Robert H. (Bob) Jackson, Jr.
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Bob's Walt Disney World Visits

  1. Spring, 1985 - 1 day, offsite. A day visit to EPCOT.
  2. Summer, 1994 - 5 days at Disney Institute
  3. Feb, 1996 - 4 days at Wilderness Lodge
  4. April, 1998 - 4 days at Wilderness Lodge during opening week at Animal Kingdom.
  5. December 1998 - 3 days @ DoubleTree Suites, Downtown Disney
  6. Spring 1999 - Contemporary Resort - Tower Room, Bay Lake side 4 days
  7. November, 2000 - Coronado Springs (4 days) and Contemporary Resort (4 days)
  8. February, 2001 - Polynesian Resort (4 days)
  9. May, 2001 - Animal Kingdom Lodge (7 days)
  10. July 2001, Contemporary Hotel North Garden Wing (7 days)
  11. October 2001, Coronado Springs Resort 5 days
  12. November, 2001 - Contemporary Tower Room 3 days
  13. December, 2001 - The Swan, Resort View - 4 days
  14. February, 2002 - 7 days at the Polynesian for Chase's 5th Birthday
  15. May, 2002 - Tower Room (MK Side) at the Contemporary Resort 3 days
  16. August, 2002 - 7 days at Wilderness Lodge rm 4015 (Courtyard view)
  17. February, 2003 - 5 days at Animal Kingdom Lodge
  18. August, 2003 - 4 days @ Port Orleans-Riverside, Magnolia Terrace, Rm. 8528
  19. December 2003 - 8 days at the WDW Dolphin and The Contemporary
  20. May, 2004 - 4 days at the Contemporary
  21. August, 2004 - 2 days at Hilton Downtown Disney, 4 days @ Disney Swan 720e
  22. November, 2004 - 5 days at Disney Swan, Junior Suite 976 West
  23. May 2005 - 5 days at Wilderness Lodge and Polynesian Resort
  24. August 2005 - 6 days at WDW Swan 418e
  25. October 2005 - 7 days at Disney's Yacht Club
  26. December 2005 - 5 days at WDW Swan
  27. January 2006 - 4 days at Wilderness Lodge, Courtyard View 2129
  28. April, 2006 3 nights at Disney's Contemporary, Tower Room, 2 Nights at Royal Plaza
  29. May, 2006 - 4 nights at Grand Floridian, Sugar Loaf Concierge building, Rm. 6424.
  30. August, 2006 - 3 days Offsite at Universal's Portofino Bay Hotel
  31. October, 2006 - 6 days at Swan, Rm 694 Resort View Balcony Room
  32. October, 2006, 4 days at Saratoga Springs 5814.
  33. November, 2006 - 5 days at Disney Yacht Club rm 3226, nice room, poor view.
  34. December, 2006 - 7 days at Saratoga Springs, Congress Park area.
  35. May 2007 - 5 days at Wilderness Lodge Villas, Rm 1553 - ground floor 1br, patio
  36. October 2007, 2 days Boardwalk Villas, 5 days Swan
  37. December 6-10, 2007 Saratoga Springs 2br Villa, Congress Park
  38. Jan 17-21 2008, Saratoga Springs, Congress Park, Studio
  39. May 23-27 2008. Wilderness Lodge Villas, 1BR, ground floor, accessible room and shower.
  40. October, 2008 2 nights Contemporary Tower, Bay Lake View, 4 nights Disney Swan Hotel
  41. January, 2009 5 nights at Wilderness Lodge Villas, studio 3542.
  42. April, 2009 - 3 nights at Marriott Courtyard Lake Buena Vista
  43. Sept, 2009 2 days at parks, staying offsite at Portofino Bay, Universal
  44. October. 2009 6 nights, Grand Floridian, Sago Cay, 5th floor.
  45. November 2009. 1 day at Epcot, offsite hotel.
  46. December 2010. 9 Days at Saratoga Springs
  47. August, 2010 - 5 Days at Wilderness Lodge
  48. October, 2010 - 6 days at the Swan
  49. November, 2010 - 1 day at Pop Century, 4 days at Saratoga Springs, Congress Park
  50. December, 2010 - 5 days at the Dolphin
  51. March, 2011 - 10 Days at Dolphin
  52. April 2011 - 4 days at Saratoga Springs
  53. August, 2011 - 5 days At Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village
  54. December 2011, 5 days at Saratoga Springs
  55. May 2012, 5 days at Saratoga Springs
  56. July 2012, 1 day at Magic Kingdom (stayed offsite)
  57. October 2012, 5 Days at Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas
  58. December 2012 - 4 days at Hilton Downtown Disney
  59. April, 2013 - 4 days at Kidani Village, Rm 7554
  60. August, 2013 - 5 days at Bay Lake Tower, 8037
  61. August, 2013 - 4 days at Hilton Lake Buena Vista
  62. October, 2013  - 7 days at Polynesian Resort plus 2 days offsite.
  63. December, 2013 - 5 days at Saratoga Springs
  64. January, 2014 - 5 days at Caribbean Beach
  65. May, 2014, four days at Yacht Club, Regatta Level
  66. May, 2014 5 days at Swan
  67. June, 2014 one day staying offsite
  68. October, 2014 - 5 days at Wilderness Lodge
  69. December 3-8,2014 - 8 days at Saratoga Springs, Congress Park studio
  70. January, 2015 3 Days at Hilton Downtown Disney
  71. March, 2015 2 days offsite at HGI I Drive
  72. April, 2015 - 6 Nights at WDW Swan
  73. May, 2015 - 4 nights at Old Key West Studio
  74. August, 2015 - 4 Days at Saratoga Springs
  75. September, 2015 - 5 Days at Saratoga Springs
  76. December, 2015 - 9 Days at Saratoga Springs
  77. January 2016 - 5 days at the Swan
  78. March 2016 - 10 days at the Swan
  79. May, 2016 – 6 days at Saratoga Springs
  80. Oct, 2016 – 8 days at Polynesian Resort
  81. Dec 2016 – 9 days at Saratoga Springs
  82. February 2017 – 5 days at Polynesian DVC Villas – Deluxe Studio
  83. August 2017 – 1 day offsite for day visit to Animal Kingdom, first visit to Pandora
  84. Sept 2017 – 1 day offsite for day visit to EPCOT
  85. October 2017 – 6 days Saratoga Springs, Congress Park

432 days at WDW and still can't get enough.

 

 

 

Walt Disney World

Common knowledge has it that anything Disney is just for pre-teens, right? That is a myth. A terrible myth.

One of the late Walt Disney's greatest innovations - and the one upon which his company founded a whole new (and highly successful) business model for vacationing - was that a well designed and properly executed vacation destination could successfully entertain both kids and adults.

For kids, the Walt Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida definitely has a wide variety of kid-things. But for adults - with or without kids in tow - Disneyworld offers world-class, customer-focused service, variety of entertainment, and flexibility through a variety of high quality food and lodging alternatives.

