March 27, 2023

Disney World Moderate Hotels, But ”Plus” It

Disney World Moderate Hotels, But ”Plus” It

Disney World Moderate Resorts, But “Plus” It
Last week, we started talking about how to “plus” your stay at a Walt Disney World Deluxe Resort. Plussing is a term used by Disney to mean taking something great, and making it even more betterer.  This w...

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Disney World Moderate Resorts, But “Plus” It

Last week, we started talking about how to “plus” your stay at a Walt Disney World Deluxe Resort. Plussing is a term used by Disney to mean taking something great, and making it even more betterer.  This week, we’re going to continue the conversation and up the challenge a little bit. Let’s look at a Moderate level resort, and talk about about ways you plus your vacation to make it feel a little more Deluxe, while staying within a more “middle of the road” budget. 

Conversation topics include:

  • Hotels- which Moderate hotels give the most “deluxe feeling” stay, or a little more bang for your buck as far as luxury, amenities, and activities?
  • How to to plus the hotel stay- upgraded room categories, activities outside the theme parks you can book that fit within a more moderate budget, great restaurants that fit a moderate budget but still deliver
  • Experiences inside the theme parks- less expensive tours, other special experiences, splurge on Individual Lightning Lane attractions, etc.


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[00:00:00] Dan: Welcome back to another meeting of the Gold Key. Adventurers Society. My name is Dan Leonard.

[00:00:06] Jeff: Hi Dan!

[00:00:07] Dan: Hey, joining me this week in the studio is Heather Straight

[00:00:09] Heather: Hola.

[00:00:10] Dan: and Mr. Jeff

[00:00:12] Jeff: Howdy!

[00:00:13] Dan: Audi. Our show is always brought to you by Key to the World Travel. Key to the World Travel is a full service travel agency specializing in Theme parks, cruising, and destinations around the world.

Head to for more details and to no obligation quote on the vacation of a lifetime. Last week we started talking about how to plus your stay at a Walt Disney World. Resort Plusing is a term used by Disney to mean you take something great and you make it even more betterer.

This week we're gonna continue that series and up the challenge level a little bit cuz we're gonna take a look at a moderate level resort stay. Talk about ways that you can plus your vacation to make your moderate stay. Feel a little bit more deluxe. Let's still staying within that. And more middle of the road, moderate price range, budget level.

So let's start off again, like we did last week, talking about hotels. Which deluxe hotels do you think give more deluxe feel to your stay or a little bit more bang for your buck as far as luxury, amenities, activities, that sort of stuff goes.

[00:01:18] Heather: I like it. I like it, Dan.

[00:01:20] Jeff: can't think of anything. Goodnight everybody.

[00:01:23] Heather: When it comes to the hotel m actually any kind of plusing, a moderate stay, my, my number one recommendation is stay at Coronado Springs. Specifically, if you can stay in the Grand Dino Tower, because that tower is, if looks and feels like a deluxe resort, but it's at more moderate

[00:01:43] Jeff: Spain the regular rooms in that resort are fantastic as well.

was gonna say, those outer buildings are a they're obviously a disconnected walk from some of the other stuff in the resort, but they're beautiful, but they're not that far away. Like probably a 10 minute at most walk if you're in that back furthest corner.

[00:02:02] Heather: they're beautiful and they're actually bigger than the rooms in the tower. Even though the rooms in the tower, the bathroom is a little bit more posh. And separated a little better from the room because the outer buildings are more of that traditional moderate style that Disney has, where the closet is open to the bathroom, but it has sliding doors to separate the bathroom in those outer rooms as opposed to curtains that the other moderates have.

So it, the finishes just feel a little more deluxe.

[00:02:34] Jeff: and I know they built this one specifically with conventioneers in mind that are used to a nicer digs and less of a Disney family feel. But that I love it because I too want less of a family

[00:02:46] Heather: Yeah. And the themeing is a little less in your face out there. The finishes are all really nice with wood and stone and things like that. It doesn't feel it's true. It's true. It doesn't feel as much any of the other moderate resorts really. It really feels like an elevated experience. The whole property is gorgeous.

[00:03:09] Dan: Yeah,

[00:03:10] Heather: And the tower, we've said that before. The tower is like a deluxe resort.

[00:03:15] Dan: yeah, you've got the interior doors

X door exterior entry at the

[00:03:21] Jeff: That's never bothered me. I know that does bother some people. That exterior, they call it motel style exterior entrance to your room. That's It doesn't really bother me

[00:03:31] Dan: It doesn't bother me. I think people just think it gives it a little bit cheaper feel. When you say the word motel, it doesn't

[00:03:37] Heather: Yeah. And the one thing is that you are gonna have people that will walk directly past your windows as opposed to an interior type. Setup where if you're on a higher floor, there's not gonna be people standing right outside your windows unless you're on the ground floor, which, and that, so that one, that kind of bothers me sometimes at those resorts because I tend to keep the curtains closed more often, and then it's a little darker in the room, but it's not a big deal.

[00:04:06] Jeff: I don't hang out in my room.

[00:04:08] Dan: I don't spend a lot of time hanging out or outside other people's rooms, so I guess it

[00:04:12] Jeff: I've been run off of many a moderate resort for

[00:04:15] Heather: Oh dear. It's shocking.

[00:04:18] Jeff: What is your other favorite

[00:04:20] Dan: I would,

[00:04:21] Jeff: moderates.

