Podcast Episode 137: Disney Water Parks

Have you ever wondered what Disney’s two water parks have to offer?  Wonder no more as we dive head first into all the features and fun you can find at Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon!

Happy listening!

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Swimming At Disney: A How-To Guide

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No, I’m not here to teach you how to swim.

If you’re like the majority of people, you’ll want to swim sometime during your Disney vacation. I’ve got some hints for you to make your experience more magical!

1. Pack your swim suit in your carry on bag.

Most people don’t think about this when they’re packing their suitcase, but it’s key if you’re arriving early and plan on swimming soon after arrival.  If you’re using Disney’s Magical Express from the Orlando airport, it can take a few hours for the luggage service to deliver your bags to your room.  If you’ve thought to pack your swim suit in your carry on bag, the fun can start right away!

2. You forgot your swim suit (or your kid’s suit).

Don’t fret if you’ve forgotten your suit!  Most of the resort gift shops carry a limited assortment of swim gear and you may be able to find what you need there.  If not, there are shops at Disney Springs or you can take a taxi/Uber to the nearest store to get one if you have to.

3. My kid needs a floatation device!

No worries if you’ve got a little one who can’t swim yet.  Disney provides an assortment of swim vests for children at no charge.  Just grab one off the rack and replace it when you’re finished.

4.  Don’t forget the sunscreen!

You’ll want to remember to pack the sunscreen in your carry on with the swim suits.  It’s very important in sunny Florida!  If you forget, they do have some for sale in the resort gift shops.

5.  Disney pools are awesome!

Disney has some really fun pools on property.  A few of our favorites include Stormalong Bay at Yacht/Beach Club, the volcano pool at Polynesian, The Big Blue Pool at Art of Animation, and Ol Man Island at Port Orleans Riverside.  They have daily activities for families poolside every day (weather permitting).  These include things like dance parties, hula hoop competitions, trivia and more.  All Disney pools have lifeguards on duty for extra safety.

6.  My toddler is too small for the big pool.

Totally fine!  Many of the Disney resorts have splash zone areas for the smaller children to have some water fun too!

7.  The pools aren’t extreme enough for me.

Fair enough.  You should try out the two water parks on Disney property: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.  These parks have thrilling water slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, kids’ areas, and more!

Walt Disney World Fall 2015 Refurbishments

Here is the latest list of refurbishments and closures at Walt Disney World for Fall 2015. This is subject to change at any time so check back.

Magic Kingdom

Monorail: the Resort Monorail System is undergoing refurbishment and alternative transportation will be available – until December 2015

Pirates of the Caribbean: June 8- September 25

Peter Pan’s Flight: November 2-7

Walt Disney World Railroad: October 12-November 20

Disney’s the Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour: October 12-November 20

Liberty Tree Tavern: July 6-November 19

The Diamond Horseshoe: August 2-November 19

Animal Kingdom

Primeval Whirl: August 17-November 12

Flights of Wonder: October 5-November 5

Pizzafari: August 23- November 14

Epcot

Living with the Land: September 8-17

Re-Imagination of Maelstrom (Frozen Ever After): April 20, 2016

Blizzard Beach Water Park

Annual Refurbishment: October 4-January 2, 2016

Typhoon Lagoon Water Park

Annual Refubishment: January 3-March 12

All Star Sports Resort

Grand Slam Pool: October 26-December 18

Boardwalk Inn

Exterior Repair and Painting: August 17-May 5, 2016

Caribbean Beach Resort

Bridge Closure from Aruba and Jamaica to Old Port Royale: August 3-November 26

Coronado Springs Resort

Fitness Center, Salon, and Casitas Leisure Pool: July 5-October 30

Port Orleans French Quarter

French Quarter Kiddie Pool: September 8-December 23

Polynesian Village Resort

General Construction: Through early 2016

Wilderness Lodge Resort

General Room Refurbishments, certain pathways: October 2-2017

Hidden Springs Pool: October 26-2017

Dolphin Resort

Guest Room Renovations: October-Mid December and June 2016-September 2016

Swan Resort

Guest Room Renovations: Until September 2015

Downtown Disney

Fulton’s Crab House: January 1-April 1, 2016

Planet Hollywood: January 1- June 1, 2016

Guest Blogger: Chris Gardiner’s DCL Excursion review – Atlantis Aquaventure, Nassau

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Last July, I went on my first Disney Cruise with my two tween sons and my two best friends. There were many decisions and choices to make and excursions were no exception! We did the 4-night cruise on the Disney Dream with a stop in Nassau, Bahamas.  After reviewing all of the excursion choices, my boys said that they really wanted to see Atlantis (probably based on all of the TV commercials they had seen is my guess) and so the decision was made.  We signed up for the “Atlantis Aquaventure” and all were excited for the day.  The 4-6 hour excursion included transportation to and from Atlantis, passes to use their water park, a tour of the property, and lunch.

