Archive for November, 2008

Disney Grand Floridian

November 28th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Hotels
The most luxurious Disney World hotel

The most luxurious Disney World hotel

If you are looking for the ultimate in luxury at a Disney resort then you will find it at the Disney Grand Floridian Resort. Be transported back to the Victorian age where service is exceptional, the architecture is stunning and the location is the best in Disney World. The Grand Floridian is located just minutes away from the Magic Kingdom and can be reached by monorail, boat or even a gentle stroll.

This quality does come at a price though. Room rates for 2009 for the Grand Floridian start at $399 and can go a lot higher depending on the type of room and the season you are visiting Disney World. There are many different types of rooms available ranging from the standard room, concierge level rooms right up to the amazing Disney Suite. I think I may have to save up for that one though as prices are upwards of $2000 a night.

But if you want the very best in luxury then the Grand Floridian will deliver. But let’s not forget that this is a Disney resort. You are surrounded with elegance and luxury but will still feel at home in those Mickey Mouse ears and Disney shirt. This is not a place to stand on ceremony!

Have you met your Prince Charming or your perfect Princess? You may want to get married in the Grand Floridian Wedding Pavilion. This dream wedding chapel overlooks the Seven Seas Lagoon and Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Mickey can’t be a guest at your wedding but he will come to the reception – for an hourly rate of course. You can arrive in style in Cinderella’s Coach pulled by six white ponies driven by a footman. This is the stuff of which dreams are made!

Unfortunately not everyone’s budget stretches to actually staying at the Grand Floridian resort. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy some of the fabulous atmosphere and eat in the restaurants. The Floridian is home to one of the very best restaurants that Disney has to offer – Victoria and Albert’s. This is the perfect place for a romantic dinner. Expect to pay around $500 for a dinner for 2 with wine pairings though. If you want something a little less formal and lighter on the wallet ( but not the waistline) then try out 1900 Park Fare. This is one of my favorite Disney character dining restaurants. Have dinner with Cinderella or breakfast with Mary Poppins. The food is excellent for a buffet – expect a high energy and fun dining experience.

Or you can simply people watch in the Floridian. It is a perfect short distance from Magic Kingdom on the monorail or by boat. As soon as you enter the lobby your eyes will look upwards to the amazing 5 story atrium. Walk around to the grand staircase and find my children’s favorite spot – miniature chairs and tables in front of a TV screen showing Disney classic movies. We have spent many a happy hour relaxing there and recovering from walking around the parks.

Christmas time at the Grand Floridian is a particular treat. The huge Christmas tree in the lobby has to be seen to be believed and the edible Ginger Bread House is a favorite.

Whether you stay as a guest at Disney’s Grand Floridian hotel or simply step in for a while to look around you are sure to want to return to beautiful resort.

Photos used under Creative Commons from Kathika

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Disney World Hidden Mickeys

November 24th, 2008 by Alison | 1 Comment | Filed in Disney World

What exactly is a Hidden Mickey? And how do you find them at Disney World? Rather than explain what they are it is probably easier to start by showing you a picture of one!

Hidden Mickey on the floor of the Disney Polynesian Resort Hotel

Hidden Mickey on the floor of the Disney Polynesian Resort Hotel

Hidden Mickeys started in the late 1970s when the Disney Imagineer’s began to leave a secret mark when they created an attraction. It was a kind of signature so they could show their family their mark on a Disney attraction that they had helped to create. At first it was a Disney inside secret but became known to guests too when an article explaining Hidden Mickey’s was published in the Disney cast member magazine. Soon the Hidden Mickey secret was out!

So what can be classed as a Hidden Mickey? Often it is the classic mouse ear trio of a black circle for his head and two circles for his ears. But it can be other things too. A Hidden Mickey can be a full silhouette drawing, a plush, his name or initials. It doesn’t even have to be Mickey Mouse – other characters are included too.

It is a lot of fun to start looking for Hidden Mickey’s in the Disney parks. It can become a little addictive once you start though! It is something that the whole family can get involved in – and can even help to pass some of the time standing in line.

How do you know if it really is a Hidden Mickey. Unfortunately there is no official list produced by Disney. Sometimes it can be a difficult call as to whether or not something you find really is a Hidden Mickey. You will get a lot better with practice though! They are located in all of the parks and even the Disney movies.

So you don’t even need to leave home to find a Hidden Mickey. Here are some that you can see right from the comfort of your own armchair!

