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Disney At Home – How We Kept The Magic Going

Disney At Home – How We Kept The Magic Going

Who says the magic has to end! Disney at home is a real thing and it’s totally possible to bring the magic home with you. Without stealing your favorite Disney character. By no means do we support, condone, or recommend the stealing of any Disney character. #sarcasm. Anyways, back to talking Disney at home. We’re opening the doors to our house and sharing how we keep the magic going!

The Obvious

What can we say, we like to state the obvious. Someone has to, why not us! By far the way most Disneyphiles keep the magic going with Disney at home is content. Whether it’s watching YouTube video, listening to a Podcast, or of course reading your favorite blog, content is the easiest way to keep Disney in your life. The other most obvious way is Disney Plus or Disney movies and shows as a whole. Whether it’s a Disney movie night, or be sucked into our new favorite Disney plus show the Mandolorian, Disney has a plethora of content to enjoy.

bringing Disney at home via monopoly

Game Night

No, we’re not talking about the hilarious Jason Bateman movie. A good watch, but definitely not Disney at home worthy. Did anyone else just quote Gareth and Wayne in their head? “We’re not worthy”. When we say game night we’re talking about board games and puzzles. We like to spice up the traditional games with Disney inspired versions, like Monopoly. Dibbs on the doom buggy piece! Whether it’s Clue or Disney Villians, you can usually find these games at your favorite big box store or via a little online shopping.

Beyond the traditional board games, there are a variety of interactive games for either game consoles or your smartphone. You may catch Nate playing Disney Emoji Blitz from time to time, but let’s keep that secret between us, deal? Deal!

One way to bring Disney at home is making recipes

Try The…

Grey stuff! We know you said grey stuff when you read it. We would say it’s delicious as well and worth a try when at Be Our Guest for lunch. Speaking of food. See what we did there, in the blogging world we like to call that a smooth transition. Outside of the attractions, one of the big reasons we love Disney so much is the food. From the tasty treats to the grab and go meals, and our favorite sit down restaurants dishes, these are things would like to enjoy every day. And we can! Well, at least in our own way.

What are we talking about? We’re talking about channeling our inner Remy and making your way to the kitchen. One of the things we like to do for more Disney at home is to whip up our favorite recipes. There are tons of recipes to choose from and it doesn’t always have to be the whole dish. Once and while we like to work in a Disney inspired side dish with our meal.

drinking coffee and enjoying Disney at home

The Little Things

It’s all about the little things when talking Disney at home. For we keep it simple, whether it’s enjoying our morning coffee from a Disney mug to wrapping ourselves in our Disney blanket to keep warm. Each and everything little helps keep the magic alive. It could be as simple as popping some popcorn and enjoying it your favorite refillable Disney popcorn bucket. Bonus points if you’re enjoying a Mickey Premium bar at the same time!

Our Thoughts

There are endless ways to bring the magic home. The big question to ask is which way works best for you and your family? Additionally, Disney is also creating more ways to bring the parks into your home. For example, they just launched the Walt Disney Imagineering in a box with Khan Academy. You can check it out here. You can bet Nate will be checking out the courses. Alright, the time has come, we’re off to the kitchen! You thought we were going to say Neverland, huh? Gotcha!

Disney Polynesian Resort Villas – A DVC Duo Resort Review

Disney Polynesian Resort Villas – A DVC Duo Resort Review

Aloha! Welcome to one of the original Walt Disney World hotels in the Polynesian Resort. In April of 2015, Disney opened the doors to the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) portion of the historic resort. The resort was the last monorail resort to receive the DVC portion, with Bay Lake Tower coming first, then followed by the Grand Floridan. Alright, we just got our text and it looks like our room is ready. Let’s head over to Disney’s Polynesian Resort Villas for our DVC Duo resort review.

