When planning a Walt Disney World vacation, it’s important to include some downtime in your itinerary. Most first-time guests don’t realize just how much walking there will be, and how taking a day off from the parks will lead to everyone having a better time overall. Or maybe you’re arriving early or departing late due to your travel arrangements and are looking for something fun to do, without using a park ticket. Did you know that you’re welcome to visit and explore different Walt Disney World resort hotels during your vacation, even if you’re not staying there? Whether you’re looking to take a break in the middle of your trip, or for some fun activities during your arrival and/or departure days, here are my Top 5 Resorts For Non-Park Days.
One of the best pools on Disney Property. Only resort guests are permitted to use the pool.
Disney’s Yacht Club & Beach Club Resorts
Spend some time relaxing by Stormalong Bay, the largest, and in my opinion, the BEST pool on Disney property. Explore the EPCOT Resort Area, including the BoardWalk and taking a ride on the Skyliner gondolas. So much to eat here! Wonderful casual dining options like the ever-popular Beaches & Cream Soda Shop, character breakfast or seafood dinner at Cape May Café, or an upscale Signature Dining experience at Yachtsman Steakhouse. After dinner, walk to the International Gateway entrance to EPCOT, where you can see the nightly fireworks show – the view isn’t as good as from inside the park, but it’s a great, ticket-free way to end your day.
This resort offers a huge amount on onsite activities throughout the day, including resort tours, scavenger hunts, poolside games, nighttime storytelling by the fire and even nocturnal animal viewing with night vision goggles. Meet and get to know the friendly cast members, many of whom are on exchange programs from Africa! One of the best resorts for dining, with tons of options, including wonderful quick-service options, casual table-service such as fan-favourite Sanaa and the buffet at Boma, or an unforgettable Signature Dining experience at Jiko.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts
My favourite Disney Moderate Resorts for a day off! The Riverside location has an enormous pool, tons of activities and a great arcade. The French Quarter property is quiet and relaxing, and very well themed. You’re encouraged to explore both resorts, and they’re located just a few minutes apart. The food here is excellent – I especially love the Cajun and Creole options served in the food courts, such as the Shrimp & Grits, Jambalaya, Gumbo and Beignets. And you’re just a short boat ride away from Disney Springs, which would be a great way to end your day.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Even if you’re not eating at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, it’s a great place for an evening stroll
One of the original Walt Disney World resort hotels, “The Poly” is one of the most immersively themed resorts to this day! It really captures the retro tiki culture vibe in the colours they use, the background music and other design elements. Grab a Dole Whip at Pineapple Lanai and head over to the lovely pool area for some rest. In the evening, don’t miss the nightly torch lighting ceremony. Have a wonderful meal at ‘Ohana (reservations highly recommended) or Kona Café, a real hidden gem. You can even attend a Hawaiian Luau in the evening. If you’re willing to wait, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is a real MUST-DO here – an enchanted tiki bar, where magical things happen depending on what you order. At night, watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Considered by many to be Walt Disney World’s flagship resort, this beautiful Victorian-style property is a great place to spend the day! Lots of lovely grounds to explore, including a massive main building and an amazing pool. A huge variety of dining options here, including quick-service, character dining, casual table-service and several Signature Dining locations, including Victoria & Alberts, recipient of the illustrious AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Awards. In the evening you can listen to the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra perform live. Take a ride around the monorail at night, which allows you to explore two other Disney Deluxe Resorts. Cap off your day by watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach.
Those are my 5 favourites, but there are so many different, wonderful Disney resort hotels for you to explore. Which resorts are your favourites for spending days off from the parks? Please share your recommendations in the comments.
If you’re looking for date night ideas – you can find my recommendations here
Aydin is a lifelong fan of Disney films and theme parks. When he’s not telling you about his last visit to Walt Disney World, he’s busy planning his next one. He and his wife love taking annual trips together from Toronto, often centered around culinary experiences.
Aydin uses his passion and expertise to help his clients create their happiest memories. He would love to curate a personalized vacation experience for you!
If you are looking for a luxurious stay at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, you must check out the villa accommodations at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
The 1-bedroom villa is a stunning 865 square feet (bigger than my first apartment!). Inside you will find accommodations to sleep up to five people: a king size bed in the master bedroom, a queen size pullout sofa & a single pull down murphy bed both in the living room. The room also comes with a pack & play for a child under age 2.
The rooms are themed as the hotel is in a rustic craftsman style with rich wood colours & fabrics, along with unique glass lamp accents and of course a hidden Mickey or two!
It truly is a home away from home. The full kitchen comes complete with a fridge, stove, microwave, toaster and dishwasher. Full sets of dishes/glassware/cutlery are also included along with an assortment of pots & pans and cooking utensils. There is a dining area with a large table, or you can sit at the raised breakfast bar. The open concept includes the living room with a large window and a walkout to the balcony (some that overlook California Adventure Park).
Grand Californian 1 bedroom villa kitchen
Theme Park View
There are 2 full bathrooms in this unit so everyone can get ready at their own pace! One is a 3-piece with a tile & glass shower while the 4-piece master ensuite boasts a both a tile & glass shower & sumptuous jet tub. The master bedroom is very spacious with a sliding door walkout to the balcony.
There is plenty of storage in the unit with large closets both in the master bedroom and foyer. And feel free to pack light there is a stacked washer/dryer in the room as well.
The best part about staying at this spectacular resort: guests get their own dedicated entrance into Disney California Adventure Park & the Downtown Disney District!
The magic of Disney came to Michelle later in life, having done her first trip to Walt Disney World as an adult in 2000. The next visit was with her then 4-year-old daughter and experiencing it through her eyes had her hooked!
Michelle wants to help others experience the same magic by providing concierge-style service every step of the way as she helps plan your dream vacation.
The Copper Creek Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are not the ‘cabin’ that I would be used to – there is no camping here, it’s not even glamping. These cabins are luxury.
These two-bedroom waterfront cabins feature a full kitchen, private porch and a hot tub with views of Bay Lake.
The bedrooms are spacious and if you look closely, there is a little reading bench next to the window! Lots of USB charges and outlets in the night stands next to the bed. That makes a huge difference when you need to charge your phone at night for the next day at the parks!
SHOP FROM OUR TEE PUBLIC STORE!
Pixie Dust Fan’s Tee Public Store
Lots of space at the vanity but I’m not sure I would use the soaker tub if I had a hot tub?
While at Walt Disney World you often think about being at the parks from morning to night, I really like to enjoy my resort. I think I could totally carve out some time to relax and enjoy this cabin. It’s so peaceful and away from the hussle and bussle of the parks, but close enough to the Magic Kingdom that you’re never far from the excitement.
Imagine some great family time hanging out in this living room? The fireplace is a nice touch. The cabins sleep up to 8 adults, and the living space is big enough to acommodate the whole party.
If you wanted to order some groceries for your stay – you could totally be cooking full family meals in the fully equipped kitchen!
SHOP FROM OUR TEE PUBLIC STORE!
Pixie Dust Fan’s Tee Public Store
There’s even plenty of space for you all to sit down and enjoy your meal. Although we would probably use it for games and stuff…. maybe some take out from Geyser Point. If you haven’t been to Geyser Point – you need to check it out and it’s so conveniently close to the cabins!
Of course the real relaxation comes in the porch, this is where I’d love to sit and just be quiet….
Alright – not at the picnic table, but in the plunge pool!
There is a fence around the pool so if you have little ones, you don’t need to worry.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is a terrific option for families who want to be near the Magic Kingdom, but not on the monorail line. A quick boat ride from the dock will have you at the Magic Kingdom in no time.
The theming is on point and the views from around the property are breathtaking. Head down to the beach and you can see the fireworks and electrical water pageant at night.
If you don’t want to splurge on the cabin but still need a little more space? The 1 bedrooms are great too! I have a full walkthrough video of the 1 bedroom below.
Have you stayed at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge? What did you love about it? Let us know in the comments below!
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is one of the most iconic resorts on Disney property. There are SO many great reasons to stay at this resort, in fact – I did a blog on the Top 5 Reasons to stay here. Aside from the regular resort rooms though, in a separate building is the Disney Vacation Club rooms, the Villas as they’re called. What is a Deluxe Villa Studio? I’ve got all the answers below on what I love about these rooms!
5 Reasons I Love The Deluxe Studio Villa At Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
1 They have a little kitchenette
You can’t cook in it – and that’s fine by me. I don’t like to cook at home, so I wouldn’t do it on vacation. What I do like is the coffee maker, toaster and sink… feels like a spot to have our snacks or a cup of tea. While all rooms now have the mini fridge – this kitchenette has a microwave. Perfect for heating up some leftovers I brought home from dinner for a late night snack!
SHOP FROM OUR TEE PUBLIC STORE!
Pixie Dust Fan’s Tee Public Store
2 They have a Dumbo bed
Seriously – a Dumbo bed!! Now this is meant for kids, but this fold down bed (trundle bed) is incredible. Look inside! Who doesn’t want to sleep in a bed that has Dumbo inside??
3 They have 2 showers
When you travel with a family, getting ready can be a bit tricky! Sometimes I travel with 3 or 4 women in a room, all trying to get ready at the same time! It’s a scheduling nightmare in some rooms, but in the Deluxe Studios at Disney’s Grand Floridian – you get 2 showers! There is a gorgeous stand up shower as well as a bathtub/shower combo! 2 people can get ready at the same time – cutting the time in the morning to get out the door in half!
I love the tiles in the shower!
SHOP FROM OUR TEE PUBLIC STORE!
Pixie Dust Fan’s Tee Public Store
4 It’s at the Grand Floridian!
Ok, maybe that’s a bit of a cheat but c’mon! The Grand Floridian is one of the most gorgeous resorts on property. It’s on the Monorail line, has some great food options AND it has some terrific theming! In the specific building that the villas are in there is incredible references to Mary Poppins from the Penguin Fountain when you enter to the finishing touches on the elevator.
Can you see it?
If you want to know why you should stay at the Grand Floridian you can read my top 5 reasons here. The other thing that makes this resort so unique is having Afternoon Tea. It is one of the best experiences and a lovely way to spend an afternoon… check out the post to see what Afternoon Tea is all about!
5 There is “relaxing space”
I love the fact that there is a couch with coffee tables and another round table in these rooms. We spend time in the room when I’m working and I need to upload content, download pics etc – so it makes a big difference to us that there’s a place for me to work and a place for my travel party to sit! No sitting on the bed, there is an actual comfy couch! There is also a balcony – this makes for a great place to unwind after a day in the parks!
I have a full walk through video tour below of the Deluxe Studio! Have you stayed in one of these rooms?
Disney’s Riviera Resort at Walt Disney World is the newest Disney Vacation Club Resort and it has everything you could want and more!
Each resort at Walt Disney World Resort has it’s pros and cons, but it all depends on what is important to YOU for your vacation.
I’ve come up with 5 reasons to love Disney’s Riviera Resort
1 Skyliner Access
Disney’s new mode of transportation is not only efficient – it’s fun too!! I am in awe of the Disney Skyliner and how quickly it can move you from point A to point B. With it’s own Skyliner station you can get to Hollywood Studios and Epcot with ease. Want to mix things up and dine at a different resort?
Granted I only stayed in the 1 bedroom villa, but there are some new options at this resort including a studio that sleeps 2! It’s nice if you’re doing a solo trip to have the option of a smaller studio.
The 1 bedroom was gorgeous though. All the amenities we needed plus som bright windows, a balcony with a view and as many USB stations as I could use!! The big soaker tub, the shower and the beds were so comfy! Check out the full room tour here:
3 Character Dining
At the top of Disney’s Riviera Resort you have the Breakfast a la Art with Mickey and Friends character dining experience. Let me tell you – it was so much fun!
The food was delicious – and so well themed. The ‘art’ theme was all throughout the meal. Look at how the pastries came out
Check out our art supplies!
The characters all has specific back stories and fabulous outfits.
