Day 1:  De-Stress, Just Enjoy Being Home

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Up until a week ago, I was supposed to be traveling tonight to Walt Disney World, but once again I found my sucked into the Twilight Zone with the floor dropping out from under me.  Instead of ending up with another anxiety attack over it, I gave myself one more Disney day and really treat myself because it is well deserved and VERY earned!

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Today is about de-stressing and being home, but still within the  perimeters of new experiences…

Plans for today include:

  1. Breakfast at Be Our Guest (I hear they now mimosa’s)
  2. Massage at Senses in the Grand Floridian

-I might end up at All Star Pool, hotel room for a nap. or Food & Wine in the afternoon.  All of these options are on the table.

  1. Dessert Party and VIP Seating for Fantasmic!

-Afterwards, the night is still relatively young in terms of Disney time so I might go to Disney Springs or enjoy All Stars at night.   

Remember that I am doing a full out social media blitz this week to make you part of my “working vacation.” Content will be different on each site to make it fresh, so you will want to follow me on…

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I am also going to be giving everyone* following along and interacting, a chance to win up to $200 in a Disney Vacation Credit* as well as a few daily giveaways as a thank you for being a part of my “working vacation.”  The more you interact, the better chance you have to win.

“Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho It’s Off to Work I GO” Contest Rules & Details

There is so much magic waiting for me that I need to get going, I will C U real soon and remember that life is always better when you are wearing ears.

I’m Done Adulting…I’m Going to Disney

If you were to ask me what my favorite ride in Disney Hollywood Studios is, hands down I would say Tower of Terror.  But…

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The last few months I have felt like I have been living in the Twilight Zone.  My life and emotions have been very similar to that of the Tower of Terror thanks to the constant changes in my job.  Just when it seems to get close to normal, the floor drops out from below me…

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I am DONE ADULTING!  To quote my favorite Disney bear, Koda, I want to “tell everybody” that I am on my way home to the most magical place on Earth for my annual Heigh-Ho trip.  What you don’t speak Disney? (We will have to fix that.)

Translation:  Tonight, as soon as I finish my day job, I will be traveling to Walt Disney World for my annual working vacation as an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.  

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I just love telling people that I “HAVE TO GO” to Walt Disney World, it’s a tough job. My working vacation is all about you, my Disney Travel clients. It is during this trip, that I  try to pack in as many NEW EXPERIENCES as I can to make your trip more magical. No matter how many times I go to Walt Disney World, I always seem to have a long list of NEW experiences.  Walt Disney World is constantly changing, growing, expanding, updating, and refurbishing so it is very easy to create a list of things that I have not experienced. In fact, a whole new land opened in June that I have yet to explore .    

I want to invite you to come along on this working vacation through the power of social media.  We will be “whistling while we work” as I am planning a full out social media blitz this week, with different content across all of these 4 sites…  

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I am also going to be giving everyone* following along and interacting, a chance to win up to a $200 in a Disney Vacation Credit* as well as a few daily giveaways as a thank you for being a part of my “working vacation.”  

For complete rules and details…

Heigh-Ho Contest: Details & Rules

Get ready by following me on each of my social media platforms and then be on the lookout starting about 6 pm CST as we officially punch the time card…

I will C U real soon and remember that life is always better when you are wearing ears!

Friday Five: 5 x 5 for Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival 2017 & 2018

40347632_686479751712198_1256641477291802624_nYesterday, was opening day of one of my favorite events at Walt Disney World, Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival.  This is the time of the time of the year where I unleash my inner foodie and throw out any kind of diet plan. One of my favorite things is to pour through the menus of each Festival Booth and stalk all the great Disney Food Facebook pages, dreaming of all the yummy sips and bites.  The menus were released a few weeks ago and I already have my list ready for my trip in 35! But before I look ahead to next month, let’s take a moment to look at back at some of my favorites (and misses) from 2017…

5 Top Bites from 2017

1 & 2 Piggy Wings (2nd year of my list) & Chocolate Picante-Dark Chocolate Mousse & Yellow cake with Cayenne Pepper, Chili Pepper and Raspberry Dust

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Roasted Pork Wings with a Korean BBQ sauce…sticky, sweet and just little after burn to remind you that you are at Flavors from Fire)  I love chocolate and heat, a yummy combination!

3. Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with a Warm Whiskey-Caramel from the Chocolate Studio (2nd Year of my list)

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Yummy and refreshing, love the cold treat on a hot day, and paired with a beautiful red dessert wine…AMAZING.

4. Warm Irish Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip with Irish Brown Bread from Ireland

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I was a little scared to try this combination, considering I am not a beer fan but I love Irish Brown Bread.  The flavor of the bread, cheese and beer together was the perfect bite of Ireland

5. Traditional Spanish Paella with Shrimp, Bay Scallops, Mussels, Chicken and Crispy Chorizo from Spain

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How they managed to get every component on the plate is beyond me, plus the rice had that crispy chewy bite that normally you would be fighting to get at home.  

Top 5 Sips from 2017

1. Lenotti Recioto della Valpolicella (see picture with Nitro Truffle)

A sweet red dessert wine, probably the best red dessert wine I have EVER had and a perfect complement to the truffle.

2. Kim Crawford Frozen Wine Cocktail featuring Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand

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It was the perfect wine slushy and took the edge off of a family who decided that they wanted to ATTEMPT to crowd me out of my spot for illuminations that I had staked out for over an hour.

3. Red Moscato from Italy

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This must be the year of the sweet reds for me.  Another great vino!

4. Twinings Pumpkin Chai Tea Frozen Cocktail with Caramel Vodka (2nd year)

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My favorite drink from 2016 did not disappoint…pumpkin, chai, caramel vodka fall in a glass!  I will not even admit to how many of these I drank this year. I was EXTREMELY disappointed when I was reading the menu for Ireland’s Festival Booth for 2018 and found this missing…thankfully I did not have to cancel my trip over this as has just been moved to another booth.  

5. Dragon Berry Refresher featuring Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum from the Refreshment Port

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A refreshingly light frozen cocktail, that given the opportunity I would have had more that I needed.

5 Misses from 2017

1. Bleu Spectrum (Blanc de Bleu Cuvee Mousseux with Boba Pearls) from the Light Lab

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I wanted to love this, but after 3 sips I threw it away.  It was bitter with an odd aftertaste. Light Lab is such a fun festival booth, mad scientist lab that glows in the dark.

2. Crispy Calamari with Spicy Pomodoro Sauce from Italy (see picture above on Italy’s Red Moscato)

The appearance turned me off as it seemed under fried, however the calamari was crispy but it lacked any sort of flavor at all.  The Pomodoro sauce was good, but not good enough to make up for the calamari.

3. Spicy Hummus Fries with Cucumber, Tomato, Onions and Tzatziki Sauce from Morocco

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Another favorite bite from 2016 that was a HUGE disappointment in 2017.  This year the fries were wet and soggy and lacked the spice in spicy.

4. Teriyaki Ginger Pork from Japan

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I guess I was expecting another version of the Piggy Wings, but this was not that.  It was dull and flavorless.

5. Beijing Roasted Duck Bao Bun with Hoisin Sauce from China

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I was so excited that this was on the menu again for 2016, but after the first bite I was extremely disappointed.  This year’s  lacked the deep rich flavor I remembered and the duck was chewy and greasy, so instead of being on the top again the duck moved to the bottom.

Looking towards the 2018 Epcot Food & Wine Festival…

So, what I am looking forward to eating and drinking in 2018 (based on menu only)? Of course, I am going for the Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle, the Pumpkin Chai with Vodka and the Piggy Wings, plus I might give a few past disappointments another chance but here is what is topping my list to try…

Top 5 Eats to Try For 2018

1. Maple Bourbon Cheesecake with Maple Bourbon Cream, Caramel & Pecan crunch (Cheese Studio)

2. The Steakhouse Blended Burger (blended beef and wild mushroom slider with brie cheese fondue, arugula, truffle and blue cheese potato chip on a brioche bun) from Earth Eats

