Walt Disney World Insiders – We Have Some Advice

LOOKING FOR AN INSIDE TRACK ON WHAT TO EXPECT INSIDE WALT DISNEY WORLD?

Welcome to everything Disney, Walt Disney World that is. Below are links to in-depth articles on where to stay, how to get ready for a visit, where to eat and additional things to do.

We first visited WDW forty years ago and now live less than twenty miles away. Over the years we have seen a lot of changes and we’ve learned a few things. Let us share our ideas and information on Walt Disney World.

 

 

 

The Happiest Place On Earth!  Without question, WDW is the most visited vacation destination in the world, paying host to forty million visitors a year. Adding to that the city of Orlando also features Universal Studios, Sea World and over a dozen additional major tourist attractions. All this adds up to a must-do vacation destination for a lot of families the world over.

Far and away the star of the Orlando attractions is Walt Disney World and an experience not to be missed.

10 Things To Consider Before You Visit WDW. If you are planning a visit in the future we have some advice to help make the most of your vacation.

First and very important is to start making reservations as far in advance as possible. Decide if you will stay inside the “World” or at one of the seemingly thousand of additional resorts outside of the property. Restaurants and special events are in high demand and the sooner you start making reservations the better your chances of getting what you want. You will also want to start making “Fast Pass” selections to get you onto rides faster.

Where To Stay. Our recommendation is to stay inside the “World”. While it is true you can save money and often get more for your money staying off property, you will miss staying in the heart of the excitement. Often staying inside WDW can add hours of time to your park visits. First, you are already nearby when the parks open and in addition each day  a different park has early or late extra hours for WDW resort guests only. Usually the gates open an hour early or are extended by an hour.

A World of Foods To Experience. There was a time when a visit to WDW meant a day or two of fast food. No more! Walt Disney World has more restaurants, snack bars, cafes and lounges, food trucks and dinner shows than can be counted. While we would never characterize food at WDW as a bargain it is also remarkably varied and extremely good. Several are rated on the best in America list. Get an early start on where you plan to eat.

Dozens of food choices at Disney Springs

Special Events and More. Maybe you are planning your first trip to WDW but the people at Disney World have additional plans for you. You can think of it as them just wanting to make your visit extra special but actually they really want you to come back over and over again. These offerings include Christmas parties, Food and Wine Festivals, Flower and Garden Shows, behind the scenes tours, special park events and hours, marathons…  Find out all that’s going on.

The Liberty Belle Riverboat in The Magic Kingdom

Getting Around WDW. One of the things we like about Walt Disney World is the adventure of just getting around the “World”. From boats and ferries to monorails and soon to open sky cars getting there is all part of the fun.

Magic Bands and Fast Pass. When it started you could only get a Magic Band if you where a Disney hotel guest and to make Fast Pass reservations you had to have a hotel reservation too. Things have changed. Now if you have purchased park tickets and created a My Disney account (anyone can register for free), you can now make Fast Pass reservations before you travel to WDW.

The Disney Vacation Club. Over twenty-five years ago Disney began a time share program with the opening of the Old Key West Resort. In the beginning it was structured very much like other time shares but soon it was restructured into something uniquely Disney and may represent one of the few true values in timeshare.

A boat from Epcot to The Boardwalk resorts

A Brief History of Disney World. Just under fifty years ago Walt Disney opened a vacation and entertainment complex on the west side of Orlando, Florida. Not wanting to repeat the mistake of Disneyland in Anaheim, California, where the park was sited on a piece of land surrounded by property owned by a multitude of other interests. This time they secretly began buying massive tracks of land just west of the city ending up with about thirty-nine square miles of what used to be swamp and orange groves.

When Walt Disney World opened it comprised two theme parks and three resort hotels that included The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, The Contemporary and Polynesian resorts and a property on the golf course appropriately named The Golf Resort (now called Shades of Green for exclusive use of active military)  along with a shopping and private hotel areas.

Big Thunder Mountain in The Magic Kingdom
Pirates of the Caribbean at The Magic Kingdom

Today WDW includes four theme parks, The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Studios and Animal Kingdom along with two water parks. There are now four golf courses, Thirty four Disney owned resort hotels (soon to add four more) five separate time-share resorts (Disney Vacation Club resorts [DVC]) and expanded shopping and entertainment district. There is also a sports complex and a campground (which was part of the original “World”.

