WDW offering Free Dining in 2019!

Free Dining is now being offered at Walt Disney World most nights from July 5 to Sept. 30, 2019. This offer has caught travel agents by surprise because Free Dining has not historically been offered this early in the year, or has it been offered for the summer months.

Below is the announcement as it appear on the Disney Parks Blog.

Free Dine Package Offer Now Available at Walt Disney World Resort Hotels

Wed, January 2, 2019

By Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Resort Public Relations

If you’re a foodie at heart, then Walt Disney World Resort is the place for you. With a multitude of culinary experiences to explore across the resort, there’s something for every palate.

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That’s why we’re happy to share news about a “Free Dine Offer.” Starting today, if you book a non-discounted five-night/six-day Walt Disney Travel Co. package that includes a room at a select Disney Resort Hotel and a ticket with a Park Hopper Option or Park Hopper Plus Option* through Feb. 10, 2019, for arrivals most nights from July 5 to Sept. 30, 2019, you’ll receive a dining plan for free! Packages of other lengths of stay may also be available.

The Disney Dining Plan provides flexibility and convenience, offering prepaid meals and snacks when you dine at Walt Disney World resort hotels, theme parks and select locations at Disney Springs.

The package includes a room at a select Walt Disney World resort hotel and tickets with Park Hopper Option.* Packages of other lengths of stay may also be available.

Guests staying at select Value and Moderate Resorts receive the Disney Quick Service Plan, which includes two quick-service meals and two select snacks per night honored at more than 100 dining locations.

Guests staying at select Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts receive the Disney Dining Plan, which includes one quick-service meal, one table-service meal and two select snacks per night. Meals are available at over 200 select Walt Disney World dining locations.

If you’re still recovering from the holidays, make it easy and book online from the comfort of home. You can also make reservations by calling 407-W-Disney or contacting your travel agent. To learn more about this great Disney Resorts offer, click here.

*The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Tickets valid for admission beginning date of check-in and must be used within a limited period of time, depending on length of stay and ticket. Minimum 4-night length of stay. Minimum 4-day Theme Park tickets with Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus option. Visit disneyworld.com/usage for more details. Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. Advance reservations required. Offer excludes the following room types: campsites, 3-bedroom Grand Villas, Cabins at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Bungalows at Polynesian Villas and Bungalows and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort—The Little Mermaid standard rooms. Dining plan excludes gratuities. Children ages 3–9 must order from children’s menu, if available. Some Table-Service restaurants may have limited or no availability at time of package purchase.

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Walt Disney World is not just for kids

Walt built Disneyland for the entire family. Disney Parks are not just for kids. The Mature Mouse™ has discussed this many times. Walt Disney World has developed into a destination, as large as the city of San Francisco. Imagineers are constantly adding more more lodging, activities, and entertainment that appeal the adult traveler. This article, from Disney Rewards, takes a look at the grown up, mature, adult oriented side of Walt Disney World.
THEME PARKS & TRAVEL

The Adult’s Guide to Walt Disney World® Resort

August 13, 2018

Adult's Guide to Walt Disney World Resort

When people say Walt Disney World® Resort has something for everyone, they don’t just mean kids of all ages—they mean adults too! From world-class cuisine and cocktails to R&R that will recharge the mind and body for serious fun, here are just a few fun ways to plan your getaway out of the world of “adulting” and into vacation mode.

Go Wild on a Private Safari Adventure

Disney Animal Kingdom animalReady to take a walk on the wild side… literally? The only thing more thrilling than an animal encounter on Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® is the VIP access and adventure Guests can find “off-road” on Wild Africa Trek, an exclusive hike through an environment modeled after untamed African terrain. Walk along the grassland, cross a rope bridge and ride in a rugged safari vehicle over an open savanna – viewing African animals like giraffes and hippos.

Train Like a Chef at Epcot®

Mango SaladDo your taste buds savor the new and exciting? During this year’s Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival, you can roll up your sleeves for a hands-on culinary lesson with chefs and beverage experts. Attendees of Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It will learn to whip up sweet treats, savory sensations, and pair with cocktails, spirits and wines.

Relive Your Favorite Attractions

Rock n Rollercoaster AerosmithStep onboard the iconic attractions you know and love, whether it’s the chills of Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, the twists and turns of Space Mountain or Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster Starring Aerosmith, or the ultimate drop with The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Want to combine nostalgia with the all-new? Become the size of a toy alongside Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie and the rest of the gang at Toy Story Land—all in the so-much-larger-than-life setting of Andy’s backyard.

