Thursday, June 1, 2017

Restaurant Spotlight: Tusker House!

It took me 12 trips to finally book us a reservation at Tusker House and I couldn't believe I'd over-looked it for so long!

Tusker House is a character buffet restaurant in Africa in Animal Kingdom. The theming and decor is really beautiful, like an African marketplace. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy are decked out in their finest safari attire and come to every table for some fun, photos, and autographs.

Now let's talk FOOD! My favorite part! The breakfast buffet is filled with traditional breakfast fare such as sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, pastries, quiches, and the ever-popular Mickey Waffles, but there are also traditional African dishes such as bobotie, plantains, basmati rice, and coconut sweet potato casserole. YUM! The lunch and dinner buffet is jam-packed with various meat dishes- salmon, chicken, pork, as well as potato, rice, and vegetable dishes, all with an African flair. And don't worry about the little ones. They have corn dogs, mac n cheese, fruit, and other dishes that are sure to make them smile.

And oh my the desserts!!! You better save room for those!

While I was perusing the buffet on my second trip up, I witnessed a Cast Member showing a family around the buffet, pointing out which items were vegan and which were not. I thought that was pretty cool. Disney definitely knows how to cater to its guests. :)

Tusker House serves a variety of beverages, non-alcoholic as well as some alcoholic options. I so need to try that African Margarita! #NextTime

Just make sure you get a good night's sleep...or Goofy will mess with you if you fall asleep at the table ;)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Magical Express!!

One of the great perks of staying at a Disney resorts is the FREE transportation all around property and also Magical Express!

Magical Express is the free shuttle service that picks you up at the airport, takes you to your Disney resort, and then at the end of your trip, it takes you back. I love free, so it's a huge perk in my book!

Before you leave home, you'll receive a packet in the mail from Magical Express. It will contain directions for how to find the Magical Express counter at Orlando Airport as well as bright yellow luggage tags. The tags go on your checked bags before you check them at your home airport. I'll explain those later!

Hop on the plane and soar off for your awesome vacation! The magic starts the second you step off your plane at Orlando International Airport!

When you get to Orlando, you'll be in one of the 4 terminals. You'll need to take the tram to the main terminal. It's easy to find. Just follow the masses. :) Once you're in the main terminal, you'll be on level 3. You need to go down to Level 1, B side,  where all the car rental companies are and the other shuttle services. There will be a great little map in your Magical Express packet.

Simply follow the signs to the check in counter. If you have your Magic Bands on already, simply scan them. If not, you'll need the voucher that was mailed to your house. A Cast member will scan it and direct you to the line for your resort.

Oh, and your luggage?? Don't even worry about it! Those yellow tags mean Disney will grab them from baggage claim for your and whisk them away to the resort. No need for you to fetch them! (It may take up to 3 hours for them to arrive at your resort, so make sure you keep anything of importance with you in your carryon, or just leave the tags off. But if you leave them off, you'll need to fetch your bags from baggage claim at Orlando Airport.)

Once your bus arrives, a Cast Member will escort you to it. If you have suitcases or larger items like a stroller, they will need to be stored in the bus's storage compartments underneath. When you're all set, take a seat and get ready for a fun ride!

The trip from Orlando Airport to the Disney property takes approximately 35-40 minutes, depending on traffic. And the buses often stop at 2 or 3 resorts, so if yours is last, it will take a little longer. But don't worry! Disney has you covered! They show a fun video during your ride. It's extremely informative and shows you all the fun things you'll be experiencing during your vacation. The ride just flies by!

Once you arrive at your resort, gather your belongings and any larger items that have been stored underneath the bus.

The night before you depart, a packet will be delivered to your room with important information about your Magical Express pick up time. It is usually 3 hours prior for domestic flights and 4 for international. Make sure you're there for your pick up time. They cannot guarantee you a spot on a later bus if you miss it.

As far as your suitcases go, you can check those at the Resort Airline Check in desk at the resort. No need to lug them onto the bus.

