DoubleTree

Hotel Review: DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando

DoubleTree

The entrance to the DoubleTree Suites at Disney Springs

Over Thanksgiving, my family was invited to stay with our friends Sheila, Randy, and Jagan at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando — Disney Springs Area hotel.  We had an incredible time, and I wanted to let you all know about the hotel and what my thoughts were for staying there.

From a location standpoint, the DoubleTree is considered “off-property” — but it appears that some on-property perks will be extended to off-property hotels, such as allowing FastPass+ selections at 60 days instead of 30 days. However, despite it’s off-property location, it is literally minutes from Disney Springs — and on a good day when I wasn’t dealing with a pinched nerve in my leg, we would have walked there for our dinner reservation.

Our room was on the 7th floor, room number 703, and featured two queen beds, a queen bed pullout sofabed, a kitchenette, and a single bathroom off of the main bedroom.  For the six of us, we had plenty of space, although I think having a split bathroom would be a better way to herd the six of us through the process of getting ready for the parks each day. Here’s a few pictures of the room.

DoubleTree

The sofabed opened up for the kids to sleep in.

DoubleTree

This picture is of the sink in the bathroom.

DoubleTree

The kitchenette features a sink, microwave, and mini-refrigerator.

DoubleTree

Two queen beds occupy the bedroom.

Not pictured is a space with a table for applying makeup or working on your computer. The beds were incredibly comfortable, and we all slept very well each night.  I’ve been told that this room actually could accommodate up to eight people and that two rollaway beds would be used in a case like that. Personally, I think eight in the room would be a bit much, but that’s just me.

For amenities, Hilton Honors customers can connect to the wireless for free, and for those visiting the parks, they have shuttles that run every 30 minutes to the different parks. We drove to the parks each day because our friends had parking privileges with their annual passes, but keep that in mind if you wish to drive to the parks because it will cost you $20 a day to park otherwise.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton, and will not be averse to staying there again in the future. My first preference is to stay on property, but if something prevents you from doing so, give this hotel a try. You will not be disappointed!

Seven Weeks

Seven Weeks Until Disney – Seven Things to Experience

Seven Weeks
Hello everyone, and welcome to our weekly countdown post of things we want to experience while we are at Disney next month!

This week we’re focusing on attractions that we want to experience for one reason or another.  There’s no real rhyme or reason for this list, just because, which I suppose is reason enough for me! I hope you enjoy the list!

Pirates of the Caribbean

Simply put, this is just one of those attractions that we really enjoy, even if the version at Disneyland is better…
For a unique twist of the theme song from the movies, check out this YouTube video:

Test Track

Seven Weeks

Image ©Disney

Test Track for us is one of the overlooked attractions at Epcot. We are such fans of Soarin’ that usually that’s what gets our top-tier FastPass selection, and as a result, we end up skipping on Test Track. This time, though, we are interested in experiencing it, so hopefully we’ll make that a reality!

Soarin’ over the World

Seven Weeks

Image ©Disney

Since it’s been a few years since we have been to Walt Disney World, we have not experienced Soarin’ over the World yet, but it’s definitely on our list to experience! Hopefully we’ll make it a reality on this trip!

Frozen Ever After

Seven Weeks

Image ©Disney

So my daughter and her best friend have no interest in Frozen Ever After, but the adults do, so we’ll see if we can experience it. Part of me wants to see what it will be like in replacement of Maelstrom, so for any of you that have answers to that, feel free to comment below and let me know.

Star Tours

Seven Weeks

Image ©Disney

Star Tours is one of those attractions that Disney just did right when they updated it.  They turned a tired attraction into one of my favorite attractions at Hollywood Studios, and I’m hoping to experience it once again next month.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Seven Weeks

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is still, to this day, one of my favorite roller coasters.  Everything from going around that curve, to watching for the saloon girls in the window dancing, to looking for Hidden Mickey’s, there’s just a ton I love about this attraction, and I can’t wait to see it and experience it again.

Expedition Everest

Seven Weeks

A thrilling roller coaster located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom park!

Closing us out this week is Expedition Everest over at Animal Kingdom.  Still one of my favorites, I can almost guarantee that Cindy and I at least will be experiencing this attraction once again.

That concludes our look for this week of the attractions we want to experience next month at Disney.  What’s on your list of attractions and experiences to enjoy at Disney?

 

Nine Weeks

Nine Weeks Until Disney – Nine Things to Experience

Nine Weeks

Image ©WDW Shutterbug

Hello everyone!  Today marks nine weeks until my family experiences Walt Disney World again!  Starting with today’s post, we’re going to feature each week a post counting down the number of weeks until our trip, and highlighting a number of things we want to experience when we are there.  So, since today we are nine weeks until our arrival, we are going to feature nine things we want to experience.

Nine Weeks Until Disney: Nine Things to Experience

Main Street, U.S.A.

