Posts Tagged ‘disney world’

Disney Dining: Disney World’s Best Pricey Meals

by on July 31, 2014

Copyright - Disney

Copyright – Disney

Sure, Chef Gusteau had it right… anyone can cook. But sometimes, isn’t it nice to let someone else do all the mise en place-ery and take care of the dishes? As much as my husband and I love Disney World for the atmosphere, the attractions, the getting unnecessarily teared up because you met Ariel and she was literally the first movie you remember going to oh noes am I crying DON’T LOOK AT ME, we also love it for the food in a big, big way. Living less than an hour away, we always make a point to plan our trip around where we’re going to eat, and over the years Disney World has provided us with some truly amazing meals. Don’t get me wrong… I love a good burger and fries, and few things are finer than a big plate of buffalo chicken wings. Sometimes, though, you want to try something different. You don’t have to visit during Epcot’s annual Food and Wine festival for some primo nosh, and if you’re willing to spend a little more, Disney dining can be decadent and delicious in ways you might not expect.

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Doing Disney World Solo: Having a Me Party

by on July 30, 2014

Disney Parks are advertised as the quintessential family vacation, but that doesn’t mean that you can only have fun with your family. Whether you’re in Orlando for a business conference, a local looking for a fun afternoon, or just planning a trip all for your “onesy” (as Jack Sparrow would say), the magic of Walt Disney World is easily captured by any intrepid traveler! If Amy Adams and Miss Piggy can have fun with their own “Me Party”, anyone can! Let’s dive in and find some ideas to help you create your own “Me Party” when you are traveling solo at Disney World.

Amy Adams, from The Muppets, shows us that anyone can have fun at a "me party"!

Amy Adams, from The Muppets, shows us that anyone can have fun at a “me party”!

Why Travel Walt Disney World Solo

Believe it or not, there are lots of little perks to being a solo traveler at Walt Disney World. After all, you can create your own agenda. It’s a very liberating feeling walking through the theme parks and only answering to yourself. A quick stop for a Dole Whip at Aloha Isle, a last minute dining reservation (ADR) at your favorite restaurant (if you can get it), or maybe you want to re-ride the tea cups at the Mad Tea Party six times in a row. It’s up to you!

Solo Travel Considerations

Safety: Before we jump right into the fun, it’s important to consider the safety of being a solo-traveler. I always stay at a Disney owned resort on property when I travel by myself. That’s not to say that other local hotels aren’t safe, but there is a familiarity with the Disney resorts and the caring nature of the cast members that make it extra comforting. When checking in, I usually tell the cast member that I’m by myself and would prefer a room close to the main building for security reasons. Though there is no guarantee that they can accommodate this request, I’ve never had a problem. I also make sure that I’m aware of my surrounding and stay in well-lit areas. Even though it’s Disney, safety is a top priority. This means, putting away your smart phone, especially when waiting for transportation or in transit between your resort and the park. Not that Disney has many “predators” lurking in the parking lots, when you’re on your own you want to make sure that you’re aware of your surroundings.

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Planning for Spontaneity: Disney World Counter Service Meals

by on July 30, 2014

By nature, our family tends to over-plan. On one vacation, we even set aside specific time to ‘be spontaneous – within our own limitations.’ But for some reason, our quick dining – while generally guided – wasn’t set in stone. On our first day in Epcot, we chose Sunshine Seasons, one of the jewels of counter service dining in the parks, according to all the checks we’d made. We began enjoying our Asian-infused lunch until our only adventurous eater started to look a little queasy. The sights and aromas had overcome our (somewhat) melodramatic child. Thankfully, she was only four. And we didn’t stick around for the clean-up.

A nice variety of food offered at Casey's Corner, but tough to locate an indoor seat.

A nice variety of food offered at Casey’s Corner, but tough to locate an indoor seat.

Since then, we have planned all of our meals. For many Walt Disney World vacationers, counter service fills up half – or more- of our theme park dining. Plenty of information exists for table service restaurants: menus, meal reviews, countdown to reservation times, and strategies for landing the elusive meal spot. Comparatively little exists for the compulsive planner when it comes to quick service. While outlining burgers and nachos may seem overly obsessive, building a plan – with a back-up, too – may save time, effort, and enable you to put more enjoyment into your vacation. If nothing else, you might slide a column into your managed spreadsheet for your ‘other’ meal.

Counter service restaurants participate uniquely with the Disney Dining plan. Almost all table service restaurants in Disney World parks are on the meal plan, but only some counter service restaurants are. Some will serve snacks only. The leg conundrum for me seems the strangest. Some places – like the pork shank legs at Min and Bill’s in Hollywood Studios-Covered. Gaston’s Tavern in Magic Kingdom-Not covered. You can use a snack credit there, just not on the shank.

