Orlando deals of the day: November 24th

24 11 2009

As from today I’ll be launching a new section of my blog called ‘deals of the day’ in which I’ll post some deals I’ve found on hotels, flights and park tickets in the Orlando area. I may also throw in a collection of deals from other theme park destinations around the world, but the focus will be on the Sunshine State.

Both of today’s deals come from hotels.com, a website which has becoming increasingly popular with looking for a bargain hotel when booking the various components of their trip separately.

Gaylord Palms deal:

Gaylord Palms is a very popular hotel amongst visitors to the Orlando-area, mainly due to its high quality and proximity to all the major attractions at Walt Disney World. There’s certainly a deal to be had with hotels.com offering standard rooms on select dates at £100 per room per night, down from £181. Based on four people sharing the room that’s just £25 per night per person, an incredible price when you consider that Gaylord Palms provides quality to the same standard as many of Walt Disney Worlds Deluxe Resorts.

The Palms Hotel and Villas Deal:

It must be something with having ‘Palms’ in the name but this lower quality offering is also great value, especially for the budget traveller looking for something with a little more for their money. The Palms Hotel and Villas is a three star resort according to hotels.com, with a usual price of £58 on the dates I selected (April 15th-25th) the discounted price of just £35 is a bargain in anyones eyes. The hotel also has a great location, just outside Walt Disney World close to Wide World of Sports and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

These deals were based on ten-day stays between April 15th and April 25th. Whilst this isn’t the busiest time of the year many schools are off for Spring break, meaning these prices can be considered a bargain for those looking to avoid summer crowds and prices by taking a break in the Spring.

M. Owen





Disneyland Paris – Hotel Cheyenne or Hotel Santa Fe?

22 11 2009

It’s pretty simple to break up the Disneyland Paris hotels into four distinct categories, much like you can with the hotels at Walt Disney World. Firstly there’s the Value Resorts, Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne and Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe.  Then there’s the Moderate Resorts, Disney’s Newport Bay Club and Disney’s Sequoia Lodge. The most expensive options are the Deluxe Resorts, the Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Hotel New York. Finally there’s Davy Crockett Ranch, which can be put into its own category due to the activities it offers.

Disney's Hotel Santa Fe

Although Disney doesn’t place the hotels into categories like this officially it is an easy way to work out the quality of the hotels on-property and compare them to those hotels you may be used to at Walt Disney World. During my last two trips to Disneyland Resort Paris I’ve stayed in the two Value Resorts, Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne (February ’08) and Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe (August 09) and I thought it would be a good idea to compare both in order to help readers decide which hotel is the best option when on a budget.

Price

I’ll start off by talking about price, simply because it’s the easiest to discuss. There’s really no difference between the price of both hotels, many times when I’ve been planning a trip the prices have been identical. Every now and again prices at Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe may be a little cheaper than the Cheyenne but this is only by £10-£20 per person which when compared to the price of a two or three night stay is minimal, although it is something to take into consideration if you do see price differentials when booking.

Rooms

The rooms at both hotels are very similar, both sleep four people, have an en-suite bathroom, television and a fan in the centre of the room for those hotter days and nights. The main difference comes with the types of beds. Rooms in the Hotel Santa Fe have two double beds whereas the Cheyenne has a double bed and bunk bed that sleeps two. If you’re travelling as a party with two adults and one child either may be fine, in fact the Hotel Cheyenne may be easier as the kids wont have to share, however, if there’s two couples sharing a room or people who may not be able to climb to the top bunk the better option may be the Santa Fe.

Another think to take  note of is that the Cheyenne has two-story buildings only, whereas the Santa Fe has some three and four story buildings. The four story buildings do have elevators but it’s always a good idea to consider that the elevators may be out of order at some point during your stay. Of course this shouldn’t be a problem as you can always request a ground-floor room if there is someone in your party who may not be able to walk up multiple flights of stairs. On the same subject many of the two-story buildings don’t have elevators, so I’d always suggest requesting a ground floor room if there is any trouble with members of your party going up stairs.

Proximity to the parks

This is one of the big aspects in the decision making process for me. Both parks are a fair distance from the parks. Walking from the gates of Disneyland Park up to the lobby of the Hotel Cheyenne will most likely take you around 15 minutes minimum if walking at a fast pace. The Santa Fe on the other hand may take 10 to 15 minutes longer to walk to the lobby from Disneyland Park. Whilst both hotels seem to be very close to each other when stood along the ‘Rio Grande’ the far end of the Hotel Santa Fe is pretty far from the river that separates the two resorts, meaning it can be a long walk to your room at the Santa Fe, especially when carrying bags when checking-in.

Both parks do however offer shuttle services, although you will have to wait for a shuttle and may be behind a considerable line at peak times, although I never witnessed large lines at either of the hotels shuttle stops. My use of the shuttle service is a good way to illustrate my point about the proximity to the park, during my stay at the Cheyenne I used the shuttle services once, whereas during my stay at the Hotel Santa Fe I’d use the shuttle service near enough every time I went to or came from the parks, which isn’t too nice on a hot and crowded day.

