7 WAYS TO SAVE MONEY IN WDW!

7 WAYS TO SAVE MONEY IN WDW!

A trip to Disney World is pretty expensive. Between room rates, ticket prices, dining, and merchandise the costs add up! Today, I am going to list a few ways you can save money on your next trip to WDW!

  1. Never book a rack rate room. Disney almost always has room discounts ranging from 10%-30% a night depending on the resort. Do your research and explore different resorts and I’m sure you’ll find something lesser in price than rack rate!
  2. Don’t bring or rent a car. Disney offers complimentary transportation to and from the airport to your resort, and back and forth from all theme parks. Bringing your own vehicle might be convenient, but you’ll pay nightly for parking at resorts, and daily for parking at theme parks. If you have to leave property, and Uber will still be much cheaper!
  3. Stock up on snacks and bottled water. Bottles of water are ridiculously expensive in the parks, as are the snacks. Bring your own from home, or use Postmates to get some delivered to your hotel. Pack them in your park bag daily!
  4. Look into getting an Annual Pass. Annual Passes are available to anyone, and there are different levels. Calculate how many days worth of tickets you’d be buying and the price, then compare to a pass. In some cases, it’s cheaper to get the AP – which comes with perks. You’ll get special discounts and rates on resort rooms, dining, and merchandise!
  5. Look into getting a Disney Visa. Chase bank offers Disney Visa debit cards for bank members and credit cards. Chase Visa cardmembers also get special perks including dining and merchandise discounts and also have special photo-ops with characters!
  6. Buy souvenirs ahead of time. This works really just for kids, because we all know that they want everything. Head to Target, Amazon, Walmart, etc. and purchase Disney brand merchandise. When your child is dying for a toy, pull out one of the pre-bought souvenirs and give it to them. It’ll be much cheaper, and make the whole family happy!
  7. Skip adding on Park-HopperI will preach this until I cannot preach it anymore. Especially if you are staying multiple days, the Park Hopper is not worth it! A vacation is supposed to be relaxing, and although it’s hard to do on a WDW vacation, park hopping is just too much in one day. Take your time in the parks one day at a time, head back to the resort mid-day for a nap or to lounge around the pool, head back to that same park. You’ll be much more well rested at the end of your vacation!

And there you have it – 7 ways to save money on your next vacation to WDW! Thanks for reading ūüôā Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’re notified when we post next. See ya real soon!

A BREAK DOWN OF WDW DINING PLANS!

A BREAK DOWN OF WDW DINING PLANS!

When helping friends and families plan their magical vacations, I often get asked several questions about Disney World dining plans. The dining plans can be confusing to first-time guests or those who have never used one in the past. So today, I thought I would break down the disney dining plans based on the questions I’m often asked!

Before I dive into the dining plans themselves, it is important to get a basic understanding of the different types of dining options that you will come across on property. There are four main types:

Grab-and-Go: Grab-and-go locations are usually stands in the park that have a walk up window with readily prepared foods and beverages. Mostly, these offer snacks such as popcorn, Mickey pretzels, cotton candy, churros, ice cream, and more. They are normally just small, walk up stands located outdoors with little-to-no seating.

Quick Service: I refer to these locations as the “fast food” locations in WDW. Quick service locations are usually indoors. They will have a cashier/window waiting area for guests to walk up and order food, and an indoor or covered seating area that is first come, first serve. There are no servers at these locations.

Table Service: Table service locations are traditional “sit down” meals. At these indoor locations, you will check in at the hostess stand in the front and wait to be seated. You will have a server, and will need to leave gratuity. These locations may be buffets, a traditional “order-off-the-menu” style dinner, a family style dinner, or may have a prix fixe menu.

Signature Dining: Signature dining locations are also “sit down” meals, however they are typically higher quality, more expensive, popular character dining spots, or dinner shows.

