Showing posts with label Deluxe Resorts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Deluxe Resorts. Show all posts

Friday, November 23, 2012

Featured Foto Friday - Gingerbread Splendor!

This magnificent Gingerbread House is found at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort.  It's an annual tradition at the Walt Disney World Resort to see beautiful gingerbread creations throughout numerous Deluxe level resorts.  This image was captured in December 2010.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday Spotlight - Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa


Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa® first opened August 29, 2011 in the Ko Olina resort area on the leeward coast of Oahu, Hawaii.  Inspired by the natural beauty, culture and traditions of Hawai’i, this beautiful resort was designed with families in mind.  Sharing a secluded lagoon with the JW Marriott resort, and another future-resort that is still to be developed, Aulani is situated on 21 acres of oceanfront property, with spectacular views.

The resort is comprised of both traditional hotel accommodations and Disney Vacation Club timeshare villas. There are 359 hotel rooms, including 16 suites, and 460 villas comprised of deluxe studios, one and two bedroom villas, and 21 three bedroom Grand Villas (18 of which directly overlook the ocean).

The resort towers surround the Waikalohe Valley, which comprises the various water and recreational amenities.  These amenities include:
  • Waikalohe Stream – an exhilarating yet refreshing waterway meandering throughout the Waikalohe Valley.
  • Menehune Bridge – an interactive water play area which features interactive water elements, 3 slides and a climbing structure
  • Two sparkling pools & four unique hot tubs
  • Two waterslides, Tubestone Curl – an inner tube slide for 1 or 2 guests at a time, and Volcanic Vertical – a single rider body slide
  • Rainbow Reef – a snorkeling experience at the largest inland snorkeling reef on the island (this is a fee-based activity)
  • Makai Preserve – a conservation lagoon where guests can interact with stingrays and other marine life (this is a fee-based  activity)
  • Pau Hana Room – video gaming, foosball, board games, storytelling, TV viewing area and arts & crafts (some but not all activities are fee-based)
  • Aunty’s Beach House – this fun-filled destination for the kids is a place of discovery, magic and exploration where kids can learn about the Hawaiian culture while they play.  Supervised playtime at Aunty’s Beach House allows mom and dad the opportunity to spend some adult time on the beach, at a romantic dinner or any other excursions of their choice.
  • Located directly across the street from the resort, is the Ko Olina Golf Club, and discounted greens fees are available for resort guests.

 The resort features several unique places to wine and dine.  These include: 
  • ’Ama ‘Ama, a table-service restaurant offers spectacular ocean-front views for breakfast, lunch & dinner.  Seafood is plentiful on the menu, along with traditional Hawaiian specialities.
  • Makahiki, offers an all-you-care-to enjoy breakfast and dinner buffet, and features a character breakfast, Aunty’s Character Breakfast at the Makahiki, currently offered on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays.  The food selection includes a generous mix of Hawaiian, Japanese and Chinese fare.
  • One Paddle, Two Paddle, is a counter-service location with a variety of delightful Hawaiian dishes, fresh made sandwiches and wraps.
  • Off the Hook is a colorful, pool and beachside lounge designed after a Hawaiian fisherman’s seaside shack, and features libations and appetizers.
  • The ‘Olelo Room is a pub-like gathering place where visitors can learn a variety of Hawaiian words while enjoying favorite cocktails.
  • The Lava Shack is located in the heart of the Waikalohe Valley, and features cold fried chicken, cured meats & cheeses and other grab & go snacks.


For the adventurist looking to augment their beach vacation with some really neat, self-guided Hawaiian “local color” -  Aulani is not far from many fun, exciting, and enjoyable destinations around Oahu. In the mood for a Dole Whip?  The Dole Plantation is just 30 minutes away.  Want to catch some waves or go surfing on some of the best beaches in the world, the North Shore, home of famed surfing competitions is just 45 minutes away.  Looking for the stereotypical Hawaiian tour? The famed beaches and experiences at Waikiki are just about an hour’s drive from the resort.  Hiking to the top of Diamond Head, or through a rainforest?  Both are just about an hour’s drive from the resort.  Of course the island is also home to numerous historic sites, significant in how the world changed so dramatically one December morning in 1941. The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor is only about 20 minutes from Aulani, and is a must-see for so many different reasons.  This very moving site includes the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Bowfin, the USS Missouri, the USS Oklahoma Memorial and the USS Utah Memorial – plus a handful of Exhibit Galleries, Museums, artifacts and a 23-minute film discussing the attacks on Pearl Harbor that December morning.

