Best Disney Area Vacations

Things to Do in Disney

Some people labor under the false assumption that the only things to do at Walt Disney World are spin in teacups and pose for photos with princesses. In reality, the Lake Buena Vista area is a well-developed destination that has something to appeal to every traveler. Disney's four legendary theme parks offer parades, the character breakfasts, and fireworks, of course. But other things to do in Disney include water parks, shopping, and even a touch of education. With a vacation rental in Orlando, you can feel at home during your Disney World vacations.

Classic Disney Experiences

No trip to Orlando can be called complete without checking in with some of the classic Disney things to do. This includes strolling down Main Street U.S.A. in The Magic Kingdom, climbing aboard your favorite roller coasters (like Space and Big Thunder Mountains), riding the monorail, and watching the Electrical Light parade. Everyone has their own favorite Disney theme park, between Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and of course the Magic Kingdom, but each has its own attractions worth experiencing again and again.

The quintessential Disney experience is encapsulated in their lovingly detailed dark rides. Who could resist singing along to "It's a Small World After All" or thrilling at Br'er Rabbit's watery escape on Splash Mountain? And don't forget the all-time favorites Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion.

Disney also offers the chance to have a little fun while learning, as you explore countries around the globe in Epcot's World Showcase, learn about technology and the future in Innoventions, or gain an appreciation for the natural environment at Animal Kingdom.

Modern Disney

Walt Disney wanted his attractions to be enjoyed equally by young and old alike. So while the rides aimed at tween and toddlers may get all the attention, there are actually plenty of adult-oriented attractions to be found these days. It might be unexpected, but Disney actually has great dining, shopping, and nightlife if you know where to look.

Downtown Disney is the heart of nightlife in the area. Shopping is king, with plenty of places to pick up some souvenirs, from the LEGO Imagination Center and World of Disney (the worlds largest Disney store) to Basin and Harley-Davidson. Here visitors will find nightclubs, bars with live music, and even a House of Blues. Check in advance at http://www.houseofblues.com/venues/clubvenues/orlando/ to see who will be playing; you might be interested in securing tickets before your trip.

The Disney Boardwalk, meanwhile, will transport you to a classic mid-Atlantic beach town (even though Disney actually just features man-made waterways). You can park for free at the Boardwalk Inn hotel, or arrive via one of the free Friendship shuttle boats that ply the canal between Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot's International Gateway. The Atlantic City-inspired wooden promenade prominently features the ESPN Club sports bar and arcade, celebrity chef Cat Cora's Kouzzina restaurant, Jellyroll's dueling piano bar and the Atlantic Dance Hall. If you like house-brewed craft beer and Kobe beef burgers, the Big River Grille & Brewing Works is your only destination on Disney property. You can enjoy the strolling musicians, acrobats, and other free performances, or spend a few dollars on a surrey bike and pedal your way around the complex. 

Cool Off in Orlando

When the Florida sunshine is sizzling, there's no sweeter relief than taking a cool dip at a Disney water park.

 There are two to choose from, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Blizzard Beach has an imaginative ski slope theme and the steepest speed slides, while Typhoon Lagoon features lusher tropical landscaping and a unique saltwater snorkeling reef with sharks. At either park, families will have a day full of thrills as you plummet down water slides, get carried away in a twisting raft, or float down the lazy river. There are also wave pools and plenty of places to soak up the sunshine if you're looking to relax. A word of advice: be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen, and secure your valuables in a rental locker while swimming -- or better yet, don't bring them at all.

 

Many vacation rental complexes have their own pools to offer. This can be a great way to spend an entire day, or simply an afternoon after a morning at the theme park. When researching rental options, check out the amenities list to look for a complex that offers a pool. Your kids will thank you for doing the extra research!

 

Best Places to Eat with Kids

 
Coral Reef Restaurant: This restaurant is sure to make a splash with the kids, as you can watch more than 4,000 sea creatures - from turtles to sharks to fish - swim in the coral reef tanks while you eat. The menu changes seasonally, but you can always count on some tasty seafood and kid-friendly meals like pizza and macaroni. Try out the lobster or grilled mahi mahi if you can pluck your kids away from the glass tanks long enough to eat. Make sure to book your reservations up to 180 days before your visit - this spot is known to stay busy.
 