3. Bougasta (warm phyllo dough strudel with sweet vanilla custard, lemon honey syrup and cinnamon) from Greece

4. Sweet Potato Poutine (sweet potato fries with caramel sauce, mini marshmallows and pecans) from Refreshment port

5. Korma Chicken with cucumber tomato salad, almonds, cashews, and warm naan bread from India

Top 5 Sips to Try For 2018

1, Caribbean White Sangria from Islands of the Caribbean

2. Chateau Des Charmes Vidal Ice-wine from Canada

3. La Passion Martini Slush from France

4. Fiji Apple Cocktail from Japan

5. Blood Orange Mimosa from the new Mimosa Bar

I have decided that this year, I do not have to try to eat and drink something at every booth.  Instead, I am going to get as many dishes and pours at a Festival Booth that catches my attention (and my stomach as room for).

Follow this link to the 2018 Menus…

2018 Epcot Food & Wine Market Places

What would make your list?  Share your lists in the comments!

Tammie’s Take Thursday: Is the Haunted Mansion too scary for my child?

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Excitement is building, only 73 more days until I return “home” and the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party ads keep me singing along to “Grin Grinning Ghosts…”

Which has me reflecting on a question I get asked a lot, “Is Haunted Mansion too scary for my child?” My first response is always, “He/She is your child you know he/she best.”  That said, I am one of “those” mothers who drags her child onto rides crying and screaming, because…

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Truth be told this mom is a bit selfish when it comes to theme parks and rides, I do not want to miss anything.

Your visit to the Haunted Mansion begins through an interactive queue graveyard that will keep everyone (including) adults entertained as they wait to enter the mansion.  Look closely and you wild that the gravestones and crypts pay tribute to the Imagineers involved in creating the Haunted Mansion. The retheming of this area is simply magic, the time passes away quickly and if you are like me, you will wish the lines would slow down so you could play more.  The queue is great area to begin introducing your child to some of the things that they will see inside, far Less scary in the Florida sunlight.

Touring Tips… 

IMG_1955Just before you venture inside, find the tombstone of Madame Leota.  Her tombstone is unique as it contains her portrait, which occasionally comes to life!  If you watch closely enough you will see Leota open her eyes and look around.  This creepy effect is short lived making you question what you just saw. 

 

15180261078_a0981cd44fYou will then be invited inside by a maid/butler and ushered into the parlor where the walls will literally close in and stretch around you.  Does the ceiling go up or does the floor go down? (At Walt Disney World the room stretches, while at Disneyland it is an elevator).

WARNING:  A voice will surround you and truly the first scary moment will come at the end of the narration when the lightning flashes above you and the ceiling is opened. The organ music you hear in the stretching room is Grim Grinning Ghosts slowed down. In fact, it is the only song you hear during the ride and it gets faster as the ride progresses, till it climaxes in the graveyard.

Touring Tips…

maxresdefault (2)Have a few glow sticks for small children to be able to see with (and for you to see them). This part of the attraction is quite dark.

Want to avoid becoming a ghost when the walls open to the ride loading area?  Stand under the painting of the girl with the parasol because it’s where the door to the ride opens.

Hold firmly to your child’s hand when the door opens to the loading area, there is no “line” system and people tend to make a mad dash to the buggy loading area.

DoombuggiesOnce you leave the stretching room to be loaded into the “Doom” buggies.  Note that you will be loaded using a moving walkway.  This can be scary for children to try to get in while the sidewalk is moving beneath them.  Once in your buggy, the bar will lower itself (don’t be like me and keep pulling on it).  The buggy will then take you on a tour through the mansion and then finally through the graveyard.

Touring Tip…

Your buggy may stop during the ride, do not panic the ride is not breaking down.  What is happening is that a guest that needs assistance to get on or off the ride is being helped.  Disney Cast Members must stop the ride to stop the moving sidewalk in the loading area.

Along the way you will meet Madame Leota.  Madame Leota’s face is Leota Toombs, an Imagineer who created designs for many Disney attractions. And the ghost bride, watch the portraits closely and hold your teenage sons closer, she might just be looking for her next groom.

