by Kimberly LaPaglia | Nov 5, 2017 | Disney, WDW Resorts
Romance at Walt Disney World: Favorite Hotels for Couples
Romance at Walt Disney World?! If you’re reading this article, you are either looking for romantic ideas for your Walt Disney World vacation or you are wondering how couples are finding lovely moments to share at a theme park.
I’m writing this so that you don’t doubt for a moment that couples can find romance at Walt Disney World. I’ve got date suggestions coming soon too. For now, let’s delve into the hotels at Walt Disney World. This photographic tour will point out our favorite hotels for couples at WDW.
Join us on this romantic journey; better yet, grab your sweetheart, a fabulous beverage, and start planning your trip together.
In the spirit of fairytales, these resorts inspire us to dream in settings similar to the Disney classics. Reserve a room at any of these hotels and let their charm woo you and your beloved.
Disney’s Grand Floridian
Some guests love the old world charm, others find it a little too reminiscent of their grandmother’s parlor. Either way, look a little closer at Disney’s Grand Floridian.
Let time go by at the GF Lobby.
Yes, I have a bias here. Michael and I honeymooned at the GF; we also have spent many anniversaries holding hands and staring up at the gabled roofs.
Victorian elegance at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
What makes it so grand? It’s a quiet evening listening to the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra.
Request your favorite tune!
A waterside table at Narcoossee’s will have fireworks flying between the two of you. Don’t forget to find the perfect spot to watch fireworks from the resort. We recommend a table or the patio at Narcoossee’s, a Magic Kingdom fireworks cruise from the marina, a balcony from your lagoon view room, or a cozy spot on the dock.
Narcoossee’s waterfront restaurant
With a spa, a lobby filled with fresh cut flowers, an assortment of restaurants, beautiful rooms (request a dormer or “attic” room), maids on parade (do they still do this?!), two featured pools, and a view of Cinderella’s Castle, the Grand Floridian should definitely be a top choice for your romantic weekend or week-long stay.
Disney’s GF is GRAND.
Our most romantic moment ever in Walt Disney World? Renewing our vows for our tenth wedding anniversary!
Our 10th anniversary vow renewal.
We rode in Cinderella’s Coach, exchanged vows at Disney’s Wedding Pavilion, had a small reception at the Grand Floridian, and ended the evening with an Epcot IllumiNations dessert party for our family and friends.
Disney’s BoardWalk Resort
At first glance, the BoardWalk Resort seems to be too busy for romance. However, the goings-on at the BoardWalk add to the mystique.
Evening at the BoardWalk.
For rooms, we recommend a Concierge garden view or a two-story garden villa with a charming and private entrance. Rooms facing the boardwalk will be noisier so do request a quieter location.
Club Level Garden Rooms have private gardens!
Quiet morning or evening strolls around the BoardWalk or a walk to Epcot’s World Showcase for a memorable meal are just some of the reasons the BoardWalk is sure to steal your heart.
We recommend escaping to the Belle Vue Lounge to toast your own love story before lounging in your room.
Concierge room at BoardWalk Inn.
Then, head down to Ample Hills Creamery to indulge in an ice cream flight.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Set under a thatched room in an exotic setting, the Animal Kingdom Lodge will delight your senses. Wood crackling fires, intoxicating smells, a sprawling pool with shaded lounge chairs, moonlight illuminating a giraffe on the savanna — these are all reasons to cozy up to your loved one at this unique resort.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby
We love exploring the nooks and crannies of AKL. There’s always some where to sit back and take in the wonders of the lodge. Or sneak kisses at an outdoor overlook. At night, sip grown up beverages in the Victoria Falls Lounge or stop by the campfire at Arusha Overlook.
Firepit with cozy rocking chairs.
You’ll find both Jambo House and Kidani Village to offer romantic surroundings.
Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter
What moderately priced hotel at Walt Disney World exudes charm? For us, it’s Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter.
Sit by the fountain.
The wrought iron railings, lantern lighting, paved walkways, and gorgeous fountains beckon lovers on romantic walks.
Take an early evening stroll.
Along the way, you’ll run into the Sassagoula River with water gently lapping against the riverbank. Around the bend, is our next choice for romance and it’s another moderate resort…
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside
For a romantic stay, we recommend requesting a room in one of the three-story mansion buildings. Grand staircases, bubbling fountains, and white stately columns welcome guests at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort.
