Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Quick Pick Me Up from Pineapple Lanai

After a pretty disastrous lunch at Captain Cook's (read about it here), Gus and I ventured around the main building to check out some of the new additions to the Polynesian Resort. Of course we couldn't visit the Polynesian without stopping for a Dole Whip Soft Serve Swirl!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Money Saving and not Missing out on Anything - Disney Style

Money saving and not Missing out on Anything – Disney Style
Judy Dulberg

I stay at the Dolphin or the Swan… not because I don’t want the Disney experience, but because I do! I am a registered nurse and many don’t realize that the Dolphin and Swan offer deep discounts to nurses, teachers, and military (veterans and personnel – military also qualifies for further discounts for food and beverages at Dolphin and Swan restaurants). This is a significant savings and the discount can be applied to most rooms.  

Little known fact – the Dolphin and Swan supply two bottles of water per day per room, and that helps save too! It should be noted that airport transport is not offered if you are staying at the Dolphin and Swan, but there are a few really good limo companies that offer round trip pick up and drop off and are incredibly convenient and it’s nice to have a private ride waiting for you with no hassle.

Another way I save is buy reserving a section of my suitcase for snacks! Believe me, I love a good Disney snack, but I try to plan those out and budget for them, so if anyone in my group finds themselves hungry,  I always have a package of something to tide us over until our next, fantastic Disney meal, without breaking the bank, or destroying our appetites. I have also been known to ship snacks to my hotel ahead of time!

I buy gift cards at my local Sam’s Club. Three $50 Disney gift cards cost $142.98. While that may seem like a lot to spend, we often spend way more at Disney and a savings of $7 is a big deal, and ends up being the equivalent of a free treat somewhere, and who doesn’t love a free treat?  These can be applied nearly anywhere in the parks – stores, restaurants, Disney hotels (the Dolphin and Swan are not Disney hotels), photo passes, and park tickets. There is no losing with this purchase.

Lastly, I always sign up for points. Buy joining Starwood for the Dolphin and Swan I have managed to stay for several nights free, and my Jetblue points will pay off after the next few trips!

With some planning – Disney can be way less expensive without losing out on any of the fun, luxury (the Dolphin and Swan are luxury resorts with many of the perks of Disney resorts, including magic hours and park transportation!).

Have a magical trip!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

L'Artisan des Glaces in Epcot

Have you ever been to L'Artisan des Glaces in Epcot's France pavilion?  This little slice of heaven is located just besides Boulangerie Patisserie Les Halles.

Sixteen ice cream and sorbet flavors are only the tip of the iceberg at this tiny, often missed spot.  L'artisan des Glaces is home to the best treat in Disney World.  I know everyone says that about their favorite Disney confection but trust me on this!  Do you like chocolate?  Ice cream?  Macaroons?  I present to you the chocolate macaroon ice cream sandwich.

It is tasty and comes wrapped up adorably in a little French newspaper.  The ice cream is chocolaty, creamy and icy cold.  The macaroon melts in your mouth as a good one should.
Perfection!  The only problem I have with it is that I can't get one for dessert every night at home.

Every time I go to Epcot I say I am going to try the ice cream martini.  I never have room because I can resist going back daily for another macaroon ice cream sandwich.  I'm going back to Epcot in 40 days (but who's counting?).  I swear this time I will have the ice cream martini.....unless, well unless my little French friend beckons!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Our Adult Only Trip to Disney (Part 2)

As I had mentioned in my last post, my husband and I decided to take a trip to Walt Disney World without the kiddos. Since we had such a full first day, Sunday should have been restful but I had other plans. As a surprise for my husband, I booked him a ride along at the Richard Petty Speedway. It was hard to keep it a secret but I managed until we had to wait on the shuttle and he saw the sign. He had a blast! Sadly, The Richard Petty Speedway experience is closing this June so I am glad he got to do it this time.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at Hollywood Studios where my husband rode the Tower of Terror for the first time. He loved it and we got a video and picture on our Memory Maker. Dinner was at the Sci-Fi dine in, a first for both of us. I've read mixed reviews of this experience but ours was all positive. We shared the Shrimp Pasta and the Sci-Fi Salad. It was just the right amount for the two of us and both selections were delicious. I hate that we did not have room for a milkshake. Now we will have to go back.

   Monday was our Magic Kingdom day and the only day it rained.  The rain was short and we just threw on raincoats and carried on. We were there at park opening and stayed until it closed. Our trip had many food highlights and lunch at Be Our Guest was another one. We were able to secure a Fastpass for lunch and pre-order our food. It was so easy and lunch was amazing. I had the braised pork and my husband got the turkey sandwich. Strawberry and Master's cupcakes completed the meal. It was quick and we toured all the rooms after our meal. Be Our Guest is worth your time especially for lunch. And make sure you walk around and see the entire restaurant. I also secure a Fastpass for the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. It is a great addition to the Magic Kingdom. Not a big thrill ride but fun and so well done. Another video and picture added to our Memory Maker from this ride. Our dinner choice for Magic Kingdom was Tony's Town Square. If you go get the pistachio creme brûlée. Fabulous!

