Showing posts with label Disney World. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Disney World. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Review: Disney's Wilderness Lodge

We just decided to book a new trip to Disney World in a few weeks, and I realized I hadn't shared my 1st experience staying at a Disney Property.  Read my review and see if this property would work for you and your family!

PICS coming soon!

“Surpassed Expectations”

We have always stayed at the Dolphin/Swan hotels while visiting the "World", but decided this time to stay at a Disney Owned property since we are now Annual Passholders. While we were researching- initially the only thing that looked grand about this property was the foyer/lobby, and we began to wonder why this hotel was considered "deluxe". 
 We arrived with sort-of low expectations but were pleasantly surprised! I'm very picky about certain things, and guest rooms are on that list...But our room was quite clean! No dust, no dirt! If you've ever been grossed out noticing that your bath mat is dirty at the bottom after it slides on the bathroom floor BEFORE you even take a shower; then you'll appreciate how I felt when I noticed my mat was still white AFTER the floor was wet from my shower: Ecstatic & Ready to go spend some more money with Disney! 
That alone was big for me. The carpeting looked well maintained, there was no dust/dirt on the furnishings either: the headboard included. I have been to many places where the TV remote is sticky-That wasn't the case.. I'm hoping that it wasn't a fluke - and that wasn't the only clean room on Disney properties....we'll see.
Since we had a balcony- with a lovely view of the bay - we were provided with complimentary OFF spray to combat Disney's mosquito problem. We had no bites at all during our stay. I loved the online check-in, the fact that they held our groceries that were delivered while we were at the park, and the receptive staff.
The gift store lacked the proper sizes for Wilderness Lodge t-shirts, but the team worked hard to try to find us something that meet our needs.
My toddler loved it! He had a blast with other toddlers and preschoolers running around the in the kids pool and even in the lobby on the bridge. There were rocking chairs for us adults to sit, listening to the babble of the creek's water under the bridge, meet new parents, and watch the kids have a ball! 
Everything was close enough for the young and the mature adults to not be tired going from the room to eat, or from the room to the transportation stops.
The only gripe I have is for the bellhop we had. He was grumpy and was not friendly at all. We decided to take our own luggage to the Magical Express when it was time to check out - to avoid having someone's attitude affect our energy. But overall, I shall return. The western-US themed property felt like we were at a fishing retreat.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Toddler's 1st Visit to Disney World

What's it like?
A guest post from one of our moms sharing her experience

(Trying to Decide where to stay in DisneyWorld?  Read a RESORT REVIEW to help)

As we are planning our upcoming trip to Disney, I thought it would be great to share our son's first trip to Walt Disney World with Ele Millenia's readers.  We absolutely love Disney.  It brings to life the characters of the cartoons, movies, and shows that we've watched.  Imagine having your favorite movie, and then somehow being able to immerse yourself in that environment, effectively becoming a part of the movie yourself- or at least having that feeling. 😁😁😁😁😁 Usually, I'm not the extrovert, and prefer to be behind the scenes showcasing someone else, but here I can feel like I'm also a star of the show.  I grew up during the era of powerhouse Disney movie releases like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid, so of course being able to share those memories with my children is something I'd look forward to.

My husband is not a big fan of amusement parks (we're trying to wear him down), so for most of our trips, I'd have to go without him.  For my son's first trip, though we all went with my parents since they were excited to go themselves to see my son's first reaction---well, at least my mom was excited.  My dad feels like my husband on the matter.  He and my husband spent a lot of time at the resort while us women took our children out to the theme parks, and we'd meet back at the resort for lunch and dinner.
The boys in our family were 1 & 2 at the time we visited for Christmas, and I appeared to be more excited than my son, but I expected it because he was always quite reserved.  As we drove through the gate of Disney World, he showed signs of excitement, and then became more alive as we got settled into the resort and interacted-alongside other families-with the snow generated from the machines in the lobby.  He was happily jumping around the lobby and having a blast.  This carried over to Disney Springs, where we ate dinner and bought a few Disney products.  He happily ate his food and had smiles on his face the whole time.  By the time we saw the new Star Wars movie at the AMC Theatre within the Springs, we was fast asleep.  TIP: I recommend having a travel stroller with you on the trip so you can tuck your toddler in for sleeping while you walk. You can rent one from the parks, but it's based upon availability.  If you flew, chances are that you'd benefit from a stroller while in the airport as well, so you might was well save money by bringing your own.  Your toddler will appreciate having something recognizable during a period of heightened stimulation due to all the new experiences.

