Relaxation at Walt Disney World: Tips for Vacationing Families

Relaxation at Walt Disney World: Tips for Vacationing Families

Tips for Relaxing at Walt Disney World

Even if you are a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World, you may find it difficult to unwind when you have nearly 50 square miles with very tempting shopping, dining, rides, food, and recreation to explore. Can you really find relaxation during a theme park vacation?

Just today, I was planning my FastPass+ selections and itinerary for a quick trip that we are taking at the end of August. And guess what? I found myself quickly filling up my Disney days from morning to night. Sigh; I know better.

Relaxation at Walt Disney World. Ideas for a relaxing vacation.

Some of the most priceless moments that I’ve savored at Disney World are those that were during break times. And so, just as soon as I fill you in on these tips, I’m going to revisit my August plans and make sure I’ve allowed time for relaxation at Walt Disney World.

Leave the Real World Behind

Most of us find it fairly easy to purchase and don Mickey Ears. We’re all pretty good at embracing Mickey-shaped food. And I think WDW newbies and veterans alike have no issue with shrugging off stress while riding our favorite attractions.

Mickey Waffles are served at Trail's End Restaurant at Disney's Fort Wilderness.

Mickey Waffle are always fun and delicious to eat!

But, what about technology? Some of us need it for work (even at Disney!). Some of us love sharing our family moments (and favorite Disney snacks!!) on social media. And now, My Disney Experience and other apps make it actually easier to tour Disney World with the use of our smart gadgets.

Anna and Elsa in Magic Kingdom FastPass+ Entrance

Meet Anna and Elsa using the convenience of FastPass+

Still, try to allow some time during your Disney days to unplug. Silence your phone while at the pool with your family. Keep your electronic tools quiet during meals. Try taking an entire morning or evening unplugged. After the initial withdrawal, you’ll find these moments liberating.

Guests of all ages love to swim at the Nanea Volcano Pool at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort.

Nanea Volcano Pool at Disney’s Polynesian Village.

The Road Less Traveled

While you watch the herd of guests run to their first attraction, linger on your way into the theme park. With your FastPasses pre-selected, go ahead and browse the nooks and crannies on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom. Grab a morning pastry and actually sit at a quiet table while the magic wakes up all around you.

The tables outside Casey's Corner afford magical views in the early morning. A great place to bring your pastry and coffee.

Enjoy a pastry with a magical view early in the morning.

Some of my favorite pathways for calm moments at WDW include:

  • Along the boardwalk at the Rivers of America in the Magic Kingdom
  • In the back of Fantasyland (near the train track) to Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom
  • The trails at Epcot’s Canada pavilion
  • The Hyde Park area and maze at Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion
  • The quiet nooks and crannies within Epcot’s Morocco pavilion
  • The off-the-beaten trail between Animal Kingdom’s Africa and Asia
  • The walkway between Disney’s Polynesian Village and Grand Floridian resorts
  • The walkway between Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter resorts
  • The walkway between Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness
  • The walkway from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to the BoardWalk area
Stroll the boardwalk between Frontierland and Liberty Square for a relaxing morning in the Magic Kingdom.

A quiet morning in the Magic Kingdom enjoying one of our favorite walkways.

There are always secluded areas at the resorts to settle back and talk about your day.

Disney's Beach Club resort has a relaxing solarium.

Chill out at our resort; I love the Beach Club nooks and crannies for quiet respites.

Quiet(er) Meals

I can’t stress enough how important it is to dine early or late. If you are touring in the busy season, you really want to grab your quick-service lunch meals right at 11AM. This dining strategy not only saves your family from the chaos of long lines but also gives everyone a chance at unwinding in quieter restaurants. Refreshed and refueled, you’ll be back to touring the park while the crowds are at lunch.

We also like the early strategy for table service lunch as well. We were one of the first patrons at Epcot’s Via Napoli in the picture below and while the restaurant filled up quickly, most of our meal was extremely quiet.

The dining room is quiet at the start of the lunch hour at Via Napoli in Epcot.

Dine early for quiet dining rooms.

At dinner time, dine early or late. Your hotel’s food court will be chaotic after the parks close, especially when closing hours are early in the winter time. Dine before the crowds return to the resort.

All-Star Music Intermission Food Court is quiet before the parks close.

Resort dining will be more relaxing before the crowds return after the WDW parks close.

Try late night dining for empty dining rooms — whether you stop by for a full meal, snack, or beverage, quick service dining rooms are usually quiet later at night.

We like to take a breather at Backlot Express in Disney’s Hollywood Studios before this restaurant closes. Watch the park’s Times Guide for official hours as this venue often shuts down before park closing time.

