It didn’t take long for me to decide what article I would open the year 2013 with. After surviving another Christmas season, I decided what better way to begin the New Year in the middle of winter than talk about the most magical vacation spot in the tropics! And yes Disney fans, I’m talking about Disney’s Aulani resort and spa located on the Leeward Coast of Oahu, about 18 miles west of Honolulu. This resort is totally different that any Disney resort you might have been to. Disney turned to veteran Imagineer Joe Rhode to help design the new resort, because Joe was raised in Hawaii and has intimate knowledge of its culture, people, traditions and history. Unlike typical Disney resorts, you’ll find few references to the Disney Company, or even few signs sans the gift shops that advertised the Disney moniker. Even Mickey and Minnie and the rest of the characters keep a low profile. The idea was to showcase Hawaii’s culture, its people, the land and its history. And Joe Rhode and company have done an amazing job.
The whole world was biting at the bit to experience Disney’s newest cruise ship the “Dream” when it launched on its inaugural cruise on January 19 of last year. This first of Disney’s two new ships was everything and more you could expect from Disney. And its sister ship, the Fantasy which made its first voyage on March 25 of this year had the same electrifying impact as well. The Fantasy, which weighs in about 130,000 gross tons, was completed in the Meyer Werft Shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.
Both ships take their design style from past classic liners as the Queen Elizabeth and the Normandie, both from the golden age of cruise ships. I was on the Disney Dream’s inaugural three day cruise last year as a member of the media. But three days is woefully short to take in these beautiful floating palaces. The amenities aboard both ships are too numerous to discuss on that short time span. This ship is just beautifully detailed and themed in the turn-of-the-century art nouveau style. There are stunning tile and mosaic murals all around, even on the elevator floors. Many guests in their scurrying around, miss out on some of these stunning details. The art work and attention to the smallest item are what makes these new ships amazing. My wife and I decided to take a week’s cruise on the Fantasy to enjoy and report on what you can expect when you cruise with Disney. My wife and I are very qualified in this area, this having been our 36th total cruise and the 7th with Disney. We have cruised most major lines and have been everywhere from Hawaii, Bahamas, Bermuda and points in-between. We know what makes a great cruise, and what does not. But this is a review of the Fantasy, not our vacation. Since there is so much offered here, I have decided to cover one subject at a time so you can appreciate just what a “Magical” adventure is in store…
I recently received an offer from Disney. They would send me a free $25 gift card if I would call the number they gave me and listen to a 10-minute presentation on the Disney Vacation Club. Never one to pass up anything free, I took them up on this offer.
I’ve looked at DVC before. I really do like the concept of owning a little piece of Disney World. And with us going there every year, it sounds like it might save us money in the long run. But every time I’ve considered buying into DVC, I’ve never been able to see the cost savings. At the time I received my offer, they were offering discounts of up to $20 per point purchased. If there was ever a time to buy into it, this was it.
Many of us enjoy our time in Walt Disney World’s parks. However, even the most die hard Disney fans often get tired after several days of walking the world-class theme parks! If you are interested in finding a way to enjoy a bit of Disney while also enjoying some relaxation, consider a few nights at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.
This resort is located in Vero Beach, FL, which is a little over 100 miles or 2 hours away from Orlando, FL. The resort is located right on the Atlantic coast, thus offering beautiful, oceanfront first class accommodations.
Consider this Part Two of my earlier post about my GrownUps Only trip to WDW last October. My husband was in Orlando for work and after leaving my kids with the grandparents, I hightailed it down there. Telling the kids NOTHING except we would be in Orange County (at least we didn’t LIE to them, right?) Mwahhaha! Fun and frivolity ensued, including my “Keys to the Kingdom” tour (pure awesomeness-just look for my earlier post in the archives!) Anyhoo, we move from conference hotel to the FABULOUS Bay Lake Towers, where I had booked a studio. Here’s where it gets interesting: at check-in, the lovely Dorothy notices we are celebrating our anniversary and tells us to expect a text when our room is ready (since it was only 10AM). Having never received a text, we return at 3PM to get our room number. OK, arriving at Room 8430, our key doesn’t work. So we call them and wait. Then after 15 minutes, hubby heads back to the front desk. A bit frustrating when you are tired and just ready to kick back and relax. Then, you guessed it, a CM shows up to open the door. And voilá:
We chose AKV for several reasons when we made our purchase. First, the decor and ambiance felt so much more like “home” to us than the Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort. The warmth seemed so much more inviting to a young family. We also loved the idea of being able to walk outside and be right in the middle of an African savanna and the African music and culture was great. Finally, we noticed that for the type of vacationing we wanted to do AKV offered us the fewest points per night out of the available resorts. So, when we finally made the plunge last May we bought into Jambo!
