Archive for Disney Resorts

Dining Promotion Released for Disney World

Disney World has released a promotion today including free dining for select dates and resorts during the months of September through December.


Offer is available for most nights August 28 – Oct 2, Oct 25-31, Nov 8-19, and Dec 15-21. This must be booked between the dates of April 27-July 10, 2015.

When you stay at a moderate or deluxe resort, you receive the Disney Plus Dining plan that includes a table service, counter service, and snack (one per person, per night of the stay). When staying at a value resort Quick Serve Dining is included which includes two quick serve meals and one snack (per person, per night of the stay). Guests staying at a value resort can upgrade to the Plus Dining plan for a fee.

The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Packages must include tickets that have either a Park Hopper or Water Park Fun & More Option. Offer excludes the following resorts: Villas at Grand Floridian, Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, Bay Lake Tower, Disney’s Art of Animation Little Mermaid standard rooms, campsites, 3 bedroom villas, Disney’s All Star Movies, Port Orleans Riverside (for certain dates), and Port Orleans French Quarter.

Contact Nicole at Visit the Magic Travel for your free quote before this offer slips away.

Jaime & Ethan’s Thanksgiving Trip, Day 1

Ethan and I are both planners and love researching future destinations. Almost as soon as we got home from Ethan’s First Disney Trip in February, 2013, he started firing up websites and videos of the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.  He was going to be prepared for next February and that “pinkie-swear” promise to return to Disney in one year.  We started watching Disney movies on Netflix and Red Box and came across Tangled.  It became “our” movie, and we got very excited about New Fantasyland and the Tangled-themed bathrooms that were built.

One night last spring, Ethan suggested a “stretch goal”: a Thanksgiving Disney Road Trip. His definition of “stretch goal” is “if we manage it, great; if not, well it was fun trying”.  He quickly learned that “stretch goal” to me means “We’re going, come hell or high water, don’t you dare think of backing out or I’ll rip your heart out”. Just a slight difference in thought processes. I begin a spreadsheet with a plan: Leave Wednesday night after work, get there Thanksgiving Thursday, leave there Saturday afternoon, and get home Sunday night.  It was rudimentary, but just the start.

After tons of talk and planning, the plan is set: Hollywood Studios Thursday, Magic Kingdom Friday, and EPCOT Saturday. Animal Kingdom will just have to wait for February.

Then a storm is predicted to move across the ENTIRE United States right before Thanksgiving! We didn’t panic, but suddenly our Wednesday departure is actually Monday afternoon (made for a very interesting Sunday, what with all the packing I was going to do Tuesday night!)  We didn’t beat the rain (Ethan drove all night long in pouring rain – he’s my Hero! And I drove all the way to Ocala in the lighter rain) but we did beat the cold front, which would have turned all that rain into very dangerous ice!


We find ourselves in Orlando on Tuesday, instead of Thursday, with no plans! I Expedia’d a room on 192 called Seralago (not much more than a motel, serviceable but not repeatable).

After checking in and dumping our stuff, we head over to Animal Kingdom Lodge (it’s where we’re staying in February) for lunch and looking around. Back in June, I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy and Ethan and I went gluten free. We both noticed a big difference in our energy levels and in our ragweed allergies. (Ethan was not officially diagnosed with anything, but we’re read enough to know that if you go gluten free and notice a change, then you probably had some type of gluten sensitivity). All that to say, this trip is our first gluten free Disney trip. Did you know about Disney and food allergies? It’s the place to be! They are amazing about helping guests with whatever food issues they have.

So for our first meal, we headed to The Mara and ordered the chicken pita sandwich with fries. They substituted the pita bread with an Udi’s pizza crust (we do that at home sometimes with burgers now). It was really good and slightly on the spicy side.

After lunch and some safari viewing, we headed over to Art of Animation to walk around and see this fairly new Disney Value Resort. It’s on the list of places to stay.

We have dinner plans at The Wave in the Contemporary (we made the ADR in the car on the drive down!) Ethan suggests driving to the Wilderness Lodge (another place we wanted to tour) and taking the boat over to the Contemporary.

Wait, what???

When did the Disney Newbie learn more about the Disney Transportation System then the woman who’s taken almost 40 trips here???

Turns out, Ethan sat on our balcony at Bay Lake Tower in February and watched the boats travel to the different locations. He memorized the routes. Works in my favor tonight!

We boat over to the Contemporary and check in at The Wave a little early. We go into the bar area and order a couple of drinks. This may have been a mistake – other than some napping in the car, we’ve basically been up for a day and a half!

We are offered gluten free rolls by the chef, but all they have is Udi’s bread (fine) with their normal salted butter (yum).

Two meat dishes later and we are completely wiped out.

Boat back to Wilderness Lodge, drive back to Seralago, and pass out on a bed made of concrete! Tomorrow awaits!!!

Ethan’s First Trip to Disney!

Hi, I’m Jaime! I love writing trip reports and tend to get very wordy about it. I’ve traveled with many kinds of groups in the past 10 years: friends, family, people I had never met, and now my new husband. I’m hoping to share some new, and old, stories with you all here on my friends’ blog, so grab your hat and reading glasses!


Sometimes you get what you really want. Even when you’ve given up hoping for it, sometimes the Universe decides it’s finally time for the big payoff.  I was single for 8 years, mostly by choice, when I met an amazing group of people on a cruise I took in 2009.  The shell around my heart, that had formed after my divorce, cracked the just tiniest bit, but enough to know I might eventually be open to letting someone in… at some point… but that they’d have to be a really special someone.