   Tuesday we were up early and off to Epcot. This is one of our favorite parks and we made the most of it. Between Fastpass and low crowds we were able to ride Soarin twice and Test Track all before noon. Even with no children I made a Fastpass for the Character Spot because even adults need a picture with Mickey and Minnie. Our tour of the countries always takes us to Germany for some caramel corn and my husband's new favorite cookie, a caramel apple oatmeal. Yummy!  By afternoon we were ready for a rest so we did something we rarely do and headed back to take a nap. Everything you read in guidebooks and blogs recommends this for people with children but it was pretty nice for a couple of adults too. We headed back to Epcot for the evening and watched Illuminations before calling it a night.

   Wednesday was supposed to be a Downtown Disney day or rest at the hotel before we go home day. It turned into a go back to Animal Kingdom day. What a great call. My husband got a picture with his favorite character, Donald Duck and we caught Flights of Wonder bird show.  It was not busy at all and we enjoyed a full morning of AK before going back to the resort to wait on what my friend Claire and her daughter call the "Tragical Express". That is the Magical Express that takes you away from Disney World and back to the real world.

   We had a wonderful time and can not wait to go back. I think it will be a fall trip next time. The nights in winter can be cool and lots of refurbishments take place. I hear the first week in November is nice. Also, we need to try a new resort and we still have tons of places we have not eaten.

Forever Disney,

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Our Adult Only Trip to Disney (Part 1)

   "Disney World again?! But you don't have any small children.. What will you do there?!" 

We got these comments and more as we planned our adults only trip. My husband and I had never been to Disney alone together so we decided it was time. February seemed like a good month when both of us could take off work and the crowds would be light. So I got to work with planning. I booked  with a travel agent who has taken care of us before and is awesome. As luck would have it or pixie dust to Disney people, I received a PIN code in an email before I finished my planning. With a price difference of only $100, we chose to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) over Port Orleans Riverside. We have had the chance to stay at AKL once before and loved it. The first week of February seemed like so far away but before we knew it our bags were packed and we were on a plane headed to Orlando.

   There are several advantages to traveling to Disney with just adults. Getting up early and staying up  late does not usually cause a disruption in schedule. Even though my husband is not a morning person he can get going when he needs to make a plane. Our flight left at 6:30am and we had to drive an hour so we were up very early on a Saturday. After only an hour and a half flight we were headed to the Magical Express. It was my husband's first time using this Disney luxury and he was a fan! No waiting on luggage; just head to the bus. In no time at all we pulled out and were headed to the AKL. When we arrived, our room was ready so we dropped off our carry on bags, grabbed lunch at Mara and headed to Animal Kingdom.

   After several hours touring Animal Kingdom, we went back to our room to change and make a reservation at Narcoossee's at the Grand Floridian Resort for dinner. Another advantage to only adults is choosing some dining options that might not appeal to children. Since we had the dining plan we splurged on this meal and used two table service credits each. It was totally worth it. This had to be some of the best food I have had at Walt Disney World. Our waitress was Janet and she recommended the surf and turf. We both had the filet, I had scallops and my husband had a lobster tail. From the bread we ate to start until the last bite of dessert, this meal was superb. I had also made sure to chose a reservation time that would ensure that we could end our meal watching Wishes from the restaurant. A perfect ending to our first day. Except we did not end it there. We went to the Magic Kingdom because it was open until 2AM. Although we only made it to midnight because we planned to be up early for our next day of adventure, but we certainly made the most of our first day.

Have you ever taken an adult only trip to either Walt Disney World or Disneyland? What was the best perk for you?

Keep an eye out for part two of my adult only adventure!

Forever Disney,

Monday, May 11, 2015

Part 2 of Our Amazing Adventure: Four Parks, Three Methods of Park Transportation All in One Day

Now for the continuation of my tale:

Four Parks
Three Methods of Park Transportation

After enjoying our time at the Fantasia Gardens, I had really wanted to go to the Polynesian Resort for some much needed lunch. We waited at the Swan and Dolphin docks again. I thought the best route was to go to EPCOT by boat and get to the Polynesian somehow through there. Once on the boat, I realized that I had made a terrible mistake. The friendship boat would definitely take us to EPCOT. However it would take us tot he back of busses, no monorail. Upon making this realization aloud, another friendly couple suggested we get off at the next resort stop and take the bus to EPCOT. Upon docking, we power walked (look...we were really hungry at this point) to the Beach Club Resort and found a bus that would take us to EPCOT.

Once we got to EPCOT, we decided to take the bus again to the Polynesian Resort. We waited about 20 minutes and had a great conversation with a cast member, who turned out would be driving us to our destination. Once we arrived, we ate at Captain Cook's and continued to plan out the rest of our day. Unfortunately those plans never flourished. Whatever I ate did not sit well with me and we had to make our way back to our resort. We decided to take the monorail (my husband with a dole whip in hand from Pineapple Lanai) to Magic Kingdom and take a bus back to the All Star Music Resort.

