TouringPlans Everywhere

#Everywhere – A Review of the Anaheim Camelot Inn & Suites

by on November 18, 2014

Exterior (6)On my recent trip to Disneyland we stayed at the Anaheim Camelot Inn & Suites, which is outside the resort area, but by only a little bit. We chose this particular hotel because we were told it was clean and that it was definitely close to the parks. We found both of those things to be true and were, for the most part, impressed with the property. Of course, there is a little more to it than that, which is good because this would be a very short post otherwise.

The Price

For many travelers, the cost of the hotel is the largest single expense. The Camelot cost us an average of $150.93 per night, which meant our 6 night stay cost $905.58 (including tax). Here is how that number compares to some of the Disney hotels in both California and Florida for the same dates (Prices found on MouseSavers.com):

  • Camelot Inn – $151 per night
  • Disneyland Hotel – $455 per night
  • Paradise Pier Hotel (Disneyland) - $342 per night
  • Grand Californian Hotel (Disneyland) - $526 per night
  • All-Star Sports (Walt Disney World Value Resort) - $124 per night
  • Caribbean Beach (Walt Disney World Moderate Resort) - $217 per night
  • Beach Club (Walt Disney World Deluxe Resort) – $494 per night

Now all of those are the full price rate, most of which can be discounted with various promotions, but it is still illuminating. The cost for the Camelot was less than half the price of the closest Disneyland on-property hotel (Paradise Pier) and right in between the cost for a Walt Disney World Value and Moderate.

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#Everywhere – 3 Reasons To Give Hong Kong Disneyland A Chance

by on November 18, 2014

I love Disney. (Big surprise there.) I love Disney parks. But like I suspect many Disney fans, Hong Kong Disneyland has never really been on my radar. I live in Tokyo, so I visit Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea every chance I get, and I grew up with the parks in the US, but when I was first told that I was heading to Hong Kong for my TouringPlans Everywhere trip, my first response was:  “Oh that’s right, they have a Disney too.” I didn’t know much about it, so I did what I always do when confronted with the unexpected – lots of internet research!

Before long I felt I knew what to expect from my Hong Kong Disneyland trip…and what I expected was to be kinda bored. I had discovered the following:

  • Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is one park. One castle park. There are so few rides that the map lists a garden area with benches and a few classic optical illusions as a major attraction for one area.
  • Classic attractions such as Pirates and the Haunted Mansion are missing, to the point that Fantasyland has only one dark ride. Yeah, that’s right.
  • There are only two – count ‘em – TWO rides in the whole park that even offer FastPass. (Space Mountain and Winnie the Pooh, in case you were wondering) Which you can only get one of at a time.

Sure, Mystic Manor looked great, and Toy Story Land was interesting though I didn’t plan on riding any of the surely nausea-inducing rides. But after I’d looked around, I wasn’t sure what else I’d end up doing. Maybe hanging out at the hotel pool? (And isn’t the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel just a copy of the Grand Floridian anyway?)

But it turns out that while all of the above facts are true, they don’t really sum up the resort, which was a lovely, thoroughly entertaining surprise. I don’t have room to do everything justice, but here are the three main reasons why Hong Kong Disneyland Resort ended up being a great vacation getaway for our family:

It’s beautiful. We were there during the protests and so didn’t venture off property too much, and I have to say the part of the city where the airport is isn’t the most impressive sight. However, the landscape of the island…well, here’s the “bad, cheap view” from my hotel room:

Not a parking lot.

Not a parking lot.

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Surprises #Everywhere On The Disney Dream

by on November 18, 2014

I had never boarded a cruise ship prior to the TouringPlans #Everywhere event in October, which tasked my family with sailing on the Disney Dream. I had knowledge of Disney Cruise Line from colleagues, relatives, podcasts, and random people in theme parks. Plus, I did the technical work for the Disney Cruise Line portion of the TouringPlans.com website, so I’ve been exposed to plenty of facts about sailing with Disney. Still, Disney Cruise Line (and cruising, in general) was full of surprises for me, some good and some bad. I share some observations as a cruise novice below, well aware of the fact that what suprised me would not have shocked someone more familar with cruises.

