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Showing posts with label Disney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Disney. Show all posts

Finally getting around to doing some posts on our California trip in April! Let's start with something I've been looking forward to for a long time - Disneyland! While I have been to Disney World many times since my first trip in 2011 I had never been to Disneyland, or California for that matter. The parks may both be Disney but they're so different. Different rules, different rides, different sizes. It's a whole new ballgame. Having said that, it was still fairly easy for us to make the most of our trip, even though we were newbies. 


My friend Caleb lives in CA now, so he was able to give us all the locals tips that helped in addition to my own Disney knowledge. (We also got to make use of his Magic Key discount for my souvenir shopping & food, ha ha.) Since we had a large list of to-do's on my first trip to California we only did two days at Disneyland & Disney California Adventure so we had a LOT to pack in to those days.


Our last Disney hotel recap was Pop Century Resort so it's only fitting that it's sister resort, Art of Animation, be next! AoA is another Value resort but it is on the higher end price-wise vs the other four. Art of Animation offers normal rooms as well as Family Suites, which can sleep up to 6 people versus 4 for standard rooms. Family suites are a great option for families with more than 2 kiddos, but they'll cost you upwards of $400 a night even with a deal.


This is my favorite of the value resorts but we often choose Pop Century because it's at least $20 cheaper a night. I'd rather more fun food than a slightly better hotel, ha ha! The theming is pure Disney nostalgia with Little Mermaid and Lion King sections as well as Finding Nemo and Cars. 



The lobby is super fun and full of color, artist sketches and storyboards. Even if you don't stay here it's fun to come check out. In the lobby building "Animation Hall" you will find an arcade, gift shop and a very large food court, Landscape of Flavors, for all your meal needs. You can mobile order to go if you want to eat in your room.  There is also a pool bar called The Drop Off near the main (Finding Nemo) pool.

As I already mentioned for Pop Century, the biggest perk of staying at Art of Animation is access to Disney's Skyliner in addition to buses. The Skyliner station is shared with Pop Century and will take you to EPCOT, Hollywood Studios or the other hotels on the Skyliner Route - Caribbean Beach & Riviera Resort.

View of the hotel from the Disney Skyliner

We always stay in the Little Mermaid section because that's where the standard rooms are. The rest of the buildings are family suites. One day I'd love to stay in a Lion King family suite, they look so fun!

A quick video tour! 

More photos:



Happy Disney hotel Thursday! Today we're visiting one of my most stayed at resorts, Disney's Pop Century Resort. I have stayed here three times out of my 12 hotel stays (some of those stays were split stays meaning I switched hotels during the trip.) Is it my favorite hotel? No. Is it convenient and cheap-ish? Yes! 


Pop Century is one of Disney's "Value" resorts, meaning it is one of the cheaper options for those still wanting to stay on Disney property. The absolute cheapest options in the Value category are the 3 All Star Resorts (I'll be doing a post on All Star Movies in the future,) next comes Pop Century and finally Art of Animation. I personally prefer Art of Animation because of it's theming but most of the time end up at Pop Century because of the price point. It's usually at least $30 a night cheaper than AoA (Art of Animation) so I choose buying more tasty food over location.


The biggest perk of staying here is access to Disney's Skyliner in addition to buses. The Skyliner station is shared with Art of Animation and will take you to EPCOT, Hollywood Studios or the other hotels on the Skyliner Route (Caribbean Beach & Riviera Resort.) If we had a choice between most similar-priced hotels and a hotel with Skyliner, we'll choose a Skyliner resort.  Obviously I will never turn down one of the deluxe resorts like Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boardwalk or Polynesian, but in our usual budget Skyliner access vs. buses only would be a deciding factor.

We usually get one of the two queen rooms which have one normal queen bed and a murphy bed that can be left as a table if you want to dine in your room. Then at night just fold it down and you've got a second bed. The beds feature artwork of Mickey and Pluto in Pop Art style.

Murphy Bed in the up position, creating a table

Easily folding down the Murphy Bed

The bed comes down fully made and ready for sleep!

As the name suggests, each set of buildings is based on a decade within the last century and what was popular at that time. They actually only have the 50s through 90s. Disney was originally going to do another hotel with the earlier years ("Legendary Years" and the "Classic Years,") but that eventually became Art of Animation.  The resort has 2,880 rooms in ten separate buildings, three pool areas, and one central building, named Classic Hall. 


Classic Hall is where you'll find the lobby, souvenir shop, arcade, quick service dining and anything else you may need on your trip. The dining is pretty standard quick service - pizza, burgers, chicken, various breakfast options.

The shopping and dining are combined into the "Everything Pop" area

At Christmastime most hotels will get a tree and Pop Century is no different. On the trip I took this photo they had just put up the tree the night before we left, so that was a nice surprise.


Below are some of the larger than life items from the latter half of the century. I only have photos of the 50s, 60s and 90s because that's where we've stayed. I never took the time to explore the rest of the grounds because our trips were always super packed, perhaps next time!