Now that we have those four types of dining broken down, we can finally dive into the three dining plans WDW currently has available for guests. Keep in mind, these plans are what are currently offered at their current prices in 2019. Below, I will break down the three different plans into pricing per person as well as what is included in each:

  1. Quick Service Dining Plan ($52.20/day for adults, $23.78/day kids 3-9)
    • 2 quick service credits (per person, per night of stay)
    • 2 snack credits (per person, per night of stay)
    • Refillable mug (1 per person)
  2. Disney Dining Plan ($75.49/day for adults, $27.98/day kids 3-9)
    • 1 table service credit (per person, per night of stay)
    • 1 quick service credit (per person, per night of stay)
    • 2 snack credits (per person, per night of stay)
    • Refillable mug (1 per person)
  3. Deluxe Dining Plan ($116.25/day for adults, $43.49/day kids 3-9)
    • 3 meal credits – each credit can be used for any combination of table service or quick service meals (per person, per night of stay)
    • 2 snack credits (per person, per night of stay)
    • Refillable mug (1 per person)

Which plan is best for you?

When considering which plan is best for you and your family, there are several factors that come in to play. Here are some things for you to keep in mind before you make a decision regarding a dining plan:

  • You can only book a dining plan if you are staying at a Disney-owned resort. If you are only going for the day, or are staying at a hotel not owned by Disney World, you will not be able to add a dining plan.
  • Refillable mugs are only refillable at your resort. You can fill and refill this mug as often as you’d like, but only at the resort you are staying in. If you bring it into the parks, you’ll have to purchase a beverage to put inside, or fill it with water from a water fountain!
  • Each person in your party must be on the dining plan, and you must have a dining plan for each night of your stay. You cannot assign a dining plan to only a few in your party if you are all booked under the same reservation. Likewise, you cannot choose to limit your dining plan to certain days of your stay.
  • Although the credits are assigned “per night”, you don’t have a limit or a requirement on when you have to use your credits. Much like a college dining plan, you can use your credits at your leisure. Usually, we save up all of our snack credits until the end of our stay, then purchase candy and other edible souvenirs for our friends and family!
  • Signature dining requires 2 table service credits per meal, per person. No matter what plan you are on, whether it’s the Disney Dining Plan or the Deluxe Dining Plan, you will need to cash in two table service credits to eat at signature restaurants. This factor is a major one in and of itself, which will make or break the difference between the Disney or Deluxe plans for your family!
  • Snack” credits can be redeemed for a pretty wide margin of options. There are really so many options for snacks – from ice cream, to Starbucks drinks, to certain food items offered at EPCOT festivals – there is so much to choose from. You will be able to tell if an item can be considered as a snack credit if it has the DDP purple icon next to it – or, just ask a cast member!
  • Children under 3 eat free. You will not need to purchase a dining plan (or ticket) for any children in your party under 3. They will be able to eat off of your plates!
  • All meals on the Quick Service Dining Plan and Disney Dining Plan include a meal and a dessert per person.
  • All meals on the Deluxe Dining Plan include an appetizer, meal, and dessert per person. This one can be a lot of food, so take that into consideration when deciding which is best for your family. You’re paying for it regardless, and it will be a waste for your family to have this level of the dining plan if you won’t eat it all – you will not get your money’s worth.
  • All meals on any dining plan include one drink – either alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Drinks may include beer and wine, soft drinks, and even milk shakes! There may be limitations, and you would only get refills on the soft drinks, but the option is definitely a nice addition.
  • Gratuity is NOT included. Some people think that if they get a dining plan, they won’t have to touch their wallets at all – which isn’t necessarily the case. You will need to pay gratuity to servers at table service meals, and may need to pay more if you order an extra beverage or two.
  • You can track your credits on the My Disney Experience app, or on your receipts. Your credits will show up as a sum of everyone’s in your party, so be mindful of how many credits each of you has left as a whole.

Are the dining plans worth it?

I often get asked if the dining plans are worth it, and there isn’t a baseline answer – It really depends on your family and your preference. Here are a few things that I tell friends and family when posed with that question..

