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

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