Our Top Five Reasons to Stay at a Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Resort Benefits

There are many reasons why we suggest staying at a Disney resort when visiting Walt Disney World.  Proximity to the parks is one obvious reason as the Walt Disney World Resort in itself is large, and the closest non-Disney resorts feel far from all of the Disney magic.  However, if you’re looking for more than proximity to convince you of why you need to stay at a Disney Resort, check out these 5 reasons:

  • Free Parking at the Parks – When you stay at a Disney Resort, your resort information is saved to your Magicband. If you have your car or a rental car and would rather depend on your own transportation to get around, you will receive free parking for all of the Walt Disney World parks! Now, parking for the theme parks has climbed to $25 per day…SO, if you’re going to visit several theme parks all week…that free parking is a nice perk! While the appeal of this benefit is lessened by the new resort parking fee imposed by Disney, most resorts and hotels in Orlando now charge a parking fee. So if you stayed off property, paid the resort parking fee, and then had to pay to park at the Disney parks – you’ll be spending a pretty penny when you could save that money for more Mickey Ice Creams!
  • Extra Magic Hours – Only Disney Resort guests get to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours, which allows only those guests to enter the theme parks early and stay later on certain days. People staying at non-Disney hotels cannot enter or remain in the parks during these times…so that gives Disney Resort guests a big boost on their RPM’s!!! (Rides Per Minute average)…and we know how important that is!
  • Disney Transportation – Disney provides buses, boats, skyliners (soon!) and the cherished Monorails to help you get to theme parks, Disney resorts, and Disney Springs. When you stay at a Disney resort, you have immediate access to these forms of transportation and can hop to different Disney destinations much easier. Also, this is extremely useful if you are flying in from out of town, or if you just want to park your car and not see it again until you drive back home. TPG Tip: The Monorail is the golden child here, and if you go to Disney you have to ride them and take in the experience. The most magical ride you can take is when you start out at the Contemporary Resort and take a journey around the Seven Seas Lagoon…stopping at marvelous resorts like the Polynesian Village Resort and the Grand Floridian Resort. Then, you finish the journey at the epicenter…The Magic Kingdom!
Walt Disney World Monorail Contemporary
  • The Disney Magical Express (DME) – This FREE airport bus service provides transportation for Disney resort guests only. You get one trip from the airport when you arrive, and one trip back to the airport when you are departing. This is HUGE!…because getting a taxi/Uber/Lyft from the airport will take a big chunk out of the vacation budget the very second you step off of the plane!
  • DME Caution!!!  There are a few things to remember when taking the DME:  
    • It may take longer to get to your resort than taking an Uber/Lyft since the bus will make stops at a few neighboring resorts…if you are strapped for time, you may want to consider an Uber or Lyft. 
    • TAKE YOUR BAGS WITH YOU!!!… The DME provides luggage assistance and gives you tags to put on your luggage, which allows them to grab your bags at the airport and deliver them to your room for you. First, if your bag contains all the important things that you need for your trip (which it does) it’s a good idea to handle it yourself. Secondly, it will take DME Luggage Assistance 3 to 5 hours – maybe even 8 hours – to deliver your bags to your room. So, if you need your stuff right away, DEFINITELY grab your bags yourself.
  • Magic:  The last reason is less practical and more magical…You’re going to Disney not just to stay at a nice hotel and go to any old theme park.  You’re going to experience that MAGIC!!! And staying at a Disney Resort helps you do that! From the different themes of the resorts, to the decorations, to the stores filled with awesome Disney merchandise, and all the fun games and shows that happen at the Disney Resorts…you are bound to experience Disney magic and create life-long memories along the way!

So now that we’ve hopefully convinced you that a Disney Resort is the way to go, we’re sure you’re wondering about the best way to book a room and where to stay! Stay tuned next week, because we’ll be discussing renting Disney Vacation Club points to stay at the gorgeous DVC resorts for the same rate as booking a Moderate Resort through Disney!

Disney Resort Information

Ready to book a Walt Disney World Resort Vacation?  Visit the official Walt Disney World page to book!

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The One Thing You Need to Master for a Successful Walt Disney World Trip

This may seem basic to those who visit Walt Disney World regularly but we have seen too often lately guests who are planning to visit the resort and have not even utilized the one thing that can make or break your Disney trip:  the My Disney Experience app.

Gone are the days of just showing up to the park and winging it.  Fastpasses in general have prolonged regular queue lines (that’s a whole separate discussion) and now these Fastpasses can be planned ahead of time.  Off-seasons are also pretty much a thing of the past, so to enjoy the popular attractions, eat at the highly-desirable restaurants, and make your park time more efficient, you NEED to understand how to use this app to your benefit.

