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Guests Go Off-The-Beaten Path with New Escape to Walt’s Wilderness Resort Offering

posted on July 18th, 2015 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


Does gliding across the lake on a peaceful morning, hiking through the wilderness, sharing stories about Disney heritage, or riding in a horse-drawn wagon sound appealing to you? The new Escape to Walt’s Wilderness offers an off-the-beaten-path experience ideal for the whole family.

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The journey begins with a pontoon boat tour from Disney’s Contemporary Resort marina with a Disney guide who shares stories about Walt’s love of the outdoors and nature. He tells us we are about to “walk in Walt’s footsteps and see why he was determined to choose this place for his next Disneyland.” Unbeknownst to me, Central Florida had personal appeal to Walt as this was where his parents met many moons ago. And as we pushed off the dock to explore Bay Lake we also learned that while Walt never had the chance to see the completion of Walt Disney World Resort, he did indeed sail across this same lake before he passed.

The adventure continues with a quest for native Florida wildlife. Two pontoon boats carrying about ten guests each are equipped with wildlife guides and binoculars to seek out the many varieties that call Bay Lake home. Birds and bald eagles soar, dragonflies buzz about, fragrant moss and lily pads connect you to the surroundings and allow you to reflect on the sheer beauty of the environment. We were exploring nature, just like Walt loved to do.

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Once the boat is beached, the group is welcomed by a giant bonfire and camp-style breakfast. Locally sourced citrus salad, egg frittata, cinnamon rolls, biscuits, granola, coffee and juice make for a nice feast. And what’s a campfire without marshmallows for roasting. Next, a pair of field horses pulling a wagon enter the scene for transport to an archery lesson in a woodsy field at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. A short hike in the woods past the train tracks from the former Fort Wilderness Railroad is where we discover Walt’s fascination with trains.

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Next stop is Tri-Circle-D Ranch where “ranch hands” share stories about how horses have been incorporated into Disney theme parks since day one. Guests have a chance to view the horses in a natural environment, learn about how they are cared for, and get up close with these majestic animals. There’s lot of surprises throughout the immersive, half-day trek, especially the legends and tales that unfold along the way.

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The program is typically offered two days a week from 8 a.m.– 1 p.m. on select days. The cost is $109, plus tax for ages 7 and older. Complimentary transportation to and from the experience is provided for guests staying at Disney owned and operated resort hotels. To book or for more information, call 407-WDW-PLAY.

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Room With A View: Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside

posted on July 10th, 2015 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


The next installment in our Disney Parks Blog series, “Room with A View,” takes a look inside Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside. This resort blends the Southern charm of the sprawling Garden District with the playful spirit of the French Quarter – Disney style. Towering magnolias, oak trees and colorful azaleas surround the four, three-story manor homes that make up Magnolia Bend.

Let’s walk up the winding staircase to these stately mansions and take a peek at the view from the cast-iron balconies just outside room 9257.

The magical thing about staying in Magnolia Bend is the myriad of scenes you can take in from different spots along the spacious balcony that wraps around the entire floor. You can step outside your room for a glimpse of a rural New Orleans scene with open gardens, fragrant courtyards and a tranquil fountain inviting you to toss a coin to make a wish. There is so much to take in. If you are lucky you might even catch a horse-drawn carriage passing by. And you can’t miss the bustling riverfront and authentic water mill, which is just a stone’s throw away. There’s a comfortable elegance and excitement here that captures the essence of the south.

Inside the “Royal Room” and you will see regal touches that make this a fun resort for families. The storyline is that Princess Tiana has hosted royal friends from around the world and each special guest left behind a cherished memento to mark their visit. The themed accommodations showcase playful artwork, majestic banners, a golden chandelier and other ornate accents. I was especially intrigued by the large framed 3-D lenticular artwork of Tiana. And little girls will be giddy when they discover the magic button that transforms the headboard into a dazzling fiber-optic fireworks display. Other whimsical touches include a dual bathroom sink with Genie’s magic lamp from Disney’s “Aladdin” as the faucet. There’s even a nod to the Disney princes with respective scrolls on the walls. Characters from beloved Disney•Pixar films can also be spotted in the wallpaper border.

Room With A View: Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside

Be sure to explore the photo gallery above of this southern gem of a resort!