Nine Weeks

Image ©WDW Shutterbug

One of the things I’m most excited about is all of the Christmas decorations, especially those to be found on Main Street, U.S.A. For me, all I’ve got is pictures taken by a friend of mine some years back, no real first hand experience, so I’m very excited to get in the thick of it all and witness these things up close.

The Resorts Decorated

Nine Weeks

Image ©WDW Shutterbug

All I’ve read has told me that the resorts have their own unique way of decorating for Christmas, and that each of them is special and should be seen if possible.  What’s exciting for me is that we’re going to spend some time at Wilderness Lodge, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian during our trip, and we’ll be able to see for ourselves all of these incredible scenes.

New Restaurants

During our trip, we are going to be eating at several restaurants that we’ve never eaten at before!  We’re going to enjoying Whispering Canyon Cafe, The Boathouse, and Kona Cafe as part of our dining, and I can’t wait to try them all out.  Can I have ketchup please?

Old Attractions setup for Christmas

Nine Weeks

Image ©WDW Shutterbug

“Jingle Cruise” transforms itself for Christmas, and other attractions, such as Carousel of Progress, feature Christmas decorations in different scenes as part of the show. I think those will have more meaning for me when seeing them at Christmas, and I can’t wait to experience that!

Photographing Decorations

One thing that I absolutely want to do is to take stunning photos of the decorations throughout the Walt Disney World resort.  I like to take photos, and I think I will like it even more when I’m able to capture these incredible decorations all over.

Animal Kingdom Changes

This will be the first time I’ve been to Walt Disney World since the world of Avatar opened up.  I can’t wait to see it for myself, and I’m looking forward to trying the attractions out as well!

Candlelight Processional

Nine Weeks

Image ©Denny

The Candlelight Processional is the story of Christmas told in the American Adventure Pavilion in the World Showcase of Epcot.  Narrated by a well known celebrity, the Candlelight Processional is at the top of my list to see and experience. When we are there the narrator has not been announced yet, but I look forward to hearing it — whomever it may be!

Celebrating Birthdays!

It’s Jagan’s birthday, and we’re celebrating with her! That, plus seeing her parents, is going to be a lot of fun and something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.  I can’t wait!

Getting a well-deserved vacation!

That kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Thank you for joining me today on our look at nine things we want to experience.  Next week we will continue this theme by looking at eight more things we want to see and do, and before you know it, we’ll be counted down to our trip!

World Showcase

Magical Blogorail: World Showcase at Night

World Showcase

Spaceship Earth at night is a majestic ball of incredible lights!

As far as I am concerned, Walt Disney World is so much more incredible to experience at night.  That’s why my family is always looking for the evening extra magic hours over the morning.  When it comes to specific areas of Walt Disney World that truly shine after dark, I look no further than the World Showcase area of Epcot.  Today, we are going to talk about some of the incredible things we’ve seen here, and you might too on your next visit!

For this hopeless romantic, few locations on Disney property hold the sway that World Showcase does for me after dark settles in.  For starters, I love the way the path just flows from country to country, pavilion to pavilion, all the way around World Showcase Lagoon.  There’s a tranquility there, a sense of calm, a timeless about it that just really strikes home in this writer’s heart.  It takes me back, back to that very first trip to Epcot, in the summer of 1983, when my grandparents took me, and we went with friends of theirs that had their grandson visiting also.  I remember, that was the very first time in a setting that big that I had been allowed to go (with Chris, of course) off without any adult supervision.  But it was Disney, and my Grandparents knew it would be all right.

The charm of the World Showcase at night is that it grabs you, clutches at you, drawing you this way and that, and all the while, the crowds start thinning out because they are heading towards the bus terminals, or their rooms on the Boardwalk, or maybe they’re driving back home; regardless, the night and the park soon feels like you and your special someone are the only ones there.  I remember one recent trip, we were walking around World Showcase, and we came to the drawbridge, and it went up!  We happened to be there when the giant Earth from Illuminations was passing through on it’s way back to where it is stored, and I was able to capture this photo with my phone…

World Showcase

The Illuminations Globe passes by on it’s way to bed for the night.

I had never seen it up close like that before, and haven’t seen it that close since.

Of course, the World Showcase at night also means fireworks!  Namely, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  This fireworks show to me is incredible, and now, with Wishes closed down over at the Magic Kingdom, is the longest running fireworks show at Walt Disney World.  IllumiNations strikes a great balance between fireworks, laser light affects, narration, and music, and is a great way to kick off the rest of the evening at Epcot.

World Showcase

In the end, the World Showcase at night is about more than a particular attraction; it’s about more than a special fireworks show; it’s about more than getting one last drink before heading out.  World Showcase at night, to me, is all about slowing down, reliving the day with your family and friends, and sharing a special, Magical moment with the one you love most.  That is why I like walking World Showcase at night.  What about you?  Do you like exploring the World Showcase at night? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!


