Category — Uncategorized
(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, see this.)
THEMING AND ACCOMODATIONS AT DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT
There are currently 8 official Disney owned and operated deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World. In their recommended order for first time family visitors, they are
Many of these also offer Disney Vacation Club (“DVC”) studios and villas, all for rent to the general public–see this for more on the Disney Vacation Club resorts. The Yacht Club has no DVC offering, but next door sister resort the Beach Club offers the Beach Club Villas.
THE THEMING OF DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort opened in November 1990, and in 2009 completed a major renovation. A badly needed refurb is under way, and expected to be completed in 2017.
According to Disney World’s website, the Yacht Club
“…[features] lush landscaping and the formal grace of a grand New England yacht club.
Designed by architect Robert A.M. Stern—known for his East Coast beach houses—this splendid 5-story Resort transports Guests to the summertime Shingle Style hotels of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. (Sister resort Disney’s Beach Club Resort is a more relaxed, pastel-toned edifice next door; the 2 share many amenities.)
Public areas, guest rooms and suites are adorned in dark wood and wicker furniture, portholes and simulated captain’s wheels. Cast Members are decked out in ship’s crew regalia, including navy blazers and captain’s hats.”
“While both hotels draw their inspiration from America’s architectural past, each has a unique identity.
The Yacht Club is reminiscent of the rambling, shingle-covered seaside resorts that were built toward the end of the last century in New England towns such as Newport, Marblehead, and Bar Harbor.
The Beach Club is lighter, more airy in expression. It is modeled on the many Stick Style cottages and resorts that could be found in towns like Cape May, New Jersey.”
(For more on Stern’s role in Walt Disney World, see this.)
Well, I have a couple of issues with this.
First–and yes, do laugh at me for arguing with Stern, the master, about his signature Shingle Style–vernacular Shingle Style has a few more curves than the Yacht Club. Rounded turrets and eyebrow dormers are common elements missing in the Yacht Club.
But more to the point–these two resorts just aren’t that different.
Yes, the Yacht Club is a tad more formal, and yes, the Beach Club is a hint lighter. …but some of the discussions about these two resorts make it sound as though they were comparing the Grand Floridian and the Wilderness Lodge.
In fact, the Yacht and Beach Clubs are more like one another in theme, style, decor, layout, and rooms than are any other pair of deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World.
And this makes a bit of sense, considering that they are really just one building with mirror-image hotel wings, designed for conventioneers. The similarity of the rooms–which will re-emerge after the Yacht Club comes out of its refurb–makes convention room assignment much simpler.
See the map.
The Yacht Club rooms and lobby are on the left, the Beach Club rooms and lobby on the right, and in between is shared space used for restaurants, kitchens, and other shared support activities.
Above this central shared space on the map is the shared convention center, and below it the shared spectacular pool, Stormalong Bay.
Note that the room wings are essentially mirror images of each other, and of course the room layouts themselves were identical (other than colors and details) until the Beach Club refurb, and will, I expect, become identical again after the Yacht Club refurb is complete.
What’s different between the two resorts in terms of theme is a set of small choices of decoration and decor, which do establish a difference but just don’t add up to much.
Here’s what we say about this in our book:
So yes, the Beach Club is the better choice for most families. But if you need Stormalong Bay or the easy access to Epcot, but can’t get into the Beach Club, don’t let the talk of formality keep you from bringing your kids to the Yacht Club. Yes, there is a tiny difference, and yes the Beach Club is preferable–but the Yacht Club is just fine for families!
ACCOMMODATIONS AT DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT
All Disney deluxe resorts have standard rooms; concierge rooms, which Disney calls “club” rooms; and suites. (See this for more on suites at Walt Disney World.)
Standard rooms are well appointed and nicely proportioned, and unlike at the Beach Club, all come with substantial balconies.
The only issue with standard Yacht Club rooms is how beat up they are, which the current refurb will address.
There’s a detailed photo tour of a standard Yacht Club room later in this review.
