A few weeks ago during my last Best Week Ever post, I discussed how I am learning a lot about fear. This week I am experiencing a lesson in enjoying the moment. This week provided some best ever moments and yet I don’t feel like I really took the time to savor it all and enjoy. I experienced Disney’s Animal Kingdom during the DVC Member event, stayed the night at Beach Club Villas, woke up and checked into Bay Lake Tower for the night, enjoyed Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, and capped it all off with cocktails and fireworks at Top of the World Lounge.
Even though I feel like I didn’t really soak it up, I get to share it with you, helping it to make one the my Best Weeks Ever! And since many of us in Florida, and at the Atlantic Coast, are getting ready to face Hurricane Matthew, let’s take a break from storm prep and bask in some pixie dust.
Disney’s Beach Club Villas
DVC Member event at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Disney Vacation Club is celebrating its 25th year of existence. This year members have seen a slew of perks and free events roll out to them not only in order to mark the special occasion, but to help boost member satisfaction as well. During a few nights in September DVC Members enjoyed Animal Kingdom all to themselves from 9:30 PM – 12:30 PM.
While I worked, my parents enjoyed Disney’s Beach Club Resort and then checked us in for the event, at the hotel lobby. This enabled us to have our event wristbands ahead of time and although it may not have saved us a ton of time, we simply had one less thing to worry about. Once inside the park we stopped at one of the many tables being manned by an event Cast Member who handed us each a card to get into the night time Kilimanjaro Safari between 9:00 PM – 9:30 PM and two tickets each to play the midway games in Dino-rama in Dinoland USA.
We headed straight for Nomad Lounge. I bragged about this place to my parents and wanted them to experience what has become my favorite lounge inside any Walt Disney World theme park. Nomad Lounge now has an updated food menu; you can check out my quick review about it here.
My parents relished the décor and adventurous spirit of Nomad Lounge. The perfect balance between sophistication and casual approach-ability is struck here. Starting our evening here set the tone for a pleasant and memorable night together.
Welcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando.
The Disney Outlets: the true final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Testa, beginning year four of our five-year mission: to explore strange old stores, to seek out weird merchandise and ugly vinylmation, to boldly buy what no MagicBand has bought before.
We actually have a big surprise this month at the end of this fine blog, but we do have to start off with a little theme park news. Universal soft opened an E-Ticket restaurant – the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen (imagine a T-Rex Cafe for adults except the food is actually good) – and was promptly sued by someone claiming the restaurant was their idea. Some are claiming this is the most frivolous lawsuit against Universal since 2013, when the landmark case of Burgan vs. Comcast unjustly ruled that just because I said, “they should build more Harry Potter” after visiting Hogsmeade Village, I wasn’t responsible for the creation of Diagon Alley. I blame my lawyer.
Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you.)
Prices were SLASHED this month on Tsum Tsums, marking them down to an unheard of $0.99. This of course brought out the merch jerks in droves, filling up their baskets with Tsums to flip.
The infamous Mother Gothel Tsum Tsum (I think.)
I honestly thought we had seen every single piece of merchandise made for the Disneyland 60th Anniversary and yet more and more just keep coming to Outlets. Here is a Dapper Mickey photo clip Frame. Originally $14.95, now $7.99.
Thank you Disneyland annual passholders, for not buying a single piece of merchandise and making me go through it all. Yes, I’m looking in your direction Tom Bricker, Guy Selga, and Matt Gottula.
Disneyland 60th iPhone 6 case on left. Originally $39.95, now $14.99. On the right is a Minnie Mouse one where the character is stuck on the case. Has a lot of thickness. Originally $39.95, now just $7.99.
Some houses have “fine china” but we theme park fans know what our favorite dinnerware is. The smaller Disneyland 60th plate was originally $17.95, now $7.99. The larger one was originally $21.95, now $9.99.
If author extraordinaire Seth Kubersky ever gets married, I volunteer for the Ashkenazi tradition to break these plates (and as many more as they’ll let me.)
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is a wonder to behold. It is one of the few Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts that feels far removed from the theme parks and yet it is just a few moments away from the most attended theme park of them all: the Magic Kingdom. When I set out to enjoy this week’s “fun day”, a visit to Wilderness Lodge was not in the original plans. But the best laid plans sometimes fall apart when real life responsibilities pop up. Faced with less time than I’d hoped, I decided to give into the nagging need to visit Wilderness Lodge that had been pulling at me for quite some time. My visit rekindled my love and appreciation for this resort and allowed me to explore some of the construction taking place at this resort as it prepares to expand its Disney Vacation Club inventory.
