Archive for February, 2017

Julia’s Best Week Ever, February 23, 2017: A Wonder-ful Week

by on February 23, 2017

Living as close as we do to the parks has huge advantages. Relaxed lifestyle. Ability to go to Disney for a quick visit whenever we want. Being surrounded by people who really “get” the magic. It does have the disadvantage that going to Walt Disney World, even when staying on property, doesn’t have that same “vacation” vibe that we used to get when visiting from elsewhere. It’s still magical, but a different kind of magic. Every once in a while, it is important for us to recharge that vibe, and our preferred method for doing so is a Disney cruise. It also has the added benefit of keeping us (mostly) out of contact with work. This year, our goal is to do an Ultimate Grand Slam of all four Disney ships in one year. In the past, we’ve only done the “big ships” — the Fantasy and the Dream. Because of this, I was very excited to see how a “small ship” like the Wonder would stack up. After picking our daughter up from school, off we went to Port Canaveral. We arrived around noon and the terminal was fairly empty.

Within moments, we were on board and chowing down at Cabanas while waiting for our room to be ready.

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Flying Frontier Airlines to Walt Disney World

by on February 23, 2017

Flying Frontier to Walt Disney World

As I live a considerable distance from Walt Disney World, flying is my preferred method of travel in order to maximize my vacation time. But as many of you fellow travelers may know, flying can be almost as expensive as your actual vacation!

A few years ago, I looked into economy airlines in order to work more flexibility into my Disney World Vacation budget; and after my first roundtrip flight to Orlando International Airport with Frontier Airlines, I’ve flown with them pretty much ever since. Here’s what to expect when flying with Frontier Airlines and why I fly with them to Walt Disney World!

Schedule

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Swan and Dolphin Hotels Offering Great Deal For Patriots and Falcons Fans

by on February 23, 2017

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort Well, while I may still be licking my own wounds from this year’s Super Bowl (darn those Falcons!), at least there is a little bit of a silver lining.

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels are rewarding Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots fans with their “I’m off to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel” deal. Residents of Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Georgia will be able to receive a free night stay at either the Swan or the Dolphin when booking two nights at the standard rate for stays through January 31, 2018.

Of course, while residents of Georgia will be able to take part in this deal, even though our team lost, residents of the northeast will be able to celebrate the big win in style as they will recieve a upgraded accommodations in the form of a complimentary automatic room upgrade.

For additional information about this offer or to make your reservation, call 1-800-227-1500 and you must mention your homestate. Guests must have appropriate valid state ID to present upon check-in. This offer is not available from the dates of December 22-31, 2017. Additional fees and other restrictions may apply.

Hurry! To take advantage of this deal, you must book by February 28, 2017!

Ask It: Best Special Event at Epcot

by on February 22, 2017

Best Special Event at Epcot

Last week, we presented this #AskIt —

My favorite special event at Epcot is…

Without a doubt, people are passionate about special events at Epcot. For many, it was difficult to choose just one. For others, there was one that drew large amounts of vitriol. With more than 800 votes in, here’s the results (in order from least to greatest).

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Geyser Point Impresses On Opening Day

by on February 22, 2017

Geyser Point overlooks Bay Lake at Disney's Wilderness Lodge.With so many changes in the works for Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Boulder Ridge Villas, it was inevitable we’d see a new dining hotspot for the resort’s guests. The latest addition to the resort’s great slate of restaurants, Geyser Point Bar & Grill, recently opened while construction crews add finishing touches to the new lakeside villas and pool area. Functioning as a hybrid quick service location and outdoor bar for the neighboring quiet pool, Geyser Point is currently the main quick serve dining location for the resort while Trout Pass Pool Bar and Roaring Fork undergo refurbishment.

I dropped in for lunch on opening day to get a look at the new menus and location, and at first glance, Geyser Point really wowed me. The location is spectacular – set right on the edge of Bay Lake (adjacent to Trout Pass and the geyser walkway), the covered (with an actual roof!) cushy seating area surrounds a central bar, with a quick service window and accompanying drink refill station on one exterior edge. The open-air seating area features built-in fans and heaters, useful for both of Florida’s seasons (the two-week winter and then summer), as well as pull-down shade screens on all sides that will protect guests from inclement weather.

