OUT OF POCKET: NO DINING PLAN OFFERINGS Summer 2021
Planning on heading to Chef Mickey’s soon? Here’s a few things to know.
With still no Dining Plan Offerings in near-sight, you will have to account for the full cost of paying out of pocket pricing for some pretty hefty pricing for dining in Walt Disney World. Chef Mickey’s being one of them.
$240.00 was our bill with tip* for our family of 4 EVEN WITH MY ANNUAL PASS DISCOUNT which only takes off about 10%. At what used to be an excellent buffet (especially in recent years, until covid hit) and is now a family-style ALL YOU CAN EAT, which we did enjoy a nice dinner on a stormy June night. – ** THIS was one of the only times we got to see the main man, Mickey Mouse during our vacation. The other time was a Hollywood Studios Cavalcade. My two children were ages 13 and 10 at the time with my husband and I – which is a typical family of 4.
The waitress did bring out some yummy food starting with delicious types of salad as starters. Some entrees offered were salmon, turkey, beef and more. My kids also asked for chicken fingers. Deserts like their signature mousse over Oreos, apple tart, strawberry cake, and chocolate chip cookies etc were brought out. You were allowed to ask for as much as you wanted and the waitress would bring it to you.
I always purchase Discounted DISNEY GIFT CARDS from either Target or BJs to save as much as possible. This is how I paid for all of our dining on this past trip – tips included.
We did not have a reservation so since we had some really awful rained-out STORMY nights, we decided to head to the Contemporary Resort and figured if we couldn’t get into Chef Mickey’s we would just eat at their quick service. Since we were resort guests of Fort Wilderness, and happened to have our own car – we didn’t have any issues upon entering the Contemporary especially since the resort was not crowded. We only had to wait 30 minutes so we did some shopping in the gift shops while waiting. We did get to see some other characters in addition to Mickey, like Pluto, Donald and Minnie. The characters come out individually, dancing around and posing for your pictures – not getting too close.
It was definitely nice that this was an option since there were heavy downpours, thunder and lightening that lasted most of the night and Magic Kingdom was at a point where it was still closing at 9pm which was disappointing.
We are so excited for the Disney Dining Plan to return! (hoping and praying it won’t be worse or any more expensive than it already was!)
Thinking of heading to Walt Disney World in the next few months? This is the hotel I recommend for Summer 2021.
DISCLAIMER: I am by no means responsible for anything that could happen or go wrong on your vacation; these are just my opinions after years and years of vacationing at Walt Disney World.
While we are still coming out of the pandemic and Disney World is still slowly opening up resorts, attractions and dining locations, I would suggest the best possible hotel to stay at currently would be (assuming you’re a party of no bigger than 4):
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort
EVERYTHING IS CONDENSED INTO ONE BUILDING
Florida can be terribly hot and humid and there is nothing like getting off a Disney bus, all hot and sweaty from a super fantastic day at the parks and walking into ONE wonderfully airconditioned building providing not just your cool room, but gift shop, quick service and restaurants all inside. It is so super convenient to have all of this inside the same building for extra AC and to avoid the constant rain showers that Summer 2021 is bringing us! Not to mention the lobby is stunning and the rooms are gorgeous!
BOAT TO MAGIC KINGDOM
Having the easy 10 minute boat ride to and from Magic Kingdom really does make your vacation feel extra magical!
FIREWORKS VIEWS FROM SOME LOCATIONS AT THE RESORT
Summer 2019 was the first time we stayed at the Wilderness Lodge and we were surprised with a beautiful view of the Magic Kingdom Castle as well as fireworks from our balcony! Now that the fireworks are back you are sure to enjoy!
WITH MANY DINING LOCATIONS CURRENTLY CLOSED, MORE DINING OPTIONS AVAILABLE
Whispering Canyon Café has been open which is a delicious table-service restaurant if you need a change from quick service. Wilderness Lodge also has Geyser Point Bar and Grill which is an outdoor, water-view restaurant which is another great option to have. You can’t go wrong at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge!