Gorgeous fountain at Riverside.
A stroll through the mansion section of this resort soothes weary souls.
You’ll find your hearts melting as you admire the horse-drawn carriage slowly meandering through the lush landscaping with picturesque azaleas and magnolias lining the way. Reserve your extra-fee ride in advance by calling (407) WDW-PLAY.
Horse-drawn Carriage Ride.
In the late evening, take a walk to French Quarter and share beignets with your sweetie.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Exotic flowers and dark woods are featured throughout the lobby of the Polynesian Village. Romance is in the air in the colorful but soothing Great Ceremonial House.
Cute Tiki Statue welcomes guests to the south seas atmosphere at Polynesian Village.
Watch for hula lessons; extra points if you both join in! Afterwards, find a warm and cozy place in the tropical themed lobby.
At night, the tiki torches will light your way as you stroll to a beachside hammock with a Dole Whip to share from Pineapple Lanai.
Tiki Torches light your way.
Lovebirds will find lots to do: sip a Lapu Lapu out of a coconut, find a serene spot to sit at the quiet pool, listen to the sounds of the ferry boat in the distance, enjoy a beverage at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.
Visit Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.
Purchase some wine and chocolate-covered macadamia nuts to enjoy in your room or at your private Oasis patio right by the pool.
Wine and Chocolate Macadamia Nuts!
The above are all solid options for a romantic getaway at Walt Disney World. With the right planning, most hotels at Disney World can be romantic. Just add a picnic meal, a beverage in the moonlight, or hold hands while watching an outdoor movie. For rates and availability, visit my Disney Vacation Planning page.
Finally, make sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay tuned for in-depth hotel reviews.
What’s your favorite romantic Disney hotel? Contact Us or Follow Us on Facebook (or any of our social media channels) and share your photos!
by Kimberly LaPaglia | Sep 4, 2017 | Disney, Port Orleans Riverside, WDW Moderate Resorts, WDW Resorts
Top Twenty Tips for Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort (POR) sits alongside the Sassagoula River in Walt Disney World. As a moderately priced hotel, Port Orleans Riverside is a popular lodging choice with WDW visitors.
Here are my top twenty tips for guests staying at this gorgeous resort:
Splurge on a Royal Room
In March 2012, Oak Manor and Parterre Place mansion buildings debuted Royal Guest rooms. Underneath the royal themeing, guests will notice that the amenities are similar to standard rooms at the moderate resorts.
Yes, these rooms may be a bit too princesss-y for some guests. However, the headboards that burst with a fireworks display add a touch of whimsy that will likely appeal to the whole family. See how many princess mentions your family can find. The beautiful Tiana definitely holds court here.
Princesses will feel right at home.
Take a Carriage Ride
The rustic ambiance of Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside can be viewed from a horse-drawn carriage ride. For $45 ($55 starting October 1, 2017), you’ll receive a 25-minute ride for up to 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 small children.
Make reservations up to 180 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-PLAY.
Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride
Hang at the Muddy Rivers Pool Bar
Muddy Rivers is a serene watering spot near the Ol’ Man Island pool. Refreshments are served up by an attentive bartender. Seating is shaded!
Sip a beverage at this relaxing bar.
Visit Disney Springs via the Riverboat
The leisurely boat ride from Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside to Disney Springs takes about 20-25 minutes with a brief stop at French Quarter. Operated by the Sassagoula Steamboat Co., the boats along this route sail under a yellow flag. Plus, this ferry service is complimentary!
Float down the river on a ferry boat.
Walk to Port Orleans French Quarter
For additional shopping and dining, take a leisurely stroll around the riverbend to Port Orleans French Quarter.
Of course, you’ll want to get some beignets while you’re there.
Messy but good!
Take Breakfast to Boatwright’s
In the morning, diners can take their quick service breakfast from the Riverside Mill food court to the dining room in Boatwright’s. It’s a quieter, less chaotic location.
Eat your quick service breakfast in Boatwright’s.
Look for Hidden Mickeys
I love looking for Hidden Mickeys!
Look closely at the mansion railings.
Look up high for Hidden Mickeys.
Alligator Bayou Room’s Murphy Bed
Families with young children will appreciate the pull-down Murphy bed.
Pull down child-size murphy bed.
