Is located in sunny Orlando and this is a great home base for all of your favorite Orlando fun.
Video by DFBGuide
Day One Travel & Arrival at Diamond Resorts Grand Beach
Today, I once again have the luxury of traveling from one resort to another and extending my vacation. This means no long drive down to Florida (however, as a vacation ritual, I kind of like that one) and no expensive flight.
This time I have convinced a friend to come along with me to Disney and I will be picking her up from the airport since she was not with me at the last resort. She is a Disney fan, so much so that she is not bothered by anything they do. They have her locked in for life. I myself have not given up on them yet, but let’s just say I am not as committed as I once was. I still love all the memories I feel and recall when I am in the Disney parks. That is why I come back still. But they have gone corporate crazy of late with their prices and weird actions.
I am all for loving everyone and being a positive force in the world. Some in their leadership just seem to have a broken compass at this time. I hope it turns out this is a company most want to be able to love.
Any current skepticism I have or concerns, I must put them to bed because my friend is as die-hard about Disney as I am about Christmas. So, you will not hear another peep from me on this trip report.
When you swap resorts, you have that window of time to fill where you feel like you do not have a base of operations. From check-out at 10 AM until check-in at 4 PM you are right, you don’t, but if you confirmed your reservations, you are all squared away. Luckily, with Tzort, I have never had a problem. If you ever did, you can reach out and they have so many resort affiliations you would likely be squared away faster than any other option you could even imagine. So, when I travel through a booking with Tzort.com I do have real peace of mind. Not just because I write for them, but anytime I travel with this group, I feel everything is handled because it is. It is the business professional, travel industry, inside scoop like no other.
Imagine you had a billionaire sibling who had earned money in the travel industry. If you ever needed something, you could call one of their people, and boom, it would be handled. That is how I feel about traveling with Tzort.com. I try not to use my travel writer status at resorts. I want to stay off the radar most of the time, so I can get the real scoop for you, dear reader. However, once upon a blue moon when working with a concierge, or manager, I might let it slip accidentally if I want to move a mountain. Like magic, the mountain moves. It is impressive and cool.
I do not even like the term but never be a Karen (trending term for the complainer, who is over the top about complaining) if you have an issue. Instead, be rational and kind, and just explain your concern. Most of the time you will get much more with a calm demeanor and cool kind approach than you ever get by being loud. In all my travels over the years, things have happened at times. In the majority of those interactions, if I keep my calm the issue is addressed.
Let me give you an example. Many years ago now I used to work in the restaurant business as I was working through school and deciding on what I wanted to do with my life. Every once in a while, the restaurant would make an error, or a guest would at least feel we did. A manager was called out, and they addressed the issue. That manager had access to a set amount of comps per shift. They could, without penalty wave charges on a bill (s) to keep a client happy. They could also do things like comp an entire bill, or just desert for a special customer. Those funds were at the manager’s discretion. The same kind of thing is true throughout all of the hospitality. Depending on the brand involved, what they can do will vary. If you are calm, cool, and collected, you can benefit from this system of dealing with issues. The only problem is that people abuse these systems and try to scam companies. This means you must be professional and only present a concern when it is real, and warrants action on the company’s behalf.
Another thing you may not be aware of is that most major companies have records of their guests. If you become a person who frequently requests accommodations and special treatment, they will be aware and at some point start to push back. So, the moral of the story is to ask for help when you need it and expect accommodations when mistakes happen while standing up for your rights as a consumer.
Since we are talking about Disney here, let me share a short Disney story.
Years ago I was with family on a Disney-focused vacation. I went down with my brother-in-law, sister, and her then 2 kids on vacation. We stayed on-site in the less expensive hotels Disney has that are themed for the kids. When you stay on-site in those hotels, you can get in the park 30 minutes early and they have a few other small benefits. One is park-to-park transportation from those hotels.