AS A DISNEY WORLD DELUXE HOTEL ACCOMODATION, THE RATES AREN’T AWFUL AND WORTH IT
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge falls into the deluxe hotel categories because of it’s many amenities and for being one of the Magic Kingdom Resorts, but it isn’t nearly priced as high as the Contemporary, Grand Floridian or especially right now the Polynesian – if you ask for a standard view room. It is one of more affordable deluxe accommodations with many comforting habituations. Also this deluxe resort offers a slide at the main pool and there is a splash pad for the younger kids which gives you a little more to do at the resort.
Planning a summer vacation? Where are you headed this summer?! I would love to hear your plans and thoughts!
Let Me Help You Choose Your Next Walt Disney World Resort. Each week I will pick and write about MY recommended resort for the upcoming Summer months.
Depending on what time of the year you plan on vacation, what resort you pick can make a big difference on the comfort level of your trip.
Disclaimer: these are my personal thoughts and opinions, I am not in any way affiliated with Disney or paid by Disney – I cannot be held responsible for anything that may or could go wrong on your vacation. I have had 9 Disney World Vacations since 2006, and eat, breath and live Disney. I LOVE talking Disney.
YOU’RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!!!!!
Heading to Disney World anytime soon or trying to decide for the following year?
Planning out your next Disney World Vacation but trying to decide which resort to stay with? I can help. It all pretty much depends on you, your traveling companions, budget and the travel party’s health.
Budgeting for a Value Resort?
Disney World has 3, well 4 “Value Resorts” to offer. There is Pop Century (most popular), The All Star Resorts and Art of Animation. The All Star Resorts are comprised of The All Star Movies, The All Star Music and the All Stars Sports. All of the resorts mentioned are very Disney themed and super fun! However they are the smallest of rooms on Disney property but the most affordable. Each has their own quick service food court and super fun themed pools. Art of Animation is considered “Value” because it is geared for families and the 2 double bed rooms in the Little Mermaid Section are the cheapest of rooms but the hardest to get, since there aren’t many. The Lion King section and Nemo section have family suites which sleep 6 people and have 2 bedrooms, but do not be fooled – you will be paying closer to the cost of a deluxe resort for these accommodations.
Traveling During Summer Months? Summer in Florida starts in May and ends around November.
Summer is approaching!
Something to keep in mind:
The Value Resorts are amazingly themed and so incredibly fun but they are not well shaded, and if you do not have a preferred room there is a possibility of having a long walk to your room. So if you are planning a vacation during anytime between the months of June through the end of October keep in mind it is going to be HOT. ALL of these resorts do not have much shade or trees so they are HOT. My family has found that when we travel to Disney during the summer months we try to avoid these resorts. With that being said, if you are traveling anytime between November through April these resorts are absolutely lovely and lively to meet your budget. If you can only travel between these summer months and are only able to stay at one of the value resorts (Excluding Art of Animation) I recommend spending a little more for a preferred room – it will definitely be worth it!
Art of Animation is considered “Value” because it is geared for larger families and the 2 double bed rooms in the Little Mermaid Section are the cheapest of rooms but the hardest to get, since there aren’t many. *NOTE* If you book a Little Mermaid Room, you will have about a *10-15 minute walk *OUTSIDE* from your room to the food/busing* and this extra walking can be tough when you are already putting in a lot of walking inside the parks and it is hot. During the Winter months, this walk may not feel as tough. At Art of Animation at The Lion King section and Nemo section, both have family suites which sleep 6 people (1 master bedroom, 1 murphy bed and 1 pull-out sofa) and have 2 bathrooms which is closer to the food and busing, but do not be fooled – you will be paying closer to the cost of a deluxe resort for these accommodations. We stayed in the Cars section in August of 2016 and while my children loved the resort it was a lot of hot extra walking in the sun and my kids ended up getting heat rash during that trip – it wasn’t the worst thing in the world but it was definitely easier the following year when we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in 2017.
This week’s Hotel of Choice for Summer Travel:
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
We all know how quickly those summer Florida rainstorms fly in out of nowhere, it is nice to being lodging at a resort where all the rooms are condensed into 1 main building for convenience, ease and comfort.
It is easier to walk through air conditioned buildings than in the hot Florida summer sun.*
Join Chip and Dale at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge themed to the Pacific North West.
