Video by Attractions 360°
Day 1 Arrival at Club Wyndham Reunion in Orlando FL
I was moving from one resort to another for my ultimate Florida Vacation. I had just spent several days at Universal Studios and had a great time. Over the next few days, I was going to
Reunion is also in Orlando and at little closer to Disney than Universal. Located only about 8 miles away from Disney you are positioned great for a quick trip to Disney or Universal parks.
I had tickets to Disney for 3 days so I was excited to be going back to Disney. It had been about 8 months since my last Disney trip and Disney Star Wars was just opening on August 29th, 2019, which was about a week ago. So, this was a timely trip. One would think that I would have run over to Disney on my trip instead of starting at Universal being a Star Wars fan, but I did like Harry Potter stuff too, and that was what my friend’s kids were most into.
Secretly, even though I care about kids, I am such a Star Wars nerd that I wanted to take my first trip into this experience solo. That way I could do exactly what I wanted to do, and see what I wanted to see for myself. Sometimes it is amazing to see others experience wonder, but at other times in life you want to be the one in the catbird seat.
Since check it was not until 4 PM at the resort I chose to hit the gates of Disney as soon as the park opened today and go hard until around 4PM and stop and go check in at the resort for the night. Then tomorrow I would come back to the park for a long day.
As I drove the short trip from the previous resort to the park, I drove to the resort first, just so I knew in my mind where I was going later today. I figured having it fresh in my mind in case I was tired from walking later might be a good idea. I do that a lot in my life. I will do a dry run at finding a resort, beach, or restaurant just to give myself peace of mind. These days you can also use Google and Street View on maps to make yourself feel comfortable with the area, and it is almost as good. Even the satellite maps are helpful, but the street view for me is what helps most.
At first glance at the resort, I will be staying at Club Wyndham Reunion looks nice. I have never had a bad stay at a Wyndham resort, but you still feel better once you see any place in person. Even just driving by, I was impressed with the look of this resort. It looked a bit like Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, just nicer. I looked forward to checking in and seeing it all later today.
Off to the park, I went. My plan was to go straight to the Star Wars section first thing. Disney calls the Star Wars area Galaxy’s Edge. If you are preparing a trip to Disney with some serious Star Wars fans yourself once you have told everyone the news, you can have your kid or even adult download the App here. It adds a layer of adventure to the park via any compatible cell phone. Think of it like an amped-up version of the Wands in Universal for Harry Potter. It allows you to interact more with the park and the park with you. A very immersive kind of experience.
It turns your device into a datapad in the park and does the following things.
Taken from the Disney Site:
Explore Using the Star Wars: Datapad
Once you activate the Star Wars: Datapad, you’ll find many tools at your disposal for exploring the planet Batuu:
Translate a variety of languages from across the galaxy—including Aurebesh signs throughout Black Spire Outpost.
Scan objects all around the spaceport to discover precious cargo.
Tune and decrypt communications sent by the planet’s many residents.
Use the Star Wars: Datapad to hack into—and interact with—select devices, control panels, and droids.
As you can see that is a nice add-on anyone can enjoy with a basic smartphone. It does a great deal more throughout the area and is good to have installed ahead of time.
Now before you get into the Star Wars area know that some of the Disney magic these days is the next level that they have gone to with merchandise. Disney always has had merchandise for just about everything but with Star Wars they have put that on steroids. This just means for parents or grandparents with kids you may want to lay the ground rules ahead of time. Let them know they will see many things that they would like to get and have but on the last day, they can only have 1, or 1 a day, whatever your rule is. I would put it out there and try to stick to it.
Now for true Star Wars fans, I think your jaws will probably drop when you see what Disney has done. I love Universal but nothing quite seems to be a Disney level when it comes to park design. I am sure I am biased because Disney was the first for me. I was coming to Disney when there was just the Magic Kingdom and the main ride was It’s a Small World. You know back in the days when their animatronics were the most advanced thing in the World in the 70s. So, there is a part of my childhood brain that is set at Disney.
Even from that warped Disney fan viewpoint, Star Wars Galaxy is flat-out amazing!
When the recent movies came out, I loved that the scale of the Millennium Falcon was smaller. It gave you as an adult watching the feeling that you get when you look at something from your childhood you felt was large but now see as an adult it is just a normal size. Well, here the Falcon is set back to that childhood scale again. That was impressive and so fun. Then being able to actually ride in the Falcon as a ride was great. That alone is worth the trip for a fan.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the next ride that I moved quickly to check out today. This one is one of the park rides where you go through the experience in an 8-seat vehicle. Kind of like the, It’s a Small World, but with the complete atmosphere and experience of the Dark Side.
