Tag Archives: Walt Disney World

Disney World: The Road Less Traveled

By Rohan:

I just got back from the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando with my high school as part of our Senior Class Trip. While checking out our favorite rides and taking in some magical shows, the little things of Disney World can sometimes be the most memorable parts of the vacation. While any ordinary guidebook would recommend you meet Mickey Mouse, enjoy a wild safari at Animal Kingdom, or scream your lungs out on Tower of Terror, we recommend you also check out stores, restaurants, and attractions that are glossed over in the parks.
1. The Peoplemover (Magic Kingdom – Tomorrowland) 
 
The Peoplemover looks like a smaller version of the Walt Disney World monorail. From a first glance, it appears to just circle around Tomorrowland. But like all Disney attractions, this humble little ride has a story to tell. It discusses Walt Disney’s visions of the park’s future after the opening of the Magic Kingdom in 1971. Although Disney did not live to see his “Florida Project” open to the public, many artifacts are presented on the Tomorrowland Peoplemover that show how accurately the end result matched his original vision. One of the highlights of the ride is seeing Walt Disney’s model for a utopian city, an experimental prototype community of tomorrow, that later evolved into the Epcot Theme Park.
The Peoplemover transporting guests over Tomorrowland Speedway
The Peoplemover transporting guests over Tomorrowland Speedway
2. Mitsukoshi (Epcot – Japan Pavilion) 
 
If you’re a fan of Japanese culture, whether it be manga, anime, video games, or comic books, or if you’re just taking a peaceful stroll through Epcot’s World Showcase, Mitsukoshi should not be missed. This Japanese store sells everything from authentic clocks and home goods to the latest in electronic entertainment. The kids will have a blast checking out their enormous Nintendo section, which contains merchandise ranging from Super Mario to Pokemon. Looking for a romantic gift for that special someone? For fifty dollars, you can search for pearls in oysters and create a beautiful necklace.
Mitsukoshi at Epcot's Japan Pavilion (source: http://i1.disneyfoodblog.com/)
Mitsukoshi at Epcot’s Japan Pavilion (Source: http://i1.disneyfoodblog.com)
3. Club Cool (Epcot – Future World) 
 
Club Cool is an attraction/dining experience that is sponsored by Coca Cola. It allows guests to sample soft drinks from around the world for no charge. Club Cool is generally overlooked so you rarely see lines going out the door, an unusual sight in a place as crowded as Disney World. Try Watermelon soda from China, Orange flavored Coca Cola from Germany, or if your mouth can handle it, the bitter Strawberry Fanta from Costa Rica. Other than the Coke Factory in Atlanta, these drinks are nearly impossible to find in the United States. We recommend checking this attraction out and introducing your taste buds to a new pallet of flavor.
A medley of sodas at Club Cool in Epcot (Source: http://i1.disneyfoodblog.com)
A medley of sodas at Club Cool in Epcot (Source: http://i1.disneyfoodblog.com)
4. Gaston’s Tavern (Magic Kingdom – New Fantasyland)
 
With the opening of the first part of the New Fantasyland came the immensely popular Be Our Guest restaurant, a majestic eatery that has a wait list that spans months. Next to Be Our Guest however is a charming tavern themed to Gaston’s pub in Beauty and the Beast. The featured drink is a frozen apple cider with a hint of toasted marshmallow that is topped with a mango-passionfruit cream. Just the description made our mouths water. Although the drink is pricey at five dollars for a small glass, its incredibly thick, and the five of us couldn’t finish one serving. We highly recommend checking it out. If you’re looking for a unique souvenir, put down a little extra money for a mug that resembles Gaston’s mugs in the film.
Frozen goodness at Gaston's Tavern in Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland (Source: http://parksandresorts.wdpromedia.com/)
Frozen goodness at Gaston’s Tavern in Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland (Source: http://parksandresorts.wdpromedia.com/)

David’s Disney Vacation Club Point Rentals- A Great Discount System

Disney’s Old Key West Resort
(www.disneyworld.disney.go.com)

By Siddhi: 

As a college student on a limited budget, I was concerned when my friend told me that our road trip to Disney would entail staying at the Old Key West Resort, one of the more upscale hotels on the property that houses the largest rooms of all the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resorts. Browsing the site’s incredible amenities just added onto my anxiety about how I would afford paying for a DVC room in Orlando at the beginning of the summer amusement park season.

But when I found out I would only be paying a total of $200 for four nights, I was shocked. We split the cost of a room at Old Key West, so that meant that the total cost for the four of us was around $800. Still, the price tag of an early summer vacation at a high-end DVC resort seemed almost deceivingly inexpensive for what the hotel was offering, including stunning scenery, a fantastic pool, a boat rental service, a gym, and much more.

