Getting around Walt Disney World

If you stay onsite at Walt Disney World there are many different transportation options for getting to the parks: bus, boat, train and monorail.

At the D23 Expo in July two new modes of transport were announced; Disney Skyliner and Minnie Vans.

The Disney Skyliner is a gondola transportation system high in the sky.  It will connect EPCOT to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, and the new DVC Riviera resort.

I love the look of this transport, however, I am now sure I would like to be on it in the Florida thunder storms which are prevalent in the summer!!

The Minnie vans are Disney’s version of Uber.  You can travel anywhere in the ‘world’ in your Minnie van with you own knowledgeable driver.  When it first launched it had a limited service with only guests of Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts being able to use the service.  Disney has partnered with Lyft and you can book the Minnie van through the Lyft app.  Lyft is not yet available in the UK so I have never used it, I will download the app and maybe I will get a Minnie Van!

Has anyone used the Minnie Vans, what did you think?

Emma x

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A1villa – Lakeside…My review

On our last trip to Florida we stayed in a villa, this is a first for us as we have only ever stayed in hotels & condos. My previous experience when looking for villas were that they always tended to be quite a distance from Disney and that is my main reason for going, so I did not want to be having to travel 30+ mins to get to the parks.

Last year I was googling villas and I happened across a1villa.com. There are 2 villas that are privately owned by a family in the UK and the pictures looked fab…even better they were located very close to Disney. Their official location is a community known as Indian Wells in Kissimmee, however I would say that they are pretty much in Lake Buena Vista only 4 miles from the Disney World entrance on the Epcot Center Drive (SR536).

We found Indian Wells to be very quiet and pleasant community, this is definitely an area I would like to live in. They do have community amenities, however we did not use these so I am unable to comment on these.

So the villa…IMG_3021-1

A one storey building with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living/dining area, kitchen, large utility room, double garage and pool deck, it also has a large grassed area leading down to a lake.

Image Source: A1villa.com

As you enter, the kitchen is on your left, to your right is the corridor which leads to the utility room and garage. Straight ahead leads to the dining room and living room, which has patio doors out to the pool deck. Off to the right is the corridor which leads to the bedrooms and bathrooms.

The kitchen is well stocked with everything you need to cook any meals which you decide to have in the villa. There is plenty cutlery and crockery including plastic ones for use around the pool. There are lots of tupperware tubs for storing opened food. The fridge has an ice maker which can be cubed or crushed. If you like tea there is even a tea pot…luckily I had taken some PG Tips 🙂 If you fancy take out there are menus on the fridge/notice board, we had Pizza from Papa Johns a couple of times…ordered online it was a breeze.

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There are 3 good sized bedrooms, all with walk-in closets, ceiling fan and TV’s. The master bedroom has an en-suite with a large shower. The main bathroom has a bath and over the bath shower.

Master bedroom
Master Bedroom
Second Double Bedroom
Second Double Bedroom
Third Twin bedroom
Third Twin bedroom

The Living area has a comfy 3- and 2- seater sofas, large flat screen TV, Cable Box, DVD Player and CD Player. There are DVDs, Books and board games available.

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There are plenty of plug sockets around the villa, there is a cupboard fully stocked with towels, including beach towels. A large utility room has top loading washing machine and dryer, iron and ironing board and airer – I loved that I could just pop in some washing after a hot day walking around the parks, it also meant that I didn’t need so many clothes!!

There is an awesome pool and deck, the pool is 40ft and 17ft spa sits alongside it and the deck has the sun right through to early evening. There are inflatable pool toys in the garage along with plenty of BBQ equipment if you desire.

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The Surrounding Area

The traffic can be busy on SR535, however there are a couple of ways you can go depending on which park you are going to, so be sure to do some research before you go. There is a Walmart approx. 2 mins drive away, or you could head down to the intersection of SR535/US192 where there is a Publix , plus the US192 has an abundance of shops and restaurants. Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores are a few minutes drive on SR535 and just a bit further you will find the Orlando Premium Outlets. If you fancy venturing onto I-Drive the start of this is a short drive away

All in all this is a fabulous villa in a great location, an ideal base for any Disney vacation. It really is a home away from home.

I would highly recommend the villa and will definitely consider staying here on future vacations.

Emma x

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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My favourite park…until our previous two trips 😕

Whenever on vacation at Disney, this used to be my go to park, I would go here whenever I got the chance. However, on my last two trips I just haven’t been feeling the love for DHS.

There have been many rumours about changes to DHS for a while now but they seem to be becoming a reality, have a look at this article.

So many attractions are closing and just this past week another one has been announced – The Magic of Disney Animation. I love this building as it houses several character meet and greets as well as the Animation Academy. I love going and learning how to draw the characters so I will be sad to see this attraction close. I also used to love the Backlot tour it was great being able to go backstage and see the props and ‘working’ studios.

