Category Archives: Off the beaten path
A trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth, aka Walt Disney World Resort, awesome as it is, can wear even the most seasoned traveler to the bone. Walking miles a day, waiting in crowded lines, eating delicious meals (ok, that’s not really a problem), basically pushing yourself physically, trying to “do it all,” can really fry the nerves and put a damper on an out-of-this-World vacation.
My family has found that if we don’t spend at least one evening in during our trip, we will have one totally Grumpy day where noone’s happy and everyone’s one edge. It actually took us two or three trips to figure the pattern out. We were always trying too hard to take it all in, to do as much Disney stuff as we possibly could without missing a thing that we just kept on going and going and going…and we’d end up regretting that choice.
But now we are older and wiser and more experienced at “Doing Disney.” Once we accepted the fact that we will never be able to see or do all there is to do at Walt Disney World, we were able to relax and enjoy whatever we could get to. And whatever we missed would wait till our return—and we will return.
Spending the evening in at your resort doesn’t have to be boring. You don’t have to go to bed at 7:00 (unless you really want to!). There are plenty of activities to slow the pace that will not only help everyone in your party to relax but will also rejuvenate their Disney spirit.
So, check your game plan, double-check the Park guides, and make sure there’s no place you need to be, and then…
- Take advantage of the fine eateries onsite. Too often we bypass the fabulous food that’s right around the corner in favor of Park fare, but don’t forget about your resort restaurants. They’re on the Disney Dining Plan!
- Take a dip in the resort pools. Most resorts have small, “quiet” pools in addition to the large main pools for a more relaxing time away from crowds. All are kept at 80º F yearround.
The Keys to the Kingdom Tour is a fabulous “extra-curricular” for any Magic Kingdom fan that wants to add even more knowledge and fun facts to their repertoire. Even the most knowledgable Disney trivia buff will learn something new on this tour. While I won’t give away the secrets about this tour, I will give you some helpful information and insight about it.
Just like ADRs, you may schedule the Keys to the Kingdom tour 180 days out. All tour participants MUST be at least 16 years old. There are 3 tours given per day. Each tour lasts about 5 hours. Lunch is included at the Columbia Harbor House.
Chip’s Tips: Choose the first tour of the day, as it begins before park opening, allowing you the opportunity to get some great pictures of an “empty” Main Street USA and Cinderella’s Castle.
When arriving for your KTTK tour, check-in at Guest Relations. If your tour begins before park opening, your name will be on a Tour List at the turnstiles – they will allow you early entrance. At Guest Relations, you will be given a name tag as well as an ear piece (a clip-on ear phone) in order to hear your tour guide. You will also pre-order your lunch from the Columbia Harbor House menu.
All of the KTTK tour guides have an incredible knowledge of Walt Disney, his ideas, and the details that went into planning the Magic Kingdom park. The tour begins on Main Street USA, where you’ll learn about forced perspective, and the stories behind a few of the names you see written on the 2nd story building windows. You’ll stand in the hub in front of Cinderella’s castle and learn why the entrance to Tomorrowland is nearly twice as wide as the entrance to Adventureland. Your tour guide will even point out certain trees and tell you why they’re important – one reason being, some are strategically placed to hide certain park icons from being seen while in another land. Your tour guide will show you how the details in the park transition as you walk from one land into the next. From the music changing, to the detailing in the walls, even to the changes in the pavement that you’re walking on!
There is so much to do and see at Disney World, but often people want an element of peace and quiet attached to their vacation. A great way to do this is to take some time off from theme park touring and explore one of the many other activities Disney has to offer.
One of the things that is offered that many people do not know about is Archery! Any aspiring Merida or Robin Hood ages six and up can participate.
Archery lessons usually take place Thursday through Saturday at Fort Wilderness Campground, though I was informed they have offered this activity daily throughout August due to popular demand! Archery is offered from 2:45-4:15 only and it is recommend that you have reservations. Reservations are limited to about ten guests. Once you have made your reservation simply arrive 15 minutes early at the bike barn at Fort Wilderness to check in. You will be escorted to the archery range.
