Posts Tagged With: Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World – The Basics-Where to Stay

The last time we talked, we were just starting a series on the basics of Walt Disney World.

(check out my previous post on the basics, “When to Go“)

Today, I want to talk a little bit more about the basics, “Where to Stay”.

OK, so you have nailed down the best time to go, now it’s time to start planning.  Where in the “World” could you stay??

Off property vs. On property 

The first thing we probably need to discuss is staying on “property” or off “property”.  What do I mean by that?  There are more than 20 unique resort hotels right on Disney property.  So, what are the advantages to staying “on property”?

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages:

Disney Quality

Like with all things, Disney’s quality service doesn’t stop at the turnstiles to the parks.  You can expect the same Disney touches right in their resort hotels.

Time

By staying at a Disney Resort Hotel, you will be able to spend more quality time with your family and friends.  Since you will be close to the magic, you can come and go as you please.  This is ideal for taking those mid-day breaks that “the kids” so desperately need.  [Shh, don’t tell anyone, but I look forward to these too]  🙂

And, so you will be able to maximize your time in the parks, on most days one theme park will open early, or stay open late.  These Extra Magic Hours are available to Disney Resort hotel guests only.

Convenience

When arriving at Orlando International airport, you can skip baggage claim, and take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express service.  This service provides complimentary transportation for you, as well as luggage delivery service right to your resort hotel room.

While staying at your Disney Resort hotel, you could also make your way to all 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and the Downtown Disney shopping district via Disney’s complimentary transportation system.  The options include monorails, ferryboats, and motor coach transportation.

Not interested in using Disney’s transportation?  Rather drive yourself?  Disney also provides free parking at all of the theme parks, to all resort hotel guests.

Did you pick up something large and bulky?  Don’t feel like hauling it through the parks, and all the way back to your hotel?  Not to worry, Disney has you covered.  Many of your purchases can be delivered right to your Disney Resort hotel.

Worried about traveling through the parks with a large amount of cash, or credit cards?  While staying at a Disney hotel, you can charge that large bulky item directly to your room.

Resort Entertainment

While at your resort, watch for opportunities to catch a movie under the stars, experience a Character Dining Meal, or visit the resorts child activity center.  (All of these available at select resorts).

Choice

By booking a package, and staying at a Disney Resort, you will also be able to take advantage of the very popular Disney Dining Plan where you can save while enjoying a variety of dining experiences.

So, doesn’t it cost a fortune to stay at a Disney Resort?  Luckily Disney offers a wide array of options to fit any budget.  Disney classifies their resorts into one of several categories.

We’ll look at each:

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

© Disney

Value Resorts

Resorts in this category range from a typical standard room that sleeps 4 (about 260 square feet) to family suites that can sleep up to 6 (about 520 square feet).  The distinctive characteristic in these resorts is the larger than life icons you will find throughout.  They also offer you an experience big on fun, but small on cost.

  • All-Star Movies – Find yourself immersed in larger than life icons that salute classic Disney films
  • All-Star Music – As the name implies, this resort is all about the love of Music
  • All-Star Sports – For the sports fan.  You will be feel part of the “BIG” game
  • Art of Animation – Disney’s newest resort invites you to become a part of your favorite animated films.
  • Pop Century – Whether it’s larger-than-life Cell Phones, Rubik’s cubes, or Big Wheels, you will find it here.  You will feel like you stepped back in time at this fun resort.
Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort

© Disney

Moderate Resorts

Resorts in this category offer rooms that sleep up to 4, and range about 314 square feet.  These resorts offer a little more space, and comfort for your family.  The resorts in the category invite you to escape to enchanting, wonderfully affordable locales

  • Caribbean Beach – Feel like you are relaxing in the Caribbean as you visit this tropical beach side paradise set upon the 45-acre Barefoot Bay
  • Coronado Springs – An American Southwest themed Resort hotel that evokes the spirit and romance of Spanish-colonial Mexico
  • Port Orleans-French Quarter – Inspired by the romance and pageantry of the historic French Quarter in New Orleans
  • Port Orleans-Riverside – Enjoy the picturesque waterfront while surrounded by the tranquility of the Louisiana Bayou
  • Cabins at Fort Wilderness – The cabins provide all the comforts of home and offer an American Frontier theme
Disney's Animal Kingdom Kidani Villas

© Disney

Deluxe Resorts / Deluxe Villa Resorts

There are a vast array of room options available within this category.  Standard rooms range from about 340 square feet, and can go up to around 440 square feet.  No matter the option, you can experience the ultimate in luxury, style and service at each of these Deluxe resorts.