Minnie is a poet, Mickey is a painter, Donald is a sculptor and Daisy is a dancer!
4 The Views
The rooftop terrace is something to see – we got a chance to go out and explore after breakfast and those views are breathtaking!!
Wouldn’t you love to relax here one night?
Being able to see the Tower of terror off in the distance, and look down on Caribbean Beach – see the Swan and Dolphin? You won’t find views like this anywhere else!
Dinner at Topolino’s and staying till fireworks time – you’ll see Hollywood Studios AND Epcot from up here!
SHOP FROM OUR TEE PUBLIC STORE!
Pixie Dust Fan’s Tee Public Store
5 The Art – So Much WALT
The art work at Disney’s Riviera resort is right up my alley. I love all of the classics that are represented
Gorgeous painting of the castle.
What struck me the most aside from the classic Disney paintings was the amount of pictures of Walt Disney and his family. These pictures are so unique and show him on vacation, smiling, dreaming. This is the man that created it all – and it’s wonderful to see his presence in this new resort.
What do you think? Will this be on your list to stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort?
The Disney Skyliner is a whole new way to get around at Walt Disney World! This state of the art system provides new transportation options for those visiting Epcot and Hollywood Studios from 4 Disney resorts. The gondola connects Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach and the NEW Disney Vacation Club property – Disney’s Riviera Resort to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
This map shows the routes and connections for the Skyliner!
There was a lot of talk before these were open because they weren’t going to have air conditioning. Each car has ventilation with a cross breeze that generates while the car is in motion. You can see the openings at the top of the cars that create the breeze to keep guests comfortable.
Of course with any Disney opening – there is special merchandise available to celebrate the ocassion!
This new option for transportation is giving us something special aside from getting from point A to point B, this gives us a view from ABOVE the Disney property. While you’re travelling along the routes you will have a new perspective, espcially over the water enroute to Art of Animation, coming in to International Gateway at Epcot and being above Caribbean Beach? These are all going to be very picture worthy shots!
The other cool thing about the gondolas is that they are equipped to handle ECVs and Wheelchairs without disrupting the flow of the cars. Much like the cars in Toy Story Midway Mania – the cars that are equipped for Wheelchairs and ECVs can be taken in and out of the rotation while guests board. This allows the guests to board safely without feeling rushed or holding up all of the other cars on the line.
Efficiency and fun – all rolled in to one. What could be better?
I have friends who are a bit afraid of heights that may opt for the bus, but I think I’ll be enjoying this new mode of transportation for years to come!
Disney’s gondola system will be ready to transport guests beginning September 29, 2019. This state of the art system will provide new transportation options for those wanting to visit Epcot and Hollywood Studios from 4 Disney resorts. The gondola will connect Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach and the NEW Disney Vacation Club property – Disney’s Riviera Resort to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
I am excited for this skyliner, I think it’s going to be a unique experience with some fantastic views. Aside from the time I went Parasailing on Bay Lake – I’ve never really had a birds eye view of Disney property that wasn’t the top of Bay Lake or the Contemporary. The heights could be an issue for some, I know that I have friends who are already saying “you won’t get me up there”.
There has been a lot of fuss over these gondolas, especially discussions about air conditioning. Disney has assured us that there is ventilation. I mean, can you imagine Disney creating this whole experience and then making it so uncomfortable that people won’t want to be on it? Ya, I didn’t think so either.
I think they’re a fabulous ‘throw back’ to the ones that were in the Magic Kingdom when I was a kid – and I can’t WAIT to ride the new ones! What do you think? Will you be riding?
Disney’s Gran Destino Tower opened in July 2019 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.The tower offers an additional 545 guest rooms to an already large resort of now over 2,000 rooms and I just HAD to get back and check it out for myself.
I had stayed at Cornado Springs a handful of times before the renovations started and I had sort of an “on the fence” view of the resort that was directly related to where my room was and what my plans were.
On a visit with my sister we stayed in a standard room – and we had friends in a pool view room, both were lovely rooms.One afternoon we decided it would be a great idea to meet for drinks while the kids had a swim at the main pool.“No problem – we’ll be there” we said.We started to walk, it was noon and over 100 degrees… and I thought we would never make it!It was a long walk in that heat and I was determined never to make that walk again.That was the time I didn’t like the resort.
On another visit with my friend, we stayed in a preferred room and had no intention of ever going to the main pool.We spent a lot of time in the main building and it was so close to our room, that was the time I loved the resort.
Now it’s time to stay in the new Gran Destino Tower.Would I love it?From the moment I walked in, I knew that this moderate resort was going to blow me away!!
Gran Destino Tower Entrance.
Disney has different tiers of resorts ranging from value to deluxe.Disney’s Coronado Springs is considered a moderate resort, Pop Century is a value resort and the Grand Floridian would be an example of a deluxe.There is also the Disney Vacation Club villas and camping, but that’s a whole other blog.
With Coronado Springs and Gran Destino Tower being in the moderate category, I wasn’t expecting such grandeur, it is gorgeous!
The picture of Walt and Mickey – bigger than I expected, and so wonderful to see!
The tower is named for the 2003 Disney animated short “Destino” which started in 1946 as a collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali.
David Stofcik, an executive architect at Walt Disney Imagineering said “We didn’t want to make it too much color everywhere.If it was everywhere, then everybody’s screaming, screaming, screaming it’s too much. So we wanted to downplay and really pick our points.”And they did – the colours are vibrant, but never too much.
The lobby itself is visually stunning.There was a long line when we arrived to check in so we had plenty of time to take it all in.It’s more of an open concept check in where some cast may come from behind the counter and walk you to a stand up table or seat to discuss your queries with a tablet.
We got our room number and headed to the 7th floor.The elevators are the new technology where you enter your floor number on the pad and it tells you which elevator to go to, the idea being that they group people together for a faster experience.I don’t know if the system works that way, but we never really waited a long time for an elevator!
Gran Destino Tower Room
The room?Well, what can I say – it was gorgeous!Plenty of space for 2 of us, a LARGE bathroom and of course I love the shower.
The stand up showers at Walt Disney World always have such nice tiles and lighting, I am constantly admiring and dreaming of a home remodel of my shower!
If I had 1 complaint about the room it would be that the shower, vanity and toilet were all in 1 room.I prefer at the resorts where the shower/toilet are separate from the vanity – it just helps when you have a couple of people trying to get ready in the morning. There are some rooms configured a little differently with the water closet, I think I would have liked that more.
The beds are the raised ones so you can get your suitcase underneath and there is a huge desk space if you had to do work.Of course there are the standard fridge, iron, hair dryer and safe as well in the room.
After we got settled in our room, we were STARVING!It had been a long travel day for us and we headed over to Rix Sports Bar and Grill in the main building.The walk over was all indoors which would prove to be helpful on a rainy day!
Let me tell you, Rix was amazing – the food was DELICIOUS and definitely someplace I would expect to return. And we did.The NEXT night!That’s how good it was!
Three Bridges Bar and Grill is the perfect place to gather!
Aside from Rix, we did have the opportunity to try the new Three Bridges Bar & Grill while meeting some friends for drinks and appetizers.
Sitting in the middle of the lake, connected by three bridges to the resort, this place is not to be missed.There was a lovely breeze off of the water and terrific views as we caught up with our friends and enjoyed some great conversation.
I have a full walk through of the lobby, room and Rix and Three Bridges. Take a look and let me know what you think!
Disney’s Beach Club Resort at Walt Disney World is everything you could want in a deluxe resort. While it’s sort of the sister resort to the Yacht Club, it has it’s own unique theme and style that makes it different!
Each Walt Disney World Resort has pros and cons – and some can be very subjective depending on what is important to you for your vacation.
I’ve come up with my TOP 5 reasons why the Beach Club is one of my favorite resorts!
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How can you go wrong when you are really a SHORT walk to Epcot? While there are 3 resorts in this area (The Beach Club, The Boardwalk and the Yacht Club), the Beach Club is the closest to Epcot for walking. It’s a short stroll via the International Gateway and when you arrive at Epcot it brings you in to World Showcase between the UK and France. At the end of the night after fireworks it feels so good not to have to wait for a boat, monorail or bus – you can walk back to your room! It also makes it REALLY handy if you’re spending the day at Epcot and want to pop back for a quick swim in the afternoon, you don’t feel like you’re spending a ton of time travelling.
Take the International Gateway to walk between Epcot and the Yacht Club, Beach Club and Boardwalk Resorts
The other fantastic parts about the location is the ease of walking to the Boardwalk as well as taking the boat to Hollywood Studios! You can technically walk to Hollywood Studios too – but it’s a bit of a hike in my opinion. I think your’e better off taking the Friendship Boats!
Take the boat from the lighthouse at the resort over to Hollywood Studios!
The Boardwalk is among some of the best places for date night while in Walt Disney World too!
2 The Rooms
The rooms at this resort are a highlight for me. They are bright, comfortable, large and welcoming. I love the use of space and the large vanity area along with all of the USB and power outlets in the room! Here’s the room tour so you can see for yourself!
3 Activities And Relaxation
Stormalong Bay is shared with Disney’s Yacht Club and has a 230 foot waterslide (one of the highest at Walt Disney World), a lazy river, a sand bottom pool and SO much more! There is a reason it is so popular that you need a wrist band to prove you’re staying there to use it. And yes, they check wrist bands!
One of the best pools on Disney Property. Only resort guests are permitted to use the pool.
Aside from the fantastic water slide and pools, there are plenty of places for a little rest and relaxation! The Beach has everything you’d need to just breathe… relax, and chill. One of my favorite things is to sit on the beach here and just watch the boats coming and going. It’s such a great spot to unwind and take a minute.
Perfect place to just sit back, grab a drink and unwind.
4 The Food
If you’re looking for a terrific buffet – look no further than Cape May! Here you can find a character breakfast in the mornings, or a great seafood buffet in the evenings!
Cape May Breakfast is character dining too!
And you can’t talk about this place withough mention of Beaches & Cream Soda Shop! While they serve great food, milkshakes and ice cream – they are BEST known for the Kitchen Sink. Imagine all the ice cream, toppings and cookies you could get at an ice cream shop thrown in to one big kitchen sink? You get the idea… you can read my review of this great place here. I have tried the kitchen sink myself – but I needed help from my friends!!
5 The Villas
This resort is also a Disney Vacation Club Resort, meaning there are villas available as well as regular rooms. These villas offer 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units for bigger parties that have full kitchens in them as well! It’s very convenient when we vacation with a larger party – or even when it’s just 4 adults, having the extra space is perfect for us without getting 2 or 3 separate rooms. We sometimes make breakfast in the kitchen for the kids or some lunch snacks, it’s also great for having the separate bedroom if the kids need to go to bed before the adults are ready! Check out the tour of the two bedroom unit below!
Disney’s Copper Creek 1 bedroom villa was an upgrade I wasn’t expecting. I was staying at Wilderness Lodge for 1 night before transferring to the Beach Club. Since it was just me, I had arranged for a standard view studio for the night.
When I arrived at the resort at 7pm – my studio wasn’t ready. The lovely cast member was doing everything she could to contact someone in mousekeeping to get the room cleaned. I was tired after my flight and I really just wanted to get in to my room, but it wasn’t her fault. I left my luggage with bell services and went shopping in the gift shop for a while, I can’t complain about having time to shop.
About 15 minutes later I was coming out of the shop when she called me over – my room was ready. She winked and said “enjoy” and told me to take the elevators at the end of the lobby to the 7th floor.
When I opened the door to room 7117 I could have fallen over. She had upgraded me to a 1 bedroom villa! This huge room was all mine for the night, and I was over the moon. I couldn’t help but think how great this place would be for families.
Given that Wilderness Lodge is just a boat ride from the Magic Kingdom, it’s always been a great location. If you were going to spend time at the Magic Kingdom, but also wanted to be ‘away’ and not on the monorail line – this resort is perfect. Don’t miss the opportunity to stop by Geyser Point Bar & Grill for some drinks and terrific views. It’s just so relaxing!
