Thursday, July 24, 2014

Disneyland Extra Magic Hour

On Walt Disney World Vacations, I always recommend taking advantage of the Morning Extra Magic Hours - especially for families with young children that tend to rise early anyway!  Those first hours when the crowds are minimal make touring much more pleasurable and it's usually possible to ride 4 or 5 attractions before the park opens to everyone else!  But, Disneyland's hours were slightly different...

Disneyland Extra Magic Hours


What Is Extra Magic Hour?

With Extra Magic Hour, an early admission option, registered Disneyland Resort Hotel Guests enjoy—during every day of hotel stay—admission to select attractions, stores, entertainment and dining locations in Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure Park for one full hour before the parks open to the general public on select days.

To enhance the early entry experience, it is strongly recommended that Guests arrive at least one hour and 15 minutes prior to regular park opening.

Be Our Guest 

Extra Magic Hour is one of the many benefits of staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel and is only available for Guests who book and stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel.

Schedule for Extra Magic Hour

The current Extra Magic Hour schedule allows registered Resort Hotel Guests access to one park on these select days:

Disneyland Park: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
Disney California Adventure Park (including access to Cars Land): Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays

Good Neighbor Hotels Magic Morning Early Access

Receive one Magic Morning* early admission into selected attractions at a designated theme park. Valid with Disneyland Resort Park Hopper souvenir tickets of 3-Days or longer.  Only for Disneyland Park mornings.

Know Before You Go

For admission, each registered hotel Guest (ages 3 and older) must have a valid theme park ticket and active hotel room key card.

Applicable days and times of operation and all other elements including, but not limited to, operation of attractions, entertainment, stores and restaurants and appearances of Characters may vary and are subject to change without notice.

Subject to capacity, cancellation and other restrictions.

Disneyland Extra Magic Hours - are they necessary?

When I was there, we took advantage of the morning hours because we could.  We stayed at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel with easy walking access to both Disneyland and California Adventure.  But, unlike Walt Disney World, I don't think they are a must!

Our first day - 

We started around 9:30 am, after checking into our hotel, grabbing a green juice (there is a Jamba Juice right outside of the Grand Californian in Downtown Disney).  We used our optimized Touring Plan to guide us from attraction to attraction and did just about everything on our plan by around 3:30 p.m.!  

Our second day -

We read the sign wrong and woke up early to visit California Adventure early to find that it was Disneyland that had the extra magic hour again that day.  So, we mosied around Main Street, U.S.A. to find that the stores were closed (talk about not being at Walt Disney World!).  We took tons of pictures (all of the Windows - that series will be coming back soon!) and left the park to start the 8 a.m. day at California Adventure to be among the first in Carsland!

Our third day -

We started our day with the morning extra magic hour for California Adventure and headed, with everyone else, to Carsland.  And Radiator Springs Racers was closed.  The fastpass machines don't open until actual park opening...  we didn't know what to do with ourselves!  So, we shopped and bought our boys presents from Radiator Springs.  The attraction was down for hours - and we ended up going back to Disneyland before the fastpasses were being handed out!

My conclusion?

Sleep in, take advantage of a nice breakfast or morning exercise class (Grand Californian offers a morning power walk thru California Adventure select mornings), and don't rush!  Disneyland is a much more laid back park.  Crowded thanks to the locals, but without the insane wait times (aside from Radiator Springs Racers) that you will find on crowded days in Florida!

Do you use extra magic hours?  Do you prefer morning or evening?  Email me at JennL@thewdwguru.com for more personalized planning advice and free travel planning!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

2015 Disney Armed Forces Salute

Disney has finally announced:

The 2015 Disney Military Discount


Walt Disney World Discounts!

Purchase now through September 24, 2014 

Receive admission on any 4 days now through September 27, 2014 for just $169, plus tax.  Park hopper is included.
And if you’re looking for a little extra magic, add the Water Park Fun & More option for just $29 more, plus tax.  

New Offer Tickets

Purchase from August 25, 2014 through September 30, 2015 and receive admission on any 4 days for just $177 plus tax through, from September 28, 2014 October 3, 2015, with the exception of blockout dates:
  • December 22, 2014 through January 2, 2015
  • March 29, 2015 through April 9, 2015