  1. It is really easy to waste money on dining plans. If your family isn’t going to use every credit or consume all that is offered in the meals, then you’re basically throwing money away. It may not seem like it on paper, but you really do get a ton of food.
  2. Be sure to weigh the factors of how much time you want to spend eating vs. how much time you want to be in the parks. If it’s your first, or once-in-a-lifetime visit to WDW, I would stick with either the Quick Service or Disney Dining plans. Eating at a table service restaurant may take up to two hours out of your day, which is a long time when you want to experience everything there is to do in the parks.
  3. It is convenient. One of the main reasons my fiance and I love the dining plan so much is it’s convenience. Although we still factor gratuities into our budget, it is nice to not have to worry about how much to put aside for meals.

Dining plan tips.

  1. Do not waste snack credits on bottles of water. It’s easy and convenient, and I’ll admit I have fallen victim to doing this, but it really isn’t worth it. Instead, ask for a cup of ice water – which is free – and fill up your refillable mugs.
  2. Plan your days ahead. Have a game plan of what parks you are going to be in per day and MAKE ADVANCED DINING RESERVATIONS! Also, have a game plan in mind on how you will take advantage of the quick service and snack credits – will you get snacks for breakfast, and use a quick service credit for lunch? Will you buy breakfast, use a credit for lunch, and save your snack credits for an EPCOT festival? You don’t need to have it planned down to where you’ll eat and when, but keep a general plan in the back of your mind.
  3. Order the more expensive things on the menu. Get your money’s worth!

Personal thoughts…

Personally, my fiance and I love the dining plans. When we would come for vacations, we added on a dining plan every time. We would usually do the Disney Dining plan, but we’ve tried the Deluxe and found it to be worth it. Once we did the dining plan once, we never went back to not adding it on. The convenience factor was what really got us, and we never wasted food.

We would frequent the parks so much (3 times a year) that we didn’t mind spending half of our day sitting down and eating because we’d done everything in the parks. That may be different for other people, and it’s really all based on your individual priorities.

I hope that this breakdown helped you better understand the different dining plans offered at WDW! I get asked more questions about these plans, and just dining in general, than I do about anything else when helping others plan their vacations. It may seem very confusing now, but [in my opinion] in the end a dining package makes your vacation a bit more magical.

Another question I get asked very often are which restaurants specifically are one credit vs. two. Let me know in the comments below if you’d like to see a blog where I list all of the restaurants, sorted by quick service locations and locations that are one table service credit vs two table service credits!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’re notified of any new posts. Have a great week, we’ll see ya real soon ūüôā

FOOD AND WINE 2018: FIRST IMPRESSIONS

FOOD AND WINE 2018: FIRST IMPRESSIONS

This Friday, I finally had the chance to head to Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival! Although I’ve been to this festival several times in the past, I feel as though I had a different experience this year. Below, I am going to dive into some of the aspects of the festival that left “first impressions” for this years festival. If you are unsure what this festival is, check out my blog post all about it¬†here:¬†A GUIDE TO EPCOT‚ÄôS INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL 2018.

Crowd Level

This year, as I mentioned above, was the first year we visited the festival on a Friday night. Usually, we head to the festival during the week and midday. This choice we made definitely affected how we experienced the festival based on the higher crowd volume.

From the moment we pulled in to the parking lot, we waited almost 10 minutes in line to finally get in to a spot. We then waited over a half hour between bag check and the entrance. When waiting, I made a comment that they must have a pretty great entertainer for the night and that had to be the reason for the crowds Рbut I was wrong.

The park itself didn’t feel overly crowded until we got into World Showcase. WS definitely had to be over capacity because it was beyond packed. Literally, I couldn’t tell you how many times a stroller was rammed into my ankles and how many times people bumped into me. Lesson learned: not the best idea to head to the festival on a Friday night!

Du Jour Dance Party 

Heading to and from the World Showcase, we came across the new Du Jour Dance Party being offered at the festival this year. When we first arrived, it was still light out, so there were mostly kids taking advantage of the party. However, when we were leaving, there were all adults on the dance floor. It was fun to see both kids and adults enjoying this added bonus!