Bowling Pin staircases are used for the 1950s buildings

Baloo and Mowgli statue in the middle of the 1960s buildings

Mickey's main man Goofy hangs out in the 1960s

The 1960s have huge Yo-Yos as their staircases
A giant laptop is featured in the 1990s section

Today we're featuring Christian's favorite hotel - Disney's Boardwalk Villas! If he had his choice we would always stay here on our trips, but I want to stay at (almost) all the hotels before we do that. We stayed here in May 2022 by renting Disney Vacation Club points. We would have paid around $3000 ($3064.50 to be exact) for our 4 nights directly through Disney but staying with points we paid $1075. Boardwalk Villas is the DVC portion of the resort and Boardwalk Inn is the normal guest rooms. The DVC rooms have a washer/dryer, sleeper sofa (hopefully a Murphy bed after renovations) and small kitchen whereas normal rooms have 2 beds and no kitchenette.



The Boardwalk is currently undergoing renovations with the Disney website stating: "Disney’s BoardWalk Inn & Villas is being refurbished, with new offerings, plus updates coming to our Guest rooms, lobby and more." This means many of these photos, and my room tour video at the bottom, will need to be updated in the future. Oh no, guess that means we'll need to stay here again, ha ha!  

These upgrades are definitely a welcome change as the guest rooms are a little old feeling. The main problem we had was the sofa bed in the room was not the comfiest (we gave Christian's Mom the real bed.) Assuming Disney updates them to Murphy beds, as they have done with past refurbishments, there will be no fighting over who gets the better bed.  Murphy beds are also much easier to use, no need to make the bed! I don't have any photos of the room as it was pretty basic, but make sure to check out this room tour video I did!


One thing I'm sure many people are hoping Disney won't change is the creepy Nanny Chairs. They are somewhat of an inside joke with Boardwalk guests as they're said to be haunted!  Nanny Chairs were found on carousels for adults, usually nannies, to sit on while children rode the carved wooden horses. While they're a little scary, it's a fun tradition to find them every trip - there are two by the fireplace in the lobby and two hidden else-wear.


Boardwalk has some great amenities which include pools, a mini beach, and of course the Boardwalk! The Boardwalk has shops, an arcade, dining, health club and even a dance hall. You're also able to rent surrey bikes to ride along the paths. They show Movies Under the Stars like the other resorts as well as roasting marshmallows! One of our favorite things to do was watch both the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT fireworks from the boardwalk. We sat on a bench and watched both shows for a relaxing last night.


By far the best thing about staying at Boardwalk Villas is it's location. You can walk to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. The walk to Hollywood Studios is a bit longer but EPCOT's International Gateway is very close. I forgot to take photos of the walking paths so I'll be sure to do that next time and update this post. [Update: HAH! I was able to update the post before it went live because we went to Disney this past weekend] Christian and I walked to Hollywood Studios on May 4th, Star Wars Day, to avoid the hectic transportation options. If it wasn't such a popular day for HS we may have taken the super short walk to the Skyliner and ridden that over, but I enjoyed the morning walk. The Skyliner is right near the entrance of EPCOT and takes you to Hollywood Studios or the other resorts on the route. You can also take a Friendship Boat to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios from the resort - but they take a looooong time, so don't use that if you're in a rush. Buses are available for Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.

Walking to Hollywood Studios from Boardwalk Resort


Walking path from Disney's Boardwalk to EPCOT

On to food! We haven't eaten everywhere at this hotel yet as we had a bunch of other places we really wanted to eat at within the parks on our last trip. We did make a visit to the Boardwalk Bakery for some breakfast on one morning. Since our stay the Boardwalk Bakery closed to make way for Boardwalk Deli. It has similar offerings but the interior and exterior have been updated. We enjoyed the NJ Crumb Cake and Doodle Muffin (not always available.) I went to Disney this past weekend and we used Boardwalk as our entry way to EPCOT (we stayed off-site for a work trip) so we got to check out the new Boardwalk Deli! 

March 2023

May 2022

Other dining options include Trattoria al Forno for breakfast or dinner, Big River Grille & Brewing World or the Pizza Window for a quick service lunch or dinner and Flying Fish for dinner. We were going to have breakfast at Trattoria al Forno on this trip but we changed plans. Maybe next time! Flying Fish is a Signature Dining restaurant meaning you'll need to dress appropriately and it will be pricier than other options. In need of a snack? Check out Leaping Horse Libations, Carousel Coffee, BoardWalk Ice Cream or the Funnel Cake Cart. If you're looking for an alcoholic beverage you'll want to visit AbracadaBar or BoardWalk Joe's Marvelous Margaritas.


And don't forget about Belle Vue Lounge, a 1930s-style sitting room where you can buy lemonade, hot chocolate, coffee and cocktails. They also have an outside sitting area you can enjoy as well. No reservations needed, just walk right up. It was never crowded when we walked by. There's even a TV for the kids to enjoy.

You also have easy access to the dining options at Disney's Beach Club Resort. We have yet to stay there but walked around and enjoyed some ice cream at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. Both resorts are connected by the same walkway that goes around Crescent Lake. You can get a beautiful view of Boardwalk from the Beach Club.

Enjoy some more photos of the hotel and lobby.

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