This site provides Walt Disney World advice in the following categories:

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When to Go

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How to Get There

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Where to Stay

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What To Do

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Where to Eat

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Top Tips and Friendly Advice

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Special Seasons and Events at Disney

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Other Disneyworld Information Resources

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What about those darn Hurricanes?

Walt Disney World, Florida

When to Go

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Disneyworld has three traditional "low seasons" (i.e. times when crowds are lowest). These correspond to Disney's onsite hotels' "Value Rate" season when rack room rates are also lowest: 

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Jan 2 through mid February (not including Valentines Day weekend)

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Last week of August through end of September. For parks OTHER than EPCOT, this low season arguably extends through the week before Thanksgiving; EPCOT's Wine and Food Festival in late fall increases attendance at EPCOT noticeably, especially on weekends.

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After Thanksgiving weekend through mid December

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These "low times" usually correspond to the best times to get discounts on hotel accommodations both within the Disney complex and at off-site hotels in the Orlando/Lake Buena Vista area.

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Weather in Orlando rarely gets very cold, but often gets both warm and humid. Check out season highs and lows here. Warm and humid describes Orlando especially from early June through late August. In august, you are dealing not only with heat and humidity, but regular afternoon thundershowers - which mercifully don't last very long, but add to the humidity.

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Your family situation may dictate other travel times, of course, but I strongly suggest these low seasons if at all possible. Midsummer in hot, rainy, humid Orlando is not pleasant. The Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday weeks are absolutely packed.

How to Get There

By Plane: The Orlando International Airport is one of the nicest, cleanest airports I have ever visited. Fast, glass-enclosed robotic shuttles whisk you between departure gates and main terminal. Unfortunately, Orlando's baggage claim can be slow...very slow. Don't bother with rental cars if you are staying "on-property" at Disney, you probably won't use it. But of course you DO need to get the rather substantial distance from the airport to Walt Disney World.... so....

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If you are staying at one of the Disney-owned Resort Hotels or Vacation Club Properties on property, check out Disney's Magical Express. It is free and lets you leave luggage handling to someone else while you hit the parks. Some important notes about Magical Express:

 

  • You MUST register at least 10 weekdays before your arrival by calling 407-W-DISNEY or asking your travel agent to book it for you. I recommend you sign up for it at least 6 weeks in advance if possible, as there are logistics and special luggage tags you need to get by postal mail to take full advantage. 
  • After you register, you will receive a package in postal mail with information and - especially - Disney's Magical Express luggage tags for your bags. These tags allow you to skip Orlando's baggage claim and go directly to the Magical Express checkin area in the airport. Typically, your package will contain only one luggage tag per traveler. If you need additional luggage tags, call Disney's Magical Express at 866-599-0951.
  • Magical Express is only available for Disney-owned resorts. The Swan and Dolphin hotels are often thought of as "Disney resorts", but - unfortunately- are not eligible for Magical Express.

 



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If you have two or more traveling with you, check into a limo service. Orlando has lots of them and the total price isn't bad if you have several people going the same place at once. I've used the Tiffany Towncar Service, a chauffeured limo service that will meet you at the foot of the baggage claim escalators and help load you and your travel companions into a very nice, late model limo (or bus, if you have a large group) and quickly take you directly to Disney at a very reasonable price. They often have a coupon on their web site good for a round trip discount.

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When you must head home, consider using Disney's Airline Check-In services if you are staying at a Disney Resort. Disney hotels can take, check, and transport all your luggage to the Orlando airport (for selected airlines) and give you your boarding passes. All free. No luggage hassle. Ask for details at your resort front desk.

Where to Stay

Assuming you've not already made lodging arrangements,  I have a very, very strong suggestion: stay in one of the official Disney lodging properties (also known as Disney Resorts) . Veteran Disney visitors call this staying "on-property". Sure, it's probably more expensive than staying in a property not owned by Disney. However, staying on-property during your Disney vacation has a number of VERY important advantages, most of which have to do with convenience. 

And the most valuable on-property advantage is: Convenient Transportation.

First timers to Disney World typically underestimate travel distances.

Disney is at least two toll booths and a good 25 minute drive (on the best days) away from Orlando's Airport, so getting to Disney from the airport could be an expensive taxi ride....unless you are staying on Disney property, allowing you to take advantage of Disney's free Magical Express Service, which offers free airport shuttle service in air-conditioned buses , stress-free luggage delivery and expedited airline check-in for Disney hotel guests.

Then there's the exhausting (and sometimes overwhelming) size of Disney's 47 square mile complex (notice, "Mile" not "Acre"). Transportation time between the various parks and facilities can drive you nuts, but less so if you stay within the Disney property. 

Disney offers a fairly sophisticated bus system between all of its own hotels/resorts and parks. Every park has Disney bus transportation to every one of the Disney-label on-site lodging facilities. The buses do not go from Disney hotel to Disney hotel. Rather, they go from the resorts to the parks AND from resorts and parks to Disney Springs. If you want to get from one hotel to another hotel, just hop on the first bus to any park or Disney Springs, and then just transfer to the hotel bus you need. Most bus routes take about 15 - 25 minutes travel time and typically arrive at 20 minute intervals, but wait times do vary a good deal. Too, its nice to be able hop the Disney bus to your Disney hotel for a quick mid-day swim and nap before returning for fun in the evening. 

Are there other ways to get around within the Walt Disney World Resort?

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Disney's Deluxe Magic Kingdom Monorail Resorts (which include the Contemporary Hotel, the Polynesian, the Grand Floridian, and Wilderness Lodge), you could take either the Disney World monorail (to Magic Kingdom and/or Epcot) or Disney water launches to the Magic Kingdom. These resorts also offer a boat ride to Magic Kingdom and buses to all other parks and Disney Springs.

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The Epcot Deluxe resorts, Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Disney's Yacht & Beach Club, the Swan and Dolphin, offer boats to Hollywood Studios and Epcot and are within walking distance of both parks. They offer buses to all other parks.

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Disney's Wilderness Lodge is a deluxe resort with buses to most destinations and a boat transfer to Magic Kingdom.

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Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is an excellent resort, but is located further out on property, beside the Animal Kingdom Park. This hotel offers transportation via buses only.

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All value resorts (All Stars and Pop Century) offer buses only. The moderate resorts offer buses, but Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside Resorts offer a very nice boat ride to Disney Springs during most operating hours.

Otherwise, you'll probably be driving your car (or in many cases your non-Disney hotel will provide limited bus service to parks at peak season). Guests of Disney Hotels/Resorts receive a printout to place on the dash of their vehicle allowing free parking at each Theme Park. Non-Disney Resort guests pay a fee per day to park.

Disney on-property lodging falls into several price categories. There's generally a room available, but try to make reservations at least 6 months in advance to make sure you get the property you want. Check out the complete list of on-property accommodations

Here are some lodging selection tips from my stays:

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First time visitor? Got small children? Plan to spend a good deal of time at the Magic Kingdom? I'd suggest the Contemporary Resort.

