You’ve spent endless hours planning your vacation at Walt Disney World in Orlando! You’ve checked, double-checked, and triple-checked your lists! There are as many different ways to start your time at WDW, as there are people who visit! Here are a couple of my favorite ways! LET’S GO!!
Whether flying or driving, when you plan to arrive is key to determining what your first day might look like. One if my favorite ways to begin my time at WDW, is to first make sure I arrive as early as possible. Once I have checked into my resort, and hopefully my room, I tend to grab a quick bite at the resort food court and head for a bus stop! My first stop…MAGIC KINGDOM!
If this all works out, I will be in the Magic Kingdom around noon or shortly after. I have successfully done this on at least 4 occasions! This gives me plenty of time to get to a few of my traditional attractions and take in a bit of the surroundings. My first ride? Typically, It’s A Small World! I usually stop here on my way to The Haunted Mansion, and I never regret the choice. Small World is full of classic Disney Imagineering designs. Sure, the music can be a bit repetitive, but it’s part of the charm.
Second stop is, as mentioned above, The Haunted Mansion! I still can’t tell what part of the stretch room is “actually stretching”…hahahaha. But, again, it is a classic WDW attraction and it helps get me into a magical frame of mind!
Another way to begin my stay, done twice, is to just enjoy the resort! It is difficult for me to spend the kind of money required for a WDW resort and NOT get to see some of it! So, if my arrival is later than 10am, I tend to make use of the resort pool, grounds, food court, and even just stay in the room! After all, the rooms are nice!
On our last visit, we arrived at the resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, about 10am, checked into our room, and my girls and I grabbed a bus to Downtown Disney, and the Earl of Sandwich! I had a coupon to use for my birthday, and had always heard how good the food was here. So, off we went! The bus ride wasn’t bad and gave us a chance to see a little of Saratoga Springs along the way! My oldest daughter loved that!
We then went back to the resort, walked around, used the pool a bit, and then we drove over to Disney’s Beach Club Resort for a taste of Beaches and Cream!
May I say, the No Way Jose’ was YUMMY! We walked around the Boardwalk for a short time, before heading back to AOA for a good night’s sleep in preparation for an all out assault on The Magic Kingdom.
I can recommend taking the first day to relax and take in a few things outside of the parks. There is a lot to see, and we don’t always take the time to enjoy these areas. But, don’t give up on the idea of hitting a park, if you can be there by early afternoon, either.
Thanks for reading and have a Blessed and Magical Day!!
We hear about it all the time! Is it free? Do I pay extra? What does it include? In this short series, we will look at each dining plan that is offered at Walt Disney World. We will attempt to get into the details about what is included and how it affects your costs, if you pay to include it on your Magic Your Way package.
Today, we look at Quick-Service Dining!
Quick-Service (or Counter) Service locations are generally places you can eat at on the run, without an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR), and there may or may not be seating areas provided. The Disney Dining Plan offers a package that includes two quick-service meals and one snack per night of your stay. It also includes a resort-refillable mug usable at your resort food court and can be refilled as often as you like! One thing to remember about the mug is that it is RFID equipped, just sit it under the spout of the drink you desire and press the button, the display will tell you everything you need to know after that.
Your quick-service breakfast is one entree or complete combo meal and a single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage. For lunch and dinner just add a dessert! You also get one snack credit that can be used for Mickey Bars, Ice Cream, bottles of soda or water, or anything that has the official DDP logo next to it (see above).
When you check into your Walt Disney World Resort, you will receive a total number of entitlements according to the length of stay and type of meal package in which you are participating. Keep an eye on those entitlements, your receipts will show your balance, because many people end up with extras at the end of a trip, and it can be a bit overwhelming to use them all in a few short hours before your vacation ends!
A few examples of quick-service (counter-service) restaurants in the parks are: Flame Tree BBQ in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Sunshine Seasons or Tangerine Cafe in EPCOT, Starring Rolls at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Pecos Bills at The Magic Kingdom. Downtown Disney, soon to be Disney Springs, has some good offerings in this area, as well. You can try Wolfgang Puck’s Express, or (my fav) Earl Of Sandwich!
The added cost to your package, if you purchase the Quick-Service Dining Plan is $41.99 per adult per night and $16.03 per child per night ages 3 – 9. Look at the eating habits of your family, and check the menus out online at http://www.disneyworld.com to see if this would be a benefit to your trip.