Toy Story 2

In Andy’s room, in an early film sequence, a Mickey Mouse “watch” clock is visible on Andy’s wall.


Shang’s Horse has four hidden mickeys, two on each side. One on each side of the neck with the others on each side of his hind flanks.

Atlantis – The Lost Empire

When Milo is talking to his grandfather’s friend, there are some fish in the background in the aquarium. On each fish, there are spots of which three of them form to make a Hidden Mickey.

If you want to find out more about Hidden Mickeys and start searching for them there is a great guide written by Steven M Barrett which has lots of details about Hidden Mickeys and scavenger hunts for all the family to enjoy.

Photo used under Creative Commons from mrkathika

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Windsor Palms Home Available at Christmas

November 19th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Orlando Vacation Homes

I just had a friend of mine contact me to say that due to a last minute cancellation her beautiful 6 bed 3.5 bath Windsor Palms home is available at Christmas. Now I know that homes are really scarce on Windsor Palms at this most popular time of the year so if you are looking for a last minute Christmas and New Year Disney holiday then you now have a fabulous place to stay. I have so many people contacting me at the last moment wanting to book and I simply have to turn them away. Most Windsor Palms homes book for Christmas over a year ahead. So I am now looking at booking Christmas 2009 and 2010 for my other homes. But due to this cancellation you can now find your dream home for the Holidays on Windsor Palms resort.

Booking a vacation home for Christmas is a great idea. You get to relax in your own private oasis away from the Disney Holiday crowds. Christmas is one of my very favorite times at Disney and Universal Studios but it is nice to be able to come back to a vacation home and take some time out to relax with the family.

This Windsor Palms 6 bed home is close to the clubhouse so you are just steps away from all the facilities. The house has been upgraded a lot recently and is now one of the best available on the resort. The swimming pool and spa are nicely screened with planting. There is that all important games room too!

So if you are planning a last minute Christmas trip and are looking for a Windsor Palms vacation home then contact me and I will send you all the details.

Kissimmee Villa January Special

November 19th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Uncategorized

Are you looking for a great rate for a Kissimmee rental villa in January 2009? Well I have some great deals for you on my Windsor Palms and Windsor Hills homes. January is one of the best times of the year to visit Disney World and all the other Orlando theme parks. If you are looking to escape the cold weather where you live then Florida is the perfect place. The average temperatures for Orlando in January are around 72 degrees. Just the right temperature to explore Disney World – when it is too hot it can just be so much more tiring to walk around! So you have the combination of great weather,very short wait times to get on the attractions – so what are you waiting for?

What could be better than relaxing in your own swimming pool on one of the very popular Windsor resorts. Why do more people choose Windsor Palms and Windsor Hills than any other resort in Orlando? Location, location. location. And of course the great facilities which each resort has. You get the best of everything. A home away from home close to Disney World.

I have several homes to choose from on Windsor Palms – from 4 beds to 6 bed vacation homes. And on Windsor Hills I have some almost brand new homes. Every one of them is privately owned and very upgraded. So if you are looking for a special deal then contact me to find out more.

Mickey Mouse is 80 Today

November 18th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Disney World, Disney movies

As Walt Disney himself once said ‘It all started with a Mouse’. Well today Mickey Mouse celebrates his 80th birthday!

Mickey and Minnie Mouse actually debuted on 15th May 1928 in an animated short named Plan Crazy. But Mickey’s actual birthday is always quoted as 18th November 1928 as this is when he made his first appearance on film in the animated movie Steamboat Willie. So this makes him the ripe old age of 80 today!

Walt Disney said of Mickey Mouse:

“We felt that the public, and especially the children, like animals that are cute and little. I think we are rather indebted to Charlie Chaplin for the idea. We wanted something appealing, and we thought of a tiny bit of a mouse that would have something of the wistfulness of Chaplin — a little fellow trying to do the best he could. When people laugh at Mickey Mouse, it’s because he’s so human; and that is the secret of his popularity. I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse.”

So happy 80th birthday Mickey. As Minnie Mouse debuted on the same day does that mean that she is also celebrating?

Windsor Hills Resort Kissimmee

November 17th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Orlando Vacation Homes

Is Windsor Hills vacation home resort really the closest to Disney World? I get asked this a lot! I have homes available on both Windsor Hills and Windsor Palms so I am in a pretty good position to actually be honest about this question!