For more ways to enjoy evenings at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Hollywood Studios

Updated Favorite Disney Hollywood Studios Attractions!

Hollywood Studios

No longer here, but still a favorite to me!

Hello everyone, and thank you for stopping by today!  Nearly four years ago, we ran a post about our favorite attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios — and today, with all of the changes that are under way at the park, we decided it was time for an update!  So, without further ado, here is our updated favorite Hollywood Studios attractions!  Keep in mind, I don’t have Fantasmic listed because I think of that as a show, not as an attraction.  Personally, while I haven’t seen Fantasmic at Walt Disney World, I have seen it at Disneyland, and it is at the top of all sorts of lists in my book!

Updated Top 5 Disney’s Hollywood Studios Attractions!

#1: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

Hollywood Studios Coming in at number one on our list — the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith attraction. This is one of my favorite roller coasters in all of Disney, and at Hollywood Studios, it is a must ride attraction for me every time! About the only thing I wish was different about it is the length — at just 1:22 of actual roller coaster time, that’s not very long at all!  The pre-show length is 3:12.

 

 

 

#2: Star Tours – The Adventure Continues

Hollywood Studios Before this attraction was redone, it wasn’t even a blip on my radar.  But with the way that they redid the attraction and re-opened it on May 20, 2011, this attraction shot up my wow factor, landing here at number two on the list.  What really did this for me I think is the fact that in each ride, one person from the group riding is chosen as the Rebel Spy — and on my very first ride, I was selected!

When you factor in the possibility of getting one of up to 54 different settings for the attraction, (although, to me, I think I’ve only seen maybe three or four different versions) and that just makes for a great adventure!

 

#3: Toy Story Midway Mania

Hollywood Studios Coming in at number three on our list is Toy Story Midway Mania, that crazy, wacky, carnival games ride where you are immersed into the carnival games of Andy’s world!

For me, it’s really a toss-up (pun somewhat intended) between this attraction and Star Tours as to which is number two, and which is number three on the list.  About the only reason I put Toy Story at number three is because the attraction — even with a FastPass — is often quite slow to load.  So, for that reason, and probably that reason alone, I have it listed at number three on our list. What are your thoughts regarding this attraction? Let us know in the comments!

#4: The Great Movie Ride

Hollywood Studios At number four in our countdown is The Great Movie Ride.  While this attraction doesn’t have the glitz and the glamour of the high thrill ride attractions, it is truly a really neat attraction, and features distinct looks at some of the great classic movies from the 20th Century.

One of the things I’ve been reading about lately, though, is the rumor that the attraction will be closing in 2018.  Will this be happening, and what does that mean to you?  Will you miss it, be glad to see it go, or something in between?  Let us know in the comments, and thanks!

 

#5: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Hollywood Studios Rounding out our top five is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  In our previous ranking, it wasn’t in my top five, but did make the honorable mention list.  This time, it’s number five.  Why is that?  Well, I will tell you right out that I do NOT like the drop sequences of the attraction.  It is among the things I least like at Walt Disney World — and ranks up there with such horrible attractions as “It’s Tough to be a Bug” over at Animal Kingdom.

But, what I do really enjoy, though, is the backstory.  I also really enjoy the theming.  And, I really, really do enjoy the anticipation.  So, because of all of that, I have decided to include the attraction on my list, and here it is at number five.

What are your thoughts on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror? Do you like it or hate it?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

Honorable Mention: Muppet*Vision 3D

Hollywood Studios Muppet*Vision 3D was originally on our list at number four, but I’ve dropped it down to our list of Honorable Mentions this go around.  The primary reason for this is simply because it just isn’t as good for me as it used to be.  In days gone by, the corniness of the humor, the dated fashion, all of that “charm” that made the attraction one of my favorites, that was awesome.

Now, though, I think that my brain has shifted a bit, and what I used to think of as neat and quaint and all that, well, now it just seems old and dated and run down.  I’ll admit that this somewhat saddens me.  Still, on any given day at Hollywood Studios, I think the attraction will be given a visit, even if it’s just to get some photos of the props and stuff at the attraction, and it’s less about the show. What are your thoughts on it? Let us know in the comments!

Honorable Mention: One Man’s Dream

Hollywood Studios As I mentioned in my previous version of this post, One Man’s Dream is more museum than attraction, but it still holds a place in my heart.  The rumors are rampant that this attraction is getting ready to close.  Word is that the Archivists for Disney are heading to Florida to pack up the exhibits and take them to San Francisco, to the Walt Disney Family Museum.  I don’t know if this is true or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me.  Sadly, attractions like this are just not as popular as they used to be, and if it does close, it’ll be one more thing that changes Hollywood Studios from being a Theme Park and just making it like any other run of the mill Amusement Park.

What are your thoughts on this? Let me know, and thanks!

 

So, how did we do in our updated list of our favorite attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?  Did we hit a home run, strike out, or somewhere in between? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by!