Disney's Hotel Cheyenne

Service

I had two different experiences checking in at the Value Resorts. The check-in at the Hotel Cheyenne was quick and simple. It was around 25 minutes from walking into the hotel lobby to dropping my bags off in my room and heading out to the parks. The Hotel Santa Fe took a lot longer. There was snaked lines at check-in which took around 15 minutes to get through and the whole process seemed to take a lot longer. Add onto this the longer walk to the room and it took me a lot longer to get from check-in to the parks.

As you’d expect both hotels met the expected level of service that Disney has long provided at all of its resorts. Staff were friendly and always willing to help with anything we needed. This isn’t something you’re going to have to worry about when choosing between the two hotels as both offer exceptional levels of customer service. That’s the ‘Disney difference’ as they say.

Amenities

Both offer very similar amenities to each other. Both come with complimentary (though basic) continental breakfast. Both have counter-service food available as well as a dinner and lunch buffet that takes place at set times. Both have fully-stocked bars.

There’s a gift-shop at both hotels so you can chose from a limited selection of products that you may have seen during your visit to the two parks or the Disney Village. Disney Hotel Santa Fe does can boast having an arcade whilst the Cheyenne can’t. However, the Hotel Cheyenne does have a playground as well as pony rides. This may mean that the Cheyenne is more suited to younger children whilst older children may find more to do at the Santa Fe. Let’s not forget though that there’s two of the worlds best theme parks on your doorstep, why would you kids want to spend time in the arcade or playground?

Theme

It wouldn’t be a theme park blog if I didn’t discuss theme. For me the Hotel Cheyenne wins this hands down. All of the buildings at the Cheyenne have highly themed exteriors, even if they are a little lacing inside. All buildings look like realistic Western buildings and some, dare I say it, wouldn’t look out of place in Frontierland. If either one of these hotels is going to capture the imagination of your kids, it’s the Cheyenne.

The Santa Fe does have a theme, though you wouldn’t really be able to guess. All the buildings look very bland externally and the whole place just looks a tad run down (of course they’re not, but it’s just the way the place looks). It’s worth noting this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, as the hotels are near enough identical inside, but it’s worth noting that the Santa Fe isn’t much to look at, especially in comparison to it’s theme rich counterpart over the river.

Conclusion

Where would I stay? Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne. The location is a lot better than the Santa Fe and the whole place is more visually appealing. That’s not to say that the Santa Fe is a bad hotel, in fact I really enjoyed my stay there. It’s just that I think the Hotel Cheyenne offers a little more and with little to no difference between the price of the two hotels I’d much prefer to stay in the Hotel Cheyenne.

If you agree or disagree with me feel free to mention it in the comments section.

M. Owen





Disneyland Paris discount – Daily Mail

18 11 2009

The Daily Mail will be offering a Disneyland Paris promotion this week, readers of the paper will be able to get a one-day visit for a whole family from just £70.

The deal is valid from January 5th until March 25th 2010, with travel provided by P&O Ferries. More information on the deal will be available in the Daily Mail on Saturday November 11th.

It’s likely this won’t be the only offer available, Disneyland Resort Paris hotel bookings are down in the dumps as of recent and that doesn’t look likely to pick up during the first quarter of 2010. This should mean offers will be available on 1-3 nights resort stays, which is ample time to ensure you can see all you’d need to at Disneyland Resort Paris.

I’ll be posting information on the offer this Saturday, so keep checking back for more information.

Source: Mail Online

M. Owen





Lines- The New Wait Times Application From TouringPlans.com: Review

18 11 2009

Ever wondered what the wait time was for Big Thunder Mountain whilst you were waiting in-line at Soarin’? Have you ever pondered if there’s any Fastpasses left at Toy Story Midway Mania at Noon? Well, if so then ‘Lines’, the new mobile application from the people at TouringPlans.com, is for you.

Lines provides real-time updates on all the wait times at Walt Disney World, not only this but it also tells you what attractions have Fastpasses left and what attractions don’t, keeping your time wandering to the tip boards and attractions entrances to a minimum, which can be vital when following a touring plan and try to avoid long-waits at popular attractions.

Not only this but Lines also does something similar systems don’t, it tells you the actual wait time. What I mean by this is that the posted wait time at attractions usually aren’t completely correct, meaning you may be waiting for a longer or shorter period of time than what Disney has posted on the board. Don’t ask me how its predicted, but from other peoples experiences using the application I’ve heard that the ‘actual wait time’ is correct to within a few minutes, again, helping you plan what to do next and what to skip in order to fully enjoy your day.

Lines also gives park hours and highlights which parks have Extra Magic Hours and how long for. Extra Magic Hours are something everyone must take into account when trying to plan their day at Walt Disney World and it’s very useful to have them at the touch of a button on your phone, rather than having to ask at the front desk or grab a list containing the times.

Crowd estimations are also included in the application, allowing guests to see how crowded the parks will be on the day of their trip. Not only this but the application also informs you of which parks to avoid and which parks to visit on any given day, again helping you plan to cut your time waiting in line at the more crowded parks of the day.

