Resort Review: The Yacht Club

TYCI have always loved the Crescent Lake Resorts (otherwise known as Epcot or Boardwalk area resorts) and have had a special affinity for the Boardwalk Inn (or villas). On my last trip to Disney I decided to shake it up and stay at The Yacht Club. I had never stayed at The Yacht Club and even though I had enjoyed my last stay at The Beach Club I knew it was in need of some TLC and refurbs (and looky there it is being refurbished so I am happy to go back!)

I checked into the Yacht Club during the mid-morning hours and though there was a line they did send out a Cast Member to start those waiting on thinking which room they would want. She had an iPad type app that showed available rooms per category. So we got to pick based on that and we picked the best location we have ever had which was second floor right off the open lobby mezzanine. It was awesome because there is a staircase to run up and down from the lobby and the café and you only had to wait on the elevator when you were so tired there was no more running the stairs left in you! So we checked our bags and got our magic bands activated because we had no time to waste seeing the room as we had ADR’s and FastPass+’s to get too. I mention this because one con of this trip was at the end of our long first day when we went to our room for the first time the magic band would not work though it had been promised that it was working. So we got to use those stairs and go up and down and wait as they figured out why…it took a good 20 minutes but finally we were in our room.

I love the decor of all the Epcot area resorts because the rooms are light and airy and theyRoom2 remind me of being at the beach. The Yacht Club continued this theme with only maybe one difference I found the decor to still be light and airy but might be a tad bit more
masculine. Lots of ships and anchors and Captains, etc. to be found throughout the resort and in the rooms but the beds were comfy and the rooms were first class.

In the middle of the lobby during the day stands the Yacht Club’s Captain, a real cast member dressed as a ship’s captain that is there during the day as an information beacon. On our first wake up morning we went to the lobby and were looking for coffee and a bagel type place so I walked up to the captain and asked him “Do you work here?” which I am sure he hears 100 times per day but he still thought it funny and pointed across the lobby to the small bar area that has coffee and croissants in the morning.

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The best thing about The Yacht Club for me is the location. You are walking distance to Epcot (and some crazy people walk to Hollywood Studios as well) but for us we boat ride over to DHS and it is worth it to save the feet the 20 minute walk! But you can walk quickly into the International Gateway to Epcot and be in France within a few minutes or take the boat if you are not in a hurry.

What do kids think is the best part about staying at The Yacht Club? That is hands down Stormalong Bay, the massive pool area and lazy river The Yacht Club shares with The Beach Club. Also, dining is shared between the two with two of my favorites being able to get too quickly – Beaches n Cream (the best burgers and ice cream in WDW) and The Yachtsman Steakhouse which is a wonderful, upscale steakhouse.

Stormalong Bay

Would I go back to The Yacht Club? Yes! I have heard from others that some of their rooms are needing some additional TLC as well and I think that we must have been lucky because our room had recently been renovated. But, I loved the locale and all that it offered so next time you are thinking to stay somewhere around the Boardwalk area take a look at the Yacht Club…you will not be disappointed.

You’re going to Disney World– A Christmas Morning Surprise

We are taking my son to Disney World in January and we haven’t told him yet. I decided it would be fun to surprise him on Christmas morning.

So how, exactly, do you surprise your child on Christmas morning with a trip to Walt Disney World? I decided to wrap items all up in a box and let him discover what’s in store.

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The first thing I put into the box was a countdown calendar. With a preschooler, I knew I needed a simple count down. I went to Pinterest, typed in “Disney countdown calendar printable” and this was one of the first ones that popped up. I printed it out, matted, and laminated it. I’m going to have him mark the days with the Mickey shoes post-it notes. IMG_0652

Next thing in his box are stickers and an activity book for the plane ride and his autograph book. My son is no stranger to Disney characters and he absolutely loves collecting autographs from them. I made the autograph book for him and personalized it to our character meals and Fastpass+ schedule. IMG_0655

The last items I placed in his box were new Disney shirts I ordered from the Disney Store’s website. I always wait for clearance sales and discounts to stock up on new park attire.

IMG_0657I am so excited for this trip and I can’t wait to share in his excitement as we do the final countdown!

 

Nursing around “The World”

This might not be the most popular post ever simply because it doesn’t apply to a wide audience, but it is one that is definitely helpful if you’re taking a breastfeeding baby to Disney World. I’ve taken a nursing baby to Disney several times and I’ve found some great spots to discreetly and quietly nurse your little one, and hope this will come in handy for another momma!

