Toronto, Canada – June 2022 Trip Report

I recently spent a few delightful days in the bustling city of Toronto, Canada. I’m going to share all the details of this trip but first a few basics about Toronto.

Toronto is the largest city in Canada and is located within the province of Ontario on the shores of Lake Ontario. It is about 80 miles or an hour-and-a-half to two hour drive from the U.S. boarder at Niagara Falls, New York.

Many describe Toronto as Canada’s New York City because it is a busy big city with skyscrapers while also being very multicultural with many international residents and tourists. I would agree with this assessment, Toronto felt to me like a slightly smaller New York City. As an American who has visited many large U.S. cities Toronto felt very comfortable and familiar. While still having small differences that where clearly Canadian. The vibe of the city is perfect for travelers looking to have a fun filled city vacation and explore the many areas and attractions Toronto has to offer.

How To Get To Toronto

Toronto has a large international airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport. There is also train access.

We drove from our home in Maryland to Niagara Falls, New York where we stayed for two nights before heading onto Toronto. Crossing the boarder into Canada was simple and we had very little wait on a Monday around 1:00pm. We crossed at the Lewistown-Queenston Bridge. Passports are required to enter Canada. Make sure to know how to change you speedometer to kilometers and make that change as you cross the boarder. Other than the kilometer vs. miles everything else we experienced driving in Canada was the same as driving in the U.S.

The drive from Niagara Falls to Toronto was easy and all on large highways. Avoid traveling during rush hour, the city and surrounding areas have bad traffic during rush hour.

Driving in the city of Toronto itself is like any other city a bit challenging but nothing too intense. Once we arrived at our hotel we didn’t touch the car again until we where leaving.

Where We Stayed

The hotel we stayed at was the Marriott Downtown at CF Toronto Eaton Center. I have a full tour and review video on my YouTube channel linked below. I suggest watching that to get the best look at the hotel.

Big take aways from the hotel:

  • The location was very central we where able to walk pretty much everywhere we went though we walked several miles a day. The hotel had easy access to cabs & ride share, rental bikes, subway, bus and a 15 minute walk to a major rail station. You are in the heart of downtown Toronto.
  • In the surrounding blocks you’ll find the Eaton Center which is a huge mall, tons of dining, and several theaters.
  • The hotel itself has lovely amenities onsite including a pool, gym, bar, and restaurant. There is also convention space.
  • The hotel is certainly geared toward adult and business travelers but families with pre-teens and teens would fit right in.
  • The rooms are spacious for a city hotel, comfortable, clean and well appointed.
  • The staff was friendly and very helpful.

I would stay here again without hesitation.

Day One

After our drive from Niagara Falls we arrived in Toronto around 3:00pm on a Monday afternoon. We drove directly to Casa Loma, a historical castle style home located in the middle of a Toronto residential neighborhood. Billed as North America’s only full sized castle Casa Loma was built in 1911 as a private home by a wealthy Canadian financier and solider. Casa Loma has had a busy history since then from being used as a military asset during World War II to being a filming location for popular movies, most notably as X-Mansion / Xavier Institute in the X-Men films.

When we arrived parking onsite was easy as they have their own paid lot. Your visit to Casa Loma includes an audio tour. There are three floors, a garden and a detached stables and garage area to explore.You’ll find that many of the rooms are not furnished. You could easily spend half a day here if you listened to every option on the audio tour and read all the displays in each room. We spent around two hours at Casa Loma and where able to see everything and listen to the highlights of the audio tour.

There are three onsite dining options. The Liberty Cafe is a standard museum cafe and the Gardens at Casa Loma is a dinner only table service outdoor restaurant where reservations are required. The Blueblood Steakhouse serves dinner and requires reservations, here you dine surrounded by vibrant modern art collection inside the castle.

I enjoyed our time visiting Casa Loma, really anytime I can be in a cool castle building I enjoy it. As a movie buff I enjoyed seeing what movies were filmed here and seeing rooms I recognized from the X-Men films. I also enjoyed the photography opportunities here with the grand architecture and intricate decor.

I’d recommend a visit to Casa Loma to anyone who enjoys historical homes and sites, and architecture fans. I wouldn’t recommend visiting with younger kids but if your teen likes history or would be excited by a castle they’d enjoy it.

During your visit don’t miss:

  • Hollywood Film Gallery on the Lower Level
  • The Conservatory
  • The Gardens – Partial Toronto skyline view from the terrace.
  • The Norman Tower – If you are ok with narrow spiral staircases climb to the top for a great view of the city.

After our time at Casa Loma we hoped back in the car and drove a quick 10 minutes to our hotel. We took a little time to unpack and settle before we headed out for the night on foot.

We walked about ten minutes to Planta Burger to grab dinner. This vegan burger counter service restaurant had a handful of burgers, salads, and sides to choose from. We ordered a taco salad and a classic burger with onion rings. The burger was the better of the two and the onion ring sauce was very good. We both enjoyed our meals. It’s a solid option for those that enjoy or want to try plant based dining. The service was quick and polite.

After dinner we walked another 25 minutes to the Rodgers Center baseball stadium to take in a Blue Jay’s game. This was a same day decision when my husband noticed it would fit into our plans and that our hometown team the Orioles were the opponents. We checked and there were plenty of tickets still for sale so we thought stopping by the box office and purchasing tickets would be easy. That was a mistake it was a huge hassle. Once we got there around the second inning the box office was closed to new sales and we had to use our phones to buy tickets and the interface was not working well. We would have been better off purchasing online at the hotel. So that’s my tip to you, go there with tickets in hand.

We lucked out with a really awesome view of the CN tower from our seats. To get this view you want to sit on the left hand side of the stadium if home plate is at the bottom of the stadium. The side with gates 9 -15. The stadium was nice and clean and had lots of standard ballpark food options, plus poutine.

We ducked out around the 7th inning. It was easy to grab a cab on Bremner Blvd. in front of the stadium for the 15 minute drive back to the hotel. It would have been about a half hour walk back and I wouldn’t have been concerned about walking on these specific streets at night but we where not up to it.

Day Two

We almost always pack breakfast options to eat in our room while traveling as a money saving effort. Instant oatmeal packs made with hot water from the coffee pot, freeze dried fruit, and almonds are our go to.

After an in-room packed breakfast of oatmeal we started the next day with a photo stop at Nathan Phillips Square and the popular Toronto sign. You can also see both the new and old City Halls surrounding the square. This was just a block away from our hotel.

From there we continued on walking about fifteen minus to the Hockey Hall Of Fame. You enter the Hockey Hall of Fame from within a small shopping mall between high-rises. There is a hockey covered Tim Hortons and a food court in the mall as well. There is also a gift shop accessible without entering the museum or mall .

I would put the exhibits at the Hockey Hall of Fame into three categories.

  1. Memorabilia & Artifacts – Walls lined with glass cases full of hockey items ranging from pucks and sticks used in iconic game moments to a VHS copy of The Mighty Ducks movie and everything in-between. The displays where very engaging, up to date and immersive, using audio visual elements as well. There was even a whole locker room replica.
  2. Trophies – Located in a beautiful historic section of the building that used to be a bank you’ll find the Stanley Cup and every other hockey trophy you can imagine. This is also where you will find the literal Hall of Fame listings. Inside the old bank vault you’ll see the first Stanley Cup, and an impressive collection of Stanley Cup championship rings. The way it was explained to us there are two Stanley Cups, a permanently traveling one which the players actually hold and spend time with. The second a perfect duplicate that lives here at the Hall of Fame. You can have a paid professional photo taken of you with the cup or you can take your own. You are allowed to touch it which is cool.
  3. Interactive Exhibits – There are a ton of these including a 4D movie, a Sports Center anchor experience, video games, and virtual hockey experiences including one where you are shooting on the net and one where you are the goalie. These are all included in your admission.

My husband is a huge hockey fan so a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame was a must do for us. He absolutely loved the experience and got to see so many items he was excited about. I am not a sports person but even I was impressed with the facilities and displays here. Everything was very up to date and well kept. I enjoyed my visit very much.

I’d recommend the Hockey Hall of Fame for any sports fans and even elementary aged sports fans will have fun here with all the interactive elements.

We spent about two hours here and then we were off to lunch. For lunch we took a ten minute walk to the St. Lawrence Market, a large building that houses dozens of food stalls and some other small shops. Top tip here is to bring Canadian cash. We had opted not to exchange any currency feeling we would be able to use our credit cards everywhere and this was the one exception we ran across. Many of the stalls only took cash. The iconic item here is the peameal bacon sandwich sold at many of the stalls but unfortunately we where not able to try one since they were all cash only. It turned out ok though we found some great options.

I had a bagel turkey sandwich at the St. Urbain Bagel Bar which was delicious. The bagels here where nice and soft and they where thinner than most so you where not stuffed with bread after eating one. They also had allergens marked on their menu which was very helpful as I don’t eat dairy. My husband grabbed a chicken taco salad from Carnicero’s which he very much enjoyed. On the lower level we also grabbed some chocolate bars to bring home from Chocosol and they where absolutely fantastic. The market is a really fun experience.

After the market we took a cab to the ROM, Royal Ontario Museum. This museum is deceptively huge, and has so much packed into it. If you really wanted to take time with every piece you would be here all day. The museum was a combination of art and natural history leaning more heavily on the art portion, not many paintings but a lot of statues, pottery and textiles. The vast majority of exhibits here felt dated to me, and the museum itself was a labyrinth with what felt like room after room of glass cases of statuary. There was a dinosaur exhibit but it was lack luster. They did have an impressive Egyptian mummy, and Roman busts displays.

Overall this museum was a miss for us. Now we have been to much worse museums and while dated it is a high quality museum. The contents where just not for us and the exhibits needed to be updated. I wouldn’t recommend this museum to anyone other then real statuary fans, who I know are out there. My Dad would have loved it here!

We took a 30 minute walk back to the hotel for a few hours rest. On the recommendation of the concierge we went to Konjiki Ramen for dinner just a few blocks from the hotel. My husband who loves ramen was giddy with the spicy red ramen he ordered. He said it was some of the best ramen he has ever had. I don’t care for ramen, or anything soup like, so I ordered a vegetable tempurpa set and really disliked it. I’d say this one is on me for going to a ramen place and not ordering ramen though. So if you like ramen this is a great option, but stick to the ramen.

On the way back we passed through the Eaton Center Mall. It’s huge and had a wide variety of stores included high-end options. It’s perfect for a shopping afternoon.

Day Three

We started the morning with oatmeal in our room and then we where off to arrive at the Aquarium. The Aquarium is located next to the baseball stadium so we had another 30 minute walk there.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada (no relation to the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not attractions) is a moderately sized aquarium with all indoor exhibits. The aquarium felt modern and well kept with engaging exhibits. It opened at 9:00am and when we arrived at 9:40am the crowds where very low and it was lovely and peaceful. By the time 10:30 rolled around we noticed a huge increase in attendance specifically field trips so keep that in mind.

The star of the show here is the underwater tunnel where fish, turtles, stingrays, and sharks swim above you. This tunnel was long which was awesome and had a moving walkway you could stand on or you could walk at your own pace. They had a Canadian waters exhibit and I like when there are local touches to aquariums and zoos.

