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!

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!

free dining

Did Nostradamus Predict Disney Free Dining?

free dining

Chef Mickey’s Contemporary Resort. ©Disney

Did Nostradamus predict Disney Free Dining?

The rumors about free dining from Disney have been swirling for quite some time, so I thought I would take a little bit of a humorous take on the potential discount promotion.  So, I ask you the question: Did Nostradamus predict free dining?

Well, while there are rumors all over the tabloids talking about some of the things that Nostradamus has predicted, I have yet to see an actual prediction of his that pertains to Disney’s free dining promotion.  As always, if you see something different, please share it with us on our Facebook page.

However, beyond that, there are some things that make this a little interesting.  First up, here are some pictures of some of the restaurants you can enjoy on the Disney Dining Plan.

In addition to great restaurants to enjoy (there are nearly 100 different table service restaurants on the plan), the Disney Dining Plan comprises the following components:

  • 1 Table Service credit per person, per night of their stay at an on-site Walt Disney World resort hotel.
  • 1 Counter Service credit per person, per night of their stay.
  • 2 Snack credits per person, per night of their stay.
  • In addition, each person will receive a resort refillable mug that they can keep as a souvenir after they leave for home.

There are other plans for quick service and deluxe dining, but the one listed above is the most common.

If Disney free dining is released, one thing to keep in mind is that there will be limitations.  Certain resorts in the past have been excluded from the promotion, and the promotion is for certain time periods, among other constraints.  I’ll not go into the details of the rumors, chances are the rumors are not entirely correct.

However, if you are already booked through me for a vacation package at Walt Disney World, and a promotion is released, I will work on your reservations first.  So, if you are not one of my clients, start the process of becoming one of my clients by submitting a quote request today!

Finally, if you would like to discuss a Walt Disney World vacation for you and your family, please reach out to me!  I am a travel agent specializing in Disney destinations with Pixie Vacations, and I would love to help you plan your trip or get you some pricing information.  My services are completely free for you, so why not see all that I can help you with your Disney planning?

So, while the chances are high that Nostradamus did not predict free dining, I predict that if you become a client of mine, you will get top notch service from me!  You can count on that!

Magical Blogorail: Best Burgers at Disney – Splitsville

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing where you can find the best burgers at Disney.

OK, no one ever said: “Hey guys, I just found the best burger in the world at the local bowling alley!” But the thing to remember here is that Splitsville Luxury Lanes isn’t your average run of the mill bowling alley!

They use terms like ‘Not your typical bowling alley menu. Hope you don’t mind.’ and ‘At Splitsville, we have taken great care to develop a unique menu that combines traditional and upscale offerings that extend well beyond your expectation of alley food.’ This, may I assure you, describes their hamburgers!

So without further ado, I submit the monster below for the Best Burger at Disney:

What I had, or should I say, it had me!

With a name like The Mad King, you know it’s going to own you! All the portions are huge with every hamburger coming with a nice portion of fries, and drinks are bottomless. Here are some more offerings if eating something considered ‘mad’ is too much for you:

Prices are premium, but worth it!

They also have a great selection of gluten-free foods, with the gluten-free hamburger served on a bun that you can actually enjoy eating, like my wife Karen is doing below:

    

Smile approved!

So the next time you visit Walt Disney World, be sure to visit Disney Springs at lunch or dinner time. You don’t have to pay park admission to get near the place, and no reservations are usually needed.

As they don’t say in France: “Bon Pig Out!”

For more great burgers at the Disney Parks, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Best Burgers at Disney Loop:

Magical Blogorail: Disneyland Versus Walt Disney World

D O W N T O W N      D I S N E Y

Welcome to those of you joining me from Disney Babies Blog and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 4th stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Although they have the same name, the Downtown Disney districts of Disneyland and Walt Disney World couldn’t be more different! But as you will see, comparing the two isn’t altogether fair. The sheer volume of WDW’s DTD makes this comparison a bit like pitting a heavyweight boxer against a ballerina. But that doesn’t mean DLR’s DTD has anything to apologize for!

I’d like to compare the DTD’s using three main categories:

SIZE/SELECTION

Winner: WDW’s DTD. You can easily spend a day taking in the streetmosphere, shops, restaurants, shows, carts, and speciality attractions.  Splitsville. Cirque du Soleil. Characters In Flight. Disney Quest. Truly something for everyone! And when they finally finish revamping the old clubbing area, it will offer even more.

WDW’S DTD

     Unique experiences!

Rebuttal: DLR’s DTD is smaller and closer to the Parks and both on-property and off-property Hotels. WDW’s DTD is so big that you have to drive to it or spend time on a bus just to reach it, making it a less convenient source of fun.

ATMOSPHERE

Winner: DLR’s DTD. The same argument that diehard Disneyland fans use to put their Resort above its big sister in Florida puts the smaller shopping district in the winners seat here. There is a more intimate feel to this place. You don’t have to walk for miles to take it all in. It’s easier to do an impromptu meet-up with friends.

Rebuttal: WDW’s DTD does have character, though, especially when you factor in the waterfront and nighttime lighting.

WDW’S DTD

     A beautiful view!

DISNEYNESS (it is too a word!)

Winner: WDW’s DTD. Everywhere you look, you are reminded that you are experiencing something Disney. Even though there are many non-Disney shops and restaurants, they are far outnumbered by Disney and Disney-style offerings. Some say that Disney went overboard just to sell swag, but I say: ‘That’s OK with me!’

Rebuttal: You do have to walk between the entrances to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure to get to DLR’s DTD. And on the other end of it you have the iconic Disneyland Hotel complete with Monorail Station! Now that’s a pair of Disney bookends!

DLR’s DTD

     Location is everything!

So WDW’s DTD comes across as one of the world’s best heavyweight retail and entertainment districts. But DLR’s DTD is like a beautiful ballerina with style and grace, and that’s not a bad thing. Overall, though, I have to give a clear decision in favor of WDW’s DTD.

If you want to shop or play Disney, the biggest bang for your fun is to be found in Florida!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Journeys from a Follower.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have missed a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Disney on Wheels: Adventureland vs. Adventureland

2nd Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney: New Orleans Square vs. Liberty Square

3rd Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog: Tomorrowland vs. Tomorrowland

4th Stop ~ Cool Nouns by Lee Beatens (You are here)

Final Stop ~ Journeys from a Follower: Frontierland & Critter Country vs. Frontierland