Backlot Express at Disney's Hollywood Studios is empty late at night.

Late night dining in crowd-free restaurants is a great chance to relax while touring.

Itinerary

Be strong. Fill out your itinerary and then check it over for downtime opportunities. If you are repeat guests, would the family benefit more from riding a couple of your not-so-favorite attractions or swimming in the resort’s pool?

Dig Site Pool, Coronado Springs at WDW

Afternoons are awesome at the Dig Site Pool at Coronado Springs Resort.

And doesn’t that apply to newbies too?! If your heart is not set on seeing the afternoon parade, maybe some time playing miniature golf or enjoying another recreational activity would be more memorable for everyone.

Relax at your resort and play a game like Twister at Disney's Pop Century.

Play Twister at Pop Century!

Take Advantage of FastPass+

Picture this: It’s early morning and my family is waiting at the gates prior to the opening of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. When the park opens, my husband “runs” to Toy Story Midway Mania for FastPasses while the rest of our traveling party grabs food at Starring Rolls Cafe (now closed) or meets in front of Tower of Terror. Yep, that’s how we used to tour.

FastPass+ and My Disney Experience (MDE) allow us to pre-plan many of our must do attractions so that we can slow down and enjoy more leisurely family time at WDW. Now, we are more likely to reserve a nice meal at the park, followed by a leisurely stroll over to our FastPass+ attraction.

At Disney's Animal Kingdom, beat the crowds with an early lunch seating.

Early lunch seating at Yak and Yeti in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

This strategy really works well on a day that follows a late night in an Extra Magic Hour park. We can then sleep in a bit, enjoy time at the pool, then head to a park later in the day for a meal and our FastPass+ selections. With a teen, late nights and lazy mornings work very well.

On days that we are at a park for rope drop, we are prepared with FastPass+ for morning attractions before heading back to our hotel or Disney Springs later in the day. By mixing up your itinerary, you’ll definitely discover that relaxation at Wald Disney World is indeed possible.

Disney Springs - a great place to unwind.

Plan some time at Disney Springs.

Slower Season

With the Epcot festivals becoming longer each year, more runDisney events being added, and Free Dining offers filling in the gaps, Walt Disney World seems to have three seasons: busy, busier, and busiest.

Walt Disney World is extremely crowded during the holiday season as can be seen at stroller parking in the Magic Kingdom.

December 19th crowds at the Magic Kingdom. Watch for holiday season to be super busy.

Okay, there are still a few times per year when crowds are really light. We are still fans of late January, for example.

If you can, avoid holiday school breaks as these usually cause a huge influx of guests. Don’t want crowds? Stay away from actual holidays such as New Year’s Eve.

New Year's Eve Crowd in the Magic Kingdom

New Year’s Eve crowds in the Magic Kingdom.

The Rest of the World

There’s more to see than can ever be seen. More to do than can ever be done. There’s far too much to take in here. More to find than can ever be found.” — The Circle of Life lyrics say it all.

Yes, there is more to do at Walt Disney World than touring the four major parks (Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom).

The resort hotels all offer dining and recreational fun for all ages. Take in a campfire night at your hotel or stop by a different resort for a new experience like a Pirate Cruise. The resorts are usually a refuge during the afternoon hours.

The Magic Kingdom Bus Depot is crowd-free in the early afternoon.

Escaping the parks in the middle of the day equals no bus lines and a relaxing, crowd-free resort.

Disney Springs has some of the best shops and dining choices on property. And don’t forget about the water parks and golf courses. Plus, there are out-of-the-park places to watch the high-flying fireworks if you don’t want to return to a park in the evening.

Taking in the Details

Sometimes all you need is a moment of calm in a busy day. Slow down and take in the details all around you; the creativity of the Imagineers is awe-inspiring. Don’t forget to look up, down, and all around.

Take in the beautiful scenery at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

When you sit and relax, you’ll notice all kinds of beautiful scenery.

Find a place to sit down and just gaze.

New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom feels regal and whimsical.

The regal architecture of New Fantasyland.

A walk around your resort in the late morning, afternoon, or late evening is a great time to get pictures and unwind.

Art of Animation is a fun place to unwind while taking a stroll.

An evening stroll around Art of Animation.

Recreation

Vacationing at Walt Disney World can include relaxing recreation.

Enjoy WDW resort recreation like the tennis court at Disney's Yacht Club.

Play tennis at Disney’s Yacht Club.

From running to horseback riding, you’ll find a plethora of activities to engage in throughout the resort.

Relaxing at WDW can include utilizing a New Balance Running Trail at a Disney resort.

Keep up with your fitness routine on a Disney running trail.

