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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

D-Luxe Burger - A Good Meal With A Great View!

Guide4WDW.com
by: guide4wdw - Collin

D-Luxe Burger - A Good Meal With A Great View!

In its simplest form D-Luxe burger is, in my opinion, a rustic and charming restaurant at Walt Disney World that tends to exceed expectations. Sure, at first the menu doesn't seem all that creative and the options are somewhat limited for those who don't necessarily want to eat a burger and fries. However, this isn't your average cheeseburger and fries and it's incomparable to the somewhat typical Starlight fast food cheeseburger you used to find nearly anywhere on Disney property. Thankfully those "cookie cutter" meals that you could find in nearly every park and resort foodcourt have basically gone away in favor of location based menus and more price worthy meals. 

When I say "price worthy" I do so for one main reason and that is to say that Disney food is obviously and undoubtedly expensive, but at the same time in recent years menu changes across property and new offerings are really helping guests feel like what they're paying is now a "good deal" despite the high cost. 

D-Luxe Burger is the perfect example of that aforementioned concept and even tends to remind me of another dining location we went as far as to call A Disney Hidden Gem Dining Location! The prices are expensive, but at the same time you get a fair amount of food and a high quality meal with a few added perks along the way for the high cost. 


Location

This unique dining opportunity was one of the very first locations to officially debut in the Town Center section of the Disney Springs project and an opening that I can remember rather vividly. It became the talking point and what many considered the first true example of what this new area could be and should be as the construction project unfolded. The location was met with rave reviews and it quickly became one of the most talked about portions and openings in the new area. In many ways, D-Luxe quieted the skeptics of the Downtown Disney to Disney Springs overhaul and in many ways gave a "sneak peak" of what was coming and the level of detail we could expect. 

I can still remember the very first trip we made down after this place opened (I'm a little shocked it took me this long to review it) and the one thing that stood out to me more than anything else was how foreign and unrecognizable the expansions were but also how familiar it all seemed despite being entirely new. To me, the whole expansion and redesign always made sense and met and/or exceeded my wildest expectations. 

I'm not a huge shopper but projects like this one and other restaurants in the area gave me a reason to return to Disney springs for more than just shopping. If you like food... you have so many options, if you like shopping... thats covered too, and if you can simply enjoy a nice view... they're everywhere you walk! To me, that last point is a huge highlight of D-Luxe Burger. After grabbing your meal, you can head our onto the deck and enjoy your food with a shockingly picturesque view of the glowing lights over the turquoise waters of the Springs. The lighting is perfect and a warm and inviting glow, and it sets the stage for a memorable sunset with a great cheeseburger and a friend or family to enjoy a little conversation with along the way. Of course, indoor seating is available (and we were actually almost forced to use it do to a pop up storm during our last visit) and it follows the rather rustic theming trend that encompasses many of the neighboring restaurants and shopping locations. The detailing has a somewhat industrial look to it (which seems to be all the rage right now... I have no idea lol - Obviously I don't watch enough HGTV) and I have to admit it's a surprisingly pleasant environment even on a the busiest of days.

If I had to pick out one week aspect of this particular venue, it would be the seating availability. On select nights, especially weekends, it can be quite difficult to find a seat with an average sized group and nearly requires a "runner" elected by your party to go and find a table while the others order the meals. It's not ideal, but is certainly easy to work around.   


Food 

As mentioned, there isn't a huge array of choices on the menu outside of burgers and fries but there is a rather excellent lineup of different burgers each with a unique flavor. Personally, my favorite options here are the Classic Cheeseburger described as a Signature Blend Beef Patty topped with Cheddar, Lettuce, Tomato, Grilled Onion and Pickle or the Barbecue Burger described as a Signature Blend Beef Patty topped with a Fried Onion Ring, Smoked Gouda, Bacon, Barbecue Sauce, Grilled Onion and Lettuce. Both options are outstanding and full of flavor but other more uniquely topped creations are available like the El Diablo Burger described on the menu as a Chorizo and Signature Blend Beef Patty, Fried Banana Peppers, Pepper Jack, Lettuce, Tomato, Grilled Onion and Chipotle Mayonnaise. Burgers range in price from $9.99 to $13.99 and everything is ordered at a counter and then you are given a pager so that a runner can find your table and deliver your meal.


Fresh Cut French fries are served as sides in two sizes: Large - $7.49 and Regular - $4.99. A large is easily sharable among two or so guests and 6 different dipping sauces are available by request! I love trying sauces so this was and is a huge bonus every time we dine here. In the lineup of sauces you can find Three-Mustard and Honey, Garlic Ranch, Curry Ketchup, Chipotle Mayo, Horseradish, and Buffalo. The Curry Ketchup is a little strange but the variety of options is always a plus in my book and we almost always end up trying every sauce during our meal.


On the kids side of things you can find chicken nuggets or cheeseburgers. Lastly, there is a huge variety of shakes, but I'll let you dive into the details of each of those here.