Themeing within the Polynesian Resort

The Theme

Stepping into the Polynesian Resort is like stepping in your favorite old school sitcom. In all the best ways. Hear us out. Whether you grew up with the Brady Bunch, Full House or even Saved By The Bell, they all have that Hawaiian vacation episode. You know the one. The quintessential tropical getaway. That’s the Polynesian in a nutshell.

Themed after a 1950’s feel of the South Pacific, the resort transports you to a time where all your stresses disappears and you feel the need for a deep exhale. All that’s missing is a Tiki drink in your hand, but we’ll get to that!

Passholder Insights: The Polynesian Resort is one of the only deluxe resorts where there are no guest rooms attached to the main building. The other is Old Key West.

Studio at the Polynesian Resort

The Rooms

With 380 villas the Disney Polynesian Resort Villas is spread between 3 buildings and 20 over the water bungalows. The resort is the most unique DVC configuration at Walt Disney World and across all DVC resorts worldwide, as the resort only has two room types. Three of the buildings, along with the bungalows, are dedicated DVC rooms. The buildings are, Moorea, Pago Pago, and Tokelau. Below are the room options:

  • Deluxe Studio – Similar to an oversized hotel room with one queen-sized bed, one queen-sized, 1 single pull-down bed, one walk-in shower, one full bath with a tub/shower combo. Sleeps 5 people.
  • Bungalow – A standalone building over the banks of Seven Seas Lagoon that includes a kitchen, laundry facilities, living room, and larger deck with a private hot tub. The master bedroom is made up of a king bed, jacuzzi tub, and walk-in shower. The second bedroom consists of a queen bed and a pulldown twin bed. In the living room, you’ll find a queen pull out bed and a pull-down twin bed. Sleeps, 8 people.

We’ve stayed in the studios at the Polynesian Resort. In our option, what this resort different than almost any of the other DVC Resorts is that all the studios have two showers and sinks. This makes getting ready super easy!

Passholder Insights: If you’re looking for a larger room that is not a Bungalow near the Magic Kingdom both Bay Lake Tower and Boulder Ridge Resort are great options.

Arriving at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Rolling up to the Disney Polynesian Resort either by the Disney Magical Express, car, taxi, or rideshare you’ll be dropped off at the entrance to the lobby. Bell services will greet you for any of your luggage needs or if you’d like to valet your car. Stepping through the front door you’ll want to head to the right for guest services and room check-in.

Depending on the time of day (before check-in time) we would recommend having bell services hold your bags so you can enjoy the magic. Of course, you could always take advantage of the Magical Express Luggage service and save yourself the hassle of lugging luggage as we do!

Passholder Insights: We’re usually big fans of checking into our room online, however, at the Polynesian, it’s worth checking in at the front desk for your lei.

The Polynesian Resort Lobby

The Lobby Area

Oh, the Poly lobby. It just rolls off the tongue. Setting through the doors to the lobby you can’t help but see the castle in the distance. That’s right, the resort is so close to the Magic Kingdom you can see the castle across Seven Seas Lagoon. Looking around the two-floor lobby you’ll see a gift shop off to your left filled with Hawaiian inspired treats and apparel. On the second floor is where you would pick up the monorail, as well as find another gift shop and two of our favorite dining spots, but we’ll get to that in a second.

Passsholder Insights: Fun fact, Disney decided to move the Polynesian pool ten feet to the right to ensure guests would see the castle when walking into the lobby. It required a whole refurbishment of the pool area.

The Polynesian Resort Pool

The Pools and Recreation

Speaking of that pool that moved. Off the back of the infamous Poly lobby, you’ll find the main pool area for the resort, the Lava Pool. The centerpiece of the pool area is the active volcano that erupts throughout the day. Wrapping around the volcano is a 142-foot slide that drops you into the 120,000-gallon zero-entry pool. Heated of course! The pool is fully equipped with in-pool chairs and underwater music. Circling the pool area you’ll find an ample amount of lounge chairs, a whirlpool and a variety of private cabanas. The cabanas are available for $25 for a half-day and $40 for the full-day.

