A room with a view! Not just view, a view of Disney’s Boardwalk and Crescent Lake. On our last trip to the world, Disney World that is, we stayed at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort and went with the boardwalk view studio. The question on everyone’s mind is, whether or not a boardwalk view studio, or any size room in this category, is worth it? We’re glad you asked. Bing! We just got our text, it looks like our room is ready. Let’s head to Boardwalk and open that door for the first time!
At Disney’s Boardwalk Resort guests have the choice of a variety of room types and sections of the resort. The options consist of studios, 1-bedrooms, 2-bedrooms, and 3-bedroom villas, for Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members. This portion of the resort is referred to as the Boardwalk Villas section. Guests who are paying cash can choose from one of the villa rooms or a room on the Boardwalk Inn side of the resort. The rooms on the Boardwalk Inn section of the resort would be considered Disney Deluxe room accommodations. For our review, we’ll be focusing on the villas section and primarily the boardwalk view studio.
The 412 square studios sleep up to 5 people and includes one queen bed, one pullout full-size sofa bed, and a twin pulldown bed. The twin pulldown bed is designed for younger guests or smaller adults. Of the rooms at the resort, the Boardwalk view studio rooms are the most limited, as only a select number of rooms over Disney’s Boardwalk.
Passholder Insights: The 5000 series block of rooms associated with the boardwalk view have unbelievable views, as they are on the top level. You can make a special request for this floor via My Disney Experience when doing online check-in. Please note Disney does their best to accommodate special requests, but nothing is a guarantee.
Opening The Door
Wow! Just wow. Stepping into our room our eyes are immediately drawn to the balcony doors and the spectacular views of Crescent Lake and Epcot. The purple shimmer of Spaceship Earth is breathtaking, to say the least. We couldn’t help ourselves, we dropped all our bags and headed to the balcony. After picking up our jaws, we headed back into the room to check out the rest of our accommodations. To say the room is spacious would be an understatement.
For us, this room was a perfect size. As two adults we really appreciated having a sitting area with the couch and coffee table. Additionally, the small cafe-style dining table was perfect for a quick bite. But, to be honest we mostly ate on the balcony, how could we not with that view!
Passholder Insights: At Disney’s Boardwalk Resort all the 3-bedroom villas have the Boardwalk view and are a single floor accommodation.
It’s all about the bed, right? If the bed is uncomfortable it doesn’t matter how spectacular the view is. Alright, let’s put it to the test. As true travel professionals there is only one way to test a resort bed, a flying leap of course. Are we right, or are we right? After building up a head of steam we launched ourselves into the air, stick the landing of course, and are happy to say the bed is fantastic! If you ever had the opportunity to stay at a Disney deluxe resort, they are using the same mattress in the DVC resorts. This is bed worthy of a good night of sleep.
As for the pullout options. Well, that’s another story. Let’s just say there is a reason DVC is switching over to the full-size pulldown mattress options for the new resorts, as well as, the Saratoga Springs refurbishment. If you’re traveling with young ones the pullout bed is perfect, trust us we’ve slept on them many times. However, as you get older, your back may have a difference of option.
Passholder Insights: If you’re planning on having someone sleep on the pullout bed(s) we recommend making a note of it when doing your online check-in. This way Mousekeeping will make sure there are extra pillows and blankets in the room.
Or should we say the bathroom area? In our boardwalk view studio room the bathroom area was split into two sections, the sink, and the toilet/shower. One of the nice things about the Boardwalk studios is how the separate out the sink area so two people can get ready at the same time. We found it very helpful when trying to get out the door early to get our Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group. There’s plenty of counter space around the sink for all your toiletries.
The shower area is pretty standard. It’s a tub/shower combo. The tub is definitely large enough for giving little ones a bath. It does have a line that can be pulled out to dry any wet clothes from the pool, or if you get caught in a Florida thunderstorm. No trip to Disney complete without getting caught at least once!
Passholder Insights: The last time we stayed Disney was still providing the individual H2O bottles and products for the room. At the time of writing, we have not heard of this being changed.
