Friday, July 7, 2017

Back to Disney's Vero Beach Resort!

   Seems the sun never sets on the Disney Empire. Parks on both U.S. coasts. Japan, China, France, am I forgetting something? And those resort hotels are a big part of it all.  Aulani in Hawaii, Hilton Head in South Carolina, and the one we just spent 3 nights at - Disney's Vero Beach resort in Florida.
   We spent a fun filled week at Walt Disney World (Old Key West), and then tacked on 3 "bonus nights" at the Vero Beach resort.

   If you are not familiar with it, the resort is a fantastic place with Disney touches throughout. Right on the beach, beautiful views, and plenty to see and do. Nearby places to explore. No rides, no fireworks, no parades, but if you are looking for a more laid back way to do Disney, this is one that I heartily recommend.
Welcome Home!

   Our Party consisted of Grandma/Grandpa, Mom/Dad, 2 kids. We had 2 "Inn Rooms", so Grandma/Grandpa had their own room, and Mom/Dad/Kids had theirs. Not connecting, but right next to each other in the main building. Very nice.
The Sea shell hunting was good today!

   It is a really nice setup. A ramp that leads right down to the beach. Personally, I like to stand up on the deck and look out at the beach. The rest of the gang? They love to stroll along the beach, getting their feet wet, while our Granddaughters collect sea shells.

   Hammocks, A bean bag pit, snack bar, poolside bar, great pool, tennis courts, basketball court, nature trails to explore, even a 9 hole miniature golf course!

   The rooms have been renovated since our first visit back in 2015 with our "DDF's" (Dear Disney Friends) from Idaho, and they've done a wonderful job of sprucing up the rooms.

Lunch time at Dixie Crossroads!
   If you like to explore, there is plenty to see and do around the area. One of our favorites is to drive about 90 minutes up to Titusville for lunch or dinner at "Dixie Crossroads". The house specialty is Rock Shrimp. These tasty little guys are like tiny little lobsters, with a split shell that you peel the meat off of. What a treat! There is a little bit of a back story to the restaurant. Here is a little info about it, check it out:

   Museums, Restaurants, and of course, the Beach! Plenty to see and do around the Vero Beach area if you have wheels. But there really is plenty to do right on the resort grounds.

   The resort's restaurant has been changed from "Shutters" to "Wind and Waves", and the makeover turned out very nice.

Ready for the "catch of the day"!
The new decor is a hit!
   Seafood is the specialty of the house, but there are also steaks, chops, and other choices. We had a wonderful meal there.

   There is also a place upstairs in the main building called "The Green Cabin Room". It is a lounge that overlooks the ocean in an open air setting. Just beautiful. You can enjoy drinks, and they serve food too!

That ol' pirate ship can be a highlight of the day for the kiddos.
   Of course, the pool is always a big part of the resort experience, and Disney's Vero Beach resort has a great pool complex. A big water slide, a pirate ship splash & play area for the younger ones, plenty of tables and chairs, with the miniature golf course, and quick service restaurant just steps from the pool.
Somehow, they got Grandpa Dan to come down to the beach!

      It is a complete resort experience. If you catch it right, there are Sea Turtle nesting areas, and early each morning there are Disney Cast Members ready to give you a little educational mini-tour of the nesting sites. Vero is a great add-on to a WDW trip. It's not too hard to shift gears from theme park mode, to resort mode, especially with the sound of the waves filling the air.

Monday, March 20, 2017


It was so much fun to meet John Saccheri aka- "Big Fat Panda" in Jan. 2017.  He came and picked us up for a taping of the Feb. show.  We were treated like family, and made a great new friend.  Here is his Feb. 2017 show (#44).  It started with some exciting and fun news about things at Walt Disney World.  Then the interview.  We had a blast talking about my first book - Disney Tale of the Tape - Theme Park Boxing.  John is one of the judges in the book for two of the matchups!

Here's the show.....enjoy!

                                              Click Here: BIG FAT PANDA - SHOW #44

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Tammy, and Dan finally meet John "Panda" Saccheri in person!

   Any true Walt Disney World fan knows about but in case you are not that deep into the WDW scene, John Saccheri is the producer and host of the Big Fat Panda Show on YouTube.