Here are our basic tips to using My Disney Experience to plan your trip:

Fastpasses

You need to make Fastpasses well before your trip if you are set on riding certain popular attractions.  These attractions include:  Flight of Passage, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Slinky Dog Dash, Peter Pan’s Flight, Soarin’, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror.  Now some of these attractions can still have Fastpasses closer to your park day and even on your park day, but if you want to know for sure that you’ll be able to get on one of these rides without a long wait – make the Fastpasses as soon as you’re able.

If you are staying at a Disney resort, you are able to make Fastpasses 60 days from your check-in date and you’re able to make them for up to 10 days past your check-in date.  This gives you a great advantage over guests staying at off-site resorts.  Make sure you are ready to grab your Fastpasses at 7 A.M. Eastern on that 60th day from your check-in date.

If you are staying at a non-Disney resort, you are able to make Fastpasses at 30 days from your planned park day.  Don’t fret, while you may not be able to get the most popular attraction Fastpasses, you will still be able to grab some highly desirable ones, so make sure you are up at 7 A.M. on that day to make your selections.

Important – You can make three Fastpasses in advance.  When making your Fastpass selections, try to make your time selections as early as possible in the day and as close together as possible.  This will allow you to use your three Fastpasses and then make additional selections one at a time.  As soon as you scan your Magicband for your third attraction, get on the app in the line and start looking for your next Fastpass.  Continue to do this throughout the day to maximize your time in the park. 

PLUS, if you plan on park-hopping, once you’ve used your third Fastpass, you can make a selection at any of the other parks.

Dining Reservations

Dining reservations require a bit more advance planning since you can make these reservations at 180 days from your desired date.  You can begin making your dining reservations at 6 A.M. on the 180-day mark, so if you have a specific restaurant in mind, be sure to be on the app at that time to lock in that reservation.  Some restaurants that are harder to get are Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest Restaurant, California Grill, Victoria & Albert’s, ‘Ohana, Chef Mickey’s, and Beaches & Cream.

Mobile Ordering

This feature is one that you need to be taking advantage of if you will be dining at any quick service restaurants at Walt Disney World.  We are amazed whenever we see how many people are waiting in long lines at Cosmic Ray’s rather than ordering on the app beforehand and then skipping the line to pick up their meals.  Mobile ordering is super easy to use.  You pick everything you want, pay for the food on the app, then when you are close to the restaurant, tap that you are there and ready for them to prepare your food.  Go to the designated counter to pick up and you are eating in no time! 

This is a huge time-saver when you are trying to maximize your park time!  Also, they have now added allergy-friendly menus to order from as well!  This feature is such a life-saver on a busy park day!

These are the basic features you absolutely should be using when visiting Walt Disney World.  There are additional features in the app that are also helpful including:  parade, fireworks, and show times; character meet and greet locations; park hours; restroom locations.

We love helping making Disney days easier for those who are not totally familiar with how to maximize their trip.  If you ever have a trip-planning question, please feel free to DM us on Instagram or Facebook!

Make sure you check out our Walt Disney World park-specific pages here to see the highlighted tips for each park!

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Our Favorite Walt Disney World Treats to Take Home

One of the magical things about visiting Walt Disney World is experiencing the numerous treats they offer!  With so many shops and stands, plus so many seasonal offerings, it can be hard to keep up with everything they offer!  While many of these treats can only be enjoyed while on property (if someone has figured out how to successfully transport Mickey Ice Creams, please email us!), there are a few treats that can actually be easily packed and taken home!  We love taking Disney snacks home with us because it fills the void when we can’t be at the parks!

Here are some of our favorite portable Disney treats!  Bonus – many of these items count as “snack” items on the Disney Dining Plan!  If you have snack credits left on your last day at Walt Disney World, you can use the credits to stock up on these items!

