Today’s Picture of the Day comes from Disney’s Pop Century Resort.
Today’s Picture of the Day comes from Disney’s Pop Century Resort.
Planning a Disney World vacation takes a lot of planning and decision making. Your first big decision is where to stay. There are many factors that go into choosing the resort you would like to call home for the duration of your trip, price and location being two of the bigger factors. There are so many different resorts to choose from, all with fun themes, in Disney World. So it can be a hard choice to make, but there is a way to see the resorts you don’t choose. It’s called resort touring.
Lots of people do this on non park days. You can hop on the monorail and tour the monorail resorts or take a bus from any park or Downtown Disney to the resort you want to see. It actually makes for a pretty relaxing day.
On our last trip, we made a lot of dining reservations at different resorts. We actually had more dining experiences at the resorts than in the parks and it worked out pretty well for us. If we showed up a little early we were able to look around the resort before our reservation, otherwise we would tour the resort after we were done with our meal.
We had dinner at California Grill one night and we had a little time before the fireworks viewing, so we decided to do the monorail loop. We didn’t have enough time to get off at each stop, but it was still fun to ride the monorail and see all the monorail resorts.
Here are some things to see on your resort tour:
Obviously, there are areas you will not be able to go to if you are not a guest at that resort, but there is plenty to see in the areas that are open to the general public. The grounds of the resorts are fun to walk around, because so much goes into the theme of each resort. It does not matter if the resort is a value, moderate, deluxe, or deluxe villa, all of the grounds are well-kept and make for a fun way to tour a resort.
At Pop Century there are signs positioned along the walkway with fun pop culture tidbits. It’s fun to read the signs as you have a leisurely stroll around the resort. The grounds at Kidani Village and Animal Kingdom Lodge are the savannas. So, seeing the grounds means watching the animals, and that is fun for both kids and adults. Wandering around the grounds of the Polynesian Village Resort will make you feel like you are in the tropics. I love taking pictures of all the tropical plants that the Polynesian Village Resort has on their grounds, they are so beautiful.
Another area that you can visit are the hotel lobbies. Those are also fun to walk around. Some are pretty grand, like Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge, and others are just fun and colorful, like Pop Century and Art of Animation. The Beach Club lobby is warm and inviting with all of the pastels on the furniture and walls.
Off of the lobbies you will find the resort gift shop and those are always fun to poke around in. The gift shops are designed to the theme of the resorts. So it is fun to look for those extra Disney touches, even in the gift shop.
A dining reservation is a good excuse to tour a resort. You are already at the resort, so if you have no where else to be that day, I would definitely recommend sticking around to see the rest of the resort.
If you don’t have a dining reservation you can look at the list of quick service restaurants at the resorts and choose one of those to try. Once your get your food you can find a place to sit and people watch at the resort.
Whether you try a quick service or a table service, make sure to look around at the decor of the restaurant. Like the resorts, the restaurants have themes. We enjoyed the theme at Cape May Cafe. We were seated near the sandcastle that they have on display. The beach umbrellas that line the back area of the restaurant were a nice touch. The characters at the character breakfast are dressed in beach gear and the kids loved that. It is a very fun theme.
Some resorts will have special activities that you can take part in even if you are not a resort guest. For instance, there is nightly viewing of the animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge that everyone can enjoy. So if you are there for dinner at one of their delicious restaurants, head up to the viewing area afterwards and check out the animals with night vision goggles. Please note that the night viewing is different from the Night Safari. The Night Safari is only available to guests who are staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jambo House, and Kidani Village.
Another activity that is offered at many of the resorts is nightly campfires. The activities at the campfire will vary depending on the resort, but there are usually stories, singalongs, and marshmallow roasting. These are a lot of fun and they are free activities offered at the resorts.
