Walt Disney World (FL)

Why Wilderness Lodge is the Only Deluxe Resort For Me

by on January 25, 2016

WildernessLodge9

Behold the glory that is Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort!

When planning a Disney World Vacation there are a number of decisions to make ranging from which FastPass+ reservations to book, what ticket option is best for you and your group, and even how to get there. But one of the most important, if you’re staying on property, is which Walt Disney World Resort to choose as your home away from home during your stay!

Now as you may have guessed, the size of your budget will help with the decision-making process. This is why Disney has conveniently grouped the Disney Resorts into three different categories based on price with Deluxe Resorts being the most expensive, Value Resorts being the least, and Moderate Resorts falling somewhere in the middle. I’ve covered my Why Port Orleans Riverside is the Only Moderate Resort for Me in the past for when I have to keep to a budget; but for today’s post, I’m totally tossing the budget out the window and splurging with Why Wilderness Lodge is the Only Deluxe Resort for Me!

But first, a little more info about the Disney World Deluxes!

The Disney World Deluxe Resorts offer the most benefits and the best theming and consist of Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Yacht and Beach Club, the Boardwalk Inn, the Contemporary Resort, the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, the Polynesian Village, and Wilderness Lodge. All of the Deluxe Resorts now offer Disney Vacation Club Villas, where non-Disney Vacation Club guests can also stay if there’s availability. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa and Disney’s Old Key West Resort are Deluxe Villa Resorts only; but again, non-members can book stays here too.

So with all of these resort options, how could I possibly choose? Believe me, it was difficult and my choice can vary depending on when and why I’m visiting; but if I had to just one Deluxe Resort, it would have to be Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort!

Here’s why…

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The most relaxing place inside Walt Disney World

by on January 21, 2016

In 1971, the dawn of the Vacation Kingdom, Walt Disney World came to be. In the beginning Walt Disney World wasn’t about theme parks, it was a sprawling vacation getaway with multiple ways to relax and reconnect. Now that Walt Disney World has grown to encompass four distinct theme parks, two water parks, mini golf, PGA golf courses, and over 20 resort hotels, it can sometimes feel like the is no room for relaxation. But, if you look for it, you can still find the Vacation Kingdom’s message of leisure, and one of the best places to find it is the Bay Lake area.

Lagoon View (3)

(Photo by Brian McNichols)

A brief history of Bay Lake

The strategic development of what was once marsh land to create Walt Disney World is pretty fascinating. It is a smart business move that sometimes happens today: company names created to purchase the land without the attractive, financial appeal of the Disney Corporation, and thus a price increase. Then there’s the creation of a self-governing city: Bay Lake. Many steps were taken to make Walt Disney World incredibly unique and free from much of the normal regulation other enterprises have to face.

Lay of the lake

The main destinations within the Bay Lake Area are some of Disney’s most iconic resorts. Disney’s Contemporary, Polynesian Village, Grand Floridian, and Wilderness Lodge resorts each have their own distinct character and appeal. Visiting these resorts is enough to make for a nice afternoon, but the activities that can be enjoyed throughout this resort area can make for a full day of recreation.

DSC01550

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever January 21, 2016: Magic Kingdom Martin Luther King Weekend Crowd Observations

by on January 21, 2016

Here at Walt Disney World, it sometimes seems like we just barely survive one holiday peak season before another wave of tourists arrive. After the overwhelming crowds of Christmas and New Year, Orlando’s parks saw a brief respite before Martin Luther King weekend came around and packed the parks again. For this edition of Best Week Ever, we’re going to brave the happy hordes and enjoy a Magic Kingdom Martin Luther King weekend visit.

The Sunday before Martin Luther King Day dawned overcast and blustery in the low 50s (what we locals call “Florida Cold”). But by the time I arrived at the Magic Kingdom’s parking lot, the weather was beginning to clear up into a gorgeous day.

 

Magic Kingdom Martin Luther King weekend

Grey skies, sweatshirts, and shorts: yup, it’s winter in Orlando!

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – January 10 to 16, 2016

by on January 21, 2016

How Crowded Was Disney World Last Week?

How Crowded Was Disney World Last Week?

Crowds at Walt Disney World were in line with what the Disney World Crowd Calendar predicted last week except for larger than expected crowds at Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Monday. We can set aside Friday’s crowd numbers because Central Florida was virtually shut down from severe weather warnings during the day. Kudos to those who braved the weather and went to the park anyway and experienced the lowest wait times of the week. Magic Kingdom was the busiest park of the week, never dipping below a level ‘5’ (except on Friday) and peaking at a crowd level ’10’ on Saturday as we headed into Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

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

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Zootopia Exhibit Coming To Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on January 20, 2016

Zootopia exhibit at Disney's Animal Kingdom

©Disney

If you’re looking forward to the upcoming movie Zootopia, you’ll soon be able to experience an all new Zootopia exhibit in Conservation Station at Rafiki’s Planet Watch in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This exhibit will show Guests some of the behind the scenes research that took place in the creation of the film.

