By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.





Category — p. News and Changes

Review: The New Spyglass Grill in Trinidad South at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

In mid-March the Spyglass Grill, a new counter-service option at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, opened in Trinidad South.

This is a bit of a big deal, for a couple of reasons:

  • It’s the first real fruit of the massive re-do of Caribbean Beach that’s been underway for about a year (and is expected to be mostly complete at the end of this year, although the gondola will take longer)
  • In particular, while limited, it’s the first permanent dining to open/re-open here, and is for some Caribbean Beach guests a welcome alternative to the temporary dining they can find elsewhere in the resort. The menu, while slight, has both routine and interesting options.
  • Finally, it greatly lessens the extent to which the Trinidad South Pirate Room area is an awkward stepchild at Caribbean Beach. Yes, this area remains the only one at Caribbean Beach with full rather than queen beds, and yes it remains a bit of a hike from the main pool. But the new Spyglass Grill option greatly simplifies guests in this area  getting a quick bite for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Trinidad South will become even less of a stepchild after the Disney Skyliner gondola system opens in 2019, as the Skyliner’s Caribbean Beach station will be just across the bridge, south of Jamaica.

On the other hand, Skyglass Grill is small, has limited seating, and—that I could see—has limited protection against weather, particularly blowing rain.

It’s also distant from the rest of Caribbean Beach—other than a couple of accommodations buildings in Jamaica and Trinidad North, the offerings at Centertown/Old Port Royale will be more convenient to most not staying in Trinidad South.

I had the chance to try it out in my late April visit, and here’s the scoop.

The Spyglass Grill is located near the water by the pool in Trinidad South. Besides some indoor seating, there’s also outdoor seating between the pool and the bus stop, and also some picnic tables between buildings 35 and 36.

The grill itself has a drinks station (you can both use and pick up your refillable mug here)…

…ordering area…

…and a few tables, roofed over and with ceiling fans above, but no particular protection that I could see from weather that might be blowing outside.

The seating from another angle.

Behind the ordering station is a prep area, with another prep area back behind it.

After you order, you’ll get a pager—handy if you are in one of the outdoor seating areas or at the Trinidad South pool.

Reportedly open from 7a til 10p  (I’m not convinced it will stay open that late forever), the Spyglass Grill offers two menus, one for breakfast…

…and one for lunch and dinner.

Note the interesting mix at lunch and dinner of standard burgers and Caribbean tacos and Cuban sandwiches, and the breakfast options ranging from a scrambled egg platter to a pretty interesting looking “Cream Cheese and Guava Stuffed French Toast.”

I tried several of the more likely broadly appealing options, the bacon cheeseburger and the scrambled eggs platter.

The burger was fine, and I appreciated the onions and pickle on the side (it comes with lettuce and tomato) , as (not surprisingly) there’s no fixin’s bar, and your other options are limited to the usual mustard, ketchup, and mayo packets. It was also nice to get fruit that was not in a cup—fresher.

The scrambled eggs platter was even better. Oddly, the toast was the highlight. I am skeptical of overengineered breads, but the “yuca and sunflower multigrain toast” was nicely light, not wooden, and subtly flavored.

Varied and adventuresome Disney World menus have a way of getting dumbed down, so if you plan to patronize the Spyglass Grill, check the current menu here, and ask at check-in what the operating hours will be.

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May 8, 2018   4 Comments

Photo Tour of a Refurbed Room at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, see this.)

Refurbs and construction at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort has four elements

  • A new bed tower with a new rooftop fireworks view restaurant, just about topped off and opening, perhaps, in 2019
  • A new on-the water lounge between the Casita and the Dig Site, which is just pilings right now
  • Various temporary and permanent changes to the paths and bridges around the resort
  • A room refurb project

As of early May 2018, the room refurb project is well under way, with half of the buildings complete and two of the remaining six being worked on.

  • Complete: Casitas 1-4, Rancho 7a, and Cabana 8a
  • Under Refurb: Casita 5 and Rancho 6a
  • Not Yet Started: Ranchos 6b and Rancho 7b; Cabanas 8b and 9a

In late April 2018 I finally had the chance to stay in one of the new rooms. (A photo tour of a not-yet-refurbed room at Coronado Springs is here.)