Beyond the main pool, there is a quiet pool nestled within the garden area. It’s the perfect spot for relaxing or taking a nap.

Outside of the pools, the Polynesian Resort offers a variety of recreation activities including, boat rentals, volleyball, fishing, movies under the stars, and activities throughout the day. The most notable activity is the Torch Lighting Ceremony that takes place by the Lava Pool Tuesday through Saturday. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area. Check with the front desk for the time.

Passholder Insights: Nightly from the Poly beach you’re able to see the Magic Kingdom fireworks as well as the Electric Water Pageant.

Entrance to Ohana

Let’s Eat

From top to bottom the Polynesian Resort has some of the best dining spots at Walt Disney World. The resort offers a range of options from quick service to sit down restaurants and even a dinner show. For quick service check out Capt Cook’s, by far one of the best quick service options on property. Other quick service options include Kona Island, the Barefoot Pool Bar, and Nate’s favorite spot Pineapple Lanai. Dole Whip anyone?

The resort offers a variety of sit down restaurants. Below is the breakdown of options:

  • Kona Cafe – Located on the second floor of the lobby the restaurant offers Hawaiian and South Pacific dishes. A DVC Duo all-time favorite. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Kona Cafe is a single meal credit if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. For a full review of the restaurant check out our DVC Duo restaurant review.
  • ‘Ohana – Located on the second floor of the lobby this infamous dining spot is a can’t miss in the DVC Duo house. Open for breakfast and dinner, the restaurant offers character dining in the morning an all you can eat Hawaiian feast at night. A single meal credit if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. We would highly recommend making an advanced dining reservation for this one. For a full review of the restaurant check out our DVC Duo restaurant review.
    • Twilight Feast – when staying at the resort you’re able to order room service from ‘Ohana. It’s called the Twilight Feast and served once a night. Usually, one order of the twilight feast can feed two.
  • Spirit Of Aloha Dinner Show – Located at Luau Cove is the twice a night dinner show. Weekly on Tuesdays through Saturdays, you can sit down for an all you can eat Hawaiian Luau. Two meal credits if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. Advanced reservations are required.

Beyond the restaurants, the Polynesian has two of the DVC Duo’s favorite lounges in Tambu Lounge and Trader Sam’s. Both tend to be more popular options for an adult timeout. You can’t go wrong with either option if you’re in the mood for a tropical drink.

Passholder Insights: We like to kick-off our unofficial Monorail Crawl at the either of the two lounges within the resort.

Workout facility at the Polynesian Resort

Quick Workout

Looking to sneak in a vacation workout? The Polynesian has got you covered. The resort shares a gym with the Grand Floridian Resort and is situated between the resorts. It has everything you’ll need for a solid vacation workout. Additionally, the resort area has a jogging path along Seven Seas Lagoon.

Our Thoughts

We love it! By far one of our top places to stay at Walt Disney World is the Polynesian Resort. If you’re someone who enjoys the more laidback island type feel, then this is your spot. For us, it’s perfectly located as we can easily jump on the monorail to head to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The best part is the studios with two showers. Once you have two showers it’s definitely hard to go back. With that our Polynesian review is complete and there is only one thing left to do. That’s right, it’s time to start our monorail crawl!

DVC Perks On A Disney Cruise – Setting Sail With Benefits

DVC Perks On A Disney Cruise – Setting Sail With Benefits

We’re back! It’s the next edition of our Disney Vacation Club (DVC) benefits, and we’re talking DVC perks on a Disney cruise. In our previous articles, we chatted about the lesser-known DVC benefits. Today we’re going deeper into the unknown to share the DVC perks on a Disney cruise. Are you ready, Elsa? Get it, into the unknown? Yeah, we went there, it’s a stretch but we went there. Alright, let’s slip into our boat shoes and head out onto the deck!

