Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Carriage Ride at Fort Wilderness

My husband and I took trip to Disney World to celebrate our 10th anniversary December 2014.  We did several "horsey" things and I am going to review them over the next several posts.

Check out the first post here.
This is the second post: Carriage Rides

We actually did the Holiday Sleigh Ride at 9 pm at Fort Wilderness.  We had dinner at the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue at 6:15 pm.  There was about an 45 min gap between the time the show was over and the start of our sleigh ride, so we walked around the general area and visited the gift shop and just enjoyed the quiet of the evening.  Be aware that we went in December and it things were closing as we were waiting to walk around.  If I remember correctly I think we had to wait a little longer than we thought.  The ride was nice it was cool but there was a blanket in the sleigh so it was comfortable.  We had a ride that was timed to be during the fireworks so we were able to see some of the higher fireworks over the trees but was not a great view.

The campground was all decorated up for Christmas and it was surprising how many RVs had major holiday decorations set up.  Our driver said it gets even more festive the closer you get to Christmas. The ride was a nice quite trot around the campgrounds, it was odd to be passed by some of the large buses but the horse was comfortable and the driver well trained, so it felt very safe.  This was the end of a long day and quite a romantic ride so we really just enjoyed the ride.  I only have one picture that I have found and for some reason the driver did not realize we would like to have the horse in the picture too.

Holiday Sleigh Ride
The driver indicated that the horses are the same horses that pull the trolley down main street and they all just rotate around and have days off like other cast members.  Generally the "horsey" staff seem very broad in their job duties as our driver had just helped bathe and groom Cinderella's ponies for the parade earlier that day.  He indicated that they started getting them ready at about 3 pm for the evening parade.

On a side note this reservation is paid at the time it is booked so be aware that it will hit your credit card as soon as it is processed.  There is a sign on the sleigh that tipping is not permitted, however, I always tip my sleigh/carriage drive when I do this type of thing so I tipped him as I would anywhere else I take a carriage ride.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Horseback Riding at Fort Wilderness Review

My husband and I took trip to Disney World to celebrate our 10th anniversary December 2014.  We did several "horsey" things and I am going to review them over the next several posts.

First is Horseback riding at Tri-Circle-D Ranch
Check out the second post here (Carriage Ride at Fort Wilderness).

We ate at Crystal Palace at 9:55 am then spent a little bit of time in the park.  We had a reservation for the 1:30 pm ride (and were asked to arrive 30 min ahead of time).  We left Magic Kingdom at noon with the plan to take a boat to Fort Wilderness then the bus to the check-in station.  This was not the right choice, it took an hour and a half to make this trip.  We actually saw our ride departing as our bus pulled past the stables.  Not to worry Disney understands how this happens, probably much better than we do as visitors.

This is how Disney handled the situation, the check-in Cast Member called my cell phone while we were traveling to the check-in station.  I did not see the call until we were almost to the check-in.  The cast member told me at check-in it she had called to see if we needed assistance in finding the location or determining how to use transportation to get to the check-in area.  When we were late she just bumped us to the 2:30 ride without issue or financial penalties (before we even spoke with her).  Knowing this now, I would recommend not scheduling to do the last ride of the day in-case you have issues getting to the corral.  We did have to wait a while but it was fine, we took the time to get something to drink use the restrooms and watch the horses in the corrals.  There were picnic tables there to sit while we waited.

Picnic Tables in the waiting area
How we should have gotten to the check-in location, since the check-in location is at first bus stop for Fort Wilderness we should have taken the bus from Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness.  I am sure it would have been quicker.  Also check your phone periodically when you are trying to make it to a reservation and are behind, Disney wants to help you.

Once we checked in and it was closer to the time to ride we put our stuff in a free locker by the corral.  It's pretty small so just be aware of that, but there were multiple lockers so we could have used a couple if needed. They do not allow cameras to be used while riding.  They did take some pictures for use before the ride and I got some of my husband as he was on his horse before me. They utilize a very safe mounting area where the horses are lead up to a fairly high platform, the rider walks up about 3-4 stairs.  Then the rider just puts their foot in the stirrup and swings his/her leg a crossed, very safe for the horse and the rider.  Everyone in our group had helmets on, I can't remember if that is a requirement or a choice, as I never ride without a helmet and would encourage everyone to do the same.  There were maybe 4 other riders and 2 guides.