King bed rooms that sleep two or three (the third on the day bed) are also available.
CONCIERGE ROOMS, DELUXE ROOMS, AND SUITES AT DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT
I generally advise against special room types for first-time visitors, as they won’t be spending much time in their rooms. However, they may be well worth it for families intending to spend more time at the Yacht Club Resort than implied by this site’s itineraries.
TikimanPages.com has a great discussion of the value of concierge rooms here. Though focused on the Polynesian, it applies to any deluxe resort.
Most Yacht Club concierge rooms (Disney calls them “club” rooms) are the same size as the rest of the resort’s rooms. However, there’s also an option called a “Deluxe” rooms, and several types of two-bedroom suites.
Deluxe rooms don’t offer any more sleeping capacity–they just give you more space, and more separate spaces, for your family to live in. Deluxe rooms (which used to be called junior suites) are about 60% larger than standard rooms, and include two queens and a semi-private sitting area.
The two-bedroom Turret Suites have an unusual shape and layout–with one of the bedrooms connecting the other spaces.
There’s also two-bedroom Presidential and Admiral suites, each with ~2000 square feet and the two-bedroom Captain’s Deck Suite, with ~2400 square feet.
Note that to all the capacity figures above you can add a child under three in a crib. A crib fits nicely between the dresser/TV and the closet.
This review continues here.
April 18, 2017 No Comments
The last two years, Disney World’s most anticipated deal, Free Dining, was released in late April–April 25 in 2016, and April 27 in 2015.
In the hopes that Free Dining will be coming again, maybe even in three weeks or so like the past few years, Kelly B, my friend and the travel agent from Destinations in Florida dedicated to this site, composed the following thoughts to help people understand Disney deals and how to get them!!
Kelly has saved my readers tens of thousands of dollars…so I’d give her thoughts a read!
All About Disney Discounts from Kelly B
What is the most sought after “prize”….Grammy, Oscar, Super Bowl ring…….Nope it’s the coveted and often misunderstood Disney World Vacation Discount.
You’re planning your vacation and see a social media ad, TV commercial, or even get a special discount offer in their mail. With excitement you get online or call your favorite Travel Agent ( WHAT? You don’t have one!?!?!?!?! Don’t worry, call Kelly B – Destinations in Florida’s designated travel agent for yourfirstvisit.net – at 980-429-4499 or email me at KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com), only to find nothing is available or you only saved $25. How can that be?
Well, I’m here to explain a bit more about Disney Vacation Discounts and how they work. So sit down, put on your Mouse Ears (if you don’t own any yet, don’t worry, you’ll be able to get some on your next vacation), get comfy and learn all about the best way to save on your next magical vacation to Walt Disney World.
Types of Discounts
Let’s take a look at the actual discounts offered.
There are two common kinds of discounts offered when Disney releases a standard promotion – room only discounts and package discounts. What’s the difference?
- “Room Only” discounts require only booking a room, and do not require any other components (tickets, dining, etc.) to be included (they can be added, but are not required
- “Package” discounts usually have other components that are needed, most commonly a minimum number of days of park tickets.
We’ll explore “Room-Only” discounts first. These offers are discounts on the previously posted prices for the room portion of your vacation. Typically, Each level of resort has a different discount. For example
- Value resorts may have up to 15% off
- Moderate resorts may have up to 20% off
- Deluxe resorts and Villas may have up to 25% off
Did you notice anything about these offers? The words “Up to”. The discounts range in amounts and go “up to” the discount being given with a particular promotion. It also depends on the specific resort, the room category (often these days, the least expensive room types—typically “standard” views in areas of the hotel that are not “rpeferred”—have little availability) and dates.
The other type of discount of discount is the “Package Discount”.
These discounts come in all shapes and sizes, and change from year to year. They include everything from getting a free day of tickets to the coveted FREE Dining deal, which gives you one or another version of the Disney Dining Plan for free. (While one of the best discounts, smaller parties staying in one of the more expensive resorts—like two people in a deluxe—often do better with room only discounts than with free dining).
