Tag Archives: travel

Port Orleans French Quarter

Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts are two of the most popular moderate resorts.

Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter is the smaller of the two sister resorts and designed in a New Orleans Bourbon Street style.

Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez!

Rooms

There are 1008 rooms at French Quarter. Options include Standard (parking lot view, although lots of trees mitigate this), Garden View, Pool View and River View. Rooms offer 2 queen beds or a limited King bed option.

One of my favorite sites for information on the Port Orleans Resorts, it’s all-encompassing!

Dining

French Quarter has a large Quick Service food court, Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory offering breakfast, lunch and dinner options as well as the immensely popular beignets! Poolside snack bar and pizza delivery service also available.

Recreation

Scat Cat’s Lounge offers entertainment 4 nights a week. Swimming in Doubloon Lagoon with the Sea Serpent slide and poolside activities are always fun. Movies under the Stars nightly, Cajun Campfire, playground,  and an Arcade.

Many more special activities like Horse-drawn carriage rides, fishing, surrey bike rentals, Pirate Adventure cruise for kids is available next door at Riverside. There is a walking path between the 2 resorts and boat transportation as well. Pool hopping is allowed between the two sister resorts as well.

Transportation

Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside share bus transportation to all parks. French Quarter is picked up and dropped off first. Water Launch is also available to Downtown Disney via a 15 minute ride down the Sassagoula River offering more dining choices.

Port Orleans French Quarter is an amazingly well themed resort, one of the smaller of all Disney resorts in-keeping with the quaint New Orleans charm.  This was the resort my husband and I stayed at on our honeymoon and we really enjoyed it.

 

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Wilderness Lodge

Disney’s Wilderness lodge is themed after the Pacific Northwest, the beauty and majesty of the great outdoors abounds! The lobby of this hotel is spectacular and worth a visit just to see it.

Rooms

This rather small and compact resort has 725 rooms and 181 Villas in the adjacent Villas at the Wilderness Lodge Disney Vacation Club property. Which incidentally, has it’s own lovely lobby dedicated to Walt Disney’s love of trains. Rooms range from the standard 2 queen bed configuration, but also offer a bunk bed option and a few king-bedded rooms. The Old Faithful Club is the Club Level offered at the Wilderness Lodge with it’s concierge lounge, continental breakfast, midday snacks and evening wine, hors d’oeuvres, cordials and desserts.

1 bedroom villa at Villas Wilderness Lodge

Dining

Many visit the Wilderness Lodge for one of the very popular restaurants on properties, Whispering Canyon Cafe. This restaurant offers a fun playful atmosphere and comfort BBQ style food. Kids can play, run around on wooden horses and see the mayhem ensue when someone asks for ketchup!

The Wilderness Lodge also offers a Signature Dining venue . I consider Artist Point to be one of the most underrated restaurants in the World. Few know about this rustic yet elegant choice offering American cuisine with Pacific Northwest flavors.

Roaring Forks quick-service is located right inside the hotel, not far from the pool area with indoor and outdoor seating.  A pool bar outside with seating and a cozy lounge near Artist Point round out the options.

Recreation

The Resort offers two heated swimming pools, one by the Villas and the main pool with a slide by the Lodge overlooking Bay Lake. There is a children’s pool, whirlpool, beach for sunbathing, marina with watercraft for rental, arcade, playground, health club and movies under the stars. Another fun feature, bike rentals and access to the trail to Fort Wilderness. Don’t miss the hourly erupting Geyser!

Geyser

The Wilderness Lodge also offers a children’s club so parent’s can get a night out, Cub’s Den is located right by the doors leading to the covered walkway to the Villas.

Transportation

The Wilderness Lodge is a just a stone’s throw from the Magic Kingdom and accessible via Water Launch. Boats go between the Lodge and Magic Kingdom as well as a separate boat to Fort Wilderness and the Contemporary Resort. A large and smaller boat alternate, on the larger boats, strollers do not need to be folded up. All other parks as well as Magic Kingdom are reached by bus.