Storage and Kitchenette
Did you say kitchenette? Yes, yes we did. All the DVC studios have a kitchenette area that includes in a mini-fridge, coffee pot, microwave, toasts, and sink area. Additionally, Disney includes paper plates, coffee cups, and utensils. The fridge is big enough for holding a few items like a small milk container for coffee, or leftovers from dinner. We found it to be just enough for a quick breakfast before heading off to the parks.
When it comes to storage, the room has a good size closest next the sink area and dresser across from the bed. Additionally, there is a small side table next to the bed that does offer some storage. For the two of us, it was plenty of space. If you’re a larger group, space may be a little more limited, especially if you have larger suitcases.
Passholder Insights: We found placing our suitcases in the entry way created more space in the room. Depending on how many suitcases you have, this could be worth a try.
You can’t beat the view! As far as rooms go, the boardwalk view studio room may be one of our all-time favorites. Waking up in the morning to see the Friendship Boats casting off and Epcot in the background is hard to beat. If there is anything would change about the room is the noise. The boardwalk is below after-all. For the most part we didn’t notice too much, but we were on the top floor. Speaking with a couple of our friends who were on a lower floor, they said you could hearthe noise. If you’re looking for a room type that will let you sleep in a bit, this may not be for you. For us, we don’t mind hearing the Friendship Boat horn as we enjoy coffee on the balcony. Or better yet, watch the Epcot Fireworks from our room. If you’re looking for a one of a kind experience at Disney World, this is it. Alright, it’s time to get back to that balcony!
New food? Did someone say new food? If you know us, we’re always up for trying something new, and the perfect place to that is at the 2020 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. In what will be remembered as one of the most unique festivals to date, the 2020 Epcot Food and Wine Festival kicked-off with the reopening of Epcot on July 15, 2020. Boasting 20 food booths that are spread around Epcot’s World Showcase, this year’s festival is offering up fan favorites, festival classics, and new creative dishes from both the Flower and Garden Festival and Food and Wine Festival. Scanning through the list of menus it’s definitely hard to pick what’s new for this year. It got us thinking, if only there were a list of the new dishes and drinks for the 2020 Epcot Food and Wine festival? Dreams do come true! Without further ado, we present our list of the new festival dishes and drinks for 2020!
New Dishes and Drinks at the 2020 Epcot Food and Wine Festival
Short’s Brewing Co. Mule Beer, Elk Rapids, MI
Heavy Seas Brewery Tropicannon Citrus IPA, Halethorpe, MI
Parish Brewing Co. Ghost in the Machine Double IPA, Broussard, LA
3 Daughters Raspberry Lemonade Dry Hard Cider, St. Petersburg, FL
Short’s Brewing Company Starcut Ciders Mosa Hard Cider, Bellaire, MI
Ciderboys Banana Bliss Hard Cider, Stevens Point, WI
Mac & Cheese Hosted by Boursin Cheese
Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese with Boursin® Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese topped with Herbed Panko
Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese with Boursin® Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese Sauce topped with Carrots, Celery, and Blue Cheese Crumbles
Lobster Macaroni and Cheese with Boursin® Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese Sauce and Lobster Cream topped with Herbed Panko
Macaroni & Cheese with House-made Italian Sausage and Peppers (Plant-Based)
Stiegl Brewery Radler Zitrone, Salzburg, Austria
L’ecole No. 41 Chenin Blanc Old Vines, Columbia Valley, WA
Evolution by Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR
Desserts & Champagne
Liquid Nitro Chocolate Cake Pops
Liquid Nitro Chocolate Cake Pops with Crumbled Twix® Original
Liquid Nitro Chocolate Cake Pops with Crushed M&M’S® Milk Chocolate
Frozen S’mores (Non-Alcoholic)
Frozen S’mores with Whipped Cream Vodka
Banana Bread with Mixed Berry Compote (Plant-Based)
Islands of the Caribbean
Flancocho:Passion Fruit Cake with Coconut Flan
Ribeye Taco: Ribeye Steak with Ranchera Salsa in a Corn Tortilla topped with Onions, Chives, and a Lime Wedge
Pork Tostada: Fried Corn Tortilla topped with Chipotle Black Beans, Roasted Pork, Fresh Salsa Verde, Onions, and Cilantro
Passion Rose Sangria: Red Wine, Rum, Rose Petal Liqueur, Passion Fruit Purée, and Lime
Mango Smoky Margarita: Mango Purée, Mezcal, Applejack, Lime Juice, and Agave Nectar with a Tajín Chile-Lime Rim
