Posted at 12:33 pm by taryngirl, on January 7, 2021
Our plan for this day was to check out of Bay Lake Tower, giving our luggage to Bell Services to transfer over to Boulder Ridge Villas, and then head to Magic Kingdom. We woke up at 6 a.m., dropped luggage at 6:45 a.m., and went to Contempo Cafe to Mobile Order our breakfast. All orders had to be mobile ordered. There was no walk up. They had a cast member sitting at the entrance who checked for your name on the list and then directed you to pick up your order based on a numbered spot.
Anyway, we had planned to walk to Magic Kingdom, but decided to take the monorail instead since we were right there. We arrived at Magic Kingdom at 7:45 a.m. The gates were open already.
Since there were no Fastpasses, we had to prioritize what we really wanted to ride since we had no idea how crowds and lines would be. We went directly to 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. We were in line by 7:55 a.m. with a 40 minute wait time posted. We got on the ride at 8:28 a.m., so it went slightly faster than what was posted. I have only ever stood in the standby line for this ride one other time! We ALWAYS have a Fastpass. So imagine my surprise when the end of the line was all the way back near Dumbo!
Because the markers on the ground are every 6 feet, this greatly stretched out the line. We basically kept moving the entire time without stopping.
Next up was Peter Pan! We were in line by 8:32 a.m. with a 15 minute wait posted. (Which is crazy low!). We got on the ride at 8:44 a.m., so below the time posted. Look how empty Fantasyland was!
From there we went to Haunted Mansion. It was a walk-on with a 5 minute wait posted. We had the walk to ourselves on the way over!
I wanted to note…there was currently no stretching room for Haunted Mansion. You walked through it to get on the ride, but no stopping and gathering for the pre-show.
We went back to It’s a Small World which had a 10 minute wait posted. We were on in 8 minutes.
They were only seating every other row on the boat due to social distancing.
After every ride, we checked the app for wait times. We decided to go to Pooh next since that line tends to get long quickly. We got in line with a 10 minute wait posted, and actual wait time was 8 minutes. There were constant announcements about no eating and drinking in line! Next was Little Mermaid which was a walk on.
From there, we went to Dumbo, which is a ride I rarely go on! We were on in 5 minutes.
Up next was Buzz with a 20 minute wait posted which was accurate.
Of course we had to see the Carousel of Progress, and we had a 5 minute wait there. You can see by my picture that seats were blocked off due to social distancing. Some entire rows were also roped off.
Up next, an afternoon/evening at Magic Kingdom, along with lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern!
Posted at 1:02 pm by taryngirl, on December 17, 2020
We are DVC owners at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. When we were first deciding whether or not we wanted to buy in, this is where we toured. We love the location the most, which offers a quick walk to Magic Kingdom, and the monorail to Epcot. The views of Magic Kingdom and the lake are great!
Since there were only two of us, I booked a Deluxe Studio, Standard View. The Deluxe Studio offers spacious accommodations including a kitchenette with small fridge, microwave, toaster, sink and a balcony. It features one queen bed and a double size sleeper sofa.
For two people this Villa is perfect. It would also be fine for a family of 3 or 4. There are some other Villas that offer a split bath or 2 bathrooms which is better for a family of 4. Our room was clean, and everything was fine! I’d definitely stay here again.
We also checked out some of the shops on the Contemporary side. Everything was decorated for Christmas!
We absolutely love it here and would definitely stay again!
Posted at 9:46 am by taryngirl, on December 1, 2020
Recapping a little bit from my previous post, Disney After Covid (which focused mostly on safety and Covid procedures)…
I was presented an amazing opportunity to visit both Disney World and Universal Orlando. I am a Disney Vacation Club member and had several points available to use thanks to a canceled trip back in May, I’m an Annual Passholder, and had a free flight thanks to Southwest Airlines points. That covered the Disney portion of my trip. Universal Orlando invited me to stay on property and experience the parks for a few days, so I could see how they are keeping guests safe while still having loads of fun!