The next day we visited Magic Kingdom. Without the men.  But who knew we'd forget they weren't there?  TIP: If you're a single mom or your husband refuses to go, find a girlfriend, or family member and go!  It will be just as fun. I am actually even thinking of going alone with my son once he gets
older.  Again, I advise you bring your stroller, as my son was got a little scared of the sheer number of people at first, and used the stroller as his safety zone; refusing to leave it until we saw Mickey & friends at Cinderella's castle during the park welcoming show.  He then was more than willing to get out when we headed over to Fantasyland to ride on the Winnie the Pooh attraction.  Although he was too small for the Seven Dwarf's Mine train ride, we rode many other rides without him refusing:  It's a Small World, the little Mermaid, the Barnstormer, and the steam boat ride, which put us at Liberty Square  just in time for the Very Merry Christmas parade. By this time it was time for lunch and my son was starting to revert back to his stroller.  I knew that was a signal that he was tired.  TIP: when you see signs of your child getting tired, that's the best time to leave the park and head to the resort for a nap.  We left to find the rest of our party, ate, walked about the resort grounds for a spell, and then went inside to sleep.   I find that planning to leave at lunch and return to the park after dinner works best for our family.  We went during the busy season, and the parks stay open until 11pm (or later during extra magic hours), so returning at 6pm was okay for us if the parks didn't close until 1am. Once we return to the park, we're refreshed and ready to re-commence.  We did this for the rest of our time there- and limited our total stay to just 4 days to avoid burn out from either the adults or the children.  I would recommend that you not visit the park each day of your visit unless your situation calls for it.  The extra day or two of down time allows you to experience Disney Springs and the amenities the resort you're staying at offers, like pools, cycling, arcades, golf, spas, etc.

Characters: My son was amazed when he saw the characters, but as they approached, he retreated!  He would run the other way with sheer terror on his face... I mean, who KNEW Doc McStuffins and Mickey would be SO BIG?!  He preferred to sit down and just watch the characters from afar, and I was fine with waiting until he felt more comfortable. As he became more familiar, I would remain quite close to him as we approached a character, informing them that it was his first time and he was shy so that they weren't too assertive.  It worked out well, and soon he was on his way to initiating contact with them.  I wouldn't worry if it takes a few visits for your child to become comfortable.

Dining? Easy breezy.  Staying on property provides you with so many options you won't need to leave Disney World at all.  And that is their plan.  Their quick service is similar to a fast food or casual restaurant and allows for families to eat and get back to their fun. The table service options were great ways to see characters while you dined, and choose from plated or buffet styles.  With children under 3, they are allowed to eat off of your plate to save you some extra money.  If they require special plates of their own, ask the server to simply bring out a separate plate that you can use to share your food and also be able to give them their independence. At this age, they get pleasure from being able to do things on their own. TIP:  Bring their sippy cup if they have not yet mastered the use of straws or drinking.

One thing to remember is that while we adults may seem more excited to get to Disney World the first time, your child most likely will be the one most excited for subsequent visits.  They have to have time as little ones to digest what they are experiencing and fully decide if they enjoyed it.  Once they become more comfortable with the excitement, they will display their feelings more. This is speaking for your first child.  Your 2nd and third has the preceding children's emotions to use as a reference for how they should feel/behave.


Mrs. Katsande

Monday, February 20, 2017

Planning a last minute Walt Disney World Trip

I wanted to share with you the most glaring pros and cons of planning your vacation late.  Some people say it shouldn't be done, and here's what I've found.