Once again Disney has outdone themselves with another massive and gorgeous lobby with impressive details in all of it’s architecture at the Wilderness Lodge, a Deluxe Resort. ***Avoid heat rash*** by staying here where inside the main building you will find your lobby, restaurants, gift shop and rooms – all while being inside the A/C. A small walk to the boat to get to Magic Kingdom and a quick and easy walk to Disney’s transportation bus stop. Having the boat as an alternate method of transportation makes it all the more magical. Boat rides tend to make it feel a little more like vacation getaway for me anyway! Wilderness Lodge is set to open fully in just a few months, June 2021!
This deluxe resort is the cheapest among the Magic Kingdom Resorts and is well liked by guests. Compared to value resorts: along with your quick service you have 2 additional restaurants plus a lounge. Furthermore, you have Geyser Point Bar and Grill offered as an outdoor dining option which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner with a beautiful view of the lake and your typical pool bar with snacks and refreshments.
At the Wilderness Lodge we dined at Whispering Canyon Café where you definitely need to ask for ketchup! Inside joke here! The Whispering Canyon Café is an interactive western-themed experience with fun games and delicious food. Since I had booked this trip last minute we were not able to get a reservation at Artist Point which is Story Book Dining with Snow White and other characters.
Value resorts only offer 1 quick service dining location and pool bars (but no indoor lounge) per each value resort. At the Wilderness Lodge you also have boat rental access, and a lake beach area (no swimming) which again are not offered at a Value. All Moderate and Deluxe pools have a slide in their main pool. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge also gains EASY ACCESS to the surrounding resorts for dining options with the boat. You can actually take the boat to the Contemporary and walk through the Grand Floridian to the Polynesian if you wanted to!
When we vacationed at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge in August of 2019 our room had a beautiful view of the Magic Kingdom Castle and we were able to view the fireworks from our room! At any of the Magic Kingdom Resorts there are areas usually on the beaches where you can view the fireworks. It was a terrific surprise and an added bonus!
More than a resort… More than a vacation….
Each time we vacation at Disney we always choose a NEW sabbatical and that always gives us the feeling of a different trip. Each resort has a different vibe and theme creating a new exciting adventure! We NEVER have the feeling of “Oh we’re doing this again” or “its the same thing again” – its a new and exciting feeling of being in that Disney bubble, escaping reality and being pampered along the way.
For Future Post-Covid Times Stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge when it is fully open.
Become Whisked Away Into the Savanna by staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in the Jambo House.
On a budget? No problem, do not book a room with a view of the Savanna to save hundreds. There are viewing areas all over this intricately designed immersive resort. Basically dropped at the door of the resort from Disney’s transportation buses, you enter into the lobby of the lodge you instantly view the breathtaking cathedral window and you are instantly immersed in the atmosphere, and blown away by the integrated thematic African decorative details and conveniently located award winning restaurants. In addition to everything being inside, the resort is a very shaded resort; even while waiting for the busing, no matter what time of the day you are NEVER in the sun! Considered a deluxe resort but when choosing a room with no views, it is more of a moderate resort pricing. Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo house offers an attractive dimly-lit ambiance with the smells of delicious food that radiates the hotel. What could be more magical then staring off into the savanna watching giraffes and zebra play right from inside your resort? Read my full review here of the Animal Kingdom Lodge! At this current time (March 2021) Animal Kingdom Lodge is not fully opened and operating to capacity – but hoping within the next year it will be! Keep checking for updates.
It is possible to stay in one of the DVC Villas at Jambo House or Kidani Village currently, but the resort itself is not fully open.
Disney Deluxe Resorts can be pretty pricey – you can always stay for LESS at a Disney World Deluxe Resort by renting DVC (Disney Vacation Club) points through an accredited DVC rental like http://www.dvcrentalstore.com and https://dvcrequest.com/ with David’s DVC Vacation Rentals.
ALWAYS CALL AHEAD TO CHECK TO SEE WHAT IS OPEN AND WHAT IS CLOSED AT YOUR RESORT OF CHOICE!
With current Covid regulations there is a lot more that is involved into going into planning your next Disney World Vacation and you need to have things planned out well in advanced.
Look out for my next recommendation coming next week!
