Disney World in Orlando is many things to many people, but typically, a luxurious vacation destination is not one of them. Or is it? Those seeking a perfectly posh escape might want to consider this Florida getaway after all. Whether you’re planning a honeymoon, a well-deserved girlfriend getaway, or a reunion for relatives with high expectations, we found premium experiences that’ll send everyone (even your picky mother-in-law) home happy. The best part? As sophisticated as these high-end splurges feel, they still have that sense of Disney magic that you just can’t find anywhere else.
Hotels in this story
1. Snag premium accommodations.
The overwater bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort are just about as elite as it gets. Each one sleeps eight adults. Plus, you’ll have front-row seats to the Electrical Water Pageant on Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks show, thanks to a private deck with a plunge pool. Avoiding the crowds before, during, and after these must-see shows will be worth every nickel, especially if you’ve got children in tow. And getting to the Magic Kingdom in the morning is just as blissful (water taxi, anyone?).
Another top-shelf option is the lavish Yellowstone Suite at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Expect an elk-horn chandelier, leather chairs, and four balconies (yes, four) overlooking Bay Lake. Guests get Club Level access to the Old Faithful lounge, where soft drinks, cocktails, and small bites are served in swanky surroundings.
2. Book a spa day.
Believe it or not, Disney World has high-end spas, tucked into three of its upper-tier resorts. Senses — A Disney Spa has an incarnation in both Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. While both offer massages, facials, and mani-pedis, distinct differences set them apart.
At the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the theme is Victorian elegance, evident as soon as you step in and are greeted with a one-of-a-kind mural in the lobby of old Florida. Many of the treatments feature Florida citrus and botanicals. The spa over at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa is two stories and designed to reflect upstate New York’s natural springs, which are thought to have healing properties. Design materials include natural stone, pebbles, and branches. Disney Imagineers incorporated nature throughout, with a hummingbird motif and Native American artwork. A signature treatment here is the Saratoga Springs revitalizing blueberry facial.
Meanwhile, the Mandara Spa at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin takes guests on one of three exotic “journeys,” all of which include custom tea. The Asian Journey includes a Balinese massage, a coffee body polish and coconut milk wrap, and a bathing ritual involving sweet almond lotus flower milk and yogurt. The Indian Journey features a massage with heated basalt stones and melted paraffin, a lime and ginger salt exfoliation, and a soak in a tub infused with patchouli, cocoa butter, and jasmine flower milk. You can also opt for a Mediterranean Journey.
3. Set sail in style.
Grab up to 17 of your closest friends and hop aboard the Grand 1 luxury yacht for a private chartered cruise on the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. A personal captain and deckhand launch the 52-foot Sea Ray from the marina at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. On select evenings, guests can view “Wishes,” the fireworks display above Magic Kingdom, right from the deck. The private-dining staff (including a dedicated butler) can whip up anything from a light snack to a five-course gourmet meal with wine pairings.
4. Get the VIP treatment.
Wish you could enjoy your favorite Disney World ride again and again without waiting in line? Disney’s VIP Tour Services can make that — and just about anything else your heart desires — happen. When you book your personal VIP Disney World guide, just share what you’d most like to see and do, and he or she will escort your group of up to 10 people through the perfect itinerary. You’ll be driven to the park gates in a private vehicle, get priority admission to your favorite attractions, and enjoy special reserved seating for parades, live shows, and fireworks.
5. Indulge your inner foodie.
Of all the enticing treats at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival — held each year from August to November — Party for the Senses is the most elaborate. A grandiose tasting event that requires reservations, it’s an upscale affair of bites and sips, including cheeses, chocolates, and spirits, with celebrity chefs like Shaun O’Neale, Buddy Valastro, Cat Cora, Carla Hall, and Alex Guarnaschelli.
At Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Artist Point serves up the cuisine and wines of the Pacific Northwest, with creations such as cedar-plank-roasted salmon, steamed mussels, and buffalo strip loin. The wine list focuses on the smaller vineyards and unusual varietals. Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, waiters in tuxedos channel Hollywood’s heyday at The Hollywood Brown Derby, which was inspired by the exclusive Hollywood, California, establishment. Taste some of the original recipes, including their famous Cobb salad and rich grapefruit cake.
Le Cellier Steakhouse is arguably the top Epcot restaurant, known for showcasing exceptional Canadian beef (and the Canadian classic, poutine). Order the cheddar soup made with Moosehead beer, followed by the filet mignon with white truffle butter, plus a side of poutine.
A winner of AAA’s Five Diamond Award, Victoria & Albert’s inside Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa doles out modern American cuisine with ingredients sourced from around the world (think Italian truffles, Russian Osetra caviar, and Japanese beef). Chef Scott Hunnel was a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s best chef in the South. If you really want to go all out, reserve the private Queen Anne room — modeled after the old world dining rooms of London and Paris — for a 10-course meal.
In Disney Springs, the shopping, dining, and entertainment capital of Disney World, there’s no shortage of chic stores. Valet parking is right at hand, of course. After shopping, drop your bags off at the newly-opened Wine Bar George, helmed by master sommelier George Miliotes. The wine list features more than 135 wines — some sold by the ounce — so that everyone can afford a taste of incredible, rare vintages. The two-story space is in the style of a winemaker’s estate. The menu includes small plates, artisan cheese and charcuterie boards, and sharable entrees.
Wrap up your day with bowling at Splitsville Luxury Lanes. Forget everything you think you know about bowling alleys. The Splitsville Luxury Lanes are pristine and chic. The food here — especially the volcano roll, ahi tuna salad, and fresh veggie rice bowls — is also outstanding.
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