Boat Dock at Wilderness Lodge

The Wilderness Lodge is a spectacular resort on the lower level of Disney Deluxe Resorts making it a perfect choice for easy “off the monorail” access to Magic Kingdom. It’s in the heart of the Magic Kingdom resorts, but still completely away from it all.

Disney Cruise Line Fall 2015

Disney Cruise Line just released their new Fall 2015 itineraries and they’ve got some exciting things going on.

Back in Galveston!

That’s right, they’ve returned to the port of Galveston, Texas for a limited time. Holiday season sailings to the Bahamas and Western Caribbean.

The Wonder is will be in Hawaii for 2 special 10 night sailings September 7th and 17th. Then she is off to San Diego for the month of October with 6 sailings to Mexico!

Of course, the traditional sailing from Port Canaveral Florida continue with Bahamas and Caribbean itineraries which all include a day at Disney’s private island paradise, Castaway Cay.

Contact me to get pricing on these fabulous cruise itineraries, these limited engagements will book up quickly!

 

Disney Resort News

The iconic Walt Disney World Resort hotels, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, is undergoing a complete re-imagining! The  renovation includes a new food & beverage experience, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. Plus, the hotel is returning to its original 1971 name, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

Disney's Polynesian ResortThe biggest construction impact will affect the beloved pool. The Nanea Volcano Pool and Slide will close for “enhancements” beginning July 26 through early 2015.

Guests staying at the resort while the main pool is closed will receive one (1) complimentary ticket for each member of their party to visit Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park during their stay. Transportation will be provided and guests will enter through a dedicated check-in point where they will receive their complimentary tickets and towels.

In the Great Ceremonial House, several areas will be revamped including the lobby.

 

 

MyMagic+ and FastPass+

If you haven’t been to Walt Disney World in the last year, things…they are a changing! A new system has finally been completely rolled out although it’s still being tweaked and kinks are still being worked out.

MyMagic+ is a complete system of keeping all data together and simplifying the experience for guests. The My Disney Experience tool, MagicBands, FastPass+, all work together.

What is FastPass+

One of the big changes is to Disney’s FastPass system. The old familiar FastPass Ticket system is gone. All the ticket machines have been removed. FastPass+ is in full effect. Guests can book their Fastpass+ selections 60 days in advance for Resort guests and 30 days for non-resort guests. This gives an advantage to buying your tickets in advance and not waiting to get them at the park.

MagicBand

Guests can choose 3 FastPass+ selections limited to one park. Then, once they have used up those 3 experiences, they can book additional Fastpass+ attractions, one at a time at kiosks  in the parks. They are not limited to one park for the additional ones. So a guest could schedule their 3 for a morning in one park, then hop to another park and book at the kiosks there based on what is available.

Booking FastPass+

So how do you book these FassPass+ attractions? Using the My Disney Experience website or app on a smartphone or tablet. You sign up for an account and set everything up linking your reservation and ticket numbers. Have the lead person set it up, add your family and friends and then you can book the FastPass+ for everyone in your traveling party. You can use the app in the parks to check wait times and maps, and of course change your FastPass+ selections on the fly if you need/want to.

How does it work:

The system works by using an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip embedded on the tickets or in the Magic Band. Ticket media are now like credit cards with the chip embedded with your My Disney Experience profile and information. Magic Bands are a band/bracelet you wear embedded with the chip. Non resort guests can buy Magic Bands if they wish.

Magic Bands

Magic Bands are free to resort guests and can be customized by choosing colors and names printed on the inside of the band.  They ship out before your trip (or can be picked up at your resort at check in) and can be used right from your arrival at Orlando Airport for Disney’s Magical Express if you are using that option. You Magic Band is your Key to the World card. It will open your hotel room door, it is your park ticket and FastPass+ ticket, and it can be used with a pin number to make purchases and charge to your room. Your ADR’s (Advanced Dining Reservations) can also be stored booked through your My Disney Experience account and they will be listed there for you. The bands are comfortable to wear and waterproof.

