The Poly Is Getting an Upgrade and a Retrograde Simultaneously

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Disney has long been known to not let sleeping dogs lie at the resorts and continuously their construction crews seem to be in perpetual motion at one resort or another.  So now the law of averages has set the Polynesian Resort directly in the site of the refurb crew, and boy howdy are they making some noise.

The Polynesian is going a bit Retro in this upgrade in the “new” but OLD name.  It is returning the name I remember first hearing: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.  Just hearing that throws me back to the Eighties.  With the new/old name does come sizable changes that if you book the resort you should know about.  First, the pool.  I know plenty of people book the Poly based on the awesome pool, I mean it has a Volcano with a slide.  But unfortunately during the refurb the pool will not be accessible for some of the time.  Disney has an answer for this and while the pool is closed (July 26th through roughly early 2015) Guests will be treated to a complimentary ticket to the Blizzard Beach Water Park:

“Each Guest will receive one (1) complimentary ticket for each member of their party to visit Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park during their stay. To ensure a seamless visit, transportation will be provided to Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park. Guests will enter through a dedicated check-in point where they will receive their complimentary tickets and towels.” So hey, bonus!

the Lobby will be undergoing quite a substantial change in the coming months so be aware of that.  We recommend you allow us or your Travel Agent to handle your online check in to expedite your arrival.  There is a petition online to save the majestic indoor waterfall that helped to make this Resort such an iconic Disney retreat.  If you want more details on that click here.

Restaurants surrounding the Lobby should be impacted slightly in their operations, so it is best to ask when making those ‘Ohana reservations what to expect.

Overall communications are key when any refurb is going on at a Disney Resort.  If you think this would negatively impact your stay in the coming months I would recommend other Monorail Line Resorts or try Epcot area Deluxe Level for a similar proximity to the parks and level of Resort.

Red 5 Standing By, Star Wars Weekends Are Almost Here!

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Probably the highlight of my time spent at Disney’s MGM Studios as a Cast Member was working Star Wars Weekends, 2001.  Imagine showing up to your work and there is Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Jeremy Bulloch you know just signing autographs as you walk past like it’s the most normal everyday thing in the entire World.  Stormtroopers were everywhere and even we Castmembers thought, “The park has been invaded by the Empire!” It was also the first and only time that Carrie Fisher attended Star Wars Weekends and being able to see the q and a panel with that amount of star power that year made me as a Star Wars Fan for lack of a better term, Geek Out!

We’ve gone to Star Wars Weekends 3 times since then and each time it packs an emotional geek filled resonance for me personally.  I have been fortunate to have taken my kids as well, we even were there on the opening Star Wars Weekends for Star Tours 2.0 back in 2011.  It is safe to say that if you have even a small, minute interest in a galaxy far far away you will love this event!

Here is the run down of events and what to expect for Star Wars Weekends 2014!

Stars and Autograph Sessions!

First there are the celebrities and just like my experience in 2001, you will not be disappointed at all in this years lineup of Star Wars stars and backstage artists who brought the films to life:

May 16-18, 2014

  • Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks)
  • Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)
  • Vanessa Marshall (Hera Syndulla – Star Wars Rebels)

May 23-25, 2014

  • Warwick Davis (Ewok, Wicket W. Warrick)
  • Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett, Capt. Jeremoch Colton)
  • Tiya Sircar (Sabine Wren – Star Wars Rebels)

May 30 – June 1, 2014

  • Ray Park (Darth Maul)
  • John Ratzenberger (Major Bren Derlin)
  • Taylor Gray (Ezra Bridger – Star Wars Rebels)

June 6-8, 2014

  • Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker, Darth Bane – The Clone Wars) (will not be signing autographs)
  • Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian)
  • Ray Park (Darth Maul)
  • Taylor Gray (Ezra Bridger – Star Wars Rebels)

June 13-15, 2014

  • Dee Bradley Baker (Captain Rex/the Clones, Bossk and more – The Clone Wars)
  • Cat Taber (Padme Amidala and more – The Clone Wars)
  • Tom Kane (Yoda  – The Clone Wars and more)
  • Matt Lanter (Anakin Skywalker and more – The Clone Wars)
  • Steve Blum (Zeb Orrelios – Star Wars Rebels)

The great thing about these weekends is that during the autograph sessions there are a number of Fastpasses you can get though limited to help with your wait!