Stop by River Roost
For musical entertainment, stop by River Roost in the evenings. During the day, this is a quiet place to wait for your Disney’s Magical Express return bus to the Orlando International Airport. For charging your electronics before your departure, look for electric outlets along the wall.
Recommendation: Order an Albita Purple Haze on tap.
Fishing excursions include fun amenities, including an experienced guide, rod and reel, tackle, artificial and/or live bait, non-alcoholic beverages, and one year BASS (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society) membership, which includes 11 issues of Bassmaster Magazine (one membership per excursion).
Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance by calling 407-WDW-BASS. Choose between 2 and 4 hour trips!
Fish for largemouth bass.
Look for seasonal events
The Beignet Dash Fun Run takes place Sundays at 8AM at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter. Check-In begins at 7:30AM with a cost of $15 plus tax. You’ll receive a race bib, finisher’s medallion, a small goody bag, and a certificate for an order of three beignets at the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory.
Join in a Fun Run.
Fulton’s General Store
Fulton’s carries necessities such as sundries, rain ponchos, and beverages. It’s also a relaxing spot to browse through the latest Disney merchandise. We love finding resort-specific goodies.
Stop by Fulton’s General Store.
Compare prices! A bottle of Dasani Water was $3.19 in the Riverside Mill food court compared to $3.00 in the General Store.
Online Check In
If you check-in online (and have a MagicBand) before your WDW arrival, you’ll be able to skip the Registration Desk. Watch for a text indicating that your room is ready; I love getting this text!
Your Resort Room is Ready.
On our most recent trip (August 2017), we arrived Riverside at 11:30AM. By the time we had lunch and walked around the resort for a bit, we had already received the “Your Resort Room is Ready” text at 10:07AM.
Riverside Mill Food Court
During prime dining hours, it gets crazy in here. Dine early or late for a less chaotic meal.
The pasta dishes here are satisfying. For dessert, get the chocolate cake. When you’re craving a snack or light meal, nosh on the breadsticks with marinara sauce.
Buses can be a tad bit aggravating at this resort. Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside often shares bus transportation with nearby French Quarter resort. Depending on what stop is nearest your building, you may find that exiting the bus at French Quarter and walking to Riverside is quicker. (I’m not kidding.) You’ll also want to line up near the blue line where the motor coach stops for a better chance of finding space on the next bus. This is a large resort and buses can be packed full during theme park rush hours.
Bus Transportation Arrival Times.
Fashioned after a Bayou swimming hole, Ol’ Man Island’s pool is a refreshing oasis for adults and kids of all ages.
Cool off at Ol’ Man Island.
Don’t miss the Recreation Calendar filled with fun activities. Some of your choices include bike rentals, evening campfires, and outdoor movies.
Go pedaling around the resort.
Note that the two-story Alligator Bayou lodge buildings do not have elevators. If this is an issue for your family, request a first floor room or lodging in the Mansion section of the resort.
Stairway at an Alligator Bayou building.
Disney’s Magical Express
Disney’s Magical Express took about 90 minutes from stepping off the Southwest airplane to arrival at Port Orleans Riverside. We made stops at Old Key West and French Quarter first. The longest wait that we endured was waiting for the bus to depart the airport once we were seated on board. It was about 9:30AM and since we were among the first passengers to board, it took time to fill up the bus. At least we were sitting down!
Bus Queues at MCO.
Our luggage arrived our room 2 hours and 50 minutes after our plane landed. We know because we were just settling in to take a nap; it was perfect timing.
Resort Airline Check-In and Luggage Storage
Resort Airline Check-In was well organized at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. We dropped off our luggage in the morning prior to heading to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Boarding passes were delivered to our room the day prior so we only needed to have our luggage weighed and tagged.
Open 5AM until Noon.
After, we headed to the Luggage Room to store a carry-on bag. Again, service was exemplary.
Why Stay at Port Orleans Riverside?
Stay here for the choice of lodgings — Alligator Bayou or Mansion buildings — giving families two themed options. Also, Port Orleans Riverside boasts prime real estate along the Sassagoula River with the opportunity to take a boat to Disney Springs. With French Quarter around the river bend, Riverside guests get two resorts filled with fun activities within easy walking distance of each other. Book your stay at this WDW moderate resort!
