Here is your guide to experiencing the largest theme park on the planet, giving you all the tips on the best places to eat, drink, stay, and more!
The Happiest Place on Earth is having a watershed year, one which has forced Disney to come out and get political…something the company never wanted to do. However, Disney decided to stand its ground and commit itself to being an open, welcoming, and diverse space that represents everyone around the world, including those within the LGBTQ community.
There’s never been a better time to visit Walt Disney World. Not only are they committing to a better future, but the newly-launched Galaxy’s Edge area and the Galactic Starcruiser lodging adventure have pumped up the park with a fresh lot of exciting rides and experiences. If you’re planning a visit, here’s your escape plan to Walt Disney World, offering up everything you need to know about the best things to do, see, eat, and more!
Obviously, the premier lodging option at Walt Disney World is the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Lakefront views, poolside cabanas, outdoor movie nights, and stately rooms and suites are just some of the reasons why the Grand Floridian remains one of the most renowned lodging properties in all of Florida. Best of all, it provides quick and easy access to the Magic Kingdom park.
For those looking to escape the crowds, a stay at Disney’s Port Orleans resort is a fantastic option. With a Southern, New Orleans theme, lush greenery everywhere, and a quaint river running through the property, the Port Orleans resort feels like a refuge from the hustle and bustle of Disney World. It’s a great choice for those who want to have fun during the day, but relax during the evenings.
One of the most recognizable resorts at Walt Disney World is the Contemporary. Easily distinguishable, thanks to its modernist design and the fact that monorails travel directly through the hotel’s atrium, the Contemporary also has a stunning rooftop restaurant, the California Grill. This year, to celebrate the park’s 50th Anniversary, the restaurant is featuring an exclusive menu. Some dishes feature a special “50” logo, which signifies they were on the menu during the resort’s first year of operation in 1971. Classic dishes that have been brought back include Lobster & Parsnip Bisque and Duck À l’Orange pizza. Plus, the restaurant provides stunning views of the park’s nightly firework show.
Located inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is the AAA four-diamond awarded Jiko – The Cooking Place. The restaurant is inspired by the flavors of Africa and is known for creating some of the park’s most adventurous, luxurious, and delicious meals. From dishes like Braaied Wild Boar to Seafood Tagine, and even house-made Injera bread, the restaurant is a stunning and scrumptious way to add a bit of elegance and adventure to your Disney stay. Jiko is also renowned for its large selection of African wines.
Galaxy’s Edge is Disney’s newest themed land, completely centered around the Star Wars universe. It’s not only an absolute must for fanboys and girls, but it’s also impressively designed and intricately created (even down to the most minuscule detail) that it’s sure to impress everyone who enters. One of Galaxy’s Edge’s most notable inclusions is its food, which is inspired by the meals and drinks featured in Star Wars films and TV shows. The Milk Stand offers up drinks fans will surely recognize from the movies—green milk and blue milk. The base is coconut and rice milk, which are then blended with either fruity or citrus flavors. Plus, for the adults, there’s also an option to have rum or tequila added in!
For a more traditional Disney treat, Dole Whip is an absolute must. Dole Whip can only be found in two places: Hawaii and Disney resorts. This means the Pineapple-based, tangy, sweet, fluffy whip is a prized commodity…and the line to get some proves it.
But Dole Whip is simply too delicious to ignore and is well worth the wait. Dole Whip is similar to soft-serve ice cream, but for a real treat, you can get a Dole Whip Float, which comes in flavors like raspberry-pineapple, pineapple-vanilla, and even orange-guava-pineapple. Nothing beats the Florida heat quite like Dole Whip.
Obviously, the best thing to do at Disney is riding the rides! From classics like the wild-west themed Big Thunder Mountain to spooky thrills like The Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror, and even all the new Star Wars rides like Rise of the Resistance, you could literally spend an entire week riding all of Disney’s rides…and, in fact, many people do! Disney World is made up of four theme parks: Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios, as well as the water park, Typhoon Lagoon. There is also Blizzard Beach, a water park which Disney recently closed indefinitely…however, news of Disney acquiring permits for the park provides a hint that the company has some big plans in the works.
One of Disney’s newest additions is the Cirque du Soleil show Drawn to Life. Aerial acrobatics, gymnasts, and circus performances all blend together with beautiful orchestral music and classic Disney characters.
The show moves much faster than traditional Cirque shows and is filled with youthful energy, making it perfect for the whole family, while also being mesmerizing and completely awe-inspiring.
A week at Disney can be a lot. That means it’s important to build in some time for proper relaxation and pampering. Luckily, there are tons of options for that in the park. Disney World’s flagship property, the Grand Floridian, has the park’s most notable spa and is known for often hosting celebrity visitors. The Grand Floridian Spa offers massages, facials, manicures, and pedicures, with options to use botanicals that are either hydrating or purifying. Or, for the most indulgent experience of them all, why not go for the 80-minute Grand Massage?
If you prefer to lounge outdoors, book one of the Beachcomber Shacks at the Typhoon Lagoon waterpark. A giant canopy provides shade for 6-8 guests and the shacks come with cushioned lounge chairs, a cooler, towels, unlimited chilled water, and collectible mugs that are yours to keep. The Premium Shack even comes with a TV, fans, and a fridge. Who said you can’t relax at Disney World?