A Disney Wedding Site Visit

My fiancé, Cliff, and I are currently in the middle of planning a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding. Weddings at Disney are planned in a unique way. Even if you know what date and venues you want to use, they can’t be booked until exactly a year out. So, even though Cliff and I got engaged in May of 2013, since we wanted a December 2014 wedding we had to wait until December 2013 to make it official.

There are a few things couples can do in the meantime. At 16 months out, Disney will pencil you in for the date and venues that you want. If more than one couple want the same times and venues, there will be a lottery process so it’s important to come up with a few back-ups just in case. You can also schedule a site visit with a sales consultant to check out up to three venues available for wedding events. The way we approached that was to narrow down our choices and check out as many venues as we could on our own. For example, we considered having our wedding ceremony at the Yacht Club Gazebo, which can easily be seen at any time. That way we saved places for our site visit, which were not generally accessible to the general public. We decided that we wanted to see the Living Seas Salon in Epcot, American Adventure Parlor in Epcot, and the Attic at the Boardwalk Resort.

Yacht Club Gazebo
Yacht Club Gazebo

You may remember my previous wedding planning post about Franck’s Bridal Studio. That is where we began our day by meeting with our assigned sales consultant. First, we discussed generalities of what we were planning for our wedding, like the size of our guest list. We then found out that we wouldn’t be able to see the Living Seas Salon that day because it was booked for another event. We did get to see some photos from past events that gave us a pretty good idea of the space and we decided that it would probably be too big for the number of people we would be having.

Soon it was time to drive to our first location: The American Adventure Parlor. Our site visit was before Chase Bank used this location for their lounge during Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, so neither one of us had seen this space before. The best part about going to see this location was getting to drive through backstage! We entered backstage near Test Track and drove around to the back of the American Adventure. We walked through the gates next to the pavilion (between America and Italy).

Entering Epcot
Entering Epcot

American Adventure

At that time, we had no idea that the elevator to take us up to the Parlor existed.

Elevator
Elevator

Inside, there is a room with tables that would be used to our brunch. We liked the main parlor area with the windows looking out onto the promenade. Over all though, we decided that the space wasn’t right for us.

Tables Hallway Parlor Left Parlor Center Parlor Right Landing

On to our next destination. We drove over to the Boardwalk Resort, went up to the 3rd floor, and walked down a loooooong hallway of guest rooms to reach the Attic, which is located directly above Jellyrolls.

Boardwalk

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Let me just say, when we walking into that room, I immediately knew that I wanted our reception there. It had the atmosphere we were going for. We wanted our reception to be a more laid back, family gathering rather than a party. We weren’t having a DJ or anything like that. This was perfect. It was filled with antiques and looks like parlor in your grandmother or great aunt’s house.

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And the view overlooking Beach Club (where we had our first date) and Epcot (where we would have said our vows just a little bit ago) just really tied everything together.

This view.
This view.

 

Soon it was time to head back to Franck’s to finalize our venues. When we got there, we were given the opportunity to check out the wedding pavilion on our own while our consultant looked up the answer to a question we had about one of the locations.

Wedding Pavilion

The Wedding Pavilion is absolutely gorgeous and I can easily see why it’s so popular. It has the traditional chapel feel, a view of Cinderella’s castle, and it’s air-conditioned!

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That concludes our Disney Weddings site visit. Here are a few tips in case you have one in your future:

Do as much research beforehand as you can so you can narrow down the places that you may want to see. The Disney Weddings website was recently redone and has a lot of great pictures. Focus on sites that you wouldn’t be able to check out on your own. Make a list of questions to ask your consultant, they are a great resource and in our experience, very helpful!

Now you’re probably wondering which venues we chose. Our ceremony will be held at Italy Isola and our reception in the Attic!

Italy Isola
Italy Isola

We had a couple of backups for dates and venues in case there was a lottery. We did end up having to move our date up one day because the Attic was booked. We got really lucky though so it wasn’t a big deal. Up next is our planning session, which is held at around 6 months out. We will meet our planner and go step-by-step through our wedding day. We’re really looking forward to it – especially the cake tasting portion!

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March Madness basketball at Walt Disney World

If you are at all a college basketball fan, like I am, your brackets for the NCAA basketball tournaments are already filled out and ready to go. This year there is a new offering at the ESPN Club at Disney’s Boardwalk for VIP seating during March Madness. Beginning March 20th guests have the ability to book reserved seating area. Prices vary based on the portion of the tournament they are attending. For the elimination rounds (March 20 – 23) adult prices are $50 and children are $25. The Sweet 16 Round is $65 and Final Four is $75 for adults and both are $25 for children. During the basketball tournament there will be two sets of seating times, one from 12 – 4:30pm and the other from 5 – 11pm. ESPN Club’s hours of regular operation are from 11:30am – 1am, but are subject to change during March Madness.

From the ESPN Club website: “ESPN Club VIP Premium Club Seats are available for $50 per adult and $25 per child, and include all food and beverage orders up to those amounts; additional charges will apply for orders exceeding the cost of each individual Guest’s admission. Tax and gratuity are not included.”

If playing is more your style, Walt Disney World has several locations on property where you can shoot hoops. At the Walt Disney World Dolphin you can find an outdoor court near the lap pool. Equipment can be checked out at either the Swan or Dolphin health clubs. The court and equipment rental are exclusive to guests staying at the Swan or Dolphin. The Campgrounds at Fort Wilderness also have six quarter quarts located in different loops throughout the resort. Balls are typically available in a box located adjacent to each court. In addition to these, a few deluxe villas properties have courts at Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village, Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Balls are usually available at Community Hall. When it opens in August, the new Four Seasons Orlando will also offer a basketball court in their recreation area Explorer Island.

basketball

For those looking to be completely immersed in a basketball theme, you may want to check out Disney’s All Star Sports Resort and check in to the Hoops Hotel section. This value resort is one where you can surround yourself in all things basketball with larger than life icons outside the buildings and the theme carries over to the room decor. Pennants decorate the outside of the building featuring college basketball teams from around the country. Basketballs also adorn the exterior of the resort buildings that are more than five feet in diameter and number more than 70. The megaphone giant icon is 45 feet tall and the whistles are 60 feet long and 20 feet tall. If you, or any family members, are fans of basketball, this is a fun resort to enjoy great sports theming in the rooms and throughout the lobby area.

hoops hotel baskets

hoops hotel whistle

Are you all geared up for March Madness or are you just a basketball fan in general? If so, I hope you’ll check out these resorts to live, eat, sleep and breathe basketball at Walt Disney World. Shout out to your favorite teams you’re routing for in the NCAA tournament in the comments. Go Vols!

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