Brave the Newest Thrills

Expedition Everest attractionBeing an adult means never having to read the “You Must Be This Tall” signs again, but it still takes a bit of courage to reach the heights of Walt Disney World Resort’s newest, most innovative attractions. Climb to the “peak” of excitement on Expedition Everest, take a breathtaking 3D voyage on Avatar Flight of Passage, and experience intergalactic awe and new destinations on Star Tours – The Adventures Continue.

Experience a Different Kind of Tiki Room

Friends at Trader Sams Grog GrottoGet in the “aloha” spirit at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, the popular watering hole that’s adults-only after 8 PM. Sit out in the open air or inside the lounge, sip flavorful cocktails straight out of an island paradise (including spiked Dole Whips, an adult twist on a classic treat) and keep your eyes peeled for eye-popping surprises whenever certain drinks are served.

Plus, it’s adjacent to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, placing it a short stroll away for Guests who feel like staying in a tropical state of mind!

Ride the ‘Rail, Then Raise a Glass

Cocktails and food from restaurantIf culinary delights and crafty cocktails are always on your mind, we have an idea that will really throw you for a loop: the Highway in the Sky Dine Around, a dining experience along the world-famous Monorail. Providing five courses across three different Resort destinations, this classy “commute” brings you delectable views and a one-of-a-kind ride to go with savory and sweet dishes and world-class cocktails.

Get Pampered by the Pros

Senses Spa experienceHey, we get it: being an adult can get a little tense. Take the time to unwind, breathe deep, and give your senses the royal treatment at Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. From fitness facilities to massage therapists, body wraps to facials, you can leave revitalized and ready for more fun to come. Cardmembers can relax even more knowing that using their Disney Visa Card saves them 15% on their spa experience.1

“Spring” Into All the Possibilities

Shopping at Disney SpringsLooking to dance after dinner, indulge in some “shopping therapy,” or wine and dine with options inspired by award-winning chefs and a Master Sommelier? Take a stroll through Disney Springs® and you’ll find all this and more in store. International apparel, accessories and cosmetics, snacks and sweets, and entertainment like bowling, movies, and live music are just a few of the possibilities to choose from. After dark, you can kick the night into high gear with themed bars and nightlife from all over the world, including The Edison, and spots exclusive to the Springs, including Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar.

With all these possibilities and more, it’s a good time to remember one of the great things about being an adult: you get to make the decisions!

Disney Magic at a crowded Epcot

IMG_0906My first day in the parks was devoted to Epcot. Crowds at rope drop were greater than expected and increased as the day progressed. While fighting the hoards throughout the day, I experienced some of that Disney Magic.

After slowly making my way through the security line and the admission line, I quickly headed over to Soarin’ Around the World. I was hoping the standby line would not be too long. This is a strategy mentioned in various blogs, on podcasts, and highly recommended on Disney World planning sites. Although the standby monitor read twenty minutes, the line quickly filled all of three show buildings. Disney Magic, or just a good touring strategy? Either way, The Mature MouseTM was about to experience Soarin’ for the first time.

I was fortunate enough to sit in the top row, just right of center. This proved to be the perfect viewing position. The ride experience was incredible, at times emotional. Yes, I realize that many of these images are (SPOILER ALERT) computer generated, but it was still an amazing ride, full of Disney Magic. I kept grabbing the sides on my seat feeling as if I might slide off while gliding downward in several scenes. We visited the Great Wall, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and the list goes on. The Mature MouseTM highly recommends Soarin’.

My next stop was Spaceship Earth, one of my favorite ‘dark’ rides. Despite the fact that the history presented is only generally accurate, the attraction is great edutainment. Remember, if you can read this thank the Phoenicians, sort of.

The Mature MouseTM always takes the time to visit turtle Talk with Crush. The compilation of animation and live interaction with the audience makes each version of the show unique. This same technology (magic) is used in Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor.

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Figment Topiary

Another first for The Mature MouseTM was a Journey into Imagination with Figment. As I understand it, this was once a fun and interesting attraction. However, it is currently outdated and in need of an overhaul. I like the idea suggested by the attraction. However, the Imagineers just need to breathe some new magic into the Imagination Institute.

IMG_0926After enjoying lunch at Sunshine Seasons, a great quick-service restaurant, I headed over to Club Cool to sampleCoca-Cola products from around the world. I have a confession. I do not think the Beverly is as offensive as others. This bitter Coca-Cola product, introduced in Italy in 1969, reminds me of tonic water with citrus flavoring. While perusing merchandise in the store, a cast member noticed my button, wished me a happy birthday, then offered me a free Coca-Cola slush. Disney Magic!

