Posts Tagged ‘Disney’

The Basics: Selecting the Right Walt Disney World Value hotel

by on March 11, 2016

This is a continuation of our Back to Basics Series. Scroll to the bottom to see our other Basics posts.

In a previous Back to Basics post we discussed how to select the right Walt Disney World hotel category. Now it’s time to dig in and select the right hotel in each category. We’ll start off with the Value resorts. It’s important to remember there really is no right or wrong choice, but rather a matter of deciding what hotel fits your specific needs the best.

For each hotel we’ll discuss as many features and elements as possible. I’ve included information for each of the hotels with the following categories:

  • Room features
  • Resort layout
  • Food and beverage
  • Transportation
  • Pool
  • Recreation / Activities
  • Additional information

Essentially the Value resorts exist as two campuses: Disney’s All Star Resort and Disney’s Pop Century / Art of Animation. At Disney’s All Star Resort there are three individual hotels: Sports, Movies, and Music. At Disney’s Pop Century and Art of Animation each are two individual hotels but are situated across from each other.  The set-up and features of these two campus are very similar. I’ll break down each individual hotel’s features and include any information that pertains to the campus as a whole.

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Photo by Brian McNichols

Disney’s All Star Resorts: Movies, Music, and Sports.

  • Room features

The room features for all three of the All Star resorts are essentially the same. However, at Music there are also about 190 family suites available. I’ll get into the features of that room type momentarily. Guest rooms at the All Stars are small at 260 square feet. Almost all rooms sleep four, plus one child in a crib. Themed touches of musicians and music styles at Music, athletes and sports equipment at Sports, and a selection of Disney films at Movies, adorn themed linens, wall décor, and fixtures. Light-finish wood furniture and dark, patterned carpet provide an upscale touch, however, you’ll most likely find that these rooms don’t beckon you to linger. My personal recommendation is if you are traveling with small children then the rooms will be just fine. However, if you have pre-teens, teenagers, or other adults then you’ll most likely find the standard rooms at any Value resort to be a tad uncomfortable.

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How Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Preparing for Rivers of Light

by on March 10, 2016

The most under-appreciated theme park in Walt Disney World is about to be the proud recipient of a brand new nighttime spectacular that promises to be unforgettable.  Rivers of Light is set to debut on Earth Day, April 22nd, the 18th anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Disney has begun releasing more details about the show, its themes, and major visual elements. In fact, they held a brief chat on the Disney Parks Blog to share some information about the show and its development. I also visited my favorite Walt Disney World theme park a few days ago and checked out the construction of the show’s amphitheater. Finally, there’s some other preparations being made in the park to get ready for the arrival of Rivers of Light.

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Disney reveals more details about Rivers of Light

Disney recently released a few videos showing footage of technical rehearsals as well as construction of some of the shows key floats. In case you’ve missed the concept art and basic storylines, Rivers of Light will take place on the lagoon in between the back edge of Discovery Island and Asia, essentially in front of Expedition Everest. Fountains, water projection screens, lighting, floats, boats, and live performers will bring this spectacle to life. Even the parks icon, the Tree of Life will become part of the show. If for some reason you are really wanting to stay away from any spoilers whatsoever then it may be best to skip ahead to the next section regarding the amphitheater construction.

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The Basics: Selecting the Right Walt Disney World Hotel Category

by on February 24, 2016

This is a continuation of our Back to Basics Series. Scroll to the bottom to find links to our other Basics posts.

 

One of the most exciting and often nerve wracking parts of planning a vacation is selecting a hotel. Some people view a hotel as simply the place where you sleep and shower, and nothing more. Others, like me, see the hotel as home base and a destination unto itself. I’ve even planned entire vacations around the hotel more so than the local area and attractions (but then again I work in the hotel industry and am a self-proclaimed hotel nerd).

If the weather is bad or if somebody gets sick, this is where you’ll spend much of your vacation time. At the end of a full day touring the parks this is where you can rest, or depending on which location you choose, you can come back in the middle of the day to relax. The amount of options in all of Central Florida can be astounding, after all there are over 400 hotels in the Orlando / Orange County area.

Old Key West Resort room

Old Key West Resort room

Let’s assume for the purposes of this post that you’ve decided you really want to stay on Walt Disney World property. You still have to sort through over 20 hotels in order to select your hotel. The main focus of this guide is to help you decide between Walt Disney World resort hotel categories. I will include some of the pros and cons of each category, as well as a general overview of the features of each category. This includes location, transportation, food and beverage, and amenities. In follow up posts, we will dig into the specifics of these features for each resort in particular.

Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels, Swan and Dolphin, and Bonnet Creek

If you’re looking for close proximity at lower cost, then the hotels near Disney Springs on Hotel Plaza Boulevard, as well as the hotels of Bonnet Creek, offer easy transportation. If you want the extra perks such as Disney transportation and Extra Magic Hours, however, you’ll need either a Disney-owned hotel or the Starwood Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, which offer these benefits with slightly lower room rates. The MagicBand (as a room key and ticket) and Disney’s Magical Express are exclusive features for Disney owned and operated. For some folks this is a major plus, while for others it is not worth the extra money that a Disney owned property can cost.

Walt Disney World Swan

The Walt Disney World Swan: Very close to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but technically a Starwood hotel.

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Make your own Pixie Dust – 20 Disney Random Acts of Kindness

by on February 16, 2016

All of us like to experience the proverbial Disney pixie dust (extra magic bestowed upon us by cast members). Whether it be free fastpasses, surprise celebration desert at your dinner meal, or even room upgrades; when cast members shower us with pixie dust it makes us feel special. Back at home we call these Random Acts of Kindness, or RAK for short. They are essentially the same thing. Bestowing on someone else a good deed, a gift, a kind word without expecting anything else in return. And so we got to wondering, if we are practicing RAK at home, why weren’t we doing it at Disney. Why do cast members get to have all the fun? Let us make our own pixie dust and spread it abundantly. After all, kindness is infectious. So here are 20 ways we like to spread pixie dust while in Disney.

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The Basics: Meeting Characters at Epcot

by on February 15, 2016

Character Meet and Greets

Nothing is quite so magical as meeting Mickey for the first time!

This is a continuation of our Back to Basics Series. Scroll to the bottom to see our other Basics posts.

One of the quintessential Walt Disney World experiences is participating in Character Meet and Greets. That magical moment when your child meets Mickey for the first time is right up there with their first spin on Dumbo or the first time blasting off on Space Mountain. Like most Disney adventures, I would also caution those adult-only travelling parties not to overlook character experiences as just for the little ones – you can still have a magical experience with Mulan or Aurora even if you’re in the over-18 set!

This is the first article in my series on Character Meet and Greets, in which I will tackle every park and give you a run-down of who you can meet and where. I’ve decided to start with Epcot (this is traditionally the first park we visit on every trip – why not begin at the beginning?!), so buckle up for a tour of Future World and World Showcase and the characters who live there!

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Disney Springs Update: The Ganachery, World of Coke, and more

by on February 3, 2016

It’s pretty clear that Disney Springs is slowly, but surely being accepted and welcomed by Disney fans. At first the concept of Downtown Disney being turned into a themed environment with a backstory and everything made many people skeptical. However now that The Landing is substantial enough to warrant a visit on its own and more business are open, it seems Disney Springs is sure to be a hit. Recently a few more establishments opened their doors and many more new buildings are in the midst of construction. It’s an exciting time to see the progress and I recently took a stroll through The Landing and The Marketplace to check out what’s new at Disney Springs.

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The Ganachery

There’s so much springing to life at The Landing that it is quickly becoming my favorite part of Disney Springs. In fact there are many times in which it is the only section that I spend any time in. Between The BOATHOUSE, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, and Morimoto Asia the dining is delectable. I am no big time shopper, but the retail locations here offer a fairly good variety and new discoveries, my personal favorite shop is Sanuk footwear.

The most recent business to open its doors is The Ganachery. Chocolate lovers rejoiced when Disney announced the arrival of this sweet shop specializing in only chocolate. However, it seems a bit repetitive that The Ganachery would open a mere five minute stroll away from Ghiradelli Chocolate.

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Think of The Ganachery as an upscale chocolate boutique. It is Disney owned and operated providing chocolate made with a supposed proprietary blend of cacao beans. The prices certainly reflect an air of exclusivity. While the prices kept my sweet tooth at bay, the décor and details are delectable. Before even setting foot inside, a sweet little detail made me smile. The door handles are large spoons, the kind used when hand mixing melted chocolate. Once inside, the décor is warm with rich brown and golden tones.

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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.

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Disney’s Vero Beach Resort Tips and Full Review

by on January 13, 2016

Before being known for theme parks and other attractions, Florida was a vacation destination for enjoying warm weather, sandy beaches, and other beautiful scenery. Although Walt Disney World is the undisputed champion of having changed Florida’s tourism scene forever, Disney is responsible for a resort that honors and celebrates Florida; the Florida before Disney. Whenever I visit Disney’s Vero Beach Resort I am filled with Florida pride and become instantly relaxed. After five visits I have my own list of favorite activities and features of this resort, and I’d like to share my Disney’s Vero Beach Resort tips with you.