As two adults we throughly enjoyed our time at the aquarium, we spent just over an hour here. We could have stretched it to two but that would have been the max. I highly recommend this for kids, there was a whole play place in the middle as well as exhibits where you could touch animals like stingrays.

Next up we scooted right next door to the CN Tower. Built in 1976 the CN Tower is the tallest free standing structure in the Western Hemisphere and is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. For 32 years it was the tallest building in the world and today lands at number nine on the list. It is the icon of Toronto.

Arriving right around the 11:00am opening the crowd levels where light and the longest line we waited in was about 10 minutes. Once you are in the building you get in line to wait for an elevator that will take you to the observation level. While in line there are displays about the history and construction of the tower. The elevator ride itself is fast but very smooth. The front of the elevator is glass and the floor has two small glass windows in it so you can see how high up you are traveling. The ride itself is only about a minute long, and includes narration.

The observation decks are about three quarters of the way up the tower. Once at the top you can take as much time as you’d like in the observation levels. During our visit the exterior observation level was undergoing a massive refurbishment so we where not able to utilize that area. The indoor observation level was great it was spacious and there where huge windows all around the exterior of this level. We had amazing views of the city, the lake, and into the suburbs. Keep in mind that weather will factor into your views. There where some glass panels on one section of the floor as well that allowed you to see to the ground under the tower. None of the observation levels rotate.

There are two add ons you can do at the CN Tower. The Edge Walk where you go outside on top of the observation deck and are tethered to the edge while you lean off the tower. Visiting the Skypod takes you in another elevator an additional 33 stories up to the Skypod’s interior observation deck. You can feel the wind sway the tower at that height. We didn’t do either of these experiences. Both come at an additional cost. There is also a fine dining restaurant on the observation level, named 360, the restaurant does rotate. Reservations are required.

When you’re done you wait for an elevator back down. You’ll exit through the gift shop and they also have a cafe, and childrens play area on this level.

I think a visit to the CN Tower is a must see for everyone visiting Toronto unless the heights are a no go for you. I’d suggest arriving early to beat the crowds so you won’t have to wait in lines, especially if visiting with little ones as there is not much for them to be entertained by in the line areas.

After the tower we walked about 20 minutes to the Queen West neighborhood. We first visited Graffiti Alley. Which was really more a whole series of allies than just one. This is an area where graffiti is encouraged and some beautiful work covers the brick and concrete walls. Depending on your level of interest in graffiti art work this may or may not be for you. You can take some really cool photos here but keep in mind you are in allies behind shops and restaurants. So they are dirty, smell like trash, and we saw an alive mouse and a dead rat… so just keep that in mind. If I did it again I wouldn’t go out of my way to see Graffiti Alley. Luckily it fit geographically into our plans.

We had lunch in Queen West at Parka Food Co. where they serve vegan comfort food. The restaurant was cute and comfy and the menu had tons of options. We both loved our lunch here. This is the one place we ate that I wish was located where we live. I had the lemon tahini cauliflower wrap with poutine fries. You have to try the poutine when in Canada right? My husband got the chipotle cauliflower bowl. We both loved our meals.

We kept walking about 25 minutes and passed through Chinatown and into Kensington Market a district popular for its dining and small shops. This was billed to us by both the hotel concierge and the internet as a must see area full of popular spots. I have to say when we got there the area felt very run down, and in some sections there were folks around that made us feel uncomfortable. It didn’t feel at all like a fun cute city market atmosphere you’ll find in so many cities big and small. There were very few shops we found interesting. There were many intriguing restaurants around but the city is full of restaurants so I don’t think coming here for one is necessary. I recommend you do not visit Kensington Market.

That being said we did graze and a bit here, and got a killer smoothie from The Organic Press. As well as some pastry from Bunners which is vegan and gluten free bakery. It was good but I wouldn’t go out of your way for it. I know if you are vegan and gluten free it can be really challenging to find dessert options so I’d recommend utilizing their delivery options if that is you.

We moved on and walked back to our hotel another 25 minutes arriving around 2:15 and we took a brief rest. After the disappointing Kensington Market we had a little more time in our afternoon than we had planned. We wanted to salvage our cute shopping district plans so we grabbed a cab and where off to the Distillery District just a 10 minute ride away. Now this was my kind of shopping district! The Distillery District is an enclosed pedestrian only area made up of several blocks that was originally the home of the Toronto distillery industry. Now it’s full of small shops, art galleries, restaurants, and of course bars all housed in brick Victorian industrial buildings. It’s a very pretty vibe and the whole area was clean and felt very safe. We loved it here. Explored some art galleries, did some shopping, and grabbed some absolutely amazing handcrafted ice cream, including non-dairy options at Scooped by Demetres.

After ice cream we hopped a cab back to the hotel. Pretty full from an afternoon of grazing we had protein bars and hotel room snacks for dinner and changed for our night at the theatre. Just around the corner from the hotel at the Ed Mirvish Theatre we saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The theatre itself was beautiful and they had all sorts of Harry Potter touches. Having read the script book when it came out a few years ago I went in knowing that the story of the Cursed Child is just ok, messing with Harry Potter cannon in a way I don’t love, and overall does not rise to the level of the Harry Potter books. But seeing the show was a different experience than reading it. The technological aspects were absolutely amazing, the actors were great, and the story was still the story but it’s less bothersome while watching it. It was really cool to see adult Harry and company portrayed. The show is playing in several cities around the world and I urge any Harry Potter fan to take the time effort to see it. It is unlikely to tour traditionally due to the technical aspects of the show. I’d suggest seeing the show and then reading the script book afterwords if possible.

Day Four

We checked out of our hotel around 10:45am and made the 30 minute drive to the Toronto Zoo. Parking was a breeze and crowds where very manageable the whole time.

The zoo overall was not very impressive. While a handful of exhibits like the polar bears and lions seemed newer much of the zoo was dated and in need of upgrades. Many of the exhibits where very large and spread out, which is great for the animals but as a visitor meant a ton of walking. Sections of the zoo where very far apart from one another as well. They did have a paid zoo train tram system and I think utilizing that is a must don’t try and walk it all like we did.

If you are traveling with just adults this is a very skiable zoo. But I can’t deny that the zoo in general is a great option for kids. The Toronto Zoo had both a splash pad area and a carousel. If you are going to visit plan on paying to utilize the zoo train. Even with kids I would prioritize the aquarium above the zoo.

There were plenty of counter style food options around the park. This is where we finally got to try a Beaver Tail, which is a Canadian chain that serves flat doughnut-like pastries with a variety of toppings. They had vegan options which was awesome. I had a coco vanil one on the way out of the zoo and it was perfection.

We left the zoo around 2:30 on a weekday and where headed to Niagara Falls, Ontario. This was terrible timing on our part. By the time we got close to Toronto it was about 3:00 and we got into some early rush hour traffic. Once we were past Toronto we got slammed in traffic around the city of Hamilton. What was supposed to be about an hour and forty five minute drive took over three hours. In hindsight I should have timed this out better.

Then we where off to explore Niagara Falls, Ontario!

Toronto City Pass

To save money on many of the locations we visited we purchased the Toronto City Pass in advance of our visit. It worked out perfectly and I’ve used a City Pass in several other locations as well and I enjoy the ease of use and saving. Often we get to throw in an extra activity we otherwise wouldn’t have spent the money on because it is included in the pass. It all depends on what you want to see in a city if it is worth it or not.

The CityPass also prompts you to make reservations at activities as needed. City Pass or not always check if you need a reservation for any activities, museums, etc.

Check out the City Pass here:

https://www.citypass.com/toronto#buy

Conclusions

Overall we really enjoyed our time in Toronto there is so much to see and do in the city. It’s a great option for adults and families looking for a big city vacation.

It’s also a great option for U.S. citizens looking to step their toe into international travel. The language, customs, and procedures will all be very familiar to you. While at the same time it is a new country to explore. It’s a great stepping stone.

Toronto is also a perfect stop to pair with Niagara Falls to extend your vacation in the area.

If you are looking to travel to Toronto, Canada or anywhere else I would love to be your travel agent. Get expert advice on planning your vacation and get personalized advise at no additional cost to you. 

Contact me at katiev@themagicsyours.com

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Guide and Review of Sandals Royal Caribbean an All Inclusive and Adults Only Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica by a Travel Agent

I recently stayed at Sandals Royal Caribbean in April of 2022. This resort is one of the Sandals brands many all inclusive and adults only properties across the Caribbean.

If you aren’t familiar let’s talk about some of the Sandals basics. Sandals is a luxury resort brand based in the Caribbean that focuses on couples vacations. They offer five star accommodations and service.

All rooms at Sandals are double occupancy only and feature one king bed. While you don’t have to be a romantic couple to visit Sandals you do have to be two people per room and share a bed.

All of the Sandals properties are adults only (18+) and all inclusive.

If you are looking for luxury family travel or non-couples travel try the Sandals owned brand for everyone, Beaches.

Now that we have the Sandals basics covered let’s talk about what is included with a stay at Sandals.

* * Incase there is any confusion this resort has no connection to Royal Caribbean Cruises **

If you are interested in a video review of this resort check out my video here.

What’s Included

When Sandals says all inclusive they really mean it. You will not get to the end of your stay and find that you have an unexpected balance due. So let’s get into what is included when you choose to stay at Sandals.

  • Transportation from and back to the airport, typically on a shuttle bus.
    • At Sandals Royal Caribbean if you stay in a club level or butler level room you get upgraded to a private BMW car transfer included.
  • All of your food and beverage! There are no limits. Order 3 appetizers, have lunch at two restaurants. There is no tracking or counting meals it is truly all included.
    • The one upgrade we found was you had the option to order from a high end wine list at the dinner restaurants for an additional fee. But they had plenty of wine that was included.
  • Activities – Everything onsite is included. Offerings vary by resort and day but Royal Caribbean included.
    • Scuba Diving Trips (You have to be certified which you can do onsite at a cost)
    • Snorkeling Trips
    • Hobbie Cats, Paddle Boards, and Kayaks including instruction on their use.
    • Beach Volleyball
    • Bocce Ball
    • Pool Tables
    • Fitness Center and Fitness Classes
  • Live Entertainment – Enjoy lots of daytime and nighttime entertainment options daily.
  • All tips, taxes and gratuities. There are no hidden fees and none of the staff on site accepts tips.
    • With the exception of butlers if you are staying butler level. (more below)
  • Wifi
  • Visiting Sandals Montego Bay – Just 10 Minutes away, shuttles are included and you have full access to that resort, restaurants, and its amenities as well.
  • Free Wedding or Re-tie The Knot– Stay three nights or longer and qualify for a free wedding package. The longer you stay the more options are included.
  • Some additional inclusions apply based on your room category which we will discuss below.

What’s NOT included:

  • Excursions – Any additional activities off of the resort and transportation to them.
  • Spa Services – They offer a full range of spa services at the onsite Red Lane Spa.
  • Experience Upgrades – Sandals offers some upgrades like a candlelit dinner on the beach, and cabana rentals.
  • Photography – While they do offer a free photo session with each stay, and they have photographers roaming the resort there is a fee to get a digital or printed copy of your photos.
  • Upgraded Wedding or Re-Tie The Knot – They offer a wide range of wedding services.

How To Get There

To get to Sandals Royal Caribbean you will want to fly into Montego Bay, Jamaica and Sangster International Airport (MBJ)

Keep in mind everyone will need a passport to enter Jamaica. You will also want to check on any current additional travel requirements at your time of travel.