The rumours this week further suggest a Star Wars Land and maybe Pixar Land. I look forward to these attractions coming to life however, I am intrigued to see how they manage this expansion as DHS is already a small overcrowded park.

What are your thoughts on the rumours and goings-on at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?

Emma x

My Top 10 Disney Vacation Tips…

So, I thought I would share some tips for my number one vacation spot…

cinderellas castle

1. Virgins Downtown Disney Check in

For a fee (or free if you have booked your holiday through Virgin Holidays) you can check in at downtown Disney on the morning of your departure – giving you more time to enjoy your final hours in the most magical place on earth. You will receive your boarding passes and your luggage is taken to the airport for you. It also means you do not have to be at the airport quite as early as if you have to check in, but please be aware there can be big queues at security.

2. Luggage..

Buy a Luggage Scale, they are relatively cheap, small and light so won’t take up too much space but it means you can check your weight before checking in…potentially saving you quite a few pounds on excess luggage. If you know you are going to buy lots of goodies (like me!) pre book extra baggage as it is cheaper than at check in. We usually buy an extra suitcase from Walmart, so just pay extra coming home not both ways!

3. Take a trip to Walmart/Target/Publix

Stock up on breakfast goodies…buy a cheap toaster for bagels! This will save you so much money and time, especially if you want to get to the parks for opening.

Most Hotel rooms have a fridge so you can buy Water, OJ, Milk, Cream Cheese…

Walmart is also good for cheap clothes…you can return items with a receipt at Asda when back in the UK (although this is something I have never tried).

4. Hire a car

taxi

Disney World is humongous…you can’t really walk from place to place, so by hiring a car it means you can pop out of Disney much more easily to grab a non Disney Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner, there are so many fantastic, great value restaurants (I think this deserves a post to itself!!)

There are also several Malls and Outlet Shops which deserve a look in if you have the time.

Mall at Millenia
Florida Mall
Orlando Premium Outlets (2 locations):Vineland Road and International Drive. Vineland Road is closest to Disney.

5. Don’t try to fit everything in…plan plan plan and plan some more

So you have booked your vacation, now the excitement begins…where to go, what to do??? “Lets go to Disney World and Universal and  Busch Gardens and Seaworld and Discovery Cove and Legoland and Gatorland and Kennedy Space Center…oh dear, I don’t think we’ve got enough time!” There is so much to see and do…the list is endless, I bet you feel exhausted just thinking about it!!

Try to work in some pool/quiet time, even if it is a morning or afternoon every few days. Some days you will want to stay at the parks late for the fireworks, this is a good day to spend the morning by the pool. The waterparks are also a good ‘rest’ day, you just have to decide which one to pick; Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Aquatica.

6. Buy your park tickets before you go

Disney have a special Ultimate ticket which is only available in the UK so buy before you go…if you are planning on visiting Disney the most on your vacation it is definitely worth the cost. It gives you 14 (or 21) days in all 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, Disney Quest at Downtown Disney, ESPN Wide World of Sports and one round of Mini Golf a day.Virgin Holidays have recently launched ticket bundles which seem to be excellent value for money and include a range of parks in Orlando.

There are many discounted ticket websites, some offer real tickets, others you will receive a voucher which can be exchanged at guest services at any of the parks.

7. Use Virgin Holidays

If you don’t want to book all the bits of your holiday separately I would highly recommend Virgin Holidays, you get extra perks and I have always have great service using them in the past. If you do like to book things separate, again check Virgin Holidays for hotels, some of the hotels receive extra perks, such as free parking.

8. Disney’s Boardwalk Area

Boardwalk

This is our favourite non park location. It is a perfect hotel location (although very pricey). There are 5 resorts in total, 3 Disney (Yacht, Beach & Boardwalk) and 2 Non Disney (Swan & Dolphin). There are a few restaurants and ESPN Club which has hundreds of TV’s showing all different kinds of sports. These are the only resorts which are in walking distance to TWO Disney parks, Hollywood Studios (my favourite park!!) and EPCOT. There is also a Water taxi if you feel the need to rest your weary legs!!

9. Raglan Road Bar

It is a great place to have a bite to eat, you can usually find a spot at the bar, they have live bands and Irish dancers on too. Kevin’s Ham is a firm favourite with my other half!

10. Make Advanced Dining Reservations

If there are Disney restaurants you really want to eat at I would highly advise that you make reservations in advance. Disney’s Advance Reservations can now be done online. Most restaurants now require a credit card guarantee when making the reservation. You can make a reservation 180 days in advance of when you want o dine, if you are a Disney resort guest it is 180 + 10 days. Some Advanced Reservation tips from WDWInfo.com.

Finally…

Two of my favourite books, even as a ‘Pro’ I buy the updated editions regularly.

Brits Guide to Orlando
The Unofficial Guide to DisneyWorld

Great Websites I visit on a regular basis

Disney Parks Blog
DisBoards
WDWInfo
Offical Disney Website

Happy Planning

Emma & Winnie the Pooh x

wiinie