Disney for Adults

Best and Worst Disney World Value Resorts

“How do I save money on my vacation?” is unsurprisingly one of the most frequently asked questions when planning a Disney trip. Park tickets expensive, quick service meals cost too…

“How do I save money on my vacation?” is unsurprisingly one of the most frequently asked questions when planning a Disney trip. Park tickets expensive, quick service meals cost too much, and you’re probably gonna want a pair of Mickey Ears to feel like you’re doing it right. One small way to save money is to eat outside of the parks and pack your lunches. But honestly, due to lines, parades, and FastPass reservations, you usually don’t have enough time to pop in and out for a cheap meal.

So, if you’re budget-minded, what’s the easiest way to spend less money? Choose a value level resort. Choosing a resort in this category (the lowest price with fewer amenities) can decrease the cost immensely and take a little stress off the idea of going on vacation. There have been plenty of blogs that outline money saving tips and tricks. This is one of the easiest ways to do so. Which brings me to another frequently asked question: “Where should I stay?” Here’s a ranking of all the Disney World Value Resorts to help you decide.

Something To Remember: Value resorts are more often booked by large families with kids in an effort to save money and for a kid-friendly atmosphere. Just making this clear so you don’t expect a tranquil getaway. It is, after all, a Disney vacation.

But first, if you’re not sure what I mean when I say “on and off property…”

On Property vs. Off Property: Each on property resort (owned by Disney) features multiple pools, shuttles to the parks, free transportation to/from the airport, 1 quick service restaurant, use of the Magic Band system and the Disney touch. The off property resorts (not officially owned by Disney) are a little cheaper, have a few more food options, free shuttles to the parks, and offer a break from the magic if you’d rather not fully immerse yourself in the Disney experience.

 

World Showcase in Epcot at Sunset

World Showcase at Sunset

Ranked Value Resorts

Best Western Lake Buena Vista (Off Property “Good Neighbor” Hotel): Most of us have an idea of what a Best Western is like. You can trust that this hotel will be clean and have decent service. The rooms and overall “décor” of the hotel are outdated and remind of the 90’s and not in a nostalgic way. But, it’s still a decent place to stay because it’s a step above some other Best Western’s. This one has an onsite restaurant and lounge along with a quick service pot and a Pizza Hut Express. The pool is decent and provides free shuttles to the parks. I don’t think it’s a bad choice, just not the greatest.

Wyndham Garden Lake (Off Property “Good Neighbor” Hotel): The only reason I’m putting this one after the All-Stars is purely nostalgic reasons. I love staying on property because it reminds me of my childhood family trips. But, I’ve sent quite a few of my clients to this hotel because I think it’s quite nice for the cost and people love it. The official Disney Value Resorts don’t have a poolside bar and grill, but this one sure does! The rooms seem to be updated recently, they have a 24-hour café, and a Lakeview Restaurant that features character dining on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays. What more could you possibly want?

Disney's All Star Music Resort

Good news! They are renovating the All-Star Resort rooms as well! The insides are looking much better than what they used to be and the design is very similar to Pop Century’s upgrade. Note: The All-Star Resorts sometimes share buses during the day, but have their own bus in the morning and evening.

All-Star Sports (On Property): I rank this one last out of the All-Stars because it’s the least “Disney” of all the Disney Resorts. There are a few character statues throughout, but it doesn’t quite capture the magic. But, I do know plenty of people who like the sports atmosphere and stay here every visit. They have a large open “football field” to play on and I’m a big fan of the Mighty Ducks pool. Other than that, staying at Sports really isn’t my cup of Gatorade, so I’m putting it last. The biggest perk to this resort is that it’s the first stop on the bus line during the day.

All-Star Music (On Property): This resort is rumored to be slightly quieter than the other two, but I honestly can’t tell the difference. I prefer rooms in the Calypso building because you’re near my favorite pool featuring The Three Caballeros fountain. The Calypso rooms do cost a bit more because they’re also near the food court and bus stop, FYI.

All Star Movies (On Property): Movies is my go-to cheap Disney stay. I love the larger than life Toy Story statues and I always stay in the Herbie the Love Bug building. Mostly because it’s towards the back of the property and a little calmer, but also because Herbie himself sits back there.  P.S. If you haven’t heard, you can ask for the “secret menu” at their quick service spot. The Cast Member will pull out a briefcase equipped with a couple of old View-Masters inside. The pictures you’ll see inside the View-Master are of the secret menu items available. A fun thing to do with kids!

Pop Century (On Property): What’s the best inexpensive Disney Value Resort? 9 times out of 10 a Disney veteran will answer with “Pop Century.” It’s a newer value resort and most of the rooms have been recently renovated. You also have the added plus of having your own bus line rather than sharing a line at the All-Star Resorts. My favorite feature is that the “Generation Gap Bridge,” which had the original intent of connecting the current themed buildings (decades ranging from the 50’s to the 90’s), to future generation buildings (2000’s and beyond) on the other side. Instead, they decided to build Art of Animation in that place and kept the bridge up. Meaning, you can pop over to Art of Animation if you’re staying at Pop Century any time you want.

You’re Probably Wondering Why I Didn’t Mention Art of Animation

Although Art of Animation is considered a value resort the prices do not reflect the same idea. The Little Mermaid Room, which is a standard non-suite, usually starts at about 150/night. Compare this to an All-Star that can sometimes go down to about $80/night. The family suite can be worth it if you have a larger family though. The suites accommodate 6 people so that means you won’t have to purchase two rooms. If you love the atmosphere of this resort, but can’t afford a room, then stop by for a visit!

Epcot at Disney World

Just because they’re easier on your wallet, doesn’t mean value resorts aren’t enjoyable places to stay. The amenities are generally good, onsite restaurants available, pools are nice, and the service is great. Besides, you’ll most likely be spending most of your vacation in the parks and only use your hotel to collapse after a long day.

If you’re looking for more ways to save money on vacation, feel free to contact me. As a Disney Travel Planner, I can help navigate current Disney World discounts and promos throughout the season.

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Adorable New Clothing Line at Target is Perfect for a Disney Vacay

Despite being reported on various fashion blogs, I didn’t find out about Junk Food’s new Disney line at Target until I wandered into one this afternoon. The clothes are way too…

Despite being reported on various fashion blogs, I didn’t find out about Junk Food’s new Disney line at Target until I wandered into one this afternoon. The clothes are way too adorable and perfect purchases to gear up for a summer vacation! Comfy vintage-inspired Disney wear is perfect for my age group. A generation infatuated by the nostalgic early years (even if we weren’t born yet) mashed up with our childhood memories of snuggling up with a Disney VHS. This particular line is perfect for a Disney vacation. Obviously due to it’s theming, but also because the clothes are lightweight and comfortable. Two extremely important factors when dressing for a day in the parks. I wanted to go all out and get the Mickey shoes, but I held myself back and budgeted for a couple new shirts and the absolutely precious Mickey capris. The best thing about these new products is that everything is fairly cheap and good quality, typical for Target items. If you love this stuff as much as I do, I’ve placed links to the products throughout the post!

The first outfit features the Mickey Mouse blush shirt. You can’t see it here, but it has a retro-esque rainbow on the back. It reminds me of the 80’s rainbow outfits Mickey and Minnie used to wear at Epcot. The sunglasses, sun hat, and sandals are all from Target too. Can you tell where all my money goes? Target has a wide variety of the rose gold glasses, complementary to the infamous rose gold Minnie ears as well!

Summer Vacay! Adorable outfits from Target for your next Disney trip! #disney #summer #vacation

Shop This Look

Mickey Mouse Chambray Tie-Front Pants

Mickey Mouse Rainbow Blush Shirt

Rose Gold Cateye Sunglasses

Lavinia Toe Wrap Sandals 

Mickey Mouse Embroidered Straw Hat (Not pictured, but adorable)

The next purchase I made was the understated “Follow the Sun” tank that ties in the front and the Mickey bobby pins that you can just barely see in the photo. Both purchases are great for the “everyday outfit” when you don’t want to shout from the rooftops that you are a Disney fanatic.