We found flying there from Maryland a breeze. Southwest offered non-stop flights from BWI. You can package your flights with your hotel stay through Sandals.

MBJ airport during our visit seemed to be undergoing updates. The departures terminal was under construction but nothing obtrusive to your visit. The airport I would classify as mid-size. It has traditional jetways, a food court with American brands, security you would be used to in US airports, stores, and typical seating and restrooms.

When arriving on a Monday mid-day in April customs and immigration was quick and organized. Though it did take about 20 – 30 minutes after we arrived at baggage claim for our flights checked bags to come through. Obviously this can all fluctuate.

The airport did offer a paid VIP service called Club MoBay. We saw several people utilizing it upon arrival. You can find details linked here. I think the biggest perk personally with this would be access to a departures lounge.

https://www.vipattractions.com

Once we were ready to go we headed to the Sandals lounge where they took our bags and checked us in for our included transpiration. Then waited in the spacious and lovely lounge They had included coffee, soft drinks, water, alcohol, and snacks. We only waited about 10 minutes then we were off to our private transfer which was a very nice town car.

Note: If you have the private transfer expect to tip the airport luggage porter which you will basically be forced to use and the driver.

The drive from the airport to the resort is only 10 – 15 minutes. Being so close to the airport we saw a lot of planes at from the resort but didn’t find them noisy.

When it was time to depart we received instructions in our room which gave us a time to leave our luggage outside our room to be collected and a time to arrive at the entrance to be picked up by our transfer. They plan to get you to the airport three hours prior to your flight. This process was simple.

The private transfer was another lovely BMW town car. Both times we had very helpful and nice drivers. They both shared some knowledge about Jamaica with us and chatted about our stay.

Departing there was a bit of a line at customs, bag check, and security but the whole process took under an hour and was fairly organized. There is no Sandals lounge in the departures terminal.

We made our way to our gate, browsed the shops and waited for our flight. Seating was a bit limited at the gate but this area of the airport didn’t seem to have been renovated yet.

My major complaint about the airport was the signage and announcements. At least at the gate we were at there did not appear to really be a loud speaker. So the boarding Southwest process was very unclear and ended up with just a crowd of people standing around the gate attendant waiting for their boarding number to be called. The seating area was long and thin so we very nearly missed that this boarding was even happening. So keep an eye on the gate more than you would typically.

Overall the travel process was simple for anyone used too international air travel. If you aren’t I don’t think this is a particular challenge either. The portion of travel where you are in the hands of Sandals was an absolute breeze.

Resort Map

Layout & Activities & Pools

Sandals Royal Carribean is a smaller and more intimate resort. With 280 rooms on a 15 acre beachfront property. They describe the resort theme as Britain meets Bali and I think that describes it nicely. The common areas are mostly open air with an open concept floor plan. The grounds feature tons of beautiful tropical landscaping and manicured lawns. The overall atmosphere of Royal Caribbean is secluded, tranquil, and peaceful.

Throughout the resort you will find activities like a bocce ball court, a giant chess set, pool tables, and croquet. You’ll also see lots of seating areas including some secluded areas with comfy swings and hammocks.

The resort is beach front and the beaches are private. There is one main beach and a series of smaller ones. All of the beaches are on the smaller side. If you are looking to take long walks along the beach this is not your resort. Check out Sandals Montego Bay down the street. Though they are small I never felt the beaches were over crowded though sometimes you had to hunt for an available chair. There is beverage service and entertainment on the main beach. On the smaller beaches you could really enjoy a more private peaceful and quiet vibe. They even had over-the-water hammocks at one of the smaller beaches.

The resort offers 4 pools and 6 whirlpools. One of the pools includes a swim-up bar. I found there to always be plenty of seating at the pools and they never felt crowded. The main pool often had a DJ. Located next to the main beach this general area is the heart of daytime entertainment at the resort.

Next to the main beach is the water sports center. This is where you’ll want to come if you want to participate in any of the included water sports.

  • Hobie Cats
  • Windsurfing
  • Paddle Board
  • Kayaking
  • Glass Bottom Boat Tour
  • Snorkelling Cruise
  • Scuba Diving – must be certified – certification classes available at a cost.

The resort has a full fitness center that offers classes throughout the day.

If you like to shop on vacation the resort offers both a jewelry store and a gift shop with local Jamaican items, general beach essentials, and Sandals branded products. One excision also offered transpiration to a very nearby outdoor mall designed for tourists.

An exciting feature of Royal Caribbean is a private island. You can take a dragon boat over to the island which takes about 5 minutes. On the island you can enjoy a small beach, a pool, two restaurants, a bar and swim-up bar, and on the far side of the island is a clothing optional beach that is well obscured from the rest of the island. This is also where you will find the over-the-water bungalows.

Live entertainment and parties are a big part of the atmosphere at Royal Caribbean resort. Throughout the day you’ll find live entertainment like a DJ, crafting classes, contests and game shows, karaoke, and live musical experiences like a drumline, and local dancers both of which saw.

Nightly live entertainment varies but includes, a carnival on the beach, reggae music performances, singers, and variety show style entertainment.

There is a weekly evening chocolate gala on the pool deck. There are also special celebrations for holidays. We visited around Easter and there were decorations, and egg hunt, and even a visit by the Easter Bunny. Additionally, there are three weekly cocktail parties for club level and butler level guests only.

Remember you can also hop over to Sandals Montego Bay and partake in all of their activities, and dining. You’ll have full access to the property. The shuttle ride takes about 15 minutes and runs about once every hour and a half. Montego Bay is a much larger resort with a very long and large beach. They have some different dining options as well with another 12 restaurants. Montego Bay has a more lively party atmosphere than Royal Caribbean.

You’re also sure to see lots of little cat friends around the resort as they live all over the island.

Rooms

You’ll notice two distinct styles currently in the rooms of Sandals Royal Caribbean. One a more ornate dark wood covered look and a brighter more minimal tropical style. The resort is in the longer term process of renovating rooms building by building. The resort is transitioning towards the more tropical and brighter decor.

Sandals offers three room levels:

  • Luxury
  • Club
  • Butler

The luxury level rooms are the base level rooms, these rooms have mini-bars with water, soda, juice, wine and beer.

Here is a look at some luxury level rooms at Sandals Royal Caribbean:

The club level rooms offer a mini-bar with water, soda, juice, wine and beer PLUS a variety of liquor. These rooms also offer room service, private check-in, and access to the club level lounge. You also gain access to special club level events like a martini tasting and special snorkeling trips.

Here is a look at some club level rooms at Sandals Royal Caribbean:

The butler level rooms include everything from the club level plus you will have 24 hour butler service. You will have two rotating assigned butlers and will be given a cell phone to reach them with. Here to make your stay as simple and luxurious as possible. They can make your dinner reservations, reserve beach chairs for you, bring food from any restaurant on property to your suite or waterside, and more.

Here is a look at some butler level rooms at Sandals Royal Caribbean:

Royal Caribbean also offers over-the-water bungalows which fall into the butler category but are so unique I thought we would talk about them separately. The bungalows are part of the resort’s private island. There are two styles of bungalows between the two they offer features like over the water hammocks, glass floor panels, indoor/outdoor shower and tub, and infinity pools. These book up QUICKLY so plan to book as far ahead as you can! While on my agent tour of the resort we were unable to visit a bungalow as they were all full. I was told they tend to fully book up 15 months in advance. These bungalows are absolutely perfect for honeymooners or couples celebrating a milestone anniversary. They are only offered at a handful of Sandals resorts. 

Sandals Royal Caribbean offers over 28 room styles so it can be a complicated decision picking the one you want to book. During my stay I took a travel agent tour of the resort including about half a dozen room types and I can tell you there is a significant variety of rooms available.

Extra things to keep in mind when booking a room:

  • Several room styles have open bathroom floor plans where the glass shower is just in the middle of the room. So depending how you feel about that you’ll want to book accordingly. It’s also not made super clear online which rooms have this.
  • A big thing to consider is where the room category you are choosing is located.
  • Both great reasons to work with a travel agent!

Our Room: We stayed in a Royal Beachfront Club Elite Suite with Balcony and Tranquility Soaking Tub. I really liked this room, the room itself was nothing extra special but it was lovely, clean, recently renovated, and very functional. The balcony was the real star here in was spacious with beautiful views of the ocean and private island plus it had a soaking tub. The rooms location was great for getting around the resort but it was loud sometimes being located so close to the main pool. Another reason I enjoyed the room was that it was a club level room so the room service option and liquor in the mini-bar was a big plus too.

** Disclosure: I did get stay in this room on a discounted travel agent rate. **

If you want to see a deep dive of the room that I stayed in, coded BCS, check out my video here.

Food

There’s a LOT of food to be had here and remember it is all included.

Keep in mind most of the dinner locations required prior reservations so make sure to grab those on your first day at the resort. You can not make them prior to your arrival.

Room Service – Available only in club and butler level rooms. A basic menu with good service and a solidly mid-level quality. It’s a very nice option to have.

Afternoon Tea is served in the tea room daily at 4:00.

Bars – The resort features 6 full service bars.

  • Island Swim-Up Bar
  • Mariner Seaside Bar
  • Piano Bar
  • Main Pool Swim-Up Bar
  • The Cricketers Pub
  • Highgrove Bar

Bella Napoli Pizzeria – This outdoor location shares seating with The Mariner or you can grab your pizza to go. They make all the pizzas here to order. Which means they are super fresh but do take at least 20 minutes to make. My husband had the pizza pictured below here and absolutely raved about it. He thought it was excellent.

Bombay Club – Open for a la carte American breakfast this location offers beautifully decorated indoor seating and outdoor ocean-side seating. For dinner Bombay Club serves Indian cuisine.

Le Jardiniere – This restaurant is only open for dinner and serves French cuisine with indoor and outdoor seating. We dined here and had the filet de sole meuniere (sole fillet) and tournedos vegetalien (vegan meatloaf) for our entrees and the creme brûlée and a dairy free variation pommes caramelisees (sautéed apples). We aren’t big French food eaters but we were shocked by how much we really enjoyed the food here. The ambiance was very calm and romantic as well. I’d highly recommend dining here.

Royal Thai – Located on the private island with entirely outdoor seating in a striking columned building with Asian touches. The atmosphere here is great and being located on the island makes heading there for dinner feel like a little get away from the resort. The menu is just what you would think, Thai cuisine. This location also had the most options for vegetarians and vegans. We had the pro pia tho (vegetable spring rolls) and the gai satay (chicken skewers) as appetizers. For entrees we chose the pad thai with chicken and gang massaman with chicken. We really enjoyed everything we ordered. This is a great dinner option.

The Cricketers Pub – The go to spot for a late night drink or snack the pub serves a la carte dinner and midnight snack options, it’s open until 2:00am. Designed as a British pub and entirely indoors it’s a very fun atmosphere and highly themed you can even play darts. The menu matches the theme.

The Jerk Shack – In my opinion this is the best lunch spot at the resort. We ate here twice in a relatively short stay we liked it so much. The chicken is absolutely the star here. Go ahead and try all the sides. I do recommend you skip the fish in foil it was extremely oily. It’s located on the private island and totally outdoors. In the past the food here has been served buffet style during out 2022 visit it was served a la carte by wait staff but that could change back.