Mongolian Beef Bao Bun
Hacker-Pschorr Hefe Weisse Naturtrüb
La Classica: Cheese Tortellini with Ricotta, Provolone, Fontina, Parmesan, Vodka Sauce, and Crispy Bacon
Italian White Sangria with Prosecco
Italian Red Sangria with Cabernet Sauvignon
Hops & Barley
Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles
Street Corn Funnel Cake topped with Roasted Corn, Cotija Cheese, Cilantro and Cumin Crema dusted with Paprika
Tempura Donburi: Two Pieces of Tempura Shrimp and Kakiage Vegetable Tempura with Tentsuyu Dipping Sauce served over Sushi Rice
Strawberry Nigori Sake
Beef Kefta Pocket with Caramelized Onions, Garlic, and Spicy Tomato Concassée
Kasbah Prestige Red
There’s a solid smorgasbord of options at the 2020 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. It’s great to see that Disney carried over a variety of the dishes and drinks for the Flower and Garden, as only a select few people we’re able to experience the festival. Rumor has it that Disney may switch up the menus a little bit as we approach fall. With the festival running from July 15, 2020 to early November, it would make sense for Disney to “spice up” the offerings along the way. While it looks like we have a list of what we’re going to try this year!
For a full list of menu please check out the following link.
Strategy? Did someone say strategy? If you know anything about us, you know how we like our different strategies when it comes to Walt Disney World. With FastPass+ currently on hold, we’re switching gears, or is it changing directions? Either way, we’re turning our attention to our Disney World Park Reservation strategy. It’s a whole new “world” of Disney planning we live in and we thought we would share how your favorite bloggers (that’s us of course!) plan out a trip. The time has come to peek behind the curtains and share our Disney World Park Reservation strategy!
Queue the drums! We all know the drumbeat is the baseline for any good song. When talking about our Disney World Park reservation strategy, there are a couple of things that make up our baseline. The most essential is a My Disney Experience account, as it is where all the magic happens when it comes to reserving a Disney Park Pass. Please note to the Park Park Reservation System is only available through the browser version of My Disney Experience, it is not available through the app. For a full guide on how to create your own My Disney Experience, please reference the following link to the DVC Duo guide.
Not far behind is linking your park tickets, and if you are staying at Disney Resort than your resort reservation to My Disney Experience. Every member of your party will need to have a Disney World park ticket linked in order to make a Disney World Park reservation.
Last but not least, is to make sure everyone within your party is linked together within the friends and family portion of My Disney Experience. This is important to ensure everyone in your group is on the same Disney World Park reservation. It is not required, however, if you’re not linked into one group everyone in your party may not get into the same park on the day. Entry is subject to availability. Our guide (previously mentioned) walks you through how to set up friends and family.
Now that we have a baseline, let’s dive into our Disney World Park Reservation strategy. The first thing we like to look at is the overall demand for a park. Access to each our the Disney World parks is separated into 3 groups, Disney World resort guests, Annual Passholders, and Ticket Holders. It should be noted if you have a Walt Disney World Annual Pass and you’re staying at a Disney Resort, you fall into the Disney World Resort grouping.
Within My Disney Experience at the very top, you’ll see “Important Message” and button to click called “View Availability”. This will bring you to a calendar that shows you the park availability based on the three different groupings. It’s the perfect spot to start our planning. Here is what we’ve noticed over the past few weeks in regards to demand. Hollywood Studios is by far the most popular park to book, followed by the Magic Kingdom then the Animal Kingdom, and lastly Epcot.
This level of demand makes a lot of sense, as Hollywood Studios has the newest attractions in the form of Star Wars Galaxy Edge, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and Toy Story Land. Additionally, Hollywood Studios has the lowest capacity of all the parks followed by the Magic Kingdom and so on. At the time of writing, it is our understanding that Disney is around 10% capacity at all the parks. Over time Disney plans on increasing capacity, but we do not have a set timeframe to when an increase would occur.