[00:04:22] Dan: I was gonna say the second place in my mind is probably port Orland's French Quarter. As far as the field, the grounds are beautiful. You do get a little cartoony there around the pool, but it's not like a All-star or pop century resort. And.

[00:04:37] Jeff: just stayed there for the first time last.

[00:04:40] Heather: and it's

[00:04:41] Dan: it exactly, it's small. The farthest room is a five minute walk away, so it's, and most, a lot of the rooms are much closer than that. So you're gonna get straight to the straight to the lobby area. The one problem is they don't have they don't have a table service restaurant there.

[00:04:58] Heather: Yeah, you have to walk over to Riverside for that.

[00:05:01] Dan: yeah,

[00:05:01] Jeff: you know that food court there though is awesome.

[00:05:04] Heather: It's very

[00:05:04] Jeff: Really good food. A lot of obviously New Orleans food, and then they have the The beignet place next door. That is yummy.

[00:05:12] Heather: and they have that sort of hidden little lounge for nighttime hangout, which is great. It's, yeah, it's back behind the vent beignet place. It's, and they often pre covid more often and, but it's coming back slowly. They often have live music in there. . It's not as many nights as pre covid, but I think they're getting back to the more regular performances.

[00:05:37] Jeff: jazz band of some sort, playing in there on a small stage, like a three piece combo or something not overly loud or whatever, and not as look at me like Yeehaw bob over at the place next door.

[00:05:49] Dan: Yeah. Yeah. So you get the beautiful grounds, that kind of romantic old. New Orleans Nolans feel the resort. Parts of Riverside are just as nice. Those mansions are it is really pretty. The grounds

[00:06:04] Jeff: the grounds and everything at Riverside. I don't care for the rooms that have like wash boards and all

[00:06:12] Heather: does that offend you? The southern ho?

[00:06:15] Dan: Yeah. But you like Hoku.

[00:06:17] Jeff: I like Hoak 'em, but I don't wanna sleep in a Cracker Barrel.

[00:06:20] Heather: That's fair. It. One nice thing about them is they have been refurbished recently, so the, they're in a little better condition than they used to be. It's about time for them to refurbish the princess rooms. They're starting the royal rooms, sorry. They're starting to be a little bit run down, but they've redone the mansion, other mansion rooms and the alligator bayou

[00:06:43] Jeff: Their their feature pool and restaurant and bar at the pool and all that is excellent there. That's that's more it feels more like a deluxe resort pool

[00:06:54] Heather: it's very shady, which is nice in the hot Florida sunshine.

[00:06:59] Jeff: I love the grounds of both of those. With the live oaks, with the moss hanging off and everything. It's very


[00:07:06] Heather: Caribbean beach was never my favorite, moderate, but I think it deserves a mention now, be specifically because they have refurbished all the rooms, which is great. They did recently take out the pirate rooms and freshen up all of those spaces, but the rooms, there are several buildings that are right next to the Skyliner and really close to Riviera, so you could stay.

In the Caribbean beach, and if you requested a room really anywhere in Barbados in that section, but buildings 14, 15, and 16 are smacked next to the Skyliner. So you've got a two minute walk to the Skyliner

[00:07:46] Jeff: And that's the Riviera Skyliner.

[00:07:49] Heather: Yes, it's a Riviera

[00:07:50] Jeff: have on the other far end their own station. So there's not really a terrible

[00:07:55] Heather: I mentioned Barbados because then you can, you're a quick walk into Riviera to use any of the amenities.

You can't use the pool, but you could go in and use the restaurants and bars. No,

[00:08:07] Dan: me make

[00:08:07] Heather: it, you'd have to

[00:08:08] Dan: Say, hold that

[00:08:09] Heather: someone to let you in with the, with their magic band, but you can use the quick service there. Primo Piata. Delightful. Really great. They have a good c coffee shop in the lobby and then their arva, their pool bar is excellent.

You could visit that.

[00:08:27] Jeff: The bar over there at Caribbean's pretty nice too. The banana hammock.

[00:08:31] Heather: actually is. Yes. Banana Cabana is . No, what's the table Service right next to Banana Cabana. That's a good spot too.

[00:08:39] Jeff: I can't think of the name of that place, but yeah, that's really good.

[00:08:43] Heather: It's really pretty too. It's a very nice table service. And their whole feature pool area is great. It's a really nice feature pool.

[00:08:52] Dan: That's the one that's like the dig site

[00:08:54] Heather: No, it's

[00:08:55] Dan: Oh, that's at

[00:08:56] Heather: pirate ship and a castle I think dig

[00:08:59] Jeff: I've never seen it.

[00:09:00] Heather: is over at, yeah.

[00:09:02] Jeff: I think that's the only moderate I have not stayed at is Caribbean Beach. But I've walked around there and eaten in the restaurant and seen the lobby. It's pretty,

[00:09:09] Heather: it's a huge resort. You have to be selective about your room. If you plus it, plus your stay, by getting a preferred room, you'll be closer to the main amenities and not have as far a walk. And that's a great, actually, something we should mention with any of the moderates is going with a preferred room, it's a little bit more money, but you

[00:09:32] Jeff: pretty negligible amount of difference in money though,

[00:09:35] Heather: That's

[00:09:35] Dan: Yeah it's not awful. It's maybe 30, $50 a

[00:09:40] Heather: And then you're closer to the buses to get to the Theme parks and you're closer to the main

[00:09:45] Jeff: And most

[00:09:46] Heather: dining halls.

