Planning a trip to the most magical place on Earth?
Here are some tips you won't find on the other blogs.
For many, a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida is a rite a passage. It’s a “bucket list” trip filled with anticipation, often booked months in advance. If you have kids who love Disney Junior, they’ve been aware of its existence from a young age.
But let’s say you’re not the theme park type. Is there a way to add some refinement to the vacation?
Based on our recent experience, here our recommendations:
The Guerilla Guide to Disney
Where to Stay
Stay in Disney's Contemporary Resort.
Completed in 1971 by architect Welton Becket and Walt Disney, it's a late mid-century masterpiece. Great rates are available in late August, up to 30% off.
The Disney deluxe resorts are all located on the monorail line. Being a guest in these resorts allows you early entry and sometimes bonus late evening admission to the parks.
Where to Eat
Dine at The California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort. The food and wine are exceptional.
Located on the 15th floor, try to arrive around 7:45pm (or later) and you might be invited to stand outside on their balcony and enjoy the Magic Kingdom fireworks with accompanying music.
Reservations are recommended.
Disney encourages you to make advance reservations 60 days prior to your trip, so set up a calendar reminder as tables go quickly. The best way to make the reservation is using the My Disney Experience App.
Check Out the Art
At the Contemporary Resort, be charmed by the artwork of Walt Disney Animator Mary Blair.
She designed the Contemporary Resort's signature mosaic mural. Blair also styled the vintage "It's a Small World" attraction. You can also marvel at the "real" art on the walls at Disney's Contemporary Resort, which includes works by Stella and Benglis.
Other fine art not to be missed? Visit the astonishing murals inside Cinderella's Castle, designed by Dorothea Redmond and measuring 10ft tall by 15ft wide. We've had mosaics on the mind ever since. The Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle isn’t always open and most guests pass right by this installation.
Where to Play
If your family enjoys Lego, take a Lyft over to Disney Springs and visit the Lego Store. The Lego Sculptures around the venue are worth the trip.
We thought Disney Springs seemed like a concept akin to Baltimore's Inner Harbor or New York's South Street Seaport. In the evenings there are a number of good bands throughout the venue to enjoy.
The Best Rides
The best rides? Our vote goes for Guardians of the Galaxy at Epcot.
It's a wild roller coaster with disco music. What's not to like? You'll likely need to purchase Genie Plus and/or a Lightning Lanes to line up tickets. This one is worth the effort.
Not a ride, but definitely kitsch is the Epcot World Showcase. Disney takes the illusion pretty far. For
example, in Norway the shops and restaurants were staffed by Norwegians. You can drink and snack
your way around the world.
Not a bad way to spend an afternoon. We had some tasty crepes in France. Is it cultural appropriation or sweet entertainment? Hard to say.
At Hollywood Studios we recommend Toy Story Land and the ride Toy Story Mania 3D; no design detail was overlooked. You'll feel like a kid again, surrounded by your favorite toys. Also, if you’ve got Star Wars fans in your group, this is the park for you.
Alas, we didn’t make it to Disney’s Animal Kingdom this time.
For our trip, we booked a package that included three day passes to the parks. In hindsight, two full park days probably would've been enough. Not that there isn’t a tremendous amount to see, it’s just all a bit much. You may find yourself getting up at 6am to make ride reservations and get to the “rope drop” entry for resort guests. After two days of that, you may need some vacation from your vacation.