Beyond the Disney World Park calendar, we also take into consideration the normal travel patterns when it comes to park demand. For example, the Magic Kingdom tends to be the busiest on Mondays. A great way to check the overall “busyness” of a park is to look at crowd calendars. Our personal favorite is by Touring Plans. It should be noted that crowd calendars are adjusting based on the new capacity limits.
After we have an idea of the park demand it’s time to lay out which park we would like to go to on each day. At the time of writing, guests can only go to one park per day. It should be noted that Disney has said they hope to offer parking hopping (going to more than one Disney park per day) by the end of summer. The time period of the end of summer is currently fluid and we could see it shift in either direction.
Here is how we prioritize picking our parks. We always go with the busiest parks first. Many people look to make Disney World Park Reservations in the order of days of their vacation. Not us. We look to book the busiest park first, on the projected quietest day of our vacation based on the crowd calendars. For example, if Wednesday is supposed to be the quietest day at Hollywood Studios we try for that first and then adjust based on availability. If Wednesday is not available we go to the next quietest day and so on.
For us, in the short-term, we tend to leave Epcot for last, as in the short term it’s the least busy park. This will change once Remy’s Ratatouille Adventureopens. Once this attraction opens we would project Epcot to move up ahead of Animal Kingdom for demand, especially in the first few months of opening.
The Other Things
Outside of park demand, there are a couple of things we take into consideration with our Disney World Park Reservation strategy. The big one is the park hours. At the moment, the park hours are staggered for each of the parks, with the Animal Kingdom opening the earliest at 8 am EST, and Epcot closing last at 9 pm EST. What we like to do to make sure we don’t burn the candle too much on both ends. We always take the opening and closing times into consideration when making our reservations. For example, we try our best not to make a reservation for the Animal Kingdom the day after we go to Epcot. Especially, if we’re planning on staying until park closing at 9 pm EST. Let’s just say those shorter nights of sleep catch up to us very quickly!
The other thing we look at is if we’re planning to anything outside of the parks. Whether it’s dinner at Disney Springs or a sunrise 9 round of golf. To maximize our park time we try our best to plan these types of activities around the park hours. Especially, if we’re planning to do both a park and activity on the same day.
Planning got a little easier! Based on our experience, planning out a Disney trip got a little easier with Disney moving to the Park Reservation System over FastPass. Our biggest tip is flexibility. Make a list of which parks are top priority based on attractions you would like to experience and then book them in that order. For example, if you have little ones (under 40 inches) you would probably look to prioritize time in the Magic Kingdom over Hollywood Studios, based on which attractions are available. Additionally, we recommend becoming familiar with how the Park Reservation System works through our step by step guide that you can find here. There is only one thing left to say, let the planning begin!
It’s a top 3 time! That’s right we’re back with another rendition of our underrated Walt Disney World attractions. After tackling the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios, we’re ready to take on the underrated Animal Kingdom attractions. Are we up for another challenge, we like to think so! Alright, we’ve found the trail, let’s head out on a trek around our top 3 underrated Animal Kingdom attractions!
Oh no, the rules are back! Just like our other underrated attraction list we’re going abide by the same rules. As a refresher, here are the rules we’ve previously followed: First and foremost, the attraction should not have a FastPass. We’re looking for attractions that are flying under the radar. Second, the attraction should be available on a regular park day, not just with special events or parties. Sorry, Merry Menagerie on Discovery Island. While your life-size animal puppets are magically delightful, you’ll not qualify for this list. Lastly, no live entertainment. Whether it’s Rivers of Light, the Harambe performers, or our favorite, Festival of the Lion King we’re only looking for attractions. Alright, looks like the rules are set, let’s talk about our top 3 underrated Animal Kingdom attractions.
Passholder Insights: The best times to ride Flight of Passage in Pandora: World of Avatar is either first thing in the morning or as the last ride of the day.