In addition there are major additions and upgrades being made to several parks, upgrades to WDW transportation network and a Star Wars Experience hotel to open soon. The people at Disney are hard at work trying to get you to visit more often…

 

REVIEWS AND WORTHWHILE LINKS

CURRENT REVIEWS

GOOD LINKS FOR MORE INFORMATION

  • Walt Disney World home page HERE
  • Calendar of WDW special events HERE
  • Dining Guide to WDW HERE
  • The Disney Food Blog HERE
  • My Disney Experience HERE
Advertisements

Eating Around The World – Walt Disney World That Is

Back in the day a visit to Walt Disney World theme parks meant eating snacks or a variation of fast food with only a couple of sit down venues. Today it’s a whole different story. If you count food stands, bars and lounges, food trucks, cafes, family style restaurants and fine dining you could stay at Disney World for almost a year and never eat at the same place twice. While I wouldn’t characterize the food as inexpensive, I will sing the praises of the general variety and quality. If you are looking for an in-depth look at eating the “World” there are a number of web sites dedicated to supplying just that information. The official Disney web site offers a complete listing along with price ranges and online menus.  The best, in our opinion, is The Disney Food Blog with trust worthy reviews and suggestions.

Disney Springs

We also have a few of our own favorites from numerous visits over the years and many of our picks vary by if we are dining with children or are going out for a special occasion.

One of our favorite overall selections is Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Our children have always liked this choice because all kids love a buffet and this features tastes of Africa. If the kids are picky eaters and won’t get into African fare there is also a section of kids usual favorites. If you are looking for a more formal atmosphere, again with a taste of Africa there is Jico, also in the Lodge. It features an extensive African wine list as well. If you are in the Animal Kingdom Park and are looking for a dinner choice Boma has a first cousin there called Tusker House with a similar menu but also often features Character dining.

Another buffet that’s a hit with the whole family is Cape May over at the Beach Club Resort in The Boardwalk area. It features all-you-can-eat seafood with a really good selection. Also in the Boardwalk neighborhood is the Big River Grill & Brewery, an independent restaurant featuring their own craft beers and American fare, like steaks, burgers and my favorite, meatloaf. Just a short walk away from the Boardwalk, in the Dolphin Hotel, is our number one pick for seafood at the World, Todd English’s Bluezoo. This is a pricey choice, but well worth the cost. While considering the Dolphin there is a low price gem tucked away in a corner of the hotel called Picabu Buffeteria. It is more of a snack bar than a restaurant but offers a selection of made-to-order tacos and burritos that are fantastic and surprisingly inexpensive.

A little hard to get to is Olivia’s Cafe, a casual restaurant in Disney’s Old Key West Resort. It offers comfort food dishes and a family atmosphere that feels relaxed and comfortable with a menu based around classic American fare. If you are lucky enough to be staying at Key West, don’t miss this gem.

Another upscale favorite of ours is Artist Point located in the Wilderness Lodge Resort. This restaurant features the food and flavors of the American Northwest. In our opinion, this is one of the most overlooked restaurants in the World. You can get to the Wilderness Lodge by catching a boat right outside the entrance to The Magic Kingdom which makes it easily reachable from the Contemporary, the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian resorts. If you are having last minute problems scoring a reservation at an upscale eatery, be sure and try this gem, it is usually available and you won’t be disappointed.

On the Boardwalk

A number of recent surveys have agreed on a few favorite restaurants inside Walt Disney World with the number one currently being Be Our Guest in The Magic Kingdom. Because of its popularity it is a very difficult reservation to get. Another top pick is ‘OHana at the Polynesian, offering pit cooked meats along with kid oriented entertainment. For pizza the winner is Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy with its coal fired ovens. The number one dinner show for well over forty years is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness Resort campgrounds. It features classic barbeque with a great show along with a sing along.

Two areas of Disney World that deserve mentions on their own are Epcot and Disney Springs and we would refer you again over to the real experts .

Inside Epcot you can choose between over a dozen restaurants themed on foreign lands and we haven’t been disappointed yet. We have had great food at Norway, Japan, Germany, England and Mexico and haven’t scratched the surface. Our favorite pastries can be found down an alley at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie at the France pavilion at Epcot. We have also heard rumors that the best steak in “the World” can be found in Canada at Le Cellier Steakhouse, though we haven’t tried it and they have some stiff competition including Don Shula’s at the Dolfin and The Yachtman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.

In Disney Springs we have really enjoyed Morimoto Asia (not so much their street food outlet), House of Blues for good BBQ, Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Wolfgang Pucks but that only scratches the surface in this area.

One of our favorites at Disney Springs is Cooke’s of Dublin where you can get great fish n’ chips. Cooke’s is attached to Raglan Road which is more upscale but you can get a beer at the outside courtyard and go and order fish ‘n chips from Cooke’s and have it brought to you.

If you are a Florida Resident, Disney Vacation Club members or Annual Passholder you might consider Tables in Wonderland. It is a membership program with annual fees and each card is good for up to 10 guests with 20% off of all food and beverage purchases at participating Disney restaurants. That includes all Disney operated locations (except Victoria & Albert at the Grand Floridian) and most other on-property establishments but not all. Check out the current listing HERE. At 20% off it makes the cost of eating at Disney World a bit less outrageous.