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Friday, June 29, 2018

Disney Announces New Cars Themed Experience for Hollywood Studios

Guide4WDW.com
by: guide4wdw - Collin

Disney Announces New Cars Themed Experience for Hollywood Studios  

In a somewhat surprising announcement, Disney has just officially released news of a new show coming to Hollywood Studios next year. The experience, named Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy has been announced as a show that will feature guest interaction. 

Unfortunately, very few details have been shared about the project but it was just officially announced in a media event presentation set up by the company. 


Personally, I don't see this being a vastly large scale show but at the same time could be something great for young children. It's a far stretch from the Cars Land rumors which rolled out years ago, but it will be great to see Cars officially back as a part of the magic over at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Unfortunately, that's about all we know at this point, but we'll keep you updated as more information becomes available. The same presentation shared a bit more information on Star Wars Land which really focused on the interactive aspect of the land and how guest choices will dictate their experience in the land. Disney seems to be really pushing the interactive elements of these new experiences coming to the parks, but have been fairly tight lipped on the actual details of the interactive elements. Either way, I am all for interactivity in the parks. Not only does it showcase productivity and ingenuity, but also allows guests to be involved with the story. Story has been a huge part of Disney since the beginning and this should take things one step further!    

We'll keep you updated as these new projects unfold and continue to develop in the coming year! 

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.



Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Great Places to Rest at Disney World - A Guest Article!

Guide4WDW.com
by: guide4wdw - Collin

Great Places to Rest at Disney World - A Guest Article!  

Today, we're sharing something a bit different and featuring a friend of ours in this Disney community by sharing an article shared with us by Patty over at WDWVacationTips.com. We're happy to share this content and hope it gives you all a little something out of the ordinary to enjoy opposed to our typical articles.

Whether you are overheated or someone in your group is on the verge of a meltdown, there are just times when you need to pause during your vacation and take a break. If you think about all the walking and standing you are doing over the course of a day at Disney World it really makes sense that these down moments are necessary. Here are our recommendations for places to rest in Disney World listed by park.

Magic Kingdom Rest Spots

Hub grass magic kingdom disney world

  • Hub Grass- There is no better view than stopping and taking in Cinderella's castle at the Magic Kingdom. Disney has several areas in front of the cast filled with Astroturf, lovingly called hub grass. This is a perfect spot to stop and relax or have a snack or even let your kids run wild. At night these areas become the firework viewing areas.
  • Storybook Circus- Head to the back of Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland. You are looking for the covered area between the train station and Big Top Treats. This spot serves as a character meet and greets area during special events at the Magic Kingdom. Otherwise, it is a shaded area with seating and spots where you can charge up your devices!
  • Tom Sawyer Island- So many people skip over this area of the Magic Kingdom. This makes for a nice and quiet area where you can relax. Covered with lots of trees, ample amounts of shade can be found here there are even benches and rocking chairs. There are lots of caves and paths for kids to run around and explore the island. Note: this area does close at sunset.
  • Main Street USA Train Station- When you get to the train station head upstairs. There is both indoor and outdoor seating here. I recommend sitting under the covered area and looking down Main Street USA. People watching is an overlooked fun thing to do at Disney World. Plus the background music is great in this area. You may even catch a set of the Dapper Dans. It's even a great idea to hop on the train and take a full loop around the park.
  • Columbia Harbour House- If you are okay with a seafood smell then this is a great place to grab a refreshment and relax. The second story here is always fairly quiet and you can get some great views when look out over Fantasyland. There are also some bathrooms up here too!
Epcot Spots to Take a Break
China pavilion Epcot Walt Disney World

  • World Showcase - There are so many nooks and crannies throughout all of the World Showcase. America is an exceptionally good stop to relax in the air conditioning. If you are lucky you could even catch a show of the Voices of Liberty. I recommend heading over to the United Kingdom. Behind the stores, you’ll find beautiful gardens, benches and a large area at which you can rest.
  • The Land- This isn't a quiet spot due to the popularity of Soarin but there is loads of space, air conditioning, and tables. Sunshine Seasons food court is right there as well so you can enjoy a meal, snack, or drink.
  • Imagination Pavillion - Head in through the shop and head to the back where they have various activities set up.
  • Behind Club Cool- There is a giant breezeway behind here and some spots to charge your phone. The air conditioning is always nice and cool and it's a great spot to park the stroller and let your kid take a snooze.
Hollywood Studios Spots to Take a Break
Star Wars launch bay hollywood studios

  • One Man’s Dream- Head through this attraction to learn some back history on how Disney came to develop his famous theme parks. They also host previews of new or recent enhancements in Disney World.
  • Star Wars Launch Bay- Stop in the Launch Bay and catch a movie that takes you behind the scenes of Star Wars. Once the movie is out there is a large area to lounge or to meet and greet with various Star Wars characters.
The Animal Kingdom Spots to Take a Break

