Honeymoon travel guide to Walt Disney World
In this series, Katie Goldstein from Travelingpanties and Smartypanties is breaking down the best honeymoon destinations, one at a time, to help you narrow down the dizzying array of options so you can choose the one that reflects your interests, budget and style. Up today? Walt Disney World.
Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World is located in Orlando, Florida, and is served by Orlando International Airport (MCO).
Guests staying at a resort on the Walt Disney World property can take the complimentary bus called the Magical Express to and from the airport. There are also complimentary buses, monorails and boats that run between Disney attractions and hotels. However, if you're looking to explore the city of Orlando outside the Disney property, you will need to rent a car.
About Disney World
If you're wishing for your own happy ending, a honeymoon in Disney World will be your dream come true. Disney World features enough attractions to keep you busy for weeks, fine dining options for every taste, a surprisingly vibrant nightlife and plenty of opportunities for romance and relaxation.
When to go
If you're hoping for a romantic experience in Walt Disney World, we recommend visiting between late April (after spring break) and Memorial Day. The weather is comfortable, crowds are thin(ner) and prices are moderate. This is also when Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival is held, which features gorgeous foliage and free concerts. A visit between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be pretty romantic, too, if you're hoping to get a gander at Disney World's famous holiday decorations. However, parks can be jam-packed and the weather can sometimes be unpredictable. Christmas through New Year's Eve is notoriously crowded and prices are at their peak, so avoid a visit then if you can.
Where to stay
Whichever hotel you choose, we recommend picking one on the Walt Disney World property, which affords you complimentary transportation and Extra Magic Hours at the theme parks. During “magical” hours (available either in the morning before or at night after regular park hours), you can enjoy minimal wait times since most children are in bed! Not only are the properties conveniently located to the parks, but we think staying on the property is essential to get the full Disney experience.
Since it's your honeymoon, we recommend one of the hotels with a more adult theme. While some of the more juvenile resorts may be fun to visit with kids, there's nothing romantic about a Goofy-themed bedroom. The more romantic hotels are more expensive, but if you do your homework, Disney offers plenty of regularly offered discounts that you can take advantage of.
Our top pick is the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. This Victorian-style resort is the crown jewel of Walt Disney World accommodations. Featuring a stunning lobby where a live orchestra sets the mood with jazz and popular Disney music, this charming hotel features a white-sand beach dotted with old-fashioned umbrellas, a world-class spa and gorgeous views. It's also conveniently located just a monorail ride away from the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. You're sure to be enchanted by its fabulous service and modern amenities. Check out the Villas here if you're hoping for the ultimate luxury experience.
What to do
Walt Disney World is the most visited entertainment complex in the world, and there is no shortage of things to see and do.
Young at heart
- One of the main reasons you're here is to visit the Walt Disney World theme parks! While all of the parks are fun, honeymooners will probably enjoy Epcot the most. Here, couples can take a trip around the “World Showcase,” sample unique cuisine and even experience a glimpse into the future in Future World. That said, you should definitely visit the other theme parks while you're in town, such as Magic Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios or Disney's Animal Kingdom. Nostalgic couples will enjoy a trip to the new Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom®. Be sure to plan ahead and take advantage of Park Hopper tickets, which grant you same-day access to all four of the theme parks, so you can make the most of your days.
For luxury connoisseurs
- To make the most of your time in Disney, couples who don't mind dropping $2K should hire a VIP Tour Guide. A Tour Guide virtually eliminates any wait times by allowing you to go directly to every Fast Pass line as many times as you want. Guides also get you front row seating at all the shows, the choice of any row on rides, and back door entry and transport between parks (like the celebrities get). Tip: If you're fast, you can do all four parks in one day eliminating your need to pay for four days' worth of tickets!
- For unique souvenirs, visit Epcot's World Showcase, which features shops from around the world selling many fabulous cultural gifts.