[00:09:48] Jeff: moderates, if not all of 'em, I can't think right now, have an internal bus loop. So when you get to them, even though they're huge, when you're coming back from a long day at the parks, you do not have to pull into the main lobby and walk a hundred miles to your room. You go to the bus loop that's closest to your building

[00:10:05] Dan: And that's why, yeah, and that's why I'd. The preferred rooms are more important at a moderate stay than

[00:10:11] Heather: Oh, for

[00:10:12] Dan: value resource that have 'em. I hear people make a big deal about getting a preferred room at pop century, they're not. Yeah. And the farthest room at pop century is not that far out from everything.

But at Caribbean Beach, you're really gonna want to be

[00:10:28] Jeff: They look, if you were looking at a map of the value properties, it looks like it's very far, but. The way the path goes, you're going diagonally, not having to go around everything. So nothing's very far at those.

[00:10:40] Dan: Exactly, so, so it is definitely worth the upgrade to a preferred room at the moderates in my mind

[00:10:47] Jeff: Yeah, cuz if you wanna pop out for some coffee, you better pack a lunch cuz it's gonna be a long walk.

[00:10:52] Heather: Yeah.

[00:10:53] Dan: Yeah. Bring a thermos

[00:10:55] Heather: Fort Wilderness. The cabins, I think, technically fall in the moderate category. They're a L. They're gonna be a little bit more expensive than a regular room at one of the other moderates, but I think they're worth a mention because the cabins are very nice. They have a lot of space in a full kitchen, and then you're right there to take the boat over to the wilderness lodge again.

One of my tips for Plusing moderate is using the amenities at a

[00:11:24] Jeff: Yeah. Stay near. Stay near Deluxe.

[00:11:27] Heather: but if you like that kind of atmosphere and Fort Wilderness is a really great option. Be, especially for a little bit larger family. I think those cabins sleep six.

[00:11:38] Dan: They sleep six. That's one of the rare places you can get six into a room without having to have a really expensive suite or due to

[00:11:46] Heather: And they're really

[00:11:47] Jeff: going to stay at Fort Wilderness, it would be at a

[00:11:49] Heather: For sure, and you can plus the cabins by renting a golf cart for the week. And that's, kids always love tooling around in a golf cart. And then you have to walk . Yeah, you have to walk a little bit less to get to the amenities. And some of the cabins are pretty close to the main area there with the trails end, although they're closing trails end, which I just learned recently and that's sad. But they still have some great stuff up there at the trading post outpost, I forget what it's called, where Hoopty do is

[00:12:24] Jeff: just right, you can get. Smacked in the face with the smell of manure when you step outta your cabin.

[00:12:29] Heather: That is true

[00:12:30] Dan: yeah, from that tri circle D.

[00:12:32] Heather: yeah, it's a pretty resort though. It's the grounds are beautiful and Tri Circle D you can add some activities on like horseback riding. Things like that. Yeah.

[00:12:44] Dan: I've never been out there even to eat at one of the restaurants or anything. I'd like to stay there and honestly I wanna give a tent, stay a try.

[00:12:54] Heather: Hey I'm willing to support that dam. I think you should do it

[00:12:59] Jeff: I'd

[00:12:59] Dan: sounds like a fun

[00:13:00] Jeff: video about you doing

[00:13:02] Heather: Yeah.

[00:13:02] Dan: I mean,

[00:13:04] Heather: You should take a boys trip with just you and Wyatt, or you and Wyatt and Alex, and. Can't tent camp and document that

[00:13:13] Dan: Yeah.

[00:13:13] Heather: You look skeptical. can you get some scouting points for that

[00:13:18] Dan: yeah, I could probably figure out a way to do that. The Walt Disney World Camping Badge.

yeah. He has to camp a certain number of nights to get one of the ranks, so yeah. We'll work it out that

[00:13:27] Jeff: If you're staying at one of these resorts, what else can we do to plus that vacation up?

[00:13:34] Dan: There's always activities about the resource. Kinda like we talked about last time. There's generally some sort of arts and crafts that they're gonna offer, I believe.

[00:13:42] Heather: Yeah, I think one of them will overlap. We talked about the crafts a little bit, and Coronado Springs has one that's a really cute mosaic tile craft, and it's not expensive.

[00:13:53] Dan: No, it's $30 a

[00:13:56] Jeff: It is, it's colors

[00:13:57] Heather: not bad at all.

[00:13:58] Jeff: It's a

[00:13:59] Dan: right. And it's, you do either a Mickey head or a mini mouse head. Right. And put the mosaic tiles in there.

[00:14:07] Jeff: I have not done any of these. Heather's done a couple of these kinds of

[00:14:10] Heather: I love

[00:14:10] Jeff: Other resorts.

[00:14:12] Heather: Yeah, if you're at Caribbean Beach, you can walk over to Riviera and they have a ton. They're, because it's a D V C resort, they have, what do they call it? The community hall, something like that. But that one, they have more than one craft. You can paint wine glasses. They do, a couple times a week they do a painted canvas.

That what your painting rotates. They have a whole, as you walk into the community hall, there's a whole. Display of every, all the crafts you can do there. And it's a lot of 'em and most of them range any from as low as five to $10 up to, I think the painting craft I did was 40 and it included snacks and and a drink while we were painting, which was cool.

[00:15:00] Dan: Coronado has the mosaic and irregular canvas painting class that they do there.