My favorite room is the Dining Room Scene.  Why?  I can remember as a child it featured in the opening clips of the Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights.  Great memories of watching this show with my sisters. The ballroom dancing ghosts are the result of the Pepper’s Ghost Illusion. This effect is made by illuminating objects and reflecting onto a pane of glass!

Touring Tip…

When you enter the dining room scene with the dancing ghosts take a close look at the dining table. You should be able to spot a hidden Mickey in the plates.

Right before you enter the graveyard, you die! You fall from an attic window when your doom-buggy turns backward, and you go down to the graveyard scene. Notice from this point on in the ride that the ghosts don’t acknowledge you because you are now one of them. Here I feel the ride takes on a more upbeat tone, ironic since most people fear a graveyard at night.  The music gets faster and LOUDER, there is a party going on in the graveyard and the ghosts become sillier.  Look out for the ghost opera singer and of course the singing quartet.

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As you leave the graveyard, make sure you have not picked up any hitchhiking ghosts (check in the mirror carefully).

1 in front ofNow back to the original question.  Is haunted mansion too scary for my child?  Bottom line is to know your child…

Can they handle dark rides?  Build up to Haunted Mansion by first taking a ride on Peter Pan’s Flight.  If that ride goes well, then ride Pirates of the Caribbean.

Can your child separate reality from pretend?  If they can’t, you will certainly want to skip this one.

The great thins is that if ANYONE (including you) find the queue and the stretching room overwhelming you can ask a Cast Member to show you the exit before entering your doom buggy. There is always a “Too Cool for this Ride” out, do not be afraid to use it when needed.

It is always a good idea to know your ride.  If you go to YouTube and search Haunted Mansion you will find many POV (Point of View) videos.  Watch a few of them so you are prepared when the time comes to comfort your child if need be or to prepare them for what is next.

 

My 5-year-old loved Haunted Mansion his first time, but I also prepared him in advance for the ride.  One of our movie nights leading up to our trip featured the Eddie Murphy/Disney Movie of the same name, Haunted Mansion.

In the Haunted Mansion, you come face to face with nine hundred and ninety-nine happy haunts. The Mansion is full to the brim with eerie details, creepy ghosts, and sight gags. It is the perfect balance of spooky and funny, just make sure that you don’t become number one thousand.

Touring Tip…

Want to see and experience the Haunted Mansion at it’s finest hour?  Come and visit during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!

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Tuesday’s on the Run: Stubborn Meets its Match

It’s Tuesday, time for Tuesday’s on the the Run!

544_LittleMissStubborn_originalStubborn…

A word that I use often to define myself. But it is not necessarily a bad one.  When I say I am going to do something I don’t back down until it is completed…

But when stubborn meets an uncooperative body it is not a good mix…

Hence why 18 months ago I ended up with a partially torn Achilles and then 18 months of trying to get back into the race…

I expected to have been further along in my training on the road to a full marathon in January.

I assumed that 6 months would be long enough to get back into 13.1 miles and that the next 6 months would be about building distance.

Was I wrong!  Admitting it is the first step, right?

I am not ready to build the distance that it will take to complete the full marathon.  I can’t even seem to complete a half marathon in a time that would keep me from latex nightmares. The last 2 half marathons I have completed are evidence to that reality.

imagesIt’s time for honesty to meet stubborn…

I am NOT physically capable of a FULL MARATHON in January. The heart is there, but the mind is also starting to tell me that I CAN’T DO IT.  Can’t is a word that I don’t normally use or allow anyone to use, but sometimes CAN’T needs to look in the mirror too.

Thank you runDisney for continuing to put off Walt Disney Marathon Weekend 2019 registration! Can you believe, I am saying that?  When has a runDisney participant been happy with yet another delay (err screw up) in something surrounding a run weekend? Honestly, runDisney saved my body from myself.

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So, Thursday, I clicked the HALF MARATHON button for Walt Disney Marathon Weekend 2019 registration (I clicked the full and for once in my life I reviewed my registration before submitting, mind still trying to win over the body in a subconscious way).

