Berthillon – Paris

Salted Carmel and Pink Grapefruit Ice Cream

Salted Carmel and Pink Grapefruit Ice Cream

During our last trip to Paris we were standing near Notre Dame wanting a treat. Having already eaten crepes for breakfast and lunch we decided it was time for a change, at least until right before bed. In every travel book we have read Berthillion is always listed as a place to get ice cream in Paris, ALWAYS. Even though we tend to follow these books as if Napoléon himself wrote them, in the past when it came to the best ice cream in Paris we were skeptic.  But this day we weren’t, so we wandered from Isle de la cite to Isle de Saint Louis, a short walk but worlds apart. Soon we were in narrow streets and there were very few tourists or really people. The only place one could see a crowd was in front of 29-31 rue saint Louis en l’ile, which is the location of Berthillion. We were not in the mood to wait in line for any treat but good news is that any purveyor of ice cream on the island carries Berthillion and it all made in the same place by the masters at Berthillion.

So for our first foray we shared a scoop of Salted Caramel and Pink Grapefruit. Not to oversell it but it was the best ice cream ever. Better than any ice cream we had had from the Tillamook factory in Oregon, to Bassetts in Philadelphia to any thing we had ever had in Europe.  If we add Gellato to the mix there are some places that will give it a run for its money.  But if we have to go across Europe seeing where the best ice cream is to settle a spat we are in!

Vine Peach and Pink Grapefruit Ice Cream from Berthillion

Vine Peach and Pink Grapefruit Ice Cream from Berthillion

So the next day we went back, luckily it was less busy. We sat in the salon and did not share this time. We ordered Vine Peach and Pink Grapefruit and Salted Carmel and Pink Grapefruit. The salon at the Berthillion was fun, it would be a great place to take kids as a reward for not damaging the Venus de Milo.  When you look at the many reviews on Trip Advisor the most common thing people say it is a little pricey for the portion, but in our opinion worth it.

Long story short Berthillion is a must do.

How to plan your Walt Disney World Vacation Part 3 – Booking your Trip

Booking your trip.

When doing this we always call the Cast Members at 407-WDISNEY. They can quickly toggle in-between all the different options quite quickly. Before you call, have the following information on hand:

First you will tell them the days you are staying and they will check hotel options, like I mentioned before there are a lot of options and prices vary quite a bit so this is why I call. You can use their website but the Disney Travel employees are pros and they can help fill in any potential gaps.

Second, they want the names, ages (including birthdays for younger guests) of guests?

Third, you’ll need to know flights if you know (you may need to call back and add this to your reservation)

If you have a Disney Account they will want to link your reservation to it so that you can later log into the My Disney Experience Ap and Website.

Fourth, you will want to know if you want the ‘Memory Maker’ this is the update on the Photo Pass. What this is a package that will let you download all pictures taken at Walt Disney World, this includes rides, character meals and around the parks. It is about $30 cheaper to pre-purchase the plan instead of buying it at the park.  There are Disney Photographers all over, we love this because it eliminates the need to ask someone you don’t know to take your picture and the Disney photographers are set up in the best spots for great pictures.

My Disney Experience

If you don’t have an account with Disney now is the time to set it up. The My Disney Experience App will help you manage your trip, especially while at the parks. From the App or the website you can book restaurant reservations, personalize your Magic Band, get fast passes for rides and even order your meal at Be Our Guest.  Additionally you can add notes for things you wanted to do before hand so when you log into make diner reservations or book FastPasses the notes will be there to guide you.

What is a Magic Band you ask?

It is a wristband the size of a watch that has an RFID chip in it that can power you whole trip. It is your room key, your park tickets, your FastPass+, and has the ability to pay with an associated Credit Card/PIN so you can tap to pay for something, enter your PIN and be on your way. The Magic band means no need for a wallet or purse.

Next step book your Disney Dining reservations 180 days before you arrive…

How to Plan your Walt Disney World Vacation – Part 2 Hotels, Park Tickets and Dining Plans

Before you make the call:

Where do you want to stay?

Many people choose to stay off property when going to Disney World. This is a great option if you are going to other Orlando area attractions such as Cocoa Beach, Lego Land, or Universal Studios. For this post we are going to talk about staying on Disney property.  While staying on property you won’t need at rental car as Disney has transportation from all of its hotels and campgrounds to all 4 amusement parks, 2 water parks and Downtown Disney. Staying at a Disney hotel will also give you access to extra Magic Hours. Extra Magic hours are when you can enter the parks early or stay later in the parks because you are staying at a Disney Hotel.

There are four tiers of accommodations at Disney World:

  1. Deluxe Villas and Hotels from $284 a night
  2. Moderate Hotels from $162 a night
  3. Value from $85 a night
  4. Campgrounds from $49 a night

Consider choosing a hotel that is closest to the parks your group wants to visit. Your transportation from hotel to park can be up to 30 min each way. For instance, the Wilderness Lodge is about a 5-minute ride to the Magic Kingdom, which was important to us, but it can take 30 minutes to get to the Animal Kingdom.

