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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Why I'm Skeptical of the Recently Announced "Nature-Inspired" DVC Resort

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Why I'm Skeptical of the Recently Announced "Nature-Inspired" DVC Resort

By this point in time, if you follow Disney Parks news or even quite possibly the news in general, you've likely heard that a press release this week shared a few subtle details of a project scheduled to become the next Disney Vacation Club Resort. A name for the new resort has yet to be announced and it is scheduled to open in 2022. The same press release shared that the resort will feature both villas and hotel rooms similar to the many other current DVC style resorts. The resort itself is planned to fill the land near what once was River Country. For years, the space has been untouched and while various tentative plans have circulated time and time again across the internet, this is the very first piece of definitive press release information Disney has shared of a "confirmed" project. 


At first, I was thrilled that this project and this space was finally going to be used in an entirely new way. The use of the space has been long overdue, but as I read more and more of the very short release Disney put out, I have to say my secondary and more in depth reaction was one that was almost pure disappointment. I hate to pass judgment on a project based on one conceptual image 4 years before the resort is set to debut, but at the same time this doesn't scream "Disney" to me. That piece of the puzzle is likely my biggest concern for this project. 

I may be one of the few people that are thinking this but I cant help but notice that many of the new projects are starting to all have a distinct look. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of the look and while the projects have yet to be completed, I know I cant be the only one that feels this way. Just for reference, here's the concept art for the new 15-story tower at Coronado Springs.   




Both of these projects, and other recent/ongoing resort projects and refurbishments, all have one thing in common. Every single resort appears to be working towards an incredibly modern look and feel while somewhat abandoning the intricate theming roots that Disney has become known for. Again, I'll save final judgement for when the resorts officially open to guests and I get the opportunity to visit them first hand. At the same time I cant help but think that if any of these images were taken out of the Disney context of this article and the same renderings appeared on a Waldorf Astoria or even quite possibly a Four Seasons resort website, nobody would take a second look. 

Don't get me wrong these still look like wonderful resorts, but if I'm traveling to Disney I don't want just another luxury resort to stay in, I want something that's memorable and uniquely different than all other resorts. When you put these renderings next to something like the Polynesian or even the Grand Floridian, there's a piece of the Magic that appears to be missing from the equation. 



Frankly, I hope I'm wrong and I hope we end up with a Bay Lake lakefront property complete with the awe inspiring details of a resort like the Grand Floridian or even Wilderness Lodge. This is certainly not a Boardwalk Resort level of theming in these prospective and in progress projections. Right now, the sole exception project to all of this is the Star Wars resort. That could be an experience that will transport you to an entirely different place and time! The Star Wars project as a whole certainly has it's flaws but the resort looks like it could be the project that will be pushing the envelope, but it may also push the price point out of reach of many prospective guests.     

On a completely different side of things, I have an odd feeling that this project could have been prematurely announced. Something about it just doesn't sit right with me and makes me question if it may be a project that gets canceled in the coming months/year. Disney is, without a doubt, looking for new and different ways to house the crowds that will inevitably be arriving in the parks once Galaxy's Edge debuts and other pieces and parts of theme park projects unfold at Magic Kingdom with Tron and the ever developing Epcot revitalization effort. 

On a more positive note, the newly redesigned area of Caribbean Beach looks truly spectacular and the theming was very well implemented to both create a more modern look, but also retain theming aspects in a new and updated iteration. 


Something else to consider in all of this is how this resort could fit in with the current array of resorts on Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon. Will this resort get it's own Magic Kingdom boat transportation or will it add another stop to the loop and increase the transit time to Magic Kingdom via watercraft? Will the resort affect the tucked away nature of the Fort Wilderness Campground and Cabins? Will this resort have any sort of River Country connection to the past? 

That last question leads me to my hopes for this resort. My hopes are that this resort exceeds my wildest expectations and harkens back to the natural influence that oh so many guests enjoyed at River Country. It was a place that was fun for all the right reasons and a place that continually exceeded expectations. Disney claims that the theming of the resort will be "inspired" by Walt Disney's love of nature. In an ideal world of pure imagination (please tell me I'm not the only one who sang the song from Willy Wonka.... "Come with me... and you'll be... in a world of pure imagination..."), this resort would feature a grand lagoon style pool with a new rendition of the classic River Country slides and waterpark elements. Of course, there's no way it could be connected to Bay Lake today, but the reiteration itself could still take so many guests back to their childhood and be the perfect nostalgic resort in the heart of the magic. Will it happen? Probably not, but we can dream! 