With architecture matching the main lodge, Geyser Point blends in to the resort seamlessly.This place is pretty versatile – you can order quick food to-go, or stay a while and have your food delivered to you in the seating area (on real plates with real silverware – a true luxury at Walt Disney World quick service locations). If bar/lounge food is more your speed, you can take a seat and one of the roaming cocktail servers will come to take your order from the separate bar menu. Once you’re done with your meal (either quick food or bar menu food), Cast Members will come clear your table for you.

Quick service food options are pretty traditional fare – sandwiches and salads, but the menu emphasizes seafood options (crab cakes and grilled salmon) uncommon at many other resort quick service locations. Even the burger comes with a slightly-elevated option – you can grab the standard beef burger common around Walt Disney World, but you can also opt for a bison burger. The menu is definitely a little more adventurous than the resort’s other quick service location, Roaring Fork (which serves solid, simple sandwiches, flatbreads, and salads).

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2017 Tokyo Disneyland Trip Planning Guide

by on February 22, 2017

Tokyo Disneyland Trip Planning

You want to go on another Disney vacation, but where do you go? You’ve been to Walt Disney World and Disneyland more times than you can count. Next you think “Maybe a Disney Cruise?” Not happening, your brother-in-law wants you to wait until little Sally (your niece’s second cousin, twice removed) graduates from sixth grade so you can all go as a family. Then it comes to you, Tokyo Disneyland. You remember your curiosity being piqued from seeing pictures of DisneySea online. “Doesn’t that place have a volcano?” Hell yes it has a volcano, and I’m here to tell you that it’s awesome. You’ve found your next Disney destination, and hopefully with this 2017 Tokyo Disneyland trip planning guide I will help you plan it.

Note: This is an updated version of the TDR trip planning guide I posted last year.

Step 1: When to visit Tokyo Disney Resort

Tokyo Disney Resort, or TDR, is always going to have huge crowds and high wait times, especially on the weekends. I’ve spent thousands of hours in the American Disney parks but have never seen anything like the crowds during a weekend in Tokyo Disneyland. With that being said there are a few times out of the year where crowds are smaller than they usually are, but this luxury may come at the cost of poor weather or multiple attraction closures due to refurbishments.

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California Grill Introduces Celebration at the Top Event

by on February 21, 2017

Celebration at the Top - Disney's California Grill

©Rikki Niblett

Are you looking for an intimate, semi-private special experience at the California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort? Beginning February 26, Guests will be able to take part in the new Celebration at the Top – Savor, Sip, and Sparkle event which celebrates both fine food and fireworks.

During this event, which takes place on Sunday evenings, Guests will be able to savor small plates and enjoy fine libations that take their inspirations from the California Grill’s menu. Guests will be able to enjoy culinary offerings including canapés, sushi and other small plates. Beverages will include a complimentary bar offering California wines, beers, and cordials. Guests can relax and dine in the private Sonoma Room and Napa Room for one hour prior to the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks extravaganza.

Then, as showtime approaches, Guests will be able to step out on the private observation deck that is reserved exclusively for Celebration at the Top Guests. Enjoy Wishes with the lights dimmed and the music pipped in.

Once the fireworks are over, Guests are invited to go back inside and enjoy petit fours, cordials, and coffee.

The cost of this event is $99 plus gratuity and tax per person. Complimentary valet parking is included with this event. Reservations can be made by calling (407) WDW-DINE.

 

#PlusMyVacation – 10 Ways to Enhance Your Disney Cruise

by on February 21, 2017

#PlusMyVacation - Disney Cruise Line

Welcome back to another #PlusMyVacation – where we look at ways to add a little something extra special to your travels. Today’s edition looks how to make your Disney Cruise even cruisier and extra relaxy.

A Disney cruise is an amazing experience, and you don’t need to add a thing to have an amazing time! But let’s say you wanted to! Maybe you’ve done several cruises and want to add a little extra. Maybe you want to make this a once in a lifetime kind of vacation. Or maybe you just have money to burn! And if you do, you should definitely invite some of us to go with you. Cruising with the Touring Plans bloggers? What could be more fun?