  • Conservation Station- Head back to Rafiki's Planet Watch. Not only is the train ride nice and relaxing there is plenty of places to sit and chill when you get here. They have fun exhibits about the animals and they even have a look at the veterinary setup they have. You may even see a procedure happening when you head out there. There is also a petting zoo for the kiddos if they need to let off some steam.
  • Pandora- The land is full of details and lots of small areas to explore. By the exit of Flight of Passage, there is some shade and benches. You can grab a snack or beverage at Pongu Pongu to enjoy as well. If you are looking to stop for a quick meal I would head to Satuli Canteen, take a break and enjoy a meal.
  • Tree of Life Oasis- This area that surrounds the Tree of Life at the Animal Kingdom. The area is filled with cool caves and quiet benches that can easily become napping places.
Bonus Places to Rest in Disney World
  • Disney Resorts- All the Disney World Resorts are open to visitors. They all have their own unique benefits and perks. But the lobbies of every resort definitely have crashing spots where you can sit and chill. My favorite is a rocking chair in front of the massive fireplace at the Wilderness Lodge.
  • Monorail- If you are close by, a ride on the monorail is always a nice way to relax and get some sightseeing in at Disney World.




There are so many resting spots to be found at Disney World. The list above just covers the highlights at each park. Of course, you can always go to a longer indoor attraction or show to get a short rest midday. If you are visiting in the summer check out some awesome ways to stay cool it will help with needed less rest breaks. Does your family need to take breaks on your Disney days? If so share your favorite places to rest in Disney World spots in the comments below.


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, June 25, 2018

A Shockingly Good Counter Service Meal - The Polite Pig

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

A Shockingly Good Counter Service Meal - The Polite Pig 


A few short weeks ago we had the chance to check out one of the many counter service offerings at Disney Springs that we had wanted to try for quite some time, The Polite Pig. Truthfully, the day we arrived at Walt Disney World we didn't entirely know what time we would actually make it onto Disney property. As a result, a table service reservation was kind of out of the question, but at the same time we were excited to try something new at Disney Springs in the realm of counter service offerings. We've toured the area many times throughout the construction and had previously had the chance to check out D-Luxe Burger and Morimoto Street Food counter service offerings along with the Boathouse, Homecomin Kitchen, and T-Rex (not so new) in the table service variety. So, on this particular day, it lined up quite well to try out The Polite Pig.

When we arrived at the restaurant, located near Uniqlo, we had a pretty good idea of what to expect. A few readers had encouraged us to try it out and see what our thoughts were on the food and many had even mentioned how enjoyable their own meal was when they dined there. As a result, I went into this meal with somewhat high expectations for the level of food and array of menu offerings. However, be aware that this is not a Disney owned restaurant but they do in fact accept the Disney dining plan.   


The Order Process   

As with any counter service offering at Disney Springs, be prepared to wait in line a few minutes before placing your order at the counter. With the volume of guests moving through the Springs, it quite honestly is an inevitable part of any counter service meal in the area. However, despite the length of the line spilling out the door, this particular process went by quite quickly and the staff did an excellent job of keeping the line moving and processing orders much quicker than we anticipated at first glance. 

After we left the counter, we faced something else that is typically a challenge at these more popular restaurants, seating. Again, it was pretty much a non-issue here. The staff cleaning the tables were right there when a guest left to wipe down the table and clear the plates. We looked around for a table for maybe 3 minutes or so and quickly found a seat. Less than 5 minutes later our food arrived at the table. Considering the amount of guests in the restaurant, it was impressive to say the least. Also worth mentioning is that this particular meal was on a Saturday night at around 6:30pm in the summer. Crowds on property were at their highest and we were genuinely impressed with the service. 


The Food 

Here's a quick tip before we really dive into the food in more detail. Try not to over order. Considering we had never eaten here before, we opted to try quite a range of different menu items and even picked up an appetizer (or "shareable" as the menu calls them) which is a little unusual for us when we travel. Not only will splitting meals save you from vastly over eating, but it will likely save you a bit of money along the way as well. This isn't really a "budget friendly" meal or a way to save money opposed to a table service offering, but you could cut back on a lot of what we ordered and save yourself a good amount of money. 

With that being said, our family of four payed $90.53 for this meal. Interesting to note is that $14 of that was drinks for the group (no alcohol, just fountain drinks) at $3.50 each. The cost is definitely a big factor with this one and something you definitely want to consider before eating here from a guest perspective. We were all adults so you would save some money when traveling with kids, but it's a touch pricey to say the least, even by Disney property standards.        