One of the first things I tell people when they ask me why I like to stay in my Disney Vacation Villa is the fact that it has a full kitchen (the 1, 2 and 3 bedroom villas). I get many different responses, but my favorite to answer is “Who Wants to Cook on Vacation?” The answer is: ME!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t cook much at home so I really don’t want to go on vacation to do more cooking, but with that being said, having the availability of a full kitchen is great. DVC allows us to pre-order groceries (yes, a little more expensive but SO convenient) to have them delivered to our room after we check-in. Do we have full meals delivered? Nope. Disney has a wealth of great restaurants, and we want to eat there. So what do we have delivered? Soda. Waffles and syrup. Bread. Peanut Butter. Cereal. Milk.
In addition to the Disney pins we’re all aware of, there’s another Disney pin collection that includes vintage and newer free versions. I’m talking about the Disney pins or badges from the days of the Mickey Mouse Club to the First Visit pins you can get for free today. Those Celebration Buttons come with wishes like Happy Birthday, Just Married, Happy Anniversary, Just Engaged, I’m Celebrating, My Magical Triumph, etc.
The Celebration Buttons can be found at guest services in every park at the Magic Kingdom and at the EPCOT bus station service center. When you wear them, be prepared for CM’s to wish you a Happy Birthday or Anniversary! Your pin can create some great conversations with other guests as well.
In April, 2006 I took my new bride to Disney World for our honeymoon. It was the first time she had ever been to the world, and I had not been in nearly 15 years. Instead of taking it easy we ran around like maniacs the entire time–we had to do as much as possible in our five day honeymoon because we never knew when we would get to come again! We got to go back in August, 2008 with our two boys and did the same thing–a marathon run through Disney World because we may never have the opportunity again. We exhausted ourselves on both vacations.
Quaint beach-home looking buildings. A beautiful white sand beach. Lush landscaping. A spectacular view of Crescent Lake. And oh, yes, who could forget? Stormalong Bay. Where am I? I’m at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Where else am I? At Disney’s Beach Club Villas, another Disney Vacation Club property–and one of my favorites.
The past few weeks the web has been set a buzz again with the rumors of a Grand Floridian DVC addition. The concept is apparently leaning towards the Animal Kingdom Villas model– convert existing space in order to sell inventory immediately while constructing a new building that will represent the bulk of the DVC inventory at the resort.
This October, I get to go “home”- back to Walt Disney World and to the Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. I can’t wait. This will be my 2nd stay at VWL and my 4th stay at Wilderness Lodge. Every time I go back, I squeal like a little girl when I walk in the door!
The Villas at Wilderness Lodge opened on November 15, 2000 and contains 136 rooms: studios and one and two-bedroom villas in a 5-story building set on 4 acres. The villas are just a short walk from the main lodge and are surrounded by tall pine trees. Right outside the villa building, there is a lovely quiet pool with bubbling springs that is for exclusive use by guests of the villas although villa guests can also make use of Wilderness Lodge’s main pool.
In the last few days Disney has applied for permits for adding a large building to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. The building would be wedged north of the wedding pavilion and south of the existing resort buildings. To make room for the new property, the existing tennis courts would be removed. This would allow room for a parking lot for the new space.
Few words make me feel as good as these: Welcome Home. Many of you have heard those words in very different capacities–as have I, but my all-time favorite is when I go “home” to Walt Disney World. Nothing beats checking in to my Disney Vacation Club villa and being welcomed back. It makes me feel as if I am where I am supposed to be.
The Disney Driven Life brings you another episode of inner mouse. In this week’s show, Scott, John, and JL discuss luck and how to create a bit of your own during your Disney-esque life. Sharing a few stories about just plain dumb Disney luck, Team inner mouse leaves no stone unturned as they also give some tips on how to position oneself a little better for pixie dust to fall on you and yours. Leave a comment below and tell us which about any moments when you got lucky in a Disney way.
So this October my family is going to experience one of the biggest ways to show your Disney addiction—my little sister will be having a Disney wedding. That’s right, folks, the tons (and tons) of Disney movies, toys, plushes, memorabilia, trips, etc. do not compare to the neurotic Disney-ness that comes with having a Disney wedding. Well, this great family event leads to my own craziness—my seven month booking window for DVC is approaching!
Kaylene Jablecki leads a busy life as the mother of five, but makes time for Disney in her every day life. She’s a member of the Walt Disney World Mom’s Panel where she helps others plan their vacations and answers all types of questions about Disney World. She also makes sure to include a bit of the magic at her home for her family.
As an independent contractor on the Moms Panel, she assists Guests to make sure their vacation is catered to their family’s specific needs and dreams. Although she has a personal wealth of Disney knowledge through her own trips, she works to keep up with the changes in the accommodations, attractions, restaurants, etc. so she can provide the correct information at any time.