Only members with a Blue card receive DVC perks on a Disney Cruise

Big Blue World

You’re so right, Nemo! It’s all about the blue when it comes to DVC perks on a Disney Cruise. No, we’re not talking about the jaw-dropping, can’t help but stare, blue sea. We’re talking about your DVC member card. In the DVC world, there are two types of cards blue and white. To keep it simple, the blue card means you purchased a minimum of 100 DVC points directly from Disney and qualify for Membership Extras. Discounts on Disney Cruise Line are part of the Memberships Extras.

Passholder Insights: One of our favorite Membership Extras is called Moonlight Magic, which is similar to the Disney Afterhours Events.

We're Talking Disney Cruise Rotational Dining

Booking Benefits

Discounts, get your discounts! One of the newest DVC perks on a Disney Cruise is the booking discounts. For years, many people would recommend not booking a cruise with your points as the value is not there. True, oh so very true. Until now! One of the biggest benefits is the 30% off discount members receive on the cost to book a cruise. Yes, 30%!

How it works. Throughout the year, Disney marks different sailings as eligible for this discount. For example, there are 21 sailings in 2020 marked for this discount, with more sailings to come. This discount applies to both costs for points and cash. To receive the discount at least one person needs to be booked on points, then you can pay cash for everyone else. Or any combination you see fit. The one person could be anyone including a child, which is the lowest amount of points for a cruise. All reservations need to be made via DVC member services to receive the discounted rates.

Passholder Insights: When we use our points for a cruise, we usually just book one person at the 30% off point rate than pay cash (30% off again) for the other person.

One of DVC perks on a Disney Cruise is the automatic Gold Castaway Club status for booking a cruise

Priorities

Let’s get our priorities in order. Two priorities to be exact. One of the biggest DVC perks on a Disney cruise is when you’re able to book your vacation. When new sailings becoming available Disney Cruise Line prioritizes guests bookings in the following order:

  • Platinum Castaway Club – 10+ sailings
  • Gold Castaway Club – 5+ sailings
  • Silver Castaway Club – 1+ sailing
  • General Public

This system is very much like a pre-sale model. With frequent Disney Cruisers having the ability to book earlier prior to the bookings being opened to the general public. DVC members automatically qualify as Gold Castaway Club level, regardless of many sailings you’ve had on Disney Cruise Line.

The priorities continue when you arrive at the cruise terminal. On embarkation day, there is a DVC member line for check-in.

Passholder Insights: The gold level status is only for booking a cruise and not for excursions, cabanas or Palo.

One of the DVC perks on a Disney Cruise is the discount at Senses Spa

More Discounts

But wait, there’s more! Once aboard the ship, there are a variety of discounts. Below is a breakdown of the discounts available:

  • Disney Digital Photo Packages – 10% off
  • Shopping – 10% off (minimum of $50 purchase)
  • Senses Spa – 20% off (while in port)

For all of these discounts, you will need to present your member card.

Passholder Insights: For us, the best port to take advantage of the spa discount is Nassau, Bahamas. You’ll want to book your spa treatments, as the spots fill up pretty fast.

Our Thoughts

Keep the perks coming! Over the years, we’ve seen Disney Vacation Club continue to expand upon the membership extras. With the recent changes to the DVC perks on a Disney Cruise, it made us reconsider using our points for a cruise. Now, we’re looking at more cruises and ways we can set sail with Disney Cruise Line. Yes, it’s that’s good. There’s only one thing left to do, figure out where to sail to next!

Serenity Bay – Is It An Adult Oasis On Disney’s Castaway Cay?

Serenity Bay – Is It An Adult Oasis On Disney’s Castaway Cay?

Let’s breakaway from the norm! Our go-to move is to hold-ff our verdict until the end, however, when talking about Serenity Bay we can’t help ourselves. Oasis is an understatement. Needless to say, since returning from our Disney Crusie we continue to dream about Serenity Bay at Disney’s private island Castaway Cay. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s review what you should know about this piece of Bahamian paradise. It’s time to lounge!