Adult Beverages

Let’s not underestimate the calming effect of a delicious adult beverage.

Thirsty River Bar & Trek Snacks at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Adult Beverages at Thirsty River Bar & Trek Snacks in the Animal Kingdom.

Find an out-of-the way location later in the day — we like to sit in the back of Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe with a refreshing beverage.

Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe is a quiet place in the late afternoon to sip on a beverage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Also, resort lounges are a terrific place to hideaway while sipping on an alcoholic or non-alcoholic refreshment and/or relishing some good bites to eat.

Unwind at the Martha's Vineyard Lounge at Disney's Beach Club resort.

Stop by the Martha’s Vineyard Lounge at Disney’s Beach Club resort.

Of course, if you are on a once in a lifetime trip and your priority is to see and do everything that you possibly can, we completely appreciate that mindset. Even so, try to find small breaks to add some relaxation to your Walt Disney World vacation.

It’s your turn. How do you find relaxation at Walt Disney World? Contact Us, Friend us on Facebook, or comment below to share your Walt Disney World tips.

Disney Trips with Grandparents: Planning Tips for Memorable, Hassle-free Travels

Disney Trips with Grandparents: Planning Tips for Memorable, Hassle-free Travels

Disney Trips with Grandparents

Since our son was born, we have traveled to many locations where we took his grandparents with us or met up with them at our destination. With some advance planning, multi-generational travel can be fun for the whole family.

If your parents and/or in-laws enjoy traveling, then consider a Disney trip with grandparents. Yes, it’s a little extra work to make sure everyone’s idea of vacation is implemented, however the memories made will be priceless.

Disney Trips with Grandparents: Planning Tips

The Calendar

Once everyone is on board to make a multi-generational trip a reality, the first step is coordinating calendars. First, gather dates that are available for each member of your traveling party, see what dates are mutually convenient, and then price out your vacation.

Plan a Disney trip with grandparents.

Nic and Nana with Mickey. Plan the best time of year to visit WDW for your family!

You may want to travel when prices are lower or your first priority might be to share a holiday or enjoy a certain type of weather. Once you get this first stage of planning coordinated, everything else will begin to fall into place.

Springtime at WDW. Enjoy family touring at Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival.

Visit WDW during the Flower and Garden Festival in Epcot.

Accommodations

Discuss the type of accommodations that are suitable for each traveling party as well as the price point that everyone is comfortable spending.

For a Disney cruise, you’ll want to decide on the type of stateroom desired and whether or not you want adjoining or connecting cabins.

Disney Dream at Castaway Cay

Decide which staterooms are best for everyone in your traveling party.

At Disney’s Hilton Head Island, we recommend reserving a two bedroom villa for a mixture of privacy and family togetherness.

Fun at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort

Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort

Headed to Walt Disney World? You will have a large assortment of hotels to choose from. Will you camp? Stay in a cabin? Reserve rooms at a value, moderate, or deluxe resort? Or perhaps, you’d like to rent a condo off-site. There are also villas available from studios to multi-bedroom options at the Walt Disney World resorts.

Port Orleans French Quarter is a charming hotel at WDW.

Port Orleans French Quarter is a charming hotel – a great choice when visiting WDW with grandparents.

Getting There

Now you need a plan to get the family to your Disney destination. Each travel party should choose the type of travel (car, train, plane) that best suits their budget and travel preference.

Air Travel with Grandparents

Nic and Nana waiting to board airplane.

If you live in different cities, will you meet up and then continue on to your destination or meet up at your Disney locale? Either way, specify clear departure and arrival times and keep everyone posted if travel delays are encountered.

Itinerary

Before you leave home, you’ll want to have some idea of the preferred vacation desires of each traveler. Does Grandma want to shop when the ship docks in the first port of call? Is Grandpa wanting to fish or play golf? Perhaps the kids want to ride Dumbo with their grandparents followed by lunch at Be Our Guest. While compromises will have to be made, it’s important to try to accommodate varying vacation styles, likes, and dislikes.

Fishing Excursions are a fun activity with grandparents at Walt Disney World.

Take a Fishing Excursion at Walt Disney World.

And no one is immune to getting cranky when they are exhausted. You’ll enjoy more quality moments together if everyone is well rested. So, do allow down time for relaxing pursuits such as afternoon naps, hanging out at your resort, and poolside fun. It’s a vacation, not a marathon!

Enjoy relaxation at Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Relaxing at the Wilderness Lodge.

Be flexible. If Grandpa and/or the parents need a rest, let them sit down in the shade while Nana takes the kids on a Disney ride. Parents want to do some shopping? Grandparents can watch the kids at the playground. The best part of a multi-generational trip is being able to spend time together and sometimes that means the kids alone with grandparents or the moms hanging out by the pool while the dads play horseshoes. There are countless special bonding opportunities!