The main differences in the refurbed rooms:

  • Wooden rather than carpeted floors
  • Higher beds, with storage underneath
  • Bigger TVs and many, many more power points
  • More structured storage, especially in the old closet area
  • Many rooms with showers instead of tub/shower combos, and where tub/shower combos still exist, the shower curtain is now sliding glass, rather than fabric

The rooms continue to be largely similar to those in the other Disney World moderate resorts, but with a few key differences related to the importance of the convention and meetings market at Coronado Springs–specifically, a desk (and, after the refurb, an easy chair) instead of a table and two chairs, and a dresser optimized for two convention-goers.

As you enter the room, on one side you’ll find a pair of queen beds.

The bed side from the back.

A closer view of one of the queens.

Besides the lights over the beds you can see, there’s four of these pencil reading lights–one on each side of each bed.

As has become common in recent Disney World refurbs, the beds are a single mattress on a platform, and are about 30 inches high.

Open underneath, there’s now room for you to stick your luggage under the beds–there’s about 14.5 inches of clearance.

Between the two beds is a bedside table. Note the Three Caballeros-inspired art above.

There’s multiple power points on either side of this table…

…and a drawer, small but big enough for your important books.

Inside the table you’ll find a large safe.

It’s as large a safe as I’ve seen in a Disney World room, likely so it can hold to hold the valuables of two conventioneers.

To give you a sense of its size, my book is six by nine inches.

The other side of the room is dominated by an easy chair and a long mini-fridge/desk/dresser combo.

This side of the room from the back.

The easy chair by the window is new in this refurb, replacing a couple of small ottomans, and makes the room more comfortable for conventioneers or families. Note more Three Caballeros art.

Next to it is the first part of the long object…

…with a glass-doored mini-fridge below…

…and a coffee service above.

Next is the desk area with a task lamp and set of power points.

Here you’ll also find the room service menu.

A larger version of the dinner side–still a little better than what you will find at the other moderates; note in particular the chef’s daily special.

Next is the dresser with a 54 inch TV above and another set of power points in between at the right.

The six drawers of the dresser will easily fit the two conventioneers or family of four that these rooms can hold.

The divided bath is in the back of the room, separated from it by a pair of sliding doors.

The sinks are just behind these doors. Note the makeup mirror, new with this refurb.

There’s an extensive set of toiletries, including sunburn relief gel, a shower cap, and a sewing kit–more than you’ll find at other moderates,  or most deluxes–suited to the demands of business travelers.

There’s some storage below the sinks…

…and also at the back of the sink area.

The formerly open closet area is now enclosed.

Inside the closet you’ll find the iron and ironing board.

The rest of the bath is enclosed behind a pocket door.

It features either a shower, or (as I learned on Mario’s terrific Coronado Springs Facebook group–also see his site and forum), a shower/tub combo with sliding glass doors. If a tub is important to you, Mario says to request one.

Either way you’ll get a rainfall showerhead and in addition a hand-held head.

As is becoming common in hotels at Disney World and elsewhere, shampoo, conditioner and body wash is available in large wall-mounted bottles.

A motion-sensitive fan is in this part of the bath, and because it is loud and seems to never shut off, it may drive you mad until you realize that you can turn it off by tapping on the left-most of the three controls in this area.

In general this refurb is a positive step. Some will object to the lost carpet, and others to the shower or the glass doors in the tub. But the added easy chair, bigger TV, plethora of power points, re-structured closet, and other additions are all positives for both business and family visitors.  And the Three Caballeros art adds a bit of Disney theming to a space that in its prior life did not really have any.

AMENITIES AT DISNEY’S CORONADO SPRINGS RESORT

This review continues here!

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

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May 7, 2018   3 Comments

Queen Beds at All-Star Movies and Other Disney World Resort Refurb Updates

I was at Disney World last week, and among other adventures as usual blew a day wandering around checking the status of the various resort refurbs, on the principle that you can observe a lot just by watching. Here’s the scoop.

ALL STAR MOVIES REFURB

Since my last visit in February, Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort  has entered a room refurb project.

