Cheers Sippin Gypsy Travelers! This series comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Jalapeno Margarita inspired by my favorite Margarita at La Cava del Tequila in EPCOT at Walt Disney World Orlando. My friend Kathryn of kathroundabout is sharing her experiences and tips with us for Disneyland Hong Kong. Her blog is absolutely enjoyable with a unique approach to her travels and how they may not have gone quite as planned....Enjoy!
The Surprise of Hong Kong Disneyland
Is it a good surprise or a bad surprise?
Read more to find out!
So just imagine me, little Kathryn, acting like a 10 year old as I walk into Hong Kong Disneyland! For those of you in other parts of the world, this may not be as much of an exciting event, because, well, you have a Disneyland in your country.
Australia is yet to catch up.
Anyway, I had been to theme parks before, we have Dreamworld, Movieworld and a few others about an hour from where I live. They are pretty cool, but apparently, they were nothing compared to the amazement that people would describe a Disneyland to be.
I WAS SO EXCITED!
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking-“Why would you go to Hong Kong for a Disneyland Anyway?”. Let me just reassure you, I was in China and Taiwan for Chinese New Year and Hong Kong was our little stop in between.
So we kind of thought, hey if we’re there anyway!
I’m about to break a big dream here.
It’s not worth it.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re a hardcore Disney fan I am sure you would absolutely love it! But the rides were mediocre (compared to our Gold Coast homies), the food was average (I mean, it was normal theme park food, so meh), and there just wasn’t that overall, you know…vibe.
Hong Kong has some pretty cool off the wall places and is KNOWN for being a little bit out there, so I was super surprised that their Disneyland wasn’t giving me 110%!
It is a pretty cool place to go if you haven’t seen theme parks before, although I would expect a little bit of a letdown if you have been to other Disneyland’s around the world. BUT just in case you’re thinking of going, here are some HOT TIPS!
When Should I Go?
I was in Hong Kong during winter (February). It was cold enough for me to wear a coat outside but not so cold I needed a bazillion layers (let’s just remember I am an Aussie over here). I would say that it would be best from April-September because I don’t like the crowd but from June-August you’re likely to see the crowds for the summer school break.
How Do I Get There?
Hong Kong is C.R.A.Z.Y to get around (although this may have changed in the last few years). There are not very many buses or trains and it is super challenging because there are just roads to a bunch of different islands. We caught a taxi, as this was the easiest option. From Kowloon it was about $40AUD each way. Yeah, Hong Kong ain’t cheap.
PLUS, Disneyland is the furthest away from everything else that it could get! Legit, you have to go back out past the airport to even get to the island and then continue on.
Should I Stay At The Park?
This was one of the options when I was there and I’m not sure if it still is. I would vote no on this, unless all you plan on doing in Hong Kong is the theme park. Which would be a shame to miss out on everything else Hong Kong has to offer. If you stay at the Disneyland Hotel, you will be 40 minutes, without traffic, from the inner city (and subsequently, all other attractions). If you have kids, this could be a good option, but if you don’t I would recommend you cop the taxi charge (or maybe see if they have Uber?) and get out there for one-day trip.
What Should I eat?
The answer to this is: whatever you want.
The theme park has a mixture of both western and Chinese favourites-so you literally have free choice of any of your normal favourites!
Me? I had a Space Burger from near the kid’s section, some fairy floss and I snacked on oddly fishy-tasting popcorn throughout the day. All of it was yummy, but not overly delicious (Compared to the dim sum I had the night before!).
What is one thing I CANNOT miss here?
I am pretty sure that most theme parks do this nowadays-but I love it!
All of the characters came out and were singing and dancing and for the first time all day I felt a little bit of that Disney magic!
So, if you’re off to Hong Kong Disneyland, that’s great! Just keep those expectations low and hopefully you’ll have a few little magic surprises come your way!
Thank you Kathryn for sharing your Hong Kong Disneyland experience and suggestions with us! Check out Kathryn's blog at kathroundabout here, and check out her Instagram @kathroundabout . Also check out my own Sippin Gypsy post on her blog about travels that didn't go quite as planned for me and my family during the Eclipse of 2017!
Also check out our other Disney Parks Series for tips and suggestions on Disney tips around the world!
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Travelers!! This post comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Gin and Lavender Lemonade. Philadelphia in the spring was amazing! The city was in full bloom and the cocktails and cuisine to celebrate the season took me by surprise! I ventured up to Philadelphia to spend a few days with my cousin, Jeremy who has been in the food and beverage industry for years. He took me some of the best spots in Philadelphia while showing me around the eclectic neighborhoods of downtown Philadelphia. I love this city! There was a beautiful balance of historic buildings that have been preserved and updated to support a modern fresh feel. I was also surprised how easy it was to walk everywhere! We stayed near Rittenhouse Square, but easily walked to Queen Village, Old City and Center City. Before I arrived I assumed there would be some amazing food, the Starr Restaurants are headquartered there, but I was truly impressed with the quality and variety built up not only across the city, but in each neighborhood of independent restaurants and visionaries. I only had four days in Philadelphia, but I did my best to taste and sip my way through the historic cobblestone streets. Also check out my Sippin Gypsy Quick Tips for Playin': Philadelphia post for ideas for what to do while in 'The City of Brotherly Love'!
1. Will BYOB
For me this was the peak of my culinary adventure in Philadelphia. Chef Christopher Kearse has created the most charming of locations deep within South Philly. The neighborhood was full of eclectic bars and restaurants. We picked up a bottle of wine (or two) before heading in for dinner which is the meaning of BYOB... During our visit we had the option for a special Mushroom Tasting to compliment our meal. So. Good. If you can only do one meal while in Philadelphia, please indulge at Will BYOB. The restaurant is small but mighty. You need a reservation, as they are often booked up far in advance.
Out in the growing neighborhood of Fishtown, Suraya was a delightful adventure. We took the subway out of the city and strolled through the area. Charming shops, creative restaurants and bars and homes being renovated with modern twists while protecting the historic details. It was my understanding Suraya was about to begin offering a full service dinner menu, but even just our lunch/cafe menu was impressive. The labne was one of the best I've ever had, and the Spritz Cocktail was fragrant and beautiful. This neighborhood and restaurant should be top on your priority to visit in Philly!
3. Oyster House
Raw oysters, great cocktails and an impressive but concise menu set within a charming environment with an eclectic display of oyster dishes sprinkled on the brick walls, what more could you want!? Personally I am a fan of the flavors in east coast oyster <insert onset of war cries from west coast oyster lovers> and we were able to order a beautiful assortment of oysters to start our meal. Oyster House was my first experience in Philadelphia, and from the first bite of grilled octopus, to the oyster selection, to the crab cakes, I knew I was in trouble...Philadelphia was a food town to be reckoned with.
4.The Olde Bar
Why not go to Philadelphia and go to bar called The Olde Bar!? My cousin and I had just finished our Ghost Tour and were ready for some cocktails. Originally called Bookbinders which was a fine dining establishment for decades, Olde Bar was ready and able to delight! The cocktails were delicious and we ended up enjoying dinner here too. I love classic southern cuisine, so when I saw shrimp and grits offered on the menu, I had to try it...other then needing to do a little peeling of the shrimp on my own, the flavors were fabulous! Not as much heat as we pack into our dishes here in the south, but still great savory flavors. If you're in the Old City neighborhood, this is definitely worth a stop.
J'adore French cuisine. My cousin had heard from a friend of his who hailed from France, that this was the cafe in town that she preferred. So off we went for an amazing brunch. The ambiance was cozy and the food was absolutely wonderful.
A place after my own heart! The decor was rustic and cozy, the food was innovative and fresh and they had a downstairs restaurant lit by candles, I love this spot! Our intention was to step in for coffee, and two hours later, we enjoyed delicious food, amazing cocktails and a double treat experiencing the ambiance of the upstairs lounge and the downstairs restaurant. By 6pm they were filling up quickly, I highly recommending looking into a reservation for dinner for this location.
7.Butcher and Singer
Set in the glamour of an old bank building, Butcher and Singer is the spot to be seen. Rich decor including impressive chandeliers from the original Foutainebleau Hotel in Miami, this location oozes posh elegance. Chef Jeff was a delight to meet and the food was exceptional. Come hungry, the portions are generous and the cocktails persuasive.
