Tag Archives: Resort
This past June, our extended family took a fabulous vacation to Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the new Disney Vacation Club resort that opened in 2009. Our family had purchased points in DVC in June, 2010, and this was the first time we had stayed at at DVC resort. Let me tell you, we were not disappointed by Bay Lake Tower! Let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons of staying at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower at Contemporary Resort!
- BLT is a brand new 16 story modern resort. On the top floor they have the Top of the World Lounge, a special dining and rooftop viewing location for the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. We were fortunate enough to stay in room 8141, which was on the south side of the building, with a lake view, overlooking the pool area. This photo at the beginning is one of the shots of the pool that I took off of our balcony.
- Being a DVC Resort, it falls under the class of room categorized as Deluxe Villas. Our 2 bedroom suite was huge, had 3 full bathrooms, two balconies, a full kitchen, and a washer and dryer. We were able to sleep nine with no problems!
- The pool is a zero entry pool, and was a lot of fun. The slide on the right side of the pool is great, and was something that we did time and time again!
- BLT has a special walkway over to the Contemporary Resort. Called the Skyway, it is a great way to get over to the Contemporary to get some food, catch the monorail, buy some gifts, and just hang out.
- Lastly, the Top of the World Lounge is, as I mentioned previously, a great place to watch the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. They even pipe over the music of the show for you to enjoy. This special venue is only available to people that are staying at Bay Lake Tower.
- Because it is a DVC resort, within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom, staying at Bay Lake Tower can be quite expensive if you don’t have points to use. If I wanted to get a 2 bedroom suite at BLT for our next vacation in June for one week, the quoted price on the DisneyWorld.com website is $7,403 for a Lake View (add $800+ dollars for a Theme Park view!)
- One thing to keep in mind is that Bay Lake Tower, other than the lounge at the top of the resort, doesn’t have any amenities directly in the building for food. All of the restaurants are the ones located at the Contemporary Resort. This isn’t a big deal to me, but it might be to some people.
- Because it is located next to the Contemporary Resort, BLT does not have any intricate theming associated with it. It is intentionally modern, and while it’s not a deal breaker for me by any stretch, it is still something that I missed when we stayed in June.
We had a great time staying at Bay Lake Tower, and will consider staying there again. How many of the Chip & Company readers have stayed at BLT? What did you think of it?
- The Disney Vacation Club — What’s it all about? (mydreamsofdisney.com)
- Is Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort For You? (chipandco.com)
My family has enjoyed a couple of weeklong stays at Walt Disney World’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. The question asked above, is it for you, depends on what you are looking for in a Resort, how much time you will actually spend at the Resort, and what types of amenities you prefer. My family stays at the Value and Moderate Resorts, because we do not spend a lot of time in our room or exploring the property. We get our fill of adventure at the Parks and Downtown Disney area and only hit the room to drop off souvenirs or catch a nap. Perhaps when the kids are older and we slow down a bit, we may justify the extra expense of the Deluxe Resorts and their magical appeal.
Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of Port Orleans Riverside (POR):
- The property is absolutely beautiful, quiet, peaceful, and serenely scenic.
- Bus service is excellent, with 4 convenient, covered stops. (POR shares buses with only neighboring Port Orleans French Quarter.)
- The rooms are in excellent condition and are in the process of getting new queen beds in all rooms. (This creates a new CON below.)
- The food court is spacious and picturesque with lovely views of the Riverside Mill water wheel and Ol’ Man Island, and the food is delicious.
- Boatright’s Dining Hall table-service restaurant serves dinner only, but it’s a great place for hearty Cajun cooking.
- Surrey bikes, rowboats, pedal boats, and canopy boats can be rented for leisure time. Also, fisherman, you can cast a rod-n-reel into the pond stocked with catfish, perch, bass, and bluegill (catch and release only).
- The main pool on Ol’ Man Island features a lovely swimming area with slides, kids’ wading area, and hot tub. There’s also a shaded playground nearby. POR features five “quiet” pools throughout the Resort.
- For the romantics out there, POR offers a private carriage ride for $35.
- Friendships pick up Guests at POR and ferry them along the Sassagoula River to Port Orleans French Quarter and to Downtown Disney Marketplace until 11:00 p.m., running every hour until 4:00 p.m. and every 15 minutes after that.
- Fulton’s gift shop is well stocked and the Cast Members are very nice.
- The resort is large, and some of the buildings are difficult to access. We had to walk from the lobby in pouring rain and blustering wind on a 40-degree night to our room on the backside of Building 18, to which there is not direct route.
