Posts Tagged ‘disney world’

Five Disney World Resorts to See During Your Vacation

by on November 14, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

Resort Hopping is one of my favorite things to do at Walt Disney World! Visiting the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, and The Polynesian Village Resort are as much on my trip to-do list as Pirates of the Caribbean or devouring a Mickey Premium Bar. That being said, I feel that guests who skip the resorts, or who don’t know they are allowed to visit the resorts, fail to achieve the full Walt Disney World experience. So for those who don’t know, anyone is allowed to visit the Walt Disney World Resorts, even if they’re not a guest of that resort or of any resort on property. But why should you? That’s what I intend to address in my five Disney World Resorts to See During Your Vacation!

© Sarah Graffam

Grand Floridian lobby

The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Let’s start with Walt Disney World’s flagship resort, shall we? The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa boasts a Victorian Florida theme and is Disney’s take on luxury and sophistication. But no need to worry about feeling out of place or having rambunctious kids in tow. While the Grand Floridian Resort is like stepping into an old fashioned postcard, this is a Disney World Resort after all!

How to Get There

If driving your own car or a rental car, the Grand Floridian Resort is located at 4401 Floridian Way in Orlando, Florida, just off Seven Seas Drive.

Free transportation to and from the resort consists of Disney Buses, Ferry Boats, and the most famous mode of Disney transportation of all, the Monorail! A 1 mile walking path between the resort and the Polynesian Village Resort is also provided, offering views of the Seven Seas Lagoon, the Wedding Pavilion, and the Magic Kingdom Park in the distance.

Why You Should Visit

The Lobby

A number of Walt Disney World Resorts boast awe-inspiring lobbies, and the Grand Floridian’s lobby is at the top of the list! In addition to a grand staircase, a cage elevator, and enchanting Disney-inspired tilework under your feet, the Grand Floridian’s 5-story lobby is topped with stained glass domes and massive chandeliers. Tip: For the holidays, a life-size gingerbread house and a towering Victorian Christmas tree occupy the lobby and are must-sees!

summerlace

The Grand Floridian’s women’s boutique

Live Music

Throughout the afternoon and into the evening, a live pianist and the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra alternate playing popular turn-of-the-century tunes and Disney songs!

The Shopping

The Grand Floridian Resort offers more shops than any other Walt Disney World Resort, which is why it’s one of my favorite locations to hunt for resort exclusive merch, Disney Dooney and Bourke bags, and that perfect souvenir to take home.

Read the rest of this entry »

An Animal Kingdom Convert: Winning a Skeptical Spouse Over to the DAK Side

by on November 9, 2016

I have got to admit that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the park we typically skip on our trips to Disney World. It’s a bit hard to pinpoint exactly why this happens. Maybe because our plan quickly fills in with at least two days or partial days at Magic Kingdom and Epcot, our must-do parks. Maybe because we also like to spend a day at one of the water parks and time visiting the deluxe resorts. Maybe because we love the thrill rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and have been enjoying the increasing number of Star Wars related offerings. Maybe because on the days we have visited Animal Kingdom, it has felt like one giant sauna by mid-morning.

© Sarah Graffam

Expedition Everest at dusk

In early 2016, however, there were hints that something was starting to happen at Animal Kingdom. There was talk of an incredible projection show coming to the Tree of Life, nighttime hours to experience Kilimanjaro Safaris plus Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids, a new lounge and signature level restaurant, new dancers and musicians, and a brand new nighttime water show with amazing effects.

© Sarah Graffam

Tree of Life Awakenings

In late spring 2016, many of these new experiences became available. Okay, so there were some overall delays, and the much-hyped Rivers of Light show was replaced with a decidedly less impressive show during the spring and summer. (Rivers of Light has yet to come on line, though there are some indications—and lots of hope on the part of park visitors—that it could do so soon.) Even so, I was certain that the new experiences that had already come to the park were worth giving Animal Kingdom another shot.

My husband, though—not so much. So, on our most recent trip, I was determined to get him over to Animal Kingdom. If you also have a reluctant tourist on your hands when it comes to Animal Kingdom (or are even one yourself), read on to see how one convert was convinced.

Read the rest of this entry »

TouringPlansTV: Disney’s BoardWalk Inn Resort – Part One + Video

by on November 1, 2016

BoardWalk_mainbuildingWelcome back to TouringPlansTV!

Today, I’m giving you an overview of my FAVORITE resort at Walt Disney World:

Disney’s BoardWalk Inn!

I’ll be delving into the resort’s theme, rooms, room views and transportation.

Read the rest of this entry »

TouringPlansTV: Part 2 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge + Video

by on October 25, 2016

Boma Restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Boma Restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Ready for Part 2 of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge?

Me too!

In this video, I’ll be discussing the pools, restaurants and amenities.

Enjoy!

Read the rest of this entry »

How to Make a Disney World Vacation Affordable

by on October 24, 2016

It’s true that a Walt Disney World Vacation isn’t cheap. It’s one of the complaints you hear the most and is a big hurdle for families and individuals eager to experience the magic but must keep to a budget. But a Disney World Vacation may not be as out of reach as some might think! The price tag attached to the ultimate vacation destination can be significantly less if you know a few tips and tricks and money-saving strategies. So read on to learn how to make a Disney World Vacation affordable for you and your family.

Photo - Disney

Make Your Disney Visa Work For You

I applied for a Disney Rewards Visa Card from Chase several years ago, and I love it! It was free to apply, there’s no annual fee, and if you accept another cardholder’s recommendation, they get a Disney gift card and so do you. Cardholders also earn 1% in reward dollars and enjoy discounts and perks at a Disney Store, DisneyStore.com, and at the Disney Parks.