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Distinguishing characteristics:

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Location, location, location. 

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Walking distance to the Magic Kingdom lets you and your tired family walk back to your room when the day gets long and walk back when you're rested. 

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Even as a single adult, I like the convenience of the monorail access which lets me cruise to the other Magic Kingdom area resorts for dining and nice walks and to Epcot with very little hassle.

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Big rooms, most with a nice sofa that doubles as a bed. 

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Ask for a "tower room" if you have older children or like a balcony view (of either Bay Lake or the Magic Kingdom and fireworks), and try to avoid the side of the tower over Chef Mickey's as it gets noisy during character breakfast mornings. Tower rooms offer a view of the monorail as it enters the multistory atrium, but might be dangerous for very small children.

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Nice pool and marina options. 

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For fun, take the water launch from the marina over to Wilderness Lodge in the evening; a short  walk through the impressive Lodge can be very relaxing.

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Drawbacks: I have friends who don't like the Contemporary compared to, say, the other Deluxe Disney resorts, feeling that it is toooooo dull. "No atmosphere", they say.   I humbly disagree. Granted, it hasn't the charm of Wilderness Lodge nor the greenery and escapism of the Polynesian Resort, but its convenience is great, rooms are huge, and I'm a big monorail fan... I ride it just for fun.
 

 

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Prefer the mountains to the beach? Love the outdoors and western US's National Parks? Looking for cozy romance? Check out the rooms in the Wilderness Lodge . This is my favorite lodging experience on-property at Disney. If I could afford it, I'd live in this place year-round. 
 

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Have several kids? Want to spread out comfortably? Try the Wilderness Lodge Boulder Ridge Villas with studio, one or two bedroom condo-style accommodations. Or for that matter, try any of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) facilities; ask your travel agent for details. Disney Vacation Club is Disney's timeshare program, but its facilities are also available for nightly rental to non-members.
 

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Wild About Animals? Try a Savanna-view room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. This hotel is surrounded by a private animal reserve that brings live animals near your balcony 24 hours a day. No lions or tigers (the herds are exclusively herbivores to prevent accidental feeding on guests), but lots of giraffes, zebras, gazelles and birds. If you really want the best view of animals, ask for an upper level (Floor 4 or higher) room overlooking the Arusha Rock Savanna.
 

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Watching the budget but still want to stay "on-property"? The All Star Resorts (in Sports, Music or Movie themes ) are very nice properties with a great food court and reasonable prices (for Disney). Pop Century is the newest of the Value Resorts, with interesting themes from contemporary pop history.
 

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Member of Starwood's Frequent Guest Program or like really nice beds? The Disney Swan and Dolphin are on-site hotels at the back of EPCOT and managed by the Sheraton & Westin Hotel (aka Starwood Hotel) chains.  They are fairly traditional, high end hotel properties, but with a special feature: the rooms include my favorite hotel bed - yes, bed. The Starwood Heavenly Bed features what is arguably the most comfortable bed - hotel or otherwise -  I've ever slept in: a custom Simmons pillow-top mattress, a white goose-down comforter, 250 thread-count sheets, and five overstuffed pillows. Depending on the season and conference schedule, you may find deep discounts here when the other Disney resorts are booked. While the Swan and Dolphin may lack the depth of theme you'll find at Disney resorts, their location and upgrades for Starwood Frequent Stay-er program guests - ok, and their awesome pool complex for your kids and teens - may make these properties a good alternative to Disney's Deluxe properties.
 

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Military or retired military? Shades of Green (SoG) is an Armed Forces Recreation Center located on the WDW property. It was originally built by WDW and called the "Golf Resort" and later the "Disney Inn". It was leased by the Department of Defense in 1994 and renamed to Shades of Green. SoG is totally self supporting and operates from non-appropriated funds (at no cost to the U.S. taxpayer). Profits generated are used for improvements to the hotel, property and services for the guests. SoG is reserved for the use of active and retired members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Reserves, National Guard, as well as currently employed DoD civilians and U.S. Public Health Officers are eligible. Interestingly, all rooms are no-smoking, but smoking is allowed in selected outdoor areas. My military friends tend to be smokers and find this feature annoying, but the prices for these rooms are based on rank and cannot be beaten anywhere at WDW. The rooms tend to book up fast, so call waaaayyyy ahead. If they are booked solid, ask about military discounts at other WDW resorts.

What To Do

Bob's Tips:

Magic Kingdom -   This 107 acre park is a larger version of Walt Disney's Original Disneyland park in California. It has 6 themed lands laid out like a wheel, with the hub centered directly in front of towering Cinderella Castle and spokes leading to the following themed areas:

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Main Street, U.S.A. - Inspired by Walt Disney's memories of his hometown, Main Street U.S.A. is a re-creation of early 20th century small-town America. There are shops, a town hall, fire station... even an old-style barbershop.

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  Adventureland - An exotic mix of jungles, wild animals, pirates and a Middle Eastern bazaar, Adventureland is home to several best-loved attractions, including Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise.

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  Frontierland - has all the adventure and excitement of the Wild West, including the wet wonders of Splash Mountain and the wild thrills of roller coaster Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

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Liberty Square - honors this country's colonial heritage and includes the animatronic show called the Hall of Presidents. It is also home to the spooky Haunted Mansion.

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Fantasyland - a fairytale experience with castles, princesses, pixies and boys who won't grow up.

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Tomorrowland -  a look at the future where you can battle aliens at Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, or whiz through the universe on a high-speed coaster at Space Mountain.

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Little Kids: Just march right up Main Street USA, through Cinderella's Castle, and do the rides at FantasyLand and then visit Mickey for pictures and character meeting. Rides here are scaled for kids under 6, but adults can scrunch themselves into the rides, too. Teens will avoid these areas like the plague.
 

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Kids and Adults - Want to do things everyone can enjoy together? I'd suggest:

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Walk through the Swiss Family Treehouse, the fantasy treehouse you never got around to building. Lots and lots of steps, but fun to talk about with the kids.

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Enjoy the Tiki Room show (this attraction is different from the Disneyland California version, and worth visiting)

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Take a slow, campy water raft ride on both the Jungle Cruise and the Pirates of the Caribbean. "Pirates" now includes movie-famous Captain Jack Sparrow and friends/enemies from the hit Hollywood movies by the same name.

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Hitch a ride on the Walt Disney World Railroad or the Liberty Belle Riverboat , which circles the Magic Kingdom park. Both are relaxing, gentle rides and provide interesting perspective and context when your feet need a rest.

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Tomorrowland Peoplemover (also known to long time Disney guests as the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA) Peoplemover - a long, casual ride through Tomorrowland, rarely a line, often overlooked by today's visitors. This is also a GREAT place to rest your feet and enjoy views of Magic Kingdom fireworks if you walk onto the TTA just as the fireworks begin.