Whatever reason you may have to plus your vacation, here are 10 ways you could do it!

1. Concierge – If you are going to spend more money on your cruise, this is my number one recommendation for what to spend it on. I cannot say enough about how much I love concierge. I wrote a previous blog post that lays out the amazingness of it. If you thought you were pampered on a cruise in a regular stateroom, you may as well have been on a tugboat compared to the experience you’ll have in concierge. Disney’s concierge hosts are the best of the best. The rooms are luxurious and if you’re lucky enough to be in a suite, you won’t believe how much room you have. There are lounges on all four ships now, which I think is a huge plus. I love relaxing in the lounges. My one caution? It’s very very hard to go back from concierge. Once you’ve done it, you won’t want to ever not do it.

2. Upcharge Meals – It may seem silly to pay for food when there is sooooo much free food onboard. Trust me, these upcharge meals are worth it. Palo is Disney’s adult-only Italian restaurant onboard all four ships. It’s $30 (plus gratuity) a person for dinner or brunch which is served on sea days. $30 for an adult only meal may sell you right there! But if it doesn’t, let me assure you that it’s a delicious meal. I’d be hard pressed to tell you which is my favorite, dinner or brunch. Dinner has filet mignon and one of my top two desserts on the entire planet – the chocolate soufflé. Brunch has my favorite entrée – chicken parmesan. And sticky buns. And croissants. And flatbreads. And I could go on all day. Remy is only on the Dream and Fantasy, and is the adult only French restaurant. Remy has four different dining experiences! There’s an amazing multi course dinner which is $85. There’s also a champagne brunch, a dessert experience, and a small plate tasting. I’m a pretty picky eater, and while there are many things in Remy that aren’t in my normal wheelhouse of foods, I can tell you every meal I’ve had there was delicious. Experience is the right word for Remy. You aren’t just eating delicious food, it’s an experience. From start to finish. Try it! If you’re looking to plus your vacation even more, there are even more upcharge options like wine pairings in your upcharge restaurants.

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Attraction Overview: Spaceship Earth – Epcot

by on February 21, 2017

Photo - Angela DahlgrenHappy Tuesday everyone!

Today’s video is an attraction overview of Spaceship Earth. This is located in Epcot’s Future World at Walt Disney World!

Spaceship Earth Overview

Enjoy!

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What You Need to Know Before You See Rivers of Light

by on February 21, 2017

It’s finally here. After months of delays and a long hype campaign, Rivers of Light has made its debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Once upon a time, having Animal Kingdom open at night, let alone its own night time show, was just a dream. The fact that it is finally a reality is enough to make me happy. Personally, I found the show to fit the spirit of Animal Kingdom very well and think it is a nice addition to this Walt Disney World theme park that always seems to be fighting an uphill battle.

 

On your next visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom you should definitely make time to see this new night time show. Rivers of Light is worth seeing at least once, and here’s what you need to know before you go.

FastPass+ entrance – Rivers of Light

There will be lines

(regardless of if you have a FastPass+ or not)

Even if you book a FastPass+ for Rivers of Light or if you book a dining package, there will be lines to get into the ampitheater. There are two main entrances into the theater, one in Asia, near Expedition Everest, and the other in DinoLand U.S.A. The Asia entrance is FastPass+ and dining package only. The DinoLand entrance is standby, and dining package seating, though it seems to a lesser extent than the Asia side.

If you have either a FastPass+ or dining package you are guaranteed a seat up until about 5-10 minutes before show time.  The advantage of both of these options is to not have to get to the theater 45 minutes before showtime just to get a seat of any kind. Both methods save you time.

Asia side of theater nearly full 30 minutes before Rivers of Light show time

 

In my opinion it was worth having the FastPass+ when I viewed Rivers of Light. It reduces the stress and worry of wondering if you’re even going to get into the theater, plus the standby line is quite long. So while FastPass+ and dining package guests are seated in the theater, hundreds of standby guests wait standing in a long, winding line.

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