Even though the pricing is on the high end of things in comparison to other options, after the meal, every guest in our group agreed that we would likely be back in the future. As mentioned above, we did order quite a bit. First and perhaps my favorite item that we tried was the "Southern Pig" sandwich. Typically the menu item consists of Pulled Pork, Fennel-apple Slaw, tangy Mustard BBQ and Duke's Mayo served with a Pickle Spear. I don't really care for slaw on top of barbecue so I opted out of the slaw (I know that may be a "crime" where some of you all are from lol). I then paired the sandwich with their Macaroni and Cheese and the meal overall was pretty excellent. The pork was hot and incredibly flavorful. Also, opposed to some barbecue, it wasn't dry but rather quite the opposite while retaining lightly textured edges in classic barbecue fashion. The macaroni was excellent as well complete with a bread crumb-esque topping and a warm and gooey cheese sauce. Both items were far larger than they appear in this photo, and even as a 21 year old college guy, I was more than content with the portion sizes. Ironically, we ended up ordering two of this exact combination of menu items for two guests in our group which accounted for $32 of the overall bill. 

Additionally, we opted to try out two of the many salad offering on the menu. Personally, I'm not a huge salad person, but these were supposedly quite delicious and incredibly large, even at the price point. Again, the pictures do the size of this salad no justice, but for reference, the sauce cups in the top right hand side of the image are about one inch in width. This salad was massive and looked like a basketball sized sphere they had cut in half and called a salad bowl. 

The first salad pictured is what the location calls the Barbecue Cobb Salad with Smoked Chicken, Egg, Bacon, Roasted Corn, Tomato, Cheddar, and Avocado-chipotle Dressing. You can order this with or without chicken and the chicken is a $5 add on. However, the individual who ate this mentioned directly to me that the chicken is pretty much what "makes" the salad great. This salad, with everything you see in the photo, ended up with a price tag of $18. The second salad was listed as the Polite Caesar Salad. It was a fairly simple salad, but the individual who ordered this paired it with a massive Hop Salt Pretzel with Beer Cheese Fondue and we all ended up trying a piece of that before the meal was over. The Beer Cheese Fondue was excellent. It wasn't quite what you would expect and was a rather liquid cheese but the flavor was outstanding and the pretzel was soft and quite wonderful as well.    


        


Would I Go Back? 

The answer to this one, as you can likely imagine, is a resounding yes! The pricing is a little tough to wrap your mind around if you go all out when you order, but I would definitely go back in the future. Is it better than a meal at a true Disney owned counter service restaurant?... maybe. Truth be told, you do miss out on a little bit of that Disney cast member "charm," for lack of a better word, but if you're looking for a good meal to share with friends or you're local and simply looking for a great meal on a Friday night, this is a great option. 

If I did go back, and we likely will on future trips to Disney, I would do things a little differently. If I were going with family or a friend I'd order one entree, one side, and one of the giant pretzels. It would be plenty of food for two and would likely save you a little money along the way. Also, there's no chance I'd order a fountain drink here again to have with the meal. I'm perfectly content with water and it would cut $3.50 per guest off of the overall bill. 


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.



Friday, June 22, 2018

Whispering Canyon Breakfast - A Closer Look and Review

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Whispering Canyon Breakfast - A Closer Look and Review

I am not a food critic. Truthfully, being born and raised in Kentucky, I've grown to really enjoy some of the simpler southern meals in life and that likely plays a role in how much I enjoy eating at Whispering Canyon. This restaurant, has been and likely always will be one of our favorite dining locations on property and one that we really do consider one of the rare unspoiled hidden gems of Walt Disney World today. Breakfast is no exception to that rather bold statement for a variety of reasons.    



With that being said, don't go to Whispering Canyon expecting the same or even a similar experience to what you would find at a California Grill Brunch. If you do, you'll likely be comparing apples to oranges for all intensive purposes. One is certainly no "better" than the other but expectations play a role in the experience and how you tend to perceive it. Whispering Canyon is unashamedly casual, especially at the breakfast meal time. At the same time, it is one of the most value oriented table service breakfast options on all of Disney property. 

What Does It Cost?


If we're talking strictly breakfast you can expect the pricing to fall in the $15-$25 per adult guest category assuming everyone orders a drink (you can save a lot of money if you drink water). In our case, each of the four guests in our party opted for what is called the Canyon Skillet. The restaurant offers a "skillet" for every meal time and essentially its an all you can eat family style feast. If you run out of an item on the skillet just ask for more and it will arrive at your table momentarily. The cost of that particular option plays out to $19 per person and does not include your drink. It's the highest priced entree on the menu but is closely followed by other options like Belgian waffles, Eggs Benedict, Banana Bread French Toast, and many other which you can check out in depth here. Each of those other items cost anywhere from $11-$15 and are typically fairly good sized portions a vast majority of guests will be happy with. 

