Friday, November 26, 2021

Be Our Guest Review


Be Our Guest is a table service restaurant in the Fantasyland section of Magic Kingdom.  Here we’re going to discuss our recent experience there, including the atmosphere and the food selections, and talk about whether it’s worth its price and reputation.


Be Our Guest opened in December 2012 as part of the New Fantasyland expansion of Magic Kingdom. The restaurant actually opened before much of the rest of that expansion was complete. As the name might imply, it is designed to look like Beast’s castle from Disney’s classic Beauty & The Beast movie.  The castle exterior is a product of “forced perspective”, which means that it appears farther away and taller than it actually is (Disney often uses this technique, including at Cinderella Castle).


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Reflections: Third Anniversary of our First Family Trip


As I sit down to write this, the date is November 24.  That date might not have particular meaning to most people, but for me, it is a reminder of the day we left for our first trip to Walt Disney World with our whole family, three years ago.  As I said in the welcome post on this blog, this was the start of my true Disney obsession, which has seeped into the rest of the family (if I say the date “November 24” to my eleven year old, he’ll say, “That’s when we went to Disney!”)


Since I now have this outlet to write my Disney thoughts, I figured this was a good time to go back and look at that first day – how it came to be, what our thoughts were as we arrived and how it made me immediately want to go back (spoiler alert?)  I’m not going to go blow by blow over every detail of that trip, but a lot of that first day in particular is burned into my memory and has led to numerous family traditions. If you’re planning your first trip, take a look at how one family got there. And if you’ve been a hundred times, think back to that first time (or first time as an adult, or with your kids, or whatever you prefer).


Saturday, November 20, 2021

Desination D23 - WDW Announcements


 D23 is the official fan club of Disney, and Destination D23 is the fan club live event taking place this year (there are other, "bigger" events on alternating years).  This year's event is taking place at the Contemporary Resort from 11/19-11/21/21.  The news and announcements run the gamut on all things Disney; for the purposes of this website, we're going to be focusing only on the things announced related to Disney Parks, Experiences and Products (DPEP), and even more specifically at things announced for Walt Disney World.

 The main event, for our purposes, is Connections: A Look at the Future of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, in which DPEP chairman Josh D'Amaro spoke and talked about new and upcoming projects related to these fields.  There was alternately a lot said and little announced, if that makes sense.  If you're interested in news related to Disneyland Paris, Tokyo DisneySea, the Disney Wish cruise ship or Disneyland Resort, this can all be found here. I'm going to focus on the announcements pertaining to Walt Disney World.  

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Overview


On a recent trip to Walt Disney World, we were fortunate enough to stay at one of the most popular and impressive Disney resorts, Disney’s Polynesian Village & Bungalows.  This had been one of my bucket list resorts for years, and I was so happy we were able to make it happen.  This was in large part due to renting DVC points, which I talked about in another post recently. In this post, we’re going to talk about the room options, dining and general atmosphere, and try to come to the conclusion as to whether it’s worth the high price that Disney charges for it.


For starters, the reason this resort is so coveted (and expensive) is because it is one of the three resorts directly around the Magic Kingdom, sitting on the Seven Seas Lagoon.  This also makes it one of only three resorts to be on the monorail loop, offering a fun and convenient way to get to Magic Kingdom (and Epcot, via the Transportation & Ticket Center).  The Polynesian celebrates “the spirit of the South Pacific” with “tropical palms, lush vegetation, and so much more” according to Disney 


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Guide to Renting Disney Vacation Club Points


I mentioned in a prior post that one of the best ways to save money on a Walt Disney World vacation is to rent Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points.  In this post, we’ll talk in more detail about what that means, how it can benefit you, and some of the pros and cons associated with doing this.


First we have to talk about some basics.  The Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s version of a timeshare program.  You can purchase “points” from Disney (or a reseller) and then use those points to book rooms at many of the deluxe Walt Disney World (and other) resort hotels.  DVC rooms are usually called “villas”, and often have their own building or buildings at resort hotels.  They share dining and other amenities with the hotel side of these resorts.