The Quick-Service Dining package is often giving at Value level resorts, if a free dining or special package rate is announced by Disney. These meals are really good for those who don’t want to be strapped to a dining schedule and just want to grab on the run. And, many of these locations do offer significant seating areas in shade or air conditioning, if you need time to just chill and recover before moving on to the next attraction.
One more thing, your entitlements are connected to your MagicBands, so make sure all is well before you leave the check-in desk at your resort.
I hope this is helpful for you all, and I’ll be back soon with a look at the Plus Dining Package! For now, have a Blessed and Magical evening, my friend!
I have gotten the Vacation Planning Video every year for several years, and when I ordered this year’s version, I wasn’t expecting much. Was I every surprised!
The 2014 Vacation Planning Video has been completely reimagined, to use Disney terminology. A lot of good visuals showcasing everything from Theme Park overviews to more specific looks at rides, dining options, and entertainment all around the resort.
This video is an excellent tool to use, in conjunction with your Authorized Disney Travel Planner, to help put together the most magical experience you could ever design, and even introduce you to some different ideas to make that possible. And, it even gives you a very brief look at each resort available on the WDW property. I only wish there had been a bit more said about each resort to give us a better idea of what they have to offer.
You can view both Walt Disney World in Florida AND Disneyland in California on this presentation. So, you can plan your vacation to either destination, or get a quick Disney fix if you are something of a Disney Parks Addict, like me!
When headed to Walt Disney World, there is one thing can’t be avoided by most guests! You will be doing a lot of WALKING!
Each day at one of the theme parks, resorts, or Downtown Disney can bring many hours and several miles of walking to your everyday routine. It is vitally important to plan accordingly! The first thing I would recommend is to get out and start walking while you are still at home. This may seem like a little thing, but it can be a bigger issue than we prepare for properly. Failure can lead to blisters and other foot issues that can make your vacation a bit more challenging.
Make sure you have a good pair of shoes to wear in park, too! I would not suggest a brand new pair, however, because this isn’t the best method of breaking them in. I think that if you buy a new pair, you should do it at least a month ahead of your trip!
Also, as a backup, have some moleskin on hand should blisters become a part of your journey. You can buy it in sheets to save money, and cut them into the sizes you need. They do provide a considerable amount of cushioning and can save your time-sensitive touring of the parks.
Don’t let the amount of walking scare you off! Plan accordingly and get moving!
Sure, you got to Walt Disney World to visit the theme parks! But, what can you do to make this time even more? Today, in the ABCs of Walt Disney World, we take a look at the XTRAS!
One of the big Xtras around the resort is the Bibbidi-Bobbidi Boutique, or BBB to keep it short. These can be found in both The Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney. Your little girl can become a princess with a makeover designed to create some special magic. Hair, make-up, even clothing are options! However, if you want to save a little money and know what your girl will wear, you can bring your own dress! Either way, it will create a special memory that will last forever! There is a cost to this and reservations are recommended!
The Pirate League is found at The Magic Kingdom and is able to be enjoyed by everyone in the family! You can get a makeover that turns you into your favorite pirate, or create one of your own! Don’t forget to get your picture taken! There is a cost to this, and reservation are strongly suggested as this is a very popular experience.
Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure takes you on a secret mission around the World Showcase at EPCOT. Using a specially designed communicator, you will receive messages to direct you to your next clue as you search for Dr. Doofenschmirtz and foil is evil plot. You can play for a little or as much as you wish! And, this is a free activity!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers the Wilderness Explorers. Up’s Russell and Dug lead you on an adventure through the Animal Kingdom on a fact-finding mission that can bring you the reward of up to 30 badges to collect. Just pick up your field guide and start making your way around the park. You’ll discover details you never knew existed and appreciate the work of the imagineers. This is also a free activity!
One last freebie to share is at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! As part of the Magic of Disney Animation attraction, guest can participate at the Animation Station. Learn how to draw some of your favorite Disney characters with the help of an actual Disney Animator! And, the best thing about this activity is that you end up with a free souvenir!
There are many more Xtras around WDW, so take some time to seek them out to make your vacation even more special!
Well, half way through the ABCs of Disney! This topic is courtesy of one of my daughters, so thank you daughter!
We use them everywhere we go! Although, today we use our smartphones to look at them, and GPS has it’s good points. But, when at Walt Disney World, it the old-fashioned type. You have to unfold it, and find the legend to know what is where! For the adults, this brings back memories. For you kids, this may be something completely alien to them and Stitch isn’t even around! When entering one of the Theme Parks, grab a MAP!