Pools are boring.

There’s a pool in the shape of Mickey’s head! Doesn’t swimming in his ear sound great? Well, the pools are tiny and crowded, so you won’t do more than sit or stand. It’s neat that you can watch a movie on the giant Funnel Vision screen while wading, and my kid enjoyed splashing around in the Mickey Pool, but the pools are not at all like the pools at Disney Resort Hotels. That said, the slides are fun, and there are plenty of great swimming opportunities on Castaway Cay and on many shore excursions.

Disney Dream Deck 11

Doesn’t this look fabulous? Looks can be deceiving.

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Disney Cruise Line: RunDisney Castaway Cay 5K Photo Report

by on November 12, 2014

My recent sailing on the Disney Wonder brought with it several surprises, the biggest of which – for me – was biting the bullet and signing up for my first official runDisney event, the Castaway Cay 5k. I had no plans to participate in the event before the cruise, as it would clearly cut into my buffet time, but when researching a Castaway Cay 5k question from a TouringPlans reader, I temporarily lost my mind and signed up for the race. I will now present a gripping tale of human triumph and the 100% totally true story of how one man overcame all obstacles, including Mother Nature herself, to take home the elusive Castaway Cay 5k medal.

CastawayCay5K_bibs

Castaway Cay 5k bibs.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Surprises of the Disney Cruise Line

by on November 8, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Surprises of the Disney Cruise Line. Several weeks ago we posted an article on Six Reasons To Go On a Disney Cruise, which covered the “big picture” of why you should consider setting sail with The Mouse, but this week we’ll take a look some of the smaller details that made a significant impact on my vacation. Leading up to the cruise, I had done a decent amount of research on TouringPlans, the Disney Cruise Line Blog, and reading Erin Foster’s numerous DCL posts on the blog, but once I stepped onto the deck of the Disney Wonder I still had one surprise after another.  Here are my six favorite surprises of the trip (remember, you can click on any picture to see it in full size)…

# 6 – DCL Beer Mug Card

DCL_BeerMug2

DCL Beer Mug.

 

I’m a big fan of souvenir glasses (and we covered several of options available in the photo reports of the DCL gift shops and Castaway Cay) so I was definitely drawn to the DCL Beer Mug. Aside from being a neat souvenir, the mug has two benefits that come along with it. The first benefit is the fact that each time you get a beer in the mug you are given a 22 oz serving, but only charged for 16 oz.  Secondly, the mug itself has a good amount of weight to it, so it was a nice surprise to find out you don’t have to carry it around with you during the cruise. When you are done drinking, you hand the mug back to your server/bartender, and they will give you a card which you can then exchange for another mug when you are ready to drink again. This option became so handy and convenient throughout the trip, that I began to wish there was some practical way the theme parks could incorporate it into their day-to-day operations.

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Disney Cruise Line: Merchandise Photo Report of Castaway Cay (iPhone Cases, Shirts, Letters In a Bottle)

by on October 31, 2014

Earlier this week we covered the exclusive merchandise on the Disney Cruise Line, and today we will take a gander at the products on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. Much like the gift shops on the Disney Wonder, it was amazing to see the wide variety of merchandise available on the island, and how much of it was actually good. I knew that I was in for a treat when the first thing I came across was the refillable mugs, and not only did they have a style similar to ones we see at the Disney resorts, but they also had plastic coconut shaped cups. Now, these coconut cups are completely impractical, as you have to separate them almost in half to put in your soda, but I absolutely loved them. There are several soda machines on the island where you can refill your mugs for free, and then you can use them on the ship as well.

 

CC_cups

Refillable mugs and coconuts at Castaway Cay.

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#Everywhere: The Disneyland Results Are In!

by on October 29, 2014

2014-10-10 at 19-55-52As many of you probably know, I recently made my first trip to the Disneyland Resort in California as part of TouringPlans #Everywhere. A few months back, I wrote a post here about what I expected to find when I traveled to Disneyland. Well, now I’m back and will attempt to address all of my previous impressions, which were almost all made from a position of ignorance (as most of my impressions are). If you are planning a trip out west and do not want to be spoiled (like I didn’t) please read no further.