My touring plan for the day focused on the right side of Future World and World Showcase, with one exception. I had a FastPass for Frozen Ever After, which is located in the Norway pavilion. Imagineers did an excellent job repurposingMaelstrom into this dark ride experience based on the extremely popular animated movie, Frozen. There are state-of-the-art animatronics, updated versions of the movie’s popular songs, and a few surprises for guests. Disney magic at its best. However, it is a short ride so I would not spend a lot of my time waiting in the stand-by line. The Mature MouseTM recommends using a FastPass for this attraction.

 

I finished my day enjoying the scenery around Epcot, including a walk through the Canadian and United Kingdom pavilions. I also grabbed a few snacks along the way, including a Scotch egg from the Rose & Crown Pub. Guests can order food at the pub bar while enjoying a beverage. An ADR is not required to enjoy this delicacy.

 

Instead of taking the long walk back to my resort bus, which was a distance beyond the front of the park, I exited through the International Gateway to World Showcase. I hopped aboard a Friendship boat and took a ride around Crescent Lake to Hollywood Studios. This affords you a magnificent view of the Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk, Swan, and Dolphin resorts. I even caught a glimpse of the construction of the new Walt Disney World Skyliner in front of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. IMG_0995

I grabbed my resort bus and headed back to Pop Century. Regardless of the fact that the crowds created more than a few irritating moments, my day at Epcot turned out very well.

 

Backlot Express at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 2.07.17 PMDisney’s Hollywood Studios is in the early stages of a major refurbishment, which will result in additional lands in a larger park. Many of the attractions are closed, or have been slated to shut down, and we are still not sure what will remain of the current DHS. Rumor and speculation point to Star Wars Land taking over most of the left side of the park, replacing much, if not all, of the Echo Lake area.

During my last visit to Walt Disney World, The Mature MouseTM had the opportunity to grab a bite at the Backlot Express. This quick-service restaurant may not be around much longer at DHS, so The Mature MouseTM wanted to write a review of his unique experience at this quick and casual restaurant.IMG_7175

The menu at the Backlot Express is the usual American cuisine found in most Disney quick-service resturants: hamburger and cheeseburger, turkey club, hot dog, etc. I had the 8-piece chicken breast nuggets, with French fries. The chicken was moist, and the fries were crisp. The star attraction of the meal was an incredible Olaf cupcake. It was a huge, moist carrot cake, with cream cheese frosting, topped with a white chocolate Olaf.

IMG_7172The restaurant is themed as a functioning studio workshop. There is an organized chaos in the storage of props and equipment, with background music featuring theme songs from old TV shows. The restaurant is very clean, but the Imagineers have included faux dirt, dust, and wear on exposed piping. This restaurant experience is well themed for the current, and previous, iteration of Disney’s Hollywood Studio. Whether it will last the next restructuring of this park is yet to be seen.IMG_7177IMG_7178

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Please use the link to visit The Mature Mouse™ store for logo merchandise. Many of the items would make great additions to your vacation gear and attire.IMG_2098

And, make sure you consult Jennie Nowers about your next Disney vacation. Tell her that The Mature Mouse™ sent you and receive a special gift from Jennie with your next booking.

Welcome to Disney Springs!

Downtown Disney is now officially Disney Springs. Here is an overview from Two Girls and a Mouse Tale. They discuss the changes already in place, and the construction still under way.

Elly and Caroline's Magical Disney Moments

It’s official, Disney held a renaming christening party today for Disney Springs, the shopping and dining district formerly known as Downtown Disney!

9/29/15: Lunchtime crowd gathers at DTD for the name changing ceremony. 9/29/15: Lunchtime crowd gathers at DTD for the name changing ceremony.

New signage has gone up at WDW for Disney Springs. They no longer say Downtown Disney. New signage went up at WDW last week for Disney Springs. They no longer say ‘Downtown Disney’.

Major construction continues at a fast pace from one end of Disney Springs to the other, and on all the roadways in-between!

Some concept art of what Disney Springs will look like in Spring 2016:

Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs. Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs.  Opened today.

Mickey at the grand opening of M 9/29/15: Mickey at the grand opening of Morimoto Asia today.

Disney Springs Town Center (opening in 2016). Disney Springs Town Center (opening in 2016).

Marketplace, West Side Marketplace, West Side

The Landing (formerly Pleasure Island). The Landing (formerly Pleasure Island).

Disney Springs logo Official Disney Springs logo

Video of the backstory of Disney Springs:  Disney Springs 2016  

What DTD will look like in Spring 2016. What DTD will look like as Disney Springs in Spring 2016 (lake view).