Overall, you're looking at a pretty budget friendly meal in the world of Disney prices. Something interesting to note is that this is far cheaper than other locations on property for a somewhat similar meal. The Canyon Skillet lays out unlimited scrambled eggs, country potatoes, bacon, sausage, Mickey waffles (which are always incredible!), Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits (very subtle cheddar flavor), and sausage gravy. If that's not a good start to your day I'm not entirely sure what is. Interesting to note is that this is a fairly similar meal to what is served at some of the buffet and table service breakfasts at other more popular dining locations on property and the price is far more reasonable. If you're looking for good food, and not too overly concerned about having to have characters at your meal, this is a top notch offering. 


Location


Location is likely the sole reason Whispering Canyon has stayed somewhat of a "hidden gem meal." Many guests are looking for two things out of breakfast at Disney. 1. That it is in the parks. or 2. That there are characters at the meal. Whispering Canyon does not check either of those boxes.

In my opinion, this isn't an issue. If you plan your Magic Kingdom day or even an Epcot day carefully, it is extremely easy to get to Whispering Canyon for a good breakfast. Sure, you are looking at a 10-30 minute travel time inconvenience compared to a Crystal Palace breakfast or even a Garden Grill Breakfast, but at the same time the cost and experience make up for it.

Whispering Canyon is a lot of fun and with speculation of changes and potential impending adjustments to the location in time, now is a better time than ever to head over there and give it a shot. At this point, the happy go lucky, playful, and comical environment created by a clever and witty staff keeps guests excited and involved in the meal time festivities more so than many other dining experiences. It's a fun environment if you can take a joke in good fun and in a family friendly way, while providing great food at a fair price. I am happy to report that not quite as many changes have occurred as social media exploded about a few weeks ago. Here's a closer look at our first hand report on the "changes." 

As an added bonus, you get to experience the truly breathtaking "wow factor" of the Wilderness Lodge lobby and the spectacular views the resort encompasses. It's a little piece of nature right in the heart of Walt Disney World. On a side not... it's also my idea of "camping"... that is, in a villa or deluxe resort with all the furnishing of a luxury hotel experience with a touch of nature thrown in the mix. Obviously, I'm not really the Fort Wilderness "camping" type as unique as that similar (yet different) property is. 

To get to Whispering Canyon you can do one of essentially three things. First, if you have a car you can always drive. Simply tell the cast member working the gate you have reservations and they'll point you in the right direction (no parking fee required). Second, if you don't have a car you can always make your way to any park and hop on a Wilderness Lodge bus. Perhaps the easiest way to get there is a boat from the Magic Kingdom. It's a short ride and a surprisingly picturesque view of the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. Be aware of park opening times and consider trying this meal on an early entry day so that you can enjoy some attractions in the park early on then as the crowds build you can "escape" to a later breakfast. Lastly, you can combine monorail and boat transportation. If you're at Magic Kingdom you can ride the monorail (or walk) to the contemporary, head downstairs and grab a boat to Wilderness Lodge. If you're at Epcot, the monorail will get you to the Transportation and Ticket Center, where you can switch to the resort monorail and head to the Contemporary or Magic Kingdom to board a boat/bus to Wilderness Lodge. There are a ton of options to get here for breakfast, none of which are too overly complicated and all of which are free to use. 


Why We Ate Here And What I Recommend 


Truth be told, we ate here for three reasons. First, it's kind of a tradition in our family to eat at Whispering Canyon at some point during our stay... mostly for the food. Second, we were already staying at the Boulder Ridge Villas of Wilderness Lodge so we were just a short walk away. For more of our thoughts on the room itself, check out our Disney's Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge - An Excellent Villa Option post. Last, and perhaps most importantly, we were looking to see what changes had been made to the Whispering Canyon experience overall with the reports starting to surface of changes. 

However, that's not necessarily why I recommend this location. Sure, it's a fun environment and it's pretty budget friendly, but more importantly, it's a multifaceted experience. When you walk into Wilderness Lodge there's a certain smell, a beautiful lobby, and a wow factor that is truly hard to describe in words. Pictures really do it no justice. There's a warmth to the whole experience. 

Here's what I recommend doing. If you're going on a budget friendly trip, use this as a starting point for resort hopping on a non-park day. It is the perfect starting point. You can grab breakfast then catch a boat to Fort Wilderness or the Contemporary, and if you make your boat selections carefully or ride the monorail from the Contemporary you can make your way around to 5 different resorts quite easily to experience a little piece of each of them in one afternoon. Cap off the night with a spectacular view of Magic Kingdom's Happily Ever After fireworks from the Contemporary or the beaches of the Polynesian and you're set for a truly spectacular day, even if you don't plan on going into the parks. 