 

Daily Schedule of Events

Each Weekend has a similar rundown of events in order so that no matter which weekend you choose you are sure to experience the fullness offered.  believe me you won’t be able to take it all in in one go!

  • Stormtrooper Welcome – 7:30am on Hollywood Boulevard
  • Autograph Sessions throughout the day (check Times Guide)
  • Legends of the Force Motorcade and Welcome at 11:30am
  • Stars of the Saga Talk Show and Q&A Session (Premier Theater) – 3:15pm
  • Jedi Training Academy – Check Times Guide
  • Behind the Force (Premier Theatre) – 1:45pm
  • Obi-Wan and Beyond (Premier Theater) – 7:00pm
  • Padawan Mind Challenge at 1:00pm, 2:15pm, 4:15pm, 6:30pm
  • Star Wars Character Encounters – 8:00am – 7:30pm (Check Times Guide for locations)
  • DJ Lobot Dance Party – 7:00pm
  • Symphony in the Stars Fireworks – 9:30pm

Character Dining for Star Wars Weekends

New this year are Star Wars Weekends Character Dining Experiences at both Hollywood and Vine and Sci Fi Dine In Theater!

These include your favorite Disney characters dressed as some of your favorite Star Wars Characters like: Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Vader Goofy, Ewok Chip & Dale, and Stormtrooper Donald!

  • Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast! at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant (8:00am-noon, cost is $47.99 for adults and $29.99 for kids (ages 3-9)
  • Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine (4:15pm-park closing, cost is $55.99 for adults and $33.99 for kids (ages 3-9)
  • Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine withFantasmic! Dinner Package (you can add the Fantasmic Dinner Package on for a slight uptick in price which will also guarantee priority seating at Fantasmic! later in the evening)

You will also be able to meet LOADS of characters from every spectrum of the Force throughout the parks throughout your days in addition to your standard Disney characters!

V.I.P. Experience

Disney has released an exclusive V.I.P. experience for those amongst us who might want a full package that has some exclusivity to it.  If you are an uber fan and convention costs aren’t that big of a concern this may be the droid you’re looking for:

  • Premium seating for Star Wars Weekends shows at the Premiere Theater, such as Stars of the Saga—a Star Wars-themed talk show that’s as entertaining as it is surprising
  • Expedited access to attractions like Star Tours – The Adventures ContinueToy Story Midway Mania! and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Private continental breakfast  at The Hollywood Brown Derby
  • Reserved viewing location during the Legends of the Force Motorcade
  • Table-service lunch at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The cost for this package is $499 and does not include park admission.  It is available May 16 to June 15, 2014 and can be reserved by calling: (407) 934-7973.  According to Disney advance reservations are HIGHLY recommended for this experience.

 

Merchandise and Goodies!

Like all things Star Wars (believe me I’m a parent to a Star Wars fan on top of being one myself I can’t see the walls in some rooms because of our lightsaber collections) what would the experience be without the merchandise?  “Merchandising, Merchandising, Merchandising!”

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Yes, that’s Yogurt from Space Balls, but it’s an apt description of the BEVY of buying opportunities you will have throughout the weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Weekend exclusive merchandise, to your own likeness frozen in carbonite ala Han and shipped to you, to Lightsabers, and yes even a Vader Cupcake!

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The possibilities for purchases are endless so be prepared for a steady stream of “I WANT!” and that’s not just the kids!

