Tag Archives: disney dining

Top 5 Money-Saving tips for Disney World-

Perdita (mom) here-

I am the money-manager in the house so I do the investigative work when it comes to saving money for Disney World. Some of the 5 tips for saving money are so long I will have to elaborate in a separate article, but some are not

1)Eat Cheaply-I have covered this in a previous article, but it bears repeating. This one tip alone can save hundreds easily. Some people don’t think about how much a meal can cost (easily $30-40/person). If you have a family of 4 that is about $160. If you factor in 3 meals/day that could easily add up to $500/ day plus any snacks and drinks you may buy at the park. Let’s just say you do spend this much and you are staying 7 days. You can easily see how the meals can add up to thousand alone. I know Disney isn’t cheap for even the “cheap” meals I have advocated, but it makes a real difference.

2) Buy Disney Vacation Club (to save even more, buy on the re-sale market)-
I am writing a couple of articles about this because there is so much about this topic. This one move has enabled us to go to the parks much more frequently than we otherwise would have been able to.

3)Use Miles Cards and sign-up bonuses for your travel
Again I will elaborate more later, but if you have a favorite airline or have one airline (for us it is Southwest Airlines) that is convenient for travel, get their credit card.

4)If you don’t have Disney Vacation Club consider Value and Moderate Resorts
When we called in to Disney in 2009 to make a reservation we didn’t even know there were value resorts. (There are value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villa resorts.) They booked us in a deluxe resort. When I thought back to the time I called several years before and they priced the vacation (the one we couldn’t afford) they also had booked us into a deluxe resort. Ask about all options and check the website.

5)Don’t fall for the “Dining-Plan-Package”
They will tell you that you are saving money when in fact they have that built into the package. If you price the vacation for room only I have found you save money. (a caveat is that is only if you don’t care about eating at the fine dining restaurants). I have found that on room-only reservations you can get about 30% off on the rooms most of the time anyway and they put the dining plan in the package and keep the room at full price. There are exceptions to this but I have found this to be the case when we have called.

More tips later!

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Staying at the Beach Club Villas (a Disney Vacation Club property)

Perdita (mom) here-

One of our favorite places to stay at Disney is the Beach Club Villas. It is in a building next to the Beach Club Hotel. It is considered one of the Epcot resorts since it is within walking distance to Epcot.

IMG_0539Our favorite time to stay at the Beach Club Hotel or Villas is at Christmas due to the atmosphere: the smells, the decor, the music, etc. The hotel is usually a minimum of $400/night, so we stay at the villas and use our points from the Disney Vacation Club (DVC). (Upcoming article about the DVC).

The Beach Club Villas are perfectly placed if you are a big Epcot or Hollywood Studios fan. You can easily walk to Epcot and you can take either a longer walk to Hollywood Studios or take the Friendship boats (which are very relaxing).
The Beach Club Villas book up very early for two special events: The Epcot Food and Wine Festival in the fall and The Flower and Garden Festival in the spring. If you own points at the Beach Club villas you have to book your vacation out for these events 11 months in advance to get a room.

IMG_0738First, you don’t have to be a DVC (Disney Vacation Club) member to stay here. It is, like the Beach Club Hotel, considered a deluxe resort. The villas come equipped with a small kitchenette in the studios which are the smallest rooms available at the villas. The studio is similar in size to the standard hotel room at the Beach Club Resort, except for the addition of the kitchenette. The room sizes go up to a 3-bedroom villa, but so does the price. In the studio there are no washers and dryers, but there are some available free of charge in the building.

The food options and gift shop is in the Beach Club Hotel which is a short walk from the villas. The quick-service meal option is located in the gift shop. The selection of food is tasty, but limited at the Marketplace (the food service deli counter in the gift shop). The gift shop has a good selection of both snack food, drinks, clothing, OTC medicine, Disney pins, etc. If you belong to the Disney Vacation Club DVDs are available here for viewing in the villas free of charge. Package pick-up is also available here (for those who buy items in the parks and have them sent back to the resort).

