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17 Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World in 2017

With an amazing land set to debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park in 2017, a new festival, a multitude of dining locations and popular returning events, 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year at the Walt Disney World® Resort!

Check out 17 reasons to visit Walt Disney World Resort in 2017

1. “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular” Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios®

This “out of this world” fireworks spectacular, which returned a few weeks ago to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, uses the latest projections effects, lighting, lasers and pyrotechnics to light up the sky, Star Wars style.

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2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Inspired additions to Star Wars Launch Bay

Your can celebrate the newest cinematic addition to Star Wars, courtesy of an assortment of props from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

3. MagicBand 2 Rolls Out

MagicBand 2, the next iteration of bands that offer the same helpful functions as the original bands, have just made their way to select Disney Parks merchandise locations and the Shop Disney Parks app. Stay tuned for more updates!

4. Exclusive New Star Wars Tour Now Available at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

This seven-hour experience, led by a Star Wars “all-in-the-know” tour guide, allows you to experience Star Tours – The Adventures Continue; get an insider’s tour and meet characters at Star Wars Launch Bay; screen “Star Wars: Path of the Jedi” and enjoy Star Wars-themed menu items at Backlot Express. The tour wraps at the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party, which includes reserved viewing for the show. Younglings ages 4-12 on the Guided Tour package can also train in the way of The Force in Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. The price is $129 per Guest. Book your today by calling 407-939-7529.

5. Disney After Hours Events Return January-March

Disney After Hours returns to Magic Kingdom® Park on Jan. 20, 27, Feb. 2, 9, 16, March 2 and 9, 2017. This 3-hour event takes place after the park closes and is only open to a limited number of Guests, which means much shorter lines at 25 attractions, character greetings and more. The cost is $119 per adult or child (tax not included). Book today by calling 407-827-7185, or online at Disneyworld.com.

6. More Dining to Debut at Disney Springs

Dozens of shopping and dining locations made their debut at Disney Springs in 2016 – and even more are set to open in 2017! Stay tuned for news and opening dates for Planet Hollywood Observatory, Paddlefish, The Polite Pig, The Edison and Wine Bar George.

7. Milestone Races for runDisney

It’s the 20th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. And to celebrate, they’ve made Donald Duck their mascot. Also, in anticipation of the release of “Beauty & The Beast” this spring, runDisney has themed this year’s Princess Half Marathon after the film.

8. First-Ever Epcot® International Festival of the Arts Begins January 13

Epcot will start 2017 off with a bang, offering a brand new art festival for you to experience. This new offering will run weekends between Jan 13-Feb. 20, 2017 and will showcase visual, culinary and performing arts.

9. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Begins March 1

This year’s spring festival will run March 1-May 29, 2017. Festival “firsts” include brand-new topiaries of Belle and Figment, two new outdoor kitchens (bringing the total to 15), and a “Cars” interactive play garden for kids in honor of the upcoming Disney•Pixar film, “Cars 3.”

10. New Garden Rocks Dining Packages to debut at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

During the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, dining packages will be available on select days at a number of Epcot restaurants, combining dinner and reserved seating for performances of the Garden Rocks Concert Series. Stay tuned for more details!

11. New Family Raft Ride at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park

Coming this spring, you can enjoy a new family-style raft attraction at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. Planned to be one of the longest Disney water park attractions, this experience will immerse you in the story of treasure hunter, Captain Mary Oceaneer. You will gently ascend in treasure rafts, only to plunge into a whitewater adventure where they may encounter some of Mary’s legendary treasure.

12. Boulder Ridge Cove, Geyser Point Bar & Grill Opening Summer 2017

Scheduled to open at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge in summer 2017, Boulder Ridge Cove pool will feature an expanded sun deck and zero-depth-entry pool in what appears to have been an abandoned rock quarry. Geyser Point Bar & Grill, a new quick-service eatery, will be located in the heart of the feature pool area of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

wildlodge

13. Pandora – The World of AVATAR Opening Summer 2017

This new land will open its doors at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park in summer 2017 with exciting new offerings – including AVATAR Flight of Passage, the Na’vi River Journey, the Satu’li Canteen Restaurant, Pongu Pongu drink location and Windtraders merchandise shop.

pandora

14. Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Returns for a Record 75 Days

This year’s festival will kick off on August 31 and run through November 13 – for a record 75 days!