My travel day started off with a 2:50 a.m. alarm to wake up. (I am NOT a morning person unless I’m traveling!). My cousin Alex was my travel partner. We left around 3:40 a.m., and drove to the Philadelphia Airport, arriving around 5:10 a.m. at our parking lot. We went with Smart Park on this trip. I really just look around to see who is cheapest! Upon arriving at the parking lot, we were picked up in a shuttle with two other travel parties. We felt very safe. Everyone was wearing masks and the driver was wearing gloves.
Once at the airport, security was a breeze. Everything is still normal…shoes and coats off, everything on the belt and through the scanner. Everyone in the seating area was social distancing. Our flight was scheduled for 7:05 a.m. and we landed and had our luggage by 9:45 a.m. A note about Disney’s Magical Express…it is not the same! They no longer send you yellow tags in the mail or get your luggage and deliver it to the resort. YOU must get your own luggage from Baggage Claim and take it to the Magical Express with you. We flew Southwest, so our terminal was the A Terminal. We had to get our luggage from there and head over to the B Terminal to get on the Magical Express.
A fun thing I overheard at the Magical Express desk while we were heading to check in…they were expecting 6,458 passengers on the Magical Express on this particular day. The supervisor I guess?? was filling in the workers behind the desk so they knew what to expect. We got in line at 9:57 a.m. Be aware that they are using assigned seating from back to front, and using only every other row. The person checking us in told us where to sit. We were on the bus by 10:08 a.m. and departed at 10:20 a.m.
We arrived at Bay Lake Tower at 10:48 a.m. and were the first stop. We may have actually been the only stop as it seems everyone got off here… We headed into the lobby. We wanted to check our luggage with Bell Services and head to Epcot. We also wanted to change into our shorts because it was hot!
This is one thing I did comment on the survey they gave me. Because there is no luggage delivery anymore, Bell Services is CRAZY! Be prepared for longer than usual waits to actually check the luggage with them.
We finished changing and got organized, checked our luggage, and then were at the bus stop at 11:35 a.m. There is no monorail to Epcot at the moment. The bus arrived at 11:45 a.m., and we made it to Epcot at 11:55 a.m. We were hungry for lunch and decided to start with some food booths! We decided to go counter-clockwise starting in Canada because we knew we wanted to eat something from there!
One of my favorite restaurants is Le Cellier (in Canada), but it’s on the pricey side. The items at this food booth are some of my favorites!
These did not disappoint and were tasty as usual. I absolutely LOVE the soup with the pretzel bread dipper! We continued on and our next stop was the World Showplace Events Pavilion, located between Canada and the UK. I have never seen this open for this particular event, but they do have other events there. I was interested to check it out, and it housed several food booths!
The Liquid Nitro Cake Pops came highly recommended to me from friends who had already been there, so of course I had to try one! I went with the Twix version.
This was really good and different! By this point I was already full, but I still had some items on my list that I wanted to try. Here are some pics from along our way.
Our next stop was in Germany at the little caramel store, Karamell-Kuche. This is a must do for me every trip! It has some of the best snacks. There were some new offerings this trip, possibly just seasonal? I had to have the Gingerbread Salted Caramel Buttercream Cookie Sandwich!
IT WAS AMAZING! My favorite snack from anywhere in the world. And possibly the single best thing I have ever tasted! The cookie was soft, but had a crispyish layer outside. It was perfect. The buttercream and caramel was so good together! I wished I would have bought more to bring home. We found a table next to Mexico in the area where the band usually performs so we could stand and eat our snacks.
What you can see in this picture is the line just to get inside the Mexico pavilion. The man holding the sign actually had to cut off the line because it was too long. The wait from here was about a half hour. I think they cut it off because they didn’t want too big of a crowd blocking the sidewalk.