 

Jedi Training Academy

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The JTA is in full “force” over these weekends and as you would imagine it is CRAZY difficult to score a coveted spot.  I recommend though if you want to give it your best go arrive WAY before rope drop, like more than an hour and be prepared for a line to sign up.  You may have to be flexible in your plans and take the most available spot though if you want your Youngling to train on a Star Wars Weekend.  It takes on a special nature to do JTA on these weekends at Disney so be prepared with cameras!  For our Review Read Here, and For A Video Click Here!

 

As with all special events my advice on this one is no different, be prepared for crowd levels to spike.  The area near Star Tours especially will feel crazy congested throughout the day.  So if Star Wars isn’t your thing I would avoid that area of the park.  Also something to think about is there will be special shows, fireworks, characters mingling so if you have a child who is used to the standard park experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios you had better prepare them for the changes.  We took our youngest aside as we were walking in to let him know Star Wars had invaded the park so it would look a bit different and had to keep re-iterating throughout the day, that all was fine this was okay.

For more details visit the official home of Star Wars Weekends online:
Disney’s Official Page 

Official Facebook Page for SWW

Have you ever been to Star Wars Weekends?  What did you think?

 

New Rope Drop Procedures At Magic Kingdom

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You may have heard the newest hot ticket attraction at the Magic Kingdom isn’t some new ride, or restaurant or even a parade or show.  No the newest most exclusive experience in the Magic Kingdom on both coasts has become the Character Meet and Greet with Queen Elsa and Princess Anna.  I have seen consecutive days now of Guests reporting 300 minute wait times (that equates to 5 hours!) in order for a 5 minute audience with the Royal Pair from Disney’s Frozen.

Disney has instituted a guided process to the Royal Hall at rope drop as there was shall we say, some less than savory behaviors presented as Guests ran, trampled and otherwise RUSHED towards Fantasyland as if it were Black Friday and Fantasyland were stocked with free iPads.  So upon landing on Main Street at rope drop in the morning Cast Members will have a rope that will guide Guests in a CALM and SAFE manner to their destination and minimize disorder.

My thoughts on this meet and greet are simple, I think it’s rather out there to wait 300 minutes for a 5 minute Meet and Greet when you could do so much more with those 5 hours in the park.  If you were to break it down into dollars and cents think about the going rate of a park ticket, then divide that by the number of hours you could spend in the park realistically touring. You get a palpable number that those 300 minutes waiting amount to at that point, then when you weigh it amongst all of the other experiences you could take in it doesn’t make sense.  Not to mention wait times such as these, combined with limited FP availability to start has precluded many Guests with Disabilities the ability to wait.  You can speak with Guest Relations about this need, but be very specific as to why you need the pass.  As well something to consider is that violent crowd like behaviors are simply not tolerated at Disney, and the law doesn’t take a vacation.  Even though you may be in “Disney World” it still remains under the jurisdiction of local authorities.  People have been charged with assault for deeming a line offense worthy of physical retribution in the past.  So proceed with caution.  If you are in this line and someone is exhibiting behaviors that warrant a response GET A CAST MEMBER!

As well I think that Anna and Elsa really need to be spread around a bit more.  Akershus is a PERFECT venue for these two as they can easily fit in with the setting given that Frozen was based in none other than Norway.  They could also have a meet and greet in Disney’s Hollywood Studios considering their film won two Academy Awards.  I think the more opportunities people have to meet these characters the less pandemonium we would see at the Magic Kingdom every morning.

So what are your thoughts readers?  Would you wait 300 minutes to meet characters?

Mother’s Day Weekend Challenge

Okay Moms, and children really, your mission should you choose to accept it is to watch the following and not cry like a baby. I couldn’t even hear the opening chords without getting weepy so you have been forewarned!

Disneyland Good Neighbor Resort Discount Just Released For Summer Travel!

