My Disney World Agent Education Program

A special guest stopped by our last day of the Disney Agent Education Program.

A special guest stopped by our last day of the Disney Agent Education Program.

This year I was fortunate enough to be selected for a Disney agent education program. Every couple months, Disney offers these programs to agents who are new to the business, or need a refresher on things. It was a whirlwind four days of learning more about the business, and visiting many hotels and even the Disney Cruise Line. Here are some of the highlights I got to experience:

Animal Kingdom Lodge

Pretty soon I will write up an entire blog entry on this hotel. It was my first time staying at the Lodge and I didn’t quite know what to expect. I was never one to really gravitate towards an African theme, and I was always turned off by the fact that you couldn’t walk to a park from the hotel. Now that I have stayed there, I can’t wait to go back. The hotel is beautiful, and there is something, or some animal hiding around every corner. My room looked out onto a small part of the savanna.

Disney's Animal Kingdom lodge was overflowing with animals.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom lodge was overflowing with animals.

Throughout the day I could see different types of birds and grazing animals. The highlight of my room was seeing the giraffes every night. While having a savanna view was definitely awesome, I don’t even think it was necessary. Down every hallway, there are windows to see the animals. Every exit door you can open and peak out to the savannas. And right off the lobby, you can walk little trails to get better views of different animals. There was never a shortage of zebras. The hotel is kind of dark and quiet, making me feel like it was all for me. This hotel definitely has a lot of extra activities. You can sign up for safaris, and even use night vision goggles to see the animals in the evening. What you give up in terms of walking distance to parks, the animals and hotel more than make up for with amenities and scenery.

Disney's Art of Animation is just plain fun.

Disney’s Art of Animation is just plain fun.

Art of Animation 
Since I am usually visiting Disney World with just my mom or husband, there has been no need to stay in a family suite. Seeing them was just a treat. The Art of Animation resort has a tremendous amount of detail. Even the landscape and music will suddenly change as you move from the Finding Nemo pool to the Lion King building. You really feel like you stepped into the movies. I found the total immersive feeling more here than any other value resort. The suites are great and really well thought out. You can fit six in these rooms that have one stand alone bedroom with bathroom, and a separate pull out couch and drop down murphy bed / table with bathroom and kitchenette. We also got to eat lunch in the food court, and it was some of the best looking food I have seen at Disney. There was so much more to eat than the traditional burger. Pasta, salads, sandwiches, and different ethnic foods guarantee that there will be something for everyone.

Where else can you find gingerbread houses like these? Only at Disney.

Where else can you find gingerbread houses like these? Only at Disney.

Gingerbread houses

Since I was there around the Christmas holiday, I was able to see all the trees in the hotels, holiday decorations, and some beautiful gingerbread houses. The Contemporary Resort had a huge Frozen themed gingerbread house, complete with characters. The Beach Club holds a rotating gingerbread carousel. Both the Grand Floridian and Boardwalk Inn had Gingerbread houses so big, that they were selling gingerbread cookies from inside them.

Going onboard the Disney Dream
Even though I took my maiden voyage on the Disney Dream last August, getting to board on a day that they get the ship ready blew my mind a little bit.

The Disney Dream is big, beautiful, and has something for everyone.

The Disney Dream is big, beautiful, and has something for everyone.

On the same day people disembark the cast members have only a couple hours to get everything ready for the next batch of people ready to board. This means total turnover of rooms, common areas, restaurants, and lounges. Something I also got to do this time that I didn’t do on my three night cruise was explore literally everything onboard the ship. I was able to see the kids sections, all the way from the nursery, to kids clubs, to teen lounges. I was able to check out all the adult lounges. I was able to see the two exclusive restaurants, Palo and Remy, that require advanced reservations. I also got to see every room category onboard. Even though I was completely exhausted after this action packed tour, I feel very comfortable with the Disney Dream, and am still amazed by how beautiful, clean, and well-maintained it is.

Illuminations Dessert Party

On our very first night, we had an exclusive area of the World Showcase just for the agents to eat some dessert and watch Illuminations. Even though I have seen this firework show a million times, I have never seen it with such an amazing, unobstructed view – while drinking beverages and eating delicious desserts. I know that dessert parties can be pricey, and it’s not something I would do every time, but maybe on a special occasion I would suggest splurging.

See Illuminations like never before.