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Haunted Mansion - could be a little intense for very young children, but a very cool experience. More entertaining than scary - hint: its mostly a sedate ride, not the walk-through affair common at county carnivals.
 

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"Big Kids" will want to do Magic Kingdom's signature rides:

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Space Mountain - Disney's original dark, indoor rollercoaster and still a thrill.

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Splash Mountain - Magic Kingdom's response to log flumes, you'll learn far more than you really needed to know about Brer Rabbit and Uncle Remus stories.

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad -  a fun - though short and bumpy - roller coaster through a wild West-that-never-was.
 

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Dining Inside the Magic Kingdom Park (requires park admission for access):

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Magic Kingdom features two signature Castle-venue dining experiences  - "Cinderella's Royal Table" in Cinderella's Castle and the "Be Our Guest Dining Hall" in Beauty and the Beast's Castle. Both are very popular; you should reserve weeks (months?) in advance if you hope to dine here at popular times, especially for their Character Meals.

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Be aware: unlike the other DisneyWorld parks, Magic Kingdom limits alcohol purchases and consumption within most of the park, in keeping with it's family-friendly park theme.

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Snacks: Aloha Isle just inside Adventureland. Sponsored by Dole, serves refreshing tropical-style fruit drinks and treats. A nice place for a small something different. Try the pineapple/vanilla swirl cone or the pineapple float, made with pineapple juice and pineapple ice cream. Frankly, I prefer my float with a swirl of pineapple and vanilla ice cream.

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Counter service: Columbia Harbor House near the Haunted Mansion. 

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Try the clam chowder, sometimes available in a bread bowl

 

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Counter service: Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe - between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland

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A nice, big cool inside place with three different fast food lines and an wise-cracking, animatronic lounge lizard piano player.

 


Bob's Tips - EPCOT

EPCOT has been many things during its development. Walt Disney himself announced it as the Environmental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT): a residential community based on advanced urban planning experiments. Walt died before serious plans were underway, and EPCOT morphed into a theme park with a blend of edutainment (now called Future World at the front of Epcot) and a permanent World’s Fair (now called World Showcase at the rear of EPCOT). It is essentially an adult-focused response to Magic Kingdom.

Incidentally, the idea of a Disney-developed residential area later came true in a much different way: Celebration, Florida (just outside Disneyworld's main gates) is a privately owned, Disney-developed community recreating a quiet midwestern neighborhood like Walt himself grew up in. Celebration is so perfectly designed, it is almost eerie.

Little Kids - 

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Frankly, EPCOT isn't much of a place for tiny tots. But most little ones will enjoy or admirably tolerate the exhibits listed in the "Kids and Adults" section, below. And Disney now has "KidCot" stops within the World Showcase at EPCOT where, at most of the country pavilions, artwork or special work activities engage little ones with coloring, drawing or simple arts and crafts projects. Kinda like parents night at elementary school ;-)

Kids and Adults - 

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Soaring - a hang gliding simulator, complete with wind effects and smells that tours you over much of California's landscape by placing you smack dab in the middle of a IMAX like screen with your feet dangling beneath you.

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The Seas - one of the nation's first multi-story aquariums wrapped in a convincing gimmick. A very educational and interesting place for the whole family. Now with a neat little introductory ride ride-through featuring Nemo and friends in a nice blend of technology and animation.  Gotta love Finding Nemo's animatronic seagulls at the front of the pavilion....Mine! Mine!

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Spaceship Earth - a slow moving edutainment ride inside Epcot's signature geodesic sphere, recently redone with an interesting in-car simulation and the voice of James Bond's boss, "M".

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Illuminations - EPCOT's nightly laser and fireworks show with a variety of viewpoints around the World Showcase Lagoon. The area around Italy or on the bridge between France and England affords the best views.

"Big Kids" - Epcot's high-end adventures include:

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Mission Space - an intense space simulation that creates the sensation of weightlessness and space acceleration (by spinning in a huge centrifuge). A very unusual experience, can be nausea-inducing for those (like me) who are prone to motion sickness. Disney now offers two version of this ride "intense" and "not as intense" (aka no spinning). Either way, a very cool ride.

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Tip for the motion-sensitive visitor targeting the intense version: drink LOTS of water, keep your head straight at all times (don't look right and left), and breathe in the cool air pumped in above your face.

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Test Track - a computer-controlled, tethered car whose rather timid start leads to exciting outdoor acceleration on an straightaway.

Food at Epcot - the variety of food at Epcot is unmatched by any other Disney property, largely due to the presence of internationally-sponsored eateries within World Showcase. Some of my favorites are:

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LeCellier Steakhouse, Canada Pavilion  - great food, very cozy atmosphere, consistently good service. Absolutely impossible to get reservations for dinner there these days....but you might get in for lunch

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Coral Reef - beside The Seas. An upscale dining experience with a theater style view of the two story aquarium in front of you. Kids are thrilled when divers stop by to wave or a shark slithers by giving you an evil - or is it hungry? - eye...

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Teppan Edo Dining - Japan Pavilion - yes, the old knife-flinging-chef-cooking-on-a-hot-grill right in front of you dining experience. Somehow, it seems ... well, ...... better at Walt Disney World.

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Sunshine Seasons - breakfast, lunch and dinner in The Land Pavilion - a quick, reasonably priced, food court-style eating experience.

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Garden Grill - dinner only, casual table service in The Land pavilion - this restaurant slowly revolves through dioramas used for the Living with the Land ride during your meal. Meal is usually served family style and generally has character visits.

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Spice Road Table - casual table service, in front of the Morocco pavilion - my new favorite casual dining place in Epcot featuring Mediterranean small plates (also known as Tapas). Great food, great views, though as a mostly outdoor venue it can get warmish in the summer.

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Monsieur Paul's - high end, dinner-only table service above Chefs de France in the France Pavilion - This recently renovated venue is elegant but not pretentious. Also quite pricey. I find they have amazing appetizers and desserts, so factor that in when you are ordering. If anything on the appetizer menu has lobster in it, try it.

Bob's Tips - Animal Kingdom
 

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Little Kids - if your tykes like zoos, they'll be in heaven throughout Animal Kingdom

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Camp Minnie Mickey is a character-intense area just for little ones. 

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Character greetings occur here all day.

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The BoneYard - is a great kids' play yard. The sandbox comes equipped with its own fossil dig.

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Kids and Adults - 

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Expedition Everest - Animal Kingdom's high speed roller coaster, it combines indoor outdoor track with a significant reversal of fate...and a large, loud, grumpy Yeti chasing you down the track.

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Kilimanjaro Safari is THE ride not to miss. A fairly long, human-escorted bumpy, nearly-real photo safari in an open zoo area  You will never see the same animal combinations twice. A great family experience. Plan to ride either first thing in the morning or just before park close. Using Fastpass is a great idea here.

