Staying at a Walt Disney World resort is a great way to get some extra magic during your vacation. From early FastPass selection, to fantastic dining options and recreation, and beautiful rooms, there are so many reasons to stay on property. Those are just some of the reasons we keep coming back to stay at Disney resorts (and we’re locals)! Last week we were part of a media group, invited by Walt Disney World, to experience lodging, some of the best resort dining options, tour rooms, and learn more about all of the offerings available to guests at Walt Disney World resorts. We learned a lot and a whole lot of fun. We’ll be sharing more in-depth reviews and planning articles from everything we learned, but in the meantime, below is an overview of what we experienced during the second part of the Walt Disney World Resort Showcase.
1 – Breakfast at The Wave…of American Flavors, Disney’s Contemporary Resort
The Wave…of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is an excellent alternative to breakfast at Chef Mickey’s if you are not looking to meet characters while dining. It’s about half the cost and offers most of the food that Chef Mickey offers. The buffet includes: Mickey Waffles, Sweet Potato Pancakes, Egg Benedict, Scrambled Eggs, Pancakes, Bacon, Sausage, Fresh-cut Fruit, and Yogurt Parfaits. The Mickey waffles were perfect, and the all you care to eat buffet options will leave you full and satisfied. The buffet costs $25 per adult and $14 per child, making it on par with most non-character breakfast buffets. If you’re not interested in a buffet meal, The Wave offers some fantastic entrée options. Unlike at Ale & Compass, where the entrée is included in the buffet option, at The Wave, you choose either the buffet or an entrée. Entrée’s range from $12-17 and looked delicious. I opted for the buffet because you can’t go wrong with Mickey waffles!
2 – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
After our time at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, we then traveled to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. I was very excited to visit because it’s the one moderate resort Chad and I have not stayed at yet. Knowing it’s a Disney Skyliner resort with its own Skyliner station is another reason Caribbean Beach will be the next resort we stay at! We were able to tour the Pirate rooms, and they are amazing. My kids were really into the Pirates of the Caribbean when they were younger, and they would have loved staying in this room. The room sleeps up to four. Disney’s Caribbean Beach also has some rooms available for a 5th sleeper offering a child-sized pull-down bed. We also toured Old Port Royale. The recently reimagined area gives guests access to check-in, concierge services, hotel amenities, and dining. And it smells incredible—a pleasant smell of coconut and vanilla! We’ll have more details about the rooms and resort in our in-depth look at Caribbean Beach coming soon!
3 – Sebastian’s Bistro, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
We enjoyed lunch at Sebastian’s Bistro, which is located just along the Old Port Royale promenade. The restaurant is perfectly decorated for the Caribbean and has a light and airy feel to it. It has excellent views of the lake and Disney’s Riviera Resort. While lunch is not usually served, we had a chance to taste the food and drinks offered on the dinner menu. Dinner options include food with Latin American and Caribbean flavors such as beef empanadas, Caribbean pull-apart rolls, Caribbean vegetable curry, coconut shrimp and grits, and jerk chicken. Desserts include warm chocolate pudding, mango-passion fruit panna cotta, Caribbean fruit sorbets (dairy-free), and a delicious mile-high key lime pie! We also had a chance to try two of their non-alcoholic specialty drinks. The Mutiny Punch had an interesting mix of raspberry, pineapple, lime, and cinnamon topped with Fever Tree Ginger Beer. Because of the cinnamon, it tasted like Christmastime. I really liked the Landlubber Lemonade, which was a mix of Odwalla Lemonade with a mixture of citrus and grenadine. I enjoyed our time at Sebastian’s Bistro and would definitely add it to the list of dinner options if you’re staying at Caribbean Beach or one of the other Skyliner locations. Be on the lookout for our full review, coming soon!
4 – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort Tour
After lunch, we went over to Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, one of the most popular value resorts on property. The resort is inspired by some of our favorite animated movies: Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid. The family suites at the resort allow larger parties of up to six people to spread out and enjoy the space at a budget-friendly price. Family suites include a bedroom with one queen-size bed; one double-size convertible TableBed; one double-size sleeper sofa; living room; 2 bathrooms and a kitchenette. We toured a Cars family suite and loved everything about the room. The theming is fantastic from safety cone lights to Mater sleeping behind the TableBed.
