Resorts

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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Disney’s Beach Club Resort: Club Level Review

by on August 6, 2014

Staying on Club Level at at Walt Disney World resort is a fun splurge. After doing some rearranging of vacations, my husband, daughter, and I found it approaching July 4th weekend and no hotel room for July 4th and 5th. With the help of our travel agent, we decided to splurge for Club Level at the Beach Club. We had previously stayed at Club Level at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and wanted to compare a stay at Beach Club, with access to the Stone Harbor Club lounge. Here’s what we found.

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Park Vue Inn: One of Disneyland’s Best

by on August 1, 2014

I should start by saying I didn’t set out to write a love letter to the Park Vue Inn. I didn’t expect to even like the place that much. I mean, it’s an exterior corridor motel. What could be so special about that? Well, it ends up that a lot is special! Before we jump into things, I want to make sure everyone knows that I paid for my stay, and the hotel staff didn’t know that I’d be blogging about my stay. Sometimes I read reviews from other bloggers and wonder what things would really be like if they didn’t get treated like royalty. Rest assured, I was totally under the radar on my trip!

Location

CaptureYou’d be hard pressed to find a hotel with a shorter walk to Disneyland. Stepping outside the lobby of the Park Vue Inn you can see the pedestrian entrance to Disneyland just across the road. The photo to the left I took while standing under the Disneyland sign, waiting to cross the street. Of course, your room location could make your walk a bit longer than we experienced. (We were in room 123 if you’d like to request it.) But even at the back of the hotel you’d be closer than at some of the Disney owned properties. One thing to note is that we didn’t see an elevator, so you’ll be lugging your bags up the stairs if you’re on the second floor. Of course, we didn’t take our bags to our room at all. We arrived early in the morning and left our bags with the desk while we visited the parks. When we picked up our keys later in the day, they informed us that our bags were already in the room. It was a nice touch and a service I haven’t received at “nicer” hotels in the area.

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Update on Disney’s Polynesian Resort Pool Refurbishment

by on July 31, 2014

Disney's Polynesian Resort Pool

©Disney

For those of you who are unaware and will be staying at Disney’s Polynesian Resort over the next few months, the Nanea Volcano Pool and Slide are now closed for an extremely lengthy refurbishment. As I previously mentioned, Disney is offering guests staying the resort access to Blizzard Beach Water Park, while work is being done on the pool area.

When the announcement was first made, guests would only be given a one day pass to Blizzard Beach; however, it now appears that has been amended. Now Polynesian guests can choose to visit the water park on any day and will receive complimentary admission throughout their entire stays.  In addition, guests will receive a complimentary beach towel, and if a Polynesian guests have purchased resort Rapid Fill refillable mugs, those mugs will have access to the beverage stations at the water park. (So make sure you bring your refillable mugs with you!)

Bus transportation will be provided to guests directly between Blizzard Beach and the Polynesian, and when guests arrive at the front gate of the water park, Polynesian guests must check-in using their MagicBands or RFID room keys.

When Blizzard Beach closes for its refurbishment in the winter (which right now is slated for January 4 through March 14, 2015), guests will instead have access to Typhoon Lagoon. Keep in mind that Polynesian guests will not have access to any other resort pool during this refurbishment work.

During the Volcano Pool refurb, work will be done to create a new aquatic playground with slides for children, a new hot tub, and a larger deck with more seating for guests. The pool is expected to reopen sometime in early 2015.

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Walk Disney: A Review of the Boardwalk Ballyhoo Guided Tour

by on July 28, 2014

t_logo_fbThe Walk Disney series will provide a description and review of activities that can be done while walking the grounds at Walt Disney World resorts.

Do you know why the ESPN Club on Disney’s BoardWalk is shaped like an octagon? Do you know where the hidden Tinkerbell is near the elevators of Disney’s BoardWalk Villas? By taking the free BoardWalk Ballyhoo Guided Tour, you will learn these and many more interesting details about Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas resort area.

Before describing the experience that my wife and I had on the tour, here are the tour basics:

What does the tour entail? The tour covers many of the design choices that the Imagineers made when constructing Disney’s BoardWalk Resort area. The walking, informational tour begins at the Bellevue Lounge, continues through the main floor of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, and eventually ends up on the boardwalk outside of the Boardwalk Bakery.

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A Review of Disney World’s Wilderness Lodge Tour

by on July 27, 2014

Our tour guide Ranger!

Our tour guide Ranger!

From the first moment I stepped foot into the Wilderness Lodge just to look around, I fell in love with it. The architecture and ambiance are romantic to me. Both my husband and I are nature lovers. We dream of staying at the Wilderness Lodge someday. But until then, we just visit it often, walking through the lobby and grounds, eating our hearts out. When I learned there were actual free guided tours of this majestic beauty, I couldn’t wait. My husband, on the other hand, was skeptical and thought it would be a waste of valuable park time. What could a tour offer that we hadn’t already seen on our many strolls through? We were about to find out.