Photopass 

I was very unimpressed with the Photopass options at this festival. To begin, there was no Photopass cast member at the front of the park in front of the beautiful set-up for Food and Wine with Spaceship Earth in the background. This is a prime photo spot, and I was very sad there wasn’t someone there tending to guests to take advantage of this!

Next, we headed to an area behind the¬†Du Jour Dance Party¬†where there is another FAW set-up with a large pink cake for photos. We took a photo here last year and were excited to do it again. The Photopass cast member rushed us through our pictures (which seems to be happening more and more in the parks!), and then later we noticed she must have had her settings wrong because we ended up with the couples photo’s who went before us!

Lastly, WDW kept Snow White out to do a meet-and-greet during the festival which I thought was so fun, considering it was far past the usual time that characters are out. However, there was no Photopass person with her, so the character attendant had to take photo’s on my cell phone. They ended up poor quality because of the lighting in the area, and I’m sad we didn’t get better photos!

Hopefully, these instances aren’t something that happen continually at the festival!

Eat to the Beat 

The performer for the night was¬†Living Colour. This is a group I’m not familiar with, but I know my parents are. My fianc√© and I sat for about a minute to watch the performance, but quickly got bored and left. They’re great performers, just not the group for us!

Food and Drink Samplings 

Before heading to the festival, my fiancé and I chose to eat dinner before hand with the plan of grabbing a dessert or small snack in World Showcase along with a drink or two. We ended up each having two drinks, and I got a snack. The following is a short blurb about each item we tried:

  • Mariachi Loco: Beverage, Mexico:¬†Margarita with Libelula Tequila Joven, Mango Pur√©e and Chamoy ‚Äď $9.00
    • My fianc√© got this drink, but neither of us were impressed. It had a dried mango slice inside of the drink, and it seemed to leave a bad after taste. I wouldn’t recommend!
  • La Chancla: Beverage, Mexico:¬†Red Wine Sangria mixed with Fruit Juice ‚Äď $8.75
    • Just a basic sangria – good, but nothing too special about it. However, I would absolutely get it again!
  • Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce: Snack, Canada: $8.00
    • This is one of the most popular dishes at FAW, and I can see why. It was a small portion, which I expected, but so amazingly delicious. The sauce was exceptional, and the cut of meat was clearly a great quality and so tender. I will absolutely get this dish the next time I visit FAW, and highly recommend it!

Overall, I was very disappointed with our first visit to Food and Wine 2018 this year. I am hoping that my next visit is more enjoyable, which I am sure it will be! Nonetheless, Food and Wine is still my favorite festival at the parks and absolutely a must-do for guests. I’m already looking forward to my next visit!

Thanks for reading ūüôā Below are some pictures of the night! Be sure to like this post, and follow my blog!

BEST RIDES FOR FASTPASS+ RESERVATIONS!

BEST RIDES FOR FASTPASS+ RESERVATIONS!

If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you are well aware that the wait times for popular attractions can be off-putting. For beloved attractions such as¬†Peter Pan in Magic Kingdom,¬†Soarin’ in Epcot, Avatar: Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom, and Rockin’ Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios, you can expect to wait well over an hour in the stand-by queue. This is why Fastpass+ reservations are key when planning for your stay!

For those of you who are unaware, Fastpass+ is a reservation for a ride that you can book for you and your party. These reservations basically “hold” your place in line within an hour long window, and when you arrive for your reservation you basically walk right on to the attraction. The service itself is free, but is very limited.

The terms and conditions for this feature are as followed: 1. Each guest is allotted 3 Fastpass+ reservations per day within the same park. 2. These reservations can begin to be reserved 30 days in advance or 60 days in advance with a hotel reservation. 3. The reservations can be made within your¬†My Disney Experience app or on Disney World’s website.