Every park, resort, walkway, and even Downtown Disney has a guide map to help you find your way around. In the theme parks, you can find the attractions you want to see most, plan the best route to get there, and pick out a place to grab a snack along the way. At Downtown Disney, you can look at the map to find your way to the little nooks of The Marketplace or the grand entertainment venues of The West Side!
I stayed at one resort this last trip, and visited the one next to it! Apparently they LOVE maps at Disney World. There was a map at every building area and a few other places along the way to help keep you from getting lost. Or, was it so you could find a place to get lost for a bit in the story? Both Art of Animation and Pop Century have maps all around the resorts. And, as I recall, so did Port Orleans – Riverside when we were there a few years back!
The Guide Maps are really nice souvenirs to collect and they are FREE! So, the next time you’re in a park, at a resort, or at Downtown Disney grab one for your scrapbook, or whatever you have to keep it in, and allow it to feed your memories. After all, isn’t that what a trip to Walt Disney World is all about?
Until next time, my friends, have a Blessed and Magical Day!!
I’m sure we have all heard the expression, “As different as night and day”! Well, at Walt Disney World it really is more than an expression, that’s the truth. And, the reason it is true? LIGHTING!
The structures all around Walt Disney World have unique characteristics. The attention to detail, as discussed in our January 21 post, Details (http://wp.me/s23hiG-details), just pops as you look around at the color, architecture, and perspective. But, there’s just a bit more to this detail and that is the different personality the parks, resorts, even Downtown Disney take on at night. The reason for that personality change? Lighting!
Think of Cinderella’s Castle during the day. The beautiful colors, the shape of the spires, the contract against the Florida sky and you stand there looking at it in awe of it’s beauty. Now, see it at night! The castle is just one of the examples of how lighting affects the appearance! Especially at Christmas time!
Or, Spaceship Earth at EPCOT as it changes from a giant silver, shiny ball to a multi-colored accent that is the icon of this, my favorite, park!
Even in the resorts, lighting plays a part in the atmosphere of your surroundings. At Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, the iconic figures that adorn the property have a beautiful and impressive look to them. At night, the take on a whole different look that makes you stop and just soak it in! These pictures give you just a taste of what I mean.
Even the building in the background looks a little different!
As you can see, lighting is as much a part of the show as the cast members. Next time you are in a park, resort, or at Downtown Disney, take a look around at how special the feel is where you are! I think you’ll know it when you feel it!
Until next time, I wish you a Blessed and Magical Day, my friends!
Our next installment of the ABCs of Walt Disney World takes a look at a bigger picture when planning your vacation, Experiences!
Located around the Walt Disney World property are a lot of different types of experiences. Sure, many people think all of the experiences are within the four theme parks. Today we are going to look at some experiences outside the parks, but still on property.
At Downtown Disney, you can experience an exclusive presentation from Cirque Du Soleil called La Nouba. Filled with high-flying acrobats, feats of strength, and entertainment that is fit for everyone in the entire family. You can get tickets at https://shop.omniticket.com/wdw/wcq/index.cfm.
There are plenty of watercraft options all around the property. There are boat rentals all around the place. Canoes, kayaks, pedal boats, and motorized boats can be found at many locations. Just check with guest services at your resort to make arrangements.
Finally, I’d like to suggest an experience for couples celebrating being together. This DOES NOT have to be an anniversary or birthday. It could be a just because moment. Take your sweetheart over to the Boardwalk near the Yacht and Beach Club resorts! You can walk around this beautifully themed area reminiscent of a turn-of-the-century waterfront environment with performers all around. Or, you could grab some Ice Cream at Beaches and Cream at the Beach Club. Remember, if you want to sit down at Beaches and Cream, you will need to make a reservation at 407-WDW-DINE.
These are just a few ideas of how to spend time outside of the parks. There are experiences all over the place, you just have to look for them! I hope this gives you some ideas.
Thanks for reading! Have a Blessed and Magical day!!
I simply updated my Photo Album page! It now includes several pictures from our Recent visit to Walt Disney World, December 4-9, 2013. Please visit the Photo Album Page at http://wp.me/P23hiG-6W . Thanks!!
During our vacation to Walt Disney World, we experienced several different types of food. We had mostly good experiences and some that were a bit disappointing. Keep in mind that this is review comes from an everyday guy who only gets to visit Walt Disney World every few years or so. This means that my experience with Disney restaurants is very limited. And, we judge by how we find the meals to be during our visit. So, here we go!
