Resorts

SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

by on February 14, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Each of Walt Disney World’s onsite hotels have their own unique feel, and that rings true from the value end (such as Art of Animation) through the moderates (including Port Orleans French Quarter) and all the way up to the deluxe resorts like The Contemporary. That said, no hotel in Orlando stands more by itself as a one-of-a-kind original experience than Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

AKL_logo

Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Located directly next to Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park (and absolutely nothing else,) many guests consider Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) too far out of the way to consider staying at. While the wait for the Disney buses may be a little bit longer than other resorts on property, today’s edition of the SATURDAY SIX is going to count down six reasons we feel everyone should consider staying at AKL as part of their next vacation, starting with…

# 6 – Indian-style Bread Service at Sanaa

AKL_sanaa_breadservice1_glover

Sanaa bread service. A first ballot hall of famer for Disney food. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Animal Kingdom Lodge is broken up into two parts, the main hotel (Jambo House) and the Disney Vacation Club wing (Kidani Village.) In these two areas there are three of Disney’s best restaurants including Boma and Jiko at Jambo House, and Sanaa at Kidani Village. Unlike many restaurants at WDW that have dumbed themselves down in order to maximize profits as part of Disney’s Dining Plan, AKL’s restaurants deliver an experience that is true destination dining. The standout of these three venues is Sanaa’s bread service. With five different types of Naan bread available and up to nine different accompaniments to go with it, this is a bread service like no other.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

How Two Disney World Vacations That Cost the Same Can Feel Completely Different? or Where’s Goldilocks When You Need Her?

by on February 3, 2015

Len Testa recently did an analysis of the different ways the same party size can choose to allocate the same amount of money on a Walt Disney World vacation, yet arrive at very different trips. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s definitely worth a look.

Staying for four nights at a value resort might feel like a splurge or like an affront, depending on your profile.

Staying for four nights at a value resort might feel like a splurge or like an affront, depending on your profile.

Len examined the quantitative aspects of expenditures on the core costs of food, lodging, and park tickets, noting how choices like deluxe vs. value resort, onsite vs. offsite hotels, and table service vs. counter service meals can change your vacation within a fixed budget. I’m here to look at the qualitative impact of those choices beyond the bottom line, considering how two vacations which cost exactly the same can feel entirely different.

For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to look at Len’s hypothetical trip for two adults (two people over the age of nine, or two people over the age of nine plus a child under the age of three) which costs $1,500, but you can apply the same principles to any price point or party size. Running the numbers, Len found that two adults can spend $1,500 on core costs in some of the following ways:

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Port Orleans Riverside Royal Room Review

by on February 2, 2015

101_3748

Royal Room Letter from Tiana

Of all the Walt Disney World resorts, Port Orleans Riverside is the resort that I have stayed at the most. I first fell in love with the place back when it was originally called Dixie Landings; and while I’m still a little bitter over the name change, this particular resort has continued to charm me year after year. But just when I though I couldn’t love this resort anymore, I had the opportunity to stay in one of its Royal Rooms, special resort rooms themed after popular Disney Royals! So check out my Port Orleans Riverside Royal Room Review to see if this room option might be something you would consider for your next vacation to Disney World!

About Port Orleans Riverside

Port Orleans Riverside is the sister resort to Port Orleans French Quarter. The French Quarter is themed around New Orleans, but Riverside features the elegance of the Old South with white-columned mansions, a bustling river port, and backwoods, bayou charm.

Port Orleans Riverside belongs to the moderate category of Disney World Resorts. Basically, that means it’s not the most expensive and luxurious, but it’s not the cheapest either. However, unlike other Moderate Resorts, Riverside offers two themed sections and three different room styles.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Menu Monday: A Tribute to the Dole Whip

by on January 19, 2015

101_3616

My Dole Whip Float

It’s fresh and creamy, it’s cold and sweet, it’s literally paradise in a cup. It’s a Dole Whip! If you haven’t heard, this treat is as popular as some characters and attractions at Disney World and has the long lines to prove it. For those of you who haven’t sampled this famous Disney treat; and for those of you, like myself, who are craving one right now, check out this Tribute to the Dole Whip!