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A Peek Inside a Room with A View at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows

posted on June 19th, 2015 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


As part of the Disney Parks Blog ongoing “Room with A View” series, I want to take you to an island paradise where swaying palms and gentle breezes lead to new accommodations at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. As part of the re-imagination of the iconic resort, 360 new Disney Vacation Club Studios reveal a tropical motif with spacious accommodations – and wow, what a view! Let’s go to the third floor of the Moorea longhouse inside room 3020 and take a peek.

When I opened the door to this Deluxe Studio, I was drawn to an outdoor patio that extends the entire width of the room. The third floor lookout offered a panoramic view with so much to take in. To the right you see the monorail whizzing by and ferry boats sailing across the Seven Seas Lagoon. Look left and there’s the flagship Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in all its splendor. And straight ahead, beyond the luxurious Bora Bora Bungalows Magic Kingdom Park with Space Mountain and Cinderella Castle beckoning you to their magical lands. It’s a great view any time of day but especially as night falls and “Wishes” fireworks light up the sky.

A Peek Inside Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

But if you sharpen your lens there are “close-up” shots you might miss such as torch-lit paths, lush landscapes, gentle waves. I watched as a family of ducks waddled to the sandy beach and waterway they call home. It’s more than just a pretty picture – it stirs something within. Memories of my very first Disney resort stay come flooding back each time I visit. And despite its recent reimagining, there’s a familiarity here that makes you feel like you’re home. It’s no wonder families are drawn back to this beloved resort time and time again.

A Peek Inside Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

The new Studios have a ton of space (actually the largest Studios in the Disney Vacation Club portfolio) plus ample storage with under-the-bed drawers and a table that doubles as a storage chest. Rooms have a crisp yet playful décor with vibrant colors, ornate carvings and rich textures. I loved the tiki man lamp perched on a bed of rock lava and the colorful artwork. Studios sleep five with one queen bed, a queen-size pull-out bed and a pull-down bed. A kitchenette with coffee-maker, mini-fridge, a small sink, toaster and microwave all come in handy. The bathroom layout is practical for families, too. There’s a private sink and shower space, plus a separate area with tub, toilet and sink. It’s great if you have teenagers who need their space. And this resort is the first to have connecting Deluxe Studios.

So journey with me to this carefree oasis in the heart of Walt Disney World Resort. Enjoy a photo tour of Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows.

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Bird’s-Eye View In a Rustic Retreat at Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 27th, 2015 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


As part of our new “Room with A View” series, we’re heading into the woods for a special look at our “over the treetop” accommodations at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. Perched 10 feet off the ground in a lush landscape, sit the beloved Treehouse Villas, part of the Disney Vacation Club. I treasure the peaceful stillness of the landscape and the tranquil views of the Sassagoula River. It takes you to a quiet place and makes you feel like you are a hundred miles from the theme parks, when you are actually just a boat ride away from Downtown Disney. There are 60 rustic, home away-from-homes with lots of privacy and extra space ideal if you’re traveling with a large family, or have an extended stay. And who doesn’t love the idea of sleeping in a treehouse? I was so psyched when they opened in 2009, I took my family there for a weekend getaway. Imagine staying at a lakeside cabin in an upstate New York state park – albeit a fancy cabin with four TVs and granite counters. The experience is a nice pause from the hectic pace of daily life.

Inside the three-bedroom villas (photos and video from villa 7026), earth-tone colors, wood accents and natural light streaming in through floor-to-ceiling windows complement the rustic retreat. Nature is woven in the artwork and furniture in creative ways — like a tree branch as the base for a lamp, leafy pillows and a family-size wooden kitchen table, bench and chairs. A Hidden Mickey can be spotted in an end table created by three tree stumps. All the treehouses have two guestrooms with two queen-size beds each, and a room for the kids with bunk beds. There’s also a full kitchen in case you want to cook, contemporary amenities and a nice-size living area, which really makes it feel like home. The oversized porch is another gem and the ideal place to kick back, watch the sunset and take in the amazing view.

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Get Your ‘Princess’ On with New Perfectly Prepared Princess Package

posted on December 18th, 2014 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


We recently shared on the Disney Parks Blog an enchanting new dining offering fit for a princess at Citricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. So now modern day princesses can be prepped and ready for this regal celebration with a royal makeover – conveniently located at the Ivy Trellis Salon at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Beginning January 8, 2015, there’s a new Perfectly Prepared Princess Package featuring shimmery make-up, glittery nails, and hair styling crowned with a fancy tiara. Sounds divine!