There you have it! I love Magical Express! Questions??? Ask away!!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Park Passes- Explained!

Disney offers guests several options when it comes to park passes. And it can be kind of hard to decide which one is best for you. Here is a breakdown of what each pass is :)

Base Ticket

This ticket gets you into one park for each day of your pass. For example, if its a 5-day pass, you can go to a Disney park on five separate days. You can go to the same park every day or a different one. You can do two at one, three at another, and so forth. But here's the important part. You can only go to one park each day. Once you enter one park, you can leave, but you can only return to that park. For example, if you go to Magic Kingdom in the morning, then leave and go back to the resort for a nap or swim, you can only return to the Magic Kingdom that evening.
This pass is a great option. There is so much to do and see in each park that there really isn't a need to leave. It's perfect for first-timers and families with young children.

Park Hopper Option

If you add the Hopper to your park pass, you have the ability to "hop" to other parks in the same day. So if you start your day at Magic Kingdom, but decide it's too crowded, or you just need a change of pace, you can go to a different park for the rest of the day. Or you can go to all four of the main theme parks in the same day.
This pass is great for veteran park-goers who know what they like and what they can skip. It's also great for short trips, when you want the option to hop around so you can do more parks in less days. But it's a pricey option. You need to make sure you will definitely use it several days of the trip to get its full value.

Park Hopper Plus

This option allows you the ability to hop as well as access to both of Disney's water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, plus Disney's Oak Trail Golf Course, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and both mini golf courses: Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland. You get one admission per day of your park pass. So if you have a 5-day park pass, you have 5 admissions to the water parks and other entertainment options.

This is a great option for longer trips when you can take full advantage of it. It's not worth the money if you are only able to use it once or twice. If it's a shorter trip, you can always purchase a one-day pass for the water parks. And you can hop between them, no extra charge!

One more thing I'd like to mention. The length of your park pass is not tied to the length of stay, like the dining plan is. You can stay 7 nights but only do a 5-day park pass. If you get the Hopper Plus option, you can use those options on your non-park days.

Questions?? Ask away!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Nothing else can describe it...

The Magic Kingdom is a wonderful place! From the moment you step into the park, you are whisked away to another world where everything you've ever dreamed is possible. Adventure, fantasy, a future filled with amazing things. It's all there waiting for you...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Follow your Dreams!

Walt Disney struggled for many years before he became the man he was destined to be. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Have you seen the new Disney Springs?

Disney Springs, formerly Downtown Disney, has always been a shopping and entertainment district full of cool shops, yummy places to eat, and fun things to do, such as a bowling alley and a movie theater. It's a great place to hang out on a non park day, or in the evening when you've had your fill of the parks.

When I was there in Dec 2015, they were in the middle of a huge expansion. Some of the improvements had already been completed. I was a huge fan of the bridge that connected one part to the other...eliminating the long walk back to the bus stop. But there were walls up and you couldn't see what they were doing with the expansion.

My next visit was Nov 2016, after it was all completely done, and WOW. Just wow!

The old Downtown Disney was divided into three areas: the Marketplace, Pleasure Island, and the West Side. The dance clubs in Pleasure Island closed years ago and the area only held a few restaurants. It was pretty dead. But they took that entire area and completely transformed it. It is now two distinct areas called The Landing and Town Center.

The old bus stop is gone and now there is a brand new one that is more centrally located. You are dropped off at Town Center, and if you are familiar with the old Downtown Disney, you will definitely see you are not in Kansas anymore! It's absolutely beautiful. Very elegant with high end shops to satisfy every shopaholic.

If you head to the right, you eventually hit the Marketplace and it all starts to look familiar again! All the shops and eateries you know and love are still there :)

The Landing and West Side are filled with amazing eateries. So many to choose from! Which makes it so hard to decide!

Parking has always been a huge problem at Downtown Disney, but not anymore. Disney Springs has  two huge parking garages for those that have a car. They even have digital signs outside telling you how many spots are free! So cool!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Live out all your fantasies at Disney World!!