The Beach Club villas have their own pool and hot tub. Guests may also use the Beach Club pools and hot tubs. One of the pools at the Beach Club is the most popular in all of Disney World. It is called Stormalong Bay; a 3-acre pool with a lazy river, fantastic water slide, and a sand bottom.

Steamrolling Bay is, in my opinion, the best pool that we have been to at Disney. it has plenty of seating and has great theming.
Stormalong Bay is, in my opinion, the best pool that we have been to at Disney. It has plenty of seating and has great theming.

The Beach Club has a table service restaurant called Cape May where there is a seafood buffet in the evening and a character breakfast in the morning. Beaches and Cream is like an old-fashioned soda shoppe with ice cream treats and burgers, etc. There is also a quick-service option at the pool that serves sandwiches, snacks, sodas, and alcoholic drinks.

The Beach Club is my favorite resort at Disney decor-wise. It is decorated in a Victorian New England seaside theme. The Beach Club Villas and the Beach Club Hotel look different but have similar theming. At Christmas, it is decorated beautifully with a homey, warm feeling. The aroma as you enter the lobby is so wonderful with a mixture of vanilla and gingerbread. Among the decorations at Christmas is a carousel made of gingerbread. Some years they have had a stand selling gingerbread.

In summary, The Beach Club Villas or Hotel is one of the most desirable places to stay in all of Walt Disney World.

The Disney Visa Credit Card

The Disney Visa credit card is an option available to save money on and for a Disney vacation. It offers 1% return on everything charged to the card in Disney Dream Reward Dollars which can be spent for anything at the parks, resorts, Disney Cruise Line, and even the Disney Store. It also offers 10 – 15% deductions on some things at the parks, resorts, or ship. I will list these later.

So, is it a good option? The resounding answer is….maybe, sometimes. Allow me to try to explain. For a rewards credit card, 1% return is not very generous. If your current card offers no rewards, then obviously, this is better. “A penny saved is a penny earned.” That is exactly what you get with the Disney Visa. On the plus side, it is a 1% return on ALL, not just select, purchases. For example, the Target Visa offers 5% off purchases from Target. We get most of our groceries and household items from Target; so, the Target Visa is a much better deal to use there. It gives no rewards on gas, dining out, park tickets, or reservations. So, it is not good to use at those times.

We usually keep two cards. I do not like to have more than two cards, because it can become very confusing quickly. No matter how generous the “rewards,” the APR financing for credit cards are horrible. So, no credit card is a good idea if you do not pay if off on time, every time. Having too many cards and forgetting a payment negates any benefit. For quite some time, we kept the Disney Visa as our secondary card to use on anything not from Target. It worked well. Perdita has since changed to an another one which fits our current situation better.

Another instance in which it may be a good option is if you have a hard time setting money aside specifically for Disney, and you want spending money for a Disney vacation. Disney is the only place that the Reward Dollars can be spent.

Now, let’s look at how much you will have to charge to “pay” for things at the parks. Let’s say that you use your card for gasoline only, like the “average” American, you drive 13,500 miles per year, your car averages 25 miles per gallon and gas costs $2.50 per gallon. That comes out to 540 gallons, $1,350 spent, and $13.50 Disney Dream Reward Dollars. This will buy you a quick service meal with dessert or a refillable mug. Most of us will use it for much more than just gas, like dining out, park tickets, and reservations.
So..
$1,000 charged = 10 Disney Reward Dollars (DRD) = a quick service meal
$3,000 charged = 30 DRD = a table service meal
$10,000 charged = $100 DRD = 1 day admission to Magic Kingdom.

Every little bit does help, though.

Another potential money saving role of the Disney Visa is for purchases only for the Disney Vacation. You can sometimes (rarely) get discounts on tickets and reservations. You just have to watch closely. They due offer 0% APR for 6 months off of large Disney purchases like vacation packages, cruises, and DVC purchases. It also offers discounts at many, but not all, shops in the parks and resorts. Saving 10% on souvenir purchases and the “free” character photo may be worth it. If you are an annual pass holder or a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) member, then you already have similar, but better perks; so, it really does not make sense for you.