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Snacks Around the World Showcase – Japan

by on July 29, 2014

Mickey Pretzel and Plastic Cheese

Mickey Pretzel and Plastic Cheese. Perfection.

When Epcot enters the conversation, the first thing many people mention is eating (or drinking) around the world. While there are many worthy restaurants scattered around the World Showcase with a wide variety of different foods to try, there are also many pre-packaged snacking alternatives to tempt an adventurous diner.

In addition to interesting snacks to be eaten while in the park, those packaged snacks make great souvenirs. They are relatively inexpensive, won’t take up much space in luggage, and make a different sort of present to bring home.

Instead of just showing the different options, I decided it would be much more interesting to turn snacking into a challenge. Since the World Showcase has so many options, there had to be some parameters in the snacking quest. There are 11 countries represented in the World Showcase portion of Epcot, which could get expensive quickly if you are to get something in each country. In addition, since the point was trying new things, I would avoid things that are readily available in the United States or things that aren’t particularly strange. Finally, I wanted it to be something I was actually willing to try.

So, here are the rules for the World Showcase Snacking Challenge:

  • No snacks over $10; preferably less than $5
  • As unusual as possible
  • Something I personally would eat

Let’s get started!

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Top Ten Places to Find: Romance in Disney World

by on July 26, 2014

Already a popular destination for fairy tale weddings and fun honeymoons, the Walt Disney World Resort is no stranger to romance.  If you’re looking to find a little romance during your Disney vacation, here’s a list of top ten spots to check out for a bit of romance in Disney World.

A smooch in front of the castle is pretty romantic!

A smooch in front of the castle is pretty romantic!

Cinderella Castle – Magic Kingdom: One of the most popular locations in Walt Disney World to pop that life-changing question, Cinderella Castle definitely tops the charts as one of the most romantic locations at the resort. Take advantage of the plethora of PhotoPass Photographers in this location to get a picture of you and your sweetheart in front of the castle. Whether it’s a smooch, a slow dance, a firework show, or a marriage proposal, head to the castle for a bit of love pixie dust.

Boat Rides: The Love Boat doesn’t have anything on the fleet of boating options available at Walt Disney World.  And nothing says romance more than snuggling up with your loved one on one of the many cruising options Disney offers. From Pirates of the Caribbean in Magic Kingdom to Maelstrom in Epcot, enjoy a slow, entertaining cruise in the arms of the person you love. Kick up the romance another notch by booking a Fireworks Cruise and enjoy the leisurely romance of a luxury boat in addition to the sparkle and pizazz of the nightly fireworks shows at either the Magic Kingdom or Epcot. It costs a bit extra, but who can put a price on love? Book your own personal love boat cruise by calling 407-WDW-PLAY (939-7529)

Walk Along the Beach: Everyone enjoys a romantic stroll on the beach, and Walt Disney World Resorts offer several beach options. Enjoy the white sands and calming beach atmosphere at the Wilderness Lodge, the Grand Floridian, and the Polynesian Village. For a bit more upbeat vibe, stroll at the beach at the Yacht Club and Beach Club Resort or Caribbean Beach Resort. Holding hands and burying feet in soft white sands offers a great tropical romance. Visit the Polynesian Beach in the evening and get a unique view of the Wishes fireworks show, complete with music!

Victoria & Albert’s: Fine dining is always a great resource for some much needed romance. Again, Disney has a multitude of options for every adventurous (and every not-so-adventurous) palate out there, but Victoria & Albert’s is the cream of the crop. The only AAA Five Diamond restaurant in Central Florida, Victoria & Albert’s has amazing food and service beyond your wildest dreams without being at all stuffy. Quiet and decorum are enhanced by the most stringent dress code of any Walt Disney World restaurant and an age limit for diners (must be 10 years old or older). If you want to dress up and leave the kids in one of Disney’s kids clubs, this is the place to go. Its price list is not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth every penny! Go online or call 407-WDW-DVNA (939-3862) to make your reservation. 

