Walt Disney World (FL)

A Review of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

by on October 9, 2017




Last month I stayed at both the Swan and the Dolphin hotels. Both hotels plus the convention space make up the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. I ended up at the Swan and Dolphin when I could not find a Disney hotel reservation between September 16-21. Being a bit of a Disney snob, I have always looked past the Swan and Dolphin.

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort recently completed a $140,00,000, 3-year renovation. The resort has re-designed guest rooms, renovated meeting spaces, and the Dolphin Resort lobby has a new contemporary look. Little to no changes have been made to the exterior of the resort’s buildings. The resort was designed by Michael Graves as part of former Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s Disney Decade. Eisner, on the Swan’s January 13, 1990, opening, described his company’s plan to “do nothing less than reinvent the Disney theme park and resort experience in the next 10 years.” (The Dolphin opened June 1, 1990.)

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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We Love Disney’s WILDERNESS LODGE

by on October 7, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s WILDERNESS LODGE. Disney has three classifications for their resorts: Value (including Pop Century and Art of Animation), Moderate (Port Orleans Riverside and Fort Wildnerness), and Deluxe (The Poly and BoardWalk). Today we are going to look at one of the Deluxe offerings with Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

 

Inspired national park lodges and inns of the early 20th century, Wilderness Lodge was designed by Peter Dominick, an architect who also was a major influence in Disney’s Grand Californian Lodge and Florida’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Sitting alongside Bay Lake, Wilderness Lodge is in between The Contemporary and the Fort Wilderness campground and offers relaxing boat rides to both locations as well as the Magic Kingdom. Like many other guests, we here at the SATURDAY SIX have fallen head over heels in love with Wilderness Lodge, and today we are going to count down our reasons why, starting with…

# 6 – Fire Rock Geyser

With the entire resort in effect a tribute to our great American national parks, the hourly eruption of Fire Rock Geyser gives guests a taste of what people experience when seeing Old Faithful at Yellowstone in Wyoming. Taking place at the top of every hour, Fire Rock Geyser’s explosion of water is a unique event at the Wilderness Lodge and a true piece of “Disney Magic” that separates the mouse house from its competitors.

Fire Rock Geyser.

Fire Rock Geyser erupting its plume of water at the top of every hour.

Fire Rock Geyser. (photo by Daisy Lauren)

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Ferrytale Fireworks Dessert Party to Return This Winter

by on October 6, 2017

Ferrytale Fireworks

©Disney

Walt Disney World is bringing back its Ferrytale Fireworks: A Sparkling Dessert Cruise during select nights in the winter months. Guests will be able to experience the fireworks in a unique way, via the Seven Seas Lagoon onboard the iconic double stack ferryboat, the General Joe Potter ferryboat.

Guests who wish to take part in this unique party will be able to board the ferryboat at the Transportation and Ticket Center. Throughout out evening, they will enjoy decadent desserts and  specialty beverages (served either with or without alcohol). The evening will conclude with a viewing of the Magic Kingdom’s nighttime fireworks spectacular (or special holiday fireworks on event evenings) from the unique vantage point on the water. The music will also be pipped in for Guest’s enjoyment.

Ferrytale Fireworks: A Sparkling Dessert Cruise will take place on select Fridays and Sundays from December 1 through January 28.  (Keep in mind that the Ferrytale Fireworks cruise won’t take place during the busy holiday weeks.) The cost is $99 per adult and $69 (ages 3-9). This price includes tax and gratuity. Reservations can be made online or by calling 407-WDW-DINE.

 

Walt Disney World Preview — Week of October 7

by on October 5, 2017

I hope you’re hungry, because this week’s preview will definitely build up an appetite!

Special Events

  • BaseLine Tap House is now open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! Located on Grand Avenue (near Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater), this restaurant features small plates, specialty cocktails, and California-based beers and wines.
  • There’s a new exhibit in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion. ‘Remember Me!’ La Celebración del Día de Muertos features artwork and artifacts based on the traditions of Día de los Muertos, a main focus in the upcoming Pixar film Coco. Will you check it out? Let me know in the comments!
  • Dining discounts have been extended for Annual Passholders! Through December 23rd, these Passholders will continue to receive a 20% discount at 45 select Walt Disney World restaurants. For a list of participating restaurants, check out Rikki’s article!

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The Best of Walt Disney World for Seniors

by on October 4, 2017

The Best of Walt Disney World for Seniors

Welcome back to Part 6 of my blog series – The Best of Walt Disney World! In case you missed it, over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing with you the top picks in attractions for various groups of travelers visiting the Walt Disney World theme parks. So far we’ve discussed favorites for babiespreschoolersgrade school kids, teens and adults. Next up are the still-going-strong seniors. When checking out the list, keep in mind each attraction that made the cut scored at least four stars by the seniors surveyed. Come on, everybody, here we go!

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Food And Wine’s Mexican Tequila Lunch: Not Your Average Upcharge

by on October 4, 2017

 

It’s likely your tasting schedule for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is already jam-packed with sampling some of the hundreds of items on sale at the booths around Future World and World Showcase, but if you’re looking for a slower-paced, more educational dining experience, look no further than the festival’s special events. Though the slate of available events changes from year to year, a few staples, including the Mexican Tequila Lunch, have stuck around the last few years, proving popular options that are both educational and entertaining.

The Mexican Tequila Lunch features excellent food, drinks, and views.