When I visited a week ago, most of the two buildings (9 and 10) in the Toy Story Section were closed for refurb.

The floor plan (ignore the bath, as it’s the accessible variant) confirms what one would have suspected—that the refurb is following the path that Pop Century set, with queen beds, one a fold-down that makes the dining table go away, and, presumably, coffee makers.

For a photo tour of one of the similar refurbed Pop Century rooms, see this.

POP CENTURY REFURB

Speaking of the Pop Century room refurb project, the end is in sight. Buildings 4 through 10 are complete. That’s all its areas except the 50s.

In the 50s, Buildings 1 and 3 were being worked on at my visit, so the only bookable non-refurbed rooms were in Building 2.

This refurb should be complete by the late summer.

CARIBBEAN BEACH REFURB

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is in a complex refurb. 576 of its rooms were taken down–all of Barbados and half of Martinique–and are being replaced with a separate new standalone DVC resort, Disney’s Riviera Resort.

The current Buena Vista Drive entry to Caribbean Beach will become the entry to the Riviera, and Caribbean Beach will be eventually entered at Victory Way, with check-in shifted from the Custom House to a new area in the refurbed Centertown/Old Port Royale. Progress is far along on Victory Way entry, as perhaps you can see from my lousy drive-by photo (I was unwilling to stop traffic, and am generally an inept photographer).

The gift shop and most permanent dining are closed for refurb—the word is that there will re-open in late 2018. Temporary dining of varied quality and capacity has largely replaced them.

A month or so ago, a new permanent dining option, the Spyglass Grill, opened in the Pirate rooms area of Trinidad South. It’s small and not air-conditioned, but provides a quite reasonable breakfast, lunch and dinner set of counter service options. More seating is available outside.

I’ll post a full review shortly, but it’s a great option for those in Trinidad South.

It’s further than the Old Port Royale/Centertown options for everyone else. In the image, the two red circles are the same size and centered on the two sets of dining venues. A couple of buildings in Jamaica and Trinidad North are equidistant from the dining options; pretty much everything else is closer to Centertown.

The old bus stop at Old Port Royale has been replaced with three new ones, one for Magic Kingdom, one for Animal Kingdom and Epcot, and one for Hollywood Studios. I am hoping, perhaps unreasonably, that shortly the Martinique and Trinidad North stops will close as well, with the six (total) accommodations buildings in these two areas being served by the three new stops.

The demolition of half of Martinique means many of the remaining buildings here are closer to the new stop anyway, and the new stop is just 500 feet from the current Trinidad North stop. The elimination of these two bus stops would bring Caribbean Beach down to a reasonable four sets of bus stops (perhaps five after the Skyliner opens—see next para)—down from the seven or eight (depending on the route) of just a year ago. But who knows? Sadly, I’m not in charge…

Finally, construction of the Disney Skyliner system, a new set of gondola routes that will connect Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, Disney’s Riviera Resort, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot, continues.

Caribbean Beach will be a key hub, and the station will be just south of Jamaica, making Jamaica, Trinidad North, and Trinidad South particularly well-located when it opens, likely in the second half of 2019. I have to think that the Skyliner will get its own bus stop, as otherwise there will be a lot of road-crossing to get to the Jamaica stop.

The Skyliner and the Spyglass Grill will make Trinidad South–until recently an overpriced backwater–a particularly intriguing place to stay.

You’ll find some Skyliner-related construction not just in the station area but also in the middle of Jamaica and Aruba.

CORONADO SPRINGS REFURB

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is going through almost as complicated a set of refurbs as Caribbean Beach—although, since they little involve dining, they are not nearly so disruptive.

First, the old Cabana 9b has been demolished and is being replaced by a 500+ room tower that will contain preferred rooms and a rooftop fireworks-view dining venue. This expansion will make Coronado Springs more attractive to the convention markets it already serves. This building, almost topped off, completely changes the ambiance of the entrance to Coronado Springs.

Second, Coronado Springs at the same time is going through a room refurb. I finally last week had the chance to stay in one of the refurbed rooms here, and you can find a full photo review of a refurbed Coronado Springs queen room here. (Co-author Josh of easyWDW.com published a review of a refurbed king bed room a while ago—it’s here.)

