Posts Tagged ‘disney world’

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Kilimanjaro Club – an incomparable experience

by on March 8, 2015

No other Walt Disney World resorts offers the level of cultural immersion and exotic experiences that can be discovered at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. It is my favorite Walt Disney World Resort; my heart practically sings the minute I set foot in the awe-inspiring lobby. As a Disney Vacation Club Member, Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of my two home resorts. One of my favorite ways to use our membership is to indulge in the Kilimanjaro Club level. Whether you are a DVC Member or not, from the level of service, the multiple food & beverage offerings, and the overall luxury, the Kilimanjaro Club Level is an unforgettable experience.

So what makes the Kilimanjaro Club so exceptional? And what special value does it represent for DVC Members? Let’s embark on a safari of sorts as we explore all that makes this one of the most incredible experiences offered at Walt Disney World.

DSC00664

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Disney It Yourself: Habit Heroes App and Sum of All Thrills Game Reviews

by on March 3, 2015

IMG_2171

Here I am again with more game reviews based off of different attractions found at Innoventions. If you missed my review of the Great Piggy Bank Adventure App, read that here.

These reviews are part of my new series, DIY (Disney It Yourself), where I explore different ways to enjoy Disney Parks at home.

As you’ll soon see, I experienced hits along with a few misses. First on the list: the Habit Heroes App!

Habit Heroes

The Habit Heroes app was introduced in the Apple App Store December 12th, 2012. It can also be downloaded via Google Play. It is based off the attraction of the same name, found at Innoventions East in Epcot. The app states:

The Habit Heroes mobile app is a comic book that chronicles the adventures of the healthy Habit Heroes as they clean up health hazards around the globe. Each comic book issue unlocks an interactive tool that helps foster healthy habits in your every day life.

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Why This Disney World Regular Wants to Visit Disneyland

by on February 26, 2015

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disney World is my favorite place on earth and I love to visit as much as I can. There’s plenty to do with four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping district, and a number of incredibly themed resorts; but this Disney World Regular has her eye set on another Disney Park for her next trip. Where? The Disneyland Resort! But why? After all, the Disneyland Resort is much smaller, as is its castle, and many of the rides found at Disney World are also at both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. There’s also no water parks or as nearly many resorts. But wait! I have some good reasons, many of which Disneyland fans are sure to back me up on. In fact, many of my fellow Disney fans argue that the Disneyland Resort is better than Disney World on a number of points. So keep reading to find out why this Disney World Regular wants to visit Disneyland.

To Be A Park Newbie: My first trip to Disney World took place when I was nine months old. You see, both of my parents were Disney fanatics and couldn’t wait to introduce me to the Disney magic. Throughout my childhood, we took as many trips as we could. In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is lying on my bed and studying the Disney World park maps from our most recent trip. I know that I was incredibly fortunate to have visited Disney World throughout my childhood, a tradition I’ve continued to this day; but I must admit that just once, I would like to see my favorite place on earth with new eyes, like a first-time guest who has no idea what’s around the next corner. But seeing how I can’t do that, I can go to the Disneyland Resort! I’ve always wanted to go. It’s Walt’s original vision and is the reason why there’s a Disney World in the first place. Not only would a visit be fulfilling as a Disney Fan, but I would love the chance to be a park newbie, to actually need those free parks at the entrance, and to sport one of those first-time visit buttons!

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A Non-Park Disney Vacation

by on February 25, 2015

As a non-Florida resident, my trips to Walt Disney World are not as frequent as I’d like. And when I get the opportunity to get to my favorite place on earth, I plan every moment of every day and pack in as much pixie dust as possible. It’s not uncommon for me to only get 4-5 hours of sleep a night as I open and close parks and fill the days with finely-tuned Touring Plans and FastPass+ reservations. These trips usually end with me in a Disney-induced coma on a plane heading back to the southwest, but completely content. I imagine it’s what marathon runners must feel like. Yeah, it can be painful, and sometimes you wonder if you’re insane for committing to this, but afterword it’s such a triumph and you can’t help but feel proud for all you’ve accomplished.