So what is a Dole Whip? A Dole Whip is pineapple-flavored soft-serve and the perfect blend of sweet and tang; but I must warn you, it’s addictive! In fact, during one of my trips to the Magic Kingdom last year, I waited in a thirty minute line for a Dole Whip and even got a sunburn in the process. But hey, I have no regrets. It was totally worth it!

Unlike other popular sweet treats at Disney World, like Mickey Premium Bars or cupcakes, Dole Whips can’t be found just everywhere. For many years, Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Aloha Isle in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom were the only locations where this snack was offered.

Fortunately, it seems that Disney has taken pity on us Dole Whip-crazed guests, and I’m glad to report that there are now more places than ever to enjoy a Dole Whip while at the Walt Disney World Resort. Let’s take a look at a few of the old, as well as the new, shall we?

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

SATURDAY SIX: Six Ways To Get Your Disney Fix Outside of the Theme Parks

by on January 10, 2015

This week’s  SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Ways To Get Your Disney Fix Outside of the Theme Parks. No one loves the Disney theme parks more than us, but sometimes you just can’t get to them no matter how much you want to be there. So today we are going to look at various ways you can get a taste of WDW, without paying the $90-$95 ticket cost to enter the turnstiles. Be forewarned, the more you quench your Disney thirst, the more you are going to want to book your next trip into the parks.

We are going to start off taking the 30,000 foot view (© Jim Hill) and look at things that anyone can enjoy anywhere in the world, while eventually making our way down to things available closer to the actual theme parks in Florida. With that out of the way, let’s being our countdown, starting with…

# 6 – Disney Related Books

DisneyBooks_Grassey

Selection of theme park books. (photo by Tim Grassey)

If you haven’t started already, now is the time to build your Disney library. Reading about Walt Disney World (as well as Disneyland and the Disney Cruise Line) is a great way to stay connected with the theme parks, no matter where you are. Anyone reading the SATURDAY SIX should be well versed on travel planning books, such as the Unofficial Guide to WDW 2015, but that theme park bible is just the tip of the iceberg. There are books on finding Hidden Mickeys, books on Disney Imagineers, and books on Disney attractions. I personally love the Imagineering Field Guides (such as the ones for Animal Kingdom and Epcot) because of their small size, allowing me to take them with me on the go without a hassle.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Here are the Polynesian DVC room layouts

by on January 8, 2015

The images below fell off the back of a truck. Here’s a set of studio rooms showing their layouts; the extended room shows an ADA-accessible balcony:

Disney Polynesian Resort DVC Studio layout

Here’s the 2-bedroom bungalow layout. Estimates are that these will rent for a bit less than the King Kamehameha Suite – maybe around $2,500 – $3,000 per night – when they’re available.

Disney Polynesian Bungalow Layout

Three grand is a lot of money for one night in a hotel room. I’m not sure I’d sell my first-born for that. I probably wouldn’t even consider a long-term lease.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Disney World AP Discounts Released for Travel through mid-June

by on January 8, 2015

t_logo_fbDisney has released Annual Passholder discounts most nights through mid-June at Walt Disney World resorts:

There are two discounted percentages. The higher discount is for travel dates April 6 to June 15, 2015.

  • All-Star Sports and Music, Pop Century: 15-25%
  • Art of Animation suites: 15-20%
  • Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans Riverside: 20-30%
  • Deluxe resorts and villas: 30-37%

Exclusions: All-Star Movies, Port Orleans French Quarter, Fort Wilderness campsites, Grand Floridian Villas, Bay Lake Tower, Polynesian villas, all 3-bedroom villas.

Thanks to Tammy Whiting of www.StorybookDestinations.com for the information.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

An Evening out with Yehaa Bob at Disney World’s Riverside Resort

by on January 4, 2015

Copyright - Bob Jackson

Copyright –  Yehaa Bob Jackson

Have you ever had interaction with one of the blue nametag elite at one of the Disney parks? Do you know that the blue nametag has special meaning? Those who wear it have received the highest honor of being bestowed with the Legacy Award, which is the highest honor cast members, crew members, and Imagineers can achieve at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Recipients are nominated and selected by their leaders and peers for consistently inspiring others, going out of their way to create happiness for guests and other team members, and finding new ways to deliver Disney magic.