The morning we arrived in Nassau, all who had signed up for this excursion met in the IMG_0003 (1)
Walt Disney Theater.  This is where they checked us in and gave us our ‘admission bracelets’ and lunch vouchers.  From there we disembarked the Dream and walked through the port till we got to a series of buses, which is where we waited to take the bus to Atlantis.  One thing to note is that there was quite a bit of walking involved with this excursion – so I would recommend wearing sneakers or comfortable swim shoes.

When we arrived at Atlantis, we were met by a tour guide and given an ‘orientation tour’ of the resort as we walked to the ‘Aquaventure’ water park.  I must say that the resort is extremely large but was truly beautiful!  We walked through the huge lobby of the Royal Towers (which is a site to behold in itself), through the hotel grounds and various marine exhibits and over to the water park.  The water park is the best I have ever been to.  It is 141 acres in size and features state of the art water slides, river rapids, waterfalls and IMG_0005pools.  Our personal favorite in which we spent most of our time was their ‘Aquaventure river’ that went around the entire water park.  Unlike ‘Typhoon Lagoon’s ‘lazy river’, this one at Atlantis actually uses special escalators and waves to transport you around it.  It was a great way to spend a good deal of the day and kept us nice and cool in the hot July sun!  Traveling in the ‘Aquaventure river’ is also a great way to see the entire water park and figure out where you want to explore next.

After we spent a good deal of time in the lazy river and exploring some of the water slides we got hungry and decided it was time for lunch.  The lunch vouchers we were given were good for any one of the quick service restaurants that were located around the water park.  The food was pretty standard fare (burgers, wraps, pizza and salads) but it hit the spot.  One thing I did notice is that there was not a lot of tables or seating for the quick service restaurants; but, I assume that most people get their food and go back to their beach chairs.

When we were done with lunch we hit the water park again. We ended up spending some more time on the Aquaventure river and then the (somewhat) famous water slides that go through the shark tank!  The wait times were not very long for the water slides, in my opinion, and there were so many of them it spaced everyone out evenly.

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Once we were thoroughly waterlogged, we decided we would check out the ‘ruins’ of Atlantis called “The Dig” before heading back to catch the bus. Buses left every half hour back to the port, which was nice, because it really did allow you to spend as much time as you wanted at Atlantis and gave you some flexibility. “The Dig” was an amazing themed walk-through labyrinth of sea life in large viewing windows.  The added benefit is that it was cool and these areas were air conditioned which made for a welcome relief from the hot sun.  The marine life and presentation was truly wonderful and very extensive.

As we made our way out of “The Dig” we walked back through the lobby of the Royal Towers and rested a little in the lobby, taking in all of the grand architecture and design.  We then headed back to the bus, where we were brought back to the port, and boarded the Dream again.

Atlantis is so large that we could go there again for another excursion and probably not doIMG_0007 the same things twice.  There are actually many Atlantis excursions to choose from.  So if you are not a big water park fan you can book the “Discover Atlantis Tour” and basically walk around and look at the marine exhibits, shop, play at the casino and eat.  There are also Atlantis excursions that feature Dolphin interactions at their Dolphin Cay, snorkeling and golf options as well.

In my opinion the Atlantis excursion was well worth the money –especially if you have tweens, teens or older kids. The orientation tour at the beginning was good for first timers to the resort but a bit long – if I booked another Nassau excursion I would probably bypass the tour.

Hands down though, the best part of the day was being able to walk back onto the Disney Dream (we were greeted at the port with ice cold lemon water and frozen facecloths to wipe our faces with – heaven after a day in the hot sun!).

Have you been to Atlantis? What excursions have you done with DCL and what did you like best?

Walt Disney World Park Tickets

There are a few choices you can make when purchasing tickets for your next Disney vacation if you are not doing a package. All tickets can be bought from a single day up to 10 days in a single ticket. All tickets must be used within 14 days of first use.

The first is the Base Ticket. This is a ticket that allows you to get into a single park per day. If you are doing a one day base ticket and wish to get to Magic Kingdom this park is slightly more expensive than Animal Kingdom, Epcot or Hollywood Studios.