Now back to the issue of gifts for kids for just a second. I am trying to put myself into the parent’s shoes here. Be aware the big item here is the custom lightsaber. These are costly. Like almost the cost of a day in the park at $219 each. Think of building a bear but even more costly.
For many parents that may be a no-go. So, you may want to plan ahead and bring a lightsaber of your own to give them back at the resort after day one. To head that off at the pass. Other parents may go all in and do that, and I get it. I just wanted to warn my parents because that seems like a big investment for me. If you plan ahead, you can get a light saber from Amazon of lower quality at $20 -$100 and up with various quality levels. Read the reviews carefully on those.
Another option is the build-a-droid experience, which is less than half the cost at $99. Now that you are at least informed on that, you can have yourself mentally prepared.
Instead of trying to explain everything I am adding an extra video to this blog to share some of what you will see here. It is too hard to explain the scale of it all.
After hours in the park, it was time to get something to eat. I chose to stay in the Star Wars area and find something. Now there is a full Cantina (functional bar) but if you want to get real food options, you will want to go to Docking Bay 7.
They have done an amazing job to address just about every food allergy here with the menu which is a little shocking to see at first, but I am sure for people who have issues it offers peace of mind. The menu online is broken down by food allergy which I think was the first time I had seen that done at least to this degree. But for most folks, there is something you will find appealing here. They offer a giant menu and many choices. There are 12 items or so which for the number of people they are cooking and serving that is a large menu.
Years ago I worked at an amusement park for the summer when I was 17 and I worked in the kitchen in Italy for Bush Gardens in Williamsburg Virginia. This means I sympathize with the hard work it is to cook so much for so many hungry travelers.
Video by Jones Family Travels
After my lunch, I was back at it. At this point in the day the Star Wars area was getting packed, so, since I had seen a good portion of it, I chose to shift and head for Pandora. If you saw the blockbuster movie Avatar, you know where I am headed next.
It is hard to imagine anything more impressive to a movie fan than the Star Wars area. That is until you see Pandora. Again, for the second time today and the 3rd time on this vacation, my jaw dropped. I was completely blown away. The imaginers did it again.
This Avatar-themed area is astounding even by Disney standards. I had first planned not to come here until tomorrow, but with the Star Wars area getting packed with guests since it was the newest section, I chose to head over here. I am glad I did. The crowds are about half the size and the area is amazing.
Pandora opened in May 2017 so it is a new area for most visitors as well, but the World of Star Wars has many more movies and years of creativity surrounding it. I can only imagine, though, how busy the Pandora area will be once they have the second movie.
Now after a full day, I am headed back to the resort for check-in.
Typically I check out the resort after I check in but I am dead tired so I will do that tomorrow. Right now, I want to get myself and my bags to my room and rest.
Day Two Resort Time and then back to the Park
This resort is great. I can see people come to Club Wyndham Reunion in Orlando, FL, and just not leave. Until now I would have thought coming to Orlando and not running into a theme park was well shorting yourself. But this resort is wonderful.
It truly has it all.
The resort itself offers all of these options.
- Activities Center/Desk
- Golf Range
- Walking Trails
- Business Center/Fax
- Golf Course (18-Hole)
- Fitness Room
- Concierge Services
- Hot Tub
- Indoor Pool
- Internet Access
- Kid’s Activities
- Live Entertainment
- On-Site Security
- Gift Shop
- Golf Pro Shop
- Computer With Internet (Shared)
- Pool Bar
- Casual Dinning
- Lazy River
- Picnic Area
- Golf 18 hole
This morning, walking around the resort, it took well over 1 hour just to see most of the things you can do. I did not visit everything on site either.
The rooms here are also amazing. Villas that are 3 bedrooms in size and could entertain and keep a large family, even with an extended family. I can see the grandparents going to the park one day with the family, then relaxing at this resort while the kids and grandkids hit parks for days on end.
Read just some of the reviews for this resort.
Excellent! Especially the golf. Super luxurious units are one thing. But to have golf available just outside the door is heavenly!! I will schedule another week next year to run this great vacation back. Hopefully, I will be able to reserve a different time of the year when it is not so hot and humid.
Had a great time at Reunion Resort. Golf courses in every condition. Very relaxing at the pool. Good food at the Cove grill and bar. Very courteous and friendly staff. The Pro shop, starters, and course rangers were all very friendly. Overall, great stay.
My family and I loved this resort. We stayed in a 3-bedroom/3-bathroom villa and it was extremely spacious. There was a lot to do at the resort, however, we did not have enough time. Definitely would love to revisit for a future stays.