On the other hand of all of this, Disney may have more details up their sleeve that could transform the project. Like I mentioned before, this is simply a slight glimpse into the design phase of the resort through a conceptual rendering. There could be, and there likely is, far more to the design than meets the eye. At this point though, I'll remain skeptical with honest hopes that Imagineering will continue to exceed my wildest expectations as they have done time and time again in the past. 



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 My Help?

Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or free-lance work at Guide4WDW@gmail.com. If you need a landscape or theme park photographer, feel free contact me with photo requests or contracts. All theme park writing and photos will be assessed on a case by case basis. 

For anyone else looking to give me a shout or to have their questions answered by me, feel free to contact me anytime via that same email address! I never charge anyone to answer a question and I do answer all of my emails personally.     

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.

     



Friday, October 19, 2018

My #1 Incredibly Simple Tip For All Walt Disney World Guests

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Over many years we've been asked Disney question after Disney question. What dining reservations do I make? What attractions should I ride? What resort should I stay in? While each and every one of those are valid questions, none of those answers are a part of my #1 tip for Disney World guests. 

To be quite honest with you, this may very well be the simplest of all the tips I've ever shared on this site and I can guarantee you it is the simplest Disney planning "secret" you will ever come across. My #1 tip for anyone, at any age, and any travel style is simply to take a moment and "take it all in." Of course, that sounds incredibly vague and many will pass over this article calling it "click-bait", but stick with me for a moment. 

My #1 Tip For Anyone Headed to Walt Disney World

When I say "take it all in" I'm not really recommending that you think throughout every moment of your trip about every element of what's next and how you can keep improving your vacation and seeing more things. I'm actually recommending quite the opposite. As you tour the parks and resorts, take the time to step back form the hustle and bustle of jumping from attraction to attraction or dining reservation to dining reservation to enjoy the simple pleasures of Walt Disney World. Take a moment to glance around at your family or friends traveling with you (or if you're traveling alone, the people around you) and record those moments in your mind. Develop those incredible memories that may very well be once in a lifetime opportunities. 


I hate to imply anything for anyone, but none of us really know what tomorrow may bring. Enjoy your vacation with family and savor the little moments of the experience. To be quite honest with you, I've been traveling to Disney for years and can only recall one or two memories (out of hundreds) that involve an attraction directly. However, I can recall hundreds of memories off hand of the time spent with family and their reactions to the little things that unfolded around them at Walt Disney World. 

I've shared this so many times, but I truly believe that Walt Disney World memories aren't a result of the attractions, resorts, or dining locations themselves, but rather the honest fellowship between friends and family that those attractions help develop. Walt stated a variation of this same concept very early on when he made his famous quote, "it takes people to make the dream a reality." Obviously, Walt was referring to the people and incredible cast these parks have become known for, but the same idea can largely be applied to the Walt Disney World experience as a whole. It isn't really about the attractions but rather the people riding the attractions and sharing those wonderful moments with you and around you that make the place magical. 

My #1 Tip For Anyone Headed to Walt Disney World

This is easily my simplest tip, but another thing worth mentioning is that as you step back and take it all in, be sure not to get so caught up in the abundance of "things to do" that you overlook the vast amount of little details Disney has built into every element of the parks. I'm a true believer in the fact that the smallest details truly make the largest difference in the end result. Learning some of the history of the parks (which you can hopefully find here on the site), uncovering some hidden gems before you go, or simply doing your research before you arrive at your resort can really set your Disney vacation apart from all other destinations. Again, this is an incredibly basic tip, but one that I recommend to anyone traveling to the Disney parks worldwide. You never know when something extremely minor could end up creating one of the greatest memories you've ever had.


My #1 Tip For Anyone Headed to Walt Disney World


Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed this article (which was a little change from our ordinary pace), be sure to share it with friends to help us out as we grow and develop the site for your future enjoyment!   

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 My Help?

Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or free-lance work at Guide4WDW@gmail.com. If you need a landscape or theme park photographer, feel free contact me with photo requests or contracts. All theme park writing and photos will be assessed on a case by case basis. 

For anyone else looking to give me a shout or to have their questions answered by me, feel free to contact me anytime via that same email address! I never charge anyone to answer a question and I do answer all of my emails personally.     

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.



Wednesday, October 17, 2018

GIVEAWAY: Win Two Tickets to a Walt Disney World Water Park!

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin


GIVEAWAY: Win Two Tickets to a Walt Disney World Water Park!  

Today we're sharing something special! Rather than posting a trip planning article, we're giving every one of our readers the opportunity to enter our biggest giveaway to date! Thanks to our friends over at Destinations to Travel, we have two Disney World Waterpark tickets to give away to one randomly selected reader who fills out the form at the bottom of this page and follows the instructions listed! Honestly, it's that simple!

(Photo: wdwnews)

Why are we doing this? 

First and foremost, the Disney waterparks are vastly underrated in my opinion. Waterparks are often seen as an alternative to entering the four "main" parks. However, that shouldn't be the case. Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are highly themed, story driven, and just as immersive as Disney's four main Orlando area theme parks. I'll be the first to admit that I don't always visit the waterparks as often as I should, but I do have to say that I'm a little disappointed in myself for doing so.

One of my greatest memories of Walt Disney World was climbing to the very top of Blizzard Beach, hopping on a raft and sliding all the way down TeamBoat Springs. Everyone in the group had a huge smile on their face the entire ride down, and for some reason that's always been one of those simple moments that has stuck with me for years. It wasn't a grand spectacle fireworks extravaganza, or a once in a lifetime experience, but rather one of the simplest elements of a day in the waterparks that created a lasting memory for me and my family.

That's what a Disney vacation is all about! You may not remember a specific attraction or a perfect fireworks viewing spot or even an iconic meal with your family years later but I will almost guarantee you that at some point during your vacation you'll have a simple moment, when you least expect it, that will stick with for no apparent reason whatsoever. Chances are it wont be related to anything you see or do in the parks (even though it could be) but rather the result of just being there in the moment with family.

People say to "enjoy every minute" of your Disney trip, and this simple example is the perfect way to portray that oh so important concept.

The other reason we're giving away these tickets is because, as mentioned in the intro, our friends over at Destinations to Travel offered them up to us and we can't thank them enough for that! It's because of them that we are even able to make this giveaway a reality. Here's a closer look at why they're our recommended Disney travel planner (clickable link).

How do you enter?

We made the entry process about as straightforward as we could have made it. At the bottom of this page you'll find a form. Enter your name and email address, then visit the two Facebook pages listed. For bonus entries, look out for page two of the form before clicking away. Simple enough? The giveaway ends Saturday, November 3rd and you can enter one time per day! 

Why Should You Visit A Disney Water Park?

If you don't win our giveaway, that's okay! No matter what, I highly recommend visiting a Disney water park. While the story above is fairly self explanatory, I'm going to share 3 more reasons why you should visit a Disney Water Park in 2018 and 2019 just in case!

1. It's cheaper than a park day

Believe it or not, water park tickets fall under a different cost structure than standard Disney park tickets when bought individually. With the new pricing changes and date-based cost structure officially debuted and in use, a waterpark day may be a good option if you're looking to cut costs. You can add a waterpark option to your park ticket, but if you simply want to enjoy a day at a waterpark, stand alone tickets are relatively affordable!

2. It's a new experience

It's not unusual for many of us repeat visitors to Walt Disney World to get caught in a rut of doing the same thing each and every time we visit the parks. If you're looking to try something new (which I highly recommend trying something new each and every trip) a waterpark is a great option. Even if you don't spend a full day at the park, pair a waterpark day with a night at Disney Springs or a special table service meal and you're set for a near ideal day on Disney property.

3. It may become a "must-do" experience

If you've not been to a Disney waterpark, you will likely be surprised by the depth of theming but also, and perhaps more impressed by, the entertainment value. The slides and experiences of a Disney waterpark are incomparable to other destinations across the country. They are the standard for cleanliness, the pinnacle of theming, and in my opinion the most enjoyable array of "attractions" of any waterpark I've been to. I've been to waterparks with top tier slides including Wildebeest at Holiday World's Splashin' Safari which was named the Word's #1 Water Park Ride! I have to say, Disney's waterparks still beat it in my mind time and time again. Don't get me wrong, Wildebeest is an incredible slide, but Disney is just on a different level in various aspects. Still take the time to visit Holiday World if you ever get the chance but it's, simply put, a different experience.