If you had planned to eat a few meals in your room, or really just want to spread out – these 1 bedrooms are a home away from home.
Walking in to the room you can see the full kitchen equipped with everything you could need to make a full meal. The dishwasher, full stove and fridge – it was all there.
The living room/dining room were spacious. Enough space for a family to chill after a meal or at the end of a long day. That’s what these units are great for, just hanging out.
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There’s a bathroom with a vanity and stand-up shower, but the best part is the second vanity area with a HUGE soaker tub. This tub was deep, if I had been there longer, I may have tried it out.
The bedroom was spacious, plenty of storage space and another TV to watch from bed. The villa has a balcony off of the bedroom, and a second from the living room.
I loved this unit and will recommend it to anyone who is looking to stay near the Magic Kingdom but not on the monorail line. While the studios are great, this is the perfect option if you wanted a little more room. I took a full video tour so you could see everything!
As a frequent Walt Disney World visitor, I always struggle with selecting a resort when I’m going to Disneyland.I always start by looking at Disney’s Paradise Pier or Disneyland Hotel, I’ve even looked at offsite options too, but the Grand Californian always seems to be screaming my name. While I have yet to try the others, I’m comfortable sharing why I think you should stay at Disney’s Grand Californian.
My top 5 reasons you should stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa
1. The Rooms
These rooms are a fair size, plenty big for 4 adults to share if needed.On my recent trip there were 3 of us and we had lots of room.There was even plenty of space for 3 women to have all their toiletries at the vanity!
The vanity area – we had no problem storing all of our stuff!
The beds are queens and we couldn’t even use all the drawer space we had.Your luggage can be stored under the bed – leaving space for other things (like shoes and purchases) in the hall. The decor and artwork was fun, and not over the top, there was a classy elegance with Disney inspiration.
Room under the bed to store your luggage!
And the sofa bed? How CUTE is it?
The sofa bed was so cute – and could sleep an adult in a pinch if they weren’t too tall.
There is something about pulling up to this resort, walking through that big entrance and seeing that magnificent lobby, the grandeur of it all is breathtaking.Lots of seating to relax in the lobby and you can get food and drinks there too!
The piano music was a great touch in the lobby
If you’re there in the evenings and the piano player is there, you’re in for a treat!With those ceilings and open space, the acoustics are amazing!
Granted, I have not swam in the pool or taken advantage of the gym (who DOES that on vacation??) – but the amenities are great for those who want them!The pool, the gym, the spa (why have I not done that?) Valet parking and the laundry rooms are all there to make your stay more magical.WiFi is available throughout the hotel, I never had an issue connecting.
The carpet in the hall – it’s so FUN! Can you spot the characters?
4.California Adventure Park Special Entrance
A special entrance to Disney’s California Adventure Park is a nice touch.As a Walt Disney World guest, you can’t get anywhere NEAR that close to a park from your resort.Even with the Beach Club or Bay Lake Tower – it’s still quite a walk to a park.With this entrance – you are 30 steps from security to the inside of the park.It’s amazing and unbelievably convenient.
This is the security entrance and the hotel – taken from INSIDE of California Adventure Park
5.Location, location, location
Aside from the entrance to California Adventure Park, you are right IN Downtown Disney.All of that shopping and food is right at your doorstep!We walked out one night for cupcakes at Sprinkles and another night for a pretzel to take back to the room, the pretzel was still hot!
Shopping was a bit TOO easy at Downtown Disney!
It was a 15-20 minute (or so) walk to Walgreens to grab a few cases of water and a $7 Lyft ride back.It was a leisurely walk and we saw all the other offsite properties that we had looked at staying at.
The walk to Walgreens, all these palm trees – you KNOW you’re on vacation then!
The walk through Downtown Disney to the park entrances is quick, you’re really right there.If you wanted to pop back to your room for an hour to rest, you could do it so easily!Where else can you walk to a castle and back to your room without breaking a sweat?You could just walk in to get a churro and back to the pool if you wanted!
It’s all about location!
There you have it – my top 5 reasons for staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa.Have you stayed here?
Are you looking for a change of pace in your Disney vacation?Do you find that you’re spending less time running from one thrill ride to the next . . . and spending more and more time just enjoying the magical atmosphere at Walt Disney World?
Maybe it’s time for you to consider a trip to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground!My wife Carol and I have stayed in almost all of the Disney resorts and Fort Wilderness is clearly our favourite!
Welcome to Fort Wilderness!
What makes it our favourite?Why is a stay at Fort Wilderness so different from all those other resorts?
When I try to explain it to people, I begin by saying, “It’s like stepping back in time.Back to an era when people stopped to say hello to their neighbours.Back to a time when things weren’t always so rushed and hectic.”
When we stay at one of the Disney hotels our attention is always focused on the theme parks, no matter how nice the resort is we’re always in a rush to get away from it.When we’re at the campground it’s much different . . . we enjoy just being there!
Every morning at Fort Wilderness you will wake up to the gentle sound of boat whistles in the distance.As you sit in a lawn chair outside your camper and sip your first coffee of the day don’t be surprised when a flock of wild turkeys wanders past.Squirrels and cardinals scamper and flit in the nearby trees and bushes and other campers, many of them out for a walk with their dogs, often stop to say good morning.Sometimes you will hear the clip-clop of hooves as a horse-drawn carriage or a hay-wagon ride passes your camp site.Although it’s located right in the heart of all that Disney magic and excitement, ‘The Fort’ is a serene place; a place to relax and unwind. There seems to be a real sense of community among the campers at Fort Wilderness.
Imagine seeing this beautiful heron when you’re out walking your dogs in the morning.How cool is that?
The campground is huge; it covers about 750 acres of pine and cypress forest.To put that in perspective, Fort Wilderness is about seven times the size of the Magic Kingdom.There are approximately 799 campsites plus 409 wilderness cabins arranged in 21 campsite loops and 8 cabin loops.Up to 10 people can stay at each campsite and up to 6 in each cabin.
For Carol and I the magic begins as we enter Fort Wilderness and pull up to the security gate.The cast member manning the rustic-looking gate-house gives us a warm greeting and a “Welcome home!” This is where we begin to feel the serenity!I am sure that many years ago, when Walt and the Imagineers were designing the Magic Kingdom, Walt said, “Build me a campground that duplicates a fort from the days of the pioneers on the western frontier.”And that’s exactly what they built. Carol and I are quickly transported to another world, in another time, and that’s where we make our vacation home.
From the security gate it’s take a short drive to ‘The Outpost’, a log and timber drive-through registration area that replicates the main gate of that old western fort. The theming is consistent throughout the resort, winding tree-lined roads, wooden-rail fences, wood footbridges; even the shelters at the bus stops are rustic log structures.
Once campers have registered and been assigned their campsite it’s time to get set-up. It doesn’t take long for each family to transform a campsite into their unique home. Almost all of the 799 sites have a level concrete pad, water, sewer, cable-TV and electric connections with a clean, modern “comfort station” nearby. The comfort stations contain restrooms, showers, a laundry, an ice vending machine, soda machine, house phone and a posted list of daily activities.
When we arrived in our RV the first chore was the utility connections, then we began to unload our barbecue, lawn chairs, doo-dads and decorations . . . “Aaaah – now we’re home!”The last thing to set up was our Mickey Mouse lamppost.Every avid Disney camper just has to have one of these!
Who doesn’t want a Mickey Mouse lamp?
What is there to do at ‘The Fort’?The short answer is “Plenty”.There are three main roads through the campground and two large areas for shopping and recreation.You enter the campground by passing through the area called ‘The Outpost’ and follow Fort Wilderness Trail toward ‘The Settlement.’Along the way, in the middle of the campground, you pass ‘The Meadow.’
At ‘The Meadow’ you will find a trading post, the bike rental barn, swimming pool, water slide, kiddie splash zone, hot tub, tennis courts and Chip & Dale’s Theatre where the free nightly campfire and sing-along is followed by a marshmallow roast and a movie under the stars.
Meadow Water Slide
It’s about one mile from ‘The Outpost’, where you enter the campground, to ‘The Settlement’.At The Settlement you will find another trading post. Each of the trading posts carries a variety of basic groceries, camping supplies and, of course, Disney souvenirs.The Trail’s End Buffet offers both dine-in and take-out options and Pioneer Hall is the home of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.
In front of Pioneer Hall you can take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage or hay-wagon.Crockett’s Tavern serves frosty beverages which you can enjoy in the comfort of a rocking chair on the veranda!The Tri-Circle-D Ranch is just a few steps away.This is where all the horses that work in the Magic Kingdom are stabled. The ranch will be moving to a new location at Fort Wilderness in the autumn of 2019 as construction of the new Reflections Resort progresses next door.
Just a few steps beyond Pioneer Hall you find the beach and marina on Bay Lake. At the marina you can rent a SeaRaycer or a pontoon boat or charter a fishing boat for some ‘catch and release’ fun. At the dock you can take advantage of free transportation; board a cruiser or a launch and enjoy a scenic ride to the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary Resort or the Wilderness Lodge Resort. The boats run every 20 minutes.
At the Outpost you will find the main office where you can rent a golf cart or visit the Guest Services desk to make dining reservations.A few steps away is the Trail Blaze Corral where you can pick out your horse and take a trail ride. The main bus stop is also located near The Outpost; people arriving from the theme parks or Disney Springs transfer from the “park bus” to a “campground bus” to return to their campsites.There are three different bus routes within the campground with bus service every 20 minutes and convenient bus stops close to all of the camping and cabin loops.
Those Wilderness Cabins I mentioned earlier, well, they’re not really all that wild! They look like a rustic log cabin on the outside but inside they have all the amenities of regular resort guest rooms plus a fully equipped kitchen. They each sleep up to six people in complete comfort.
The campground has a number of rivers, streams and canals running through it and you will often see people fishing along the shore. Just remember, it’s ‘catch and release’ only and there is no fishing from docks or bridges.
With so much to do at the campground and with the theme parks and water parks so close by, you are probably wondering, “How do they ever relax?”Well, we do! Believe it or not, there are days where we don’t visit a theme park, we simply stay and enjoy the campground.Our neighbours are all certified Disney nuts just like us, so there’s always someone to chat with. We take our bicycles along with us and often take a leisurely ride around the grounds. We like to explore and there are some very interesting spots to see if you go looking for them. There are plenty of walking trails and lots of designated “dog walk” areas, many of them along the rivers and canals.
Our Shelties enjoy the dog walk trails where they often see deer, rabbits, turkeys, armadillos and, of course, squirrels, which are their favourites.Near the entrance to the 300 loop is a children’s playground and beside it is Waggin’ Tails, the off-leash dog park where pets can run free.Our shelties always look forward to their golf cart ride – they know that it takes them to the off-leash park for some exercise!
On a typical day in paradise we begin with a light breakfast in the camper before we head off to one of the parks. Sometimes we have lunch at the park before we head back to The Fort, or sometimes we eat at our campsite, but we always head back to be with the dogs for the afternoon. We walk the shelties, ride our bikes, go to the pool or take a nap – whatever we feel like at the time. We often head back to a park for the evening and take in the different atmosphere the parks seem to take on at night. When we have the dogs with us, it forces us to head “back home” in the afternoon and we have come to relish the slower pace that comes with this pattern.
I haven’t mentioned the decor at The Fort. Sometimes it is simply amazing! I’m not talking here about Disney decor; I’m referring to what we, the campers, do. Many of the campers take great delight in decorating their campsites for the season.Our first trip to The Fort was in December and the Christmas decorations absolutely astounded us.The subtropical forest is transformed into a Christmas panorama.Lights are strung everywhere, inflatable displays twirl, trees are hung with stars, lights and of course Hidden Mickeys.
Some campsites are even covered with snow — it is truly spectacular!But it’s not only at Christmas; they also decorate for Halloween, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, almost any excuse will do.We enjoy going in the spring for the EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival and Carol decorates our campsite with flowers — lots and lots of flowers!
