Podcast Episode 145: Shannon’s May 2017 Trip Report

Everyone loves a trip report!  Join us this week as we listen in to another Dole Whipped vacation recap!  Lots of new experiences were had including the new Bon Voyage Breakfast as well as Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian resort!

Happy listening!

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Podcast Episode 129: A Disney Wedding

Have you ever wondered what goes into planning a Disney destination wedding?  You don’t need to wonder any longer!  Join us this week with our special guest, Amanda, as she tells us all about how she planned her fantastic Disney wedding.  From flowers, to catering, photography and more, she tells us from start to finish how to make that Disney wedding magic happen!

Happy listening!

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Podcast Episode 99: Top Disney Pools

We talk about resorts a lot but there’s more to a resort than just the rooms.  We’re talking about our favorite Disney resort pools!  We tell you which ones we love and where you can find them!

Happy listening!

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Unique Dining Outside of the Parks – Part I

Sometimes when planning dining reservations for a Walt Disney World vacation people focus on restaurants in the parks.   Fortunately, there are many, many choices outside of the parks and if you plan correctly going to a dining reservation outside of the parks doesn’t have to take a lot of time out of your day.  Of if you aren’t planning to visit a park you can still have plenty of fun and even meet some Disney friends!

 Magic Kingdom Resort Area:
Grand Floridian Resort has two very unique character meal options both at the same restaurant, 1900 Park Fare.  For breakfast you can meet Mary Poppins, Alice, the Mad Hatter, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh.  For dinner you can meet up with Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine and her daughters Anastasia and Drizella.

Also at the Grand Floridian there is Victoria & Albert’s a very upscale restaurant, having an AAA Five Diamond rating since 2000.  There is also the highly coveted Chef’s Table at Victoria & Albert’s which features 13 courses and the chef personally conversing between courses.  This is definitely a bucket list item!

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Photo via Disney.com

Citricos Dining with an Imagineer is a very unique option outside of the park.  Who wouldn’t love to pick the brain of a Disney Imagineer?  This is your chance to ask questions and learn about the behind the scenes of Walt Disney World. 

Within the Wilderness Lodge you will find the Whispering Canyon Café, a buffet with some shenanigans.  If you love great food, a neat atmosphere and sassy and fun cast members you will want to make the trip to Wilderness Lodge for this family style bottomless platters!  Just be careful when you ask for ketchup or straws!

 In the Polynesian Village Resort there is a unique character meal featuring Lilo and Stitch as well at Mickey and Pluto in Hawaiian gear.  Lilo is not featured anywhere else so if you have a person who loves Lilo and Stitch this is THE place to go!

 Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is located at the Campsites at Fort Wilderness and boasts an amazing dinner show with great food, fun, vaudeville comedy, singing and dancing.  And of course Strawberry Shortcake!  There are multiple shows each day in different price categories based on your seat.  You can read Tara’s review here.

Epcot Resort Area:
Another great character meal option is at the Beach Club, Cape May Café!  This is a character meal for breakfast only and features Minnie and friends in their beach attire!  So if you are in Epcot or Hollywood Studios or staying at an Epcot are resort this is a fantastic option that isn’t as well-known as other character meals.  You can read a review right here! 

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Photo via Disney.com

Beaches and Cream in the Beach Club boasts more than just ice cream.  This old-fashioned soda fountain has a full menu of burgers, salads, sandwiches, and soup.  But most people are coming for The Kitchen Sink.  This creation has scoops of 5 different types of ice creams, every topping imaginable plus a whole can of whipped cream.  You will need the whole family to finish this monster!  But beware when you order it you will cause some heads to turn since the whole restaurant will light up as this treat makes its way to your table.

 Todd English’s bluezoo located in the Dolphin Hotel is a sleeper choice.  It is a pricey dinner, so maybe for a special occasion this is a great choice.  It has won numerous awards and does awesome seafood as well as plenty of beef, chicken and pork dishes to keep everyone happy.  They even feature a pretty great kid’s menu if you are bringing the whole family.  The restaurant itself is beautiful and you will want to get dressed up for this dinner.

