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Every year my mother and I travel to “The World” and go resort hopping to check out the Christmas Decorations…but mostly to see the beautiful Gingerbread creations the resorts create. This year was no different. We started at the Boardwalk at around 12:15. (Tip #1: Don’t be afraid to explore hotels! Even though there are guards before you enter the parking lot, they are more than happy to let you in if you say you want to check it out!)

Boardwalk is the newest to the Gingerbread party. They have recently found their “niche” with a Gingerbread gazebo. This year’s main character was Stitch, with Donald playing a supporting role as Santa coming down the chimney. A train circles the gazebo with each of the cars representing a store or restaurant on the Boardwalk. (Tip #2: All Gingerbread displays have Hidden Mickey’s! Look at the sign in front of the display to see how many there are to find!)

This they have also added a store. When I went, they were only selling Stollen Bread and Mini-Gingerbread houses. I have heard they will start having more of a variety of products soon, but I can’t confirm that. The store has a cute Stitch overlay as well. Thanks to the cast member for smiling for the picture!

After that we took a stroll along the boardwalk, heading left. We looked around in the store for a bit, received a lecture from a Disney Vacation Club cast member, and then entered the Yacht Club. Yes, I know, the Yacht Club doesn’t have a gingerbread…well anything! None the less, we go every year, since it is next to the Beach Club.


The newly released concept art for the Four Seasons Resort Orlando.

The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort has declared a target open date of 2014 based on a final financing deal. Although this luxury resort development was originally announced back in May of 2008, the 360 million dollar deal was just completed. Chalk that up to the slow economy.


Concept art from the May 2008 announcement. To be honest, I like this version better, the new version looks more sterile and less detailed.

The original idea for a Four Seasons Resort right on Walt Disney World property was controversial as Disney’s previous effort to allow third party resorts resulted in ruined sight-lines for EPCOT and, some claim, a less than Disney standard of care (pay to park being one of the chief complaints). Even worse, Disney appears to be deeding this property to Four Seasons resulting in another slice of the resort being cut off.


Location of the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World.

A few have wondered if Disney really needs a high end resort competing with its own properties. But the general consensus is these are luxury guests that Disney wasn’t serving anyway. The sort of pampering Four Seasons resorts expect is just not part of Disney’s DNA, and they were likely staying off-property at Ritz Carlton or JW Marriott. So the net result should be an increase in guests with big spending budgets now even closer to the magic. That has to be good for Disney’s bottom line.

The full press release is below the jump:

For years, the Disneyland hotel has been the black sheep of the Disney owned hotels in Anaheim. It’s age and location left it the least desirable property of the three hotels. But the culmination of upgrades made over the last 5 years have finally paid off. AAA has bestowed its coveted 2012 Four Diamond award upon the landmark Disneyland Hotel making it the second property at the Disneyland Resort to secure such a high rating.

Only four percent of the 31,000 hotel properties AAA reviews achieve this enviable distinction. In fact, in order to become a five star resort you need to have a golf course and on-site spa. These are conditions Disneyland’s hotels can never meet. So four stars is really a great score.

“This is tremendous news, especially for the 1,000 Cast Members who work at the Disneyland Hotel and create magical experiences for our guests,” said Tony Bruno, vice president resort hotels and Downtown Disney. “The award underscores our continued investment in the guest experience and all our ongoing work, which has transformed the Disneyland Resort and Anaheim into Southern California’s world-class, multiday tourist destination.”

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa also is a AAA Four Diamond award winner and is home to yet another AAA Four Diamond recipient: the popular Napa Rose restaurant.

“North America’s AAA Diamond Rating System is a long-time trusted systematic method of rating lodgings and restaurants,” said the Auto Club’s Approved Accommodations Supervisor Patricia Marenco. “Southern California’s hotels and restaurants that earn the AAA Four Diamond award maintain a very high standard of service in their hotels and restaurants in order to continue pleasing their guests.”

Earlier this summer, the Disneyland Hotel marked a milestone in the property’s major “re-imagination” project with the opening of a new courtyard, restaurant, bar, pool and water play area.