First and foremost, EVERY one of the 4 main parks has a baby care center with a dedicated, private area for nursing moms. You can also purchase diapers, wipes, formula, food, and just about anything else you might need for baby here. There are changing tables, highchairs, a full kitchen with a microwave and sink, and an area with a TV and comfy places to sit. Should you find that you don’t want to stop the fun for a visit to one of the centers, however, there are PLENTY of quiet and comfy places you can nurse in the parks!

Magic Kingdom:
it’s a Small World (ride time: 10.5 minutes; ask to sit in back of boat)
Carousel of Progress (length: 21 minutes – air conditioned!)
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover (ride time: 10 minutes)
Hall of Presidents (length: 22.5 minutes – air conditioned!)

Epcot:
Top of the “mountain” in the Canada pavilion (public but usually secluded)
Impressions de France theater show (length: 18 minutes – air conditioned!)
Ellen’s Energy Adventure (length: 45 minutes – air conditioned!)
Living with the Land (length: almost 14 minutes – air conditioned!)

Hollywood Studios:
One Man’s Dream (length: 25 minutes – air conditioned!)
Great Movie Ride (length: 18.5 minutes – can be loud)
Writer’s Stop (coffee shop; quiet with comfy chairs, air conditioned!)

Animal Kingdom:
Festival of the Lion King or Finding Nemo: The Musical (both 30 minute stage shows in the air conditioning)

Any of the locations above are excellent places to nurse on the fly! Taking a nursing baby to Disney World shouldn’t be something you fear…it is very easily doable!

Walt Disney World Winter/Early Spring Refurbishments and Closures

Here is a newly updated list of refurbishments for Walt Disney World Resort as of December 2014.

Magic Kingdom:

Haunted Mansion December 1-19, 2014

Splash Mountain January 5-31, 2015

Cinderella’s Royal Table January 5 – March 6, 2015

Liberty Square Riverboat January 23-27, 2015

Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid February 2 – March 6, 2015

Harmony Barber Shop February 2 – March 30, 2015

“it’s a small world” March 10-13, 2015

Epcot:

None!

Hollywood Studios:

None!

Animal Kingdom:

Kali River Rapids January 20 – February 2, 2015

Typhoon Lagoon:
Closed for Annual Refurbishment October 26, 2014 – January 3, 2015

Blizzard Beach:
Closed for Annual Refurbishment January 4 – March 14, 2015

Downtown Disney:
There is a lot of construction work going on at Downtown Disney and roadwork done. Expect delays when driving.

Resorts

Art of Animation:
Big Blue Pool January 12-14, 2015

Little Mermaid Flippin Fins Pool January 15-16, 2015

Finding Nemo Schoolyard Wet Play Area May 26 – June 29, 2015

Beach Club Resort:
Guest Room Renovations- Guest rooms will be refurbished with new hard and soft goods. Guests will not be accommodated in the affected areas but it is possible that some noise could travel while work is in progress (between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily). October 13, 2014 – August 22, 2015

Stormalong Bay Pool – Waterslide- During this time, the waterslide and the waterway from the slide to the first bridge of Stormalong Bay will be unavailable. The remaining portions of the pool will remain available to Guests. January 5 – February 2, 2015

Stormalong Bay Pool – Lazy RiverDuring this time, bridges three and four will be under refurbishment and the lazy river/snorkel area will be closed. The remaining portions of the pool will remain available to Guests. February 2 – March 3, 2015

Coronado Springs:
La Vida Health Club and Beauty Salon May 18 – June 19, 2015

Grand Floridian:
Beach Water Activity Pool March 6 – April 9, 2015

Polynesian Village Resort:
General Construction-The east portion of the beach (near the Transportation and Ticket Center) and Sunset Point are being refurbished and are unavailable. Guests may see or hear work in progress. December 2013 – March 2015

Great Ceremonial House – Lobby The atrium is being reimagined to highlight the cultural elements of Polynesia and provide more expansive views. At certain times of day, there may be some noise and alternative paths of travel may be needed throughout the Great Ceremonial House. March – December 2014

Nanea Volcano Pool and Slide The main pool and slide will be closed for enhancements. Guests who stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort while the main pool is closed will receive one complimentary ticket for each member of their party to visit Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park during their stay. July 28, 2014 – Spring 2015

Wilderness Lodge:
Whispering Canyon Cafe May 15 – June 26, 2015

Walt Disney World Swan:
Guest Room Renovations-Renovation work is scheduled to take place between 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily. No guests will be accommodated in the renovation area as to minimize impact on the guest experience.–August 20, 2014 – TBD

As always these are subject to change at any moment without notice. All refurbishment and closure information provided by Walt Disney Travel Company.

Podcast Episode 34: WDW Holiday To Do List

Join us this week as we discuss some of the great things you can do at Walt Disney World during the holidays!  We talk about fireworks shows, the Candlelight Processional, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and more!  If you’re thinking of a Disney trip during the holiday season you don’t want to miss this!

