Here’s a guide to constructing the perfect celebration for common situations.

Different situations call for different celebrations.

Different situations call for different celebrations.

1st BIRTHDAY

Who should be there?: The birthday boy/girl, mom and dad, siblings, possibly grandparents.

Where should we stay?: The monorail hotels (Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian) are great because you won’t have to fold your stroller to get to the Magic Kingdom. But if that’s not in the budget, try a family suite at Art of Animation or All-Star Music, or a cabin at Fort Wilderness because you’ll have a separate room where the baby can nap undisturbed. At the moderate level, the standard rooms at the Coronado Springs resort have a sliding wooden door between the bed area and the bath area, creating a de facto mini-room which can serve as a nap area. The value resorts, with their small square footage, may be a challenge during this trip because your Pack n’ Play will take up a substantial percentage of your living area.

Where should we eat?: Chef Mickey’s (breakfast or dinner). The boisterous atmosphere will muffle any cranky noises the birthday child might make. Since it’s a buffet, it won’t seem odd if you’re walking around a bit, also you’ll have lots of food options for fussy eaters.

What should we do?: Character photos! This is the perfect time for pictures juxtaposing little toddler next to a giant mouse. Cuuuute!

What should we buy?: Mouse ears embroidered with junior’s name (another perfect photo opportunity!).

Helpful hints: The celebrant is likely pre-verbal, so there will not be any direct memories being made for the child. Focus on making mom and dad comfortable (traveling with an infant can be exhausting) and taking lots of great photos to help convey your family’s Disney/birthday story when the little one is old enough to understand.

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Unexpected Extras at Disney World Value Resorts

by on July 7, 2014

Fantasia Splash Pad

Nothing says cool like an interactive fountain surrounded by icebergs.

Part of the joy of staying on property at Walt Disney World resort hotels is the immersive theme of each resort hotel. And while you won’t find some of the amenities offered at Deluxe or some Moderate resorts at Value resorts, Value resorts do have some unique hidden gems just waiting to be found.

Here are some of my favorites extras you can find at Walt Disney World value resorts.

All-Star Movies At All-Star Movies, look for the vintage movie posters lining the front wall in World Premiere Food Court. All-Star Movies is also home to an “interactive fountain” water feature for kids near the Fantasia Pool (just look for the giant icebergs). Also in that area is a shallow wading pool area for the non-swimmer (and swim diaper) set.

And for fans of Disney Cruise Line, you can spot a Golden Mickey prop in the Cinema Hall building.

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Disney World’s Electrical Water Pageant: The Original Light Show

by on July 6, 2014

When Disney Imagineer Bob Jani looked out over Seven Seas Lagoon at night he saw a black gulf, void of interest. It was late 1971 and Magic Kingdom, Polynesian Resort, and Contemporary Resort opened soon. The lifeless lagoon, formed from draining the swamp that dominated the land Magic Kingdom occupies, would presently be filled by ferries and water attractions, including a water ski show. But something was missing. His mind turned to his hometown of Los Angeles, where any body of water reflected myriad lights every night. Somewhere this need to fill the dark with twinkling lights sparked the idea of the Electrical Water Pageant: a train of barges sporting colorful animated lights.

The final float in the aquatic scene.

The final float in the aquatic scene.

A brochure given to guests in the Summer of 1972 entices the guest to “watch porpoises leap . . . seals play . . . even a sea monster breathe fire!” Guests were directed to see the Pageant nightly 9:00 PM through 10:00 PM along Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon, advice that is still good today. The whimsical attraction’s appeal eventually inspired the Main Street Electrical Parade even copping the song “Baroque Hoedown” as its theme.

Today the Pageant is one thousand feet long and features 25-foot tall screens on fourteen barges. The show is split into two parts: an aquatic theme featuring King Triton and various sea creatures followed by a patriotic salute. Total time, nose to tail, is about ten minutes.

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Walt Disney World Resorts Testing New Check-In Process

by on June 18, 2014

A5-70_2827

Copyright Disney

Select Walt Disney World Resort hotels are currently testing a brand new check-in process where guests are able to bypass the check-in desk and head immediately to their hotel room. Hotels participating in this test include Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside, Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas.

Guests who are eligible to take part in this test must have already created their My Disney Experience account, making sure their profiles are complete. They also must make sure they have completed the online check-in process, and their balances must be paid in full.

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Best Disney World Hotel for a Bar Tour

by on June 18, 2014

Disney World Hotel bar tour

View from the Polynesian’s Barefoot Bar (when it’s not under construction)

I know most folks traveling to Walt Disney World are not thinking primarily about going on a bar crawl. I also know that many legal adults could use a drink when they get back from a day at the theme parks. So here’s the scenario: You are done touring the parks for the day and are looking for a place for a nightcap or two. Maybe the kids are with relatives, maybe there are no kids on this trip…either way, you only have a few hours because you don’t want to be out too late. After all, you know making park opening, or rope drop, is super-important when touring the parks.