So which is closer to Disney World? Windsor Palms or Windsor Hills? Both resorts are just on the edge of Disney World and are uniquely placed to really be able to say they are the closest. The truth is that Windsor Hills probably has a slight edge with Windsor Palms about a minute behind. From both resorts you can travel to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in less than 8 minutes. If you are going to Disney’s Hollywood Studios then the drive time is around 15 minutes. Magic Kingdom and EPCOT are around 20 minutes.

But the drive time also depends of where you are within each resort. Windsor Palms is a relatively small resort so your drive time is only going to vary a little. But Windsor Hills is quite a lot larger so you can add a few minutes onto your drive time if you are far back in the resort. That is why I am pleased to say that I have one of the best locations for a Windsor Hills home for the beautiful 6 bed home that I have available. Not only is it on one of the best lots with no rear neighbors and a beautiful view out onto open space, but it is certainly one of the houses that is the quickest to travel to Disney World from because of it’s great location. Not only that but you can even see the Disney World fireworks from the house. Not surprisingly this is a very popular home so if you have any dates in mind for 2009 then contact me and I will send you more details of availability and pricing. This 6 bed 4 bath home has very upgraded furnishings, games room, internet access, granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, beautifully decorated rooms and of course that pool deck which really can’t be beaten. If you want any more information either contact me or visit my other site at Windsor Hills

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Gloria Estefan Cookbook

November 14th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Restaurants

I really enjoy dining at Gloria Estefan’s Cuban Cafe in Downtown Disney so I was very pleased to learn that she and her husband Emilio have released Estefan Kitchen

I had never tried making any Cuban recipes before but I have been really inspired by Gloria Estefan’s book. It includes some of the recipes found in her famous restaurants. If you have never tried Bongo’s Cuban Cafe in Downtown Disney you really should stop by one day. The cuisine and wonderful atmosphere make it one of my favorites. I know that Cuban cuisine isn’t always everyone’s first choice but really do give it a try! My favorites include plantain soup and the lobster bisque. The Cuban sandwhich is another favorite. It is great to see some interesting desserts on the menu too such as the traditional Cuban flan and the guava and cheese flan. And of course they serve some fabulous cocktails too. I seem to remember indulging in rather too many of those the last time I was there!

Bot now you don’t have to travel to one of Gloria Estefan’s restaurants to get enjoy great Cuban cooking. You really can create it at home. One of my great passions is cookery and I enjoy trying out new recipes. I have so many cook books that they are beginning to take over the house. So I was really excited to try out Estefan Kitchen. The book itself is very well set out with great photos and simple explanations of the recipes. The emphasis is on easy to create recipes. Gloria and Emilios enthusiasm for Cuban cuisine really stand out.

So even if you can’t make it to their Cuban Cafe in Downtown Disney or Miami you can now try out Cuban recipes at home.

Disney Vacation For Christmas

November 12th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Disney World, Orlando Vacation Homes

Are you dreaming of a Christmas vacation at Disney World? Where better to spend the Christmas celebrations than at the most magical place on earth?

Disney's Magic Kingdom Cinderella Castle at Christmas

Disney's Magic Kingdom Cinderella Castle at Christmas

But is is really a good idea to visit Disney World at Christmas time? Well of course it is one of the most popular times of the year and yes the parks will be crowded. But I think that it is well worth it! Just arrive prepared and you will have one of the best Christmas celebrations you have ever dreamed of.

So what makes Disney so magical at Christmas. We all know that Disney is the master of entertainment and they certainly know how to put on a great show. The Disney Christmas decorations are amazing. From the special Christmas parades and fireworks, to the edible gingerbread house displays Disney creates a wonderful family atmosphere of celebration.

Planning your Disney World vacation becomes even more important at Christmas time. You really do get more out of your vacation if you just spend some time in advance working out what you and your family want to do.

The restaurants get booked up far in advance. If you want to dine at a Disney restaurant you may make Advance Dining Reservations as far in advance as 180 days by calling 407 WDW DINE. Restaurants do get booked up well in advance so it pays to plan. Lots of the Disney restaurants have special Holiday menus.

The parking lots really do fill up quickly at Christmas time and you have to get there early. I know this from experience when I was turned away one Christmas Eve! So arrive as early as you can do and plan to spent a whole day in your chosen Disney park. This is probably not the time for park hopping as if you leave you may not be allowed back in!

