Are you taking a Walt Disney World Honeymoon in 2013? We honeymooned at Walt Disney World in 2010, and it was a great time. Scratch that–an unbelievably amazing time. This is unsurprising, as Walt Disney World is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the world, and for good reason. Sarah and I, as you probably guessed, are Walt Disney World vets, so we knew exactly what we wanted to do for the trip. However, if you’re not as familiar with Walt Disney World, here are our tips to make the most of your Walt Disney World honeymoon (or “Disneymoon” as we like to call our honeymoon).
1. Splurge On Your Hotel
First and foremost, this means staying on property. Granted, you could find a very luxurious resort off-property, but for convenience’s sake, which will be important for the other tips, stay on property. We highly recommend staying at one of the Epcot Area Resorts: BoardWalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club, or the Swan and Dolphin Resorts. These resorts are within walking (or boat) distance of two theme parks, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and are a walk plus a monorail ride to the Magic Kingdom. These resorts are also within walking distance of one another, and also offer exceptional dining options, including Flying Fish Cafe, Kouzzina, Yachtsman Steakhouse, and many excellent non-Disney options in the Swan and Dolphin hotels. Most importantly, they’re within walking distance of Epcot’s World Showcase, which is a great place to spend time on your honeymoon. There’s nothing magic about a rental car on your honeymoon, unless you share a mutual love for traffic and road rage, so avoiding conventional forms of transportation on your honeymoon can really enhance the trip.
If you check the rack rate prices on these resorts, and they seem expensive, fear not. You can frequently find rates at the Swan and Dolphin for around $175/night after all resort fees and taxes. If the BoardWalk Resort or Beach Club Resort are more to your liking, we highly recommend renting Disney Vacation Club points, which can bring the costs of these resorts down to less than $200 per night, and which also enables you to purchase the Disney Dining Plan, which we actually recommend (a rarity!) during your honeymoon.
2. Splurge On Meals
As mentioned above, we are typically somewhat skeptical of the Disney Dining Plan. However, on your honeymoon, you absolutely should purchase it. The last thing you should be worried about on your honeymoon is costs, and one of the benefits of the Dining Plan is the disconnect between meal prices and the price of the Dining Plan. Now, if you’re a really light eater or vegetarian, you might want to give this some thought, but if you love steaks and desserts, just book it.
Walt Disney World restaurants are popular, and you are able to make dining reservations 180 days in advance of your trip, so make sure to avail yourself of this opportunity! Nothing would be worse than being stuck eating nothing but counter service pizza at Pizzafari because you didn’t do the proper planning. I don’t know about you, but where I come from, that isn’t exactly the epitome of luxurious. You do a lot of planning for your wedding, do a little for your honeymoon, which is easily exponentially more important than the wedding (ladies, I kid). Since dining is an integral part of any Disney vacation, it’s an important part of your honeymoon planning! Some of the best restaurants for honeymooners include those with views of the Wishes fireworks show (California Grill, ‘Ohana, and others). There are also fun restaurants like Beaches & Cream in Disney’s Beach Club Resort. See if the two of you can conquer the Kitchen Sink–we did!
The best restaurant in Walt Disney World, and one of the best restaurants in all of Florida, is a great place for your honeymoon. At $125 and up per person, Victoria & Albert’s may seem overpriced, but if you ask us, it’s one of the best values on Walt Disney World property. Seriously, the food is that good. You can read me gush about it at length in our full review, but suffice to say, it’s worth visiting on your honeymoon.
Unfortunately, Victoria & Albert’s does not accept the Disney Dining Plan. Recognizing this, and also that two other restaurants (Beaches & Cream and California Grill) we wanted to visit were bad uses of Dining Plan credits, we actually split our stay into separate reservations, and didn’t book the Disney Dining Plan on the days we went to these restaurants. Since you have to book the Disney Dining Plan every day of your trip (or not at all), splitting your hotel reservation is the only work-around to not purchase the Dining Plan on particular days.
It’s not worth a section of its own, but you should also “splurge” on park tickets. Even if you normally don’t get Parkhopper or other add-ons, do it for your honeymoon. These add-ons are relatively inexpensive, and you can save a lot of money on these tickets through an authorized third party ticket broker, like Undercover Tourist. We have more ticket-buying information here.
3. Relax On The Beach
Okay, so due to some rabid man-eating bacteria in Walt Disney World’s bodies of water, you can’t exactly swim in the water (unless you want to die a grim death by having your flesh eaten…or something like that). However, that’s not the suggestion. Instead, we suggest that you head out to one of the beaches at the Magic Kingdom resorts after an early dinner one night (say, at Victoria & Albert’s), relax in a hammock, enjoy the sunset, and watch the Electric Water Pageant and Wishes from the beach before heading to the Magic Kingdom for a peaceful night.
Bonus points if you do this on an evening with late Evening Extra Magic Hours when the park is open until 1 am, 2 am, or 3 am. At those late hours, you can enjoy attractions with minimal waits since most of the kids are in bed. Standing in line to pilot Dumbo the Flying Elephant may not be fun in the midday heat with hundreds of screaming tots all around (although it may reinforce the notion that you need to “be careful!”), but you’d be surprised how fun it is to fly high late at night when few others are around!