15. 35th Anniversary of Epcot

The second theme park to be built at the Walt Disney World Resort will mark its 35th anniversary on Oct. 1, 2017.

16. More Updates to Star Wars-Inspired Land

As we’ve previously shared, a Star Wars-inspired land is currently under construction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Measuring 14-acres, this new land will transport you to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life.

starwarsland

17. Return of Holiday Favorites

Stay tuned for updates on next year’s Candlelight Processional narrators, the return of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom Park, “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and more!

Wilderness Lodge Rejoins AAA List of 4-Diamond Hotels

Walt Disney World‘s Wilderness Lodge has rejoined AAA’s prestigious four-diamond list, one of only seven Florida properties to be added to the list this year.

Walt Disney World Resort's Wilderness Lodge

The hotel, inspired by turn-of-the-century national park lodges, is known for its log-cabin theme and Pacific Northwest décor. It was first named a four-diamond hotel in 1996. AAA could not say Monday when the hotel fell off the list.

It joins 33 others in Central Florida that are already on the AAA four-diamond list, which includes properties ranging from the Ritz-Carlton at Grande Lakes to the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando.

Auto Club AAA, based in Heathrow, has been rating hotels with one to five diamonds since the 1960s. The four-diamond rating is the organization’s second highest, given to 5.3 percent of the more than 29,000 hotels approved by AAA.

Five diamonds — the upper echelon of AAA’s rating system — is even harder to come by, given to just 0.4 percent of hotels reviewed by AAA.

Walt Disney World Resort's Wilderness Lodge

“Four- and five-diamond hotels and restaurants provide guests with a luxurious experience that tailors to their every need,” said Mark Jenkins, a AAA spokesman. “These establishments consistently exceed the expectations of the most discriminating traveler — the AAA inspector.”

Disney said its Wilderness Lodge was refurbished in 2012. Guest rooms got new fabrics, paint and carpeting, and Disney added character accents in the rooms. The main areas and corridors also were renovated.

“As with our parks, our resort hotels are about exceeding guests’ expectations, and we’re very pleased with this designation,” said Rick Sylvain, a Disney spokesman.

For yet another year, the Orlando area left empty-handed when it came to five-diamond hotels, but that could change soon with the opening of the Four Seasons Hotel at Walt Disney World Resort. The hotel, which is scheduled to open Aug. 3, will likely be a candidate for the premier rating.

Walt Disney World Resort's Wilderness Lodge

Orlando residents can still get five-diamond service locally, but they’ll have to seek it at a restaurant. Victoria & Albert’s, a fine-dining restaurant in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, has been rated five diamonds for more than a decade.

4-Diamond Hotels

Central Florida’s four-diamond hotels (with year they got the designation):

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge-Jambo House (2011)

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village (2011)

Disney’s Beach Club Resort (2003)

Disney’s BoardWalk Inn (2009)

Disney’s Contemporary Resort (2007)

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (1989)

Disney’s Polynesian Resort (2007)


Spring Savings at Walt Disney World Resort

Seven “Must Do’s” at the Walt Disney World Resort during the Holiday Season – Guest Blog Post

Seven Must Do's at the Walt Disney World Resort during the Holiday Season - Guest Blog Post

There is nothing like Walt Disney World at Christmas time.  No matter where you turn, you are immersed in the wonders of the Holidays. I thought I would share seven of my top “Must Do’s” when I visit during the Holiday season.  I look forward to doing each of these things among the many other attractions, and fun Disney has to offer.  Get ready to imagine yourself at Disney during the holidays!

1.  Take an true adventure in the evenings to Fort Wilderness Campgrounds.  There is nothing like it!  Decorations galore – not just by Disney but many of  the campers participate!  December is the perfect month to experience it all.

