Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Big News!!

Hi there, Drinking the Kool-Aid fans.  I wanted to share some exciting news with you.  I have developed a Disney Vacation Planning Webinar Series!!  The first session will take place on Sunday, June 9th at 8:00pm, and  it will last approximately 30-45 minutes.  I'll be covering all of the basics of Disney Vacation Planning (when to go, where to stay, package options, planning timelines, and introductory information about personalized itineraries/daily touring plans).  Most exciting, there will be a live Q&A session at the end of the meeting where you can ask questions (and get answers) in "real time".  This Webinar is completely free, but space is limited to 25 participants, and you must pre-register.  Just click on the link below to register for the event.  Then, on June 9th, get into your pajamas, pour a glass of wine, and learn some Disney vacation-planning skills!  See you then!!

Meeting Registration: Disney Planning Webinar Series with Disney Specialist Meredith McCutcheon, Part One: The Basics | AnyMeeting - The Completely Free Web Conferencing and Meeting Service

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Tropical Storm and a Tea Party

I awoke on the morning of our last day at Disney World to the sounds of driving rain and howling wind.  Isaac had made landfall on the Floridian east coast the previous day, bringing torrential downpours to the Orlando area.  Luckily, by the time it slammed into Florida, Isaac had been downgraded to a tropical storm.  Nevertheless, it would be a VERY wet day at Disney World.  Fortunately, we were planning to depart Orlando mid-afternoon and head to Vero Beach for a few days of relaxation before flying home.  The storm was moving inland, so by the time we arrived at Vero Beach, it would be long gone.

Our original plans for the morning had been to visit Epcot's Future World for a few hours.  Then, the girls would depart Epcot in the early afternoon to head to the Grand Floridian Resort where Sadie would attend the Wonderland Tea Party with Alice and the Mad Hatter.  The boys would stay at Epcot and enjoy a few more attractions.  Then, we'd all meet up in the lobby of the Beach Club, gather our luggage, and drive to Vero Beach.  Despite the rain, we all agreed to stick with the original plans, theorizing that the theme parks would be much less crowded than normal due to the weather. 

Tip Time: Even if you're not dealing with the unlikely event of a hurricane on your Disney World trip, it's likely that you will experience rain at some point on your vacation.  Don't leave the theme parks!!  Most of the attractions still operate in the rain, and crowds lighten during a storm.  So, don your raingear and have fun!!  If you are seriously adverse to wet weather, consider heading to Epcot's Future World.  Within each indoor pavilion in Future World, you'll find several attractions, giving you plenty to do inside until the rain lets up.

As I packed up the last of our luggage, my worries dissipated.  Despite my constant self-admonitions to the contrary, I'd been concerned about Isaac for a good portion of the previous five days.  Now, it finally seemed as if everything was going to work out.  We called Bell Services to store our luggage for the day, enjoyed one last breakfast in the Concierge Lounge, and began the short trek to Epcot's World Showcase.

Tip Time: On your departure day, Bell Services will gladly store your luggage until you are ready to leave, allowing you to enjoy every last minute of your vacation.  Call them about 30 minutes before you plan to leave your room.

Approximately two minutes into our walk, I realized that our ponchos were simply no match for the Isaac-induced rain and wind.  To make matters worse, in the mad rush to pack, I'd forgotten to throw our flip flops into our day bag.  By the time we reached Epcot's International Gateway Entrance, our tennis shoes were thoroughly soaked.  In fact, we were drenched all the way up to our waists.  On the bright side, my prediction that the parks would be empty was accurate.  Since there was no mad rush to the headliner attractions, we had plenty of time to slosh over to MouseGears (one of the largest Disney merchandise stores in all four theme parks) for some flip flops.

