Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs

Disclosure: I was offered a free weekend stay at this property for a review. However, all opinions are my own.

Fall is one of my favorite times of year to visit Walt Disney World, and my husband and I were in need of a quick weekend getaway. So, when the opportunity came up to stay at the Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs, which is an official hotel of Walt Disney World® on Walt Disney World Resort® property, I jumped at the chance!

I had read that this resort was very close to Disney Springs, and I LOVE Disney Springs so I was really excited about that…however what I was NOT expecting was for it to be literally across the street. I could see it from the parking lot of the hotel, it was that close. Now that Disney Springs has added on so many new shops and restaurants (more than 150 total!), it makes this hotel a prime location for people who love visiting there.

Before arrival, we had requested a king room, and our request was granted. We were on the third floor with a lovely view of the gardens/courtyard with the pool int he distance. The third floor was also the floor the lobby was on, so it was super convenient to go to the gym, grab a cup of coffee, or walk over to guest services with questions. Our room was spacious and I loved how homey it felt with the coffee table and sofa.

We had a flat screen television, and there was plenty of lighting but natural and with lamps.

There was a door you could slide shut to close off the sink area of the bathroom, and the the shower area had a door to close as well. This is great if you are an early riser and don’t want to wake up the rest of the family while getting ready in the morning. Speaking of not waking anyone up, the bed and pillows were super comfortable. I’m not sure if it was the bed or the fact I wasn’t listening for a baby monitor, but I slept SO WELL but nights we were there!

Our room was to the left of the below photo behind the tree, so we looked out over this beautiful garden, which had concrete flooring in the shape of a Mickey head!

After checking in we walked down to the huge pool area. They have a cute little restaurant called the Oasis Bar and Grill (left in the below photo) as well as a really cool looking kids play area, rock formation/waterfall and a hot tub. There was plenty of room for everyone and it looked so refreshing.

We then headed over to the lobby to check it out, and we found this little marketplace and coffee shop. They had a lot of food food offerings, and my only qualm was the price. They had one of those larger bottles of water for $5.50 which I thought was pretty steep, and the sandwiches were pricey as well, but in a pinch, you have to do what you have to do! The Joffrey’s coffee did look delicious though.

The lobby was really big and welcoming, with tons of seating, and hallways leading to different meetings and conference rooms.

Of course, there was a Disney gift store to pick up those last minute gifts to bring back home.

One of my favorite features was this kids play area near guest check in. It had a TV as well as lots of books and pint-sized furniture to entertain the little ones while you check in or grab some coffee.

Bobby spotted the fitness center first, and we used our key card to get in. They had towels and water, as well as some machines, free weights, and cardio equipment.

I was very surprised to see that on certain days you can even attend a character breakfast at the hotel. Good to know in case you can’t get into any character meals in the Disney parks. Be sure to call for availability and pricing.

Wyndham Garden

Want more fun details about this property? They offer shuttle service to all four Walt Disney World theme parks. YES! Huge plus! They also have lighted tennis courts, a sand volleyball court, and a basketball court. They have self and valet parking, as well as a car rental desk on site, bellman services, and guest services.

They also over over 25,00 square feet of meeting spaces accommodating groups from 12 to 1,200. They do everything from weddings to family reunions to corporate conferences. How convenient to stay and play right in the middle of the action, so that you have easy access to the fun as soon as the conference is over. I would definitely attend a conference there.

My overall experience was very positive and I would stay at the Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs again. The prices are great to be so close to Walt Disney World, and the amenities are worthwhile for you next family vacation.

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 5

Today is my last installment of our trip, check it out:

This was our last full day at Walt Disney World (see what we did in part 4 here), and we were headed to EPCOT. Emma Kate had been saying she wanted to meet Ana and Elsa for WEEKS, so our plan was to arrive early, do the standby line for the meet and greet, and then do our fastpass for the Frozen Ever After ride later that afternoon.

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Emma Kate just so happened to wake up REALLY early, so we played on the playground at Saratoga Springs for a bit and then just decided to go ahead and drive over to EPCOT. We had NO idea they were letting people in early, so we got lucky with a short standby line for Ana and Elsa.

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We got closer and closer in line, and I started to hype Emma Kate up and get her ready to meet her favorite princesses. She said she was going to give them big hugs and smile pretty. Aaaannnddd this is what we got:

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She was TERRIFIED of Elsa and would not hug her. EK’s face just cracks me up! We moved on to Ana, and she warmed up enough to hug her, but she made it clear she was NOT happy about it.

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Bless it. Look at the side eye poor Ana is getting.

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I die. Of course when we left she said she wanted to go hug Elsa…too late kid. We will try again when we go back in April and see if it’s any different. I think Emma Kate was just a bit overwhelmed.

After the princess photos, we headed over to ride the Nemo ride, and then check out the aquarium.

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EK was going through a hardcore Nemo phase so she loved this ride.

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After this, we rode Living with the Land. This is always a favorite of mine. I’m a total nerd and love seeing how they grow their fruit and veggies.

We walked around the world showcase and got some food and wine offerings. My dad tried sushi in Japan, and we all got food in Italy, and I had a glass of alcohol. Emma Kate was starting to get tired from her early wakeup, but it was time for our Frozen Ever After fastpasses. Our plan was to ride the ride, then let her nap in the stroller while we ate some more food and walked around.