8. Charlie was a Sinner
Well aren't we all?....at least Charlie admits it... This place was like a second home. Opulent chandeliers, plush seating, a vegan menu and amazing cocktails. This was one of the few bars I felt comfortable telling the bartender..."make me something creative!" If I lived in Philadelphia, this would be one of my regular spots.
9. Library Bar
Posh bar set in classy hotel. We all love this set up. We can get all dressed up, look pretty and go have Instagramable drinks in an elegant setting. Library Bar is set in the backdrop of the beautiful Rittenhouse Square. Dark and sassy, the Library Bar was indeed a great spot to enjoy drinks and be seen.
10. Ranstead Room
I love speakeasy inspired bars. Dark and opulent with exotic artwork and enticing cocktails. The Ranstead Room delivers on all points. You will find this hot spot on a street with the businesses name sake, Ranstead St. This is a great spot to grab cocktails before your evening out
Philadelphia is full of amazing spots for cuisine and cocktails. I am excited for my next trip back to Philly to continue my adventures in eating and sipping! A big thank you to my cousin Jeremy for showing me around his city. I see why you love Philadelphia.
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Travelers! Here is your destination for helpful tips for enjoying the Walt Disney Parks! Enjoy!
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Travelers! This series comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Jalapeno Margarita inspired by the Jalapeno Margarita at La Cava del Tequila in EPCOT of Walt Disney World Orlando!
One of the things I appreciate about Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida is the diversity of food and integration of well known chefs and creative food harvesting and preparation techniques. This post works hand in hand with my Walt Disney World Orlando: Parks post. Just as in the other post, I break down park by park to hopefully help you maximize what is offered at each park.
I want to make it clear to my readers, I am in way affiliated with Walt Disney World. I am just a loyalty visitor for more than 30 years, a pass holder for more than 10 years and as you have hopefully found in reading and leveraging my tips in other posts from my travels, I love good food and cocktails. As your reading this don't forget to reference our other posts to assist in your Orlando planning:
Cocktails and Cuisine
Disney does offer dining plans for guests staying on property. These are ideal if traveling with families with older children that may break off from the group and still want to be able to get food without carrying money, or if you intent on three meals a day. It is worth looking into. Like a cruise or all inclusive vacation, sometimes its easier when everything is paid for up front first.
In my opinion, this park offers the least in culinary adventure, and offers no cocktails. However there are several enchanting dining experiences that will enhance the experience of your little prince and princess. By setting up breakfast reservations inside Magic Kingdom, you can get into the park earlier and get your day started. As a local and pass holder I enjoy breakfast at home, a pack a lunch and snacks then grab a quick service dinner. However, if we are taking guests with us, there are several experiences I want to ensure guests who are a first time visitor here enjoy:
Crystal Palace: A buffet style with options sure to please even the pickiest of pallets. The Crystal Palace is also the spot for character sightings in an elegant but comfortable environment. As soon as you know your travel dates, set a reservation. This books up quickly.
Be Our Guest: Currently for breakfast and lunch this is counter service restaurant. Set within the magical rooms of Belle and Beast's castle, this is truly a magical experience and good breakfast choices.
Quick Service Options: No reservation needed:
Columbia Harbor House: A welcomed break from the pizza, hamburger and hot dog options offered everywhere else. I have always found refreshing options here, and it is convenient that you can walk in at any point and order. No reservations required.
Fine Dining/Themed Dining Experiences: Reservations required
Tony's Town Square: A charming recreation of where Lady and The Tramp shared their first kiss. The food is Italian and the portions are decent. You will not see any fireworks from this location, but you might catch the afternoon parade here if you can get a good window seat.
Crystal Palace: Buffet style with regular visitations by the beloved characters continues all afternoon into the evening. If you do not catch this spot for breakfast, consider it for lunch or dinner. If you can secure a window seat, you will catch part of the fireworks from here.
The Plaza Restaurant: Classic American cuisine, good portions and a charming restaurant. The menu offered a good variety of options, everyone finds something they like.
Cinderella's Royal Table: This a special occasion experience. I was treated as a young girl to dining in Cinderella's Castle and I still remember it to this day. It won't be that amazing culinary experience you feel you are paying for, but your little princess will be in awe of the luxurious decor and truly being treated like royalty. Cinderella's Royal Table books up more than a year in advance.
Now this park I enjoy eating and drinking in! Quite honestly when budgeting for where to indulge in the parks, I would sooner pick the counter and quick service options in the other parks and eat up in EPCOT.
Almost every month in the year, EPCOT hosts a festival that also brings together culinary experiences to compliment the theme of the festival. In the spring you can enjoy the Flower and Garden Festival, the fall hosts the Food and Wine Festival, holidays welcome the Festival of the Holidays and winter hosts the Art Festival. EPCOT adds small kiosks around World Showcase that offer additional food and beverages to compliment the theme of the festival. One could easily fill up for lunch or dinner by touring these kiosks as well as the counter service options available in each country, and still not have tried something from every country. I usually take three or four visits to truly try everything, and I leave stuffed every time. Look at the EPCOT page once you know your travel agenda, it will be worth it to give yourself at least two dinners to enjoy around World Showcase.
Outside of the festivals, EPCOT also has good food. Below are listed some of my absolute favorites, though depending on your preference for cuisine, you really can not go wrong with any of the restaurants here.
Quick Service: No reservations required.
Sunshine Seasons: This is one of my two favorite quick service spots in all of Disney. The other is in Animal Kingdom (see below) The food is tasty and everyone in my family can find something they like, and the prices are very reasonable. As locals we sometimes go here just to eat then catch a ride or two before heading back home. When spending the whole day at EPCOT, this is where we stop for lunch before heading into World Showcase for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Tuto Gusto Wine Cellar: This is a great way to sit down for a bit, have a bottle of wine, and pick at some great Italian food. I do not recommend this place if you have children traveling with you. Set tucked away inside the Italy, the cellar is cool and dark and has a full bar, but also amazing well priced Italian wines. As a local, sometimes the girls and I go into EPCOT just to hang out here for a bit before catching the fireworks.
Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie: Quiche, sandwiches, deserts and more deserts, this is a fun little spot to grab something quick and easy an oh so tasty. There isn't designated inside, so have a family member grab the first table they can while you order. I usually indulge in the quiche and at least two deserts from here....they're so good!!!
*Themed and Fine Dining: Reservations required
Like I stated earlier, every restaurant around World Showcase has great food options. You really could pick what style cuisine most interests you. My sincere advice would be to try something that you aren't familiar with. If where you live you don't have access to Norwegian cuisine, then book a lunch reservation at Akershus. (and I only suggest lunch because the cost is usually lower, that way if you aren't wonderfully impressed with the new style of cuisine, you don't feel like the last meal of your day left you wanting different flavors. But since your're already here ready my post, here is my recap of the sit down dining available in each country:
Mexico: La Hacianda de San Angel. This is a great location for dinner at the end of the evening to catch the fireworks. Beautiful sweeping windows that give you a full view of the Illuminations show. The bar also offers good margaritas. Also within Mexico is the enchanting San Angel Inn Restaurante, here you feel like you are dining at sunset in the shadow of an ancient Mayan temple!
*Grab a cocktail here!: La Cava del Tequila has a beautiful collection of Tequilas and well crafted cocktails
Norway: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. A buffet with the flavors that celebrate all things Norway. This could be an ideal dining experience if you have a little princess traveling with you, as this restaurant also indulges visitors with royal audiences from beloved Disney Princesses.
China: Nine Dragons Restaurant offers a truly beautiful experience celebrating the details of Chinese decor and ambiance. The food is tasty and well portioned. You will leave full. This is a great restaurant for families with children.
Germany: Biergarten Restaurant transports you into a charming Bavarian Village with live entertainment. Of course the beer and wine options abound here with several options to try! Fun for families with children, the band is energetic and engaging.
Grab a wine or beer here! Even if you do not dine within the Biergarten Restaurant, Germany offers a wine cellar to try various wines from Germany and of course beers!
Italy: Tutto Italia Ristorante was the restaurant my wedding party and I celebrated at as a big group the day before my wedding. The food is delicious and the ambiance is so romantic. The wines options are so impressive...this one I highly recommend! If you are traveling with younger children you may find Via Napoli Ristorante more appropriate. They offer truly delicious and filling pizzas. During peak season, this spot sometimes offers a quick service window allowing you to grab a quick slice of either cheese or pepperoni pizza.
*Grab a drink here! Italy offers wine flight tastings as well as a beautiful wine list option to sip and stroll. There is a full service bar inside Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar. Saluti!