Overall 

From a "big picture view" I'd put D-Luxe Burger firmly in the above average category. It's not going to blow you away with excellent food and while it's very good food, the atmosphere is really the only thing that sets it apart compared to other Disney quick service offerings. Is it worth a try? Absolutely! We've eaten here multiple times and enjoyed it every single time, but there are better options if you're looking for something a bit more unique to try while you're at Disney Springs. 


When trying to put this one on a ranking scale, I struggle for a couple of reasons. One, if I took the location away from the food and the views away from the food, I don't think I'd enjoy it all that much. On the flip side of things, compared to a traditional "fast food" or counter service of years past at Walt Disney World, this will vastly exceed expectations of returning theme park and Disney Springs guests. My opinion is largely a mixed bag and one thing in particular stops me in my tracks every time we eat here and it's the cost. Let me reiterate, the food is great and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this dining location, but it is rather expensive and almost off-puttingly expensive even by Disney standards. An average meal is going run you around $20 per adult assuming you're careful about what you order. For that kind of money I'd head over to Geyser Point at Wilderness Lodge and enjoy a quieter meal, a better cheeseburger, and some amazing waffle fries for $3-$5 less than D-Luxe! Of course, that's just my two cents, and obviously we've been back anyway for any number of different reasons but the cost is certainly something you'll want to consider before putting this one on your list of dining location for your vacation.

If you're willing to spend the money, I'd almost recommend walking around the corner to Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' Kitchen where you can spend around $10 more and get a much larger meal, table service, and a far more unique menu for a few dollars more (depending on what you order). At that point, the cost is easier to rationalize and it's more of an "experience" rather than simply a place to eat.   

If this particular dining option doesn't strike your fancy, be sure to look at our other reviews here on the site on our Disney World Dining Tips - All Our Dining Posts In One Place page! 

Want to work with us here on the site or in the photography realm? Shoot me a message on social media anytime or email me directly at guide4wdw@gmail.com. We're always looking for sponsors and new opportunities. If you ever have questions during your vacation planning or anything else feel free to message me there as well and I'll get back to you as soon as possible! 

Your Thoughts


As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

Need a Travel Planner?


If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.

Ready to Plan?


Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.





Monday, August 20, 2018

Disney Springs Restaurants - Our Top Picks and Must-Do Offerings

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin


Disney Springs Restaurants - Our Top Picks and Must-Do Offerings 


Over the last few years, Disney Springs has become the true must see location on Disney property. You don't have to have a ticket to enter and you don't even have to plan out your day there with the exception of a few potential dining reservations. It's the perfect place to hang out and as 2018 progresses even more offerings will be unveiled to guests of all ages. 


Many of you who have been to Disney World may better understand Disney Springs as it's former Downtown Disney title. While I'm a bit nostalgic and wish the days of the Adventurer's Club and other classic aspects of the Downtown Disney experience were still around for the enjoyment of a new generation (including myself), I'd be lying if I didn't say I love the changes that have unfolded. Without a doubt, the process has been a long and tedious construction timeframe, and we won't even mention how long it took to construct the current parking structures, but the results undoubtedly speak for themselves. The area has been given new life and a new, entertaining, and beautiful setting that welcomes guests of all ages and backgrounds. Sure, some of the new experiences are quite expensive, but if you're willing to look for it, a delicate balance can be found of high end dining and shopping with more reasonable opportunities (in regards to price) for those who do not intend to spend large amounts of money during their visit. 

I could talk about Disney Springs for days and could even share personal story after personal story of our experiences in the area over the last couple of years during and after a majority of the construction was completed. However, today we're taking a look not at the past or even the future, but at what you can experience today at Disney Springs in regards to a culinary experience.

Honestly, I wouldn't say we're the most luxurious group of guests in the realm of dining, but we do appreciate a great meal at a fairly acceptable price. With that being said, on our list you're not likely to find $100 steaks or top price menu items, but rather an honest analysis of the dining locations and entrees that most guests can afford for an entire family. We've tried these things from experience, but as with anything, your experience may very and your opinions of the food may very, but the joy of Disney dining is uncovering what works for you and your unique situation. With all of that being said, here are a few of our top picks for Disney Springs Restaurants.





Homecomin' Kitchen

I would be saddened and disheartened if any Disney dining list left off Our "Must-Do" Disney Dining Location - Homecomin' Kitchen. For me, no trip to Disney Springs is complete without a trip into Homecomin'. It is the ideal Disney Springs Restaurant. It isn't typically over crowded, the prices aren't too terribly high (in comparison to other Disney dining), and the food is second to none. It's a place that makes you feel like a piece of the family. From the wait staff to the picturesque views out over the artificial aqua blue springs to the excellent food provided, in my opinion there is no better place to dine.