Long story short, is this meal worth your time? In my honest opinion, the answer to that is a resounding yes! Go check it out, experience the resort, enjoy the meal, and I highly doubt you will be disappointed! 

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.




Tuesday, June 19, 2018

How Our Party of 4 Guests Ate At T-REX for $15! - Disney Springs Dining

Guide4WDW.com
by: guide4wdw - Collin

How Our Party of 4 Guests Ate At T-REX for $15! - Disney Springs Dining 

Today is a rather interesting article in my opinion. As many of you know, I tend to try and save you all as much money as possible on Disney trips whenever I can. This post is certainly no exception to that rule, however, this is one particular tips will likely work out better for locals or repeat visitors to the Disney parks and resorts. With that being said, we didn't have any "magic" offer when we ate at T-REX in Disney Springs for $15 and we weren't asked to try it for media reasons. Also worth mentioning is that we are not affiliated with the Landry's group in any way shape or form (even though that would be awesome). Rather, we found a neat opportunity and made the most of it. 


The whole "science" behind this deeply discounted meal is largely based off a program the Landry's group (the parent company of T-REX, Yak and Yeti, Rainforest Cafe, and many others) have developed called the Landry's Select Club. Truthfully the club is no secret and is typically debuted in a pamphlet on your table at many of their dining locations. The club itself has a $25 enrollment fee but 24 hours after you enroll you automatically receive a $25 welcome reward. So, if you're going to be eating there anyway, sign up and you basically get your money back automatically. As you dine at their vast array of restaurants, you also accumulate points for purchases. After you reach 250 points you get another $25 reward. 

Additionally, when you arrive at any of their restaurants you essentially gain front of the line access. In our specific case, we arrived at T-REX at around 6:30 and while the restaurant had a rather long wait list, we were told simply to walk up to the seating stand/hostess area and were seated within 5 minutes of arriving at the restaurant. We've used this to our advantage time after time at Rainforest Cafe as well. So, in essence you're not paying anything for the card, you get priority seating, you get rewards for your purchases, and on top of all of this you get a $25 reward every year on your birthday. 

At this point you're likely wondering how we ate for $15 when dining with a party of four guests. Well, to be quite honest it's rather simple. When we arrived at the restaurant we had full intentions of just ordering appetizers and then moving on to another Disney Springs area restaurant for dessert in order to try a few different locations all in one night.

In doing so, we ordered a Supersaurus Sampler which includes Chili con Queso Dip, Bruschetta, T-Rexadillas, and onion rings (you can add pork spare ribs for an extra $7.99). That particular item is designed to be an appetizer for four and it did not disappoint. It came to our table as a huge multi-tier display with plenty to eat for all four of us. We also opted to order a Colosso Beef Nacho which was listed as "for two" but could easily feed 3 or more guests without issue. The sampler priced out at $19.99 and the Nacho ended up being $17.99. Per the usual, our group all ordered water to drink because in the Florida summer heat there's really no better option and it's free so why not? The grand total came out to be right around $40 including tax. 

Obviously that's not the $15 your read in the title, however, remember those gift card rewards we told you about earlier? This is where those come in handy. Before we chose to dine here we were emailed a $25 no questions asked reward for the birthday of the card holder. We applied that towards our meal and the total dropped to a shocking $15. Of course, we left a pretty decent tip as a result, but the experience overall was excellent. The food was great, but keep in mind it's not necessarily designed to be a "luxury" experience. We had a ton food and we literally just ordered appetizers. So much food in fact that we decided to hold off on going to another restaurant for dessert and went to the Polynesian hours later for a Dole Whip instead. (please excuse the poor quality food photos, it was rainy this particular day so I left my Nikon DSLR in the room and just happened to have a photo of the entrance from another day of the trip).  


(Flash photos are the worst... lol)

Sure, it may not be a full meal for everyone, but $25 free once a year in your birthday month just for setting up a rewards card is something you don't really want to pass up. Also worth mentioning is that Landry's locations truly span the United States (over 600 locations) and chances are if you live in a relatively populated area you're within driving distance of at least one of their locations. If you live in Orlando, there's at least 4 on Disney property, and two or three more a few minutes away from Disney Springs.   

If you are interested in joining the plan, don't feel obligated to do so because of me. The only reasons I share this is because we joined around 5 or 6 years ago when it was only $10 or $15 dollars to join and it has been worth it's wait in gold. If you do want to join, you can do so at this link: Landry's Select. Again, it makes no difference to me if you join or not, I don't get kickbacks from them and really just wanted to share a neat program that many guests may be unaware of.   