The transition into the world of the wilderness begins the moment you turn right onto Timberline Drive and pass under the archway leading to the Security shack. The tall pines tower above, flanking either side of the drive. Wildflowers add pops of color along the way.
The lodge stands proud and majestic. It is an impressive sight to behold. No matter how many times I’ve visited this resort that first sight of the lobby never fails to make me grow wide eyed and wide grinned. The towering totems, the tee-pee light fixtures, the view all the way to the top floor, it’s all so warm and inviting.
Check out the hoof prints in the walkway!
Many guests compare Wilderness Lodge to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and / or Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. I have a hard time accept the comparison to the Grand Californian because the theme and style is actually very different than Wilderness Lodge. Grand Californian represents the Arts and Crafts movement of California with a tinge of Art Nouveau. Some of the rich colors such as deep wood tones and rich evergreen are repeated at both resorts, but if you are attuned to details you can clearly see the difference in the two themes.
Back in September, it was announced that new Disney Vacation Club units were coming to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Well, according to the DVC website, it was shared that The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge would be seeing a name change overall to go alongside these new DVC accommodations. The newly enhanced name is Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and this new name allows Imagineers to further explore the resort’s rugged roots and brings the community’s story to life in new ways.
In addition, the name of the new DVC units that are currently under construction will be Copper Creek Villas & Cabins.
Finally, the Hidden Springs pool area will see a new name, along with a redesigned area.
There is no timeline that has been given for a completion date of this new Disney Vacation Club addition. I’ll make sure to keep you posted as I learn more about all the upcoming enhancements.
In order to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Disney Vacation Club, Disney is creating a brand new, exclusive Member Lounge at Epcot, which is slated to open on the second floor of the Imagination Pavilion on June 6. The lounge is slated to welcome DVC Member, as well as their guests daily.
The entrance for the lounge will be located through the pavilion’s merchandise shop and is included with admission to Epcot. It will give DVC members and their guests a place to relax, access device charging stations, enjoy complimentary refreshments and other offerings, device charging stations, WiFi, computer stations with printers, Member Service Advisors, and mingle with other members. Members will also be able to purchase DVC merchandise. The lounge will be the perfect place for Guests to cool off (or warm up, depending on the season) and relax.
This year, to celebrate the 25th Anniversary, DVC is rolling out all the stops. Other anniversary perks will allow members to be offered additional complimentary events throughout the year; discounts on multi-day theme park tickets at Walt Disney World Resort; a silver anniversary sweepstakes; fun surprises; and new memorable experiences at not only Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, but also at Aulani and onboard Disney Cruise Line.
For more information about the anniversary festivities, make sure to check out the DVC website.
For anyone considering a purchase of a Disney Vacation Club contract, a major curveball was thrown when DVC changed the way that contracts bought on the resale market would be treated when it comes to membership perks.
As the email that went out to members read: “Now, effective April 4, 2016, Members who do not
purchase their ownership interest directly from Disney Vacation Club will not have access to other
Membership Extras, such as exclusive Member experiences and discounts. Please know that as a
current Disney Vacation Club Member (regardless of when or where you bought your membership),
your access to Disney Differences and these additional Membership Extras will not be affected by this
What that means is that anyone purchasing a DVC contract on the resale market will not have access to membership extras such as member parties and access to the Top of The World Lounge or the soon-to-be-open members lounge in Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion. It also means new resale members won’t get the dining, merchandise and, most significantly, annual pass discounts current members enjoy.
So when you’re making the decision whether to purchase resale or direct, you’re going to have to factor in these changes. If you don’t plan on purchasing annual passes, the savings in the resale market are significant enough to continue to tilt in the favor of that option.
Sometimes the best days, as in the best ever days, are when you cram in a ton of attractions area fun into one day. In this case, I crammed a quick visit to Universal Orlando, drove to Walt Disney World, checked my dog Dodger (#DodgertheDog) into Best Friend’s Pet Care, joined my family at the amazing Treehouse Villas, took a boat ride to Disney Springs, and had one of the best meals of my life at Morimoto Asia. And this all took place after I had gone to work that day. So come along with me for a whirlwind trip over the river and into the woods from Universal Orlando to the Treehouse Villas at Walt Disney World.
Cheers to one of the best days ever!