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Photo via Disney.com


Check back soon for more  dining suggestions on the Animal Kingdom Resort area and Disney Springs!

 

Club Level Series: Grand Floridian Resort

GF Resort

I thought I would start the resort specific series with the flagship resort of Walt Disney World: The Grand Floridian Resort. This resort has all the charm of a Victorian era resort and the luxuries you want. I personally was not over the moon about the Grand Floridian (I was more of a Poly gal) but after staying there I get it.

One way to make it even more magical is to book a club level room and enjoy every moment of decadence.

One club level lounge is not enough for the Grand Floridian so there are 2 club lounges for GF CL2the club level rooms. The Royal Palm Club and The Sugar Loaf Club. The Royal Palm Club is in the main building and overlooks the lobby from the 4th floor and is more upscale than its sister, The Sugar Loaf Club. This lounge is in The Sugar Loaf outer building, on the 1st floor of the buildings Atrium.

The Royal Palm Club Level rooms are in the main building and The Sugar Loaf Club level is one of the outer buildings and the club level rooms are in this building as well.

GF CL1The lounge for both has many wonderful food options for breakfast, snacks and a light dinner or a late night dessert. It is also a great place to enjoy a cocktail or two before the fireworks show.

A sample schedule:

  • 6:00  – 6:30 a.m. Coffee
  • 7:00 – 10:30 a.m. Breakfast with juice, coffee, tea, cereals, fruit, breakfast pastries and breads
  • 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Snacks and drinks including sodas, iced tea, lemonade, coffee, tea. Snacks are things like pretzels and goldfish
  • 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Hot appetizers, vegetable tray, cheeses beverages, wine and beer.
  • 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. Desserts and cordials that come from the Grand Floridian Restaurants (YUMMY!)
  • All Day (7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.) Whole fresh fruit and beverages

Both lounges come complete with a concierge desk that is staffed just for club memberGF CL guests and will help with almost any question or need you have.

The views from the lounges are wonderful with The Royal Palm overlooking Seven Seas Lagoon and The Sugar Loaf Club Lounge has views of the pool, marinas or gardens.

Both lounges have a special afternoon tea event for club level guests and The Royal Palm Club has an expanded assortment of liqueurs and cordials for the discerning guest.

 

Disney Club Level: What is it and why do I want it?

Disney has a category of rooms that are called “Club Level” or “Concierge Level” and though not a secret they are sometimes considered a “hidden gem”. I thought I would help share what it is and you can decide for yourself if it is something that would benefit or enhance your next Disney trip enough to make it worth the extra pennies (okay maybe not pennies!) that it will cost you!

This week will be an overview of Club Level and then the series will continue with an in-depth look at the different resorts club level benefits and extras so if you DO decide that you want to try out club level you will know which resort’s club level offerings are right for you. Club level does have many similarities throughout the different resorts but they as well have been customized for each resort.

Thanks Disneyworld.Disney.Go.com for the photo of Club Level Lounge

Thanks Disneyworld.Disney.Go.com for the photo of Club Level Lounge

First, not all resorts offer club levels and only Deluxe resorts have true club level rooms. One moderate has an option that resembles club level and that is Coronado Springs Business Class rooms. It is not called club level but has some of the same benefits such as a lounge only accessed by Business Class guests but it does not have the full offering that the deluxe true Club Level rooms offer. As we go through the series we will have a specific article on Business Class at Coronado Springs where we compare it to the full Club Level and tell you more about it.  All of the deluxe resorts now offer Club Level category so that list is Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk and Animal Kingdom Lodge. Disney Vacation Club villa resorts that are deluxe villas category do not offer club level rooms. So, for example Bay Lake Tower or the Boardwalk Villas do not have this option.

Some people get confused and think Club Level has something to do with the concierge desk at the resort’s front desk. It does not and is separate so anyone staying at that resort can utilize the concierge desk in the resort’s lobby. Only Club Level can work with the concierge that is Club Level only and has a separate desk.

One of the best services that Club Level offers is the Itinerary Planning Office. Prior to your visit your TA and the IPO will work together to get your schedule set. While on your vacation they are a valuable resource when needing to move reservations around or if something comes up and you need to cancel reservations or fastpasses, etc.