The Mariner Seaside Grill – This outdoor beach side lunch option is a really fun and livley spot. The menu is classic American gilled food with Jamaican specialties and lighter options as well. The highlights we had here where the Jamaican beef patties, and the fish burger which was not a patty but slices of fish.

La Tavola – This is an Italian dinner restaurant, it is all open air and basically just in the middle of the resort grounds, which made this the least atmospheric of the dinner options. The quality of the food here was high but both of our dishes where mostly pasta with little vegetables and meat. So this one was a bit of a disappointment. We had the chicken scaloppini and shrimp scampi.

Spices – This is where you will find the breakfast and lunch buffets as well as a table service a la carte dinner option. We only experienced the breakfast buffet which was great. It had a very wide variety of options, including some Jamaican specialties. They had a made to order omelette bar, and waffles and pancakes being continually made so they got to you fresh. There was lots of tropical fruit. They offered mimosa service as well. They even had the super basic things like whole fruits, boxed cereal, bagels and pastries which make a great item to grab and bring back to your room for a snack later. We where very happy with the breakfast options For breakfast seating is outside and this is the one outdoor dining option with limited shade. For lunch and diner there is indoor seating.

Dinner Dress Code: At the time I visited Sandals Royal Caribbean all of the restaurants has a dinner dress code of resort casual attire. But that could be subject to change so always check before you pack. Also keep in mind if you plan to hop over some dining at Sandals Montego Bay requires resort evening attire. The dress code is enforced.

Resort Casual Attire – Shorts or jeans, t-shirts or polo shirts. Swimwear must be covered. Shirts and footwear required.

Resort Evening Attire – Dress pants/trousers or jeans for men, long or short sleeve dress shirts (with or without collar). Dress shoes or sandals. No shorts, t-shirts, sleeveless shirts, sneakers, flip-flops or slippers. No hats or caps.

** Special Dietary Requirements – For vegetarians and vegans every menu has at least one option for you and the menu has them labeled as such. For gluten free and dairy free those options are also marked on the menu but the options are not as prevelant. If you have an allergy you can request to speak with the chef at each restaurant. I don’t eat dairy and I was able to eat something at every restaurant. Though I was only able to have dessert at one of the dinners, and a few times my options where more limited.**

The “Bob Marley” Cocktail

Packing For Sandals

Of course you’ll want to pack all the tropical vacation essentials like bathing suits, cover-up, sunscreen, etc. etc. etc. The average temperatures in Jamaica don’t fluctuate too much but always check the weather for the days of your visit.

A few special things to consider:

  • Dress Codes:
    • Day: During the day the dress code is casual and a bathing suit and coverup, or shorts and a tee shirt will do.
    • Night: At dinner is where you really need to consider your dress. Restaurants all have a dress code and it’s either resort casual attire or resort evening attire. You’ll find on the website which restaurants have which.
      • Resort Casual Attire – “Shirts/cover-ups and footwear are both required for resort casual dining attire, but beyond that, pretty much anything goes! As long as you’ve covered your swimwear, both men and women can feel free to wear any type of shorts, jeans, t-shirts, or polo shirts they want. All styles of shoes are acceptable, but flats or sandals are advisable if you’ll be dining on the sand.”
      • Resort Evening Attire – “Resort evening attire is a little dressier than resort casual and is only required for certain restaurants at dinner time. This dress code differs a bit for men and women. Men should wear long pants in whatever material suits them best (yes, jeans are allowed!), and definitely avoid shorts. Top that off with a dress shirt (could be a button-up or polo, with long or short sleeves, with or without a collar), and you’re good to go. Shoes should be dressier and closed-toed, so your favorite loafers or deck shoes would be perfect for the occasion! Women get a lot more leeway with resort evening attire! Ladies, you can wear anything from dresses to rompers to jeans and a nice top. Your shoes don’t have to be closed-toed, so heels, wedges, or dressy sandals are great options. Both men and women should avoid jeans shorts, swimwear and cover-ups, t-shirts, sleeveless shirts, sneakers, flip flops, slippers, and hats where resort evening attire is requested.”
  • Theme Nights: Each Sandals has a weekly White Night chocolate buffet and party. It’s totally optional but if you want to play along with the theme bring an all white outfit. You can coordinate to other theme nights as well.
  • Fitness Center & Classes – If you want to participate make sure to bring along some athletic clothing.
  • Excursions: Check the dress code for your excursions before packing. For instance some more adventurous ones may require closed toed shoes.
  • Packing For A Purpose: Sandals participates in the Pack for a Purpose program. This program encourages guests to buy at home, pack, and then donate new items like toiletries and school supplies. The items are then distributed throughout the island to those in need of them. It’s super easy. Just check your hotels list of needed items, purchase and pack them, then bring them to the front desk to donate.
  • I highly recommend a waterproof phone pouch with lanyard if you plan to bring your phone around with you for photos.
  • Wedding Rings – You are going to be in and out of the water so I would suggest leaving the expensive and important jewelry at home and wearing some silicone rings or inexpensive costume jewelry rings.
  • You do not need to bring beach towels.
  • Download the Sandals App.

Excursions

Sandals offers excursions through their Island Routes brand. You can book prior to arrival which I would suggest for the best availability. Or you can book once you arrive at the Island Routes desk on property.

The excursions offered at Sandals Royal Caribbean include a sunset catamaran cruise, biking and waterfall tours, bamboo river rafting, dolphin encounters, zip lines, powerboat adventures, and more.

Recommendations & Review

Overall I greatly enjoyed my stay at Sandals Royal Caribbean and I would absolutely stay there again.

My biggest take aways:

  • Room type really matters and I am glad that we had one with an ocean view and club level amenities.
  • The overall vibe here is low key, tranquil, and peaceful it’s a perfect place to recharge and relax.
  • Try as much of a variety of the food as possible, and book reservations as soon as you arrive.
  • Make sure to visit the private island at least once.

So who do I recommend this resort for? I think this resort is a great fit for couples of all ages who are looking for a quiet, intimate, and tranquil resort that still has activity and entertainment options available. The clientele here during my stay skewed middle age and above but I also saw plenty of younger guests.

For those looking to honeymoon or celebrate a special occasion the bungalows are a perfect fit for that.

I also think those coming from the US east coast looking for a quick flight or with limited vacation time this is a great option.

If you are looking for a party atmosphere, or a huge resort this is not the Sandals I would suggest for you. I also wouldn’t suggest Royal Caribbean for non-couples.

As you can see Sandals Royal Caribbean has lots to offer! I hope you found this helpful in planning your visit to Jamaica. 

If you are looking to travel to Sandals Royal Caribbean, Jamaica, or the Caribbean in general I would love to be your travel agent. Get expert advice on planning your vacation and a personalized experience at no additional cost to you. 

Contact me at katiev@themagicsyours.com

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A Complete Guide To Disney World’s Toy Story Land 

Toy Story Land is one of the newest lands in Disney’s Hollywood Studios park. This land puts you into the world of the Toy Story movies and is home to Slinky Dog Dash one of the most popular rides in the park. The land is designed for you to feel like you have shrunken down to the size of a small toy and are in Andy’s backyard. You will see a larger than life Buzz and Woody and the decor around the land has lots of details. You’ll spot the whole Toy Story gang in the details around the land. 

This is a land that is great at night too as the gigantic Christmas lights illuminate the land brining a whole new feel to the area starting at dusk. 

The biggest downside to this area is the complete lack of shade and the abundance of pavement.  It’s best to visit here early in the morning or in the evening. 

With the basics out of the way let’s get into everything there is to do in Toy Story Land.

Location

You’ll find Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. 

The land is located off of Hollywood Boulevard, past the Animation Courtyard. On the other side you can enter Toy Story Land through Star Wars: Galaxies Edge. 

Attractions

Slinky Dog Dash:

  • Height Requirement 38”
  • Genie+ Lightning Lane Available 
  • Accessibility: Must transfer to wheelchair (no ECV) and then to ride vehicle  wheelchair. 

This popular attraction takes you on a roller coaster ride with Slinky Dog on a track that Andy has put together. This ride is tons of fun for kids and adults with drops and turns it is designed to be family friendly.  With a thrill factor above kiddy coasters like Barnstormer or ever Seven Dwarfs Mine Train but below Splash Mountain’s big drop or Expedition Everest. I’d put the thrills on-par with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad but with more height. Keep in mind that the queue is in direct sun for most of its length. 

Lines for this can get LONG and Genie+ goes fast. I highly recommend one of the following plans. 

  • Purchase Genie+ for the day and grab a Genie+ reservation for this ride ASAP
  • Disney Resort Guests: Arrive 30 minutes or more prior to early park entry and rope drop. 
  • Enter the queue at the end of the night. So you are spending time when the parks are closed in the long line instead of wasting park time. Play it safe and show up a half hour before closing. 

Alien Swirling Saucers:

  • Height Requirement 32”
  • Genie+ Available 
  • Accessibility: Must transfer from wheelchair / ECV

This whip style ride is more fun then it might look, complete with alien style music and fun lighting. Take a spin on the swirling saucers which will also whip you around. Themed to the Pizza Planet Aliens and the world of Buzz Lightyear this ride is perfect for kids and more fun than it looks for adults. If you are pressed for time don’t worry about skipping this one and don’t wait in too long of a line for it but it makes a good Genie+ reservation when other rides are not available. 

Toy Story Mania:

  • Height Requirement: None
  • Genie+ Available 
  • Accessibility: Must transfer to wheelchair
  • 3-D Glasses 

This ride which pre-dates the land is a dark ride meets video game attraction. Described as a “4-D midway-style shootin’ game”. Similar to Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin at Magic Kingdom. Each rider has their own cannon. As you ride you will be brought up to screen with various carnival style games. Use your cannon to shoot virtual balls into the game. At the end you’ll be able to see who has the highest score. This ride has a ton of repeat value and the queue here has a lot of details to look at. There is light spinning and you do have to wear 3-D glasses. Get a little competitive and lowest score buys the next mickey pretzel! Lines are typically manageable here and Genie+ easily available. 

Food

Quick Service

Woody’s Lunch Box:

  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
  • Food Style: American
  • Mobile Order Available
  • Outdoor Seating 

With adorable theming that has you sitting on benches that look like baby bell cheese this location is a popular one and the outdoor seating is limited to keep that in mind. The menu here is short and heavy on sandwiches and tater tot items. They have a few plant based versions of their normal items which is a really nice, though beware the plant based grilled cheese is a bit lacking. Don’t miss the lunch box tarts, basically a fancy pop tart, they change seasonly too which is always fun. The tachos are another crowd favorite here. 

Coming Soon: Round-Up Rodeo BBQ a table service dining location. 

Characters

(Both Currently Unavailable in 2022) 

Meet Woody, Jesse, & Buzz  – Near Toy Story Mania

Green Army Men Drum Corps Show – Check for show times in the app – Outside Alien Swirling Saucers 

Shopping

There is a small shop full of Toy Story items at the exit to Toy Story Mania also accessible without riding.  The Toy Story Mania Shop unlike most exit gift shops is actually easy to miss so keep an eye to your left as you walk through the exit path before you get outside the building. 

There are also several small kiosks with souvenirs though-out the land as well. 

