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With four main parks, two water parks, and an extensive Disney Springs area for shopping, eating, and unique entertainment, who would think you could need more? But there is more! Many resorts have their own unique activities and things to make each visit to Walt Disney World® Resort, a little different and even that much more magical. I have highlighted below some of the resorts that have different activities that may speak to you and your travel companions.

Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside

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I have always said this is the best moderate as it has more amenities than other moderate resorts. Horse drawn carriage rides along the river, camp fires where you can roast marshmallows. Experience bass fishing at its finest with a guided catch-and-release excursion from the Riverside Levee Marina. Old-fashioned cane pole fishing is also available at the Fishin’ Hole on Ol’ Man Island. Enjoy the trail along the river on a surrey bike rentals or jogging. Try to make time for Yeeha Bob (Bob Jackson) who typically performs Wednesday through Saturday evenings. He combines piano, sing alongs, and family friendly comedy. You can see when he is performing from this link. http://www.yehaabob.com/

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

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With the savannah, right out back, there are so many opportunities to experience the wildlife. Speak with the guides out back to learn more about the species mingling about. Pick up the phone in your room and listen to animal info. After dark, you can view the savannah through night vision goggles. Listen to African folktales while overlooking the savannah or take a tour of the art work throughout the resort. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has the largest private collection of African art in the world. Take an African drum lesson or partake in an African wine tasting. Or simply grab a glass of wine and take it all in on a rocking chair out back as the zebras and giraffes stroll by.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

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This resort takes great pride in the Hawaiian cultural experience for their guests. Take a hula lesson or enjoy the torch lighting ceremonies most evenings. If you want to enjoy the Seven Seas Lagoon, take a guided bass fishing excursions (catch and release).  After a fun morning in the parks, rent your own private Oasis patio for a little downtime in your piece of paradise.

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

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This traditional favorite for families since the 70s offers a variety of activities not to be found anywhere on property. Archery, horseback riding, biking, and canoeing are just some of the exciting activities available to you and your family at this rustic Resort. Don’t miss the Chip n Dale campfire sing along!

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

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Take the Wonders of the lodge art and architecture tour where you learn all the details of this famous building. Not easy to do but an amazing experience is to be the flag family who raises the flags at the top of the lodge in the morning.  The views are gorgeous, and the thrill of taking part in such a tradition at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge will stay with your family for years.

 

Regardless where you stay on property, take in some of the fun at your resort. These are truly special and unique accommodations to enjoy.

Walt Disney World® Resort will welcome so many exciting new attractions and events this summer. It is a great time to make a visit with longer operating hours and the kids out of school.

Pandora-The World of Avatar

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Pandora – The World of Avatar opens May 27th with extended hours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort® , guests will be able to experience extra magic hours at this park from 11PM to 1AM from May 27th to July 4th.

In this land, you will float along through the sacred bioluminescent rainforest in search of the Na’vi Shaman of Songs. You can soar on the back of a mountain banshee during a thrilling ride above this vast moon and hike amid floating mountains, glowing fauna and flora, a native drum circle and many other wonders.

The Music of Pixar LIVE! in Disney’s Hollywood Studios®

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Starting May 26, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will present “The Music of Pixar LIVE! A Symphony of Characters.” This limited-time concert event will showcase memorable music from Pixar Animation Studios films, complete with a live orchestra and appearances by beloved Disney•Pixar characters.  The show will also feature highlights from some of Pixar’s greatest scores, from films like “Toy Story” to “Cars 3.” The show will be presented three times nightly at Theater of the Stars at Disney’s Hollywood Studios following the regular daily performances of “Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage”.

New Happily Ever After show at the Magic Kingdom®Park

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Beginning May 12th this 18-minute show features more lasers, lights and projections than any other fireworks spectacular in the history of Magic Kingdom® park! Throughout Happily Ever After, you’ll witness the many transformations of Cinderella Castle as it becomes a part of popular Disney stories and is brought to life with fireworks, rooftop pyrotechnics, state-of-the-art projections, brilliant lasers and immersive lighting with contemporary versions of popular Disney songs.

The stories that come to life with heart, heroism, and humor are as follows; Aladdin, Big Hero Six, Brave, Frozen, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Incredibles, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid , Moana , Mulan,Tarzan, The Princess and the Frog, Toy Story, Up, WALL-E, Wreck-It Ralph, and  Zootopia

Miss Adventure Falls at Typhoon Lagoon

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Gather your crew and climb aboard for a thrilling, white-water voyage you won’t want to “Miss.”