After a VERY pricey purchase of rain-appropriate footwear, we were ready to start our day of touring. 
Buddying up to Bruce in Epcot's Future World
Because the park was almost completely empty, we modified my touring plan and decided to explore each pavilion thoroughly before making a mad dash to the next one.  By lunchtime, we'd checked off almost every attraction on our morning "wish-list", and the rain was even beginning to let up.  The more bearable weather brought larger crowds, though, so Eric and Jack decided that they would spend the afternoon grabbing a few FASTPASSES and heading back to World Showcase to do some more Agent P Missions.  We ladies had our own afternoon plans at the Grand Floridian Resort.

Tip Time: The Wonderland Tea Party is offered on select afternoons at the Grand Floridian Resort.  For a reasonable fee (especially by Disney standards), girls can attend a tea party with Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter!  Attendees play games, decorate cupcakes, and are treated to a character meet in an intimate setting.  

When we walked into the Grand Floridian Resort, all three of us caught our breath.  The Grand Floridian is, hands down, the most elegant deluxe resort on Disney property.  For those looking for the ultimate luxury
It's Tea Time!
accommodations, the Grand Floridian is the resort of choice.  My mom and I only had an instant to take in our surroundings, however, as Sadie was growing increasingly impatient to change into her Alice costume before the party began.

Tip Time: Girls do not HAVE to dress like Alice for the Wonderland Tea Party, but many do. Purchase an Alice costume BEFORE you leave home to avoid marked-up merchandise prices at Disney World.

After checking Sadie into the 1900 Park Fare restaurant for the tea party, my mom and I headed across the lobby to the Gardenview Tea Room for afternoon tea.  While Sadie partied with Alice, my mom and I sunk into the comfortable chairs in the Tea Room and spent the next hour engaged in uninterrupted conversation, reminiscing about our favorite moments of the trip.  It was the perfect ending to our Disney World vacation.

Tip Time: Boasting beautiful views of the Grand Floridian's lush gardens, the Gardenview Tea Room is the perfect place to take afternoon tea.  If your daughter is attending the Wonderland Tea Party with Alice, consider making a simultaneous reservation at the Gardenview Tea Room.  This way, you'll be steps away from your child while enjoying a treat of your own.

The next hour passed quickly, and soon it was time to pick up Sadie.  She bounded out of that party, a gigantic smile plastered on her face.  During the entire commute back to the Beach Club, she did not stop talking about her afternoon.  She was STILL talking when we walked through the doors of the Beach Club one final time to meet up with the boys, who'd enjoyed their afternoon just as much as we'd enjoyed ours.

As we lugged our belongings out of the Beach Club doors, we turned around to gaze one last time at the resort that had held so many good memories over the last five days.  The bittersweet moment of departing the happiest place on Earth was offset, though, by the knowledge that our adventure was not over yet!!  We were off to Disney's Vero Beach Resort for two days of fun in the sun!!

Meredith McCutcheon
Disney Specialist, Ginger's Getaways: Rochester Hills, MI
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Monday, April 29, 2013

Dessert and a Deluge

Boom!  Boom!  Boom!  Colorful fireworks exploded behind Cinderella Castle, casting a royal silhouette against the night sky.  I glanced down at my children's faces; their chins rested on the railing of the Tomorrowland Terrace as they stared at the Castle, pure wonder glistening in their eyes.  I breathed a deep sign of relief as a wave of gratitude washed over me; Isaac had yet to hit Florida...but he was coming.

Approximately three days before any Disney vacation, I begin to fixate on one disastrous scenario that has the potential to ruin our whole trip.  This fixation occurs like clockwork, and it serves as my motivation to prepare for the unexpected.  This time, Hurricane Isaac was my scenario of choice.  Usually, my concern dissipates as soon as we touch down in Orlando, but things were a little different on this trip.  While Orlando is so far inland that it rarely sustains a direct hit from a hurricane, Disney World can easily be inundated with constant downpours and high winds from tropical storms, even when they only graze the Florida coast.  In addition, we'd planned to spend two days on the ocean at the end of the trip.  So, needless to say, I'd been tracking Isaac's path all week.  Several times, I was able to convince myself that I needed to forget about Isaac and enjoy our trip since I had little (ok, zero) control over the trajectory of a tropical storm.  Nevertheless, Isaac had undeniably created his own tropical storm in my head, and I couldn't seem to permanently take cover from him.

