Posts filed under ‘Shabbat’

Shabbat of Magic

Considering how much the Disney Parks are my passion, I actually don’t get to go there as much as one would think. Finally, for the first time in three years, I made it back to Walt Disney World. I picked up my family and we went for Marathon Weekend. This weekend was filled with new and interesting – and emotionally explosive – experiences, and I’ll be sharing with you some of those.

I’ve been visiting WDW since February 1981, but a Shabbat stay is a rarity. I had only been there once over Shabbat: 1998, with my wife. We stayed officially “off property” at one of the Downtown Disney Resort hotels. It was lovely – we were able to walk all along the Disney West Side and Marketplace during the day (but not through Pleasure Island because one couldn’t get on the island without admission back then) and we could see some fireworks off in the way distance from our balcony Friday night. Fabulous… but not on property.

This was going to be the weekend when I stay within the lovely confines of the magic. I made my reservations a while back when the discounts for this time period were first announced. The arrival of discounts pretty much assured one thing for us:

Deluxe resort.

Typically, during the week, I really don’t care where I stay on property. I love having easier access for transportation (boat right up to entrance to Magic Kingdom from Wilderness Lodge, walk to Epcot & Studios from the Epcot resorts, etc.), but beyond that, I’m cool with just staying anywhere inside the magic. However, I am a firm believer that if we are going to be staying at a resort over Shabbat – Disney or otherwise – it’s worth making sure that resort will enhance the day. But which one?

Animal Kingdom Lodge? Too isolated.

Wilderness Lodge? Just did that last trip.

The three monorail resorts? Would be great, but can’t really hotel hop on Shabbat (unless you use the monorail – see a previous post). Also, the discounts weren’t as great for those.

Deluxe Villa resorts? Not necessary.

That left Beach Club/Yacht Club and Boardwalk. Since Stormalong Bay was going to be under construction, I figured I’d save that spot for another trip in the future.

Boardwalk Inn for us! But I decided to step it up a bit and ignore something that I had always believed:

Concierge Level is not worth it, especially for the kosher traveler.

Why ignore the above statement and splurge, you ask?

1. With the discount, the additional cost was not as outrageous as usual.
2. It can make Shabbat easier and more pleasant with the lounge available.

So, that was it. Done. We’ll see if I made the right decision.

The family and I arrived at the Boardwalk on Thursday night… actually, Friday at 2 a.m. We were quite impressed with the room, and then I opened the curtains and looked out on our balcony. Whoa. Big smiles.

Want to see our balcony? Look at this picture of the Flying Fish Cafe sign:

You see that large balcony just above the upper right hand corner of the sign? Yeah, that was us. Room 4216. We had quite the view of the entire Crescent Lake and Boardwalk. Aside from the horns blowing from the boats during the day, it was absolutely perfect.

Here’s the western view from the balcony:

Back to the point: Shabbos. We took the boat back from Hollywood Studios to the Boardwalk to prep for candle lighting. Our concierge got us a microwave so we could warm up our dinner that we brought with us. (I was told on the phone that the Innkeeper’s Lounge would have a microwave for us to use there, but no such luck. We did grab some soft drinks and beer from there.) We set up a table out on our fabulous balcony and had a wonderful Shabbat dinner to the sounds of the background music and light hustle of the crowd below. We took a nice, post-dinner stroll along the Boardwalk, watched some street performers, and then moved back up to the Innkeeper’s Lounge to watch Illuminations from the balcony there. While we could only see the top of the fireworks and lasers, it was a nice “kiss goodnight,” but the wind chill was picking up so we quit midway through the show.

Saturday morning, I woke up first and “went to shul” on the balcony, while the wife and kids went to the Innkeeper’s Lounge for kiddush & breakfast. (Club Level pays off!) While the pastries and bagels were not certified kosher (believe me, I checked), the cereals, yogurts and drinks were. [Always check for yourself, since things may change without notice.] I was concerned about getting into the lounge over Shabbat because guests require electronic key access to get in (a no-no for sabbath observers), but there was almost always a concierge cast member there letting guests in without the need of swiping a card.