Disney's Hilton Head Island is perfect for a getaway with extended family.

Grandpa, Dad, and Nic playing horseshoes at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort.

Also, allow for everyone to have some alone time. This can be during an early morning, afternoon down time, or evening. Allow those travelers needing extra rest to sleep in and then meet up for lunch.

Rest time with grandparents at the Polynesian Resort in WDW.

Parents escape to shop while Nic is being entertained by grandparents during rest time at the Polynesian Resort.

Dining

Just like at home, dining encourages families to slow down and talk. It’s a time to bond with each other.

Bonding time with grandparents on a Disney cruise.

Nic escorts Grandma to dinner on the Disney Dream.

On a cruise ship, dinner can provide the opportunity for the family to meet and discuss the different activities that each family member enjoyed that day. Or maybe Grandma wants to hear about your latest school projects.

Enjoying a family dinner on a Disney cruise ship

Animator’s Palate on the Disney Dream.

When traveling with differing ages, you’ll also want to keep in mind a few things when planning reservations. Do you have picky eaters? Does anyone need to eat at a certain time? Any allergies or other dining considerations to be aware of? Ask — before you make reservations.

French Onion Soup at Les Chefs de France in Epcot at WDW

French Onion Soup at Les Chefs de France.

By taking into consideration these dining preferences, you’ll set up meals that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Photographs

Capture the memories. Now is the time to let the grandparents pose and smile with their grandkids or get group pictures. However, grandparents can also help take pictures of your family — since the photographer is usually missing from a lot of photos, let a grandparent take photographs of you, your spouse, and the children.

Capture your memories with the grandparents.

Pose for fun photographs!

Do not forget to get pictures of you with your parents!

Separation Plan

There will come a time when you think you are all together, and then… you’re not. Perhaps Grandpa and Dad stopped to look at old-fashioned fudge in the Main Street Confectionery and lost sight of the group. Or Mom stopped to take another picture and she’s been left behind. Whatever the reason, you’ve lost your group and having a plan will get you back on track.

Main Street Confectionery in the Magic Kingdom.

Main Street Confectionery in the Magic Kingdom.

Your plan should go beyond “text if we get separated” because sometimes a phone is left in a room or a battery dies. If you are in the Magic Kingdom, for example, you may want your contingency plan to be a meeting point such as in front of Crystal Palace Restaurant.

Don't forget to set up a meeting spot with grandparents when touring a Disney Park.

Crystal Palace Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.

A separation plan is for the whole family – kids, parents, and grandparents!

Try Something New

Experiencing a new restaurant, attraction, or activity together creates an instant bond and provides fun conversation for later in the vacation.

Try a new activity like karaoke on a Disney Cruise

Karaoke on the Disney Dream

Age is Relative

The kids are never too young or too old to enjoy time with grandparents. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Grandparent entertains child at WDW.

While the parents take a break, Grandpa plays with Nic at WDW. Hope his back didn’t hurt too much later that day!

Parents get a little break from parenting around the clock, grandparents get to spoil and create lasting bonds, and kids get to soak up the unconditional love from everyone. Plus, your offspring learn to respect their older counterparts and that age is relative; grandparents are fun too.

Buzz Lightyear is a fun ride to share with a grandparent.

Challenge Grandma to a spin on Buzz Lightyear.

Then those little ones become young adults before you know it. Sure, teens may go off on their own and meet up only for meals and a few designated activities, yet the conversations when everyone is together are sure to be interesting. And even the teens will remember the laughs they’ve had with their grandparents.

Take the grandparents -- Whispering Canyon Cafe is fun for all ages.

Whispering Canyon Cafe is fun for all ages.

Don’t forget that traveling with your own parents is a great way to reconnect, especially if you live in different cities/states.

Spend time with your extended family in WDW.

Kim and her Mom at Fort Wilderness.

Set Limits

If you are absolutely against your child staying in the parks without an afternoon nap break, set a limit. However, allow plenty of opportunities for the grandparents to spoil your kid(s) or to help out.

Mickey Ice Cream Bar

Nana spoils Nic with a Mickey Ice Cream Bar. Priceless moment!

On one day in the Magic Kingdom, our son was exhausted. Grandma gave him some sips of a soda and he perked right up. Now, did that lead any of us to start putting soft drinks in his sippy cup? Of course not. But it did solve an immediate issue without any dire consequences. And we still laugh about that memory that took place 15 years ago!

Child Tired at Walt Disney World

Time to refuel!