Summer Vacay! Adorable outfits from Target for your next Disney trip! #disney #summer #vacation

Shop This Look

Follow the Sun Tie-Front Tank

Mickey Mouse Bobby Pins: Available in store, not on Target.com

Silver Minnie Mouse Ears: Shop Disney

Ukele Not Included 😉

The “Love Mickey” line also features dishware, camping gear, pet gear, and bathroom products. There were even some cosmetics branded with the Disney name, although, those were less impressive. Most of this stuff costs as low as $5 and it’s way too cute! My favorite is the Steamboat Willie inner tube. Although, judging from the dimensions, it looks kinda small.

Maybe it’s because I started binging Mad Men on Netflix this week, but I’ve become obsessed with the dapper aesthetic. The high-rise canvas capris with the waist tie belt are lightweight, perfect for the beginning of summer. Also, I’m not a natural in front of the camera, but it made me so happy to put on my Mickey pants and sit in the sun today, I had to take a pic. Being in the Pacific Northwest, it’s no surprise that when the sun decides to show itself, I get a little excited. Let me know in the comments if you pick up any of these cute finds!

Summer Vacay! Adorable outfits from Target for your next Disney trip! #disney #summer #vacation

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Disneyland’s Pixar Fest is the Nostalgia Generation’s Dream Come True

I’m not a big fan of overlays or the over-saturation of seasonal festivals. I give exception to the holiday overlays like it’s a small world and Haunted Mansion, or Epcot’s…

Pixar Fest is a blast this year! A food and entertainment guide to this awesome new festival at Disneyland and California Adventure. #foodie

I’m not a big fan of overlays or the over-saturation of seasonal festivals. I give exception to the holiday overlays like it’s a small world and Haunted Mansion, or Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival,  but other than that I think they’re kinda cheap and lazy. I probably wouldn’t feel this strongly if Disney didn’t raise the ticket prices every year and CEO Bob Iger didn’t have the potential to earn 423 million dollars in bonuses while his employees go hungry. End rant.

But I digress, because here’s the thing, despite all the politics that Disney has been haphazardly battling, I absolutely fell in love with Pixar Fest last week. How do you keep pulling us in, Disney? How do you continually win us over with your spirit and tenderness and make us spend thousands on park tickets and food? Obviously, I was skeptical going in because I expected it to be a couple of banners and regurgitated old parades. And yes, it was basically that as far as the atmospheric elements. But, I think it’s a good time merely for the fact that the festival is Pixar themed. The movies and the music from those movies captured our hearts, so naturally, if we see a Bing Bong themed parade float or hear a Dapper Dan rendition of You’ve Got a Friend in Me, you’ve won us over. Due to this alone, the festival had just the right amount of heart, charm, fun, and nostalgia. Watching the crowd light up when Owl City’s When Can I See You Again began as Tinker Bell lead Paint the Night preview was incredible. I’ve never seen so many Disney fanatics lose their mind over a parade. It was magical and we were all crying over our churros.

And the food. Dear lawd, the food was good. Disney, in general, has really stepped up their game on the food quality and it seems like every month they’re coming up with new creations. To get the most out of Pixar Fest, head to the Paradise Garden Grill, which is to the right of the Goofy’s Sky School in California Adventure. This is where they feature a lot of the unique food, a special character spot, and a Pixar themed band. The only disappointing factor was the highly anticipated Pizza Planet overlay that really fell flat. More on that below. The festival runs now through September 3rd, 2018, so take a look below at our guide to get yourself better prepared!

Pixar Fest Sign California Adventure

Atmosphere

There are some hidden touches here and there adding to the Festival, but not enough that will hinder your experience if it’s your first time. I know people who have only ever ridden the Haunted Mansion with the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay because it’s the only time they’ve ever visited. There are some decorations and of course, the giant Pixar Fest sign hanging above the entrances. My favorite touch is that the Esplanade (the large walking area connecting the two park entrances), which plays a fresh new background soundtrack featuring Pixar soundtracks as opposed to their normal backtracking. It’s a subtle and super sweet detail. And of course, there are the Pixar monorail makeovers. Other than that, there are themed banners hanging about and the new Pixar Pier sign has been branded on the future Incredicoaster.

Pixar Fest Incredibles Monorail Disneyland

Food

Some of the festival dishes I highly recommend due to their deliciousness. Other items just come with some extra toppings that are yummy, but not quite as unique. As always, don’t get discouraged if you can’t hit every single thing they have to offer! There will always be new Disney food trends, whether it’s the dole whip donut, millennial pink champagne, or the rainbow-unicorn churro. That last one doesn’t exist, but I wish. As mentioned before, the main hub for Pixar Fest celebrations and festival food is at the Paradise Garden Grill. They had a lot to offer back there!

Here are a few that I tried last weekend:

Lots-O-Straw-Bear-Y Funnel Cake (Hungry Bear Restaurant-Disneyland): Layers of strawberries, blueberries, strawberry butter and pink sugary crumbles. This was really good, but honestly, the best part was the fried dough (duh!). I could only get through half of it, so try to share! They have another version called Jessie’s Berry Jubilee Funnel Cake served at the Stagedoor Cafe next to Hoop-de-Doo review. That one has oreo crumbles and creme anglaise, dusted with gold sugars.

Hungry Bear Funnel Cake at Disneyland for Pixar Fest

Tres Leches Parfait (Paradise Garden Grill-California Adventure): If you’re one for rich desserts, this is the one to try! I had already eaten breakfast, so I didn’t think I’d get through all of it, but oh man, this is an amazing treat. It’s vanilla cake layered with a caramel cream and dark rum. Basically a caramel tiramisu. I will never stop dreaming about this treat.

Pixar Fest Tres Leches Dessert Disneyland Green Monorail Destinations

Spicy Corn Dog (Corn Dog Castle-California Adventure): Let me try to paint a picture for you: This was a spicy hot link sausage, a layer of pepper jack cheese, and then a cajun chicken sausage, dipped in their housemade batter and fried to perfection. You start off eating a corndog, eat a fried cheese stick, then another corndog. It comes with a blackberry-serrano chile dipping sauce that is the right amount of spice and sweet. It’s a euphoric experience.

Spicy Corn Dog at Pixar Fest in California Adventure

Agua de Jamaica (Paradise Garden Grill-California Adventure): It was too hot for the Mexican hot cocoa, so I went with the hibiscus tea slush. In essence, it was a fruit slushy. This was nice and refreshing in the hot Cali sun, but doesn’t compare to the other treats I indulged in.

Agua de Jamaica Pixar Fest at California Adventure

Pizza Planet (Overlay at Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port in Disneyland): I had such high hopes for this one. We all thought we were getting the Pizza Planet we deserve, but sadly got a sign and some decals on the walls. There’s a cheeseburger pizza that’s supposedly ok, but the line was too long to attempt it. This is one of those moments where Disney builds a lot of hype, makes you feel like you absolutely must see this brand new attraction (spend more money) and they give you low effort with low-quality results. Yikes. Maybe someday, Pizza Planet!

Pizza Planet at Disneyland for Pixar Fest

For a full list of the Pixar Fest foods, Disney Food Blog is always on top of things with their guides and reviews of Disney food. You’ll even see a picture of my funnel cake on there! 🙂

Entertainment

Initially, I thought bringing back two former parades is a bit of a cop out, but they did add a couple of new floats and characters that are quite adorable.

Luxo Lamp Pixar Fest Disneyland

Luxo Lamp Float on Preview and Media Day

Pixar Pals Character Spot (Paradise Garden Grill at California Adventure): Throughout the day, this new spot features characters like Woody, Mike & Sulley, and Russel from Up. It’s a good chance to meet some friends that are more difficult to find.

PhotoPass Spot (Cars Land): The cars parked at PhotoPass spot at the “Welcome to Cars Land” entrance are dressed up and looking adorable!

Cars Land PhotoPass Entrance Dressed Up for Pixar Fest

Dapper Dans and Disneyland Band: The regular Disney musicians will perform some Pixar soundtracks and songs in their daily performances. A very cute touch.

Pixarmonic Orchestra (Paradise Garden Bandstand at California Adventure): This was the best discovery for me. The most adorable ragtime band that plays their renditions of Pixar songs and jokes in short, 30-minute sets. They were hilarious, ridiculous, and super talented artists. Here’s a short video I got of their performance last week.