AKLOne of the favorite services that Club Level offers is the lounge. Usually club level rooms are on the same floor or at least in the same area. Each of the resorts have a Club Lounge that offers complimentary food and drinks throughout the day and night.The lounges offer comfortable seating and TV’s (one is just for the kids with Disney cartoons playing). You can definitely eat a great breakfast here and heavy snacks throughout the day. I know many Club Level guests that even will eat dinner here in the evening. Though it is not a traditional restaurant or somewhere that has a menu that you order from their snacks are filling enough that you can definitely get full. There are a variety of hot and cold appetizers from the resort restaurants and wine and beer; along with soda and juice to fill you up. In the later eveningPoly CL2 they will have desserts and cordials out to indulge in. They do print menus of that week’s food and you will get that from your Club Level concierge or pick up at the lounge. The lounge is open from 7am to 10pm.

Club level rooms typically offer additional amenities as well. You will find luxurious robes in your room, spa-quality toiletries and DVD players, along with sometimes slightly larger rooms. For example, a Club Level room at Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the deluxe category rooms (unless you have a suite). You also can request nightly turn-down service if you wish while you are staying Club Level.

Poly CLAnother benefit of Club Level is you will have your own check-in area that will make waiting in line to check-in a thing of the past. Club level access is secure and is restricted to club level guests only. In the past, a special Gold colored Keys to the Kingdom card would allow you access but now it is stored on your magic bands.

Each resort has unique reasons why Club Level is special and as we go through this series you will find that it might be the special, Club Level only Sunrise Safari at Animal Kingdom Lodge that appeals to you or that the Sushi during the dinner hours at the Poly Club Level steals your heart. There are so many appealing reasons to think about staying Club Level at Disney and I guarantee you there is one that is practically perfect for you!

Have you stayed Club Level at Disney before? What was your favorite part?

Disney's Club Level- (1)

Amazing Disney Tech

Walt Disney was fascinated by futuristic technology so it’s no surprise that Disney parks are filled with amazing technological advancements.  Here are some really cool techy things you can find at the Walt Disney World Resort!

1.  Magic Bands

Unless you’ve been living under a rock,  you probably already know about Magic Bands.  These waterproof bracelets have an RFID chip embedded inside that contain information about you.  You can use these bands to gain access to the parks (with prepaid admission), make purchases in the Disney shops, and purchase food with your dining credits.  You also use it in conjunction with FastPass+ so you aren’t waiting in lots of long lines for attractions.  This new tech has been in place for about 2 years now and seems to be reinventing how guests enjoy the parks.

2.  TV…in the mirror?

Did you know that in the villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian you can watch television while you take a bath?  That’s right, there’s a TV in the mirror.  When the set is off, it just looks like a regular bathroom mirror, but turn it on and there’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in the lower corner!  Amazing!

3.  Be Our Guest

If you’ve had the chance to eat at Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom then you’ve already seen this one in action.  In this restaurant, you place your order either ahead of time online or at the cashier, then you sit wherever you like within the building.  Your server uses a device similar to a smart phone to locate you via your Magic Band.  Then they deliver your food to you on a rolling tray.  Pretty neat, huh?

4.  My Disney Experience

If you know about Magic Bands then you know about the My Disney Experience app.  Before you even leave home, you can use the app to schedule FastPass+ selections, set up dining reservations, even purchase tickets.  You can find park maps, park hours, character meet and greet locations, even use it while you’re in the park to find the nearest restroom!

What’s your favorite Disney tech?

Podcast Episode 45: Deluxe Resorts Overview Part 1

Join the crew this week as we discuss all things Deluxe!  This episode covers Grand Floridian, Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, Boardwalk Inn, Wilderness Lodge, and Animal Kingdom Lodge.  We fill you in on all the amenities each has to offer as well as a general overview of our impressions of each hotel.  And don’t forget to tune in next week for the wrap up!  Don’t miss it!

Happy listening!

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Which Resort Is Right For Me? Princess Edition

When planning a Disney vacation it’s important to find the resort that fits your needs and the needs of your family.  That’s why I’m putting together a series of posts that help you decide which resort is right for you.

