Walt Disney World (FL)

Downtown Disney Parking Garage Opens at Walt Disney World

by on November 21, 2014

That sound you hear is the cheering of thousands of guests (ok, maybe I’m the only one and I’m cheering really loudly) – part of the first Downtown Disney parking garage is open! This means that for the busy holiday season, Downtown Disney parking hopefully won’t be the catastrophic nightmare it has been.

The new garage is located on the West Side portion of Downtown Disney. Currently there is a pathway that you can take to and from the garage to the shopping district located near the Downtown Disney AMC.

photo 4

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Things to Do at Disney World outside the Parks

by on November 21, 2014

It can be easy sometimes to forget just how much there is to do outside of Disney World’s four theme parks and two water parks. With so much contained within the parks, it might not even cross some guests’ minds that you could actually spend a whole Disney World vacation without ever going to the parks. Although I personally wouldn’t suggest skipping the parks entirely, you could do it and still have a great vacation. Maybe it’s the last day of your vacation or maybe you just want to explore the property a little to see what else Disney has to offer. With that in mind, here are just a few of the many things to see and do without ever having to pay for a park admission ticket.

Disney World Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf

Golf

Disney World wouldn’t be much of a resort destination without golf. With three courses (four if you include the onsite Four Seasons course) and one nine-hole walking course, there’s a wide variety of play options for fans of the sport. Even if you think you’re terrible at golf or you’ve never tried before, this is a good place to start. Resort courses are notoriously less punishing than most courses (people don’t need a stroke on vacation) and even if you do play horribly, at least you’re still in Disney so you can’t be that upset. If the full-fledged sport still seems like too much of an undertaking, Disney also offers two thematically different mini golf courses. Fantasia Gardens (located near the Boardwalk) is themed after its namesake film and even features a more traditional putting green course for those who want to just work on their short game. Winter Summerland Miniature Golf is located at Blizzard Beach and has two courses themed after winter and summer. For those concerned about having to purchase a water park ticket to play here, no need to worry. The mini golf course may be located at Blizzard Beach but it’s actually outside of the Blizzard Beach entrance.

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: November 20, 2014

by on November 20, 2014

Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re taking a look at resort decorations at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, then heading to the Magic Kingdom to check out the Jingle Cruise, and wrapping up with meeting Baymax at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  We might even sneak in a little mini golf! :) So let’s get started! Anyone that’s read before knows that I normally try to start with a smaller photo, but this one was too good to shrink. This is the new Frozen gingerbread display for this year at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. It replaces a gingerbread tree with a more colorful Small World theme from years past. Want to hear more about it? Click “read more” just below the photo. 1

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Disney World Crowd Report – November 9 to 15, 2014

by on November 19, 2014

Our resort level predictions for the days around Veterans Day hit the mark but last week was marred by the largest surprise crowd at Magic Kingdom that we have ever seen. About 4% of the time we expect our crowd calendar park level predictions to miss by more than two index levels, about 1% miss by three or more. Never has our Magic Kingdom prediction missed by five levels as it did on Saturday. Last year’s crowd on the same day was a level ’3′ at the Magic Kingdom. We are still not entirely sure what caused the influx of guests to Magic Kingdom on Saturday but judging by the crowd levels since then, it appears to be an isolated occurrence.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Touringplans Disney World Crowd Report:

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Using an iPhone 6 Plus at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

by on November 18, 2014

iPhone 6 plus Magic Kingdom

Find out how the iPhone 6 Plus holds up at WDW’s Magic Kingdom (images by Seth Kubersky)

It took nearly two months of waiting, but my precious pre-ordered iPhone 6 Plus finally arrived last week. And where was one of the first places I took it? Why, Walt Disney World, of course! When Apple’s supersized smartphone debuted back in September, this Techcrunch article on using the new “phablet” inside Disneyland caught my eye. Since theme park reporting is one of the primary reasons I upgraded my iDevice, I wanted to write this companion piece sharing my initial experiences using the iPhone 6 Plus at WDW’s Magic Kingdom.

Size

Yes, the iPhone 6 Plus is freaking ginormous, especially for the first few hours you hold it. Then it starts to seem normal, and your old phone begins to look puny in comparison. While riding attractions, the phone fit fine in the front pocket of my not-so-skinny jeans, and emerged again afterwards with nary a bend in sight.

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Video: 2014 Jingle Cruise at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

by on November 18, 2014

2014 Jingle Cruise

All aboard the 2014 Jingle Cruise at WDW’s Magic Kingdom with two complete POV videos (images by Seth Kubersky)

‘Tis the season to deck the jungle with holly — and hammy jokes — as the 2014 Jingle Cruise is now underway at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Last week, the seasonal overlay to the Jungle Cruise returned for a second annual run, this time with some notable upgrades.

Last year’s inaugural Jingle Cruise was criticized for confining the custom scenery largely to the Jungle Cruise’s boathouse queue, and for some jokes that were staler than fruitcake. As you can see in the following Jingle Cruise POV videos, more holiday decor has been installed along the riverbanks, and the spiel has been adjusted appropriately to reflect the additions.

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Menu Monday: Late Arrival Day Food Choices at Disney World

by on November 17, 2014

Late Night Castle, perfect sight for late night dining at disney world

Even if you arrive to see this gorgeous sight, it still isn’t too late for you to find a good meal.