They will tell you more about the horse you are riding if you ask. My husband was lucky enough to ride the horse that plays Maximus.  Maximus had participated in a photo shoot earlier in the morning to be used during the Christmas parade on TV. Maximus has to start getting prepped for the shoot at 4 am that morning so he was still very white and super soft.  Don't worry, the horses have set work schedules like other cast members and they get days off,  I think they got about 2-3 days off a week.

The ride was a nice 45 min walk.  We saw some deer on the ride.  It a nice flat sandy trail that you ride.  The one thing I did not like was being told not to let the horses eat stuff along the trail, why is that so bad you ask?  Well the main reason is an invasive poisonous plant that can cause the horses to colic.  The guides indicated that they routinely trim the plants back away from the trail but having a horse that is colic prone at home, it was not relaxing trying to avoid a plant you did not know what looked like.  I think Disney might want to have a sign created with some images to help people know what the plant looks like.

When we got back to the corral we tipped our guide, like we would at any trail ride, patted our horses good bye gathered our things out of the lockers and headed by bus to the barn area near the boat dock, more on that in the another post.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Dining Review: 50s Prime Time Cafe

Let me just say we liked this restaurant so much we went twice in one trip.

This is a fun restaurant where the waitresses play the part of you 50s cousin or aunt.  They will make a big deal out of not eating your veggies and bad table manners so if that does not appeal to you do go because they don't have any problem playing the part.  

The food was great I personally love the iceberg and blue cheese salad.   The pork chops where about an inch thick and reported to be great by a member of our group.   Peanut butter and jelly milkshake was huge and great.  The dessert menu was on a view master so that's fun. 

They do not have a bread basket with your meal but the waitress went over to Hollywood and Vine and got some rolls after one of our party asked for bread.  

One of our party ended up with a salad with whipped cream on it at one point and I was almost end force fed green beans.  It was fun as long as you understand it is part of the package there.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A day in the schedule of my Disney trips

A basic day for us at Disney would generally start out getting to the bus stop early we found that generally the buses came on the hour in the mornings then every 20 mins.  So meet your group at the bus stop a few minutes before the hour (for us that was before 7 or 8 am).  Some days we have reservations before park opening for breakfast.  I liked being in the park with only a few others but one time we had an 8 am reservation when the park was supposed to open at 9, however they extended hours to open at 8 so we lost the first hour of park time.  

We were on the deluxe dining plan so we usually had breakfast and dinner scheduled.  Due to the portion size two meals a day is plenty.  So we utilized two credit options most nights.  The first couple of hours we would use the standby lines, then we had our fastpass+ selections for mid afternoon.  Then if you want to head back to your room for a break once you use all your fastpass+ that would be a good time. Realize that it could take upto an hour to get to your hotel and an hour to get back so use caution with your dinning reservations. Also as soon as you use your third fastpass+ you can schedule the fourth one so do that right away to have the most selection but make sure it's not too soon after your dinner.  Give yourself 1.5 hours for your meal then schedule your fastpass+, you will have an hour window so that should be safe without a terrible gap.  If you are going to be eating near the attraction you select you could schedule it an hour after your dining time then you would have half an hour to use your fastpass+.

Generally when I was at Disney with my 5 year old in May we did more afternoon breaks, due to the heat and just needing a break.  When I was there with my husband we never took breaks, we were there in December and it was just very manageable.  I would recommend a break day mid trip.  I would plan a day to sleep late have breakfast/lunch at the hotel then afternoon at the pool then a dinner reservation at either another resort (Chef Mickey, Hoop Dee Do Music Revue, or Downtown Disney).  I thought just sleeping in was good enough for a mid week break, not so, really take a good break where you can limit the walking you do as much as possible.  The average person walks 8-12 miles a day at Disney give your body a break.