- Disney is in the process of replacing all full sized beds with queens. While that’s great news for families of four or fewer, as soon as that work is complete, those of us with parties of five will no longer be accommodated. *
- POR is divided into two themed “parishes”: the backwoods-cottage styled buildings of Alligator Bayou and the stately Gone with the Wind styled mansions of Magnolia Bend. In Alligator Bayou, the multi-level buildings are elevator-less. Guests with handicaps should be sure to request ground floor rooms.
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort is a lovely resort with beautiful grounds and a well-maintained setting. My family has enjoyed staying at POR, because its relaxing atmosphere helps us unwind after busy days in the Parks.
Will we stay there again? We’d love to, but probably not, because as soon as all rooms are converted to queen beds, they will no longer accommodate our family of five. But that’s alright. There are many more Resorts left for us to explore!
*Author’s note: There seems to be some discrepancy in reports concerning the refurbishments. Parties of 5 WILL still be accommodated at POR when renovations are complete. However, that applies to the buildings of Alligator Bayou only, and there may be some time periods where trundles are not available while the work is in progress. Rumors state the trundles are being replaced with Murphy-style twin beds, but we’ve been unable to confirm that information at this time.
- Opening in early spring 2012, the Royal Guest Rooms at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort-Riverside (chipandco.com)
- Planning 101 – Scheduling Time for Free Disney Resort Fun (chipandco.com)
From fast-casual fare to haute cuisine, the menu of dining options at Disneyland Resort offers something for every guest. Here, morning pancakes with Minnie Mouse are as celebrated as the spectacular creations at Napa Rose restaurant.
“We offer innovative cuisine from our award-winning chefs that match our guests’ desire for elegant dining,” said Michele Gendreau, director, Food & Beverage, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “But you can still find the Disneyland classics, from the Café Orleans Monte Cristo to Plaza Inn’s fried chicken.”
The rise in fine dining at Disneyland Resort is often an unexpected delight. At the hotels, top award winners are Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa and Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel. A stellar wine program has elevated the quality of dining service throughout the Resort, with trained sommeliers in restaurants including Napa Rose and Storytellers Cafe at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel.
Even though vacation may be a time for indulgence, Disneyland chefs provide healthful options, with every table-service and quick-service restaurant offering at least one vegetarian option.
For lifestyle dining options, or for requests from guests with food allergies or intolerances, there are a wide range of choices, from kosher to gluten and sugar free. In 2009, Disney tracked nearly a quarter of a million requests for special dietary needs and allergies. “We have a real commitment to innovative, healthy menus,” said Mahmud Dhanani, vice president of Food & Beverage Concept Development.
A new culinary dietary specialist recently joined the team to focus on vitality lifestyle ideas. Revised menus require that no more than 35 percent of calories can come from fat – saturated fat and sugar must account for no more than 10 percent of the meal’s calories. And chefs keep tinkering with recipes, such as smoothies, now made with non-fat yogurt and fresh fruit purees (now 120 calories and the former recipe was 420 calories).
Kids’ menus, too, are evolving, and changes make healthier choices the standard instead of the “alternate.” Grapes, apples, carrot sticks and unsweetened applesauce in place of French fries and 1 percent milk or bottled water instead of soda, for instance. Guests must request fries and sodas (at no additional cost).
Theme Park Eats
Theme park guests looking for food on the run will find beautiful fresh fruit carts in both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks. Favorite quick bites in Disneyland include cheddar cheese and broccoli soup and grilled salmon salad from the Harbour Galley in New Orleans Square; sandwiches and sweets from Jolly Holiday Bakery (opening in 2012) on Main Street, U.S.A.; easy-to-eat skewer snacks at Bengal Barbecue and the legendary Dole Whip at the Tiki Juice Bar in Adventureland; Mickey-shaped beignets and funnel cake from the Mint Julep Bar in New Orleans Square; hot pizza from Red Rockett’s Pizza Port and grilled vegetable sandwiches from Tomorrowland Terrace in Tomorrowland.
For a relaxing meal, spots such as Carnation Cafe on Main Street, U.S.A., serve generous salads and the legendary loaded baked potato soup. Settle in for barbecued ribs and chicken at Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue in Frontierland (barbecued tofu and veggie skewers available upon request).