  • Animal Kingdom Lodge – An amazing African lodge-style hotel set on a 43-acre wildlife preserve
  • Bay Lake Tower – Set near Magic Kingdom, this resort promises to deliver some of the most dramatic views of Walt Disney World
  • Beach Club – A New-England style lakeside hotel with a sand-and-surf motif
  • Boardwalk Inn – An elegant lakeside hotel fashioned after the seaside buildings of 1940’s Atlantic City
  • Contemporary Resort – A modern lakeside hotel located within walking distance of Magic Kingdom
  • Grand Floridian – A Victorian-style hotel that conjures the splendor of the Sunshine State’s golden era
  • Old Key West – Enjoy the leisurely romance of the Florida Keys
  • Polynesian – From the thatched roofs to the koi ponds, this resort celebrates the spirit of the South Pacific
  • Saratoga Springs – Inspired by the historic Saratoga Springs, the New York retreat famous for it’s spa and horse racing
  • Wilderness Lodge – Captures the adventurous and romantic spirit of the grand National Park Service lodges found in the Great American Northwest
  • Yacht Club – A Martha’s Vineyard-themed hotel on Crescent Lake with authentic nautical details

Other Deluxe Resorts

  • Dolphin – Inspired by Florida itself, this resort was designed by award-winning architect Michael Graves
  • Swan – The sister resort to the Dolphin, also designed by Michael Graves, sits across the lake from the Dolphin

Wow!  That’s a lot of places!  As you can clearly see, there are so many options to choose from!

Interested in hearing more about any of the Walt Disney Resort hotels?  Drop me a line.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time…sleep tight!  🙂

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Grand Opening of New Fantasyland coming in December!!

The grand opening for the New Fantasyland expansion at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort will take place on Dec. 6, 2012! Attractions included in this opening are Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid, Be Our Guest Restaurant, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Ariel’s Grotto, Gaston’s Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts. Previews of these attractions will begin earlier, on Nov. 19.

I can’t wait!

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Happy Birthday America!

On this day, 236 years ago, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.  In all 56 individuals, two of them future Presidents (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson), signed that document.  Some of the signatures didn’t come until years later.  And because of the courage of those “Founding Fathers”, the greatest country in the world was born.

The love of this great country is something that we can share with Walt Disney:

“Actually, if you could see close in my eyes, the American flag is waving in both of them and up my spine is glowing this red, white, and blue stripe.” – Walt Disney

Walt’s love for the United States of America, is evident even inside The Magic Kingdom.

(photo credit: Walt Disney World Gallery)

Starting as you pass into Liberty Square from Cinderella Castle in the central hub, you cross a bridge that was inspired by the Old North Bridge.  The Old North Bridge is the site of one of first battles for American Independence, the Battle of Concord.

As you continue through Liberty Square, you will pass by a large oak tree.  The Liberty Tree, was transplanted and moved to Walt Disney World.  The 130 year old tree weighed 38 tons at the time, and had a root ball about 18 ft x 16 ft x 4 ft deep.  The tree symbolizes the original liberty tree in Boston, Mass that was the gathering spot for a group of individuals called the “Sons of Liberty”.  Hanging in the branches of the Liberty Tree, you will notice 13 lanterns, one for each of the original colonies.

Next to the Liberty Tree is a replica of the Liberty Bell.  In fact, it is the only replica to be cast from the mold from the original Liberty Bell.

Across the walkway from the Liberty Tree, you will find the Hall of Presidents.  The Hall of Presidents, a 22-minute show inside the hall features audio-animatronics versions of each of the 44 Presidents of the United Sates.  Well actually, only 43 of them since Grover Cleveland served two separate terms as President (22 & 24).  Throughout the show, you will see each of the Presidents gesture, sway, sit, stand, and in some cases speak.  The show is well worth your time.

If you look closely in the windows of the Hall of President, you will see two glowing lanterns.  These lanterns are meant to represent the beacons that Paul Revere watched for as he made his famous ride announcing the coming of the British army.

“In America, we are guaranteed these freedoms. It is the constitutional privilege of every American to become cultured or to grow up like Donald Duck.” – Walt Disney

As you spend some time in Liberty Square, some of the other things you may take note of:

  • The shutters on the buildings hang crooked – During the Revolutionary War, Britain was still sending supplies to the colony, but obviously would not send them ammunition.  What they did provide, however, was shutters…with metal hinges.  Resourceful Independence fighters stripped the hinges from the shutters and melted them down to make musket balls.  They replaced the metal hinges with leather straps.  As time went on the leather stretched out, causing the shutters to hang crooked.
  • To keep up with the themes, since during Colonial times there was no indoor plumbing, you will find no bathrooms in Liberty Square.  This is sort of a technicality, however.  There are two restaurants in Liberty Square, Columbia Harbour House, and Liberty Tree Tavern.  Although each of these restaurants have bathrooms, they are technically across the line into the next “land” in the Magic Kingdom, so don’t physically sit within the borders of Liberty Square.