Pixar Play Parade (Disneyland Day Parade): This is another old parade that they spruced up a bit. It was cute and all, but it was no Paint the Night, of course. They added a couple new floats and characters including Inside Out and Up. And also, you guys, the moment I saw Russell riding Kevin, I flipped the heck out. It’s so cute.

Joy and Sadness Inside Out Float at Pixar Fest Disneyland

Paint the Night Parade: If anything, I think the whole festival is worth it if you can catch this parade. Fans were furious when they prematurely removed this gorgeous and technologically advanced parade a few years ago. But now it’s back! Imagine grabbing a cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate in your Coco souvenir mug and settling up for that 10:30 showing on a warm summer night. *sigh* Pure Disney comforts.

Mike Wazowski Paint the Night Parade for Pixar Fest in California Adventure

Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular: The special fireworks that feature all the beloved Pixar movies is full of heart. So much heart that the person standing next to me was sobbing through the entire show. I definitely teared up a bit myself, don’t get me wrong. It has that extra special Disney touch where they combined touching images, well-timed fireworks, and just the right amount of sweeping orchestrations to pull at your heartstrings and say  “Ok Disney, take all my money, you’re worth it.” The best part is that the same projections that are displayed on Main Street and the castle are also projected on the front of it’s a small world, the water features used in Fantasmic on the Rivers of America and The Matterhorn. So it’s easier to get a nice view of the show.

Reason being, Disneyland’s castle is much smaller than Disney World’s so the projecting mapping technology doesn’t work quite as well for big crowds. Disney had to figure out how to bring the same experiences of Disney World’s firework displays to Disneyland. Their solution is brilliant, which is to apply the projections to other areas of the park, not just the castle. If you want the castle experience, I had a great time watching from the middle of Main Street. I could see all the projections, have a bit of the castle experience, and didn’t have to wait 3 hours to see it. Also, there’s an awesome surprise during the Coco segment on Main  Street!

Green Alien Together Forever Fireworks for Pixar Fest in Disneyland

Pixar Shorts (Sunset Showcase Theatre – previously Muppet Theatre- at California Adventure): I never quite got over the fact that they turned the Muppet Vision 3D Theatre into a regular movie theatre to show previews (i.e. advertisements) for upcoming Disney movies. It seemed so unnecessary to me. I did really enjoy watching the Pixar Shorts in this venue, however. Throughout this summer, they are having a special showing of 3 Pixar shorts which are For the Birds, Lava, and Piper. This is actually quite cute because they made the show 3D and use other special effects like wind and wall televisions to add to the presentation. Best way to experience this? Grab an iced coffee from Schmoozie’s and settle in for an air-conditioned 20-minute break.

Pixar Shorts Disney Pixar Disneyland Green Monorail Destinations

Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar: This little cozy cove tucked away next to the Wine Country Trattoria is only open when the parks are previewing new attractions. The last time it was open was in 2013 they were displaying the new Starbucks that were moving into the parks. They’ve reopened the walk-through attraction to preview all the concept art and concept models for Pixar Pier and also play a short movie depicting the Imagineering process. It’s a cute display and also offers some escape from the heat for a short bit.

Pixar Pier Concept Model for Pixar Fest California Adventure

Souvenirs

In honor of Pixar Fest, California Adventure has opened their new souvenir shop, Knick Knacks, located on Pixar Pier (formerly known as Paradise Pier). They added some new merch to the shop and a kiosk where you can print some Pixar art and take it home with you. Throughout the parks, they are also selling things like a Mike Wazowski Souvenir Sipper, the connecting Sulley Popcorn Bucket, and the Pixar Luxo Lamp Straw that people are going crazy over. You can find these at places like Schmoozie’s, popcorn carts, and the Disneyland (left of the castle) or California Adventure (in front of Pixar Pier) cappuccino carts. The cutest Pixar Fest souvenir is the Coco jarrita ceramic mug sold at Paradise Garden Grill. For more details on the special merchandise, you can visit Disneyland News.

Pixar Fest Merchandise California Adventure in Disneyland

Pixar Fest Merchandise California Adventure in Disneyland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pro Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Experience

  • No need to stand in line! If there’s a line for that Sulley Popcorn Bucket or the Paradise Garden Grill, come back later. Throughout the day, the line will come and go. Especially if it’s a bit later in the summer.
  • When To Go: Pixar Pier in California Adventure along with the renovated Incredicoaster and Lamplight Lounge (formerly Cove Bar/Ariel’s Grotto) will open on June 23rd. The parks are likely to be a madhouse the first week of opening so if you do visit during that time, I highly advise purchasing the MaxPass to help with the lines. If you have the chance, go later in the summer. Pixar Fest lasts until September 3rd and the crowds will go down closer to fall. And it will be slightly (slightly!) cooler.
  • Check out disneyland.com for parade and show times throughout the summer and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter for future updates! (See how I snuck that in there?)

This festival won my heart and I have a feeling it will for you too! Hopefully, they can pull some more events like this in the future and it will only get better once Pixar Pier is open!

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Disney Gift Guide: 15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical

Sometimes all it takes is a touch of Disney magic to disrupt our mundane life routines. I like to sprinkle a little pixie dust around my home, car, or accessories,…

15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Sometimes all it takes is a touch of Disney magic to disrupt our mundane life routines. I like to sprinkle a little pixie dust around my home, car, or accessories, just for a bit of a pick-me-up. Of course, when your love is this deep for Disney, it can get expensive. So, I put together an affordable Disney product guide for all Disney lovers! All of these are available on Amazon and I plan on doing a review on Disney products for Box Lunch and Hot Topic in the future too! I did a lot of digging and found the most magical products that are both enchantingly Disney and won’t make you feel guilty for investing in them.

Mini Mickey Waffle Maker: This is my favorite Disney product available on Amazon. I used this waffle maker to create my Copycat Pumpkin Spice Mickey Waffles last Christmas and it’s been holding up really well. And the size of the waffle that it produces is quite perfect!15 Affordable Disney Find to Add Some Magic to Your Day

Disney Parks Presents: it’s a small world: The beautiful illustrations featured in this children’s book are inspired by Mary Blair’s style of animation and includes a singalong version of it’s a small world on a C.D. (What’s a C.D.??) This would be cute as a gift for a little one, or for a nursery…or for your own bookshelf. There are few other “Disney Park Presents” song and picture books available like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion as well.15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Adult Coloring Books: I’m pretty partial to Disney Coloring Books for Adults. They’re a therapeutic way to pass the time, but also very fun and whimsical! Also, this isn’t Disney, but in the spirit of 90’s nostalgia, there’s a Splat-Nickelodeon color book that looks awesome as well. 15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Disney Cookbook: If you’re going to buy a Disney cookbook then I highly recommend Eat Like WaltDisney wanted his food to reflect the feeling of fun and family which inspired the making of Disneyland. This cookbook doesn’t just list copycat recipes but also explores the history of Disney Park food with pictures and stories of Walt’s era. One of the best gifts you could give to a Disney foodie!15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Historical Disney Books: If you’re a huge Disnerd I suggest The Disneyland Story which tells the story of Disneyland from conception to what is today. And, if you’re willing to invest in a little Disney history, I also advise looking into Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animationwhich showcases how female Animators blazed trails in the entertainment industry15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Disney Pixar Oval Slow Cooker: I’m kinda pushing it as far pricing, but $35 ain’t bad for a good kitchen appliance. And, if you’re gonna have a crockpot, you should definitely have a Disney/Pixar crockpot! These are a fairly new product to Amazon and already very popular among Disney enthusiasts.15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Mickey Glove Kitchen Accessories: If you don’t want to go all out and buy a Disney slow cooker, there are plenty of other subtle kitchen accessories to brighten up the room. I really like the Mickey glove accessories like the measuring spoons, the chip clips and spoon rest
15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Disney Park Guide Books: Guidebooks are fun to read whether you’re planning a vacation or not. They’re full of tips, tricks, pictures, hotel and dining reviews, so they’re perfect to conjure up a Disney daydream. There are so many park guidebooks I wrote a whole review about them last month here. The most thorough and reliable book is the Unofficial Guide, brought to you by the reputable touringplans.com15 Affordable Disney Find to Add Some Magic to Your Day

