Working our way up from the "ordinary" (at least
ordinary in terms of WDW) Disney offers an unusual but interesting aside for
many of its guests. WDW’s Wonders of the World offers inquisitive guests
behind-the-scenes views of the WDW complex through a number of educational
seminars. Many of these programs are for children but WDW offers not less than a
handful of great behind-the-scenes tours for adults as well.
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Most of these programs are 4-hours in length and
are educational walking tours but communicating and marketing workshops are also
Now, remember that picnic you can get a the
Gourmet Pantry in WDW Village? Here is the perfect place to eat that perfect
picnic – Discovery Island. Originally called Treasure Island, today, Discovery
Island is an adults getaway from the theme parks and theme motifs of hotels to
an island of tropical splendor with flora and fauna galore spread out over a 12
acre/45 minute walk that could take you the better part of a day if you chose.
In addition to the many free roaming animals and fantastic floral forests you
are likely to spend time at Avian Way, Bamboo Hollow, Cranes’ Roost, Flamingo
Lagoon, Parrots Perch, Pelican Bay, Tortoise Beach and Trumpeter Springs.
Though not for everyone, few people who take the
time to visit Discovery Island regret the boat trip from Seven Seas Lake through
Bay Lake to the island – and this really is a pretty romantic place for an
Should you and your spouse be into water parks –
you guessed it – WDW has some of the best around. Typhoon Lagoon is WDW’s more
traditional 50+ acres water park with truly state-of-the-art water facilities.
Just as The Magic Kingdom has its railroad to
encircle the park, Typhoon Lagoon has Castaway Creek. You hop on a tube (free)
and the slow moving current glides you around nearly a � mile of water course
that, during its 30 minute ride, gives you an overview of the entire facility.
You drift along at a snails pace but it is thoroughly enjoyable and (of course)
there are a number of places you can leave Castaway Creek and return later.
Typhoon Lagoon itself is a 2.75-million gallon
swimming site positioned on 2 � acres of tropical, Caribbean-styled paradise –
including all the white sand beach you would want and two connecting tidal pools
for the more docile among us.
There are two speed slides and three body slides
plus three whitewater rafting rides to keep you from dozing off, but, if you
really want to have a spectacular adventure (something you just don’t find in
your usual water parks) SHARK REEF is it! Grab a snorkel (supplied free) and
jump into a 15 minute adventure you WILL remember. Here 262,000 gallons of
seawater surround a WDW coral reef with 4,000+ live fish, etc. swimming around
you – which, of course, includes any number of live SHARKS. The sharks are small
and of the docile "we don’t eat humans" variety but the swim – the reef – the
fish – the sharks – the fun – is nothing less than a WDW top notch event!
In typical Disney fashion Typhoon Lagoon offers
immaculately kept changing rooms (with coin lockers) for its guests.
As if Typhoon Lagoon wouldn’t be enough or would
leave something out WDW also offers River Country, a Disney imagineered fantasy
land of swimming holes (with one of the largest in the state and it’s heated)
and going from there to mountain stream slides, high speed water chutes, flumes,
and something as simple and rewarding as the old-fashioned rope swings out over
the water – WDW once again does it all (of course.)
River Country is really a part of Fort Wilderness
the WDW version of a camp ground. This camp ground however is truly Disney with
650 acres of forested land, with nearly 1,200 excellent campsites, plus tennis
and volleyball courts everywhere, a marina with boat and canoe rentals, stables,
a beach, jogging trails, electric cart rentals and bike rentals, hayrides and
trail rides and more and more and more – plus all you have to do is take the 25
minute ferry ride to the Contemporary Hotel and you are in the heart of WDW.
For those couples who are sports enthusiasts and
want to combine a honeymoon adventure with a favorite sport WDW has it covered.