Coming Soon: New Shopping Location with Round-Up Rodeo BBQ

Restrooms

  • Restrooms & Companion Restrooms – Across from Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Service Dog Relief Area

Bonus Fun

Photopass – There is typically a photographer by the Toy Story land sign next to the giant Woody. 

Pin Trading – Toy Story Mania Shop

As you can see Toy Story Land has lots to explore! I hope you found this helpful in planning your visit to Hollywood Studios. 

If you are looking to travel to Disney World I would love to be your travel agent. Get expert advice in planning your vacation and a personalized experience at no additional cost to you. 

Contact me at katiev@themagicsyours.com

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A Complete Guide To Disney World’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

It’s one of the most popular and noteworthy lands in all of Disney World. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. A part of Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park this Star Wars themed land is a reason some people make the trip to Disney World in the first place. 

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge puts you right into the middle of the Star Wars universe. When in the land you are in Black Spire Outpost a trading town on the planet of Batuu. Set in the time of the Star Wars sequels. Specifically between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. For the best experience I do suggest having watched at least The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. The theming here is very detailed and runs deep and the cast members will even greet you in their own lingo, more on that later. 

While you are planning your visit you might want to dress the part at Galaxy’s Edge and that is absolutely encouraged. BUT there are some rules, like no Jedi robes, or costume masks. 

Check out the rules here:

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/faq/parks/dress/

Let’s get into everything there is to do in this out of this world land. 

Location 

You’ll find Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. 

The land is located between Toy Story Land and Grand Avenue

(You can also find and almost identical Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland in California) 

** Note that the original Star Wars ride, Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, and the store Tatooine Traders, in this park are not in Galaxy’s Edge but located in Echo Lake. If you are missing Luke and the gang head here. Also at this store you will find more “Star Wars” branded items and merchandise. In Galaxy’s Edge merchandise is created to look like it would be sold within the world of Star Wars. Also at Tatooine Traders you can build your own plastic toy lightsaber, at a much lower price point than the lightsaber experience within Galaxy’s Edge. Elsewhere in the park in Animation Courtyard you can find Star Wars Galactic Outpost which is a little museum with screen used props, models, and more Star Wars film making content. ** 

Attractions 

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance: 

  • Height Requirement 40”
  • Individual Lighting Lane purchase available 
  • Accessibility: Must transfer from wheelchair. Handheld Captioning & Audio Description. 

Considered the best ride at Disney World by many, including me, calling this a ride almost isn’t even fair. It’s more like a 20 minute Star Wars immersive theatre and ride experience where you transition through multiple ride vehicles. You board a Star Destroyer and help the Resistance defeat Kylo Ren and the first order. There are some moments that could be scary or startling for little ones. It’s an absolute must do for Star Wars fans and even if you aren’t a fan it’s still very enjoyable.

Lines for this can get LONG. I highly recommend one of the following plans. 

  • Purchase a Lighting Lane
  • Disney Resort Guests: Arrive 30 minutes or more prior to early park entry and rope drop. 
  • Enter the queue at the end of the night. The line may still be long but if you are in line prior to park closing the entire line will get get to ride. So you are spending time when the parks are closed in the long line instead of wasting park time. Play it safe a show up a half hour before closing. 

Be aware that this ride closes for technical difficulties often, which makes purchasing a Lightning Lane even more appealing. If it is down during your scheduled time you can come back later in the day, or get a refund. If it goes down for an extended time while you are in the standard line you are out of luck and wasted that wait time. 

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run:

  • Height Requirement 38”
  • Genie+ Available 
  • Accessibility: Must transfer from wheelchair. Handheld Captioning & Audio Description. 
  • Single Rider Line 

If you ever wanted to pilot the Millennium Falcon this is your chance. This is basically a giant arcade game and simulator that lets groups of 6 take the Falcon on a mission to retrieve some coaxium for you boss Hondo Ohnaka.

There are three jobs you get be assigned on the ride, pilot, gunner, and engineer, and there are two of each. These are assigned while in line by a cast member and will determine your seat on the ride. These jobs will determine what you need to do on the ride to help with the mission. The pilot is the most coveted position. If you are not an exact group of 6 you will be combined with another group. 

The line here is half the fun, you’ll see a life size Millennium Falcon, are then totally immersed into a docking bay and then board the Falcon herself. 

This ride is a lot of fun especially for video game fans. Beware if does get very shaky. 

Food

Quick Service

Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo  

  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
  • Food Style: American with a Star Wars flare
  • Mobile Order Available
  • Indoor Seating & Outdoor Seating 

You’ll find deep theming here of a cargo bay in the Star Wars universe this is the only real restaurant in Galaxies Edge. The menu is exciting with options that are different from what you will find around the rest of the park. The food is great for the price point and quick service style. My go to here is the plant based Felucian Kefta and Hummus Garden Spread. 

Stands

Milk Stand – Mobile Order Available – Find your Star Wars iconic blue milk and green milk here. Both milks are plant based and have different fruity flavors. The consistency is somewhere between milk and a smoothy, almost a slushy feel. You also have the option to add alcohol to either. 

Ronto Roasters – Mobile Order Available –  Home of the Ronto Wrap, a special sausage wrap with breakfast and lunch versions. There are even plant based alternatives. It’s the fan favorite food of the land. Ronto Roasters closes early and after that you can get a Ronto Wrap at Docking Bay 7 till closing. 

Kat Saka’s Kettle – Out of this world popcorn with two flavor options. Note your popcorn bucket discount won’t work here. 

Bar & Lounges

Oga’s Cantina:

* Reservations Required

The theming here is amazing and a must visit for Star Wars fans. Be ready to stand though as most of the tables are bar tops. The menu is speciality Star Wars themed cocktails with commemorative mugs optional. Be aware all the pricing is with the mugs but you can opt to get it without and they will still serve it to you in the mug you just won’t get to keep it.  Many non-alcoholic options available was well. There are a few snacks available here but don’t plan a meal here the few food options are underwhelming. The atmosphere is tons of fun with a droid DJ, DJ Rex, and so much to look at. There are some fantastic cast members here as well that are very into the theming. 

Characters

You’ll find character’s throughout the land. These are not your classic meet and greats. The characters are within the world and going about their business, like fixing their ships. But they will stop and chat with you and take a photo. 

Characters will even roam about the land and they might even in-list your help on a mission. 

You’ll see Chewbacca and Rey, often together by the land speeders or Millennium Falcon.

The Stormtroopers and Kylo Ren are frequently found with their ship by the Milk Stand. 

You might even see Vi a resistance fighter created especially for Galaxy’s Edge. 

Shopping

There is a TON of shopping in Galaxy’s Edge and even if you aren’t looking to take anything home I suggests checking out the shops as the theming and details in many of them is beautiful. Especially in Dok-Ondar’s and the Market Merchants. 

Now the items that you will find in the land are designed to be things that you could buy within the Star Wars world. So you will find things like lightsaber handles, or plush porgs, but you won’t find a tee-shirt with “Star Wars” across the chest. Check out Tatooine Traders in Echo Lake or the shops on Hollywood Boulevard for that. 

Resistance Supply: For all your Light Side needs.

First Order Cargo: For all your Dark Side needs.

Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities – Here you’ll find collectables including Lightsaber hilts. 

The Market Merchants: This is a series of open-air stalls with each focusing on a different type of item. 

  • Creature Stall – Plushes of Star Wars creatures to adopt
  • Toydarian Toymaker – Toys 
  • Black Spire Outfitters – Clothing and costume items
  • Jewels of Bith – Souvenir items

Experiences 

Build a Lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop:

*Reservations Required – Each reservation is to build one lightsaber but two people my attend. One builder and one guest. At least one of the two guests must be over 14. 

*Recommend for aged 5+

This is a true experience not only do you get to design and hand build your very own high quality collectable lightsaber, but you will participate in a 20 minute group experience while building it. If you are a Star Wars fan you will probably get emotional. This is a pricey experience with costs starting around $200. If you build a saber make sure to come back to the land at night and take some photos with it! 

Build a Droid at Droid Depot:

*Reservations Required – Each reservation is to build one droid but two people my attend. One builder and one guest. At least one of the two guests must be over 14. 

*Recommend for aged 3+

At Droid Depot you will be assigned a building stall where a cast member will help you put together your very own droid. You’ll choose pieces off of a conveyer belt, decide what personality you want your droid to have, put them together and then active them. The experience is very build a bear with a droid. If you build a droid make sure to take them over to the testing area outside the store of a spin and to interact with other droid. 

Restrooms

  • Restrooms & Companion Restrooms – The Market Merchants
  • Restrooms & Companion Restrooms – Near the Milk Stand 

Bonus Fun

Photopass – Like the rest of Disney World there are Photopass photographers around the land to capture your memories. There are lots of fun Magic Shots they can take for you in Galaxy’s Edge. Keep an eye out for them in front of pretty much any spaceship you see. At the Millennium Falcon you might just find several photographers in that area each with a different angle so keep your eye’s peeled. Some even have a lightsaber for you to use as a prop. 

Star Wars Datapad – Within the Play Disney Parks App you’ll find the Star Wars Datapad. You can use the app to further interact with the land. It will ask you to scan certain items around the land, to complete puzzles, and participate in missions for the Resistance or First Order. 

Lingo – Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge has it’s own lingo and you’ll hear cast members greet you with terms you might be familiar with. Learn the lingo and how to respond property when greeted.

  • Bright Suns = Good Day 
    • Response = Bright Suns
  • Rising Moons = Good Evening 
    • Response = Rising Moons
    • Response If Leaving = Til the Spire
  • Ignite the Spark = Greeting for the Resistance
    • Response = Light The Fire
  • Good Journey = Informal Goodbye
  • Til the Spire – Farewell
  • May the Spires Keep You = A Formal Goodbye
  • On Planet = In The Land
  • Refresher = Bathroom
  • Hydrator = Water Fountain
  • Only The Ancients Know = I don’t know

As you can see Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge has a ton to do and lots to explore! I hope you found this helpful in planning you visit to Hollywood Studios. 

If you are looking to travel to Disney World I would love to be your travel agent. Get expert advice in planning your vacation and a personalized experience at no additional cost to you. 

Contact me at katiev@themagicsyours.com

Follow Me!   https://linktr.ee/katiethemagicsyours

Visiting Disney World While Pregnant

Hi! This is Katie, travel agent and host of this blog site. This post is a little bit different as it is written by one of my best friends, Kate, who just visited Disney World on her Babymoon! She’s going to share all her thoughts on visiting Disney World while pregnant.

Kate and her husband are Disney veterans and over the past decade have visited Disney Parks about once a year. They have been to Disney World and Disneyland, they have RunDisney, and stayed at various resorts, visited with groups and as a couple. All this to say they are Disney pros!

But this visit was going to be a bit different. As they celebrate the upcoming arrival of their first child this trip was a Babymooon! Which of course meant that Kate would be pregnant during their visit.

I had a blast helping them plan this trip as their travel agent and Kate came home with so many good thoughts we wanted to share them with all of you! So without further ado here’s Kate.

Hi Everyone I’m Kate! I’m here to give you all my tips for visiting Disney World while pregnant but first let’s start with some context for our trip.

We flew into Orlando on a Thursday morning and departed on a Monday morning. This was over Martin Luther King weekend 2022 and crowds were high. We stayed at Coronado Springs Resort in the Destino Tower. We spent 4 days in the parks, Thursday at Hollywood Studios, Friday and Saturday at Magic Kingdom, and Monday at EPCOT.