Enchanting Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square, one of the most-requested reservations, offers diners specialties such as gumbo, jambalaya and filet mignon. Casual, family-friendly eats are on the menu at Plaza Inn on Main Street, U.S.A., and River Belle Terrace in New Orleans Square, where Walt Disney himself enjoyed breakfast on Sundays. For authentic Mexican, Rancho del Zocalo in Frontierland dishes up taco and burrito platters. Out-of-the-way Hungry Bear, nestled in the shady trees in Critter Country, is a favorite for Disney fans who recommend the burgers and the view on the riverfront.
At Disney California Adventure, guests can grab a sandwich or sweets at Pacific Wharf Cafe. Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill offers tacos with steak, pork, grilled chicken or fish. Hearty Asian creations are served at Lucky Fortune Cookery, with beef, chicken or tofu with vegetables, rice and your choice of four sauces.Other restaurants along Paradise Pier offer retro favorites from corn dogs to cheesy pizza.
To wile away a lunch, dine al fresco at Wine Country Trattoria at the Golden Vine Winery, with a menu of pastas, grilled sandwiches and California wines by the glass. At dinner, the menu adds balsamic-braised short ribs, herb-roasted chicken breast and braised lamb shank.
The lively Ariel’s Disney Princess Celebration at Ariel’s Grotto is one of this park’s most-requested reservations, with Ariel, Snow White, Belle, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty greeting guests at every table.
Dining With Characters
For a leisurely way to enjoy a delicious meal and time with the Disney characters as they stop by each table for photos and autographs, make reservations for a Character Dining Experience. These include:
- Disneyland: Plaza Inn on Main Street, U.S.A., daily Breakfast in the Park With Minnie and Friends; My Disneyland Birthday Party with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in the afternoons.
- At Disney California Adventure: Ariel’s Disney Princess Celebration at Ariel’s Grotto, with Snow White, Belle, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella at breakfast and lunch.
- At the hotels: Chip ‘n Dale Critter Breakfast at Storytellers Cafe offers a delicious breakfast buffet, while Goofy and his pals entertain at Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel for daily brunch and dinner. At Paradise Pier, Mickey Mouse and friends entertain at the Surf’s Up! Breakfast With Mickey and Friends.
Priority Seating is recommended in advance by calling Disney Dining, 714-781-DINE (714-781-3463).
Downtown Disney District
Diverse flavors, from spicy pasta jambalaya and andouille-crusted mahi mahi at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen to Irish salmon and braised Angus short ribs at Catal Restaurant, there are myriad choices for any palate in the Downtown Disney District, conveniently located just outside the theme parks and near the hotels.
Hearty dishes (and 175 TV screens, including the ones in the restrooms) give ESPN Zone diners plenty of energy for the restaurant’s interactive Sports Arena. Nearby, House of Blues has diners digging in to baby back ribs and pan-seared voodoo shrimp. For California-inspired cuisine, take a seat at La Brea Bakery and try a grilled panini or homemade soup.
For Mexican, it’s Tortilla Jo’s handmade tortillas; for Italian, Naples Ristorante Pizzeria and adjacent Napolini for thin-crust pizzas, pastas, soups and sandwiches. Kids love the tropical storms, waterfalls, aquarium and live parrots at Rainforest Cafe, where guests will enjoy choosing from more than 50 varied items on the menu.
About Disneyland Resort: The Disneyland Resort features two spectacular theme parks – Disneyland (the original Disney theme park) and Disney California Adventure park – plus the Downtown Disney District comprised of unique dining, entertainment and shopping experiences. The Resort’s three hotels are the luxurious, 948-room Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the magical 969-room Disneyland Hotel and the 481-room Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel with its “day-at-the-beach” fun. For information on attractions and vacations at Disneyland Resort visit www.disneyland.com, call (866) 60-DISNEY or contact local travel agents.
- Turkey Day Reservations Open at Disneyland Resort (chipandco.com)
- Disneyland Resort Releases 2010 Community Report (chipandco.com)
We recently completed an 11 day stay in Walt Disney World at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. The question asked above, is it for you, depends on what you are looking for in a resort, how much time you will actually spend at the resort, and what types of amenities you prefer. We stay at the Deluxe and Moderate level resorts because we do spend a bit of time enjoying the facilities and in most instances the Coronado Springs Resort, even though it is a Moderate, compares favorably to the Deluxe Resorts. There are some very distinct differences though.
Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of the Coronado Springs Resort (CSR):
- The physical resort is absolutely beautiful and very comfortable.
- Bus Service is excellent (CSR does not share buses with other resorts).