At dinner that night was when Gus and I realized that we had visited all four parks and used each mode of transportation offered by the Walt Disney World Resort. Its a memory we'll always have.

So what about you? Have you been able to visit all the Walt Disney Parks in one day? Tell us about it below!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Fantastic Fun at the Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf

As I mentioned in a prior post, upon reserving our stay at the All Star Music Resort, we received a booklet of vouchers. One of the vouchers was for a free game at any of the golf properties at the Walt Disney Resort, I was excited to see what great features they would include in their miniature golf area.

Upon arriving at the Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf, one thing was quite clear: there was going to be a wait. I had figured we weren't the only ones to receive this voucher, but was surprised at the amount of people who had decided to make this part of their day at the Walt Disney World Resort. To put it frankly, we waited about 30 to 40 minutes for our tee time. They had a few shaded tables for us to wait under. If you aren't able to grab a table, the location also has a small game area where guests can purchase credits and play arcade games while they waited for their tee time.

Once our tee time arrived, we promptly handed over our tickets, picked out our clubs and golf balls, and headed off to the Fantasia Gardens. Needless to say, each hole had its own thoughtful set of instructions. Each hole also had a fun, interactive moment that would occur either as the ball traveled to its hole or when it reached its hole.Having only seen Fantasia twice in my lifetime, it was the perfect match to the scenes I recalled. Take a look at some of the great shots we got from our fun day.

Some of the holes had musical elements that would chime if the ball was hit in
the right direction.

Other holes featured a moving part that could block you from making a hole in one.
One thing is for sure, the space is beautiful. I can almost hear the area music now.

I almost missed this fun moment while playing the 8th hole....

I could I not throw in some Animals of Disney shots...

This hole was probably the crowd favorite.
And here's why....there is a water feature that kids absolutely love to run through.
The kids that we saw with their families all waited for the right moment to run through and refresh themselves.

Here are some tips to remember while you are there:

1. Make sure to bring some sun block/lotion and sunglasses and/or a hat. There isn't much shade from the sun and at midday, the sun can rise pretty high in the sky.

2. If your golf ball finds itself unreachable, let an attendant know and they will give you another golf ball to continue your game.

3. Take a bottle of water with you and make sure to keep hydrated. At the location they do offer beverages to purchase.

4. Be prepared to demonstrate patience and wait your turn. Although Cast Members try to keep only a set number of guests playing at the same time, you may get stuck in a line at a hole or two. Guests of ALL ages enjoy the miniature golf location. This means little ones who want to hit their own ball might hold up the hole in order to be able to play too.


Overall, we had a ton of fun playing at the Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf. It was fun to see what special feature each hole would surprise you with.

Have you visited Fantasia Gardens? What was your favorite part?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Part 1 of Our Amazing Adventure: Four Parks, Three Methods of Park Transportation All in One Day

I promised myself that I would tell this story because no one would believe it..but it can be done.

Four Parks
Three Methods of Park Transportation

While planning our trip to the Walt Disney Resort this past January, we (my husband, Gus, and I) decided that the first day of our trip would consist of arriving at the resort and doing something we never do at Walt Disney World: RELAX. We (Gus really) wanted to take it easy before we hit the parks with all of our might. We had received a complimentary mini-golf voucher for making stay at a Walt Disney World Resort. What's not relaxing about mini-golf?

Upon arriving to Kissimmee, we continued to drive to our destination, the All Star Music Resort. Gus confidently turned off the GPS and continued to follow the purple signs that we are all familiar of, stating that he could find his way from where we were. As we kept driving we realized that we seemed to be taking longer and longer to get to our destination. Suddenly, Animal Kingdom's main gate was in sight. Quickly figuring out that we had made a wrong turn somewhere, Gus quickly turned our GPS back on and turned around to make our way back towards the right path.

Upon arriving at the All Star Music Resort, we checked in and decided to take Disney Transportation to the Swan and Dolphin Resort. One thing that some guests don't know is that you cannot take Disney Bus Transportation from resort to resort, however you can take the busses to the parks. So we decided our best bet would be to hop on the bus to Disney's Hollywood Studios and either walk or take a Friendship boat to the Swan and Dolphin. Never having been to the Fantasia Gardens Golf Course (the Winter Wonderland Golf Course outside of Typhoon Lagoon had closed for the season), I could only see that it was located on the side of the Swan Resort through the My Disney Experience App.

We jumped off the bus and quickly power walked to the Friendship boat dock at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Luckily for us, a boat was headed our way. We enjoyed the breeze and took in our voyage to the Swan and Dolphin Resort. Upon arriving to the Swan and Dolphin Resort, we walked over to the front desk and asked which was the best way to get to the Fantasia Gardens. We were directed in the direction of the location and headed off to enjoy a round of mini-golf.

I will stop this tale here for now. Have you ever tried to attempt something similar in the parks?