  • Mickey Rice Krispy Treats – These little treats are a delight for your eyes and your tastebuds!  First, we can agree anything Mickey-shaped just tastes better but their decorations are also just so cute!  They are super easy to transport because they are not too big and pretty sturdy, so you don’t have to worry about finding a crumbled mess in your suitcase when you get home. 
  • Mickey/Minnie Shaped Chocolate Apples – While these treats may be a little more challenging to transport – much easier with a car ride – they are wrapped up and ready to go home with you!  We definitely wouldn’t suggest putting these in a checked bag, but packed strategically in a carry-on, you could get these babies home and transport yourself back to Main Street when you need a pick-me-up!
  • Character Lollipops –   Another fun way to bring the magic of Disney World home!  These make great gifts for family back home or to just feel like you’re back in the most magical place on Earth!  We love these because there are so many different flavors, sizes, and characters to choose from so you can really bring home a nice variety!
  • Goofy’s Packaged Candy –  We love these because they are super easy to transport and they’re delicious, especially the gummies!  Another great way to kick those post-Disney blues while also helping your sugar levels adjust back to reality after eating like calories didn’t count for the past week!
  • Packaged Flavored Popcorn –   This is one of our favorite ways to make us feel like we’re in the parks!  Popcorn is such a staple of the Disney Parks and we love that it can be easily transported home in these packages.  There is also a nice variety of flavors to choose from!  Our favorite flavor?  Chocolate Caramel Popcorn!
  • Minnie’s Sweets Cookies and Treats – This is a whole line of adorable cookies, rice krispy treats and delicious brownies!  These are packaged perfectly for easy transport home.  When you’re missing Disney, munching on some Mickey and Minnie-shaped cookies is sure to make your day brighter!
  • Character Cotton Candy Tub –  This is a treat that is harder to transport, but if you can get creative and fit it in your luggage, you’ll be glad you did!  First, cotton candy.  Yum!  Second, you get an awesome Disney tub as a keepsake!  This is also one that qualifies as a snack credit, so we think it’s totally worth it to ditch some replaceable socks and underwear to fit this treat in our bag!

These are our favorite portable Walt Disney World snacks to take home with us!  Did your favorite make the list?  If not, comment below and tell us yours!

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Our Top 6 Favorite Buffet Meals at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World Restaurants

Walt Disney World is known for its attractions and shows, but it has also become known for their amazing dining experiences! Throughout the parks and the resorts, there are so many great choices. The amount of restaurants to choose from can become overwhelming, so we’re here to list our top 6 favorite buffet/family style meals at Disney!

Cape May Café Breakfast (Beach Club Resort) – There are a few reasons we love this restaurant for breakfast!  First, it’s in the gorgeous Beach Club resort, so it gives you an excuse to check out the resort if you’re not staying there.  Second, the food is so delicious!  They might even be the only location where you can get made-to-order crepes (besides Epcot).  Finally, the character experience is so fun!  Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto meet guests in their adorable beach attire and we just can’t get enough of it! 

*Guru tip:  Plan to eat breakfast here before your Epcot day.  Once you are done with breakfast, the World Showcase entrance to Epcot is only a short walk or boat ride from the Beach Club resort.

How cute is Minnie in her Beachwear at Cape May?!

Trail’s End Breakfast (Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort) –  Castmembers who work at Trail’s End proudly say they have the best breakfast on property.  They are not wrong.  You don’t get to meet any characters here, but the food makes up for that.  They offer a wide range of breakfast offerings, including the classic Mickey waffles but they also offer Pulled Pork Benedict, Biscuits and Sausage Gravy, and Cheese Grits!  They also have the delicious Moonshine Juice, which we wish we could bottle up and take home! 

*Guru tip:  Plan to have breakfast here before your Magic Kingdom day.  The restaurant is right next to the boat launch to the Magic Kingdom, so you can eat breakfast and then get right onto a boat to the Magic Kingdom.

We could eat this every day! Doesn’t that Moonshine Juice look delicious?

Akershus (Norway Pavilion in Epcot) – This is our favorite way to meet the Princesses at Walt Disney World!  Cinderella’s Royal Table tends to be more popular, but we like this option better for a few reasons.  First, it’s a buffet so you’re able to eat to your heart’s delight and in a sense, get more for your money.  Second, there are more tables in Akershus which gives you a better chance of getting a reservation.  Third, the princesses do a princess parade around the restaurant which gives your child a chance to really interact with the princesses and feel more a part of the experience – it’s also super cute. 

*Guru tip:  If you book for early breakfast, this will get you into Epcot before guests without a reservation and give you an advantage to get to popular attractions (Frozen, which is right next door) quicker and beat the crowds.

1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian Resort) – This one is a super fun experience for breakfast and for dinner!  For breakfast you get to meet with Alice from Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh.  For dinner, you’ll be highly entertained by the meet and greets with Prince Charming, Cinderella, her evil step-sisters Anastasia and Drisella, and Lady Tremaine.  The food offered for breakfast is delicious and include favorites like pancakes, hash browns, and biscuits and sausage gravy but they also offer Maple French Toast and Sticky Cinnamon Buns – yum!!  Dinner is equally delicious, you will not be disappointed!