50’s Prime Time Café: Cruise back in time for some hearty American comfort food at the 50’s Prime Time Café in Hollywood Studios. It’s an authentic TV dinner, where your kids are allowed to watch black and white television clips of prime-time shows from back in the day. Watch out for goofy table manners, though, because mom and the staff family will jokingly give naughty boys and girls a little lesson of their own. Grandma’s chicken pot pie is always a hit - not to mention dad’s grilled pork chop or lick-lipping meatloaf. Still hungry? Your kids can look through the old-fashioned viewfinder toy to find the treat of their choice.
 
Sci-Fi Drive-In Theater: Eating at the Sci-Fi Drive-In Theater is a show of its own. Guests sit in old-fashioned cars facing a big screen that plays vintage sci-fi movies. Beneath a ceiling that looks like a night sky, children watch the show and can pick from an American menu featuring hot dogs and hamburgers.
 
 

Best Restaurants to See Disney Characters

 
Chef Mickey’s: The most iconic Disney character of all time is waiting to meet your kids at Chef Mickey's! Celebrate a birthday with Mickey or just enjoy a magical day with the whole gang, including Minnie Mouse, Donald, Goofy and Pluto. The cast will be glad to sign autographs as you and your family dine.
 
Crystal Palace: Winnie the Pooh always says, “home is the comfiest place to be,” but the Crystal Palace comes in a close second with its all-star line-up of characters, such as Winnie, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet. Your children will get to shoot some photos with the characters anytime during the day. If they’re especially eager, breakfast buffet goes from 8 to 10:30 a.m. - perhaps the best way to start the day!
 
1900 Park Fare: Dine with Cinderella and Prince Charming at 1900 Park Fare. At breakfast, the characters switch from Mary Poppins, Tigger, Winnie the Pooh, and Alice in Wonderland. After chowing down on prime rib during the meet ‘n’ greet, your kids won’t be able to wipe the smile off their faces.
 
 

Eating on the Go

 
All of these restaurants feature counter service for fast and delicious eats!
 
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café: Located in Tomorrowland, this fast food equivalent is one of the most popular places for grub at Walt Disney World. You and the kids can feast on chicken, burgers, sandwiches or soup and salad from the intergalactic menu. Sonny Eclipse, a modern-day Disney character, shreds the Astro Organ with a little help from back-up vocalists the Space Angels for 23 minutes - plenty of time to chow down and go.
 
Sunshine Seasons: With a vast menu including healthy options, Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons offers something for everyone. Dig into the mashed potatoes and tender chicken. It has eats from breakfast through dinner, so there’s never a bad time to swing by! Try out the the slow-roasted pork chop or vegetable flatbread, but make sure to save room for some scrumptious desserts. Key lime tart and chocolate mousse cake both rank at the top of the list.
 
Flame Tree BBQ: Meat-lovers flock to Flame Tree BBQ in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This place has outstanding and quick service as well as mouth-watering barbecue. The all-around fave is the St. Louis Ribs, flanked with baked beans and coleslaw, which is a hot and tasty mess. If you’re looking for something where you won’t have to shower after eating, order the pulled pork sandwich.

Unusual Things to do in Disney

Every frequent traveler to Disney has their own strategy for planning the best trip. Some of the best Disney things to do are the ones that go against the crowds. If there's a big concert or parade for example, why not hit the hot attractions that usually have the biggest lines? You could find yourself riding again and again.

Other unusual activities in Disney include: parasailing or water skiing on the Seven Seas Lagoon (there are companies that specialize in these activities); booking a spa treatment at the Grand Floridian's newly renovated facility; killing some time at Disney's Wide World of Sports or the Splitsville bowling alley; taking a swing at the Osprey Ridge golf course or one of two miniature golf courses; or indulging in a culinary experience like a Chef's Table at one of Disney's top restaurants, like the AAA 5-Diamond-awarded Victoria's and Albert's.

For every budget, hobby, and desire there are entertaining things to do at Walt Disney World.

 

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