If you try a waterpark, I would almost guarantee you that you'll return to that waterpark at some point. I may even add that it could become a "must-do" experience each and every time you visit Walt Disney World. If nothing else, they're the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day!


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 My Help?

Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or free-lance work at Guide4WDW@gmail.com. If you need a landscape or theme park photographer, feel free contact me with photo requests or contracts. All theme park writing and photos will be assessed on a case by case basis. 

For anyone else looking to give me a shout or to have their questions answered by me, feel free to contact me anytime via that same email address! I never charge anyone to answer a question and I do answer all of my emails personally.     

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, October 15, 2018

8 Underrated Disney Dining Locations You Should Try!

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin Kendall


8 Underrated Disney Dining Locations You Should Try! 

With the Disney parks continuously changing and growing year after year, it's almost inevitable that a few dining locations throughout the parks and resorts will "fly under the radar" of most guests. Those little known or often overlooked dining locations tend to be some of the very best food offerings in all of Walt Disney World. 

In my opinion, dining is a huge part of any Disney vacation. It's time to recharge after hours in the parks, a time to gather around the table with family or friends, and a time to create memories that you never quite expect. 

Disney dining, in many ways, has a unique way of bringing families together in ways in which we don't always take the time to do when we're at home and dealing with busy lives and different schedules that make it almost impossible to gather around the table as a family. To me, no matter how simple or how luxurious a meal is, a meal at Disney is a time to set the worries of life aside and is an opportunity to reconnect with those we care the most about. Often times it's not about the meal itself, or the theming, or even the food (as much as I love the food!), but rather just being there in the moment.

Today's list hinges on that thought process but we'll also be looking at some of the lesser known or largely overlooked dining locations and meals you should consider during your next Disney vacation. Our "underrated selections" aren't necessarily the least popular meals or even the tucked away gems of the parks, but rather the dining locations that many first time and even some returning guests walk right past or never even stop to consider before attempting to book the most popular table service locations or heading straight to the iconic counter service locations. We all have our favorites but you never know when something new may exceed your expectations and become a new favorite you return to year after year.  One of our goals when we travel is to try one new dining location each and every trip, and inevitably those new offerings become staple elements of future Disney trips.      
     
(Katsura Grill Gardens - #8)

1. Geyser Point 

Geyser Point is one of the few restaurants at Walt Disney World that I can say I've eaten at since it's very first days open to the public. We loved it from day one! The location is spectacular, the views are second to none, and their cheeseburger paired with waffle fries is one of the best burgers on property. The outdoor area, which is full of fans and moving air, is perfect for a sunset meal overlooking the water and is the ideal hangout spot for warm summer nights or those perfect Florida spring temperatures. 

The location itself is a unique set up. There is a bar present, but there's also designated seating for a table service-esque style meal. In addition to that there's a walk up counter service area which is great for a quick meal. The food is great no matter how you order or what you order. I have yet to try anything I didn't like. I you're staying at the resort, consider heading to the Boulder Ridge pool where a cast member will bring your order out to you poolside! For a full look at the menu check this out.    

(Geyser Point Late Night Views)

2. Garden Grill 

Garden Grill is one of those restaurants that has undergone change after change over the years. Some changes were good, others were awful, but now the breakfast is one of the very best family style breakfasts on property. 

A few years back, we gave Garden Grill a second chance when their breakfast meal time offering debuted, and despite previous bad experiences, it exceeded our expectations. In previous years we had been really disappointed in the dinner menu, but we had always loved the unique scenery of the restaurant and the subtle rotation of the dining area so that guests could peer down on Living with the Land below. It's an incredibly unique dining experience, but one that you hear very few things about in the online Disney community. If you've not tried it, be sure to add it to the list for your next Disney Vacation. The breakfast sticky bun is worth a visit all on it's own! Here's a closer look at the menu.     

