Hooray for Hollywood: Our Stay at the Hollywood Orchid Suites

Hooray for HollywoodLast fall Gary and I spent 3 nights at the Hollywood Orchid Suites, a hotel located in the heart of Hollywood. If you’re into all the touristy things Hollywood has to offer, the location is pretty much amazing. The hotel is at the end of what was essentially a dead-end street, with an easy entrance way to Hollywood & Highland and to Hollywood Boulevard. We hit the ground running as soon as we got there, and we were just amazed that we were in the middle of the action in a 2-minute walk.

We had room 203, a deluxe suite with 1 king bed and sofa bed. The room was next to the breakfast area and overlooked the pool. We had a nice big living room/kitchen area with full sized appliances. The hallway led you to the bathroom and bedroom. I was happy that the bedroom was not near the door since you can hear a lot of hallway noise at most hotels. (However, a few times I could hear music coming from the building next door while I was in the bedroom.)

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7 Reasons to Stay at a Walt Disney World Value Resort

7 Reasons to Stay at a Walt Disney World Value Resort

Disney categorizes their resorts by how much you’re going to pay for them. You start with value resorts and work your way up to multi-room villas in the Disney Vacation Club “home away from home” properties. In between you have moderate and deluxe resorts. Let’s check out the fantastic value resorts at Walt Disney World!

Disney’s All Star Sports, Disney’s All Star Music, and Disney’s All Star Movies were the first of the values, built back in the 1990s. These 3 resorts, all lined up in a row, are in the Animal Kingdom park area of Walt Disney World.

In 2003 Disney’s Pop Century came along, and finally in 2012, the latest value resort, Disney’s Art of Animation, debuted. These 2 resorts are separated by Hourglass Lake, but it is an easy walk between the two by crossing the Generation Gap Bridge. These resorts are in the ESPNWide World of Sports area.

Here are 7 Reasons to Stay at a Walt Disney World Value Resort:

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Why We Love Disney Vacations

Why We Love DisneyFor our first post on Happiest Traveling, we thought we would talk about why we love Disney vacations so much. After all, we’re a *cough* middle-aged couple without kids. Why do we devote so much of our hard earned vacation time and money to the mouse? Gary’s up first.

Why do I love Disney vacations?  That question can mostly be summed up in three simple words:  “The Bubble Effect”.  If you don’t know what the “Bubble Effect” is, it’s pretty self-explanatory.  When you’re on Disney property, particularly Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, you literally FEEL like you’re in a bubble.  The outside world, with all of your worries and responsibilities, disappears.  You can go for miles on Disney property and not see a gas station, a convenience store, or even a chain restaurant (unless you count the one McDonald’s on property to keep the kids happy).  You really do feel like you’re millions of miles away from your normal, everyday life.

The Orlando Disney experience particularly gives this vibe because of the huge amount of property that is encompasses.  You could literally make a whole vacation out of just touring the resorts and restaurants on property and never once set foot in one of the four main parks.

Of course, to get this full “bubble” experience, you have to actually stay on Disney property.  When you’re in their “world,” for however long your stay happens to be, you really never have to leave.  Though it’s completely permissible to use your own vehicle to travel from park to park, you can also use Disney buses to move from resort to park, park to park, or park to resort.  Nervous driver like me?  No problem.  Once you’re in the bubble, you don’t HAVE to drive at all.  With all of that being said, it is nice to have that freedom if you desire to make your own way from attraction to attraction, but knowing you don’t HAVE to do that takes a lot of weight off your shoulders.

Happiest Traveling Jaime & Gary with Marie

Is being inside the Disney “bubble” the only reason to visit Walt Disney World?  Of course not.  While I fully believe anyone can have a blast there with a properly planned vacation, it certainly helps if you open yourself up to enjoying all of the magical experiences Disney has to offer.  I personally, though, wouldn’t have nearly as much fun at PGA World, or Grey’s Anatomy Land, or…………well, you get the idea.  I love Mickey and his friends, and that’s a big plus when being completely surrounded by all things Disney.

To sum things up, go for the bubble………stay for the magic.

 

Now for Jaime’s take.

Gary and I decided to go to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando for our honeymoon in 2010. He had been there before on family vacations, but this was my first trip. Actually, it was also my first time in Florida.

As a kid I never really went on vacations. I grew up the youngest of 4 with a single mom, so vacations weren’t a top priority. We had moved to West Virginia from Michigan in the 80s, so we often went back to the Detroit area during the summer to visit family. But even that stopped after a few years. When my sister moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina I finally got a real vacation. As much of a vacation you can get with staying in your sister’s house and all of your meals coming from the grocery store Food Lion, but I got to see the ocean for the first time when I was 16. I still haven’t been to the Dixie Stampede, but I hung out at the Surfside Pier for a week, and it was a great summer.

 Happiest Traveling Jaime & Gary at Osborne LightsMy other sister had gotten a big fat tax refund one year, and she booked a trip for all of us to stay at Walt Disney World for a few days. We had a room at one of the All Star resorts. I was beyond excited. And then she canceled it.

I had forgotten about a Disney for a while until I met my supervisor when I was a student worker in college. She had just gotten back from a Disney vacation. (The nerd that I am, I can still remember where she stayed – the Port Orleans French Quarter Resort.) She showed me a bunch of photos and told me all about it. I was enthralled. She was a Walt Disney World veteran so I got to hear many, many stories of her trips. I was more determined than ever to get there one day.

When I met Gary I told him about my dreams of a Walt Disney World vacation. He suggested we take a trip there (before we were engaged), but I thought that it would be more awesome if my first ever trip to the World would be on our honeymoon. So that’s exactly what we did.

We didn’t have internet at home at the time (country living) so I remember we booked our hotel room for our Universal Orlando portion using our laptop on McDonalds’ wifi. We had 5 nights at Disney’s Pop Century Resort, followed by 2 nights offsite at a hotel across the street from Universal Orlando. It was the fastest week of my life.

Happiest Traveling Jaime & Gary with the Disney Dream

Because I spent a lot of time planning our DIY wedding, I didn’t spend as much time planning our honeymoon. I was bitten by the Disney bug so I became an uber planner for our next trip, which was two years later. TWO YEARS LATER. (In all honestly, I thought our honeymoon would be my first and only time there.) In those two years I became Disney obsessed. All I listened to were Disney podcasts. The only things I followed on Facebook were various Disney sites. I couldn’t stop buying Disney related items on Etsy. I learned everything I could. When we finally crossed the entrance to Walt Disney World (Where Dreams Come True) I may have shed a tear or three. And guess where we stayed? Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter. It remains my most favorite of all of our Disney trips.

We’ve now stayed at 13 Disney resorts, been on a Disney cruise, and visited Disneyland for my milestone birthday last year. This year we became Walt Disney World annual pass holders. Disney is definitely my happy place.

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