The story takes place just beyond the pineapple fields of Crush ‘n’ Gusher awaits an all-new, family-raft attraction owned by Captain Mary Oceaneer—a sea-faring treasure hunter whose haul was caught in a rogue typhoon and scattered across this tropical paradise years ago.

From your 4-person raft, feel a rush of excitement with family and friends as an aquatic conveyor belt chutes you into action. Then, hold on tight as you spy precious artifacts collected from all around the globe.

If you’re lucky enough, you may even meet the captain’s old diving partner—a talking parrot who’s still hunting for treasure

Summer 2017 is an exciting time at Walt Disney Resort®! It is time to go!

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  1. California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

At the top of the resort, a must do. Watch the fireworks while enjoying a California dinner. Sushi, flatbreads, fish are the theme here. If the bartender is Ray, have him make you a Saki martini. They are out of this world. $35 to $59.99 per adult

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  1. Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

Casual waterfront dining with coastal cuisine. They have a fairly good wine list.  $35 to $59.99

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  1. Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom

Step inside the Beast’s enchanted castle for an unforgettable sit-down dinner. One of the only places you can drink alcohol in the Magic Kingdom as well. $28 to $35 per adult. This spot is hard to get. Plan ahead!

 

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  1. San Angel in Epcot

Dine in perpetual twilight at this Mexican restaurant, modeled after a hacienda at the base of Mayan ruins. Great option for something not as expensive but in a secluded atmosphere. $15 to $34.99 per adult

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  1. Le Cellier in Epcot

Set in a cozy cellar of a Canadian chateau with outstanding steaks and seafood specialties. You must try the cheddar cheese soup and signature poutine. $35 to $59.99 per adult

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  1. JIko- The Cooking Place at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Jiko is a blend of traditional African, Indian, and Mediterranean cuisine. Chicken, seafood, vegan, and vegetarian dishes with bold blends of spices and flavors can be found here. Jiko has a vast African wine list that is excellent! $35 to $59.99 per adult

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  1. Tiffin’s at the Animal Kingdom

This restaurant is inspired by exploration and adventure. The plates are small so don’t go super hungry but the lounge cocktails are amazing! $35 to $59.99 per adult.

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  1. Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn

Sustainable seafood and prime steaks in the newly remodeled contemporary American restaurant. Make sure to take a walk around the Boardwalk after dinner. $35 to $59.99 per adult.

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  1. Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort

Enjoy slow-cooked meats, salads, and vegetarian specialties served with Indian flavors  while enjoying the view through the glass wall of animals roaming the savannah outside. To most, the highlight of the menu is the Indian bread service. A must do. $15 to $34.99 per adult

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  1. Shula’s at Walt Disney Resort Swan and Dolphin Resort

Former football coach Don Shula’s sophisticated steakhouse chain serving beef and other classics. $35 to $59.99 per adult

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Aloha! From quick grab-n-go restaurants to fine dining with a casual feel, there is a dining option to fit every family’s style and budget at Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa. We tried most of the restaurants and here is a review of what we thought about each restaurant we visited.

‘Ama ‘Ama

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‘Ama ‘Ama is their fine dining location but it has a casual feel. This restaurant offers good food, excellent service, a great atmosphere and an amazing view. We ate here for both lunch and dinner. The lunch menu is not as ‘fancy’ but it still offers the excellent service and phenomenal view. We had the fish tacos and they were delicious! Our lunch total, which included 2 alcoholic beverages, was $80 with tip. For dinner, I had the Orecchiette alla Checca with shrimp and it was tasty. My hubby had the Oven Roasted Half-Chicken which he thought was just ‘ok.’ We split the Macaron Au Gratin appetizer and both really enjoyed it. Our dinner total, which included 2 alcoholic beverages, was $143 with tip. If you decide to dine here, be sure you request a water view. The scenery is beautiful during the day and if you time it just right, you might get to see the evening sunset.

 

Makahiki  

 

Makahiki is the buffet restaurant that offers a character breakfast.  We ate here for dinner one night and while the service and atmosphere were both excellent, we were both a little disappointed in the food, especially for the price we paid. In our opinion, there was not enough variety and the food was just ok. I felt like the best part of the selections here were the salad offerings and the desserts. For two adult buffets our total was $112 including tip. I have heard the character breakfast reviews are a little better but that could be more because of the character interactions rather than the food.

 

Ulu Café

 

 

Ulu Café, the quick service restaurant, was our go-to place for most of our meals. It was quick, good food with great prices. They offer hot food, grab-n-go meals, bakery items and other snacks. For breakfast, we would typically split a breakfast platter, wrap or pizza and a bakery item. For lunch or dinner, we tried the salads, pizza and hot plates.  Our meal total for both of us ranged between $20 and $40. By the way, this is also where you buy and refill your Disney mugs.

