Saturday 23 February 2013

A Little Bit of Disney

So despite living 4000 miles away from the magic of WDW I always try to sneak a little bit of Disney into my life, whether it be through clothes, jewellery or just keeping up with the latest news via the power of the internet.

And even when driving around a little bit of Disney comes with me :)
Car emblem

Antenna topper, our other car has a Stitch!

And both purchased in WDW!

Thursday 21 February 2013

180 is a Magic Number

To those of us with a love of WDW the number 180 should need no explanation, but for those of you who are perhaps thinking I've lost the plot let me explain.

So this magic number has something to do with the number of days leading up to you vacation and food!  Now food is an integral part of any Disney vacation and can, for some, need a little planning.

'But isn't it all burgers and hot dogs?' I here you cry...well yes there are burgers and hot dogs and all the usual 'fast food' but there is also a lot more which can be a surprise to some.  WDW offers everything from snacks to fast food to high end dining, from food carts dotted around the parks to counter service restaurants to full table service establishments, in fact something to meet everyone's taste and pocket.
Main Street Bakery - Magic Kingdom
ABC Commissary - Disney's Hollywood Studios
Pecos Bill Cafe - Magic Kingdom

Now as a family we tend to be more of the fast food, counter service type and on our last visit took advantage of a free Quick Service Dining Plan offer, which meant that we each had an allowance of 2 counter service meals and 2 snacks for each day of our vacation. These 'dining credits' could be used as we saw fit over our vacation; so if we wanted 3 meals one day and only 1 meal the following that was fine - once all the credits were used we then had to pay for anything else.  As it was we used all the meal credits and were still left with 7 snack credits on our last day!  This year we shall be using the Quick Service Dining Plan again (although Disney has dropped it to only 1 snack per day....think our 15 year old may have to dig into his own wallet to pay for all the snacks he can usually get through!) but we are thinking about trying one or two of the table service restaurants that Disney has to offer and this is where that magic number of 180 comes in.

For a lot of the table service restaurants it is recommended that you make a reservation, or as Disney call it an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) and the earliest that you can make an ADR is 180 days ahead of when you need it.  A perk of staying in a Disney resort is that ADR's can be made 180 days prior to check-in and for up to 10 days of your stay.  So we have reached that magical number of 180 days to go till our vacation and we can now give some serious thought to ADR's.

So for us eating at a table service restaurant would be outside of our Dining Plan but it is something that we have on our 'To Do' list for this year's vacation; so we are looking long and hard at which restaurants we would like to try and that we think all four of us will like, thankfully none of us have any real food 'no-no's' so the world is our oyster!!!

There are even guides about food and where to eat, check out Birnbaum's Dining Guide...
That reminds me I need a new one of these!! well as The Disney Food Blog

Any recommendations out there?  Once we have decided where we would like to dine I shall of course let you can't beat Disney planning :)

Wednesday 20 February 2013


I think it's confession time...again.  I'd started the New Year so well with a couple of runs under my belt but got stopped in my tracks with the bad weather.  After about 3 weeks of snow, ice and general horribleness I had hoped to get those trainers back on and hit the streets once more....but no :(

Unfortunately I am suffering with a poorly toe, a chilblain in fact brought on by all the cold weather we have had.  And who would have thought that a bit of red skin could cause me so much pain, so much so that the thought of putting shoes on let alone running has filled me with dread.

Now as I type it is feeling a lot better and I am hoping that as the evenings begin to get lighter and providing the weather starts to pick up I may actually be able to get out soon for a run, so keep your fingers crossed for me and hopefully my next running update will actually be about running!!

Saturday 9 February 2013

Why stay in a Disney hotel?

Back in November of last year I started doing a few posts about the decisions made when considering a holiday to the vacation capital of the world...especially when travelling all the way from the UK!

I talked about the time of year to go, whether a car was needed and the choice of staying 'off-site' or 'on-site', so I thought I would now tell you why I think staying in a Disney hotel is a great choice.

I understand that staying in a Disney hotel is not for everyone, especially when travelling from the UK.  For those of us who live such a long way away from the magic we have to think about the cost involved as well as making the most of our time in Florida.  How much of Florida do we want to explore?  How much time do we have to get all the things done that we'd like to get done?!

When we visited Orlando the first few times back in the early 1990's we stayed off property for exactly the reasons I've mentioned but as the years have gone by and our sole reason for travelling all those thousands of miles has become visiting Disney we decided to take a different option and try a Disney hotel.