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Wow, the discounts are sure flying off the shelves this week.  We just received word of another discount, but this one is exclusively for Disneyland.  And to be more precise those Guests who stay at the Good Neighbor Hotels that surround the Disneyland Resort.

Now, for you Disney World travelers, this may seem a little odd.  But at Disneyland the way the park is constructed lends itself to a natural working relationship with many wonderful hotels who have a very close proximity to the parks.  It’s just well, different!  And that’s okay because by being a Good Neighbor Resort Guest at the Disneyland Resort you get many of the same perks including Magic Morning entrances to the parks and offers such as these:

Now-Aug. 12, 2014, a 3-Night/4-Day Good Neighbor Hotel Vacation Package at the Disneyland Resort starts at $91* per person per day for a family of 4 and includes a 4-Day, 1-Park per day Disneyland Resort ticket. This offer is valid for stays most nights June 13-Aug. 16, 2014. Travel must be complete by Aug. 17, 2014.

So that can lend itself naturally to some big savings if you are a party of 4 wanting to take in Walt’s original park!  Just the base package for hotel and tickets could run about $1,456 with this discount.  So that’s a good deal for a 3 night 4 day package.  Contact us at info@upanduptravel.com to book this offer today!

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Is Set To Officially Open May 28th!

 

So it’s been a long time hasn’t it?  I mean we’ve watched this attraction it feels like more than any in recent memory, and the anticipation has been palpable.  When oh when will the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train be open so we can ride?  Well we got our answer last Friday in a whirlwind day of Disney news releases: May 28th is the day.  Image

Cast Member previews as of this date have already started according to those I know in the parks.  As well when Disney released the Fast Pass + option for booking opening day it crashed the system.  This was certainly not good for Travel Agents like me who were in that same system booking FastPass+ and Dining Options on a day where Free Dining was announced :)  But it shows the anticipation in a literal way, people have craved this attraction for some time.  I think this is because there isn’t one Disney fan out there who doesn’t love Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  I mean really, on a visceral level, it’s right up there with Mickey Mouse.  It’s the original, the one that started it all right?  And in some ways we all have that childlike sensibility about these characters that makes us love them all.

If you go online you can find virtual ride throughs and as well you can discover your “Dwarf” name!  Check out the links below to experience what you can “virtually” from the comfort of your own home if waiting until your next trip is not going to do for your needs!

We’ll of course stay on this opening and let you know of any news worthy updates!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Interractive Links:

All about the Interractive Queue

Virtual Ride Through

A Look At the Audio Animatronics

Check Here For Additional Accessibility Info

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Dates Have Been Released!

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For Walt Disney World when the night air turns from swelter to cool and crisp in the evenings, that is the time when ghouls and goblins by the score roam Main Street U.S.A. in search of fun and frolic with their favorite Disney Characters!  Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is an amazing hard ticket even offered on select nights inside of the Magic Kingdom.  On these nights every land in the Magic Kingdom is transformed in lighting, decorations & eery music and streetmosphere into a “not so scary” experience for the entire family!

The dates for the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World were released today along with pricing and here they are!

Walt Disney World:

Hours: 7:00 pm – midnight, Parade at 8:15 pm and 10:30 pm, Fireworks at 9:30 pm

Pricing does vary by Month, and as well as you get closer to Halloween itself the price per ticket goes up, as well you can save if you purchase in advance versus purchasing at the gate.  Several dates will sell out including Halloween Night so if you will be there over these dates and would like to go be sure to purchase well in advance.  Also if you are traveling to the parks during these dates and have already attended be advised the Magic Kingdom will close early on these dates:

September 1, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 2014

  • Advance Purchase:  Adult: $62.00 + tax, Child: $57.00 + tax

October 2, 3, 5, 9, 13, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 2014

  • Advance Purchase:  Adult: $67.00 + tax, Child: $62.00 + tax

October 10, 17, 24, 30, 2014

  • Advance Purchase: Adult: $71.00 + tax, Child: $66.00 + tax

October 31, 2013

  • Advance Purchase: Adult: $77.00 + tax, Child: $72.00 + tax

 

Our family was delighted to experience this event in 2011 with our boys and my Grandmother and it was a highlight of our trip.  There are a few different offerings though that you will want to be aware of when planning to attend:

Everyone Can Dress Up!