Again, is the Disney Visa a good money saving option? I will stick with my prior answer, “sometimes, maybe.” You will have to decide for yourself. I will list the benefits below to help.

REWARDS:
1% in Disney Dream Reward Dollars on all card purchases.
PERKS:
0% APR for 6 months on select Disney vacation packages, cruises, Adventures by Disney trips, and Aulani resort.
0% APR for 6 months on purchase of DVC membership, including member add on. This does not include purchases on the resale market.
$50 onboard credit aboard a Disney Cruise Line vessel when purchased in full with the Disney Visa.
Free 5 x 7 character photo from 1 – 7 p.m. daily at Innoventions West in Epcot at WDW and from 10:30 – 1:30 daily at Blue Sky Cellars in Disney’s California Adventure in California.
10% off select purchases of $50 or more at most, but not all shops, at WDW, Disneyland, and DVC resorts including Aulani, Vero Beach, and HHI. In general, the large stores selling Disney merchandise, like Mousegears in Epcot, will give the discount.
10% off dining at select WDW restaurants: Boma, Jiko (sometimes), and Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge; ESPN Sports Club and Flying Fish (sometimes) at the Boardwalk Resort; Shutters at Caribbean Beach Resort; The Wave at the Contemporary Resort; Trails End Restaurant at Fort Wilderness; Citricos (sometimes) and Grand Floridian Cafe at the Grand Floridian; Olivia’s Cafe at Old Key West; Boatwrights at Port Orleans; The Turf Club at Saratoga Springs; Artist Point (sometimes) at Wilderness Lodge; Captain’s Grill at the Yacht Club; Hollywood Brown Derby (sometimes) and Hollywood & Vine (sometimes) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; Biergarten (sometimes) at Epcot; Big Thunder Ranch, French Market, and River Belle Terrace at Disneyland California; Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill, Wine Country Trattoria (lunch), and Paradise Garden Grill at Disney’s California Adventure; The Lounge at Steakhouse 55 (breakfast), Steakhouse 55 (lunch), Disney’s PCH Grill (breakfast and dinner) and Storytellers Cafe (lunch) at the Disneyland resorts;
15% off select tours and experiences: (Magic Kingdom) Disney’s Family Magic Tour, Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour, Disney’s The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour; (Epcot) Gardens of the World, The UnDISCOVERed Future World, Disney’s Dolphins in Depth, Epcot DiveQuest, Epcot Seas Aqua Tour, Behind the Seeds; (multiple WDW parks) Backstage Magic, Disney’s Holiday D-Light Tour at Christmas, Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy at Christmas; (Fort Wilderness) Wilderness Back Trail Adventure and Horseback rides; (Port Orleans and Fort Wilderness) carriage rides; (WDW Deluxe Resorts) spa treatments of $45 or more; (Disneyland) Welcome to Disneyland, Discover the Magic, Cultivating the Magic.
10% off certain California Downtown Disney establishments: Jazz Kitchen, Wentzel’s Pretzels, RIDEMAKERZ, Alamo Rent A Car, ESPN Zone.
15% off purchases from littlemissmatched in California Downtown Disney.

I hope this is useful.

Pongo

Pizza at Walt Disney World

We love pizza. Perdita could, and at times has seemed to try to eat it almost every day. Unlike many other foods, even bad pizza is usually pretty good. WDW has several places to order pizza. There are traditional pizzas and flat-bread pizzas. I will address flat bread pizzas at a later time. This post is about “the real thing.” I am also not including Downtown Disney/ Disney Springs, because unlike at Disneyland, in WDW it just seems separate.

Here is my guide to pizza at WDW theme parks.