Light Saber Chop Sticks: Whether you love the new Star Wars movies, or you think that Disney only bought Lucas Films to make a ton of money (probably the latter), some pretty cool merchandise has been made as a result. The chopsticks are my favorite Star Wars find on Amazon. Definitely silly, but at least they’re useful!15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Disney iPhone Power Adapter Decals: Cutest little things since the tsum tsum (almost). These are simple and super cheap charger stickers that come in a variety of characters and colors. (USB charger not included!) 15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Mickey Air Freshener:  I’m bringing up the air freshener because you can drop your own aromatherapy oil into the filter, which allows for a true Disney experience. If you don’t already know, the scent they pipe into the Grand Floridian and other resorts is called Green Clover and Aloe. I’ve seen Bath & Body Works sell this scent in the past and they do have a couple versions of this scent as an essential oil on Amazon. I like to put a few drops into my humidifier at home and daydream that I’m on vacation. :p I imagine this would also be pleasant in the car! Just do a very small amount because the scent can be strong.15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Postcards: There’s something so personable about getting a piece of mail sent to you from a friend or a loved one. I send the Art of Disney/Pixar postcards to my clients to wish them well on their vacations because they’re so darn cute. Postcards also make great collectibles and artwork for around the house!15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Danielle Nicole Bags: Anything by Danielle Nicole is friggin’ adorable and most of the products sold in the parks are available on Amazon as well. But, not everything is what most of us would call “affordable.” She does have some small cosmetic bags for about $18.00, featuring the dwarfs. Should you invest in something more spendy, the Gus-Gus and Suzy bag is perfection. 15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Mickey Tea Strainer: Are you ready for the cutest”Hidden Mickey” tea strainer ever? This is a Disney Parks official item, no longer available on disneyshop.com and only sold by third-party sellers on Amazon. I can’t guarantee this item will always be available, but for the time being it’s there!
15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Mickey Mug: There are plenty of Disney mugs to be found on Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc. So many that it’s hard for me to recommend just one. However, if I were to choose one on Amazon mug, it would have to be the “Who says we have to grow up?” Mickey mug because I think all Disney lovers can relate to this one on deep, spiritual level.

15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Some of these items are handy if you’re planning a Disney vacation, while others are just fun to have. Treat yourself or treat a friend! We all need a little Disney in our day! Comment with your favorite affordable Disney find!

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New York’s Sak’s 5th Snow White Window Displays!

New York City is particularly magical during the holidays. There’s the Rockette’s, Tiffany’s, The Plaza, Dyker Heights, Central Park, and the list goes on. If you’re lucky enough to be…

The highlight of a holiday trip to the big apple! New Snow WhiteSak's Fifth Avenue Window Displays in New York City!

New York City is particularly magical during the holidays. There’s the Rockette’s, Tiffany’s, The Plaza, Dyker Heights, Central Park, and the list goes on. If you’re lucky enough to be there when it snows (very rare) it’s like you’ve stepped into your very own Hallmark movie. Every year Sak’s Fifth Avenue decorates their window displays with holiday themes. This year, in honor of Snow White’s 80th birthday the displays are based on her story. The animatronics have the extra Disney touch and the holiday remixed versions of the soundtrack make you feel like you’re at Disneyland. Unfortunately, the crowds were like Disney World on New Years Eve, but if you happen to be visiting this holiday season, I highly recommend stopping by Sak’s. Across the street is the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree and ice skating rink. We watched 2 couples get engaged in front of the tree when we passed through. It was pure magic. I was able to get some pretty good shots of the window displays for all you to enjoy!

Sak’s is also offering a special holiday breakfast inside the flagship store in New York. Much like the character breakfasts in the park, you can dine with Snow White, the Prince, and Dopey. The breakfast is available until December 31st and you can make reservations here. Depending on your party size, tickets range from $100-$800. If you can’t make it to New York, they’re offering special clothing and accessories inspired by Snow Withe at every Sak’s store.

In true Disney fashion, the window displays were treated as a storyboard, much like the dark rides in the Disney parks. Each display featured a highlight of the Snow White story and used movement, lighting, and music to enhance the displays.

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue

With a smile and a song!

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney Christmas

Snow White: I said, how do you do? Grumpy: How do ya do, what? Snow White: Oh, you can talk. I’m so glad.

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

Snow White: I’m awfully sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you. But you don’t know what I’ve been through. And all because I was afraid. I’m so ashamed of the fuss I made.

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney Christmas

Mirror, Mirror

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney Christmas

Now, a formula to transform my beauty into ugliness.

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney Christmas

Whistle While You Work!

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

I’d like to dance and tap my feet, but they won’t keep in rhythm. You see, I washed ’em both today. And I can’t do nothin’ with ’em.

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

Heigh-Ho, Heigh Ho!

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

Apple, dearie?

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

Maybe the old Queen’s got Snow White!

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

The victim of the Sleeping Death can be revived only by love’s first kiss.

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

And wedding bells will ring some day when my dreams come true.

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

 

Wrapping around the building, you’ll also find dresses inspired by Snow with a modern touch. Designers include Alberta Ferretti, Naeem Khan, Monique Lhuillier and Marchesa. The crowds were too intense for us to get more shots of these dresses, but they are still worth perusing if you have the time.

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

Bonus Happy Accident Shot: My camera decided to focus on the reflection of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree behind me, rather than the window display. Pretty cool effect for a super amateur photographer like myself.

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

The unveiling of the window displays happened over Thanksgiving weekend and was also completely magical. Complete with dancers, a performance by Sofia Caron, a jig by the Seven Dwarves, and a dedication by the Prince and Snow White herself. You can watch a snippet of the show filmed by Inside the Magic below.

While these displays are beautiful, there are plenty of other Disney themed attractions to visit in New York as well! Here are a few highlights from me. Happy Holidays, everyone!

  • Aladdin (Broadway)
  • The Lion King (Broadway)
  • Anastasia (Broadway) The show isn’t technically Disney, but the movie used some of Disney’s animators, so it’s close enough!
  • The enormous multi-floor Disney Store in Times Square
  • Alice in Wonderland Statue in Central Park
  • Adventures by Disney tour of New York

Interested in booking a trip to the big apple and don’t know where to start? I lived there for a bit and visit often, so I can help you with all the ins and outs! Contact me here for questions and a free vacation quote.

 

 

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Disneyland for Adults: The Complete Guide

As someone who spends a lot of her vacations at Disneyland, I often get the same question “Adults go to Disney??” And yes, they do! Couples, singles, bachelorette parties, and…

Complete Adult Guide to Disneyland and California Adventure | Dining, Drinking, Attraction, and Shopping Suggestions!

As someone who spends a lot of her vacations at Disneyland, I often get the same question “Adults go to Disney??” And yes, they do! Couples, singles, bachelorette parties, and sometimes solo adventurers frequent the parks. All have a great time, no doubt.  And of course, the park is located in Southern California, so if your adult mind can’t take a minute more of the magic, you can take a drive down to the beach or visit Los Angeles.

In response to my previous post about enjoying Disney World as an adult, here are some great things you can enjoy at Disneyland!

Disneyland

The biggest deterrent to Disney World fans is that Disneyland is smaller and only has two parks. However, there’s still plenty to do for adults and kids alike. Even Toon Town has a Roger Rabbit ride, which appeals to the millennial demographic more often than children.

New! On January 18th, Disneyland began an event-series called Disneyland After Dark. These are hard-ticket events that allow guests to stay in the parks until 1:00 AM and each one will have a fun theme. The first event was themed after “vintage Disneyland” and featured posters and entertainment from the Dapper Dan era. You can take a look at PopSugar’s pictures of the event here

Attractions

First and foremost! Disneyland isn’t just a bunch of kiddie ride. They have some thrills as well. They may not be Six Flags, but they’re definitely a good time!

The Mountain Rides: Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Matterhorn are the best thrill rides Disneyland has to offer. Pro Tip: Try to time your ride on the Matterhorn during the fireworks. It’s like they’re exploding right in front of you. I’ve somehow managed to do this twice.Matterhorn Mountain | Green Monorail Destinations

Haunted Mansion: So spooky! I mean, it’s no Hollywood Horror Nights at Universal, but it’s an all-time favorite for most people. The technology was very innovative at the time it was built and still proves to be impressive today. And I do love a good dark ride to escape the sun.