There are 27 top notch tennis courts scattered throughout the properties right
at WDW; there is boating of all types including speedboats, sailboats, pontoon
boats, canopy boats, paddle boats, and canoes; there is fishing, horseback
riding, and water skiing…but…you just may have to forego some of these things to
have time for WDW itself.
By now you should be getting the picture of why I
said you should allow at least a full seven days to visit WDW. Assuming you are
planning to take time to relax and take things at a leisurely pace, to eat,
sleep and enjoy each other’s company (this is a honeymoon trip, right?) you
would be hard pushed to get all of this in over a TWO WEEK timeframe, no less
during just one week! But one of the things that makes Orlando the #1 vacation
destination in the U.S. is the diversity of the area – so –
Now that you have a feel for WDW and the
diversities it can offer the honeymoon couple I want you to know that WDW is
only a part, albeit a major part, of the Orlando experience.
Universal Studios Florida is the "other" studio
attraction in Orlando but many consider this studio a little better than
Disney/MGM. At Universal most of the must see attractions are all great rides.
They include the top hit, Back To The Future, Earthquake, Jaws, and King Kong.
Then there’s the 3-D virtual adventure of Terminator 2: 3-D Battle Across Time
and the Alfred Hitchcock based suspense attraction – however – unless you really
have the time (another full day) and unless you really have the money ($40 per
person) you may want to save this for another trip (and once you’ve come here
once you will want to come again.)
Then there is Sea World of Florida and the Winter
Park Scenic Boat Tours, both just a few minutes from WDW.
About 45 minutes out of Orlando is where The
Romance River Cruise Lines offers cruises on the beautiful St. Johns River. A
dinner cruise is available on Friday’s and Saturday’s throughout the year.
On a daily basis full day excursions (tours or
just shuttle rides) are available to the Kennedy Space Center, Bush Gardens,
Silver Springs and Cypress Gardens.
But this is just a thumbnail view of the city and
its potentials. In Orlando you can have anything from aquariums and planetariums
to museums and antique centers – from the opera, ballet, theater and concerts
halls to Church Street Station? That’s right! For those of you who just can’t
find enough to do and the Pleasure Island nightlife scene just isn’t exciting
enough to satisfy your late night party moods, then Church Street Station is
obviously for you.
Church Street Station is another Pleasure
Island-type of entertainment and dining complexes but with a bit more reality
and a bit less Disney. There is a cover charge of about $15 per person to get
into this facility. Church Street Station is better known for its atmosphere and
music than for its food. You can enjoy Dixieland with can-can dancers, bluegrass
and folk music, full blown shows with top entertainment, nostalgic 50’s music,
modern disco and a little of everything else.
Here is my personal favorite – and – if you
happen to be into hot air ballooning or if you have ever thought you might like
to try hot air ballooning or if you believe, like I believe, that a hot air
balloon trip with fruit, cheese, pastries and (of course) champagne, could be
one of the most romantic days of your honeymoon – this might just be for you.
While hot air balloon rides are NOT inexpensive (figure $300+ for the two of
you) they are spectacular and may be the one and only thing that could out do
your WDW experience.
In the Orlando area there are a number of good,
qualified, reputable companies to select from – when you first get in ask at
your hotel for their preferred choice and make your reservations as far in
advance as you can. Allow at least � a day (starting just before dawn) for your
Now, armed with a pretty thorough overview of WDW
and the surrounding area here are some tips and considerations for you to look
at before finalizing your honeymoon or anniversary trip to WDW.
The best time to visit WDW is NOW – from early
September through the 15th of December, then from January early
January (after the Christmas Holiday rush) to mid February (when the winter
tourist season gets into full swing in Florida) and then again from the week
after Easter (when the winter tourist season ends) until the middle of May (when
many schools start letting out for the summer.) During these times of year rates
are likely to be low, lines at the theme parks will be MUCH shorter or
non-existent, which in itself means you will save anywhere from two to four
hours a day of waiting in lines, and flights tend to be less full and less
Once you have decided on a date and how long you
will be able to stay – plan ahead – as you can tell from this month’s and last
month’s article on WDW there really is more to do than you are likely to have
time for and while the last thing you want is a strict schedule to follow you
will want a general idea and overview of how and what you are planning to do
when you get to WDW.