Contact Us, Follow Us on Twitter, or comment below to share your Port Orleans Riverside tips.
by Kimberly LaPaglia | Jul 20, 2017 | Disney, Florida, Grand Floridian, Victorian, WDW Deluxe Resorts, WDW Resorts
Grand Floridian Society Orchestra
Wander into Disney’s Grand Floridian (GF) and time starts to slip away — back to the Victorian era. Whether you’re stopping by for a respite or staying at the Grand, the breathtaking lobby will beckon you to sit a spell. While marveling at the ornate decor underneath stained glass domes, find a cozy chair, then listen to the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra (GFSO).
Let time go by at the GF Lobby.
THIS is one of my favorite places to relax while in Walt Disney World.
Grand Floridian’s second floor seating.
From their prime real estate on a second floor balcony, the Grand Floridian Orchestra perches high above the immense lobby. When the live music starts, it seems to float throughout the multi-storied room, where guests listen from elegant seats on the first and second floors.
Grand Floridian Lobby.
Others listen from Mizner’s Lounge nestled just behind the band.
Evenings at the Grand Floridan are even more enchanting once the band starts to play their ragtime, Dixie, and jazz music with some Disney tunes mixed into the playlist.
These refined musicians have been led by drummer Patrick Doyle. For 44 years, Patrick was a full time musician at Walt Disney World until he semi-retired in July 2016; he now plays two nights per week.
Grand Floridian Society Orchestra
GF Trivia: The Tennessee Waltz was played every day for the “Teddy Bear Lady” as it was one of Lynn’s favorite songs. Lynn would visit the GF often with her husband, Bruce, and then daily after her beloved husband passed away. Last I had heard (and correct me if I’m wrong), she was in hospice care. Her visits are greatly missed by the Cast Members as well as many patrons of the Grand Floridian. If you have an update on this lovely lady, please share in the comments. I recall seeing her as she listened to the music on many of our GF stays and visits.
And don’t forget to request one of your favorite songs.
When You Wish Upon A Star.
Request your favorite tune!
Grand Floridian Society Orchestra Schedule
The current daily schedule has performances listed at 4PM, 5:20PM, 6:25PM, 7:35PM, and 9PM.
Grand Floridian Society Orchestra
Get ready to mark your Disney vacation calendars! On Sundays and Mondays, the following Grand Floridian Society Orchestra Band Members entertain guests:
- Bobby Pickwood – Bandleader/Trumpet, Cornet, and Flugelhorn
- Jeff Phillips – Piano
- Doug Mathews – String Bass
- Paul Parker – Drums
- Dick Fote – Trombone
- Gene Hunn – Flute, Clarinet, Bass, Tenor, and Soprano Saxophone
If you visit Tuesday through Saturday, the GFSO band members are:
- Patrick Doyle – Bandleader/Drums
- John Katalenic – Piano
- Charlie Silva – String Bass and Electric Bass
- Davy Jones – Trumpet, Cornet, and Flugelhorn
- Harold Johnson – Trombone/Vocal
- Rex Wertz – Flute, Clarinet, Bass, Tenor, and Soprano Saxophone
Dates, times, musicians are subject to change.
It’s difficult to find time to see and do everything at Walt Disney World; I get it. It’s also challenging to find time to rest on a vacation that mostly centers around theme parks. Spending time at the WDW resorts is a fun arrival day activity before your Disney days become crazy busy.
So, when you need to escape the throngs of crowds standing in loud queues, make your way to Disney’s Grand Floridian and let the sweet sounds of the Grand Floridian Society soothe your ears, your heart, and your soul.
Contact Us, Follow Us on Twitter, or comment below to share your Grand Floridian Orchestra experiences.
by Kimberly LaPaglia | Jul 13, 2017 | Disney, Disney's Magical Express, Walt Disney World, WDW Resorts
How Do I Add Disney’s Magical Express to My WDW Reservation?
Just like you, I’ve booked Walt Disney World vacations without adding Disney’s Magical Express (DME) during the initial booking process.
For many reasons, you may have been unsure about your transportation needs. Maybe you didn’t reserve your flights to Orlando International Airport (MCO) yet or perhaps you decided against driving when you saw an airfare sale. At any rate, you now need to add complimentary motorcoach transportation between MCO and your WDW resort.
No worries! I want to share how you can easily add Disney’s Magical Express to an existing reservation.
First, if you are working with a travel agent, they can take care of it for you.