Since you are only able to book 3 Fastpass+ reservations in advance per day, it is important to be sure that you are choosing the rides that not only fit your interest, but that are worth wasting 1 of the 3 reservations on. Below, I am going to outline what I feel are the top three attractions worth reserving in each of the four theme parks, with a few honorable mentions. I would like to state that I am choosing based on crowd popularity as well as my own interests! Let’s get started:

Magic Kingdom

Luckily in MK, there aren’t any specifications on tiered rides (I will get into that in the later parks), so as long as you book as early in advance as you can, you will be able to book any attraction you’d like as long as it’s still available. In MK, I use my Fastpass+ reservations on:

  • Space Mountain¬†(average wait time: 65 minutes)
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train¬†(average wait time: 110 minutes)
  • Peter Pan’s Flight¬†(average wait time: 90 minutes)

Some honorable mentions that are also worth booking Fastpass+ reservations include: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. Also, when the new Tron coaster opens, I am sure that will take one of my top three spots!

Epcot

Unlike MK, Epcot has tiered attractions. Tier 1 attractions are those that are most popular (such as Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, and Test Track), while tier 2 attractions are those which usually have less of a wait time. When using Fastpass+ in this park as well as the AK and HS, you are only able to book¬†one tier 1 attraction with FP+, and the other two reservations can be utilized on tier 2. So, my choices for Epcot would be:

Tier 1: 

  • Soarin’¬†(average wait time: 75 minutes)

Tier 2: 

  • Mission Space
  • Spaceship Earth

Honorable mentions in the tier 1 category that I would choose if I were unable to book¬†Soarin’ would be¬†Frozen Ever After or¬†Test Track. To be completely honest, I do not have any honorable mentions for tier 2 rides – I usually don’t even utilize all 3 FP+ reservations in Epcot, and instead just book my tier 1 choice!

Animal Kingdom

As I mentioned above, AK is also  on a tiered ride system. There are two attractions to choose from in the tier 1 category, and those are both of the attractions in Pandora. Other than that, all other attractions are tier 2 in AK and are able to be booked together. My AK choices for FP+ are:

Tier 1:

  • Avatar: Flight of Passage¬†(average wait time: 120 minutes)

Tier 2:

  • Kilimanjaro Safari¬†(average wait time: 80 minutes)
  • Expedition Everest (average wait time: 90 minutes)

As far as honorable mentions, I do not have one for tier 1 attractions. In tier 2, however, it would go to Dinosaur.

Hollywood Studios

HS is the third land using a tiered attraction system. Currently, all tier 1 attractions are the three located in Toy Story Land.¬†However, this is something to expect to change when Galaxy’s Edge opens in 2019. My choices for HS are:

Tier 1:

  • Slinky Dog Dash (average wait time: 90 minutes)

Tier 2

  • Tower of Terror (average wait time: 45 minutes)
  • Rockin’ Rollercoaster¬†(average wait time: 110 minutes)

I would have to say that any other attraction [that you can actually ride] in HS is worth an honorable mention. However, do not waste your FP+ reservations on shows in this theme park! You will be able to see and experience the shows regardless of having a FP+ reservation. Use FP+ to get more out of your day by cutting down your wait for attractions!

There you have it – the attractions I feel are well worth FP+ reservations. To wrap up, here are a few pro-tips when planning your FP+ reservations:

  • Take advantage of the open windows, and book as far in advance as possible! I was always booking my FP+ reservations first thing in the morning when the 60 day window opened and¬†still struggled to get some of my favorite attractions.
  • Book your FP+ reservations early in the day. Once you use all three, you can start to book FP+ reservations using the app one at a time. This is the best way to get the most out of your day!
  • You can arrive five minutes earlier or five minutes later than your hour window and still go on the attraction. They give you a grace period both ways!

I hope you enjoyed today’s post! Be sure to like this post and subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already. Thanks for reading ūüôā

7 REASONS TO VISIT WDW IN THE FALL

7 REASONS TO VISIT WDW IN THE FALL

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I love the fall season. Although I’m not a fan of pumpkin spice, I love the scents, the decorations, and the HOLIDAYS! No one does fall better, though, than Walt Disney World. That’s why today I am going to give you seven reasons why you should visit WDW during the fall season!

1. The Decorations.¬†Walking down Main Street USA will give you that “fall feeling” even if it is 90+ degrees in central Florida. WDW does such an amazing job lining the roofs of the markets with pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns as well as putting Mickey-inspired pumpkin wreaths on each lamp post and hanging brown, orange, red and white banners all over. These touches really bring a small-town feeling to the park and create the perfect aesthetic for the season!

2. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.¬†I already wrote a long, lengthy post about why MNSSHP is a must-do on your Disney vacation. Dressing up no matter what your age is and going Trick-or-Treating itself is fun, but to add every other aspect WDW does during the party creates a truly magical experience!

3. Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival.¬†Another event that I’ve created a lengthy blog post about, this event (which is¬†free with admission to the park) is engaging no matter your age! I love the idea of trying food dishes and popular drinks from countries around the world. Although it isn’t a “fall” experience, it happens¬†during the fall time, which is reason enough to visit!

4. The¬†Treats. Fall time in the parks inspires chef’s to create endless fall themed treats – sweet and savory! Of course, you can expect your classic pumpkin spiced desserts, but also some fun treats inspired by your favorite Halloween and fall-holiday characters and movies! My favorites every year are the candy and caramel apples!

5. The Crowds. On non-MNSSHP nights as well as weekdays, you can expect the crowds to be lower than normal. This doesn’t mean, necessarily, that the park will be empty with no wait times on favorite attractions, but the wait times will be bearable. Being that fall is when children go back to school, most parents don’t want to pull their young kids out for a week to go on a family vacation. This was always a major deciding factor on when I would plan my WDW vacation!

6. The Weather. Although you can’t expect¬†traditional fall weather in Orlando, it starts to cool down in October and the humidity isn’t as strong. The change in the weather makes it much more easier to do full park days, especially compared to the summer months.

7. Lower-Than-Normal Prices. Since fall isn’t as busy as other months, resort prices are usually a bit lower as well as the price of park tickets! The only time you will see “peak” season prices is the week of Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Other than that, expect to pay quite a bit less than that summer or Christmas vacation you’re looking in to!

So there you have it, 7 reasons why you should visit Walt Disney World Resort during the fall season! We love it here this time of year, and I am confident that you would too.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post ūüôā Leave a comment down below about when you think it’s the best time to visit the resort. Also, be sure to like this post and follow my blog. Have a great week!

A GUIDE TO EPCOT’S INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL 2018

A GUIDE TO EPCOT’S INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL 2018

This Thursday, August 30th, 2018, one of the best festivals Epcot has to offer begins – Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival! The event will run daily from the 30th to November 12th, offering many special food and beverage options for guests to try as well as a few special events. The festival itself is free with park admission with hundreds of food and beverage options available for guests to sample throughout World Showcase.

As a general overview, the International Food and Wine Festival includes over 30 international booths all around World Showcase themed to different countries including The Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, Greece, Thailand, and more. Each booth will offer about three different snack-sized dishes (usually two savory and one dessert) that are popular in that country as well as at least three different alcoholic beverages.

Prices for the food and beverage items usually range on average between $3 – $8 each. To purchase, each booth will take cash, credit or debit cards, MagicBands, Disney gift cards, and Disney Reward Dollars. The best part about this festival, in my opinion, is that many of the food items can be bought using¬†snack credits¬†if you have a Disney Dining Plan! For me, this is a big thing because when we have the dining plan, we normally don’t use even half of our snack credits (you’re allotted 2 a day, per person), so this is a great perk! However, if you are an Annual Passholder like myself, don’t expect to use your Passholder discount as they do not accept them at the booths.

This event is a very popular event both for tourists and local residents of the parks. There are many adults and older couples that take yearly vacations to the resort specifically for this event, and local residents attend the event regularly. Because of it’s popularity, Disney seems to run it longer and longer every year (but no one is complaining!). Don’t expect light crowds, but do expect tons of fun – and to be hooked!

Now that we’ve discussed the basic information of the festival, let’s dive deeper into the fun and unique offerings of the event! If I were to list¬†every event offered, this blog would be never ending. However, below I am going to list some of the most popular and interesting events that I feel are worth highlighting!

