The Planning Continues…

From the happy heart of Real Disney mom Janice B!

Eleven weeks to go! I decided to make this trip to WDW all about re-living the past. We will be dining in restaurants that we haven’t been to in a long time, and seeing some shows that we have not seen in quite a few years.

No trip would be complete without breakfast at Chef Mickey’s, and there is no greater way to start your trip then breakfast at Chef Mickey’s before hopping on the monorail and heading to the Magic Kingdom. This is always a must for me on our first day!  Many years ago, when the kids were young, Chef Mickey’s was not at the Contemporary. It was located in Downtown Disney (then known as Disney Village). Although initially disappointed when they moved, through the years we have come to realize that it is much more convenient in the Contemporary.

Our dining line-up includes:

  • The Garden Grill in Epcot, The Land Pavilion. We have not been here in years. This will always be one of my favorites. A slowly revolving restaurant with hosts Chip and Dale; great views of the vegetables growing down in the Living with the Land attraction. Great value for your money since your meal is served family style and they continue to re-fill servings. The macaroni and cheese was always a favorite of my daughter. Now that she is in her twenties and always watching her weight, I wonder if she’ll keep asking for more!
  • Coral Reef in Epcot, The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion. This pavilion used to be called The Living Seas. This was always a favorite of my son when he was in his early teens. He was fascinated by the large glass wall fish tank and was always thrilled when we were able to get a table up close. Watching the fish while you eat is fascinating.
  • Fantasmic Dinner Package at Hollywood Studios, eating in the Brown Derby. This will be a particular treat this year. In all of our visits over the years, my son and my husband have never seen Fantasmic. It seems like it was never running when all of us were at WDW together; or sometimes that night was set aside for something that was deemed a little more important! My daughter and I were always able to catch it on our trips alone since it was a favorite of hers. We will all be seeing it together this year after a great meal at the Brown Derby.

No trip will ever be complete without a visit to the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney. There are so many things to look at that at times it becomes overwhelming. My best find ever, the year my daughter was graduating from culinary school, my husband and I took a trip to WDW for our anniversary. I was able to find several Chef Mickey items for her. My favorite being a Swavorksy crystal Chef Mickey.

Well, the planning for the October family trip continues! We are really trying to fit in so much. We plan to snack our way through the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival at least two days. This event holds a special place in our hearts since my daughter is a chef and she cooked for the Party for the Senses at the 2010 Food and Wine Festival. I have also started looking at a February stay at the Grand Floridian for myself and my husband to celebrate another anniversary.

Disney planning never seems to end.

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Finding the Right Fit for You!

From the practically perfect personality of Real Disney Mom Jewelz P! 

It’s been 11 or 12 years since I last was at Walt Disney World. A very long time for me considering that I was going every year for ten years. Marriage, moving, new job promotions and a baby put a lot on hold. My husband and I were not able to go on a honeymoon or even a mini vacation. Finally a breath of fresh air! I was six months pregnant and I told my boss,  “I am going on vacation in 13 months”.  (Maybe it was Disney withdrawals, the hormones raging, or that I just really needed a vacation!) Without missing a beat I went to Walt Disney World’s Vacation Website and ordered the Vacation Planning DVD. I needed to see what had been built and improved over the years. This would also give me  the opportunity to show my husband what he would be in store for!!! Not having met my little one yet, I knew Disney could take care of her no matter what! I had for the most part always stayed on the WDW property. Why? If Disneyworld was my only destination (why anyone would go anywhere else?), there is no reason to stay off property. The conveniences and the ease of the transportation are priceless. 

Knowing your budget is where you need to start. Walt Disney has many resorts for different budgets which is great!!

 To save money; Value Resorts-All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, All Star Movies and POP Century

I only recommend these if you have a large group , such as sports teams, or if you only need a place to shower and sleep. They do not have any sit down dining restaurants, (Something to think about.) and are located farthest from the 4 Parks.  I stayed at All-Star Sports in 1998 and it is too small for my family for today. The rooms do not have as much closet or drawer space, and there is only one sink and mirror. Two adults and two children will be able to stay here in comfort, but more than 2 adults may be too much. There were no elevators to speak of that I remembered. So if stairs are a challenge, it is best to request a floor level room. The rooms are brightly colored and a sports theme is carried through out the resort, the room I was in had crayon marking on the walls and I could hear all the surrounding happenings. The pools were always too crowded for me. If you are new to staying on property and your budget conscious you may want to start here. There is a playground, arcade, laundry facilities and a food court with an average price 15.00 a person. Another little tid-bit ; The All Star Resorts are in a different county so they have a higher tax rate.

 For those who need a little more room to breath; Moderate Resorts-Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter and Ft. Wilderness Cabins.

 I have stayed at both Port Orleans French Quarter (1999) and most recently Caribbean Beach Resort (2010) The Moderate resorts will have at least one sit down dining restaurant  and are not as far away from the 4 Parks as the Value Resorts. Carribean Beach or CBR has Shutters for sit down dining and a tasty food court to experience. These rooms not only have more space but a dual sink vanity. YEAH! The beds are better and the décor is just up my alley. While the All-Star Resorts and POP have three or four levels, I loved the Caribbean Beach Resort because it only had two stories and each village surrounds the bay. The pathways are wide and not cramped for walking. There are many villages named after Caribbean islands with their own bus stop. You can catch the theme park buses as well as an internal bus system to get you from village to village. This was helpful because we were in Trinidad South and the grandparents were in Aruba. I could have walked along Barefoot Bay but it was so hot and muggy that I wanted the bus with air conditioning. We opted for the Pirates of the Caribbean Themed rooms (Trinidad South only) and I loved it! The beds are not as comfortable as the normal Finding Nemo themed rooms. Why? The Pirate Ship beds are so high that the mattresses they have are about 5 inches thick and no box spring for support. The village pools were quiet and not many kids, that is because of the cool main pool at Port Royale. This is a fun pool! It is a themed old Spanish fortress, complete with towers, antique cannons (that spout water) and a water slide. So if you are looking for a more relaxing resort that has hammocks, child playgrounds and for those who walk, the stroll around Barefoot Bay is for you. Other amenities are beaches, an arcade, volleyball courts, bike rentals,  marina/watercraft rentals, and laundry facilities at each village pool.

 For those who have who want to experience a Deluxe Resort-Animal Kingdom Lodge, Board Walk Inn, Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, Yacht Club and Beach Club, and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin.

 These may not be the Disney Vacation Club Villas but they are sure spectacular! The Deluxe resorts are normally located just a hop skip and a jump to the Parks. I stayed at the Grand Floridian in 1997 and it was fantastic. I love the old feel of the 1900’s Victorian. The grand atrium is overwhelmingly immaculate and if you are lucky to see the cockatiels in the lobby they are beautiful. If you can, try to stay at a Deluxe resort once. The monorail and the water taxis make it very easy to get to the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation Center. The rooms are lavish and have a balcony or porch to extend your room space. Deluxe Resorts also have more combinations of rooms to accommodate your party. A choice of sit down dining options, baby and childcare services, pool of course, spa and health club, watercraft rentals, beaches and the possibility of having the best seat in the house to see the fireworks; from your room!!

For more information and updated refurbishments at WDW and new attractions please go to www.waltdisneyworld.com