In any trip to Walt Disney World, it can be difficult to experience everything without spending more than 1 day in each park. There is enough to see and explore, that Disney fans continue to discover new things to love about Walt Disney World each time they return. Whether it’s inside the parks, at the resorts or elsewhere on Disney property, there is something different to enjoy, with fun for everyone in your group. If it’s your first time visiting, or you’re an annual passholder, here are 10 things you may be missing at Walt Disney World.
10. Quick Service
Throughout the parks, there are several quick service restaurants available to guests who are looking for a quick bite to eat. While there are a number of headline restaurants, like Pecos Bill’s in the Magic Kingdom, Flame Tree Barbecue and Satu’li Canteen in Animal Kingdom and Sunshine Seasons in Epcot, there are also a large number of less well-known locations for guests to find great food. The Friar’s Nook in the Magic Kingdom is a hidden gem in quick service dining, as is Tortuga Tavern. Taste Track in Epcot and a quartet of locations at the Harambe Market in Animal Kingdom are all part of the lesser-known but equally delicious quick service locations.
Whether its small scale or large scale, the shows in Walt Disney World always have one thing in common – their use of Disney Magic. From the street performers in Epcot like Serveur Amusant or the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats, to the large production shows like Fantasmic or Festival Of The Lion King, there is always something for guests to sit back and enjoy. It’s highly recommended to grab a show times guide in each park so you can fit them into your schedule of must-dos.
8. Disney Springs
While it is a typical destination for many guests visiting Walt Disney World, it’s important to know that the amount of time it takes to explore all of Disney Springs is always longer than you expect it to be. New shops and restaurants continue to pop up, meaning there is more to see and do while in Disney’s busiest shopping spot. If it’s easier, you can start at the far end of Disney Springs and work your way back to the buses or your car. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to see everything as you go past.
7. Fine Dining
Similar to the quick service restaurants, Walt Disney World is home to a diverse array of fine-dining restaurants, for guests who are looking to experience memorable meals during their visit. Many of the restaurants are located within the parks, but several of the top fine-dining establishments are found at the resorts. Restaurants like Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom, Monsieur Paul and Le Cellier at Epcot are some of the signature restaurants in the park. Locations like the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort, Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht Club Resort are among the headline restaurants at the resorts. Of course, when it comes to the epitome of fine dining, Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian takes the cake, with the depth of its menu and incredible atmosphere, it is the most elegant restaurant to visit in all of Walt Disney World.
When it comes to souvenirs, Disney has a plethora of merchandise to meet everyone’s preferences. Guests who routinely visit Walt Disney World will sometimes choose to begin collecting certain items available only at the parks. This can include mini figures, Tsum Tsums, Disney Pins and of course, Disney’s Vinylmation series. If the cost is too high for guests, collecting pressed pennies is also an affordable way to feed your Disney collecting needs without breaking the bank.
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5. Mini Golf
While the majority of time for guests can be spent in the parks, you may find yourself with some down time and looking for other activities to occupy yourself. Many guests are unaware that Walt Disney World is home to 4 mini golf courses. Mini golf is a great way to spend a few hours outside, visiting a different part of Disney property and enjoying yourself in a relaxed but whimsical atmosphere. With 2 courses at Fantasia Gardens and Fairways near the Swan Hotel and 2 courses at Winter Summerland outside of Blizzard Beach, there are plenty of options. Each course has its own unique theme and hidden surprises along the way.
When it comes to purchasing photos, the initial thought is that the cost might be too high for some guests. Individually, digital downloads of a favorite picture or ride photo can start at $15, so add a couple pictures and you’re already looking at a larger amount of money. Disney’s Memory Maker allows guests to pay a flat rate of $169 (if purchased in advance, otherwise it’s $199) and they will receive digital downloads of every single picture taken of them in the park.
While it may seem like a steep price, the $169 (advanced purchase) actually makes sense for a family visiting the parks for the first time, a couple celebrating on a honeymoon, or any group that would like to have their picture taken at each of the landmarks in Walt Disney World. Not only does that mean that you get every picture a PhotoPass Photographer takes, but you will also receive every photo and video of you on the rides with ride-photos. If all of that still seems like too much, the PhotoPass Photographers are more than happy to take a picture of you using your own camera or cellphone, so if you’re looking to save, that’s another way to go.
3. Signature Snacks
Snacks are available pretty much everywhere you turn in Walt Disney World, whether you’re in the parks or at the resorts. Disney fans with a sweet tooth can enjoy tasting all of the signature snacks they can find if they know where to look. Snacks like Dole Whips, Churros and Mickey Ice Cream Bars are a few standard snacks you should try, but you can also seek out other signature snacks like Beignets at Port Orleans – French Quarter and Zebra Domes at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Epcot has a particularly high concentration of signature snacks with the World Showcase playing host to a different delectable treat at each pavilion, including School Bread from Norway, Caramel treats at Karamell Küche in Germany and any item on the menu at Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie in France.
2. Water Parks
When purchasing a Magic-Your-Way package from Disney, guests have the option of bundling a couple of extras into their tickets. Adding the park hopper option is a popular choice, but many Disney fans agree that you should try the Water Parks and More option at least once. Visiting the water parks at Walt Disney World is an immersive experience (both literally and figuratively). Blizzard Beach has an icy theming complete with snowy waterslides and even a chairlift to take you to the top of Summit Plummet. Typhoon Lagoon has a more tropical storm-feel, with a set of 3 signature water “coasters” that push you uphill in addition to dropping you downhill. These are incredibly fun destinations, especially once the humid Florida heat starts to reach its peak.
While tours aren’t necessarily a must-do item for first-time guests, returning Disney fans might want to take a look at the tours available to them as they can be both informative and extremely fun. Usually taking you behind the scenes and giving background information into some of Disney’s most popular destinations and attractions, the various tours provide a glimpse at some of the Disney magic that went into the design and construction of Walt Disney World. Animal Lovers will enjoy the Wild Africa Trek, taking guests on an extended tour of the Kilimanjaro Safaris and giving them a glimpse into the work involved in caring for the animals. Fans of Living With The Land at Epcot will enjoy the Behind The Seeds Tour, giving an up-close look at how the greenhouses operate. Guests who have a love of the Magic Kingdom will definitely enjoy one of the many tours given at the park, including the Keys To The Kingdom Tour which gives a 5 hour background tour full of incredible facts about the Magic Kingdom.