I was 24 weeks pregnant with my first child during our trip.

General Tips

1. Pack some snacks.  Snacks at Disney, from bananas to Kind Bars to a sixer of Miller Lite, are wildly expensive. And spoiler alert you’ll be hungry. You’re always hungry.

We brought Kind bars and RX bars in our suitcases and finished them all.

2. Wear amazing sneakers. Now isn’t the time to rock a color coordinated,  high fashion Disney Bound (although mad respect if you opt into that). You’re in the parks for the long haul and comfort is key. Your feet (and hips, and back, and…) will thank you. 

3. Don’t be afraid to take a break. Your vacay wont be ruined, in fact it might be saved! Pause in the middle of your day, go back to the hotel, put your feet up. Take a cat nap. Eat a snack. Refresh and recharge yourself,  there’s no shame!

That being said, also don’t be afraid to get a late start! Sleep in, get some breakfast, and be fresh as a daisy when you board the buses to the parks! This became our park-day norm. Mama needed some Zzzs.

4. Get memory maker. I’ll say that again for the people in the back. 

Buy. Memory. Maker. 

Your foggy pregnancy brain will thank you for having those memories captured. Get the t-shirts that say Bibbity Bobbity Bump. Bring your ultrasound photos. The photographers always work with you to make your magical photo dreams come true and (usually) don’t care what props you bring into the photos. It’s one hundred percent worth the price!

5. Prioritize your trip. What’s the goal? To eat your way through the parks? To take all the epic pics? To ride as many rides as you can? Figure out your priorities to avoid hormonal disappointment. No one likes crying at Disney, that’s the opposite of magical. 

6. Time your trip with your trimester.

Twenty four weeks pregnant was a sweet spot. You’re solidly in the second trimester, you don’t quite have a duck waddle going, but your bump is bumpy enough for cute photos. Why bring this up? Because once you hit the third trimester it’s lights out, zero energy, you feel like you’re back to the first trimester except this time you have a small MMA fighter pummeling your insides. You’ll be walking miles and miles in the parks (we averaged 8-12 miles a day) so go at an ideal time. That ideal time? Second trimester. Most doctors prefer you don’t travel after the 28-30 week mark anyways.

Magic Kingdom Tips

Ah, Magic Kingdom. The heart of Disney! Here’s some tips and tricks for MK:

1. If you didn’t bring your own snacks or meals into the park, order food using the app before you get hangry. This will save your life. And your partner’s life. Because you will try to destroy them in your fit of hanger rage.

You can order a full blown meal using the app, or just a Dole Whip. It was super reliable and you get to laugh at the people who didn’t use it and are bemoaning their fate in line.

2. The Liberty Belle Riverboat will be your best friend. I’m not lying to you. Trust me. It’s a guaranteed no-line, twenty minute respite while you cruise along the “river” in Liberty Square. Get out of the sun, hang out in the guest quarters, sprawl greedily across the upholstered benches and dare anyone to try and move a tired, pregnant person. No one will. It was bliss. We did it twice.

3. The Peoplemover will also be your best friend. It’s job is to move people. Let it move you.

4. On the whole, most rides at Magic Kingdom are accessible for pregnant folks. Obviously you can’t rock Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain…or apparently any type of mountain, but you have literally dozens of other attractions and it was why we spent two days there. So if your priority is rides, Magic Kingdom is the place to be. 

Epcot

While you can’t drink around the world – don’t worry – you can eat your way around the world. If you can, I recommend going during a festival. All the more food to keep you happy and sated, my dears.

1. Remember that hanger rage? Even if you go during a festival, make dining reservations ahead of time for lunch or dinner. We made the critical error of thinking we’d have enough food at the small booths and pavilions but with Disney’s never ending crowds these days causing longer-than-usual lines we were horribly wrong. I almost threw a fit in the China pavilion that would have rivaled any toddler in the park. It was ugly.

2. Let your partner buy you a sweet treat so you can happily chow down while they ride Mission: Space and Test Track. Is the sweet treat a bribe? Yes. Will you accept it? Absolutely. Plus your feet will appreciate a sit down.

3. Take time to appreciate attractions like The Seas with Nemo, or Living with the Land. They’re indoor, covered, and usually less crowded than the world showcase. Disney does a lot of conservation work and you can see that in The Seas. Also go enjoy Turtle Talk With Crush and watch an animated sea turtle sass young children while their parents laugh and laugh. It’s a delight.

Hollywood Studios

Okay, honestly friends, Hollywood Studios will not be a pregnant person’s fave. You can’t drink. You can’t ride Slinky Dog Dash, or Rise of the Resistance, or Smuggler’s Run, or Rock n’ Rollercoaster, OR Tower of Terror. Can you still have fun? Absolutely. But temper the ol’ expectations because Hollywood Studios is the thrill park, and your body wont be up for much thrilling.

1. While it’s technically suitable for pregnant folks, I don’t recommend Mickey’s Runaway Railway. It was overstimulating; the volume was loud enough to wake the dead and it rumbled right up your booty hole, there were vibrations in the cart that gave me legitimate concern, and the movements weren’t as fluid as, say, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in Epcot. I’d even argue Dwarf Mine Train in Magic Kingdom is more suitable. Just sayin’

2. The nice thing about Hollywood Studios is they sprinkle shows among all those thrill rides you can’t ride. You just have to time it right. So check the showtimes (particularly for Indiana Jones) ahead of time, and map out your day around them. 

3. Let your partner take advantage of the single rider lanes. Hollywood Studios has them for Smuggler’s Run and Rock n’ Roller Coaster. You have the thrill of literally growing a life, let them have their own thrills.

Plus you can always guilt them later for a sweet treat because you were so kind and generous. I recommend a Mickey Ice Cream Bar.

Moral of the Story

1. Plan your day around food.

2. Wear excellent footwear, but take breaks as needed. No one is monitoring your step count.

3. Temper your expectations, but prioritize so you can still have your ideal vacay.

4. Food. 

5. Book your vacation with Katie as your travel agent! Check out her contact details below.

Contact Katie for a free quote at katiev@themagicsyours.com

Follow Katie! https://linktr.ee/katiethemagicsyours

A Guide To Margaritaville Orlando Resort and Cottages

Margaritaville Orlando Resort is a large Jimmy Buffet and tropical themed resort complex located in Orlando, Florida. Margaritaville Orlando consists of a traditional hotel, rental cottages, and privately owned cottages.

Margaritaville is a chain of hotels and resorts around North America. 

The overall theming is tropical with touches of Jimmy Buffet fandom. Most of the names of things are Jimmy Buffet references. You will find some artwork in the cottages that are Buffet references, the accent pillows have song lyrics on them, and there are lots of parrots everywhere. You’ll find a ton of general margarita theming as well throughout the resort. I know very little about Jimmy Buffet and his music and I found I knew enough to get most of the references and appreciated the theming. You absolutely don’t have to be a Jimmy Buffet fan to enjoy this resort even if you get none of the references the tropical theming is great on it’s own. 

This is not a Disney owned hotel but you can book a Disney World package with a stay at Margaritaville.

For a deep look at the resort check out my video review. 

Layout

Margaritaville Orlando is located 15-25 minutes from the Disney World parks and 30 minutes from Universal Orlando and Sea World.

The resort is right next to a shopping center with a grocery store, Target, and several chain restaurants, the H2O water park, and the Sunset Walk shopping center that features lots of dining opportunities, including some really fun themed locations, plus a movie theatre and some retail locations. 

The resort itself is rather large. The central area is where the hotel towers and lobby are. Here you will find all of the hotel rooms, lobby, pools, resort store, fitness center, spa, and dining. There is a large parking lot in this area. Nearby is also the resorts dog park. 

The rest of the grounds consist of neighborhoods of cottages. These neighborhoods are split up between privately owned cottages and rental cottages that you can book as you would a hotel room. 

Each neighborhood has ample parking in front of all the houses. Lots of paved sidewalks throughout the area as well. 

Rooms

The hotel rooms have a lovely elevated tropical feel. Several styles of hotel rooms are available including king bed, two queen beds, and larger suites that can accommodate more people. All the rooms are pool view and have balconies. Accessible rooms available. Rooms have in-room coffee and mini-fridge. 

Cottages

The cottages are detached self contained homes. The homes are all done in a tropical style on the exterior and are adorable. The homes range from one bedroom to eight bedrooms. There are additional sub-options within each category of bedroom number. All of the homes have exterior patio space and once you reach four bedroom size you have the option of a private pools and hot tub. Many of the homes have balconies. All of the homes have full kitchens complete with all the things you will need to utilize the kitchen. Each cottage’s kitchen also has a margarita maker.

Staying in the cottages you have full access to all of the resort amenities and areas such as the pool and fitness center etc. 

The cottages have daily refresh housekeeping services, including bathroom amenities. You can also empty your trash throughout the house and place it in collection bins outside and it will be removed for you. 

Margaritaville even offers extra paid services like grocery delivery and equipment rental such a wheelchairs, strollers, and baby monitors. 

Transportation

If you are coming to Orlando to visit the theme parks and are choosing to stay at Margaritaville I would recommend renting a car to give yourself the most flexibility. 

Margaritaville does offer complimentary bus transportation to all the theme parks. You have to sign up in advance and the departure and return times have limited options. 

Airport transfers are not offered. 

Pools

The resort has two pools. Firstly the quiet pool, tucked away to the side with beach chairs and a sizable pool to enjoy some quiet time. 

The larger second pool is the Fin’s Up Beach Club. This huge pool features zero entry options and is surrounded by sandy areas with beach chairs and available for rent cabanas of several styles. Here you will also find the pool bar which has a sizable food and drink menu and umbrella covered tables to sit at. You can also bring your food to your beach chair or delivered to your cabana. 

You can purchase pool items like floats, sunscreen, and goggles at a merchandise booth. You can also bring your own floats but not your own food. This is also where you can rent bikes, and surrey bikes to ride around the resort. 

You’ll find games around the pool like a giant checker board, corn hole, ping pong table, and giant connect four. There is also a kids club that will lead activities throughout the day for kids. 

There is almost constant entertainment going on including live music, trivia games, corn hole tournament, water balloon toss, tie-dye (this had an extra cost involved) and more. For events like trivia the winning team even got a prize. My family won a Thanksgiving themed trivia game and were given the choice of a voucher for drinks, surrey bike rental, or tie-dye each to accommodate every member of our party. We choose drinks and received a voucher for 6 drinks. Pretty good deal!

Fun

In addition to all the fun happening at the pool there are even more events going on throughout the resort. Several nights a week live comedy takes place at the resort. The fitness center hosts events like yoga classes or fun runs. There is a Lost Shaker of Salt scavenger hunt you can participate in at your leisure. We visited during the holidays and in the lobby there was an opportunity to meet Santa or see Christmas carolers. Be sure to check out what is going on at the resort during your stay. There is also an arcade in the lobby and a playground my the fitness center. Some of these things come at an extra cost but many are included. 

Shopping

The lobby gift shop has a classic gift shop mix. Themed t-shirts, toys, branded mugs and glassware, home goods and nicer clothing options. As well as bath and body products and Christmas ornaments. 