- You will be delighted to find an extremely high caliber level of nightlife in Disney World. There is even a separate district devoted to showing adults a good time: Downtown Disney. Here, you will find plenty of places to cut loose! Our favorite spots are Bongos, a Cuban café, Fuego, a funky wine and cigar bar, and Raglan Road, an Irish pub.
- The Disney's BoardWalk, just a short walk from Epcot, is another area to grab drinks. Check out Jellyrolls, which is a dueling piano bar. It's always a guaranteed good time.
For outdoorsy types
- Get a Fast Pass for the African Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park. You'll feel like you were just whisked away to the real thing!
- A visit during Epcot's International Annual Food and Wine Festival is a must.
For culture seekers
- Enjoy a walk through Epcot's World Showcase. There is plenty for adults to do here. Everything from fun rides to historical movies and art exhibits.
- Look up theatrical show performances around the parks. The shows are always Broadway-quality.
For day trippers
- If you can't sit still, go hotel hopping. Spend an afternoon visiting some of the other magnificent Disney properties. Take a trip to the Caribbean at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, enjoy a taste of Africa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge or embrace the fun lifestyle at Disney's Port Orleans Resort-Riverside. Enjoy each hotel's uniquely-themed amenities, food and beverages during your visit.
For hopeless romantics
- Enjoy as many fireworks shows as you can. Wishes™ Nighttime Spectacular is a crowd pleaser. The best place to view it is on Main Street, U.S.A. (Or find a spot hidden away from the crowds and enjoy!) Upgrade your experience by booking a private, enchanting Fireworks Cruise. You can enjoy each other away from the crowds but still immersed in the action (cruises have synchronized audio on board). Also be sure to catch Epcot's IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth show as well.
- There are ample opportunities to take a romantic stroll together, but our favorite is along the water at Disney's Beach Club Resort.
- Make your memories last forever with Disney's PhotoPass® photography service in theme parks. On your honeymoon, selfies just won't do.
- Book an old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage ride at Disney's Port Orleans Resort-Riverside.
- Play hooky after a long day touring the parks and book a couple's massage at Senses — A Disney Spa at the Grand Floridian Resort. Revel in the post-wedding bliss and the excitement of your future together (perhaps your return visit will be with kids!).
- Celebrate the spirit of the tropical lifestyle. Lounge at Disney's Yacht Club Resort (man-made) beach. Enjoy scenic views of the harbor and take a walk down the bustling boardwalk.
Where to eat
Walt Disney World has a myriad of gourmet dining options for even the most discerning palate. Whether you're looking for high-quality grab-n-go options or a five-star dining experience, Disney has them all. The key to a good experience is to plan ahead. Disney restaurants accept reservations 180 days in advance of your visit, so make sure to reserve a table as early as possible. Restaurants book up quickly, so this is essential. Also, consider purchasing a Disney Dining Plan so your experience can be stress-free (meals are purchased and tracked using one convenient card).
- Victoria and Albert's is an exquisite restaurant that is continuously praised by the finest international food critics. This AAA Five-Diamond-rated restaurant serves the best ingredients from around the world.
- 'Ohana is Disney's Polynesian Resort's signature dining experience. You'll feel like you're worlds away as you dine on Hawaiian-inspired fare, sip Mai-Tais and watch the sunset.
- Share a nostalgic ice cream sundae at Beaches & Cream, located at Disney's Beach Club Resort. Now that you don't have to fit into your wedding dress, it's worth the splurge.
- California Grill at Disney's iconic Contemporary resort offers delicious cuisine and its 15th floor locale is a great place to watch the fireworks.
- Dine at Boma, located at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. This eclectic restaurant serves mouthwatering cuisine featuring African, Mediterranean and Indian influences.
Be sure to ask your Disney concierge for “Just Married” buttons! (And don't be ashamed to get the wedding-themed Mickey ears!)
Remember that unused days on your Disney Theme Park tickets can be upgraded within 14 days of first use so they don't expire. This way you can save them and come back for your anniversary!
If you don't want to get soaked on a water attraction, pack a rain poncho and put it on before you board.
Also, consider surprising your sweetie with a gift that you order in advance through Disney's Florist.