Party for the Senses  

Party for the Senses is probably the most popular event during the festival, loved by many regulars as well as new guests. This is a pre-reserved and pre-paid experience where a special host will lead festivities for guests catered around eating, drinking, and fun. During the event, you will be offered several favorite dishes and beverages from the festival, and will be entertained by a live performer. The event is pretty pricey (starting at $229!), and is only offered on select weekend nights during the festival, but it is something worth doing if you’d like to try multiple offerings from the FAW!

Sunday Brunch with the Chef 

On nine select days during the festival, guests can purchase tickets for a two-hour brunch event with a special guest celebrity chef! Some well known chefs that will be hosting brunches include Alex Gaurnaschelli and Chef Art Smith. The brunch will offer a breakfast buffet, a wine toast, a Q&A with the celebrity chef, and a photo op! This event is also pricy at $129 a person, but is something well worth doing if there’s a celebrity chef on the list you’d love to see!

Make It, Mix It, Celebrate It Hands-On Workshops 

Offered every Wednesday and Thursday during the festival, guests can reserve a space in this event to learn various culinary tips and tricks from well known and experienced chefs. Some of the classes may teach you how to bake a cake or make unique cocktails! The event costs $39 a person, but is something that is well worth doing if you’d like to impress your friends and family back home!

Eat to the Beat Concert Series

Eat to the Beat¬†is an event that most festival goers are most excited for every year! You can reserve your spot at this event by making a dining reservation at various restaurants around the World Showcase on the nights that it is being offered. Itself,¬†Eat to the Beat is a concert series with well known musical acts on select nights including performances by Tiffany, 98 Degrees, Plain White Tee’s, and more!

Disney Du Jour Dance Party 

A character dance party for kids and adults alike, this experience is a new kid-friendly offering to the festival. Held on weekend nights, guests can join several characters ranging from Remmy (Ratatouille), Lilo and Stitch, Chip and Dale, or more friends to engage in interactive dances and activities. There will also be special appearances by Radio Disney stars! What’s best about this event is that it is¬†free for all guests with park admission.

Remmy’s Hide and Squeek¬†

Another kid-friendly (and free) option for the festival, guests can go on a scavenger hunt to find the 15 Remmy statues hidden around World Showcase. Ask a cast member in the park for a Hide and Squeek guide map and be on your way!

Junior Chef Kitchen 

Something that I am most excited about and will be attending even though I am 25 years old is the Junior Chef Kitchen offering! The event is free, however guests must register for the event the day-of at the festival center. Once the event begins, junior chefs will be guided through creating some unique dishes including candy sushi! The event will be offered every Sunday with limited availability.

For a detailed guide including the 30+ booth with menu options as well as details about the other festival offerings, go check out the Food and Wine guide on WDW Info, or at this link: http://www.wdwinfo.com/disney-world/epcot/food-wine-festival.htm.

For myself, I know that I am very excited for this festival to begin! This, along with MNNSHP, is a must-do event during the Fall season. Every year, I am blown away by each food option or beverage that I try, and look forward to trying some new things this year!

Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments below what you’re most excited for during the¬†International Food and Wine Festival. Also, be sure to subscribe to my blog so you’re notified whenever I post! ūüôā

BEST VALUE RESORT ON PROPERTY?!

BEST VALUE RESORT ON PROPERTY?!

There are five value resorts on Disney World property: All Star Music, All Star Sports, All Star Music, Pop Century, and Art of Animation. The value resort category are the lowest tier priced resorts on property. Even as the “lowest tier”, these resorts are (in my opinion) the most Disney immersive on property and the most family friendly in terms of decor and appearance. I’m lucky to have had the chance to stay at all of these value resorts, and I think I have an answer for the¬†best value resort on property.

Art of Animation! 

Art-of-Animation-Resort-001

Art of Animation is the newest resort on Disney property, made up of just under 1,990 rooms in total. The hotel does have single rooms, but is made mostly of family suites. The theme of the hotel is a kudos to Disney animation, and has four main themed areas: The Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, and Cars.