Add Disney’s Magical Express Service
If you are making your own travel plans, follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Visit Disney’s Magical Express Airport Transportation Reservation at https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/airport-transportation-reservation/.
Fill out the DME form.
- Be sure to include your flight information. If you don’t have it, you’ll need to call later.
- Watch for an email confirmation.
- Print out and bring your email confirmation along with your MagicBands, if applicable.
DME at the Grand Floridian.
View a list of Disney Resort Hotels offering complimentary Disney’s Magical Express service and find out more about DME, Luggage Delivery, and Resort Airline Check-In.
Contact Us, Follow Us on Twitter, or comment below to share your DME tips.
by Kimberly LaPaglia | Jun 30, 2017 | Disney, Walt Disney World, WDW Resorts
Tips for Relaxing at Walt Disney World
Even if you are a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World, you may find it difficult to unwind when you have nearly 50 square miles with very tempting shopping, dining, rides, food, and recreation to explore. Can you really find relaxation during a theme park vacation?
Just today, I was planning my FastPass+ selections and itinerary for a quick trip that we are taking at the end of August. And guess what? I found myself quickly filling up my Disney days from morning to night. Sigh; I know better.
Some of the most priceless moments that I’ve savored at Disney World are those that were during break times. And so, just as soon as I fill you in on these tips, I’m going to revisit my August plans and make sure I’ve allowed time for relaxation at Walt Disney World.
Leave the Real World Behind
Most of us find it fairly easy to purchase and don Mickey Ears. We’re all pretty good at embracing Mickey-shaped food. And I think WDW newbies and veterans alike have no issue with shrugging off stress while riding our favorite attractions.
Mickey Waffle are always fun and delicious to eat!
But, what about technology? Some of us need it for work (even at Disney!). Some of us love sharing our family moments (and favorite Disney snacks!!) on social media. And now, My Disney Experience and other apps make it actually easier to tour Disney World with the use of our smart gadgets.
Meet Anna and Elsa using the convenience of FastPass+
Still, try to allow some time during your Disney days to unplug. Silence your phone while at the pool with your family. Keep your electronic tools quiet during meals. Try taking an entire morning or evening unplugged. After the initial withdrawal, you’ll find these moments liberating.
Nanea Volcano Pool at Disney’s Polynesian Village.
The Road Less Traveled
While you watch the herd of guests run to their first attraction, linger on your way into the theme park. With your FastPasses pre-selected, go ahead and browse the nooks and crannies on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom. Grab a morning pastry and actually sit at a quiet table while the magic wakes up all around you.
Enjoy a pastry with a magical view early in the morning.
Some of my favorite pathways for calm moments at WDW include:
- Along the boardwalk at the Rivers of America in the Magic Kingdom
- In the back of Fantasyland (near the train track) to Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom
- The trails at Epcot’s Canada pavilion
- The Hyde Park area and maze at Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion
- The quiet nooks and crannies within Epcot’s Morocco pavilion
- The off-the-beaten trail between Animal Kingdom’s Africa and Asia
- The walkway between Disney’s Polynesian Village and Grand Floridian resorts
- The walkway between Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter resorts
- The walkway between Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness
- The walkway from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to the BoardWalk area
A quiet morning in the Magic Kingdom enjoying one of our favorite walkways.
There are always secluded areas at the resorts to settle back and talk about your day.
Chill out at our resort; I love the Beach Club nooks and crannies for quiet respites.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to dine early or late. If you are touring in the busy season, you really want to grab your quick-service lunch meals right at 11AM. This dining strategy not only saves your family from the chaos of long lines but also gives everyone a chance at unwinding in quieter restaurants. Refreshed and refueled, you’ll be back to touring the park while the crowds are at lunch.
We also like the early strategy for table service lunch as well. We were one of the first patrons at Epcot’s Via Napoli in the picture below and while the restaurant filled up quickly, most of our meal was extremely quiet.
Dine early for quiet dining rooms.
At dinner time, dine early or late. Your hotel’s food court will be chaotic after the parks close, especially when closing hours are early in the winter time. Dine before the crowds return to the resort.
Resort dining will be more relaxing before the crowds return after the WDW parks close.
Try late night dining for empty dining rooms — whether you stop by for a full meal, snack, or beverage, quick service dining rooms are usually quiet later at night.
We like to take a breather at Backlot Express in Disney’s Hollywood Studios before this restaurant closes. Watch the park’s Times Guide for official hours as this venue often shuts down before park closing time.