Anything you must have in your daily schedule?  Let us know in the comments below.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Thinking of the next trip

Sorry for the huge gap in articles but after our last trip to Disney, my husband and I found out we were going to have a daughter. Long story short she decided to come 6 weeks early after a long time in the hospital on bed rest.

So now we are looking ahead to her first trip to Disney and our first trip with a toddler.  Since the only break in pricing that you will ever get is by taking a child under 3 that's our plan.  She changed our September trip to a May trip with her early arrival as I will never go to Disney in the summer.  I can't handle the heat or the crowds.

Children under 3 don't need a ticket, don't count toward the number of guests in your room, and eat off your plate at buffets.  The ticket savings is a huge one as children's tickets are only a few dollars less than adult tickets and tickets are one of the largests expenses while at Disney.  I have already been asked the question why so early... She won't even remember.  Well we will remember and she will have the pictures and video to enjoy later.  We also know we will go back eventually so this will not be her only Disney trip.  

So, now I have been looking at how to have some balance with this trip as we will also be taking my other daughter who will be graduating college the same month.  We will most likely head to Disney shortly after her graduation.  I realized on my last trip that a break day would make things more enjoyable, so I am looking to work that into our plans.  Our last trip we used the deluxe dinning plan (DDP) and determined that we only saved about $110 dollars which could have been done by my husband and I splitting and apitizer and dessert instead of getting two each meal.  Seeing as so much food was wasted I think I would feel better about it anyway.  However, my older daughter thinks DDP is the way to go as the idea of order anything is not the norm for us and she is a bit of a foodie and loves the variety at Disney.   Honestly, I will just be doing the math ahead of time and decide later what the best value is for our family.  If free dining is available or not that will add into the decision.

So I look foward to sharing what I learn about toddler trips and plan to write some dining reviews in the near future.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Disney's Deluxe Dining Plan Evaluation

Well, we got back from our 7 night, 8 day Disney trip with the Deluxe Dining Plan.  If you have read my posts before you know I am a big proponent of the Deluxe Plan.  Well, not anymore, I saved a whopping $109 dollars over 8 days by using the Deluxe Dining Plan.  7.54 percent was our savings, that is a tiny percentage compared to the commitment you make to eat at Disney Restaurants.

We all ate more than we normally would have chosen to, our choices were limited if I would have prefered to have poutine instead of an appetizer at Le Cellier I would have had to pay extra.  If I was paying out of pocket the choice would have been mine to make.  So when you add that in it makes it less of a convenience.

I knew that it was not going to save me a ton of money but I never would have guessed I would have saved only a little over a hundred dollars.  That even adds in the snacks we purchased to use up our credits that we did not need.  Most every meal my husband barely touched his dessert so that would have saved a lot by just not ordering those.

I do like having my meals prepaid for it was nice to not have to worry about the bill or what we decided to have especially at places like Le Cellier and Be Our Guest.  I do feel like pre purchasing gift cards or mastercards would make more sense then at the end of the trip what you did not spend on meals you could spend on souvenirs or just take back home.

Its not like you will be surprised by the prices so you can plan ahead.  We averaged $38 per table service credit, or $114 per day.  I really think that next time I will not purchase the dining plan, I will do the the math ahead and if its close (it was this time but I wanted the convenience) plan to pay out of pocket.  We had all of our meal ADRS ahead of time so I could estimate the cost as well.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Putting it all together

As you count down to your trip date its time to get everything together.

  • Pack your suitcase
    • Don't wait until the last minute as you might need to stop at the store and pick up some last minute items.
  • Pack your park backpack
    • Limit what you plan to carry everyday
  • Get your mousekeeping envelopes ready
  • Get your tipping envelopes ready
    • Don't forget your nonstandard staff (tour guides, carriage drivers, baggage handlers)
  • Finish your planning binder
    • ICE sheet
    • Card numbers and 1-800 numbers for lost or stolen
  • Have your driving route planned
    • Reconfirm your hotel reservations 
    • Snacks or dining locations
    • Get your vehicle an oil change and check up
  • Reevaluate your cost budgets
  • Make final plans with your housesitter