 

Off The Hook 

Off The Hook is the poolside dining area and lounge. Here you will find a limited but tasty menu.  We tried several of their menu options including the cheeseburger, veggie burger, kalua pork pizza and the kalua pork salad wraps.  Our meals, which included alcoholic beverages, ranged between $60 and $70 including tip. In addition to delicious food, Off The Hook also offers fantastic poolside service. There are servers everywhere around the pool lounging orders ready to take your orders. Talk about being spoiled! LOL!

 

Olelo Room 

 

The Olelo Room is an open-air lounge that serves a variety of appetizers. We were pleasantly surprised with this little lounge. Here, you’ll find a super atmosphere with live musicians playing Hawaiian music, good service and tasty food. We chose to eat here for dinner one night. We ordered 3 appetizers and couldn’t finish it all. Our meal of appetizers, including alcoholic beverages, totaled $67 including the tip.

 

This post includes our thoughts and experiences based on our dining style preferences and budget. You may have a completely different experience based on your own preferences. In the end, I can confidently share that Disney’s Aulani Spa and Resort offers a wide variety of great dining choices that can please just about everyone.

Thanks for stopping by and have a Magical day!!

Melissa Dearman

Melissa Dearman is one of our travel specialists for all Disney destinations. Contact her for your next adventure by land or by sea.

 

 

 

 

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Exercise your paddling skills on a kayak eco-tour through mossy, cypress-lined Shingle Creek, the headwaters of the Everglades. Here, you may spot real alligators, bald eagles, and more. The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott at Grande Lakes offer two-hour guided tours twice daily, or experienced kayakers can venture out on their own from Shingle Creek Regional Park.

There is a company called BK Adventure which have tours from Manatee and monkey viewing kayak tours to Bioluminescence tours after dark, one of a handful of places in the world you can do this.  http://www.bkadventure.com

There is more than amusement parks in Orlando!

Let the Ears of Experience team plan your next vacation.

 

Did you know there are 4 fun interactive games your family can enjoy in the parks that are free?   You can help save Magic Kingdom from villains, become a secret agent with Agent P, go on a scavenger hunt to earn ‘badges’ like Russell in Up or hunt hidden treasures like a pirate.   These games are fun for all ages and last anywhere between 15 minutes to 5 hours or more, depending on which game you are playing and how long you have to play it.

 

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is a game where you will help save Magic Kingdom from Disney villains.  You can sign up at the Fire House on Main Street or in Liberty Square.  You receive a pack of 5 spell cards and a map of the magical portals.  You use clues on the map to find the portals and then use your spell cards to help defeat the villains.   Each mission can take 20-30 minutes to complete.   As long as you complete one portal, you are eligible to get a new pack of cards the next day or time you visit.  This is a great game for those who have more than one day in Magic Kingdom or go to Disney World often.  There is plenty of information online about game strategies for Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and you may even find others to trade cards with.

 

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Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure takes you around the world as a secret agent trying to defeat Dr. Doofenschmirtz.   You can signup at Odyssey Bridge or International Gateway.  There are missions throughout World Showcase where you help Agent P by finding and solving riddles.  Each mission takes about 30-45 minutes.  This is a great way to get your kids excited and interested in seeing the World Showcase.

 

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Wilderness Explorers is a scavenger hunt in Animal Kingdom where you earn adventure ‘badges’ as you work your way around the park, much like Russell does in the movie Up!  You can signup at the bridge between The Oasis & Discovery Island.  This is a great learning game that teaches about animals and the world they live in.  Hunts vary from 15 -30 minutes.   There are over 30 badges that can be collected, which can take 3-5 hours to complete.  Many people spread this game out over a couple of visits to collect all badges.

 

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Pirate Adventures:  Treasures of the Seven Seas is another game in Magic Kingdom but only located in Adventureland.  You can sign up near the Pirates of Caribbean attraction.   You will receive a treasure map that will take you on an adventure to find hidden treasures and help Captain Jack fend off his enemies.   The adventure takes about 30 minutes to complete and perfect for your little Pirates.

 

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Adventure is out there, my Disney fans!  Have fun exploring!

Until next time, thanks for stopping by and have a Magical Day!!

Your Mouse Expert,

Melissa Dearman

Melissa Dearman is one of our travel specialists for all Disney destinations. Contact her for your next adventure by land or by sea.