We got in the fastpass line, and right as we got up to the front to get on a boat (we were literally the next ones to get on)…the ride broke down. I kid you not. We were in the loading area, so we just stood there for awhile, me holding Emma Kate. They turned all the lights on, evacuated people off the ride, and people began leaving. About this time, poor EK started to fall asleep in my arms. I decided to sit down against the wall with my dad and just let her sleep. We had nothing else to do, so may as well hold our front of the line spot and wait.

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Because we were right where you board and no longer in the actual que, we had plenty of space and started talking to a cast member from Norway who had been here for a few months. He was a super nice guy with zero accent, and he said he had worked very hard on his English. We talked about the differences in our countries, etc. all while waiting for the ride to come back up. Finally, about 45 minutes later, they started letting people board. Emma Kate woke up and was very confused, but she got to see the ride.

We were all pretty tired by this point, but we had to make one more stop for my favorite drink.

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I couldn’t hold my huge toddler and drink my drink, so I put her in the stroller and she was NOT happy about it. She cried the whole way to the parking lot, which was super fun for everyone. Poor thing needed a longer nap.

We watched some football, took Emma Kate to the playground, and got ready to have friends over. A few years ago when we were staying club level at the Grand Floridian, my parents struck up a conversation with a nice couple and they have kept in touch. When we stayed at Saratoga four years ago, they come over one night and we BBQ’ed out by the playground and had a great time, so we did it again this trip!

Saratoga has a really nice covered pavilion with fans and picnic tables right next to the playground, we we all hung out while my dad cooked and Emma Kate could play. After dinner, they went home and Emma Kate went to bed. my mom watched her while my dad and I walked to Disney Springs (have I mentioned I LOVE the proximity of this resort to Disney Springs?)

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We walked through some of the shops and watched a show up on the stage. Then we decided to get ice cream from Ghirardelli and not tell my mom. However, my dad made a huge mistake and paid with his credit card, and my mom saw the bill when it came in so we were busted! Anyway, it was delicious, and a nice relaxing way to end out trip.

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The next morning, I got up early and went for a quick run before we left.  I had not had the chance to run the whole trip since I was with Emma Kate 95% of the time, but I didn’t want to pass up a chance to run somewhere different. I went out while it was still dark, and it was so nice and peaceful.

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After I got back and showered, we loaded up the car and started our long (long long) drive home. With it being my first time to take a toddler to Disney, I learned a lot.

It was Halloween, and we decided to stop and spend the night in Destin to break up the trip. We went to the beach that afternoon and Emma Kate was not a fan of the sand.

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I found out that there was trick or treating at the outlet mall, so that’s exactly what we did!

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The next morning we went back to the beach and Emma Kate hated it even more than the day before and wouldn’t step foot on it and wanted to go “bye bye”.

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We stayed out all of 15 minutes and then I took her to the pool while my mom and dad stayed at the beach. Confession: I will admit I was a little frustrated. I had so been looking forward to spending the morning on the beautiful Destin beach, and here I was, finally there, and I got to see it for ten minutes. Then I was stuck at the freezing pool (the hotel building cast a shadow on the pool) by myself just me and Emma Kate, cold and pretty miserable for over an hour, just being frustrated I wasn’t in the sun on the sand and had no idea when I would be back. I had my little pity party then got over it and we played until my parents came. We stayed for a bit longer, then headed up to the room to pack up and drive home.

We made a bunch of mistakes, and will know better for next time. While Bobby and I have only taken her on day trips to Disney since we’ve moved to Tampa, we have made adjustments and Emma Kate has done a lot better overall than she did in October. We will be taking her back in April for a few nights and I know we will have a great time!

QOTD: Have you been to Destin? Have you ever trick or treated at a mall?

Disney Springs

You may have already heard the exciting news that Disney is revamping Downtown Disney and giving it a new name: Disney Springs.

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(source)

The revamped area will replicate turn-of-the-century lakeside towns of Florida. True to the new name,  and Disney’s love of storytelling, the area will focus around an all new “town center”, with several bubbling springs leading to three other areas called The Landing, Marketplace, and West Side. The new construction will expand from the current 75 shops and restaurants to 150! The expansion will be starting next month and should be complete in 2016. There will also be two parking structures added, which I am happy to see because quite frankly, the parking lots and traffic can get dicey at certain times of the day. So glad to see Disney is wanting to improve this!

I took the following information from wdwnews.com regarding the three new areas:

  • The Town Center, which offers a sophisticated mix of shopping and dining along with a promenade where guests can relax, refresh and reconnect.
  • A colorful and thriving commercial district called The Landing with inspired dining and beautiful waterfront views.
  • The family-friendly Marketplace that will continue to delight guests of all ages by combining new experiences, such as an over-the-water pedestrian causeway, along with classic Disney favorites, including an expanded World of Disney store.
  • A West Side that provides an exuberant atmosphere with lively entertainment, along with a series of new elevated spaces that provide both shade and an overlook to the activity below.

 

I was so excited when Splitsville opened, and now a whole new revamping of Downtown Disney with boutiques, anchor stores, and more shopping and entertainment. I think this will be a fabulous addition to Walt Disney World and give families even more options for when they take a Disney vacation. I love the Disney details throughout the parks, resorts, and restaurants and cannot wait to see the Disney magic and pixie dust sprinkled all over the new Disney Springs.

QOTD: What would you love to see at the new Disney Springs? What stores or restaurants?

*Check out my post yesterday about the new runDisney marathon weekend Dopey Challenge!