The exhibit will feature characters from the film, as well as images from the extensive, behind-the-scenes research the filmmakers conducted to learn more about animal behaviors, personalities and movements. Matter of fact, due to the fact that while making every Walt Disney Animation Studios film begins with research, the movie’s team actually visited the Animals, Science and Environment team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom back in March 2014 to learn more about animals and their habitats.

This exhbit opens at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on January 29. Guests who are excited about the film can also catch a sneak preview of Zootopia at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the end of One Man’s Dream. Zootopia opens in theaters on March 4.

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Should I Bring My Kids On My Disney World Vacation?

by on January 20, 2016

Should I bring my kids on my Walt Disney World vacation? That’s a joke, right?

Disney is the place for kids. If I want to go to Disney World, I have to bring them. Um, don’t I?

Well, no, you don’t have to bring them. And, depending on your needs, you may not want to. Here are some things to think about to decide whether bringing the kids on your Disney vacation is right for you.

Meetings and parties are just a few of the reasons to leave your kids at home when you visit Walt Disney World.

Meetings and parties are just a few of the reasons to leave your kids at home when you visit Walt Disney World.

Is there an easy place to leave your kids at home?

This won’t work for everyone, but many families have a relatively (Get it? Relatively. Oy, sorry.) easy place to leave the kiddos — grandparents or a favorite aunt may be thrilled to step in for a few days. Or you and a best buddy could trade babysitting duties over a few long weekends. For some children, particularly younger kids, getting indulged by grandma might be more appealing than getting schlepped around in the hot sun. Or perhaps you and your spouse/partner could trade childcare duties, giving each some getaway time.

Will your kids complain if they know you went to Disney World without them?

Many elementary age kids or older will know about the wonderful world of Disney from hearing stories of their friends’ travel or from television advertisements. This may make it more challenging to ditch them at home. However, a preschooler may have no idea what they’re missing if you say you’re off at Disney World (or just Florida) for a few days. The reaction from the peanut gallery could color your decision.

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Animal Kingdom AtMousePhere: The Music of DinoLand U.S.A.

by on January 18, 2016

And here we are! After almost two years of Walt Disney World AtMousePhere, we have come to our final post. We’ve done four parks and 22 articles, and it’s been a lot of fun to dig into the rich history and deep connections the music creates in the parks.

Photo courtesy Brian McNichols

Photo courtesy Brian McNichols

To wrap up our series, we are going to take a look at perhaps the most divisive area of the Animal Kingdom, DinoLand U.S.A. Some people enjoy its kitchiness, and others can’t stand how much it contrasts to the rest of the park. I don’t spend all that much time in this area, but can appreciate the backstory. (It’s meant to be tacky!)

The music of DinoLand U.S.A. contains a lot of pop and rock music, which can be heard generally around The Boneyard play area and Restaurantosaurus. The music is based around dinosaurs and extinction (remember, the original name of the Dinosaur attraction was “Countdown to Extinction”), and some of it will definitely be recognizable.

Listen carefully, and you can hear that it supposed to be akin to an underground radio station, taken over by a couple of the interns who work at the Dino Institute nicknamed “Digger” and “Bonehead.”

Photo courtesy Disney

Photo courtesy Disney

Here’s a nice list, if you’re curious:

  • “Dancing with the Dinosaur” by Steven Curtis Chapman
  • “Ugga Bugga” by Barnes and Barnes
  • “I’m A Little Dinosaur” by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
  • “Watch Out” by Barnes and Barnes
  • “If I Had a Dinosaur” by Raffi
  • “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M.
  • “Sweet Dinosaur of Mine” by Barnes and Barnes
  • “Brontosaurus” by Cheap Trick
  • “Walk the Dinosaur” by Was (Not Was)
  • “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult
  • “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood & The Destroyers
  • “Grazing In The Grass” by Friends of Distinction (part of the chorus is “Can you dig it?”)

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Taking the Stress Out of a Disney Vacation

by on January 17, 2016

*This is a guest post by Jennifer Scott from SpiritFinder.org*

A family trip to Disney World seems like the ultimate dream vacation for families with young children or even teens, yet many parents find the experience completely overwhelming and end up feeling stressed as they try to cope with meltdowns from kids instead of being able to truly enjoy the magical experience. With so much to experience and so many activities to fit into a few short days, the cost of paying for it all can make for a stress-filled trip…unless you follow these tips.

Castle (10)Pack Smart

Whether you’re flying or driving to Disney, the last thing you need is a lot of luggage weighing you down. Remember, you’ll be spending much of your trip exploring Disney’s many attractions so think comfort when packing for the family. Pack clothes that can be layered, comfortable shoes, and hats to protect everyone from the sun. If your kids are old enough, put them in charge of getting their own suitcase from place to place. Small, carry-on size rolling luggage with four wheel spinners are great options for kids because they can be pushed or pulled. When the kids are able to help by getting their luggage to and fro, it’s a big relief for Mom and Dad.