Sometimes it is fun to just spend the day taking different forms of Disney transportation, especially if you are staying at a resort that only has bus transportation. The monorail is fun to ride and you can take it to the monorail resorts or you can transfer and take it to Epcot and back. There are boats that will take you from some resorts to Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Downtown Disney. You can also walk to some parks from certain resorts. Epcot is a short walk from Yacht and Beach Club and from the Boardwalk Inn, you can also walk to Hollywood Studios from these resorts (about a 20 min. walk). The Magic Kingdom is a short walk from the Contemporary. So you can walk to and from the parks and just enjoy the scenery and landscaping.
There are lots of ways to experience different resorts at Disney World. Not only is it a nice relaxing day, but it can also help you decide which resort you would like to book for your next trip. When we had our first breakfast a Boma, we knew we wanted to book a stay there at some point. For our last trip, we did end up booking at Kidani and we were certainly not disappointed. So, if you know you want to try different resorts for each trip, I definitely recommend giving yourself a tour of different resorts. Plus, it is good to have days off from the parks to relax and this is a great way to do that. Happy exploring!
Thanks for reading!
Free(ish) Souvenirs from Disney
It is always fun to come home from Disney with a lot of souvenirs. For me, the souvenirs are something I can look at to remember our fun trip and I love that. However, buying a lot of souvenirs in Disney World can get expensive pretty fast. While it is fun to buy souvenirs, don’t forget about the free souvenirs that come along with your vacation.
Well, considering how much you pay for your vacation, they’re not technically free, but you don’t have to shell out any extra cash for them. So, it feels like they are free and I that works for me.
A couple of these free souvenirs you can actually get before you even book your trip. There is a Disney Planning DVD that is free for everyone to order. It’s pretty nice that you don’t have to pay for it. I order one for every trip and it’s so much fun to see what they have added to each DVD. There is a lot of good information and they take you through planning your trip to Disney World and Disneyland. Also on the DVD is information about Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney. If you are thinking of taking a Disney vacation then I would definitely take advantage of this free DVD.
Another freebie you can get before you book your trip is a customized map for each park. I did this years ago, before they even started building New Fantasyland, but they still have them and it’s a pretty nice free service Disney offers you. Just go to this page to start customizing your maps. You can pick from two different boarder options and then you can pick which attractions you want to include on your map. It’s actually very helpful. Since you don’t have to have all the attractions on there it makes it easier to “map out” your day (see what I did there…insert groans here). I would recommend taking advantage of the free customized maps. You can print them out yourself or they will mail them to you. Like with any mailing or shipments from Disney, it takes a while, but the paper it is printed on is better than the regular printer paper. At least, it was when I ordered them a few years ago. If anything, it’s fun to play around with the maps!
Now, once you have booked your trip there are a couple of things that Disney will send you that you don’t pay extra for. The first is a box, which is actually a very nice little box, with a booklet about your upcoming trip and a flash drive that has a little video on it. We received ours about a month or two before our trip. Once you have watched your video you can delete it and just use the flash drive to store whatever you want. It has a Mickey symbol on it that turns green when it is plugged in. We have two and we use them all the time. A little extra magic added to everyday life!
***Update: We had posted that Disney was not sending the flash drive anymore, but since then we have been told that a family who booked a trip to Disney has received a flash drive. So, it looks like Disney is continuing this very cool free souvenir! Good news there!***
A little bit after the box and flash drive are delivered to your house, the Magicbands will show up too. These are included with the price of your reservation and you keep them after your trip. These make fun souvenirs. My daughter still loves to wear hers and she’s excited to pick out her next band. The Magicbands are a nice reminder of your Disney trip and if you have multiple bands that are different colors, you can choose a color that fits your mood for the day!
When you check-in at your resort make sure to ask for a button if it is a first trip or if you are celebrating something. These buttons are free and they are fun to wear in the parks. The buttons will usually get responses from cast members and, depending on what button you are wearing, some guests. They have birthday buttons, just engaged buttons, 1st visit buttons, and general celebration buttons where you can write in what you are celebrating. Sometimes, the birthday guest will get surprised with birthday desserts (usually a cupcake) at some restaurants. A little extra pixie dust for those celebrating their birthdays. Cast members have been known to do things for people celebrating other kinds of occasions and that just adds to the magic. I’ve seen people use the celebration buttons to celebrate anniversaries, graduations, divorces, and being cancer free (I love seeing those buttons!). So if you have something to celebrate, make sure to grab one of those buttons. As I said, you can ask for them when you are checking in and I believe they also have them at the parks where you purchase tickets.
