In the fall of 2004, my family and I went on the grand Disney tour shortly before my first deployment to Iraq with the Army. We were there several days, and from the first day, my wife was hinting that she was preparing for something special. After days of anticipation and guessing, we went to the Wild Kingdom park, and around noon—still without giving me any indication what was up, we met one of their cast who took us backstage. They had us put on these wild, brightly colored shirts and hats, and then, to my surprise and delight, we were taken up onto floats to be a part of their parade!
The kids especially got a really big kick out of it as a “last hurrah” before my year away. It was one of the most well-planned, thoughtful and romantic things my wife has ever done. I discovered your newsletter shortly thereafter while I was away on that deployment, as a tool to help me be creative with romancing my wife and family from thousands of miles away. I am now away on my second deployment, and memories of that parade still warm my heart and remind me of my wife’s romantic thoughtfulness.
If you like popcorn, bring your own microwaveable popcorn. The resorts (if you’re staying on property, that is) all have microwaves available in their food courts. Of course, you can buy a bag on site for more than $2–or you can bring your own and save!
First off, don’t drive. If you fly in, you can register with Disney in advance and they will send you special luggage tags so you don’t even have to wait for your luggage. Your bags will automatically be picked up and transferred to your hotel. The bus will take you and your wife to the hotel, as well.
They have buses that take people everywhere you want to go, and usually arrive every 20 minutes
There are a LOT of themed resorts to choose from, at different price points, so look them over.
There’s lots to do, even if you don’t go to the Magic Kingdom. I stayed at the Beach Resort last time. There is a beach there, next to a large lake, as well as a large swimming area. You can take a fishing boat out. You can take river tours to other parts of the park. They had movies on the beach at night. They have activities in the lobby in the day. Across the lake, within walking distance, was another resort designed like Atlantic City in the ’30s. There were restaurants and nightclubs and a large ballroom with live music.
They have more restaurants than many cities, so you’ll want to check out where to eat before you go. I recommend Artist’s Point at the Frontierworld Lodge: It’s a little pricey, but the food is fabulous and the lodge is over the top with 30′ high ceilings with 600 lb chandeliers shaped like teepees made out of real rawhide. To get there, I recommend taking a bus to the Magic Kingdom, and then taking a boat across the river. They have a special dock for the Lodge.
If you plan to go to the Magic Kingdom, book a reservation in advance for dinner at Tony’s Town Square, which is a replica of the restaurant where Lady and the Tramp ate. You probably won’t be able to get a table if you wait until you get to the park without a reservation. You can grab lunch on the run, or make a reservation at the Liberty Tree Tavern, which has great food. I strongly suggest finding ways to take a break and relax while strolling the Kingdom.
A key strategy for getting on the big rides is to use the Fast Pass. There are kiosks throughout the park where you can pick up passes for most of the major rides that allow you to go into a shorter line for the ride during a certain timeframe. You can’t get them all at once, unfortunately, so I recommend getting a Fast Pass for, say, Space Mountain, and then go on the Teacups while you are waiting. Then look to see how soon you can get another Fast Pass and pick that up before you get on Space Mountain. My wife and I got on 15 rides in 12 hours doing this, and it was New Years Eve!
Arrive before the Magic Kingdom opens, and kick off your visit with the Matterhorn. There are no Fast Pass tickets for this ride, and later in the day, you’ll spend an hour waiting in line.
On Pleasure Island, which is near Downtown Disney, they have a cigar lounge. I love cigars, so I really enjoyed this. Plus, the cigars cost less than California. In a resort setting like this, the cigars usually have a big mark up. There are other diversions there that don’t involve cigars, like dance clubs and other fun activities.
I love to go on rides, and get on as many as possible. It turns out my wife really likes the idea of being together, browsing through stores, and hanging out. You know your wife, so, whatever you do, make sure the trip fits her fantasy instead of doing what you think will be exciting.
This is actually for Disneyland (but the Magic Kingdom at Disneyworld might have the same spot).
When we took our children to Disneyland four years ago, we brought along my in-laws. They took the kids back to the hotel early one night and my wife and I spent the rest of the evening that night in the park. The best part wasn’t riding any ride, but walking, hand in hand from Frontierland to Fantasyland around the back side of Thunder Mountain. Later in the evening, that area is one of the most deserted in the park, so we could saunter along, taking our time, just enjoying being together.