MagicBands

If it all seems complicated and overwhelming, no worries. It’s not too bad once you get the hang of it and experience it and of course, a good Disney Travel Planner, like myself,  will do a lot of the set up and booking for you or with you, free of charge!

 

Contemporary Resort

100_0223Disney’s Contemporary Resort is the “face” of Disney Resorts. The first resort to open and the sight of it is what most people associate with Disney resorts.

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Disney’s Contemporary Resort offers some unique features that make it an excellent choice for families. While lacking in an over-the-top theme that many of the other resorts have, the resort is modern, fresh and fun!

Rooms

The Contemporary offers 655 rooms between the main Tower with either Theme Park or Bay Lake views and the Garden Wing. Rooms are exactly the same in either building but note that in the Garden Wing, 1st-floor rooms have a patio, but second-floor rooms do not have a balcony. Garden Wing rooms are often a better bargain and a much quieter location just a short few minutes walk to the Tower. Club Level is offered via their Atrium Club or Tower Club. Club level offers concierge service, lounge with continental breakfast, midday snacks and evening wine, hor ‘d oeuvres, cordials, and desserts.

Recreation

Two heated pools with a slide, whirlpools, water feature, poolside cabanas available for rental overlook Bay Lake. A beach for sunbathing and viewing the evening Water Parade, tennis, health club, arcade, and a marina with watercraft rentals. Activities at the resort include movies under the stars and poolside fun in the afternoon led by Cast Members.

Dining

Disney’s Contemporary Resort offers one of the best signature dining establishments on site. The California Grill is located high atop the hotel with its own private terrace for viewing the nightly fireworks show, Wishes at Magic Kingdom.

Downstairs, the Wave serves breakfast, lunch and dinner while on the 4th floor concourse Chef Mickey’s offers your favorite characters for a buffet breakfast, lunch or dinner. Also on the 4th floor concourse, the Contempo Cafe is a quick-service with plenty of seating, dine while watching the monorail come and go. A poolside bar and grill serves up snacks and meals and beverages.

Transportation/Location

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION!

That’s right, the location of this resort is a major benefit of staying here. It’s walking distance to the Magic Kingdom park. A short 7-10 minute stroll along a pathway brings you to the front gates of the Magic Kingdom. Nothing beats walking home after the fireworks while everyone else is scrambling for the buses and boats.

Another super benefit…the Monorail goes right through the hotel’s main concourse. It’s a sight to see and entertainment in itself. Hop on the Monorail (resort line) to get to the Ticket & Transportation Center where you can switch to the Epcot Express. Or stay on and visit the other Deluxe resorts on the Resort Line. Stops at the Polynesian Resort, the Grand Floridian Resort and then the Magic Kingdom Park before arriving back at the Contemporary. Buses will take you to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom as well as Downtown Disney. The Contemporary boat launch offers service to the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness as well.

The location and convenience of the Contemporary is perfect for families, especially those traveling with young children and using strollers. The walkway and the monorail eliminate the need to wake a sleeping child, and we all know kids need all the sleep they can get after a day in the parks. When we stayed here, the walkway was our favorite feature, because it was so easy and convenient we stayed for fireworks and spent more evenings at Magic Kingdom than we would have otherwise.

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Have you stayed at the Contemporary? What did you prefer, the walkway to Magic Kingdom or the Monorail being right there?

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Magical Moment

There is something about Disney World. It’s hard to explain or put into words what it is. More than one person has told me about “that feeling when you walk down Main Street and see the castle” , that feeling when you are there, the entire world goes away. I know it well, I feel it too and it’s why I love the place so much.

As much as I already loved it, there was a specific event that amplified the love of Disney for me. It was a chain of events that led to a very short 2 second moment. But that 2 second moment was so exciting and special, I knew I was hooked for life.

It started on our family trip in August of 2010. I took a video, a short little 6 second video with my Flip Camera. I took lots of videos. But this one was really cute.