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 here and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are! My email is always open, so don't hesitate to send a question or feedback my way! - guide4wdw@gmail.com 


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, June 18, 2018

Whispering Canyon - What's Changed and What Hasn't? - A First Hand Report

Guide4WDW.com
by: guide4wdw - Collin

Whispering Canyon - What's Changed and What Hasn't? - A First Hand Report 

As many of you likely saw on our Facebook page, last week we got the chance to stop by Whispering Canyon and see what's changed at the dining location since changes were somewhat officially announced by Disney in comments on social media a few weeks ago. A week or so ago, I shared a few thoughts in a post I called Whispering Canyon Cafe Changes - A Few Thoughts About the Location's Future. While I do continue to stand behind my predictions for that location in the coming months and years, at this point I can confirm from my experience that very little has changed. 

Now, in all reality, I can only confirm these things for the breakfast meal time as of June 10th of 2018. However, there are a few changes, but albeit minor changes more than anything else. 


First off, I can't say that I noticed any decrease in noise level and what is heard from the lobby area overflowing from the restaurant and the "antics" of the cast. You could still hear the cast interacting with guests, and for the most part it was still (as always in my opinion) a pleasant lobby area experience. Is there a noticeable decrease in noise? Not at all. 

Once we were seated there were a couple things that I noticed right off the bat. The coasters that were on the table off and on for a period of time were gone, straws were still humorously strewn across the table, and there were a lot of familiar faces still in the lineup of waiters and waitresses of the cast. The coasters were originally an idea introduced to allow guests to choose if they wanted to "sit on the fence" and watch the antics, or if they wanted to participate in them. Truthfully, the choice of the guest was usually glanced over and the experienced changes very little despite what you chose in my opinion. 

Another question many guests had were in reference to the giant drinks and off hand funny remarks of the cast. I think I can sum that up pretty easily. The first thing our server did was take our drink order for the table. We all ordered water and as a slight joke, the server brought us each a water but also brought one giant water promptly stating that it came straight from Bay Lake! It wasn't necessarily the classic way they would have brought out the big glass for those who were getting multiple refills with 5 plus straws jammed together making a spectacle of it, but it still remained rather humorous just in a lighter way. 

Now, for the big question and a better answer. Do they still yell for Ketchup?? Yes, they absolutely do. While we were there the table behind us ended up with 32+ bottles of ketchup and it was a pretty humorous spectacle as always! 

Lastly, the stick horse races for kids are still a thing, and while the overall atmosphere may have been a touch less exaggerated with yelling or blatantly drawing attention to guests (which I used to love), very little else had changed. Truthfully, if nobody would have made a big deal about the changes on social media and such, I probably never would have noticed a difference in the experience. 

"What do I make of this?" This was the exact same question I asked myself when I left the restaurant. Truthfully, at this point, I think this could have been a chance for Disney to test the waters and see how the guest response would shake out in a round about way. Sure, changes may be coming, but my best guess is that the social media outcry could have played a slight role in the overall dampening of the changes. I will say though, that in my opinion this still signals upcoming changes of some type. Disney's going to find a way to make this location more profitable and finding ways to fill more reservations is going to be a pinnacle concern going forward. The restaurant has been too stagnant for too long in regards to filling all of their reservations. When these changes will take place, I'm not entirely sure, but don't be surprised if changes are still on their way. For now though, go enjoy the meal because very little has changed! 

If you're looking for a review of our breakfast here, check back in the coming days because it was and continues to be one of our top hidden gem breakfasts on Disney property.


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 here and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are! My email is always open, so don't hesitate to send a question or feedback my way! - guide4wdw@gmail.com 

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.



Sunday, June 17, 2018

Disney's Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge - An Excellent Villa Option

Guide4WDW.com
by: guide4wdw - Collin

Disney's Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge - An Excellent Villa Option 

Wilderness Lodge has been and likely always will be one of our favorite resorts in all of Walt Disney World. So, when a great deal presented itself, as you can read about in our article we called Disney World Discount - How We Saved 27% With One Phone Call, we had to take it and check out these deluxe villas for ourselves. While we have stayed at Wilderness Lodge many times over the years, this was our first time staying in the Boulder Ridge Villas. 

Interestingly, as we checked into the resort, and I shared a few quick photos of the area, questions and requests to review the property started rolling in. So, before we jump a little deeper into the details and events of our trip, I thought I'd start here with one of the more requested articles. 