For those guests looking to enjoy different aspects of Hawaii but choose to do so on guided excursions,  you won’t be disappointed!  Just as cruise ships offer a plethora of land excursions on “port days” – Aulani provides similar opportunities for its’ guests as well.  The range of offerings can change from time to time, but currently there are about 14 different excursions. Each day there are 1 or 2 different guided tours and experiences for guests to select from. Costs range from about $50 per adult up to about $400 per adult. These excursions can be reserved in advance on Aulani’s website, or in person at the Holoholo Desk just to the left of the Lobby.  Excursion possibilities include learning to surf, riding horseback through lush valleys, hiking in the rainforest, setting sail on a catamaran or kayak along protected islets, cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs, island hopping to explore volcanoes and so much more. 

Were Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa® to be located at the Walt Disney World® Resort, it would be considered a Deluxe level.  Transportation to and from the resort is not provided.  Guests can arrange for their choice of rental car, shuttle, taxi or limo service.  Rental Cars are highly recommended for a variety of self-guided excursions, grocery shopping (for villas guests) and other local visits away from the resort.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Today in Disney Parks and Resorts History - Aulani Opens


August 29, 2011 – Oahu, Hawaii

At approximately 6:30 a.m., Hawai'i time, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa opens its' doors and the first guests enter. Disney's first resort in Hawaii, is located on the leeward, or west coast, of the island of Oahu, in the Ko Olina resort area.  It is about 10 minutes from Pearl Harbor, and about 20 miles west of downtown Honolulu.  The resort is comprised of a unique mix of "mouse-inspired" imagineering and Native Hawaiian culture on the approximate 21 acre ocean-front parcel it occupies.  It is a blend of traditional hotel rooms and Disney Vacation Club villas.  



Friday, August 17, 2012

Featured Foto Friday - 'Ama 'Ama; Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa

This is the view from 'Ama 'Ama, one of two table service restaurants at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Hawaii. It's a wonderful place to enjoy any meal, but here I took this shot while enjoying a delicious breakfast.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Spotlight - Disney's Wilderness Lodge


Disney's Wilderness Lodge®  first opened at Walt Disney World® Resort on May 28, 1994.  Themed to invoke the Pacific Northwest, and inspired by the great National Park lodges from the turn of the 20th century, the “Lodge”  is an architectural masterpiece honoring American craftsmanship and artistry, and celebrating the majesty of the unspoiled wilderness. It was designed by famed architect Peter Dominick (who also designed Walt Disney World® Resort’s other great lodge - Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge®; as well as Disneyland® Resort’s awe-inspiring Disney’s Grand Californian® Hotel & Spa); and pays homage to ancient Native American cultures and the American pioneering spirit through authentic décor and genuine artifacts on display throughout the lodge. 

Awed and impressed are the feelings you’ll have from your first steps inside the Lodge’s stunning 7-story lobby, with its 82 foot tall fireplace representing the various layers of rock strata of the Grand Canyon, to the hand-carved multi-story totem poles. 

Disney's Wilderness Lodge® features 727 guest rooms, offering wildlife, nature and Native American themes.  Honeymoon suites feature marble whirlpool tubs;  many rooms feature bunk-beds for families with small children.  Larger 1 and 2 bedroom suites are also available.
Outside be sure to look for the bubbling spring flowing from the lobby, and tumbling over a sparkling waterfall towards the swimming pool, and continuing on into Bay Lake.  Nearby you’ll find Fire Rock Geyser, designed with Yellowstone National Park’s “Old Faithful” in mind, sending plumes of water up to 120 feet in the air every hour. 

Disney's Wilderness Lodge® features 2 table service restaurants:  Whispering Canyon Café and Artist Point; and includes one quick-service restaurant: Roaring Fork; as well as 2 lounge/bar locations: Territory Lounge and Trout Pass. 

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge® is a deluxe level resort located in the Magic Kingdom area.  Convenient boat transportation will take guests directly to Magic Kingdom Park®, as well as bus transportation to all other parts of Walt Disney World® Resort.  


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday Savers - Bikes


It’s time once again to take a look at inexpensive options in or around Walt Disney World to augment your vacation experience.  Things that you might do on your own or with your traveling companions that are FREE or close to being free. Today we'll take a look at fun and enjoyment to be found throughout the various Resort Hotels at Walt Disney World - while not free, it can be had for a nominal charge.


Rent a bike and explore the trails around one of the many resorts. Every Walt Disney World Resort hotel has some kind of trail, but the trails around Wilderness Lodge and Ft. Wilderness are especially nice. Bikes can be rented for around $10 per hour at most of the Deluxe and DVC resorts, as well as at Fort Wilderness whether you are a guest at the individual resort or not.  It's a great way to pass some time on a non-theme park day.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saturday Savers - Resort Window Shopping


It’s time once again to take a look at inexpensive options in or around Walt Disney World to augment your vacation experience.  Things that you might do on your own or with your traveling companions that are FREE or close to being free. Today we'll take a look at some of the fun and enjoyment to be found throughout the various Resort Hotels at Walt Disney World.