Food

In addition to the pool bar, the Salty Rim Bar and Grill, there are two other dining options.  

Provisions  – Located in the lobby it offers pre-packed grab and go food items as well as bottled drinks including alcohol. Also here you will find a coffee and smoothie bar and a quick service grill that serves pizza, burger and sandwiches as well as all day breakfast options. There is a good variety of food offerings here. There is also a seating area if you want to dine there. 

Euphoria – This upscale sit down dining location with full bar offers a menu heavy in seafood but has other options as well. With breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner options. Some nights live music is offered here as well. The restaurant is located in the lobby and does offer reservations. 

Additionally the On Vacation room offers dinging for special events like holiday brunches or weekly comedy shows.

Recommendations / Review 

I recently stayed at Margaritaville Orlando in a 3-bedroom plus cottage and I was a huge fan of the experience. The cottage itself was great with a lot of space for the cost and a full kitchen which is a huge plus. I was staying with 5 adults and 2 toddlers and it was plenty of room for us. We really enjoyed having the communal family space to eat, watch TV and hang out. At the same time every couple had their own bedroom and bathroom. The ability to stay in a full home and also have the perks of a resort really took this up a level for us from a rental home or Airbnb. The biggest resort perk that we used was the pool we absolutely loved it. 

I think that the cottages are a good option for anyone looking to get a whole kitchen and extra space at a lower price point then you would find on Disney World property. I think the cottages are also great for larger groups that want to stay together under one roof. 

My only complaints were that check-in took about a half hour, there was no tea kettle in the kitchen, the trash pick-up system was not made clear to us, and the utility closet did not have a lock on it so the kids could easily open the door. None of these were major issues. 

I think the resort as a whole is good for anyone planning to visit Orlando and split their time between Disney, Universal, and more. Or travelers who want to have several rest days during their trip. 

I would caution those looking to visit Orlando without a car. Margaritaville is not going to be the most convenient location for those without a car to get to the theme parks. 

I would not recommend Margaritaville for smaller groups who want to really focus on either Disney World or Universal Studios. In those cases I think keeping to the on-property resorts is a better bet. 

I chose the cottages for this recent stay because we had a large group that wanted to stay together and needed a full kitchen, and the price point here for a 3 bedroom unit is significantly less than staying in a Disney 3 bedroom villa. We had a car with us. We visited three Disney theme parks and had two rest days at the resort and the cottage worked out perfectly for us. 

I would absolutely stay there again.

If you are interested in staying at Margaritaville Resort or any other Orlando resort contact me today for a free quote at katiev@themagicsyours.com.

Follow me! https://linktr.ee/katiethemagicsyours

A Guide To Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort 

Choosing which Disney World hotel to stay at can be a challenge there are so many fabulous options. I’m here with everything you need to know about Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort to help with your decision. 

Layout & Theme 

Coronado Springs Resort is a moderate level resort located in the area between Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom parks.

The overall theming of Coronado Springs is a unique blend of Spanish, Mexican, and Southwest American decor and culture. Reminiscent of the Mexican and Texan Rivieras. 

The resort is one of Disney’s convention resorts and has a complete convention center. As such the resort has amenities that you won’t find at other moderate level Disney World hotels, like a gym, spa, and a fine dining restaurant. You will also find lots and lots of work spaces. throughout the hotel designed for convention goers to be able to hop on their laptops and meet in small groups.

The hotel is quite large and has sprawling grounds with parking located throughout. The centerpiece of the grounds is a lovely lake, surrounded by all of the hotel buildings. 

The majority of the resort consists of garden style hotel rooms. Two and three story buildings with open-air hallways. The buildings are clustered together creating many courtyards with beautiful landscaping, seating, fountains, and even some lawn games. 

The garden style rooms are separated into three sections each with a different style. The Cabanas section has an ocean-side style complete with small sand beaches and hammocks. The Rancheros section has a desert theming of the American Southwest. The Casitas section is the largest of the three and is themed with a garden filled Mexican Riviera look. 

The other room style here is found in the Grand Destino Tower. This hotel tower has a Spanish influence with theming elements from the Destino animated short which was created as a partnership between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali. The tower is the most upscale area at this resort with elegant decor and a large open lobby. The tower houses the remaining hotel rooms at this resort. 

Between the Casitas and Grand Destino Tower you will find El Centro which includes the convention center, most of the dining locations, and the gift shop. The Destino Tower and El Centro are connected by an interior walkway. 

Transportation

The only transportation offered here is buses. There are four bus stops throughout the resort. One between the entrance of the tower and El Centro, and one in each garden section. This means you don’t have to walk too far to get to your bus as the overall resort is large. If you are staying in the tower the walk  from the lobby elevator to the bus stop is very short and convenient. If you are staying in the Garden section some rooms are closer than others you could have a five minute walk from your hotel room to the bus stop. 

Buses run from the hotel to all of the Disney World theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs. Bus service from Disney Resort hotels begins 45 minutes prior to park opening and ends 1 hour prior to park closing. Return service to Disney Resort hotels ends 2 hours after park closing. Note that buses do not run between Disney hotels. 

The buses run about every 15 – 30 minutes or so and you can track their estimated arrival time through both the My Disney Experience App and the arrival boards at each bus stop. 

Check out my post all about Disney Transportation for more details on getting around Disney World. 

https://4ears4eyesforthemagic.travel.blog/2020/03/04/getting-around-disney-world/

Rooms

The garden style rooms have the same interior styling no matter which of the three sections they are located in. These rooms have touches of the Three Caballeros and a southwestern look. 

The standard rooms all have either two queen beds or one king bed. They include a smart TV, K-cup coffee maker, and mini fridge. These rooms all the vinyl flooring, lots of storage and plugs, including USB, and Disney’s signature split bathroom with a tub shower. The rooms are pretty basic but they are updated, functional, and stylish. 

You can opt for a preferred location room which are those closest to El Centro. You can also choose different views. There are suites available as well. 

Here is a look at all the garden room types:

  • 2 Queen
    • Standard View
    • Water View
    • Preferred Location
  • 1 King 
    • Standard View 
    • Water View 
    • Preferred Location
  • Suites
    • Casitas – Executive Suite
    • 1 Bedroom Suite – King
    • Casitas – 1 Bedroom Suite

The tower rooms have a Spanish influence and touches from the Destino short. The rooms have very similar amenities to the those in the garden section. With lots of storage, a k-cup coffee maker, smart TV, and mini fridge. The bathrooms here are larger and have a shower only, no tub. These bathrooms are beautiful. The big difference here are the views. The tower rooms offer large windows overlooking Disney property. From some of the standard view rooms you can even see Spaceship Earth or other parts of EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. These rooms have an upscale feel to them. Suites, and club level options are also available. 

Here is a look at all the tower room types:

  • 2 Queen
    • Standard View
    • Water View
  • 1 King 
    • Standard View 
    • Water View 
  • Suites
    • 1 Bedroom Suite
    • Tower – Presidential Suite
  • Club Level 
    • Standard View Club Access 

For a closer look at the resort and room check out my video review of the resort.

Pools

The main pool at this resort is located at The Dig Site between the Cabanas and Rancho sections. The Lost City of Cibola pool is large and has an awesome pyramid feature, themed to Mayan ruins. The pool also has a water slide. The Dig Site also includes a kiddie pool and a hot tub. 

The resort also has three quiet pools, one in each garden section. These pools don’t have any extra frills but allow for a quiet pool visit of for you to not have to walk the Dig Site if your room is located further away. 

Fun!

There is plenty to do at Coronado Springs. In addition the pools there is also a large Mayan ruin themed playground, volleyball court, arcade, and lawn games at The Dig Site. 

There are jogging trails throughout the resort, as well as two gyms one in the tower and one in the the Casitas section. 

There is even a spa and salon at the Casitas Fitness Center. They offer massages, facials, haircuts, nail services, and even some Disney character inspired makeovers. 

The resort also has activities like movie nights under the stars in the lawn behind Destino Tower, and campfire s’mores, crafting activities, a weekly fun run, and fitness classes. Some of these come with an extra cost and all are available on select days. Check the events schedule when you arrive at your hotel. 

You can also rent fishing equipment and bikes to enjoy at the resort.

For your more practical needs there is a business center, laundry rooms and laundry services, ATMs, and other standard hotel services.  

Shopping

Located in El Centro the Panchito’s gift shop sells Coronado Springs themed merchandise as well as general Disney World souvenirs. They have a variety of items from t-shits and pins to charm bracelets and purses. 

There is also a nice supply of snacks and treats, plus basic staples like bread, peanut butter, jelly, bagged breakfast pastries, milk, yogurt, and baby food. There are also bottled drinks including alcohol, and frozen treats including Mickey Bars. Don’t expect a grocery store but there are some options here.

They also sell toiletry staples and some over the country pharmacy items. 

Food

There are a ton of dining option at Coronado Springs. This is one of the highlights of this resort. 

El Centro:

Cafe Rix – This is a small coffee shop open in the mornings that has all your standard coffee and beverage offerings as well as pastries and some pre-made breakfast items. 

Rix Sport Bar & Grill – This sit down location takes reservations but can have walk up availability. A classic sports bar in atmosphere and menu this is the place to go if you want to catch a game while on vacation. 

El Mercado de Coronado – This location is a food court and offers a variety of pre packaged options like salads and basic sandwiches as well as hot made to order items. Such as burgers, nachos, flatbreads, meatball, and a kids menu. There are also breakfast options here in the mornings. Dessert is also here with ice cream, and bakery options. This is going to be the option open the earliest and latest. There is a large seating area here. 

Maya Grill – This table service location takes reservations and they are highly recommended in advance. With a fun theme of ancient Mexico with a menu of Nuevo Latino cuisine. With options like quesadillas, adobo chicken, fajitas, and enchiladas. 

During my stay at Coronado Springs I had dinner at Maya Grill. I enjoyed this restaurant greatly. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed my meal. Starting with chips and guacamole, the guacamole with strawberry pieces in it was really good. For an entree I had the plant-based chicken enchilada and it was delicious and so cheesy which is hard to do with plant-based cheese. My husband had the chicken fajitas and really enjoyed them as well. If you are staying at this resort I would highly suggest having a meal here. 

Laguna Bar – This is a small outdoor bar right outside of El Centro on the water. 

Destino Tower:

Barcelona Lounge – This lounge and coffee bar serves gourmet coffee for breakfast and in the evenings it serves a small menu of appetizers and a large selections of coffees and alcoholic beverages. The lounge is located on the bottom level of the beautiful lobby and is a lovely place to stop for a drink. 

Toledo – Toledo is a signature dining restaurant. Which is Disney speak for fine dining. Located at the top of the Destino Tower the restaurant itself is lovely with a very open floor plan it even has an open kitchen element. The glasswork on the ceiling is beautiful. The huge windows everywhere allow stunning views of Disney Property. Depending on your seat you can see Spaceship Earth, Galaxies Edge, Tower of Terror, Blizzard Beach, Magic Kingdom fireworks, and other Orlando attractions. The menu here is Spanish inspired and the specialties are tapas, steak, and seafood. This is fine dining so keep that in mind here with with offerings and the pricing. 