On Thursday morning of our trip we had opening breakfast reservations for Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary. As soon as we finished we grabbed a boat over to the Wilderness Lodge, where our tour was about to begin. The meeting spot for the tour is in front of the large fireplace in the lobby of the Lodge. We were a little early, so we sat in the rocking chairs and enjoyed the slower pace. Soon another couple joined us, and we all waited patiently for our tour guide to arrive.

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Renting a Sea Raycer: Is It Worth It?

by on July 22, 2014

Renting a Sea Raycer at one of the Disney World Resorts has been on my to-do list for years, but the hardest thing about having so many things to do at the Disney World Resort is that there are just so many things to do! But a few weeks ago, I finally carved out some time courtesy of a Personalized Touring Plan to do a little cruising to see if it’s worth it. Here’s what I found out.

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The Fort Wilderness Marina

First of all, a Sea Raycer is a small, two person watercraft guests can rent at the Disney World Resort marinas. I personally chose the marina at the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground because I wanted to cruise around the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake to get a view of the Deluxe Resorts and the Magic Kingdom from the water. You can rent a Sea Raycer from the marina at the Yacht and Beach Club, but there isn’t as much to see, in my opinion.

The rental rates for a Sea Raycer are pretty reasonable at $32 per 30 minutes, $40 per 45 minutes, and $45 for 60 minutes. There’s also a 30% discount for passholders, which I gladly took advantage of! I also had to sign a waiver, show my driver’s license, and was warned that Sea Raycers are not known for speed. In fact, you’re looking at top speeds of around 20 mph. I was also informed that have two adults riding in a Sea Raycer, as opposed to driving solo or with a small child, will slow you down even more.

After getting my free life jacket, as it is a requirement for all drivers and passengers to wear a life jacket at all times, I was given a brief tutorial on how to operate a Sea Raycer by a friendly Cast Member, shown a map of Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon, was informed a few basic rules, and then was free to head out into open waters!

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10 Things You’ll Want To Know About a Vacation at Disney’s Aulani Resort

by on July 21, 2014

Aloha! This week I’ve got Disney’s Aulani Resort on the brain! Why, you ask? Because I spent a glorious week there recently. I’ve been to Hawaii before, and there’s a reason people call it paradise. And let me assure you, Aulani does its part to live up to that. It’s an absolutely stunning resort, and that trip was one of the most relaxing vacations we’ve ever had. I highly recommend a visit. And if you do get a chance to stay there, here are ten things that may help you experience the magic even more.

1. It’s Disney With a Light Touch – Aulani is absolutely a Disney resort. And that’s a good thing. It’s also a Disney resort with one of the lightest touches you’ll find. Sure, you’ll have the opportunity to see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and friends decked out in Hawaiian garb, but they’re in an environment that truly feels authentic to the island. Because at Aulani, the central themes are the islands of Hawaii, its people, and their culture. Need examples? The interactive game at the resort isn’t a Phineas and Ferb adventure, it’s based on Menehune, a mythological Hawaiian people. Although there are hidden Mickeys to be found, there are actual hidden Menehune statues all over the resort. The collage of photographs behind the front desk is made up of individual photos taken by Hawaiian students across the islands. Additionally, the lobby is breathtaking and open air like you find in resorts all over Hawaii, and it has a grand 360-degree mural which tells the history of Hawaii. Even the pools aren’t Mickey shaped; they’re free form, most with gorgeous views of the ocean and lagoon the resort is situated on. Finally, in a fun touch that my family really enjoyed, the elevators play classic Disney songs using Hawaiian-style music and lyrics in the Hawaiian language. Have fun guessing which song is being played!

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Trattoria al Forno Restaurant To Open at Disney’s BoardWalk

by on July 15, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

While it’s well known that Kouzzina by Cat Cora is slated to close this fall (its last day of operation is September 30), what we didn’t know and have all been waiting to hear is what new restaurant was going to take its place.

Well, wait no more! Disney has officially announced that a brand new Italian restaurant, called Trattoria al Forno will be opening sometime this December at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.

This brand new restaurant will serve up delectable, Old World-inspired dishes, showcasing dishes from the different regions of the country. Menu items will include Neopolitan-style pizzas, Bolognese with house-made cavatelli;  whole roasted fish with roasted vegetables; semolina tagliatelli carbonara; grilled steak; a seasonal risotto; pork chop alla Milanese; chicken breast alla Parmagiana with tagliatelle pasta; shrimp with garlic, capers and anchovy butter with polenta;  baked lasagna; slow-cooked lamb shank with polenta; ruffled campanelle pasta with green beans, roasted potatoes and Genovese pesto; and eggplant rollatini.  

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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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