Hotel Review: DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando


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.


The sofabed opened up for the kids to sleep in.


This picture is of the sink in the bathroom.


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


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!

Where to Get Your Disney Loot

Loot 1

My wife and I just got back from three fun-filled weeks in not-so sunny Florida. Although we had more rain than was usual for the time of year (Dec. 23-Jan.12) we still managed to travel around the State and, of course, visit Walt Disney World!

Now, as you look at our Disney loot above, you’ll notice that not all of it came from the Mouse’s house. So in this post I’d like to share with you where we got our loot, and give some recommendations as to where you can find some great deals on Disney items outside of the Parks and Resorts.

First, we found the following item at the duty-free shop as we crossed the border (we live in Canada):

Border find

This was regularly priced at $24.95 US but we got it on sale for just $9.99 US. Just the Smarties alone were worth that! But we also got a neat carrying case, and a toy racing track complete with Lightning McQueen himself. Not a bad find, and it became the first piece of loot on our trip.

Next we visited many Flea Markets and Antique Shops around Sebastian, FL, where we were staying. And this is what we got there:

Loot 2

We picked up the Jesse dolls for just $20.00 US for the pair and the Chevron Autopia cars for just $15.00 US for the pair. The three Vinylmations we got for $10.00 US for all three. Now this is a good tip: We were able to trade one of them for a better character at WDW when we went later on. The purple guy on the right (from Monsters U) is my WDW trade. So in effect, we only paid $3.33 US each for Vinylmations that usually cost over $12.00 US. The rest of the items in this picture are simply things you can’t buy at WDW anymore, so they are great finds, and a great reason to check out even the smallest of second-hand shops while on vacation!

Next we made a trip to Disney’s town of Celebration:

Loot 3

Michael Eisner, the former CEO of the Walt Disney Company, started the ball rolling on this beautiful old-style community. If you haven’t gone, you should! It’s only about 15 minutes from Downtown Disney and well worth the drive. There are nice shops and Disney-like settings to enjoy. We picked up the local newspaper (free) and a glossy map of the town (also free) but had to pay $40.00 US for the hardcover book about the history of this town that is not really a town. Read the book, you’ll understand! Loot like this can only be found in Celebration, and will help to complete your Disney obsession!

Next, we went to Theme Park Connection (the address is on the site). It isn’t too far from WDW and well worth the trip. It’s a warehouse of Disneyana where they buy and sell. We picked up some great stuff:

TPC Loot 002

These are vintage publications from the Disney Vacation Club, Cast Member exclusives, theme park maps from 1998, a press kit, and a really cool package giving all of the stats on the Disney Company as of the 50th Celebration in 2006. We picked up all you see above for just a little over $20.00 US. And again, you can’t get this stuff at WDW, so if you want a few unique items for your loot bag, be sure to visit TPC, or similar places!

And now, yes, we did finally get to WDW and buy some stuff:

Loot 4

As you can see, we didn’t buy much directly from the Mouse. He doesn’t dicker on price! But there were a few items we just had to have. We brought two Vinylmations from home to trade, and you can see the two final figures we ended up with on the right of the picture (subnote: most of the trading places had truly awful characters to trade, and it took over a dozen tries over 4 days to get just these two acceptable trades. Be prepared!). We bought the Boo Vinylmation for full price in a blind box and were thrilled when we got her as she was the only one we wanted out of that series! The kitchen stuff was bought with a gift card we got given to us for our wedding anniversary (24 years on Jan. 13th!) The rest are just a few small items that came into our loot collection near the end of our trip when we were… running out of money!

So if you can manage it, be sure to spend some time looking around the shops and second-hand stores of Florida before you spend all of your loot money at the Mouse’s house! Deep discounts can be found at Disney Outlet stores which usually carry much of the same stuff you’re planning to buy on-site anyway.

I hope you enjoyed sharing in my loot! Do you take loot pictures too?

Happy Halloween at the Magic Kingdom!

Special thanks to Andre from WDW Shutterbug for sharing his art with us!

Special thanks to Andre from WDW Shutterbug for sharing his art with us!

Happy Halloween to everyone!  While I am not at the Magic Kingdom, my friend Andy from WDW Shutterbug has been spending much time there, and I thought I would share with you one of my favorite pictures of his that you can see above!  In addition, here are some photos I think of when I think of Halloween at Walt Disney World!  Enjoy everyone, and thanks for stopping by!

Two Grinning Pumpkins!

Two Grinning Pumpkins!

The Mickey Pumpkin Lamp post!

The Mickey Pumpkin Lamp post!

Watch Madam Leota's eyes...

Watch Madame Leota’s eyes…


The Horseless Hearse.

The Horseless Hearse.

See You Real Soon!

See Ya Real Soon!

Thanks for stopping by on this Halloween!  I hope your kids have a safe and fun time trick or treating!  What Disney characters are your kids (or you, for that matter) going as?  Why don’t you take a moment and let us know in the comments, and thanks!  Have fun!




PassPorter Book Giveaway with WDW Hints!


Hello everyone!  Today we are honored to be part of a contest that our friends at WDW Hints are having!  They are giving away five copies of the PassPorter Walt Disney World travel guide, so that means that they are going to have five winners!  Here are the specifics for this contest:

  1. The contest will run from Sunday, June 16, 2013 at 12:01 AM Eastern Time, and runs until Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 11:59PM.
  2. To enter, you must complete the Rafflecopter information that you can find over at the WDW Hints website.
  3. In addition to WDW Hints and this site, the following sites are also going to promote the contest, so stop by and check out their sites as well.  They are:
    1. Heidi’s Reviews and Reflections
    2. Great WDW Tips
    3. “Mouse”cation
    4. DisneyWays
    5. Gluten Free & Dairy Free at WDW
    6. The Adult Side of Disney
    7. Focused on the Magic
    8. Mousekejournals
    9. Mouse and Memos

Once again, special thanks to my friend Terri from WDW Hints for including me in this contest!  Along with this, Terri and I have collaborated (along with my other buddy Jonathan from Mouse and Memos) on other projects, most notably the Haunted Mansion series we did back in July.  Don’t forget to head on over to Terri’s post on WDW Hints to enter to win the contest, and thanks for stopping by today!