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Disney’s All-Star Music Resort Food Court To See Lengthy Refurbishment

by on June 9, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

The Intermission Food Court at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort will see an extremely extensive refurbishment from August 1 until December 20, reopening on December 21.

During the refurbishment work, guests staying at the resort will have a few dining alternatives. First, the Note-able Games arcade, found in Melody Hall, will be converted into a grab-and-go area, featuring sandwiches, salads, desserts, and bakery items. A Rapid Fill refillable mug refill station will be available there, as well. Guests may also choose to visit the Singing Spirits pool bar, which will serve select menu offerings. In addition, in-room pizza delivery will also be available from 3:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.

For guests looking for a substantial meal, Disney will provide transportation to Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, where guests can visit the End Zone Food Court,as well as to Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, where the World Premiere Food Court is available for guests. Guests can also choose to walk to either resort. (Walking to All-Star Sports will typically be the closest option.)

The refurb work that will take place at Intermission Food Court will be similar to what happened last fall at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, which concluded in a completely updated seating area, as well as renovated meal stations, featuring many create-your-own meal options.

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Yacht and Beach Club’s Ship Shape Salon – A Pedicure Review

by on May 6, 2014

Ship Shape

Just about right there under the blue pointer.

A couple of weeks ago during a stay at Yacht and Beach Club, I looked down and was slightly aghast at the state of my toenail polish. A few days in a sand-bottomed pool can do some damage. I have been to the Senses Spa at Saratoga Springs, and, while the treatment I got there was amazing, upwards of $80 for a pedicure is a little much. I considered Mandara Spa at the Swan & Dolphin, but, again, at prices starting at $65, it was more than I wanted to commit to just being presentable. Just after a great burger at Beaches & Cream, I walked past the Ship Shape Fitness Center and realized there was an extra door there.

As it turns out, Yacht and Beach Club has a lovely little spa and salon right next to the fitness center that offers a wide range of services at much more reasonable prices. My pedicure was listed at $55, which was inclusive of gratuity, but after my Annual Passholder discount, it was just under $50. While that’s more than I normally pay for a pedicure, I was able to get a same-day appointment for less than any other location on property.

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Observations from the Universal Orlando Resort: April 26, 2014 (Margaritaville, New Merchandise, Royal Pacific Resort)

by on April 30, 2014

Last week intrepid Potter reporter Seth Kubersky scoured both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure for the latest updates to his running series of PotterWatch articles. There were several big changes in the WWOHP world, including the arrival of the Knight Bus and the Wiseacre’s Wizarding Supplies storefront in Hogsmeade Village being converted into Madame Puddifoot’s Tea Shop. Crack photographer Brandon Glover and myself hit the parks later in the week to see what else was going on at Universal. Here’s what we found…

RPR

When your walk to the park looks like this, who wants to take a shuttle or boat?

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In the Parks with Morgan – Respite at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch

by on April 21, 2014

DSC_0107While I will always be a huge fan of the parks, there are times that even I need a break from the crowds and the noise (the 5th of July and January 2 come to mind). There are several places on property that I’ve found that get me back to zen, and I thought I’d share one of my favorites. Just past Pioneer Hall (that place where they do the Hoop De Doo Musical Revue) at Fort Wilderness (not the Wilderness Lodge) there’s a series of barns and paddocks that make up the Tri-Circle-D Ranch. The ranch is home to the horses of Walt Disney World including the Main Street Trolley horses, all the horses that pull the various carriages and wagons around property, and even the Cinderella Carriage ponies. And, in a happy turn of events, you can visit these gorgeous animals free of charge daily from 8 a.m. to around dusk. The ranch officially closes at 3:30 p.m., but there are often ranch hands in the open barns until well after that caring for the animals.

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2014 Grand Floridian Easter Eggs

by on April 18, 2014

One of the things I love most about writing for Touring Plans is that it encourages me to go out and see things I would have skipped in the past. If you can believe it this is the third annual Easter Egg display at the Grand Floridian, but the first year I’ve stopped by for a visit. I have each and every one of you to thank, because the display is incredible! I couldn’t think of a better way to wish everyone a happy Easter and to share some photos! First the lovely Briar Rose:

IMG_2039

And on the reverse side of the princess is her Prince Phillip. Can you believe each of these eggs is between 16 – 20 inches tall and weighs over 9 pounds even though they are hollow? Also, in frame you can see a non-Disney themed egg. There are eighteen eggs on display this year so I couldn’t feature all of them. Though I focused on the Disney eggs there are others that are more traditional or themed after famous works of art. They are all exquisite!

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