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 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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Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Close Lights, Motors, Action! Stunt Show

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Closure Announced

With the upcoming expansion of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney Parks made an official announcement this morning on its blog that the stunt show Lights, Motors, Action! will close on April 2, 2016.  This announcement was expected as we all knew the Streets of America area would be closing for construction on the new Star Wars land and Toy Story land.

Here is the official announcement from the Disney Parks blog:

In order to bring our new lands to life, the first steps of the expansion will be happening soon. We wanted to let you know that Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show and nearby locations around Streets of America will be closing on April 2, 2016. The Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show attraction will continue its daily shows until the closing date.




Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show

Lights, Motors, Action! opened in Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 5, 2005 and presented an extreme stunt show displaying stunts with cars and explosions.  Over its 11 year run, this show has gained some very devoted fans.

 

More Closures to Come

The Disney Parks blog also mentions that the nearby locations around Streets of America will be closing as well.  There has been no clarification at this time if that includes Muppet Vision 3-D, however we already know that the nearby Pizza Planet restaurant has been closed for refurbishment.

If you’re hoping to experience this show one more time or even take in the atmosphere of the Streets of America, be sure to head to Disney’s Hollywood Studios before April 2!

To view the official announcement on the Disney Parks blog, click here.

 

Want more info and tips for Disney’s Hollywood Studios?  Check out our info page here.

 

Tell us below:  are you sad about this closing or are you more excited for the new attractions to come?

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