Best of Walt Disney World
By guest writer Cara Goldsbury
The Tower of Terror,
and the adjacent Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, both at Disney-MGM
Studios, get author Cara Goldsbury's nod for being the best
attractions for thrillseekers.
For still more
suggestions about what to see, read her book,
Guide to Walt Disney World.
So you're headed to Walt Disney
World ... but where to start? Disney offers such a wealth of
fantastic resorts, restaurants, and top-drawer entertainment
experiences it can be difficult to choose which fantasy you wish
to indulge. How best can you plan a visit in which each
day comes with the finest Disney has to offer?
Here are a few tips that can
make the difference between a mediocre trip and a fantastic one
Best Time of Year for a Disney
If at all possible plan a trip to
Disney during the slower seasons of the year when you'll find
half-filled parks, little waiting in line, and lower hotel
If you can stand the guilt and
your children are good students, take them out of school,
whatever, to avoid the busiest times of the year. If not, the
summer months or holidays are certainly better than nothing and,
with a bit of planning and a lot of energy, can be more than
These are the least busy times of
the year: the second week of January through the first week of
February (avoiding the Martin Luther King holiday weekend in
January); the third week of August until the beginning of
October; the month of November excluding Thanksgiving weekend;
the week after Thanksgiving until the week of Christmas, a
special time when the parks and resorts are festively decorated
for the holidays.
Best Deluxe Resort
Disney's flagship resort, The
Grand Floridian, with its red-gabled roofs and Victorian
elegance, draws inspiration from the grand Florida seaside
"palace hotels" of 19th-century America's Gilded Age.
Just a short monorail ride to the
Magic Kingdom, it spreads along the shore of the Seven Seas
Lagoon, offering spectacular views of Cinderella's Castle and
the Wishes fireworks display.
Best Home Away From Home
Disney's Home Away From Home
Resorts are a great choice for those who want a vacation with
all the amenities including a full kitchen, living room, and a
bath for each bedroom.
For outstanding atmosphere choose
the Villas at Wilderness Lodge with its Bay Lake location and
national park character or the new Beach Club Villas
conveniently located next-door to Epcot's International Gateway.
Best Resort For Access to the
Polynesian, and Grand Floridian Resorts offer monorail access to
the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and the Ticket & Transportation
Best Resort For Nature Lovers
Wilderness Lodge is Disney's
dramatic depiction of an early 1900s national park resort.
In its awesome eight-story lobby
are walls of ponderosa pine logs, a massive 82-foot tall
fireplace, and two authentic 55-foot Pacific Northwest totem
poles. Outside is a breathtaking scene of sparkling waterfalls,
rushing creeks, towering pines, and Disney's very own geyser.
And it's all only a boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom.
Best Resort Pool
Stormalong Bay, the eye-popping
free form, mini-water park complex at Disney's Yacht and Beach
Club, is simply divine.
Three acres of winding, watery
delight, it offers sandy bottom pools, a giant "shipwreck" water
slide, a tidal whirlpool, bubbling hot tubs, a kiddie pool with
its own slide next to the beach, and enough waterway to float
lazily in inner tubes to your heart's content.
Best Resort Lounge
California Grill Lounge on the
15th floor at Disney's Contemporary Resort offers unrivaled
views of the Magic Kingdom and the Seven Seas Lagoon along with
cocktails, sushi, and a view of the Wishes fireworks display.
Best Disney Attractions For
For a shot of adrenaline head to
Disney-MGM Studios, where thrill junkies beeline it to the Tower
of Terror for a 13-story bungee-style plummet.
Next-door is the Rock 'n' Roller
Coaster that rockets from 0 to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds
then loops and corkscrews in the dark through a Hollywood night.
It's a scream come true!
Best Way to Spend an Evening
Without the Kids
If you're a registered guest of a
Disney resort, drop off the kids at one of their child care
centers for around $10 an hour per child where they are given
dinner along with classic Disney movies, arts and crafts, and
If your child is under 4 or not
potty trained, call Kid's Nite Out at 407-827-5444 for in-room
childcare. Then head to one of Disney's world-class restaurants.