*Guru tip:  If you book this experience for breakfast, book it on your Magic Kingdom day.  After breakfast you can either take the pirate boat directly to the Magic Kingdom or use the Resort Monorail.

‘Ohana Dinner (Polynesian Village Resort) – This is a very popular dinner destination for many reasons.  The atmosphere at the Polynesian at night is so beautiful.  The experience for dinner at ‘Ohana is excellent.  There are no character meet and greets for dinner, but there are some fun games and hula dancing to take part in!  The food is family-style all you care to eat, rather than leaving your table for a buffet.  The servers will continue to bring more food until you are done! 

*Guru tip:  Depending on the time of your reservation, after dinner stay at the resort and explore until it’s time for the Magic Kingdom fireworks.  Watch the fireworks from the Polynesian beach where they pipe in the music for the show.  It’s a stunning view to watch the fireworks across the Seven Seas Lagoon!  If you schedule dinner while the fireworks are going off, request a seat near the window so you can watch the fireworks while you eat.

Liberty Tree Tavern (Magic Kingdom)  – Because who doesn’t love a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with as many helpings as you like?  This is more family-style than buffet but they will bring you as much as you care to eat!  The food is so delicious from the starters to dessert and the atmosphere fits right in with the Liberty Square area of the Magic Kingdom!  It’s also a great way to relax a bit during your Magic Kingdom day.

Honorable Mentions for Character Experiences:

Chef Mickey’s (Contemporary Resort) – We love this restaurant for the characters and the location.  The food offered for breakfast and dinner is good, just nothing spectacular.  The reason we think this experience deserves an honorable mention is because you get to meet the fab five here:  Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto.  It’s also a super fun atmosphere on the Grand Canyon Concourse in the Contemporary Resort. 

*Guru tip:  If you book for breakfast, do it on a Magic Kingdom day.  You can have breakfast and then either walk over to the Magic Kingdom or take the Resort Monorail to the park.  If you book for dinner, hang out and explore the resort, then view the Magic Kingdom fireworks show from the bridge between the Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower.  The music is piped in to that location, so it’s a neat experience and less crowded.

‘Ohana for Breakfast (Polynesian Village Resort) – Another great experience that we love for the atmosphere and the characters.  Dining is not buffet but rather family style, so a waiter will continue to bring out more food for all you care to eat.  The food is delicious but the breakfast items tend to get cold pretty quickly if there are only a few of you in the party.  However, we have dined there with a party of 5 and had no problem doling out the food while hot and then waiting for the waiter to bring more.  The characters you’ll get to meet here are Mickey and Pluto in their Hawaiian attire plus Lilo and Stitch!

*Guru tip:  Book breakfast here on your Magic Kingdom day.  Once you’re done at breakfast, you can hop on the pirate boat directly to the Magic Kingdom or take the Resort Monorail over. 

Crystal Palace for Breakfast (Magic Kingdom) –  This restaurant deserves an honorable mention for the fact that you can meet the characters from Winnie the Pooh and for the fact that the Crystal Palace restaurant is a neat place to dine.  The buffet food is standard and it’s very similar to what is offered at Chef Mickey’s.  The draw for this dining location is for the opportunity to meet Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore!  Plus it’s another great place to take a break while in the Magic Kingdom.

There are our favorite buffet/family style restaurants at Walt Disney World! Did your favorite make the list? If not, comment below with your favorite!

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6 Romantic Date Ideas at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World

Romance at Walt Disney World

Many people think Walt Disney World is just for kids or family trips, but they are wrong!  There are plenty of romantic things to do at Walt Disney World.  To help you plan for an upcoming anniversary or maybe you want to plan a special date night (Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!), here is our list of the top romantic things to do at Disney.

1. Dinner at Epcot

Epcot

There are so many restaurants to choose from in the World Showcase at Epcot!  The great thing about such a large choice is that you can choose one that suits what you and your significant other like.  The tough thing about so many choices is trying to narrow down which restaurant is the best choice.

Our top choice is Le Cellier in Canada.  The food is wonderful and the atmosphere caters to romanticism.  Other great choices include:

  • San Angel Inn Restaurante in the Mexico Pavilion
  • Les Chefs de France or Monsieur Paul (more expensive) in the France Pavilion
  • Tokyo Dining in the Japan Pavilion (perfect if you make ADR during Illuminations and request a window seat or stick around after dinner and view the fireworks from the balcony in front of the restaurant)

2. Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride

Walt Disney World
Photo Credit: AreteStock http://aretestock.deviantart.com/art/Riverside-Recreation-12-103978091

Talk about romance!  You can take a beautiful, cozy horse-drawn carriage ride through the beautiful sites created by Walt Disney World.  You can choose from two sites:  Disney’s Fort Wilderness or Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside.

