The SATURDAY SIX has some Magical Memories after a recent WDW vacation

by on September 9, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look back at its recent WDW vacation! We’re going to take a brief break from our normal routine here on this fine blog series, as we here in Florida are having to deal with Hurricane Irma. In fact, this past Thursday I cut my Walt Disney World stay short in order to drive back down towards the storm and experienced a moment straight out of The Walking Dead. So while we in the Sunshine State are in the process of hunkering down or escaping, we’ll do a quick look back at some things I experienced during my time at The Mouse. This includes my first ever dessert party, my first time riding an attraction that is actually older than me, and a ton of outrageous food. Speaking of which, let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – The Rio Grande Nacho Challenge at Pecos Bills

For some reason known only to Disney themselves, in the past year or so a whole bunch of “secret” menu items have appeared at the parks and resorts. One of the newer items is the incredible Rio Grande Nacho Challenge at Pecos Bill’s in the Magic Kingdom.

The Rio Grande Nacho Challenge. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Fist let’s get to the particulars. The cost is $85. That may sound crazy, but I believe there is a lot of value here, and will explain along the way. Pecos Bill currently has an AP discount, so after discount and tax the total was $72.42. The Rio Grande is only served between 3-6PM, and Pecos Bills will only serve four groups per hour. So if you are interested in trying this out, be sure to get there as early as you can to check in and reserve a time.

The picture above shows how the Rio Grande is normally served, while the picture below is what you get if you ask for the toppings to be served on the side. There is a whole bunch of meat on these nachos, and everyone absolutely loved the chicken. The beef crumbles and pulled pork weren’t bad at all, but the chicken was really tasty.

The Rio Grande, served with toppings on the side. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Pecos Bills does the Rio Grande right in terms of presentation, as groups are brought back to a reserved section of the restaurant. There are fun, old timey tin plates and cups for everyone in the group. Two pitchers of whatever drinks you prefer are served with the Rio Grande, but you can ask for pitchers of any other type of beverage once those are gone. We originally started with lemonade and iced tea, but eventually also got pitchers of Coke, Diet Coke, and water.

Three new sheriffs have been deputized in Frontierland. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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One Night at Hard Rock Hotel for Two Days at Universal Orlando

by on September 5, 2017

I recently traveled with relatives who wanted to visit Universal Orlando for two days. To maximize that time, I decided to book a room for one night at one of Universal’s deluxe hotels in order to enjoy two days of Early Park Admission and Unlimited Universal Express.

The plan was basically this:

  1. Book the cheapest hotel room that will hold 4 adults and 1 kid (those who would use Universal Express).
  2. Arrive before park opening on check-in day to get Universal Express and enjoy Early Park Admission at one park.
  3. Check out early the next day in time to enjoy Early Park Admission at the other park.
  4. Use Universal Express wherever possible in order to breeze through attraction lines.

The plan mostly worked well, but weather and my group’s stamina prevented us from doing everything in the Universal Orlando parks during those two days. This article focuses on Hard Rock Hotel and the stay’s impact on touring the Universal Orlando theme parks.

Deluxe Queen Room

Hard Rock Hotel

There are several Hard Rock Hotel locations in the world. Like the other on-site Universal Orlando hotels, this location is run by Loews. (Hard Rock has its own Rock Royalty loyalty programs, so you cannot utilize the Loews YouFirst program here.) This is a resort-style hotel, with a snazzy pool, organized activities, several restaurants, a fitness center, and more.

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Ask It: How Many People Really Fit in a Value Room?

by on August 30, 2017

Last week, we showed you what the newly refurbished rooms look like at Pop Century. With their small room size and either double beds, or the Murphy bed/table combination in rooms with queen-size beds, any way you slice it, you have to be pretty good friends or family that likes each other to put the maximum number of people in a room at a value hotel. Are the occupancy limits for a Value room accurate to how many people will fit in there comfortably, or is it like serving sizes on a bag of chips, where the numbers don’t work for most people’s reality. So this week we’re asking you:

Value resorts theoretically sleep 4 (+1 infant in a pack ‘n’ play), but how many people do you comfortably sleep in a Value room?

  • 4 (40%, 181 Votes)
  • 2 (34%, 155 Votes)
  • 3 (24%, 111 Votes)
  • 1 (2%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 454

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Voting is open here and on Twitter.

Do you have any tips to maximize the comfort for everyone staying in a room or the use of the limited space? Got any horror stories or success stories about your Value resort stays? Let us know in the comments. We’ll have your results next week!


Disney Testing Pre-Order Service at All Star Music

by on August 30, 2017

Disney is testing a new pre-order service at Intermission Food Court, the quick service location at All Star Music. This service is currently offered for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at All Star Music only. The other All Star resorts (Sports and Movies) are not testing pre-orders, nor are the other value resorts, Pop Century and Art of Animation. This service is different from mobile ordering through MyDisneyExperience.

To use the service, pick up any grab and go items you want, place your order with the cashier, pay, and take a pager. You can then grab a table, cutlery, napkins, and any fountain beverages you ordered. When your food is ready, the pager goes off and you collect your order at the pizza pickup window.

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Review of Refurbished Rooms at Disney’s Pop Century Resort

by on August 24, 2017

The rooms at Disney’s Pop Century Resort have received their first major update since opening in late 2003. While the resort’s colorful exteriors and icons (such as Roger Rabbit, jars of Play-Doh, and Rubik’s Cubes) remain unchanged, the rooms have been redesigned from top to bottom. Here’s our review of refurbished rooms at Disney’s Pop Century Resort.