I suspect that the decorations have caused the activity frequent campers at The Fort refer to as ‘looping.’This simply means walking, riding your bikes or driving your golf cart around the camping loops to admire the decorations.The other campers are almost always ready to chat about their displays and before you know it, they will probably be going past your campsite on one of their looping treks.‘Looping’ is one of the activities that really adds to the sense of community at The Fort.
There are also some ‘extra special’ things to do at The Fort that you will probably not read about in any of the guidebooks.For example, just before the Magic Kingdom fireworks are scheduled go to the take-out window at Crockett’s Tavern and pick up your favourite adult beverage.Take it with you to the beach beside the marina and find a comfy spot to sit.You will have a great view of the Happily Ever After fireworks display at the Magic Kingdom; the soundtrack is piped in.Then be sure to be back in the same spot at 9:45 for another treat; the Electrical Water Pageant passes in front of you.Disney magic at its finest.
Stop at the Bike Barn, near the pool, and ask about archery lessons or a Segway tour!
And my last suggestion, stop at the Outpost and enjoy the gardens surrounding the main office beside the entry gate.This garden was designed to attract butterflies and you will see them flitting and fluttering everywhere.If you’re lucky you might see a Disney horticultural specialist tending the gardens.They’ll often take time to show you around and point out some Monarch butterfly caterpillars and a chrysalis or two.They can even tell you how to attract butterflies to your gardens at home!
Carol and I sold our motor home about two years ago and it wasn’t very long before we were missing Fort Wilderness.The solution was simple, we contacted one of several companies that rent fully equipped travel trailers and deliver them to “The Fort”.Before long we had the dogs loaded in our SUV and were on our way.Everything we needed was there waiting for us!We just moved in, the same as we would in a hotel room.As quickly as you can say ‘Disney magic’ we were sitting in lawn chairs on our patio enjoying the ambiance!
That first rental experience worked out so well for us that we did it again.As I sit writing this we have only been home about a week after a 22 night stay in a rented travel trailer at “The Fort” and we’re booked for another 22 nights in early 2020.Fort Wilderness really is our favourite Disney resort!
So, if you haven’t been to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground & Resort, head on over for a visit.Walk around the campground, do some ‘looping!’Sit for a few minutes in a rocking chair on the veranda at Crockett’s Tavern and quietly absorb the serenity.Carol and I think it’s the best resort on earth and you might enjoy it too!
Gary is a retired banker who lives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1977 and has returned many, many times over the years. Since retiring he and his wife Carol enjoy the parks a number of times each year. They especially like staying at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground with their Shetland sheep dogs.
Geyser Point Bar & Grill at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort is one of my favourite places on Disney property to relax, unwind and have a drink.
This bar has everything you could possibly want for a little escape from the parks and the hustle and bustle. The views are lovely and peaceful – the water is calming and there are both indoor and outdoor seating areas.
Comfy atmosphere and seating to settle in for a bit and chill
The food is delicious! Quinoa is not something I would normally eat… but ya, it’s good!!
The crispy chicken sandwich is amazing – highly recommend!
Chicken sandwich is a big YES PLEASE
Drinks? Oh my… I don’t hide it, I’m usually a beer drinker and I love Bud Light Lime. BUT they have plenty of other fabulous beers and cocktails worth trying.
The Huckleberry Punch is worth trying!
One afternoon we sat here for a couple of hours (yes, we enjoyed ourselves!) and we watched people come and go and try all sorts of different drinks. Yes, for people watching this is a good spot too!
Bar area with TVs
TVs are available over the bar for the times when there’s a sports event you don’t want to miss? I think they had some football game on when we were there, or maybe it was basketball? I’m not sure – I wasn’t really paying attention!
The staff are very welcoming. Happy to suggest a new drink to try, food to eat… or to take a picture of you!
We asked him to take our picture!
It was hilarious – we asked our server if he would mind taking our picture and this is what we got! We were laughing so hard at the total photobomb. He was wonderful, funny, attentive and entertaining. What more could you ask for?
Have you checked out Geyser Point Bar and Grill yet? What are you waiting for?
Staying in a Copper Creek Studio was something I was really looking forward to.Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is a fantastic resort with so many great amenities that I needed to check out the studios.
The resort itself is of course, gorgeous.When you walk in to the lobby you are overwhelmed by how beautiful it is.With the big fireplace in the corner, I could sit there for hours and never leave the lobby!
It’s a great place to chill out for a bit in a nice rocking chair!
We made our way to room 4111 by taking the elevators at the end of the lobby.The walk to our room wasn’t long, and the hallways were relatively quiet at all times.I don’t find this lobby to be particularly noisy anyway, but you certainly couldn’t hear any sounds from it in our room,
When you open the door to the studio it seems quite long.There’s a little kitchenette with fridge, toaster and microwave.Having it along the wall made use of the available space nicely.
The room is quite long when you open the door. They have made good use of the space.
The bathroom/vanity were rustic looking and big.I loved the tiles in the bathroom and the vanity area was big enough for 2 women unpacking their toiletries!
The bed was comfortable as was the couch.Having the USB ports in the end tables is always a big plus for us.We need a lot of charging outlets.
They were both comfortable, in fact maybe a little too much!
Our view from our balcony was overlooking the water just outside of the main building, it made for a nice place to sit and relax!
We really enjoyed sitting on our balcony. This was nice and quiet, never many people around in this area.
If I had to pick one thing that we didn’t enjoy about the room, it was hearing our neighbours talking.Totally not their fault, but I think that the hardwood floors allowed the sound to travel between our rooms under the connecting door.Not a huge deal, but I could see this being an irritant to some.
Overall, we enjoyed our stay here, but I think a lot of the enjoyment was the resort itself.We made the most of the resort by having dinner with Snow White, having drinks and snacks at Territory Lounge and spending an afternoon at Geyser Point Bar and Grill.
See the video tour below of the studio.Have you stayed in one?
Character dining is always a fun thing when you visit Walt Disney World, and Storybook dining with Snow White might be just what you’re looking for!
Located at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge resort, this dinner has the theming nailed.Artist Point has been transformed in to the Enchanted Forest with many details from the ceiling to the table that immerse you in the experience.
It really is a forest!
First lets talk characters.
Snow White, Dopey and Grumpy all make stops at your table for pictures.Throughout the meal there are a couple of intervals for songs and a little dance, and then the Evil Queen appears.She will not come to your table and waits at the photo op in the middle of the restaurant.Your server will tell you that she does NOT like to be approached and you must wait to be invited, which happens to be when you’ve paid the bill they will ‘invite’ you to see her before you go.
I was excited to meet each one of them, well – except the Queen! She was a bit scary!
Now, on to the food…
The prix-fixe (fixed price) menu dinner offers a choice of individual plated entrées and shared starters and desserts, all themed perfectly for the occasion!
The serving tray in the centre of the table looks like a tree with three branches – this is where your starters and desserts will be placed.
The starters included Hunter’s Pie, Winter Squash Bisque and Wicked Shrimp Cocktail
Wicked Shrimp Cocktail
I’m not a fan of shrimp, so I skipped that.My table mates said it was great.
The Winter Squash Bisque was unexpected.If you follow my blog, you’ll know I’m a fairly picky eater and tend to avoid things that don’t ‘sound’ good to me – squash does not sound good and I’ve never tried it.In the spirit of stepping outside of my comfort zone – I tried it.WOW – I would have eaten an entire bowl if given the choice, I was sad it was just a small sampling in a black cauldron (which was super cute!).There was a lollipop that came with it of marshmallow?Yes, it was delicious!
Winter Squash Bisque. Isn’t the cauldron so cute?
The Hunter’s Pie was chicken and had a kind of fruit sauce to go with them, it was good (not as good as the squash!), but it was tasty.
The Hunter’s Pie
I had the opportunity to dine here twice and tried both the Royal Prime Rib Roast as well as the Brother’s Grimm Roasted Chicken for my entrees.
The Brother’s Grimm Roasted Chicken was different.It came with confit potatoes, roasted brussle sprouts, apples and chestnut butter.I will admit, the apple / chicken combo had me questioning my choice, but it was ok.I didn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t run back to get it again.
Brother’s Grimm Roasted Chicken
The Royal Prime Rib Roast was a very large serving with horseradish mashed potato, carrots and a popover (that’s like a Yorkshire pudding to me!). While I liked the dish, I don’t particularly like horseradish and had hoped it was just a hint in the potatoes, but it was actually a fairly strong taste.
Royal Prime Rib Roast fit for royalty!
The desserts were quite a treat and of course the theming continued.The “Poison” apple, Fairy Tale Gooseberry Pie and the Miner’s Treasure all arrived at the table, one of each for us.
Again, picky eater here – I had to google “What is Gooseberry Pie”.I took a small piece, didn’t like it – didn’t eat it.If you like Gooseberry Pie (or even know what it is) – you might like it!
Fairy Tale Gooseberry Pie, I did google it
The “Poison” Apple was a white chocolate-apple mousse – it was good, and sweet – all things sugary though are good to me!
Anyone care for a poison apple?
My favourite was the Miner’s Treasures although others would say the buttercream icing was too sweet… I didn’t think so.It was like a cupcake in a glass, how can that be wrong?There were some chocolate gems in there too!
Miner’s Treasures were very yummy
The final dessert arrived after the other three – the Hunter’s Gift to the Queen.This was delicious, but THIS is the height of theming.The video below shows you the full effects of the presentation when they bring this to the table.
The Hunter’s Gift to the Queen. Watch the video to see how it arrives!
Have you experienced this yet? Are you going to add this to your list for your next Walt Disney World vacation?
My family and I spent Christmas of 2017 at Walt Disney World Resort, staying at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. We had such an amazing time together on that vacation, we’d do it again in a heartbeat. We rode attractions together, wandered around the properties admiring all of the festive decorations and swam in the resort pool. My husband and I even got to have a couple of Disney date nights while our son enjoyed time at one of the kids’ clubs.
In addition to all of this family fun, one of the great pleasures of our visit to Walt Disney World Resort was indulging in the many snacks and treats. While it was never a problem finding something delicious to eat, deciding where to take our meal breaks was sometimes a challenge!
On our last evening at Walt Disney World Resort, we decided to hop on a water taxi from Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park over to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge to check out the grounds and have our quick service meal there.
The counter service restaurant at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is called The Roaring Fork, and there we found more than just dinner. We found a whole bunch of amazing snacks and treats to try! With extra snack credits left to burn, we each chose a few special treats to try.
Here are just a few of our favourite goodies from Roaring Fork at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort. The Roaring Fork menu calls these “assorted pastries” or “house-made desserts.”
My husband Graham picked his maple bacon donut. Yes, this donut has actual crispy bacon “sprinkles” on top of a glazed maple-flavoured donut! When my husband saw this, he said “I’ve got to try it!” We all shared.
Our son Nate chose this classic donut with icing and Mickey sprinkles. Yummy!
My pick was this super cute chocolate campfire cupcake. With its flames made of icing and a mini-marshmallow to roast, I couldn’t resist! Yes, we ate the whole thing!
What is your favourite place to try new Disney snacks and desserts?
Amy is a former Disney Cruise Line Cast Member, Vacation Specialist and Certified Cruise Counsellor at Pure Magic Vacations. She lives and works from home in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada with her handsome hubby Graham and her son Nate. The three of them love to travel to Walt Disney World together every chance they get! She blogs at Amy at Pure Magic Vacations.
A new payment card policy is being implemented at Walt Disney World Resorts beginning on February 27th, 2019. The new policy with apply to guests who wish to put a card on file for payment at check in.
When the policy goes in to effect, Disney Resorts will place incremental authorization holds on the listed card for the estimated incidental expenses, in addition to any balance due on the reservation.