American Adventure: America doesn't offer fine dining. There is of course a solid assortment of beers. There is a stage where often fun music is offered throughout the day. If you're staying for some music and enjoy American beer, you will be fine, but I usually make my margarita from Mexico last by adding a bit more ice to it, or I grab an extra glass of wine from Italy.
Japan: Teppan Edo indulges you in the favorite experience of a Japanese Steakhouse and watching your food cooked right before you! This is a fun experience with the whole family! Japan also offers Toyko Dining, an elegant restaurant with delicious food. The restaurant sits high up, but still allows views of the Illuminations Fireworks Show!
*Grab a drink here! Japan offers a tasting of sake and sake cocktails! Kanpai!
Morocco: Restaurant Marrakesh was one of the first restaurants I've visited in EPCOT and one of the few I have been back to several times. The food is truly delicious and sometimes your meal is entertained by a belly dancer! Spice Road Table also offers beautiful views of the Illuminations Fireworks Show at night. We often set reservations for dinner here around 8pm and finish our meal just in time to enjoy the fireworks.
*Grab a drink here!Spice Road Table also offers a full service bar, this is another great spot to order a delicious cocktail to sip and stroll! Saha wa a fiab!
France: Chefs de France and her wide tall windows allow you to people watch and enjoy truly good French cuisine. Beautiful wine pairings come recommended with your meal. Cheers!
France also offers Monsieur Paul, a culinary experience by Chef Paul Bocuse. I do not recommend this with children. This should be indulged for a special occasion!
*Grab a drink here! France offers a wine flight tasting as well as in impressive option of various French wines to sip as you stroll, a votre sante!
United Kingdom: Rose and Crown Dining Room is another restaurant well situated on the lagoon, with beautiful views of the Illuminations Fireworks Show. This is a great location for families with kids, everyone is sure to find something they like.
*Grab a drink here! The Rose and Crown has an impressive bar with the ability to make most classic cocktails! Cheers!
Canada: Le Cellier Steakhouse, this rustic but elegant steak house set deep within the stone walls of Canada is a truly tasty experience. You will be very full when done here. The portions are generous and filling. You will also have an impressive selection of wines to accompany your meal. Enjoy!
This is my other favorite park for cuisine and cocktails. Animal Kingdom has a lot less as far as options, but definitely still delivers in flavor! This is other park that I will just do both meals in. Usually a sit down lunch at a table service restaurant then a quick service meal for dinner. Remember table service restaurants usually require a reservation. You can set up your fast passes first, then arrange your dining reservations around your fast passes. Animal Kingdom also offers themed bars around the park, some with limited beverages and others with full bars. At Animal Kingdom you're never far from a persuasive libation!
Quick Service: No reservations required.
Satu 'li Canteen: Hands down my other favorite quick service spot in Disney World. They had me at kale...this location offers truly unique but healthy options that are packed with flavor and look so pretty on your plate! Your younger travelers may have a harder time appreciating something from here, but it's worth it! This one is located within the exotic forests of Pandora. So this is a great option once you head into the Pandora to explore.
Flame Tree Barbecue: I love to make my own barbecue, and this place delivers pretty good barbecue for being quick service in a theme park! They have everything from ribs to chicken with good size portions and tender meat that is well seasoned. This spot is located over by Dinoland, so this can be easy to grab before catching rides on that side of the park, or while letting the kids play in the dig yard.
Harambe Market: This is quick service spot is located back by the Kilimanjaro Safari, and it's also conveniently located across from a full service bar with tasty cocktails. Again, this is a refreshing break from the hot dog, pizza and hamburger options.
Fine Dining: Reservations required
The wonderful thing at Disney is that you can walk into these fine dining locations in your shorts and flip flops, or you can come back to the park just to enjoy the night show, some cocktails and a special dinner. Either way, set reservations to ensure you can be sat when is most convenient for your schedule, or even get sat at all! Often during peak season, they will not have any openings even if you ask at the beginning of the day.
Tiffins: This is a delicious experience! The ambiance is so unique and the cuisine celebrates flavors from around the world. There is also an option for a dining experience with a special guest, one of the members on Disney's conservation team will join you for deeper insights to the efforts at Disney for animal protection and conservation.
*Grab a drink here! The Nomad Lounge is a full service bar with delicious options you can take to go!
Tusker House Restaurant: This is a great one to do with young travelers. Not only will they get to interact with favorite characters, but it is buffet style, so picky eaters can find options!
Yak and Yeti Restaurant: The ambiance is so incredible here. You feel like you are in a palace! The food is classic Asian cuisine and safe for picky pallets. This is another good spot for travelers with children.
Like Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios is one of the other parks I often pack a lunch for and grab quick service for dinner, however sometimes we splurge and enjoy a few of the truly unique spots for themed dining here at Hollywood Studios. Like EPCOT and Animal Kingdom, there are full service bars, or carts with a decent assortment for wines, beers or cocktails sprinkled around the cart.
Quick Service: No reservations required.
Fairfax Fare:and Rosie's All American Cafe and Catalina Eddy's: All three in this location have several different counters to order a variety of things. Conveniently located near Tower of Terror, this is a great spot to grab something to eat after the rides. They each offer a specific cocktail, but not too far up from the counters is usually a beverage card with better options.
Baseline Tap House: Jumping on the trendy bandwagon of small bites with your drinks, this spot is fun to get out of the hot sun, pick at a few things while you sip. It won't fill you up, so this is a good place for a lite bite if your expecting a larger meal later. Not a place for travelers with children.
Themed Dining/Table Service: Reservations required.
50's Prime Time Cafe: This is one of the restaurants we've been to many times. The experience is so fun! You feel like you are in grandmas kitchen, the staff is witty and energetic and the food is classic good old American comfort good. Get the friend chicken...its good!
Brown Derby: This is styled after the iconic American landmark. The ambiance is reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour. The food is pretty good, but if you can opt for the experience to dine with an Imagineer, it makes for a truly memorable evening to get into the genius mind of what brings the Disney Magic. Another option for smaller bites and cocktails is the lounge at the Brown Derby. My friends and I often do this before the night shows.
Mama Melrose's Ristorante: I was pleasantly surprised when eating here. The food was good, the portions were great and it was a very comfortable environment with the kids too. Its also tucked away from the crazy crowds, so this is a nice retreat and a good break from the heat.
This spot! As a local I am here almost weekly. Either for lunch with girlfriends or bringing the family at night to let the kids run off and grab what they want for dinner then a movie while we adults pick a different spot and have a cocktail. This is also a nice break from the theme parks. Just like in the parks there are locations that are quick service and other spots that are sit down and enjoy a nice meal. Options for cocktails abound here! Not only do the full service restaurants have well stocked bars where you can order anything to go, there are also beverage stations through out the park. There truly are a lot of options. Just because I don't list something doesn't necessarily mean it isn't worth considering. But what I have taken the time to list are the places we frequent the most as locals. Good food, good portions and good cocktails!
Quick Service: No reservations
Blaze Fast Fire'd Pizza: Custom made, fresh pizzas. You pick the ingredients, they bake it, you enjoy it. Simple and delicious. This place can get quite a long line. Have someone wait in line with the order, While someone else goes for cocktails then grabs a seat.
D-Luxe Burgers: These burgers are huge! I've finally tried all of them, and my favorite continues to be the Diabolo. We also enjoy dining out on the patio that over looks the water. Stock up on dipping sauces for the fries and enjoy a milk shake....everything together is delicious and filling!
Earl Of Sandwich: I know! This one surprised me too...but we eat here so often. The bread is cooked fresh, the portions are generous. Everyone can find something they like and its set in the heart of the original "Downtown Disney" so it's a little nostalgic for us. Grab your cocktails from elsewhere before you head into order. Don't be scared of the insanely long line...it moves quickly.
Polite Pig: This spot is owned by one of my other Orlando favorites, so I knew the food would be good. This is your go to for classic barbecue cuisine. They also have a truly unique bar with select cocktails on tap! Give it a try!
Fine Dining: Reservations highly recommended
Boathouse: Seafood cuisine, with a few land based options as well. Weather permitting we try to get a spot outside or at least at a window. The sunset is beautiful along the water. Food is great and cocktails are delicious. We usually have a drink with dinner then order another to go as we continue sippin and strollin'
Frontera Conina: I will be honest, I'm more in love with the cocktails than the cuisine here, but truly all of it is very good. I order at least one drink from here even if not eating. They make a fabulous spicy margarita "Play with Fire" that is my first go to when ever I get to Disney Springs.