The food is largely based around homemade fried chicken and locally sourced items. As always, anything that is locally sourced is a bonus in my book, not only because of a desire to buy local, but also because the quality shines through in the end result. Everything on the menu tastes fresh and is a welcomed home cooked meal after a few days on vacation. Now, I may be little biased due to my southern roots here in Kentucky, but this is the dining location that works best for us and one that I'll always support if the top quality experience remains steady or improves over time. I'm not partnered with Homecomin' (even though I wish I was!), but the price is right at around $30 a person and the quality and quantity of food you receive vastly outweighs the price.


The Boathouse

The Boathouse is a Disney Springs Restaurant that I really hoped to enjoy on our first visit and to be quite honest it met but did not necessarily exceed my expectations. However, the food is excellent. The pricing is where this one takes a step back for me. Again, the food quality is excellent but the portion size in relation to what you pay for it needs to be improved on some entrees.

Even though that was a distinguishing factor of our experience, I would say that the atmosphere greatly makes up for the high cost. Every table is pleasantly set with white linens that are not off-putting to most guests while setting the stage for a classy yet somewhat casual dining experience. In a way, the location has a bit of a beach vibe to it that I really enjoyed. We visited the Boathouse on the very first night of our last trip and it really brought us into the feeling of the Florida oceanfront dining establishments while remaining in the heart of Orlando on the lake of Disney Springs.

The decor is second to none. The painstaking process that was made by Steven Schussler and his team to create a one of  kind experience full of history and authenticity is truly impressive to experience. From the iconic boat shaped table (if you're lucky enough to dine in it) to the exterior bar out on the wooden dock area sitting directly on the water, it's hard to beat the atmosphere. So, while I'd be careful what I ordered next time, I'd return to the Boathouse for the experience alone. It more than makes up for the cost and makes the whole dining location worth the price paid. For more details on what we ordered and what it looked like, be sure to check out our A Top Disney Springs Dining Option: The Boathouse Restaurant article.


Earl of Sandwich

As one of the most cost effective options on this list, Earl of Sandwich is a classic Disney Springs offering that dates back to the earlier days of Downtown Disney. For us, it has been the iconic Disney Springs counter service restaurant forever. If you're looking for a quick meal before going back to shopping and enjoying the atmosphere of the Springs, this is the place to go. The food is reasonably priced, and one of the very best sub sandwiches you'll ever get the chance to eat. My personal favorite pick is what is called The Full Montagu. The sandwich features roast beef, turkey, Swiss, cheddar, lettuce, Roma tomato, and a mustard sauce. There is very little that rivals the sandwich in the realm of sub sandwiches. The mustard sauce is a unique blend of sweet and tangy, and the bread is soft yet firm enough to hold together as you eat it one bite at a time. It's an impressive meal for the money, no matter what you order.

Fair warning, go early on in the day if you're planning to eat lunch or dinner or expect a long line to order your food. Earl of Sandwich is incredibly popular and well worth the the wait, but you may be standing in line for fair amount of time before you get to order. Either way, it's well worth the time and money spent.

So, those are our 3 top picks, but now it's your turn. What is your favorite place to dine in Disney Springs? The area has been unveiling more and more new features and with the debut of The Edison, Pizza Ponte, Maria and Enzo's, the Polite Pig and many others, this list may change as we get the opportunity to go and enjoy new things on future vacations. Have you tried any of the newest offerings? Share your experience with us on your favorite social media platform!


The Polite Pig 

Sticking with food, one of the most recent offerings we've tried in the area is the Polite Pig. I was somewhat hesitant to try the location at first, but it turned out to be one of the best counter service options we've tried at Disney Springs. I've always loved barbecue and this is a unique spin on the traditional American classic. The food is incredibly flavorful and the spices used really round out a unique and varied array of menu items. Over the last few years and various Disney trips we've eaten here a few times and it has never disappointed. While we'll be updating the review sometime soon, here's a closer look at the first time we visited the Polite Pig and our initial thoughts. If you're looking for a great meal for your arrival day, or before heading to the airport for a late flight on your last day, this is an incredible option. No reservations are required, the meal is relatively fast, and the food is outstanding. To our surprise, this option has jumped way up our list of must do's at Disney Springs. While these listings aren't in any particular order, for counter service offerings, this one is hard to beat!        

Ready to Plan?
Need help planning your vacation? Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE - no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Their services are free and a great way for you to help out the site at no extra cost to you!  

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips, 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets, check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections! 



Sunday, August 19, 2018

Disney World Dining Tips - All Our Dining Posts In One Place!

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Disney World Dining Reviews and Tips - All Our Dining Posts In One Place!

In my opinion, dining and Disney tend to fall hand in hand. For years I've been a firm believer that a good meal should be considered an attraction in and of itself. A great meal with a great cast member can make all the difference in your day and give you that perfect break and revitalizing few minutes of rest to continue on and really make the most of your time in the parks. Unfortunately though, not all Disney dining locations are created equal and restaurants tend to change and receive alterations on a nearly day to day basis

Keeping up with the trends, new additions, and top offerings are one of many things we try to share here on the site and while it's a near impossible task to cover every little detail, hopefully these reviews and tips help you solidify and set up your dining plans (not to be confused with the Disney dining plan) for your next trip.