My focus for the next 6 months is to start back at 1/2 mile with running intervals (keeping my already 13.1-mile muscle memory by walking the additional mileage above the scheduled training run).  That is right, baby steps in building interval miles, nothing crazy and get to the point where I can interval for the entire half marathon. I also plan to start back into core training next week (modified for the hip) and do a lot more deep tissue massage work.

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More importantly, I am going to volunteer for the full marathon or just get out there and find a spot to cheer from.  I may not be able to run with those crazy people seeking to be part of the 0.5% of the US population that has completed a full marathon but at least I can encourage them on their way (and maybe join the next group in 2020) …

I have a feeling that Stubborn will defeat Reality…(and we need to draw out this midlife crisis a little longer).

Tuesday’s on the Run: A Marathon Runs Through It

It’s Tuesday (okay, I know in reality it is Wednesday and I am a day late), so it’s time to link for Tuesday’s on the Run

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This past weekend, I crossed another state off my quest to “someday” complete a half marathon in every state with the Missoula (Half) Marathon. Why the Missoula Marathon?

brad2Maybe I was hoping to find a young Brad Pitt (circa 1992) waiting for me at the end with nothing but his waders on, after all “A River Does Run Through It” or should a say a marathon runs through it…

Seriously, If you are going to finish an event in every state is seems pretty clear that you pick the best one the state has to offer, and in this case the United States has to offer…

The Missoula Marathon has twice been named as the Best Marathon in the US (2010 by Runner’s World Magazine and in 2017 by BibRAVE).  It has also been named the 2017 Top Marathon for runners like me, Back-of-the-Packers, as well as a Top 10 Bucket List Marathon.

Missoula Marathon YOUTUBE VIDEO  

Now I know that I only completed the half (cause I am lazy that way), but for 10 miles of both events we shared the course…

The Missoula Marathon makes it look easy to be NUMBER 1…

The volunteers and Run Missoula Wild put on an event with EXCEPTIONAL RACE MANAGEMENT. From the moment I submitted my race registration in April, the Missoula Marathon provided weekly communication about the event via email newsletter.  Each week I looked forward to reading about Missoula as well as the race.  It was also nice to get a PRINTED race program at bib pick up, a keepsake. Bib pick up was easy and in a central location that also gave you insight into the finish set up, as well as a chip check for your bib (just in case you are one of those who are running for time).  Parking was easy, buses ran efficiently to the starting line.  The bag check as the best I have ever seen conducted, with a fleet of UPS trucks and men in brown and bags sorted according to bib number waiting on marked trucks as you made your way to the exit chute. The race start, with fireworks, went off smoothly and ON TIME. The finish was a well-oiled machine of stops (medal, bag, time tape, and food) before meeting back up with your own personal cheering squad.

It’s Montana! I knew going to be beautiful and being a fan of the movie (and book) “A River Runs Through it”, I already had my vision of the race course set in my head long before I completed the registration.  Missoula delivers on the promise of one of the most beautiful places to run (and I have completed mountain half marathons in both Colorado and New Mexico) with its 360-degree panoramic view of the mountains during sunrise, run along the river, charming homes on tree lined streets and the dramatic finish over the bridge and across the river into downtown Missoula.

But you want to know the real reason why Missoula is number 1…

The People of Missoula!  It felt like the entire town somehow came out on race weekend. From the countless volunteers who made sure not only did the race go off with out glitches but runners felt safe and welcomed, to the townsfolk who literally lined the sidewalks of the race course and offered their personalized spin on course entertainment…signs, cowbells, cowboys on horseback, a man playing a baby grand on his front lawn in tails, a string quartet, banjos, cowbells, unofficial course treats (including whiskey shots and popsicles) and just shouts of encouragement as you went past. There wasn’t any stretch of the race where there wasn’t someone cheering you on or a water sprinkler set up purposefully to keep you cooled off!

My experience with the Missoula Marathon demonstrated why in the movie that Brad Pitt’s character, Paul, would reply to his brother Norman “Oh, I’ll never leave Montana.” The Missoula Marathon makes you feel like you are part of the community, and who wants to leave a place where you are treated so well?

Oh yes and then there is the bling…

which is just about the size of the Big Montana Sky!