Indiana Jones Adventure: The perfect ride for 80’s/90’s babies. It has a bit of a thrill factor and throwback to some of our favorite Harrison Ford moments. Fun Fact: The Indiana track is the same exact track as the Dinosaur ride in Disney World!

Star Tours-The Adventure Continues: Disney has been updating this ride since the new movies came out and now feature some of our favorite new lands and characters. This attraction will satisfy your Star Wars needs until the new Star Wars Land: Galaxy’s Edge opens in 2019!

Cool Down Rides: After you’ve had your thrills, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by park chaos. Three attractions that are perfect for a break are Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, The Enchanted Tiki Room, and the Mark Twain Riverboat.

Dining

Market House on Main Street (Starbucks): Alright, I have to start this section off right. Many of us, whether we have kids or not, depend on coffee to make our day a little more magical. Although I’m a Seattleite and we tend to dislike Starbucks (because we’re coffee snobs), Starbucks will definitely do the trick. I’m glad they added the franchise to the parks. They were also able to use pseudonyms to help the shops blend into the Disney atmosphere. If the line is long, and it usually is, pop over to Jolly Holiday Bakery where they serve giant Mickey macarons and yummy mochas!

Cafe Orleans: So, this place is lacking in a romantic atmosphere, but the food is absolutely incredible and catered to an adult appetite. They serve the same famous Monte Cristo as the Blue Bayou and also the infamous Mickey beignets. If you can’t get a reservation at Blue Bayou, try this one! (I like their entrees better here anyway.)

Mickey Beignet | Cafe Orleans

Blue Bayou: The coolest thing about this restaurant is that it’s located inside Pirates of the Caribbean. The “nighttime” environment is dark, moody, and incredibly romantic. However, much like Rainforest Cafe, you’re paying for the atmosphere, not the food. Unless, of course, you’re talking about that previously mentioned Monte Cristo.

Carnation Cafe: This restaurant has been around since the park’s opening in 1955 and lead by Chef Oscar Martinez, the longest-tenured Cast Member, who just celebrated 60 years with Disneyland. If you’re a Disney nut like me, you’ll love the sentimental values of this restaurant. Also, the food is fantastic, with comfort foods like fried pickles and Walt’s favorite meatloaf.

Golden Horseshoe Review: This campy dinner show has been playing since the park opened as well. If you’re looking for a fun date night, this is a good option. However, if your party is full of introverts, you might want to try Blue Bayou. The show involves a little bit of audience interaction, so don’t be surprised if they call you out!

Fantasmic! Dining Package: If you plan on having dinner at either Blue Bayou, River Belle Terrace, or Cafe Orleans, you might as well book it with the Fantasmic! Dining Package. The package includes a 3-course meal and a spot in the preferred viewing area for the show. You can also do the Fantasmic On-the-Go Package if you don’t want to splurge. The new Fantasmic! 2.0 opened last summer, and it’s wildly successful. Unless you want to camp out for an hour, it’s difficult to find a clear viewing spot for the show. Fantasmic! is a great show to see whether you book the dining package or not.Fantasmic | Green Monorail Destinations

Tomorrowland Skyline Lounge Experience: For an extra price, you can indulge in some Disney snacks and watch the fireworks from a private viewing area in Tomorrowland. Just make sure the fireworks are scheduled the night you book. The reservation allows you to come and go as you please, from 8:00-10:00 at night.

Corn Dog Cart: Maybe you want to save money on dining and blow it all on margaritas in California Adventure instead. The famous corn dog cart at the end of Main Street serves freshly hand-dipped corn dogs that live up to the hype.

Californa Adventure

This park is a little more grown up in regards to the dining, theme, and attractions. Now that Cars Land has been added and the transformation of Paradise Pier to Pixar Pier is soon underway, this park is becoming a rival to Disneyland park.

Attractions

Incredicaoster (Closed for Renovations): Opening summer of 2018, California Screamin’, the largest and most thrilling roller coaster in both parks will be transformed into the Incredicoaster. The highly anticipated Incredibles II will inspire the new mid-century modern design.

Guardians of the Galaxy | Green Monorail DestinationsGuardians of the Galaxy: Listen, I’m a Tower of Terror purist. I remember riding this attraction the year it opened, and I couldn’t stop talking about it. When I heard they were transforming it into Guardians of the Galaxy, I was not amused. However, the Imagineers did a great job with the re-imagining of the tower. The technology is fantastic, the ride is smoother, and even a bit more thrilling than Tower of Terror. I approve of this reinvention, but if they change it in Disney World too, I will protest.

Radiator Springs Racers: This ride is like Epcot’s Test Track on steroids. This is an absolute must-do. The architecture and rock work alone is something to see, and the attraction features animatronic cars that look almost lifelike. It also has a Single Riders Line, which is ideal when traveling with adults-only.

Soarin’ Around the World: This is a spectacular ride and a favorite among all ages. The technology makes you feel like you’re paragliding over the Matterhorn and the soundtrack is uh-mazing.

Animation Courtyard: I love this secret cove so much I wrote an entire post about it here. When I was a teenager, I stumbled upon this building with a friend, and we felt like we found a secret hiding spot in Disneyland. The entrance walkway opens up into a giant gallery room where giant projections show clips of Disney movies and play music. There’s a lot of comfy seating, generous floor space to take a load off, and it’s gloriously air-conditioned.

Dining

Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge: The restaurant is themed after old Hollywood, “amid the glitz and the glitter of a bustling, young movie town at the height of its golden age.” In other words, it’s quite fancy inside. The restaurant splits off to secluded dining areas and even has private dining nooks if you book a large group. They also share the Chef from the Grand Californian’s Napa Rose, Andrew Sutton, so you know the food is perfection.Very romantic and very delicious. The menu changes often, but last time I went I had the Thick-cut Berkshire Pork Chop and it was the best Disneyland meal I’ve ever had.

Carthay Circle | Green Monorail Destinations

Carthay Circle

Wine Country Trattoria: The atmosphere is inspired by wine countries in California and Italy, making this place also subtly romantic. I love the outdoor patio with winding vines covering the building. I suggest the Spaghetti Aglio Olio. Delish!

Alfresco Tasting Terrace: The rooftop lounge is a bit of a hidden secret. Before you enter Wine Country Trattoria, take the stairs on your right. Most people don’t know it’s there, so it feels secluded. Great wine bar with a view of the park.

Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe (Starbucks): California Adventure’s Starbucks is towards the entrance of the park and shares a building with Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream (also delicious) and the Kingswell Camera Shop (if you need a spare memory card or charger). If the line is long, try the Gourmet Coffee Cart usually located in between Pacific Wharf and the Paradise Pier entrance. They also serve on-the-go pastries.

World of Color Dining or Dessert Party: Much like the Tomorrowland Lounge, for an additional cost you can indulge in specialty desserts and watch World of Color from a private viewing area. However, the dining package is a better deal if you plan on eating at either Wine Country Trattoria or Carthay Circle.

Sonoma Terrace: If you’re not in the mood for a lounge setting, outside of Wine Country Trattoria there’s a walk-up bar and outdoor seating. They serve some snacks like cheese plates and Bavarian pretzels alongside an extensive wine and beer menu.

Other Places that Serve Alchohol in California Adventure

Although Disneyland only serves alcohol in the super-duper-exclusive Club 33, it doesn’t stop California Adventure from having all the fun.  I’ve listed all the places that currently serve alcohol below.  Best of all, you can get your drinks to-go and carry it around the park like Vegas! Here’s evidence of me carrying around an Island Sunset from the (now deceased) Cove Bar.

Island Sunset To-Go | Cove Bar | Green Monorail Destinations

Island Sunset To-Go | Cove Bar

Rita’s Baja Blenders: Frozen or on the rocks? These margaritas go well with some tamales from Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill.

Bayside Brews: A Mickey pretzel and beer kiosk. Perf!

Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta: Pizza and beer, or, pizza and sangria. The choice is yours.