Disney Springs (c) Ele Millenia


Anticipation. If you have told your child of your last minute plans, they won't have much time to let their anticipation drive your bonkers.  From experience I understand that telling a child under 8 means they will remind you of your promise every time they get,"I'm going to Disney World!"  "When are we going?" "Is it time yet to go?"  "We're going tomorrow!"  Believe me, I've experienced it.  Even when you tell them the exact date you are going, they may be too young to fully understand, and will think they are going "tomorrow" as each day passes. So if you only have to wait a week or so until your visit, it's better than having to hear your child go on and on for 6 -12 months about your visit. A lot of parents remedy that by keeping it a secret, but it's hard with observant children.  Even my toddler recognizes the signs of an upcoming trip, like buying new t-shirts and spending time online reading blogs about Disney or watching Disney vlogs.  Plus, if you're like me, your own excitement often inhibits your ability to keep it a secret.

Your Stay. You may be able to snag a good deal on resort stays and airfares.  I say "may" because it depends upon other factors, like how flexible your days to visit are.  If you decide that you can go anytime within the next 30 days, you have more flexibility in finding a deal than someone who is planning to go the next weekend. But there are just those last-minute specials that some airline companies and resorts run that make your last-minute trip worth the while.  If they find they still have empty inventory: seats or rooms, they may deeply discount those seats and rooms to entice families.  We have been able to book last minute trips for quite low when this happens: paying $150 for a deluxe hotel room per night (on property), and $200 roundtrip airfares from the north-central region of the US.  And this was during peak season!

Dining. I talk more on dining later on, but I want to mention that you very well can reserve your favorite restaurant last minute, but it depends upon the popularity of the restaurant and the number of visitors there at Disney.  Checking a day or two before you go may prove beneficial as other families have canceled their reservations right before the penalty period as described in the reservation terms. This has been a good excuse for our family to get out of the box and try a new restaurant as well- and adding that restaurants to our list of favorites.

House of Blues (c) Ele Millenia


Price. Although you could very well snag a deal, you'd most likely pay more for your resort when planning late, especially when your dates are firm.  If there are special offers available for your dates, chances are that they have been taken by those families that planned earlier.

Dining, cont. You may not be able to eat at your favorite restaurants.  Most of the restaurants (table service and signature) take reservations up to 180 days in advance.  This means the restaurant you've either been to or have read good reviews about is fully booked on the days you are visiting- especially if you're going on popular dates. You can still find a table service restaurant, however, if you are flexible in the times you can eat, the type of food, and the location.  Restaurants in and around Magic Kingdom park typically book early, so if you don't mind eating at another theme park or resort,  paying more for a signature restaurant, and/or not dining with characters, you may still find something good.  You can always opt for a quick service restaurant as well; finding one that serves more than just hamburgers and fries, like the Express at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe in Disney Springs.

FastPass+ availability. Ahhh, the best thing since sliced bread, right?  Well only if there are passes available.  This is a hit or miss, but I listed it as a con because the odds are that you'll not be able to get a fastpass for a highly sought-after ride, like Toy Story Midway Mania at Hollywood Studios.  We purchased our tickets last minute (at the resort itself), and found that although we got fast passes for many of our desired attractions, we were unable to obtain one for the popular ones.  When we arrived at the Toy Story Mania attraction, we found that the wait was 4 hours!  And we were never able to pick one up the whole time we were at the park, so we didn't get to ride it that visit.  If you come often, it may not be as big of a deal as would be for a family that visits Disney World much less, so it would be your preference.

In my opinion, planning last minute trips to Disney World can be very beneficial, but can also be disappointing.  There may be more advantages and disadvantages, and you'll encounter them with experience. It all depends upon your expectations and your chances of meeting those expectations. When we go last minute, we anticipate availability to be limited and stay open-minded to alternatives, so we typically have a very enjoyable visit.