If you’re like me, you fancy yourself a Disney Princess, or maybe you have a little one in your life who has princess-like qualities. You might consider these resorts for your next trip:

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort – Deluxe

You can feel like a true princess in these elegant surroundings located a short boat ride or monorail ride from the Magic Kingdom.  Most rooms have two queen beds and a daybed.  Plus, if you make reservations at 1900 Park Fare located on site, you can even have a meal with Cinderella without leaving your resort!  For the littlest royals, there’s an Alice in Wonderland themed splash pad in the pool area.

Port Orleans Riverside Royal Guest Room – Moderate

If you’re a fan of Princess Tiana, you definitely want to stay in this room outfitted with some amazing “princessy” touches.  The centerpiece of this room is the light up LED headboard above each of the queen sized beds.  With intricate carvings and plush carpets and even gold faucets shaped like the Genie’s lamp, your princess will feel pampered and right at home.

Art of Animation Little Mermaid room – Value

If your princess is more at home under the sea, you’ll definitely feel like part of this world. Fans of Ariel will adore the the attention to detail, like the seashell headboards, Prince Eric artwork, and the sheet music to Under The Sea embedded on the table.  Rooms include either two double beds or one king bed.  This resort includes the largest resort pool on Disney property.  There are even speakers so you can listen to music under water!

As always, one of the Dole Whipped team would be delighted to help you plan any aspect of your vacation.  You can reach us at dolewhipped @ gmail.com.

Grand Floridian Resort Tour

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The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is Disney’s flagship resort, and it certainly lives up to its name. Starting with the majestic lobby in the main building with a bird cage elevator. In the evenings an orchestra entertains the crowds of people visiting and walking through to their room. There are 5 sit-down restaurants, a counter-service restaurant and a pool bar.

1002511_493545130733323_1027855527_nThe grounds are pristine, perfectly manicured and dotted with greenery and flowers. The pool and water features all fit so nicely. As with any Disney resort there are activities for children at the pool. For adults there is the Senses Spa, an indulgent treat and a great place for a non-park day. There is a marina where all kinds of motor craft can be rented.  There are several shops inside of the main building and a beauty salon. One of my favorite resort stores is right where you get off the monorail, it’s inside one of the Victorian turrets and offers a view down at the resort.

There are 2 pools, a beach and then a courtyard pool. Both pools are zero entry. The beach pool has a water slide and a child’s play area. This play feature is themed after Alice in Wonderland and is a lot of fun for the kids. 999180_493555457398957_937907191_n

The courtyard pool is has these beautiful spray jets and is extremely large. It is one of my favorite pools on Disney property.

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Even though this resort is luxurious in its offerings, it is not stuffy. We stayed here when my son was 16 months old and never felt like it wasn’t good for kids. We found quite the contrary. Our son had a blast playing in the pools and the water feature. The most child-friendly feature of this resort: it is just one monorail stop away from the Magic Kingdom. If you are a parent with stroller-aged children, the value of not having to fold up your stroller to get on a bus to get to a park has no limit.

IMG_3547The rooms are large, most at 440 square feet. Most rooms have a deck or a balcony. Some rooms are dormer rooms and do not have the balcony. Every room in this resort receives turn-down service each evening. Turn-down is a second maid service. They ready your room for the evening, empty the trash, turn-down your bed, leave chocolates on your pillow and ice in your ice bucket. They leave the room with the curtains drawn and a light on the dim setting. There is nothing like coming back to your room and having chocolates on your pillow.

1006029_493544167400086_1470217899_nThe bathrooms are generously large. There are two vanities and a separate room with the tub and toilet. There is also a hamper for towels to go after they’ve been used. They offer the Spa H2O toiletries, which is an upgrade over other Disney resorts.

This is my favorite resort on Disney property. I love how it is elegant, yet comfortable. Its location just can’t be beat, one stop away from the Magic Kingdom, but when you are swimming in that courtyard pool, you feel like you are miles away from the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom.

To see more of my pictures of this resort, click here to check out the Grand Floridian Room Tour album on our Facebook page.