In my opinion, this is the best table service breakfast in Epcot and while the price is fairly high, you do get the added bonus of it being a character meal for the kids in your group or those of us that are kids at heart. 



3. Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn 

Moving over to a different realm of dining, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn is one of the best quick service restaurants in Magic Kingdom. The menu is relatively unique and features tacos, taco bowls, fajitas, and even nachos! The best part about all of this is that once you pick up your food there's a large topping bar to add as little or as much as you'd like to your meal. There's a variety of salsas, cheeses, and typical Mexican fare toppings and it is all kept incredibly neat and clean despite the massive crowds that can fill this restaurant during peak attendance days in the parks.

You may be asking why this is on our list if it's crowded on most peak attendance days, but the answer is relatively simple. So many guests wrote off this dining location when the menu changed from burgers and fries to tacos and Mexican food. I've always been a huge proponent of a broader variety of food in the parks. This location is an ideal example of that! As a result, if you're in the parks and want something other than burgers and fries, you not only have 1 alternative here but also Columbia Harbour House a short walk away with equally unique food that tastes great. Last but certainly not least, there's no denying that Disney food is expensive, but if you're getting food that tastes higher quality and is different than what you can find at other vacation destinations, it tends to make the cost more "worth it" in the end result. For a look at the whole menu check this out.       


4. Kona Cafe 

Kona Cafe over at the Polynesian has notoriously been a dining location that you can typically walk up and get a reservation for. There are some exceptions to that on peak travel times, but for the most part it's an overlooked hidden gem of a table service location. Kona often gets overshadowed by Ohana, but the food at Kona is much better than it gets credit for. The menu is unique and features a polynesian flair with the addition of pineapple and other citrus flavors into the food. It's a pleasant change of pace when compare to some dining locations on property. 

Personally, I love Kona. Part of that is due to the atmosphere as you sit on the second floor off the lobby in the Polynesian, you can see the monorail pass outside, and you can smell the classic scent of the Polynesian resort all around you. It's a great place to sit down and enjoy a relatively quiet meal before catching a monorail and making a quick trip over to the Magic Kingdom. 

One word of caution is that the menu here isn't quite as kid friendly for the less adventurous eaters out there. They do have kids offerings, but it's not going to be quite the same experience for kids as it is adults. If you're on the dining plan with kids, skip Kona and use your table service credit for a meal at Ohana instead. If you're traveling with adults and want to try something unique, Kona will not disappoint!       


5. Cape May Cafe

Cape May Cafe is honestly one of my absolute favorite buffets on Disney property. It is the pinnacle of great buffets and one of the cleanest buffets I've ever been to. There is literally a chef at all times wiping off the bar if a piece of pasta falls out of a bowl or a shrimp tumbles off of the pile. It's an unbelievable level of attention to detail. 

If you like seafood, and in particular crab legs, Cape May is a tucked away hidden gem dining location at Disney's Beach Club Resort just steps away from Epcot's rear international gateway entrance/exit. It's a fairly expensive meal, but one that will exceed your expectations. Reservations are typically plentiful and oftentimes even "day-of" reservations are available if you're flexible about what time you want to dine. 

We covered the entire experience in Our New Favorite Disney Dinner Buffet - Cape May Cafe article. 



6. Yak and Yeti  

Yak and Yeti is another dining review we recently put together in our article Yak and Yeti Restaurant Review - The Overlooked Gem of Animal Kingdom?. The food exceeds expectations and is a location that many guests completely overlook. The indoor table service dining is excellent and offers a great variety of asian cuisine while being a near perfect escape from the brutal heat of Animal Kingdom in the summer. Paired with the table service dining and offering some carry-over dishes, the adjacent counter service Yak and Yeti Local Food Cafes is a great option for those on a tighter budget or looking for a quicker meal that is almost as unique. The outdoor seating of the counter service location isn't ideal for the hot summer months, but if the weather is good it's a uniquely themed area that fits quite well with the overall experience of Animal Kingdom.  



7. Roaring Fork 

Roaring Fork over at Wilderness Lodge underwent a refurbishment rather recently and I have to say the resulting experience is a hidden gem dining location. With both typical resort dining quick service fair mixed with more unique options like chicken and waffles or a pulled pork sandwich the menu is quite varied but fits so many different tastes. As an added bonus, there is both indoor and outdoor seating. The outdoor seating is quite nice and underneath of a covered overhang that sits right next to the flowing waterfalls of the resort. 