It’s A Green Sensation
What you are talking about, Nate? The first underrated Animal Kingdom attraction we’re talking about is the Oasis. It’s the first thing and last thing you encounter when stepping in or out of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. While the majority of people rightfully race (fast walk) to Flight of Passage, or are heading for the exit at the end of the day, many guests miss one of more unique aspects of the park. This lush area of the park is filled with animals and waterways to discover.
Whether you head left or right there’s unique animals to see. Heading up the left side when entering the park you’ll find the anteater. If you head up the right side keep your eyes to the sky as there’s an array of beautiful parrots and macaws to see. Through the center area the Oasis are gorgeous flowers, waterfalls, and other animals to discover. For us, we enjoying taking a few minutes to explore the Oasis either early in the afternoon or just before heading back to our resort. Beyond the wonderful animals this lush area provides a fantastic opportunity to get a break from the sun as it’s very well shaded.
Passholder Insights: When entering the park on the right side you may run into DeVine. This is a one of kind character encounter that is worth seeking out. Keep your eyes peeled as she uses her “vine” like qualities to hide within the landscape.
To The Trails
Trail? Which, trails? The second stop on our underrated Animal Kingdom attractions list brings us to Discovery Island. The centerpiece of the park, and home to the Tree of Life, is one of the most overlooked attractions. No, we’re not talking about A Bug’s Life, we’re talking about the Discovery Island Trails. Wrapping around the Tree of Life is a variety of trails that bring you through different animal encounters where you discover everything from sea life to red kangaroos. Fun fact, did you know the red kangaroo can measure up to six feet tall. Now, that’s a big a kangaroo!
Beyond the animals, the Discovery Island Trails bring you through caves and across bridges. The best part of the trails is how they bring you up close and personal with the Tree of Life and cravings within the tree. For us, what we enjoy the most about the trails is how secluded they feel. Many times we forget we’re in a theme park.
Passholder Insights: A great way to experience the Discovery Island Trails is through the Wilderness ExplorersClubgame. The game providers even more information around the animals.
Trek It Out
Let’s take a walk on the wild side. In our last underrated Animal Kingdom attractions, we’re heading out on a trek. A Maharajah Trek to be exact. While the Gorilla Falls Expedition Trail usually gets most of the attention. I mean who doesn’t love watching the gorillas! By far our favorite animal trail to explore in the Animal Kingdom is the Maharajah Trek in the Asia section of the park.
Tucked away behind Kali River Rapids is the entrance to this animal adventure. As you make your way along the trek you encounter a few of our favorites animals in the park, the Malayan flying fox and the komodo dragon. The stars of the area are by far the tigers. On a warm day, you may see them splashing in the water. Go figure, cats that enjoy the water, who would have thunk it! The trek is a great area to explore later in the day when the lines for the attractions tend to get the longest.
Passholder Insights: Just outside the Maharajah Trek are the Holwer Monkeys. We’ve noticed they tend to be most active and vocal in the morning.
A world of discovery! What makes the underrated Animal Kingdom attractions so much different than the other parks is there is no wait times. Each of these unique areas are come and go as you would like. They are perfect ways to spend time exploring when you have a few moments between the marque attractions. Alright, we did it! We successfully trekked around the Animal Kingdom and completed our top 3 list of underrated Animal Kingdom attractions. How should we celebrate? Drinks and food at Yak & Yeti here we come!
Three! We only get three choices for our best Magic Kingdom dark rides. Ugh, this will be no easy task. If the Magic Kingdom is known for anything it’s the abundance of dark rides. And, Cinderella’s Castle of course. Oh yeah, Dole Whip too. Ok, let’s all agree the Magic Kingdom is known for many things and dark rides are definitely one of them. It’s fair to say we’ve delayed our list of the best Magic Kingdom dark rides long enough. Let’s make a list!
Or, better known as the rules. Just like our underrated Magic Kingdom attractions list, we need some structure. For our best Magic Kingdom dark rides, we’ll use the following criteria to help build our list. First and foremost, the attraction must be family-friendly and have no height requirements. Secondly, the majority of the ride must be inside, we are talking about dark rides after all. The last piece is the story. What has always made Disney dark rides stand apart are the stories the attractions tell.
