Posts Tagged ‘disney world’

Camping at Disney World – A Day at Fort Wilderness

by on August 3, 2014

On the shores of Bay Lake, sitting on 750 acres of pine and cypress, Fort Wilderness is often the forgotten resort among its Magic Kingdom brethren. Many times it is overlooked, or dismissed altogether, simply because it is a campground, and the idea of “roughing it” can make many trip planners cringe. But passing by the most unique place in Walt Disney World based on perception would be a mistake. Give it a try, and your Disney World trip might go something like this:

Welcome to the most unique place in Walt Disney World

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Favorite Park Series: Disney’s Epcot

by on August 3, 2014

Hello again! Welcome to Epcot. If you haven’t read my highlights on Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, please do so now.

Epcot scenery

Take in the beautiful scenery.

*Twiddles thumbs. Checks Twitter. Reads a blog post.*

Done? Okay, let’s ‘soar’ right in!

Memorable Moments

Pick your mode of transportation! Soarin’ is a popular ride that allows you to hang-glide over California, feeling the wind in your face whilst smelling the fragrance of zesty orange trees. (Fun Fact: The first model for Soarin’ was made out of an erector set!) Once you land on solid ground, hop in a Chevy at Test Track. Strap yourself in and brace yourself for the ride of your life! Put on your space suit, join the NASA team and shoot for the stars as you travel to Mars in your rocket via Mission: Space. To ease back into Earth’s gravity, swim underwater to the ‘clamobile’ where The Seas with Nemo & Friends take you “under the sea.” Finally, use those feet and travel indoors to Innoventions where you’ll find interactive and educational games the whole family will enjoy.

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Top Ten Places to Find: Air Conditioning!

by on August 2, 2014

Being located smack-dab in the middle of the Sunshine State, and having average temperatures of 80 degrees or higher eight months out of year, Walt Disney World is practically a tropical destination. As such, it is necessary to plan appropriately to make sure you and your family are prepared to withstand this intense heat, humidity, and sunshine. And since we’re all the “Type-A” Disney World trip planners, there are definitely some tricks we all have up our sleeves to beat the heat and keep cool in Disney World. It’s great to make sure you pack comfortable, loose fitting clothes, plenty of sunscreen, and incorporate a mid-day nap/pool break in your daily Touring Plan. Once in a while, we find ourselves in the parks during the heat of the day and need to find an air conditioned sanctuary to help us keep our cool (literally and figuratively)! So, here is a list of the top ten places in the parks to find a cool corner of air conditioned sanctuary to revive you before you complete your Touring Plan mission.

 

Escape the heat by enjoying the Carousel of Progress.

Escape the heat by enjoying the Carousel of Progress.

Carousel of Progress (Magic Kingdom): Proudly sitting in the corner of Tomorrowland (close to Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin), Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a slowly rotating indoor (air conditioned!) auditorium that takes guests on a time-traveling adventure. Watch how technology and innovations impact the lives of our favorite turn-of-the-century family. This is a fun 20-minute show with pretty cozy chairs. If you manage to avoid taking a brief nap, you’ll have the catchy tune stuck in your head all day. It’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow…

Country Bear Jamboree (Magic Kingdom): Right next door to Pecos Bill Tall Tell Inn and Café, it’s a great spot to soak in some of that great bear culture. Being only a 10-minute show, this entertaining reprieve from the heat is brief. On the bright side, your backside probably doesn’t want to be sitting on those bleacher-style benches much longer than 10 minutes. It’s a cult-classic and has an avid following, while others find it hokey. No matter which camp you fall into, it’s still a great break from the Florida heat. Just remember, don’t feed the bears.

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Ranking Epcot Beer

by on August 1, 2014

The slow but steady transformation caused by the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival’s popularity is positively affecting beer selection in the park. But all pavilions are not equal. Considering selection, ambiance, and variety, what follows is my attempt at ranking Epcot beer options. Please note this list excludes full service restaurants from consideration and is not meant to be exhaustive.

12. China

The nation of China is not well known for beer, and the pavilion reflects this with its position at the bottom of the list. Thirsty guests will find two beers on draft: Tsingtao and Tsingtao Pure Draft. Both options are standard American style lagers and are unlikely to offend anyone but probably will not impress either. Ambiance and practicality take a hit too: the pavilion doesn’t have many shaded areas to drink and the few that do exist are mostly in the quick service restaurant. Both beers can be found at the Joy of Tea kiosk and Lotus Blossom Cafe.

11. Norway

Norway just barely edges out China. Its single draft offering, Carlsberg, is a little tastier with just a slight hint of hops. I do give them an extra point because it’s a beer rarely seen in the US even if the flavor is not outstanding, where Tsingtao is available at most Chinese restaurants in the States. Finding a good place to enjoy the beer nearby is a challenge. Only the dining area next to the Stave Church is shaded and it’s crowded and noisy. Find Carlsberg in the Bakery and at the drink cart.

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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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