Spend Your Whole Vacation In Disney World
Did you know that whether you are staying two days or two weeks Disney has eliminated the need to ever leave Disney property? They have gas stations, groceries, movies, restaurants and even a place to lay your head after a long day of having magical moments.
No you cannot stay in the Castle, although there is a suite in it, but you can stay within the confines of Walt Disney World for your entire vacation! There are a few options ranging from hotels to camping.
When it comes to hotels there are two classes, Disney owned and non-Disney owned. As you might guess the Disney owned ones tend to be a bit more expensive but they may just be worth it if it fits in your budget.
Disney does not call its hotels hotels. They call them resorts and in all fairness they are not like any other hotels Grumpy has ever stayed at. Some of them are destinations in and of themselves. In fact I like to have one day just at the resort to enjoy everything Disney offers.
So what does Disney offer at its resorts? Let’s take a quick look.
If guests fly into Orlando International Airport they can arrange for several perks. By making the appropriate arrangements, a simple process really, Disney will take care of picking up your luggage and carry it from the airport to your resort room. They will also pick you up, via Disney’s Magical Express, and carry you to your resort. You do have to carry yourself to the room though. When it’s time to go bring your luggage down to the lobby and load it on the Magical Express and they will whisk you and your luggage back to the airport.
Each resort has its own theme. They range from child friendly (and decidedly adult repulsing in some ways) themes with over-sized bowling pins and cartoon characters at the value resorts to the Africa where giraffes may just peak in on you while you eat breakfast on your balcony at the Deluxe Animal Kingdom Lodge. There are a range of choices to suit both your tastes and your budget.
All of the Disney resorts have at least counter service, similar to fast food, offerings. These are offered food court style. Deluxe and Moderate resorts also have (or at least have reasonable access to) a sit down restaurant. Some of these are world class so be prepared to make reservations (which can be, and in some cases should be, made up to 180 days in advance of your check in.)
All Disney resorts also have pools. Some have multiple pools ranging from heavily themed large pools with slides to small quiet pools.
Each Disney resorts also has bus service to all of the theme parks, the water parks and Downtown Disney. They are glad to do the driving and parking while you relax. This service can be a little slow sometimes though and crowding is often an issue. You might have to stand for the ride but in my grumpy opinion it’s still better than trying to drive, navigate and park not to mention remembering where you park. But if you insist on driving your Disney will let you park for free for the duration of your stay.
The final perk to be mentioned here, and perhaps the best, is Extra Magic Hours. These are hours that a park is open only to Disney World Resort guests. The Extra Magic Hours are normally one hour before opening or up to three hours after closing for all non-resort guests. As you might expect this cuts down on the line size, especially the morning magic hours when so many guests opt to sleep in but Grumpy is up and running! On one visit Mr and Mrs Grumpy had ridden Aerosmith five times before most people could get into the park! Extra Magic Hours are offered for at least one park per day but during busy season sometimes one park opens early and one stays open late.
Disney’s Resorts are broken into three categories, Value, Moderate and Deluxe. As you probably guessed their is a big difference in price from value to Deluxe. In any case they are all listed below. In future updates we will be giving each resort its own article.
- All-Star Movies- The movies are celebrated with oversize tributes to movies.
- All-Star Music
- All-Star Sports
- Art of Animation Resort
- Pop Century Resort
- Caribbean Beach
- Coronado Springs
- Ft. Wilderness Cabins
- Port Orleans Riverside
- Port Orleans French Quarter
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Beach Club Resort
- Boardwalk Inn
- Contemporary Resort
- Grand Floridian Resort
- Polynesian Resort
- Wilderness Lodge
- Yacht Club Resort
Disney Vacation Club (You do not have to be a member to rent one if it’s available!)
- Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas
- Bay Lake Tower (At the Contemporary)
- Beach Club Villas
- Boardwalk Villas
- Old Key West Resort
- Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- Wilderness Lodge Villas
As you enter the Magic Kingdom and head down Main Street USA if you are looking for adventure take a left at Casey’s Corner and head towards Adventureland. Adventureland has two rides that were E Ticket rides when such things were still used. One is the Jungle Cruise. The other is Pirates of the Caribbean.