Check other posts in the Wald Disney World Series:
Disneyland California by Maggie of From Toddler to Traveler
Disneyland Hong Kong by Kathryn of Kathroundabout
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Travelers! This series comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Jalapeno Margarita, inspired by one of my favorite cocktails crafted at La Cava del Tequila at EPCOT in the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando Florida!
The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando Florida is huge, and it's still growing. Walt's vision started back in the 1960s when he solidified the Reedy Creek Improvement District that would become the Walt Disney World Resort, its own city in central Florida. I am a loyal Disney fan, pass holder for more than 10 years, and a regular visitor yearly for more than 30 years. This series comes to you with the intention of offering my tips and suggestions to make your Disney experience memorable. I have broken up the Orlando Disney Experience into three separate posts:
Cocktails and Cuisine
Each one offers tips ranging from indulging in the luxury offered while visiting Walt Disney World to money saving hints as well. I'd like to ensure my readers understand that I am in no way affiliated with Disney. These tips come from my own personal experiences and suggestions. So without further ado here are my tips for visiting the parks at Walt Disney World Orlando!
Walt Disney World Orlando offers four separate theme parks including the iconic Magic Kingdom, EPCOT which celebrates innovation and our global community, Animal Kingdom that takes you deeper into being a good citizen of our planet and animal conservation awareness as well as the new land inspired by Avatar, and Hollywood Studios where you are transported into the movies. Walt Disney World also offers two themed water parks, Blizzard Beach with is a winter summerland retreat and Typhoon Lagoon with a nod to the enchanting notion of being shipwrecked in paradise. Don't forget about the still growing Disney Springs with great cuisine and shopping, There are different ways to enjoy each of these destinations. Due to separate content for cuisine and cocktails, this post will work hand in hand with my Cuisine and Cocktails post. Use both to plan out your days on property. Although it will cost more, I am a huge fan of the "Park Hopper" option. As you will read in my tips below, you will get more out of your experience if your ticket allows you to visit multiple parks during your stay. As a good rule of thumb, leave yourself a full hour to get from resort to inside the park or between parks to a reservation or Fast Pass Time.
The first of the parks in Orlando Florida, her gates opened in 1971 and have been the gateway to magical memories for children of all ages ever since. Magic Kingdom celebrates the stories and worlds of the beloved fairy tales many of us grew up on. Magic Kingdom is always busy. This is park is consistently one of the top visited theme parks in Western Hemisphere. The rides are not intimidating and definitely built with Walt's vision of being a place for children to enjoy! I have a love/hate relationship with Magic Kingdom as a local and mother. My children still love Magic Kingdom and when asked where they want to go... majority of the time its still emphatically "Magic Kingdom!!!!" I have learned to navigate this park effectively and have found a cadence that balances my adult sanity and my children's whims. Magic Kingdom is the only 'dry park' which means you can not get even a beer or glass of wine to enjoy while walking around. So often my day will start at one of the bars at the resorts around the monorail to enjoy a cocktail or three before heading into the park for a few hours.
1. Get Fast Passes as soon as you solidify which date you will be at Magic Kingdom. If possible secure Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain and either Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. These are the attractions that fill up fast and usually have wait times for more than 1 hour for most of the day. If possible aim to get Splash Mountain between 12-2 during the hottest part of the day but before the afternoon parade. Fun fact: once your fast passes for a park have been used, you can set up one fast pass at a time per ticket to enjoy more rides as available through out the day.
2. If traveling for young guests, you can use Fast Pass reservations to secure other popular kids rides that usually have long wait times include meeting the different princesses or Peter Pan's Flight.
3. Take a break in the late afternoon/evening. Enjoy dinner at one of the resorts accessible along the monorail and have a few more cocktails. It feels good to sit down away from the bustle of the park and have another cocktail or three before heading back into the park for the evening fireworks and catching rides in the dark. Since Magic Kingdom is usually open late, you really can still maximize your time there with a two to three hour break in your evening. Just set a reservation, if you are worried about timing. Dinner time wait times can easily be two to three hours or completely booked during peak season. My usual spots for cocktails and cuisine is at the Contemporary Resort because I can easily walk from the park to the resort. Look into either California Grill orThe Wave.
4. If your agenda allows, give yourself two evenings at Magic Kingdom. The first evening to catch the night shows, but the second evening, get onto the favorite rides again. Most of the wait times drop significantly during the fireworks.
5. Use the train to transport you from each "world" this allows your feet to rest and gets you close to your next destination. We usually get the train right when we first walk in on Main Street to head to Frontier Land to enjoy Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain. to start out day. We sometimes bring our own picnic lunch to enjoy on Tom Sawyer Island before heading back on the train to Mickeys Storybook Circus and Fantasy Land.
6. Take advantage of the air conditioned theater shows, Tiki Room,. Hall of Presidents, Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, Bear Jamboree, and Mickey's Philharmagic Shows give you a chance to sit, cool off and recharge before the stand in line for the next round of rides. Each "land" has its own theater show. I like the cadence of "ride/ride/show" to keep things at a nice pace. So for example, for a full day at the park, I spread out my fast passes to every three hours so I have time to stop and sit to either grab lunch or catch a show and get out of the sun. My ideal cadence if I can catch ideal fast pass times:
-Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with a Fast Passfor 9am/Jungle Cruise/ Tiki Room
-Pirates of the Caribbean/Swiss Family Tree House/ Bear Jamboree
-Splash Mountain with Fast Pass for 12pm/Tom Sawyer Island and lunch/Festival of Fantasy Parade
Lunch on Tom Sawyer Island (I usually like to pack a picnic lunch. The island is shaded and not usually too crowded with tables near the playground so the kids can play while I set up lunch.
-Haunted Mansion/Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with Fast Pass for 4pm/Mickey's Philharmagic
*if traveling with younger members, switch out the fast passes for experiences in Fantasy Land including Peter Pan's Flight, Under The Sea and Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
-Barnstormer/Dumbo/play time inside Dumbo with, air conditioning, comfortable seats for adults and a jungle gym to exhaust the little ones
-Tea Cups/Tomorrowland Speed Way/Carousel of Progress
-Space Mountain/ Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin/Monsters Inc Laugh Floor
7. Snack and hydrate often. The crowds, walking and hot sun will exhaust you more then you realize. Bring protein bars or granola bars or stop and nibble often. I pack for a snack per person for every three hours in between meals
8. When visiting with small children, I always suggest at least one complete change of clothes. Between Splash Mountain or Mickey's Storybook Circus splash pad, they will find a way to get wet. Everyone feels better when dry and refreshed, so bring a change of shorts and shirt and toss small flipflops in the bag...let them wear flip flips when running around the splash pad, then change back into dry socks and shoes when done. Unless you are staying within the resorts accessible from the monorail and can quickly get back to the resort to change and refresh, just bring it with you and leave it with the stroller.
9. Want to indulge? If this is one of your few trips to Magic Kingdom ever and you are here during one of the Halloween or Christmas holidays, do the party! There are separate shows and character interactions, ride access and snacks to enhance the experience. The Halloween Party is one of the only times adults can come to the park in costume! So fun!!
10. Rain happens... Florida hosts the lighting capital of the world. All the parks offer lockers to rent for the day. If your forecast challenges you with an afternoon shower, wear flip flops, keep a change of shirt or dress in the locker and be patient. Most of our spring and summer rain storms are short lived and result in the most beautiful evenings with picture perfect skies and ideal temperatures to continue your park enjoyment.
Two meanings here: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow or a local favorite: Every Person Comes out Tired. Epcot has long been my favorite park since I was old enough to enjoy a true cocktail! I remember anxiously awaiting my 21st birthday to indulge at Epcot and the challenge of "drinking around the world." While this is not an activity endorsed or even promoted by Disney, I'm sure they have loved the income awarded by this rite of passage for of age Disney lovers. Epcot is one of the easiest parks to conquer timing wise. There are very few rides offered here, the real experience is in the culinary elevation at World Showcase. 11 countries artfully nestled around a lagoon offer their own culinary staples as well as cocktails and beers or wine indigenous to that country. Epcot is one of the parks to truly splurge in. Most of your experience here will be around the cocktails and cuisine offered in the park. But outside of dining, here are my tips for making the most out of Epcot.