While on our trip, we were waiting a bit long for the buses to take us back to our resort. There were people ahead of us waiting. We had only been waiting like 15 minutes, but it appeared others had waited in the heat of the day long. All of the sudden, from seemingly out of nowhere, came a little guy in a white shirt with a tie. He spoke first into a walkie talky, then quickly to the waiting crowd.
“Sorry for the delay folks, we will have you at your destinations shortly, and after that, about 6 full-size buses appeared and picked everyone up in the large lines up within moments.” A little simple Disney Magic, but someone saw an issue on a camera, investigated, and solved that issue immediately. It was impressive how seamlessly this issue resolved went. At one moment there was a problem and guests were not happy, the next moment people cheered. As a young man in my 20s, I took note of that from a business perspective. That image and situation have been with me since.
The takeaway business lesson there for me was. Keep an eye on your customers and if there is an issue, fix it quickly and professionally, and thank them for their business and patience.
I picked up my friend from the airport and we then headed for lunch together. We went to Bahama Breeze which is near the resort. This Caribbean-themed restaurant has a good menu and an upbeat staff. We started with the crab and cheese dip, then enjoyed drinks with our meal.
After a great meal, we headed to the resort and checked in. This resort is a larger location and they also offer larger accommodations. 3 bedroom villas are on offer here, so I was happy to have my friend join me. Having that space was a nice option since we had been romantic in the past, but I wanted no pressure on either of us. Just the space to launch out Disney fun from on this trip.
- Cable TV
- Coffee Maker
- Ice Maker
- In-Room Safe
- Free WiFi
- Outdoor Pools
- Business Center
- Fitness Center
- Concierge Services
Recent Resort Reviews
My family and I loved it here! The rooms were clean and tastefully done. The pools were heated and the mini golf was a full 18 holes with some cute displays that my daughter really enjoyed. The barbecue grills worked great and the cabanas over them have a nice fan and lights if you’re grilling in the evening. This was probably one of my best hotel experiences ever.
We loved staying here for our family Disney trip. Just a short drive to all the parks and lots of nearby stores and restaurants. Our condo was huge, clean, and well-stocked. The property is beautiful. I was prepared for the timeshare sales pressure and politely declined several times, but the “concierge” wouldn’t take no for an answer and I just ended up walking away from him. We were not in the room much during the day, so I don’t know if they called every day as other reviews have mentioned. If you are interested in a timeshare, by all means, listen to what they have to say. It was just not something I’m going to buy.
Beautiful, quiet, and cozy spot for a family vacation right in the heart of theme parks. This isn’t your spot if you want spas and frilly drinks, but it’s perfect for quality family time. The condos are spacious and comfortable, the staff is attentive, and the grounds are lovely. There’s a terrific lake with boat and fishing options, nice pools, a great playground, and outdoor extras like a nice mini-golf course and beach hammocks.
This resort has been lovely. We’re on our third night with five nights left and I’m already feeling sad we’ll have to leave. SPACIOUS apartments that are well appointed with thoughtful touches like detergent for the in-room washer/dryer, dish soap, sponge, extra trash bags, and a brand new roll of paper towels (I mention these things bc I’ve done many vacation rentals and they don’t always provide these things). We’re in a 3 bedroom that has TWO MASTER BEDROOMS! Each with a deep soaking tub and separate shower and a king bed. The units are very clean and have a LARGE screened-in patio. The grounds are gorgeous right in lake Bryan. Heats pools. Mini golf. Water recreation and a sandy beach with docks, hammocks, chairs, etc. The staff is very nice. The ONLY thing that soured the stay was a call from a pushy concierge agent (aka sales/membership) who called my phone twice, our room twice, and then wouldn’t take no for an answer. My husband had to hang up on him. All on our first night, barely checked in, tired from travel. The resort is so nice it’s not enough to take any stars away and no one has tried to call since – just be ready for the call.