On our arrival day, my daughters and I went to Downtown Disney for a visit to the Earl of Sandwich. I had heard so many great things about the sandwiches here, that I had to try it! And, I had my birthday code with me, so I had a freebie coming to me. I got the Ham and Swiss with Honey Mustard Sauce, which I found to be delicious! My oldest daughter got the Chicken Caesar Salad and really enjoyed it. While my youngest daughter got the Best BLT and she raved about how good it tasted to her. In fact, we enjoyed this place so much, the whole family went back right before we had to head home.
We then journeyed over the Disney’s Beach Club Resort for a taste of Beaches and Cream. My son attempted to take on The Kitchen Sink. He gave it his best effort, but in the end the Kitchen Sink won. My choice for the evening was the No Way Jose’. It’s a lot of peanut butter, but so very delicious! I did a pretty good job of taking care of the ice cream in my bowl. In case you haven’t heard, Beaches and Cream is now an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) selection. Keep that in mind!
For my birthday, December 5, we had dinner at the well-known ‘Ohana! I have to say that this meal was a bit disappointing. Not because of the food, but the service just wasn’t up to what we had experienced on our last visit. We were seated about 20 minutes late, which isn’t THAT big of a deal, but it took forever for our drinks to be served and there was a delay on serving food as there wasn’t enough ready. I will say, however, that once the food started getting to the table, it was an all-out feast! The only issue with the food was that I thought the pork wasn’t quite as tender as it should have been and a bit on the fatty side.
While at Disney’s Hollywood Studio, we had dinner at Mom’s Place. I mean, 50s Prime Time Café. I enjoyed Mom’s Old Fashioned Pot Roast very much! The meat was fork tender and the potatoes were just a little lumpy the way mom used to make them. I tasted the Pumpkin Spice milkshake one of my daughters had and all I can say is YUMMY! That was a really good shake. There was some fried chicken on the table that looked spectacular and I believe a bit of salmon. The food was very well cooked, but again, the service wasn’t quite the level I expect when dining in a Disney restaurant.
Next on our list was a surprise to us. After reading as much as I could about this restaurant, I wasn’t sure it was a good choice. But, with the addition of seats for The Candlelight Processional, it fit our schedule best. And, the dining experience I am referring to is…Nine Dragons at the China Pavilion. Many reviews don’t paint a flattering picture of the food or ambiance of this restaurant. Not only did we find it to be an excellent experience, but the food was very good! I would have to say that this was, indeed, our best meal on this vacation. My wife had the Kung Pao Chicken which had a spice that really took on a personality the longer it danced across the tongue. One daughter had the Honey Sesame Chicken and it had a sweet and slightly tangy taste to it. My other daughter and Mother-in-law had the Shrimp Fried Rice, but it’s not like the stuff you get down the street. This had jumbo shrimp and was served in a large bowl of fried rice. And my son and I enjoyed our Fragrant Five-Spiced Fish which became more delicious with every bite! The fish is slow pan seered to make sure that it is cooked through. The Five-Spiced Sauce is in a separate cup and can be used as a dipping sauce or poured over the fish. And, our server made this particular meal exceptionally enjoyable. We really liked Nine Dragons, and will revisit again in the future.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, our main meal was Flame Tree barbeque. And, I have to say that it was exceptional barbeque! The sweet and spicy sauce really adds to the flavor of any of the meats you might decide to eat. The only difficult part is that all of the sit-down areas are outside and there were a lot of birds hanging close to the tables. May I recommend the Shredded Pork Sandwich? The meat was very tender and juicy, and when you add the sauce, it becomes one of the most delectable sandwiches on property.
I got to take the Backstage Magic tour on our last day, which included lunch at Whispering Canyon Café. The meal was served in a family style and a few of the folks with me had special meal needs, so there was a lot of food to choose from. On the plate was shredded pork, bbq ribs, Italian sausage, bbq chicken, and mashed potatoes. Talk about down home barbeque! This stuff is really tasty, and the atmosphere of WCC is beautiful and has an open feel. You can find Whispering Canyon at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
The time came to eat our final meal and our choice was The Crystal Palace in The Magic Kingdom. And, while the pricing is a bit on the high side, the character interaction with Winnie-The-Pooh and friends is not to be surpassed. The food was well cooked and had good flavor, the service was adequate, but the visits from the characters made this restaurant a highlight of our trip.
Mrsthreestrandswdw may have more to add later!
Well, that’s it for now. Have a Blessed and Magical Day!