We’re less than a…

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Planning My Solo Trip to Disney World

IMG_7405Now that I have returned from my solo trip to Walt Disney World, we should review the planning for this trip. This will allow us to discuss in my future posts whether these plans worked and if any rescheduling was needed during my time in the parks. The planning steps i mention here will work for any type of Disney World vacation.

As with any trip to Disney World, planning for The Mature Mouse™ always begins with a call Jennie Nowers. I had a fixed budget and a short span of time for traveling, so Jennie helped me figure out my choices of resort, park tickets, dining plan, and plane flights.

IMG_1838Pop Century is the resort I chose for this trip. This is a value resort with rates ranging from $95 to $186 per night, varying according to the season in which you stay. The resort is themed after the pop culture of the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. These last two decades are reflected in the same unit within the resort. As a middle-aged vacationer, The Mature Mouse™ can certainly relate to the theme of this resort. Pop Century is just one of the few resorts to feature dedicated buses that travel directly to and from the various parks, without any additional stops at other resorts. Here is a link to a previous post about Disney’s Pop Century Resort.

The next step in my planning process involves researching expected crowd levels in the 4 theme parks during my stay. I rely on TouringPlans.com Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 11.54.10 AMfor this information. The site is simple to use, and it offers subscribers the ability to create personal touring plans for each day of their trip. You pick a park and attractions you wish to experience, then add the start and end times for your time in the park, along with lunch and rest breaks, and the site creates an optimized plan to avoid long lines. As you can see from this example, the plan even includes a map of the park. They have an excellent track record.

Supported by suggestions from Touring Plans, I made the choice to include the Park Hopper onto my ticket purchase. By adding the Park Hopper option I would have the possibility to visit any or all of the four major Walt Disney World theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom) during each day of my trip. Here is more information on the value of the Park Hopper option. The various prices listed on this site may have changed since it was last update; please see Disney’s website on ticket pricing.

My final decision in planning was to determine whether to include a dining plan. I enjoy having an all-inclusive trip so as not to worry about added expenses. Of dining plans offered at Disney World, the Quick Service plan appeared to make the most sense. This would allow me two Quick Service meals and one snack. There are numerous QS restaurants throughout the parks, offering me numerous choices. Breakfast on the QS plan includes 1 entrée or a combo meal and a beverage. A QS lunch includes 1 entrée, 1 desert, and 1 non-alcoholic beverage. This dining plan would allow me to focus on touring the parks, not spending time sitting at a Table Service restaurant. Please do not misunderstand, Walt Disney World offers incredible fine-dining experiences. Please see my various posts about adult dining at WDW.

Chapter 7: Disney Magic and Romance at the California Grill

Top 10 Places to Dine Without Kids at Walt Disney World

My final step in planning was to book my FastPass+ choices 60 days prior to my trip, which was made based on the plans I created through the Touring Plans website. Making these reservations early insured I would have FP+ selections during my vacation, knowing that I would have the flexibility to alter these choices before and during my trip.

There was a period of time when a visit to Walt Disney World could be done on a whim, with little or no planning. However, times have changed. Planning is important and allows for flexibility. The process of planning your trip serves another purpose, educating you about the ins and outs of the resort. Think of it this way: Would you plan to travel to a city you have never been to before? The entire Walt Disney World Resort covers 40 Square miles, which is the equivalent in size of San Francisco. Would you research and plan your first trip to San Francisco?

IMG_1869Please visit The Mature Mouse™ store for merchandise. Many of the items would make outstanding additions to your vacation gear and attire. This baseball hat is just one of the featured items available through the store. If you are a mature fan of Disney, consider getting an item. I am a Mature Mouse™, are you?

When the Disney Dining Plan Is Not For You

The Mature Mouse™ has recently posted several articles about Free Dining at Walt Disney World. Given the overwhelming response to the recent release of this offer, and the technology glitches that plagued travel agents and guests attempting to book vacations, the Dining Plan is obviously an important topic for Disney vacationers. However, just because the Dining Plan is offered as free, is it worth the value? And, more importantly, when is the Disney Dining plan not appropriate for your vacation.  Disney Dining has posted an article that speaks to this question to assist you in determining if a dining plan is right for you. 

A travel agent who specializes in booking Disney Vacations is a valuable free resource when planning your next trip. I started planning my next Disney World Vacation by calling Jennie Nowers. When the Cool Summer Savings were released, Jennie was up early applying these savings to my trip, which saved me 15% on the price of my resort stay. I did not need to do a thing. Tell her that The Mature Mouse™ sent you and receive a special gift from Jennie with your next booking.

Please visit The Mature Mouse™ store for logo merchandise. Many of the items would make outstanding additions to your vacation gear and attire.

  

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