[00:15:05] Heather: Oh, cool. I hadn't seen the canvas painting.

[00:15:08] Dan: Yeah, they do both of those colors of

[00:15:10] Jeff: I think that's the colors of Coronados, the.

[00:15:12] Dan: Yep.

[00:15:13] Heather: what are you does it tell you what you're painting? Is it like a,

[00:15:17] Jeff: It looks like they had, when I looked it up earlier, it looked like they had a selection of different things they rotate

[00:15:23] Heather: and then they have an instructor, like all these painting classes who teaches you step by step how to do the painting, which is cool. What

[00:15:30] Dan: the

[00:15:30] Jeff: of those sip wine and do your thing

[00:15:33] Heather: What we did at Riviera was a painting of Orange Bird. It was very cute.

[00:15:39] Dan: the ex, the example on Coronado is lady in the Tramp watching the moon

[00:15:44] Heather: Oh, cute.

[00:15:45] Dan: dinner date, so that's fun. Caribbean Beach. You can also rent the Siri bikes that are also popular at port or

[00:15:54] Heather: Yes.

[00:15:54] Jeff: And board.

[00:15:56] Heather: Yeah.

[00:15:56] Dan: Yes. Oh yeah. I didn't actually, I didn't know that they had them there at Boardwalk.

[00:16:00] Heather: you gotta be careful when you're walking all around Yacht, beach and Boardwalk. You might get run over.

[00:16:04] Jeff: Yeah. Family of drunk people riding a six person bike into you,

[00:16:10] Heather: have they brought back since Covid? Every, they brought back the carriage rides at R at Riverside.

Those are super cute.

[00:16:18] Dan: Yes. Yeah you can do a horse drawn carrot ride through the Rural south there at Riverside. Those you board the carriage right there behind the lobby, near where the boat docks to take you to Disney Springs. So that's available there. And also there's fishing spots both

[00:16:36] Heather: That's right. They have

[00:16:37] Dan: and

[00:16:38] Jeff: Oh.

[00:16:39] Heather: cane pole fishing hole stuff.

[00:16:42] Dan: Yep, yep. You can do that at Caribbean Springs and at the main places Riverside, they have fishing dock there, old Man River. And you can go fishing and I think that's a small fee or maybe, I don't think it's free.

[00:16:58] Heather: It's not free, but it's not very expensive. Just a small fee to use their equipment, which is basically a fish and pole that looks like a stick with a string on it.

[00:17:08] Jeff: Wyatt was little.

[00:17:10] Dan: Yeah. And something we should probably mention while we're talking about activities that we didn't bring up last time is the fact that you can check at your hotel in the lobby. They'll have a board with a schedule of all of these activities and also the things that you can pay to do, like the characterizing stuff, or they're also, sometimes they have.

On a paper sheet that you can take and it'll show you what's going on because there's all kinds of other free things like movies under the stars or movies at the pool.

[00:17:36] Jeff: have those movies and those are great. Kids out there watching whatever movie on a big screen while the parents can hit up the bar that's nearby or whatever.

[00:17:44] Heather: Quite a few of

[00:17:45] Dan: of nights a week.

[00:17:46] Heather: They have a fire pit

[00:17:48] Dan: Yeah. Usually a couple of nights a week they do

[00:17:50] Jeff: have that at Coronado out by the pool. They do have big fire pits for doing s'mores.

[00:17:56] Heather: quite a few of them, a couple of times a week will have tie-dye at the pool. . You make a Mickey tie dye, that's a small charge for that because you're paying for the T-shirt. Really? We've done that a few times. It's, they teach you how to tie dye and then you can, if you do it right, you end up with a Mickey head in the middle of the shirt.

If you can get it tied just right,

[00:18:19] Dan: If you can't, you get a

[00:18:20] Heather: It's just a beautiful tie. Tie-dyed shirt.

[00:18:23] Jeff: dye though, cuz either way they look pretty.

[00:18:26] Dan: Yeah, so these are all ways that they might not be the big standing in front of the castle thing, let's go make a big memory. But there are ways that you can add onto your resort stay that just give you things to remember from your vacation. They're there. There're ways to do more than just sit at the pool at your resort.

Let's see. But you can still do that if you.

[00:18:49] Heather: Just sit at the pool. Yes, absolutely.

[00:18:51] Dan: absolutely. Are there any, and I'm thinking specifically outside of the Theme parks at resorts or Disney Springs restaurants that you might recommend that are kind more, they're not the top high end signature restaurants, but they might fit a moderate budget, but still fill a little bit plus a little bit more posh or fancy or

[00:19:12] Jeff: I think Homecoming is a good one for that. It's good,

[00:19:15] Heather: Disney Springs. But it's not really expensive. But I think most of the things at Disney Springs are not

So much at Disney Springs.

[00:19:24] Jeff: a great variety of stuff there.

[00:19:26] Heather: Morimoto Asia is my favorite restaurant. It's a little bit pricier, but they also have the little outdoor Asian Street food, which is just as delicious and less

[00:19:37] Jeff: and many of the same items just in a served, in a less you can.

way, but even the inside of that is not

[00:19:44] Heather: not too bad. I think you can still get those amazing spare ribs at the walk up window outside.


[00:19:51] Jeff: there that just makes you wanna live there and eat

[00:19:55] Heather: It's so delicious.