Check it out!

   His videos are like medicine for the souls of us who can't be at our favorite park(s) and bring comfort to us when we just have to be there, even if it is not physically possible at the time.  His show introduces us to people that bring even more great content to the Disney fan community.  Podcasters, Bloggers, Voice Actors, Authors, Artists, and so many others.  John was also one of the featured subjects in the documentary The Dreamfinders ( along with Lou Mongello, JeniLynn Knopp, Ricky Brigante, Corinne Andersson, and the original "Dreamfinder" Ron Schneider.  All names that hard core Disney parks fans will recognize instantly!

   John is one of the 10 judges in my new book: Disney Tale of the Tape - Theme Park Boxing, and we were very excited to meet the one and only "Big Fat Panda"!
Panda is one of the 10 "Celebrity Judges" in the book

   He came in towards the end of the book project, but he is one of the 3 judges for two bouts.  He knows his stuff, and added SO MUCH to the book!  He was assigned to Impressions de France vs Reflections of China, and the final bout of the book Prince Charming Regal Carrousel vs Stitch's Great Escape.

   When John heard that we would be spending 4 nights at WDW's Animal Kingdom Lodge, he invited me to be a guest on an upcoming episode of The Big Fat Panda Show.  I was honored, and excited to do it!

   He came to the Jambo House and picked us up.  We had a great time meeting him and talking all kinds of "Disney talk" as he drove us to "The Panda Cave" - his beautiful home not too far from Walt Disney World.

   We sat and drank coffee as we chatted, and were introduced to a few of John's 5 cats.  It was a great time getting to know such a warm hearted and friendly man. He's a New York native, and could easily lay some NY Attitude on you if he wanted to, but I think the years in Florida have softened him up a bit, I could hardly make out any accent in his voice.
There's no turning back NOW!

   His home is like a mini-Disney Museum.  I guess you might call it "One Panda's Dream".

   Every time we turned around, there was something that made us say "OH WOW, LOOK AT THIS!"  Just amazing!  We were having so much fun, but I was there to be a guest on his show, so we eventually had to put down the coffee and head up to the studio for the taping.

   The studio room was small, but a little bit intimidating.  As I sat down, I was thinking "Wow, Tony Caselnova (author of Disney by the Numbers), Jim Hill, Bob Jackson (Yee-Haw Bob), Jim Korkis, Ron Schneider, Mark Silverman (the voice of Tower of Terror) and so many other stars of the Disney fan community have sat in that very chair!"  But, with the green screen behinds us, and Panda's soothing voice, we were able to sit down and have a nice visit for an upcoming episode. 
John "Big Fat Panda" Saccheri introduces Dan and the book

It's probably going to take a little of Panda's "magic" (editing) to make it fun, but I've been watching the show for years, and it is always enjoyable.  He is an amazing man with a great charisma.

   When the taping session was over, we toured around his home a little more, and just had such a fun time with him.  He told us stories of things that happened to him during his visits to the WDW parks, and all of the amazing people he has had the fortune to meet along the way.  His love for Disney is unstoppable, he is really one of the Champions in that arena!

"Kung Fu John"! (an artist friend made it for John)

   It was finally time to head back to our room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  John gave us a special tour of the "other side" of the Magic Kingdom, driving us through the side streets around the park.  Monorail parking structure, Cast member parking, warehouses, and other areas we had not previously seen.  We felt so honored that John Saccheri would take so much time to treat us so special.

    The book has been an amazing journey, but what is even more amazing, is the new friends that I've made along the way.  Great people, who love the Disney parks every bit as much as I do!  John Saccheri is at the top of that list.

Remember, he is not "A Big Fat Panda" , he is "THE Big Fat Panda"!

   We were a bit sad to say "goodbye" to John as he gave us a hug and dropped us off at the hotel lobby, but we now have a very special friend in the Orlando area, and look forward to seeing our new friend on a future WDW trip.  Our Granddaughters can't believe that we "know" Big Fat Panda!

Click here to see: BigFatPanda on YouTube!

Click here to order a copy of: DISNEY TALE OF THE TAPE - Theme Park Boxing

                                             Watch "The Dreamfinders" Documentary:

Contact me at: Disney Fountain of Youth