Simple, yet very romantic.
Book a lunch reservation for the Crystal Palace. It’s a little spendy—but a coke and a smile are a little spendy at Disney. If you go for lunch, you’ll get out of the heat of the day, enjoy a great meal, and have a chance to hang out with the characters from the Hundred Acre Woods. It’s one of the best deals at Disney.
Take a water bottle for each person. that will be one less for each person that you have to buy. We had planned on refilling from water fountains, but the water did not taste good, so after that first bottle, just plan on spending the money to purchase drinks.
Take a fan — one with a mister is even better!
Kids can share meals — the portion sizes were large enough that even my bigger kids could do that — then we got ice cream or something!
I don’t remember the ages of your kids, but if there is something that an older child wants to ride that the younger one doesn’t want to, split up for awhile. We started out the morning with my husband taking my two boys (12 and 9) to the “big” rides that would have long rides later in the day while I took my daughter age 5 to the princess shows and rides that the boys didn’t care about. Worked great! Then we hooked up and rode the rest as a family.
Take your cell phones! That way you can stay connected even when you’re apart!
Buy souvenirs at Wal-Mart the night before and give some to your kids in the a.m. and some in the p.m. That way you can limit what you spend on souvenirs in the park. The same shirt that you bought at Wal-Mart for $10 will be $25 in the park. We bought fanny packs, autograph books, shirts — all the things we might have bought in the park.
Our dollar store has glow sticks (the things you “pop” and then it glows in the dark) in necklaces and bracelets. I just happened to stick those in and I was glad I did. They sell those kinds of things during the nighttime parade and I was glad to have some!
It has been a few years since we’ve been to Disney World and the one thing I would like to pass on is this; release the child in you and allow yourself to have fun. We laughed, we skipped, we danced. we sang to the songs that were playing in the Park and at times acted a little goofy. It’s a great place, it a fun place and it’s for the child in all of us. So laugh, sing, dance and have a great time.
Sign up for the Luau at the Polynesian Resort. It’s a great romantic dinner with show and a walk through the “jungle” after the dinner for a lighted boat show on the water. You can call or go online and reserve early for a table close to the action.
My husband and I went to Disney World before we were married, and the night we went to Epcot, we had planned to go eat at the Japanese Hibachi restaurant there, but when we got there they were full for the whole evening. Instead, we decided to eat our way “around the world”, by stopping at several different areas and having something small from each. He has been to Epcot several times, and he said it was the best time he’s ever had there.
I went to Disney in August 2007 and here are two tips:
Laser show at Epcot…best place to sit is in Mexico. The restaurant there is good, right on the water and near the end of the circle. You see the entire show clear as day and you can get out of the park quick without getting caught up with the crowd.
Firework Show in Disney…Best place to sit is on Main Street at the little hotdog shop on the very end closest to the castle. (Can’t remember the exact name of the place but, the public rest rooms are around the corner as well as the emergency office (had to get band aids for my blisters haha) It’s also right across from the ice cream place. So you can sit and enjoy dinner, have a good seat and get ice cream to watch the show with. Then it’s right down Main Street to the exit.
Both worked out great for us!
Another plan….DEFINITELY get a reservation to eat lunch in the castle. The pot pie is fantastic and you might even get the window seat in the front. (we did it was great) Your Princess will meet all the Princesses 🙂
We went to Disney a few years back and had a total blast. My son was younger – about 8 so he wasn’t really into Epcot – it was kind of museum like and we went there 1st. We went to The Magic Kingdom 2nd – I wish we had started out there. So that would be my tip… The Magic Kingdom is what you think of when you think Disney. Also make sure you can take tons of pictures whatever you think you will take double that! There are so many preselected photo op places marked. Find a map and find out when and where there characters are going be so you can get pic’s with them too. My son loved that and Mickey only made one showing for pictures the day we were there… so it’s important to find that out.
When you get to the rides – its easier to do the easy pass thing … you get a ticket and it gives you a time to show back up to go on the ride. No waiting in line.
First of all…get the Dining Plan and stay in the park. It is worth every penny and then some!!!!!!!