Like the theme parks, Disney’s resort hotels are all highly themed and beautifully maintained.  Some of the resorts’ lobbies and public spaces are truly gorgeous.  Just as the price level differentiates the hotel offerings and amenities, it can separate the level of thematic elements and detail – BUT – that doesn’t mean that only the Deluxe or Moderate hotels are worth exploring! 

The Value Resorts (Disney’s All-Stars Movies, Music & Sports, Disney’s POP Century, and the newest value category resort Disney’s Art of Animation) all have their own unique stylings, and are well worth a visit.  The over-sized icons, graphics and elements that convey the overall theme of each resort are beautiful, and great for photo opportunities.  Some of my favorite design elements can be found at POP Century and All-Star Music! 

As you move up the price chain, the level of landscaping and overall building design increases.  All of the Moderate and Deluxe resorts, especially, have extraordinary theming and are well worth a visit.  In the Moderate realm, Disney’s Port Orleans and Disney’s Coronado Springs resorts, and in the Deluxe realm Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Disney’s Polynesian and Disney’s Grand Floridian resorts do an exceptional job of utilizing theme appropriate-landscaping to augment and convey and evoke the locale and time period represented.  Personally I feel that two of the Deluxe level resorts go well above and beyond exceptional in creating evocative environments, and fully immerse the guests into the environment being conveyed – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.  Both of these resorts are absolutely breathtaking. 

The pools the various resorts are delightful:  at Coronado Springs the pool looks like a Mayan ruin; Stormalong Bay at the Yacht & Beach Club includes a huge "shipwreck" containing a water slide, and is one of the largest sand bottomed pools in the United States; at the Wilderness Lodge follow the “spring” in the lobby and watch as it passes under a bridge, then cascades down a waterfall passing under another bridge, appearing to go into the pool and then down into the adjacent Bay Lake!; at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge-Kidani Village, there is an entire pool / water play complex known as Uwanja Camp where fanciful fountains, flowers and other devices spring to life dousing guests; at Disney’s Polynesian guests can slide down through a volcano!   There are so many terrific designs just in the pools alone, that you’ll want to explore each one.  (Note that pools are for use of the registered hotel guests
Each of the resorts offers an array of free or nominal-fee activities.  Check the lobby upon your arrival to see if anything appeals to you.  Some resorts even offer free tours, whether you are a guest of that resort or not, such as Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Grand Floridian and others (usually in the mornings, so get there early if you are interested).

If you are staying on property and don’t have your own transportation, simply use the FREE Disney transportation to get to your chosen destination.  You won’t be able to get to a resort directly, but the journey is part of the fun, right?  Take a bus (or boat, or monorail) from your resort to the nearest theme park, water park, or Downtown Disney, and then transfer to a bus going to the resort you’re looking for.  Or if you do have your own wheels to get around, simply drive to your resort of choice and you can get a FREE 3-hour parking permit from the gate attendant.  Now go out and enjoy looking around! 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Spotlight - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa


Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa® first opened at the Disneyland® Resort on February 8, 2001 along with Disney’s newest domestic theme park, Disney California Adventure Park.  The resort shares a boundary with the theme park, and can actually be considered to be “inside” the theme park It is the only hotel at the Disneyland® Resort with a wing featuring Disney Vacation Club® villas, opened in September 2009; as well as the only hotel at the resort designed and built by the Walt Disney Company. 

This AAA Four Diamond hotel was designed by famed architect Peter Dominick (the same architect who designed Disney’s Wilderness Lodge® and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge® at Walt Disney World®), and was designed in the Craftsman styling of the Arts and Crafts movement in California during the early 20th century.  The design incorporates wide sweeping roofs, projecting beams, exaggerated braces and an earth tone color palette.  The hotel’s sweeping six story lobby is an architectural masterpiece, which features a massive fireplace reminiscent of the oversized fireplaces of the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, located in Northern California.     

Like other grand hotels within the Disney resort family, guests are both awed and impressed upon first entry into the hotel.  A sweeping porte cachere staffed with courteous bellmen greets each arriving vehicle.  The entry door is a grand wooden frame surrounding hand-cut stained glass with images representing the state of California. 

The hotel features 750 traditional guest rooms, and is the only hotel at the Disneyland® Resort with a wing featuring 50 Disney Vacation Club® villas, added to the hotel in September 2009; as well as the only hotel at the resort designed and built by the Walt Disney Company.  Many of the rooms and villas have views looking directly into Disney California Adventure® Park, or overlooking the Downtown Disney District.  A highlight of the hotel is the private entrance in to Disney California Adventure® Park, available only to guests of the three resort hotels of the Disneyland® Resort.

The hotel features 2 table service restaurants:  Storyteller’s Café and Napa Rose; and includes one quick-service restaurant: White Water Snacks; as well as 2 lounge/bar locations:  Hearthstone Lounge near the lobby, and Napa Rose Lounge adjacent to the Napa Rose restaurant.  The Mandara Spa is a full service, 4,000 square foot fully equipped workout facility and spa with massage service and saunas.  Pinocchio’s Workshop is a staffed children’s activity center.  The hotel features 3 pools and 2 hot tubs, as well as a 20,000 square foot Convention Center.