Lucky Fortune Cookery: Tofu and the Japanese beer, Sapporo!

Paradise Garden Grill: Two kinds of Dos Equis and red sangria!

Smokejumpers Grill: Waffle fries and beers!

Flo’s V8 Café: The 50’s style diner serves wine and beer, but I’d opt for a milkshake here.

Food Festivals Throughout the Year: They are bringing back California Adventure’s version of the Food and Wine Festival, Lunar New Year, and Festival of Holidays. All provide food, drink, and entertainment that are themed with each festival. The new Festival of Holidays is my absolute favorite special event. Last year they had concoctions like hot fried turkey sandwiches and bourbon cider with homemade marshmallows.

Warm Bourbon Cider with Bourbon Infused Marshmellow | Festival of Holidays

 

 

 Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney is designed for an older demographic in mind, for sure, but not quite as expansive as Disney Springs in Florida. It still offers some good options for dining, shopping, and is free to the public. This makes it the perfect place to visit on your first day in town. Especially if you have some time before checking in to your hotel room. Drop your bags off at the front desk and visit for dinner and drinks!

Entertainment

Splitsville: The bowling alley (which also resides in Disney World) is replacing the House of Blues this year. Splitsville in Florida offers a full bar, and late-night eats until 12:30 every night, so I’m hoping it will be similar to that. And the retro concept art looks fantastic! I imagine this will be the new happening spot for a night out.

Star Wars Hyper-Reality Experience: This brand-new experience allows guests to journey through a choice of 4 themed lands. The idea is that your team is sent undercover on a mission fro the rebellion where you’ll interact with sets and experience sensory and immersive technology along the way.  You can find tickets for the experience here.

ESPN Zone: For the longest time I thought this was just a sports bar. It actually houses a pretty cool arcade and some indoor sports, like a four-person air hockey table. And yes, there’s a lounge and huge t.v.’s that show the games everywhere you turn. ESPN will close in the next year or so to make room for a new resort coming in 2021.

Shopping

Haunted Mansion's Ballerina Dress | The Disney Dress Shop | Green Monorail Destinations

Haunted Mansion’s Ballerina Dress | The Disney Dress Shop

The Disney Dress Shop: They added this new shop to Disney World and Disneyland and I’m absolutely in love. Finally, an adult version of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique! (Without all the Fairy Godmother’s, of course.) The dresses, mostly designed by Her Universe, are inspired by the retro/Dapper Day aesthetic with a Disney twist. Some of the dresses and accessories are sold throughout the parks as well. If you like vintage, you’ll love this. I bought this Orange Bird bag my last visit!

Orange Bird Purse | The Disney Dress Shop | Green Monorail Destinations

Orange Bird Purse | The Disney Dress Shop

Disney Homegoods Store (Coming soon!): D-Street will soon be replaced by a Disney homegood store sometime this year. The Disney themed products will change throughout the season. More Mickey mugs for me!

WonderGround Gallery: This store sells Disney-inspired art pieces like custom Vinylmations, giclées, mugs, and more. Also, if you fall in love with a giant painting of Snow White, Disney can ship it to your home, so you don’t have to worry about bringing it on a plane. Although, that can be a bit spendy, FYI.

Other adult-friendly shops include Pandora Jewelry, Sanuk, and Sephora

Catal Bar | Downtown Disney | Green Monorail Destinations

Uva Bar | Downtown Disney

Dining

Catal Restaurant: With menu items like assorted paellas and filet mignon, Catal is slightly more upscale than maybe say, Tortilla Joe’s. (Although, that tableside guac is amazing.) Outdoor seating at Catal is located on the 2nd floor and a prime spot for taking in the energy of Downtown Disney. You might also be able to catch the fireworks from the patio!

Uva Bar: I love this bar. It’s an outdoor bar located right in the middle of the walkway, between Catal and Build-A-Bear. It’s a great place to take in the atmosphere, listen to the street musicians, and people watch. However, if you’re looking for a quiet dinner, this might not be a great choice.

Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen: This is an optimal venue for a date night. There’s nightly jazz, gumbo, all set within an open-air atrium design. They also have an express window that serves yummy cajun fried goods on the go. A great place to stop by for a quick breakfast beignet.

Resorts

Disneyland has three official hotels, with a fourth coming in the next few years. The most adult-friendly resort is the Grand Californian. If you have the budget, this place is worth every penny. There’s poolside service, a gorgeous lobby to rest your feet, and a private entrance to California Adventure. If it’s not in your budget, you can still enjoy some of the things the resort has to offer. The Disneyland Hotel is the flagship hotel, designed when Walt was still around and also has a nice restaurant and lounge. The last hotel, Paradise Pier, is lacking in dining and entertainment values. Although, I still enjoy it because it has the Disney touch.

The Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

A delicious roast from Napa Rose

Napa Rose: This is my favorite restaurant in Disneyland. Everything was delicious, and the service was excellent. It’s also very elegant, and there’s an outside patio with some fire pits. On a slow night, I took my champagne outside and listened to the ambient sounds of Californian Adventure, right on the other side of the bushes.

Hearthstone Lounge: The lounge located inside of the lobby with decor that matches the rest of the resort. Cozy seats and good drinks! What more could you want?

Mandara Spa: The spa is a great place to experience luxury even if you’re not staying at the resort. After you’ve been pampered, you can use their sauna and steam room facilities. I indulged in a massage here and it was completely worth it.

Get Up and Go Power Walk: It’s a little-known fact that anyone staying at a Disney resort can partake in a guided power walk through California Adventure before it opens. Seeing Paradise Pier at sunrise was my favorite Disney experience I’ve ever had in my life. Completely unforgettable.

Disneyland Hotel

If you’re a kid-at-heart you’ll love this hotel. With park views and being steps away from the monorail, it’s like you’re living in Disneyland. The rooms are spacious and the elegantly Disney-themed rooms have a magical touch without being tacky. The monorail slide at the pool is also pretty cool!

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar: On the patio, you’re treated to a live band and tiki torches. On the inside, the bar is tiny, so you might have to wait in a line until people leave to be admitted. Even then, you’re not guaranteed a seat and you might have to cozy up to the bar. What it lacks in seating, it makes up in the atmosphere. I don’t want to give away too much, but if you order a Krakatoa Punch, you’re in for a surprise.

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar

The Coffee House: This the one place on property that serves the classic Dole Whip with a shot of rum. Extremely dangerous.

Steakhouse 55: What’s more adult than a fancy steakhouse? The steaks are friggin’ delicious, as you might imagine, and they feature a 24 layer chocolate cake. If you want a unique experience, you can try their Afternoon Tea featuring a spread of scones, tea sandwiches, and assorted teas. The atmosphere is pretty nice and the lounge has a lot of comfy seating, but in all honesty, I prefer Napa Rose for a nice dinner.

Paradise Pier

Fireworks on the Rooftop: The coolest thing about this resort is that you can see the Disneyland fireworks from the rooftop pool. They also pipe in the fireworks soundtrack while you watch. Arrive about 20 minutes early if you want a seat, and there is plenty of standing room if you come late.

Paradise Pier | Green Monorail DestinationsSurfside Lounge: If you’re paying the price for a Disney cocktail, I suggest heading across the street to another resort or Downtown Disney. If for some reason you cant make it out the door, the Surfside Lounge will do. You can order food from PCH Grill next door, and they have some wine and cocktails available.

The Sand Bar: The pool bar, serving pretzels and cocktails. I’m really happy they have a bar up here. Otherwise, the pool would be pretty lackluster.

Some appreciate the engineering and attention to detail, some get their heartstrings pulled when they watch the fireworks, and others love to party. Whether you think I’ve drunk the Disney flavored Kool-Aid or not, the parks have a lot to offer to both young and old!

Ready for that bachelorette trip or romantic getaway? Contact me here and I’ll help you book your next adult-exclusive Disney World trip! All my travel planning services are free!

 

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Disney Dining Dress Code Tips

There are a few Signature Restaurants that require dress codes for dining. In my experience, Disney doesn’t strictly enforce the rules, but if you’re worried about them cracking down on…

There are a few Signature Restaurants that require dress codes for dining. In my experience, Disney doesn’t strictly enforce the rules, but if you’re worried about them cracking down on your attire here are some guidelines.