But now, here we were on our last night at Disney World, and we had been incredibly fortunate, as
Our View of the Castle From the Terrace
Orlando had yet to feel the effects of Hurricane Isaac.  In fact, we'd had an incredibly memorable evening.  After dinner at Chef Mickey's, we'd hopped over to Magic Kingdom for one last night of fun.  Each of my children had picked one favorite attraction to experience again.  Then, we checked in at the Tomorrowland Terrace for the Fireworks Dessert Party.

Tip Time: We love to end our Disney vacations by attending Wishes Nighttime Spectacular (the nightly fireworks display at the Magic Kingdom).  For us, there's no better way to say good-bye than listening to "When You Wish Upon a Star" as fireworks explode behind Cinderella Castle.  What we DON'T love, however, is battling the crowds on Main Street when the fireworks are over.  Luckily, there's an alternative!  Almost every night, Tomorrowland Terrace hosts a fireworks dessert party.  Cold milk, countless decadent desserts, and reserved seating for Wishes--seriously, what could be better?  This event costs extra and you MUST make reservations, so be sure to call ahead of time (usually, reservations for this event open 30-60 days prior).  

Upon checking in at the party, we were ushered to our reserved table and instructed to help ourselves to dessert.  As we rounded the corner to the buffet, Jack and Sadie's eyes grew to the size of saucers.  Cold milk, warm cookies, hot chocolate and coffee, an ice cream bar complete with whipped cream and cherries, and an array of decadent bite-sized desserts were spread out on several tables.  Jack's eyes locked on mine, and I knew what he was going to ask before he even opened his mouth, so I answered the question that he hadn't even posed yet.  "Whatever you want, guys.  It's our last night.  Go crazy!!"

And crazy they went!  We returned to our table with loaded plates and leisurely enjoyed our desserts as we shared our favorite memories from our trip.  When the pre-show started, we strolled up to the railing and settled in--no jostling for a spot!!  And then, the fireworks began!  The view of the fireworks from Tomorrowland Terrace is not completely head-on, but it did not detract from the show at all.  Best of all, the view was completely unobstructed and our children could clearly see it on their own (there was no need to put them on our shoulders).

After the show was over, instead of joining the masses as they surged toward the exit, we hung out in Tomorrowland for about a half hour.  Then, we slowly made our way to the front, unimpeded by the hordes of people who'd left right after the show.  Because everyone had departed at once, there was no wait for a bus by the time we lined up, and we were easily able to find a seat.  Within twenty minutes, we'd arrived back at the Beach Club, and we were sinking into bed before we knew it.  I leaned over to turn off the light, closed my eyes, and listened to the sounds of the wind as it began howling outside our resort.  Then, came the rain, slowly at first...then harder and harder.  It was official.  Isaac had hit!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Right Back Where We Started From

After a near disaster at the Pirates' League, we decided to grab a quick lunch and make a rapid escape back to our hotel room for a long, much-needed rest.  Our 5-day trip to Disney World was nearing its end, and we'd maintained a high-energy pace through most of it.  Furthermore, I knew the kids would need their rest to fully enjoy the ultimate celebration I'd planned for our final night: dinner at Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary Resort, followed by the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party back at the Magic Kingdom.

Tip Time: One of the biggest benefits of staying at an onsite Disney resort is the abundant, complimentary transportation from your hotel to the theme parks.  Buses, monorails, and watercraft operate continuously throughout the day, making it easy to escape back to your hotel for a much-needed midday rest.  A Disney World vacation is full of magic and fun, but it is very stimulating.  To maximize your time and energy, arrive at the theme parks before they open.  Tour the parks hard for 3-4 hours, then return to your resort after lunch for a break (when the parks are at their hottest and most crowded anyway).  After a nap or a swim, head back to the theme parks in the late afternoon or early evening.  Staying at an onsite resort makes it easy to do this.