Speaking of the Disney Dining Plan, it's no secret that I'm not necessarily a fan of the offering for our personal travels. We eat sporadically while we are in the parks and eat a varying blend of counter service and table service which doesn't quite match up with Disney's established packaged plans. On top of that, I feel that if you really make the most of your allotted dining plan credits, you're never going to be short on food or looking for an extra meal. Chances are the opposite will be true and you'll end up overeating if you really use those meal and snack credits for great dining locations across property. On the other hand though, it certainly has it's benefits. One, it's not like you're paying more for what you're receiving. If you bought the same items out of pocket that are included in the plan, the costs are near identical. The convenience factor and flexibility it offers is truthfully the driving force as to why it may be a good option to consider for select parks goers. Additionally, if you want to know exactly what your vacation is going to cost ahead of time, before you even arrive at Walt Disney World, the dining plan is the most ideal way to do so. The cost is upfront and known when you book your vacation. There are no surprises and you know exactly what to expect.

With that seemingly small caveat covered, dining at Disney can be a great or not so great experience. Typically when you ask someone about the food at Disney you get one of two responses. 1. "it was all fast food!" or 2. "It was amazing and we loved the variety!" What's the difference between the two experiences? Location, Location, Location.

If you go to the parks and eat exclusively at the Electric Umbrella, Starlight Cafe, resort food courts, and places designed to be the "people eater" food locations, you're going to leave a little disappointed. Those particular spots and those similar to them are designed to feed mass amounts of guests in a fairly quick fashion. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with these restaurants and every once in a while a simple cheeseburger or some chicken can be just the ticket for a meal that hits the spot, but if you eat that every day of a multi-day vacation it's going to get old quick! Instead, if you take the time to explore the table service in the countries of the World Showcase, schedule a few table service meals, or look for something a little out of the ordinary compared to typical theme park food, the variety of other options can be shocking at times and the variety can make all the difference. That aspect of dining on its own is one of the main reasons we've written so many food related articles here one the site!


Disney Dining Reviews

Every once in a while we'll dive into greater detail about a new favorite restaurant or one that we've grown to love over the years, and we'll add it in to this list with it's own feature review. We haven't reviewed every dining location on property, and likely never will, but a few stand out offerings will warrant an in depth discussion. As always, if you ever want to see us try a new offering, give us a shout and we'll see what we can do! Additionally, if you ever have questions, shoot us an email or message us on your favorite social media platform and we'll gladly share some thoughts that may or may not have made our list of articles quite yet! You may notice a trend of positive reviews on our list and that's not because anyone pays us to eat at these locations but rather because I don't see a purpose in reviewing a restaurant that we had a bad experience at. If I wouldn't recommend it to a friend I'll rarely even mention the unfortunate and rare poor dining experiences here on the site.        




Disney Dining Tips 

Beyond dining reviews in the most literal form, we've shared a ton of dining and reservation tips for Walt Disney World over the last few years and the list continues to grow! Some of these will pertain to our top picks for dining, while others will share a few recommendations and learned ways to make the most of your Disney dining experience. If you let Disney be a culinary journey, you may be surprised at some of the world class offerings available in some of the most unexpected locations across Walt Disney World. We've yet to see and eat at all of the restaurants on property (a near impossible task), but there are certainly a few standouts among the various options that may exceed your greatest expectations. 




In the realm of Disney dining there are a vast variety of options and truthfully this only touches upon a few select highlights and tips that can be found online and even across this particular site. Disney is massive and the variety of food and types of dining experiences are immensely diverse. Often times picking what restaurants you want to and are able to fit into your length of stay is far more difficult than you may expect originally as a first time guest! 

Always be willing to try something new and you may be shocked at how much you enjoy an offering you would have never considered previously!  

Want to work with us here on the site or in the photography realm? Shoot me a message on social media anytime or email me directly at guide4wdw@gmail.com. We're always looking for sponsors and new opportunities. If you ever have questions during your vacation planning or anything else feel free to message me there as well and I'll get back to you as soon as possible! 

Your Thoughts


As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

Need a Travel Planner?


If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.

Ready to Plan?


Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.



Thursday, August 16, 2018

Disney's Boardwalk Resort - An Excellent Resort Theme and Location

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Disney's Boardwalk Resort - An Excellent Resort for Theming and Location 

Walt Disney World's Boardwalk Resort is what I would consider one of the more unexpected stand out offerings in the world of Disney Deluxe Resorts. The Boardwalk is a unique blend of luxury, location, and amenities that is fairly hard to beat in regard to Disney's Deluxe tier properties. Unfortunately, as always, the Boardwalk and other Deluxe tier resorts tend to accompany a fairly high nightly price tag, but at the same time the cost put in tends to play a role in the overall vacation experience. Some guests may find that a necessary expense for their vacation style while others may prefer more budget friendly accommodations on property (or off - before considering off-property there's a few things you'll want to consider - Off-Property At Disney World: What to Consider and Why). 

