Walt Disney World (FL)

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.

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Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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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

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

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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.

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Direct-to-Room Check-In Option Coming to Walt Disney World

by on February 13, 2015

All-Star Movies Check-in

Soon Guests won’t need to check-in before heading to their rooms.

A brand new perk is currently rolling out for Walt Disney World Guests to participate in–eligible Guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel will have the option to go directly to their hotel room, bypassing the hotel’s front desk.

In order to take advantage of this new perk, once a Guest has customized, ordered, and had their MagicBands shipped to their home, they will receive an email, letting them know that Direct-to-Room Check-In is available to them.  Keep in mind that the MagicBands must be in the Guest’s possession at the time of arrival at the hotel. (If you’ll remember, MagicBands are used as room keys now. If you don’t have your MagicBand on you, you won’t be able to enter your room.)

In addition, in order to be eligible, Guests must have also paid their reservation in full. Finally, in order to participate, Guests must have completed the Online Check-In process, which includes providing a credit card and PIN number, which allows Guests to easily use their MagicBand for charging privileges once they arrive, as well as providing at least one method of communications, either phone number or email. If a Guest has completed all eligibility steps, they will receive a message via email and/or text prior to their arrival notifying them of their room number and that they have the option of going directly to their room.

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Disney World Planning Challenges: Managing Vacation Fatigue

by on February 12, 2015

Don’t be Dopey – plan ahead for vacation fatigue ©Disney

When you’re looking forward to a Walt Disney World vacation, it’s easy to imagine that the sheer amount of fun to be had will drive away any effects of fatigue—that you and anyone traveling with you will have endless energy and enthusiasm. The reality is that the typical Disney World vacation is far more active than restful, and underestimating just how tiring the fun can be is a common pitfall. Fortunately, a little planning can go a long way toward fending off some of the usual fatigue-causing culprits and keep the fun rolling.

Here are some of the common causes of fatigue during a Disney World trip and steps to take before you or your fellow travelers find yourselves overtired and crabby in the most magical place on earth.

Walking

Disney World is huge! If walking is your main mode of getting around in the parks, plan to do a lot of it. My family generally covers 7-14 miles a day, even when we take an afternoon break. I love that we get so much exercise to help offset all the yummy meals and snacks at the World, but reaping the benefits entails some precautions:

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: February 12, 2015

by on February 12, 2015

101Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World. This week we’ll be stopping by Beach Club Resort and Epcot for dinner. Then we’re checking out what’s new at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and spending a little time at the Magic Kingdom for an epic view of the Festival of Fantasy Parade. I have so much to share with you, let’s get going! :)

On Friday night when we decided we needed a Disney style dinner we’d originally set out for Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. This is an awesome spot for a casual hamburger, but unfortunately it was packed when we got there and reservations weren’t available. With the My Disney Experience App we were able to find a table available at Tokyo Dining over at Epcot. We spent a little time strolling through the Beach Club on our way there. Wow, it’s beautiful! I haven’t stayed at this hotel since I was a kid. Look at it now!

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So who wants to visit Tokyo Dining with me? Click here to read more! 

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Richard Petty Driving Experience to Close at Walt Disney World

by on February 11, 2015

On the race track at the Richard Petty Driving Experience ©Rikki Niblett

On the race track at the Richard Petty Driving Experience ©Rikki Niblett

If you want to have the opportunity to see and feel what NASCAR drivers experience or drive an exotic car, time is running out! News broke today that the Richard Petty Driving Experience at the Walt Disney World Speedway will be closing sometime in June. The race track, which can be found in the Magic Kingdom’s parking lot, allows guests to participate in both ride-alongs, as well as get behind the wheel themselves. The speedway is being closed to make way for transportation improvements, however, there is no word on exactly what improvements will be occurring.

The Richard Petty Driving Experience has been a unique activity for many to participate in. For those who are huge NASCAR fanatics, this was a great way to get a feel of being out on the course. Just a few years back, in addition to allowing guests behind the wheels of race cars, they could also choose to participate in the Exotic Car Experience, letting guests drive fast cars like Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and more. Also, just this past year, another new option was added for those with kids who wanted to feel the need for speed. They could participate in the Piston Cup Junior Ride Along program, riding in cars that were reminiscent of those that could be seen the movie Cars.

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Is It Worth It? – Examining the Value of Memory Maker

by on February 11, 2015

Capturing the Moment

Capturing the Moment – © John Kivus, 2014

Walt Disney World offers a lot of different photography services, but are they worth it? In the past, I have purchased Memory Maker (and its predecessors) for most of my major trips (e.g, week-long vacations, my proposal trip, and my honeymoon (she said “yes” on that proposal trip)). Recently, however, I have wondered whether the ubiquity of available cameras (including cellphones), has reduced the value of Memory Maker. A recent blog post by fellow TouringPlans blogger Maddi Higgins inspired me sit down and flex my valuation muscles with regard to Memory Maker.