For more information and to reserve your next vacation, contact me at 855.776.1733 or via my websites:  www.neverlandadventurestravel.com or www.neverlandadventurescruises.com.  Be sure to follow me on Twitter, like my page on Facebook, and circle me on Google+.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Free Dining is Back at Walt Disney World! Fall 2012 Dates Now Available


FREE DINING is back at Walt Disney World!

Valid for stays select nights 9/30/12 - 12/13/12.

Book a vacation package that includes a 6-night, 7-day stay at a Walt Disney World resort and a 7-day park ticket, and receive the Dining Plan for free! 

Book a Disney Value Resort and get a Quick Service Dining free!
Book a Disney Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villas Resort and get the Regular Dining free!


Sample Pricing: The following pricing is for select dates 10/19/12 - 11/1/12, 11/24/12 - 11/29/12, and 12/10/12 - 12/13/12 in a Standard Room. Sample pricing does not include tax. Rates will vary depending on the resort, room type, and dates of travel.

Value Resort (4 nights, 5 days for a family of 4): $1,922
Moderate Resort (4 nights, 5 days for a family of 4): $2,421

Free dining available select nights 9/30-10/4, 10/19-11/1, 11/9-11/15, 11/23-11/29, and 12/10-12/13/12.All discounts are subject to availability, certain restrictions apply. Blackout dates may apply. Discount is not valid at campsites, 3-bedroom villas, or the Little Mermaid Standard View rooms at Disney's Art of Animation Resort. Dining plans can be upgraded at an additional cost. 

The number of rooms for this offer is limited, and it must be booked by 9/29/12. Don't delay, get yours booked today! Call 317.776.1733.  Or simply visit my website to enter your free vacation quote request now.  Don't delay!  Get your fall trip booked now! 

  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Spotlight - Disney's Contemporary Resort


Disney's Contemporary Resort® opened at Walt Disney World® Resort on October 1, 1971 – it is one of the two original resort hotels on the property.  It’s A-frame stylings make it one of the most recognizable structures in all of Walt Disney World® Resort, and was the first hotel ever to have a sleek, futuristic monorail gliding through its’ central atrium.

The resort features a modernistic design, fitting in very well with nearby Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom® Park.  The central core of the design is a great, atrium – known as the Grand Canyon Concourse - with glass on two ends, and guest rooms on the other sides gently moving inward, closer to the top.

Disney's Contemporary Resort® features 655 guest rooms, and features some of the largest standard guest rooms on the property.  All rooms can accommodate up to 5 guests plus a child under 3 in a crib, featuring 2 queen-size beds plus a day bed, or a king-size bed plus a day bed – and they all have a large bathroom.

The resort includes 1 feature pool  with waterslide and 1 quiet pool;  a children’s pool and water play area; poolside cabana rentals; white sand beach for sunbathing;  marina for watercraft rentals; fitness center;  an arcade and other assorted recreational activities including Disney movies in the evenings.

The resort features 3 table service restaurants:  California Grill, The Wave and Chef Mickey’s – and Chef Mickey’s features both a breakfast and dinner Character Dining experience daily. It also features 1 quick-service restaurant: Contempo Cafe; as well as 3 lounge/bar locations: Contempo Grounds, Outer Rim and The Sand Bar

Disney’s Contemporary Resort® is a deluxe level resort located between the shores of the man-made Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake, across the water from Magic Kingdom® Park, just a short monorail or boat ride away. The Transportation & Ticket Center is located just next door to the resort, where guests can easily transfer to the Epcot® monorail line as well.  
Convenient bus transportation will take guests to all other parts of Walt Disney World® Resort.  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Spotlight - Disney's Boardwalk Inn


Disney's Boardwalk Inn® first opened at Walt Disney World® Resort on July 1, 1996, opening the same days as its’ sister resort, Disney’s Boardwalk Villas® – which together make up the more commonly called Disney’s Boardwalk Resort®.  The resort is themed after the famed boardwalks of Atlantic City and Ocean City in New Jersey of the 1920’s – 1940’s.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn® features 372 guest rooms.  All rooms can accommodate up to 5 guests plus 1 child under 3 in a crib; featuring either 2 queen-size beds plus a day bed, or two double-size beds plus a day bed, or a king-size bed plus a day bed.  A limited number of rooms offer a semi-private balcony.

The resort includes 1 feature pool: Luna Park Pool, with its’ roller coaster inspired waterslide, the “Keister Coaster”; plus 2 quiet pools;  a children’s pool and water play area; fishing; tennis; fitness center;  an arcade and other assorted recreational activities including Disney movies in the evenings.