Seven Must Do's at the Walt Disney World Resort during the Holiday Season - Guest Blog Post

You can plan this time out as some of the activities need reservations.  Start off by scheduling dinner at Trails End, then schedule a Holiday Sleigh Ride!  Yes – I said Sleigh Ride.    You can of course choose to walk through the campground, but riding is a lot of fun too.  Sleigh rides are typically 25 minutes and run about $60.00.  Your Travel Planner can help you make the reservations.  You won’t be disappointed!

2.  Take a Holiday Deluxe Resort tour This is something I really enjoy once the decorations go up and are completed around Thanksgiving.  Each resort has a unique decorated theme and one more wonderful than the next.  I usually break this up into two days, but you can do it in one day.    I explore the Magic Kingdom Resorts the day I plan to go to the Magic Kingdom and then do the Boardwalk Resorts the day I am at Epcot. 

Seven Must Do's at the Walt Disney World Resort during the Holiday Season - Guest Blog Post

For the Magic Kingdom – I start by taking the boat from the Magic Kingdom to the Wilderness Lodge.  After the Wilderness Lodge I take the boat to the Contemporary and then make my way around the monorail.  The last stop is The Grand Floridian – where the smell of the life size Gingerbread house engulfs the entire resort grand lobby.  You have to buy a little gingerbread!

Don’t miss the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  It is a stop all of it’s own, but worth seeing.   If you want to complete your tour in one day – you can hop back on the monorail and change at Ticket Transportation to the Epcot Monorail. 

Seven Must Do's at the Walt Disney World Resort during the Holiday Season - Guest Blog Post

Once at Epcot walk toward the back entrance between the United Kingdom and France and take a stroll to the Boardwalk Resort.  Stop by the bakery for a little treat.  Then visit the Beach Club and the Yacht Club.  A fantastic way to end my tour is to attend the Candlelight Processional at Disney’s Epcot.  It gives me goose bumps every time I attend. 

3.  Enjoy the Epcot Storytellers!  This is a treat for the whole family to experience.  Each country will share their legends with Storytellers.  They perform several times a day and begin in early November and end around the 29th of December.  Even Santa and Mrs. Claus make their appearance in the American Adventure!  Make a photo journal  or have the children commentary a video with your family to remember some of these great stories.

Seven Must Do's at the Walt Disney World Resort during the Holiday Season - Guest Blog Post

4.  Joyful!  The Gospel Celebration of the Season at Epcot.  We often just stumble upon such great shows at Disney – this is one not to be missed.  Located just pass the Fountain of Nations as you head toward World Showcase a blast of wonderful holiday music will really get you in the mood!  Sing and Dance along!

Seven Must Do's at the Walt Disney World Resort during the Holiday Season - Guest Blog Post

5.  Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Now I don’t mean just going to see it – I mean being there when they are turned on at dusk.  If you are one of the lucky ones you can be chosen to flip the switch!  There is no light display that can match this one and you can experience it!  If you have some 3-D glasses at home, put them in your suitcase and take them on the night you do this activity – Osborne Lights in 3-D – very cool too!

Seven Must Do's at the Walt Disney World Resort during the Holiday Season - Guest Blog Post

 6.  The Cinderella Castle Lighting — another truly Magical Moment at the Walt Disney World Resort.  At 6:30 Each evening you can be amazed when the Castle Lighting takes place.  You have always thought the Castle looks beautiful, but when Fairy Godmother works her magic you will have never guessed what she could make happen!

Seven Must Do's at the Walt Disney World Resort during the Holiday Season - Guest Blog Post

7.  Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party  — is one of the more well known events at the Magic Kingdom and is a personal favorite of mine.  Snuggle up in your Mickey Santa Hat, scarf and some gloves and head out for a Magical Celebration of the season.  Snow on main street, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Holiday parade, hot chocolate and cookies and so much more!  Just seeing the characters dressed in their Holiday best warms the heart. 