When planning your next Disney World Vacation you will want to make sure that you check out the PARK HOURS for each day of your trip on the Disney World Website . Each day, the different parks may have extra magic hours and special events that MAY affect your visit. You can do this several months in advance, but definitely check again a few days before you leave for vacation and be open & flexible to any changes you may need to make!!!
Usually special events like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Merry Christmas Party will be posted inside the park hours. These events are extra ticketed events that cost addtional money to your vacation, and listed around 6 months in advance. If you do not have tickets to one of these parties, you might not want to attend Magic Kingdom during a day that they are offered since guests without tickets to the party because those guests will be asked to start leaving around 6pm and need to be out of the park by 7pm.
However, the website doesn’t always specifiy what type of event and may just say “Special Event” and close the park early. While we were vacationing in January I did not realize on the last night of our trip, we were supposed to be in Magic Kingdom, they closed the park early at 8pm for a “Special Event”. It could have been anything – maybe a Disney Villains After Hours?! Who knows – but its something good to keep in mind.
Make note!!!! Visiting Walt Disney World at different times of the year will also affect park hours. We noticed during our August Vacation that some night Magic Kingdom was staying open until midnight where in January it was closing around 9pm or 10pm! In January as beautiful as Christmas is, you are missing a lot of daylight.
Extra Magic Hours will also affect your visit. Last August, while we were in Magic Kingdom during night-time Extra Magic Hours, we found it frustrating that they did not allow you to make any Fast Passes at this time and we found the lines to be sort of long! So depending on how long your stay is, you might be able to avoid that and there might be times where you cannot.
It seems that Disney World is forever changing and now with the world’s pandemic who knows what changes are going to be made going forward?! We are just staying positive and optimistic while being safe.
There might be the case where the special events and parties will not be offered for a year or two.
I’ll be here following and listening to let you know as soon as I do!
Here’s to hoping and praying the world is healed soon.
When are you planning your next Walt Disney World Vacation?
Wow… on this day, about a year ago we were checking into Walt Disney World’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort for our family Easter 2019 Vacation… who would think just a year later the world would be in such a quandary. Trying not to worry or think if we will be able to make it back there this coming summer we are remembering last year instead. During these uncertain times, the thought of a semi-normal summer sounds satisfying at this point. So for a minute lets escape to someplace magical and beautiful.
Thinking of last year at Disney for Easter Sunday was simply amazing. We didn’t plan any park days on Easter Sunday assuming it would be crowded. So we had reservations for brunch at Disney’s Cape May Buffet at Disney’s Beach Club Resort which was such a delicious breakfast buffet with characters included. The only time there are characters are for breakfast/brunch. Upon arrival we took the bus from our resort to Epcot, where we walked through the countries and then down the path towards the Yacht and Beach Club. The resort grounds are a stunningly luxurious mix of beach and Disney. Beach Club is the epitome of extravagance.
After brunch a wonderful surprise was being able to take a picture with Mickey in his Dapper Dan outfit and he truly was dapper!
All the Disney World resorts seem to have a lot going on during Easter Sunday to keep guests entertained and make it a more special day. Epcot holds an egg hunt for anyone that is interested.
After our brunch and exploring the resort grounds we took the Friendship Boat (which is a mode of transportation from Beach & Yacht Club that goes to and from Epcot and Hollywood Studios) that brought us to Hollywood Studios and from there we took the bus back to Port Orleans. Epcot is just a short walk from the Yacht and Beach Club.
We spent the afternoon doing some laundry while we had a great time in Port Orleans French Quarter’s pool. The pool is beautiful – it has a great slide for the kids. The slide is some sort of sea creature type dragon with King Triton (from Disney’s Little Mermaid) sitting on top.
After some fun swimming we took the river boat to Disney Springs for dinner. (As my husband and I like to say: Downtown Disney) Our kids love the T-Rex Cafe – and that is something you need to book 180 days out, on that 180th day to get a reservation! It books fast!
Easter 2019 was really fantastic. We had a great time hanging at the resorts and enjoying what was around.
Praying and hoping that the world will heal sooner than later and we can all go back to planning our Disney Trips and whatever else in life brings you joy.
For now, we are enjoying family time at home with each other – cherishing every moment.