Renovated Lobby at Port Orleans Riverside Resort

The lobby at Port Orleans Riverside Resort, one of my favorite of all the Disney resorts, has gone through a two-month renovation and it has come out incredibly beautiful! Decorated with the evident inspiration of the classic, old-timey south, it now looks like you enter a different time and place when you step into the lobby. The spacious area has beautiful lamps from the period to accompany the new furniture and colorful rugs, which have delicate and intricate designs, and to highlight the new tile design. I have to say, the designers behind this were incredibly thoughtful.

This resort has always been a great way to transport yourself to the romantic south. With over 2,000 rooms and a variation between very luxurious accommodations and rustic retreats, it is a great place to choose for your Disney vacation. Just taking a walk through their wandering paths and past the waterways to the sound of Cajun music is an incredibly relaxing experience. Its brother, the Port Orleans French Quarter Resort is another great alternative to choose from the many Disney resorts if you like this kind of environment as much as I do.

Special thanks to Ken Phillips for this lovely picture of the lobby.

Select Disney Resorts and Hotels Will Offer Free Dining Plan This Fall

Disney World often has great deals in the fall, or as it’s better known, Disney’s off season. Because this is the time of the year when the least amount of guests visit the theme parks (Summer vacation is over and that is a huge factor for tourism in Orlando) the parks are less hot, less crowded and more affordable. 

When guests buy a (non-discounted) six night/seven day “Magic Your Way” package at select hotels, the Disney Dining Plan will be tacked on for free. If you were already planning to stay on-site, consider staying at one of the included hotels in the offer. (I will share the list of hotels once it is released) Yes, I am saying you can eat for free at all the Disney parks when you choose this option. Here are the dates for the offer: 

  • August 31 to October 3, 2014
  • October 26 to November 1, 2014
  • November 9 to November 20, 2014
  • December 12 to December 23, 2014

The Disney dining plan’s different price levels include different restaurants based on the level of resort you book. (deluxe, moderate or value). For example, If you stay at a value hotel you can be qualified for the lower tier dining plan, which includes only quick service meals and snacks (sit-down dining will have to be paid for separately). Even on the lowest tier, the Quick-Service dining plan is valid at over 50 locations at Walt Disney World.  This is a great deal- so keep your options open! 

The B Resort

As a value alternative to the Four Seasons, the B Resort is also opening this summer in Orlando. This resort has a location in Fort Lauderdale already, so I know we can expect good things from it. It will have a fitness center, great dining concepts, excursions outside the hotel and a full-service spa. Of course, it will also have a pool, a kids area and an ice cream shop to dwell with the summer heat.

The B Resort will open on June 1 at a booking price of $159 per night.

Four Seasons Disney World

Walt Disney World Resorts are opening the first Four Seasons in Central Florida this summer. It will be located in Golden Oak, secluded but still 10 to 15 minutes from the theme parks. This will be the first non-Disney hotel in the area.

The Four Seasons will be the largest built so far, with 444 rooms and a rooftop restaurant with an awesome view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks at night. There will also be a Disney Planning Center in the hotel to help guests with their Disney vacation. Among the amenities offered to guests staying there, there will be five restaurants, a golf course, a spa and a water park. Eleven different room categories will be offered with varying sizes and level of comfort, but all will be styled in Spanish revival architecture and equipped with the latest technology.

The most economic room can be taken for $645 a night, while the suite can be booked for $1,050. Since these prices are rather high in comparison, the Four Seasons has an offer of a third night free if you book two consecutive ones with them. Does not sound so bad now!

Magic Bands as Room Keys

Disney’s new technological gadgets, the Magic Bands, seem to be good for everything! These electronic bracelets are meant to substitute park tickets and work to link purchases to your account and get FastPasses. Now, Magic Bands also work as room keys if you are staying in a Disney Resort. All you have to do is tap your bracelet’s little Mickey figure to the door’s and it unlocks. The one annoying thing is that it has to be really precise and the Mickey figures do not make that easy.

This is a very new method that Disney is implying, so I’m pretty sure they are still working out some kinks. Isn’t it great, though? You never have to think about losing your resort key again.

Official Disney World Resorts List

So you are thinking of spending your next vacations in Orlando? Disney World has more than 25 Resorts you can choose from, with all types of themes and for all types of budgets. They are also your best alternative if you want to make a trip to Disney World theme parks, because most of them have a lot of perks to offer, like discounted dining plans and easy transportation.

If you are looking for a Value Resort, you can choose from these:

Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort

Disney’s All-Star Music Resort

Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

 

If you are, instead, looking for something with more amenities but still not too expensive, check out the Moderate Resorts:

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resorts

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort Cabins

If what you are looking for is the most comfort and luxury, you can always check out the Deluxe Resorts and Deluxe Villas:

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney’s Beach Club Resort

Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Victoria and Albert’s

Victoria & Albert’s is one of the 15 restaurants in the entire country to have 15 consecutive years as AAA Five-Diamond Award winners. This makes it one of the very best restaurants in North America, so it is an honor to have it at Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel & Spa.

AAA reviews around 30,000 restaurants each year in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean, but only 0.2% of these have what it takes to receive a Five-Diamond Award. Because of this, congratulations are in order for Chefs Schott Hunnel, Erich Herbitschek, Maître d’Hôtel Israel Perez and their team for being one of the only two restaurants in Florida to get the award for 2015.

“The backbone of Victoria & Albert’s continues to be the wonderful, loyal culinarians, dedicated servers and devoted reservationists,” says Israel. “They are the pillars that support our uncompromising commitment to greatness.”

The difference, to me, is in the little details. Italian silver, Bernardaud china and Italian tablecloths are part of the dining experience. If you are chilly, you are offered a cashmere wrap, even. The menu, of course, does not fall short. In a contemporary American style with much imagination put to it, there is a wide variety of unique combinations.

The restaurant offers three dining experiences:

  • The dining room for $135 per person, includes six courses and wine pairings for an extra $65.
  • The elegant Queen Victoria’s Room and the Chef’s Table in the kitchen for $210 for ten courses and $105 for wine pairings.