The resort also features the largest resort pool in Walt Disney World – the Big Blue Pool, inspired by the Disney and Pixar movie Finding Nemo. (Note that the pool will be refurbished in Fall 2020). Another big plus for staying at Disney’s Art of Animation is that it is a Disney Skyliner resort. The resort shares a station with Pop Century and gives guests quick access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. If you plan to spend a lot of time in those two parks, then Disney’s Art of Animation is an excellent choice! We’ll have more details about the rooms and resort in our in-depth look at Disney’s Art of Animation coming soon!
5 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Tour
The last resort we visited is one of my all-time favorites, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. We loved this resort during our stay a few years back and are eager to stay here again. If you love Disney’s Animal Kingdom, then you’ll love a stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Once again, the theming is perfect, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the heart of Africa. The resort offers impressive views of four lush savannas where you’ll be able to see over thirty species of African wildlife, including zebras, giraffes, gazelles, kudu, and flamingos that call the savanna home. We toured a Savannah View room that has two queen beds and sleeps up to four. I love the theming of the room, and the view was spectacular. If you need more room, then you’ll want to consider the Villas at either Jambo House or Kidani Village that offer spacious Disney Deluxe Villa accommodations. We’ll have more details about the rooms and resort in our in-depth look at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge coming soon!
Even if you don’t have a resort reservation, you’ll want to stop by the resort and enjoy the complimentary recreation activities available for all guests. We were blown away by how much there is to do and how much of it is free! Activities such as a safari scavenger hunt, animal tracking, animal enrichment, wildlife games, cultural immersion experiences, art tours, and bead activities are just some of what is offered at both Jambo House and Kidani Village. In fact, there is so much to do, we need a separate article just to cover it all! Be on the lookout for our Disney’s Animal Kingdom recreation guide, coming soon!
Finally, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has two of our favorite dining experiences: Boma and Jiko-The Cooking Place. Both restaurants offer fantastic meals. We love and recommend both of them!
6 – Jiko – The Cooking Place, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
The highlight of the day for us was dinner at Jiko-The Cooking Place, which offers gorgeous views of the savanna. This signature dining experience offers a delicious blend of African, Indian, and Mediterranean cuisine. The menu changes seasonally, so you’ll want to go at different times throughout the year to experience the different flavors and inspirations. The presentation and food offerings are exactly what you expect at a Disney signature dining experience. The appetizer that surprised us most was the mushroom flatbread. We’re not huge mushroom lovers, but this flatbread was delicious. For dinner, I enjoyed the oak-grilled filet mignon, and Chad loved the bon-in grilled rib-eye. You’ll also find the African inspired tastes in the dessert. The Braai brownie is a Valrhona Nyangbo dark chocolate brownie with Braai spice, Valrhona Tanariva milk chocolate Chantilly, Kenyan coffee streusel, served with vanilla marshmallow, and raspberries. It was rich and tasty. Chad tried the Melktert, which is African milk Custard Tart seasoned with Cinnamon and Cardamom accompanied by Honey and Vanilla-infused Cantaloupe. Both desserts have unusual flavors making them really unique. The entire experience at Jiko was terrific. We’ll have a full review up shortly.
7 – Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom Park
After a long day touring the resorts, we still had plenty of time to play at Magic Kingdom for Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom Park. This was the second time we have been able to enjoy this after-hours special ticketed event. We still agree that it’s a fantastic value and a great way to get a lot done in the parks. We’ll have our updated review of Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom Park for you soon.
8 – Character Breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera
Our last meal of the event was the Breakfast a la Art with Mickey & Friends at Topolino’s Terrace. This was the second time I’ve been able to enjoy the new prix-fixe Disney character dining experience. The second time was just as good as the first, and it’s my favorite character breakfast. The food is a step up from other character breakfast experiences, and Mickey and friends are a lot of fun in their unique artist’s outfits. Check out the link below for our updated full review.
9 – Walt Disney World Resorts
We experienced a fantastic four days exploring Walt Disney World resorts. As someone who has stayed on property many times over the last fifteen years, it was great to see how many rooms and resorts have been refurbished and upgraded to meet guests’ needs. Whether it’s extra beds or USB charging ports, Disney is listening to your feedback and improving their offerings! There are so many great dining choices at the resorts for every budget and taste. Finally, because there are so many recreation and relaxation choices available at the resorts, you’ll want to set aside at least one day to fully enjoy your resort. You can’t go wrong when choosing to stay at a Walt Disney World resort!
More from our Resort Showcase coverage:
Editor’s Note: Disney Parks, Experiences and Products provided us a complimentary three-night stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort that included media-specific tours and dining experiences. However, as always, the thoughts and opinions contained in this article are entirely our own.
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