Each of the “themed” areas are somewhat broken up into their own little hotel clusters. Other than the theming themselves, which I will get into a little later, there are some minor differences between the clusters. First off, The Little Mermaid area¬†is the only area where you¬†can find single rooms and¬†no family suites. Also,¬†The Lion King section is the only section without a pool, but has a playground themed to “the animal graveyard” in the movie. Lastly, the¬†Finding Nemo section has the largest pool area, where you can hear the music playing under water with special speakers and sometimes even hear the characters talking! This area is also the only pool with a pool bar in the resort.

There are two very strong reasons why this value resort stands out from the rest: the immersive theming, the food court, and a pretty unique offering.

THEMING

You first get the impression of the theming of AoA as soon as you walk in to the main building. The first thing you see is a long wall to the left of sketches, based on the four movies featured at this resort. The sketches start from the “early” stages, then as the wall goes on, the sketches get more and more “finished” until the very back wall where you see colorful scenes from the movies themselves. There are chandeliers hanging from the ceiling decorated with sketches as well, and the wall behind reception is illuminated with bright colors with lights all the way down.

Although all of the value resorts have larger-than-life sized statues and props which are perfect for photo ops or even just to admire, AoA stands out from the rest. The statues are part of a larger scene within the sectioned areas, and you really feel like you’re a part of the story. For example, in the¬†Lion King section of the resort, they have the elephant graveyard, there is a section of pride rock where Scar is laying and watching over the kingdom, and the scene where Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba are walking along the log singing¬†Hakuna Matata is centered in the area, high above your head to admire. Another example is in the¬†Cars area of the resort, where as soon as you enter that section you are completely immersed into¬†Radiator Springs, where you walk along Route 66 to meet all of your favorite characters from the movie.

The theming also doesn’t stop outside of the building, but continues into the room. Each room, no matter if it is the single room or family suite, is deeply themed to the section you are staying in. Even down to the smallest of details such as the tiles in the shower, you truly get the feeling that you are staying in the world where you are immersed.

FOOD COURT

AoA is well known to have one of the best food courts out of all resorts on property. Named The Landscape of Flavors, the food court itself is broken up into different stations based on what you would like to eat, but in a circular fashion which makes it easy to navigate. The different stations include salad and cold sandwiches, an Italian foods station, a Mongolian foods station, and a hot sandwich station. There are also coolers which have drinks as well as fruit and vegetable options, sushi, yogurt, and more. You can also head over to the dessert area where there are many delicious dishes offered!

Breakfast is a whole different story. Breakfast is the only meal my fiance and I eat daily at the resort on property because, of course, we have to start of the day fueled up. This was the last resort we’ve ever stayed at, and up until staying at this resort, the breakfast options were pretty much the same across the board from the eggs to the potatoes to the other offerings. However,¬†Landscape of Flavors puts their own twist on every dish, including the breakfast potatoes which are my favorite, that makes it unique.

You can just taste the high quality of food that is being utilized when you eat at any station or for any meal at this food court. I really can’t put into words¬†why it stands out for the rest, you’ll just have to take my word for it and try it yourself!

landscape-of-flavors-gallery00

UNIQUE EXPERIENCE

The one thing that put this resort over the top for me was their unique (and free!) daily offering – illustration classes! Offered three times a day, you can head to the resort lobby to engage in an illustration class where you’ll learn how to draw a famous Disney character. What I love about this is that it isn’t just always Mickey Mouse, but instead they switch up the characters and focus mainly on the four intellectual properties showcased at the resort.

WDW used to offer something similar at Hollywood Studios, but removed it and relocated it to this location. I think it is a perfect fit, as the entire theme around the resort is animation. What I love the best, though, is that it is such a unique experience that you can do for¬†free. It is a can’t-be-missed experience!

Disney's Art of Animation Resort.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

Overall, this is a resort I suggest time and time again to people who ask me for advice, or ask me to help them, when planning their Walt Disney World vacation. This is a resort you don’t mind spending time at during the day, and honestly there isn’t a resort that is anything like it on property. If you are a lover of Disney animation, have children, or are just looking for an immersive experience on property, I highly suggest a stay at Art of Animation!

Thanks for reading ūüôā See you Wednesday!