WDW has single-day and multi-day passes plus a
mix of one-theme-park-a-day and go-as-you-please passes. You just have to work
through a general itinerary to determine what’s best for you.
Then, depending on when you plan to travel and
how long you plan to stay you may find a WDW packaged vacation that saves you
big bucks while satisfying your needs. By all means take the time to check with
a travel agent or honeymoon specialist to see what’s out there – and make sure
your agent has personal, current knowledge of WDW.
A routine that has worked well for me over the
past number of years is as follows:
The day of arrival I don’t go to any of the theme parks. I usually
arrive in the afternoon and like to check out the hotel, talk to the
concierge to see what’s new and what’s news, relax, do some of the
non-Disney things then have a great dinner and get to bed at a decent
hour so I can start early in the morning – this usually beats the crowds
and I see more in less time. Besides, WDW passes are not cheap and why
pay for a day and spend less than half a day there?
The first full day at WDW I get up early enough to be at the theme
park of my choice (usually the Magic Kingdom is first just to get the
full impact of the Disney experience) before it is officially open. What
many visitors don’t realize is that the park actually is open to the
public one hour before the attractions open. You can go in, stop for
coffee at one of the cafes (always open early) and get to the area of
the park you want to start at before the rush hits – doing all of this
at a leisurely pace – "leisurely" should be the operative word when you
go to WDW.
When you are ready for a break, if you are at the Magic Kingdom or
Epcot Center just jump on the monorail and get off at one of the three
hotels on the monorail line for a cocktail or milk shake or whatever.
Then return to the park at your leisure.
For at least two days of my stay I like to plan my "big meal of the
day" for Epcot’s great restaurants and then I plan to eat either very
early or very late (reservations are an absolute MUST and very tough to
get for the rush hours, either at lunch or dinner.) If you are staying
at a Disney hotel or at one of the hotels at the Disney Village Hotel
Plaza you can make reservations by phone up to three days in advance,
otherwise as soon as you enter Epcot you should first go to the WorldKey
Information System in Earth Station. Here you can make your dining
reservations for the day – but be early, most of the restaurants are
fully booked by 10 AM.
Around the traditional lunch hour the lines are the longest at most
attractions so this is a good time to either have a reservation to eat,
leave the park for a brief respot at one of the hotels along the
monorail line and/or take a break and return to your hotel for a few
In general, the most leisurely way to enjoy WDW (for me) is to do
the early morning thing when the crowds are the smallest; then take a
midday break, when the crowds are the largest; and return late in the
afternoon to continue my journey into the evening (once again when the
crowds have become smaller.)
I am ALWAYS amazed that no matter how leisurely a pace I set for
myself, by the end of my WDW stay I am beat. There is something to do
from dawn to early morning (as in 2 AM) EVERY DAY – so – take your time,
take breaks, set a leisurely pace and enjoy yourself. If you don’t do
this you are likely to remember arriving, leaving, and one day in
between; the rest of the time could be nothing more than a blur!
When you look at all of the potential
options you will have and all that WDW and
Orlando have to offer, you can see why this is
the #1 vacation destination in the U.S. Further, once you take the time to look
at WDW in depth you will start to realize that from this one destination you can
be nearly anywhere in the world you want to be. You can visit far off lands,
historic times, fantasy lands and more, all from this one central location – WDW.
While most people wouldn’t think of a "Disney"
destination as a romantic place to go – don’t kid yourself – you would be hard
pressed to find a nicer, prettier, cleaner, more friendly destination with more
options and more people who really are there to cater to you.
He’s finally popped the question and of course you
said yes. Now the work starts. Your wedding plans must begin right away.
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