Late night dining in crowd-free restaurants is a great chance to relax while touring.
Be strong. Fill out your itinerary and then check it over for downtime opportunities. If you are repeat guests, would the family benefit more from riding a couple of your not-so-favorite attractions or swimming in the resort’s pool?
Afternoons are awesome at the Dig Site Pool at Coronado Springs Resort.
And doesn’t that apply to newbies too?! If your heart is not set on seeing the afternoon parade, maybe some time playing miniature golf or enjoying another recreational activity would be more memorable for everyone.
Play Twister at Pop Century!
Take Advantage of FastPass+
Picture this: It’s early morning and my family is waiting at the gates prior to the opening of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. When the park opens, my husband “runs” to Toy Story Midway Mania for FastPasses while the rest of our traveling party grabs food at Starring Rolls Cafe (now closed) or meets in front of Tower of Terror. Yep, that’s how we used to tour.
FastPass+ and My Disney Experience (MDE) allow us to pre-plan many of our must do attractions so that we can slow down and enjoy more leisurely family time at WDW. Now, we are more likely to reserve a nice meal at the park, followed by a leisurely stroll over to our FastPass+ attraction.
Early lunch seating at Yak and Yeti in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
This strategy really works well on a day that follows a late night in an Extra Magic Hour park. We can then sleep in a bit, enjoy time at the pool, then head to a park later in the day for a meal and our FastPass+ selections. With a teen, late nights and lazy mornings work very well.
On days that we are at a park for rope drop, we are prepared with FastPass+ for morning attractions before heading back to our hotel or Disney Springs later in the day. By mixing up your itinerary, you’ll definitely discover that relaxation at Wald Disney World is indeed possible.
Plan some time at Disney Springs.
With the Epcot festivals becoming longer each year, more runDisney events being added, and Free Dining offers filling in the gaps, Walt Disney World seems to have three seasons: busy, busier, and busiest.
December 19th crowds at the Magic Kingdom. Watch for holiday season to be super busy.
Okay, there are still a few times per year when crowds are really light. We are still fans of late January, for example.
If you can, avoid holiday school breaks as these usually cause a huge influx of guests. Don’t want crowds? Stay away from actual holidays such as New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Eve crowds in the Magic Kingdom.
The Rest of the World
“There’s more to see than can ever be seen. More to do than can ever be done. There’s far too much to take in here. More to find than can ever be found.” — The Circle of Life lyrics say it all.
Yes, there is more to do at Walt Disney World than touring the four major parks (Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom).
The resort hotels all offer dining and recreational fun for all ages. Take in a campfire night at your hotel or stop by a different resort for a new experience like a Pirate Cruise. The resorts are usually a refuge during the afternoon hours.
Escaping the parks in the middle of the day equals no bus lines and a relaxing, crowd-free resort.
Disney Springs has some of the best shops and dining choices on property. And don’t forget about the water parks and golf courses. Plus, there are out-of-the-park places to watch the high-flying fireworks if you don’t want to return to a park in the evening.
Taking in the Details
Sometimes all you need is a moment of calm in a busy day. Slow down and take in the details all around you; the creativity of the Imagineers is awe-inspiring. Don’t forget to look up, down, and all around.
When you sit and relax, you’ll notice all kinds of beautiful scenery.
Find a place to sit down and just gaze.
The regal architecture of New Fantasyland.
A walk around your resort in the late morning, afternoon, or late evening is a great time to get pictures and unwind.
An evening stroll around Art of Animation.
Vacationing at Walt Disney World can include relaxing recreation.
Play tennis at Disney’s Yacht Club.
From running to horseback riding, you’ll find a plethora of activities to engage in throughout the resort.
Keep up with your fitness routine on a Disney running trail.
Let’s not underestimate the calming effect of a delicious adult beverage.
Adult Beverages at Thirsty River Bar & Trek Snacks in the Animal Kingdom.
Find an out-of-the way location later in the day — we like to sit in the back of Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe with a refreshing beverage.
Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe is a quiet place in the late afternoon to sip on a beverage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Also, resort lounges are a terrific place to hideaway while sipping on an alcoholic or non-alcoholic refreshment and/or relishing some good bites to eat.
Stop by the Martha’s Vineyard Lounge at Disney’s Beach Club resort.