Fast cars and rock 'n roll in your ears! Rock 'n Roller coaster is the perfect way to let your inner rock star out to play!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Resort Spotlight: Port Orleans Riverside ROYAL ROOM!

I had the extreme pleasure of staying in a Royal room during my last Disney World trip! It was everything I'd hoped it would be!

Royal rooms are located in the Port Orleans Riverside resort. It's a moderate resort. The resort itself is beautiful, sitting alongside the Sassagoula River. Half of the resort, Magnolia Bend, is made up of opulent mansions, while the other half, Alligator Bayou, is rustic cottages. I'm sure it's not a surprise to know the Royal rooms are located in the Magnolia Bend section ;)

But here's a little more info about the resort! The main building, the Resort Center, is where the registration and concierge desks are located, as well as the gift shop, lounge, food court, and Boatwright's Dining Hall, a sit down restaurant. There are surrey bikes for rental and you can book a carriage ride through the resort and it's sister resort, Port Orleans French Quarter.

Ol' Man Island is the main pool area with a pool-side bar, water slide, hot tub, and lots of lounge chairs.

There are 4 bus stops throughout the resort, one of them outside the resort center. There is an internal bus system that constantly circles the resort if you need to get from one area to another. There is also a boat that takes you to Disney Springs and back.

The buildings are just beautiful with gardens and fountains, flowers and trees. I love the grand staircases.

The room is stunningly beautiful. I don't know what else to say about them, so just take a look :)

Interested in booking a Royal Room for your next Disney World vacation, contact me today!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

When a Disney Dining Plan Isn't the Best Option for You

I sincerely love the ease of the Disney Dining Plan. I love that everything is prepaid and I don't have to worry or think. I love when my vacations are worry-free and thought-free! I love all the options and yumminess. I love splurging while on vacation! Some days while planning our upcoming trips, all I can do is think about the food I will get to try! And the DESSERTS!!!!

But it's not a great option for everyone. If you identify with any of the reasons below, it might be in your best interest to skip a DDP (Disney Dining Plan).

- You're a light eater. Many families eat very lightly. Many are satisfied with small portions and prefer to just do little snacks most of the day. The one thing Disney does not do is small portions. So two meals a day with giant portions for a family of light eaters is just too much. And you end up wasting food and money. Many light eaters will share meals with their family members, cutting down on costs and food waste.

- You want a loose vacation schedule. There's no getting around it, if you book a Disney Dining plan that includes sit down meals, you need to make reservations. If not, it's very hard to get a seat anywhere, especially at restaurants inside the parks. If you prefer a carefree vacation without having to watch the clock, skip the Dining Plan or opt for the Quick Service plan.

- You hate buffets. And family-style meals, too. Some of the most expensive meals on Disney property are the buffets and family-style meals. Many are character meals. Many people just hate the thought of eating off of a buffet. And aren't too thrilled about family-style either. If you have no desire to do character meals or buffets, then you're not really maximizing the cost of the plan, so it might be best to skip it.

- You don't have a sweet tooth. All table service meals on the Disney Dining Plan include a dessert. You can exchange a dessert for an appetizer at some sit down locations, but it's very limited. If you have no desire to eat dessert at every meal, then the plan might not be a good fit for you.

- There aren't any kids 9 or under in your party. The Disney Dining plan for kids is SOOOOOO cheap!! You save a bundle on them. The cost of the plan alone (per day) is sometimes less than what a character meal costs! So the rest of their food that day is free!

- But if your kids are 10, 11, 12....and don't eat anywhere near as much as an adult, the plan might not be a good fit. Unfortunately, as soon as kids hit 10, they are an adult in Disney's eyes, when it comes to dining and park tickets. Park tickets aren't that much more for an adult...but the dining plan...yikes. It's more than triple the cost of the kid's price.

If any of these reasons resonate with you, your best bet might be to pay for your meals out of pocket. Or take advantage of the Free Dining promotion when/if it's offered.

One the fence? Contact me and I can help you decide!!