Passholder Insights: Early in the morning or at the end of the day are when you’ll find the shortest wait times for the popular rides.
You know we’re always good for a surprise! First up on our best Magic Kingdom dark rides list is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. What can say, Winnie the Pooh is one our all time favorite characters. Well, more like Eeyore for Serena and Tigger for Nate. Beyond, the nostalgia for the characters, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh has a couple of our favorite pieces of Disney Magic.
In a “how do they do that moment?” is one the best scenes on a Disney dark ride. What scene? It’s scene leading into the Heffalumps and Woozles where Pooh falls a sleep and you see his spirit drift off. We’ve been wracking our brains for years to figure out Disney Imagineering created this effect.
Our second Disney Magic moment is subtle. Prior to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh moving into the space it was home to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. To honor the previous attraction Imagineering added an Easter egg to the attraction where Mr. Toad is handing a key to Owl. We always love when Disney adds this nods to the past.
Passholder Insights: Directly next to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is Storybook Treats. This is where you’ll find the delicious and Instagram worthy Peter Pan Float.
To where? Adventureland! The next stop on our best Magic Kingdom dark rides journey brings us to a Disney classic, Pirates of the Caribbean. Over the years we’ve seen a variety of iterations of this Disney classic attraction. From the additions of Jack Sparrow and Red to the ever-changing opening scene that’s had everything from Davey Jones to mermaids. For us, what makes Pirates of the Caribbean an all-time great dark ride are the things that have remained the same, the music and the details.
How can you not help but sing a Yo Ho (A Pirate’s LifeFor Me) while sailing through Pirates of the Caribbean? We’re not going to lie, we’re singing it while we write this part of the article. Written by a Disney Legend, Xavier Atencio, or better known as X, the music is what carries you through the attraction. It sets the tone for the fun, light-hearted adventure through the Caribbean and leaves you wondering, is a Pirate’s Life for Me?
Not to be outdone by the music, the details are what keep us coming back. There is no detail too small, from the leg hair on the animatronics to mythical hidden Mickey in the final scene with Jack. Yes it is true, from what we understand there is a hidden Mickey tuck-away it all the loot behind Jack. One day we will find, one day! No matter what every time we ride Pirates of the Caribbean we discover something new, and let’s say that’s no easy achievement.
Passholder Insights: Fun fact, the drop on Pirates of the Caribbean at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is used to go under the Walt Disney World Railroad track.
Did you guest it? Here’s one more hint at which attraction tops our best Magic Kingdom dark rides list, “There’s room for 1000”. It’s hard to find a better dark ride than The Haunted Mansion. From the word go, you’re part of the attraction. Stepping into line the story begins from the hidden tale within the busts to the hysterically pun ridden gravestones, this is an attraction where every little detail plays a part. Don’t blink or you may miss something important.
With The Haunted Mansion it is near impossible to pinpoint an aspect or two that are the best. Yes, it’s that well done. If we had to pick our favorite scene by far is the attic. You were probably thinking we were going to say the ballroom scene right? While that scene is mind-blowing, there is something about the attic scene. Oh, it’s Constance Hatchaway. By far the star of The Haunted Mansion, you’ll find Constance through out your journey. From the stretch room to the attic scene and final bone chilling words of “Hurry back”, Constance is constant in the Haunted Mansion.
Beyond Constance, what makes The Haunted Mansion top our list is how timeless of an attraction it is. As an opening day attraction, the ride is still relevant today, which few changes from the original. If anything, Disney has only many enhancements to it. From the addition of the interactive queue to the endless staircase room, and of course Constance Hatchaway in 2006, all “pluses” have been fantastic. Similar to Pirates of the Caribbean, the music is what makes the attraction so timeless. Once again we can thank X. Thank you, X!
Passholder Insights: One of the big differences between The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom is the stretching room and how it works. One version goes down and the other the roof goes up. #NoSpoilers here!
Phew! We did it. We made through our best Magic Kingdom dark rides list. By no means was this an easy task. If you ask us tomorrow we’re sure our list would be different. Ok, there is only one thing left to do. Volunteer!