It is interesting how many visitors mention the golf because to me that is just the icing on the cake with this resort.
After my tour, it was time to head back to Disney for day two.
Remember Disney is really 4 major theme parks. Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. Today I wanted to take things slower and go down my favorite road memory lane.
This meant first going to Magic Kingdom, then on to Epcot to visit things from my youth. I started with riding It’s a Small World. I sit down in the little boat then I am “magically” transported back in time to when I was about 4 years old, and on my first trip to Disney.
Then afterward I headed to the Tiki Room. Once the animatronics turned on, I could almost feel my grandfather, or father, sitting next to me. The first two men that I drug into such a simple silly little thing with me as a young kid.
My entire trip to both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot were like that. Full of amazing memories and stimulation of those great old feelings. I tell you if I ever won a few million in a lottery I would help families take their kids on vacations like those in my memory. Just pay for everything and make it easy on the parents. You know I have friends who do not do many gifts to their kids with material things, but they do spend money on travel and experiences. There is something to that. I can not buy in completely because I love Christmas to my core. But I do get it, because while some presents did make my holiday or birthday. It is the memories that I value most now. They are the wealth that I cherish.
So do travel more if you can, and save with TZort because it can help you travel more.
Day Three: my last day at Disney
Now I have shared a ton about Disney, and today I am going to share more with you. But Orlando is much more than just Disney or Universal. There are so many things to do, not only with other theme parks but just hundreds of possibilities. Look for my other blogs about staying at resorts in the area to hear more about other amazing things to do.
For your Disney nuts like me, let’s talk about going back to Star Wars, and then the world of Avatar. Each is amazing in its own way. Today I am also going to hit the Avatar area at nighttime because I hear it is amazing.
Let me try to share some secrets to more fun in the parks with you.
Disney is designed for your fun, and for efficiency. Anywhere in the park, you are never more than 27 steps from a trashcan. That seems like a crazy thing but it helps keep everything so clean even with massive amounts of people enjoying the parks every day.
Entire books have been written about their approach to customer service. Disney calls their workers Cast Members because they are on stage as they serve you and try to help you maximize your experience in the parks. That means they do things with the best experience in mind. But it does not hurt to have the scoop on things.
Realize that in the Star Wars area, the cast members may not take a selfie with you because they are in character but they may stop for a digital scan. This little code word may get you a character photo.
Also, the character meet and greet in the Animal Kingdom is the least crowded of any park. You get the bed chance of some 1-1 time there. But also waiting in the Star Wars area near the backstage for the cast members gives you a great opportunity as well.
Cast member meals and events when available are affordable for most and guarantee some nice 1-1 moments as well. Think Disney Princess here for the little ladies.
Now if you just like saving money but have a ton to spend, you can do that at Disney or Universal or both by enjoying almost unlimited extra perks. The more you can pay, the more amazing options you can unlock.
Want your child to be the grand marshal of a Disney Parade? Or do you want to let the girls spend the night in the Disney Castle? Well, you can likely do that when booking way ahead and paying a small fortune.
But before those options, there are also private VIP tours and treatment. These include in-park transportation to rides, and then to the front of the line with a guide, and behind-the-scenes tours of everything. The prices for private tour start by the hour and at over $425 an hour, but for a group maybe that is worth it to some readers.
Now the VIP Tours are extra above the costs of tickets and anything else. So, you might get the best table for a meal, but you also will still pay for the meal. But it is amazing to know what they can do to spoil people, and if it is not for you still cool to think of how the other half lives.
I have been in the park two times and seen VIP parties come through. One was a country music star with a family. The other was someone that I did not recognize. But you just saw the VIP come in and do what they wanted with help of the guide, then disappear again. Very seamlessly.
The guide can even transfer you from location to location backstage or via the Disney undergrounds which must be amazing to see, and experience.
If you have won the lottery, or just been very fortunate financially in life, just know there are tons of options here. They all look fun, and once in a lifetime.
As for me back on Earth and in my own version of spoiled reality I was enjoying the parks firsthand. Pandora, at nighttime, was about to be a reality for me and I was excited.
To see things glowing and hear the sounds of the jungle at night was amazing. It was also nice to have a short Florida rainstorm, then the cool night air to make everything nicer outside as well.
You will have to look for some videos on YouTube to even get an idea of how nice things are in this park at nighttime. Truly amazing.
After a full day, I headed back to the resort for rest before checking out in the AM. This was a trip I will always remember. In part because of the amazing resort, and because of these special Disney experiences.