Roaring Fork isn't quite as good as Geyser Point, a few steps down the path, it does offer a greater variety of food and is a touch more kid friendly. It is one of the more impressive resort quick service locations and one that I highly recommend visiting if you're staying at the resort or are at Magic Kingdom and want to escape the crowds for a few minutes. Not only is the food great but if you've not visited Wilderness Lodge before, it is well worth making the short (free) boat ride from Magic Kingdom over to grab a meal and explore the vastly intricate theming of Wilderness Lodge.      


8. Katsura Grill 

Katsura Grill is perhaps one of the very best tucked away gems of Epcot. As a little "hut" in the gardens of the Japan pavilion, Katsura Grill welcomes guests into a relaxing environment complete with sushi that sushi fans deem incredible. Personally I'm not a huge sushi fan, but it doesn't stop me from exploring this area. It sounds a little strange, but if you take the time to walk up the hill and to wander the gardens surrounding the restaurant, it's surprising how authentic the whole experience feels. At times, you don't even feel like you're in Epcot. It's incredibly difficult to describe in words, but the restaurant and surrounding seating area makes you feel like you're miles from the hustle and bustle of the city. It doesn't  make sense but it's well worth a visit!   


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 My Help?

Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or free-lance work at Guide4WDW@gmail.com. If you need a landscape or theme park photographer, feel free contact me with photo requests or contracts. All theme park writing and photos will be assessed on a case by case basis. 

For anyone else looking to give me a shout or to have their questions answered by me, feel free to contact me anytime via that same email address! I never charge anyone to answer a question and I do answer all of my emails personally.    



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, October 11, 2018

Disney World Budget Tips - How to Plan a Budget Friendly Disney Vacation

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Disney World Budget Tips - How to Plan a Budget Friendly Disney Vacation 


To be completely honest, before we really get into anything I plan on sharing today, it's incredibly tough to plan a truly "budget friendly" vacation to Walt Disney World. Budget travel and Walt Disney World don't entirely go together anymore and there's a few different reasons for that on Disney's end of the business. However, as many of you who have read these posts over the last few years may know, I don't like to be negative when it comes to Walt Disney World. I like to be completely open and honest, but at the same time being negative and discouraging towards a company we all know and appreciate in some way or another isn't going to get anyone anywhere and it isn't going change anything. 

Unfortunately, the days of $100 resort rooms at the moderates have faded away and have been gone for quite some time and off-peak seasons have become so unpredictable that trying to plan around the crowds is essentially a lost cause. In essence, I don't say that to discourage anyone from booking, but rather to share a true reality of Disney's situation. A lot of times their pricing strategies come off as aggressive but at the same time they're making great strides along the way that we may or may not see in the vacation experience at this time. Obviously this is just one opinion of many, but I don't see why you can't book a budget friendly Disney vacation still today if you go into it with some expectations.

If you're looking for our top itineraries, be sure to check out these posts as well for that information: 




Budget friendly is relatively. For years, a budget friendly trip to Disney meant a park hopper, a moderate or value tier resort, and driving to the parks from our home in Kentucky. Today, our strategy has changed just a bit and we tend to find more creative ways to embark into the deluxe tier of resorts by creatively booking larger villas with a greater number of guests in our party. It's not a solution for everyone, but it can occasionally minimize some costs for larger groups by spreading out the costs among guests. Honestly, our definition of a Budget Friendly Disney trip is a bit skewed in the grand scheme of things. We like to eat table service meals, and utilize the park hopper option, but while stating all of that, we haven't always had those opportunities. We rarely make truly budget friendly Disney trips anymore and that's largely because we've been spoiled by the Disney experience and will tend to save and pay more for certain add ons to our vacation. The kicker to all of this is that you don't have to do anything and everything that many returning guests will tell you are "must-dos."

Truth be told, a vast majority of guests will be more than happy with a value tier resort, single day tickets, and driving to Walt Disney World from their homes in order to save money. That's the kind of guest we're trying share some tips with today. For many of us who travel the "expensive" way, this type of write up tends to be an eye opener for a few ways that we can cut corners and potentially save a few dollars during our trips. So, without further rambling, we'll get right into it!                           