Almost immediately upon arriving back at the Beach Club, Jack and Sadie both collapsed on their beds and fell asleep.  Truthfully, the grown-ups were not far behind them!  After a few hours of rest, we all felt fully restored and ready to take on our final evening at Disney World.  First stop, Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort!

Tip Time: Chef Mickey's is one of three onsite Disney World locations where guests can dine with some combination of the following classic characters: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and Pluto.  It is also one of the most difficult reservations to secure, so be sure to book your meals 180 days before your trip.

Chef Mickey's is located at Disney's Contemporary Resort, the only hotel within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom.  For those who would prefer not to walk, the Contemporary Resort is on the monorail loop to the Magic Kingdom; in fact, it runs directly through the hotel!!  Since we were planning to end our evening at the Magic Kingdom, Chef Mickey's was the perfect choice for dinner.

When we walked through the front doors of the Contemporary Resort, I was immediately hit with a wave of nostalgia.  We'd stayed at the Contemporary Resort on our first Disney trip, and although our subsequent Disney vacations have been absolutely amazing as well, I knew that nothing would ever quite compare to the pure magic we'd felt on that first trip.  As the rest of my family continued on to the restaurant, I lagged behind for a moment to take in my surroundings.  My private trip down memory lane was short-lived, however, shattered by the piercing voice of my daughter as she impatiently yelled over her shoulder, "Come ON, Mom!!  It's time to eat with Mickey!"

Dinner at Chef Mickey's

So off we went!  Prior to this trip, I'd never had the opportunity to eat at Chef Mickey's, so I was excited to try it out.  With its stellar reviews and difficulty of securing a reservation, I'd assumed that we were in for a real treat.  I was wrong.  To be fair, there was nothing really terrible about the restaurant.  The food was fine, the characters were fine, everything was fine.  In my opinion, however, Chef Mickey's does not hold a candle to Tusker House at Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Tusker House features the same cast of characters, but the food at Tusker House is infinitely more interesting, the staff is more attentive, and the characters spent more time with us.  In the Chef Mickey's vs. Tusker House contest, Tusker House absolutely gets my vote.

After dinner, we hopped on the monorail and headed for the Magic Kingdom.  When I first started planning this trip, I knew that I wanted to end our vacation with the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular, the nightly fireworks display at the Magic Kingdom.  On our first trip, we'd all been absolutely enthralled by the show.  Not as enthralling, however, were the hordes of people jostling for a viewing spot.  Even less thrilling was the post-fireworks logjam as some guests tried to leave and others attempted to head back into the park to hop on one last attraction.  To avoid the crowds and guarantee a stress-free departure after the show, I decided to make a reservation at the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party.  It was, hands-down, one of the best decisions I'd made on the entire trip.

Next Up: Dessert and a Deluge

Meredith McCutcheon
Disney Specialist, Ginger's Getaways
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Monday, March 18, 2013

Pirate Peril: Part Two

My daughter's trip to the Pirates' League had begun with such promise.  Sadie has absolutely LOVED our trip to the League on our first Disney World visit the previous year, and she could hardly wait to be transformed into a pirate empress once again.  We arrived about ten minutes early for her appointment, and we were called in almost immediately to begin the pirate-naming ceremony.  After a few rolls of the dice and a spin of the super-secret pirate-naming wheel, Sadie was officially christened Pirate Empress Kat Gunskull, and we were directed to the seating area to await her pirate makeover.

I'd assumed that Sadie would be thrilled at this point, considering she'd been counting down the minutes to her appointment.  Within seconds of being called in to the Pirates' League, however, Sadie's mood had changed drastically.  I could tell that she was already unhappy with the experience, and she was trying hard to hide her disappointment.  By the time her "pirate guide" called her to the makeover chair, she wasn't even smiling.  For the rest of the appointment, I could tell that she was just going through the motions; at times, it even appeared that she was fighting back tears.