Yes, even the adults.  Usually Disney has a rule that adults cannot dress up within their parks (especially as Disney characters) well on these nights they make an exception and EVERYONE can get in on the fun!  We saw a little Nemo Baby with two Jellyfish parents all the way to a fully decked out pirate family boarding Pirates of the Caribbean to the Muppets wandering around.  So long as it’s in “good taste” Disney usually delights in the creative endeavors of it’s guests.  Remember though the title of the party is “Not So Scary” so apply that accordingly to your costumes.  As well remember you aren’t in the Northeast for Halloween, you’re in Orlando, and yes in September and October it’s still very hot and humid and you can have storms creep in unannounced.  So plan your costumes to be a bit lighter than you would wear elsewhere.

 

Prepare for Loads of Candy

Even if you only do one or two candy trails you could walk out with the provided bags completely full to the brim.  Disney does provide a smaller bag when you come inside, but if candy is the name of the game for your kids you might want to bring another bag (Disney Shopping bags work awesome for this) to periodically dump the excess into.  We ended up bringing home enough candy to put our suitcase over the 50 pound limit so got another bag to put the candy and additional souvenirs into for the flight home.  If you or your child is diabetic, or has peanut allergies or any number of dietary restrictions that would mean they would need an alternative treat be sure to check in at Guest Relations and they will provide treats specifically for those dietary restrictions so all may partake!

 

This Is A Hard Ticket Event

The admittance for this party is considered a hard ticket event, meaning that your standard park admittance won’t allow you in.  In fact on these nights the Magic Kingdom closes early to day guests (usually 7 p.m.) so that those with a hard ticket are permitted to stay with less crowds.  The cost can be higher, so be prepared.  You can though enter the park any time in the afternoon to get the most out of the price.  I usually recommend a day plan like this: Stay in the resort, relax, swim, maybe visit Downtown Disney; have lunch, take a nap, then start getting ready around 2-3.  Arrive at the Magic Kingdom around 4 and have dinner at one of the many restaurants in the Magic Kingdom or surrounding resorts and then start going on attractions.  You will notice a shift in the guests in the following 2-3 hours as the day guests leave and the partygoers arrive in full force.

In the even of inclement weather, those aforementioned storms that can crop up, you can get a rain check for an alternate date the same year usually.  But if you are say leaving the next day it can be dicey.  Just remember there are no refunds on the purchase so if rain would keep you away you may want to plan for an October party versus a September date.

 

There Are Many Options So Choose Wisely

As with any Disney event they stock the parks with a great many touring options and special offerings to allow their Guests to get the most of their party dollar.  You can choose from Candy Trails, Dance Parties, Special Parades, Exclusive Character Meet & Greets (Captain Jack Sparrow is usually out and the Seven Dwarfs), Talented Streetmosphere (especially over at the Haunted Mansion) and a lot of merchandise.  So I suggest choosing 2 or 3 and prioritizing what you really really really want to experience and sticking with it.  We opted for a couple of character meet and greets, candy trails and hitting some attractions we hadn’t done earlier in our trip and as well of course going on the Haunted Mansion.  It was Halloween Night after all!  We also wanted to be sure to catch the Headless Horseman trotting through and see Hallowishes which in my review is probably the most impressive fireworks show in the Magic Kingdom’s calendar.

You can also listen to our experience as I was a featured guest on the Special Mouse Podcast episode all about touring Mickey’s Not So Scary!  Check it out here.