Just last week (March 2018), we had the opportunity to stay at the Boardwalk Resort with some friends and family. Honestly, it was a wonderful vacation, and the resort certainly played a big role in that experience. We were not payed by Disney to make this review (even though I wish we could make that happen lol), but in all reality it was a very expensive out of pocket stay. Thankfully, we used a technique we have in the past to minimize the cost of deluxe resort accommodations by booking a 2 bedroom villa. I know that sounds like the opposite of saving money but we also traveled with a fairly large group so the cost was split among two families, making the overall cost per group far more manageable. It's not the ideal tactic to save money and book deluxe for every situation, but it's worked out wonderfully for us and we get to travel with some great friends along the way. 

But, with all that being said, this resort isn't perfect and we'll gladly share that information as well in today's article. In the big picture, this is an outstanding place to stay, but it's different in a few ways than what you may expect from the typical deluxe tier resorts at Walt Disney World. However, it is pretty high on our list of resorts, but it's hard to beat our top pick of Club Level at Wilderness Lodge. Long story short, we admittedly have high expectations.


The Backstory  

At Walt Disney World, as many of you know quite well, everything has a story and while many stories are more elaborate than others you may be surprised at the level of detail built into the Boardwalk experience. 

As you walk into the lobby, you're surrounded by a bit of real life history. From the scale model Illions Carousel (which comes to life each hour), or the Lucy the Elephant Scale Model, to the Luna Park Pool area, to the picturesque views over charming, yet active Crescent Lake, the Boardwalk harkens back to the days of old school Boardwalks readily overlooked in today's fast paced world. 

Based on an elaboration of turn-of-the-century Atlantic City blended with the subtle yet memorable touches of iconic Coney Island, the Boardwalk welcomes a good time while remaining family friendly nearly all hours of the day. As the days turn into nights, the Boardwalk comes alive a few feet above the glistening water of Crescent Lake. Live acts share their talents and tricks, and carnival games allow guests to test their skills and enjoy a piece of the classic boardwalk experience in the heart of central Florida. It's a surprisingly simple concept, but one that is accomplished so tastefully and in such a unique way that it creates a truly memorable experience. Some day we'll have to share a closer look at some of the hidden details in the history of the experience, but we'll save that for another day. Nevertheless, be on the look out for a few hidden details hiding in plain site that really develop the theming to an entirely shocking level.                    

Disney's Boardwalk Resort


The Check In Experience at the Boardwalk 

When we arrived at the resort, we were greeted quite pleasantly by the staff and bell service, and while we decided to deal with our own bags before heading to the parks, they made every effort to help. Once inside the main entrance of the resort, the lobby is a few short steps away in the heart of the grand atrium featuring fleeting and subtle views of the picturesque boardwalk one floor below the lobby. We intentionally avoided online check in to explore the in person check in experience. Upon arriving at the desk, we were pleasantly informed that we had been given an upgraded view. It was a great touch and a great start to a Walt Disney World vacation. It wasn't something we asked for, but certainly a wonderful surprise. We did arrive fairly early on in the day (around 12:45), and as a result our room was not quite ready. Given the time of day and typical 4pm check in time for the resort, it was a situation we entirely expected. Instead of waiting around for the room, we made the decision to head to the Magic Kingdom. In order to do so, the staff of the resort stored our luggage (a great option for early arrivals) and we headed to the parks. Everyone was quite helpful and a few short minutes later we were on the bus to Magic Kingdom.



          

A Closer Look at the Villas 

Late that night we returned to the resort and picked up our luggage (a very easy process) on the way to the room, instead of having it brought to us, and were pleasantly surprised by our room placement. We managed to get a room location on the main floor, less than a two minute walk from the lobby, a short distance down the hall. 

The room itself was a bit oddly set up, but a great set of accommodations for our situation. At the entrance to the room there were two doors. A typical room or studio room would not feature this same set up but with the two bedroom villa it was designed as what Disney called a "lock off." Essentially the first room was a one bedroom villa with a king bed and a rollout sofa bed with a kitchen and living area. The other room (the second door also opening to the hallway) featured a queen bed and a queen size sleeper sofa in addition to a twin size trundle bed cleverly tucked away under the television.

Disney's Boardwalk Resort

In theory, Disney splits up these two bedroom villas in the case that it would need to be booked as a studio room and a 1 bedroom villa independently. So, when you book a two bedroom villa of the type you essentially get two adjoining rooms and two doors to the hallway as well. It's a clever concept and likely makes it easier for Disney to fill resort rooms and accommodate a variety of party sizes. 