You can also find some free souvenirs in your room. The most popular souvenirs from the rooms are the bath products that Disney has. Some people even ask mousekeeping for more to bring home. The bottles and soaps that they have now are really nice. A couple of them have Mickey ears on the cap, so cute! The scent is ‘blushing orange’ and it has a nice sweet smell. The other H2O+ bottles have Tinker Bell on them and their scent is ‘grapefruit bergamot.’ Those have a sweet smell too, but neither are overpowering. The other bottle does not have a scent to it, it’s just regular shampoo and conditioner.
The soaps are also part of the H2O+ line. The ones with Mickey’s face have the ‘blushing orange’ scent. The soap in the blue wrapper is bath soap, the orange wrapper is facial soap, and the clear wrappers with Tinker Bell are a sea salt bath soap and a sea salt facial soap. Not bad for something that is included with the room!
Also in the room are pens and note pads with the Walt Disney World logo on them. People like to collect the pens from each trip. They are not that exciting, but they do say Disney on them. The same thing goes for the note pads. There is nothing special about them, except for the Disney World logo, so some people like to collect the pads too.
Something else that comes with the room is a nice folder with all sorts of information pamphlets. These will give you information about your resort and the parks. I like to keep these as souvenirs because it’s fun to go back and look to see how Disney has changed over the years. The information folders that they hand out at check-in are so nice! I couldn’t throw them out. Plus, it’s fun to look through them and relive your time at the resort. Different resorts have different color folders. Below are the folders from Kidani Village and Pop Century.
Kidani’s Information Folder
Pop Century’s Information Folder
Each of the parks, including the water parks, and Downtown Disney have free maps that you can take to find your way around each of the locations. You can keep these maps and make some fun things with them when you get home. I have seen pictures of jewelry, coasters, mugs, etc., where people have decoupaged the Disney maps onto them. I like the way the coasters look and I think I might have to try this project for a future post. Also, you don’t have to stick to the park and Downtown Disney maps. You will get a map of your resort when you check in, so you can use that too. If you like to try different resorts each time you go to Disney, you can make a nice collection of decoupaged items with all the different resort maps. Wine glasses might be a fun project for resort maps or if you have old ornaments that need some freshening up, this project would be perfect.
The free souvenirs do not stop when you leave the resort. After we had been home for a month or so we received a piece of mail from Disney. I thought it was just going to be an offer to try to get us to book again or something along those lines, but I liked what they actually sent much better! It was a drawing of Mickey signed by the artist (a copy, of course, but still very cool!). Along with the picture was a thank you note and a little information about the artist who drew Mickey. Such a fun piece of Disney mail to receive!
There are quite a few souvenirs that come with the price of your vacation, so you don’t have pay extra for them. It is always nice to feel like you are getting something for free! So, on your next Disney trip, keep your eyes open for all the souvenirs that are not an extra charge. They are a great reminder of your time in Disney!
Thanks for reading!
Ross explains the art of hotel freebies (I know it’s not Disney, but it’s my other obsession, ‘Friends’)
[whohit]Weekly Tip 10[/whohit]
Once you have decided what time of year you want to visit Disney your next decision is where to stay. This can be slightly intimidating, because Disney has over 25 different resorts to choose from. The resorts are separated into four different categories, as well as a campground. The four different categories are Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas. Disney has some descriptions and pictures on their website for each resort. You can also do a search on Youtube for people who have recorded a walking tour around the resorts and a recorded tours of rooms at the resorts. Here is a rundown of the first category to look at.