Magic Kingdom – Tony’s Town Square Restaurant offers flat bread pizza. There is surprisingly, no “real pizza” in Magic Kingdom.

pizzafari_seat3big

Animal Kingdom – Pizzafari on Discovery Island offers Cheese, Veggie, Pepperoni, and Meat Lovers Pizza, each served with Caesar salad. The prices range from $9.19 to 10.69. The portions are generous. So, it not a bad price for WDW. The pizza is mall food court/ stadium quality. It will take care of your pizza fix, but will quickly be forgotten. The atmosphere in Pizzafari is fun, though, with bright, playful murals of animals decorating the walls. It is a cool and comfortable place to rest out of the sun.

toy-story-pizza-planet

Hollywood Studios – Toy Story Pizza Planet offers the same selection as Pizzafari, served with a Caesar salad. It is the same food and same quality, just a different setting. The theming is of coarse from “Toy Story.” The restaurant can be loud and to me, the theming is forgettable. There is outdoor seating, though.

Via Napoli at EPCOT Photo by Preston C. Mack

Epcot – Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria in the Italy Pavilion is the only table service restaurant on the list. It offers many varieties of pizza including several authentic Italian pies. The selection includes Napoletana, Margherita, Capricciosa, Pepperoni, Piccante, Funghi, Carciofi, Quattra Formaggi, Prosciutto e Melon, and Broccolini. Every one that I have tried has been wonderful. As you see, there are plenty of selections to fit almost any taste. Large pizzas are $31 and can feed 2 or 3 people. That is not a bad price at all for a table service restaurant at WDW. Of coarse, gratuity will add several dollars to the cost. You can order take out, too, though and find a spot outside to eat. I do recommend that you eat in the restaurant at least once. The cast members are all Italian which adds to the experience. The restaurant is absolutely beautiful with vaulted ceilings, arches, and murals.

pizza-window-00

Boardwalk Pizza Window – Even though this option is not in one of the parks, I feel that it should be included due to quality, price and easy access. It is located at the Boardwalk Resort. It is a 1/3 mile walk from the International Gateway at Epcot and about 1 mile from the entrance to Hollywood Studios. It can also be reached from either park by riding a Friendship (refer to article about the Friendships from March 25, 2015). New York style cheese, pepperoni, and signature (garlic, mushrooms, and spinach) pizzas are available by the slice ($4.19 – 4.69) or by the pie ($18.99 – 20.49 for a pie large enough to feed 3 or 4). The slices and the pizzas are quite large. The flavor is as good as the price with a mildly spicy sauce and loads of cheese. This is the best value available. there is outdoor seating along the boardwalk at a table, bench or ledge where you can enjoy the view and activities.

Happy eating!
Pongo

April 17, 2014: Weekly Disney News Roundup

*  Disneyland Diamond Days Sweepstakes will give away daily prizes, including a Disney Diamond and a Cinderella glass slipper.  Check out Disneyland.com/DiamondDays on May 22 for full details.

*  Reservations can now be made for the Frozen Summer Fun Premium Package at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for June 17 through September 7 for a “nominal” fee.

*  Disney will have allergy-friendly menus at around 120 restaurants at WDW and at Disneyland.

*  Epcot Starbucks “You are Here” mugs are on sale again.  The monorail is now gray, not the purple which was associated with prior tragedy.

*  The Walt Disney World Marathon registration opens on 4/28/15.  The race is on 1/10/16.

*  Disney’s Exotic Driving Experience at the WDW Speedway will be closed until May 1 after instructor Gary Terry was tragically killed at the track this past week.

*  The Boathouse at WDW Disney Springs is now open.  It is a (very expensive) restaurant and an actual boathouse where can find the Amphicar launch as well as other vintage watercraft to ride around the lake.

*  Dockside Margaritas will open later this month at the Florida Downtown Disney (Disney Springs) Marketplace.

*  Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members will have new perks when visiting Disneyland:  1) “Fitness in the Park,” an early morning Pilates workout at Paradise Pier at Disney’s California Adventure.  Capacity is 10 persons.  Participants will receive a complimentary towel and jamba juice.  2)  “DVC Neighborhood Power Walk” through Disney California Adventure with complimentary jamba juice and chair massages on Thursdays from 7-8 a.m.  3)  “DVC Member Movies” will be held weekly with free refreshments. Check out member services for registration.

*  Adventures by Disney will now offer a Danube River cruise.

*  Disney XD will begin to air “Doctor Who” episodes from 2006 – 2008 beginning on May 9.