According to Mario’s terrific Coronado Springs Facebook group  (also see his site and forum), here’s the current status of the room refurb project:

Complete:

  • Casita 1
  • Casitas 2
  • Casita 3
  • Casita 4
  • Rancho 7a
  • Cabana 8a

Under Refurb

  • Casita 5
  • Rancho 6a

Not Yet Started

  • Rancho 6b
  • Rancho 7b
  • Cabana 8b
  • Cabana 9a

Finally, a new over-the-water dining venue is being constructed between the Casitas and The Dig Site. The concept art is above, and the current state of construction below.

PORT ORLEANS FRENCH QUARTER REFURB

Rooms at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort are undergoing an unambitious refurb that is proceeding quickly.

I have not yet stayed in one of the refurbed rooms (we have one booked for our late June visit), but according to Andre’s marvelous PortOrleans.org, here’s the current status:

Completed

  • Buildings 1, 2 and 3

Under Refurb (old or new rooms may be partially available)

  • Buildings 4 and 5

Not Yet Started

  • Buildings 6 and 7

Ok, that’s the scoop on the refurbs for now! My travel agent partner Kelly can help you book–or avoid!–one of these rooms.  Contact her by using the form below!

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May 6, 2018   No Comments

Meet Me and Josh Today in Epcot at Mexico at 1p

Josh of easyWDW and I, co-authors of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, will be meeting and greeting and signing copies of our books (or someone else’s book, or your T-shirt, we’re easy) today!

We’ll be at Epcot, on and outside of the Mexico pyramid to the right, from roughly 1p to 2p.

Our book combines…

  • the un-matched insights of Josh into the parks and dining (he’s in the parks several days a week) with
  • my un-matched insights into the Disney hotels (I’ve stayed in more than 150 Disney World-owned hotel rooms, suites, studios, villas, cabins and campsites)
  • other stuff we are both just wizards about

…into the best-rated Disney World guidebook series ever published (our Disney World guidebooks have had almost 300 reviews on Amazon, of which 91% have been 5 stars).

There’s not a better way to spend an afternoon hour on Saturday than reading our book. But if you are at Epcot instead, come on by–we’d love to meet you and thank you!

 

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April 28, 2018   No Comments

Itinerary Revisions for Summer Visits to Disney World

After Toy Story Land opens on June 30, 2018, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be profoundly shifting its FastPass+ tiering, and, at least through August 25, its operating calendar as well.

Because of this, for the two days in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I’ve revised both the pre-booked FastPass+ and the daily touring plans for this period. These changes affect both the To-Do List and the Daily Itineraries.

The changes are exactly same for both the Higher Crowd Itinerary, which covers most of this period, and the Lower Crowd Itinerary, which covers the last week, so I present them just once.

I’ll cover To-Do List changes first, and then lay out the two daily plans. Images of both interaries are also in this post, where the only changes are to the two Hollywood Studios days.

I’ll develop revised itineraries for arrivals 8/25 and later after the operating schedules for those dates firm up a bit, but regardless before June 26, which is when the 60 day FastPass+ date hits for 8/25.

TO-DO LIST CHANGES

To-Do List Section D; changes are in red

1. Go to your MyDisneyExperience account at 7am and set up the following hard-to-get FastPass+, booking them in the order noted

  • Second Sunday at the Animal Kingdom: Avatar: Flight of Passage for 9.30 to 10.30a
  • Wednesday at Hollywood Studios: Slinky Dog Dash for 8-9a
  • Thursday at the Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for 1-2p
  • Monday at Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Mania for 8-9a
  • First Saturday afternoon and evening at Epcot: Tier One: Frozen Ever After. Set the time for when your travel plans permit you to be in the park.