On the day of arrival, Disney Resort hotels will place an authorization hold on whatever card was given for the balance due on the reservation plus $100 to cover estimated incidental expenses. If the guest spends more than the original $100 hold, the incremental holds will be obtained automatically. The holds placed on the card will never exceed the current balance due plus $100.
As a guest of the Walt Disney World Resort properties, you do have the option of checking in and NOT giving a credit card. This will restrict you from charging on your MagicBand.
Guests who have completed their online check in who arrive after February 27th will be getting notification of these changes.
Disney’s Bay Lake Tower is one of my absolute favorite places to stay when I visit Walt Disney World. While all of the resorts have their own unique charm and benefits, Bay Lake Tower has everything that is important to me – and then some!
Here are my top 5 reasons I love Disney’s Bay Lake Tower!
1. Proximity to Magic Kingdom
You can’t beat this proximity, there is NO other resort that’s closer to the Magic Kingdom. You have to walk PAST Bay Lake Tower if you’re walking from the Contemporary! There is nothing like being able to walk to the park, and better yet – LEAVING after fireworks and not having to get on a boat, bus or monorail? Priceless!
The other benefit of being so close is being able to watch the fireworks from pretty much anywhere. If you splurge for a Theme Park View you’ll be blown away, but even if you didn’t – you can see the fireworks from anywhere out front really.
Seeing the fireworks from Bay Lake Tower – it’s that close!
2. Proximity to the Contemporary Resort
I think if I had to pick 1 resort as my all time favourite it would be the Contemporary. I don’t know how much of it is nostalgia, but it has some pretty terrific stuff that makes it my favourite. Staying at Bay Lake Tower you get the benefit of being able to walk over and jump on the Monorail, shop in the fantastic stores, eat at Contempo Cafe or have a drink at the Outer Rim. Can you say table for 2 at California Grill and I can walk back to my room after? Ya, it’s that close – and it’s wonderful!
3. There is nothing IN the resort itself
This may sound like a drawback, but it isn’t. There is no food court or restaurant or even stores in Bay Lake Tower. The only thing is the Top Of The World lounge for Disney Vacation Club members on (you guessed it) the top floor. Otherwise, it’s just resort rooms. What that means? No one has any reason to be in Bay Lake Tower if they’re not staying there. No crowds, no loud hallways – just peace and quiet! Of course it has a pool, laundry room and games – but nothing of ‘fun’ inside the resort.
The pool at Bay Lake Tower
4. Room Variety
The ability to book a studio, 1 bedroom or 2 bedroom comes in VERY handy for my family. When we travel as an extended group – we like to stay together and normally get the 2 bedroom. We have a full kitchen in there so that we can make breakfasts and the living room makes it comfortable for us to hang out as adults when the kids have gone to bed. I have YET to stay in a 3 bedroom… but I’m working on it!
The 1 bedroom units also feature 2 full bathrooms. This is the PERFECT set up when we have 4 adults, there’s nothing worse than 4 us trying to share the same bathroom!
The only thing that I wish was a little better was the configuration of the studios. They didn’t utilize the space very well – it’s really only suitable for 2 or 3 adults maximum. If you go with 3 or 4 adults, you better REALLY like each other! Otherwise, I would suggest staying at the Contemporary Resort where the rooms are MUCH bigger than the studio at Bay Lake.
Part of the living room at Bay Lake Tower
5. Being IN The Bubble
When you arrive at Walt Disney World, you enter the ‘bubble’ as I like to call it. It’s the place where you cross the threshold and the outside world doesn’t exist, at least that’s what I try to do. When you stay at one of the Monorail/Magic Kingdom resorts, you are REALLY next to the magic. You can hear the train whistle in the park, you can see the boats on Bay Lake and at night you can see the fireworks. Being ‘surrounded’ by all of those sites and sounds really do drown out the ‘real world’ just for a bit. Yes, you can feel this way staying anywhere on property, but being THAT close to the Magic Kingdom just gives it that little extra Pixie Dust.
Check out the 1 bedroom at Bay Lake Tower and tell me what you think!
Do you want to be a Pirate? Well, maybe a Disney Pirate! When you stay at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, you can choose to have a room fit for any good pirate!
The Caribbean Beach Resort is in the moderate category for Disney Resorts and has a beautiful tropical theme. The Old Port Royale lobby area is bright and breezy and the new Skyliner will be a welcome addition to the resort offering a new mode of transportation.
The Pirate rooms at the resort sleep up to 4 adults and have standard and water view options. The rooms are located in Trinidad South – the farthest from the main building, but only about a 10-15 minute walk.
The rooms are very well themed. Where else would you get to sleep in a bed that looks like a pirate ship? The beds were relatively comfortable on my recent stay and I appreciated that the pillows were nice and fluffy!
The Jolly Roger curtain between the room and the vanity area was a nice touch for added privacy. I like having that divider to just be able to have some extra ‘space’ that is separate from the rest of the room
As with all Disney resort rooms, there were extra amenities like the safe, ironing board and extra bedding if you needed.
The pirate rooms do have the new soap dispensers that are mounted on the walls of the shower instead of the little bottles. These were filled every day by Mousekeeping and we never had an issue using them.
Mounted on the wall in the shower
The room was comfortable for us and had everything we needed. There was a seating area with a table and chairs, a fridge and plenty of drawer/storage space for our clothes. You can see a full walk through of the room in the video below.
My only real irritant with the room was that it felt a little dark. Even with the lights over each of the beds, I’m not sure if it was the color scheme or something else, but it just felt a bit dark to me. I am the person who turns on all my lights when I get home though, so you can take that opinion of how dark it was with a grain of salt.
Have you stayed in a Pirate room? What did you think?
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is just 2 hours away from Walt Disney World Resort, but offers a whole different kind of vacation.My two sisters and brother-in-law drove from Toronto to Disney’s Vero Beach to celebrate my sister’s birthdays.I was meeting them later for a week at Walt Disney World, but they wanted a few days by the beach first.
My brother-in-law captured his thoughts in a daily journal that he sent to me so that I could get a glimpse of their time there.Now I’m sharing this journal with you, with his permission of course!
Day 1 – First Full Day and the Crab Stop
First full day at Disney’s Vero Beach and it is an amazing place. Spent an hour walking the near white sands of the beach, listening to the rhythm of the waves hitting the shore is so relaxing. We also spent time at the poolside watching the young guests enjoying themselves, the sight of the young guests having fun in the pool or playing along with “Brandon” the activity representative is proof that Disney has succeeded in creating another location for children and their families to enjoy. There is no shortage of eating establishments at the hotel, however because we had to get some groceries we decided to eat lunch outside of the hotel. We decided on a seafood restaurant called the “Crab Stop” which is located about 13 km away in Sebastian. We were greeted warmly by Diane (hostess) and the table service was provided by Tammy. This is a great restaurant located on the water that offers a wide variety and high quality of seafood. The Lobster snack pack, the Shrimp, and lobster bites are definitely recommended. Given the opportunity we would go back.
The food at the Crab Stop was delicious!
Day 2 – Loggerhead Turtles and Insect Repellant
Witnessed the information session on Loggerhead turtles just outside our balcony held every day at 7:00am. Went for a leisurely walk on the beach, there is definitely a therapeutic feeling seeing and hearing the rhythm of the wave thrash against the shore, it is medicine to ease a stressful mind. Decided to have a freshly made sandwich at the Wind & Waves Market for breakfast (delicious and made to perfection). We relaxed again by the pool, at first it wasn’t as busy as it was yesterday, however as the time went on it began to fill up with a good balance of kids and adults. Found other guests to be very friendly and cordial, always greeting you and initiating conversations and showing a genuine interest on where we came from and what is it like. We had dinner at the Wind & Wave Grill, there is a substantial variety of appetizers andentrees. I would recommend the Conch chowder and the short rib pot roast, other items our table had that were delicious are crab cakes, calamari and the shrimp boil. Words of advice if someone in your party is celebrating a birthday, inform the staffand you will be pleasantly surprised. A couple of things that we have noticed today is that there is complimentary laundry facilities (6 dryers and 3 washing machines) should you run out of clean clothes, there is also a soap powder vending machine which when purchased is charged to your room and finally if you happen to be one of the few who get bitten by local insects (sand flies a.k.a. no see um ) they will provided insect repellent free at the front desk
Day 3 – Name That Tune and Bobby’s
Walked the beach again after the breakfast we had at Wind & Waves market (bacon & eggs on an all grain bagel), lots of activity at the pool today “Name that tune” and the slide challenge. Also have to give credit to life guards who were quick to respond to 2 kids who swallowed some water. Went to “Bobby’s” in Vero Beach ( about 15 minutes south of hotel) had a great dinner. Our party had calamari, grilled chicken breast, hamburger and beef dip sandwich all were excellent and reasonably priced. Tonight we took part in the “Majority Rules” game held in the “Green Cabin Room” hosted by Cameron.
Day 4 – Surfers and Relaxation
Did a walkabout the property and have to admit that the grounds are amazing, just like the other Disney properties, today there was an abundance of surfers out and many sunbathers on the beach. The activity today at the pool was a scavenger hunt (which I am sure was meant for the kids, however there were a lot of adults participating) the prizes like the other days were little packets of candies. You can’t help but notice that Walt achieved his ultimate goal of releasing the kid in all of us. This is certainly a place where you can let go of all your stress and worries while here.The activity in the Green Cabin Room was trivia hosted by Gary (obviously all Disney related questions) the room was relatively packed with most people participating, a good time was had by one and all.
A relaxing and enjoyable time at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
On Day 5 the group were coming to pick me up at the airport, but managed to have enough time for a character meal before leaving Vero Beach.My sister is a huge Donald Duck fan – so she wasn’t leaving until she saw him.
It’s all about Donald Duck
Have you stayed at Disney’s Vero Beach? Will you visit again?
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is a deluxe resort on Disney property, and it’s in the deluxe category for good reason. Every resort has it’s own unique theme, and this one is no exception. The nautical theme throughout the grounds is authentic, but also feels relaxed yet classy. It’s a resort that I found welcoming, and one I will stay at again.
Each Disney resort has it’s own pros and cons depending on what you’re looking for in a vacation. For me, I’m hard pressed to find a reason NOT to stay at the Yacht Club. Here’s 5 reasons why the Yacht Club should be on your list to try.
1 Proximity to Epcot
Being able to walk to Epcot is one of my favourite things for the Beach Club, The Boardwalk and the Yacht Club. It’s a great feeling at the end of the night after the fireworks when the park is busy – you can just walk back to your resort. No need to wait for a boat, bus or monorail – no need to squish in to one of those modes of transportation with 362 strangers who are all tired and cranky. You can walk with all the space around you that you’d like. As someone who is not a big fan of crowds and being in enclosed spaces with crowds, this luxury is worth its weight in gold to me.
Take the International Gateway to walk between Epcot and the Yacht Club, Beach Club and Boardwalk Resorts
2 Proximity to Hollywood Studios
I didn’t group this with Epcot because it’s a little different. You CAN walk to Hollywood Studios, but it is a little farther – and I have never done that walk. It really just feels too long for me, so I’ve always taken the boat. Even thought it’s crowded at closing, I would still prefer these boats with a few short stops and open air to the bus.
3 The Pools
Stormalong Bay is shared with Disney’s Beach Club, it’s THAT big! With almost 800,000 gallons of water, the area has:
230 foot waterslide (one of the highest at Walt Disney World)
life sized ship wreck replica
3 whirlpool spas
sand bottom pool
gently sloped entry to the pool for little ones with a miniature water slide
If some quiet time is more your speed, you can find 3 quiet pools located throughout Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, each with it’s own whirlpool spa. Could it sound any better?
One of the best pools on Disney Property. Only resort guests are permitted to use the pool.
4 The Steakhouse
The Yachtsman Steakhouse is fine dining, with what some would call the best steak on property. There is a dress code in effect and while it’s not super strict, they do welcome dressier outfits – bringing a more elegant feel to the restaurant. The menu will make your mouth water, reservations are strongly recommended.