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You do not have to be a DVC Member to stay here

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is primarily a Disney Vacation Club property. It is one of the very first DVC Resorts, offering villa style accommodations (studios all the way to three bedroom villas) as well as regular hotel rooms. As a DVC member you can use your vacation points to stay in any available accommodations, including hotel rooms. Non members can also book any available accommodations, based on availability.

All accommodations have Florida and nautical themed decor. All rooms are pretty well sized, offering a pleasing amount of space. All units, even the hotel rooms, have DVD players. As with all DVC resorts, DVDs are offered for rent from a fairly decent sized DVD library.

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Skipper Canteen Soft Opening Review

by on January 4, 2016

skipper canteen

The World Famous Skipper Canteen!

If you’ve ever felt hunger pangs while trekking through a tropical jungle outpost or while traveling niles and niles and niles down a dangerous river, then you know what it’s like to be a skipper in need of sustenance. Luckily for you, I’ve got just the place for you to visit the next time you’re in need – the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen!  The Skipper Canteen is a new table-service restaurant at the Magic Kingdom inspired by (and thematically connected to) the Jungle Cruise attraction.  The skippers who traverse the wild leading guided excursions through the jungle have to have a place to eat, right?

One of the biggest victories from my latest trip to Disney World was the fact that we managed to catch the soft opening of the Skipper Canteen, and I’ve got lots to share! As of the writing of this article, advanced reservations are not yet being accepted for the canteen, but it is expected that they should be available in the near future. We learned of the soft opening simply by walking by the restaurant. Skippers were outside letting people know that the Skipper Canteen was open and they were taking walk-ups. 

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Baymax Hat Tutorial and Giveaway

by on December 10, 2015

Baymax Hat Tutorial

Nothing like Baymax hanging out on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover.

Have you ever considered what it might be like walking around a Disney theme park looking like a personal healthcare companion who sometimes moonlights as a superhero? No? Well maybe you should!

Today I’m bringing you a Baymax Hat Tutorial for your very own Big Hero 6 Baymax armor hat. If you caught my tutorial on custom Mickey ears then you know I’m a sucker for wearable Disney crafts. However, this Baymax hat tutorial can be just a smidge more appealing than undertaking the full custom Mickey ears. First, this tutorial is a snap. There is no sewing involved – just a little bit of cutting and hot gluing and you’ll be in business. Second, the great thing about this hat is that it is 100% unisex. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for guys wearing Mickey ear headbands, but some guys might not want to go that route. This gives them an opportunity to participate in some light DisneyBounding while also keeping the sun off their faces.

Do you feel like maybe your crafting skills aren’t up to snuff to make your own Baymax hat? No problem! Read through to the end of the post for how you can enter to win the exact Baymax hat I constructed for this tutorial!

Baymax Hat Tutorial

That’s right, we decided to be Baymaxes.

Let me start out by giving you a little background on this particular hat. My husband and I visited Disney World over the 2015 Memorial Day weekend, which provided us with an opportunity to participate in the 24-hour party at Magic Kingdom. (And this party encouraged costumes. Enough said.) Anyway, Anthony decided he wanted to go as armored Baymax. He had it all figured out, but he needed just one teeny, tiny thing from me. He needed a hat. He knew what he wanted it to look like, but to his dismay no one else had thought of the need for this piece of head-wear, and it didn’t exist on Amazon or Etsy. A little bit of brainstorming and the end result was the fantastic Baymax hat you see here! (Yes, I also decided to attend the party as Baymax. Healthcare Baymax. Because I thought it was adorable. Is any other reason needed?)

Even though I designed and created this hat, I have to admit that I have just a little bit of bitterness towards this dashing head-wear. Why? Well every time Anthony wears it at Disney World he gets a ridiculous amount of awesome comments on it. High fives, thumbs up; one person even asked him if she could have it. (Straight out asked for it – weird, right?) You might be asking yourselves why on earth positive feedback on something I designed is cause for jealousy. Well, the truth of it is that no matter how much time I put into making amazing custom Mickey ears, I never get the accolades he gets for a hat that took less than an hour to throw together. Let’s give the man some credit though – his immediate response is always, “She made it!” as he points frantically at me.

Okay, okay; I’ll stop rambling and get on with the show.

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