As for the theming itself, it's fairly simple. The paint scheme of the room is accented heavily in white but also draws from a fairly bright color pattern and features artwork picturing carnival rides and special Boardwalk-esque experiences. During our stay, the room remained impeccably clean and housekeeping did a wonderful job promptly cleaning the room and replenishing towels and other needed items. 

Our upgraded view (as mentioned above) landed us three balconies overlooking the "DVC" pool area and resort recreation section. We mostly faced the smaller of the pools on the property, a select few guests playing ping pong or playing billiards poolside, and a picturesque view of the waterway to Hollywood Studios and the Swan and Dolphin a short piece away. It wasn't the best view but it was far form the worst! We really enjoyed the few minutes we got to sit back and take it in from the balcony.              


A Quick Comparison to Other Disney World Deluxe Resorts

I've been fortunate enough over the years to have had the opportunity to stay at quite a few resorts on property. I haven't stayed a them all but I have visited nearly every resort on property at least once and have stayed at many of them at least once. By comparison to the others, I would put the Boardwalk firmly in the above average to excellent category. It's not going to beat the iconic Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon Resorts overlooking Magic Kingdom in my opinion, but at the same time this is a wonderful resort and located in one of the best locations on property. You're a 10 minute walk to Epcot, and 15 minute walk to Hollywood Studios and boat transportation is also provided to each of those locations. On top of that you have typical Disney busses to Disney Springs, Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom. During this trip we only had one issue with bus transportation and that was for an early entry day to Magic Kingdom.

All things consider the trapsorstiaotn is excellent here and provides a great alternative to busses for those who may get carsick (like me) or simply prefer alternate transportation. 

From a theming perspective this resort is only rivaled by a select few properties. To me, Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the Polynesian are the ultimate standard in well themed accommodations. Of course, your opinion will very, but the level of detail at the Boardwalk is something very difficult to overlook and true impressive to see and experience first hand. As you can see in the images in this post, the area is spectacular at night and nearly as beautiful during the day. What you may not be be able to tell in pictures is that this place is covered in little details that make a huge difference in the broader resort look and feel. It's impressive to say the least and something you should definitely check out even if you don't plan on staying there during your vacation.           

Disney's Boardwalk Villas

The Ideal Epcot Resort 

As a result of the proximity to the park and the transportation options, I see Disney's Boardwalk as the ideal Epcot resort. Not only is it close to the park and allows access into Epcot's back International Gateway entrance, but allows you to avoid the crowds to a certain extent during the opening of the park in the mornings. Additionally, with the opening of Toy Story Land and Star Wars on the horizon over at Hollywood Studios, the ease of transportation to that park could be a life saver as those projects draw to completion in the coming year(s) and the heaviest of crowds file into the park. 

Given the proximity to these parks, it's easy to leave the park in the heat of the day, run back to the resort and hit the pool to cool off or freshen up a bit in the room without wasting too much time in the realm of transportation and moving from location to location. Convenient is the ideal way to describe the location and that short amount of saved time each day can add up to a noticeable time savings at the end of your Disney vacation. 

The other Epcot resort area accommodations are excellent as well and while the Swan and Dolphin leaves a bit to be desired in the realm of theming, their teacher discounts are a great way to save some money if it applies to your situation. With that being said, the Boardwalk is our top pick of the Epcot area resorts. It's centrally located, convenient, and in my opinion offers the best bang for your buck out of all the Crescent Lake area properties.      

The Boardwalk's Pool and Recreation 

The Boardwalk Resort's pool is one of the most iconic WDW pools you'll find on Disney property. As you round the corner to the main pool you're greeted by a massive waterslide reminiscent of the classic wooden rollercoaster of legendary picturesque boardwalks. Beyond the slide, the pool itself is quite impressive and even features a bar within the pool area itself. The atmosphere is quite pleasant and excellently themed to the resort in what Disney calls Luna Park. 


In the realm of recreation, guests and visitors alike can jump on a Surrey bike and tour the entire Crescent Lake area. Tennis courts are available just steps from the main lobby, and a marked running trail borders Crescent Lake for those looking to get a bit of extra exercise in during their stay. Last, but certainly not least, about a 15-20 minute walk away you have the Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf course! It's an impressive course and even made it onto our list of  The "Little Things" We Do At Disney That Can Make All the Difference

Unfortunately, some of these experiences are not entirely free of charge, but are excellent things to enjoy while visiting the resort nonetheless. Also worth mentioning is that these offerings only scratch the surface of all that is available for you to enjoy at the Boardwalk resort and surrounding area.

Incredible Views From the Boardwalk Itself

Without a doubt, I truly believe the Boardwalk is one of the most picturesque resorts, if not the most picturesque resort, I've ever been to. From the morning sunrises walking to the parks or waiting for boat transportation, to the incredible reflections off of the water after the sun sets and the lights of the boardwalk light the night, the experience is near impossible to do full justice to in words. In this case, seeing is believing and while I hope our photos from our stay do it justice, there's nothing quite like being there! It will, without a doubt, exceed your expectations.     