These package deals usually come with requirements. There may be a minimum number of nights you must stay, a minimum number of ticket days you must buy, etc.
What, Where, & Why Discounts Available
Now that you know about the kinds of discounts, let’s talk about getting one. One of the biggest misunderstandings about Disney discounts, is that many people believe if a discount is offered for their vacation dates, they will automatically get it. Unfortunately, this is NOT true.
When you originally book your reservation (and it is always best to book as soon as you can commit at current prices–resort availability goes fast., and if you wait, you could miss out on a favorite resort or the view or room type you were dreaming about), unless you booked a deal you will be booked in a non-discounted room.
Then Disney World starts planning for a discount. They contact each of the resorts (each run by its own management team, sometime shared across nearby resorts) with the discount information. Disney takes a look at current availability. They decide how many rooms, what room categories, etc. they will release in the discount.
It’s basically booking trends viewed through the lens of supply and demand.
- If certain rooms (like Little Mermaid standard rooms at Art of Animation) are booking quite well at undiscounted rates own, they aren’t included.
- If other rooms have a lot of availability (Like Pirate rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort) it’s an easy decision to include them in the discount.
- Some resorts may have availability for some dates of the discount, but not during other dates, or be excluded entirely—common circumstances at Port Orleans French Quarter
As much as Disney World is a magical place that I’ve come to call my second home, it’s still a business. And they are in the business not only of making magical family vacations, but doing so at the highest profit that they can. We can believe the discount is created just to sprinkle some pixie dust on our vacations but we need to understand the reality is to fill rooms and draw in more guests. How does Disney do this? They release a discount to fill resorts and rooms that are empty.
How to Get a Discount
There are two ways to obtain a Disney discount, the hard way and the easy way.
The hard way is to book your Disney vacation on your own. Then check every morning to see if a discount came out. Then if you see one has come out, you can try to change it online. Often the system will crash from so many people being on it so you’ll need to call instead. But hold times can be hours long. And I’m all about Disney hold music, but about the 10th time you listen to Heffalumps and Woozles – well every Disney fan has their limits.
What is that EASY way to book a Disney discount I spoke of? Book through a travel agent that specializes in Disney like me, KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com!
Before the discount is projected to be released, I’ve already booked your reservation, sent you multiple emails (including signing you up for Destinations in Florida’s FREE weekly MOUSE PERKS). I’ve sent you a form to fill out that goes over any changes you’re willing to make to your reservation to get the best discount. The day of the discount release I am up early (like it’s still dark out that the roosters are still sleeping, early) checking on your reservation online. Looking at your answers to the form, I’ll make changes to your reservation and apply the best discount based on availability. As soon as the phone lines open, I’m in the hold queue waiting to make changes I couldn’t online.
You’ll sleep in, snuggled under the covers, dreaming about enjoying a Dole Whip while you watch the fireworks. No stress. No lost sleep. Just savings.
And remember, all of my services are FREE. Free dining planning. Free FastPass+ planning. Free itinerary planning. Plus, by letting me know you found me on yourfirstvisit.net – I’ll send all qualified Disney vacation packages a FREE copy of Dave’s latest easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Vacation.
Why You Didn’t Get A Discount
When the craziness of Disney Discount Release Day is over, there is still a chance you may not have gotten the discount you were hoping for–wheter you or someone like me was doing the trying. You’re left wondering what happened. A few different things may have happened:
- Your resort was not included in the discount
- Your resort was included in the discount, but your room category was not. You would have had to upgrade into a higher-priced room, and the new price ended up costing more than the discount.
- Disney puts only some of the rooms in the offered resorts int the deals. Even with all the best planning and work, sometimes there just isn’t enough availability for everyone to get the discount.
- Because you know it’s best to book as early as possible you did. BUT since the time you booked, other prices increased. Tickets went up around 10% in February, so if you booked a room and tickets before then, the difference from your discount might be very small or it might actually cost more to add the new discount.