The resort features 4 table service restaurants:  Flying Fish Café, Big River Grille & Brewing Works, Kouzzina by Cat Cora® and ESPN Club. It also features 1 quick-service restaurant: Boardwalk Bakery; as well as Seasshore Sweets, which serves ice cream and other sweets; plus there are poolside /bars and room service.

Disney’s Boardwalk Inn® is a deluxe level resort located on the shores of Crescent Lake near the International Gateway entrance to Epcot®, and just a short walk or boat ride away from Disney’s Hollywood Studios®. Convenient bus transportation will take guests to all other parts of Walt Disney World® Resort. 



Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Spotlight - Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa


Disney's Grand Floridian Resort® & Spa first opened at Walt Disney World® Resort on June 28, 1988 and provides the ultimate in luxurious accommodations at Walt Disney World® Resort, as the only AAA-Four Diamond resort hotel on-site.

The resort is themed to invoke the golden era of Florida’s coastal destinations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, taking design inspiration from notable resort destinations such as Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire , Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, California, and the Belleview-Biltmore Hotel in Belleview, Florida.

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort® & Spa features 867 guest rooms.  All rooms can accommodate up to 5 guests plus 1 child under 3 in a crib; featuring either 2 queen-size beds plus a day bed or a king-size bed plus a day bed.

The resort includes 1 feature pool with waterslide and 1 quiet pool;  a children’s pool; white sand beach for sunbathing;  marina for watercraft rentals; fishing; sand volleyball; fitness center;  an arcade and other assorted recreational activities including Disney movies in the evenings. A full service spa offering massages, therapies and other treatments is on-site, available on a reservation and fee basis.

The resort features 5 table service restaurants:  Victoria & Albert’s, Citricos, Narcoossee’s, Grand Floridian Café and 1900 Park Fare – and 1900 Park Fare features a breakfast Character Dining experience daily, and a separately themed dinner Character Dining experience featuring different Disney characters.  It also features 1 quick-service restaurant: Gasparilla Grill & Games; as well as a lounge/bar location: Citrico's Lounge and Mizner's Lounge

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort® & Spa is deluxe level resort located on the shores of the man-made Seven Seas Lagoon, across the water from Magic Kingdom® Park, just a short monorail or boat ride away. Additionally, nearby is the Transportation & Ticket Center, where guests can easily transfer to the Epcot® Monorail line. Convenient bus transportation will take guests to all other parts of Walt Disney World® Resort. 



Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Spotlight - Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge


Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge® first opened at Walt Disney World® Resort on April 16, 2001, designed by noted architect Peter Dominck, the same architect who designed Disney’s Wilderness Lodge® and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel® & Spa at the Disneyland® Resort.  (In 2009 an expansion by Disney Vacation Club® increased the size of the resort with the addition of Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas®.  At that time the original resort became known as Jambo House with the addition being named Kidani Village).
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge  ®Disney   

The resort is designed as an African-style lodge, and includes its’ own wildlife preserve where giraffes, Ankole cattle, gazelles, and other wildlife freely roam within guests view.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge® features 972 guest rooms.  All rooms can accommodate up to 4 guests plus 1 child under 3 in a crib; featuring either 2 queen-size beds, or 1 queen-size bed plus a set of bunk beds, or a king-size bed plus a day bed.

The resort includes 1 feature pool:  Uzima Springs with waterslide;  plus access to an additional feature pool at Kidani Village:  Uwanja Camp with waterslide, and the water play area: Samawati Springs; fitness center;  an arcade and other assorted recreational activities including Disney movies after dark.  Simba’s Cubhouse provides supervised activities for children during the evenings on a fee basis.
The resort features 3 table service restaurants:  Jiko, Boma: Flavors of Africa and Sanaa.  It also features 1 quick-service restaurant: The Mara; as well as two lounge/bar locations: Cape Town Lounge and Victoria Falls Lounge.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge® is a deluxe level resort located just to the west of Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Park.  Convenient bus transportation will take guests to all other parts of Walt Disney World® Resort.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Spotlight - Disney's Beach Club Resort


Disney's Beach Club Resort® first opened at Walt Disney World® Resort on November 19, 1990 and was designed by noted architect A.M. Stern.  It opened just 14 days after its’ sister resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort®.  Amenities are shared with its’ sister resort, including the over 73,000 Convention Center facilities. 
The resort is themed to invoke Newport Beach Cottages of the early 20th century, along the shores of Newport, Rhode Island.

Disney's Beach Club Resort® features 566 guest rooms.  All rooms can accommodate up to 5 guests plus 1 child under 3 in a crib; featuring either 2 queen-size beds plus a day bed, or two double-size beds plus a day bed, or a king-size bed plus a day bed.