While we were standing there, some cast members came rushing by telling everyone to get to the side, and that a horse and carriage were coming. We had no idea what was going on! All of a sudden, this went by:
It was brief, but exciting to see! We decided that they do not announce times for these little cavalcades because they don’t want people gathering and lining up. We were just out of Mexico when this one came by:
Short and sweet! It was nice to see the characters out and about since there are no real meet and greet experiences at the moment.
Next up will be the rest of our day at Epcot with dinner at Coral Reef!
Posted at 9:45 am by taryngirl, on October 15, 2020
I am using some of my free time to catch up on past trips! In January 2019, I was fortunate enough to receive training directly at Universal Orlando.
We were able to tour a few different resorts on Universal Orlando property. This one is Universal’s Loews Royal Pacific Resort. This resort is set in the exotic South Seas with a tropical vibe. It’s a Premier level hotel that includes Universal Express Unlimited, which allows you to skip the regular lines (a value of $129.99 per person, per day). This is a HUGE advantage! They offer standard rooms, club level rooms, and suites.
With 1000 guest rooms and suites available, there is a type of accommodation for everyone!
Besides looking at the rooms, we were able to tour around the beautiful grounds. This courtyard was amazing! And yes, there were people just sitting out there relaxing.
There are several different dining/beverage options at this resort. I didn’t take many pictures though because there were a lot of people sitting and eating! I didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable if they saw me…
Overall I loved this resort! Of the three Premier level hotels available at Universal Orlando, Royal Pacific is the most affordable in terms of cost. The biggest benefit, as I mentioned before, is the fact that Universal Express Unlimited is included in the cost. If you are comparing pricing between the Value and Prime level hotels, factor in the cost of the Express pass. This allows you to skip the regular line on participating rides.
Posted at 11:07 am by taryngirl, on October 2, 2020
I am writing this post Covid closure. This is from my trip in January! In looking at the current menu, it seems they have taken several things off of the menu for now. Boo! Hopefully they will be back!
After briefly checking out the Club Level area at the Contemporary Resort, we hopped on the monorail, which is conveniently located right inside the resort, and headed to the Grand Floridian. Our breakfast reservation at the Grand Floridian Cafe was at 9:00 a.m.
This is the glorious site when you are dropped off from the monorail and head inside the doors to the resort. It’s amazing!
The entrance was roped off, so I couldn’t get inside to take any pictures, but here are a few from outside the rope.
You can click my link above to check out the details and menu. It’s definitely on the pricier side, with just a few food items available, but lots of beverages.
From there, we just walked down the steps to the Grand Floridian Cafe. Neither of us had ever eaten here, so it was on our list to check out. The menu was a brunch menu and looked really good!
I started with a cup of hot tea, and Alex started with coffee.
They brought her a whole pot, so that was nice!
Complimentary biscuits with an orange butter were served. They were warm and good.
Alex ordered the Brioche French Toast–Madagascar vanilla bean scented brioche French toast with bacon–$17
Fun fact…if you ordered pancakes, waffles, or French toast, you could also order an “add-on.” We chose: Fresh blueberries, granola, lemon curd and blueberry sauce $3.50
This was a fabulous addition and we were really happy we got it!
I ordered the Steak and Eggs–sirloin steak, cheesy hash brown casserole, 2 eggs, housemade steak sauce $20
This was so good! I would definitely order this again. All of it was wonderful.
Overall, I give this breakfast/brunch a 10/10! I had a reservation set for May, but that trip was canceled due to Covid…and then I made a reservation for August, and that trip was also canceled. I will return! There was too much on the menu I wanted to try.
Posted at 11:45 am by taryngirl, on September 28, 2020
Picking up where we last left off…
We had been staying at All Star Movies, but were making a move to another resort. We woke up this morning pretty early, packed up and took a Lyft to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. We had breakfast reservations at a new-to-me restaurant, the Grand Floridian Cafe at 9:00 a.m. We wanted to get to the resort, check in if possible, drop our luggage, and head to breakfast.
