Disney December – Disney Springs – T-Rex Restaurant

Disney World, Food, Girlfriend Getaway, Vacation Value

Imagine that before a trip to Disney you hear about the dinosaur experience at T-Rex. You try to make reservations, but there is no availability. So you decide to try to get in when you arrive. Your family walks up to the restaurant and then you see it, a long line flowing out of the restaurant. The hostess desk tells you that the wait is 2 hours without a reservation. The kids really want to dine here – but everyone is tired and hungry and you just don’t see everyone lasting for 120 minutes. There is a secret pass you can secure before your trip that saves the day!!! 
We arrived at T-Rex and the line was out the restaurant – the wait was at least 1.5 hours – but I walked up to the hostess desk, bypassing the long line, showed my Landrys card and we were escorted past the 2nd line which was waiting to be seated straight to an excellent table. This took less than 5 minutes total. NO RESERVATION!

We had a delicious meal of roasted chicken and tried 2 of the pasta dishes. The service was excellent and the décor is very engaging. The dinosaurs move, there are lights dimming and brightening, the sounds are reminiscent of a prehistoric jungle. So many of the young children were just sitting in amazement at all of the action around them. So, what is the secret to getting in the restaurant with no reservation and seated in less than 10 minutes???

Get the Landrys dining card (www.landrysselect.com) you will pay $25 to join, but within a few hours you will get a credit of $25 on your account, so the net cost is $0. In addition, this method works at all Landrys restaurants – presenting the card also allows points to be accrued that give you dining credits, and during your birthday month you receive a $25 gift credit good for $45 days. I am not a compensated spokesperson for Landrys – but a convinced and loyal customer of their restaurants. If you want to have quick entry to T-Rex, or either of the Rainforest Cafes at Disney – this is a great secret pass to have in your trip plans.  

Disney December – How to do Disney for $129 a day (Air -Villa-Tickets-and a round of drinks!)

Animal Kingdom, Disney World, Epcot, Friends, Girlfriend Getaway, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Vacation Value

Traveling to Orlando from the Midwest on a 7:30am flight means getting up at 3:30am. The sacrifice of sleep is a small price when you are meeting good friends and in fact the anticipation makes it hard to sleep! Our arrival at O’hare went smoothly, the flight was leaving on time and we even got better seats once we got to the gate. Vagablond was given a complimentary upgrade to first, and tried to give it to JoJo or Deb – but they insisted I take the seat. As a small token of sharing, and courtesy of the first class kitchen, I arrived with a warm cinnamon roll for Deb and a Bloody Mary for Jo Jo about halfway through the flight. We had a minor scare with Deb’s bag once we arrived – but the United luggage service worked really hard to track the bag down and make sure it did not go on a free cruise via the “Magical Express” program.

With the crisis averted – we were on our way to our offsite hotel, The Sheraton Vistana Villas Resort. On past trips both Deb and Jo Jo had stayed at an onsite Disney Resort, and this past July Vagablond and 2 daughters had stayed at Art of Animation resort. We made the conscious decision to stay off site on this trip based on past experience, cost and value. It was not a decision we regret at all for this trip. The Sheraton Vistana Villas were very nice, we had a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom villa – with kitchen, living and dining room and a screened patio. While we were not in the room for hours on end, the time we spent there was very enjoyable and the coffee pot was a very welcome feature. The hotel staff was very friendly and helpful when our washer drum came loose during our first load, we called and it was fixed the very next day. We spent time at the pools twice and enjoyed the loungers, snack bar, cocktails and hot tubs.

We all agreed at the end of the vacation that if we had stayed at a Disney resort we would not have had the space to spread out, would have had to share one bathroom, probably no patio and certainly no coffee pot. While a Disney villa would have been as nice – it would have been 3 times more expensive.  I want to share details on the package we purchased for the trip, as an FYI and a comparison for people interested in cutting cost. Vagablond is a member of Costco and we purchased a package deal through Costco Travel without airfare. Here is how it breaks down:

We purchased Airfare through the United website at $95 round trip per person – That is Not a typo – This was ROUND TRIP.

Purchased a Costco package to Disney World for $2052.00 –($684 each) it included:

6 nights-2 Bdrm 2 Bath Villa & $50 resort credit (we used this for snacks and drinks at the pool)

7 Days of a full size rental car from Alamo

5 Day BASE Ticket to Disney – (no park hopper – but we were planning to do one park a day)

Our total cost for 6 days came out to $779 per person for flight, very nice lodging, a full size car AND our tickets to Disney which is $129 per person per day for Air, Car, Hotel and Park tickets. If you buy the 5 day base ticket on the Disney site – the cost for that alone is $335.38 with tax.