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Tough to be a Bug - a dark 3D theater show that will have you jumping to your feet at the end. May be toooo intense (i.e. scary) for the little ones.

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Festival of the Lion King - a high energy show based on the popular children's movie but very enjoyable for adults.

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Flights of Wonder - a very pleasant trained-bird show

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Maharajah Jungle trek - a walking tour through "old ruins" containing an interesting collection of animals and birds.

 

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"Big Kids"

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Kali River Rapids - Disney's only serious water raft ride. Yep, you will get wet.... very wet.

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Dinosaur - a very intense, computer controlled jeep simulator ride similar to the multi-million dollar Indiana Jones ride first introduced at California's Disneyland park in the mid 1990s (still one of my very favorite rides in the world). Intense and jarring, adults love it. Most kids under 8 will come off crying. Adults are likely to come off slightly bruised ;-)

 

 

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Food at the Animal Kingdom

Have breakfast or lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. Does not require park admission. Located at the entrance to Animal Kingdom, this facility is a miniature theme park itself, part of a chain of such restaurants around the country. Portions are large, fruit juice smoothies are a specialty (try the Rain Forest Ricky), the menu is large and diverse (and moderately pricey). Service, frankly, can be very slow at busy times. But you are really there for the very cool dining environment where rainforest  thunderstorms amid a collection of crazed animatronic animals occur every 30 minutes during your meal.

Yak and Yeti - in the rear of the park, Yak and Yeti offers both sit-down dining (best to have dining reservations) and a counter service offering. I often get a quick bite at the counter service offering (called Yak and Yeti Local Food cafe - to the right of the main Yak and Yeti entrance), and get an order of chicken fried rice and maybe a pork roll with duck sauce. That's just enough for a light lunch.

Bob's Tips - Disney's Hollywood Studios  (formerly Disney MGM Studios)

Little Kids - 

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Voyage of the Little Mermaid (a show) - if your kids drive you nuts replaying Disney's Little Mermaid movie, they'll enjoy this puppet/live actor takeoff of the movie

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MuppetVision 3d - (a 3D theater) a cute kiddie show starring the Muppets

Kids and Adults - 

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Toy Story Midway Mania - a 3-D shoot-em-up ride. Sort of a more sophisticated version of Universal Studios' Men in Black or Disney's own Buzz LightYear Space Ranger in Magic Kingdom, this very fun ride takes you through a series of arcade games in a fast moving vehicle. Different skills are tested - plate breaking, shooting, ring tossing, darts.... some of these games take some real skill. This relatively new attraction stays packed. You'll either want to go really early or get a FastPass.

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Lights Motors Action! Extreme Stunt Show - a trick car show - grab the kids and head for one of these loud but entertaining stunt car shows. Little, loud, fast cars are the stars of this 30 minute French-themed stunt spectacle. The grandstand can broil you in the summer, so seek out seats in front of the big fans.

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Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular (a show) - well, its not as good as real Hollywood, but its a fun show.

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Fantasmic (a nighttime show) - I bypassed this show for years thinking it was a dud - bad, bad mistake. A wonderful, intense show unlike the fireworks at Epcot or Magic Kingdom, this one has a story line - Mickey defeats evil.... Challenging crowds and long wait times, but ask Guest Services about special dinner packages that combine a meal with preferred seating at Fantasmic.

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The Great Movie Ride (a ride-ish) - well, the kids won't "get" any of this one, but adults born in the 70s or earlier will recognize their favorite movies here.

"Big Kids" - Hollywood Studios' high-end adventures include:

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Tower of Terror (a ride) - a unique adventure in a freefalling elevator wrapped in a storyline from Hollywood's heyday. Not a good choice for those terrified of heights, but one of the most adrenaline-producing rides at Disney.

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Rock'n Roller Coaster (a ride) - a high speed steel, dark indoor rollercoaster to blaring Aerosmith music - essentially, Space Mountain on loud steroids. Hold onto your hats for the riproaring launch.

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Star Tours (a ride/simulator) - one of the park's older, high-end rides, essentially a motion simulator rather than a ride. Entertaining, and recently updated with multiple endings.

Food at Disney Hollywood Studios (requires park admission for access):

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Hollywood Brown Derby - a high end sort of place with the most unusual lettuce treatment in a Cobb Salad you've ever encountered. Try their grapefruit cake for a light dessert. And check out the caricatures of the famous and note so famous all over their walls.

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Sci-Fi Dine In Theater - a cute take-off on the old drive- in theater. You are seated in a "car" that seems to be outside in an open-air drive-in looking at a large movie screen running an eclectic (and funny) blend of "B" grade black and white movies. The fare is a cross between a 50's soda shop and today's burger joints.

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Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano - in the Muppet Courtyard - still one of my favorite Italian-style restaurants anywhere in the world. It literally reeks of garlic and olive oil and has a number of great pasta dishes.

Bob's Tips - Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney)

Disney Springs is largely a shopping, eating and arcade/movie theater Mecca. No rides or serious edutainment, per se. But still a place for adults to drop some of that money burning a hole in their pocket. There is not cost to wander around Disney Springs.

Cirque du Soleil - Its expensive, its hard to get to, and its hard to explain. But if you need a destination for a group of adults tired of the parks, this is an absolutely unforgettable 2 hour experience.  A high energy performance of high wire, gymnastics, dance, clownsmanship, and dramatic music. Last performance of La Nouba show is December 31, 2017. What will replace it?

Food At Disney Springs 

  • Paddlefish – (Formerly Fulton Crab House) - renovated in 2017, this seafood specialty place is second only to Flying Fish for seafood on Disney property. my taste buds love it. If you are there in late May most years, you've GOT to try the Copper River Salmon.
  • Portabello Yacht Club - Italian style dining. Ask for a table outside if its available. 
  • Rain Forest Cafe - if you missed it at Animal Kingdom, catch it here. The Disney versions of this franchise restaurant are the nicest of the chain.
  • T REX - A variation on Rainforest Cafe in that it has large seating areas and an animatronic dinosaur theme.
  • Ghirardelli Soda Fountain - Like Chocolate? the snack shop here is the place to fix that urge.
  • Earl of Sandwich - an unusual sandwich shop. Hefty, generally warm, English-style sandwiches. Good for a heavy lunch or a light dinner.

 

 

The following restaurants are also at Downtown Disney, but I've found them a bit overrated. You may think differently:

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Wolfgang Pucks (in full menu and Express versions) - California Cuisine with a flair

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House of Blues

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Planet Hollywood - Orlando is home to this national chain

 

Where To Eat

Eating is one of my very favorite things to do at Walt Disney World. The range of dining environments is unsurpassed and frankly is a large part of my personal entertainment experience. Most of Disney's food in the mid to upper range dining venues is quite good, if sometimes a little pricey.

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Tip: At Guest Services anywhere in the park, be sure to request the handy Disney World Dining Guide. This brochure has an fair summary of dining throughout the parks. 