[00:19:56] Dan: Yeah. You can head on over to Disney Springs and most of those restaurant, like you said, they're not gonna break the bank. They're delicious food. And Mo and not mo a good chunk of 'em have a celebrity chef name on 'em. They've been the restaurant was a concept that comes up from people that you've seen on Master Chef or.

[00:20:13] Heather: Hallo is one of my favorites. That's a Jose Andres, if you like tapas in Spanish food. It's delicious.

[00:20:21] Jeff: price pricing, you could spend a lot or you could spend a little, they have a whole tour of. Spain kind of thing you can do, it's like chef's choice where they bring out course after course, and that of course is on the high end of things. But if you just split a few topics between people, you could, two people could eat there for a hundred or less for sure and have a fine meal.

[00:20:42] Heather: I haven't been to Wolfgang Puck's new location in Disney Springs. I had been to the old one. But I've heard good things, and most of his restaurants get pretty good reviews, so

[00:20:53] Jeff: Apparently he can cook,

[00:20:55] Heather: Yeah, I guess he really can. I liked his old restaurant that was there. I can't remember why it left, but he

[00:21:02] Jeff: It became Hallo, right?

[00:21:04] Heather: yeah, they, they tore it down and now that's where Heleo is.

And now Wolfgang Puck's Grill is Yeah. It's over by Guy FI's place.

[00:21:13] Dan: His fine dining establishment,

[00:21:15] Jeff: Yeah, the chicken guy,

[00:21:17] Heather: there's.

[00:21:17] Dan: gonna bring 20 of those to Michigan. I'm really excited.

[00:21:20] Heather: Yay,

[00:21:22] Jeff: Hey, I hear they're

[00:21:23] Heather: I have heard they're good. I haven't tried it

[00:21:25] Jeff: and I do love a chicken finger.

[00:21:27] Heather: There's two worth mentioning at Coronado that are we've talked before about their, about Toledo and Dahlia, which are more high end and delicious, but the Three Bridges, bar and grill out on the little. Island in the middle of that lake.

Very good. It's beautiful. It's not as expensive because it's more of a tapa style. That's also where you can do Sangria University as our graduate. Jeff has told us about before. Yeah. And I love the Sangria flight. You can order there. It's so good.

[00:22:03] Jeff: and you can get pictures too

[00:22:05] Heather: But Maya

[00:22:06] Jeff: one you like.

[00:22:07] Heather: Maya Grill is inside and it's a wonderful restaurant and it's, but it's not as expensive as Toledo upstairs.

Maya has been there since it was be since before the Grand Dino Tower. It's over near the food court.

[00:22:24] Jeff: Yeah, and speaking of affordable in there is Rick's Sports

[00:22:28] Heather: I love

[00:22:29] Jeff: place is awesome. They have elevated pub food, I would call it, but I don't know how Elevated, actually they have one of our favorite things there is watchOS, which is no tachos. That's it. It's

[00:22:41] Heather: I think it was called it's watchOS because it's waffle

[00:22:44] Jeff: fried nachos there.

That thing is awesome.

[00:22:48] Dan: I like a good waffle fried

[00:22:49] Heather: Yeah. And you can choose your meat, which is also very nice. You can, I think,

[00:22:54] Dan: it right out to your table.

[00:22:56] Jeff: but even if you don't like sports or whatever, there's tons of TVs around. But if it's, if you're not in, it's not rowdy in there or anything,

[00:23:02] Heather: I'm usually not busy.

[00:23:04] Jeff: bar, nice vibe, you can always get in there and it's air conditioned.

[00:23:08] Heather: Yes. That's one of the reasons we love

[00:23:10] Jeff: my favorites.

[00:23:11] Heather: I like Whispering Canyon at now. This. An a it is at a deluxe restaurant, so it's my add-on where if you're staying at Fort Wilderness, it's easy to get over to Whispering Canyon and eat there. If that's more of a food is great, but it's also a bit of an experience cuz the waiters get in on it.

[00:23:32] Jeff: sort of show elements. For a while, people had gotten annoyed. They didn't like. The fun times that the servers were providing. So they had toned it down, but then everybody complained that there wasn't that. So now they're right back there where the waiters kind of mess with you and all that you can choose.

So it used to be basically only family style dining, but now they have, you can order a la carte or do these family style skillets.

[00:23:57] Heather: it's a great restaurant. Then my other one is, Would fall in both dining and activities because at Fort Wilderness not to be missed as hoop de drew review, it's so fantastic.

[00:24:12] Jeff: That's a

[00:24:12] Heather: Real plus, or it's a little bit more than a meal because it's a full. Really good show. I mean the, it's so much fun and it took us a little while before we went and tried it out because we weren't sure it would

[00:24:25] Jeff: I was hesitant. I admit it.

[00:24:27] Heather: fun.

So much fun. And the food is fantastic.

[00:24:32] Jeff: It's like an old time cabaret vaudeville saloon show a thing.

[00:24:38] Heather: And it's of sad they're getting rid of the trails end buffet. That was an excellent, a hidden gem, and you could get all the food that they serve at Hoopty do over at Trails End, but it's closing sadly, but they bring up just buckets of fried chicken and it's a ton of food. So really

[00:24:57] Jeff: want another bucket, you can get another bucket.

[00:25:00] Heather: And then the entertainment, it's just the actors are excellent. The cast there has been performing that for a really long time and they're so good at, it's just so much fun. It's really worth, even if you're not staying in a moderate, I would recommend it as a something to do wherever you're staying on property.