The Grey Stuff (it’s delicious!) from Be Our Guest

First of all, here are the guidelines listed on disneyworld.com:

In order to preserve the atmosphere of this dining experience, Guests are asked to adhere to our dress code.

Appropriate attire for men includes khakis, slacks, jeans, dress shorts and collared shirts; appropriate attire for women includes capris, skirts, dresses, jeans and dress shorts.

Attire that will not be permitted includes tank tops or hats for gentleman, swimwear, cut-offs or torn clothing. In addition, while T-shirts are allowed, T-shirts featuring offensive language and/or graphics are not.

As you can see, you don’t have to dress in a formal evening gown to adhere to these guidelines, unless you really want to. This goes for most restaurants that require dress codes, excluding Victoria and Albert’s which has a stricter guideline:

Guests must wear proper attire.

Men must wear dinner jackets with dress pants or slacks and shoes. Ties are optional. Women may wear a cocktail dress, nice dress, dressy pantsuit or a skirt with a blouse.

Jeans, shorts, capri pants, sandals, flip-flops or tennis shoes are not permitted.

New! 

The newly opened Disney Springs restaurant and cabaret, The Edison is now requesting a dress code for its nightly entertainment. Starting at 10:00 pm each night, the restaurant undergoes a transformation to a “nightclub atmosphere” and guests are encouraged to wear slacks, dress shoes, and collard shirts. However, they won’t turn you away if you’ve put some effort in and look put together. Before 10:00 pm there are no dress codes.

Tips for Dressing Under the Guidelines:

Some Signature Restaurants do not require a dress code, but they do offer the same dining experience as those that do. For instance, Todd English’s bluezoo doesn’t say they have a dress code, but it is very much a fine-dining experience. It’s entirely up to you whether you want to dress up for these restaurants. Personally, I err on the casual side when dining at Disney since it’s still a park atmosphere, after all.  Others like to be aware of the guidelines, in case they feel uncomfortable wearing a t-shirt in a fine dining setting.

  • Comfortable Clothing: Unless you plan on using your reservation for a fancy date, it’s best to wear something versatile for fun in the parks as well. Don’t be afraid to wear a nice pair of shorts and a comfortable button-up/blouse. You don’t have to worry about having an entire costume change from parks to restaurants.
  • Shoes:  No matter where you’re dining, you’ll want to wear shoes that you can walk in. Most, if not all, Disney restaurants require a bit of walking or extended transportation to get there. For instance, if you’re not driving or taking a Lyft to Grand Floridian, you’ll have to take a bus to Magic Kingdom, then a monorail to the resort. For style, Tiek’s are a popular traveling flat that is also built for comfort and support.
  • Indoor/Outdoor Conditions: Florida weather is unpredictable with roaring thunderstorms one minute and oppressive heat the next. If you’re traveling during hurricane season, it’s advisable to carry a poncho or rain jacket. You don’t want to mess up the one nice shirt you packed. And no one likes walking around in wet clothes. This is especially true if you’re heading inside to a nicely air-conditioned restaurant. That being said, if you’re wearing light clothing to your reservation, you might consider carrying a light sweater indoors as well.

Restaurants That Request a Dress Code:

  • California Grill- Contemporary
  • Jiko-Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Monsieur Paul-French Pavilion, Epcot
  • Artist Point-Wilderness Lodge
  • Victoria & Alberts-Grand Floridian
  • Narcoossee’s-Grand Floridian
  • Citricos-Grand Floridian
  • Flying Fish Cafe-BoardWalk
  • Yachtsman Steakhouse-Yacht Club

Whether you’re suited up or wearing blue jeans, Disney won’t stop the money from flowing in so I wouldn’t put too much thought into what you wear. It seems that the guidelines are only set to give you an expectation of the dining atmosphere. Some people feel embarrassed if they show up in tank tops and blue jeans at The Flying Fish Cafe, thinking it has the atmosphere of the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre. Others won’t care about the attire at all. As I’ve said before, it’s all up to your level of comfort!

 

If you’re interested in more tips & tricks regarding dining reservations, feel free to fill out the free quote form here. I’m happy to schedule and book your vacation!

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Disney World After Dark: Dining & Entertainment for Night Owls

“Raging nightlife” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Disney. But just because it’s Disney, doesn’t mean it’s for early risers. When the sun goes…

Disney After Dark: Everything you can do in Disney World after the sun goes down! #disneyworld #disney #nightlife

“Raging nightlife” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Disney. But just because it’s Disney, doesn’t mean it’s for early risers. When the sun goes down and most of the other guests are heading out, you can keep the party going with a variety of activities. I’m not saying this is Las Vegas, but you do have some options if you’re hopped up on Dole Whips at 9:00 pm.

I used to be a magic morning kinda girl, but lately, I’ve found that going into the parks later in the afternoon and staying all the way until close is something I can get used to. The other option is to go early for park opening, leave for most of the afternoon then return for more fun. Whatever your preference, there’s a lot to do at night in the parks and resorts.

The hours and times I’ve listed may vary, so always double-check park and dining hours on DisneyWorld.com before making plans. Also, dining closing hours means they will seat you until those closing hours, but won’t kick you out until you’ve finished your meal. Just, try not to take too much advantage of coming in right at closing. Servers gotta sleep too!  Later reservations are much easier to get, as opposed to dining around the typical dinner hour of 5:00-7:00 pm as well.

 

Disney Springs

Let’s start with the obvious place to stay up late. They’ve been trying their darndest to appeal to young 20 something’s in this area for years and I think they’re finally getting around to it. Most restaurants and shops and are open until 11:00 PM (and later) and the Starbucks is open until midnight to keep yourself from falling asleep.  There’s always excitement happening at Springs like live “street” performers and other artists scattered about. It’s my favorite place to go on our first night in town since you don’t have to pay to get in.

The Edison: Open until 1:00 am. This swanky bar/lounge/cabaret/nightclub/restaurant just opened this year and people are loving its nighttime entertainment. The live band, dancers, and singers begin their big band era show around 10:00 pm. On Thursdays through Sundays they charge a cover of $10 after 10:00 as well.  After 10:00 pm the restaurant becomes 21 and over and a “venue-appropriate” dress code is requested. You can read about Disney Dress Codes on my post here.

Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar: Open until midnight. The Tunnel Bar is Maria and Enzo’s counterpart lounge. It has a prohibition-era speakeasy theme where you enter through an unmarked door into a dark “tunnel” restaurant. They serve cocktails, small plates, and full meals in an “underground” bar. Very cool little spot to grab a drink before heading over to The Edison for some dancing.

Star Wars–Secrets of the Empire Hyper-Reality Experience: Open until 10:45 pm. This experience opened recently in Disney World and just opened at Disneyland’s Downtown Disney as well. Your chosen team is sent undercover to achieve a mission for the rebellion where you’ll interact with sets and experience sensory and immersive technology.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, but have been warned that if you are claustrophobic or experience vertigo, you should avoid it. This is for ages 10+ and is 29.95 per person.

Splitsville: If you’re taking a break from the parks, Splitsville is a great place to hang out. There’s a bowling alley food, frozen drinks, and creative martinis served until 12:30. You should really reserve a lane ahead of time if you plan on bowling, just to be safe. Odd Tip: They say the sushi is really good here. Who knew I could trust sushi from a bowling alley? Lane reservations go as late as 11:45 and the alley is open until 1:00 AM.

AMC Dine-In Theatre: This movie theatre has undergone quite the transformation since I was a Cast Member. A full menu is available with options like cheeseburgers, desserts, even cocktails. When you’re low on popcorn, press a button and *poof* your server appears without you getting up in the middle of the movie. Great idea for an evening flick!

House of Blues: Ah yes, the old standby. House of Blues is still rockin’ after all these years and all the transformations. Check the schedule here to see when the live concerts will be taking place at this venue.

Bongos Cuban Cafe: Open until 2:00 am. The rumors have started that Bongo’s will soon be another casualty in the renovations.  There’s still time to visit this happening venue! On Friday and Saturdays, they have a live band play with dancing. It’s like a nonstop party over there.