See Illuminations like never before.

During this party, they gave us exclusive Mickey glasses that are only available for these dessert parties. They somehow polarize the light so every light source you look at looks like a Mickey head. It was both trippy and super cool at the same time. It added a little extra magic to an already great show.

While I was exhausted every night after my full day of conferences, site tours, and having some time at the park, it was an awesome experience. Although I am a Disney dork through and through, there is always something new to learn, and something new going on. My agent education program was a great experience. I hope to one day attend the program in Disneyland as well.

Why Disney World Resorts Are The Best (Series)…Value Resorts

Getting cozy with Mr. Potato Head

Getting cozy with Mr. Potato Head at Pop Century

As a seasoned veteran of Disney World, I have stayed at the majority of Disney Resorts and have experienced hotels in every category available. This series is will tell you why each one of them is my favorite for one reason or another and might give you some insight on which Resort will be your best option for your next Disney World vacation. I’ll start this series with the Value Resorts. Disney has 5 Value Resorts on property, All-Star Music, All Star-Movies, All-Star Sports, Pop Century, and Art of Animation. I have stayed at 3 of these 5 but Value Resorts tend to be somewhat identical minus the theming.

So many photo opts, this is my friend Kendall at All-Star Movies

So many photo opts, this is my friend Kendall at All-Star Movies

Pros:

Theming
You can find that niche whether it be movies or pop culture, and experience it with larger than life replicas. There are hundreds of photo ops you could take with your family. These hotels are great for families that love characters, Disney movies, and want to be immersed in full Disney experience 24/7.

Affordable
The value resorts are super affordable for families that wish to stay on Disney property and for families that would rather save money to visit more often.

Buses
Even though buses are the only mode of transportation to get to the theme parks (as opposed to monorail, boat, walking, etc.) I found the value resorts to be very efficient. Now granted you will always get stuck waiting longer than anticipated at least once on your trip, but I believe the buses come more frequently here than at some Deluxe Resorts.

The food courts are huge and have something for everyone

The food courts are huge and have something for everyone

Food Court
This could be a pro or con depending on your personal preference. Granted the food court gets very busy during breakfast time, but the fact that these value resorts have giant food courts with many options is favorable to me. Sometimes I just want a quick bite to eat. I don’t want my only option to be table service meals because that can be time consuming and costly.

Both Art of Animation and All-Star Music offer family suites

Both Art of Animation and All-Star Music offer family suites

Family Suite Options
The All-Star Music and Art of Animation offer family suite options for parties of 5-6 people. The family suites are preferable to booking 2 separate rooms because you get a little living room with couch, kitchenette, and 2 bathrooms. Mom and dad get their own room while the kids can have a great time in the other section of the suite.

Cons:

Size
The walk to your room can be quite long unless you have booked a prefered room location. You might have to bribe you husband to go make the treck to fill up your refillable mug. Some of the layouts can be a bit confusing too.

Can get hot and crowded out here

Can get hot and crowded out here

Bus Stop
The value resort bus stops are basically chain linked queue lines that are out in the open. This can be a little annoying on rainy days or super hot days. Other categories offer covered bus stops and benches. Also, the lines can be very long, especially in the morning.

Proximity
Because these rooms are in the value category, the rooms are the smallest on Disney property. Squeezing 4 in a room might get a little tight, and the walls are a bit thinner than other resorts, but if you’re anything like me after a long day at the park, you will pass right out and won’t hear a thing.

The Generation Gap bridge links Pop Century and Art of Animation

The Generation Gap bridge links Pop Century and Art of Animation

Cool Fact
The Art of Animation Resort was originally going to be the second part of the Pop Century. The “Legendary Years” idea was scrapped after a decline in tourism post 9/11. The buildings were empty for quite a while. There is a bridge that connects the Pop Century to Art of Animation that you can walk on and go venture around the other hotel. I have seen alligators swimming in the lake that separates the 2 resorts.

Let’s face it, Disney World vacations can cost a pretty penny. Value resorts are an excellent option for families that prefer to spend most of the day at the parks or love a good Disney themed experience. They are affordable and true to their name, a great value, considering you get many of the perks offered at Deluxe Resorts: Magical Express, Disney transportation to/from parks, wireless internet, gift shops, pools, suites and more.

I love the 80s, and the Little Mermaid

I love the 80s, and the Little Mermaid