I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say, so let’s just get right into it:

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons To Go On a Disney Cruise

by on October 25, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons To Go On a Disney Cruise. Earlier this month I was fortunate to be able to take my first ever Disney Cruise aboard the Disney Wonder as part of TouringPlans #Everywhere promotion. The experience was pretty amazing overall, and while before the trip I had a hard time understanding why people would pay so much for a Disney Cruise when there are some great alternatives (such as Royal Caribbean) for a fraction of the price, I now see exactly what draws people back again and again to DCL. In fact, I think for many Disney fans a sailing on the DCL is a must-do, as it provides an overall immersion in the Disney brand that even many on-site WDW vacations can’t compete with. Today we are going to look at six of the reasons you should consider popping a Dramamine and sailing the high seas with Mickey and the gang. Remember that clicking on any picture will bring it up in full size, so grab that life jacket and let’s start counting down…

# 6 – The Characters

DCL_Character_Donald

Donald Duck on the DCL Wonder.

 

We knew that there were going to be characters on board the Disney ships that you could meet, but we were not prepared for how many. There were the Fab 5 of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. The ubiquitous Chip and Dale. Daisy Duck. Frozen‘s Anna and Elsa. Disney Jr. characters such as Sofia the First and Jake. Disney princesses including Ariel, Tiana, Rapunzel, Snow White, Aurora, Belle, and Cinderella. Lastly, there were miscellaneous characters such as Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Stitch. These were just the ones that I personally saw throughout the cruise, as we never looked to see where the characters would be, or at what time, which leads me to believe that there are even more that I didn’t see.

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TouringPlans #Everywhere – Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort Review

by on October 24, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

I can’t believe #Everywhere has come and gone. Our last few cruisers are off their ships and everyone is back on the clock. I hope everyone enjoyed all the live tweets from Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Hong Kong, the DCL Magic, Wonder, Dream, and Fantasy, Aulani, Vero Beach, and my destination, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

So how was it? I can’t believe I didn’t go sooner and that it took “taking one for the team” to get me to check it out. Both my travel partner, Len Testa, and I were very happily surprised at how much we loved this resort. I’ll try to break down the review into logical sections, but first the small print – for all the #Everywhere trips, TouringPlans picked up the bill for lodging, transportation, and food. We booked at rates available to the public and didn’t receive any incentives from Disney or the travel agents we booked with beyond what anyone else would get. In the case of the three DVC resorts, those were all booked using my own points as opposed to booking with cash through Disney or renting through a 3rd party.

Location

The resort feels secluded, but not so much as in this publicity shot. Photo © Disney

The resort feels secluded, but not so much as in this publicity shot. Photo © Disney

The photos on the Disney site, make Hilton Head Resort look like it’s really secluded. This is clever cropping though. The resort is at Shelter Cove Marina, which is a fairly commercial site with moorage, restaurants, retail, condos, and other resorts. Disney’s resort is on the edge of this area with the actual marina on one side and undeveloped marshland on the other. The clever thing about how the resort is situated is that once you’re actually there, you do feel like the resort is on its own island. As a coastal town, Hilton Head has mostly mild weather; you can see the forecast and weather history at Weather Underground.

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TouringPlans #Everywhere: Disney Magic Observations from a DCL First-Timer

by on October 23, 2014

Disney Magic observations

There’s nothing like your first look at your first Disney cruise ship! (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

As part of the fantastic TouringPlans #Everywhere project, I recently had the amazing opportunity to experience my very first Disney Cruise Line vacation aboard the Disney Magic, on an unusual 7-day itinerary out of Puerto Rico. While I’ve previously stayed on-site in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, and traveled with some of Disney’s competitors in the cruising and all-inclusive resort industries, this was my initial experience as a guest of DCL. Overall, I have to say that I went in with sky-high expectations, almost all of which I can happily report were met or exceeded. But that’s not to say there weren’t a few surprises along the way. Here are a handful of Disney Magic observations and advice from this first-time (but hopefully not last-time) DCL cruiser that may may your vigin voyage a little smoother.

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