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!

Swiss Family Treehouse

Magic Kingdom Attraction Guide – Swiss Family Treehouse

Swiss Family Treehouse

Attraction Name: Swiss Family Treehouse
Attraction Type: Walk-Through
Height Requirements: None
Location: Adventureland
Hours of Operation: All Day
FastPass+: N/A

The Swiss Family Treehouse is actually one of my favorite attractions at the Magic Kingdom.  I know, it doesn’t have the glitz or glamour of something like Space Mountain or the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but the 116 steps take you up six stories, and at the very top, provide very cool views of the entire park!

Unfortunately, this attraction is not accessible to those in a wheelchair or scooter, so that is a shame for those that want to see it but can’t because of physical limitations.  The attraction almost never has any sort of line, so take your time, relax on your journey, and imagine yourself living in such a way.

The attraction features all of the types of rooms you would expect in a house, including:

  • The Living Room
  • The Kitchen and Dining Room
  • The Crow’s Nest
  • Study/Library
  • Jungle Lookout

Finally, here are a couple of photos that show you some of the unique views you can experience on the attraction.  Thanks for stopping by, and happy climbing!

Magical Blogorail

Magical Blogorail: Avoiding the “I’ve got to do everything” trap!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we sharing tips for your first Disney vacation.


Magical Blogorail

Hello everyone, and welcome to this month’s Magical Blogorail look at tips for your first Disney Vacation!  You’ve been saving your money, you’ve been paying regularly on your trip, hopefully you have been working with a travel agent to help you plan your trip and save you money, and now, it is finally here!  Your Walt Disney World vacation is about to begin!

When you arrive, though, sometimes your thoughts get the better of you.  You think to yourself, I spent so much for this trip, I’ve got to see absolutely everything in order to get my money’s worth.  That line of thinking, though, is incorrect, and hopefully in this Magical Blogorail post, I’m going to share with you some things that will help you prevent the feeling of not seeing anything and keep you from falling into that trap.

Tip 1: It’s not all about the attractions, it’s also about the memories…

Magical Blogorail

Our daughter Sophie shares a secret with Princess Jasmine!

As great as the attractions are at Walt Disney World, what will really make or break your trip is the memories that you and your family create while there.  The picture above was taken way back in 2008, and to this day, it remains one of my all time favorite Disney photos.  Let me set the scene.  We were in Morocco just wandering through the marketplace, looking at things, just browsing.  When we got to the back of the pavilion, there was a meet and greet location, with Princess Jasmine and the Genie just waiting for someone to come visit with them.  Sophie had been talking about Princess Jasmine all this time, about how she was going to get a costume just like her costume, and she was able to talk with her for what felt like an eternity!  In this picture, she was telling her that she was going to get that costume, and sure enough, she did a couple of days later.

Tip 2: Take time to relax and slow down

Magical Blogorail

Far too often, first time guests — and yes, even those that visit more regularly — are way too focused on getting from point a to point b, from getting from their last attraction to their next attraction, and they don’t really slow down to breath.  Part of the reason you are taking your Disney vacation is to take a break from everyday life, from getting away from the rat race that is the world today.  Let your vacation be just that, a break from the hustle and bustle of life, and instead, take time to enjoy everything about your trip.  The picture above was taken back in 2010, when we were leaving Test Track and heading somewhere — I don’t even remember where.  Anyway, we weren’t in a very big hurry, and if we had been, we might have missed the perfect setting of the flowers, pond, TRON Monorail, and the Imagination Pavilion in the background.  I love this photo, and hope you do as well!

Tip 3: Enjoy the little attractions as much as the big ones.

As much fun as I have riding Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and the other big attractions, I get as much fun out of the smaller attractions, the ones you can almost walk right on.  Carousel of Progress, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, it’s a small world, Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, and so forth.  Don’t overlook the little attractions just so you can enjoy the big ones.  You will be doing yourself and your vacation a disservice, and you will miss out on a lot of great opportunities to let the child within out to play.

I hope that this post has been helpful to you as you plan your first Disney Vacation!  Let me know what you think in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by today!  Check out the rest of the posts from the Magical Blogorail writers, and then go out and make it a Disney day!

 

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music memories

Live Music Memories on Main Street, U.S.A.

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Orange Loop. Today we are sharing some of the best live entertainment at the Disney Parks.


music memories

The Dapper Dans share some of their talent with us on Main Street, U.S.A.

When it comes to Disney, for me and my family we have always enjoyed and thought that the music from the parks can lead to an even greater enjoyment of all that we see.  Today I’m sharing with you some of my favorite music memories from Main Street, U.S.A. and even beyond!  The picture you see at the beginning is of the Dapper Dans as they performed for us on Main Street, U.S.A.  After they had finished, they were kind enough to share a picture with my daughter Sophie and niece Anna Jane, as you see here.

music memories

The Dapper Dans with Sophie & Anna Jane!

As you progress up Main Street, take a look at the piano situated over by Casey’s Corner.  The piano has a player, and they will appear at various times throughout the day, so check your times guide for the day you are there.  It’s a great way to sit down, relax, and let the music take you back in time to another age.  Simply put, it’s just one of the music memories you’ll experience on this journey.

music memories

If you haven’t heard the Main Street Philharmonic perform, then make sure you save some time for a listen.  Their music is really good, and among the best of any band you’ll hear anywhere!

Music Memories

Then, over in Fantasyland, one of my memories was when the Fantasyland Woodwinds Society (I think I have the name correct) performed Happy Birthday for Sophie and this other lady who’s birthday it was also.  Here’s a picture from that day.

music memories

Of course, not all music memories are created by the live entertainment. Some are the product of the incredible parades, including this one that was one of my all time favorites, but is now located at Disneyland:

What music do you like to see performed at Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by today!

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