Even if you have never been to Disney World you have probably heard of Pirates of the Caribbean. How could you miss it after four films that made almost four billion dollars? You are probably even aware that the film took its inspiration from the theme park attraction.
What you may not realize is that if you rode the ride you might recognize some scenes from the first movie and even some characters. Subsequent movies also borrowed a line or in one case even some of the soundtrack from the ride. If, having seen the movies, you expect to experience the movie in the ride you will be sorely disappointed though. Some scenes have been modified and added to the ride in tribute to the movies but it’s still not a ride through of the movie.
Pirates of the Caribbean was not originally intended to be part of the Magic Kingdom. Walt thought it would not be exciting or exotic enough for people who were living so close to the Caribbean themselves. Guests who experienced the ride at Disneyland disagreed though and began to demand that the Pirates dock in the Magic Kingdom.
Instead imagineers envisioned a western themed area called Western River Expedition. This area would have included a dark ride, hiking trails and a roller coaster. This attraction would have been built where Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain are today. Guests, however, wanted Pirates so plans for the Western River Expedition were put on hold and then because Pirates took up so much of the proposed budget eventually scrapped.
When imagineers turned to adding Pirates to the Magic Kingdom they did not do a complete recreation of the Disneyland version. Either because of space, time or budget there were several changes made and the Magic Kingdom version is shorter than its predecessor and among those who have experienced both they say it is inferior. I have never made the trip to Disneyland so I cannot offer an opinion on which is better.
I can say that Pirates of the Caribbean has earned its place as an E ticket ride. I ride it every time I find myself in the Magic Kingdom and sometimes multiple times in a day.
Like almost everything Disney there is a story behind the ride. As you enter the building it is not just any building but an old Spanish fort, Castillo Del Moro. Guests enter through the Torre Del Sol. The façade of the building is a great recreation of a Spanish fort modeled after the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro in the Old San Juan in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Besides the impressive stone walls, gates cannons and muskets one of the first things I notice entering the building is that is cool! That alone makes the ride great after hours in the Florida sun. You can also catch music and the sounds of fighting.
Usually the line for Pirates moves pretty fast which is good. There is no Fastpass option for the ride. The ride itself is the typical Disney dark ride. You join the crew of a 30 passenger boat for a tour of a mostly successful pirate raid on a fictional 16th century town.
The ride begins once you join your crew and set sail. The first thing you will encounter will be either a ghostly apparition of Davy Jones or Captain Blackbeard himself(Blackbeard is rumored to be only a temporary part of the ride.) Next you get the famous dead men tell no tales scene complete with a skeleton or two. This is the audio that was lifted for the At World’s End movie. Then it’s a short drop in the dark to find yourself in the middle of a battle between Captain Barbossa and the town he is trying to sack. Be careful of the cannonballs! There are very few direct hits but there is a danger someone in your crew may be splashed a little.
You will also encounter an auction for the fair ladies of said town and an attempt to get the mayor to reveal a secret. Be on the lookout for Captain Jack Sparrow. You will also see a pirate or two in the jail trying to coax the keys from the jailhouse dog. This scene was borrowed for The Curse of the Black Pearl. The keen observer will find Mr Gibb’s inspiration in one scene with a pirate passed out with the pigs.
After touring the town and getting to hear a rousing chorus of It’s A Pirates Life For Me you will find Captain Sparrow one last time as he joins in the singing.
Finally your tour of duty is over and you will exit the ship to be given the standard opportunity to gather some booty of your own in the gift shop. I do not recommend trying to pirate the goods though. Use money please.
While this ride may lack the splash of Splash Mountain or the thrill of the other two mountains in the Magic Kingdom it is a must see. The animatronics are great and the music is compelling but not nearly as annoying as It’s A Small World. The ride is definitely child friendly. The pirates are portrayed as more comical then fearsome. Check it out if you haven’t already. If you have leave a comment about your favorite part.
Disney TA Blog has just made an announcement that refrigerators will be removed from all rooms at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resorts Aulani, and Disney Resort & Spa, Resort hotels due to a defect. Vacation Club and Fort Wilderness Campground will not be affect. Guests staying at one of the affected resorts will be notified via a letter in their room. A select number of replacements will be available by request.
