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Visiting with a non-Disney fan? Stay Out of the Parks!

May 15, 2014

Most Disney fanatics, like myself, are lucky. We have significant others or friends who share our interest and fuel our fire. But what do you do if you have someone you desperately want to introduce your passion to who just doesn’t get it? Considering staying out of the parks may be the answer. Most non-Disney fans I’ve spoken with have the same idea of Walt Disney World—it’s all little kid rides, masses of people, and waiting. Lots of waiting. By skipping the parks you can generally cut those issues right out of the equation. Then, after they are hooked, you can gradually introduce them to the theme parks. But first, let’s start with some things that even the most ardent Disney hater might enjoy.

Stay on property – This might go without saying, but staying in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel is a must. I would recommend a moderate or deluxe resort as they tend to have less character theming, but if on a budget a value will do fine. Also, if your guest is a camper I would highly recommend Fort Wilderness. Whichever resort you choose, be sure to explore and take full advantage of it. Enjoy the pools, have a few drinks at the hotel bars, really show them the quality that they are in store for during the entire visit.

Disney's Beach Club Villas

Disney’s Beach Club Villas

Research the dining options – Is your guest a steak lover? A wine connoisseur? A seafood aficionado? Look for restaurants that specialize in your guest’s tastes. Trust me, Disney will have one that will fit the bill. It might be wise to skip the character meals, however. Also, as an added surprise, try a late dinner at one of the resort restaurants with a Magic Kingdom view. If you can book a table approximately a half hour to forty-five minutes before the Wishes Firework Spectacular begins (check Disney’s website for the time schedule) you will not be disappointed. The lights will dim, the music will be piped in, and the show will begin right outside your window. My personal recommendation would be Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian Resort.

Narcoossee's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Resort Hop – Don’t just be content with your resort hotel. Visit as many as you like. It could be as easy as stopping by for dinner, or—if visiting during the holidays—enjoying the decorations. If you enjoy the occasional adult beverage (as I most certainly do), try bar hopping the resorts. My favorite route is to enjoy a cocktail and cigar (Hemmingway Short Story is a favorite) at Misner’s Lounge in the Grand Floridian, hop the monorail to the Polynesian Resort and enjoy a Lapu Lapu at the Tambu Lounge (a pineapple mojito is also good, though not always available), jump back on the monorail to the Contemporary Resort and enjoy a bottle of Corsendonk Abbey Brown Ale at the California Grill, then climb aboard a ferry for Fort Wilderness and grab a Captain’s Mai Tai and sit in a rocking chair at Crockett’s Tavern. Thank God for Disney transportation!

Disney's BoardWalk  Villas

Disney’s BoardWalk Villas

Visit the Boardwalk – The Boardwalk is an absolute favorite of mine, especially at night when it is all lit up and the street performers are out. And if being aesthetically pleasing weren’t enough, it is lined with bakeries, restaurants, and night clubs. Just take your pick. So there you have it. Some things that can only be done on Disney property, yet you feel like you’re a thousand miles away from the hustle and bustle of the parks. Give it a try, and you, yourself, might decide the real magic of Walt Disney World doesn’t require a ticket.

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