- Disney only allows one discount per reservation. If you applied a previous discount to your reservation, that discount could be a better savings than the new one—especially if prices have gone up since you applied it.
Don’t give up. Many guests place reservations on hold that include the discount. If they do not book, that means their discounted room could become available. Disney may release more availability. And sadly (for them) some guests do have to cancel a planned vacation. I know that when I book a client’s vacation, I continually check for the best option.
Some Parting Words On Disney Discounts and Planning Your Vacation
When planning your Disney vacation don’t count on a discount to make your trip affordable. Plan a vacation you can afford, and think of discounts as a cool thing if they happen. Getting a discount is never guaranteed. Disney has changed options, dates and availability with each new release. If you are sprinkled with pixie dust and do get a discount, that’s great.
Ultimately a trip isn’t about getting a certain discount, or obtaining that hard to get dining reservation. You’ll spend hours planning, working, packing and traveling, creating the “perfect” Disney vacation. And when you return, someone asks your 5 year old what their favorite ride was and they say “the bus”. You just know that mid-afternoon rain shower ruined the day. But ask your 3 year old what they liked best about Disney World and their answer is “I got to jump in the puddles”. Ask your teenager daughter what she like best about staying in a Polynesian Studio. Was it the gracefulness and beauty of the resort?? Nope “We had TWO bathrooms”.
Ultimately it’s not about how much you spend. Or about what level of resort you stay at. Enjoy each moment – big and small. Let them ride Dumbo or Expedition Everest 5 times. Stand in line to meet YOUR favorite character. (Doesn’t matter how old or young you are. I do it every time. Ask Russell). Take pictures. Try something new. Enjoy yourself and your family. Ultimately – It’s about making memories to last a lifetime. – KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com
April 6, 2017 No Comments
MICKEY’S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY: A REVIEW
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (“MVMCP”) is a special event that takes place during the Christmas season at Walt Disney World.
It requires its own ticket, which is entirely separate from regular Disney World tickets, and is only shown on certain nights from early November through mid-December.
(For more on MVMCP tickets and show nights, see this.)
Even though it is expensive (tickets for a family of four will cost over $200) it’s been part of this site’s Basic December Itinerary since the site opened, for a couple of reasons:
Going to it lets people save a lot of time.
Disney limits the amount of tickets it sells to each show of MVMCP. As a result, waits for the rides are low–most typically 10 minutes, although you’ll find longer waits at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan, and Jingle Cruise. Going to it and seeing some really popular rides with hardly a wait saves a ton of time that can instead be spent sleeping in or at the pool.
For example, above is the Space Mountain wait at a little after 9p.
Going to it guarantees seeing an evening parade and fireworks.
The regular evening parade at the Magic Kingdom is now gone, and at the time of year the Basic Itinerary covers, the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom may happen just a couple of times a week on non-MVMCP nights. Sending people to MVMCP guarantees your family will have the opportunity to see an evening parade and fireworks.
Moreover, the parade and fireworks are unique. The fireworks are tied with those of the Halloween party as best of the year, and the parade has a fun Christmas theme!
I recommend people go to Walt Disney World in the early part of the Christmas season…so how can I not send them to this show?
It’s silly and fun!
In mid-November 2016 I had a chance to see it again on Tuesday the 15th and Friday the 18th, my ninth and tenth visits to this party. The rest of this entry is the review of that visit. (Note that some of the photos are from my earlier visits, where they turned out better those nights…)
MICKEY’S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY
There’s a couple of components to MVMCP.
Noted already are the parade and fireworks, both in special Christmas versions.
The parade, called Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, happens twice each night, at 8.30 and 11p (both later than last year).
I strongly suggest you go on rides from the beginning of the party through the first parade and until about 3o minutes before the fireworks, and watch the second parade–crowds for the second parade will be much lower, and you won’t have to save a spot like the little guy above.
The parade begins with a bunch of characters…
…then Minnie and Mickey.
