How do you narrow down a place like Walt Disney World into just a few days? A great way is to be sure to experience Disney’s most wonderful offerings first and foremost and then allowing the rest to just fall into place. Here are the best of the best:
An Epcot Illuminations Cruise — Each evening boatloads of visitors depart from the docks of Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Disney’s Yacht Club headed for Epcot. Their destination is a prime position under the bridge between the United Kingdom and France for a view of the Illuminations fireworks spectacular. Cruises are offered nightly with your choice of either a pontoon boat seating 10 or a beautiful reproduction of a 1930s Chris Craft accommodating 6-7 people. Although reservations can be made up to 90 days in advance, they sometimes sell out on the first day. Call 407-WDW-PLAY.
Dinner at the California Grill — The California Grill on the 15th floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a definite highlight for any connoisseur of cutting-edge cuisine. Through immense windows is an unbeatable panorama of the Magic Kingdom and the Seven Seas Lagoon and on many nights picture-perfect views of the Wishes fireworks. From pristinely fresh sushi to the exceptional New American Cuisine to sensational desserts and the outstanding California wine list, this place has it all.
Breakfast With Cinderella — High atop Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom is your chance to feast in a fairytale setting with Cinderella, Jasmine, Aladdin, and Belle. Kids love the grand dining room where through glittering leaded-glass windows is a birds-eye view of Fantasyland. The characters make their way around the dining room and give each child quality time signing autographs and posing for pictures.
Beachside Vista of the Magic Kingdom’s Fireworks — On evenings when fireworks are on the Magic Kingdom’s agenda, head to one of the Polynesian Resort’s idyllic white-sand beaches, grab a hammock, kick back, and view the festivities.
Your First Glimpse of Cinderella’s Castle — As you walk under the train station at the Magic Kingdom and into a world of make believe, the splendor of Main Street is spread out before you with that celebrated fairy tale castle sitting at the end.
The Sight of Exotic Animals Grazing Below Your Guestroom Balcony — A stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge comes with a view of its marvelous savanna filled with hundreds of roaming exotic animals. After dark the preserves are lit with a moon glow effect, perfect for a nighttime stroll or after dinner entertainment from your room balcony.
A Picturesque Ride on the Monorail — Hop on board Disney’s favorite form of transportation for a delightful journey around the Seven Seas Lagoon, through the interior of the Contemporary Resort, past the Magic Kingdom, and off through the pine trees on your way to Epcot.
Cocktails in the Grand Lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort — This resort’s favorite gathering spot is an exquisitely soaring, 5-story lobby of stained-glass cupolas and filigreed chandeliers. Find a seat on a cushy sofa and take pleasure in the lively big band orchestra while sipping a strawberry-topped glass of champagne.
Reliving the Drive-In of Your Youth At Disney-MGM Studios — At the Sci-fi Dine-In Theatre, guests are served in sleek 1950s-era convertibles while watching B-grade sci-fi and horror trailers on the big screen. Waiters on roller skates carhop the darkened, starlit theater, speaker boxes hang on the side of your car and, of course, popcorn and hot dogs dance on the screen during intermission. Though the food is just so-so, who cares when Godzilla is your entertainment.
A Float Through Splash Mountain — Who can resist the charms of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Bear, and the rest of the gang, even if it culminates in one heck of a plunge? Drift round the briar patch in a hollowed-out log while toe-tapping music plays among the cabbages and carrots, jugs of moonshine, chirpin’ birds, and croakin’ frogs as you relax and bob your head to the beat. As you float through bayous, marshes, and caverns, all a delight to the eyes with loads of colorful detail and too-cute cavorting characters, the heartwarming theme song “Time To Be Moving Along” plays. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Cara Goldsbury is the author of The Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World: How to Get the Most Out of the Best Disney Has to Offer available at 800-247-6553, www.luxurydisneyguide.com, Amazon.com, or your local bookstore. Visit her at www.luxurydisneyguide.com.