5 The Rooms
Staying in all the resorts at Walt Disney World over the years, I can absolutely say that I would stay at the Yacht Club again. The room was bright, spacious and inviting. We had plenty of room for 4 adults and never felt crowded. The beds were comfortable and there were plenty of charging stations for all of our devices. The storage space would have been terrific if we were staying longer and having the room under the beds for our suitcases just made it that much more roomy.
I am not sure if being dog friendly is a pro or con for this resort. I like dogs, so it doesn’t bother me that they are allowed to stay in the resort, but for those who don’t like dogs, or are allergic – this might be an issue. There are select resorts on Disney property where you can bring your dog to stay with you and this is one of them.
This alerts the cast members that there is a dog in the room
An honourable mention of a plus at the resort should go to the Ship Shape Fitness/Spa services. While I like the idea of a massage, I can’t speak to the fitness facility… why do they have these things on vacation? I can’t get on a treadmill at home – I’m not about to try one at Walt Disney World! Maybe they could magically shed the pounds I put on in cupcakes? Maybe that’s what they’re for? I may never know….
Check out this video tour of Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Dining options at Walt Disney World can be totally overwhelming. If you’re a first time (or repeat visitor) it can feel a little stressful making sure you get those must-have reservations. If you spend any time online in Facebook groups or reading some of the sites that create the hype – you would think that your vacation will be ruined if you don’t get the coveted Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table or Chef Mickey reservation. Nothing could be further from the truth!
It is incredible how many delicious places there are to eat at Walt Disney World, and some of my favourite Disney table services are the ones that you can typically get reservations for at the last minute. These places are like the best kept secrets – and I’m now going to tell you about one, the Grand Floridian Cafe.
This overlooked restaurant sits next to the entrance to 1900 Park Fare, but it is often not even noticed in the hustle to get to the character dining. It is elegant, yet unpretentious and you’re welcome to dine in your park attire. It’s casual, yet classy – with the roses on the table and great views of the grounds, the atmosphere is relaxed and warm.
I have eaten at the Grand Floridian Cafe a few times now, and have never NOT enjoyed my meal. I’ve had breakfast once, but dinner multiple times and am often conflicted about booking a breakfast and dinner on the same trip at the same restaurant. #TooManyGoodChoices
The dinner menu at the Grand Floridian Cafe has quite a variety of dishes. From steak to meatloaf, salmon or grits, there is something for everyone. We took our time enjoying our drinks with the bread and butter while deciding on the menu.
My friends decided on the sirloin and scallops and miso-glazed salmon
Sirloin and Scallops
I had to have the buttermilk fried chicken. It just sounds delicious – buttermilk fried chicken, doesn’t it sound mouth watering? Well – I can tell you, it WAS very tasty! It was so juicy, but seasoned and crispy on the outside. There was even KALE on the plate, and I ate it.. which if you knew me, you would know that it must have been REALLY good for me to eat the kale!
When the waiter came by to show us the dessert menu, we all said we couldn’t… but then we did. The menu had a dessert sampler for 2 – but there were 4 desserts and 4 of us. It worked out perfectly that we each wanted a different one! We were stuffed, but managed to eat our individual desserts as they were the perfect size for just a little taste.
The dessert sampler
Next time I’ll make sure to leave more room for a full size dessert, because I do love my desserts! Maybe I should cut out the salad starter? That would help…
Looking for a hidden gem quick service? Check out this place here.
I was travelling to Disneyland with my mom and aunt, and since I was away for Mother’s day I thought I’d schedule a belated mother’s day date with afternoon tea at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel. After I made the reservation, it was announced that the afternoon tea was going to be re-themed to a Pixar Fest tea for the duration of the summer.
When we arrived for our 12:25 pm reservation, only a few tables were seated so we were able to take a good look around the restaurant.
They have pictures of Walt Disney as you walk down the hallway to the restaurant and the booths around the restaurant all have large photos hanging above them of classic movie and music stars.
They had a subtle nod to Pixar Fest on each table to not take away from the beautiful décor. Our table had a tiny Cars arrangement with succulents. Other tables had Finding Nemo, Up! and Toy Story centerpieces with flowers.
There are two types of tea: The Classic Tea Party ($52 per adult) and the Premium Tea Party ($65 per adult). We opted for the Premium Tea Party, which in addition to the classic tea fare include sparkling wine, a salad and an irresistible Remy straw to take home!
We didn’t expect such a large list of tea so that took a bit of deciding, but that was the only choice we had to make. I chose the Organic Lychee Green, my aunt picked Tangerine tea, and my mom decided to keep it traditional with an English Breakfast tea. We were each brought a teapot that held quite a bit of tea – about three cups. We are not big alcoholic beverage drinkers so we sipped our sparkling wine leaving quite a bit left at the end of our tea. It think we all felt the sparkling wine was quite tasty and we really enjoyed our tea choices too.
After our drinks were delivered our salads arrived. It was a large portion and thought the edible glitter on the berries was a fun touch.
The tea fare is served on a three tiered stand with the scones on the top level, then the savoury canapes on tier two, followed by the sweet treats at the bottom.
We really liked the scones, mostly because of the Devonshire cream, raspberry jam and lemon curd that accompanied them. I had never eaten Devonshire cream before. Wow! The colourful scone was to represent the abstract thoughts from Inside Out. It had chocolate chips so we wondered why they chose such a sweet scone since there were so many desserts to enjoy. But it didn’t stop us from smothering the scones in jam and creams!
I think the three of us all enjoyed the savoury plate the most, with the winner being the Sweet Ginger Avocado Toast. The canapes were also themed to Pixar characters. The avocado toast was to represent the Little Green Men, the roasted vegetables was a ratatouille, the bright blue deviled egg was Dory, but the server noted most felt it looked like the Pixar ball, and the carrot cream cheese was Merida (with the crispy carrot strings as her hair). All were great flavours and combinations. This received two thumbs up from around our table.
For the dessert plate our two favourites were the cheese cake and the dipped strawberry. The cheesecake was made to look like a quarter of a ring of cheese and if you look closely at the strawberry there was an image of Mr. Fredrickson’s house and all the little sprinkles were to be the balloons. The Up! inspired éclair had a jelly filling as did the Sully cupcake. We left a few of the desserts untouched. They were good, but not a great as the savory plate (well except the cheese cake — it was great)
This was my first time going for tea so I do not really have any prior experience for comparison. I was glad that I had planned this special reservation to enjoy with my aunt and mom. I think it is great for a special occasion and now that I have been to tea, I may be interested to see how other Afternoon Tea’s fare!
The Pixar Fest tea takes place Fridays thru Sundays until September 2, 2018. Tea reservations can be booked between 12 noon and 3:00 p.m.
This review was written by Carrie Leblanc, a travel agent who specializes in Disney destinations.
For more information or to book your next adventure, contact Carrie today!
The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort are a very different option to the other resorts on property, there’s nothing else like them! I’ve stayed in a Cabin twice now, and I feel like I can honestly give my opinion of the things I liked and didn’t like about the cabins.
What I liked
Stock your fridge for your arrival
Yes, you can order groceries to be waiting in your cabin when you arrive! How great would that be to arrive at your cabin to find your
favourite cold drink in the fridge and milk or cream to make your first coffee or tea? To order your items click here.
I know that for some, the last thing you want to do on vacation is cook, but for others – cooking a few meals can cut down on costs and leave some money for souvenir shopping! It’s also very nice to have a full size fridge that gets really cold, along with a stove and microwave to heat up the leftovers that we had from the night before.
Even in the best resorts – if you have a loud neighbour, it can be annoying. In the cabins, you are not ‘connected’ to anyone else, in fact the cabins are a decent distance from each other. Both times we have stayed here I have never heard our neighbours. It’s a very quiet and peaceful sleep here.
We loved sitting on the deck. It was fun to eat out there, have a morning coffee – it was just nice to feel like I was ‘out in the wild’, and yet be only 6 feet from the coffee pot in the kitchen.
Proximity to the Magic Kingdom
Being able to take a boat over to the Magic Kingdom and see see the Electrical Water Pageant is a huge bonus!
It’s recreation overload
While we are pretty ‘relaxed’ people who enjoy sitting on the deck, we could have been REALLY busy if we took advantage of all the recreational activities that Fort Wilderness had to offer!
There is archery, a ranch, pony rides, basketball and bicycle rentals to name a few. You could have this all done by the evening and then participate in a campfire sing-a-long! Seriously, you could spend a week here and never go to a park just enjoying everything it has to offer. For a full list – check here.
The dining options
Okay – I know I said one of the great things was being able to cook, but the other great thing is being close to some GREAT dining options! The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is definitely a favourite of many Disney fans, but I have to say that Trail’s End Restaurant is a hidden gem! It’s a fantastic buffet that we’ve grown quite fond of, we will make our way over for dinner even when we’re not staying there!
Not a fan –
The resort is BIG
There is an internal bus service to get you from your cabin to the restaurants or shops – but if you weren’t in the closest loop, you couldn’t walk there. If you can, the best way to vacation here is to rent a golf cart! It’s the best and most convenient way to get around and not be dependent on the bus.
I feel like the bunk beds being in the same room with the mater bed didn’t make a lot of sense for our party. There were 4 adults, so we choose for two to sleep on the pull out couch in the living room vs us all in the 1 bedroom.
I don’t like camping
Okay – this isn’t camping, I know that. There’s running water, a full kitchen, bathroom and a comfy bed – but it’s still ‘close to nature’! I prefer the trees like the ones at the Grand Floridian 🙂
Have you stayed in the cabins? What did you think?
Disney’s Pop Century Resort is within the value category of resorts at Walt Disney World and a popular choice for many fans. I had the opportunity to stay in both an ‘older’ room as well as a refurbished one and as you would expect, the renovated room was a whole different feel.
Our original room felt very similar to our stay at All Star Movies. It was a basic room, some cute decor, but looking very ‘worn’. It was clean, it was functional, but nothing special aside from the Disney touches.
When we moved to the refurbished room at Pop Century after a night in the ‘older’ rooms, I was beyond pleasantly surprised! Since this is a value resort, I was expecting it to be clean, functional and basic with a little touch of Disney. As we opened the door, I was shocked.
Here are 8 reasons I loved the refurbished room at Disney’s Pop Century Resort:
1. the room was bright
I have seen many complaints online about it resembling a ‘hospital room’ with the white walls and white furniture, but I loved it. When I’m at home the first thing I do is turn on all of the lights, I can’t handle being in a dimly lit room, so this room was perfect for me!
2. The Space
Since the one bed folds back up, there was plenty of space in the centre of the room. There was only 2 of us, but we didn’t feel like we were in each other’s way like we did in the original rooms.
When the bed is “up” there is plenty of room.
I have to admit, we both slept GREAT at the resort! Tons of pillows (we had 8 pillows between 2 of us!) and the mattress was very comfortable. I slept on the bed that pulled down from the wall and my sister slept in the permanent one. They are both listed as Queen Size, but it did feel like mine was a little tiny bit smaller – I wish I had brought a measuring tape! Even though it ‘appeared’ a little smaller, it still felt bigger than a double bed.
4. The Safe
I don’t worry about things going missing much at Walt Disney World, but it can happen. It’s always a good idea to lock up your valuables when you’re not there. I locked up my laptop, Ipad, Passport and extra cameras with plenty of space left over. I was impressed with the depth and width of the safe and could have fit a bunch of more things in there. The safe was easy to operate allowing you to set your own PIN code to open it.
Some of the resorts have the older fridges, but these new ones with the glass doors really keep your drinks cold. I drink a LOT of water, and it’s important to me that it’s ice cold – especially on a hot day. These fridges do not disappoint! In fact, on day 2 I had to turn it down a bit since my water bottles were freezing a little.