Photo - Michael Dahlgren

It’s vision that brings us all joy.
Photo by Michael Dahlgren

When I was presented with the opportunity to be in Orlando for a work conference, my heart simultaneously leapt and crashed all at once. What a great excuse for an impromptu Disney trip (especially with a flight and 2 hotel nights paid for)! But then I looked at my budget, there’s a reason I didn’t have a Disney trip in the works already – I was already over-extended and committed to other trips this year. But how could I be in Orlando – so close to the House of the Mouse and NOT go?! The mere idea violates my very nature as a Disneyphile. I confided my disappointment in friend who kindly suggested, why don’t I just pick one park to go to for a day? That suggestion is almost more unnatural. One park? How can I choose one park? That’s like choosing a favorite child! I love them all! Choose the classic innocence and magic of Magic Kingdom over the food and culture of Epcot?  Or the details and natural beauty of Animal Kingdom over the stomach churning thrill rides of Hollywood Studios? No, no – there’s no way to pick just one park! The thought then occurred to me, I could do the four-parks-in-one-day challenge. But with only one day to dedicate to parks, I couldn’t be cheated that way. And I know that there’s no way I could only do one or two attractions in each park and pass by everything else without knowing I’d be right back to really do the park justice. And the time spent traveling between parks would take up too much precious time. So, that ruled out four park hopping.

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Best Themed Restaurants at Disney World

by on February 23, 2015

CrystalPalace

The level of detail that Disney Imagineers put into the theming of the parks is astonishing. If I can be perfectly content just sitting in an area and soaking in all the details, then that to me is a wonderfully themed area of a Disney park. The same goes for Disney dining. Obviously, food quality comes first but with the premium that you’re going to pay at Disney, I always try to eat at restaurants that are immersive and give me that feeling that I’ve actually entered the setting that the Imagineers were trying to convey. If you have that same desire to be transported away during your next Disney dining experience then you’re in the right place. Below, you’ll find a list of my personal five best themed restaurants at Disney World. Each of these restaurants has excellent theming that will surely enhance your meal. Luckily, the food happens to be great at each of them as well.

 

5. Flame Tree Barbecue

Might have to talk to your kids about the birds and the...snakes?

Might have to talk to your kids about the birds and the…snakes?

Starting off our list is the only quick service entry and the only outdoor entry on our list. Located in Animal Kingdom, Flame Tree Barbecue is my favorite place to eat a meal outdoors in the parks. Animal Kingdom is already a beautiful park so it’s no surprise that Flame Tree lives up to its park’s reputation. There are both covered seating areas and more sunny areas that are overlooking the water with Everest in the distance. There’s also a beautiful pond/pool towards the back of the seating area as well. Along with the great views, the covered areas I mentioned before are cool looking and come complete with a surprisingly “real” Circle of Life theme. Each patio features a predator eating its prey, which shows that Disney can take the kid gloves off every once in a while without going over the top. When it comes down to it, Flame Tree has arguably the best counter service food and best outdoor seating areas in the parks, which make it my fifth most atmospheric restaurant at Disney World. Note: Flame Tree is currently closed during Rivers of Light construction at Animal Kingdom, though some of its seating is open and you can find your smoked meats other places in the park.

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Disneyland or Disney World – What’s the Difference? Part 2

by on February 19, 2015

Disneyland or Disney WorldDisneyland or Disney World? Welcome back to our four part series, where we will continue to debate this very question. In case you missed it, in part one we took a look at some of the key differences between Disneyland and Disney World in the areas of size and scope, atmosphere, and weather. In part two, let’s continue our side-by-side comparison of Disneyland and Disney World by discussing the topics of crowds, pricing, and accommodations.

Crowds

The Disneyland Resort crowds are greatly affected by the number of local tourists that visit the Parks every day of the year. Disneyland Resort offers a variety of annual pass options that many local residents choose to purchase. Weekends and nice weather days will always see a jump in attendance throughout the year as annual pass holders take advantage how easy it is to just drop by the resort. Fridays and Mondays are also more crowded than the rest of the weekdays as locals extend their weekends. Another factor that impacts the Disneyland Resort crowds is the number of people visiting the area for conventions. The Anaheim Convention Center is the largest facility on the west coast and hosts thousands of visitors each year. Although the attendees are usually occupied for several hours a day with business, these travelers often take this opportunity to bring their families with them to enjoy the Disneyland Resort while they work. Not to mention, the crowds are also greater when the Disneyland Resort is offering one of their special events such as Halloween Time or Happy Lunar New Year.

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Don’t Bust Your Budget: Don’t Buy These at Theme Parks!

by on February 17, 2015

Budgeting for a trip, be it to Walt Disney World or Universal Studios Orlando, is hard whether you live down the street, or you’re flying down for a week with the whole family. Between gas, hotels, meals, transportation, not to mention the tickets themselves (and don’t even pretend you ain’t all about a pair of those mouse ears), a trip of any length is already expensive. So why make it harder on your budget by buying the things in the theme parks that will gouge you the worst? Today we’re going to talk about some of the things you should never buy in a theme park or an on-property hotel if you value your wallet, and no, we’re not talking about souveniers or turkey legs… we’re talking about the necessities you might not think of, or might be thinking you can just pick up inside the park itself. And just because they don’t get enough love, let’s bring Lilo and Stitch along for the ride.