Would you ordinarily allow your kid to race down a hotel hallway? Probably not. But watching Grandpa push a stroller crazy fast down the empty (middle of the afternoon) hallway at the Polynesian Village was harmless fun that filled Grandpa and child with in-the-moment laughter. And still gives us giggles when we remember the fun that they had.

Nana or Grandma wants to buy your kid a stuffed animal or a cookie? Well, as long as your little loved one isn’t begging and taking advantage of the generous grandparent (and doesn’t have an allergy or dietary restriction), then let the grandparent have at it. A bag of spun sugar, a sweet confection, or another furry friend (that doesn’t poop) is not going to cause lasting harm.

Let the granparent spoil your child with a Mickey Cookie.

Mickey Gingerbread Cookies are delicious!

Discuss non-negotiables and then let vacation happen! It’s the spontaneous moments that are usually the most prized.

Celebrate Milestones

While traveling with extended family, celebrate milestones. A graduation, birthday, retirement, and other special occasions become even more memorable when acknowledging them during a vacation.

Wishes Fireworks Birthday Cruise

Wishes Fireworks Birthday Cruise

Packing

Don’t forget to pack items that will make your travels easier. Good walking shoes, some moleskin, rain ponchos, and a bag for the stuff you want to haul to the parks are essential. Grandparents will appreciate your preparedness.

Planning your next Disney getaway? Don’t forget to invite the grandparents!

What are your tips for traveling with grandparents? Contact Us, Follow Us on Twitter, or comment below to share your travel tips.

Stay and Play at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

Stay and Play at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World

Ten Reasons to Stay and Play at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Stay and play at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) for an exotic escape from the stresses of the real world. With a unique setting, the resort is perfect for a weekend or week-long visit.

Stay and Play at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

The immersive experience begins the moment you turn into the driveway of the safari themed lodge.

Landscaping at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

One of the ways that Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge transporting guests to the Great Continent is through the exotic and lush landscaping painstakingly taken care of by Disney horticulturists. From pampas grass to yellow flame trees, the vegetation is reminiscent of Africa for an immersive experience.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Landscaping

Gorgeous foliage!

Pool

I adore the tropical pool areas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Both Jambo House and Kidani Village have plenty of outdoor seating, including shade from the canopy of green trees! Uzima Springs at Jambo House is an over 200,000 gallon, zero-entry pool with a gentle water slide hidden within the Floridian palms.

Uzima Springs Pool at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Uzima Springs Pool.

Uzima Springs pool at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge has shaded seating.

Shady spots are easy to find!

If your room isn’t ready upon arrival, begin your stay with some poolside fun!

Banana Cabana Adult Beverage at WDW

Banana Cabana. Cheers!

Cultural Representatives

Cultural Representatives feature talks on their homeland — an informative session that takes guests on a journey through Africa. Look at the Recreation Calendar at your resort for times. These chats are held at Kidani Village’s Palace Library and Jambo House’s Sunset Lounge.

Cultural Safari Talk at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Go on a Cultural Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Fun activities are offered throughout the resort.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge has fun activities for kids.

Watch for fun activities.

Campfires

Campfires are always relaxing and cozy. Sit around the outdoor firepit at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to unwind in tropical surroundings. Watch for scheduled campfire activities once the current burn ban is lifted. African folktales are still being told at the Arusha Savanna Overlook.

Firepit at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Firepit with cozy rocking chairs.

Restaurants

You’ll find both quick service and table service restaurants within the Animal Kingdom Lodge resort. For fine dining, reserve a table at Jiko!

The Mara boasts a menu with some unique counter service offerings. I’m always hungry for a peanut butter brownie when staying at the Lodge.

Peanut butter brownie at The Mara

More peanut butter!

AKL is also home to my favorite breakfast at Walt Disney World. With beautiful decor resembling an African marketplace and a scrumptious buffet, Boma with its wood-burning grill has remained consistently memorable throughout the years.

Boma Breakfast. Animal Kingdom Lodge. WDW.

Breakfast at Boma is a must!

Don’t forget to try the Frunch. It’s included in your all-you-care-to-eat buffet.

Jungle Juice at Disney's Boma

Jungle Juice at Boma

Cozy Rooms

While you can save money with a standard or pool view, the magic here is in the views of the savanna. However, if you won’t be spending a lot of time at the resort, go easier on your budget but allow time to view the animals from the public overlooks.

One of the best ways to stretch your budget is to play around with your vacation dates. If you can be flexible, you may find some great cost-savings. Try using Undercover Tourist to check room availability and pricing today: Save up to $660 on stays at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge!

Featuring handcrafted furniture, standard rooms are 344 square feet evoking a cozy safari lodge atmosphere.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Room at Walt Disney World

Exotic decor in room.