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The Demographic Disney Forgot: Best Disney World Restaurants for Teen Boys

by on February 11, 2015

The Disney Parks were designed with families in mind, to serve as escapes from the real world where parents and kids can have fun together. But have you ever noticed that a certain element of the family tends to be overlooked? Do you know what it is? It’s the demographic Disney forgot: teen boys. Now I’m not a teenage boy, but I do know that Disney has something for everyone. I have a teenage brother who loves Disney as much as anyone, despite the lack of commercials and ads directed toward his age group; and so, I sat down with him for the scoop on what Disney World has to offer teen boys like himself. But where to start? Food, of course! I mean, we are talking about teenage boys, aren’t we? So for the first installment of this new series, check out The Demographic Disney Forgot: Best Disney World Restaurants for Teen Boys.

ESPN Club

by Disney

10. ESPN Club – My Disney Bro is a walking sports encyclopedia in a teenage body and he has been wanting to check out the ESPN Club for the past few years, but it’s just never worked out. But then, last June, we finally got the chance and it just happened to be during NBA Finals! You see, the ESPN Club is the ultimate dining destination for your sports-crazed teen as the walls are covered with dozens upon dozens of television screens and sports memorabilia. Also, this restaurant has a basketball court for a floor and even television screens in the bathroom, just so you won’t miss a minute of the game.

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Experiences to Enjoy in a Group of All Ages at Walt Disney World

by on February 11, 2015

Photo - Michael DahlgrenJenna, an awesome reader of the TouringPlans blog, told me how she traveled to Walt Disney World with her family, ranging in ages 2-82 years old. She expressed how the group wanted to stay together the entire time, but it was hard to think of different attractions the whole group could do together and enjoy.

After hearing Jenna’s story, she inspired me to put together this list of activities and attractions that would appeal to a group of all ages.

You’ll notice that I did NOT include any attractions where a guest would have to get in and out of an attraction vehicle. I did this for two reasons:

A. You won’t have to worry about height restrictions!

B. If someone is confined to a wheel chair or electric scooter, that person will not have to stand or do any walking to get on the attraction.

Also, if you see an asterisk (*) next to an attraction, that means a FastPass+ reservation can be made.

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Alex’s Top 10 Air Travel Tips for Kids Travelling With Their Parents

by on February 10, 2015

Yoo Hoo!  So I do not know if you people realise but it is definitely quite a big thing picking out your next blog post topic, especially when you are “international” and can’t just pop to the parks for some quick research without missing quite a few days of school. I do not think I would mind as much as my teachers…

By Alex Duncan

The view from the air over London on our way to Florida

I had my lightbulb moment on the train coming home from school. I was sitting with a friend who usually gets the bus, not the train, home. We were gossiping like a pair of average thirteen year old girls (yes, I am now a teenager, whoop) and she said to me, “to be honest, you have travelled by train so many times now that you could probably go to Disneyland Paris all by yourself.”

By Craig Duncan

Plane Selfie! Ready for the flight – tips all adhered too.

This made me realise that I am quite an experienced traveller now and an expert on aeroplanes (airplanes) to and from Florida. Why would I want to go to Disneyland Paris when I have the option of Walt Disney World? Where instead of adding layers of clothing I can wear shorts and flip-flops. So I’ve decided, thanks to this deep inspiration, that I should write a blog post highlighting and sharing some of my favourite travel tips which will make up an aeroplane survival kit for children travelling with their parents.

Well with that out of the way, let’s get on with my tips!

Survival Kit with Top Tips

1) Headphones: I know that this seems silly but I find the airline provided headphones uncomfortable and useless on the older planes.  The newer Airbus A380’s (which sadly do not fly from London to Orlando) are so much quieter that any headphones are fine.  Good headphones can also double up as a sleeping method on any flight.  I always find it easier to go to sleep listening to Taylor Swift (please feel free to substitute for your favourite artist or band), or you can casually just have a jamming session because you feel like it. Alternatively, if you are lucky enough to own noise-cancelling headphones (wish list) these are great as you can do all these things and have a bit of peace and quiet too.

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Your Disney Trip Planning Timeline

by on February 10, 2015

TouringPlans logoIf you’re planning a trip to Disney World and reading this blog, you’ll have already seen multiple references to certain milestone dates for your vacation: You can make most restaurant reservations 180 days in advance of your arrival, for example. And that got us talking about what a comprehensive Disney trip planning timeline would look like.

Sure, we’ve tackled trip planning subjects before, including Erin Foster’s  and Evan Levy’s excellent Trip Planning 101 series. But we’ve never tried to fit an entire timeline into one page…until now.

Let us know in the comments if we’ve missed anything.

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