When I first walked in to one of the refurbished rooms at Pop Century, I thought “Where do I even begin?” Everything has been changed, even the floor. Gone is the carpet with Mickey heads. Rooms now feature hardwood floors. I found the room to have much more echo because of this. But overall I think this is a big improvement in terms of looks. The down side is that dirt, hair, and other debris you’ve tracked in is now much more more noticeable.

Pop’s beds have been upgraded from double to queen size, which is great. I found the bed to be very comfortable, and a bit on the soft side. The themed bedspreads were removed a couple of years ago in favor of the all white sheets seen above. The poster featuring Disney items from different decades has also been removed. The only art you’ll find in the room is the pop art Mickey above the bed, and Pluto above the second bed. Beneath the bed you’ll find open space that is tall enough to fit most bags and suitcases. On the bed you’ll find EIGHT pillows. Why? Because…

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Julia’s Best Week Ever, August 10, 2017: Port Orleans Staycation

by on August 10, 2017

School. Starts. Monday. No matter how many times I look at the calendar, I still can’t believe it. This summer has flown by. With family visits and our ah-maze-ing cruise, it seems like we just got started on summer and it is already gone. We were able to find a reasonable rate at Port Orleans French Quarter, and since we haven’t stayed there in 10 years (yipes!), it sounded like a perfect choice for an end-of-summer staycation.

Port Orleans French Quarter has been a sentimental favorite for us–it’s where we stayed on our honeymoon. Although it is a moderate resort, I actually prefer it to some deluxe resorts. The fact it is so small also means that there’s not really a bad building to stay in, because everything is convenient. We arrived early in the morning to check in because we wanted to take the bus from the resort to Magic Kingdom. Because we weren’t planning to sleep there–just pay for the room as a place to change and hang out and watch Mickey cartoons if it rained–we took the option to skip Mousekeeping service for our stay and snagged a $15 gift card for the two nights. Time for breakfast!

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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We LOVE Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

by on July 29, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We LOVE Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. With 26 on-site resorts at Walt Disney World, there is a wide variety of choices for families coming down. We’ve covered many here on the SATURDAY SIX including Value Resorts (Art of Animation and Pop Century), Moderates (Port Orleans Riverside and Coronado Springs), and Deluxe (Contemporary and Animal Kingdom Lodge). We also can’t forget the Disney Vacation Club resorts such as Old Key West. Today we are going to take a look at one of WDW’s original resorts, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.

Fort Wilderness. (photo by Julia Mascardo)

Overlooked by many Disney guests because it is not a traditional hotel, Fort Wilderness is one of the oldest resorts at WDW opening about a month after the Magic Kingdom all the way back in 1971. Since that time, the entire area has gone through a lot of changes and is really one of the most special places on property. Today we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite parts of Fort Wilderness, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Tri-Circle-D Ranch

Talk about a “hidden gem” at Walt Disney World, and one that is hidden in plain sight. Located directly next to Pioneer Hall – and Disney’s legendary Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (we’ll get to that later) – is Tri-Circle-D Ranch, home to all the horses at WDW. That’s right, from the horses you’ll see pulling the trolley on Main Street USA to the Headless Horseman’s steed at MNSSHP, they all spend their off time here at the Ranch. Aside from just walking around and admiring their beautiful animals, the Ranch also offers pony rides for children and horseback rides for those aged 9 and up (while walking around the Ranch is free, there is a charge for rides.)

At the back of the Ranch there is a giant barn, and inside you’ll find a wonderful tribute to the history of horses and the Walt Disney Company (including some fantastic pictures of Walt himself with horses.) Here you can also see many horses hanging out in their stalls, and outside of each there is a placard giving some information about each horse. I highly recommend taking a trip to the Tri-Circle-D Ranch on your next WDW visit. There are so many types of breeds that call the Ranch home including Arabian, Clydesdale, Belgian, and Shetland ponies.

Tri-Circle-D Ranch. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Tri-Circle-D Ranch. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside: Pools, Dining and Recreation

by on July 18, 2017

Photo - Angela DahlgrenWelcome back to Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside!

Back in Part One, we talked theme, rooms and room views. Today, I’m covering the pools, dining and recreation.

PS. There’s no singing in this episode. I thought you all deserved the break.


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Walt Disney World to Add 15th Disney Vacation Club Resort – Disney’s Riviera Resort

by on July 16, 2017

This week will see the opening of Walt Disney World’s newest Disney Vacation Club Resort, Copper Creek Villas, but Disney isn’t slowing down yet. At the D23 Expo, Disney announced their 15th Disney Vacation Club Resort called Disney’s Riviera Resort.

Disney's Riviera Resort




This resort will be located near Epcot and Guests will be able to see the nighttime spectaculars at both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and at Epcot courtesy of a rooftop restaurant with sweeping views.

This new resort experience will feature approximately 300 units spread across a variety of accommodation types. In addition, the new skyway transportation system will connect the new resort to other areas on Walt Disney World property.

Disney’s Riviera Resort will open in the fall of 2019, so stay tuned for more details.

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside: Overview and Rooms

by on July 11, 2017

Hello wonderful readers!

It’s been a couple of weeks (computer issues…ba humbug), but I’m back with a new video.

Join me down the bayou as I take you through Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, a moderate resort in Walt Disney World.

Disclaimer: I filmed this at night after a very long day…there was a lot of singing. I apologize.

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