Planning on Visiting Walt Disney World Resort?

Are you planning a vacation to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando? Get ready for the most unique and unforgettable experience ever. For many visitors, these vacations become an annual tradition because they quickly realize they cannot see and do everything in one visit. People discover that each Disney vacation becomes a unique vacation because of the constantly evolving experiences, annual Special Events drawing in returning Guests, offering a stay at differently themed and priced Disney Resort hotels, which by the way, can be a vacation destination all on their own without even setting foot in a Walt Disney World Resort Theme Park. Factor in Disney Resort hotel Guest amenities and people are hooked for life, many of which have become Disney Vacation Club owners.

That’s not all. The Disney Vacation Planning tools far exceed anything that’s out there compared to other travel destinations. The level of control through Walt Disney World Resort’s website and My Disney Experience mobile application affords complete customization and control down to the last minute, including during one’s vacation through complimentary Resort-wide WiFi access for all Guests. If online planning is not desirable, official Disney Vacation Planners are available to help Guests plan over the telephone by calling (407) 939-5277.

Begin by visiting Disney Parks Vacation Planning Videos to watch free videos, helping you decide where to stay and how to tour. You have full control over every aspect of your vacation. If you have any questions, please head over to the official Disney Parks Moms Panel for free planning tips and advice from Disney experts who are frequent visitors and dedicated enthusiasts.

The conveniences and benefits of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel begin the moment you book, with easy to use, step by step online prompts and fun email reminders along the way making sure you optimize all there is to benefit from, before, during and even after your vacation.

May I offer my suggestions in planning your Walt Disney World Resort vacation.

  1. Check for Special Offers and consider booking a Magic Your Way Vacation Package which will include important details such as your Disney Resort hotel, Disney Theme Park Tickets and if you wish, the added option of purchasing an incredible Disney Dining Plan package. Disney Resort hotel Guests have the added amenity of being able to book select attractions and experiences in advance, 60-days before check-in through Disney’s FastPass+ Service, over those visiting Guests who are not staying at a Disney Resort hotel, which is 30 days before their scheduled visit.
  2. Once booked, raise the level of your control of planning through MyMagic+ which will include guidance for Advanced Dining Reservations, securing FastPass+ experiences, and complete customization through My Disney Experience online and My Disney Experience mobile app. Customization and planning is fun, through the easy, step by step process, in the comfort of your own home, taking care of such details as your travel style, your budgetary considerations, and preferences.
  3. Make Advanced Dining Reservations up to 180 days before your arrival at popular Disney Character Restaurants, Table-Service Restaurtants, Signature Dining Restaurants and Special Event Dining Restaurants.
  4. Personalize your complimentary MagicBand through My Disney Experience which will store your Disney Resort hotel room entry, Disney Theme Park Ticket information, Disney Dining Reservations, Disney Dining Plan Meal and Snack Entitlements if purchased, FastPass+ selections, Disney PhotoPass Service information including Memory Maker if purchased, and your Walt Disney World Resort charging priviledges during your reservation package stay. All in one little RFID wristband so you can be free to enjoy your day without carrying a single item. Not only that, your MagicBand unlocks little surprises and personalized experiences!
  5. If staying at a Disney Resort hotel and flying into Orlando International Airport, consider reserving Disney’s Magical Express complimentary transportation to your Disney Resort hotel and back at the end of your vacation. A few weeks before your arrival, you’ll receive labelled luggage tags with your resort information. Tag your bags before you leave home and you’ll find your luggage in your Disney Resort hotel room a few hours after you check-in. All you have to do upon landing at Orlando International is head over to the Disney Magical Express Welcome Center, walk up to the Cast Member manned kiosk, place your MagicBand against the Mickey Touch Point for entry into the proper Disney Resort hotel motor coach queue. If you’re an International traveller, you’ll need to have your Disney’s Magical Express Transportation Voucher with the Bar-Code Scan containing your transportation information.
  6. Complete your Resort Online Check-In to make sure your room requests and credit card on file is accurate and complete, enabling you a speedier check-in at your Disney Resort hotel on arrival day where you’ll receive your Welcome Package.
  7. Upon your arrival, Cast Members are available at the entrance to assist with Check-In, as well, in the lobby of your Disney Resort hotel there’s a special “Online Check-In Counter” for those Guests who took care of their Resort Online Check-In before they left home. International Guests will receive their new, complimentary MagicBands during check-in at the Front Desk.
  8. Now it’s time to make Unforgettable Happens Here memories at the place where Magic Is Endless!