Pick Your Resort Carefully 


As touched on briefly above, your resort hotel accommodations are going to be one of the most costly aspects of your Disney vacation. Typically, I'd recommend saving about half your budget for lodging. It can be done for less and likely can be done for more but for a budget friendly trip try to keep it at or near half your overall budget (whatever that may be). To make that a reality, consider staying at a value tier resort. 

Value tier resorts are poorly named or perhaps expertly named if you really think about it. In one way, value sounds "cheap," but there's nothing cheap about these resorts. In my opinion, these resort rooms will hold their own when compared to just about any Hilton Garden, Hyatt, or Hampton style property anywhere in the nation. As with anything, there will be a few exceptions, but these resorts are really quite nice considering the price tag associated with them. So, in essence these really are value resorts when considering you get a great value for the price paid for the accommodations received, but they tend to get a bad reputation in the Disney community that they do not necessarily deserve.

If I had to pick a value resort my top choice would be Art of Animation followed closely by Pop Century. The reasoning is fairly simple. The bus situation is better than other value resorts, you avoid the sports teams that are ever-present at the all-stars, and both feature more appealing theming from my point of view.     

Avoiding Off-Property Resorts


If you know me, you know this is kind of a soapbox topic for me for a few reasons. I'm a firm believer in the "Disney bubble" and how it can heavily influence the joy of a Disney vacation for many guests. Being on property and fully immersed in the Disney Magic is something that has a transformative nature to it. It makes you feel like you've left the worries of the world behind and for a brief second were somewhere else without a care in the world. Second, I've tried it myself a few times and staying off property is rarely cheaper than staying on property if you plan on staying at an equivalent property. You CAN save a few dollars if you're very careful about where you stay, but from my experience staying a few different places, it is rarely worth the tradeoffs. When you stay off property you tend to face the following issues:

  • Resort Fees - Typically on top of parking fees
  • Transportation Costs - Uber, Rental Car, Poor Off-site bus services (sometimes free to guests)
  • No extra magic hours accept at a select few properties
  • Parking costs at the parks (unless you're an annual passholder) 
  • Airport transportation costs
Honestly, there are many others but the biggest issue for me is the time lost during your vacation and the convenience factor that is lost. Very little beats the casual nature of Disney busses. Sure, they screw up a route from time to time, but for the vast majority of the time, you walk to a bus stop, jump on the bus, and within 15 minutes you're back at your resort or your desired location without raising a finger. You don't have to have a car, and you don't have to fight the crowds of the parking lots unless you want to and it just makes life simpler and often times more cost effective in the end result. 

For another topic regarding this recommendation, be sure to check out: 


Talk to Someone Who Has Been to Disney World 


This one can be a double edged sword. It can be incredible to talk to someone who has been there before and can walk you through ways they have saved money in the past. The free water example below is one of the better tips I've ever received from a past guest, but other little hidden gems like that can make a huge difference in the end result. If all else fails, ignore their suggestions and you haven't lost anything but a few minutes of your time! 

On the flip side, be careful when you talk to repeat park guests (including me). Over the years we've been spoiled by "unnecessary" experiences that have inevitably become must-do experiences for us that we find ways to do time and time again. Perhaps the best example of this is resort transportation. Before I stayed at the Contemporary resort, I always loved the bus transportation. As a kid, I thought it was the coolest thing ever and enjoyed every minute of it. Today, after falling into the monorail and boat transportation trap, resorts offering such a thing are typically the ones I tend to book. Part of that is my personal motion-sickness issues presenting themselves over time, but at the same time it wont make or break your Disney experience. It's a "nice to have" not necessarily a "need to have" for most guests. If you've not experienced it before, you wont even know what you're missing so don't worry about making it a huge priority.       


Do Some Reading 


When it comes to Disney travel, there's always something to learn. I'd be lying to you if I tried to claim that I knew all that there was to know about Disney planning, and I've been touring the Disney parks my entire life. Guests share new things with me literally daily and I wouldn't have it any other way. Head to social media, or to your favorite yearly guidebook publication, and you may be surprised at what you may uncover. It's no exaggeration when people say that Walt Disney World changes every day. Truth be told, it likely changes faster than that, and even being immersed in the industry daily, so many things slip past me from time to time. 