*  “Monkey Kingdom” opens in theaters today.

*  Steven Spielberg will direct his first Disney movie, “The BFG,” based on a book by Roald Dahl, the author of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

*  Gandalf will play Cogsworth in the upcoming live-action “Beauty and the Beast.”

March 27, 2015: Weekly Disney News Roundup

* “Tomorrowland” sneak preview will be starting in mid-April at California Disneyland in the Tomorrowland Theater and at WDW Epcot in the Imagination Pavilion (home of Captain Eo). The preview will last 10-15 minutes. “Tomorrowland” opens on May 22.
* Skippers Cantina, a Jungle Cruise themed restaurant, is coming to the Magic Kingdom.
* All exhibits in Innoventions West at Epcot will close for good on April 30. This includes Where’s the Fire?, Great Piggybank Adventure, and IBM Think. It is unknown what the plans for the area are.
* The Dream House in Epcot’s Innoventions East is set to close, too.
* Innoventions in Disneyland California is set to close at the end of March. It is rumored that Star Wars attraction(s) will take its place.
* Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Lodge were granted official accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
* Art in the Garden will be at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival from March 27 – 29 featuring art exhibits along the World Showcase.
* An exhibit of concept art from the upcoming Pixar movie “inside Out” has opened at Disney Hollywood Studios in the Production Gallery of the Magic of Disney Animation.
* Marvel “Super Heroes Headquarters” store will open in May at Disney Springs (Downtown Disney) in Florida.
* Registration for Avengers Super Heroes 1/2 Marathon at Disneyland California opens on April 7.
* DVC Polynesian Villas and Bungalows open on April 1.
* Disney Cruise Line announced its first British Isles itinerary. Leaving from Dover, England on 6/5/16, the 12 night cruise will make stops in England, Ireland, Scotland and France. From our calling, it appears that it has already sold out and there is a waiting list.
* Disney bans smoking in all of its films rated PG-13 or below.
* Disney’s Aladdin celebrated its first anniversary on Broadway on March 20.

* Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes are adding Loki as a playable character.

*Editorial:  We love The Great Piggy Bank Adventure, Disney Dream House, and Where’s the Fire and will miss them.  Epcot needs more attractions.  I hope that there are plans for replacements, better than Habit Heroes, or an entirely new attraction.

Perdita’s Favorite Snacks at WDW

creamMy absolute favorite snack in all of Disney World is the cream-cheese filled pretzel. It is like a desert in some ways filled with warm, gooey cream cheese but not too sweet. You can find these in various locations in Magic Kingdom such as pretzel stands and in Tomorrowland at the Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant. In Hollywood Studios I have found them at pretzel stands. I first found one at a pretzel stand during the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights and was hooked. I have even done web searches to find out where to get these special pretzels. I have never seen them at Epcot or Animal Kingdom.

Roly's favorite, the Lefou's Brew.
Roly’s favorite, the Lefou’s Brew.

Another treat which is more well known that is actually addictive is found at Gaston’s Tavern at Magic Kingdom and is known as LeFou’s Brew. It is non-alcoholic and is made with a combination of juices. The foam at the top is my favorite part. It is so good as to be indescribable. An even more well known treat that is one of my favorite’s is Dole Whip. This is found at both Magic Kingdom and at the Polynesian Resort. At Magic Kingdom you can find this wonderful treat at Aloha Isle in Adventureland. It is a frozen treat available in pineapple, orange, vanilla or swirl flavors. I think the best is pineapple. The lines for this are almost always long but it is worth it.

Some of the treats you can find in the Confectionery.
Some of the treats you can find in the Confectionery.

Rice crispy treats dipped in icing are another favorite and can be found at both the Confectionary and the Main Street Emporium. These can also be found at the resorts gift shops. These are better than any other rice crispy treat I have had anywhere else. Funnel cakes are another treat that are fantastic. They can be found at the American Pavillon at Epcot, Sleepy Hollow Refreshments at Magic Kingdom, and Oasis Canteen at Hollywood Studios.