[00:25:18] Dan: A spiritual successor to the Golden Horseshoe at

[00:25:22] Heather: Yes, absolutely.

[00:25:24] Dan: of Walt's favorite

[00:25:25] Heather: and now that we don't have it's really the last of its thing now at Walt Disney World since they closed the luau to pull, build A D V C

[00:25:33] Jeff: more luau, no more Mickey's Backyard

[00:25:35] Heather: backyard barbecue

[00:25:37] Dan: yeah. I forgot that was even a thing.

[00:25:40] Heather: Now I really wish they would bring that back. They absolutely could. It's at Fort Wilderness.


[00:25:44] Jeff: They got rid of it because that's where they were gonna build the new hotel that they're now not gonna build. But I don't know if they tore down the little amphitheater where they did that show.

[00:25:53] Dan: I

[00:25:54] Heather: can't, I'm not sure how far along in the process they got for building. Now it's leaving my head. What? What were they? The dumb name? They were reflections. There it is.

[00:26:05] Dan: Reflections. Colon, a Disney waterfront. Lakeside. Yes.

[00:26:12] Heather: Which you already have a Disney Lakeside Lodge. It's called the Wilderness Lodge, but I digress.

[00:26:17] Dan: Yeah.

[00:26:19] Jeff: One of the more affordable, but really good and tons of food, meals at Disney Springs is the, it's a newer Italian place. The name is escaping me, Heather. You'll know. It's like Taraina or Tarana. That place is good. It's, Good quality food and it's a ton of it. You could split any entree there and four people could eat two entrees and come outta their stuffed, and you can almost always get a reservation

[00:26:45] Heather: Oh yeah. Always.

[00:26:46] Jeff: on a budget.

I would highly recommend that.

[00:26:48] Heather: We touched on it a little bit earlier, and that's the table service at Caribbean Beach. Sebastians is very good. It's Caribbean

[00:26:58] Jeff: I never knew that

[00:26:59] Heather: of seafood, and

[00:27:00] Jeff: with a big group and it was

[00:27:02] Heather: yeah, it's called Sebastians. And ironically, my favorite item on the menu is the crab cakes.

[00:27:08] Jeff: Yeah, and there's pictures of Sebastian around in there. You feel bad cuz you're eating either him or his cousins, but

[00:27:14] Heather: Yes, but he is so tasty.

[00:27:17] Dan: Oh,

[00:27:18] Jeff: go on and eat the crab.

[00:27:20] Dan: A little butter and

[00:27:21] Heather: Yeah, it's a really pretty restaurant. It's a. It used to be something else, and I cannot remember what that restaurant used to be when it was before they did the whole big redo of Caribbean Beach's lobby, which is gorgeous that when they completely gutted it, and the lobby is of spectacular now.

[00:27:42] Jeff: I don't know

[00:27:43] Heather: what it used to be. Yeah, there used to be a table service there. I don't remember what it was, but now it's Sebastian's and it sits right there on the water. It's an easy walk from Riviera if you're staying over at Riviera,

[00:27:54] Jeff: And while you wait for your table, there's the Banana Cabana right outside, which is a fun outdoor Caribbean bar with all the usual resort drink type of coconuty, frothy yummies.

[00:28:07] Heather: tropical beverages.

[00:28:08] Jeff: Yes.

[00:28:10] Dan: Who doesn't like one of

[00:28:10] Heather: Yeah,

[00:28:11] Jeff: Nobody I know.

[00:28:13] Dan: that's

[00:28:13] Heather: I don't think they have brought back the little tiny speed boats at any of the moderates yet. Have they? Have they even brought it back at the deluxe

[00:28:23] Jeff: I feel like certainly some kid died on one and they

[00:28:26] Heather: I don't know that those were a great way to, plus

[00:28:30] Jeff: Yeah. I always wanted to do it and I never did.

[00:28:33] Heather: And it was covid that got rid of them and they just haven't brought that back.

They've brought back the pontoon boats that you can rent, but they haven't brought those back.

[00:28:44] Dan: Those other boats are a little on the pricier

[00:28:45] Heather: And they are, yes

[00:28:47] Dan: The little, whatever they call 'em now, water sprites

[00:28:50] Heather: they were called, they you, they were water mice at first, and then they had just been calling them sea racers, which was the brand of the little

[00:28:57] Dan: That's right. Yeah, the, I mean, those were that those were a good price. They're like 30, $35 for

[00:29:04] Heather: For half an hour. It was a, yeah, 30 bucks. You could take it out for half an hour and it was so fun. You only had to be 12

[00:29:12] Jeff: I

[00:29:13] Heather: your own. Yeah.

[00:29:14] Jeff: mentally.

[00:29:16] Heather: That was where we learned that my youngest son is a bit of a daredevil. I could not believe the moves he was pulling in his little speedboat when we did that for the first time.

[00:29:26] Jeff: And that's why they don't do it

[00:29:27] Heather: Maybe I,

[00:29:28] Jeff: Owen Straight.

[00:29:29] Heather: yeah, , it was very, it was, I mean, it was all the way up to the pandemic, so they still had them as recently as 20, 20. Ha. Maybe it's a staffing thing. I don't know. They did get the company that ran all of that used to also do things like parasailing over Bay Lake, and they had gotten rid of that pre pandemic, but you could still do all the boat.