 

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My BIGGEST Personal Dream Came True

Disney MP 2016

The Disney Parks Moms Panel is an official Disney online forum where Disney travel enthusiasts with first-hand knowledge answer returning and potential Guests questions regarding Disney Parks planning. The advice and tips presented to Guests is unparalleled with the abundant depth of knowledge from first-hand experience. Panelists represent various Disney Parks destination specialties around the globe, such as Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, runDisney and ESPN Wide World of Sports. As well, panelists are well versed with Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa and Adventures by Disney. Best of all, most panelists have a rich tapestry of combined destination experiences, as well as knowledge of travel with special needs family members, and multiple languages such as Spanish, Portuguese and French.

After eight years of applications, (which typically begin in September), progressing through three rounds, and a telephone interview, I was invited for a coveted spot representing the Walt Disney World Resort Specialty! I couldn’t be more grateful and pleased for this important opportunity in assisting returning and potential Disney Parks Guests with their vacation planning. This year for me will be one that I cherish every single moment of answering questions and helping people create life-long, unforgettable memories with their visits to the Walt Disney World Resort. If you’re interested in applying, check the Disney Parks Blog for official application announcements late August or early September.

My Disney Parks experience begins with over 30 visits as a Walt Disney World Resort hotel Guest at over 12 of their resort hotels and Disney Vacation Club Villas. I have celebrated each of my children’s birthdays, except 5 at Walt Disney World Resort and with Disney Cruise Line. I have stayed and played at Disneyland Resort in California and at Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa in Hawai’i. As well, I have sailed with Disney Cruise Line fleet wide on the Caribbean, and Mediterranean itineraries as a Platinum Castaway Club member with over 11 sailings.

That’s how much I love anything related to Disney! I would be honoured to assist you with your upcoming or potential Disney Parks vacation, just look for Jacqueline P. from Ontario over at the Disney Parks Moms Panel representing Walt Disney World Resort.

Jackie Acropolis

Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bora Bora Bungalows

It is a special day at Walt Disney World Resort, with the opening of Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, which are an extension of the Disney Vacation Club portfolio. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort sits proudly on Seven Seas Lagoon, overlooking Magic Kingdom Park. It has been recently reimagined in many areas with this expansion being the most exciting for many Guests.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is a quick Monorail ride away from Magic Kingdom Park, making it a convenient resort hotel for Guests. The benefits of staying on Walt Disney World resort property are many, such as Extra Magic Hours, Disney magic around the clock, the benefits of utilizing the Disney Dining Plan, complimentary motor coach transportation to and from Orlando International Airport, transportation within Walt Disney World, package delivery service and the ability to make FastPass+ reservations 30 days from check-in, make staying on property the wisest choice.

The new Deluxe Studios and Bora Bora Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village embrace the style and tradition of the over-the-water Bora Bora resorts of the South Pacific. Guests walk to their accommodations using wooden plank boardwalks over water while enjoying the views of the resort and surrounding views of Seven Seas Lagoon. The Deluxe Studios are the largest at Walt Disney World Resort and larger than many offered by Disney Vacation Club. They feature private porches or balconies and accommodate up to five guests.

The Bora Bora Bungalows offer private decks in the back, plunge pools, two-bedrooms, 2 baths, accommodating eight Guests. The open concept floor plans include kitchen, living and dining areas with stunning views of Seven Seas Lagoon and Cinderella Castle. Extra conveniences include laundry areas with stacked washer and dryers.

These villas and bungalows were exciting new accommodations for Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort in addition to the many enhancements on the property itself such as a new Lava Pool, children’s water play area, Pineapple Lanai (we loved the Dole Whips) and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.

We cannot wait to book our future stay here and what better way to help acclimate my son to living in such accommodations with all the wonderful stimulation all around. Who knows, this might be the stepping stone to experiencing the real thing in the South Pacific.

Yet again, Disney helps lay the foundations to help expand Guest experiences beyond the Disney Parks if Guests so choose.

Mahalo!

Photo below courtesy of Disney Parks Blog.

Disney's Polynesian Villas

 

Photo below courtesy of WDWMagic.com

Poly Villas WDWMagic.com

 

Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa

July 2012 was a most exciting time for us as we embarked on our first visit to O’ahu, Hawai’i. The bulk of our vacation of almost three weeks saw us at our Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare over at Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, but I had to plug in time at Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa, a mere 30 minute drive to Ko Olina.

Booking a stay at Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa is super easy, they have their own website where packages are offered and you can even book your dining reservations ahead of time. Spa reservations can be made by calling  the Spa and Fitness Center, Laniwai Spa at (808)674-6300.

