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!

Walt Disney’s Birthday!

Walt-Disney

Today we mark the celebration of the birth of Walt Disney.  This innovative pioneer, who was responsible for Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disney as we know it, was born on this day in 1901.  Today he would have been 117 years old.  As towering a personality as Walt Disney was in real life, when you think about his life and legacy, it really comes down to a few important things:

  1. Walt Disney loved his family.
  2. To Walt, it wasn’t about the money he was making — it was about connecting with his kids in such a way that they would want to continue to be around him.
  3. In addition, Walt wanted the rest of us — those that weren’t as fortunate, or as creative, or had as much imagination — to still be able to enjoy the time they had with their families.

It was because of all of this — and more — that Disneyland was born in 1955. So many people have Walt Disney to thank for so many happy memories.  This little blog wouldn’t exist if Walt Disney World didn’t exist.  So many memories that I have with my wife, daughter, and rest of my family would not have been created if we hadn’t gone to Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  People often say to me, “Why do you keep going back to Walt Disney World year after year after year?”  My answer to them, and to you, is always the same.  I simply say to them, “No matter how often we go to Disney World, we always find something new to experience there.  More importantly, though, we always have some special moment that happens that lodges itself in our memory banks, and causes us to remember the memories we have had in prior trips.” My friends, I think that Walt Disney would like nothing better than to hear your reasons why you love Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or any of the other Disney parks as much as you do.  Please take a moment, leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page, or send us a tweet, and tell us why Walt Disney — and all of his parks —  is so special to you!  Thank you, and make sure you make it a Disney Day!

Disney Burger

In Search of…the best Disney Burger!

Disney Burger

I hear that Pecos Bill has a mighty mean burger…

The other day my wife, daughter and I were eating out at the Village Deli, a restaurant that serves up a pretty good burger, when it dawned on me that we’ve been hard pressed to remember a time when we’ve had a really good burger at Disney.  So, like any good Disney fan, I did what comes naturally.  I asked all of you for your opinions on what is the best Disney Burger!

What I discovered is that there are good many places where you can get a great tasting burger at Walt Disney World.  Here are some of your suggestions for where we should get our burger when we are at Disney in February!

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe

We have had some people tell us to check out Pecos Bill’s.  Here’s what you all said:

  • Chris told us that “I really enjoyed Pecos Bill’s.”
  • Heidi added, “We like Pecos Bills too because of the toppings bar. You get to put EXACTLY what you WANT on the burger.”
  • Stacy finished us off by saying, “My husband loves the fixings at pecos Bills…”

Beaches & Cream

When it comes to Beaches & Cream, it seems that all is not ice cream at this restaurant located at the Boardwalk.  Turns out, several of you feel like they have one of the best burgers anywhere!

  • Jennifer was quick to chime in, writing “Beaches and Cream for my $!”
    • That was followed by Erin, who added “second for Beaches and Cream”
    • Then, Laura completed the trifecta: “3rd for B&C!”
  • MDOD reader Tara chimed in for Beaches & Cream: “Beaches and Cream…hands down favorite for me!”

Other Locations:

There were quite a lot of great choices for us to choose from — here are some of your comments for the best of the rest!

  • Turns out that Heidi has another good location to pick from. Here’s what she wrote: “Have you been to the Electric Umbrella? Their burgers are pretty good (HUGE).”
  • When it comes to burgers, Ron was kind enough to give me park specific offerings: “Epcot- Electric Umbrella, Magic Kingdom- Cosmic Rays”
  • Denise chimed in about Hurricane Hanna’s: “hurricane hanna’s at the beach club are good also besides pecos bills.”
  • MDOD writer Lee chimed in about the Sci-Fi Dinner Theater: “Sci fi for me! Burgers and cheesy movies go good together!”
  • Tricia wrote about her preference for Sci Fi: “SciFi was better than Beaches and Cream for us.”
  • Kelly wrote about the ABC Commissary: “Pecos Bill’s and ABC Commisary are both good.”
  • Paula adds: “I’ve never been disappointed with the burgers at the Sci-Fi or at Rainforest Café. Pecos Bill’s wasn’t bad either.”
  • Staci reminded us not to forget the Magic Kingdom Resorts: “I love the burger at the contempo cafe. Qsr at contemporary resort.”
  • Lastly, Christi chimed in about the Grand Floridian Cafe with this exotic burger: “We love the Angus burger topped with lobster at Grand Floridian Cafe… YUM!!”

Thank you all for your great comments about where to get a good burger.  When we visit in February, I plan on making sure that we try out some of these places.  I’ll let you know my favorites after we get back.  If you have any other great locations, please feel free to comment and let us know.  Thanks for joining us, and have a great day!

Where Did My Dreams of Disney Go?

Thank you for visiting with us this year!

Where have we been?