Tip Time: Just because your child enjoys a special experience on one trip to Disney World, don't assume that she will like it as much the second time.  The novelty will have naturally worn off, making the experience inherently less magical.  It's nearly impossible to replicate a memorable moment exactly, so it's sometimes best not to try.  Trying a brand-new experience is almost always better.

After a lackluster appointment at the Pirates' League, we stepped out into Adventureland just in time to catch the next showing of Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial, a fun live show featuring the scoundrel Jack Sparrow himself.  As we wandered over to the Tutorial's stage, the Captain's eyes locked on Sadie, and he called on her to be his assistant for the show.  Sadie did not even hesitate for a second; she bounded right up to that stage, a huge smile on her face.

Sadie on stage at the Tutorial
For a moment, I let myself believe that this whole Pirates' League experience might just be memorable after all; at the very least, Sadie would have an amazing story to share with the boys when we met up again.  For a few moments, Sadie actually appeared to be enjoying herself...and then, Captain Jack Sparrow made direct eye contact with her...up close.  And the terrified tears started flowing.

Captain Jack graciously helped Sadie off the stage and back to my waiting arms, but there was very little I could do to console her.  She was completely over the entire pirate experience, and she begged me to wipe her face off and take off her costume.  I'd learned from previous experience that it is crucial to "pick my battles" with my kids, especially when we are someplace that is highly stimulating to begin with.  If Sadie didn't want to keep her pirate costume and make-up on, this was not a battle that I was interested in fighting.

Tip Time: While Disney World is one of the "happiest places on Earth", it's important to have realistic expectations for your trip, especially if you are traveling with small children.  The theme parks are full of stimulating sights, sounds, and smells; children can easily fall victim to sensory overload.  Since kids are not capable of fully expressing themselves verbally, this "overload" often results in tears.  To avoid a complete meltdown, try to pick your battles. Of course, it's important to correct unacceptable behavior, regardless of where you are.  On the other hand, it's probably not that important that your kids keep a bandanna on all day if they don't want to.

By the time we met up with the boys a few minutes later, Sadie looked almost exactly as she had before her Pirates' League appointment.  My husband and I locked knowing glances.  We shook our heads, let it go, and continued on.  Because we'd decided to "go with the flow" as much as possible that morning, there was no major meltdown to recover from, and the rest of the day was simply wonderful.  In fact, that evening brought some of the most memorable moments of our entire trip!!

Next Up: Dinner with Mickey, a Fireworks Dessert Party, and Isaac Hits!

Meredith McCutcheon
Disney Specialist, Ginger's Getaways
Personalized Disney Itineraries and Touring Plans
Find me on Facebook

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pirate Peril, Part One

I cannot believe that this is our last full day at Disney World, I thought to myself as I poured milk into my daughter's cereal bowl. As I joined the rest of my family at our table in the lounge, the poignancy of the moment swept over me.  I glanced around at the most important people in my life and realized what a wonderful experience this vacation had been.  It hadn't been perfect; we'd had our share of meltdowns, childhood angst, and irritation.  Our kids had whined, complained, and fought with each other at times.  We'd occasionally gotten on each others' nerves.  And we were all beginning to fatigue.  But we'd created memories that we will be able to share for the rest of our lives, and my children got to spend an entire week with their the most magical place on earth.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Tip Time: When we invited my mother to accompany us on this trip, we realized that we were going to need a little extra space, so we opted to book a larger room on the Club Level at Disney's Beach Club Resort.  When you book a room at Club (or Concierge) Level, you have access to a private lounge that offers a daily continental breakfast, afternoon snacks, and an evening cocktail service.  Although it was a fun experience, I would probably not stay on the Club Level again.  Unless you plan to be at your hotel to take advantage of the afternoon/evening offerings every day, I don't think that it's worth the extra cost.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a "Breaking News" bulletin flashing across the television screen in the corner of the lounge.  The bulletin was followed by a gigantic radar image of Hurricane Isaac, barreling on a trajectory that was now certain to graze the east coast of Florida.  Although Orlando would not sustain a direct hit from Isaac, forecasters were warning that the storm would bring sustained, torrential downpours to the area, beginning the next day...the very day that we were planning to depart Disney World and drive east to Vero Beach for two days of relaxation before heading home.  Nevertheless, I'd made a commitment several days earlier to enjoy every day of this vacation, hurricane or no hurricane.  I will admit that it is against my very nature to "go with the flow", but I knew that, in this case, I was going to have to adapt to whatever came our way.

