Seven Over-the-Top Ways to Do Disney
Add on these five-star, family-friendly extras for a VIP experience at the Magic Kingdom.
If planning a vacation in Walt Disney World evokes a certain sticky-handed, Dumbo-filled, schedule-juggling mania, you’re not alone. Taking a family trip to the Happiest Place On Earth can be strenuous, not to mention chaotic, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be the high-end luxury vacation you had hoped for. There are plenty of VIP options that can turn your trip into a fun, relaxing getaway, complete with fabulous meals, few ride waits, and up-front seats to the best evening shows. Forget the popcorn-for-dinner amusement park week you thought you’d be having, and learn to enjoy the finer things in Walt Disney World, whether or not you’re traveling with the little ones:
Master the Parks by Hiring a VIP Tour Guide
One of the trickiest parts of a WDW vacation is that you can—and need to—plan your trip 180 days in advance. Not only will hiring a VIP tour guide give you insider perks such as private transportation and immediate FastPass+ access to any rides you desire (no planning!), but it will ensure that everyone in the family gets to do what they came for, with little-to-no wait time. It’s pricey—rates start at $400 an hour, park admission not included—but having an energetic, knowledgeable professional on your side as you jump from park to park is as good as it can get.
Kick it Up a Notch at the Four Seasons
The serene, upscale retreat that is Four Seasons Orlando is a far cry from the Finding Nemo–themed family suites. The luxury hotel, which opened just last year, offers many of Disney’s best perks, including complimentary transportation to and from the parks, views of nightly fireworks, in-room celebrations, and package delivery straight from Walt Disney World gift shops. With a dedicated Disney planning center in the lobby, it’s as close as you can get to the magic while still enjoying a serene escape outside the parks. Worried that the kids won’t feel at home? There’s even a Goofy and Friends character breakfast twice a week at Ravello restaurant, with offerings that will surely trump the sprinkle-covered, sticky treats over at Chef Mickey’s.
Have a Truly High-End Dinner
When one thinks of Disney dining, churros and Mickey-shaped ice cream bars quickly come to mind, but there are actually plenty of fine-dining options available. Have a multi-course dinner at Victoria and Alberts, a AAA Fine Diamond Award recipient at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, or enjoy a meal inside the kitchen with their Chef’s Table option. Over at Flying Fish Cafe on Disney’s BoardWalk, six-course prix fixe dinners are served in a less formal environment twice each night. Reservations are open to guests 10 years and older at both, so you can bring along any miniature foodies you may have in tow.
Take A Trip To The New Disney Springs
The shopping, dining, and entertainment district formerly known as Downtown Disney has expanded with its recent remodel to include upscale options that have some of the best food in Orlando. Take a night off from the parks to dine at Morimoto Asia, where fresh sushi
and signature Peking duck are served below long hanging chandeliers, or stop by the BOATHOUSE, which offers raw bar delights, surf and turf, and a even a 28-ounce porterhouse for two. Follow it up with one of two delights: the waterside restaurant’s behemoth slice of S’more Baked Alaska, or a ride on Disney Springs’ main waterfront attraction, a 20-minute tour on a semi-submerged vintage amphicar.
Call A Poolside Palace All Your Own
And no, we don’t mean signing up for Disney Vacation Club! Though it’s somewhat of an insider secret, reserving a private cabana at Disney pools and waterparks can be the perfect way to inject relaxation into a jam-packed trip. Rent one for the day or evening at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, or turn a hectic waterpark day into a poolside retreat with cabana rentals at Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Amenities—on top of shade and serenity— include cold beverages, waiter service, and padded chairs and towels, not to mention the luxury of lounging while the little ones enjoy the slides.
Cut The Line To Get Perfect Show Seating
Many WDW visitors spend hours reserving passes and holding their spot at nighttime shows, but Disney offers plenty of easy and affordable alternatives. Book a Fantasmic! Dinner Package at Hollywood Studios and you’ll enjoy a sit-down dinner before taking in the evening show from VIP seating. At EPCOT, you can reserve tickets to a dessert party, which ensures a clear shot of IllumiNATIONS: Reflections of Earth (an incredible fireworks display), along with treats like churros, fruit crumbles, chocolate ganache tarts, and tiramisu. Or, avoid the parks altogether and reserve the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage or a private fireworks cruise, which will give you a brilliant view of the Magic Kingdom’s show from the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Don’t Forget: Disney Is A Place Where Anything Can Happen.
However big you can dream it, they can (most likely!) do it. Sure, it won’t be free to have Mickey meet your children one-on-one or take photographs inside Cinderella’s wedding coach, but nearly nothing at Walt Disney World is deemed impossible. Between the helpful cast members and a property-wide objective to ensure you have a great time, it’s always worth asking to see if something can happen to make you and your family’s vacation dreams come true.