2. Second, continue with the rest (I’ve kept the ones above in this list so you can see the various times, and am only showing the changes):

  • Monday at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Tier One: Toy Story Mania. Tier Two: Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Set Toy Story Mania for 8-9a, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster for 9-10a, and Tower of Terror for 10a-11a
  • Wednesday at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Tier One: Slinky Dog Dash; Tier Two: Star Tours and the Frozen Sing-Along. Set Slinky Dog Dash for 8-9a, Star Tours for 9-10a, and Frozen for the 10.30a show

TOURING HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS THE SUMMER AFTER TOY STORY LAND OPENS, DAY ONE MONDAY

Pre-book FastPass+ for Toy Story Mania (8-9a), Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (9-10a) and Tower of Terror (10-11a)

  • Arrive at the park by opening time
  • Ride Toy Story Mania (FP+)
  • See Muppet Vision 3D
  • Ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (FP+)
  • See Voyage of the Little Mermaid (9.30a show)
  • Ride Tower of Terror (FP+). As soon as you tap in for this FastPass+, look for additional FastPass+ later this morning or early this afternoon, especially for the noon Indiana Jones. After those, or if none are available, look for an additional set of FastPass+ for tonight’s first Fantasmic.
  • See Beauty and the Beast (11a show)
  • See the noon Indiana Jones if you got a FastPass+ for it. If you did get FastPass+, check as soon as you tap in for FastPass+ for Fantasmic tonight
  • See Disney Junior Live on Stage
  • Head back to your hotel
  • Return it the park, arriving at the Fantasmic queue no later than 60 minutes before showtime (if you don’t have FastPass+ for it) or 30 minutes if you have FastPass+
  • See Fantasmic
  • Head to Toy Story Land and see Alien Swirling Saucers; after, see another Toy Story ride if the lines are acceptable

TOURING HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS THE SUMMER AFTER TOY STORY LAND OPENS,  DAY TWO WEDENSDAY

Pre-book FastPass+ for Slinky Dog Dash (8-9a), Star Tours (9-10a) and the 10.30a show of For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along

  • Arrive at the park by half an hour after regular opening time (i.e. by 8.30a for an 8a open)
  • Ride Slinky Dog Dash (FastPass+)
  • Ride Star Tours (FastPass+)
  • See the 10.30a For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along (FastPass+). As soon as you tap in for this FastPass+, look for additional FastPass+ for later this morning or early this afternoon, to return to favorites or to see the noon Indiana Jones if you did not see it yesterday
  • See Walt Disney Presents
  • If you did not see it yesterday, see the noon Indiana Jones
  • See Star Wars Launch Bay
  • See March of the First Order
  • See Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away
  • Head back to your hotel, but before leaving look for additional FastPass+ to use before the evening Star Wars show
  • Return it the park, arriving in time for your FastPass+ if you got an additional set, and be in the center area no later than 45 minutes before Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
  • See Disney Movie Magic
  • See Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
  • If you can move quickly (you’ll have about ten minutes), as soon as the Star Wars show ends head to Toy Story Land and get in line for a favorite

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April 25, 2018   No Comments

Disney World Room Rate Deal for August 2 through October 7, 2018 Released

DISNEY WORLD DEALS FOR LATE SUMMER AND EARLY FALL 2018

Today a Disney World room rate deal covering most nights from August 2 through October 7, 2018 came out.

Some hotels and room types are excluded.  For those that are in, overall savings range from 10% to 25%, with the most popular hotels seeing lower savings rates.

VALUE RESORT SAVINGS

At the Disney World values resorts, Little Mermaid Rooms at Art of Animation are excluded. The other value resort options are 20% off.

 

MODERATE RESORT SAVINGS

At the moderates, Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside offer only 10% off.  Other moderate options offer savings of 25%.

DELUXE RESORT SAVINGS

At the deluxes, the Contemporary, Polynesian Village, and Wilderness Lodge have lower savings than the rest.

 

DISNEY VACATION CLUB RESORT SAVINGS

At the DVC resorts, Bay Lake Tower, the Villas at the Grand Floridian, Bungalows at the Polynesian, and Cascade Cabins at Copper Creek are excluded. Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, the Animal Kingdom Villas, the Beach Club Villas, and the BoardWalk Villas are 25% off. The other DVC resorts are 15% off.

The deal needs to be booked by September 7. Reviews of all these resorts are linked to on this page.

Disney’s page on this deal is here, and you can reach Kelly at KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com or 980-429-4499, or by using the quote form below.

Request a Quote

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April 24, 2018   2 Comments