The timeline to replace all of the affected rooms is expected to take several months. Grumpy will try to keep you updated.
Walt Disney World will soon be introducing the Rapid Fill Mug to replace the standar refillable mug that has been sold at Disney resorts for years. The biggest difference will be that each mug will have a RFID chip. These chips will communicate with the new self-serve drink filling stations. The stations will also recognize traditional paper cups which can also be purchased will also have a chip and can be only be used for one hour from the initial serve and are limited to four 20 oz pours.
This is an obvious change from the way things currently work. Currently the drink stations are basically functioning on an honor system. Guests can fill any cup they want. Some have even been known to fill bottles and other assorted containers. I have seen mugs from resorts other than the one I was staying in filled as well as mugs that are obviously years old. In effect, if you wanted a free beverage at the resort, there was nothing to stop you from getting one.
Of course it was not intended to work that way. For those who have not stayed at the Disney on-property resorts a little explanation might be helpful. For years Disney has been selling refillable mugs. These mugs were sold with the clear understanding that they were for the length of your current visit and for use only in the resort you were staying in.
They were a bit pricey. The first one I bought was about $12. The last one was about $15. However, if you are staying in one of the resorts and you only bought two drinks for two days, at your resort, you about broke even for what if would have cost just to buy a single use paper cup plus you had a handy souvenir. Since I was always staying for more than two days I not only broke even but I saved money.
As a guest, I must admit I was a little frustrated to pay the money for a mug and watch others using the old mugs they had bought. By nature I am an honest, if slightly grumpy person. I do not abuse a system nor do I like to see others abuse the system. I am also smart enough to know that they money Diseny was losing from dishonest customers was costing us honest ones. We were, in effect, going to pay for those who were abusing the system.
Which brings up a moral question. Though these people were doing was an obvious abuse of the system was it wrong? Was it stealing? By definition stealing is taking something that does not belong to you. These people doing that were they not? What is the difference between that and shoplifting? None in my book.
Of course some people are going to say that Disney is making plenty and that Disney prices are outrageous. I do not disagree. It irks me to pay the price I have to pay for a drink at Disney too but I have a choice. I can always bring my own.
There are two other changes in the system.
The first is that guests can use the mug at any resort now. I am not sure how much impact this will have for the average guests. How often are they going to be at another resort after all? However, there are a good number of guests who split their stays between multiple resorts. Now they will not have to buy two mugs to stay legal.
The second involves pricing. Because the number of days the mug is valid varies the price will too. The price will start at $8.99 for one day and go up to $17.99 for length of stay plus four days.
Since Disney is going to start charging more as well as eliminating theft, I would like to make one suggestion. Get rid of the generic mugs and bring back resort specific mugs!
The new system was tested in 2011 and will starting rolling out to all Disney resorts soon.
For more information check this out this articl article from Orlando Theme Park News.
If you have not taken time to catch a performance by the Voices of Liberty at the American Experience in Epcot…well shame on you! You are missing a good show. Here they are doing one of their best numbers, The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
I love Disney and I love the country that gave Disney the freedom and resources to do all the things Walt did. So in honor of both the USA and Walt grumpy hopes you enjoy this patriotic fireworks display from the Magic Kingdom
The Main Street Bakery, the source of that wonderful cookie smell (aided by some imagineering that pumps the smell of fresh baked cookies into the air) is open again but now features and is sponsored by Starbucks.
The reaction to this announcement was mixed while Disney purists hated to see anything this iconic taken over by blatant profiteering. Coffee enthusiasts, however, were perking with joy over the opportunity to get a real coffee on property. Though not a coffee addict like many I have been told the coffee at Disney tasted like it came out of the moat around the Castle and not a pot. My limited experience confirms this suspicion.
Hate or love it Starbucks is in the Magic Kingdom now. But the invasion continues there are already plans to put Starbucks in Epcot and rumors of a change at Starring Rolls in Hollywood Studios.
Walt Disney World loves to immerse its guests in fantasy. We expect this in the parks but the magic does not end at the parks. It carries over into the resorts. At Port Orleans Riverside guests can step into the world of Princess Tiana and her friends. At Caribbean Beach you can live like a pirate.
Take a look behind the scenes with these videos