The shelves are removable so you can make room for taller items
6. Vanity Area
Big vanity area, ironing board and iron, big mirror, storage space and a place to hang up your clothes made this a great use of the space. We had lots of room for all of our toiletries as well as storing some of the shopping we did in the little cubbies, keeping it out of the way and making the room feel less cluttered. Yes – we can do some serious damage when we’re shopping!
I’m not a fan of shower curtains, especially at a hotel. I don’t know why, but they always make me feel like it’s so dark and confined. In these new rooms the shower had sliding glass doors and there was plenty of light! The water pressure was great and there was the option of the hand held vs rain shower.
Very bright and clean
8. Power And USB
This room had so many outlets and USB stations that we didn’t use them all. It’s always a challenge with us to charge our devices. With 2 phones, 2 iPads, 2 iWatches, laptops, Fuel Rods and cameras, we struggle at the end of the day to get them all plugged in. In this room, we were able to plug in 8 devices at a time on the unit under the TV – that was very handy for us!
While there are many factors that should go in to choosing a resort, the room is an important one. Pop Century Resort’s refurbished rooms are clean, spacious and fun – with touches of Disney sprinkled throughout. I would definitely stay in a refurbished room again.
Afternoon tea at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort was something that I always wanted to try. I love a good cup of tea, I love finger sandwiches and I think anyone reading my blog knows – I LOVE dessert. What a perfect afternoon activity this would be for me!
We made reservations the day before and were lucky they were able to take us. We arrived at the Garden Tea Room and were seated right away. They led us to our table and I was immediately struck by how pretty and relaxing it looked.
We looked at the menu to decide what each of us would order (there were 3 of us). Two of us had The Bedfordshire ($35) and one had the Cheshire Tea ($50) that included a Fruit and Cheese plate.
Our Table For Afternoon Tea
My biggest problem with the menu was that I wanted more than 1 dessert (of course!). Our host was happy to tell me that I could order an extra dessert for an additional charge. Since I knew I would be writing a blog for this experience, I thought it was a good idea to try more things (that’s my story anyway!).
I have found that it’s difficult to get a good steeped cup of tea in the US, so I was really looking forward to my tea. I chose the 2nd Flush Darjeeling tea, I love Orange Pekoe tea with milk and sugar. My sister and friend both wanted to try something different and less traditional – and went with the Superfruity and Mango Ginger. We were all very happy with our selections.
Tea Pot and Cosy
When our tea pots arrived we each had our own tea cosy that was perfect for keeping our tea hot throughout our entire experience. I have lots of them at home, but this cosy was GOOD! The pots were a good size and I think I probably filled my cup 6 or 7 times with it.
Fruit and Cheese Plate
When they brought out our tiers of plates, my first thought was “those sandwiches aren’t going to fill me”. I was hungry that day (we had skipped breakfast) and was glad I had ordered the extra dessert. I’m not a big fan of scones or tarts so I figured I wouldn’t eat much off of the second plate anyway. I’m a bit of a picky eater, and assumed I’d mainly just eat the dessert!
All the plates of goodness!
Boy was I wrong!
First the sandwiches – I ate every one, and every bite! I was so surprised that I enjoyed them all – the Sweet Curry Chicken had a little kick, I almost wish there had been two of them. You can’t go wrong with Egg Salad or Cucumber, but the Roasted Tomato was perfect too. Onion tart? Sounded weird to me – but I liked it!
Cucumber, Sweet Curry Chicken, Egg Salad, Fire Roasted Tomato With Oregano Goat Cheese, Onion Tart
The second course was the scone and tart. I don’t like raisins as a rule, but there were only a few in the scone that I could pick out. I loved the lemon curd (did I just say that?) and the creme – I ate all of it and moved on to the Strawberry Tart. Tarts aren’t my favourite – but this one was light with just the right amount of strawberry flavour.
Raisin Scone with clotted creme, lemon curd and apricot jam. Strawberry Tart.
I took a deep breath at that point and wondered why I ordered the extra dessert, I was already getting full! Good thing I’m sure I won’t like the Macaroons! (I had a bite, not my favourite – I don’t like them normally anyway).
Mousse filled swan, French Macaroon, Chocolate Covered Strawberry, Strawberries and whipped creme.
At this point I’ve had about 4 cups of tea and I’m thoroughly enjoying the relaxing afternoon. I sat for a minute before trying to decide what delicious part of the dessert I would eat first.
Chocolate Strawberries have to be chilled with the right amount of sweetness… and the one I got was perfect. The mousse filled swan was light and tasty – but my absolute favourite was the strawberries topped with whipped creme. As much as I thought I was full, I almost finished the bowl it was so good.
I had read a review online for the Afternoon Tea and almost didn’t book it, I am so glad that we decided to try it anyway. This is something that I will make sure to do again.
Reviews online may have been mixed, but my experience was wonderful. We had a leisurely afternoon with great food and a excellent cups of tea! It was the perfect way to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of the parks and just sit back and relax. There were some little ones at the next table who seemed to be enjoying their Mrs. Potts Tea as well – there was something for everyone!
Have you tried afternoon tea? What was your experience like?
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa at Walt Disney World has to be one of the most beautiful and elegant resorts on property. When it first opened, I assumed I would never stay there. Princess Diana had stayed at the Grand Floridian, would I even fit in with the ‘posh people’?
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a place that everyone should have on their bucket list. It’s bright, classy and inviting.
Here are my 5 favourite reasons for staying here.
1. The Disney theming is a little less obvious than it is at the Value resorts, but it’s there.
Take a look at the marble floors, you’ll find all sorts of Disney characters.
While the stores don’t thrill me that much, Bain is a MUST for me every trip. They have some great lotions and bath salts, but the Basin White scent is my favourite. The scent reminds me of the Grand Floridian and when I wear it everyday – I have a little piece of it with me.
There is something special about being able to take the Monorail to the Magic Kingdom. It’s the perfect way to arrive! It also makes it really convenient to get to the Ticket and Transportation Centre to go to Epcot too.
Having the Contemporary Resort and the Polynesian on the monorail loop gives you a convenient way to resort hop for different dining and shopping without having to take a bus or drive.
4. The Rooms
The rooms at the Grand Floridian are large and some offer amazing views of the Seven Seas Lagoon or the Magic Kingdom. I have stayed in the regular rooms and the villas and was thrilled with all of them.
Master Bedroom – 2 Bedroom Villa
No matter which room, which view – they were incredible. All rooms come with a mini fridge, in room safe, ceiling fan, and coffee maker. In the main resort, there is turn down service – but not in the Disney Vacation Club villas.
Turn Down Service – Complete With Chocolates!
5. Dining Options
There are many great dining options at the Grand Floridian.
The quick service at Gasparilla Island Grill is worth visiting, we have enjoyed pizza and sandwiches here. The dessert was delicious too!
For table service you can’t go wrong with either the Grand Floridian Cafe or Narcoossee’s. I haven’t tried Victoria & Albert’s yet – that’s on my bucket list!
For a full list of dining options, see Disney’s official list here
The video below has a full walk through of a Deluxe Studio Room!
Communication has been great from Disney. Updates left in our room and alerts on My Disney Experience has made sure that we all know what to expect as we ride out the storm.
At the Contemporary Resort, you can see one of the Monorails parked inside.
The tug (the thing that pulls the Monorail if it breaks down) is also parked inside.
Disney has many activities for the kids on the second floor all set up. I didn’t take pictures of that because there were children there – but they had bean bag toss, giant Jenga, Connect Four, and a bunch of others. The kids looked like they were having a good time.
They had a make-shift movie theatre – equipped with free popcorn and water machines.
And of course – the characters were out meeting guests. We saw Mickey, Pluto, Goofy and Donald. The Cast Member told us they were having a contest with some of the other resorts – sharing the magic! So they asked us to Hashtag our pics #IrmaContemporaryResort
My Sister (who is celebrating her birthday this trip) was THRILLED that she got to see Donald. He really is #1!
Now we just wait and watch the weather to see what happens next.
There are indications that Disney may be getting rid of the cute little toiletry bottles of H2O that we have grown to love and replacing them with refillable dispensers.
It has been reported by many fan sites that Port Orleans Riverside recently had pump dispensers of the H2O products rather than the individual travel sized bottles.
The little bottles were a small treat in your room, some terrific products in sample sizes for you to try. Obviously the thought was that it would encourage you to buy the product in the gift shop so that you could take a little bit of Disney home with you.
Is this a cost cutting measure? Or Disney’s attempt to be more green and reduce the amount of waste and plastic bottles?
Many guests are not happy about the changes with one fan even making a ‘save the soap’ video!
After all of my visits to Walt Disney World, this was my first time staying at the All Star Movies. I had toured the resort at length, but it’s a very different experience when you’re staying there.
When we arrived at the resort, there was a rather long line for check in. I don’t know if this is normal (as I said, this was my first visit here) – but the line was long. I assumed that a Magical Express bus had just arrived (we drove) and that was why there were so many people. We decided to go grab a quick bite in the food court and let the line subside. When we returned after dinner, it was a little shorter – but not by much.
There were only 2 of us staying in the room, and we were comfortable with the space, the rooms are 260 square feet in size. There were two double beds so we each had our own. The All Star Resorts sleep up to 4 people in a room, but I think if it were 4 adults it would have been a little crowded.
The bathroom was a bit small, but I had expected that. The vanity area was a decent size for the two of us.
Storage space was not in abundance, but was enough for 2 women to unpack everything. The closet area next to the vanity is big enough to hold your suitcases. If you have 4 people unpacking, you might not fit it all in the drawer spaces (if you pack like we do!).
When we went for dinner at the World Premier Food Court we were happy with the variety of selections. The Majestic Shop had pizza, mac and cheese, and flatbreads. I opted for the Roxy Shop that had burgers, hot dogs and chicken nuggets, although the pot roast at the Lyric Shop looked good too! I of course finished my meal with a treat from the Rialto Shop where they had some pretty cool desserts.
While we didn’t have time to enjoy the pools (we were leaving on a Disney Cruise the next day) I did have a chance to take a look around and soak in the atmosphere. There are two pools for the All Star Movies, the Duck Pond Pool and Fantasia. The Duck Pond Pool is a Mighty Ducks theme and the Fantasia pool is of course themed after Fantasia with a big Sorcerer Mickey fountain. The pools are very cute and have life jackets are available for the little ones who aren’t strong swimmers yet.
I had heard stories that the All Star Resorts were often the place for larger groups of kids to stay on school events or cheerleading competitions due to the affordability of them. Once I was settled in my room I went to go to get some ice from the machine and I saw them pull up – 3 large buses of teenagers! It turned out that they were well behaved and were not loud at all that evening, so I can safely say my experience at the resort was not impacted.
Would I stay at the All Star Movies again? It depends. If I’m looking for an economy trip – absolutely. It had all the amenities of staying on Disney property, it was clean, it was cheerful and the cast members were great. That being said, I like to relax a little at my resort and this just had a little too much hustle and bustle for me.
How about you? Have you stayed at an All Star Resort? Leave us a comment below!
Bunch at Disney’s California Grill was on my wish list of new things to do. On a recent trip I had the opportunity to book reservations, so I knew I had to try it.
Dinner at California Grill is one of my favorites. Since I had such a good experience having brunch at Narcoosee’s – I figured this one had to be equally as good.
When we arrived, there was an entire section of the bar with mimosas waiting. Little did we know that these were bottomless and soon found out that our waiter would be bringing us new ones before the first one was done.
There was a bloody mary bar available for an additional cost if that was your choice of drink. While they looked delicious, we decided to stick with our mimosas.
Bloody Mary Bar
We reviewed the menu to make our entree selections. My sister Becky selected the Chef’s Frittata and I chose the Grilled Hanger Steak.
Once our entrée order was placed, we were able to visit the self-serve stations. There was real variety of things to choose from.
Becky’s self-serve selections
I’m not a fan of seafood, so I tasted everything that I thought I might like. The food was good, really flavorful and visually appealing.
My first plate from the self-serve options
When our entrees arrived, I was regretting having the second helping of bread and mimosas, but I powered through. My steak was delicious, cooked exactly as I had asked with no pink in it.