The Walt Disney World Resort area has tons of options for dining, from quick service restaurants, places to get snacks, or regular table service restaurants, to fancy, signature dining experiences. However, sometimes there seems to be no options other than the $2 vending machine crackers at your resort, once you’re on the property, especially if you don’t have a vehicle and are relying on Disney transportation. To avoid the stress of trying to track down dining options for your late arrival, I have gathered a listing for restaurants that stay open late, so you can avoid wandering around hungry. In addition, I listed the items available on the menu, written in plain language for easy understanding (i.e., it might be Oak-Grilled Salmon with a Selection of Winter Greens, but I’ll simplify it down to Grilled Salmon). Obviously, both hours and menus are subject to change, but you can check with Cast Members at the park or at your resort upon check in to ensure that these options are still available and open late. Here goes!

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Menu Monday: Best Counter Service Restaurants in Magic Kingdom

by on November 17, 2014

Be Our Guest RestaurantPicking your favorite Walt Disney World counter/quick service restaurant is like picking your favorite child, sure on some days you may like one more than the other (come on, we’ve all been there!), but overall, you just can’t choose a favorite! Dining in Walt Disney World has become a favorite past time among repeat guests. And now, more often than not, first time guests have their own “bucket list” of restaurants to eat at or snack to try. With this increase in demand and expectation, Disney has responded by adding more restaurants and expanding the menus of their current restaurants. These adjustments also come with price increases. As Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin from ABC’s Once Upon A Time always reminds us, “all magic comes with a price” even Disney’s pixie-dusted munchies. But fear not intrepid traveler and foodie, you can indulge your taste buds and save your budget with the counter/quick service restaurants available at every Disney Park and resort. But with literally, over a hundred to choose from (seriously, 102 – I counted!), I’m here to help you select the best of the best, park by park and even among the resorts. This article will focus on the counter service options of the Magic Kingdom. The focus will be on restaurants that offer a full meal option. Though there are many additional locations I could have included in this list, I narrowed it down to exclude those counter locations that really only sell snacks. After watching hours of Master Chef and Chopped, I’ve devised a ranking system that will incorporate four criteria into the ultimate calculation for the best counter service meals.  The criteria are:

  • Best value (portion/cost ratio) = 10 points
  • Flavor = 10 points
  • Originality = 5 points
  • Atmosphere = 5 points
  • Grand total = 30 possible points

Be Our Guest – New Fantasyland

This latest addition to the Magic Kingdom dining line-up has everyone crazed to make dinner reservations or snag the elusive lunch FastPass+ option. The menu is a bit pricier than other counter service option, and it’s only available as a counter service during the lunch hours (10:30am to 2:30pm). Starting at 4pm, Be Our Guest is considered a Table Service restaurant where prices increase and the menu changes a bit.

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Traveling with a Disney Curmudgeon

by on November 16, 2014

Photo - Pixar.wikia.comThey live among us. They look just like you and me. They are….the Disney Curmudgeon.

Disney Curmudgeon (Dis·ney cur·mudg·eon): noun. 1. A person who possesses a strong dislike or disinterest of all things Disney.

I know my fair share of Disney Curmudgeons. In fact, I live with one. My husband, Michael, doesn’t share my obsession and love of everything Disney. He is a great sport (He dressed up as Smee and Mickey Mouse for me, so he must be!) and there are some aspects of Walt Disney World he really does enjoy. However, whenever I bring up a future Disney trip, his eyes say, “Really? again!?,” but his mouth smiles and says, “We can see about that honey.”

Although it may be in my nature to throw the book (and by book, I mean the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World) at him and spend hours explaining why Disney World is the best place ever, it would result in a negative outcome on both sides. Instead, working with him and catering a little more to his needs can reduce the stress and make our vacation much more enjoyable.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Contemporary Resort

by on November 15, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Contemporary Resort. After examining some of the value resorts on Disney property, including Pop Century and Art of Animation, it’s time to head straight to the top of the WDW resort food chain and see the benefits a deluxe resort brings to the table. First stop, The Contemporary. As a long time Disney fan, I have wanted to stay at The Contemporary since I was a little kid, but my parents always booked hotels off-site to save money. As an adult planning my own trips, I would often price out a stay at The Contemporary, only to end up choosing a cheaper alternative myself. I’m not a big fan of the cliche you only live once, but if there is one thing I have learned in life, it’s that the biggest regrets are not doing things when you have the chance, because those opportunities may not be around forever.  So whether it was philosophical reasons, or the fact that I felt the awesome Contemporary Resort Monorail Toy Accessory was taunting me, I decided to fulfill a near lifelong dream and book a stay at The Contemporary this year.

Now that it is crossed of the bucket list I can report back that…. I loved it. The stay confirmed several things I thought The Contemporary would be like, and opened my eyes to amenities I did not know much about before. Today we are going to countdown six takeaways from my experience, starting with…

# 6 – A Million Dollar View

Contemporary_View

View from Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

 

The views from The Contemporary A-Frame building are spectacular. One side faces Bay Lake, the other faces the Magic Kingdom.  Waking up in the morning we could see Disney’s Polynesian Resort Village, the Grand Floridian, the monorail passing by, ferry boats in the lake, the Walt Disney World Railroad, and not to mention the Magic Kingdom itself, with icons such as Cinderella’s Castle and Space Mountain. I’ve stayed at on-site hotels at various theme park resorts, and hotels across the United States including Las Vegas, Boston, San Diego, Times Square, and Hawaii, but this was the most amazing view I have ever had. I was able to enjoy fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant, two of my favorite things at WDW, from the room. I was speechless. I knew it would be good. I didn’t know it would be this good.

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