And if you’re looking for a little extra magic, add the Water Park Fun & More option for just $30 more plus tax.
  • Disney Military Promotional Tickets may be purchased at participating U.S. military sales outlets by Eligible Service Members (defined below) or their spouses (but not both), for use by themselves and other family members and friends, as provided herein. These Tickets may not be otherwise transferred, distributed or resold.
  • "Eligible Service Members" are active or retired members of the U.S. Military, including the National Guard, Reservists and the U.S. Coast Guard.  Spouses of Military Service Members also qualify if they are able to present valid and active U.S. Military IDs in the absence of active Military Personnel.
  • The actual prices charged at the individual U.S. military base ticket offices for Disney Military Promotional Tickets may be less than the prices set forth above.
  • Participating military sales outlets must require that Eligible Service Members (or their spouses) present valid military identification to purchase Disney Military Promotional Tickets.
  • Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets for admission to the Walt Disney World Resort are not valid until activated by the Eligible Services Members (or their spouses) at Walt Disney World theme park ticket windows.
  • Current offer Tickets and options expire and may not be used after Sept. 27, 2014. Valid military identification will be required for purchase and use.
  • New Offer Tickets and options expire and may not be used after October 3, 2015. Valid military identification will be required for purchase and use.
  • No more than six (6) Disney Military Promotional Tickets may be purchased and (if applicable) activated by any Eligible Service Member or spouse (regardless of the place of purchase and whether purchased by that person or that person's spouse). In addition, one of the six (6) Tickets purchased must be used by the Eligible Service Member or his/her spouse.
  • Each Disney Military Promotional Ticket must be used by the same person on any and all days.

Resort Discounts:

  • Deluxe Resorts and Villas - 40% discount
  • Moderate Resorts and Cabins - 35% discount
  • Value Resorts - 30% discount
*Excluded resorts are as follows:
  • Grand Floridian Villas
  • Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
  • Fort Wilderness Campgrounds
  • Art of Animation Little Mermaid rooms
*Black out dates include:
  • November 27 to November 29, 2014
  • December 24 to December 31, 2014
  • March 30 to April 4, 2015

Disneyland Resort Discounts

New Ticket Offer:

August 25, 2014, through October 1, 2015:
3-Day Park Hopper ticket for $132 each
*Black out dates include:
  • December 25, 2014- January 4, 2015
  • March 29, 2015 - April 9, 2015   

All tickets and options are non-transferable and must be used by October 3, 2015.

Resort discounts are available except for:


  • November 27-29, 2014
  • December 24-31, 2014
  • March 30-April 4, 2015

Please note:

There are far fewer rooms available than in the past several years.  If you know when you want to book, you should let your travel agent know ASAP to try to reserve you the best rate possible!

Email me JennL@TheWDWGuru.com for all of your travel needs - no cost to you!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Disney Dream Meal


Welcome to those of you joining me from Rolling with the Magic and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Disney Dining

As the Disney Food Blog totes, "food is a theme park."  The Disney resorts are known to most as great places for family vacations, but what many don't realize is that there is an abundance of fantastic dining options available, from inside the parks to the adjoining resorts.  In my mind, eating a subpar hamburger isn't an option with all of the fanastic options.  The best part is that for some of my favorites, you don't even have to enter a theme park.  No ticket necessary for this Disney Dream Meal!

Disney Dream Meal - Resort Restaurants!!

First Course:

Sanaa at Kidani Village, the DVC resort or second building at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, is a fantastic combo of Indian and African cuisine.

One of the must-haves on the menu is the bread service with a variety of accompaniments. This is a great way to test out new flavors and foods that may seem too exotic or scary.  You can choose 5 now to really try a potentially new cuisine and distinct African and Indian inspired flavors!

Second Course:

Time to leave Kidani Village and head over to the main house - Jambo House - at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  This buffet became an instant favorite when we visited it in November.  There were dozens foods to try - it was hard not to sample everything! 

I might even have to go for a second soup with all of the amazing soup options they have (carrot/ginger deliciousness)

The options are so plentiful and the menu 
changes daily!  Here are some of the possibilities:
http://allears.net/dining/menu/boma/dinner



Main Course:

I'm going to head back over to Sanaa and check out the sample menus - while you can opt for one entree, I really prefer the mix and match options!

It's actually hard to decide and/or not to order EVERYTHING!  The salad sampler is great - I can't get enough roasted beets, as weird as that may be.  The butter chicken if fabulous - seriously, even my 4 year old asks for butter chicken on a regular basis.   
But, while I'm not a vegetarian, I love having good options - the stewed lentils and paneer tikka are definitely great options!  Cheese in tomato sauce?  I'm in!  




Dessert Course

After dinner, head back to Jambo House for a dessert at Jiko.  While they bring out cookies to clear the palette at the end of the meal, I can rarely resist a good chocolate dessert after a special meal.  Jiko had a clear winner (and honestly, it's only a clear winner over the zebra domes and Kenyan coffee tarts because I don't have a picture of them - those are incredible as well).  The One Last Cup - which doesn't appear to be on the menu right now - had a Tanzanian Chocolate Kenyan Coffee Mousse with a warm chocolate dipping sauce.  Oh my goodness, so delicious.