Raglan Road-Irish Pub and Restaurant: Fish n’ Chips, live music, and traditional Irish dancing until 1:00 AM. The lively venue pays homage to Disney Spring’s wilder years and is madly popular among the younger Cast Members. A great place to have a pint and let loose.

Here are a few honorable mentions for getting a late meal. You can find the full list of restaurants at DisneySprings.com

The BoardWalk

Now that Pleasure Island has transformed into an upscale shopping district (Disney Springs), I think it’s time for The Boardwalk to get a facelift as well. They haven’t had any major developments like the other parks or resorts and they’re definitely due. That being said, there are two adult-only venues and a couple dining options open late.

Jellyrolls: Open until 2:00 am. Jellyrolls is a dueling piano bar that’s been around for a while and still a favorite for some. Doors open at 7:00 pm so if you plan on getting a table, I advise going when they open. They do charge a cover charge of $12.

Atlantic Dance Hall: Open until 2:00 am. This top 40’s dance hall has a balcony with a beautiful view of the lake where you can cool off after shaking your tail feathers. There’s no cover charge, but it is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Pizza Window: Open until midnight. Between dance breaks stop by the infamous Pizza Window. It has some outside seating and serves beer and Sangria as well. Nothing like pizza under the stars on a warm Florida night!

BoardWalk Joe’s Marvelous Margaritas: Open until midnight. This is a little outdoor shack that serves margaritas outside. Pizza and margs, anyone?

Late-Night Eats That Close after 10:00 pm for The BoardWalk

The Resorts

Disney After Dark: Everything you can do in Disney World after the sun goes down! #disneyworld #disney #nightlife

Grand Floridian Resort

24 Hour Dining: Speaking of midnight snacks, there are three restaurants open 24 hours on property.

  • Gasparilla Island Grill at Grand Floridian is a quick service spot serving pizza all night long.
  • Picabu at the Dolphin Hotel serves a take-and-go assortment of desserts and snacks.
  • Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian serves bakery items and some small snacks late at night.

Starlight Safari at Animal Kingdom Lodge: Disney’s only nighttime tour and probably the coolest. You’ll be guided through the “Savannah” at Animal Kingdom Lodge to view their wildlife after dark. Everyone is provided night vision goggles to get the full experience of seeing a giraffe or zebra after dark. Once exclusive to resort guests, now open to all. The tours start around 8:30 and 10:00 at night. If you go on any VIP tours, try this one!

Stroll Along a Scenic Trail: There are many jogging trails scattered throughout resort properties, but my favorite is the trail connecting the Polynesian and Grand Floridian. An ideal evening would be to take in the live jazz band at Mizner’s Lounge then head outside for a leisurely evening walk. It trails near the Seven Seas Lagoon and passes by the wedding pavilion at Grand Floridian. Once at the Polynesian you’ll get the perfect view of Cinderella’s castle in the distance. Can you smell the warm, evening air?

Grab a Drink: Disney resort lounges are usually stocked with full-service food menus from the restaurants attached to them. All are first-come, first-serve so you don’t have to worry about making a reservation. My favorite is probably Mizner’s Lounge at Grand Floridian.

P.S. Most resort food courts are open until 11:00 PM and there’s always Disney’s pizza delivery if you want to keep the party hopping. Although, I might suggest ordering Pizza Hut. Disney pizza isn’t great.

The Parks

Disney After Dark: Everything you can do in Disney World after the sun goes down! #disneyworld #disney #nightlife

Epcot at sunset

Disney has been good about offering some late night activities in the parks for those of us who are not rope drop people. Every year they’re adding something new to stretch out the magic all day and into the wee hours of the night.

Extra Evening Hours: Extra Magic Hours doesn’t always mean up-at-the-crack-of-dawn hours. On certain nights, the parks will stay open for a few hours after close, meant for guests staying at an onsite Disney resort. Check the calendar to see which park is honoring it the week you are there.  Fair warning, the park may still be busy during the late hours, but it’s a good option.

Disney After Hours: This one is definitely less advertised than the holiday parties and definitely less crowded. Between January and March of 2018, they are leaving the park open for an extra 3 hours in the Magic Kingdom. 25 attractions are left open and because there is a limited amount of tickets, lines are super short. The price is about the same as one day’s admission-$119. If you want to do this exclusive event you can find tickets for sale here.

Magic Kingdom:

The good thing about the Magic Kingdom is that it’s usually open until midnight unless it’s non-peak season and by that time you’re probably pooped from all the magic. But if you stick around long enough you get to experience the “Kiss Goodnight.” Which is the exit message and music from Mickey and friends when the park is nearing close. It’s a perfect time to take in the Disney atmosphere and get the perfect castle picture with fewer crowds.

  • Shop on Main Street: Main Street shops are open a little past park closing hours. I like to use this time to pick up souvenirs because the crowds are thinner and I don’t have to spend the rest of the day carrying them around. Also, you really can’t beat an empty Main Street U.S.A at midnight.
  • Dessert Parties: Magic Kingdom has a lot of dessert parties and most of them take place during the fireworks. One takes place in Tomorrowland, another takes place in the plaza, and others take place on your very own cruise. This is probably the coolest way to view the fireworks. This experience is right up there with a viewing at the Top of the World Lounge at the Contemporary Resort.
  • Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: If you are visiting during the holiday season, these are must-do events. Both offer special parades, shows, merchandise, and rare character experiences. And they keep the parks open until midnight in the fall. They were created to help drag in some profit during the off-season and they are quickly becoming the busiest times to go. I suggest going mid-September or the last week of November to attempt to avoid the crowds.

Epcot:

Most, if not all, restaurants and food kiosks are open until 9:00 pm at Epcot. If you’re willing to skip Illuminations or go for a quick service option in lieu of a table service, you can actually get quite a bit done later in the day here.

  • Festivals at Epcot: I suggest visiting during one of their festivals like Food & Wine, Flower & Garden, or Festival of the Arts. They always have unique food and entertainment and the food kiosks are also typically open until 9:00 pm.
  • Proximity to The BoardWalk: World Showcase is located 5 minutes from The BoardWalk! Head over to the parks for dinner and Illuminations and then keep the party going with some dancing at The BoardWalk. Sounds like the perfect evening to me!

Hollywood Studios:

Studios is undergoing major refurbishments as they prepare for Galaxy’s Edge (Star Wars Land) and Toy Story Land coming in the next couple years. Unfortunately, that means there is far less to do in the evening hours. BUT, I do have a few suggestions for nighttime entertainment at the park while it gets a makeover.

  • Fantasmic! Dining Package: This is my favorite evening show! Like I said, the dining and dessert packages are the way to go. The Brown Derby is my suggestion for this dining package. They’ve got some great cocktails! If you don’t want to do a table service and there are two shows, I always suggest seeing the second show. The crowds will have died down and you’ll have more time for dinner and attractions.
  • Ride Tower of Terror at Night: I know, I’m really reaching here. However, if you’ve never ridden Tower of Terror at night, it’s really pretty cool. The evening ambiance adds to the eerie queue which guides you to the spooky lobby.
  • Take the boat!: After you’ve gotten your fill of Hollywood Studios, take the boat over to the BoardWalk area. The Dolphin and Swan Resort are also in the vicinity which offers places like Kimonos for nightly karaoke!

Animal Kingdom:

Even if it’s not open terribly late, Pandora-World of Avatar was meant to be seen at night. The bioluminescent lighting and Avatar “landscapes” look incredible in the evening. Last summer, Animal Kingdom was open until 10:00 pm most nights and sometimes 11:00 pm, without extra evening hours. And don’t forget to catch Rivers of Light, the new water and light show, playing most nights at the amphitheater. Unfortunately, Animal Kingdom doesn’t have too many dining spots open past 8:00 pm due to it closing earlier than others. For evening eats I suggest Tiffins, Yak & Yeti, Nomad Lounge, and Satu’li Canteen (quick service). Rainforest Cafe is open a little later than the others, but the food isn’t quite worth it.

I did my best to keep the list concise, but there really is a lot to do at night in and around the parks! What’s your favorite thing to do late at night on property? Mine would have to be watching the fireworks from the beach at the Polynesian Resort. So relaxing! Goodnight, night owls!

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