The resort includes 1 feature pool: Stormalong Bay which is one of the largest sand-bottom pools in the United States and 1 quiet pool;  a children’s pool and water play area; white sand beach for sunbathing;  marina for watercraft rentals; fishing; sand volleyball; fitness center;  an arcade and other assorted recreational activities including Disney movies in the evenings. The Sandcastle Club provides supervised activities for children during the evenings on a fee basis.
The resort features 2 table service restaurants:  Cape May Café and Beaches & Cream – and Cape May Café features a breakfast Character Dining experience daily. It also features 1 quick-service restaurant: Beach Club Marketplace; as well as a lounge/bar location: Hurricane Hannah’s

Disney’s Beach Club Resort® is a deluxe level resort located on the shores of Crescent Lake near the International Gateway entrance to Epcot®, and just a short walk or boat ride away from Disney’s Hollywood Studios®. Convenient bus transportation will take guests to all other parts of Walt Disney World® Resort.   

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Spotlight - Disney's Yacht Club Resort®


Disney's Yacht Club Resort® first opened at Walt Disney World® Resort on November 5, 1990 and was designed by noted architect A.M. Stern.  It opened just 14 days prior to its’ sister resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort®.   It was designed to cater more to business clientele rather than families, providing more upscale lodgings and a Convention Center with over 73,000 square feet of space, including 2 large ballrooms and 21 breakout rooms.  Amenities are shared with its’ sister resort.

The resort is themed to invoke a New England nautical feel, with the concept that guests might even feel as if they are onboard a ship, rather than on land.

Disney's Yacht Club Resort® features 630 guest rooms.  All rooms can accommodate up to 5 guests plus 1 child under 3 in a crib; featuring either 2 queen-size beds plus a day bed, or two double-size beds plus a day bed, or a king-size bed plus a day bed.

The resort includes 1 feature pool: Stormalong Bay which is one of the largest sand-bottom pools in the United States and 1 quiet pool;  a children’s pool and water play area; white sand beach for sunbathing;  marina for watercraft rentals; fishing; tennis; fitness center;  an arcade and other assorted recreational activities including Disney movies in the evenings. The Sandcastle Club provides supervised activities for children during the evenings on a fee basis.

The resort features 2 table service restaurants:  Yachtsman Steakhouse, Captain’s Grille. It also features 1 quick-service restaurant: Beach Club Marketplace; as well as a lounge/bar location: Hurricane Hannah’s

Disney’s Yacht Club Resort® is a deluxe level resort located on the shores of Crescent Lake near the International Gateway entrance to Epcot®, and just a short walk or boat ride away from Disney’s Hollywood Studios®. Convenient bus transportation will take guests to all other parts of Walt Disney World® Resort.  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday Spotlight - Disney's Polynesian Resort


Disney's Polynesian Resort® opened at Walt Disney World® Resort on October 1, 1971 – it is one of the two original resort hotels on the property.  When it first opened the resort featured 492 guest rooms. Since that opening more than 40 years ago, the resort has been expanded twice – once in 1978, and then again in 1985.

The resort is themed to invoke the tropical feel of the South Seas, guests at this resort immerse themselves in languid tranquility amidst the splendors of Polynesia, complete with koi ponds, lagoons, and a white sand beach for sunbathing.  The Great Ceremonial House is the primary structure around which all else is situated, designed to represent a Tahitian Royal Assembly lodge, and is the home to all guest services, shops and dining. Around it in separate lodges or “longhouses” are all of the guest rooms.

Disney's Polynesian Resort® features 847 guest rooms, and features some of the largest standard guest rooms on the property.  All rooms can accommodate up to 5 guests plus a child under 3 in a crib, featuring 2 queen-size beds plus a day bed, or a king-size bed plus a day bed.

The resort includes 1 feature pool: Nanea Volcano Pool with a volcano-themed water slide and 1 quiet pool;  a children’s water play area; poolside cabana rentals; white sand beach for sunbathing;  marina for watercraft rentals; fitness center;  an arcade and other assorted recreational activities including Disney movies in the evenings. The Neverland Club provides supervised activities for children during the evenings on a fee basis.

The resort features 3 table service restaurants:  Kona Café, ‘Ohana and Kona Island – and ‘Ohana features a breakfast Character Dining experience daily. It also features 1 quick-service restaurant: Capt. Cook’s; as well as 2 lounge/bar locations: Tambu Lounge and Barefoot Pool Bar.  Additionally one of the very popular Dinner Shows at Walt Disney World® Resort can found at the resort – Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show is presented most nights at the Luau Cove, on the western edge of the resort, and features enchanting music, costumes and authentic dances along with the all-you-care-to-enjoy family -style feast. 



Disney’s Polynesian Resort® is a deluxe level resort located on the shores of the man-made Seven Seas Lagoon, across the water from Magic Kingdom® Park, just a short monorail or boat ride away. The Transportation & Ticket Center is located just next door to the resort, where guests can easily transfer to the Epcot® Monorail line as well.  Convenient bus transportation will take guests to all other parts of Walt Disney World® Resort.  