Disney is a just part of who I am. There’s really no way to express in words what that means – you either understand it (and feel that way yourself, about Disney or something else) or you don’t.  Every attempt I’ve made to explain it has been pitiful.  I can’t convey the warmth in my heart as I watch a child hug a princess or the tears on my face as I stand and watch the Magic Kingdom’s opening ceremony.

I met my husband, Ethan, on a dating site called OKCupid in September, 2012. Like most relationships that begin online, it went from instant messaging to texting to phone calls and then to the actual first date.  My dating profile was a little “Disney” heavy – I needed to make sure whoever read it understood what they were getting into.  When we got to the phone call stage, Ethan took the plunge: “So, can you explain the Disney thing?”

I fumbled through what Disney means to me, convinced I was scaring him off. When I finished, his only response was, “So it’s not like Disney hoarding or anything?”

Whew. No, I do not hoard Disney merchandise.  He revealed he’d never in his life gone to a Disney Park.  WHAT??? HOW??? Parents do that to their kids???

So we meet and both realize right away this relationship isn’t like anything either of us has ever experienced before. Months go by and we begin planning a quick getaway to Disney to get Ethan’s feet wet in My World (plus I had some Disney Vacation Club points that were going to expire if not used soon!)  We didn’t have a lot of time or money, so we decided to just use the hotel points and not go to any of the parks.  We would only be there Saturday through Monday, and there’s a lot to see on Disney property without going to an actual theme park.

Yay, that plan didn’t last long… I convinced us both that $94 for a one-day EPCOT ticket was a decent deal; especially if we were there the full 12 hours EPCOT was open (that’s $7.83 an hour each) (THIS IS CALLED DISNEY MATH – the ability to convince yourself that the numbers only make sense by going to Disney MORE). One caveat on Ethan’s part was that he would not be meeting characters; not at meals, not standing in lines, not wandering down a street. He was a grown man and meeting characters was childish.

Believe it or not, I was okay with this. What I was concerned about was that he wouldn’t like Walt Disney World at all or that he’d think it was okay for an every few years’ vacation … it was nerve wracking, honestly, watching and waiting to see what he’d think.

So I stacked the deck in my favor and made a plan that would show him the very best Disney had to offer: my Vacation Club points were spent on a one-bedroom lake view room at Bay Lake Tower (Ethan loves modern design and water views).


I planned out transportation that would place him on boats, busses, and the monorail.

I showed him the resorts on the monorail line (deluxe resorts), took him to lunch at the Polynesian, and walked him down the path from the Magic Kingdom that looks like it’s headed for the Grand Floridian but actually ends at a bunch of benches (very secluded and romantic!)

We had dinner at Sanaa (Ethan likes Indian food)

and drinks at the Top of the World Lounge to watch Wishes (over-the-top romantic!)

before retiring to our room Saturday night to watch the Electrical Light Parade out on Bay Lake and see Illuminations from far-away EPCOT. It was an amazing first day!

Our EPCOT day was even more amazing: today was Super Bowl Sunday – EPCOT had about 35 people in it! We met up with my friend, Rob, and the 3 of us saw almost everything EPCOT has to offer. We even got a spot at the railing for the fireworks, right before they started!  We wore ourselves out!  We rode monorails back to our resort, and I had my head on his shoulder and my eyes closed.  Ethan nudged me awake, and I opened my eyes to find his pinkie finger crooked in front of me.  I hooked mine in his and he says “We will be back next Super Bowl Weekend.  That is a promise.”  My heart did that melty thing… it still does when I think of this.

Sunday was a blur – we went to Downtown Disney, but our feet hurt so bad from running all over EPCOT yesterday, that all that really stands out is lunch. I was torn between Earl of Sandwich and Wolfgang Puck Express.  Ethan says we should do both.  And we did!  It really was the perfect weekend.

Embassy Suites near Disney World to be Renovated

I know that some of my fellow Disney enthusiasts think it is sacrilege to not stay at a Walt Disney World Resort when they visit Disney World.  And to a certain degree, I agree.  But not everyone feels that way or it is not always possible to stay on Disney property when you visit the magic.

You might have a ton of loyalty points with Hilton rewards program.  It might be during the holidays and you are unable to get a Disney hotel room.  Or (now don’t faint here), you may be going to Universal Studios and Sea World.   If that is the case then this news will be right up your alley.  The Embassy Suites Orlando – Lake Buena Vista  is going to be renovated next year.

Embassy Suites Orlando - Lake Buena Vista Hotel, FL - Hotel Exterior

The 334-room hotel was recently bought by an affiliate of Philadelphia-based GF Management The new owner will maintain the Embassy Suites brand for the hotel and has slated a renovation of more than $13 million during the next year.

The company said it plans to maintain the Embassy Suites brand for the hotel, which is located at 8100 Lake St., about a mile from Disney property.

It is always nice to have a newly renovated hotel as a back up plan when you travel, don’t you think?

New Additions to Disney’s Aulani

The weather is starting to get chilly (or cold, depending on how far north you live) which means you may start dreaming of warm tropical destinations.  If that’s the case, check out this video with Imagineer Joe Rohde as he shows off all the new features at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.


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