This was the year Disney was prepping for their Share the Memories theme for the following year. In September they started a website where people could share their memories, pictures and videos of their magical moments. I shared this video and another cute one from our trip. And life went on.

In December I was contacted by Disney marketing. They wanted me to sign release forms because they may want to use my video for something or other. I did. They sent me some lovely character lithograph prints as a thank you and told me if it was used in a commercial they would sent me a copy on DVD. Commercials started popping up on tv where Disney used people’s actual home videos, some shared from that site to promote their Share the Memories theme. These were mainly people surprising their kids with trips, they all made me cry. In January, on my internet travels one day I saw that this new show would be debuting soon. The Magic, the Memories and You. A 10 minute lights and special effects show projected onto the castle each night before Wishes.

A few days later, was the debut for the media. One of the big blogs posted the video online the next day. I sat and watched it, teary eyed the whole time. Then it happened, almost at the end, the last possible moment, the last little face on the screen before it goes dark and Walt says, “to all who come to this Happy place…” there he was. My little guy’s face up on the castle at Magic Kingdom. I jumped, I screamed. I called my husband right away and  told him that we are going to Disney again this summer. We HAVE GOT to see this in person! That little moment from riding Dumbo made it into the show.

We did go that August. We sat right in front of the castle and got to see it in person. It was an incredibly magical moment. Fan for life now. And so is my little guy. He is my Disney nut.

We’ve had other pixie dust moments on trips, but that moment was the BIG one. The one that sealed the deal for me and my love of Disney.

I’d love to hear from you, what are some of your magical moments from your trips?

Benefits of Using a Disney Travel Planner

A trip to Walt Disney World can be an overwhelming vacation to plan for. This is especially true for first-time visitors. There is so much to see and do and of course, everyone wants to “see it all!”

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First things first…you can’t and won’t see it all, no matter how many days your trip is. You can, however, maximize your vacation time with less stress by getting professional FREE planning help.

That’s right, the #1 thing many people don’t know is that using the services of a Disney Travel Planner is FREE.

Disney, like most other suppliers in the Travel Industry, pays agencies a commission. The Guest pays the same whether they do all the work themselves or have an expert do it for them.

When planning my first trip with my family I spent months…it was basically a full-time job for me, researching and planning our trip for several hours a day. I wanted it to be perfect and made it my mission to study everything I could find. Had I not been lucky enough to be a stay a home mom at the time, I would not have been able to devote that time to our vacation planning. Luckily I also had a professional background in the travel industry and had been to Disney World a few times prior.

 

A Disney Travel Planner will get you the best deal. They are current on all the best offers and can determine which one is best suited to your family and situation. Even if you are already booked, your agent will keep up to date and switch your booking over to a new special offer when it becomes available if possible. Your agent worries about getting you the best price, not you. Your agent will spend the time on the phone lines getting you the best option so you don’t have to.

A Disney Travel Planner will suggest and even book all your dining for you. Disney restaurant and special character meals can sell out fast, 6 months before your travel date! It can be daunting to even think about where you are going to eat 6 months in advance and then wrestle with the online booking system or spend hours on the phone with Disney Dining. But if you little ones have their hearts set on dinner with a certain character you’ll be out of luck if you don’t plan for it well in advance. Your Disney Planner can and will do this for you.

A Disney Travel Planner will give you as much itinerary planning help as needed. Whether it be just some simple tips if you have your own plan down to planning out a detailed itinerary if you want step by step guidance.

A Disney Travel Planner will recommend the best hotel option for your family. There are so many options at Disney World and a wide price range. A Disney Planner can narrow down the best options to suit you and your theme park touring style.

By getting help with the planning from a travel agent that works with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, like me :), you’ll be sure to make the best of the time you have and come home with the most MAGICAL of memories!

Stay up to date with me on Facebook or Twitter, follow this blog and be sure to contact me ( barbara@atimetotreasuretravel.com )when you are ready to head back to the House of Mouse!