Savanna Views at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Splurge on a Savanna View!

Animals

If you love animals, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge affords tremendous opportunities to view over 30 species day and night from public overlooks and private room balconies. We love to watch the animals (giraffe!!) roam on this 33-acre savanna!

Giraffe grazing at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Giraffe Grazing.

Wanyama Safari

Yes, Wanyama Safari is now open to all guests of Walt Disney World. However, it’s a definite advantage in convenience and time to stay at a resort with so many unique amenities. While the Wanyama Safari costs extra, it’s an amazing adventure that includes an afternoon safari followed by dinner at Jiko – The Cooking Place.

Wanyama Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Wanyama Safari

Architecture and Artwork

Don’t rush by the African artwork at this resort. You’ll find displays of beautiful, handcarved items throughout the hotel. Pair the decor with the impressive architecture and you have a place that makes jaws drop. It’s a truly unique destination right here in the United States.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby at WDW

Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby

The bridge inside Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby

Look up at the bridge!

Fun for Kids

Look for games, activities, the Hakuna Matata playground, a kiddie pool, and more at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. For a fun evening at the resort, take in a Movie Under the Stars.

Hakuna Matata Playground at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Kids 2-12 years of age are welcome to play!

I hope you’ll find at least one reason to stop by or stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Since opening in 2001, we’ve been repeat guests and will continue to return to this thatched-roof oasis!

Share your favorite reasons to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge! Contact Us, Follow Us on Twitter or comment below to let us know what you think!

Ten Walt Disney World Snacks that You’ll Want More than Once

Ten Walt Disney World Snacks that You’ll Want More than Once

Ten Memorable Walt Disney World Snacks

Here’s a quick list of ten of my favorite Walt Disney World snacks. To be fair, there are plenty more that could be added to this scrumptious inventory. For today, I’m sharing ten really memorable snacks that I’ve enjoyed on multiple trips and sometimes more than once during a single WDW vacation. 😉 Kids and kids at heart will want to find their own best-loved eats and sips!

Walt Disney World Snacks

Raspberry Eclair

My new favorite calorie splurge is the elegant Raspberry Eclair at Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs. Tart and fruity with a white chocolate decoration, I’m not kidding when I say that I’m absolutely craving every gorgeous bite of this treat.

Walt Disney World Snacks - Raspberry Eclair at Amorette's Patisserie.

Raspberry Eclair

Gelato

Choose your favorite flavor of gelato at Vivoli il Gelato in Disney Springs. My pick is always the Piccola Copetta – a choice of two flavors in a cup. My choice scoops? Peanut butter (when available) and chocolate.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter gelato at Vivoli il Gelato

Savor your favorite flavor of gelato.

Gelato from Vivoli il Gelato at Disney Springs

Chocolate and vanilla gelato.

Citrus Swirl

For a Magic Kingdom treat, I head to Sunshine Tree Terrace and dig into a Citrus Swirl. The orange slushie blended with vanilla soft serve is SO refreshing.

Citrus Swirl at Magic Kingdom's Sunshine Tree Terrace

Citrus Swirl

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake

Originally sold at Starring Rolls Cafe, the Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake has gone through many variations. However you dress it up (Darth Vader!), it’s still chocolate and smooth peanut butter buttercream — and this mixture makes my heart swoon. You can find it now at other locations in Disney’s Hollywood Studios such as Backlot Express.

Darth Vader Cupcake

Join the dark side!

Peanut Butter Cookie

Found packaged as Minnie’s Bake Shop cookies or in Disney World bakery cases, the peanut butter cookie is thick and chewy with satisfying peanut butter chunks. Choose from Peanut Butter or Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie at Goofy's Candy Company in Disney Springs

Cookie at Goofy’s Candy Company.

Minnie's Bake Shop Cookies

Minnie bakes awesome cookies!

Chocolate Croissant

I adore the Chocolate Croissant at Gaston’s Tavern. It’s also found at several other locations, including some resort food courts. As a breakfast item, I find this snack decadent — hey, it’s vacation, right?!

Chocolate Croissant at Walt Disney World

Chocolate Croissant.

Frozen Lemonade

For a thirst quencher in the Florida heat, nothing’s better than a frozen lemonade. Also, the Magic Kingdom’s Cheshire Cafe has an amazing frozen slushy – raspberry lemonade.

Frozen Lemonade at Walt Disney World

Super refreshing!

Raspberry Lemonade Frozen Slushy Cheshire Cafe

Raspberry-Lemonade Slushy

Beignets

Port Orleans French Quarter fans are already in the know about the beignets. Get them for a snack, dessert, or breakfast! Of course, they are messy but these deep-fried pastries are worth it. Wear that powdered sugar proudly!