Lilo and Stitch belong to Disney

Remember, a creepy smile costs nothing. Photo © Disney

Sunscreen

I want you to imagine this item strung from the ceiling above you with streamers, confetti, and a couple big neon Las Vegas arrows pointing at it for good measure. If you’re not from Florida, you might be underestimating just how abysmally evil that great big daystar is no matter what the season, and when you or your family starts turning pink, it’s usually far too late. (One poor British woman stopped me outside the lady’s room to ask me if her back was “as bad as it felt”. I think my face melted off like in Raiders of the Lost Ark when I saw it. It’s okay… I got better.) While most stores in the parks will carry some sort of sunscreen, not only are the types and SPF factor going to be extremely limited, but you’re going to pay upwards of $12.00 USD or more for a tiny bottle! You definitely shouldn’t mess around with sun protection, but you should definitely bring your own!

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Menu Monday: Best Counter Service Restaurant at Hollywood Studios

by on February 16, 2015

We continue this journey to find the best counter service restaurants in Hollywood Studios.  Hollywood Studios has to be one of the hardest counter service options to track because the menus and prices tend to change for each season. Add in the continuing construction, and things are bound to change. Before your next trip to the Studios, be sure to check out the latest menus for options and prices either at the Touring Plans menu page, or at the official Walt Disney World menu page. With that said, most of the menu staples will stay consistent. If a counter service location offers burgers and sandwiches, you can expect for it to be consistent, but you may find an updated price or a new “gourmet” option available. If you missed previous entries, be sure to read all about the best counter service options in Magic Kingdom, as well as in Animal Kingdom. To refresh your memory, here is the grading scale I’ve used to determining how each counter service location has earned it’s ranking:

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

Sunset Boulevard Restaurant Row

Catalina Eddie's, Rosie's All-American Café, and Fairfaxe Fare are all located on Sunset Boulevard near Tower of Terror.

Catalina Eddie’s, Rosie’s All-American Café, and Fairfaxe Fare are all located on Sunset Boulevard near Tower of Terror.

It may seem like cheating, but due to the proximity of all of these options in the same area. They can easily be viewed as one dining location with multiple options, similar to the concept of the food court at your local mall. Catalina Eddie’s, Fairfax Fare, and Rosie’s All-American Café are all situated at the end of Sunset Boulevard, near the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. Because of this prime real estate by two of the park’s powerhouse rides, and the fact that the three restaurants share the same seating area, this place gets packed quickly. It’s often a spot for families to gather and wait while a portion of their party experiences one ride or the other (or both). Because of this, finding an open table is tricky, and it gets busy early in the day and stays that way. The best plan of attack is to find a table before ordering food, then go in shifts to the location that appeals to your taste buds while another holds the table while you order. Never leave a child alone, but if you’re traveling with a several adults or teenagers, this is the best strategy.

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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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Disneyland or Disney World – What’s the Difference?

by on February 5, 2015

Disneyland or Disney WorldDisneyland or Walt Disney World? This has long been a debate among Disney theme park enthusiasts. I have been visiting both the California original and its flashy Florida cousin my entire life, and I love both destinations for different reasons. It is hard to pick a favorite, because both Disneyland and Disney World have unique and wonderful experiences to offer. Of course, you will find lots of opinions all over the internet about which resort is better. Disney fans are a loyal bunch, and we will defend the love of our favorite Disney destination with great passion. I recently wrote a book called “A Tale of Two Resorts” that attempts to answer this age-old question of whether Disneyland or Disney World is better by comparing both destinations in several areas. Please join me in this four part series where we will look at Disneyland and Disney World side-by-side to compare them. We’ll start with size and scope, atmosphere, and weather.

Magic KindomResort Size and Scope

Disneyland Resort is approximately 500 acres (0.78 square miles) located in the city of Anaheim in the heart of southern California. The resort itself is a sanctuary surrounded on all sides by busy streets, hotels, shops and restaurants. To put that in perspective, imagine the feel of Central Park in New York City and you’ll have a little bit of a sense of what Disneyland Resort is like. The resort includes two theme parks, three Disney hotels, dozens of restaurants, and a shopping and entertainment district. The two theme parks, Disneyland and California Adventure, sit directly across from each on either side of the esplanade, requiring about a five minute walk from entrance to entrance.

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