Of course, if you are on a once in a lifetime trip and your priority is to see and do everything that you possibly can, we completely appreciate that mindset. Even so, try to find small breaks to add some relaxation to your Walt Disney World vacation.
It’s your turn. How do you find relaxation at Walt Disney World? Contact Us, Friend us on Facebook, or comment below to share your Walt Disney World tips.
by Kimberly LaPaglia | Jun 20, 2017 | Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Destinations, Disney Holidays, Disney Parks, Disney Restaurants, Walt Disney World, WDW Resorts
Disney Trips with Grandparents
Since our son was born, we have traveled to many locations where we took his grandparents with us or met up with them at our destination. With some advance planning, multi-generational travel can be fun for the whole family.
If your parents and/or in-laws enjoy traveling, then consider a Disney trip with grandparents. Yes, it’s a little extra work to make sure everyone’s idea of vacation is implemented, however the memories made will be priceless.
Once everyone is on board to make a multi-generational trip a reality, the first step is coordinating calendars. First, gather dates that are available for each member of your traveling party, see what dates are mutually convenient, and then price out your vacation.
Nic and Nana with Mickey. Plan the best time of year to visit WDW for your family!
You may want to travel when prices are lower or your first priority might be to share a holiday or enjoy a certain type of weather. Once you get this first stage of planning coordinated, everything else will begin to fall into place.
Visit WDW during the Flower and Garden Festival in Epcot.
Discuss the type of accommodations that are suitable for each traveling party as well as the price point that everyone is comfortable spending.
For a Disney cruise, you’ll want to decide on the type of stateroom desired and whether or not you want adjoining or connecting cabins.
Decide which staterooms are best for everyone in your traveling party.
At Disney’s Hilton Head Island, we recommend reserving a two bedroom villa for a mixture of privacy and family togetherness.
Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
Headed to Walt Disney World? You will have a large assortment of hotels to choose from. Will you camp? Stay in a cabin? Reserve rooms at a value, moderate, or deluxe resort? Or perhaps, you’d like to rent a condo off-site. There are also villas available from studios to multi-bedroom options at the Walt Disney World resorts.
Port Orleans French Quarter is a charming hotel – a great choice when visiting WDW with grandparents.
Now you need a plan to get the family to your Disney destination. Each travel party should choose the type of travel (car, train, plane) that best suits their budget and travel preference.
Nic and Nana waiting to board airplane.
If you live in different cities, will you meet up and then continue on to your destination or meet up at your Disney locale? Either way, specify clear departure and arrival times and keep everyone posted if travel delays are encountered.
Before you leave home, you’ll want to have some idea of the preferred vacation desires of each traveler. Does Grandma want to shop when the ship docks in the first port of call? Is Grandpa wanting to fish or play golf? Perhaps the kids want to ride Dumbo with their grandparents followed by lunch at Be Our Guest. While compromises will have to be made, it’s important to try to accommodate varying vacation styles, likes, and dislikes.
Take a Fishing Excursion at Walt Disney World.
And no one is immune to getting cranky when they are exhausted. You’ll enjoy more quality moments together if everyone is well rested. So, do allow down time for relaxing pursuits such as afternoon naps, hanging out at your resort, and poolside fun. It’s a vacation, not a marathon!
Relaxing at the Wilderness Lodge.
Be flexible. If Grandpa and/or the parents need a rest, let them sit down in the shade while Nana takes the kids on a Disney ride. Parents want to do some shopping? Grandparents can watch the kids at the playground. The best part of a multi-generational trip is being able to spend time together and sometimes that means the kids alone with grandparents or the moms hanging out by the pool while the dads play horseshoes. There are countless special bonding opportunities!
Grandpa, Dad, and Nic playing horseshoes at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort.
Also, allow for everyone to have some alone time. This can be during an early morning, afternoon down time, or evening. Allow those travelers needing extra rest to sleep in and then meet up for lunch.
Parents escape to shop while Nic is being entertained by grandparents during rest time at the Polynesian Resort.
Just like at home, dining encourages families to slow down and talk. It’s a time to bond with each other.
Nic escorts Grandma to dinner on the Disney Dream.
On a cruise ship, dinner can provide the opportunity for the family to meet and discuss the different activities that each family member enjoyed that day. Or maybe Grandma wants to hear about your latest school projects.