We spent one of our days moving from Disney Springs where parking is free, to a resort where we had to connect to take a bus to the park, then at the end of the day taking a boat to a resort to connect to a bus that would go to Disney Springs. The transportation system was crowded, slow and we spent a total of 3.5 hours traveling on trains, trams, boats and buses that day. IF we would have had to do that for 6 days we would have gone crazy. Based on all of our past experiences we knew that staying at a resort does not necessarily afford the same comfort or freedom that a rental car.

We all decided that the rental car was the way to get around after that. We did find a work around for the $20 per day parking on one day, we made a reservation at Rainforest Café near Animal Kingdom – we told the parking attendant we had a reservation and did not have to pay the $20 to park. The practice of charging “non resort” guests to park is something that Disney should rethink. Three women visiting the parks are spending a lot of money – on tickets, souvenirs, food and drink.

2 days at Disney World with a teenage girl. Day One – Magic Kingdom Part 1

Disney World, Epcot, Magic Kingdom

A visit to Orlando in May with my teen daughter was full of adventure, whimsy and fun. In talking about our plans for the trip we agreed that we should have a good idea about what we wanted to do and see, as we had just 2.5 days. Our trip was a success – we ate at wonderful restaurants, met multiple princesses, rode the best rides, survived a minor monsoon, and laughed our way through the happiest place on earth.

Our trip started out well with airline tickets from the Midwest to Tampa for just $160 RT on American Airlines.  With family in St. Petersberg we were able to have some quality time before we started our mini vacation to Disney just 1.5 hours away in our bargain rental car from Alamo.

About 2 months before traveling, we started researching hotels at the Disney World website.  The site is a great source to research Disney resort hotels, tickets, park hours and all things Disney.

Link to Disney World

We also used TripAdvisor Forums to do research on our potential hotel choice.

Trip Advisor Link to Orlando Forum

HOTEL
We wanted to stay at a Disney property as we had not stayed on site during past visits. We had a budget of $200 per night and wanted to get the best value and location for our stay.  Our choice was the Dolphin & Swan resort.  It is not a “Disney” property – but it is part of the Starwood Hotels Group following their service and comfort business model.  In addition, the hotel is centrally located near Epcot and the room rate was about 30% lower than Disney properties.  The final bonus was that I could earn SPG points for the stay and accrue these toward a future stay at this or another Starwood property.

I have posted a link to our post stay review on on Trip Advisor below:

Review of Walt Disney World Dolphin

PARK TICKETS

Our planning included, purchasing our Disney World Tickets on line before leaving. We opted for two One-day tickets as our focus was going to be on one park per day. After purchasing the tickets we registered for My Disney Experience  and scheduled our day. We chose our “fast passes”, created a map, made our lunch and dinner reservations and felt great about the fact that we were going to have a great time!

Day One – Magic Kingdom

Our plan was to arrive when they opened at 10 AM then take a break to check in to our hotel about 3 PM, after the Festival of Fantasy parade . About 4pm we wanted to head back to the park to take advantage of extra Magic hours as the park was open until 3 AM versus the “normal” extra magic hours until 1 AM.

The Happiest Place on Earth

We arrived as scheduled and after showing our pleasure by jumping in front of the castle, we headed to Frontier land and rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, just a 30 min wait in humid weather was not really too bad with all that there was to see as we waited in line.

You will get wet!

After our wild ride on the Thunder Mountain roller coaster we headed to Splash Mountain to cool off.  We did not have a fast pass,and we waited for about 45 minutes, but it was all worth it with “zippity do da” playing and thinking that around each turn was that big drop.  When we finally made that drop we laughed out loud and walked off the ride with huge smiles.Woody and JessieThere were characters all over the park that day and the My Disney Experience Park App told us all that was happening around us, reminded us of our reservations and allowed us to change our fast pass selections if we wanted to.    We walked toward Main street to find a spot to have a snack and relax for a bit before the Festival of Fantasy parade.  We visited the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor for generously sized ice cream treats.  Just $12 for both – not a real lunch – but really delicious and besides, we are on vacation!  We walked up main street to Tony’s Restaurant and found a covered porch with rocking chairs where we were able to just sit and people watch for a bit.  We even saw Mary Poppins walk by!

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The parade route was being roped off, so we found a spot on the curb and watched the excitement build as we waited. It was just 3 pm and we were having such a great time.  The mother daughter connection was there, but we were just enjoying each others company and could not wipe the smiles off of our face!Ice Cream Parlor Visit

The parade was coming and all the anticipation was so worth it.  Each character was connecting with the crowd.  Waving, smiling and shouting messages to the little kids and thrilled parents.

 

It brought such happiness to see everyone having such a great time and these wonderful Disney characters coming to life before our eyes.  My 17 year old daughter was smiling like she was 7 again. After the parade we headed over the Walt Disney World Dolphin to check in, recharge our energy and check out our place for the next 2 nights. More to come on our evening……..stay tuned!

Ana and Elsa

Ana and Elsa

Ariel

Ariel