Epcot International Gateway - Back Entrance

WDW Boardwalk Restaurants 

For those looking to visit or even stay at the Boardwalk, the dining offerings are quite impressive and expansive to say the least. Unfortunately, if you're looking for quick service meals, you're wont find to many options on the Boardwalk itself. While the Boardwalk Bakery and a few of the smaller stands on the boardwalk do offer some unique snack offerings, and a select few meal items, there's only a select few options in the realm of quick service meals. Thankfully, you're only a few steps away from Epcot and Hollywood Studios which both offer a large variety of quick service meals of all types. Additionally, while not on the dinning plan, the Dolphin resort is home to Picabu which is a great quick dining offering with a changing menu and daily offerings which make each visit unique. Personally, I highly recommend their breakfast omelettes!  

If you're looking for table service dining you have a ton of options. The property is home to each of the following: 

-ESPN Club

-Flying Fish 

-Big River Grill and Brewing Works 

-Trattoria Al Forno


ESPN Club is a great place to catch a sporting event with a vast array of TVs and a fairly impressive menu that features some more unique items while still offering classic cheeseburgers and other items kids and adults alike will enjoy. 

Flying Fish is the high end dining establishment of the group and welcomes guests to a menu of a variety of fish and steak offerings in addition to other high end dining staples. For the full menu click here. However, you'll want to be aware before making your reservation that the dining offerings are seasonal and are subject to change over time.

Trattoria Al Forno is unique in that it offers guests the opportunity to enjoy a character breakfast with Ariel, Prince Eric, Rapunzel, and Flynn Rider or a variation of the group. The meal is quite simple, viewable here, and late in the day the breakfast location transforms the menu and offers up a truly "Italian" dinner in an elegant but not to overly stuffy environment.  

With all of those offerings for consideration, it's a bit tough to pick the select few you'll get to enjoy during your stay. If you need help narrowing it down or booking any aspect of your vacation, contact our friends at Destinations to Travel (clickable quote request form) for free planning help. Booking with them through our form helps us out here on the site and we appreciate your support.           

Our Boardwalk Resort Overview - Our Thoughts

Without a doubt, this is one of the top resorts we've experienced first hand on Disney property. The theming is unbelievable and the level of service matches or exceeds the top tier theming. While all of that is true, the best way to describe this experience isn't through my own experience but rather through the story of a guest I stumbled into on social media a few days ago. 

During their stay, the particular guests young child lost a toy they had bought in the parks. The simple purchase was a slinky dog figure, but was somehow lost along the way. Upon returning home, the guests discovered the toy was missing and contacted the resort. The staff of the Boardwalk went above and beyond and not only found a slinky dog, but informed the guests that slinky would be sent to them in the coming weeks. While that's great on it's own the cast went beyond expectations and created a photo memoir of Slinky Dogs journey before returning home to the guests. There were pictures of his activities and shared experiences that unveiled a backstory that Slinky wasn't quite ready to come home. It was a small gesture but one that set the Disney experience apart and made that lasting impression on the guests that will stick with them for years to come. It had to be a magical moment and that story is the only true way to do justice to this resort and it's incredible staff. (If that guest happens to be reading this, shoot me a message on Facebook or email and I'd be happy to give you credit for the story and would love to add in a few photos if you're interested!)   
        
Before we completely wrap up for the day, if you or anyone you know would be interested in partnering with us to sponsor a post, feel free to email me at guide4wdw@gmail.com. Right now, we have a Travel Agency affiliate that were happy with, but all other offers we'd be happy to look into. Companies of all sizes will gladly be considered. 

Your Thoughts
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!
Disney's Boardwalk Inn

Ready to Plan?

Need help planning your vacation? Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE - no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Their services are free and a great way for you to help out the site at no extra cost to you! Here's a closer look at why I recommend an Authorized Disney Travel Planner!
Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.






Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Disney Resort Reviews - Everything We've Learned About Resorts On and Off Property!

Guide4WDW.com


by: guide4wdw - Collin

Disney World Resort Tips - Everything We've Learned About Resorts On and Off Property!  

Walt Disney World Resorts are unique in so many different ways, and I'd be lying if I ever said anything truly compares directly to a Disney owned and operated resort. There are hundreds of hotels across the country but very little compares directly to the theming and all around experience of staying on Disney property. At the same time, there are a select few benefits of staying both on and off property and often times meeting your needs and budget can and will occasionally sway you in one direction or the other. 

Personally, we've stayed at many different resorts both on and off property for various reasons and while this is a growing and ever changing list, our goal is to provide you with our thoughts and tips for each and every resort we've stayed in over the years. Why? Our goal here from the beginning has been to help you enjoy a better Disney vacation and to provide a resource for making that dream vacation a reality. For those of you who have been to the parks time and time again, we hope that our thoughts and recommendations help you find something new to enjoy on property. Disney is always changing and part of the joy of the overall Disney experience is finding something new each and every trip down.