 

 

Tammie’s Take Thursday:  Refurbished Rooms at Coronado Springs Resort (CSR)

Up until last fall, Disney Coronado Springs Resort had never been on the top of my list to stay at.  After staying there last November, I find myself asking “Why not?”. This little hidden gem between Disney Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom quickly soared to the top of my list as a favorite moderate resort.   Disney Coronado Springs theming is inspired by northern Mexico and the American Southwest and set around a 22-acre-lake.

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Currently, Disney Coronado Springs Resort is going through a major construction. Walt Disney World is adding a 15-story tower to Coronado Springs Resort which will add 500 rooms to the resort and be located near the main complex, El Centro.  

Honestly, I didn’t even notice the construction except for when I was arriving or departing the resort and never heard anything. I am not going to share much about the resort as a whole, since by the time I stay there again everything will have changed.  But I will tell you that I found the pool, “Lost City of Cibola” to be excellent and the grounds beautiful.

 

Disney Coronado Springs is divided up into 3 sections, the Ranchos (Southwestern Cattle Ranch), Cabanas (Mexican Beach Resort) and Casitas (Spanish architecture from Mexico).  In addition to the tower being built, there are ongoing room refurbishments to the existing rooms during the expansion of Disney Coronado Springs. This is my take on the room renovation in the Ranchos Section ….

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When I received my room assignment text for the Rancheros, I was not pleased for several reasons… I wanted to be in a refurbished room, this section is the farthest away from El Centro and to me seemed most like the environment that I am from in my everyday life (I like to have new experiences on vacation),  but as I made my way to my room I found myself appreciating the walk (er, hike in the rain) thanks to the beautiful job Disney has done with the landscaping.

When I finally found my room (that is a whole different story), I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the door because this is what I was expecting…

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but I want I got was one of the newly refurbished rooms.  (Disney Magic Moment)

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The room has a beautiful modern,clean and  airy look to it in rich earth tone colors. The 2 queen beds are on a raised platform (leaving a wide open space underneath to store suitcases) and have massive headboard with reading lights above each bed.  

Between the two beds is a nightstand with enough convenient USB ports to charge all of your devices at once, telephone and a small thank you gift for putting up with the construction. The in-room safe is located in the middle of this table. I love the 3 Amigo artwork located throughout the room, just enough Disney to remind you where you are.

Across from the beds is one very long desk with built in drawers for storage and many more USB outlets.  I loved the reading light at the desk. There is also a mini-fridge, a Keurig coffee maker with coffee pods and ceramic mugs to drink from, and a HUGE flat screen television.  In the corner near the window is a nice comfortable sitting chair. In all of the refurbished rooms across different resorts, Disney is removing the carpet and laying laminate type flooring, here wood laminate.  I find this a welcome change and so much cleaner feeling overall.

The bathroom is separated from the sleeping area with barn doors.  I love being able to shut the bathroom off from the rest of the room.  The bathroom has a double marble vanity with lots of counter space and cupboards.  The closet has been replaced with a stand-up unit that houses the ironing board and iron.  The bathroom itself is pretty basic, but the rain shower head was delightful.

Rancheros section was so far away from the main part of the resort, El Centro, but the bus stop was right out the door which was an added plus for wanting to get to the parks quickly. The actual walk to El Centro only took about 10 minutes, I could have taken the bus as the last stop was El Centro before leaving to the parks but then I would have missed the beauty of Coronado Springs.  The “Dig Site” was a short 5 minute walk.

When selecting a resort, my biggest WANT is to be able to come back and relax after a full morning or day in the parks.  

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There’s something to say for being able to return to the resort with the ability to enjoy the most relaxing atmosphere possible. Can I come back and truly relax at Coronado Springs?  Yes, I from everything I experienced at Coronado Springs Resort it fits the relaxation requirement, so much so that I know recommend this resort to my clients despite the construction as my first choice in moderate resorts.

Looking for advice where to stay for your Walt Disney World Resort?  I have personally stayed most of the on-site Walt Disney World Resort Hotels and can give you an honest opinion on the rooms as well as the relaxation factor, just ask and when you book your vacation with me I will do everything possible to make the hotel stay just as magical as your park moments.