Orlando Florida is home to Walt Disney World, where dreams come true, and adventure is ageless. Whether you booked this trip for your screaming kids, Star Wars crazy partner or the little child in you there’s something for everyone!
Walt Disney World encompasses 30,500 acres making it approximately the same size as San Francisco. Thus, the adventures and memories made here are magical. Disney World has four theme parks to choose from, and with the high being 32 degrees Celsius in June how could we forget about the two huge water parks they have as well? A perfect way to cool down if you need a break!
If you are looking for something more to do than the rides, no problem! Participate in the interactive theatre, shopping centres, or take a spontaneous safari trip’s where you will come face to face with elephants, tigers and more! If you are interested in something different, then sit down and relax at the indoor shows or head over to Epcot and take a quick trip around the world! There are 11 spa facilities on the premise if you want to relax. However, make sure don’t forget the laser light show or parade to end off the perfect evening!
With over 100 restaurants scattered in and out of the theme parks, Disney offers enough variety to please everyone on your trip. For children, dining with a princess or Disney character is a must. Be sure to reserve ahead. The O’hana luau at the Polynesian Village is quite popular with the characters Lilo and Stich. There are dancing, coconut races and Hawaiian dishes fit for a magical experience. Keep in mind, every park has a special character dinner, sit down for a meal with Disney princesses at the Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle, or head on over to the Crystal Palace to dine with Winnie the Pooh and your friends from the Hundred-Acre Wood.
Throughout the parks, there are venues available for the fast-food grabs. Burgers and fries are the usual, but a lesser-known oasis is Aunt Polly’s in the Magical Kingdom at Tom Sawyers Island. Veggies, and hummus, fresh fruit and sandwiches will be a welcome nutritious break. This restaurant has shaded picnic tables and a playground that will be a relaxing refuge from the crowds.
Now the kids are taken care of, time to explore some five-star dining for the adults! Dress up in heels and black tie and head out to some of the more classy establishments in the park. Victoria and Alberts at the Grand Floridian Resort is a must-see, as you are whisked away to an ornate dining room bathed in mood lighting with attentive service. The dinner is artistically paired with wines to complement the flavours and textures of the dishes served. The restaurant is adults only and must be booked six months in advance.
A secret five-star experience is at the Contemporary Resort where there are two private dining rooms. If you are a group of 8 to 30, you can book a Chefs Table Dining Room experience. Enjoy a glass of champagne in the kitchen and then be whisked away to a private oak panelled dining room. Here your personal chef and servers create culinary magic right in front of your eyes. Imagine chefs freezing cheese spirals in liquid nitrogen and interactive tasting menus. This restaurant offers fabulous Pacific Coast Cuisine for intimate celebrations, book well in advance.
There are individual sections of each park for every type of fan. Head on over to Hollywood Studios if you love Star Wars, here you can train to be a Jedi. Interested in learning about different cultures? Now is your chance, make your way over to Epcot Centre where you can take a quick trip around the world (the food is some of the best in the park). Don’t forget to check out the interactive games scattered throughout the parks. Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure at Epcot dispatches players on a secret mission using a cell phone like device for clues to solve puzzles. The game is free, and devices can be found at the kiosk on the east side of the main walkway from future world to world showcase. Parents have their own game, participating in the wine walk around the world also within Epcot. The wine walk is $20 per person, which gets you two wine tastings in Italy, Germany, and France.
Don’t forget to check out the interactive games scattered throughout the parks. Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure at Epcot dispatches players on a secret mission using a cell phone like device for clues to solve puzzles. The game is free, and devices can be found at the kiosk on the east side of the main walkway from future world to world showcase. Parents have their own game, participating in the wine walk around the world also within Epcot. The wine walk is $20 per person, which gets you two wine tastings in Italy, Germany, and France.
On a scorching hot day be sure to check out the ‘It’s a Small World’ ride in the Magic Kingdom. The line moves fast and as an extra bonus, it is air-conditioned. Feel like you want to take advantage of the beautiful waterside? At the Contemporary Resort, you can choose from many different water sports such as water skiing, parasailing, wakeboarding, and tubing. Don’t forget old favourites such as the Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean. To change it up, see one of the many shows the park puts on in a day. To illustrate, the Lion King
Don’t forget old favourites such as the Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean. To change it up, see one of the many shows the park puts on in a day. To illustrate, the Lion King show is spectacular, with amazing costumes, dancing, and singing. Each park; Disney World, Epcot Center, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios, have something different to offer, make sure you create a to-do list, so you won’t miss out on some great experiences.