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Tip: Advance Dining Reservations. Food service at Disney varies from walk-up, McDonald's style counter service to very exclusive private dining.  Nearly every guest will eventually eat something from counter service; smart people will carefully select unique restaurants and make priority seating arrangements WELL in advance. Disney uses "Advance Reservations" rather than a true "the table is yours" reservations system for its table service dining within the Disneyworld complex. Contrary to its name, Advance Reservations (formerly called Priority Seating") is NOT a reservation - it is what some home-town restaurants refer to as "call-ahead" seating. No guarantee is made of time for seating, but my experience has been that if you are a little early, you get seated right on time and generally at a better than average table. Most (though not all) table service locations in the Disney complex will take Advance Reservations up to 120 days in advance of your meal. With the popularity of Disney Dining Plan program, Disneyworld restaurants can be quite crowded and booked well in advance, so make plans early if you can. Advance Reservation arrangements can be made through a central phone number (407-WDW-DINE) or at the Guest Services center at the front of each parks.

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Be aware: Most table-service Disney restaurants require a credit card guarantee and will charge your card per person if you don't show up - I guess they got tired of no-shows.

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Tip: Consider a Disney Dining plan. Second only to the cost of your hotel room, meals in the parks or on property can be expensive, especially if you have ravenous teenagers or picky foodies in your traveling entourage. Disney offers prepaid Disney meal/dining plans of various types; most must be booked before you arrive.
Tip: Eat Smart. Vacations have a tendency to be filled with fatty fried foods.  Disney is making an effort to provide alternatives to traditional greasy theme park fare. I have noticed some combination plates for kids allow you to substitute a cold bag of crisp, uncooked peeled baby carrots for fries. Drinks almost always offer a juice or milk at a reasonable price (often lower than sodas). And bottled water is plentiful, if a tad expensive...still much better than dehydrating cola drinks. More park restaurants are offering a vegetarian plate, as well. Keep these healthy alternatives in mind - healthy eating may keep you and your family in better spirits and with more energy through the long days of park-hopping.

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Tip: Disney loves to feed kids. I've noticed that food for kids (including milk, juice, kids plates, etc.) at most of the "Counter service" dining establishments is very reasonably priced by theme park standards. Sometimes it is so specially priced that adults are not allowed to order it without kids in tow.....

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Tip: Plan your big meals in advance: if you plan a special dining experience, make your Advance Reservation early (maybe even before you arrive). Think about arriving earlier than standard meal time or perhaps plan to got at a time most people wouldn't be thinking meal. I've had good success at having lunch at either 11:00/11:30 or 3:00pm and planning dinner for 4:30 or 5:00 pm. 

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Tip: Think about what you are wearing. Selected higher end table service restaurants (all of which are outside the theme parks) have a dress code called "Business Casual". Disney's definition of business casual allows t-shirts (yes, that's right - T-shirts are permitted as of July 1, 2007), dress shorts, pants, jean pants, collared shirts, blouses, and sweaters. NOT acceptable as business casual are: hats, swim suits, swim suit coveralls, tank tops, torn clothing or flip-flops. Disney restaurants requiring business casual dress code include Artist Point (in the Wilderness Lodge), California Grill (Contemporary), Citricos and Narcoossee's (Grand Floridian), Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge), Yachtsman Steakhouse (Yacht Club) and the Flying Fish (Boardwalk Resort).

In the Magic Kingdom Area Resort Hotels (park admission not required):

It may seems strange to think about eating at a hotel restaurant since typical hotel food shares a reputation with hospital food as being marginal. But as with many Disney properties, the in-hotel restaurants are often unique and charming. And even though they are considered part of the "Magic Kingdom" complex, Disney hotel dining experiences do not require park admission to gain entry, although you may have to pay for parking. Here are some of my favorites:

 

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In the Grand Floridian Resort - on the "Resort Monorail" line in the Magic Kingdom area

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Narcoossee's - high end table service - overlooking the 7 Seas Lagoon in front of the Magic Kingdom, this is a special place for dinner if you can get priority seating during the hour for fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. The accompanying sound track for fireworks is piped into the restaurant during the display; guests without seats at the windows overlooking the lagoon can go out on the balcony to enjoy the short fireworks program. Pricey, but worth it for a special outing.
 

 

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In Disney's Wilderness Lodge - This place is a little off the beaten path; if you're not staying there, you may never stumble across it. Still, the entire Wilderness Lodge area is one of my favorite places in the whole Walt Disney World complex whether I'm staying there or not.

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Artist Point - high end table service: Formal but not snooty dining experiences specializing in Pacific Northwest style food. Sometimes the menu gets a bit eclectic, but a great place for a romantic dinner if you're just a little adventurous.

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Excellent choice in late May and Early June when Copper River Salmon is in season. Try it; don't let the price tag scare you away. You'll never think of salmon quite the same way again.

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One of the BEST places to eat during the Christmas holiday decoration period, as this restaurant is decked out in style.
 

 

 

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In Disney's Contemporary Resort - - on the "Resort Monorail" line in the Magic Kingdom area. This large A-frame hotel is probably one of the most familiar symbols of Disneyworld. It nearly fell apart in the early 1980's from neglect, but now is one of the places I frequently stay and enjoy.

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California Grill - high end table service: on the top floor of the Contemporary Resort (you ride private elevators from a lower floor checkin desk), this pricey dining experience has some of the best views in Disneyworld. Catch it at Magic Kingdom fireworks time and enjoy a private show against the blazing sky. The menu tends to be odd, but enjoy the environment and you'll be fine. Reservations strongly recommended, and they'll take a credit card deposit to make sure you'll show up.
 

 

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In Disney's Polynesian Resort  - on the "Resort Monorail" line in the Magic Kingdom area. 

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Kona Cafe - casual table service -  Probably my favorite casual dining place in the Magic Kingdom Area. 

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Great, reasonably priced breakfasts. My favorite is fresh orange juice, Kona Coffee, and the Tonga Toast - two cinnamon-encrusted pieces of French-style sourdough bread with bananas in between... sort of like cinnamon French toast with a chunky banana pudding filling.

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Nice lunch or dinner menu with just the right blend of conventional and off-beat foods. Try the pot stickers as an appetizer. The fresh fish dishes - especially if one is offered Hong Kong steamed style - are excellent choices. Try the unadvertised "Lilikoi juice" - a blend of passionfruit and other fresh juices. And they have some of the most tempting desserts in the area.

 

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Ohana - casual table service - a Hawaiian format, family-style all-you-can eat experience. Lots of food and a Polynesian setting. Being very fond of the ACTUAL Hawaiian islands (see my Hawaii travel site), I found the setting a little hokey for my taste (and I don't care to be referred to as "cousin" throughout my meal), but it was an interesting experience. Probably would be very memorable for a family with small children and/or hungry teens. Character meals book up fast, so reserve well before your arrival.