This year, I’ll be reviewing two such popular events that run throughout the festival season. First up: the Mexican Tequila Lunch, held select Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays throughout the festival season from noon to 1:30 PM at La Hacienda de San Angel in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion. Hosted by the tequila experts from La Cava del Tequila, this $85 event includes a four-course Mexican-inspired meal as well as tastings of several tequila varieties. I attended the first tequila lunch held during the 2017 festival season, and here, I’ll try to give you a sense of all the great information, food, and of course, spirits, I got to sample during the meal.

Check-in takes place just outside La Hacienda, after which Cast Members welcome guests into the restaurant with a warm greeting and an ice-cold margarita just before seating us in assigned areas of the dining room. Honestly, as soon as I sat down, I was overwhelmed at the sheer amount of liquor in front of me. I had been concerned that $85 was a bit steep for a lunch, even featuring alcohol, but upon looking at the table setup and the menu in front of me, I was very, very excited to see what the meal had in store. I sampled my welcome drink, a silky smooth, slightly sweet Tequila Avion cucumber margarita, as the remainder of the guests settled in around me, and soon, we were off to the races.

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Why Stay at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel? + Video

by on October 3, 2017

You may be reading this title thinking, “Didn’t Angela already film a video about this?“.

Guilty…but let me explain! 

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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Things Disney Can Take to the Dump Along with The Great Movie Ride

by on September 30, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX makes its long awaited return to the Disney Dump! With Walt Disney World doing a little “Spring cleaning” this summer and deciding to get rid of even more attractions (Great Movie Ride, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, and the Music of Pixar Live! among others) we here at the SATURDAY SIX have put our noggins together and figured out a couple more things they can take to the dump as well.

The world famous Disney Dump. (art by Matt Cleary)

We made our first trip to the Disney Dump a couple years ago, and anything that was asked for then would not be eligible for this article. This is why you won’t see Dinoland USA, Electric Umbrella, ABC Commissary, BoardWalk Pizza Window, Journey Into Imagination with Figment and Stitch’s Great Escape. Look at that list again and keep in mind Stitch’s Great Escape is still around while the Great Movie Ride – the heart and soul of DHS – is now gone. Today we’re going to take a look at things we’d all be better off without, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival

When Captain EO made its debut in 1986, it was the epitome of what made Disney Disney. Produced by George Lucas, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, score by James Horner, starring Michael Jackson, EO was an all star collaboration of the highest order. The movie itself was one of the first true “4D” films, in which the theater itself became part of the experience with seat movement, laser and smoke effects. There was absolutely nothing outside of Epcot Center that could be compared to Captain EO.

Now, if you have a DVD player in your house (or NETFLIX) you can have your very own replacement for Captain EO with the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival. Unlike Captain EO, several of the short films used in the “festival” have been converted into 3D, despite the fact they weren’t made with 3D in mind. This is the difference between buying a beautiful bouquet of flowers for your significant other, and just grabbing something off your front lawn right before you get home. Captain EO represents a certain era of Disney, when only imagination was the limit to what could be achieved. In a way, the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival also represents an era of Disney; one in which intellectual property, branding, and corporate synergy supersedes “outdated” concepts like “theme.” Do yourself a favor, stream a Pixar short on your mobile device while waiting in line for a better attraction.

Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival. (photo by Brandon Glover)

When “air conditioning” is your number one selling point. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Walt Disney World Annual Passholder 45th Anniversary Dining Benefits Extended

by on September 29, 2017

Annual Passholder

©Rikki Niblett

I bring good news today! According to the Walt Disney World Annual Passholder website, the current discount that was rolled out in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort has been extended…for a limited time.

Guests with Annual Passes will continue to receive the 20% discount at 45 select Walt Disney World restaurants now through December 23, 2017. This discount is available through all meal periods. This discount will continue to be available at the following restaurants:

Magic Kingdom

  • Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen
  • Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe

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10 Frequently Asked Questions About Disney’s Military Salute for 2018

by on September 28, 2017

It’s time for Disney to salute our Armed Forces!  Again!  Yay!  I’d like to start this post by thanking Disney for renewing the Armed Forces Salute for 2018.  As a military spouse of 28 years (and a military brat before that), I am very familiar with the sacrifices military members and their families make each and every day.  Having said that, Disney doesn’t owe us a thing, and yet they are very generous with their discounts for military.  On behalf of military families, I would like to say it is greatly appreciated.

For as long as I can remember, Disney has had slightly discounted tickets for the Armed Forces at military bases.  For the last several years, Disney has also offered a very large discount, usually referred to as the Armed Forces Salute.  I’ve written blog posts on previous offers, but details change a little each year, so this is an update of those previous posts!

For what should be a pretty straightforward offer, the Armed Forces Salute can be a bit confusing.  To be fair, the military has lots of categories of military personnel (active duty, Reserve, National Guard, retired, separated, Allied military assigned to the US, etc…), so it’s no surprise there are lots of nuances to Disney’s Armed Forces Salute.  It seems like every time it’s announced, there are small details and restrictions that have changed and need clarification.  So let me see if I can help clear some things up!

1. Who is Eligible? – Any active duty or retired Service member, National Guardsman, Reservist, or Coast Guardsman is eligible.  Foreign military assigned to US military bases (with a US ID card) in the United States are eligible, as are 100% disabled members with an ID card that says “DAV/PRIM”.  Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service (PHS), and the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are also eligible.  If the eligible member is not present, their spouse is eligible.  That’s it, though.  No matter how deserving some others are, Disney did not choose to include those groups within this promotion.  Even within these rules there are complicated situations, so call Disney (or ask in the comments section below) if you still have questions.

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