Ready to kick back and relax after a couple of days at the park? Disney has 11 spa facilities which will help you de-stress in no time. Children and teens are welcome in the facilities making this a perfect family experience. Another bonus, most resorts in the area have pools so be sure to take some time and relax. Also, if you are looking for the full-pampered experience, ordering room service doesn’t hurt.
Has your little one always dreamed of being a princess? Look no further than the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique where you can spend a day playing dress-up. Next head on over to the Grand Floridian Hotel where they serve afternoon tea. Indulge in Mrs Potts tea ($13 for children), or the Yorkshire service ($175 for two, that includes caviar and champagne).
All the resorts at Disney offer outdoor movies at nighttime, be sure to check out show times so you can plan out your day and relax at night. There are two mini-golf courses at Disney World, Fantasia Gardens, and Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course. If you are looking for a free nighttime activity, head on over to Chip and Dales Campfire sing along. Here, you can join in roasting marshmallows, singing songs, and cosying up to the Disney cast!
However, if the open water is calling to you, there are multiple fishing locations within the waterways of Walt Disney Resorts. If you are looking for more structured experience hire a guide or you can participate in dockside fishing. You can rent fishing gear at the Port Orleans Resort.
Don’t worry, you won’t run out of options when looking for accommodations at Disney; the park hosts 25 resorts in the area. Staying at a Walt Disney World resort is worth the extra cost as you gain benefits, such as complimentary transportation, parking, and early park admission. Guests also have early access to Disney’s fast pass which allows you to reserve tickets for different shows and entertainment up to 60 days before your trip. There are different packages you can pick that allow you to book your accommodations, theme park tickets and dining plan all together at a discounted cost. The accommodations for Disney guests range from campgrounds, value resorts, moderate resorts, deluxe resorts and deluxe villas.
If you want to travel on a low budget a great place to stay is Lake Buena Vista Best Western. Averaging $100us per night (discounts for AAA and CAA members). A shuttle will whisk excited guests off every 30 minutes to the theme parks. Also, the accommodation includes a pool to relax in, games room and exercise room. Of course, the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resorts are another low budget option. Simply pitch a tent or park a trailer for $50-$90us. Complimentary buses are available to all parks. There are evening activities and a beach where you can chill out at the end of the day.
However, if you are looking at staying closer to the parks, then consider staying in the Disney Village. The Hilton and larger chains like the Orlando Marriot are 1.5 miles from Disney World, with prices ranging from $175us to $320us. These locations include the early admission into the park. Finally, the Grand Disney Resorts will land you right on the doorsteps of Walt Disney World. They have monorails and boats to take you to the front gates. The Disney Wilderness Lodge is like your own Disney cabin in the woods; prices start at $307us.
- Accommodations get more expensive the closer you are to the park. If you’re travelling on a budget most hotels within 15 minutes from the park are exponentially less and provide shuttles
- At park entrances, there are free maps. Thus pick one up to find out where your favourite characters are and at what times so you can plan your photo ops
- Buy an autograph book so when you meet the Disney stars you can grab an autograph with your picture
- Be aware there are age restrictions on some rides, check before waiting in the lineups to avoid meltdowns!
Gain Extra Privileges
- You can pay for a personal guide for the day, allowing you exclusive privileges. These include getting on rides with no wait and using secret passages to beat all the crowds. Also, they will move you past lines to see characters, seat you in special areas for the parades and provide special seating at all the shows.
- If you are planning on moving between parks then pay the extra $29 per person (for up to 7 days, or $19 for one day) for the Park Hopper tickets. This saves time as you report to designated areas within each park where you meet a cast member who will walk you to a private side entrance.
- The Fast Passes are a must to save time, spend a little more money and beat the crowds
- also add fast pass +Characters Meet n Greets to speed through the lines if your children want autographs and pictures with characters. Also, the fast pass will also provide a guarantee a viewing spot in an exclusive area for the evening shows
- Download the My Disney Experience app to help you stay organized. This app allows you to store your tickets and reservations to an account. It also lets you share your fast pass selections with friends, make dining reservations on the go and get real-time attraction wait times