(Boulder Ridge Cove Pool) 

Quite honestly, this has been a "wish list" resort for me personally for quite some time. The kind of tucked away nature and depth of the theming found at the Boulder Ridge Villas has always captured my interest and truly felt welcoming in a unique way. This stay met any and all expectations I had for a vacation here. I know that may "spoil" the review but at the same time, it only touches the surface of what this resort has to offer. 

For those of you who may not know, the Boulder Ridge Villas are a portion of Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort. These particular villas are not housed in the main building but rather remain tucked away on the right hand side of the resort in a separate building with a slightly different theme. Some guests may dislike not being in the main lodge but to me the proximity is so incredibly close that it was nice to be near the amenities the main lodge offers while enjoying the slightly quieter and more reserved atmosphere of the villa wing. The theming is also slightly different. In the villas, there's a subtle push away from the outdoorsy nature of Wilderness Lodge as a whole and more of an influence on early railroads and the surrounding nature of that earlier era of history. At the same time, there's an even more subtle nod to Walt Disney through the Carolwood Room of the Boulder Ridge lobby that really brings things full circle in the realm of theming. Overall, the combination is incredibly welcoming and hopefully that "feel" manifests itself in the photos of this article. 

The villa lobby really sets the stage for the villa section experience. The high vaulted ceilings, boardgames set up in the surrounding seating areas, large fireplaces add a spectacular warmth to the building and even the smell (which is so incredibly hard to convey) welcomes you into the heart of the resort. It's similar yet different to the larger iconic Wilderness Lodge lobby but no less spectacular in the level of detail maintained. 

Our Boulder Ridge Stay

We arrived at Wilderness Lodge on a Saturday afternoon and were immediately checked in at the main Wilderness Lodge lobby without any form of wait and very few questions asked of us. As always, I opted to avoid online check in because I like to see how the resorts each handle the check-in experience. To me, it is a memorable part of the experience and one aspect that really sets the stage for your stay. In this case, everything went quite flawlessly, but interesting to note is that the new parking fees were not mentioned to us at check in, but rather were added without notice to what we payed at check out. It was a little frustrating even though we fully expected to have to pay the fees. Other guests may not ever consider it if they do not follow Disney news and it could be an unwelcome surprise at the end of the stay. Also worth noting is that we were required to pay taxes on the parking fees for each individual day. 


Our actual stay at the resort lasted 6 nights and on this particular stay we decided to spend more time a the resort and surrounding areas rather than going to the parks every day of our stay. We did go to the parks two days, but spent a good deal of time exploring our resort, hanging out by the pool, doing some resort hopping and dining elsewhere, all while remaining mostly in the "Disney bubble." It was an excellent trip and a style of touring Disney that I highly recommend if you're looking for a less hectic Disney vacation. Plus, the savings of cutting out a couple park days in favor of exploring other aspects of Disney property can save you a lot of money in the long run. For us, it was more about trying new things and enjoying a few of the more overlooked aspects of Disney property this trip and it  played out quite nicely in the end. 


The One Bedroom Villa

Truth be told, we kind of lucked out on our room. On top of securing a discount we didn't expect, upon checking into the resort and finding our room we walked into a spectacular view. Our specific villa was on the 2nd floor of the building facing out towards the Boulder Ridge Cove pool and Bay Lake. The view was a touch surprising because we didn't remember booking a preferred room, but it certainly felt like a room that would have fallen in that category. 

The layout of the villa was quite nice. As with other villas on property, the kitchen is a huge bonus and offers up a greater variety of dining options for many guests. We only really used the kitchen for breakfast and a few snacks throughout the week but it was nice to have a larger refrigerator and freezer along with a full oven and normal size microwave. Glassware, plates, and other necessities were also provided. 

                  
The theming of the room was quite pleasant. It had a subtle woodsy nature but to me felt a bit more upscale than the standard rooms of Wilderness Lodge (which are also quite nice). The living room area featured a roll out couch (a nice one, not the ridiculously thin ones), a very nice television which we hardly even turned on, and a nice little table in addition to a counter area with stools to sit at. Four of us (all adults) stayed in this villa and it was quite comfortable and we all had a little bit of personal space to spread out. As a result, this would be excellent for a family with small children that need that little bit of extra space to spread out and enjoy the added bonuses of the villas accommodations. 


     
The bedroom is also quite nice with plenty of room surrounding the King size bed. Given that we were traveling with four adults in our group, we did decide to bring an additional air mattress so that no-one would have to share a rollout and because a member of our family snores terribly (lol). The bedroom was so large that the twin size inflatable mattress easily fit between the window and the bed and was easily stored away during the day. For many, that wouldn't be necessary but is good to know if you're traveling with a group and want to try something similar. The bedroom was also home to an unexpected detail that many hotels overlook, outlets. I know that sounds ridiculous but when you travel with a computer (or two), three camera batteries to charge, a phone, and still have everyone else in your family to contend with, it makes a huge difference. This villa had tons of power outlets! 