Seven Must Do's at the Walt Disney World Resort during the Holiday Season - Guest Blog Post

Don’t Miss a Moment of Christmas at Walt Disney World Resort
Let Kingdom Magic Vacations Plan Your Holiday Vacation Today!


Guest Author – Laura Schiely

Laura Schiely, Kingdom Magic VacationsI am a Certified Travel Agent specializing in Disney Destinations including Adventures by Disney, Disney Cruise , Disneyland and Disney World. I also specialize in Universal Orlando, Princess Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Sandals and Beaches.  As a Travel Planner, I work with my clients to develop a memorable vacation from the point of selecting a vacation destination, to planning the details and follow up when they arrive home. As a home based agent, I have the opportunity to be available for them when they need me. I value my clients time, budget and experience and treat each vacation as if it were my own.  Contact me HERE.

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

Do you have one of those places? You know what I mean … one of those places for which you hear great things, but you just never seem to make it there? For us, call that place Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

We had heard about it on podcasts, even seen it featured by our own Rick Howard (owner of Kingdom Magic Vacations) on his “Travel with Rick” video-cast. For whatever reason, however, we never made the time to go over and visit. Well, my wife and I remedied that foolish oversight and enjoyed Walt Disney World Resort‘s “all-you-can-eat” barbecue feast, for the first time, a few months ago.

It was a hot day in Disney’s Magic Kingdom, and it was approaching lunch time. Where to eat? We toyed with the idea of visiting Pecos Bill but were really feeling in need of a sit-down meal. One of our favorite stops is the Polynesian Resort’s Kona Cafe, but it didn’t quite pique our interest that afternoon. Then, we thought about Whispering Canyon.

In possession of no ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation), we knew we would be “walk-ins”, and, as such, we were a little bit concerned that there would be “no room at the table” for us. As it turned out, though, the restaurant wasn’t crowded at all. Take a look!

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

Welcome to Whispering Canyon Cafe!

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

C’mon in!

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

Not that busy at all!

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

Looking towards the back of the restaurant.

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

Look past the diners. The restaurant opens up with a great view of the Wilderness Lodge lobby.

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

A look back at the entrance.

We were quickly seated at a comfortable table and handed the Canyon’s menu of “delicious-ness”.

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

How can we pass by the “All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Platter”?

My wife ordered some Evian, while I ordered a Diet Coke.

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

Don’t you just love using a Mason jar for a glass?

You have to love the “dinner-ware” too.

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

I would like to slip these shakers into my backpack. Shhh! No, I didn’t.

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

Look! A “not so” Hidden Mickey! Where’s the BBQ?

Our meal came out pretty quickly and was served “family-style”. Their delicious cornbread came first.

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

But, finally, the “star of the show” arrived!

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

From left to right: pulled pork, corn, sausage (slightly hidden), ribs, chicken, and mashed potatoes. Foreground: beans.

Dining Recon: Whispering Canyon Cafe

A place for almost everything!

As far as my wife and I were concerned, the pulled pork and the ribs were the best of the bunch. That’s where we had our “seconds”. And, “thirds”!

For the amount of food we got, and for the price (merely $21.99 per person), Whispering Canyon Cafe was a pretty good value, in our opinion. If you’re a fan of good BBQ, all of the “All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Platter” items were good. The ribs and pulled pork, however, were outstanding! We suggest you stop by and give them a try.

One suggestion, though? Make an ADR. We got lucky and hit the restaurant at the right time. They’re usually pretty darn packed! Oh, and whatever you do … ask for some ketchup. You’ll find out why!

Bon appetit!


Guest Author – Bob Sikon

Guest Author Bob SikonBob Sikon is a Cast Member “Wanna-Be”. He fell in love with Walt Disney World on his first visit to Mickey’s Florida home in 1999, and it was all because of the Cast Members. In his words, “The way they take care of you, they make you want to be part of The Magic.” Someday, his dream will come true, and he’ll proudly wear a Cast Member name badge, but, for now, you can find him in Atlanta, GA, planning his next trip to “The World”, and blogging about the place “Where Dreams Come True” at allinwdw.com.

