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Top Ten Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World NOW

Top Ten Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World NOW

The year 2012 saw unprecedented changes at Walt Disney World. There was growth like never before. The problem for many Disney fans is that those changes mostly happened around the holidays, one of the busiest times of the year. Fighting the crowds can take a lot out of even the most seasoned Disney veteran. Fortunately things have since calmed down. There is no time like the present to take a trip to Walt Disney World. Whether you want to plan a trip for sometime in the next few months, or you’re going to drop everything and leave for Orlando in the morning, here are a few things to motivate you.

10) Room Discounts and Possible Free Dining

If you are not the spontaneous type you should consider making your trip in the spring. Many weeks the rates are lower to fill the rooms that would otherwise be empty. You might save 30% or possibly more if you book at the right time. As an added bonus Disney will often include the Disney Dining Plan for free for certain weeks during the fall. If you are unsure of the best time to travel in order to get the discounts consult an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner such as Kingdom Konsultants. They will help you to decide the best time to get the most for your money.

9) Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar

When Tutto Italia reopened after refurbishment, an incredible addition opened as well. Located in the Italy Pavilion at Epcot, Tutto Gusto features over 200 types of Italian wines. The food is authentic Italian so be daring and try something new. During the day they serve limited selections but a full dinner menu is offered in the evenings. Wine pairings are suggested by the servers if you ask. The restaurant is small, charming and, although it gets crowded, intimate. Reservations are not accepted so plan to arrive at an off time or well in advance of when you want to eat. If you end up having to wait it will be worth it.

8) Splittsville

Walt Disney World always seemed to have a little bit of everything. There are four theme parks, two water parks, world class golf courses, miniature golf courses, horseback riding opportunities, water sports, even a chance to drive a race car. The only thing that seemed to be missing was a bowling alley. That is no longer the case. Of course Walt Disney World can’t have just any ordinary bowling alley. In December of 2012 Splittsville opened in Downtown Disney’s West Side. It is, of course, the largest Splittsville in the entire chain. There are 30 lanes available. You can also play billiards or dance to live music. The food is also incredible. They don’t serve cold pizza and warm beer like many bowling alleys. Instead you can feast on creations that are inspired by celebrity chef Tim Cushman. They offer sushi, steak, specialty burgers and even calamari. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays they have bumper bowling after 10:00pm for those 21 and older. Visit for the bowling but be sure to stay for the food. You won’t be disappointed.

7) Special Interactive Activities for the Kids

Several years ago Epcot decided to try an interactive game for kids that would take place in World Showcase. It was an instant hit. The recent problem was that it was based on the TV show Kim Possible, which hasn’t had any new episodes since 2007. In 2012 the idea was updated and became Disney Phineas & Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure. Kids are given a F.O.N.E., as it’s called, with which they receive clues. There are several places where kids can check in, and they will be chasing clues all over World Showcase. It’s a great way to keep them busy and they will have a better time than they thought possible.

Not to be outdone, the Magic Kingdom debuted an interactive adventure of its own in 2012. This one is known as Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. Check in at Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square or the Firehouse on Main Street, U.S.A. Apprentice sorcerers will unlock Magic Portals throughout the Magic Kingdom while aiding Merlin. Your kids will have a great time as they defeat Disney villains and help stop Hades from making the Magic Kingdom his summer home.

6) Monsieur Paul

A new restaurant in World Showcase is always good news and Monsieur Paul will not disappoint. It’s located in the France Pavilion where Bistro de Paris used to be. It’s based on the creations of Paul Bocuse, who was the first of the celebrity chefs in the world. The new restaurant is not quite as formal as its predecessor, although there is still a dress code. Seafood, beef and poultry seem to dominate the menu, or you can order prix fixe. The restaurant is considered a signature dining experience and some versions of the Disney Dining Plan are accepted.

 

5) Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort opened up a whole new category of choices of where to stay on your next Disney vacation. It’s slightly more expensive than the other Value Resorts, but many people say that the few extra dollars are worth it. Located in the Wide World of Sports Resort Area, the complex has the largest pool of any of the Disney hotels. The standard room is based on The Little Mermaid. There are three choices for suites; Cars, Finding Nemo and The Lion King. The standard room sleeps up to four and the suite up to six. The dining option, Landscape of Flavors, serves more than a traditional hotel food court. While you can order burgers or pasta, you can also feast upon Tandoori Portuguese Sausage while sipping on a Tropical Energy Smoothie. The menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner are extensive and delicious.