A step up from the Base Ticket is the Park Hopper. The Park Hopper allows you to visit more than one park in a day. You can use it to visit all four in a single day or to just visit one. This ticket affords a lot of flexibility in your vacation. You can plan to visit one park in the morning and then go to another in the evening for dinner. Or if you aren’t sure which park your children or you will enjoy most this ticket is very helpful. If you keep finding yourself wanting to go to Magic Kingdom for a dole whip and a spin on the Haunted Mansion this ticket can make that happen.

Another option is the Water Parks Fun and More. This ticket option allows you access to Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon Water Parks, Disney Quest, Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, and ESPN Sports Complex in addition to your theme park visits. If you purchase a 5 day Park Ticket with Water Parks Fun and More option you can have up to 10 days of fun. Or if you want to visit Blizzard Beach and Disney Quest in the same day this will use 2 allotments of the 5. For a little bit more of a fee you can combine the Park Hopper with the Water Parks Fun and More for a fun-filled visit.

Disney will run specials on Military Salute Tickets. Generally these are a 4 day Park Hopper ticket discounted and have to be purchased on base or at Shades of Green. These do have an expiration date as well.

Another way to get discounted tickets is by being a Florida Resident. Details can be found by signing into your Disney account for more information.

And lastly if you are planning a vacation that is over 10 day or more than one vacation within a year of each other an Annual Pass might be the correct ticket for you. With Annual Passes there may be black out dates and exclusions so it is always best to check your options before making this purchase.

Lastly if you feel you didn’t purchase the correct ticket for you there is always the option of upgrading your ticket at Guest Services in the a parks. You will pay the difference if you choose to add days or the Park Hopper option or even if you are going to upgrade all the way to an Annual Pass it is all possible so you don’t feel stuck with what you have.

Top 5 Things to do on a Non-Park Day

Sometimes your arrival or departure day in Orlando are short enough that it isn’t worth using a park day. Or maybe you are trying to save some money or save your feet while you are visiting Walt Disney World. Here are some ideas for things to do!

5. Water Park, yes this will cost extra but it might be cheaper than a park ticket.

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4. Spa, there are plenty of spas at various Disney resorts. What a way to end a great vacation by relaxing a bit.

3. Golfing, regular or mini golfing, Disney has them both! And this is a lot of fun of adults and kids.

2. Downtown Disney, Splitsville, Disney Quest, shopping, dining, entertainment, La Nouba, Characters in Flight, and a movie theater. Some things are free and others are paid but it is a great way to fill time without having to visit a park.

1. Resort Hopping, this one is free and it gives you a chance to check out other resorts that you might want to stay at for your next vacation. You can catch activities, a movie, campfire, or some entertainment if you time it just right. Just know that there is no resort to resort transportation so you will have to drive or take a bus to the nearest park then take another form of transportation to get to the resort.

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August 2014 Disney World Refurbishments

Disney is always working on something in the parks. Here is the up to date list of refurbishments and closing at Walt Disney World.

Magic Kingdom:
Astro Orbiter June 2 – September 27, 2014

The Yankee Trader July 28 – September 30, 2014

Mickey’s PhilharMagic September 8 – 27, 2014

Carousel of Progress September 22 – 27, 2014

Walt Disney World Railroad September 29 – November 7, 2014

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin November 10 – 21, 2014

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

Monorail – Monorail service will be adjusted on the Magic Kingdom Park and Epcot beams. Monorail service will run from: June 22, 2014 – TBD (through full summer)

8:30am — midnight on the Magic Kingdom Resort beam

9:30am- 11:30pm on the Magic Kingdom Express beam

9am -11pm on the Epcot beam

Hollywood Studios:
American Idol Experience closing permanently August 30, 2014
Fantasmic! November 19 – 21, 2014

Animal Kingdom:
Wild by Design Tour – Discontinuation of Tour September 26, 2014

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
Boardwalk Inn:
Room Refurbishments- through September 5, 2014

Kouzzina by Cat Cora Location Closing -September 30, 2014 

Grand Floridian Resort:
Garden View Tea Room, Perfectly Princess Tea Party will take place at Cítricos -June 30 – August 29, 2014

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

Capt. Cook’s will be relocated to a temporary location in the Great Ceremonial House with modified operating hours and menu items. April 9 – August 2014

Trader Jacks Merchandise Location Closure June 16, 2014 – TBD

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 – early 2015

Kona Island August 8 – September 30, 2014

Samoa Snack Merchandise Location Closure August 25, 2014 – TBD 

Wilderness Lodge:
Silver Creek Springs Pool-The main pool and slide will be closed for enhancements. During this time, the leisure pool at The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge will remain open. Guests will also have the opportunity to visit either the Main Pool at Disney’s Contemporary Resort or the Meadow Swimmin’ Pool at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Complimentary transportation will be provided to both of these neighboring resorts. September 3- November 27, 2014