I had stayed in this resort previously in the Main Tower–Theme Park View. I personally love this resort! I love that the monorail goes through it, I love that you can walk to the Magic Kingdom, and I love the quick service Contempo Cafe! This time, because I’m a travel agent, I was able to secure a Theme Park View– Atrium Club Level room for an amazing deal. I have NEVER stayed Club Level at Disney, so was super excited to experience it!
I had done some research and googling about what to expect when checking in, and kept reading to just go directly up to the Club Level check in desk. However, we were arriving here super early, and wanted them to hold our luggage while we went to breakfast, so I wanted to be sure. We checked in at the regular check in desk to make sure our MagicBands were working correctly and then she sent us on our way upstairs.
To get to Club Level, we had to tap our MagicBands on the Mickey. Notice there is no floor 13!
There are small check in desks as soon as you exit the elevator, so we stopped in there. They gave us some information and then told us to enjoy! Of course we had to check out the lounge before going to breakfast.
The Lounge schedule was as follows:
Coffee 6:30-7:00 a.m.
Continental Breakfast 7:00-10:30 a.m.
Afternoon Refreshments 12:00-4:00 p.m.
Contemporary Flavors 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Desserts and Cordials 8:00-10:00 p.m.
The view from this lounge is amazing, as you can see Magic Kingdom!
I thought the selection for a continental breakfast was very good!
We didn’t have a lot of time before we had to get on the monorail to head to the Grand Floridian for our breakfast reservation. That’s up next!
Posted at 12:10 pm by taryngirl, on September 21, 2020
From Disney Springs, we took the bus to the Grand Floridian and then the monorail to Magic Kingdom. I think it’s super important to know your options for transportation ahead of time.Sometimes there is more than one option, sometimes things are not operating, etc. Also, don’t underestimate how long it will actually take you!
I can honestly say in all of my trips to Magic Kingdom, I have never seen the Main Street Philharmonic band performing! This was quite a treat. Maybe because we always hit rope drop at Magic Kingdom, and they don’t perform until the afternoon? We are usually heading back to room at this time or busy on rides. This was a pleasant surprise!
We had a FP+ for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, so headed there first thing. That’s my favorite ride in Magic Kingdom! From there we headed to Country Bear Jamboree since we had to wait a little bit for our next FP+ at Pirates of the Caribbean.
When we exited the show, these characters were all out on the street having a dance party! I have never seen this happening, but have seen just random bear characters walking down the street.
Our next stop was the Enchanted Tiki Room. Also a Disney classic! A great spot during a rain shower or a super hot day!
Have I mentioned that I LOVE my iPhone 11? These pics were taken in very dark conditions with no flash. From there we headed to our Pirates of the Caribbean FP+. After leaving Pirates, we made our way toward Tomorrowland. The Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party was going on.
We had a FP+ at Peter Pan, so I think we rode on the People Mover then made our way to Fantasyland. After Peter Pan, we went to the Haunted Mansion. I just LOVE how my pictures turned out here!
After that, it was time to make our way to a spot to watch the Happily Ever After fireworks. Of course we had to walk past the Tangled bathrooms! This area is so gorgeous at night!
Fireworks tip…to start, people seem to stay on the sidewalks and out of the streets. You CAN stand in the street. My tip is to stand either to the right or left of the castle on the street about mid-hub. Make yourself big, because people will start filling in and you don’t want to be squished! (Although with Covid right now we don’t really have to worry about this…but when things return to normal!). If you know you want to go to a ride in Tomorrowland, stand to the right. If you want to go to Adventureland stand to the left. It’s a complete mob scene right when they are over. We tend to stand still for a little bit until the crowd starts to disperse.
After this amazing display, we did head back to our resort. We were checking out from All Star Movies and heading to the Contemporary Club Level! <—————–Up Next!
Posted at 4:33 pm by taryngirl, on August 31, 2020
January 29, 2020
We arrived to Animal Kingdom in the morning, but not right at rope drop. The first thing I noticed once we exited the bus area, was the construction going on near the tram stop.