Sadie and Rapunzel
So, we soldiered on, arriving early to begin our second day of fun at the Magic Kingdom!  The day dawned with promise; the skies were gloomy, but they were dry.  And we had SUCH an amazing day ahead of us.  The plan was to split up for most of the morning.  The boys would tackle some of Magic Kingdom's "thrill rides" like Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Meanwhile, the girls would head to the Town Square Theater to meet Sadie's favorite princesses.  After reuniting briefly to visit with Peter Pan, the boys would head off on their own again while the girls would take a trip to the Pirates' League, where Sadie would be transformed into a pirate empress! 

Tip Time: Although the fundamental purpose of a family vacation is to spend time with family, do not be afraid to split up occasionally at the theme parks, especially if you have children of different ages and genders.  Parting ways for a few hours allows all family members to enjoy favorite attractions that may not appeal to others in the group.  It also provides a wonderful opportunity for each parent to spend quality time with one or two children.

Our first visit to the Pirate's League; note the happy expression
On our first trip to Disney World, we'd visited the Pirates' League with both children (I wrote about it in a previous blog post). Although both kids had enjoyed the experience at the time, Jack decided that he'd rather spend his time riding attractions.  Sadie, on the other hand, could not WAIT to be a pirate empress again.  The name-picking ceremony, the nail polish, the sparkly tattoo...she loved all of it.  She even saved her money to pay for half of the makeover.

Tip Time: It's easy to get caught up in the moment and overspend at Disney World, so set clear expectations for what you will and will not pay for...before you even leave home.  We give our kids $20 each to spend how they wish on vacation; if they want to purchase a more expensive souvenir or book a pricy "experience", they must save their own money (weekly allowance, birthday money, etc.) to pay for it.

Our second visit; note the change of attitude
As our Pirates' League appointment drew nearer, Sadie could barely contain her excitement.  By the time we walked up to the check-in desk, she was literally vibrating.  Thirty minutes later, this positive attitude had completely disintegrated, as Sadie morphed into a barely-recognizable version of her previously happy-go-lucky self.  And we'd all learned a very important lesson.

Next Up: Pirate Peril, Part Two   

Meredith McCutcheon
Disney Specialist, Ginger's Getaways
Personalized Disney Itineraries and Daily Touring Plans
Find me on Facebook or e-mail me at


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Date Night in the World!!

As if we were swimming through quicksand, we slowly dragged our exhausted bodies toward the entrance to the Beach Club.  Finally, we reached the automatic doors at the front of our resort.  They mercifully opened, and we were instantly hit with a blessed blast of air conditioning.  As we collapsed into the comfortable chairs in the lobby of our hotel, we finally had a moment to reflect on our day at Animal Kingdom.

Our fantastic lunch at Tusker House
The morning had been amazing.  My touring plan had allowed us to enjoy multiple headliner attractions with little to no wait, and our character lunch at Animal Kingdom's Tusker House had easily been the best meal of our trip. Unfortunately, the afternoon was arguably less successful.  The weather grew extremely hot, and Animal Kingdom has relatively few indoor attractions in which to escape the heat.  The kids quickly became cranky and resistant to my touring plan.  In an effort to salvage the day, we tossed out the touring plan and spent some time leisurely enjoying the hidden treasures of the park.  After deciding to cut our day short in an effort to end on a positive note, however, we became trapped by the afternoon parade, destroying the kids' recently-repaired good moods.  Regardless of the roller coaster events of the last seven hours, however, none of us could claim that our day at Animal Kingdom had not been memorable!