For fine dining in a stunning
setting combined with virtually flawless service choose Victoria
and Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. Here you'll
dine on white linen covered tables set with Royal Doulton china
and crystal wine glasses to the strains of enchanting harp
Best Way to Spend an Evening
Away From the Parks
The addition of the West Side and
Pleasure Island to Disney Marketplace created what is now known
as the wildly successful Downtown Disney, a combination of over
70 scene-setting restaurants, shops, and nightclubs.
During the day it's a perfect
getaway from the parks, but at night after the parks close,
Downtown Disney comes alive. At Disney Marketplace you'll find
A-plus shopping, the largest Disney Store in the world, and the
volcano-smoking Rainforest Cafe.
Pleasure Island is a nighttime
mecca with 8 clubs and a nightly New Year's Eve celebration. And
then there's the West Side, loaded with dining and entertainment
venues including Wolfgang Puck Cafe, House of Blues, Gloria
Estefan's Bongos, Cirque du Soleil, and Disney Quest.
Best Restaurant For Kids
Dine among crashing waterfalls,
lush tropical foliage, and dripping vines while being bombarded
with thunderstorms and noisy Audio-Animatronic wildlife at the
Or head to the Whispering Canyon
Cafe at Disney's Wilderness Lodge for an all-you-care-to-eat
blow-out of rib-stickin' barbecue served piping hot in iron
skillets accompanied by plenty of hootin' and hollerin'. Kids
love the crazy show put on by the hobby horse-racing waiters
outfitted in western attire who can't resist making a huge
production out of serving food, birthday celebrations, and those
unfortunate enough to leave for the restroom.
Best Disney Resort Restaurant
The California Grill on the 15th
floor of Disney's Contemporary Resort is a definite highlight
for any connoisseur of cutting-edge cuisine.
The immense windows present an
unbeatable panorama of the Magic Kingdom and the Seven Seas
Lagoon and on many nights picture-perfect views of the Wishes
fireworks show. From pristinely fresh sushi to the exceptional
New American Cuisine to sensational desserts and the outstanding
California wine list, this place has it all.
Best Theme Park Restaurant
In Epcot's France Pavilion is
Bistro de Paris, a charming Belle иpoque dining room with an air
of exclusivity. Filled with gilded mirrors and crimson
banquettes, its billowy white drapes frame windows that overlook
the World Showcase Lagoon.
Servers with delicious French
accents roll out sensational dishes prepared with only the
freshest ingredients. Afterward order a dessert of crepes
prepared and flamed at your table while lingering over cordials
and coffee in anticipation of the nightly Illuminations
Best Way to View the Epcot
Each evening boatloads of
visitors depart from the docks of Disney's Boardwalk Inn and
Disney's Yacht Club headed for Epcot where, from a prime
position under the bridge between the United Kingdom and France,
is a view of the Illuminations fireworks spectacular that can't
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.
Best Way to Spend a Lazy
When your muscles are aching and
your body is screaming for rest after days at the parks, sooth
your jangled nerves at Disney's Grand Floridian Spa.
Immerse yourself in luxury with
one or two feel-good treatments guaranteed to rejuvenate and
swiftly get you back on your feet and ready for another long day
of walking. For the ultimate in romance consider the Grand
Romantic Evening where, in a candle-lit couple's room, each
person receives an aromatherapy massage.
Most importantly slow down and
enjoy the magic. Resist the urge to see everything at breakneck
speed. You can't possibly cover it all, so think of this as your
first trip to Disney, not your last. There will be time to pick
up all the things you missed on the next go-round. Be
spontaneous. If something catches your eye, even if it's not on
your daily list of things to do, stop and explore or else you
may miss something wonderful.
Cara Goldsbury is the
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,
Amazon.com, or your local bookstore. For more
information visit her online at
1 Feb 2004
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to
Cara Goldsbury as original writer.