Relax, Rejuvenate & Unwind at Disney Resort Fitness Centers, Spas & Salons at Walt Disney World Resort

Did you know that Disney’s Yacht & Beach Ship Shape Massage Salon & Fitness Center just underwent a major renovation? It is sparkling with a modern, yet warm, motif that complements the nautical resort. There are five treatment rooms and even a relaxation room for the ultimate in lounging.

Relax, Rejuvenate & Unwind at Disney Resort Fitness Centers, Spas & Salons at Walt Disney World Resort

 

Around Disney property there are other facilities that offer traditional salon services, plus a limited menu of massages, facials, manicures and pedicures, plus a fitness center to soothe and unwind. Think of these offerings as a super convenient way to get a little “you time” right at your home resort.

Relax, Rejuvenate & Unwind at Disney Resort Fitness Centers, Spas & Salons at Walt Disney World Resort

 

All six locations are now owned and managed by Disney so that means a whole new menu of relaxing and pampering services with a dash of Disney in décor and guest service. Treatment hours are from 8 a.m.-8 p.m., and salon hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Zahanati Massage & Fitness Center, Disney’s BoardWalk Muscles & Bustles Health Club, Disney’s Coronado Springs La Vida Health Club and Casa de Belleza Salon, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Sturdy Branches Health Club, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort Olympiad Fitness Center. And remember the spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort is now closed for a major renovation and is scheduled to reopen in summer as the brand new Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. (The fitness center will remain opened with limited hours.)

Disney’s Yacht & Beach Ship Shape Massage Salon & Fitness Center

 

For the ultimate in well-being, there’s also the newly opened Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. This full-service spa opened its doors last month to feature 15 treatment rooms with services such as water therapy, sugar exfoliation body treatments, rejuvenating citrus facials and an extensive array of massages, spa manicures and pedicures.

Wilderness Lodge: Day 3 – 25 Days of Christmas

This place makes you feel like “Santa Claus it waiting right outside your door”!

Hope you enjoy today’s video, be sure to leave a comment and share it with your friends!

Rick Howard
Courtesy of TravelwithRick.com
ricksig100

 

 

What You Might Not Know About Disney’s Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World Resort

I’m a big fan of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. You walk through the resort’s doorway in Florida and, suddenly, you’ve been transported to America’s Great Northwest. The seven-story lobby is built with eighty-five truckloads of Lodgepole Pine, brought from Oregon and Montana. The layered look of the main 82-foot fireplace duplicates the layered rock strata of the Grand Canyon. The resort’s 727 guest rooms reflect themes of wildlife, nature and Native American designs.

Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has something for everyone — fans of American history, lovers of the great outdoors, and folks who just want to relax by the two pools and the white-sand beach. For fans of classic Disney animation, guest rooms just went through a refresh – including the addition of shower tiles featuring Meeko from “Pocahontas,” “Bambi,” and Chip ‘n Dale. Here’s a video tour around the resort.

What do you enjoy most about this resort? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Cool Summer Fun and Hot Disney Discounts are Here

Click Here to Book your Disney Vacation Now!
Disney pool

Your family can beat the heat this summer by staying at select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels. Save up to 30%* for stays most nights June 15 – Aug. 13, 2011, at select Disney Deluxe Resorts and Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts.

Just add Theme Park tickets and you and your family can take advantage of all the summer fun.

Offer Details:
For stays most nights June 15 – Aug. 13, 2011:

* Save 25% at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Polynesian Resort
* Save 30% at other select Disney Deluxe Resorts
* Save 30% at select Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts

Book by May 28, 2011.

Ask about other great rates for stays most nights May 1 – June 14, 2011. For example, weekday rates starting at*:

* Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – $233
* Disney’s Old Key West Resort – $238

Ask about rates for other resorts and rates for travel 4/22 – 4/30/11.

Book by 4/30 for stays most nights 4/22 – 5/28/11.

Book by 5/28 for stays most nights 5/29 – 6/14/11.

Click Here to Book your Disney Vacation Now!

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