Happy listening

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Top 5: Best Disney Christmas Shows

I don’t know about your family, but we love Disney Christmas shows over here. We always look forward to a big bowl of popcorn and mugs of hot cocoa and sitting down to watch our favorite shows. Here’s our top 5!

300px-PrepAndLandingTitle 1. Prep & Landing.  My kids love this one.  It’s about Wayne, one of Santa’s elves.  He doesn’t get a promotion that he believes he deserves and loses his Christmas spirit.  Hilarity and commotion ensue.

300px-Title-mickeyxmas 2.  Mickey’s Christmas Carol.  The is the standard Christmas Carol story with Scrooge and Bob Cratchit, but with Mickey and the gang.  A definite classic.

300px-Title-mickeytwice 3.  Mickey’s Once/Twice Upon A Christmas.  I put these together since they’re basically the same idea.  Each one is a collection of shorts with Disney characters.  Each story is a little different but each is fun and funny and very much about the spirit of Christmas

300px-Title-muppetxmascarol 4.  The Muppet Christmas Carol.  Again, another take on the classic Christmas Carol story, but this time with Muppets!  Who doesn’t love Muppets?

ToyStoryTF 5. Toy Story That Time Forgot.  This a new installment from Pixar in the Toy Storyverse.  In this new world, Buzz, Woody and the gang deal with a new gang of toys, the aggressive Dinos.

Share your favorite Disney Christmas shows in the comments!

Touring Tips for Christmas Week at Walt Disney World

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and everyone wants to go to Walt Disney World. If you are planning a visit the week between Christmas and New Years, you will be witness to Disney World’s peak crowd days.

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Don’t get stuck with these crowds getting into the park–get there early!

These are my tried-and-true tips. Prior to my full-time travel agent career, I was a teacher and was locked in to traveling during peak times, and I have witnessed the Christmas crowds first-hand.

  • Arrive Early Whichever park you are visiting, arrive 30-45 minutes prior to the posted opening time. Many times they will let guests in prior to the posted opening time. If the park has Extra Magic Hours in the morning—take advantage of them.
  • Stay Late If mornings are not your family’s thing, then take advantage of the Evening Extra Magic Hours.
  • Extra Magic Hours will be listed on the Times Guide given to you in your check-in packet.
  • Afternoons and early evenings will be the most crowded at the parks. Plan on taking in shows or having a table-service meal during these times to help avoid the crowds. The parks will also have dance parties, characters out and little entertainment acts all around—take a moment to enjoy these little magical encounters.
  • Schedule at least one sit-down meal each afternoon or evening. It will give you a break from the crowds, time off your feet, and a good meal.
  • Park Closures The week between Christmas Eve and New Years Day there are often times when the parks close. The Magic Kingdom is usually the park that reaches capacity quickest. There are four phases of closure and those staying at Disney Resort Hotels are the last to be denied admission.150983_10200192428162200_1217758663_n
  • Take advantage of all the extra things the Disney resorts do for the holidays and possibly have a non-park day to take in these special displays. This will give you a break from the crowds. This is also a nice afternoon activity in case the theme parks get too crowded. Read more about the resorts’ Christmas decorations in this post.
  • Fastpass+ Schedule your Fastpass times early in the day so you can quickly get more throughout the day.
  • A Must-Do List Have everyone chose their must-do for each day and make it a priority to accomplish that must-do for each person. This way everyone gets one guaranteed favorite.
  • Utilize Touring Plans’ app: Lines and the Optimizer. Pick out which attractions you wish to see and this app will tell you the best way to tour with the most minimal waits.

223096_1977679130431_3178507_n Lines will be long, you might not be able to see the pavement at times, but just remember why you are there—to make wonderful memories with your family!

What’s New and News in Disney?

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So, looking for your Disney news fix? Want to know what exciting and not so exciting changes are being made in your happy place? Well keep reading because here are a few:

1. Two friends rode all 46 available rides at Walt Disney World recently to fulfill their childhood dream and they did it all in one day!  Shane Lindsay and Ted Tamburo completed their mission in 17 hours and by mapping it out ahead of time.

2. According to Walt Disney’s World News this Spring 2015 will bloom with a fresh take on lush gardens, inspired flavors and lively entertainment during the 75-day Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival March 4-May 17 at Walt Disney World Resort. New Disney character topiaries, including a nod to the blockbuster animated film, “Frozen,” will offer colorful selfie and family photo ops. Outdoor Kitchens will serve a fresh take on sweet and savory noshes. And guests can get “hands-on” with festival fun during Disney-led gardening seminars.