Nowadays a vacation to WDW just wouldn't be right if we didn't immerse ourselves fully in the magic and stay in a Disney hotel.

So what is it that makes a Disney hotel the only choice for me?  Where do I start...

Location, Location, Location - staying in a Disney hotel means that you are at the heart of everything Disney, you are never far away from a little bit of that Disney magic whether its visiting a park, having a stroll through Downtown Disney or enjoying a little chill out time by the hotel pool.
Port Orleans French Quarter - Entrance
Quality - the attention to detail and the quality of everything in a Disney hotel surpasses all others.  Everything is 'top notch', well maintained, well presented, looked after and cared about.  They obviously hold very high standards and do everything in their power to make sure those standards are met all of the time.  The grounds are immaculate, the housekeeping and general maintenance are fantastic.

Mousekeeping! How cute are these?
Customer Service - it kind of goes without saying that the customer service you receive in a Disney hotel is exceptional, in fact for us Brits visiting the US customer service whether in a Disney hotel or not is more often than not way better than we get at home. Everything is done with a smile, a willingness to chat and a desire to ensure that you have the best time possible.

Theming - each Disney hotel is themed to a particular style and gives each hotel a distinct feel and personality of its own.  We have only managed to stay at two hotels so far; the All Stars Movies which was big, bold, brash and larger than life and Port Orleans French Quarter which is a complete contrast to All Star Movies with it's laid back New Orleans vibe, beautiful architecture, landscaping and tranquility.  We now can't wait to try Coronado Springs in approximately 192 days time :)

All Star Movies Resort
Port Orleans French Quarter - beautiful grounds
Port Orleans French Quarter - pool area
Perks - as you would expect there are a few things that are exclusive to staying in a Disney hotel.  Firstly there is the complimentary transportation whether it be bus, monorail or boat there is enough to get you wherever you want to be on Disney property. Then there is 'Extra Magic Hours', exclusive to hotel guests giving extra time in the parks either before they open or after they close.  Next is the 'Key to the World' card; your hotel key, your park tickets, charging facility and Disney Dining Plan all rolled into one.  And as a Disney guest you can also get an extra 10 days booking power for those important Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR's).

Disney Dining Plan - a perk that is exclusive to Disney guests and worth it's own mention and often for UK visitors offered free when booking package deals through certain travel companies!  We took advantage of this offer during our last WDW vacation back in 2011, by simply staying in a moderate priced hotel we were given the Quick Service Dining Plan for free.  This suited us down to the ground and meant that a big holiday expense was sorted before we'd even set foot in the magic...and we still had snack points left over at the end of two weeks!!

Part of the vacation - by this I mean that staying in a Disney hotel is as much a part of the vacation as going on all the rides and seeing all the shows.  It's the icing on the cake that rounds out a Disney vacation, especially for those of us who's main reason for visiting Orando is Disney and very little else :)

Port Orleans French Quarter - pathway leading to pool area
Disney hotels are so much more than just hotels.  Disney realised very soon after opening the first hotels at WDW that they needed to run and operate differently to an ordinary hotel, that the clientele was not the usual hotel crowd, that something more was needed from the hotels.  From the theming to the facilities on offer to the customer service to the ability to cope with large numbers of people.  They recognised that they needed to apply some of the principles of running a theme park to how they ran their hotels, once they did this they never looked back.

Can't wait to try our next hotel when we visit Coronado Springs Resort later in year, look out for my report on all things south of the border.

Sunday 3 February 2013

Disney Friends are the Best!

Yesterday I had the privilege of spending the day with some like minded individuals at a hotel in Nottingham....don't worry these were just fellow Disney fans!

Friends that have come together through the power of social media and podcasts, friends who share the common denominator of being fans of the WDW Radio show and a certain Mr Lou Mongello.  A fan group that was formed by the lovely Emma over at Daydreaming Disney and now supported by the laughter loving Michelle and Kim from The Minnie Minxes.  We had a great day of quiz's, do-nuts, satellite link-ups, sharing memories, muffins, lots of laughter as well as raising money for WDW Radio Dream Team Project.

It was great to spend time with people who 'get' what going to WDW is all about, who share a passion and a love for all things Disney and who all have amazing tales to tell about their experiences visiting various Disney parks around the world.

And although we may have been relatively small in number we still managed to raise $200 for the WDW Dream Team Project through a small raffle of donated goodies, look what I won :)
Raffle prizes :)

My goodies from the meet!

So a big thank you to everyone who came along yesterday, to those who helped organise it and those who graciously donated raffle prizes the only thing I want to know is when are we doing it again??