On Property Walt Disney World Resorts  

As I touched on above, on-property resorts are always going to be the better option (in my opinion) if it fits your budget. Obviously it's not going to be the same prices you'll find at a Days In or something of the sort, but when compared to other resort style accommodations Disney resorts don't tend to be all that more expensive than a Hilton, Hyatt, or other equivalent resort. Additionally, on-property resorts feature excellent transportation at no additional charge that is superior to every other off site transportation option (even including Uber and Lyft - which are our top pick when staying "off-property").  

Here's a Closer Look At Our Tips For Resorts:

Many resorts on property we've stayed in but others we've only visited with friends or family. As with anything, staying there really is the true test but we'll share a few thoughts on resorts we've visited along the way as well as reviewing a select few in greater depth!  Unfortunately, I am a creature of habit but it's always been and likely always will be a goal to continue branching out and trying new things on consecutive trips to the parks and resorts. A few of the resorts we've stayed in recently can be found below and while we've stayed in many more on property resorts, we wont review those until we revisit them and capture a better and more detailed perspective of their current state.  
  



While resort reviews are great, Disney has done a pretty great job describing everything you can expect to find at the resorts on their site. So, rather than reviewing every resort in great detail I want to share a few thoughts and tips on how to make the best decision for your given needs and wants of your vacation experience. Plus, we'll take a look at a how to secure those tough to get reservations and a few things to consider along the way.  



These tips really only scratch the surface of all that we've covered here on the site, so be sure to check out our other pages up at the top of the page and don't forget about our search bar to find something you may be looking for specifically! 




Off Property Disney World Area Resorts  

Truthfully, in the past we've always tried to avoid off property resorts if we can avoid them mostly because they tend to complicate the Disney experience and pull a little something away from the feel of the overall WDW vacation experience. It's not that there's anything wrong with off property resorts (and we've stayed in a few along the way), but to me it feels like you miss a bit of the encompassing experience you get staying at on-property resorts. If I did have to pick one "off-property" recommendation it would be the Double Tree Near Disney Springs because I've stayed there quite a few times and it always meets or exceeds expectations. Additionally, the hotel isn't really "off-property." It's so close to Disney Springs that you can walk to it fairly easily, and on top of that it actually sits within the welcoming Disney gates near South Apopka Vineland Road on Hotel Plaza Boulevard.

Off property hotels and resorts are, in my simplest explanation, different. You're no longer in that Disney bubble, and you're not surrounded by those Disney cast members that often make all the difference in making you feel completely at home no matter where you're from. That seemingly simple difference combined with the grand theming and beautiful nature of the Disney resorts tends to set the experience apart from all other vacation destinations. 

I mention all of this for one main reason and that is to share with prospective guests that while staying off property can be more budget friendly (not always for various reasons), the slight bit extra you tend to pay tends to be worth it in the grand scheme of things. By all means, if the only way you can make ends meet to make your way to Walt Disney World is staying off property, by all means stay off property! It's not the end of the world, but being aware of what you give up and how you can avoid it if your budget allows is a huge part of the planning process. 


As we continue writing here on the site, we'll likely share a few more off-property resort reviews and tips, and this is where we'll add them in, but for now I'm goin to leave you with that one recommendation. If you want to learn more about it, head on over to our full post about the Double Tree below: 


Wrapping Up

I'm a firm believer that resorts are a huge part of your Disney vacation. I know many feel like a resort is simply a place to rest before your next day in the parks, and for many that works! However, to me it's so much more than that. We've had the pleasure over the years of staying in many different Disney resorts (far more than are listed above simply because it was long before we started the site) and I'd be lying if I said it didn't make a difference.


A great resort can wrap you in theming and truly transport you to a different place and a different time in a way that is very difficult to explain. As an example, I've always been a huge fan of Wilderness Lodge. It's a resort that changes your expectations for hotels and has such a "wow factor" that it sets the standard for all other resorts. Obviously, I'm a little bias towards Disney but I firmly believe that Disney resorts are different than all the rest. The theming is in every little detail and at the same time they find a way to put you in the story in a way that no other company has quite accomplished on such a grand scale. When you step into a resort like Wilderness Lodge or even the Boardwalk, you dont step into a theme, but rather you feel like you're there and living the story the resort portrays as if it's been there for generations and you're in that place the resort depicts. You're not going to find that off property. 

Want to work with us here on the site or in the photography realm? Shoot me a message on social media anytime or email me directly at guide4wdw@gmail.com. We're always looking for sponsors and new opportunities. If you ever have questions during your vacation planning or anything else feel free to message me there as well and I'll get back to you as soon as possible! 

Your Thoughts


As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!


Need a Travel Planner?


If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.


Ready to Plan?


Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.



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