There are a couple of other hidden gems in Liberty Square, that I won’t tell you about, you will have to discover them for yourself.  (If you really want to know, I’ll tell you if you ask nicely  🙂  ).

I’ll end with one more quote from Walt:

“Tomorrow will be better as long as America keeps alive the ideals of freedom and a better life.” – Walt Disney

If you would like to hear more about Liberty Square, the Magic Kingdom, or Disney in general, drop me a line.  I’d love to hear from you.

(If you are interested, I’ve also included several links for you to check out).

Happy Independence Day!!

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Storybook Circus Now Open!

The largest expansion in Magic Kingdom® Park history is underway, a project that will nearly double the size of Fantasyland at the Walt Disney World® Resort. And now the Storybook Circus area of New Fantasyland is open!

Some of the new elements of Storybook Circus include:

  • Not one but two circling carousels of airborne pachyderms on Dumbo the Flying Elephant. And, before taking to the skies on this Fantasyland favorite, you can experience an array of fun-filled family games and interactive wonders for kids of all ages inside the Big Top.
  • The classic Barnstormer got a bright new look as well, featuring Goofy as The Great Goofini. It’s a twisting, turning roller coaster “flight” high above the circus fun.
  • Fantasyland Station: You can delight in the newest addition to Walt Disney World Railroad.
  • Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station is a circus-themed water play area. Water squirts from playful monkeys, elephants, camels and from Casey Jr. when he lets off billows of cooling “steam.”
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A Night on the Savanna

The countdown has begun! 

In 27 days (but who is counting) we will be returning to one of my favorite places in all of Walt Disney World! Animal Kingdom Lodge!

Animal Kingdom Lodge Sign   (Photo credit: rustyalaska)

As you pull up in front of the resort, you can tell that something is different about this place.  Not only is it the size of the place, it just has a different feel to it.  You can’t quite put your finger on it though.  When you step out of the car (or usually in our case, the Disney Magical Express bus), you feel so completely enveloped by the sights and sounds.  (If you listen carefully, you can hear African-themed music playing in the background.)  You don’t know quite what to expect.  You walk up to the front doors, and as they open, you start to get a real appreciation for the size and scale of this resort.

030113-FL-WDW-animal_kingdom_lodge-lobby

Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby (Photo credit: obfusciatrist)

The Amazing Lobby

As you step through the front doors, you will most likely hear a collective, “Wow!” coming from those who walk through the door with you.

Animal Kingdom Lodge, an African-themed deluxe resort at Walt Disney World, opened in 2001 and hosts more than 1,300 rooms.  The resort boasts thatched ceilings, large beams and showcases many real African artifacts.  The lodge is situated in a way to allow for an expansive view of the 43-acre African Wildlife Preserve.

The Animals

If you pass through the lobby, you will step into an area called Arusha Rock.  It is a rock platform that gets you up close and personal with the wildlife roaming the savanna.  Animal Kingdom Lodge wouldn’t be called that without the animals!

More than 30 different species of wildlife roam 4 different savannas.  Among the animals that call this place home are, Reticulated Giraffe, Zebra, Antelope, Okapi, Thompson’s Gazelle, Ostrich, and White-Bearded Wildebeest.

Giraffe at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Giraffe at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the greatest things about the savanna, however, is the fact that many of the rooms come with views of the savanna.  It’s a wonderful thing to be sitting on your balcony and see a Giraffe wander by.  Sometimes they feel close enough to touch!  The last time we stayed there, we had the pleasure of two giraffe coming over just under our balcony and bedding down for the night.  It was a breathtaking sight.

And, if you are really ready for an up-close view of the animals, you may choose to reserve a spot for a tour of the Wanyama Safari.  This is an adventurous guided drive through one of the safaris that offers the opportunity to spend some time with the members of the Animal Kingdom Lodge animal program team.  You will enjoy wonderful photo opportunities of the animals and architecture of Animal Kingdom Lodge.  After the safari, you will return to Jiko (one of a few restaurants at the resort) for an amazing dinner.

Restaurants

Speaking of restaurants, Animal Kingdom Lodge offers two award-winning restaurants, Jiko-The Cooking Place and Boma-Flavors of Africa, as well as a The Mara, a counter service restaurant.

Other Activities / Amenities

If the adventure with the animals is too much for you, or you are just looking to kick back, you could also choose to relax at the resort’s 11,000 square foot zero-depth entry pool.  Uzima pool also offers a 67 foot long slide.

With all of this and more to offer, Animal Kingdom Lodge is an amazing place to stay, and would be a wonderful choice for a family stay at Walt Disney World.

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