Sunday, November 14, 2021

Music at the Walt Disney World Parks


One aspect of a day at the Walt Disney World resort that you might not think of immediately involves music.  Of course, you’ll probably have certain “ear worm” songs stuck in your head (we’ll get to those below, but I’m sure you can think of one or two) but beyond that are things like ambient background music around the parks or even the hotels.  Background music that plays in each land of a park is often just that – background.  But it’s all part of the atmosphere that Disney creates and it’s one of the things that is absolutely unique to your experience.


I have no real basis to be a music “expert.”  I can’t read music, I can’t write it, it’s hard for me to recognize a part of any long form piece and say, “Oh, look how interesting this is compared to earlier in the song.”  Mostly my love of music boils down to one thing – do I like it or not?  Or in the case of the Disney parks, does it make me FEEL something?  This can be harder to do without lyrics but is something that Disney does exceptionally well.


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Guide to Transportation at Walt Disney World


Walt Disney World is a massive resort, encompassing four theme parks, two water parks and dozens of hotels.  When Walt Disney first decided to begin construction on a second theme park destination, he praised Florida for its “blessing of size”, which is something he didn’t have at Disneyland.  While all of this space is wonderful, it makes getting to and from any individual place on property quite challenging.  We’re going to discuss all things related to transportation here.


Your transportation issues begin immediately if you are flying, as you need to get from the airport to wherever you are staying.  This problem isn’t unique to Walt Disney World, of course.  But until this year, Disney had its own unique solution to this problem – Disney’s Magical Express.  If you were staying on property, this would take you directly from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to your hotel.  This was a “free” service, in that it was a perk included with your resort stay.  In fact, up until the Covid-related closure, you didn’t even need to claim your bags – you would tag them with special Magical Express tags, go immediately to the waiting area and go, while your bags would travel separately and arrive in your room later.  That was certainly magical!


Friday, November 5, 2021

All About Genie At Walt Disney World


Disney recently rolled out a new service called Genie, for both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  There are a lot of parts to Genie, so I wanted to take a look at all that it entails and talk about how to use the various features as well as if it is “worth it” to purchase the additional services being offered.  There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s get to it.


There are really three different pieces to discuss here. We’ll start with the most basic, just called Genie by Disney, though I might refer to it as “Genie minus” or “G-“ throughout the article.  This service is free and available to anyone – it’s integrated into the My Disney Experience app in the newest version, and will appear when you open the app (whether you like it or not!). 


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Guide to Dining at Walt Disney World


There are a few major expenses when planning a Walt Disney World vacation.  We’ve covered ticket options and where to stay in other posts.  Besides travel (likely airfare), the biggest expense remaining is one that most people probably don’t think about that much when it comes to setting their vacation budget, but they should – dining.  If you’re visiting the parks for a week or so, it’s likely that you will be eating most of your meals and snacks there which can add up quite a bit. I don’t know about you, but we don’t usually eat out for a week straight when we’re at home.


In this post, we’ll talk about the various dining options at WDW, whether you should look into the Disney Dining Plan, and how to save some money while you’re on vacation.  There are plenty of great restaurants throughout Disney property, at both the parks and resort hotels, as well as Disney Springs.  Where you eat depends largely on your taste but suffice it to say, there will be something for you somewhere on property.


Monday, November 1, 2021

Guide to Having a Good Disney "Shirt Game"


If you’re visiting Walt Disney World for the first time, you will probably be surprised to see just how many Disney related t-shirts are being worn throughout the parks.  As we all know, if you go to a concert, you should probably not wear the shirt of the band you are seeing that night unless you want to look like a total square (the exception would be a shirt you purchased at the show that night and put on over what you were already wearing – this is acceptable).  Conversely, if you go to a sporting event, most people will be wearing the apparel of their team.  This looks especially cool on TV for college football games, when 99% of the crowd is wearing the same color.


So where does Walt Disney World fit in to this spectrum?  It’s probably closer to the latter than the former.  I found this to be an odd phenomenon the first time we took the family, even though we came prepared with a couple of Disney shirts each.  But I felt a little out of place on the days when I DIDN’T have one on – I vowed not to make this mistake again.  So I stocked up and made sure I had at least one Disney related shirt for every day we would be in the parks on our next trip.  If you want to be cool and impress your friends (or at least other Disney park goers), let’s talk about what to do (and not do) on your next trip.