The drive from Honolulu on the freeway took about thirty minutes, door to door. As we approached the area we saw a beautiful upper middle class neighbourhood to the North and a roadway leading to the Ko Olina Golf Club to our left, the South, which also lead to the resort area. Aulani is flanked on both sides by two Marriott resorts, which seemed nice, but paled by comparison.

Below, Aulani in the foreground, and you can see one of the Marriott Resorts at the top  left edge of the lagoon. Photo: Google Images

Aulani and Marriott Aerial Shot

As we pulled up to Aulani you can’t help but become captivated by the lush shrubs and flowers that flanked the resort, that looked as if they’ve been there for years.

Aulani and Stone Sign

We parked our car in the covered parking area which felt so familiar and comparable to the many Walt Disney World Resort hotel grounds in layout and logistics. That small detail made a big difference to us because we immediately felt at home.
Disney Imagineers replicated the feeling of being at any Walt Disney World resort by formatting parking and footpaths in a similar manner making it easy for anyone to find their way around. For seasoned Disney guests, it makes you feel at home because the familiarity is there. It’s a very comforting feeling that they evoke, making one feel right at home from the very first minute. Everything seems familiar, and somehow….it is!

My children walking towards the main lobby.

Aulani and Andrew:Pamela Main Doors

The welcoming begins even before you enter the lobby, be it as a resort guest or as a visitor. You are greeted warmly and women are offered a floral, fragrant lei, while the men receive the nut type called Kui Kui Leis. Guests are offered a refreshing drink of ice-cold lemon/lime infused water that you can enjoy while sitting in the vast, open air lobby.

Walking through the main doors, your breath is literally taken away as you are greeted by this sight.

Aulani Main Lobby Arch

Greeted by a massive, towering foyer with pointed, arched vaulting made of local woods, tweeds and thatchings leading the eye upwards towards the Heavens, also carrying your interest to the hand painted frieze depicting the Story of Hawai’i.

Aulani Arch to Rooms

What is commonly known as the “Aulani Arch” is designed to resemble traditional hale wa’a (canoe house) and hale (homes), bringing even more authenticity alive.

A closeup of the frieze depicting the Story of Hawai’i through painted imagery of daily life, celebrations and ceremony of the local people. The panel above the frieze highlighting common patterns of decoration and colors. All in horizontal, hierarchical succession leading the eye upwards towards the Heavens, the ultimate destination.

Aulani Lobby Frieze 1

Disney Imagineers worked closely with local historians and artists to represent and celebrate Hawaiian culture and history. Disney’s focus was to immerse guests in the legends of Hawai’i. Disney Imagineers, in my opinion, succeeded in doing so.

Aulani boasts 359 standard hotel type rooms and 16 suites as well as 481 Disney Vacation Club Villas and 21 Grand Villas. The resort offers four restaurants and two lounges, the Laniwai Spa, a Fitness Centre, a Kids Club called Aunty’s Beach House located near the pool, a Teen Spa called Painted Sky, pools, lazy rivers, waterslides, a pristine beach all with beach activities and a beautiful great lawn for celebrations and special events.

Our standard hotel room below.

Aulani Standard Room

A typical studio room below, image courtesy of Google.

Aulani Studio

A typical Parlour Suite, image courtesy of Google.

Aulani Parlour Suite

A typical Ahu Ula Suite, image courtesy of Google.

Aulani Ahu Ula Suite

 

One corridor leading to resort rooms.

Aulani Corridor

As you enter the main lobby, the Guest Services counter and Concierge services are to your right.

Aulani Guest Services

Across from Guest Services, conveniently located, is the ‘Keiki’ Room where children can relax, watch movies, and color, while parents fulfill their needs at Guest Services or Concierge.

Aulani Keiki Room

 

A quaint gift and mini-grocery store called Kalepa’s Store offers Aulani merchandise as well as sundries, medications and snacks. Disney has replicated this style of gift shop and maintained a level of consistency with all other Disney resorts in Florida and California, allowing seasoned guests the feeling of knowing what to expect, thus evoking a feeling of being at home.

Aulani Gift Shop Peter Kids

 

More shopping of a high end nature over at Hale Manu near the main lobby.

Aulani Hale Manu

I was amused with the wood inlay design on the floor at Kalepa’s Store (see photo below). My husband’s feet accidentally got in the way.

Aulani Peters Feet Inlay wood

 

One of the many comfortable sitting areas in the open air, main lobby, with balmy, comforting cross-breezes. It’s very easy to spend many hours here, people watching, relaxing and reading. I could easily ‘hang-loose’ here for a good chunk of time, snacking on something of course.

Aulani Main Lobby Seating

 

Enjoying the lobby over-look with my daughter.