1. Fast Passes should be acquired as soon as possible for Soarin' and Test Track earlier in your day, and the Frozen Ever After Ride in Norway. Epcot isn't as exhausting so the ride/ride/show cadence doesn't necessarily apply here, but my recommended agenda is as follows:
Test Track with an 11am Fast Past/Mission Space/Spaceship Earth
*Mission Space makes me very dizzy. I personally opt out of this ride, but my husband and kids love this ride and often try to get on several times in a row
The Seas with Nemo and Friends/ Turtle Talk with Crush/Sea Base
Lunch in The Land Pavilion from the quick service option unless you are here for the Food and Wine Festival or Flower and Garden Festival
Soarin with a 2pm Fast Pass/Living with the Land/Pixar Short Film Festival
Journey into Imagination/Image Works 'What If Labs'
Begin your trek around World Showcase. Each country offers some form of a show either via a short movie or live performances as well as shopping and beverages representing that country.
2. When you first arrive to Epcot, enjoy the experiences across Future World. That massive silver 'golf ball' lovingly called by tourists is a forward thinking ride that celebrates the growth of the human spirit in communication and technology. The ride updates regularly and currently includes interacting with guests to futuristic prototype cities including underwater living or living in space. Future World with Fast Passes won't take too long to conquer. Your family could enjoy sleeping in, an hour or two at the pool then arriving to Epcot around 11 or noon to begin your adventure.
3. Set dinner reservations unless you're visiting during the Food and Wine Festival or Flower and Garden Festival. World Showcase offers an experience of 11 countries, but you will get hungry and you need time to sit down and rest in the air condition. Pick a country that most intrigues your culinary inquisitions and set a reservation. Many of the restaurants book up quickly and it is no fun to be sippin on great cocktails and hungry. I highly recommend a seating time around 6pm. This gives you time to get back to exploring World Showcase. Or if you will have completed most of your trek around the world request an 8:30 seating time so you can watch the evening show Illuminations of Earth. The best restaurants for this agenda are: La Hacienda de San Angel in Mexico, Rose and Crown Dinning Room in Great Britain or my favorite: Spice Road Table in Morocco.
4. If you're visiting during the Food and Wine Festival or Flower and Garden Festival, give yourself two visits to World Showcase. Perhaps this means a full day at Epcot on your first visit, then back for dinner on a different day after seeing Hollywood Studios earlier that day or relaxing at the resort for part of the day. Epcot adds charming vignettes of countries not normally represented around World Showcase, and offers you at least three small dishes and a beer, wine and or cocktail from each of these additional countries. You will want time to savor unique flavors and it can not possibly be done in one visit.
5. Consider leveraging Disney's childcare services when staying at resort or setting up older kids with an agenda to keep them busy while the adults enjoy World Showcase. I use my Fast Passes for the evening for my kids to go back to Future World while my husband and I with friends enjoy a refined version of 'drinking around the world'. The fireworks conclude your evening and can be enjoyed from anywhere around World Showcase. I especially enjoy wrapping up near Great Brattain or Mexico so we can grab a cocktail during the show. The Rose and Crown Pub has a back patio that sits right on the water, and provided there isn't a private event, this is the best spot to enjoy a cocktail and fireworks.
6. Epcot is one of the parks I do not bring snacks with me to. There is so much offered in food around World Showcase that we can easily find something in every country to taste and try and keep up our energy.
Animal Kingdom is officially my favorite park on the Walt Disney World Orlando property. I appreciate the culinary elevation at most of the restaurants on property. Animal Kingdom is another one of the parks that I do not pack snacks for. The food options around the park are delicious and many of them with healthy options. I also appreciate the education dedicated to the awareness of our social responsibility as citizens of this planet to Animal Conservation. Here are my tips for Animal Kingdom:
1. Secure Fast Passes for Avatar Rite of Passage, Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids. Use the same cadence I suggested for Magic Kingdom to attempt ride/ride/show. My example for a day at Animal Kingdom is as follows:
Dinosaur/Primeval Whirl/Finding Nemo Show
Expedition Everest with a 12pm Fast Pass/Kali River Rapids with a 1pm Fast Pass/Maharaja Jungle Trek
Lunch from the quick service options in Africa Harambe Market and cocktails from the Dawa Bar across the way.
Kilimanjaro Safari/Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail/Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki's Planet Watch
Lion King Show/Avatar Flight of Passage with a 6pm Fast Pass/Na'vi River Journey
Dinner and Cocktails at Tiffin *reservations highly recommended or dinner from the quick service station in Pandora Satu'li Canteen.
Tough to be a Bug/Tree of Life Awakenings Show/Rivers of Life Show
*Animal Kingdom also offers several private tour experiences that can truly enhance your visit. Most of these adventures are geared for older explorers from Teenager to Adult. Look into these depending on your travel party and budget.
2. Pack a change of clothes for after Kali River Rapids. While they do have a small water tight container in the middle of your raft for your shoes and personal belongings, you most likely will get soaked. I just put our items in the lockers across from the ride, and 'go with the flow' If we are soaked I have options to change.
3. Animal Kingdom after dark is a lot of fun. There are several live performances around the park conveniently adjacent to bars. Friends and I sometimes go to the park just in the evening for drinks and to walk around and enjoy the music and time together
4. The Land of Pandora is really spectacular at night with creative lighting and the bio-luminescence effect. If you aren't able to follow the above agenda, get back to Pandora in the evening just to check it out!
5. My kids really enjoy time in the Dinosaur Dig Sight. If your time permits you just want time to sit and sip on a cocktail consider taking them back here during a block of free time in between rides or before dinner.
This park is undergoing massive enhancements that will require my updating tips and a suggested agenda regularly over the next two years. Since acquiring the Star Wars franchise, Hollywood Studios has been adding exhibits and shows that indulge fans that tap into The Force. Hollywood Studios is also opening Toy Story Land in June of 2018 and expanding the Star Wars experience through 2019. This is still a park worth visiting until these exhibits open and expand, but you may be able to conquer this park in the first half of the day so you can experience more at other parks in the evening, or take the morning and afternoon to relax at your resort and come to Hollywood Studios in the late afternoon and stay for the night shows!
1. Secure Fast Passes for Tower of Terror, Rockin Roller Coaster and Star Tours, or if traveling with younger ones, switch out the Tower of Terror and Rockin Roller Coaster for Toy Story Mania and The Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. As usual I try to balance out rides and shows to give us time to sit and rest in between exploring.
Star Tours with a 9am Fast Pass Time/Muppet Vision 3D/Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular
Tower of Terror with a 12 noon Fast Pass Time/ Rockin Roller Coaster with a 1pm Fast Pass time/Beauty an the Beast Show
Lunch *I try to hold off on lunch until after the Tower of Terror and Rockin Roller Coaster
After this my kids and Star Wars fans like time to explore in the Star Wars Launch Bay and catch the March Of the First Order and a Galaxy Far Far Away show.
Since my kids are older, they do not want to see the Frozen Sing Along Celebration or Disney Junior Live on Stage, but younger visitors will enjoy these interactions.
2. There is a very unique exhibit that takes you through Walt's journey called "Walt Disney Presents" This is a great place to step into for a break from the heat or during one of our afternoon rain storms.
3. If traveling with Star Wars fans, use the park show times guidance to ensure you can catch all the interactive shows and character greetings. This could easily take two to three hours all on its own. Grab a cocktail and catch a photo with a Storm Trooper and friends. My boys have Jedi Robes that I bought from a Halloween Store and light sabers. They love stepping into character while in this park.
I love Disney Springs. This is a concept that should be embraced at Malls and Markets around the country. A place for shopping and dining with the ability to grab a cocktail and keep on going. This spot used to be known as "Downtown Disney" and feature shops with all the Disney merchandise you could ever want, but now Disney Springs has transformed. There are non Disney Themed shops including Free People, Under Armor, Zara and Sephora and a cornucopia of dining options ranging from well priced quick service spots to special occasion celebratory experiences.
1. At the holidays this is where I go for my gift shopping. Friends and I can grab a cocktail from any of the restaurants "to go' and step in and out of stores to find thoughtful items for almost everyone. Last holiday season Disney Springs offered a Christmas Tree Trail with uniquely themed trees decorated and on display. Florida "Snow" fell occasionally while you strolled through the trail and listened to iconic holiday tunes.