This is a nice hotel, or shall I say a villa! The front desk upgraded me from a one-bedroom to a FAMILY VILLA. It was just my boyfriend and me so, we didn’t need three rooms but it was amazing I was not complaining. And it wasn’t far from volcano bay, which is where we went during our stay. The accommodations were top tier and so was parking. My boyfriend and I love this place. We’ll stay here every year!
Day Two Disney
I obtained 2-day park hopper passes so we could go from one park to the other anywhere we wanted for 2 days. They are not cheap but if you can afford the park hopper option, it is nice to have.
If you have checked out the video at the top of this blog, then you are likely almost as excited as I was go be going to Disney. My friend, however, was at a 10. She said she had not been since she was a teen and was waiting, ready to go almost at the door of our villa first thing in the morning. It was cute and funny at the same time.
It was not a supper busy week, but there are still reasons to get to the park early in the day. Those busiest rides are the ones you may want to hit first, and it is very pleasant in the mornings in the summer months.
I asked my friend to choose the first park. She said the Magic Kingdom without any hesitation and I thought “soulmate”. When you are out of age, the first park is still the best for those trips down memory lane.
Now was the real test. What would she choose to do first?
She paused as we started into the park, then said OK let me explain this choice. I would go on It’s a Small World first, but I do not dare do that first and sing the song in my head all day. I respected that choice and we headed to Jungle Cruise first. Man, I like my old school gals folks, I truly do.
Then it was on to the Haunted Mansion, and the Hall of Presidents after that. I was on a full-on walk down memory lane but while enjoying it for myself, I also loved her excitement and joy about the experience. We then walked over to the Big Thunder Railroad coaster. Which is one of the first coasters I ever rode. We stopped at the Frontier land shooting arcade and I bet her lunch I could get more targets. We played 3 times and counted our own hits out loud. You have to love it when someone plays along with your own game.
I won, so lunch was not only her pick but on her. I had at least 40 years of experience with those light guns and targets, folks she did not even have to let me win, really.
She chose the Liberty Tree Tavern which was good, and it was slow enough we were able to get a table. For some of the table service locations, you need to book months in advance online.
We continued on to Epcot after lunch and started to work our way around the nations of the World.
Next to the Magic kingdom some of my fondest memories at Disney reside in the park. I came here first with my stepfather, Mother, Step Sister, and her husband on a vacation trip as a young adult. For most of my life I did not get along with my stepfather well but on this trip, we laughed together and had a great time. That was a change and was meaningful.
For the Magic Kingdom, my fond memories were of trips with my father and later trips with my grandfather. The two most important men in my life.
I had booked a reservation for dinner in Epcot so we could watch the fireworks from the restaurant and enjoy a meal too. Monsieur Paul, located in EPCOT’s France pavilion. This is a signature dining location with a sophisticated atmosphere that offers French options. If you get reservations early, you might sit at the window, which gives a direct view of the World Showcase Lagoon for the fireworks show. I not only made reservations early for this (weeks ago when I heard my friend was coming) I also tried to pull a string or two.
Day Three More Disney
Today we started at Animal Kingdom. This park now includes all things Avatar, so expect it to go crazy after the new movie comes out. There is a great replica area here you must see and night as the lights of the jungle come alive and so do the sounds. The rides in this part of the park are great, too.
Video by DFBGuide
If you have kids, this is for now the best place to get them time with Disney Characters. We hit Flight of Passage first since the lines get long for this one.
We did not have the Disney Genie Plus option, but the line was not the bad first thing. Next, it was Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, which is a fun ride as well.
The day was warming up, so we went to Kali River Rapids next. My friend was clever and did not wear white, so she did not end up flashing people. Just do not do a tennis set with water rides guys, just saying.
Finally, we had to head over to Hollywood Studios with this park. It is now a big win for Star Wars fans. Which I think out of the two of us was most likely me.
Do you want your own dream vacation to Disney? This is an excellent location to launch from just book through Tzort.