Aulani Pamela Jackie

The left wing corridor off the main lobby, leads to the Excursions Desk (photo below). Here you can plan outings to Honolulu for shopping, Pearl Harbor, The Polynesian Cultural Center and the Dole Plantation. You can also book on property excursions offered at Aulani here too. You can kayak, surf and ride on horseback at Aulani.

Please note there is Duty Free shopping at the DFS Galleria in Waikiki but remember that any items bought at the DFS Galleria can only be picked up at the end of your vacation at the airport terminal gate, just before you board the aircraft. I found that rather unnerving after I bought something early on during my vacation, yet had to wait until I almost boarded my aircraft to receive it. In hindsight I would have forgone saving the Duty Free Tax.

The Excursions Desk room near the main lobby, opposite Kalepa’s Store.

Aulani Excursion Desk Area

A beautiful stone wall with tropical plants lines a large staircase downstairs leading to the lower level and Makahiki restaurant.

Aulani Stone Wall Flowers

At the base of the staircase, on your way to Makahiki, you are greeted by smiling Cast Members welcoming you to the elegant Makahiki and emphasizing the beautiful locally made artwork.

Aulani Acacia Koa Wood 1

Aulani Acacia Koa Wood 2

The beautiful hand carved, Acacia Koa wood panels depicting ceremonial and daily life representations above.

The impressive entrance to Makahiki, the buffet restaurant serving breakfast and dinner as well as a Character meals over the weekend at the time. We enjoyed a buffet breakfast here that offered a variety of delicious foods to please every dietary choice and palette.

Aulani Makahiki

The beautiful and intriguing ‘coconut shelled wall’ leading into Makahiki’s dining area.

Aulani Makahiki coconut Wall

 

‘Ama’Ama Hawaiian Cuisine Restaurant (below) is delicious for all three meals of the day and the views breathtaking.

Aulani AMA AMA

The Lazy River emanating from the Waikolohe Stream where guests have the option of selecting a water slide adventure from atop at Pu ‘U Kilo: an extreme ride down or a serene ride down.

Aulani Lazy River

The refreshing Waikolohe Pool with a zero depth entry and a tunnel body slide near its’ end called Volcanic Vertical seen below.

Aulani Waikolohe Pool

Aulani Waikolohe Pool Caved Area

The pathways surrounding Waikolohe Pool were flanked by rich flowers and succulent shrubs and you’d find the little Menehune (little people who are responsible for mysterious events) scattered here and there, adding interactive fun. The Menehune are crafty little musicians too!

Aulani Paths

My son and husband enjoying the lush pathways.

Aulani Peter Andrew

One of the many Menehune tucked away throughout the resort. A goal is to find them all. We found forty-three.

Aulani Menehune

The interactive, water play Menehune Bridge, with three water-slides, within the Waikolohe Pool.

Aulani Menehune Bridge

Our walk took us through a myriad of little spots and we quickly found the adult pool called the Wailana Pool, serenity abounds here.

Aulani Wailana Pool

Along the western side of the Waikolohe Pool are the posh Cabanas which are ultra luxurious and available on a reserve basis for a fee and offer flat screen T.V.’s, a ceiling fan, a fridge, complementary water, and WiFi, accommodating six people and you can even order your meals to be eaten here. Luxury at its’ best.

Aulani Cabanas

Further down you’ll find the beautiful Great Lawn, with its’ pretty arbor overlooking Ko Olina Beach. Here they do special events, such as the Hawaiian Starlit Hui, weddings, and movie nights for starters.

Aulani Great Lawn

Our walk took us to the tiered, rest and sunbathing areas complete with loungers and umbrellas. It was very inviting.
The beach itself was beautiful, with crystal clear water and golden sand, offering a multitude of beach related activities, loungers and chairs. You could rent equipment from Makiki Joe’s. Boogie Boards, chairs and umbrellas are complimentary for resort guests.

The sunbathing over look just before the beach.

Aulani Sunbathing Platform

Aulani Beach Sail Boat

My son was delighted to find Minnie Mouse and we even had a chance to greet her and pose for a photo. Aulani utilizes the PhotoPass system for photography.

Aulani Andrew Minnie

I cannot say enough about this resort. It’s worthwhile spending at least five days here. If you rent a car, then you have easy access to driving all the way to the North Shore, visiting the Dole Plantation and the magnificent Polynesian Cultural Center. As well a definite must do would be to visit Pearl Harbor and spend almost an entire day there.

In downtown Waikiki, which we loved, ample upper end shopping and dining is waiting and we loved our many visits to The Cheesecake Factory.

What a place!

Mahalo!