Combining this with the touring plans provided in The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World will ensure that you have a greatly enjoyable day in the park, keeping wait times to a minimum and enjoyment to a maximum. The best part of all, it’s free, at least for now anyway. Any member of TouringPlans.com (basic or premium) can access Lines until December. After this time Lines may only be available to Premium members, making the $4.48 I paid with my Unofficial Guide discount seem even more of a bargain.

I’d strongly suggest having this application to hand on your next visit to Walt Disney World. Lines is worth the price of a subscription by itself, let alone all the other great features available to members on TouringPlans.com

Try Lines for yourself now at http://m.touringplans.com/

M. Owen





New President Lincoln head Unveiled

17 11 2009

A new animatronic head for arguably the United States most famous President has been revealed on the official DisneyParks blog today. The head is set to be a part of the soon to re-open Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction at Disneyland in California.

The head is a great example of innovation at Walt Disney Imagineering, with it’s lifelike expressions being more detailed than any animatronic to grace a Disney Park, or any theme park in the past. The original Abraham Lincoln for the show was also seen as innovative and ground-breaking for its day. It’s nice to see that management over at Disneyland Resort have continued its legacy and ensured there’s a world-class feature to this newly renovated classic attraction.

M. Owen





Walt Disney Studios to have Extra Magic Hours

11 11 2009

Recently I wrote a blog on how to handle Extra Magic Hours at Disneyland Park in Paris. After writing this I found out that its next door neighbour, Walt Disney Studios Park, will also run Extra Magic Hours over the holiday season. This got me thinking about what the best strategy is for handling EMH at Walt Disney Studios.

My main tip for Extra Magic Hours at Walt Disney Studios is to get there as soon as the park opens to resort guests. I mentioned that at Disneyland Park guests wouldn’t have to worry about getting there at the start of Extra Magic Hours as you can still work your way around the major Discoveryland attractions if you turn up half an hour or even an hour after Extra Magic Hours begin. However at Walt Disney Studios this isn’t likely to be an option, due to everyone heading to Crush Coaster to avoid the huge lines when the park opens to the general public.

On my last visit to Disneyland Resort Paris in August of this year I got to Walt Disney Studios 20 minutes after the park had opened (with no EMH) even then the line for Crush Coaster was 2 hours long. This line won’t get shorter throughout the day and there’s no Fastpass so this is an attraction you must try and ride during Extra Magic Hours. Not only must your ride it during EMH it has to be your first stop, people will be running to the attraction but avoid it, just keep a fast walking pace from ropedrop and you shouldn’t be looking at too big a line when you get to the attraction.

After Crush Coaster you may want to go ride Magic Carpets if you have small children. This is another attraction that hosts long lines from opening so if you’ve got children getting in a ride on this attraction early may be your best bet to beat the long lines. If you don’t have young children then you’re options are pretty open. I’d recommend heading to Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster and grabbing a Fastpass (if they’re available) before heading over to the Tower of Terror. Why do it this way? Well, Tower of Terror is a very high capacity attraction, with the smaller crowds during EMH the line shouldn’t get too long meaning it’s a good idea to grab a Fastpass for RnRC, which usually see’s longer lines that Tower of Terror.

This is just a rough guide, as of yet we don’t know what attractions will be open during Extra Magic Hours at the Studios obviously the more attractions the better as crowds will then be spread over a higher number of attractions. The main thing about EMH at Walt Disney Studios has to be Crush Coaster, so don’t forget to hit it up as soon as you can to avoid long waits.

M. Owen





Universal unveil Singapore park map

5 11 2009

Universal have today unveiled the map for their planned park in Singapore. The park will feature a collection of classic Universal attractions as well as a host of new attractions exclusive to the new destination in the Far East.

universal-singapore-map

 

Universal favourites like Shrek 4-D, The Jurrasic Park River Adventure and Revenge of the Mummy will make an appearance at the new destination along with a host of other attractions featured at current Universal theme parks around the world.

Not only will this park feature new attractions not seen at other parks it will also feature whole new lands. There will be a land dedicated to Sci-Fi which will include a Battlestar Galactica themed dueling coaster, Far Far Away which will be based around the Shrek series of films, including an all new ‘Donkey Live’ attraction, most likely to feature similar technology to ‘Turtle Talk’ over at Walt Disney World.

Opening theme parks in the Far East seems to be big business these days, with the many emerging economies which litter the area. Universal already have park in Shanghai and Disney are about to open shop there as well, which will add to their other Far East resorts in Hong Kong and Tokyo. There’s certainly a market for theme parks in the region and the two theme park giants are more than happy to cater to the needs of an ever-growing customer base.

It will certainly be nice to see how all of the current Far East parks turn out in the next couple of years. Based on what’s currently in the region and what’s been planned the bar is certainly set high and it’s going to take real quality to compete with the parks on display in the area, with a prime example being the $4 billion Tokyo Disney Sea which for me is one of the top five theme parks in the world.

M. Owen