Grilled Hanger Steak – Two Eggs-Any Style, Chimichurri, Marble Potato Hash, Charred Red Onion
Becky enjoyed her frittata and said the potatoes were exceptional.
Frittata – Three Lake Meadow Farms Eggs, Heirloom Tomatoes, Roasted Poblanos, Chorizo, creamy Goat Cheese, and Marble Potato Hash
We took a small break before ordering tea and waited for our dessert plate to come. If you’ve read my blog before, you know I’m a huge fan of dessert – but I have to admit, I was underwhelmed.
The plate didn’t look as yummy as the dinner dessert does. While I tasted everything on the plate, there was nothing that made me say “wow, I need to have that again”.
When the bill arrived our total for brunch was $165 USD including our Tables in Wonderland discount.
Since I’m a gal who is all about dessert, Narcoosee’s was my favorite of the two, based solely on the desserts. I think on my next trip I’ll save California Grill for dinner so that I can enjoy the Chocolate Pudding Cake.
Check out the video below for a walk through of Brunch at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Have you tried brunch at California Grill? Leave us a comment below and let us know what you thought!
This very small location is home to the very big dessert – the Kitchen Sink. While many people visit just for the ice cream, my travel companions and I decided to have lunch as well.
When we arrived I was shocked at how small it was inside. I had walked past it before, but had never gone in. The tables were quite close together and we were seated at what I thought was a pretty small table for the 4 of us. Since we’re good friends, this wasn’t an issue, but it was a bit snug when our food came.
Ron started things off by ordering a milk shake while the rest had pop and water. The milkshake looked so good that we knew this was the place to be for anything ice cream related. He was pretty happy with it.
A couple of us had burgers while the other two had beef melts. I have to say that for an Ice Cream/Soda Shop I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed my burger and fries. But let’s be serious, we were there for one mission, to defeat the kitchen sink.
Being a Disney ‘foodie’ who loves desserts, I had researched this dessert many times. I had seen the pictures and videos and figured that the 4 of us could handle it.
Maybe it was because we were sitting at a little table, but I could not believe how big this sink was! It was overflowing with ice cream, cake, whipped cream, sprinkles, and chocolate, even Oreo cookies! The spoon that they gave us to scoop it out to our plates was huge and when you dove in, you weren’t sure what goodness you find in it.
We dug in, and we gave it our best effort, but in the end – the kitchen sink beat us. We just couldn’t do it, we probably all ate more than we should have, but we couldn’t finish it. It really doesn’t look so appetizing at the end.
After that we took a leisurely stroll back to our room at the Beach Club to relax and let our tummies settle. I think we all agreed that Beaches and Cream was a new favorite for when we’re in the mood for ice cream.
Would I try it again? Absolutely! Would I assume that we could finish it? Not a chance! I think next time I go I’ll have more realistic expectations of how much ice cream 4 people can consume!
The Contemporary Resort is one of my favorites, the atmosphere, the location, the theming, the restaraunts – everything is just perfect.
One of the hidden gems that doesn’t seem to get much credit though is the quick service! Everyone is so busy trying to get reservations at Chef Mickey or California Grill that they overlook the fact that the Contempo Café is a great quick service option!
Here are my top 3 reasons I love the Contempo Café:
Being in the Contemporary resort you are on the monorail line. It’s a great place to stop in on your way in or out of the Magic Kingdom. Sometimes in the afternoon during the hustle and bustle, we jump on the monorail or walk over for a quick snack.
Who doesn’t want to sit and watch monorails go by? I could sit there for hours watching them come and go. The other benefit is to stare in awe at the 90 foot mural that is a tribute to the Grand Canyon. The mural was created by Disney legendMary Blairwho was also responsible for many different creative projects including It’s a Small World. Legend has it that Mary Blair put a 5 legged goat in the mural because nothing is perfect. See if you can spot it! It took me years to find it!
The ordering system is fairly quick at the Contempo Café. You select your desserts, bottled drinks and premade salads and take them with you to the counter. You order your meal and are given a small pager to put on your table (or a big A shaped thing if they run out of the pagers). When your food is ready, it is brought to your table. The seating area is always clean with cast members tidying up as people leave.
Breakfast, lunch or dinner, we have always been happy with the food here. It’s reasonably priced, decent variety and quite yummy! We have done both dine in and take out and never been disappointed. They have great desserts and adult beverages (beer and wine) if you fancied.
It’s a terrific spot to cool down and relax a little outside of the parks. You can check out the menuherefor a full list of what’s available.
Have you eaten at the Contempo Cafe? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I had the opportunity to tour one of the bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort on my last visit. Being like everyone else, I had drooled over the pictures online and wanted to see them in person. I wondered if they were as nice as they appeared online and knew that the only way to tell was to walk inside one.
After my tour, I had 3 reasons that I really want to stay in one of the bungalows, and 1 reason why I don’t!
1. The bungalows are big.
2 bedrooms, a pull down couch and two trundle beds – you can sleep 8 people in one of these. Would I? No – I think that might be a little bit crowded. I think our family would be comfortable with 6 of us in there.
2. The view is incredible!
Being on the Seven Seas Lagoon facing the Magic Kingdom – you don’t get a better view than that. There are speakers on the deck so that you can play the music to go with the fireworks you’ll watch from your private plunge pool at night! Okay – the plunge pool is pretty small, but they couldn’t really have made it any bigger or they would have used up too much of the deck. How about those chairs? Yes – I could spend an afternoon relaxing there!
3. The décor
The decor in the bungalows is a throw back to the original Polynesian Resort décor, especially in the living room. I love that they incorporated the history of the resort, but still kept them modern with all of the bells and whistles. The kitchen looks like a place I would like to cook in – but of course you probably wouldn’t do much cooking on vacation. The dining room table though is the perfect place to eat your Ohana’s dinner that you order from room service!
So if these are so great – why don’t I want to stay in one?? The answer is simple – price. These bungalows are the height of luxury at around $3,000 USD per night. This is not something I can see myself splurging on anytime in the near future. It’s always fun to dream though, you never know what will happen. Maybe one day I’ll be sipping a cocktail on that deck, watching the fireworks and thinking saying “remember when I said I would never stay in one of these?”.
Check out the pictures – would you pay to stay there?
Going to Walt Disney World in the 70’s, my Mum had something against the Polynesian Resort. She always said there were too many trees and that would attract the bugs – we had to stay at the Contemporary instead.
For years this notion of mosquitos and ants was stuck in my head, and I never had the desire to stay there. It’s funny how those thoughts stay with you! I knew it was a deluxe Disney resort, but it was just not appealing to me.
Now that I have a blog dedicated to all things Disney, I knew I had to book a few nights at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. I couldn’t afford the bungalows, so I opted for a few nights at the villas.
When we arrived, we walked down to Moorea longhouse where our room would be. It didn’t seem like a long walk, but it did feel a little far at the end of a long day. We didn’t take the opportunity to walk over from the Ticket and Transportation Centre – in fact I suspect that would have been a shorter walk for us!
Up to the second floor and in to our room.
The views were spectacular. I couldn’t believe it, I was looking out over the Seven Seas Lagoon and could see the castle in the distance! This meant that I could watch the fireworks from my bed – wow!
The part that was so impressive to me was the SIZE of the room! I would have gladly stayed in this room with 4 adults and not felt crowded. A full bathroom with a tub and shower plus a separate stand up shower, what a great idea for families when you’re all trying to get ready in the morning.
The sitting area was big enough and the couch was comfy. I didn’t get a chance to try the pull out couch, but I did sleep in the murphy bed and was pleasantly surprised. I’m by no means a ‘light weight’ – but it suited me just fine and I had no issues.
I was really impressed with my stay at the Polynesian Resort villas, but I think the cherry on the cake was room service! On our last night
we were pretty tired and decided to order room service for dinner. What do you get when you order room service?? You can order from O’hana! Yes… Ohana food brought right to your room where you can eat it in your pyjamas and avoid cutting off your ability to breathe when you’ve eaten too much.
It wasn’t long in my stay before I realized that the ‘bugs’ my Mum had worried about were not an issue. In fact, I can say that I didn’t notice any. Would I stay here again? Absolutely!!
Leave a comment and let me know if you’ve stayed here!
Narcoossee’s is a fantastic dining spot at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort. We had never eaten there so we decided it was time to check it out!
We opted to try brunch at Narcoossee’s rather than a dinner. With me being a picky eater, the seafood dinner menu didn’t really appeal to me. When we arrived, we were seated next to the window for a fantastic view! Directly across the water was Disney’s Contemporary Resort and we could watch the monorails and boats. It was a bit overcast that day – but it didn’t take away from the view!
We started with our Mimosas while we reviewed the menu, there was quite a selection! The pastry basket arrived and we nibbled on the croissants, Danish, muffins and sticky buns. How would we have room for a meal?
For appetizers I had the salad and my sister had the onion soup, both were tasty. Becky loves the soup at Be Our Guest, but she said this was almost better!
We enjoyed the view and had another mimosa each while we waited for the main courses. I had the steak and eggs while Becky had the Lobster-Egg Benedict (she got her seafood after all!).
My steak was cooked to perfection. I didn’t think I could eat that much, but it was too good to leave any on the plate. The fries with Truffle Aioli were delicious – even paired with my scrambled eggs! Becky thoroughly enjoyed her Lobster-Egg Benedict and said there was plenty of lobster and was so flavorful. I don’t think either of us left much on the plate.
Of course this is the part of the meal where you think “I can’t believe I ate all that, we’re not eating again until tomorrow!” while you decide if you have a pair of shorts at the resort with an elastic waist … then the waiter comes with dessert! That’s right – a full dessert plate placed in front of us. It had a Valencia blood orange bar, triple chocolate cake, lemon blueberry timbale and a white chocolate Minnie Mouse.
We looked at each other, sighed, and then picked up our forks. This dessert looked WAY too good to pass up, even if it meant we’d have to buy bigger shorts, we had to try them. They were all good, I loved the chocolate the best. We didn’t eat the Minnie as we thought that would have been gluttonous!
We paid $69 USD each for the brunch (which I would normally never do), but it was worth it. There were plenty of choices for me and the food was incredible, I think we may do this again. Next time though, we’re not eating dinner the night before!
Have you eaten at Narcoossee’s? Did you enjoy it as much as we did? Leave us a comment below!
Disney’s Contemporary Resort is one of the two original Walt Disney World resorts opening in 1971. It was the first place we stayed at in 1974, so I guess it kind of feels like home to me. Here are 5 things I love about this place.
Proximity to the Magic Kingdom
Not only can you see the fireworks from the Contemporary resort, but you can WALK to the magic kingdom! It’s an amazing feeling at the end of the night, the fireworks end and swarms of people are leaving to get on a bus or monorail – you can avoid the crowd and just walk back to the resort.
I don’t know what it is about the Contempo Cafe, but I love it. Maybe it’s sitting in there watching the monorails go by, or hearing the kids at Chef Mickey’s having a fabulous time, but this quick service is one of my favorites. My sister loves it too – especially the lobster sandwich you can get there!
Being on the monorail line is amazing. Going to Magic Kingdom (if you don’t want to walk) or a quick ride over to the Polynesian for a Dole Whip is something we do quite frequently! Where possible I prefer the monorail vs a bus – so getting to EPCOT is convenient too.
I love Bayview Gifts store in the Contemporary, it’s where I have bought Alex and Ani bracelets, t-shirts, luggage and bags. They also sell the H2O products that we love! The pins available at the Fantasia shop are extensive and there is some great stuff to customize your magic bands. I must admit that there are multiple visits to these two stores each trip, even when we’re not staying at the Contemporary.
The standard tower rooms at the Contemporary Resort are inviting, modern, and among the largest at Walt Disney World. If you have a theme park view you can sit in your jammies and watch the fireworks at night right from your balcony! It doesn’t get any better than that!