I enjoyed my dinner here the atmosphere was upscale and the views were fantastic, we even got to see Magic Kingdom fireworks in the distance. We got the rioja-braised chorizo which was good. The real star of the show was my entree the rioja-braised chicken. This was absolutely delicious and the portion size was large. My husband got the grouper and added shrimp. He enjoyed his meal as well but the portion size was smaller, though that is to be expected at this style of restaurant. Overall the food was very good and it was a nice experience. 

This is the one location I would suggest you actually travel to Coronado Springs to try even if you are not staying there. That is if you are looking for a fine dinging experience. 

Dahlia Lounge  – Also located at the top of the Destino Tower right across from Toldeo this lounge offers a patio with fantastic views of Disney World. The elegant interior also offers a great relaxing option. The menu offers tapas and tons of drink options. 

Resort Grounds:

Siestas Cantina  – This dining location is the bar and grill at the Dig Site and main pool. With appetizers and classic pool food like burgers, salads, and chicken tenders. There are also tacos, nachos, and some other snacks. Plus cocktails including frozen cocktails.

The Bridges Bar & Grill at Villa Del Lago  – This open air restaurant located right in the middle of the lake has great views of the water and the resort. It is a very chill and comfortable atmosphere. With a bar and lounge style couch seating as well as standard table seating. The menu is Spanish – American and includes a full bar. They have a menu of appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts. This is a great location for dinner or a late snack after a full day in the parks. No reservations here but you can join the virtual waitlist from your app. 

During our stay at Coronado Springs we had dinner at Three Bridges one night after a long park day. We had the appetizers of guacamole, and roasted corn dip. The guacamole was good and the roasted corn dip was great. We got the the grilled chicken salad, and shrimp salad as an entree. The salads were good and a really nice healthier option after a day of park food. The vibe here was really nice here at the end of the day with lovely views of the grounds of the resort. 

Recommendation / Review 

Overall I love this hotel and had a fabulous experience during my time there. We stayed in the Destino Tower in a standard view king room. The room had plenty of space and the bathroom was huge and had a ton of storage. The view from the front of the tower was great we could see Spaceship Earth and some of the Harmonious fireworks both of which were awesome at night. The tower is absolutely the way to go here in my opinion. It has an elegant feel at a moderate price point. There are a ton or dining options here which is great. The presence of a gym was a big plus for my husband. 

I would recommend this hotel most highly to couples. I think adult groups would find this a great option as well. Those looking for higher end amenities on a budget will find themselves at home here. 

I would not recommend this hotel for families with small children. There is not a ton of theming for kids here and they likely would not appreciate many of the dinging options. Also if being near a theme park with faster transportation than a bus is a top priority this is not your best option. 

As you can see Coronado Springs Resort has a lot to offer. 

If you are interested in staying at Coronado Springs Resort or any other Disney resort contact me today for a free quote at katiev@themagicsyours.com.

Follow me! https://linktr.ee/katiethemagicsyours

Be Our Guest Restaurant Review 

There are tons of dining options at Disney World and it can be hard to choose which ones you want to experience, or which ones will be a good fit for your travel party.

In this post I am discussing Be Our Guest Restaurant at Magic Kingdom. If you are interested in other restaurant options in Magic Kingdom check out my blog post all about dining in the Magic Kingdom.

Everything You Need To Know Before Dining at Magic Kingdom

Atmosphere

Be Our Guest Restaurant is a Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant located in Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. 

Be Our Guest serves lunch and dinner both with a pre-fix menu and set overall price of $62 for adults and $37 for children aged 3-9. More on the food below. 

Reservations are required to dine here and they go quickly. This is one of the most popular dining locations in all of Disney World. Dining reservations can be made starting 60 days in advance at 6:00am EST via the Disney World website or app. You must have valid park tickets and park reservations to make a dining reservation. If you are staying at a Disney World hotel you can make your reservations for your entire trip 60 days prior to your arrival date. 

Located in the back of Fantasyland amid the Beauty and the Beast section between Enchanted Tales with Belle, and Gaston’s Tavern the exterior the restaurant is truly grand. After checking in at the bridge entrance with the spires of Beast castle in the distance you walk down a stone bridge that leads you to the restaurant’s entrance. This set-up really puts you into the world of Beauty and the Beast. When you enter the restaurant you have entered Beast castle. Don’t miss the stained glass window photo opportunity right by the entrance. The details in the lobby are beautiful, with plenty to see as you wait for your name to be called. 

The interior of the restaurant has three sections. You will be assigned a seat and are unable to choose which of the three you want to dine in. However, you are welcome to explore all three areas during your visit. 

The largest section is the Grand Ballroom a perfect recreation of the ballroom Belle and Beast dance through in the movie. Complete with windows at the back where you can see it “snowing” outside. The vaulted ceilings complete with the mural from the film really bring a grand feeling to the room. This is my favorite room and certainly the most stunning. Everyone will enter from the lobby into this room to get to your table no matter where you are seated. 

To one side of the Grand Ballroom is the West Wing, if you recall from the movie this is the forbidden section of the castle and the Beast’s hiding place. Here you will find a very dark atmosphere. (Seriously you might need the flashlight on your phone to see the menu) The moody room is a lot of fun and of course this is where you will find the Enchanted Rose which you can watch lose petals as you dine. You’ll even see a thunderstorm out the windows complete with lightning. 

To the other side of the Grand Ballroom is the Castle Gallery where the walls are lined with paintings of all the castle inhabitants. In the middle of the room is a large spinning statue of Belle and Beast dancing, it reminds me of a music box. The paintings here are a lot of fun so make sure to really look around at them. To be honest this room is a bit less exiting then the other two and I am not sure why they didn’t make this room the Library. We were seated here for our most recent visit, that this review is based on, and I was a bit disappointed at first but the room grew on me and I got to get up and explore the others as well. 

An extra surprise for everyone visiting Be Our Guest Restaurant is a chance to meet the Beast. This is the only location where you can meet the Beast at Disney World. In normal times you would meet and greet the beast when you arrive and get a photo with him with a PhotoPass photographer. Currently with COVID protocols Beast walks around the restaurant every half hour or so and waves to the tables to welcome you to his home, everyone must stay seated. It is luck of the draw here to be able to get close to him. He does not walk past every table but every table will at least be able to see him. So you can grab a photo and maybe a selfie depending on your placement. 

The atmosphere in the restaurant is very loud and excited. The location itself is exciting to be in and you can feel the hustle and bustle of the excitement. The high ceilings here create a very loud atmosphere. Coupled with the fact that this restaurant attracts many young families who love Beauty and the Beast. This is seen as an alternative to dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table for some so you certainly have the little Princess crowd here. 

Menu


The menu has French and American offerings. The menu and pricing is the same for lunch and dinner. The menu here is pre-fix with a set pricing of $62 for adults and $37 for children aged 3-9. This does not include tax, tip, or any additional beverages. 

There is alcohol served here which is not the case in most of Magic Kingdom. There is a large menu of beer, cider, wine, and champagne. There are also specialty non-alcoholic drinks. 

For adults you choose one appetizer, one entree, and get a dessert trio. There are five appetizer and entree options. The dessert trio includes a dark chocolate truffle, a macaron, and a while chocolate Chip cup filled with the Grey Stuff. 

For children they choose an appetizer, entree with two sides that you can pick, and between the dessert trio or a fruit cup. 

There is a plant based option included in each category. There is also an allergy menu which will tell you which options are safe for which allergies. As always at Disney if you have an allergy or special dietary need just let your server know and they will work with you and the chef to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Our Dining Experience

Onto the food review from my most recent visit with my husband. 

I have a dairy allergy and when making a Disney dining reservation you can note your allergies or dietary needs. They will typically confirm them with you as you are seated and again with your server.  Right off the bat our server brought us rolls and butter, one typical set for my husband and an allergy safe set for me. It’s great when we start off with the server already working with the allergies.  We both thought our rolls were good, they were very standard white rolls. 

For appetizers we both got the mixed field green salad. It was a fine salad nothing too exciting. It was nice to have a light option made of vegetables and fruit with a several part meal in front of you. It was a smaller portion size. 

For the entree I had the plant-based Vadouvan Spiced Vegetables. This was something different that I have never had anywhere before and I wasn’t too sure what you expect. I was very happily surprised with the delicious dish. There were a ton of veggies and the corn cake was nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The sauce was good, not too strong, which personally I enjoyed. I would get this again and the portion size was good.

My husband got the Poulet Rouge Chicken as his entree. This comes with savory bread pudding and vegetables. His portion size was a bit smaller than mine. He really enjoyed the chicken and the vegetables were good. The bread pudding he though was fine but the server had mentioned it was a crowd favorite and he didn’t feel it warranted that. He enjoyed the meal but would probably do something different if he returned. 

For dessert my husband got the dessert trio. He enjoyed them all and thought the Grey Stuff, basically a Oreo and cream whip, was great.  He thought the stand out was the chocolate truffle and he is not really a chocolate person so that really says something. 

While the menu indicated there was a plant based lemon cake I could have eaten they didn’t have it that night which was a little disappointing. But I was offered raspberry sorbet. The sorbet was good. 

Overall we enjoyed our meal. But did feel that at this price point you are paying for the experience of where you are dining and not the food. Which isn’t a problem but you need to be aware of it when making a reservation here. The one issue we had was it was very loud and hectic. It really has the feel of a hectic character meal without actually being one.

I am happy to have experienced dinner here even having been inside the restaurant before. We previously had lunch here in 2013 but the menu and pricing situation was much different at that time. This will not be on our regular park dining rotation but I would dine here again if traveling with someone who had not dined here before. 

Before the 2020 closures Be Our Guest also offered a breakfast option that was a significantly lower cost. If that returns I think that is a great option if what you really want to do is just experience dinging here. That’s what I would do if given the option in the future. 

Who Do I Recommend This For

I would recommend this restaurant for families with children, especially Princess loving children. If your child loves Beauty and the Beast more than Cinderella I would consider this over Cinderella’s Royal Table. I would also consider this over Cinderella’s if your children would have issues with actually meeting characters, as Cinderella’s is a character meal and this is not. 

Adult Beauty and the Beast fans I think you need to do this at least once. For adults I think it is best enjoyed with an adult group vs. a couple and going in knowing what to expect atmosphere wise in advance. It is loud and it is hectic. 

Couples if you love Beauty and the Beast and just have to dine here to see it, go for it you will have a good meal and love the location itself. But if you are looking for a nice date night meal or special occasion I wouldn’t plan for Be Our Guest to be that meal.

I would not recommend this location for anyone who has sensitivity to a lot of noise or it being loud. 

I also wouldn’t recommend this to someone looking for fine dining, which the pricing could lead you to believe this is. If you are at Magic Kingdom and want fine dining check out the dinging at the Grand Floridian and Contemporary Resorts. Both of which you can walk to or take the Monorail. Consider pairing these with cocktails at the Enchanted Rose Lounge at the Grand Floridian which takes its theming from the live action Beauty and the Beast if you still want that Beauty and the Beast touch. If you don’t want to leave the park try Jungle Skipper Canteen which has a lot of unique options 

Overall Be Our Guest Restaurant is truly a unique dining experience, and a nice meal, and if you love Beauty and the Beast I would recommend this to you if you can fit it into your budget. Just go in with the right expectations. The food is good but it is not amazing, it will be loud and hectic. But you will be dining in a beautiful and deeply themed location.

I hope that helps you decide if Be Our Guest is the right addition to you Magic Kingdom day. 

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