When I asked my friend how I was paying so much less than the rate that was showing up for the same four nights on the Old Key West website, he told me that he used a service called David’s Disney Vacation Club Point Rentals.

What the site essentially allows you to do is rent points from members of Disney’s Vacation Club, a timeshare program that lets guests enjoy deluxe resort and entertainment offerings. But several people who belong to the club don’t end up using all their point allotments. And so to avoid losing money on the DVC club membership, they sell their points to non-DVC members. David’s site is a highly reliable hub for people to rent these unused points.

It sounds a bit technical, but the process is very simple. David’s site provides an easy breakdown of how to go about the process.

Now I did a test to see just how dramatic the difference is between booking on actual resort sites and booking through David.

Sample Stay Dates: Sunday , August 26th – Friday, August 31st of 2012

One Bedroom Villa through Old Key West Website: Total of $4,023.46

One Bedroom Villa through David’s Website: Total of $1755.00

For the same dates and the same room, that is one heck of difference.

So if you’re planning your next vacation to Orlando’s Walt Disney World, make sure you check out David’s Disney Vacation Club Points Rental service. Old Key West is only one of many points offerings for hotels including Beach Club, Wilderness Lodge, The Contemporary, Animal Kingdom Villas, Boardwalk, and even some off-resort properties.

You can look at the point offerings and details at this site:

http://www.dvcrequest.com/

And if you are a DVC member, this is a great place for you to sell the points you can’t use as well.

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant – A True Downtown Disney Experience

By Siddhi: 

When you think amusement park food, “memorable” isn’t really the word that comes to mind. Most theme park eats aside from the nostalgic cotton candy and funnel cake experiences that fulfill our cravings fade into the not so pleasant memories of grease, oil, and indistinct flavors. And this is one of many, many reasons Walt Disney World provides us with an experience we can safely place at the ultimate caliber on the “scale of awesome”. Not only are the parks themselves evocative of childhood, imagination, dreams, and unparalleled fun, but so are the resort’s myriad, specialized dining offerings.

This past week, I went on a road trip with a few high school friends to Disney in Orlando. One of my pals, a food lover and lifelong Disney maniac, scoured through all of the resort’s most unique meal experiences and found one that he immediately set his heart on: The Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant. Located in the heart of Downtown Disney, the restaurant is the only legitimate Irish pub in all of Orlando.

What’s so unique about this eatery when Downtown Disney boasts dozens of other restaurants and the Epcot World Showcase hosts countless other international cuisines? The experience at Raglan is entirely authentic. I’ve never been to Ireland, but step one to knowing that what I felt sitting in Raglan was a mirror of true Irish spirit was the fact that the restaurant’s owners, cooks, and even the building is from Ireland (Really. The whole thing was constructed there and then shipped to Florida. How much closer could you get to a genuine dining experience?)

When we entered Raglan, we were greeted by the infectious spirit of Creel, a Celtic acoustic and bluegrass band consisting of three incredibly talented yet modest musicians at the restaurant’s center stage. Clad in casual t-shirts and jeans, the men understood that despite the elegance of where they were performing, they were still in Disney. It allowed us to make an immediate connection with them and appreciate what they were doing even more. Creel played throughout the night, giving us an eclectic buffet of original pieces that truly transported us to the rolling green hills of an Irish landscape.

And then, the lights dimmed and a spotlight hit a smaller table-stage that sat in the midst of the crowd. A tap dancer performed an amazing set, and her movement synchronized so well with Creel that it was like watching professionals from a tremendous stage production. Throughout the night, we discovered that this was no solo act, but rather a synergy of many passionate souls. Several tap dancers emerged from behind the stage and put on one of the most energizing performances I have ever seen.

What I think makes my dinner at Raglan so different from what both my friends and much of the crowd experience is that I’m both vegetarian and gluten intolerant. That rules out the majority of a traditional Irish menu for me. And yet, the manager was so warm and accommodating. I was able to order a creamy tomato soup with flavors unique to Irish cooking as well as a dish called “The Vegetarian Goat”, which was made of oven roasted vegetables drizzled with lemon oil, white balsamic, and completed with crumbled goat cheese. The taste of the roasted red peppers in my mouth was farmer’s market good. So, so fresh. My friends all raved about they ate, which ranged from the Shepherd’s Pot Pie to a stew infused with some Guinness. Needless to say, Raglan’s staff will happily work to make sure you have a pleasant and diverse meal (as per typical Disney fashion).

So if you’re ever in the Downtown Disney area and are looking for a different kind of theme park dining experience, check out the Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant. Even if you’re not a fan of Irish food, the entertainment is worth the visit. A warning: it’s not the cheapest food. So it would be a good place to reserve for your dinner splurge night (they also serve lunch).

To learn more about Raglan’s menu, entertainment, and history, go their site here:

http://www.raglanroad.com/

You should make reservations well ahead of time, as the place gets crowded.