- The rooms are in excellent condition because of a “fairly recent” remodel.
- The Staff is a joy to deal with (with a minor exception to be dealt with below).
- Contrary to some reviews we had seen, we found the food and service at the Maya Grill to be top notch.
- Rix Cafe (grab & go) had a good variety of well prepared fresh items.
- We are non drinkers but the bars appeared to be well operated.
- The pools, both “main” and “quiet”, are immaculate and quite lovely.
- Although we did not use it, the fitness center looks to be clean and quite substantial.
- Panchito‘s Gift Shop is well stocked and the Cast Members are very nice.
- The resort is physically HUGE and if you have issues walking this could be an issue.
- The Pepper Market (food court) is a bit unusual and at most times the food stations seemed just a bit understaffed. This led to some delays in getting food. The layout of the stations seemed a bit confusing and not well labeled. The Cast Members were working their hardest but were put in an awkward situation by being, in my opinion, understaffed. The Cast Members who work the service at the tables were excellent and very attentive (this floor service is different from most food courts) and work hard for the extra 10% added to your bill for their presence.
- Bell Services is a bit weak. Let me emphasize, the issue is NOT with the Cast Members who handle the luggage but those at the Bell Services Desk. We had a room issue that necessitated us changing rooms (at CSR’s suggestion) and the approach that the Bell Services Desk took was inconvenient at best. When I got a manager involved, the issue was resolved as it always is at Disney but it shouldn’t have been necessary. When we left we had a very early departure time and there was only one Bell Services Cast Member on duty to pick up luggage so we had to schlep it ourselves. We were NOT the only ones with the early departure.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is a lovely resort with a beautiful and well maintained setting. It is , however, oriented towards convention type visitors so it seems a bit more “buttoned down” than most of the other Disney resorts. People just didn’t seem as relaxed as they do at other Disney locations, perhaps because of the necessity of maintaining their corporate image while with their peers.
Will we stay there again, probably not. The reason is not so much with the quality or amenities offered by the resort but rather our preference for some of the others we have experienced and will experience in the future. So many resorts, so little time!!! As always, enjoy your visit to Walt disney World!!
- Pepper Market: Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort (disneyfoodreport.com)
- Free ‘in-room’ wireless internet starting at most Walt Disney World Resorts today (chipandco.com)
Walt Disney World is such a fun vacation with so many add on features that you could never get bored, no matter how many times you visit The Mouse. However, some extras cost more than others and it all really comes down to your priorities and budget while on vacation. The first few times we went to Walt Disney World with my daughter we were truly just lucky to be there. We were young parents (and still are), with my husband still in college and working to support our family while I stayed home to take care of our baby. So extras like a spa day just weren’t possible for us at that time. One thing I learned in the early years of our family is that with a little creativity you don’t miss out on anything and actually make some of the very best memories!
So instead of wishing for things such as a pricey spa day at the Saratoga Springs Spa with my daughter, I created an in room spa that we have enjoyed ever since! I like to head down to the Basin Store at the Marketplace in Downtown Disney and pick up a few girly, good smelling bath products for us to use on our spa night. They have some really fun products such as bath bombs, bath salts and soaps for really affordable prices. They do a 3 for $15 deal on several of their products and a mix and match deals as well. It is really great priced bath items, especially for a special occasion. If you plan ahead, you could also bring your own bath products from home. Bubble bath, nail polish and facial masks pack easy and don’t take up too much space.
After you have your bath products picked out, head out and find your favorite treats around Walt Disney World and get it to go! I love to get a few cupcakes from Starring Rolls to take back to the Resort room. Another option would be to get some fancy caramels from Karamell Kuche in Germany at Epcot. My daughter and I love to sample all of our fancy treats while relaxing letting our face masks harden and watching a movie.
Start the night off by getting all relaxed using whatever bath products you’ve picked up. Once all clean put on your favorite jammies and enjoy some treats while doing facials and painting nails. Finish your evening off by falling asleep to a good movie and you should be totally rejuvenated for a full day at Walt Disney World when you wake up!
There is magic in everything at Walt Disney World and sometimes it is up to you to create your own. Instead of spending $200.00 on a spa evening with my daughter at one of the spa’s on property, I usually spend about $20-$30 and make priceless memories! It is a wonderful evening that we both look forward to every trip we take!
- Coming to Disney World Spring 2012: Blooms, Baseball and more (chipandco.com)
- Scaring Up Fun at the Walt Disney World ‘Trick or Meet-Up’ (chipandco.com)