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Aulani - More Images

Here are a few more images from Aulani.  This stand-alone Disney resort is filled with beautiful vistas.  The resort itself has some positives and negatives, but overall is a very nice resort that can provide memorable vacations for all types of families. 

These fun lamps are available for purchase in Kalepa's Store down in the Lobby.  They're "only" $200 - and shipping is available.  I wish I had $200 to spare for one, because it sure would look nice in my home office.  Hopefully the next time I come to Aulani they'll still be selling them.


This is the view from 'Ama 'Ama, one of three restaurants on property - this one specifically is the table service restaurant that is not a buffet. 



Aulani features two waterslides in Waikalohe Valley.  My favorite is Tubestone Curl - I think I rode it seven times today. 



The DVC side of Aulani, as seen from within the Waikalohe Stream.



Minnie is one of several characters to meet & greet their adoring fans at Aulani.  Today I saw Mickey, Donald & Goofy, in addition to Minnie. 


The Lobby area, as seen from the Waikalohe Stream.



Inside the cave along Waikalohe Stream. 


The Porte Cachere, very similar to those found at Walt Disney World resorts.  To the far left, where Magical Express buses pick up & drop off guests at Walt Disney World - here at Aulani buses & shuttles come and pick up & drop off guests from the various off-site excursions.  I enjoyed a wonderful excursion to the Kualoa Ranch yesterday, for a day filled with water sports & horseback riding through a beautiful ranch & valley - which is home to many, many movie & television shoots as the ranch is one of the busiest movie production sites in the state of Hawaii.


The view from the upper level of the "waterfall" hot tub. 



The Menehune Bridge is a fun-filled water play area good for kids and adults alike. 


Just after sunset, while standing on the promontory by the edge of the lagoon.  


Just before dinner at Makahiki, located below the Lobby, I snapped this shot of the Lobby building.  Makahiki is a buffet restaurant, serving a delectable selection of Hawaiian, Chinese and Japanese dishes.   






Friday, January 27, 2012

Aulani – How “Disney” Is It?

Much has been said and written online over the years about Disney’s “off-site” resorts in Vero Beach and Hilton Head Island, and how they aren’t “Disney enough”; especially considering the fact that neither are close to any Disney theme park – at least not close when you compare them to the resorts at Walt Disney World or DisneylandDisney’s Vero Beach Resort is two hours +/- from Walt Disney World, and of course Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort is two states away from Walt Disney World.  Though both resorts do have rooms for rent to anyone who’d like to pay to stay, both were built as Disney Vacation Club (DVC) properties, with the majority of the resorts held for use by DVC members. Given the length of time they took to “sell out” to DVC members, many in the online Disney community (especially on a certain DVC related board that I read and frequent often), consider both Vero Beach and Hilton Head to be virtual failures.  It’s no wonder it took Disney nearly 12 years to first announce another off-site resort.

When Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa was first announced, the blogosphere began lighting up with questions about the viability of such a resort – especially being in Hawaii, a mere ocean away from any Disney theme park.  Would the fact that it would be a combined traditional hotel / DVC resort give it better chances than the original two off-site resorts? What kinds of things would need to be done in order to provide guests with an authentic “Disney” experience, given the nearest Disney theme park is roughly 4,000 miles away – across an ocean, not just mere states this time. 

Among the many questions that I would often read online – questions such as:

  • “Oahu is not our favorite island in Hawaii… is there enough to do to support a week’s stay at Aulani?”
  • “How can Disney NOT repeat past mistakes made at Vero Beach & Hilton Head?”
  • “How ‘Disney’ will it really be?”
  • “Ko Olina is so far from Waikiki – will people really want to stay so far away?”


As the grand opening got closer last summer, the PR machine of Disney got into overdrive in order to make sure people would be aware of answers to each of these questions, or at least give enough of a teaser-type response that would encourage further research for the potential guest to figure it out for themselves, ensuring that they would indeed want to make a trek to the leeward side of the island of Oahu – and stay for a while.

In preparation for my own stay at Aulani this week, I reviewed a lot of information both online, and in the various travel resources that are available to me directly from Disney.  I was both excited and curious to see the “Disney touches” for myself.   And after having been here for a couple of days already, I will happily report that the resort is “Disney” enough.  It is not overbearing to the point of basically hitting you over the head with its’ “Disney-ness”, but it is filled with charming details like you will find at any other Disney resort at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  Over the next few days / week, I plan to take each of the questions listed above and provide some straight forward, honest replies.  I will of course sprinkle opinions in here as well, but hopefully the information given will provide you the reader, the opportunity to make a better informed decision as to not IF you would like to visit Aulani – but WHEN. 