Afterwards, we decided to take a morning walk all around Crescent Lake. We walked up to the International Gateway entrance to Epcot to try to catch a glimpse of the Half Marathon. We watched the football fans in jerseys lining up by the ESPN Club to get tables for the NFL Playoff games. We stopped by the Beach Club, and the kids planted themselves in the sand to play for an hour. We toured Stormalong Bay and checked out Beaches & Cream. We congratulated those wearing their Donald medals proudly. We enjoyed the Boardwalk scenes, sounds and smells (I love sniffing by the funnel cake stand).

After lunch in the room, we just relaxed by the pool. The theme of the pool there is quite fun, and it was well worth a stop there. They had an activity for kids at 2:30 by the pool, which kept my kids occupied for a while I rest my legs in anticipation for the coming run.

We strolled around the hotel and enjoyed the theme and exhibits of the lobby, and finally we relaxed back at Innkeeper’s until it was time for havdalah.

Disney’s Boardwalk Inn provided us the absolutely most wonderful Shabbat experience. We were able to both relax and be entertained the entire time. The comfort level was perfect for Shabbat. There was plenty to see and do within walking distance, and the Innkeeper’s Club access just gave us that additional comfort level that I was hoping for. My first Shabbat experience on property was top notch, and I cannot wait to do it again… albeit at a different resort. Not because the Boardwallk was deficient in any way, but rather because I’d love to have a equally magical experience of a different flavor in the future.

Before this weekend, I felt that the kosher guest didn’t really need to make a point to visit the Boardwalk, as it is mainly a dining location. (Unless you want to have a night out at Jellyrolls?) However, I have found that this spot serves excellently as an attraction for Shabbat if you can stay at any one of the Crescent Lake resorts.

Plus, I maintain that it would be the perfect location for a dedicated kosher dining location!


January 23, 2011 at 1:20 am 4 comments

So, what is the answer?!

A while back, one Saturday morning in synagogue, the Rabbi got up to the podium and began his sermon discussing the Walt Disney World monorail. Obviously, I sat up in my chair and my ears perked up. This was one sermon I wasn’t going to doze off in.

He tells us about how a friend came up to him and asked him about an issue he had with an upcoming family vacation. He was going to be staying at one of the WDW hotels (he didn’t say which one, to my dismay), and he wanted to know if he was allowed to board and ride the monorail on Shabbat (Sabbath).

I thought that was an interesting question. There was no fare to pay, no combustion engine to turn on and off, no motion sensors in the doors. However, there was a driver (which meant it wasn’t automatic, like a Shabbat elevator). I was so curious to see where this Shabbat morning sermon was going.

However, the sermon then too a different turn. He went on to discuss how we see Shabbat in our lives, what Shabbat means to us as individuals and as a community, blah blah blah…

What is the answer?! You cannot expect me to stick with the rest of this speech without delving into the aspects of the Walt Disney World monorail and Shabbat. Now, I’m spending the rest of the sermon with my mind wandering throughout the WDW resort property, trying to find other interesting halachic questions and challenges that may arise. I’m also daydreaming about staying at one of the Monorail resorts and spending my Shabbat afternoon hotel hopping between the Contemporary, Grand Floridian and Polynesian…

Of course, if I am allowed to.

I can always just ask my Rabbi to find the answer, but this is not going to turn into a Jewish legal essay on the pros and cons of the Monorail as melacha. I guess, if (or when) the time comes for me to spend Shabbat at one of these three resorts, I’ll begin my search for the answer. For now, since the plans are not in my immediate future, I’ll let the enigma remain an enigma.

Because I plan to spend my first Shabbat on Walt Disney World property at the Boardwalk Resort… Want to join me for dinner?

November 18, 2010 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment


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