View from Serenity Bay

The Basics

All great things start from the beginning. Our write-up of Serenity Bay is no different. To kick-off it off there is few aspects of Serenity Bay everyone should be aware of. This section of Castaway Cay is an adult-only area. In Disney terms, an adult is defined as anyone 18 years old or older. The second thing to know is beach chairs and lounge chairs are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For a more private experience, you’ll want to look into renting a cabana. You can reserve a cabana via the Disney Cruise app prior to setting sail.

Cruise Insights: On our Disney Magic cruise we found there were plenty of chars at Serenity Bay to go around.

Tram to Serenity Bay on Castaway Cay

Getting There

Stepping off your ship you’ll have a couple of options to get to Serenity Bay. The first of our options is to walk. In our experience, it’s about a 15 to 20-minute walk from the ship or about a 10-minute walk from where the Castaway Cay 5k begins. Our second option would be to take an open-air tram or two. On Castaway Cay there is a tram that goes from the ship to the center of the Castaway Cay. From there you would switch to the Serenity Bay tram.

At the tram stop, the cast members on the island will let you know which tram is going to which destination. For us, we walked to the center of Castaway Cay for our 5k, then enjoy the island breeze on our tram ride to Serenity Bay.

Cruise Insights: Around the Castaway Cay tram stop is the shopping area with a few different shops with Castaway Cay merchandise and the good to have beach items, like sunscreen.

Windsock at Serenity Bay

Beyond The Book

Once you arrive at Serenity Bay, there are a variety of things to enjoy. Beyond reading a good book, and the breathtaking taking views. And of course, Nate’s favorite, taking a nap, in a hammock. Right next to where the tram drops you off you’ll find a little hut for rentals, called Windsock. They have bikes, floats, and tubes to rent.

Just across from Windsock, is the open-air bar with a patio. With palm trees creating the perfectly shaded canopy, you can enjoy a tropical drink, beer, cocktail of your choice. The patio overlooks the beach and the turquoise colored ocean. So relaxing! If you prefer to enjoy your drink in your lounge chair, no worries there are cast members walking up and down the beach to take your order.

For all shopping, boat rentals, waterslides, snorkeling, and character meet ‘n greets, you’ll want to head back to the family beach. Everything you purchase on Castaway Cay you can charge back to your stateroom.

Cruise Insights: On the backside of the bar area you’ll find the restrooms, along with a shower to wash off your feet, etc. No one needs the extra sand.

lunch area for Serenity Bay

Let’s Eat

It’s island barbecue time! While on Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line prepares an island barbecue at both the family beach and Serenity Bay. The buffet-style lunch is filled with grilled to perfection meats and veggies, as well as your staples, like burgers. You can see them preparing your food right in front of you. For us, we always like to enjoy the local favorites like the grilled fish. Around the buffet, you’ll find a variety of shaded picnic tables to enjoy your meal.

Save room for dessert. Beyond the soft-serve ice cream, the buffet offers a variety of tropical sweet treats to taste. It’s a perfect way to cap off your meal, before heading back to your chair for an afternoon siesta.

Passholder Insights: The barbecue lunch usually begins around 11:30 am then runs until 2 pm. We found heading over a little later in the day, had fewer people.

Our Thoughts

Almost worth missing the ship! Yes, we definitely thought about missing our ship and staying at Serenity Bay. It’s amazing! By far the most relaxing aspect of our cruise. It’s the perfect beach day. A couple of good things to know, you are able to bring your own cooler bag on to the island. Additionally, if you head to any of the bars they will refill your cooler bag with ice. All this cruise talk got us wanting to set sail again. Looks like a trip back to Castaway Cay may be in order!

Disney Cruise Oceanview Stateroom – A DVC Duo Room Review

Disney Cruise Oceanview Stateroom – A DVC Duo Room Review

Our room awaits! Beyond the lunch buffet, the next big thing to see on the first day of your Disney Cruise is your stateroom. For our sailing on the Disney Magic, we stayed in a Disney Cruise oceanview stateroom. It looks like our room is ready. Let’s head down the second deck and open that door for the first time!