Frozen comes next with three floats, beginning with Anna and Elsa…
…and then Kristoff.
Next is Wreck-It Ralph…
…then Clarabelle Cow and Christmas cookies–I wonder why no resort is themed to Clarabelle?…
…then Goofy and Christmas candy.
Next up is a sequence of princess-themed floats.
Snow White and Cinderella get their own floats.
A closer shot of Cinderella.
One large float is fronted by the Beast and holds a passel of princesses.
The parade then shifts to a toy theme, including Woody and Jess…
…and toy soldiers.
Santa Claus is on the last float.
The fireworks, called Holiday Wishes, happen between the parades at 10p.
Also noted already are the rides.
- Not all rides are open, but all of the most popular ones are (there’s a list of what’s open on the brochure below).
- Because of the limit on tickets sold, the rides are pretty easy to get on to without major waits. The park will feel very crowded on Main Street and near the Castle, but this is because of all the people lining for the castle shows and the parade route. Away from Main Street and Frontierland the park opens up and ride waits are quite short.
There’s some shows, some unique to this event.
A Frozen Holiday Wish is the same as on regular MK evenings. It’s OK but the 8.15 show will be mobbed and cut into your ride time.
Only shown during the party are the skippable A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas in Tomorrowland…
…a skippable dance party in Cosmic Ray’s in Tomorrowland.
Also available is “Voiceplay,” showing on the same stage as A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas at 8.05, 8.55, 10.15 and 11.35p. This will please you in direct proportion to the joy you take in slightly thuggish boy band a Capella gestures towards Christmas songs.
New for 2016 is the Castle stage show “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration.” Showing at 7.40, 9.25, and 10.30p, and 12MN, this utterly skippable show includes dancing and character appearances to (mostly) second rate Christmas standards and (mostly) third rate original songs (all powerfully sung, however).
Oddities include a song about texting and keeping your phone charged which also features Daisy’s rarely expressed longing for Donald, and a torch song by Clarabelle that will chill any potential target of her affections. But wait, there’s less, as the Three Amigos also are a focal point.
Some photos from this new show:
There’s some fun other business: free cookies, free hot chocolate or other drinks (locations on the map), and snow!
There’s also character encounters, some very rare. My first reaction to the bear was “that scarf must be warm.” Yes, my first reactions are often stupid.
You can spend a lot of time waiting in lines for characters–go for it if that’s your thing, but for most there’s much better ways to spend your time given the cost of this party…
New for 2016 are Judy and Nick:
…and the Seven Dwarfs have moved into Storybook Circus:
Both sides of the 2016 MVMCP brochure are below–as always, click them to enlarge them.
Even though the party starts at 7p, Disney traditionally lets people holding tickets for it through the turnstiles beginning at 4p or 3.45p. Show up early, see some of the lower wait rides, and have dinner. If you show up around party time, Main Street will be mobbed. If the train is still running–the last run will be 6.45p or so–take the train to Frontierland or Fantasyland to avoid the crowds on Main Street and in front of the Castle.
FastPass+ is not available during the party–but it’s also not needed, as only Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan and the Jingle Cruise see major waits. If you want to see these at the party, do them as late as you can stay up.
WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE NOT FOLLOWING THE BASIC ITINERARY?
As noted, this show is expensive, but worth considering if one or more of the following apply to you:
- You otherwise won’t see the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom
- Your plans otherwise leave you short on Magic Kingdom time, and/or
- You are really a fan of Christmas
With kids old enough to be focused on rides, the right plan for MVMCP is to
- Show up early, and eat before the party
- Do rides until around 9.30p, and then
- Position yourselves near the Castle for Holiday Wishes, and the second showing of the evening parade.
- After the parade, do more rides or see the shows!
November 19, 2016 No Comments
JINGLE BELL, JINGLE BAM! AT DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! is a new holiday show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that debuted November 14th. This overlapped with my latest trip to Disney World, and I had a chance to see it Tuesday and Friday.