Just what kind of details, you ask, I’m sure… well, here are but a few that I both a) had previous knowledge to, and b) discovered for myself as a guest. These are in no particular order, and are both a and b responses intermingled together:

  • Character Dining – yes, there is a character Breakfast at Makahiki on the first floor of the resort.  It is currently offered Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday mornings.  Whether or not it is expanded to additional mornings remains to be seen, but so far, this has been a popular offering at Aulani.
  • Character Meet & Greets – they are available here.  I’ve personally seen Mickey, Minnie, & Goofy, and have been told that Chip & Dale, and even Lilo & Stitch are here.  Others may make appearances from time to time as well, according to various Cast Members with whom I spoke during my stay.
  • Disney’s PhotoPass – yep, it’s available here for those guests wishing to capture their favorite memories, and of course they are at the ready during those character interactions.
  • Hidden Mickeys – like any other resort, these abound throughout Aulani, though many of them have a bit of a stylized, Hawaiian flare to them.  There are many of the traditional 3 circle heads to be found, but many others as well that say Mickey in a more subdued manner.
  • Mickey Premium Bars – yep, you can get your Premium Bar fix while here.  These delicious treats are available at Kalepa’s Store on the third floor (Lobby level). My personal favorite - Itzakadoozie - is available at Aulani too!  Yummy! 
  • Refillable Resort Mugs – yep, they have those here as well, with three different refill stations.
  • Pool-side fun – for those of you who love to spend time at the pools at Walt Disney World, and are very accustomed to the games, dance contests and the like that the lifeguards put on – those are here too!
  • Music – like so many Disney attractions, movies, theme parks and yes, resorts – Aulani is filled with distinctive music to help set the tone for the entire experience.  In the lobby, hallways, restaurants, and even outside in the Waikolohe Valley water play complex – music plays an integral part of the story unfolding before the guest throughout the resort.  Whether it is simply background enhancements, or live performances on various stages throughout the resort, music comes alive throughout the day and night at Aulani, helping to fully immerse the guests into the environment of the resort.
  • Night-time Movies – these aren’t shown poolside here at Aulani – but they do have them, at least 3 times per week.
  • Night-time Storytelling & Campfires – just like you might find at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and other resorts – they have those here as well.
  • Theming – Disney is very well known for its immersive environments and thematic elements in both theme parks and resorts.  Each successive resort designed and built in the past couple of decades have really underscored this reality, as the imagineers continue to surround guests with a near total immersive quality.  Personally I believe that Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland accomplish this feat in remarkable ways.  Aulani takes the lessons learned from those resorts and goes even further.  The imagineers delivered a resort hotel that is rich in thematic elements that not only play tribute to the Hawaiian culture, but rather completely embrace it.  Aulani is not just another sterile, white, box-like hotel lining the beaches of Waikiki – but rather plays tribute to so many aspects of native Hawaiian culture. 
  • Hidden Details – one of the really fun details that I discovered while here, are some of the many hidden details.  I’d heard a lot about all of the hidden Menehune scattered around the resort, which play to the Hawaiian folklore, but I didn’t know that just as there are carved animals all over the “Tree of Life” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park – there are hidden carved animals all throughout the Waikolohe Stream (the lazy river).   Creatures great and small common to the Hawaiian Islands and Pacific Ocean can be found in the rockwork all around the stream.  You’ll definitely want to search them out while enjoying the quiet, relaxing, fun of this lazy river, which in my mind, is nearly as fun and enjoyable as the lazy rivers at both Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach water parks.
  • Excellent Children’s Programming – available through Aunty’s Beach House, there is just a plethora of activities for the little ones to the bigger ones, and not just via the paid childcare program either.  From scavenger hunts, to animal husbandry activities to parties with Chip & Dale – Disney has once again placed great emphasis on making sure the younger set has exciting, fun-filled things to do while mom & dad enjoy some couple time – or things to do with mom & dad as a family. 
  • Activities for Tweens & Teens – Disney also provides an abundance of activities, events, and fun for the older kids as well. 
  • Excurisions – since there are no theme parks to hop on a bus and visit – Disney has teamed up with Adventures by Disney to create some very enjoyable, unique and fun-filled day excursions (just as if you were on a cruise vacation stopping in port for the day) to other parts of Oahu, or even to other islands within Hawaii.  Each week there are day-specific excursions, such as horseback riding at Kualoa Ranch, or the Manoa Valley Rainforest Hike, or the Honolulu Academy of Arts/Bishop Museum experience.  These are but a few of the numerous offerings available.   Or you could simply create your own excursions – to places like Diamond Head, or the Dole Plantation (and get a Dole Whip!), the North Shore, Pearl Harbor, Waikiki, and so many more – the opportunities abound.

So, in a nutshell, is Aulani “Disney” enough?  My response to that question is a resounding YES.  There are plenty of Disney touches throughout the resort, giving each guest that Disney “fix”.  For a beach vacation that gives guests both the opportunity to simply relax and enjoy the beach – while still providing ample opportunities to get out, explore and play - I would recommend Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in a heartbeat.  It's Disney "enough" for me!