So in all it’s a wonderful experience, especially if you love Halloween and love Disney and you have kids like mine who despite being older elementary age still don’t go for gore and are more into spooky, but not TOO spooky!  If you would like assistance in purchasing tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary on either coast be sure to contact Up & Up Travel, LLC at info@upanduptravel.com or Click Here to contact them via web form!

 

 

 

Room Only Discounts for Fall 2014!

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Disney released Free Dining and a Room Only Discount to Disney Visa cardholders earlier today.  Which I am still on hold helping clients make those all important changes (hundreds if not over a thousand dollars in savings)!  But wanted to share the details we are seeing for the Room Only Discount coming later in 2014.  All of the offers being released today must be booked by August 8th, 2014.

Contact us at http://www.upanduptravel.com/new/contact or via phone at 1-877-WDW-WISH (939-9474) to get a no obligation quote as this offer is limited!

Deluxe & Deluxe Villas:

Save 30% on the following:

  • Disney’s Boardwalk Villas
  • Disneys Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (Standard Viewor Pool View Rooms)
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Save 20% on these Deluxe and Deluxe Villas:

  • Disney Beach Club Villas
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House & Kidani Village
  • The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Beach Club
  • Disney’s Contemporary
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (Savanna or Club Level)

It gets a little different when we look at Moderate and Value Resorts:

Save 20% August 16-28th or Save 25% August 29th-Oct 3rd, 2014 on Moderate Resorts

  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach
  • Disney’s Cornado Springs
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Cabins
  • Save 20% August 29th-Oct 3rd, 2014 on Port Orleans French Quarter

Save 15% August 16-28th or Save 20% August 29th-Oct 3rd, 2014 on Value Resorts

  • Disney’s All Star Sports & Music Resorts
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort
  • Save 10% August 16-28th  or Save 20% August 29th-Oct 3rd, 2014 on Disney Art of Animation (Family Suites Only)
  • Save 15% August 29th-Oct 3rd, 2014 on Disney’s All Star Movies Resort & the Campsites at Ft. Wilderness

Contact us at http://www.upanduptravel.com/new/contact or via phone at 1-877-WDW-WISH (939-9474) to get a no obligation quote as this offer is limited!

 

New Nighttime Show Coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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A new nighttime show is coming to Animal Kingdom.  As you may know in the past Disney has stayed away from a lot of nighttime activities at Animal Kingdom in order to give the animals a bit of respite.  I believe some of this change is now due to the impending Avatar land that will be coming soon to this park.  According to Disney’s blog today, the new nighttime show will be called “Rivers of Light” and appears at first blush to follow in a similar show pattern as Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or World of Color in Disney’s California Adventure.  Though I am sure they will put a new twist on the show to not only fit with the park overall but add in new technologies.

Per the Disney site: “Rivers of Light” promises to be an innovative show unlike anything ever seen in Disney Parks, combining live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery. The show will magically come to life on the broad, natural stage of the Discovery River, between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest, delighting our guests and truly capping off a full day of adventures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

We’ll of course follow any news as it develops and be sure to share here anything we hear!

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It’s He-ere! Free Dining Is Back for the Fall!

ImageDisney’s Free Dining Promotion for later in 2014 was announced for Disney VISA cardholders this morning, and will open to the General Public on May 7th!!

Contact us at www.upanduptravel.com/new/contact  or call 1-877-WDW-WISH (939-9474) to get started on this great and money saving offer!

This is for the following dates of travel:
August 31-October 3
October 26- November 1
November 9-November 2
December 12-December 23

Some exclusions apply including the following resorts:  All-Star Movies, Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter, Grand Floridian Villas, Fort Wilderness Campsites, Art of Animation Little Mermaid Rooms and all 3 Bedroom Villas.

Booking Dates for this offer are between May 7 – August 8, 2014. To receive free dining you must book a resort package with a minimum of 3 night stay and 2 day park ticket.

As well a Room Only Discount will also be available for travel between 8/16 – 10/3.

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