For a good meal with a romantic twist…about an hour before the fireworks begin, go to Starlight Ray’s Cosmic Cafe in Tomorrow Land. They have counter service meals such as Cheeseburgers and fries or chicken tenders and fries. Once you have ordered, go all the way around the ordering counters to the back of the restaurant. If you go through the seating area, you can go out on the deck to eat outside. this deck has a direct view of the castle over one of the reflecting ponds. Find you a table near the balcony rail and eat and then when the fireworks begin, you will have a romantic setting for the festivities and it is cool to also see the reflection of the fireworks in the reflecting pond as well. My wife and I love watching from there when we go!!
A couple of ways that we found to make Disney more relaxing, though not necessarily less expensive was to stay on Disney property and to make use of Dining plan and other Disney guest privileges such as the transportation and the reservation services. This may have cost more, but sometimes you have to go extra effort or expense to make sure that you can truly relax. Having meals and transportation taken care of, as well as being conveniently located, made for a much more relaxing vacation.
Living in the Central Florida area, I’ve visited Disney many times and have learned several tips on making your experience more fun and memorable. Here are just a few tips to get you started.
Many people don’t realize that if you are staying at one of the Disney resort hotels, you have beach/pool privileges at ALL THE OTHER DISNEY HOTELS, with the only exception being the Yacht & Beach Club Resort. Use Disney’s free transportation systems to explore and experience all the different themed pools and beaches during your stay. They are all amazing and will help you plan for your next visit.
The best place to watch evening fireworks is from the observation deck of the California Grill restaurant on top of the Contemporary Hotel. You’ll see the fireworks over Cinderella’s castle…it’s both awesome and romantic!
For the best way to save money on food, purchase the Meal Plan when you reserve your hotel room. You get breakfast, a snack for lunch and dinner for approx. $30 a day and it can be used at any theme park or hotel on Disney property! It’s one of the best kept secrets at Disneyworld.
I have run the Disney World Marathon in January numerous times. To save on lodging & activities, go to floridakiss.com & request the vacation planner. It has great coupons for lodging & fun stuff to do in the areas around Orlando. I’ve also shopped around for dinner tickets once we arrived in Kissimmee & was able to find places that have 2 for 1 offers!! By staying “off Disney Campus” you can save on lodging & food.
We also shopped at many of the flea Markets in Kissimmee & got great bargains!
Well there are so many fun things to see and do at Disney. The first thing I would suggest that you do is set yourself at a pace that is comfortable to sustain. When you are there I would also suggest that you observe and enjoy the little things that Disney has done for your enjoyment. Disney uses so many things to add to the special effects of everything that they do. Now as far as the time you are heading down to Florida. I would suggest that you go at a time before Halloween and take in the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom. If you do that make sure you see the second parade and not the first parade. When the first parade is going on you should go ride your favorite rides because the lines are not there. We rode Splash Mountain 3 times in a row with not getting off of the ride. GREAT TIME….. If Halloween is not the time then I would suggest that you try to hit the Christmas time at the Magic Kingdom. Same issues apply with the parade etc.
The Magic Kingdom is great and everything is fun. Epcot is much more laid back in my opinion. I love going to lunch in England or Canada. I would suggest going to lunch a bit before or after the normal times. A bit less crowded and thus much more Romantic….
Any and all rides for us were great. So it is hard to pin point a special ride… The Disney Hollywood studios is a bit more laid back at times because you can do a bit more watching of events and so not so hard on the legs and feet…. You need to do the STUNTS and INDIANA JONES. They are a must see but everything is so great….. Animal Kingdom is great with the Everest addition but keeping in mind to watch for the little things and stop to smell the roses( so to speak).
Now for the night time events. The Polynesian has a super night time event called a LUAU. Great to watch and can be very romantic… Also going to the downtown Disney area is a great spot for some romantic times. The Pleasure Island area is great. I would suggest that area for a night time meal and a time in the Comedy club for a showing. I would also suggest that you go to the Adventures Club and have a cool beverage of your choice However You NEED to sit at the bar. I will not tell you why you need to sit at the bar. You will end up seeing and feeling a whole bunch of the magic that makes Disney what it really is. (kids are ok with this too) But spend a bit of time there and enjoy the cast members who do a amazing job.
I have been there a couple of times and am planning on going this year again. It is so fun to be a kid again….. During the last visit my girl friend had her birthday so it was so special for her. My kids were so elated and they had so much fun… Yes they got a bit tired but again that is what vacations are for…… The whole time was great for me because I was so enjoying watching everyone having such a good time….