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Prices start at $50 for princess hairdo, glitter and a tiara; add a little princess glow make-up for $25 more. Option three includes hair, make-up and a fancy manicure for $90. Kids ages 4-12 can get their princess on with The Perfectly Prepared Princess Package that’s also available at the Coronado Springs Casa de Belleza Beauty Salon and at the Yacht and Beach Club Resort Ship Shape Salon. Reservations will open on December 22, 407-WDW-SPAS.

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Room with a View: ‘Safari View’ Suite at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

posted on December 12th, 2014 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


Last month, Thomas Smith kicked off a new series on the Disney Parks Blog we’re calling “Room with A View.” It’s a fun way to take a peek inside some Disney resorts that offer amazing views of Walt Disney World Resort.

Today, I want to take you into another favorite view – the savannah room on the second floor of the Jambo House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

From the savannah room, you can see African animals and tropical birds on the nearby savannah. There’s actually 30 species of African wildlife including giraffe, zebra and greater kudu that roam right before your eyes.

It’s so serene and exotic – unlike any other resort in Orlando. And the view inside this room is pretty amazing too. It feels authentic and captures the artistry of African craftsmanship with hand-carved woodwork and rich colors woven in textured fabrics.

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You can book this room now at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. To find prices and availability, visit our Disneyworld.com page.

There are so many views to share with you so stay tuned to the next resort we showcase in our Disney Parks Blog Room with a View series.

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Plans for a Re-Imagined Disney’s Polynesian Resort Include a Nostalgic Name Change

posted on May 2nd, 2014 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


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Earlier today, Walt Disney World Resort President George A. Kalogridis announced some news about one of our most iconic resort hotels – Disney’s Polynesian Resort. As part of a complete re-imagining, Disney’s Polynesian Resort is returning to its original, 1971 opening day name: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

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The sweeping renovation, happening now, also includes a new food and beverage experience opening for guests next year, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto — based on the popular themed lounge at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, Calif. There’s going to be lots more updates on this beachside family favorite, so stay tuned.

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

posted on March 31st, 2014 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


In its second year of operation, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort continues to surprise and delight guests with its animation-inspired design, whimsical amenities and spacious suites ideal for families. As part of our ongoing resort series, here’s the inside scoop on this highly popular Walt Disney World Resort hotel that immerses guests into classic Disney and Disney•Pixar films, in a big way! John Graham will share 10 things you might not know about this magical Disney resort.

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Ten Things You May Not Know About Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

posted on January 8th, 2014 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


The beauty of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is that it is truly timeless. Inspired by the Victorian-era beach resorts built along Florida’s east coast during the turn of the century, the Grand remains the crown jewel at Walt Disney World Resort. The luxury resort opened in 1988, but like a fine wine it improves over time. It magically blends the new – like the Disney Vacation Club Villas, and Senses, a Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort – while remaining true to its opulent theming and heritage we all know and love. I am sure there are plenty of things you already know about this magical and memorable resort. As part of our resort series, here’s a look at the top 10 things you may not know about Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Here’s to making new memories in 2014!

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Ring in the New Year With Delectable Treatments at Disney Spas

posted on December 31st, 2013 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


Recharge, Reenergize and Reconnect
The flavors of the season – Champagne, strawberries and chocolate mousse — are just a few of decadent ingredients in the new spa offerings at Senses – a Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. From January 1- February 28, these tasty treatments debut just in time for the new year at both Senses spa locations. I guess I have always reserved Champagne for New Year’s Eve, but it’s time to indulge. These fabulous treatments will really tantalize your taste buds and all your senses. There’s Chocolate and Strawberry Facial to tone, tighten and detoxify, a Mimosa Champagne Scrub and Body Wrap that hydrates and refines and a Mimosa Champagne and Chocolate Pedicure to give your tootsies some pampering. My mouth is watering over the Chocolate Truffle Body Wrap, created to reduce wrinkles and hydrate with rich chocolate. Yummy. It’s a perfect refresh for the new year after the stress and tension of the busy holiday season. I can see a radiant, revitalized and sweeter “new me” as I am wrapped in chocolate from head to toe. What a treat! Check out the site for a menu of offerings.

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