During your 90 minutes on the shooting range you will learn how to shoot the bow and arrow and receive tips from the professional staff. You will have plenty of time to take aim and practice your skills. You need not have any previous archery experience to participate.
The cost of this activity is $25 plus tax per person.
My Tip: For a leisurely day, take the morning off to relax by the pool before heading out to Fort Wilderness. Pair your afternoon archery lesson with a reservation at Trails End Restaurant for dinner. After you get your fill on their delicious food you can take the boat to the Magic Kingdom to enjoy a few rides before heading back to your hotel. You will feel relaxed a refreshed having taken the early part of the day slowly!
- Off the Beaten Path – The Horses of Walt Disney World (chipandco.com)
- Endless Fun at Fort Wilderness! (tipsfromthedisneydiva.com)
There are a lot of things to do on days you do not visit the theme parks. In this new series I am going to highlight a different option with each article. For this first time I am going to highlight boat rentals!
Water craft rentals are available at many resorts including: The Grand Floridian, The Contemporary Resort, The Wilderness Lodge, The Polynesian, Fort Wilderness, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Caribbean Beach Resort, Port Orleans, Coronado Springs, Old Key West and at Down Town Disney. The types of boats available varies from resort to resort so it is good to know what type of boat you are interested before heading out.
A discount voucher of 15% is usually included in any magic your way package so boating is an activity worth trying out!
Types of water crafts available:
Sea Raycers: are small engine powered crafts that hold two people. Though they aren’t super fast they are one of the quicker options available for rental. Price $32 for 30min or $45 for 60 minutes plus tax.
Boston Whaler Montauk: These engine powered vessels with a canopy that hold up to six guests and are quite fun to putz around on. Again, they do not go fast, but an afternoon checking out Bay Lake or Seven Seas Lagoon is meant to be enjoyed not rushed. $45 per half hour plus tax
Sun Tracker Pontoon Boat: These boats can hold up to ten passengers. They are larger crafts set on large flotation devices, called pontoons. (Pretty obvious I suppose) They are fairly easy to navigate and a great way to bring a big group out. Pack a lunch if you like! $45 per half hour
Sail Boats: You can rent these small and beautifully colored boats at certain marinas. They can hold up to two guests and the cost of rental is $20 per hour.
Canoes and Kayaks: These water crafts are a great way to enjoy the water at a leisurely pace while also getting in a work out! Canoes can hold up to 3 passengers while kayaks can only hold two. They are available for $11 per hour.
Paddle Boats: Paddle Boats can hold up to four guests. This is a great option for a family looking to spend some time together. Without breaking the bank. Paddle boats are available for $11 per hour.
Want to try some more extreme water sports? Head over to Sammy Duvalls at The Contemporary Resort where you can try things like parasailing, tubing, wake boarding and water skiing!
Go ahead! Take a day off or even an afternoon off from touring the parks and enjoy some of the other things Disney has to offer!
Have you ever been boating at Disney before?
It’s time for another dose of manners! This time it’s about proper etiquette in and around your Resort! Common sense? Yes. Do all guests have it? Nope. Are a few nice reminders needed? Probably – but certainly NOT for our readers! This little ditty is written for those guests that don’t know how to act, speak, or behave correctly. Let’s just hope that one day, they hap upon this series of articles.
Here’s what we’d love to tell those people:
- Always be polite when asking for something from the staff. Smile and make eye contact. Saying “Please,” “Thank you,” “No Thank you” as well as “Have a nice day!” to others goes a long way; you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Grouchy, demanding and accusation-like tones won’t help you get what you’re asking for – such as room requests. However, being polite, using friendly tones and giving a smile makes others want to keep working with you, and consequently, they’ll work harder to help you out!