Rediscover Disney: The Luxury Edition
By: Preferred Pineapple
Rediscover Disney - in style that is.
Have you been to Disney recently? Never been? Wanting to go but think it’s not for you? Well I think you should consider it or maybe reconsider it! With Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opening at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, I’m super geeked to experience this epic new park. This is the single largest land expansion that Disney has ever undertaken in its 63 year history. Our family is holding out for the Orlando park to open this August, but I now have Disney on the brain.
I have been a Disney fan since I was 7. My Mom surprised me with my first trip by packing my bags late at night while I was asleep and telling me we had to pick up my Grandmother at the airport. She was sneaky enough to keep the surprise going until we literally had to board the plane. Since the first moment I saw the garden at the entry gates that read “Let the memories begin” I was hooked. Once we had kids of our own, I couldn’t wait to share that special magic. When we came across the same garden with them, I cried tears of joy. Like literally, the ugly cry.
Now, I wouldn’t call myself an official Disney expert, but I certainly am a big kid at heart and I have loved all we have experienced the many times we have been. Obviously Disney is an amazing experience on any budget and there are plenty of experts who can give you the inside scoop on saving money at Disney. However, if you have the means to splurge a little (or a lot) it’s really worth it to make the experience extra special. For the purposes of this blog I want to share some of my tips for making Disney a little more luxury. I know, I know, this destination is for the “kids” but it never hurts to make Mom and Dad happy as well ;). Happy parents, happy kids right?!
So, the question is, “is it possible to sneak a luxury vacation into a Disney trip?”
Absolutely! Below are some of my Disney upgrade suggestions.
Start Off in Style
Begin your vacation in style with professional chauffeured transportation from the airport to your hotel or resort. Unlike a Taxi and Uber service, Limo companies will meet and greet you at the baggage claim area with your name on a sign, and your driver can assist with luggage. This is also a good service to use if you are going from Disney Parks to Port Canaveral for the cruise or vice versa. This service is not that expensive and gets your trip off to a great start.
One of my favourite luxury resorts within the Disney gates (but a world away) is the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. A tranquil oasis on a 482 acre nature preserve and almost secretly surrounded by the Walt Disney World Resort. Legend has it that Walt was unable to buy this plot of land and there is some mystery to the original purchaser. To this day the official Disney buses don’t pick up in this area but they have their own complimentary luxury motor coach transportation to Walt Disney World Theme Parks and the Disney Springs Area. I have to say that while I love all things Mouse, it is rather refreshing to come back to your hotel at night and have a little break.
Four Seasons Orlando- This luxury hotel chain has raised the bar on genteel options. Again, very secluded and located within Walt Disney World Resort. As a matter of fact, the AAA Five Diamond Resort is almost a park in its own right. Their five-acre water park offers splash zones, water slides, interactive fountains, erupting volcanos, and pool options for kids and adults. When it comes to booking the cream de la creme of suites, be sure to book the Royal Suite, which features the best in deluxe touches and the biggest balcony in Disney. If you fall in love with this resort, you might just be temped to buy a concierge-style home in Golden Oak and live happily ever after with your neighbour Cinderella.
If you want to be right in the action, I would suggest my favourite classic original resort - Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. A mix of mid-century modern design and traditional Polynesian style take me back to when I was 7 and evoke the feeling of escaping to Hawaii, yet only a monorail ride to the magic kingdom. A few years ago, this beloved hotel added a luxury accommodation option with The Bora Bora Bungalows. If you’d like a luxury family space with enough room for a larger family to gather - These are a very cool option. Amenities include; full kitchens, spacious living/dining areas, separate bedrooms that offer privacy and tranquility to recharge, and laundry so you can do emergency cleaning. These unique over the water bungalows take Tiki decorating to a whole new upscale leveland transport you to the oasis of the South Pacific.
Yes, you read that right - Gourmet Dinning at Disney and yes, it does exist. If you haven’t been to Disney in a few years or even a decade, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how far the offerings have come. Some of my favourites include; Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s Morimoto Asia (glitzy and gorgeous), Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming (upscale with a down-home atmosphere), Capa, The Four Season’s rooftop steakhouse (offers firework views from Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios every night) and the Waldorf ’s famed Bull and the Bear, (might even be better than the original in NY).
There is also the classic Victoria & Albert’s located in the Grand Floridian. A recipient of the illustrious AAA Five Diamond Award since 2000. Book the coveted Chef ’s Table and you can enjoy an 11 course meal with delicacies like caviar, scallops and Japanese beef… to be enjoyed with one of the 4, 200 bottles of award winning wines of course. Maybe leave the kids with a sitter for this one?
If you’re still hungry you can always treat yourself to a cupcake at Sprinkles. Not all cupcakes are created equal and Sprinkles single handedly started the cupcake craze in Beverly Hills so trust me you can’t go wrong. Best Red Velvet. EVER.
Roll Like a VIP
Want to skip the lines like a celebrity? If you have $$$ burning a hole in your pocket, you can! For around $425-750 an hour you can book a VIP Tour service where your escort will pick you up at your hotel and guide you through a perfectly planned day with priority access to rides, front row viewing spots for the fireworks and parades and the best seats at restaurants. You can choose from a predetermined touring plan or customize your own itinerary for your group with enough time to explore the attractions and sights. Yup, that’s how I wanna roll 😉
Have any golfers in your family? You can enhance your vacation by hitting the links at a luxury golf club. Disney offers some of the best championship courses in Orlando. Some of the best challenging, and beautiful courses are: Magnolia, Lake Buena Vista, The Palm and Tranquilio at the Four Seasons which is a Tom Faziodesigned course and a certified Audubon sanctuary. The Waldorf also has a fantastic Championship 18-hole, par 72 golf course, designed by Rees Jones.
If golf isn’t your jam and pampering is more your speed..you might consider booking an afternoon at one of the surprisingly high-end spas. Senses. Located in the Victorian-style Grand Floridian Resort. This spa offers an array of revitalizing techniques and therapies, facials, massages, body wraps and aromatherapy designed to elevate the mind and have you looking and feeling your best. Mandara Spa. Located in the Dolphin Hotel this Balinese-themed, full-service luxury spa will transport you to serene, mystical Asia. Waldorf Astoria Spa. This spa employs world-class services and amenities for a totally transforming experience. Enjoy body therapy or massage in one of 22 treatment areas. Gentle facials rejuvenate the skin while aromatherapy wraps cleanse the body.
The shopping at Disney Springs has definitely evolved to include not only Disney souvenirs but some high end retail brands as well. It’s a beautiful walk around before or after dinner. Orlando is famous for its premium outlet malls such as Vineland and International, but if you are looking for more luxury brands, you could always head to the Mall at Millenia. Here you’ll find Chanel, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Jimmy Choo.
So there you have it, dreams do come true…Luxury and fun can coexist 😉
Hope some of these suggestions inspire you to rediscover your inner child sprinkled with a touch of luxury. As Walt himself said “Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional”.
Stay tuned for my report on the planet of Batuu 🙂
Marsha is a travel designer and founder of Preferred Pineapple. She quit her advertising career of 25+ years to turn her pursuit of travel into a full-time job. If she’s not designing and planning bespoke itineraries for her clients, she is traveling with her husband and two sons – adding to her little black book of amazing places. Marsha travels with curiosity and passion and inspires people to do the same! She’s been to 22 countries and counting!
If you need help planning your next dream vacation, email her at Marsha@preferredpineapple.com
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