A Disney Rewards Visa Card can help you pay for your vacation if you can make the card work for you. For instance, I use my card to pay for the majority of my daily purchases, but immediately pay off what I charge to avoid accumulating debt or interest. Then, throughout the year, I allow my reward dollars to accumulate to apply towards the cost of my resort, tickets, or Annual Pass. It’s great knowing that each tank of gas or bag of groceries is helping to trim down my vacation costs; and of course, the card’s discounts help with those costs too.

Visit During the Off-Season

One of the best ways to save on a Disney World Vacation is to visit during the off-season. When the crowd levels drop, so do the rates for airfare, the resorts, and even park tickets due to Disney World’s new tiered ticket system. Seriously, a Disney World Vacation in the off-season may be half the price of the same vacation in July. But how do you know just when the off-season is? A good rule is to avoid the summer months and holidays; but for the rest of the time, the best source is the TouringPlans Crowd Calendar.

Read the rest of this entry »

TouringPlansTV: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort – Part One + Video

by on October 19, 2016

Animal Kingdom Lodge LobbyToday’s episode of TouringPlansTV features Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort! This is located in the Animal Kingdom park area of Walt Disney World.

In Part One, I’ll be discussing the resort’s theme, rooms, room views and transportation.

Read the rest of this entry »

TouringPlansTV: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort Part 2 + Video

by on October 11, 2016

Photo - TouringPlans.comWelcome back to TouringPlansTV!

Today is Part 2 of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort. I’ll be discussing Dining, Transportation and Amenities.

Read the rest of this entry »

TouringPlansTV: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort + Video

by on October 4, 2016

Photo - T.J. Van Fechtmann

Wilderness Lodge Resort

This week’s episode of TouringPlansTV is all about Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort. This is located in the Magic Kingdom area of Walt Disney World.

Read the rest of this entry »

TouringPlansTV: Kilimanjaro Safaris Ride-Through at Disney’s Animal Kingdom + Video

by on September 27, 2016

AK - Kilimanjaro Safari (13)Today is Double Video Day!

Not only will I be giving you deets on Kilimanjaro Safaris (found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom), but I will be providing you with both a short and long video featuring the attraction.

This is where we need your help: Which version do you like better? Shorter glimpses of the attraction or longer ride-throughs? Does Angela blab too much? Let me know!

We at TouringPlans.com strive to provide viewers with the information and footage YOU want to see. Let us know your thoughts in the comments, or “like” your favorite video on our YouTube page.

Enjoy!

Read the rest of this entry »

Family-Friendly Favorites at Epcot’s 2016 Food and Wine Festival

by on September 21, 2016

Last week, we took a look at every new item at the 2016 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, but it’s always hard to resist trying our longtime festival favorites again first thing. This week, we’ll take a look at 15 family-friendly festival favorites (yes, even kids will like many of these options!) to see if they’re just as good as we remember. I took a stroll at dinnertime one evening just after festival opening to try a few dishes I recommended in my preview post, plus a few more that always seem to be the most popular dishes of the festival. I’ve included a quick summary at the bottom of this post, with my take on whether each of these dishes is a skip/maybe try/must-do, as well.

The Dishes

  • Hawai’i's Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole® Pineapple Chutney and Spicy MayonnaiseHawai’i: Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole® Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise ($4.25)

The pulled pork here can sometimes be a little dry, but on my visit, it was perfectly succulent, very savory, with a little punch of sweet from the pineapple chutney. The spicy mayo isn’t really very spicy, but it does help keep the whole slider together. You’ll only get about five bites out of the sandwich this year, with a lot of bread in there, but it’s just as solid a pick as in previous years.

  • Patagonia: Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree ($5.75)

Patagonia's Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato PureeI’ve always found this to be a solid pick, as most everyone loves food on a stick, and while it sounds kind of scary with the boniato puree and the chimichurri, these are flavors that many are familiar with and happy to sample. The beef on this year’s skewer was tender and nicely grilled without being dried out, with the starchy puree (think: mashed potatoes) helping round out the bite and give a bit more richness to the whole plate. The chimichurri is packed with garlic, cilantro, parsley, and a little bit of a peppery kick – you’ll want it slathered over every bite, it’s that good. Chefs at the Patagonia booth were even offering a side of the chimichurri for guests ordering the beef empanada, as well!

  • Canada: Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup Served with a Pretzel Roll ($4.75)

This dish is so famous at the Food and Wine Festival that no modifiers are necessary – it’s just “The Soup”. This year’s portion has, once again, shrunk slightly, but it now comes with a pretzel roll (which will look familiar if you’ve ordered the bratwurst from the Germany booth in the past). The soup was a tad too salty for me, though still deliciously creamy and packed with a slight smokiness from the bacon inside. Canada's Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup and "Le Cellier" Wild Mushroom FiletThe pretzel roll was a little stale, but a better delivery system for the soup than a spoon, so I went with it. With the smaller portion, this was overall a bit disappointing – it’s probably still going to be a super-popular option for most festival-goers, but I’d skip unless you are seriously craving it.

  • Canada: “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce ($7.75)

At $7.75, this is one of the most expensive food buys of the festival, and to be honest, my portion was not worth that price this year. Even during a fairly busy dinnertime visit, with fresh steaks being cooked and served every few minutes, I got a slightly tough and unevenly cooked steak (very well done on one end, medium on the other). The mushrooms and truffle sauce were as decadent as ever, earthy and savory without being too salty. This is another “skip” for me (an unpopular opinion, to be sure), but even for kids and picky eaters, there are better options for a better value out there.

Read the rest of this entry »