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.

bluezoo

Photo via Disney.com


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

 

Adventures by Disney-Central Florida

Disney recently released a brand new Adventures by Disney itinerary for Central Florida! This is not just visiting Disney parks, but also the Kennedy Space Center, kayak, zip line, and airboat tours.

Poly

photo via disney.com

This inclusive vacation would be seven days, staying at the Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. It includes 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 3 dinners. The suggested ages are 8 and up with the minimum age being 6 years old. All transfers are included in the vacation as well.

The first day includes a private dinner at the Chef’s Kitchen at the Contemporary Resort and you will take home a cookbook as a souvenir.

Day two includes a private breakfast at Tony’s Town Square and pre park opening entrance to Magic Kingdom. Then you will take a walking tour of the Magic Kingdom with an Imagineer including a backstage look at the Utilidors! Of course you will get VIP access to Seven Dwarfs mine Train and lunch at the Skipper Canteen. You will also get a reserved spot for the Festival of Fantasy Parade and Wishes Fireworks. There will be plenty of time for exploring the park on your own during the day.

Highlights from day three include breakfast at ‘Ohana, and a visit to Kennedy Space Center. Here you will have a private tour with an astronaut-guide and feel what it is like during a shuttle launch, then lunch with an astronaut. Once back at Disney you will have a VIP preview of Disney Springs.

Astronaut

Day four start early with a private safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, followed by a private breakfast at Tiffin’s. You will then explore the park and learn how the Imagineers planned the park. Next you will go backstage at the Rivers of Light show with VIP seating at this brand new show. A private dinner is also provided at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, with plenty of time during the day to explore the park.

The next day starts with breakfast at Kona Café and a kayak trip down Shingle Creek. Next you will board an airboat on Lake Tohopekaliga, followed by a zipline and horseback adventure and barbeque.

 

kayakin

photo via disney.com

Day six starts with a grab and go breakfast at Kona Island and an escort to Hollywood Studios for a private ride on the Tower of Terror and Toy Story Midway Mania. After this backstage access will get you from Hollywood Studios to The Seas pavilion inside Epcot. With this you will have a special access viewing from the top of the tank and lunch at the Living Seas VIP lounge. There is also a private behind-the-scenes tour at the American Adventure Pavilion and then a farewell dinner at the American Adventure Rotunda. Finishing off the night with VIP viewing of Illuminations and a dessert party.

The dates for the Adventures by Disney vacation start June 19 and go through the rest of the year. Prices start at $4,699 per child and $4,939 per adult. Some are already sold out, so if you are interested you will want to sign up quickly!

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)

What Does $8,000 Get a Family of 4 at Walt Disney World?

We loved doing this podcast for you and so many wrote to us that they loved listening that if  you missed it you can catch it here: https://dolewhipped.com/2015/03/16/podcast-episode-43-how-far-does-your-money-go-at-disney/

So I had a bit of a fantasy budget. Not everyone wants to spend $8,000 on vacation and I totally understand that! But it is fun to dream and for those of you that do want to either have a trip that is once in a lifetime or you just roll that way – hey we are here to help! 🙂 The scenarios below are the same as the others and all scenarios are for a family of 2 adults, 2 children under 9 and they are all rack rate pricing – so if a promotion drops you can extend your trip even longer! I will tell you I was surprised to some degree that I was not ever able to stay a week at the top-tier rooms (Club and Theme Park View) because it was too far over budget…I truly need $10,000 for my fantasy trip. Well, the truth is I need Cinderella’s Suite and so I am not sure what to do there – anyone know?

With this type of budget I stuck with the Deluxe Category of course and really treated myself to fantastic resorts!

6 night stay at the Polynesian Resort (garden view – Club Level) with 7 day Park Hopper and Water Park and More tickets, Memory Maker and Deluxe Dining Plan for $7,900.30.

Thanks to Disneyworld.go.com for the picture!

Thanks to Disneyworld.go.com for the picture!

7 night stay at Boardwalk Inn in a Standard Room that is Club Level (the best for the Fantasy!) 8 day Park Hopper and Water Park and More tickets, Disney Dining Plan and Memory Maker for $8,011.64.

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5 nights at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge with a Courtyard View with 6 day Park Hopper and Water Park and More Tickets and the Platinum Package at $8,202.04. The Platinum Package truly pampers you and includes: Disney Deluxe Dining, unlimited use of select recreation activities including golf, one admission per person to Cirque du Soleil show – La Nouba, Preferred Fireworks Viewing, unlimited admissions to select theme park tour, unlimited admissions to children’s activity centers, personalized pre-arrival itinerary planning, dazzling fireworks cruise (one cruise per party), one spa treatment per person, reserved seating for Fantasmic!, private in-room child care and nightly turndown service, and more!

Thanks to Disneyworld.go.com for the great picture!

Thanks to Disneyworld.go.com for the great picture!

I loved exploring the options and one day would love to do the Platinum Package but with all those extras I might miss park time?! I am sure I would survive and with all the added stress the spa treatment will help melt that away.

Tell me about your fantasy trip? Is one of these right up your alley or are you looking for something different?

Kona Cafe Breakfast Review

As a big fan of the Polynesian resort, I’ll look for any excuse to visit when I’m not staying there. During my last trip, my excuse was Kona Cafe for breakfast, prior to a day at Typhoon Lagoon! I’d heard a lot of good things about Kona, but had always opted for ‘Ohana, another favorite for breakfast at the Poly. Being that this trip was just my husband and I, and he’s not really ‘into’ character meals we decided to hit up Kona instead.

The menu at Kona grabbed my attention right away. I’m not a huge breakfast person but there were so many things that I could see myself ordering. It was hard having so many delicious options to choose from.

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The first part of our order, though, was a no brainer. The first thing that had caught my husband’s eye on the menu was the 100% Kona Coffee French Press Pot. As a coffee aficionado he was very excited to see a French Press option on the menu, since this is how he makes his coffee at home, and the coffee options at Disney World had always underwhelmed him. A little pricey at $7.99 per pot (2 cups) he decided it was a worthwhile splurge.

As for myself, I chose the famous Lilikoi juice. Lilikoi juice is the same as POG juice at ‘Ohana and Jungle Juice at Tusker House: a mix of Orange, Passion Fruit and Guava juices and it is SO yummy! If you’ve never tried it I suggest a visit to one of the places on the list and ordering for yourself OR, book a club level concierge room at the Polynesian resort, where POG juice is available on tap for guests 24/7!  😉

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On to the meal! While the most popular entree at Kona Cafe is Tonga Toast, it did not appeal to either my husband or myself. I went for the Macadamia-Pineapple Pancakes. These pancakes have Macadamia Nut Butter, Pineapple Sauce, and your choice of Ham, Bacon, or Sausage. I went for the bacon. My husband chose the Steak and Eggs: A Char-grilled New York Strip Steak served with Two Eggs, Home-fried Potatoes, and a Biscuit. The pancakes were very good! I’m not a huge fan of macadamia nuts but they worked really well in the butter and with the pineapple topping. The serving size was very large, I didn’t end up being able to finish the pancakes even though I wanted to. My husband enjoyed his steak and eggs but was less impressed overall than I was. He said he still couldn’t complain because he was getting steak for breakfast, but that he might choose something different the next time we dine at Kona. It also didn’t stop him from cleaning his plate!

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Overall we really enjoyed our visit to Kona Cafe and would definitely make a repeat visit in the future, especially if we were staying at the Polynesian. I’d also consider trying Kona for lunch or dinner as their menu for those meals looks very appealing!

Have you dined at Kona before? What did you think?