Do you have three spare months of vacation you can afford to take in one fell swoop? Probably not, but that’s what you’d need to sample most of what’s on the menu in Orlando. You’d need at least two weeks to do almost everything at Disney World alone.
A few years ago, I did a three-part series on Disney World (which is actually in Buena Vista, but never mind). Several readers offered much-appreciated positive feedback, and I know of at least four families that planned trips there this summer, with intentions of using my suggestions. I’ve asked them to let me know what they do there so I can pass along the info. At the time I wrote the series, I promised an update on any new experiences we had during our three-day visit to Disney World a few weeks ago. So here goes.
I meant what I said – to enjoy the full flavor of Disney World, you would need probably two weeks. But three days is the absolute minimum, and for that short of a stay, you’ll want to buy a Park Hopper ticket so you can move back and forth among the four major parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Another good thing about Disney World is that it’s open all year, so you’re not limited to summer months. (Disney’s not just for kids, either; a three-day weekend with the youngsters packed off to Grandma’s sounds like a fine idea.)
Since my sister lives near Disney, we’ve been able to take four short trips in recent years, but we still haven’t covered everything. We haven’t managed to get to the two water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, so I can’t report on those yet. But I can tell you about a couple more restaurants we tried, and spotlight some attractions you won’t want to miss.
First, a reminder: Stay at one of the Disney Resorts. The prices range from $70 a night into the four digits – no more than any other nearby hotel – so there’s something for every budget. If you visit Disney World exclusively during a Florida trip, you won’t even need to rent a car, because the free Magic Express will pick you up at the airport and take you back when you’re ready to leave. And don’t worry about your luggage; Disney will snag it from baggage claim and take it straight to your room. Also, resort guests get extra hours (one in the morning, up to three in the evening) in the parks on alternating days. And not only can you move quickly between parks via bus, monorail or boat, you have convenient access to your hotel room, too.
A couple of times in the past, we’ve stayed at the Wilderness Lodge, which my husband loves because of its rustic feel. This time, though, we opted for the Contemporary, Disney’s classic and probably best-known resort. You’ll remember it from the Wonderful World of Disney; it’s the one where the monorail runs through the lobby. The monorail was a key factor in our choosing this resort, because you can be into one of the parks within minutes. The convenience is enough to recommend Contemporary, but the uniquely decorated rooms cap it off. A combination of wood, metal and glass complement one another in a modern twist to the art deco motif. The beds are comfy, and the rooms in the tower (be sure to book that instead of one of the unconnected buildings) have balconies. We had a great view from which we watched the Magic Kingdom fireworks display one night.
We had excellent omelets for breakfast at the Concourse Steakhouse at the Contemporary. I always recommend our favorite haunts: Rose and Crown Pub, Bistro de Paris, Les Chefs de France and Alfredo di Roma Ristorante, all at Epcot. But this time we ate at Restaurant Marrakesh in the Moroccan section of Epcot, and as we were told it would be, it was wonderful. Before we did that, we checked out some of the nearby shops, and saw some really cool things: exotic wicker baskets and other knickknacks, furniture, and traditional clothing. My son bought a shirt.
A Disney employee told me if I liked the “feel” of great food on my tongue, I would love Marrakesh, and she was right. But the atmosphere is a special treat. While we were there, a beautiful belly dancer performed for 15 or 20 minutes, and at one point, coaxed some kids from one of the other tables to join her. Couscous is the “official” food of Morocco, as we were told, and the versions at this restaurants are sumptuous. We also enjoyed some out-of-this-world lamb dishes. As far as cost, it was a bit less than our other favorite Epcot restaurants, with the check of an average guest (including beverage) coming in at $15 to $29.
Here are a few other restaurants you won't want to miss:
• Les Chefs de France, in the Paris portion of Epcot.
• Le Cellier in Canada. It's a hot ticket and one that requires advance registration.
• 'Ohana at the Polynesian. A top-drawer Hawaiian-style family buffet. I have a cookbook with the recipe for the grand finale bread pudding, but it just isn't quite the same.
• California Grill. Another hard-to-come-by reservation, so do it 180 days in advance. Eclectic, tasty and unique cuisine overlooking the Magic Kingdom. Stick around for the fireworks display.
By the way, if you’d still like to visit Disney this year but haven’t booked yet, American Airlines is offering $178 round-trip tickets from Tulsa for trips taken between Aug. 14 and Oct. 3; you can’t beat that deal. So, about that three-day weekend...!
Contact Kim Poindexter at firstname.lastname@example.org