Honorable Mention:

One of my all-time favorite Disney restaurants is unfortunately closing at the end of September, 2014.  Kouzzina by Cat Cora, located at Disney's Boardwalk, has my favorite soup - Avgolomeno, a traditional Greek chicken and lemon soup with orzo.  I have tried copying the recipe at home and ordered it at every Greek restaurant near my house - and none of it comes close.  Second on that menu is the Moussaka - a Greek lasagna covered in cheesy bechamel (creamy deliciousness).  That's so decadent that I never even consider ordered it when I'm not on vacation, but at Kouzzina, it's phenominal.  I am sad that I'll never get to experience it again!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Disney Donna Kay

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

**3rd Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog - Dream Disney Meal

Monday, July 14, 2014

Grand Californian Resort and Spa

We love splurging on Deluxe Resorts.  Something about deluxe accomodations (i.e. super comfy bed/big shower) and great locations, often make it worthwhile for us, especially on short trips!  For our quick 3 day Disneyland trip, we decided to do it right:

The Disneyland Resort's Grand Californian Hotel


One of only 3 resorts at the Disneyland Resort, the Grand Californian is the Flagship resort at Disneyland. All 3 of the Disneyland resorts are considered Deluxe, but the Grand Californian stands out with style and grace, but more importantly?

Location


Disneyland is awesome for many reasons, but one of my favorites?  Being able to walk from Disneyland and into Disney California Adventure in under 10 minutes.  Plus that up a little bit - you can literally walk directly from Disney's Grand Californian INTO Disney California Adventure in a special resort entrance!

Or, if you're headed to Disneyland or out for some shopping, you can leave another hotel entrance to go directly to Downtown Disney, which leads to the main entrances of both parks!

The convenience of this resort alone worth the cost!

Fantastic Dining

There are 2 sit down restaurants - and we dined at both (reviews to come!) - Both were delicious!
  1. Napa Rose - by Chef Andrew Sutton (also of Carthay Circle Restaurant AND Club 33)
  2. Storyteller's Cafe

We also enjoyed drinks in the Hearthstone Lounge, filled with comfortable couches, tables and chairs, and even a fireplace!

While we never stopped in at White Water Snacks, the grab and go location, we enjoyed having Downtown Disney conveniently located nearby for a quick breakfast (they had a Jamba 
iJuice - perfect for a healthy breakfast!)

Nice Pools

There are 3 pools in the pool area - we honestly couldn't really tell a difference, aside from the smaller pool that had a great pool slide.  There didn't appear to be a quite pool of the 3, but we still had a lot of fun swimming for a couple of hours!

Daily Activities

From tours of the resort, excercise classes, early morning walks through California Adventure, to storytelling by the fireplace, there are dozens of activities to do at Disney's Grand Californian!  Make sure to get your activity guide when you check in!

Spa

The Grand Californian is home to one of Disney's Mandara Spas - I have yet to experience one, but I've heard they're fantastic! I'm too keyed up to go-go-go at the Disney parks and can't handle that much down time!

Interested in staying at Disneyland's Grand Californian?  Email me, JennL@thewdwguru.com for a free, no obligation price quote!!  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Harry Potter Vacation Package!

With the recent addition of Diagon Alley at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, a special and incredible deal is being offered!

Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter


This Exclusive Vacation Package Includes:

  • 4-Night Hotel Accommodations
  • 3-Day Park-to-Park Ticket^
  • Breakfast at the Leaky CauldronTM in Universal Studios Florida® - one per person
  • Breakfast at the Three BroomsticksTM in Universal’s Islands of Adventure® - one per person
  • Early Park Admission* to The Wizarding World of Harry PotterTM one hour before the theme parks open
  • Special themed Welcome Parcel§
    • Souvenir owl post
    • Welcome letter

Sample Prices:

Moderate/Value Onsite hotel: 



Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Starting from $135* per adult, tax inclusive
  • Complimentary shuttle buses and walking paths to both theme parks and CityWalk® to make getting around the resort fast and easy so you can make the most of your timeme
  • Complimentary delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort to your hotel
  • Universal Orlando® resort-wide charging privileges

Universal Deluxe On-Site Hotel


Loews Royal Pacific Resort
Starting from $199** per adult, tax inclusive
ALL of the benefits of the Moderate/Value On-Site Hotel PLUS




  • Universal ExpressSM Unlimited ride access† to skip the regular lines in both theme parks - a FREE benefit worth up to $89†† per person, per day
  • Complimentary water taxi or shuttle buses to make getting around the resort fast and easy
  • Priority seating at select restaurants throughout both theme parks and enjoy first available seating at select Universal Orlando and CityWalk restaurants

Universal Partner Hotel

Rosen Inn International
Starting from $109*** per adult, tax inclusive
  • FREE scheduled transportation^^ between hotel and Universal Orlando
  • Discounts~ on merchandise, food & non-alcoholic beverages at select theme park & CityWalk locations
  • Additional Universal Partner Hotels available


Email me, JennL@theWDWGuru.com for free booking information and vacation assistance!!