Our plan was to go directly to Navi River and ride that. We went from there over to Kiliminjaro Safari. There are so many amazing photo opportunities! Here are a few I took on the way over.
Our Safari experience was entertaining. We were riding this standby since our FP+ were in the afternoon for Magic Kingdom. I can’t tell you the last time I stood in this line! It was probably 45 minutes. All I will say is there was a family in front of us with children that were running all over the place…climbing over barriers that they weren’t supposed to, and at one point even sitting in the window ledge over one of the bridges. It was crazy! Anyway, here are some pictures from our ride:
I always hit Zuri’s Sweets Shop for a snack. This time was no exception!
We made our way over to Dinosaur, which is one of my personal favorites! Again, more beautiful scenery along the way.
After Dinosaur, we took a little break near the stage. While sitting there, Kevin appeared!
We had lunch reservations at Disney Springs, so we decided to take a bus so we could get a transfer since there were no direct buses to Disney Springs. We did wait a longgggg time for a bus here, but once he showed up, we were happy and he was fun!
Overall, a great morning at Animal Kingdom! Up next, Disney Springs Enzo’s Hideaway!
After our jaunt on the Skyliner, we rode it back to the Epcot Station and entered through the International Gateway. We had dinner reservations in Mexico at La Hacienda de San Angel, but before that, we made our way through the countries a little bit.
It’s always a joy to listen to Mariachi Cobre located just outside the Mexico Pavilion! They sound really good and are super talented!
There are two table service restaurants in Mexico. San Angel Inn is located INSIDE the pavilion.
(By the way, I love my iPhone 11 Pro! This pic was taken with it. No flash!)
We took a quick ride on the Gran Fiesta Tour before our dinner.
From there, we headed outside of the pavilion and across the walk to the second table service restaurant…La Hacienda de San Angel.
The view from our table (Yes we are inside! We just had a window seat.):
(A side note…I have only eaten at this restaurant one other time in my life, and it was several years ago. I absolutely did not find the menu appealing at all, but my cousin wanted to try it. It ended up being my favorite meal of the trip! So I couldn’t wait to get back here.)
Chips and Salsa come complimentary. The salsa was really good!
I ordered the Pollo al Pastor, which was adobe marinated chicken breast with vegetables. It was spicy but delicious!
My cousin ordered the Enchiladas de Vegetales.
All entrees come with family style rice and beans.
Overall thoughts…our server was a little crazy, but efficient. One example, when filling my water, he basically dumped the pitcher onto me and my plate of rice. The meal was so good, and I love the setting right on the lake. If you have dined inside at San Angel Inn, give this a try! I prefer the food here! They only serve during dinner.
From the Beach Club, we walked to the Epcot Skyliner Station. We wanted to take a ride and check it out, as we hadn’t gotten to take a ride yet. This station is located outside of the International Gateway, which is the back entrance to Epcot. Our plan was to ride it to Disney’s Riviera Resort so we could also check that out! That is Disney’s newest resort.
You can see the Skyliner routes in the maps below. These are not my pictures, but I love the satellite aerial view! For our route, we took it straight to Riviera Resort without having to get off in between.
Here you can see the Epcot Station.
(Here’s France in the background, and you can see where they are building the new Remy attraction.)
Once up in the Skyliner, you can really see some “behind the scenes!” This is the construction of the new Remy attraction in France.
Once we land at Riviera Resort, there are signs directing you where to go.
Walking through this area, there are two AMAZING mosaic walls!
The grounds are beautiful here! It’s a very quiet, less bustling atmosphere. You almost forget it’s a Disney Resort.
I thought I took more pictures of the inside, but I guess not! We walked into the lobby and checked out the store there. It came across as a little more upscale than a regular Deluxe level resort. Kind of like a mini Grand Floridian as far as “feel” goes.
If you have an extra half hour or so, check it out!