A fun combination of projections of Disney characters, lasers, pyrotechnics, Christmas songs, and fireworks, I’d rate it as a don’t miss if not for the fact that most nights (except the busy weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years) you can see it or Fantasmic, but not both.
Fantasmic is both a little better and has much more capacity (you need to get close to where BAM is projected, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, to get much value from the projections), so on nights when you can see only one, for most Fantasmic will the better choice. On nights where you could see either—or of you have more than one evening in the Studios—see both.
(In quieter weeks, Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! is typically on at 6.45p, and Fantasmic at 7p. Busier weeks see it at 9p and Fantasmic at 7 and 9.30p, so those weeks on a single day you could see both the 7p Fantasmic show and the 9p BAM—though crowds for both will be massive, and you will need to arrive seriously early for each.)
BAM replaces in general the old Studios holiday show the Osborne Lights, and specifically replaces the new Star Wars show from November 14 to December 31. The replacement of the Star Wars show was sudden, and threw off people who had hoped to see it on their holiday season visits.
The new show begins with snow…
…that gradually accumulates.
Soon the crew from “Prep and Landing” show up. (If you know nothing about “Prep and Landing,” don’t worry—it matters not.)
They can’t find Santa at his desk, and thus a search for him begins, accompanied by Christmas songs and multiple character vignettes (on all the projection areas, and they go by very quickly, so keep your eyes peeled)…
The final battle for Santa is with some folk from A Nightmare Before Christmas:
Yet somehow Santa is saved.
Santa saved, the show ends with a pile of fireworks (other fireworks punctuate earlier moments):
Like the Star Wars show, this is more “projections with fireworks” than “fireworks with projections,” so a spot close to the theater (and center or left) really pays off. But—frankly—the projections are so, umm, random, and brief, and scattered, that with the music and fireworks you can enjoy it from Hollywood Boulevard much more than you can the Star Wars show.
November 19, 2016 No Comments
MAGIC KINGDOM DAY 2: THURSDAY AGENDA
Today you have the early morning off, and then in the late morning continue your visit the Magic Kingdom.
You should have FastPass+ for Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain.
You should have breakfast or lunch scheduled with the princesses at Cinderella’s Royal Table.
- Sleep in and eat breakfast in your room
- Arrive at Magic Kingdom in time for your Cinderella booking–or if it is later, by 11a
AT THE MAGIC KINGDOM
The To-Do List did not give specific times for today’s FastPass+ (Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain), because of the need to fit them around your dining reservation.
So you will need to adjust the sequence below based on your actual meal and FastPass+ times, and also interrupt it to be in position for the afternoon parade near Pecos Bill’s by 15 minutes before it starts–typically at 2.45p
- Enter the park, grab a times guide, and confirm the time of the afternoon parade (usually 3p)
- Have your meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table
- Go to Adventureland and ride Pirates of the Caribbean
- Walk through the Swiss Family Treehouse
- Do Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- See the Enchanted Tiki Room show
- Ride Splash Mountain (FastPass+)
- See the Country Bears
- Ride Big Thunder Mountain (FastPass+)
- Look for a fourth FastPass+ on your phone if you’d like to return to a ride from today or earlier this week.
- Fit into the above seeing the afternoon parade (find a spot near Pecos Bill’s by 15 minutes before it starts–3p starts are typical)
- Revisit rides from today or earlier this week
- Return to your hotel–to get to the exit, take the Walt Disney World Railroad from the station between Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain to the Main Street station for a bit of a treat and some time off your feet.
PREVIEW OF TOMORROW
Tomorrow you have the early morning off, then complete your visit to the Epcot.
MATERIAL IN THIS DISNEY WORLD ITINERARY
October 13, 2016 No Comments
My buddy Steve Bell of Military Disney Tips is running a giveaway of a signed copy of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017–the 2017 edition of the best reviewed Disney World guide book series, ever.
For your chance to win a copy, go to Steve’s site here and follow the instructions!
October 7, 2016 No Comments