Tip Time: In most situations, I highly recommend taking a mid-afternoon break from the theme parksThe parks are hottest and most crowded in the afternoons; escaping to your hotel for a swim or nap can provide a much-needed opportunity to recuperate and revive before returning to the parks in the evening. The exception to this recommendation is Animal Kingdom.  Animal Kingdom closes earlier than the other parks, so taking an afternoon break does not make sense;by the time you returned to the park, it would be closed.  

Completely exhausted
After a few moments of breathing in the cool air of the Beach Club lobby, we stumbled up the stairs to our room.  We were all tired, but the kids were really starting to feel the effects of the last few days' stimulation.  Fortunately, when I'd designed our itinerary, I built in a "night-off" to help keep our vacation feeling like a vacation.  Best of all, my mom had offered (and when I say "offered", I mean "pleaded desperately") to watch the kids one evening so my husband Eric and I could escape for a date night in "The World"!  So after a short rest and a refreshing shower, the kids headed off to dinner with Grandma, and our adults-only adventure began!

Tip Time: Even if you are not traveling with "built-in babysitters" on your Disney vacation, you can still enjoy an adults-only evening.  Most deluxe resorts at Disney World have intricately-themed childcare centers where your kids can play, do crafts, eat dinner, and engage in group activities...all under the watchful guidance of certified childcare professionals.  Best of all, you do not need to be a guest at one of these resorts to take advantage of them, but you DO need to make reservations.  Alternatively, you can hire an in-room babysitter through the Disney-sanctioned childcare service, Kid's Nite Out.

A relaxing "evening-off" can do wonders!
Our first "date night" destination was a no-brainer.  My husband absolutely loves Epcot's World Showcase.  Although we'd already visited this theme park twice on our trip, it's nearly impossible to enjoy all of the entertainment, food, and shopping (not to mention the various adult-beverage offerings) that World Showcase has to offer.  And since our resort hotel was within walking distance to Epcot, the World Showcase was an easy decision.

Tip Time: The World Showcase is home to numerous amazing restaurants, featuring cuisine from eleven different nations.  Whether you are visiting on a "date night" or you are enjoying some quality family time, make your dining reservations for World Showcase before your trip (up to 180 days prior to arrival).  

Although the World Showcase has many amazing restaurants, we decided to maximize our date night by foregoing dinner in the park.  Instead of spending an hour eating, we enjoyed every second that the World Showcase was open, exploring shops and enjoying the fantastic street performers.  Then, after Epcot closed, we strolled over to Disney's Boardwalk area for a fabulous dinner at The Flying Fish Cafe.

Tip Time: Near Epcot's World Showcase, Disney's Boardwalk area is completely unique.  In the morning, the scent of fresh baked goods wafts through the air from the Boardwalk Bakery.  As the day goes on, the Boardwalk becomes lined with street performers, surrey bike rentals, restaurants, and bars (including Jellyrolls, a dueling piano bar).  It's a truly romantic way to end an evening in "The World". 

Dinner at the Flying Fish Cafe was amazing.  The ambiance is casual but elegant, reminiscent of the Atlantic boardwalk.  The server was attentive (but not overbearing), and the food was expertly prepared.  But most importantly, my husband and I were able to enjoy leisurely, uninterrupted conversation...and that is priceless.

In conclusion, I highly recommend taking at least a few hours for a "date" with your significant other during your Disney World vacation, if at all possible.  Many people balk at the idea of leaving their children behind, but they often ultimately discover that, by mid-week, their kids are the ones who are most ready for a break from all of the "family togetherness" you will be experiencing on your trip!!  And when you return from your date, you will all be refreshed and ready for some more family fun...if you can drag your kids away from the childcare center, that is!

Meredith McCutcheon
Disney Specialist, Ginger's Getaways
Personalized Disney Itineraries and Daily Touring Plans 
Find me on The Patch