But there are ways to enjoy the Christmas celebrations at Disney World without the crowds. One of my favorite times to visit is just after Thanksgiving right up to the week before Christmas. Crowds are generally light so you get to enjoy the rides without a wait, and all the Disney Christmas decorations are already in the parks. If you want to see the special parades and fireworks in Magic Kingdom then you can get a ticket to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

If you can’t make it to Disney World this Christmas then of course you can always bring the celebration home. I love to decorate our home with Disney Christmas ornaments and of course we always watch Disney movies in the build up to Christmas. On Christmas Day don’t miss the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade on ABC. This annual event with Regis and Kelly always features all the big Disney stars – Miley Cyrus and the cast from High School Musical were there last year.

One thing that I plan to do one year is a Disney Christmas Cruise. Disney really is the leader in cruise line vacations and to sail at Christmas must be a truly magical experience. They even make it snow on Castaway Cay!

If you are thinking of booking a Disney vacation home for Christmas then you really do have to plan ahead – usually a year in advance for the very best homes. I am taking bookings now for Christmas 2009 and 2010. Yes, you really do have to think this far in advance for the very best homes!

Wall-e Movie out on DVD

November 11th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Disney movies

One of my favorite movies of the year was Disney Pixar’s Wall-e. It was one of those rare movies that I actually went to see more than once at the movie theater. It is released on DVD on November 18th. This is 3 days too late as far as my son is concerned as it is just a little after his birthday!


Buy at

Even though the Wall-e DVD is not out in time for my son’s birthday we are having a Wall-e party for him. There are some very cute Wall-e and Eve cake toppers which I am using for the cake.

For those of you who haven’t yet seen Wall-e the story is that humans had to leave the Earth as they had created so much waste and garbage the whole planet became unable to support any life form. So the humans left on a space ship hoping to return to Earth one day in the future. They left behind robots to clean up the Earth ready for their return. Unfortunately the robots were not very reliable and all but one, Wall-e, broke down. So Wall-e is left on his own with the huge task of clearing up all the garbage that humans left behind.

But Wall-e is lonely. He spends his days collecting trinkets and imagining how life could be if only he could have contact with some other being. One day everything changes when Eve, a sleek sophisticated robot, is sent down by the humans, to report on any findings of life on Earth. There begins a true love story………..

What did I like so much about Wall-e? Aside from the brilliant Pixar animation I thought it was a really thought provoking story told in such a different way. Much of the movie is just action and music. Not many movies can get away with this but Wall-e does this so beautifully it is amazing to watch. But the message was such an important one of how we must care for the Earth and each other before it is too late. Wall-e appeals to all age groups though. My 2 year old is just fascinated by him and can watch him for hours (yes we have the U Command Wall-e robot toy and I just love it too)!

The relationship between Wall-e and Eve is also one of those great movie love stories. Yes they are robots but just a short way into the movie you really do begin to forget this.

I can’t wait to get the DVD – it is going to be one of those classic movies that everyone wants to see again and again.

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Thanksgiving at Disney World

November 10th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Uncategorized

Are you planning a trip to Walt Disney World this Thanksgiving? If you are then you want to make sure that you make Advance Dining Reservations by calling 407 WDW DINE.  Some restaurants are offering special Thanksgiving Menus. In Magic Kingdom try Liberty Tree Tavern, Crystal Palace or if you already have a reservation or very good luck at the very popular Cinderella’s Royal Table.

If you are looking for a traditional Thanksgiving meal I think that one of your best choices is at Disney Hollywood Studios Hollywood Brown Derby. This is one of my favorite Disney theme park restaurants. They will be offering traditional Thanksgiving favorites as well as the usual al la carte menu.

Most of the buffet style restaurants will be offering Thanksgiving items as well as their usual menu items. one of my favorite buffet restaurants is 1900 Park Fare in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.  Or for something a little different try Boma at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Surprisingly other than offering some different dining options Disney World does not have too much of a theme at Thanksgiving. One of the things that I like about visiting the parks at this time of year though is that the Christmas decorations go up. So you get that Christmas feeling without having to deal with the crowds.

I have visited Disney World for many years around Thanksgiving.  Of course the question that everyone asks is will the Disney parks be busy on Thanksgiving? My experience is that at the beginning of the week the crowds aren’t too bad. Thanksgiving can get busy though – just like any major Holiday.  Try and arrive early at the parks and make sure that you already have your dining reservations. And use the Fast Pass System. Not everyone does but it saves you a ton of time standing in line.

The week following Thanksgiving weekend tends to be light on crowds so if you can this is a prefect time to visit.

Of course if you are looking to make the most of your stay at Disney World then why not look to a luxury resort vacation home. I still have one of my resort homes available for a last minute Disney vacation.