Trout Pass Pool Bar- September 3 – November 27, 2014

Caribbean Beach Resort:
Fuentes del Morro Water Play Area (Fuentes del Morro Feature Pool not affected) September 2 – 26, 2014

All Star Music Resort:
Intermission Food Court -Note’able Games Arcade will serve as a temporary location for grab-and-go meals such as sandwiches, salads, and bakery items. Transportation will be provided for Guests who wish to dine at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort or Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort. Pizza and other items available for in-room delivery daily from 3pm to 1am. –August 1 – December 20, 2014

Note’able Games Arcade- July 26 – December 20, 2014

Golf Courses:
Oak Trail Aug. 11 – 13, 2014

Lake Buena Vista Aug. 11 – 15, 2014

Palm Aug. 18 – 22, 2014

Magnolia Oct. 20 – 26, 2014

Lake Buena Vista Oct. 27 – Nov. 2, 2014

Oak Trail Oct. 27 – Nov. 2, 2014

Palm Nov. 3 – 9, 2014

As always these are subject to change at any moment without notice.

Summer and Fall Refurbishments for Walt Disney World

Disney has recently updated its refurbishment list and dates for Walt Disney World.   You are going to want to check these out if you are going this summer and fall. TTA Magic Kingdom: Tomorrowland Transit Authority – Peoplemover- June 2 – August 4, 2014 Astro Orbiter -June 2 – September 19, 2014 Liberty Square Riverboat -August 4 – 8, 2014 Mickey’s PhilharMagic- September 8 – 19, 2014 Carousel of Progress- September 22 – 27, 2014.

Epcot: Glaskunst Kiosk- June 2 – 15, 2014

Animal Kingdom: It’s Tough to be a Bug- July 7 – August 11, 2014

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

Resorts: Kouzzina by Cat Cora (Boardwalk Inn) Location Closing– September 30, 2014 Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Garden View Tea Room. Perfectly Princess Tea Party will take place at Cítricos–June 30 – August 29, 2014 Disney’s

Polynesian 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. – Through March 2015 Club Disney (formerly known as the Neverland Club) — Children’s Activity Centers at four other locations are available: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Beach Club Resort and the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel.—Through June 14, 2014
Great Ceremonial House, 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.
To enhance the check-in experience, Guests are encouraged to participate in Online Check-In– March – December 2014 Capt. Cook’s will be relocated to a temporary location in the Great Ceremonial House with modified operating hours and menu items– April 9 – August 2014
Trader Jack’s Merchandise Location Closure–June 16, 2014 – TBD
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.

We will keep you updated with any changes in closures or dates!

Staying Cool at Disney World

With the summer finally headed our way, I have HEAT on the mind. As bad as it seems in New England sometimes, Florida heat during the summer can be absolutely brutal. Don’t despair! There are ways to stay cool at Disney, and I’m going to tell you about them!

1) The first and most obvious way to keep cool at Disney is to stay hydrated. You’re allowed to bring your water bottles into the parks (as long as they’re not glass) so make sure to have them loaded up cold and ready when you leave for the parks for the day. Some people complain about the taste of Florida water in the fountains. I’ve personally never noticed it, but you can also go to any counter service restaurant and ask for a cup of water with ice. It’s free, and a good way to help you cool down. Another place for free, cold beverages is Club Cool at Epcot. Located in Future World, Club Cool features different sodas from around the world. Don’t forget to try the Beverly 😉

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2) Cool treats: The most delicious way to stay cool at Disney is to enjoy a frozen treat! My personal favorites are as follows: The Dole Whip at Magic Kingdom, Grey Goose Citron Lemonade Slush at Epcot (not for children!), the homemade ice cream sandwich at Hollywood Studios and a Mickey Premium bar at Animal Kingdom (though they’re available at all 4 parks!)

3) If you have the water parks and more option on your tickets (or if you’re a promo client and got a one day entry for FREE!) head to a water park to cool down! With the water parks and more tickets you could enjoy a water park every day (that you have a ticket for, that is) if you so choose. Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are both great options. If you don’t have water park tickets you can always enjoy your resort pool (moderates and above even include water slides!) or even the Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station in the Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom. Water play is the most fun way to cool down!

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4) Arriving early in the morning and enjoying the parks before the heat of the day really comes out is the BEST way to avoid overheating at Disney. Mid-day is when the heat gets really bad, so if you can avoid it by getting most of your intensive park touring in the morning morning that will leave the afternoon free for swimming or relaxing in the air conditioning. It’s a win-win, really!

How do you cool down at Disney? Whats your favorite frozen treat to enjoy?