For the past several weeks, maybe even a few months, the posts here at My Dreams of Disney have been written with less frequency than before.  Where did my dreams of Disney go?  Did they disappear, fade away like memories from a bygone age that are lost forever?

Absolutely not.

My family and I still talk about Disney quite a bit, and we are currently planning our trip in February for the Princess 5K.  However, my writing tapered off because I felt the struggle to come up with the words to convey to you what I was feeling.

In many ways, life got in the way of Disney, and that was definitely reflected in my lack of posts.  The only series that I faithfully kept up — until now — were my weekly Prayers for the Week posts, because through it all, we need our prayers more than ever in this fallen world we live in, and that isn’t going to change for a long time.  Of course, the Prayers for the Week posts will continue, but now I think it’s time to refocus a bit on our dreams of Disney…

When I first started our blog, way back on September 8, 2010, I started it with the purpose being that I was going to document the memories I had of our trips to Walt Disney World, both as a kid and later as an adult.  As the blog grew up, that focus shifted for me, and looking back, I find that my focus was less on Disney, more about page views, less about memories, and more about deadlines.  Less about Magic, and more about ad revenue.  In short, I was focused on the business, and not on the reasons I started the blog to begin with.

Well that, my friends, is about to change.

From this day on, I’m going to remember the reason I started the blog.  I’m going to write when I want to, not because I have to.  I’m going to write with a focus on the reasons why we love Walt Disney World, and in doing so, I think we’re going to recapture the innocence that our blog had when we first started.  I’m going to keep writing our Prayers for the Week posts because those are written for you, for me, but most of all, for God — our small, small way that we can connect with God and turn the evil perversity that is the Internet into something for good.

If you are still with us, still reading, please leave me a comment.  Let me know why you stuck around, what you hope to see and do and read, and while you are at it, tell me what your top Disney wish is.  Thank you for sticking around, and for those of you that are new to the site, thanks for stopping by!  Let’s go reclaim our Dreams of Disney!

Five Tips for a Great Disney Vacation

Is there anything more fun than seeing the WDW Entrance sign when you arrive at Disney?

You’ve been planning and planning, and now you are here.  Here’s five tips to have a great Disney Vacation!

{Editor’s Note: This post originally ran on my friend Kristen’s site Tips for the Disney Divas and Devos on March 24, 2014.  You can read the original post on their site too!}

Congratulations!  You have made it!  You are here!  Walt Disney World.  After all that time, all that planning, all the excitement of hearing “is it time to go to Disney yet?”, you are finally at Disney World.  But, how do you ensure that you have a great trip and make your Disney vacation as memorable as you want it to be?  Here’s five tips to remember to help you make the most out of your vacation!

Tip #1: Go with the flow

Far too often, people think that they need to see everything and do everything on this trip or it won’t be a success.  My response to them is this:  If you insist on seeing and doing everything, you’ll stress yourself out unnecessarily, and you won’t have nearly as much fun as you would have otherwise.  My tip:  go with the flow.  Don’t go all Disney commando; slow down, enjoy the scenes, the sights, and the experience of just being in Walt Disney World — you’ll have just as much fun and so will your family!

Tip #2: Schedule some Dining Reservations for Character Dining

When you are traveling with your kids (and sometimes even without your kids) to Walt Disney World, one thing that they always seem to want is to get autographs and pictures with their favorite characters.  Fortunately, Disney has several Character Dining restaurants where you can enjoy a good meal and get photos and autographs with your favorite characters!  This is such a win-win for me; you don’t have to stand in line to see them, they come to your table for photos and autographs, and you and your family also get to recharge for the rest of you day too!

Tip #3: Take a lot of Photos

I know that this is a no brainer for many of you, but you can never take too many photos of your vacation in my opinion, especially if you have a digital camera.  So many of my favorite memories have been cemented in photos that I took of the event that all I need to do is look at them and I’m right back to that moment in time.

Sophie and Princess Jasmine at the Morocco Pavilion

Sophie and Princess Jasmine at the Morocco Pavilion

Tip #4: Stop to smell the roses

The road less traveled — at Disney, that can be hard to find, but if you slow down and look at things instead of just moving past them at light speed, you’ll have a more relaxing trip, a better vacation, and you might just find that those memories from the slower time might just be the memories that you cherish the most.  I know that this ties in with tip number 1, but it’s that important to me.

Tip #5: Experience more than just the parks — check out some resorts

During our last trip to Disney World, we took some time and went and explored Saratoga Springs and Old Key West resorts.  That was so much fun, it was a relaxing time, we got to see a lot of the things there that we had never seen before, and it was a great time spent looking at possibilities for future trips.

Thank you for joining us today!  What are some of your great tips for making your trip a great Disney vacation?  Let us know in the comments, and thanks!