2. Most of the restaurants book up quickly for dinner. Set a reservation for where you will want to eat on the night you know you will be in Disney Springs. Some of our favorites for dinner are Fontera, Boathouse, STK or Homecomin', but there are new spots coming that I am anxious to check out and update to this list!
3. There are truly amazing quick service food spots too that are great for lunch. Some of my favorites are Blaze for Pizza, D Luxe Burger and Earl Of Sandwich.
4. Desert options abound at Disney Springs. Even if you're not a desert fanatic, save space for some of the delicious and unique options including Sprinkles with a cupcake ATM, Amrourette's and Ghiradeli.
5. Disney Springs also has a large AMC theater. This can be another way to escape the heat. Wait and see that new blockbuster while on vacation.
6. After dark, Disney Springs comes to life with live music and entertainment sprinkled all around. Friends and I truly enjoy grabbing cocktails from different restaurant bars and just sippin and strollin.
Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach
Two fun water parks! While visiting during winter months it is possible one of the parks will be closed for refurbishment during your visit. Not to worry, both parks offer very similar adventures just with a different theme, so if you can only get to one, you will be okay. I try to get to the water park early when it first opens so that we have time to get back to other parks in the evening. Typically I advise enjoying one of the water parks during your visit. Get there right at 9 or 10am and plan to wrap up around 2pm. This gives you time to go back to your room, shower and be ready for a dinner seating by 6pm at one of the parks. Unless you're staying at a resort that has a walking path into one of the parks, give yourself one hour to get from resort to inside a park.
1. Bring a hat and sun block. Our Florida sun can be intense even in the winter months. Don't make yourself miserable for the rest of your vacation by burning in just a few hours here. Because there is so much to do in the water, your body won't feel hot, so check each other regularly and keep adding that sun block.
2. Consider renting the Getaway Glen Umbrellas at Typhoon Lagoon or Polar Patios at Blizzard Beach. Both offer a shaded retreat and your own personal space. The beach area at both parks can get very congested and feel a little too close for comfort when wanting to get out of the water and relax for a bit.
3. Both parks have good food options. As a local I pack a picnic lunch but when indulging in the full Disney vacation experience there is plenty of food and cocktail options to keep your belly and liver inspired.
4. Bring something dry to slip into when leaving. It is not fun to be hot and wet to get onto the bus back to your resort. While it means an extra bag to carry, believe me you will feel so much better in a a dry pair of shorts for the drive back to your room.
Don't forget to check out the other posts in the Walt Disney Series:
Disneyland California: by Maggie of From Toddler To Traveler
Disneyland Hong Kong by Kathryn of Kathroundabout
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Travelers! This post comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Jalapeno Margarita inspired by one of the best Jalapeno Margaritas from La Cava del Tequila at EPCOT at Walt Disney World Florida.
The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando Florida is massive, actually its own township (Reedy Creek)! One could plan for a week vacation at the Walt Disney Resort and still not exhaust everything there is to do, see and taste on this Florida Property. Having been a pass holder for more than 6 years, a regular visitor for more than 30 years and a mom that has to make magic happen with only pennies to spend, I wanted to share my tips for getting the most out of your Walt Disney World experience in Florida. I have broken up the Orlando Disney Experience into three separate posts:
Cocktails and Cuisine
Each one offers a variety of tips ranging from indulging in the luxury offered while visiting Walt Disney World to money saving tips to stretch your dollar and make magic happen with pennies! I'd also like to take a moment and ensure my readers understand that I am in no way affiliated with Disney. These tips and suggestions have come from my own personal experiences over the years. So without further ado here are my tips for where to stay while on Disney property.
The Walt Disney World Website does a really good job of breaking down resorts by price range. Prices will vary based on the time of year and events hosted within the parks. Prices are usually highest near Easter, spring break and the EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival as well as the December and New Years holiday season.
There are perks to staying on Disney Property that could outweigh staying offsite to save money.
1. Guests who stay on property have transportation from the airport to Disney World. The Disney Magical Express will pick you up from Orlando International Airport (MCO) and take you directly to your specific resort then back to the airport at the end of your vacation.
2. Each of the Resorts offer food and dining options as well as a themed pool or pools and various activity areas ranging from boat rentals to fishing depending on the resort.
3. Resort guests have at least one form of transportation directly to the various parks, some resorts are within walking distance of a park or offer a relaxing boat ride.
4. Resort guests get "Extra Magic Hours" where they have access to one specific park per day for an additional hour that general guests do not have access to.
5. Early access to locking in Fast Pass Experiences. The Walt Disney World Resort offers Fast Pass planning to help you get the most out of each day in the park. Guests can start out with three Fast Passes per day to one park. I advise you as to which past passes to get in my Walt Disney World Parks Post here. Even as a pass holder, I take advantage of the Fast Pass program. It allows my kids and I to walk onto a ride with a minimal wait time allowing up to see more in our day and not be so exhausted waiting for hours in the hot sun.
5. The Disney Experience. The customer service level at Disney World is unparalleled to most other businesses. It is so pleasant to hear "welcome home!" and receive warm smiles and helpful hands at any hour of the day while on property. As cliche as it sounds, good customer service can make or break your vacation. Complaints are few and far between, and having at least 10 friends who work for Disney World directly, I know their hearts and sincerity regarding passion for their job and making each experience as magical as possible for every guest they come in contact with.
I do offer suggestions for other beautiful hotel properties in Central Florida. Some of them offer a shuttle service to Disney. Check them out on my Sippin Gypsy Tips for Restin: Orlando post
Each Walt Disney World Resort hotel is themed. That theme is painstakingly carried through to every detail from the art and decor in the lobby to each individual room. You will find the music that plays and plants and foliage planted on each property varies to support the theme of that resort. If you're traveling with several family members or friends, consider the villas. Many of the properties offer vacation villas that can sleep up to 9 adults. While these Villas may be more expensive, it truly is like a home away from home with a full kitchen and washer and dryer in each unit.
As I stated before, the Walt Disney World website makes it very simple to select your hotel package based on your budget and desired theme/experience. But before you click through to their website, here are my thoughts and tips for different travel celebrations:
No kids, just you and your lover. You are going to enjoy a few days at the parks but also want a few days to just enjoy each other.
1.Grand Floridian Resort
One of Disney's luxury resorts. The Grand Floridian transports you back into time to indulge in Victorian elegance. This property offers one of the top dining experiences in Florida, Victoria and Albert's. Guests also can indulge at the Senses Spa and rent a cabana poolside while soaking up the Florida sun. Guests also enjoy a beautiful display of fireworks with a romantic view of the castle at Magic Kingdom.
2. Animal Kingdom Lodge
Another one of Disney's luxury resorts. The Animal Kingdom Lodge gives you the unique experience likened to an African Safari. Many of the rooms offer views of sweeping plains where giraffes, zebra and other wildlife roam. The Lodge offers a truly fun dining experience at Sanaa where not only is the food incredible, but you get to learn about the animals on property during your dining experience.
3. Caribbean Beach Resort
Sometimes we need a romantic getaway, but we want to stretch our dollars a bit further. My husband and I had booked a few times to stay at the Caribbean Beach Resort. The resort makes you feel like your on an tropical getaway. Not only does the resort offer one huge pool with a fun Caribbean theme, but each of the clusters of rooms has a smaller basic pool. This was nice to catch a few rays in the morning before hitting the park. Most of the families flock to the main pool, so these smaller pools were quiet and refreshing. In the evening we cuddled up on a hammock on one of the sandy beaches and just watched the sky change with the setting sun...so romantic!
My FIRST VISIT and I want to pack in as much as I can:
With or without kids, maybe its just you and your traveling companion or the whole family. You saved up for this Disney World getaway and you want to be positioned to get the most out of your stay.
1. Boardwalk Inn or Beach Club
One of Disney's luxury resorts, but set within walking distance or a short, not too crowded boat ride to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, these resorts make it easy to get into the parks early and get back to your room for an afternoon hiatus before going back out for fireworks and the rides again at night. The Boardwalk also has Jellyrolls for live music in the evenings which is a fun alternative to Disney Springs.
2.Coronado Springs Resort
This is one of Disney's 'moderate' resorts (referring to pricing). While you will have to take a bus or enlist the Minnie Van services through Lyft, The resort is centrally located between all the parks. The pool is spacious and a favorite with my kids.