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Pineapple Lanai - an outdoor snack bar featuring the beloved and hard to find Dole Whip ice cream. Try the pineapple/vanilla swirl cone or the pineapple float, made with pineapple juice and pineapple ice cream. Frankly, I prefer my float with a swirl of pineapple and vanilla ice cream.

 

Dining in Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - O.K., unless you are staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, it may be a bit far to go for food - unless you're already at Animal Kingdom next door. But should you be in the area, there are two unique dining opportunities in Animal Kingdom Lodge:

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Jiko - high end table service - the more upscale and intimate of these two, specializes in fairly simply and light-side cuisine, if with a somewhat African bent. Features a wide selection of South African wines, if you're into that.  I particularly enjoyed the selection of unusual appetizers fixed on stage and often have had a wonderful sea bass wrapped in banana leaf.
 

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Boma - casual buffet - probably the most unusual buffet on Disney property. Had a wide range of salads, meats and desserts. Even a little kids buffet with Mickey-ronie and chicken fingers. Everyone can find SOMETHING they will like. The African-type cuisine was remarkably good; the American style food was below par. Try the Smoked Tomato Soup and Zebra Desserts, if they are available.
 

Dining in the EPCOT Resorts area - Behind EPCOT's world Showcase is a haven for modern day yuppies with a nostalgic bent. The Epcot Resort area includes several upscale resorts, a casual dining and music nightclub area called the Boardwalk, and two fairly typical hotels associated with the Disney property, the Swan and Dolphin hotels. If you happen to be staying in this area, I'd suggest the following dining opportunities:

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Yachtsman Steakhouse - high end table service - located behind the pool between the Disney Yacht and Beach Clubs, this high end restaurant is modeled after the classic "meat and potatoes" steakhouses found in big northeastern cities. Big steaks and chops, delicious onion-flavored rolls, generous though pricey sides - guaranteed to have potatoes in many buttery ways and at least one green veggie side. Ask for a seat by the window if you're early, so you can watch the Dads attempting to manage their kids in the nearby theme pool.
 

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The Flying Fish - high end table service - Located in the Disney Boardwalk area, this whimsical facility specializes in trendy seafood, though they often feature non-fishy entrees, as well. Its one of my favorite places on the Disney property anywhere. They have an optional bar-like seating area where you can watch the busy kitchen and talk to the chefs; I particularly enjoy this feature when I'm eating alone. The whole kitchen process is frantic, but professional, and very entertaining. And did I mention the food is great, too?
 

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Todd English's BlueZoo - high end table service - Located in the Dolphin Hotel. Even after several visits, I'm not sure what to say about this place. It is trendy seafood. It is chic. It is eclectic, bordering on bizarre. Its not cheap.  I've found several things I really don't like on the menu. And yet..... it continues to draw me back. If you are in an experimental or wild and crazy mood, BlueZoo may be for you.
 

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Shula's Steak House - high end table service - Located in the Dolphin hotel and named for/owned by former Coach Don Shula, arguably the most expensive steakhouse on property. Dark wood interior....so dark the waiters carry battery powered pen lights with them to help you with the menus. Ahhh, yes, and the menu is presented on a football. You should ask for a real menu. Your waiter typically shows you each cut of meat, reciting a long, rehearsed script...and you are expected to remember all the cuts by name. Like I said, ask for  a real paper menu. The sides are huge, and serve two to three easily. Shula's has steak any way you care to eat it. For my tastes, its overpriced, but I have to admit the steaks are very good. Finish the 48 oz Porterhouse in one sitting and they'll engrave your name on a plaque..... just be sure to leave your cardiologist's name at the door.

Top Tips and Friendly Advice
 

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Plan, Plan, Plan. Unless you are VERY fortunate to travel in low season, Disney World can be crowded. To reduce frustration, plan ahead as much as possible.

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Consider the Park-Pool-Nap-Park touring plan - Whatever park you decide to visit, get there at park opening; enjoy the cool morning. Getting to the parks early is key to checking off (often walking right onto) several rides before the lines get crazy. Have an early lunch around 11:00 before the park gets really crowded, then head back to your hotel for pool and/or nap time. Relax. Enjoy. Snack. Rest. Head back to the Parks later that same afternoon or early evening (maybe after an early dinner nearby) and enjoy the smaller crowds, cooler temps, and special magic that nightime lights bring to the parks.

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Understand Disney's FastPass+ system and use it. Reduces wait line frustration.

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Since January, 2014, the Fastpass system no longer uses paper tickets issued at machines in the park; it is entirely electronic and tied to your park ticket.

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Guests staying in Disney-owned resorts or at the Swan or Dolphin with pre-purchased park tickets can use www.mydisneyexperience.com to select up to three FastPass experiences per day per family or guest in one park each day before their arrival. Once those Fastpasses are used (or expire) you can get Fastpasses, one at a time, for any available attraction for any park at in-park Kiosks

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Guests not staying in a Disney resort must visit a Fastpass Kiosk in each park when they arrive to select from available Fastpasses.

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When you are in the parks waiting on your next Fastpass+, keep an eye on your smartphone email. During a recent weekend at Animal Kingdom, I got an email on my iPhone informing me of a "Change to my upcoming Disney Fastpass+ experience". It told me my scheduled "Dinosaur" Fastpass wasn't available because the ride was "temporarily unavailable". But I was informed a new Fastpass+, good anytime during normal theme park hours, had been added to my wristband and could be used at any of the premium experiences at Animal Kingdom. This let me chose any time and any ride from the following: Primeval Whirl, DINOSAUR, It's Tough to be a Bug!, Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Finding Nemo, or Kali River Rapids. It worked, I was able to walk right into the Fastpass+ line at Kilimanjaro Safaris, even though I had already ridden Safari two hours earlier. Two Safaris before lunch is quite the treat!

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If you stay at a Disney Resort Hotel, take advantage of Extra Magic Hour - early admission (or stay-late extended hours) to select parks reserved for Disney Resort Guests.

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Plan your fancy/special event meals as far in advance as possible. If you want to have a nice meal at Disney's best restaurants, be SURE to have an advance reservation (407-939-3463) at least 24 hours ahead of time. Disney's recent promotions include prepaid dining plans and these plans seem to have taxed capacity at most of the upper end dining places on property. If you are going during a high season, make reservations as far in advance (up to 180 days) as possible.

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Unable to get dining reservations at your favorite place? Try this: Count 45 days backwards from the date of your desired reservation. Call that day to check for cancellations. Why? Payment for most Disneyworld vacations is due 45 days prior to arrival. People may need to change travel dates or cancel before final payment is made; and occasionally those cancellations free up tables in an otherwise booked-up dining venue.