 

 

 

 

brandygrands

5 Big Reasons to Bring Grandparents on Your Disney Vacation

We are only half joking when we say we will never vacation when the children outnumber the adults. When it comes to evening the odds, having our parents with us on our vacation brings an extra layer of magic. Nothing compares to the experience of 3 generations all together on vacation. It’s even better when we go to one of our favorite places, Walt Disney World in Florida.

Here are 5 big reasons why you should take the grandparents with you on your next Walt Disney World Vacation.

  1. It takes a village.

I heard this phrase growing up but it never really rang true for me until I had my own children. There are times that my husband and I both have responsibilities we can’t reschedule and our children need to be at an event or practice.  It’s great that one of our parents is always there to help out and make sure our daughter, Olivia, makes it to singing lessons or to robotics practice.

Our parents are an integral part of our lives and our children’s development.  So why wouldn’t we want them to be there to enjoy family vacation time too?

Grandparents experience Walt Disney World with their grandchildren differently than we do as parents.  I remember when my mom saw Olivia run into Belle’s arms for the first time. My mom recalled the stories of me playing with my dolls as a child and shared them with my daughter.  Connections and new bonds are formed as stories and experiences are shared.

  1. Family Pictures

My dad has always been the one in the background reminding us to take pictures when we are all together.  I never realized that I was the one always taking the pictures but never in any of them until I saw that there were no pictures of me and my daughter together on my first Mother’s Day.

Enter Disney’s Memory Maker.  We make sure to purchase this service for every Disney vacation. Disney’s Memory Maker allows you unlimited digital downloads of all of your Disney PhotoPass family photos and videos.

Grandma wants a picture of everyone in front of Cinderella’s Castle?  A Disney’s Photopass Photographer will capture that.

Grandma wants a picture with all of her granddaughters and Ariel?  They will capture that too.

Grandma wants a picture of her alone with Gaston?  We’ll have to ask Grandpa first (but they’ll capture it too).

  1. Space to Spread Out

At this point you are reading this, you may be realizing that you are going to be on vacation with your children and their grandparents for a week.  That is a lot of time together.  You know you love them, but do you really want to be together all day every day for a week?

This is yet another reason why Walt Disney World makes a perfect multigenerational vacation.  There is so much to do and you don’t have to do it all together.  When you stay at a Walt Disney World Resort, the transportation to and from the parks is free and convenient.

When our son, Avery, is ready for a nap, my husband, Chris, and he hop on the monorail to go back to our room.  Olivia and I head over to Fantasyland to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and do a little shopping.  Grandma and Grandpa take the monorail over to EPCOT to take a Flower and Garden Tour.  Later, everyone meets back up at Chef Mickey’s for dinner with the main mouse and share stories about their afternoon adventures before heading over to watch the fireworks together.

  1. Unconnected Time

Families today are very scheduled and very connected.  We have an online calendar where we enter events and appointments for the children so we can keep track of everyone’s busy schedule.  Even though we have a family dinner night every week with my husband’s parents and family, even that is still cluttered with homework, work issues and upcoming events.

Our Disney Vacation together gives everyone a chance to disconnect so they can reconnect without all of the distractions.  While standing in line for Soaring, Grandpa can tell stories of how he lived all over the US with his dad because they were a military family.  When we’re exploring Animal Kingdom, Olivia can tell Grandma about what she learned about gorillas from her school project.  And most importantly, everyone can just be together and enjoy our time as a family without worries about what is due the next day or the next meeting we need to attend.

  1. Magical Memories

When I was pregnant with my daughter, everyone told me that time was going to fly by.  It’s true. I blinked and Olivia is 11.   There is so much we have shared, but there is a lot more I want to experience with her and teach her.

Life gets busy. We all get stressed. Some days, extra stress is added when a phone call turns into bad news. Thankfully our family has something that helps gets us through.  We rely on our Disney vacation memories to brighten those days that seem a little too difficult.  My 4-year-old son, Avery, will tell us all about Dumbo and how he flew it all by himself.  My daughter will tell the story of how the chef in Cinderella’s Castle came to our table and asked her if she “could have anything to eat, what would it be?”  (Since she had a peanut allergy, he made her favorite grilled cheese sandwich even though it wasn’t on the menu.)  My mom will tell the story of Olivia, her and me all having afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian.  These are the magical memories that help bring us together and keep us together.

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Chris and Brandy Incorvia with Ears of Experience

Chris and Brandy Incorvia have been helping families plan Disney Vacations for over 6 years. They reside in Myrtle Beach, SC with their two kids.

 

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