Study the Parks and Know Your Must-Dos (and Where They’re Located)

Disney World has four theme parks and two water parks, each packed with tons of rides and attractions. It’s helpful to study the parks and identify the activities you most want to experience so that you can plan your time accordingly. Families with younger children will want to plan for ample time at the Magic Kingdom, where the most appropriate rides are located. Teenagers will appreciate the more thrilling rides, such as the Tower of Terror, located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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TradNation Debut at Epcot’s Canada Pavilion

by on January 16, 2016

Entertainment in Epcot‘s World Showcase has gone through a tremendous evolution in recent years, and Canada’s Mill Stage has been an epicenter of that overhaul. It seems like only yesterday that we bid a sad farewell to Off Kilter, the long-running Celtic rock band, and welcomed (so to speak) the log-rolling Lumberjack show. Now the Lumberjacks are also long gone, and following a festive seasonal appearance by the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs, Epcot’s Canada pavilion has premiered another new act, which will fill the stage for at least the new few months. Even though they don’t even appear on park maps yet, we were at Epcot on January 15, 2016, to watch TradNation debut and capture their opening-day performance for you to enjoy at home.

TradNation debut epcot

TradNation has taken over Epcot’s Canada stage. (Photos/video by Seth Kubersky)

 

TradNation is an acoustic musical ensemble that plays Québécois folk songs with traditional orchestrations. That means a whole lot of fingerpicking, fiddlin’, flute playing, and French lyrics, with percussion provided by a spirited step-dancer’s clacking feet. Even if you aced your high school French class, you may struggle to understand the singers’ Acadian-accented patois, but the humble joy they take in sharing their musical heritage is infectious in any language.

Much like the similar Quickstep folk band in the U.K., the TradNation entertainers feel authentic to the point of lacking the polish and stage presence we usually associate with a Disney theme park show; we’re not looking for matching spangled outfits, but this group looks like they just rolled out of Tim Horton’s.

 

Here’s our full video of a TradNation debut day performance:

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SATURDAY SIX: The Top Six Vegan & Vegetarian Friendly Restaurants in Walt Disney World

by on January 16, 2016

This week’s  SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Top Six Vegan & Vegetarian Friendly Restaurants at WDW. When readers come to the SATURDAY SIX for food they are generally looking for the most unhealthy (Pop-Tart Sandwich), most outrageous (Beaches & Cream’s Kitchen Sink sundae), or most likely to have been created out of a fever dream (Animal Kingdom poop snacks). But there’s actually another side to theme park dining: a healthy side. Today we are going to look the top six vegan & vegetarian friendly restaurants at WDW. Some people choose to eat vegan because of dietary restriction or allergies, some due to animal welfare concerns, and others for their health, but whatever the reason Walt Disney World is a great place to accommodate their needs. Today we reached out to an expert in this area, Emily Woesthoff, former general manager of Erin Mckenna’s Bakery NYC in Disney Springs (a vegan bakery). Emily is a lifelong Disney fan and just celebrated her 11th year of losing her mind eating vegan. There is no better person to guide us on this journey, so take it away Emily!

If I was given the good fortune to have a limitless supply of cash, and the superpower to make an ADR wherever I please, the following six-ish restaurants would be my go-to table service locations for vegan dining at Walt Disney World! While I haven’t yet managed to eat at every restaurant on property, I’ve dined at quite a few. The list below features my favorites, please keep in mind they are in no particular order. 

6 – ‘Ohana (Polynesian Village Resort)

OHANA_emily

‘Ohana.

Yup. The infamous meat-fest that is ‘Ohana made the list. Crazy, right? I waited a really long time to eat here for a few reasons. First, all anyone ever talks about when they mention ‘Ohana is that it’s very meat-heavy. I had only assumed that they basically sat you in front of a roasted pig with an apple in his mouth and said, “have at it!” Second, I’m not a huge fan of the stuff-your-face-as-much-as-you-can-we-are-not-going-to-stop-bringing-you-food restaurants. It’s just too much pressure! And finally, I had accidentally been reading the restaurant’s name as O’Hana for quite a number of years, and I just didn’t think Polynesian-Irish fusion food would work. 

Much to my surprise, the vegan options at ‘Ohana are outstanding! The same lettuce wraps that meat-eaters rave about can be made vegan! There was also a considerable portion of stir fried noodles, vegetables, and tofu from which to choose, along with a starter of crispy pita chips and hummus, too! Vegan ice cream was available for dessert, if one can manage to save room for dessert at ‘Ohana. There’s also a bit of during meal entertainment, which definitely enhanced the experience. Since this restaurant is “all you care to enjoy,” the price can be a little steep. I recommend coming here with a big appetite!

ohanavegandessert

Vegan dessert at ‘Ohana.

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