3. Disney All Star Resorts
There are three All Start theme options: Sports, Music and Movies. Usually all three are priced the same and are usually the best priced on property Disney Resorts, so you pick based on what theme would interest you and your traveling party the most. Again you will have to take the bus or use your Lyft App for the Minnie Van service to get to any parks, but they are a great price, fun and a great way to stay on property and get the most out of your experience.
Its all about the kids!
I wan't this Disney Vacation to be magical and memorable for my little prince or princess.
1. Polynesian Village Resort
One of Disney's luxury resorts, the Polynesian Village Resort places you right on the path for the monorail for easy access to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT as well as bus or Minnie Van by Lyft to the other parks. At night its fun to see the fireworks from Magic Kingdom with a memorable view of the castle. The resorts around the Bay Lake get enjoy the Electrical Water Pageant.
2. The Cabins at Fort Wilderness Resort
Such a memorable experience to spend the nights 'glamping"! The cabins are each separate and really transport you into the majestic forests for quality time to unplug and spend time together. The Fort Wilderness Property offers convenient boat access to Magic Kingdom, but then requires use of buses or the Minnie Van by Lyft to get to the other parks. Disney can even help you stock up in the kitchen before you arrive.
3. Animal Kingdom Lodge
Listed above in my Romantic Getaway suggestion, this is also a great place for families. There is something spectacular and memorable about watching children enjoy wildlife. Waking up in the morning to a giraffe spying at you is something that will live in their memory forever! My kids packed night vision binoculars and had a good time trying to catch the critters in action after dark.
4. Caribbean Beach Resort
Again, I know I suggested this location for a Romantic Getaway...however the Caribbean Beach Resort offers rooms that are pirate themed. The beds sat in carved wood frames that felt like a pirate ship. 5 years later my kids still talk about their stay here. You have book these rooms specifically.
5. Art of Animation Resort
Have a little one that draws their favorite character or watches the same beloved movie every chance they get!? This was a creative resort for Disney to offer. Most of the rooms on property are suites, but please note this is not like the vacation villas suggested above. The villas offer separate rooms. These suites offer ample sleeping for up to 6 adults, but by way of the sleeper sofa converting into a bed. Ideal for families with multiple children who really want to submerge into their favorite movie.
I've visited Disney before... I love going to the parks and I've stayed at some of these before...give me a new experience!!
1. Tree House Villas at Saratoga Springs Resort
What an absolute treat! A getaway in the tree tops, with spacious well appointed accommodations. It was so much fun to come back from the parks, relax together on the patio while enjoying a drink or three then heading to Disney Springs for dinner and more cocktails. The Tree House Villas are pricey, but this is a great spot for two small families traveling together or a group of friends wanting a memorable Disney getaway.
2. Port Orleans Riverside
This moderately priced resort quickly became one of our favorite spots. Tucked away with lots of trees for shade, this resort offers "Royal Guest Rooms' that celebrate Disney's royalty. More an adventure for traveling parties that include children, this is a great way to indulge your little princess while escaping to the quiet backwaters of the bayou.
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Travelers! This post comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Jalapeno Margarita inspired by my favorite margarita made at EPCOT at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando FL while reading this guest post by friend Maggie of From Toddler to Traveler who is an expert on Disneyland California! Check out what she suggests:
Visiting Disneyland California Resort in Anaheim
For many, a trip to Disneyland is a once in a lifetime experience (or a celebration of a Super Bowl victory). In some ways, it’s a little easier to plan a Disneyland California trip than one to Walt Disney World, simply because you only have two parks to pick, and they are directly across a plaza from one another. If you’re interested in how to maximize your family vacation to Disneyland, here are some great tips, tricks and hacks.
How to Get To Disneyland California
Most people here would fly into LAX, Los Angeles International Airport. From here, you can rent a car (recommended if you are going elsewhere in the Los Angeles area besides Disneyland), or ride the Disneyland Resort Express. Reservations are not required, but it does cost $30 per adult one way/ $48 round trip. One child under 11 is free, additional children are $14 one way/$28 round trip. The ride from LAX takes about an hour. Super Shuttle also operates shared ride van services to and from Disneyland area hotels. If you are flying into another Los Angeles county airport such as John Wayne in Burbank or Long Beach Airport, you may be better off renting a car or hiring a car service or limo. Super Shuttle does operate from both airports, it will cost you $36 from Long Beach and $66 one way from Burbank. If you prefer not to travel with car seats, I recommend the Disneyland Resort Express over the shared ride services. If you are planning to visit other places in Los Angeles, I definitely recommend renting a car.
Where to Stay: On Site
Long story short, Disneyland only has three onsite hotels. They are starting construction in July 2018 on a new four diamond resort which is slated to open in 2021.
1. Disney’s Grand Californian Resort and Spa.
The most luxurious (and expensive—rooms start at $420/night) of the three options. Recently refurbished just prior to Christmas 2017, the Craftsman-themed elegance inspires you to relax. A few highlights:
a. The Art of the Craft Tour. A (free!) tour that describes the history of the Craftsman movement and its influence on the hotel.
b. Excellent restaurants
c. Very close to the theme parks and the entrance to the monorail
d. The lobby. Relax in a rocking chair in front of a roaring fireplace or settle into a thick leather armchair with a glass of wine to rest your tired feet.
e. Special entrance directly to Disney California Adventure.
2.The Disneyland Hotel.
For a taste of Disneyland past and present, experience the real Disney magic at this hotel (FYI—the Sleeping Beauty Castle headboards light up). Rooms start at $360/night. A few highlights:
a. Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar (rum and Dole whip)
b. The swimming pools and 2 monorail-themed water slides.
3. Paradise Pier Hotel.
A boardwalk/surf theme hotel, closer to California Adventure. Rooms start at $269/night. A few highlights.
a. On certain nights, you can view the fireworks from the third floor pool deck.
b. Certain rooms offer views of the nighttime spectaculars at California Adventure
c. Rooftop pool with a water slide
4. Benefits of staying onsite vs. off
a. You can go on a free fitness walk around California Adventure before it opens to the public. It begins quite early at 630 AM and is only for registered hotel guests.
b. Registered hotel guests can enter one of the parks an hour early every day for an Extra Magic Hour. Remember to bring your room key and it’s actually faster to enter through the special lines at the Main Gate vs the monorail or the Grand Californian entrance.
c. Every night they play a Disney movie for free to registered hotel guests. Bring popcorn. The hotel where the movie plays rotates daily.
d. Surprise character encounters
e. Send purchases directly to your hotel with Package Express.
Off-site/Good Neighbor Hotels
Due to the original design of Disneyland, most of the hotels are actually not on Disney property but within close walking or shuttle distance. For a list of reviews of the various Good Neighbor hotels, please check out the Disney Tourist Blog.
Airbnbs are also quite popular in Anaheim and Orange County, but you may have to drive (and park, which can add up quickly).
Where to Eat
Character Dining Experiences
(all are currently breakfast only except as noted)
1. Plaza Inn
Inside Disneyland so you need a valid park ticket. Make reservations as early as possible as this does sell out quickly.
2. Storyteller’s Café
Inside the Grand Californian: a wilderness-theme character meal featuring Chip and Dale, Brother Bear, etc. Does also have a weekend character brunch (with mimosas).
3. Goofy’s Kitchen
Located at the Disneyland Hotel: probably my favorite of the character breakfasts. Offers an extensive buffet, a chance for a private photo with Chef Goofy, and has an excellent array of recognizable characters.
4. Surf’s Up at Paradise Pier
The only character breakfast where you are guaranteed to meet Mickey. A decent buffet and lots of fun dance parties with the characters.
If You Want Something Classy
1. Napa Rose
Inside the Grand Californian. California-theme dining at its best. Have a glass of wine in the lounge, then maybe a little more at dinner. They do have a kids menu, but you can also hire a babysitter for the night. Dinner only, no theme park admission required.
In downtown Disney. Has a great view of downtown Disney from the windows, and delicious food (try one of the paellas and the Spanish tortilla frites). Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No theme park admission required.
3. Carthay Circle restaurant
Offers dining packages for the California Adventure evening light shows and Frozen. Fine dining in an iconic theater where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered. Lunch and dinner, theme park admission required.
If You Want Breakfast
1. Carnation Café:
Just off Main Street in Disneyland, your traditional breakfast cuisine. Theme park admission required.
2. La Brea Bakery:
owntown Disney, just before you reach the parks. Great breakfast options, even have good breakfast options to go. No theme park admission required.