Fort Wilderness will give you a relaxing ride through lush setting of trees while the Port Orleans carriage ride takes you along the Sassagoula River.

For more information, click/tap here to go to the official Disney website.

3. Resort Restaurants

California Grill Theme Park Guru

There are a ton of Disney resort restaurants to choose from for a perfect date night, but there are two that we highly suggest – especially for a Valentine’s Day date night:

  • California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort – one of our favorite dining experiences and a romantic, upscale choice.  The food and service are fabulous and the views of the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom are breathtaking.  If you make your reservation for a time during the happily ever after Fireworks, request a window seat.  If you don’t get a window seat or if you finish dining before happily ever after, you are allowed to go out to the terrace on top of the resort to view the show.  The show music is piped into the restaurant and onto the terrace which provides for a truly magical and romantic evening!
  • Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian – this one requires planning and budgeting, as this restaurant is the most expensive restaurant on property.  There are seven courses, so this option is an experience and date night in itself.  It has held the Five Diamond Award since 2000 which makes this dining experience sought after.  For a more intimate experience you can choose to dine in Queen Victoria’s Room which only has 4 tables.  For a lavish dining experience, book the only table at the Chef’s Table.

4. Fireworks

Fireworks at the Magic Kingdom are synonymous with romance.  Countless couples have become engaged beneath the park’s fireworks show.  There are a few different ways to take in these amazing fireworks while romancing your boo:

  • On the Polynesian Village resort Beach – what’s more romantic than sitting on a beach set to make you feel like you’re in the South Pacific?  With tiki torches lighting the paths behind you, relax on the quiet beach of the Polynesian and take in a perfect view of happily ever after.  The music is piped over to the beach, so you don’t miss a thing.  The sight of the fireworks reflecting off of Seven Seas Lagoon is an added bonus!
  • Dessert Party at the Magic Kingdom – viewing happily ever after from inside the Magic Kingdom is always the best because you’re so close to the action but when looking for some romance, you don’t want to be squeezed on Main Street next to that family of four with a fussy baby.  To get a little breathing room, feel like a VIP, and experience some delicious desserts with your honey – book a Dessert Party!  You’ll have a designated spot to view the fireworks that doesn’t involve having to sit on the curb of Main Street for an hour beforehand!  Click/tap here to learn more about the Dessert Party and to book yours!
  • Magic Kingdom Fireworks Cruise – this option is for when you want to go all out!  You can rent a pontoon boat or you can go big by reserving the Grand 1 Yacht!  All options have the music playing on the boat and the views are breathtaking!  This boat tour isn’t completely private, you’ll have a guide driving the boat, but it’s a nice escape from the crowds to catch happily ever after.  Click/tap here to learn more about these cruises.  
Walt Disney World
Grand 1 Yacht

5. Pontoon Boat Picnic

Walt Disney World

So maybe you liked our previous suggestion about renting a fireworks cruise, but you don’t like the idea of having a guide on board.  We get you, romance requires alone time.

Another option, which we LOVE, is to rent a pontoon boat during the day for an ultra romantic day date!  You can pack a picnic basket (no alcohol allowed) and then take the wheel to enjoy time together on the water.  You can rent pontoon boats from any of the Deluxe Resorts and we suggest renting from these:  Contemporary, Grand Floridian, or Polynesian Village.

6. BoardWalk at Night

Walt Disney World

The sight of the BoardWalk at night is amazing.  It immediately puts you into a romantic mood.  The lights, the sights, the sounds!  We love this option as a cheaper way to spend the evening since it costs nothing to go to the BoardWalk.

You can stroll around the entire BoardWalk, stop off for something sweet at the BoardWalk Bakery, or for something really indulgent head over to Beaches & Cream for an amazing ice cream treat!  You can also go dancing together at the Atlantic Dance Hall and if you time it right, you may be able to take in IllumiNations in Epcot without having to enter the park!

That completes our list!  There are many more romantic places and experiences at Disney that we did not include here, but here are a few honorable mentions:

  • Relax in the Grand Floridian Lobby while the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra provides soothing and magical background music.  Maybe you’ll get the urge to sweep your love up and dance a bit!
  • If you are staying at a Disney resort, you can arrange a surprise delivery of flowers, chocolates, or gifts right to your room!
  • Surrey Bikes around BoardWalk can be a fun activity that allows time for bonding and laughter!  A great date idea!

Did we miss one of your favorites?  Comment down below!


		  
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