Bob's Best Best for Hungry Adults
 

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Breakfast at Kona Cafe in the Polynesian Resort Hotel in front of the Magic Kingdom

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Lunch at Epcot's Coral Reef, beside the Living Seas exhibit in Future World

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Dinner at Epcot's LeCellier or Animal Kingdom Lodge's Jiko or Wilderness Lodge's Artist Point

Special Seasons and Events at Disney
 

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Link to Special Events

Bob's details for November/December

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Holiday Decorations - In recent years, selected on-property Disney resort hotels have invested in some serious decorating. Each of the Deluxe Disney Resorts make significant investments in decorating. My personal favorites include The Grand Floridian, Disney Dolphin, and Wilderness Lodge - each of which have huge trees in their lobby areas. The Grand Floridian also builds a real gingerbread house and sells bites of gingerbread for those whose nose smells Christmas before the eyes see it. To a lesser extent, most of the other Disney property hotels have some level of holiday decorating.

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Magic Kingdom - In addition to nice general holiday decorating, the Magic Kingdom park hosts a special event on selected evenings: Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. ~ $40 per adult. The event generally begins with an early close of the park to regular guests, and runs from 7ish to midnight, has most though not all rides open, and provides complimentary hot cocoa, cookies and a family picture...as well as fake snow and a special holiday character parade. And a special version of Magic Kingdom's fireworks display just for the event. Its sort of like an expanded E-Ride night, but with Holiday decorations.

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EPCOT - By far, my favorite Disney Holiday event is Epcot's Candlelight Processional. 300 member chorus, 50 piece orchestra, including instruments unique to Christmas, and a celebrity narrator reading an inspirational version of the traditional Christmas story. Candlelight Processional is open to Epcot guests at no charge, though the general admission lines can be long. EPCOT offers an optional fixed price dinner package at one of several Epcot restaurants which provides preferred seating at this popular event.  Either way, well worth your time if you are fond of holiday music.

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Hollywood Studios - In addition to generally nice Christmas decorations, Disney's Hollywood Studios offered from 1995 to 2013 a rather strange, eclectic - some would say "redneck" - lighting display...millions of standard Christmas lights draped on, around and in Hollywood Studio's backlot, with seasonal music and the occasional Disney-manufactured snow flurry. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights was a nice walk-thru evening experience; however, its not clear that this feature will return for 2014.

Special Arrangements for Special Occasions

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Disney offers a "Cake Hotline" for guests who want order a personalized cake for various celebrations at most Disney World table service dining locations. The Cake Hotline number is 407-827-2253 and requires 48 hours prior notice.

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Forgot to plan ahead? Most Disney World restaurants offer a 6-inch cake (non-personalized) upon request at the podium prices start at $12.50 + tax. No advance notice is required, but these are subject to availability.

 

What about those darn Hurricanes?

Walt Disney World's Resort Peace of Mind Tropical Weather Policy

Mid-August through September can be one of the best times to visit Walt Disney World Resort. As kids return to school and the height of the summer vacation season ends, lines become shorter, and the calendar fills with special events including the launch of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. To increase your comfort level regarding traveling at this time, Walt Disney World announced a new policy providing greater flexibility to modify or cancel Walt Disney World advance reservations in the event of a hurricane warning.

For calendar year 2010 (and I expect it will be extended into future years), if a hurricane warning is issued, you can cancel or reschedule your booked-through-Disney vacation package reservations without penalty <see more information>. Generally, if the National Hurricane Center issues a hurricane warning within seven days of your scheduled arrival for

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Orlando,

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your own home area,

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Disney's Vero Beach Resort, Florida or

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Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort, South Carolina

you can cancel or reschedule without incurring any penalties or fees. This policy also applies to most reservations for Walt Disney World room-only reservations if they are booked directly with Disney.

When you reschedule, all of your room deposits, park tickets, Disney dining plans and other Disney products and services will be applied toward your rescheduled vacation. Any discounts or free offers applicable to the original vacation might not apply to the rescheduled vacation. Disney will not guarantee availability of similar accommodations for the new travel dates. Also, this policy does not apply to certain special events or dining experiences.

Airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, etc. purchased through non-Disney sources may have their own hurricane related policies. In case of a hurricane, check with each specific company for their individual policies and cancellation fees.

There have been only a handful of days since Walt Disney World's opening in 1971 when Disney parks haven't opened because of weather concerns. Disney monitors weather very closely and communicates changing conditions to cast members very quickly. Walt Disney World is recognized by NOAA National Weather Service as a StormReady community. Disney has the only theme parks and resorts in the nation to achieve the distinction. To be recognized as StormReady, a community (or in this case, a resort) must establish an emergency operations center, have multiple means to receive severe weather information, monitor weather conditions and issue alerts, promote the importance of public readiness through education efforts, and develop a formal hazardous weather plan which includes emergency exercises.

Need Professional Help?

OK, after reading all these tips you may be thinking that planning a trip to Disney requires more effort than you're ready to apply. Don't give up yet:

Travel Agents - several very good online travel agents specialize in Disney Vacations, including:

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Kingdom Magic Travel

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Dreams Unlimited Travel

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Mouse Ear Vacations

More Disney World Information

Beyond the few tips above, there are several excellent "unofficial" references to Disneyworld. I've listed a few of my favorites below:

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Deb's Unofficial Walt Disney World Guide - run by Deb Willis, probably my favorite unbiased resource on Disneyworld things

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Mousesavers.com - a very cool and financially valuable website listing up-to-date discounts on hotels and tickets for Walt Disney World in Florida, Disneyland in California,  Universal Orlando, and many other related properties.

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Mouseplanet.com - a nicely organized web site covering both Disneyworld Florida and Disneyland California

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Explore the Magic - a relatively new, nice information resource

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The "Dis" Message Boards - A live , free forum by about and for Disney fans, this large web site is a series of on-line threaded discussions about everything Disney. They take your questions, too, if you can't find the answer already posted. If you've never used threaded discussion boards before, give these a try. Basically, people post questions of all sorts. All sorts of people try to answer these questions. Sometimes the answers are very good. Sometimes the answers are ...less than helpful. Generally, good discussion boards have moderators who help even things out. You can find out a surprising number of things by simply asking.

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Walt Disney World Magic: Great for news and rumors!

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Walt Disney World Passporter - a annually updated hardcopy guide (in a nifty optional binder with lots of pockets) by Jennifer Watson and Dave Marx. Especially helpful for those vacationers (like me) who are compulsive planners.

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The DIS - Pete Werners Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World

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The Laughing Place  - Good general coverage of Walt Disney World and one of the few sites that provides detailed information on Disneyland in California.

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Intercot: the INTERnet Community Of Tomorrow

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Orlando Tourist Information Bureau

And of course, there is always the official Disneyworld Web Site

 

 

Disclaimer

This Unofficial website is NOT affiliated with The Walt Disney Company in any way.

For official information on Walt Disney World please visit their website at www.disneyworld.com.
All rights are reserved by the author/editor.

Walt Disney World and it's theme parks, events, attractions and area names are trademarks of The Walt Disney Company.