Beignets at Sassagoula Floatworks at the Port Orleans French Quarter resort.

Messy but good!

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich

You’ll find this comforting goodness at several quick-service locations in Walt Disney World. I like it with chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream for old-fashioned, simple flavors. Yum!

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich in Walt Disney World

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich – big enough to share!

Peanut Butter Brownie

Nestled in the exotic Animal Kingdom Lodge, The Mara boasts a counter-service menu with some unique items. I’m partial to the Peanut Butter Brownie (yes, I love peanut butter!).

Peanut butter brownie at The Mara

More peanut butter!

I hope you’ll find at least one snack from this list to try on your next visit to Walt Disney World.

Share your memorable Walt Disney World snacks! Contact Us, Follow Us on Twitter or comment below to let us know what to try next!

Ten Ways to Increase Your Magic Kingdom Experience

Ten Ways to Increase Your Magic Kingdom Experience

Ten Ways to Increase Your Magic Kingdom Experience

Let’s face it. Any day at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World is… well, a really good day. With thrill-seeking rides and family-friendly entertainment, the park never fails to amaze first-time visitors and multi-visit veterans.

Whether you are on your first or fiftieth visit, there are always more ways to increase your Magic Kingdom experience, including Overlooked and Underrated Attractions.

Ten Ways to Increase Your Magic Kingdom Experience

Your Magic Kingdom experience can be enhanced with these ten suggestions. Read on!

Take a Tour

Behind the scenes tours (from a Family Magic outing to a complete VIP extravaganza) cost extra but can really add to your Magic Kingdom touring experience. Call 407-WDW-TOUR to find the perfect add-on tour for your family!

VIP Cast Member

VIP Tour Guide at Walt Disney World

Reserve a Fireworks Dessert Party

Tomorrowland Terrace features dessert parties on select evenings of the year. Choose from patio seating on the terrace or Plaza Garden viewing where guests stand in a priority location. This add-on experience includes delicious desserts. Theme park admission is also required so you’ll want to add this party to a day and/or evening that you know you’ll be touring the Magic Kingdom.

Desserts at Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party

Desserts at Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party.

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom

Free with your Magic Kingdom admission, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is an interactive game that takes guests of all ages on a scavenger hunt. By casting Merlin’s magical spells at Magic Portals, you’ll help conquer Hades and become an apprentice sorcerer. Sign up at the Firehouse on Main Street, U.S.A. for your starter pack. If you get hooked on the game, you may want to purchase extra sorcerer cards.

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Interactive Game at Train Station

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom

A Pirate’s Adventure ~ Treasures of the Seven Seas

Help Captain Jack by discovering 5 treasures hidden throughout Adventureland. Sign up at The Crow’s Nest to begin your raids. Collect all 5 treasure finder cards and you’ll receive a collector card signed by Jack Sparrow! Fun for all ages.

A Pirate’s Adventure Treasures of the Seven Seas Map Magic Kingdom

Get your treasure map!

Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial

Speaking of that famous pirate, Captain Jack hosts a pirate tutorial throughout the day in Adventureland. Check your Times Guide or My Disney Experience app for times.

Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial in the Magic Kingdom

Nic participating in Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial.

Apprentice Pirate at Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial  at the Magic Kingdom

Apprentice Pirate certificate.

If your child wants to learn sword fighting, I suggest arriving early and have your child enthusiastically wave their hands to join the fun! If they aren’t picked the first time, go back for a later show. You’ll have better luck at the first show of the day as well as the show that takes place while crowds are waiting for or viewing the afternoon parade.

Attend a Holiday Party

After-hours parties are a terrific way to see the Magic Kingdom from a new perspective. All decked out in holiday decor with special treats and shows, the Magic Kingdom becomes even more unforgettable on party nights. Try Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. We like to attend on a day that we’ve taken off from the parks; visit Disney Springs, relax at our resort, and then be sure to stay to the party until the end when crowds are at their lowest.

Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom

Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Seek Out the Nooks and Crannies

If you race from ride to show without soaking in the details of the Magic Kingdom, you’ll have missed out on some of the most magical qualities of this iconic park. Even the quick-service restaurants have some special nooks — we love sitting upstairs at Columbia Harbour House and Pinocchio Village Haus. In the back of the Crystal Arts shop, you’ll find fascinating glass blowing demonstrations.

Columbia Harbour House in the Magic Kingdom

Sit upstairs at Columbia Harbour House for a relaxing respite.

Rocking Chairs in Magic Kingdom's Liberty Square.