Picture of Walt Disney within our Disney Cruise oceanview stateroom

Room Type

Every Disney Cruise has a variety of different room types. On the Disney Magic, the options include the following type of staterooms, inside, oceanview, verandah, and concierge. Our room is the Disney Cruise oceanview stateroom, it’s room 2078 to be exact. The 214 square foot room sleeps 3 to 4 people and includes a queen bed, single sleeper sofa (if 2 or 3 guests), upper berth pull-down (if 4 guests) and either one large porthole or two smaller portholes (in Category 9D staterooms on Deck 1).

On the Disney Magic, you’ll find options for the Disney Cruise oceanview stateroom on the following decks, 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7.

Cruise Insights: The lower decks feel less of the movement (swaying) of the ship. If you’re looking for the smoothest ride you may want to consider a lower deck.

Door to our Disney Cruise Oceanview Stateroom

We’re In

Woohoo! Stepping into our Disney Cruise oceanview stateroom for the first time was impressive. Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to enjoy a variety of different cruise line staterooms and we have to say the Disney Cruise is by far the most spacious. From the oversized porthole to the split-style bathroom and the amount of natural light, we had high expectations walking in and needless to say, they were all exceeded! Let’s breakdown each of the aspects of the room.

Cruise Insights: One of the big things to do on every Disney Cruise is decorating your stateroom door. Walking around the ship you’ll see all kinds of amazing door decorations.

bed in our Disney Cruise Oceanview Stateroom

The Bed

Is there anything more important than the bed? We think not. Like true travel professionals every time we step into a new room we got to take that flying leap onto the bed to test it. After sticking the landing, we got a 10 from the French judge, we noticed right away that Disney Cruise Line went with the same beds you find most of the deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World. We were smiling from ear to ear.

Additionally, we opened the soft bed to check it out as well. What we liked the most about it was how the convertible bed included a full matress, not the typical folding mattress you find in most sleeper sofas. Our Disney Cruise oceanview room was configured for three guests, so we did not have the upper-berth pull-down bed.

Cruise Insights: Between the bed and sofa there is a curtain that allows you to separate to the two sleeping areas if you’re sharing the room with other people.

Shower room in our Disney Cruise Oceanview Stateroom

The Bathroom

Or should we say bathrooms! In our Disney Cruise oceanview stateroom, we had a split bathroom. One of the bathrooms had the shower, tub (yes, tub) and a sink. In the other bathroom were the toilet and another sink. First and foremost, we’ve never seen a tub in any of the standard staterooms on other cruise ships, this is a huge benefit for families with little ones. Additionally, we found having two sinks in the room to be a big time saver when getting ready in the morning or for our dinners.

Cruise Insights: All rooms include a hairdryer, as well as the H20 bath and shower products. For us, we like to travel as light as possible and found these perfect for our cruise.

The Storage

Doesn’t everyone pack too much? We definitely do. No matter how hard we try we always end up with more luggage than we need. What was fantastic about our Disney Cruise oceanview room was the ample amount of storage space, both for what we brought and our luggage. Our room had a good-sized closet for hanging anything we wanted, along with shelves and drawers inside. Around the room, there were two nightstands with drawers and a desk with drawers and shelves as well. Needless to stay we had plenty of room to unpack then storge our luggage under the bed.

The one area that could have used a little more space for us was the counter space/shelving in the bathroom. Not a huge issue, especially with the bathrooms being larger in size.

Cruise Insights: None of the rooms include an iron or ironing board. If you need on the ship all you’ll have to do is call your room steward and they’ll bring one.

Our Thoughts

Best cruise ship room we’ve had! When comparing the Disney Cruise oceanview stateroom to similar options on other ships, there is no comparison. Every little detail is well thought out. We found the room to feel a lot larger than the 214 square feet, especially with all the natural light from the oversized porthole. We would definitely book this type of room on our next Disney Cruise. Our room review is in the books!