[00:29:52] Dan: Yeah. It's inter, it's interesting, they they only sh they only list the pontoons as being available for rent on Disney's website. But the picture that they use for it shows the sea racers in the background. So I don't know if they still have 'em or they just haven't updated their photos,

[00:30:08] Heather: crossed, maybe they'll come

[00:30:10] Jeff: I sure haven't seen them parked anywhere.

[00:30:12] Heather: No

[00:30:12] Dan: At Fort Wilderness you can also rent canoes and kayaks.

[00:30:16] Heather: That's a fun thing.

[00:30:18] Dan: So

[00:30:19] Heather: And horseback riding. We talked about that a briefly, a little bit earlier at Tri Circle D, you can go horseback riding

[00:30:26] Jeff: when we were deluxe. No money concerns plusing it last time we talked about doing a v I P tour, but there's a ton of other types of smaller tours and experiences you can do that are a lot less expensive. One of them, Dan, I think you did this, didn't you and Kendra do the capture your moments photography session?

[00:30:47] Dan: those are a great those are a great value for what you get. They have 'em at all three, at three of the four parks. I don't think they have met Animal Kingdom. I could be wrong.

[00:30:57] Jeff: Huh? They should. I'll talk to

[00:30:59] Dan: They should. I'll look it up. I haven't paid that much attention since we did ours. They started

[00:31:04] Jeff: care anymore.

[00:31:05] Dan: They started out, they only had 'em at Magic Kingdom in Epco.

And I know for a fact that they added Hollywood Studios. I just haven't looked up to see if they have MidAm Animal Kingdom, but you they're about a hundred bucks. You get a half hour photo shoot session if it's at Magic Kingdom. They do at various locations around Cinderella Castle, at Epcot.

It's in World Showcase showcasing. You have a, you have the option of either going to. Italy and Germany, or you can go Japan and America. I think it is. And they do a very nice professional photo shoot. They'll tailor it to whatever you want the occasion to be. I've seen graduation pictures from that, that are really great.

Anniversary pictures or just couples pictures? Family pictures if, yeah, engagement photos. If you just want a really nice family portrait, they'll do those. And they do an amazing job. It doesn't sound like a lot of time. But really we got at least 60. Very high quality photos out of it. They do a great

[00:32:06] Jeff: amount of quality photos for that price for a family on a budget.

[00:32:11] Dan: and the amazing thing is they're really good at, they know the good spots around these area stake photos from, but they're also really good at finding the angle that they minimize the amount of people in the background.

[00:32:23] Heather: Oh, that's

[00:32:24] Dan: looks like you're alone on a private photo shoot. And also they do a really great job of helping you pose, which. Really awkward for most people if you're not experienced, so they do a really good job of making sure that your photos turn out really high quality. There's some other tours around especially Epcot.

I know we've talked about Jeff has done, and I've always wanted to do, you can head over to live in with the land.

[00:32:47] Jeff: Yeah, behind the seeds.

[00:32:49] Dan: Yes. The behind the seeds tour,

[00:32:51] Heather: really affordable, right in the $30 range.

[00:32:55] Dan: 30 to $35 I believe it is.

[00:32:57] Jeff: so about an hour,

[00:32:59] Dan: Yeah.

[00:33:00] Jeff: which doesn't sound like a lot, but you go back into the whole greenhouse area that you, that the boat goes through, and you get to walk through there and see all the things and how they do 'em and go there's a lot of 'em behind literally the seeds. Parts of that are just awesome.

You go in the these greenhouse areas where they're using different lighting and warmth and stuff to seed these things and hydroponic, and they've got a fish farm in there that smells awful, but it looks cool and it's interesting. I loved it. I would do it again. I think I've

[00:33:32] Dan: you get to

[00:33:32] Jeff: but I've, I would definitely do it again.

[00:33:35] Dan: Do you get to go into that laboratory area where they're doing the experiments for the They're creating a fun guy that surely nothing will go wrong with that has something to do with mushroom faces.

Yeah. And the cool thing about that place is

[00:33:50] Heather: now I'm worried.

[00:33:51] Jeff: Yeah.

[00:33:52] Heather: Did you see Pedro Pascal

[00:33:53] Jeff: Yeah. It was Pascal, the lizard was in there.

[00:33:57] Dan: Yeah. Yeah. And of course we all know they use all those fruits and vegetables and herbs at various restaurants around the park. So that's really neat to see where that came from. Any other kind of tours or special

[00:34:11] Jeff: caring for Giants one at.

Animal Kingdom is only $35, and it's a walking behind the scenes tour of the elephant Ellie

there. And you get to see and even participate in how they're fed and taken care of and all that. For 35 bucks a person, that's a, that seems like a heck of a deal.

I'd really like to do that one. I love elephants.

[00:34:34] Dan: Yeah. Yeah, that one looks cool. They have a similar one for the, what is it, the rhinos or hippos

[00:34:40] Heather: yes.

[00:34:40] Dan: or is

[00:34:41] Jeff: I didn't know they had that.

[00:34:42] Dan: Yeah.

[00:34:43] Jeff: It does freak me out. I don't know why they're, so, they're, they seem like they'd be slow and dumb, but instead they're incredibly fast and dangerous. I'm sure they're not gonna just take off running after you. But yeah, I don't know.

[00:34:54] Dan: great. Yeah, I would hope

[00:34:56] Jeff: Fun side story. My grandmother was at the Birmingham Zoo when she was A young lady and back then on a Sunday after church, everybody would be in their finery and go to the zoo and have picnics and whatnot. And she was near the Rhino enclosure, and I'm not sure if you know this, but when they poop, their tail spins like and acts like a fan to blow the poop away from them in a fine poo mist.