Relax in rocking chairs in Liberty Square.

Street Performers

Be sure to stop and watch some of the street performers throughout the day. The Dapper Dans, Main Street Philharmonic, and Citizens of Main Street are extremely talented and worth watching.

The Dapper Dans in the Magic Kingdom.

The Dapper Dans performing during the holiday season.

Skip the FastPass… what?!

Sometimes you should skip the FastPass+ for the iconic rides with stellar queues. For instance, Peter Pan’s Flight has an interactive queue that will be missed if you only go on this ride via the FastPass entrance.

Peter Pan's Flight Interactive Queue

Watch for Tinker Bell!

Electrical Water Pageant

Think the fun is over as you exit the gates? It doesn’t have to be. Time your exit to coincide with the Electrical Water Pageant. Taking place on Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, the barges pass by the Magic Kingdom (usually about 10:35PM) when the park is open late.

Electrical Water Pageant on Seven Seas Lagoon

The iconic Electrical Water Pageant.

What extras does your family enjoy in the Magic Kingdom? Contact Us, Follow Us on Twitter or comment below to share your ideas!

In Remembrance of the Magic Kingdom’s Wishes Fireworks

In Remembrance of the Magic Kingdom’s Wishes Fireworks

Wishes Fireworks Ends

During a family dinner this past week, we were lamenting the end of the Wishes fireworks display at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World (WDW). Our teen son, Nic, exclaimed “Wishes has been the fireworks show for my whole life”. Well, then I realized that this goodbye was going to be harder than I thought.

Nic’s first visit to WDW was in 2002. At first, the fireworks were difficult for him to watch as he was sensitive to the noise. But over the years, he grew to look forward to viewing Wishes on every visit. And at 17, he still loves to watch the show. As does our whole family.

Wishes Fireworks Magic Kingdom

Since the show debuted in 2003, technically Nic did see the previous show — Fantasy in the Sky. But by the time of his second visit to Walt Disney World in December 2003, Wishes had become the nighttime entertainment at the Magic Kingdom. Michael and I have watched it as a couple, as parents, with our parents next to us, with friends, with Disney Parks Moms Panel family, and with other family members. That’s a lot of Wishes memories that bind us together with the special people in our lives.

When You Wish Upon a Star is one of my all-time favorite songs. It always makes me tear up. And every time Jiminy Crickett announces the following my eyes got watery and my lip quivered…

You see, the most fantastic, magical things can happen, and it all starts with a wish! -- Jiminy Crickett Click To Tweet

So, today, I’m just going to take a moment to remember Wishes, as well as the holiday variations enjoyed over the years. We’ve watched the show while staying at Disney’s Grand Floridian, Polynesian Village, Contemporary, and Wilderness Lodge. Sadly, most of my fireworks photos are blurry, but here’s a few memories in honor of Wishes:

Wishes Fireworks

2003: Watching Wishes from Polynesian Beach.

One of my favorite memories was when my family surprised me with a Wishes fireworks birthday cruise.

Wishes Fireworks Birthday Cruise

Wishes Fireworks Birthday Cruise

Wishes Fireworks

Watching Wishes while on a fireworks cruise.

This slightly obstructed Wishes view was taken from our balcony at the Grand Floridian.

Wishes from Grand Floridian balcony

Wishes from balcony at Grand Floridian

During my December 2007 Disney Parks Moms Panel training, we enjoyed watching Wishes from the Train Station.

Watching Wishes Fireworks

Watching Wishes during 2007 Disney Parks Moms Panel Training.

And the following year, we went to a private party for the Disney World Moms Panel, and again watched the fireworks from atop the Main Street train station. Stellar view!

Wishes from atop Main Street Train Station

Wishes from Main Street Train Station.

And who doesn’t love noshing down on sweets while watching the Wishes fireworks. In 2011, it looks like we were enjoying the dessert party!

Desserts at Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party

Desserts at Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party.

One of our favorite unique views of Holiday Wishes occurred while waiting to enter Be Our Guest Restaurant for an evening dinner reservation.

Wishes Fireworks from Be Our Guest Restaurant entrance.

Wishes Fireworks from Be Our Guest Restaurant entrance.

Check out a little video from that perspective.

We’ve seen Wishes from many different vantage points around the Magic Kingdom.

Watching Wishes fireworks in Magic Kingdom

Wishes from Frontierland.

We highly recommend watching from California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Magic Kingdom's Fireworks from California Grill's Observation Deck

Magic Kingdom Fireworks from California Grill Observation Deck

We hope the new Happily Ever After fireworks show is equally memorable for families planning their Walt Disney World vacations.

What will you miss about Wishes? Share your favorite Wishes memory!