4) Test Track Refurbishment

Fans of Test Track at Epcot were disappointed when the news broke that the ride would be closed for several months for refurbishment. What made the news even worse was that the ride would be down for the entire busy summer season. Some people were upset that the ride would be given a new concept. The crash test dummies were to be a thing of the past, replaced by a “design your own concept car” theme. The new ride, officially named Test Track Presented by Chevrolet, will not disappoint you. The videos are gone, as is the waiting area where guests used to have to crowd in like sardines. Along the way you will pick up an RFID card, which you will use to “design” your car. You will answer a few questions then proceed forward. Once you are given your ride assignment you can use your card to add your design to the central computer. You can then see how your car matches up to the simulator car in which you’ll be riding.

While the interior of the ride looks quite different (think Tron) the track itself is pretty much the same. The thrilling end of the ride when your car hit’s the road outdoors is the same as always. After the ride is over you can see the statistics of your design against other designs. The ride still carries six passengers at a time. It is a FASTPASS attraction and is also one of the few Walt Disney World rides with a single rider line.

3) Storybook Circus

The recent Fantasyland expansion helped the area to nearly double in size. There are two new areas. One of them is Storybook Circus and it is a lot of fun. Dumbo the Flying Elephant has been moved here and improved at the same time. The long, hot wait in the sun for Dumbo is now gone. There are two carousels, which allow the line to move twice as fast. Dumbo is also now a FASTPASS attraction. You might want to use that FASTPASS on something else, though, because the ride now has the ultimate interactive queue. Guests are given a pager and wait inside. The kids can play under the big top while parents can sit down and relax for a few minutes.

There is more to Storybook Circus than just Dumbo. The Barnstormer has been given a new theme and landed here as well. There’s a wet play area, Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station. Pete’s Silly Sideshow is an indoor character meet and greet that features some of the Disney classics such as “The Amazing Donaldo”. And what is a circus without clowns? Several times a day Wowzer the Clown alternates shows with the Giggle Gang. The free entertainment takes place at the Storybook Circus entrance and is sure to put a smile on your face.

2) Enchanted Forest

The other new area in Fantasyland is called Enchanted Forest. It is breathtakingly beautiful, you will feel like you stepped into a fairytale. Enchanted Forest features attractions based on Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. Enchanted Tales With Belle is an interactive show in which guests can help retell Belle and the Beast’s story. Gaston’s Tavern offers you a chance to grab a delicious bite in a hurry. The statue outside is not to be missed and who knows, you might even run into the Big Guy himself.

 

There are two new attractions featuring Ariel and her friends. The first is the ride Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid. It’s a slow moving ride for all ages where you can travel through the highlights of Ariel’s tale. If you’d like to meet her yourself head to Ariel’s Grotto and have a picture taken with her in her mermaid form.

1) Be Our Guest Restaurant

One part of Enchanted Forest that deserves special mention is the new Be Our Guest Restaurant. There are a couple of special features to it. First, it is a counter service restaurant for lunch, but it turns into a full service option for dinner. Second, it is the only place at the Magic Kingdom that serves beer and wine. You will dine in Beast’s Castle in one of three incredible rooms. Any of them will make you feel like you have stepped into the movie. You could dine in Belle’s Library, the West Wing or the magnificent Ballroom. Lunch is easier than ever to order because you will use a touch screen to place your order. Entrées include sandwiches with a French flair, salads and vegetable quiche. Try Pan-seared Salmon on Leek Fondue or Layered Ratatouille for dinner. While the food is excellent, it is the atmosphere that you will remember. Be Our Guest Restaurant is Disney Imagineering at its finest. You’ll want to see it now, rather than later.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novel Dream Wanderers, the sequel is due out in 2012. I also am a co-author of the InsideScoop To Walt Disney World series. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World. You can email Paula at paula@disdining.com