And my grandmother was wearing a white church dress and got totally covered. So that's my part of my, I don't love a hippo

[00:35:35] Dan: You know why they do that?

[00:35:37] Jeff: No. Is that how they propelled themselves in the water?

[00:35:39] Dan: No, but when they're in the water, that, that helps prevent leeches from crawling up their butt while

[00:35:44] Heather: Oh fun. Great. . Thank you for that

[00:35:48] Dan: We had a counter like that. Some a grandmother at our zoo got hoop thrown at her by a chimpanzee a few years ago. They had to install taller plexiglass on the on the enclosure.

I don't think there's really any there, there's not a lot of tour experiences like that at Magic Kingdom.

[00:36:05] Jeff: The keys to the Kingdom Tour is a good one, and it's not inc it's not nearly the price of a v i p private tour, but it is an excellent tour, I believe

[00:36:13] Heather: Very

[00:36:13] Jeff: about on the last thing, but that's, I've done that a few times and I would do it anytime anybody wanted to do

[00:36:19] Heather: It's about 110 hundred and $15 a person, but it's a five hour tour. A long once in a lifetime

and Includes lunch. It includes a meal and you have to be 16 to do that one, but it's Or older. Yes. Minimum age is 16. Because one of the things you do is go backstage and down into the utilities, so they don't wanna ruin the magic for anyone younger.

It's part of it. They probably also think that anyone younger may not last on a five hour walking tour.

[00:36:53] Jeff: of the garbage removal system under the

[00:36:56] Heather: yeah.

[00:36:57] Jeff: But it's all really interesting. And of course they use their. They're best v i p tour guides that know all the ins and outs and really know how to work a story and work with the people, and they make it a ton of fun. I would highly recommend that.

[00:37:11] Dan: You could always try your luck at getting a reservation at the Harmony Barber shop, either for your child's first haircut or just for

[00:37:18] Jeff: Or your first haircut maybe. If Crystal Gail wants to go get her first haircut down there, she can also, an after hours party at one of the parks is a good way to splurge on something, perhaps on a day that you weren't gonna go to a park or whatever. Those are a hundred plus dollars too, but they're a really.

Good. It feels special to be in these parks. It's not something you could probably afford to do all the time necessarily, but a great splurge. If you stay moderate, then you can do more fun extra things.

[00:37:53] Heather: And you could eat a hundred dollars worth of popcorn and ice cream bars and

[00:37:59] Jeff: Yes,

[00:38:00] Dan: of soda.

[00:38:01] Heather: bottled sodas.

[00:38:02] Dan: Yeah. And that's, like you said, that's a day. Take a day, that's gonna be your rest day so that you don't have to buy a park ticket that day buy your event admission, and that gets you into the park later in the evening. So that's definitely a way that you're not spending a ton or at least a ton more than you

[00:38:19] Jeff: During the nine to 10 months of the year that there's a festival going on at Epcot, they offer all sorts

[00:38:26] Heather: should be

[00:38:27] Jeff: seminars and tastings and classes and cooking

[00:38:31] Heather: Oh, tons and tons of cool

[00:38:32] Dan: Yeah.

[00:38:33] Jeff: Some are adults only, many of them are family. Everybody. There's art seminars and all really kind of anything you'd wanna do or tastings or meals or whatever those are.

Those range anywhere from $35 to as much really as you'd wanna spend. But there's tons of different variety for stuff like that. If you're looking for a special once in a lifetime, different thing to do other than walk it through the parks.

[00:38:58] Dan: Yeah. And those are things that they don't always do a super great job of advertising that they're there, but there's a lot available.

[00:39:05] Jeff: I always hear about them after someone did it. What is that? I've never heard of that. And like we talk about Disney for a living and there's stuff I don't know about all the time.

[00:39:13] Dan: Right? Yeah. A popular one. I don't know. I assume it's back this year since they're doing flower and garden right now. A popular one is that make your own topiary thing that

[00:39:24] Heather: Oh yeah,

[00:39:25] Dan: a little mini topiary and send home

[00:39:26] Heather: couldn't figure out how to get it home.

[00:39:29] Dan: Yeah, I think that one's gonna get shipped.

[00:39:30] Heather: Yeah.

[00:39:31] Jeff: Yeah, they're big.

[00:39:33] Dan: Yeah. Yeah. They're not tiny.

They're a few feet tall and you can make your topiary just just like the garden masters there at Epcot. Do. But the best way to find out about all of those kinds of experiences at a festival and other ways that you can plus your stay at a moderate resort or a deluxe resort or value resort, it's gonna be talking to your Key, to the World Travel advisor.

[00:39:57] Jeff: It is true.

[00:39:59] Heather: Yes, it.

[00:39:59] Dan: And I'm gonna say thanks for hanging out with us again this week if you're excited to, plus your stay at a Walt Disney World Moderate Hotel, or explore anywhere else, Key to the World. Travel has the Convention Center at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort full of expert travel planners, and they're ready to make your vacation dreams a reality.

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You can find links to subscribe to the show on your favorite apps and all the latest updates at We can't wait to hang out with you again, and we'll see you real soon.

[00:40:42] Jeff: Goodbye everybody.

[00:40:44] Heather: Bye y'all.