One of the recipients of the Legacy Award in 2013 was the lively entertainer Yehaa Bob Jackson, who has been with the company for more than 17 years. To be honest, Bob was not even on my Disney radar until rather recently, but has quickly risen to one of my favorite reasons to love Disney. His shows are family friendly, loud, and just a righteous good time.

Flashback: Three years ago during our first stay at Walt Disney World’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. One evening, on our way back to our room we walked by the bar area and witnessed a raucous crowd who we assumed were just loud inebriated guests.

Fast Forward: One year later a fellow Disney friend was excitedly telling me about an upcoming show he was going to Ohio featuring Yehaa Bob. I concealed my ignorance and rejoiced for him. But immediately took to the internet to see who this Disney personality was. What I found were scenes of our “inebriated guests” from the year before. Only, they weren’t inebriated. And some of them were kids! I knew I had to see him in person.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

1989: A Disney World Album

by on January 2, 2015

Did you know that Disney World has a hit album of its own? The year 1989 was a big year for Disney World as guests enjoyed a number of new attractions, restaurants, and even new parks! In fact, a number of new sights and experiences that made their first appearance in 1989 are just as popular today as they were then. So let’s take a look at 1989: A Disney World Album to see what hits debuted at Disney World twenty-five years ago.

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon

This Disney World water park opened on June 1, 1989 and has charmed guests for years with its scattered, windblown theme. The story behind the park is that a typhoon swept through and turned a tropical paradise upside down as evidenced by the leaning buildings, shipwrecks, and other odds and ends strewn about in a rather amusing fashion. The icon of the park is a shrimp boat, the “Miss Tilly,” which the storm left perched atop Mount Mayday. The centerpiece of the park, and probably its biggest claim to fame, is the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool. It is one of the largest wave pools in the world releasing 6 foot waves every 90 seconds! In my opinion, this pool is worth a visit to Typhoon Lagoon alone. Believe me, once you’ve spent some time here, you will be ruined on any other wave pool anywhere else for life. Although, there is more to be enjoyed at Typhoon Lagoon, such as the thrilling Humunga Cowabunga slides, the relaxing Castaway Creek, the Crush n’ Gusher water coasters, and so much more. Typhoon Lagoon also is famous for Shark Reef, where guests have the opportunity to snorkel around a shipwreck with bonnethead and leopard sharks, stingrays, and schools of fish. What makes this experience even better? Your snorkeling equipment is free with the price of admission! While some guests prefer the incredible wintry theme and thrills of Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon’s laid back, tropical atmosphere and incredible surf pool makes it my favorite of Disney’s water parks.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Review: Animal Kingdom Lodge DVC Deluxe Studio Villa at Kidani Village

by on December 31, 2014

While Disney World offers a vast variety of different resorts to choose from for guests staying on property, the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Villas offer even more options and experiences, particularly when it comes to room sizes! During my last few trips to Disney World, I had the opportunity to enjoy stays at several different DVC Villas; but today, I’m zeroing in on Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in this review of an Animal Kingdom Lodge DVC Deluxe Studio Villa at Kidani Village.

Kidani Village Lobby

Kidani Village Lobby

First of all, the Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s own timeshare program where members purchase and use points for their vacation experiences. It can be difficult to understand, but Disney Vacation Club (DVC) 101: What is DVC? can help fill in the gaps. If you are not a Disney Vacation Club Member, the good news is that you can still stay at a DVC Resort! You can do so by booking through Disney, just as you would any other resort; however, other guests like to rent points from a 3rd party or directly from other members. If you chose the latter, we recommend that you go through a reputable third party or from a member you know personally (as opposed to a random person on the internet).

My family and I had never stayed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge before. We had dropped by the resort in years past for a dinner at Boma and to do some exploring, but that was the extent of our experience. However, for many years, we had been hearing from others that Animal Kingdom Lodge was one of the best resorts at Disney World and a big favorite; and so when we got the opportunity to stay a week in a DVC Deluxe Studio Villa at the resort’s Kidani Village, we couldn’t turn down the chance to check it out for ourselves.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print