After work I headed to Universal Orlando to check out the brand new Hello Kitty store. Though I am not the biggest Hello Kitty fan, it’s always fun to see something when it first opens. There’s excitement in the air, management is hovering over their new pride and joy, it’s clean and unharmed. The store is bright, bubbly, and almost saccharine. All kinds of Hello Kitty and Sanrio character merchandise fill the walls from apparel to house wares.
Welcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. February during a leap year, is there a better month on the calendar? We think not! Yes, Disney did introduce tiered pricing of tickets, but Your Humble Author did provide Tiered Payment Options. Thanks to the Disneyland 60 special (which surprisingly didn’t have much to do with Disneyland), we finally got some details on Star Wars Land. Speaking of Disneyland, it was rumored that DL guru Guy Selga immediately ripped up his annual pass after stepping through Hogsmeade Village during the Wizarding World’s soft open. We in Florida got news that the Dream Along With Mickey stage show, which ran for an amazingly long 68 years at the Magic Kingdom, is going to be replaced by Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire this summer. Just a whole bunch of win, and thanks to Leap Year we get an extra day to bask in it!
Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).
First up, the newest Tsum Tsums to hit the store were from the Lilo and Stitch line, including this one featuring Lilo herself.
Lilo Tsum Tsum.
A little backstory on this next one. Two years ago this very month, I was finally brave enough to do my first “live tweeting” from the main TouringPlans twitter account. Everything went well until I went to a gift shop in Tomorrowland and commented on a Pink Stitch plush. Apparently I’m the only human being on Earth who didn’t know that was Stitch’s girlfriend Angel. That may actually be the last day I live tweeted from the TouringPlans account as well. Anyway, here is the Pink Stitch Angel Tsum Tsum.
Pink Stitch Tsum Tsum.
I teased it last month, but now it is finally time for the grand debut of my first ever…
Welcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. The new year has started off exactly where the old one left us: with Walt Disney World closing attractions. It has been a pretty cool month though, including a cool Star Wars runDisney race out in California (and Star Wars fans owe it to themselves to watch a great parody of Undercover Boss featuring Kylo Ren). Erin Foster took us inside Vanellope’s on the Disney Dream, and for those who don’t know, this is a complete Wreck-It-Ralph themed sweet shop (pinch us, we’re dreaming). And Guy Selga introduced us to Four Glorious New Ways to Kill Time at Disneyland, including the am I dreaming this, or is this realJungle CruiseSkipper School. 2016 is shaping up to be an incredible year.
Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).
The first item this month made my heart grow three sizes (after double checking, that enlargement of the heart was actually due to eating the Pop-Tart Sandwich at Pop Century). Behold the Luigi’s Flying Tires hat! Anyone who has visited the Disney Dump has seen the remnants of this attraction, which opened with the debut of Cars Land in the summer of 2012 and was already closed by the ending of February 2015. Believe it or not, despite only being open for only 976 days, Luigi’s doesn’t even rank in the Top Five of Short Lived Disney Attractions. Originally $24.95, this baby could be sitting on your head for just $6.99. VIVA LA DISNEY OUTLETS!
After seeing this, I know how Indiana Jones felt seeing the Fertility Idol. (photo by Julia Mascardo)
Tsum Tsums returned this month! However it was mostly the ones we have seen in the past (including all seven of the dwarfs), but one that was new was this crying duck. I had literally no idea who this was, but found out it was the Ugly Duckling from a quick scene in Lilo & Stitch. That’s what we call a deep dive, and I love it. I actually dropped Loot Crate this month and started up the Disney Tsum Tsum Monthly Subscription Program, so starting in February I too will annoy you with unboxing videos (although my last one didn’t go so well).
Disney Vacation Club is celebrating 25 years and DVC members will get to enjoy quite a few exciting events to commemorate the occasion. The fun will kick off with the Disney Vacation Club 25 and Beyond Bash at the Magic Kingdom on two nights – February 25 and March 3. The party will kick off at 9:30 p.m. and last until midnight.
Event highlights will include access to select attractions in Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, as well as The Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square. There will also be a DJ dance party for Guests to groove to in Tomorrowland and complimentary refreshments available. Other items will be available for purchase.
Members and their Guests will be able to enter the park as early as 7:00 p.m., however to enter the park at 7:00 p.m., Guests must have valid theme park admission. Guests will be able to check in for the event at either the Magic Kingdom or at the lobbies of the Disney Vacation Club Resorts. Membership Card and a photo ID will be required at check-in. Attendees will be given a wristband to wear during the event.