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Disney World Weddings: Great Reasons to Say “I Do” With Mouse Ears

by on July 26, 2014

One option for a Disney World Wedding at the Yacht Club Copyright - Disney

Copyright – Disney

Look, there are a lot of places you can get married, and good reasons for each one. If you get married at the court house, you can be at home with your feet propped up on the dog and a pizza in your lap within the hour. If you get married in Las Vegas, you can have your reception photos taken with Chippendales dancers and load up on cheap shrimp cocktails. Both of those options sounded equally appealing to me, a distinctly laid-back, “Do I have to put on pants for this” type of gal. In 2007, however, my husband and I had a Disney World wedding. Telling people this usually brings up a few reactions… people either expect you to have paid through the nose for the cake alone, or they giggle a little at the sudden mental image of you typing the knot in a Minnie Mouse themed dress that shows off your cartoon underpants. There are a lot of misconceptions and assumptions out there about what, exactly, a Disney World wedding entails, so here’s a little bit of first-hand information and experience that may help you make a decision… or open your eyes to another possibility!

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Disney World Summer Tips: Keeping Cool in the Kingdom

by on July 23, 2014

BoardWalk sunrise Disney World

As the sun rises over Walt Disney World, prepare yourself to beat the heat

Though it’s no secret that Florida summers can be hotter than the surface of the sun, it’s also one of Walt Disney World’s busiest seasons. There’s no way to avoid the high temperatures, but there are some things you can do to plan for hot fun in the summertime. As a follow up to TouringPlan’s previous Disney World summer tips, here are some additional ideas to keep you cool in the kingdom!

 

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Disney Discounts with Bounce Back Offers

by on July 22, 2014

t_logo_fbWhat is a Bounce Back Offer?

Are you looking to save money on your trip to Walt Disney World? Of course you are. You already know about the time and money you can save by using this very site, but with the rising cost of a Disney vacation, finding discounts wherever you can is more important than ever.

To keep guests returning for more and more visits, Disney frequently offers incentives that are referred to as Bounce Back specials. These are discounts offered to people while they are still on, and hopefully enjoying, their vacation. The intent of the discount is to entice guests to come back between specific dates and stay on property, not to mention locking people into another Disney vacation.

For quite a while Bounce Back Offers have been a good deal for anyone looking to come back within a year for another Walt Disney World resort stay. The offer flyer (and it’s only found on flyers, not as emails, ads, or smoke signals) can be found in your hotel room, usually placed on the table with other bits of resort-related ephemera.

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Pros and Cons of Disney World Without Kids

by on July 22, 2014

Disney vacations are marketed as the quintessential family trip. The commercials, the planning DVDs, the website, the mailings, and oodles of other Disney vacation propaganda all showcase the glowing, smiling faces of cherub-cheeked tots in addition to the satisfied radiance of their perfectly coifed parents. No doubt about it – if you have a family, Disney is on your radar.

This sight is exciting for adults and kids alike!

This sight is exciting for adults and kids alike!

But what about a Disney World trip, without the kids? Disney World is a popular destination for honeymooners, to get engaged, and even for a couple to get married, right in the parks. Millions of couples choose to vacation in the House of Mouse without their progeny for many, many reasons. It could be celebrating a special anniversary, only in town briefly for a conference or work trip, or perhaps, they just it’s time to rekindle that romantic spark sans diaper bags and sippy cups. Whatever the reason for your adult-inspired journey into America’s Neverland, let’s explore the pros and cons of traveling to Walt Disney World without kids.

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Renting a Sea Raycer: Is It Worth It?

by on July 22, 2014

Renting a Sea Raycer at one of the Disney World Resorts has been on my to-do list for years, but the hardest thing about having so many things to do at the Disney World Resort is that there are just so many things to do! But a few weeks ago, I finally carved out some time courtesy of a Personalized Touring Plan to do a little cruising to see if it’s worth it. Here’s what I found out.

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The Fort Wilderness Marina

First of all, a Sea Raycer is a small, two person watercraft guests can rent at the Disney World Resort marinas. I personally chose the marina at the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground because I wanted to cruise around the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake to get a view of the Deluxe Resorts and the Magic Kingdom from the water. You can rent a Sea Raycer from the marina at the Yacht and Beach Club, but there isn’t as much to see, in my opinion.

The rental rates for a Sea Raycer are pretty reasonable at $32 per 30 minutes, $40 per 45 minutes, and $45 for 60 minutes. There’s also a 30% discount for passholders, which I gladly took advantage of! I also had to sign a waiver, show my driver’s license, and was warned that Sea Raycers are not known for speed. In fact, you’re looking at top speeds of around 20 mph. I was also informed that have two adults riding in a Sea Raycer, as opposed to driving solo or with a small child, will slow you down even more.

After getting my free life jacket, as it is a requirement for all drivers and passengers to wear a life jacket at all times, I was given a brief tutorial on how to operate a Sea Raycer by a friendly Cast Member, shown a map of Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon, was informed a few basic rules, and then was free to head out into open waters!

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