The resorts in this category all have really fun, over-sized, themes. From the grounds, to the rooms, to the lobby, these hotels keep the theme of the resort in front of you at all times. Some people don’t care for the in-your-face decor, but if you are traveling with kids, they will love it. Also, if you are doing Disney on a budget the values are a perfect choice, because they don’t cost as much as the other categories but you are still on Disney property. The five value resorts are: All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Art of Animation, and Pop Century
Value resorts usually have three pools, with one of the pools being the big main pool. The pools keep to the theme of the resort as well. For instance, Pop Century has the Computer Pool in the 80’s and 90’s section, the Bowling Pool in the 50’s section, and the Hippy Dippy Pool in the 60’s and 70’s section (the main pool). None of the pools have water slides, but the Hippy Dippy Pool does have fun flowers around it that will spray water into the pool. The main pool also has a pool bar with some seating where you can dry off and have a refreshing drink. For some, the water slide is a must and if that is the case for you it is important to decide how much time you will be spending at the pool. If you plan on being in the pool a lot and a water slide is a must, then you might be disappointed with the values. If you like fun themes throughout, then you shouldn’t be disappointed. The pools at the values are definitely themed in a very fun way.
In addition to the pool, there are other recreational activities available at the values. They offer a playground for the kids to use. There is a jogging track for those that don’t want to miss their morning run. For the enjoyment of both children and adults, there is an arcade in each of the value resorts. Also, they usually have afternoon pool parties with music and dancing and movies under the stars by the pool at night. You should receive a sheet when you check-in that will list all of the activities available.
There are no table service restaurants at the values. Each of them will have a pretty large food court that is open early until late in the evening. There are different food stations and each will offer a variety of food options. There is also a section that offers drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), salads, sandwiches, desserts, and pastries. It can get crowded and noisy in the food courts, depending on when you go. I would definitely stay away from the food court when the parks close down. Usually there is a dash to the food court from people who have left the parks at closing, so it can get a little maddening in there. The food courts carry the theme of each resort and it is really fun to look around while you eat. The resorts also offer pizza delivery to your room.
Each of the values will have a good size store to find lots of fun Disney merchandise. The stores will be located in the same building as the lobby and cafeteria. If you are staying at Pop Century you can get to the store from the lobby and also from the food court.
The rooms at the values are definitely smaller than the moderate and deluxe resorts, but if you are only using the room as somewhere to sleep it won’t bother you. Some of the values offer family suites, so you can have more space at a value, but it will cost you more. The standard studio rooms offer 2 double beds, a table with 2 chairs, a television, dresser, and a closet area. The vanity and sink are separate from the shower/tub combo and toilet.
You can make certain requests on your reservation if you would like to be in a certain area of the resort. The values tend to be pretty spread out, so if you want to be closer to the pool or closer to the lobby you can make a note of that on your reservation. Certain requests may require a bump in category. For instance, if you want to be close to the main pool, you should reserve a preferred room. This will give you a room that is closer to the main pool, but it will also cost a little more. The food courts are located in the same building as the lobby, so if you want to be close to the food I would request ‘close to the lobby.’
A side note about the rooms at the values, the room doors do not open to a hallway, they open to the outdoors. So, something fun that people do with their room windows is to decorate them with the souvenirs they have purchased on the trip. We did that and had a lot of fun participating.
Transportation services at the values are the buses. There is a queue for people to line up in and wait for the buses. I’m not sure how Art of Animation (AOA) is since is is new, but the two values I have stayed in did not have covering over the queues. So if it is hot or raining, you are exposed to the elements. Something to be aware of, especially if it is sunny and you burn easily (like me).
I have experienced Pop Century (three times) and All-Star Music (once). Between the two I much preferred Pop Century. I liked the theme of Pop Century better and I liked the staff better. Of course, the staff is probably different from the last time I stayed at All-Star Music, but I have always encountered great cast members at Pop Century. Another bonus for Pop is that you can walk over the bridge to AOA and check out the really cool themes of each section at that resort. We did that on our last stay at Pop and it was fun to see AOA. If you are on a budget or you like big themed hotels then the value category is for you!
Part 2: Moderate Resorts will be up tomorrow!
Thanks for reading!