In a similar way, you may uncover something you'll want to try out along the way that you otherwise never would have known about. 

Consider Driving (If It's Your Cheapest Option)


Unfortunately, this isn't an option for everyone but if you live within a 15 hour drive from Walt Disney World, you may want to consider attempting to drive to the parks. Depending on when you travel and who you travel with, a good old fashioned road trip may be a great option for your situation and could save you money along the way. Personally, I always recommend looking into the budget airlines just to see what may end up being cheaper in the long run than driving. There's a few different things to consider when attempting this. First and perhaps most importantly is if you will need to stop for an overnight stay during your drive. Also worth noting is that you should check all bag fees and airline fees before taking advantage of what may seem like a bargain ticket for air travel. From my experience, very few current rates beat Southwest airlines for honest rates and on time service if they fly in your area.     



Avoid Table Service Meals or Be Very Selective 


This point is incredibly difficult for me to make because I genuinely love eating at Disney World Table service locations. It tends to be a highlight of my trips time and time again, but if I really wanted to save money, I'd avoid this completely. Personally, that is incredibly difficult for me to do in practice, but it could save you some money. If you choose to go the strictly quick service route, you'll be happy with your decision because there really are some excellent quick service options that go well beyond cheeseburgers and chicken tenders you'd typically find at other theme parks. The food is great across the board a vast majority of the time, but if you're looking to get in a table service meal at a more budget friendly price I highly recommend looking into the following lists: 



Drink Lots of Water 




If you're thinking, "it's Florida, I know that!" that's not entirely the extent of my point on this one. At Disney it is vastly important to drink a lot of water. I can't tell you how many times I've been in the parks and seen the medical staff responding to a guest that has suffered a heat related dehydration issue of some sort. It's not something you want to happen to you and it's something that Disney does an excellent job preparing for and dealing with. But... nobody wants to face that concern during their vacation.

However, the budget friendly part of this is that water is free anywhere on Disney property that has a fountain machine for beverages. You walk up to the counter, ask for a cup of ice water and the cast member will hand one to you (no purchase necessary) with no questions asked. I've never really heard the reasoning behind this but from a guest perspective I can only assume it is an effort to keep guests from getting dehydrated or an effort by Disney to really cater to their guests in a fairly meaningful way. 

At quick service locations, this can save you around $3 per guest at times and if you're traveling with a larger family, it can add up quickly. Even with a four guest family, you're looking at saving $10 per meal. $10 per meal for a week long vacation is a pretty significant 
savings!
          


Shorten Your Number of Park Days


By mentioning this last I am saving the very best savings tip for last. It's hard to do, but if you can shorten your park days you can save a shocking amount of money. Skipping park days doesn't necessarily mean you have to avoid Disney. Enjoy your resort free of any additional charges, head to Disney Springs and enjoy a meal or some shopping, or go explore the Boardwalk over near Epcot and you may be surprised at how relaxing yet enjoyable your day can turn out to be without ever stepping into the parks. One of the most memorable trips I've ever taken to Disney was a trip that only involved 2 park days. It seems crazy and looking back on it now, I can honestly say it was likely one of my top 4 trips ever taken to Walt Disney World and it's among some tough competition. The "competition" even includes a club level stay, our first contemporary resort stay, and even our most recent 2 bedroom villa experience at the Boardwalk and it cost less than half as much overall.

This list isn't an all inclusive foray of options by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a great place to start! 


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!

How Do I Create These Posts? 


Every once in a while I get questions about my gear. This is what I use and highly recommend at the moment in the realm of content creation. This list is varied and tends to change from time to time, but this is my current set up of gear used to create these posts. If you have any questions or need some tips in the site building process, feel free to message me on Facebook!

ComputerMacbook Pro  
If you get one of these you'll inevitably need dongles (The USB-C Struggle): 
Main DSLR CameraNikon D3400 (kit lens currently)
Tripod for Night PhotographyPrimaPhoto Traveler 
Photo Editing SoftwareLightroom 6 Stand Alone Version (Not Creative Cloud) 
Secondary Camera: iPhone 7 (Older Photos on the Site) 


Ready to Plan?


Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE - no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional 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.

    




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