The bathroom was typical of what you would find in most Disney villas. There was one room with a sink and a large tub. A second small room housed a stand up shower, sink, and toilet. All of the above were quite nice and very clean which is what we've grown to expect from Disney resorts. Just outside the bathroom there is a relatively full size washer and dryer stacked in a small closet which is great to have if you plan on doing any laundry during your stay or happen to get soaked in a rain storm and need to dry out a few things.       

The Resort Pools 

Without question, the pool here and in particular the Boulder Ridge Cove pool is one of my favorite resort pools on property. We were lucky enough to experience it many months ago about a week before the resorts updates officially debut and loved it then. This trip was no different. We spent a few hours here most days that we weren't in the parks and the zero entry style design is excellent for both kids and adults. It is a quieter pool and does not have lifeguards on hand, but couple that with the food and drink service from geyser point that will  be brought right to your pool chair and you've got a winning combination. On top of that, we never had to look for a pool chair. Between the two resort pools, there were always a few available without having to look long. The second and main pool called the Copper Creek Springs pool is the better pool for children. That particular area features a slide and activities in the afternoon like bingo and music to entertain guests which is a nice addition. 

  (Copper Creek Springs Pool)

Transportation

As many of you may know from previous articles, transportation tends to be a big deal for me because I tend to get carsick in a variety of situations. Boat transportation is always a bonus for me over bus transportation because of the smooth nature of the ride to the parks. At this particular resort, you can catch a boat directly to Magic Kingdom and if you really dislike bus transport you can even catch a boat to the Contemporary and ride the monorails to Epcot as well. Every other location requires you to catch a bus, but our experience with bus transportation was quite positive on this particular trip. 

Resort Dining 

Dining, in my opinion, is one of the many strong points of this resort. During our stay we tried three of the four restaurants housed on the property and were quite impressed with all of them. Whispering Canyon is what I would consider the "main" family dining option for a table service meal. We caught breakfast there and it was great and has been great nearly every time we've eaten there over the years (more on that in an upcoming article). Additionally, we ate at Roaring Fork (the counter service location) and Geyser Point (a new concept). They were both excellent but we did face a rather long wait for food at Roaring Fork later at night. Roaring Fork is one of the better resort dining counter service locations and offers food that is recognizable like cheeseburgers and chicken but also manages to incorporate more unique offerings such as chicken and waffles. This is also your refillable mug refill location and an excellent place to pick up a cupcake or pastry during your stay. 

Geyser Point is probably the most unexpected favorite of the group for a few reasons. First, it's a mixed concept. You can sit down and dine similar to table service accommodations near the bar area and surrounding seating or you can walk up to a counter and get an excellent meal from the counter service window to take with you. The seating area here is a huge bonus. If you can get there when there isn't a wait, you can sit around in big comfy chairs and enjoy the sunset. It's perfect for those fall or summer nights with the open air environment and the views are simply spectacular. If you're just looking for a good place to hang out, especially in the morning before they officially open, this is your spot. We met up with a friend here and the warm morning air and the shade of the seating area provided a great spot to just sit back and talk for a bit before the hottest temperatures of the day rolled in. The slight breeze off of the water is exceptionally hard to beat!  


Overall Experience

All things considered, I would be beside myself if I didn't recommend this resort to guests traveling to the parks. It is one of my favorite resorts overall and the villas have been and likely always will be near the top of my list of favorite resorts rivaled closely by the Boardwalk Villas for entirely different reasons. It's a spectacular resort without a doubt and perhaps is one of the most welcoming resorts I've ever stayed at. I do not know if it's just a style of resort I like do to my somewhat southern roots in Kentucky, but it's near impossible not to be overwhelmed by the shocking "wow factor" of Wilderness Lodge as a whole. 

Truthfully, this is not necessarily a budget friendly resort, but at the same time isn't entirely in the same league (in regard to price) as the most expensive resorts on property. I see it more as a hidden gem deluxe resort. The villas are rarely talked about and are likely one of the better kept "secrets" of Walt Disney World. The location is excellent, the price is a bit more manageable than other Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon properties, and it has a way of transporting you to a different place in a way that is very difficult to put into words. So, do I recommend this resort and who do I recommend it to? If you can make the finances of it work, I say go for it! If you've never stayed in deluxe accommodations, the property as a whole is a great place to try as your first "step up."                            
  

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 here and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are! My email is always open, so don't hesitate to send a question or feedback my way! - guide4wdw@gmail.com 

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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