3.Star Wars Weekends 2015 have been announced!Darth Vader and DH

Bring your inner Darth Vader and be ready to have the pleasure of meeting some iconic characters every weekend between May 15th and June 14th in 2015. Star Wars Weekends run from Friday through Sunday at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and special meet and greets, parades and shows will be announced in the coming months.

4. The Great Movie Ride is (finally) getting a little TLC from Turner Classic Movies. The updated version should be ready by Spring 2015 and I know we can all agree that this is something we ALL look forward too!

5. Disneyland is getting some Frozen Fun coming their way! Beginning on January 7, 2015 at Disney’s California Adventure you will find a new location to meet Anna and Elsa, a sing along, a family dance party and tons more fun! It is sure to be a huge hit. There is a sneak peek on December 20th if you are in the area. One extra exciting thing is a new Frozen-themed show that is set to open January 7, 2015th as well in DCA.

If you have any Disney news to share with us – let us know!

Podcast Episode 33: Ways to Incorporate Disney Into Your Holiday

This week we discuss ways to incorporate Disney into your holiday!  We talk about ornaments, little family traditions and making Disney recipes.  Just to warn you, there is candid talk about Elf on the Shelf, so make sure your kids are out of earshot for that part!

Happy listening!

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Guest Blogger Chris Gardiner: My Perspective on the Disney Teens and Tweens Podcast Follow Up

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Hi all! I was thrilled to be asked to write a guest blog article for the Dole Whipped team and immediately started thinking of ideas for articles that I could write that would add something different. I love listening to these ladies each week on their podcast and last week after listening to the podcast on Disney with Teens and Tweens it hit me that I should write a follow-up article based on my experience. For a quick background on me: I am a single father that has grown up loving all things Disney. I was lucky enough to visit Disney World many times growing up and then stepped it up a level when I got accepted into the Disney College Program during my junior year at UMASS Amherst. Since then I visit Disney World as often as I can and I am a proud annual passholder. This past summer I expanded my Disney Destinations and went on my first Disney Cruise. For all of you who have cruised Disney before you will understand when I say “I am now hooked on DCL”!

Planning:  I have always tried to tell the boys as far in advance as i can when we are going on our trips to Disney.  I have always secretly dreamed of planning it where I wake them up and say “we’re going to Disney today!” –  but then I realized that by telling them prior I have some good leverage in making sure people are well-behaved for the upcoming months.  But seriously, I find that planning with teens can be a great part of the experience.  Using Disney’s websites, planning sites and You Tube videos of what the rides look like can be a great way to plan for the trip.  I tell the boys to pick 2 or 3 attractions that they absolutely want to go on and we will make sure we definitely do those.  The other great thing about the planning process is to talk to teens about managing expectations – the fact that there will be lines and we all will have to be patient. As well, we want to make sure that we all are going to cooperate so that everyone gets to do the things they want to do.

Dining:  Dining with teenage boys at Disney is a much different experience then when I IMG_0019have gone to Disney when the boys were little or have gone with other adults.  Most of our dining typically tends to be counter-service dining as my boys have pretty much unlimited energy and want to be on the go all the time.  When we have done sit-down dining we have done more of the ‘entertainment based’ sit down restaurants (i.e. 50’s Prime Time or Sci Fi Drive, Be Our Guest, ESPN Sports Club at the Boardwalk, Rainforest Cafe, etc.).  But honestly “fine dining” restaurants tend to be left off the list on my trips with the boys.  Snacks are also a big part of our dining experience – so I always like to try to encourage them to try some snacks other than just popcorn and soda.

Non-theme park activities: While most teens think mostly about the thrill rides at the Disney parks, there is really so much more to do at the Walt Disney World Resort.  Whenever planning my trips I try to build in at least one ‘non-park’ day to take advantage of the other amenities at WDW.  These can include Disney Quest and the Downtown Disney area, the water parks (Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach), the miniature golf courses or even just the resort amenities like the pool and arcades.  Renting the ‘water sprite’ boats is another great thing for teens and tweens – I mean who wouldn’t want to drive their own mini speed boat!!

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I agree with the ladies of Dole Whipped that Disney is such a great place to bring your teens and tweens because just like it is an escape from the day-to-day pressures and reality of being an adult. It is also just as much as an escape for teens and tweens as well!  Also, based on your level of comfort, Disney is also a great place to give your teens and tweens a little more independence.  Sometimes I will let the boys go off and do a couple of things in the park and then we all meet back for lunch.  Little things like this can allow your teen to have some independence, give you a little breather and then meet back and continue your great vacation!

What do you look forward to most when traveling to Disney with your teens or tweens? What advice do you have for other families embarking on a Disney trip with teens or tweens?