Animator’s Palate on the Disney Dream.
When traveling with differing ages, you’ll also want to keep in mind a few things when planning reservations. Do you have picky eaters? Does anyone need to eat at a certain time? Any allergies or other dining considerations to be aware of? Ask — before you make reservations.
French Onion Soup at Les Chefs de France.
By taking into consideration these dining preferences, you’ll set up meals that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Capture the memories. Now is the time to let the grandparents pose and smile with their grandkids or get group pictures. However, grandparents can also help take pictures of your family — since the photographer is usually missing from a lot of photos, let a grandparent take photographs of you, your spouse, and the children.
Pose for fun photographs!
Do not forget to get pictures of you with your parents!
There will come a time when you think you are all together, and then… you’re not. Perhaps Grandpa and Dad stopped to look at old-fashioned fudge in the Main Street Confectionery and lost sight of the group. Or Mom stopped to take another picture and she’s been left behind. Whatever the reason, you’ve lost your group and having a plan will get you back on track.
Main Street Confectionery in the Magic Kingdom.
Your plan should go beyond “text if we get separated” because sometimes a phone is left in a room or a battery dies. If you are in the Magic Kingdom, for example, you may want your contingency plan to be a meeting point such as in front of Crystal Palace Restaurant.
Crystal Palace Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.
A separation plan is for the whole family – kids, parents, and grandparents!
Try Something New
Experiencing a new restaurant, attraction, or activity together creates an instant bond and provides fun conversation for later in the vacation.
Karaoke on the Disney Dream
Age is Relative
The kids are never too young or too old to enjoy time with grandparents. It’s a win-win for everyone.
While the parents take a break, Grandpa plays with Nic at WDW. Hope his back didn’t hurt too much later that day!
Parents get a little break from parenting around the clock, grandparents get to spoil and create lasting bonds, and kids get to soak up the unconditional love from everyone. Plus, your offspring learn to respect their older counterparts and that age is relative; grandparents are fun too.
Challenge Grandma to a spin on Buzz Lightyear.
Then those little ones become young adults before you know it. Sure, teens may go off on their own and meet up only for meals and a few designated activities, yet the conversations when everyone is together are sure to be interesting. And even the teens will remember the laughs they’ve had with their grandparents.
Whispering Canyon Cafe is fun for all ages.
Don’t forget that traveling with your own parents is a great way to reconnect, especially if you live in different cities/states.
Kim and her Mom at Fort Wilderness.
If you are absolutely against your child staying in the parks without an afternoon nap break, set a limit. However, allow plenty of opportunities for the grandparents to spoil your kid(s) or to help out.
Nana spoils Nic with a Mickey Ice Cream Bar. Priceless moment!
On one day in the Magic Kingdom, our son was exhausted. Grandma gave him some sips of a soda and he perked right up. Now, did that lead any of us to start putting soft drinks in his sippy cup? Of course not. But it did solve an immediate issue without any dire consequences. And we still laugh about that memory that took place 15 years ago!
Time to refuel!
Would you ordinarily allow your kid to race down a hotel hallway? Probably not. But watching Grandpa push a stroller crazy fast down the empty (middle of the afternoon) hallway at the Polynesian Village was harmless fun that filled Grandpa and child with in-the-moment laughter. And still gives us giggles when we remember the fun that they had.
Nana or Grandma wants to buy your kid a stuffed animal or a cookie? Well, as long as your little loved one isn’t begging and taking advantage of the generous grandparent (and doesn’t have an allergy or dietary restriction), then let the grandparent have at it. A bag of spun sugar, a sweet confection, or another furry friend (that doesn’t poop) is not going to cause lasting harm.
Mickey Gingerbread Cookies are delicious!
Discuss non-negotiables and then let vacation happen! It’s the spontaneous moments that are usually the most prized.
While traveling with extended family, celebrate milestones. A graduation, birthday, retirement, and other special occasions become even more memorable when acknowledging them during a vacation.
Wishes Fireworks Birthday Cruise
Don’t forget to pack items that will make your travels easier. Good walking shoes, some moleskin, rain ponchos, and a bag for the stuff you want to haul to the parks are essential. Grandparents will appreciate your preparedness.
Planning your next Disney getaway? Don’t forget to invite the grandparents!
What are your tips for traveling with grandparents? Contact Us, Follow Us on Twitter, or comment below to share your travel tips.