Park the car outside the Magic Kingdom one night and watch the fireworks show. It’s a beautiful show and I recommend that you see it one night from inside the Kingdom, but it’s another experience all together to see it from outside the Kingdom. Open up the back of the minivan and watch it like the family use to do at the drive inn movie theaters (for those of us who grew up in the South!).
My husband and I visit Florida once a year since we have a condo there. We have a condo that has a huge Jacuzzi tub where we relax and have Champagne bubble baths. We also like to go to a secluded place where the lights are dim and we pretend we are the only ones in the place. Then we tell each other things we would do to the other one if no one was really there. My condo is in Kissimee Florida which is just outside Orlando, Florida. We also frequent Planet Disney where they have a BET soundstage club for grown-ups and it is very dim lit and we dance the night away.
Have fun, but remember to enjoy some “down-time” …. you’ll need it!
For our last two visits, we stayed at Disney’s “moderate” resorts …. Caribbean Beach & Port Orleans. These are well-appointed and clean, and much less expensive than the resorts that usually come to mind, but no less special, nonetheless. If staying at any of these, it’s easy to get to all the theme parks, water parks, Downtown Disney, and the larger resort hotels.
Here are several suggestions that will make your family visit more meaningful and less stressful, because it’s best to have a bit of “down-time” instead of being constantly on-the-go. I’m not including any tips on visits to the theme parks (well, just two at the end), as I’m sure you’ll get a plethora of those.
Mid-day is a great time to relax in your resort’s pool, as most families are at the theme parks, so there’s no crowds. Unfortunately, kids are allowed to stay out too late at night at the pools, so it can become crowded & noisy. This only tires the kids for the next day, which could make for a stressful day.
Don’t take the Disney bus every time you leave your resort. Take your car sometimes, so you’re not in with the masses. It’ll be quicker getting to a theme park and back, and parking is free with your park ticket.
Do visit the larger hotel resorts (Animal Kingdom, Grand Floridian, Polynesian) by car or monorail, just to relax and walk thru … inside and out … and gawk at the surroundings.
Animal Kingdom hotel has a large “savannah” with all sorts of wildlife just outside it’s main lobby. There’s a central viewing area with several Disney cast members to answer questions and explain what you will see. Hint: to really get up close to some of the animals, find your way to the end of one of the corridors where the rooms are. Go out the exit to the stairs, where you might just see animals grazing much closer than at the central viewing area.
If you and Athena can get away by yourselves … if the kids are old enough to be by themselves … go to one of the large resort hotels, get a drink and just sit for awhile. The Grand Floridian is a great place to relax in the large central foyer and just people-watch, while listening to soothing live music. If you do this, you’ll see how this can recharge your batteries.
Our most recent visit was over the Christmas holiday, so it was so meaningful to be able to see everything decorated. The Grand Floridian was the perfect place to relax while seeing all the children visiting Santa, as well as the huge gingerbread house.
Dining at Disney’s Hollywood Studios …. be sure to eat at the “50’s Prime Time Cafe” for a fun memorable meal !!!!! (make a reservation)
At Epcot …. be sure to see the show at the American Pavilion …. it’ll make you proud to be an American !!!!!
First, I truly hope that you and your family have a safe and happy trip to WDW. Additional suggestions:
… get on some kids’ rides and enjoy as if you’re a kid again (e.g. Peter Pan’s Wild Ride at Magic Kingdom)
… go to the funny 3-D theaters in Animal Kingdom (Bug’s Life) and Epcot (Honey I Shrunk the Kids)
… ride the Hollywood ride at MGM and re-live old movies
… at Epcot, ride the Maelstrom adventure cruise at the Norway Pavilion … it’s fun and cool
… at Epcot, see the updated “O Canada!” at the Canada Pavilion CircleVision 360 theater
… at Epcot, be sure not to miss the United States Pavilion (Voices of Liberty and American Adventure Theatre)
And remember ….. you’ll need some down-time during all your fun, hectic days there. Wear your bathing suit and swim in pools at the large resort hotels near the Magic Kingdom (e.g. Polynesian, Contemporary & Grand Floridian). Each is just a short monorail ride from the next!
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