We have stayed at the Wilderness Lodge (our favorite), the Coronado Springs, and the Caribbean Beach Resort.

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Lobby decorated for Christmas, photo courtesy of Tom Bricker and Disney Tourist Blog

How long will you stay?

There are 4 amusement parks and 2 water parks. This decision will be what really makes the mark on your wallet. We like at least 2 days in EPCOT, 2 days in the Magic Kingdom, 1 day at Animal Kingdom and 1 day at Hollywood Studios. Just like that we are at 6 days. If you are going to spend 5 or more days in the parks I highly recommend a rest day in the middle. We do this at Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach. There are entry fees for these parks as well, so if you are trying to save a little money have a pool day at your hotel or rent a car and go to Cocoa Beach which is just under an hour from here. Either way, make sure you plan a rest day or by the end of your trip you will be spending more time on a bench than on your favorite ride.

Should you get park hopper ticket or not?

This is about a $50 per person decision. We chose to do it because we can break up an EPCOT or Animal Kingdom day if the little kids are getting bored. We can get dinner in EPCOT; sneak over to the Magic Kingdom on the monorail and get in a few more laps on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or my favorite Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. On our last trip we had a day start and end in Hollywood Studios and we took the boat to EPCOT and back for lunch and snacks during the Food and Wine Festival. I think the park hopper is more of a luxury than a must do but still a decision to be made.

Should you get the dining plan?

As with all the questions in this post, this will add more money per day but can get you dining experiences at Disney that you might not normally choose to do if you were just paying for each meal as you go.

Disney has 3 Dining Plan options:

Platinum provides 3 meals a day plus 2 snacks.  We chose the Magic Your Way Premium because we can still get character meal experiences without spending all our time in a sit down restaurant.  Premium allows for 1 quick service meal, 1 sit down meal and 1 snack a day.  The Quick Service plan allows for 2 meals a day both quick service and a snack every day you are staying at Disney.

Whether you get a meal plan or not you are paying for food but there are benefits to the dining plan. You can budget and prepay for your meals. Here is why I like the Dining plan, it allows me to budget better for the trip and it opens up restaurants that I probably wouldn’t have eaten at had I not had the plan. Our favorite highlights: (see our post on Reservations for our restaurant recommendations)

Step 3 Booking your Trip

How to plan your Walt Disney World Vacation

IMG_1464Let’s begin by saying that planning a trip to Walt Disney World can be quite a task. We’ve broken it down into 6 posts to help you plan.

  1. When to go to Disney World and how to get there
  2. Where to stay and what kind of package to buy
  3. Booking your trip
  4. When to make dining reservations and where to eat
  5. What is FastPass + and how to maximize it
  6. What to pack and plan on for your trip

But let’s start at the beginning:

When are you going?

This decision will affect so many things about your trip.

  • Are you taking your kids out of school? – Consider going around a state holiday or when your kids have an extra day off.
  • Consider going when the parks are decorated for special occasions:
  • Do you want to go when the parks are less busy? Although Disney does a great job of bringing guests to their parks during all the seasons the best times to visit the parks if you are looking for fewer people is the second half of August, weekdays in October and November (except for the week of Thanksgiving). Undercover Tourist gives a great outline here.
  • When are they offering deals on your room or meal plan? Disney offers deals each season but not until the timing is closer. This is why you may want to book your trip but not make the final payment until 30 days before the trip. This will allow you to request the deal after it is advertised.

If you choose to go during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Frozen Summer, or Star Wars Weekends it will affect the number of park tickets you buy. Some of these events have special tickets that allow you to visit the park with a limited number of guests during special hours. We have found this is the best time to ride some of the busy rides because there aren’t so many people in the park. We have been to both the Halloween and Christmas Parties and they are by far our favorite times to be in the Magic Kingdom. Fewer people are in the parks, there are 2 parades and fireworks so ride lines disappear. We rode Splash Mountain with our oldest son 3 times in a row without getting out of our log. We finally bailed on the fourth ride because we were so wet. If there is a party, we recommend getting a ticket but take one day off your park pass and enjoy Downtown Disney or the pool at your hotel the morning of your party ticket. The Frozen and Star Wars events are included in your park ticket but can affect the number of Anna’s, Elsa’s and Chewbacca’s in those parks.

How are you getting to central Florida?

Domestic Airlines that fly to MCO Orlando International Airport (and allow you to take Disney’s Magical Express):

Delta
Jet Blue
Southwest
United
American
Hawaiian
US Airways
Alaska
Spirit
Frontier
Virgin America
Sun Country
Silver Airways

You can return a rental car on Disney property. Alamo and National Rental Cars have a shared location at the Car Care Center. If you are planning a day trip and only need a car for the day, a car can be rented here.

You can even take Amtrak from all over the United States to Orlando. But the cheapest seats tend to cost twice a much as flying and it takes almost 4 days to get from the west coast to Orlando.

 

Step 2 Where to stay and what kind of Vacation Package to purchase……