3. Uva Bar:
Downtown Disney, attached to Catal. Dine al fresco, maybe enjoy a cocktail before heading to the parks (just hydrate well after a mimosa). No theme park admission required.
4. Flo’s V8 Café:
Cars Land at Disney California Adventure. Traditional American breakfast food. Good to stop by here to start breakfast while someone else goes to pick up your Fast Passes for Radiator Springs Racers. Theme park admission required.
Quick Service Restaurants
1. Pacific Wharf Café:
California Adventure. Yummy quick meals served on sourdough from Boudin bakery in San Francisco. Theme park admission required.
2. Bengal Barbecue:
Adventureland at Disneyland. Healthier options including grilled skewers, spring rolls, hummus trios, vegetables. Theme park admission required.
3. French Market Restaurant:
New Orleans Square at Disneyland. Great sandwiches,pleasant views, a little shade. Theme park admission required.
4. Red Rose Taverne:
Fantasyland at Disneyland. Great food, but really try the Instagrammable desserts. A little shade, offers breakfast, too. Theme park admission required.
Where to Enjoy an Adult Beverage
FYI, Disneyland is dry, none of the restaurants there serve alcohol. Downtown Disney, the hotels, and California Adventure all offer alcohol to guests 21 and over (make sure you bring your ID).
Best Spots at California Adventure
1. Carthay Circle Lounge:
great food and cocktails. On Buena Vista Street.
2. Sonoma Terrace:
beer, wine, vibe is similar to being on a vineyard patio, except here you get a view of the soon-to- be Pixar Pier.
3. Cove Bar/Lamplight Lounge:
long a favorite, the Cove Bar re-opened briefly in March before it will close again at the end of the May. It will re-open in June as the Lamplight Lounge. I don’t know if there will still be secret menu items (I imagine new ones may be Pixar-themed), but apparently they will still offer the famous Lobster Nachos.
Best Spots in Downtown Disney
1. Uva Bar and the Happy Hour at Catal.
2. Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen:
Enjoy a po’boy or boudin balls with a tasty New Orleans-themed cocktail.
Tips on How to Enjoy your Trip to Disneyland California
1. Wear comfortable shoes, bring lots of sunscreen and a water bottle. Just don’t bring in a glass bottle as it will be confiscated at security.
2. Get there early. By early, I mean an hour or so before the park opens. Trams from the parking garage to downtown Disney get REALLY full about half an hour before opening. Plus, being there for the rope drop when the park opens is kind of amazing.
3. Unless you are staying at one of the Disneyland resort hotels, do not go to the park on the day they have an Extra Magic Hour. Just go to the other park that day, then rotate.
4. Lines start getting long about an hour and a half after opening. Plan accordingly.
5. If you want to see a nighttime light show, get your Fast Passes to the show early in the day. You’ll have a better viewing spot. If seeing the light show at night is really important to you and you can afford it, use one of the dining packages. You get a great seat and food brought to your table. Just no flash photography, please.
6. Unlike Walt Disney World, you cannot reserve Fast Passes ahead of time online. You can only pick them up once you enter the park. If you buy the Disney MaxPass, you can reserve Fast Passes through the Disneyland app once you enter the park.
7. If traveling with kids, strongly consider a mid-day break for a nap and some air conditioning.
8. Try a fancy churro. The rose gold one is delicious, tastes like strawberries and you will have little gold flecks all over your clothes.
9. If you have a stroller (and you probably should if your kids are under 6), pay attention to the designated stroller parking signs. If your stroller is not parked in a designated area, a cast member can just move it. To where, no one knows. At least your step count will benefit from the search.
10. If your feet need a break, take the monorail from Tomorrowland to Downtown Disney, or ride around the park on the Disneyland Railroad. It’s also a good spot for napping, as you can really just ride.
11. If you want to see one of the shows, get there a little early. They will close the doors at the start time and decline to admit you.
12. If you desperately want to see characters but hate waiting in line, do a character breakfast. The lines to see popular characters really get long, especially later in the day.
13. There’s a splash pad in a Bug’s Land at California Adventure if your little ones need a chance to run and cool off.
14. There are lovely baby care centers located on Main Street and Buena Vista Street in both parks.
15. Make dining reservations early. You can change them online as long as it’s more than 24 hours before your reservation. Otherwise you need to call, and waits on the phone can be long.
16. Try to go on an off day, early in the morning Tuesday-Thursday, and not in summer if possible. Los Angeles is actually lovely in January/February.
17. Parking for the Disneyland Resort in either parking lot costs minimum $20. Walt Disney World recently started charging for parking at its hotels, but currently Disneyland still validates parking for 3 hours at select table-service restaurants. Downtown Disney parking can be validated for 3-5 hours depending on what you buy and where you eat.
Have a great trip!
Thank you Maggie for these great tips and advice for visiting Disneyland California. You can check out more of Maggie's posts at her blog From Toddler to Travler and on her other social media platforms:
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Travelers! This post comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Limoncello inspired by a post about Genoa Italy written by my friend Lucy of Lucy Williams Global! Enjoy!
What You Must See in Genoa in Italy
The city of Genoa in Italy is not as well heard of as Rome, Venice and Florence, but it is a beautiful city to visit and not crowded with thousands of tourists.
It is in the north west of Italy in the region of Liguria. It is a very historic city due to its maritime history.
It is the birth place of Christopher Columbus and you can even visit where his home was.
Genoa can be reached by plane as they have an international airport 10 minutes from the city centre.
There are very good train links if you are coming from other European cities or other parts of Italy.
Many cruise lines stop in Genoa as a port of call throughout the year.
The Sights to See in Genoa
There is lots to see in Genoa and it cannot all be seen in day, so when planning your visit book, a long weekend or a week.
These are the places you must visit while in Genoa:
San Lorenzo Cathedral
San Lorenzo Cathedral is a beautiful Cathedral and was built between the 12th – 14th century and completed in the 17th century. Take a walk around the cathedral and even go up the tower for a great view of the city.
Piazza de Ferrari
Piazza de Ferrari is a big square in the city centre with huge water fountain in the middle. This is a lovely place to walk around, stop and have a coffee or glass of wine. It is the entrance to the main shopping district as well.
Christopher Columbus House
Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa and you can view the remains of Christopher Columbus’s house. The museum is an 18th-century reconstruction of the house.
Via Garibaldi one of Genoa’s oldest street dating back to 1550, originally called Strada Nuova. In this street are Palazzo Rosso and Palazzo Bianco which are both beautiful museums to view.
Palazzo Rosso dates back to 1677 and now is a public gallery with art collections and some of the rooms are preserved with original furniture and decoration. If you can go the top the views are amazing.
Palazzo Bianco dates back to 1540 is another beautiful palace with an art collections and stately rooms.
Palazzo Reale was built in 1643. The building is a large aristocratic residence, which the Balbi family lived in and built. It is beautiful inside with very old pieces of art and how the other half lived back then. The courtyard is unique and there are old carriages from that period.
Porto Antico is very close to the cruise ship terminal and is only a 15-minute walk. It was originally the old harbour and is an ancient part of Genoa.
It is now a vibrant modern marina with an aquarium, museums, a cinema, bars, restaurants, children’s play area, modern sculptures and old port equipment on display.
There is the ‘Bigo’ lift to go on that is a short ride that gives you a panoramic view of the city and harbour. It is a nice area to walk along the water and stop and have a drink or lunch.
Villa del Principe – Palazzo di Andrea Doria
This is opposite the cruise ship terminal and is one of the oldest buildings in Genoa. Villa del Principe was the richest and most noble household of the city of Genoa.
It was the home of the only Prince Genoa ever had in 1529. The rooms are ancient and have painted walls and ceilings and tapestry everywhere and the grounds are stunning.
These are just a few things to visit in Genoa, there are even more things to see in the city and the surrounding areas.
You may enjoy reading about Portofino and Santa Margherita, Camogli, more about Genoa and Cinque Terre.
This was a guest post by from the blog Lucy Williams Global. Lucy travels the world on a cruise ship most of the year and then splits her time at home between the UK and Italy.
To read more about Lucy’s travels follow her blog at www.lucywilliamsglobal.com and follow her on social media:
Facebook – Lucy Williams Global @lucywilliamsglobal
Instagram – Lucy Williams Global @lucywilliamsglobal
Twitter – Lucy Williams Global @lucretiaw14
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Lover of travel to charming places dusted with unique flavor. Join me as I explore the world sip by sip. Cheers!