4. Do A Photoshoot
Although we don’t usually purchase Disney’s PhotoPass photos, the photographers can take photos of you with your own camera, something that’s difficult to accomplish on your own, unless you carry a tripod at all times! The PhotoPass photographers will take a photo of you with your own camera, so don’t feel uncomfortable asking. We strongly recommend doing this over buying anything from PhotoPass.
That said, there are photographers in some of the Deluxe Resorts that seem to be the upper echelon of PhotoPass photographers. While I would still be reluctant to use one of these pricier photographers without seeing some samples (taken by the actual photographer you’d be using), they seem to be at least a better option than the in-park photographers. On our honeymoon, after our dinner at Victoria & Albert’s, I set up a tripod and took photos of us. Obviously not ideal, either, but that was our solution.
Ideally, I’d hire an independent photographer to take some photos. Generally, this is frowned upon in the theme parks, and I’m certainly not advocating that you break any rules. It’s okay at the resorts, though! If you’re willing to have photos taken at the resorts, and the resorts are beautiful so don’t hesitate to do this, I recommend checking out Orlando photographers who don’t work for Disney. They’re typically better and often less costly.
5. Drink (Or Snack!) Around The World
Here is why that Epcot Area Resort will be important. In Epcot’s World Showcase, each of the countries have desserts and adult beverages that are unique to that country. While a lot of these purportedly unique beverages are things you could find in your local supermarket, the desserts are generally really good, and there are a few standout drinks worth trying. Enjoy the slower pace of your honeymoon and spend an afternoon in Epcot soaking up the exquisite details of the World Showcase, and drinking and eating “around the world.” (Check out our drink tips here.)
With this, we again want to stress the importance of slowing down and enjoying yourself. In the theme parks, there is the temptation to go at break-neck speed to accomplish as much as possible. For some trips, this is fine. Your honeymoon should be about enjoying the company of one another and relaxing. While I couldn’t tell you how many times we rode Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Soarin’, or any other attraction on our honeymoon, I can recite even the most inconsequential details of our afternoon drinking around the world. We had a great time with one another, and once we had a couple of drinks in us, it became an amazing adventure where we met some very interesting people. I *think* we still may own a donkey in Spain somewhere. Like I said, it was a real adventure! Staying in an Epcot Area Resort is nice for this, as it’s a short stumble (kidding–drink responsibly) back to your resort when you’re done.
6. Get “Just Married” Buttons or Bride & Groom Mouse-Ears
We opted for the more discreet, and free, buttons, and we were inundated with “congratulations” from fellow Guests and Cast Members. We also received some special treatment from some Cast Members who went above and beyond, which really made our day. I would strongly caution against getting these buttons with the expectation of receiving special treatment or “free stuff.” If that’s your expectation, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Instead, wear these accessories because you want to share with the world that you just got married! You’ll be amazed at how many random people will strike up conversation with you because of the buttons (so if you’re shy, they might be a bad idea). On our honeymoon, we spoke with a couple celebrating their 40th anniversary, and many other couples who shared stories of their long and happy marriages. Some even gave us tips! For us, this was a great experience and it was wonderful seeing other Guests and Cast Members so willing to “make the magic” for us.
7. S-L-O-W D-O-W-N!
Have I made it clear-enough yet that this trip is not like your typical Disney trip? This is an especially important tip for Disney vets, and one that we didn’t always follow. If you’re tired, don’t get up for rope drop. Leave the park during the hottest and busiest part of the day to relax by the pool. Or, take a nap during the middle of the day so you can get up early and stay late, the times when the parks are least busy.
Stop and get ice cream–a lot of ice cream–and eat it in out of the way places like the old Swan Boat landing with a view of Cinderella Castle and the water. Spend some time animal–or people–watching. Buy the wonder Hidden Mickeys book and spend some time tracking down the most elusive Mickeys!
8. Party Like It’s 1995!!!
Luckily, at the Atlantic Dance Hall, which is perpetually stuck in the 1990s, you can do exactly that. On second thought, maybe you ought to avoid that train-wreck at all costs. Instead, head to its neighbor on Disney’s BoardWalk (yet another reason to stay in an Epcot Area Resort!), Jellyrolls. Jellyrolls features awesome dueling pianos, and has a great atmosphere. If you want to visit on a less crowded night, try Tuesday or Wednesday. If you think more people add better energy and a palpable level of excitement (we do), visit Jellyrolls on a Thursday or the weekend.
9. Buy A Custom Souvenir
Walt Disney World sells a lot of generic souvenirs that will end up on eBay or in your garage sale in a couple of years. Instead, we recommend buying something that you’ll keep a lifetime, and will be an omnipresent reminder of your honeymoon. If your budget is large and you’re crazy about Disney, stop in the Art of Disney and buy some framed art. This will probably set you back at least $400.
Alternatively, if you only want to spend $30 or less, get a custom-painted Mickey-Mouse head Christmas ornament. Now, this won’t exactly be “omni-present,” unless you defy social custom and leave up your tree year ’round, but it’s cheap, unique, and something you’ll cherish for a lifetime. When Sarah and I got engaged on the beach of Disney’s Polynesian Resort in 2007, we purchased one of these hand-personalized ornaments the next day to commemorate the occasion. It’s without question our most prized Christmas ornament!
10. Be Imaginative & Have Fun!
Walt Disney World is one of the few places where it’s okay for 20, 30, 40, 50, and even 90 year olds (but not 51-89 year olds!) to act like they’re 6 years old. Never forget this. Let loose. Nothing is too silly or juvenile at Walt Disney World. If you think it might be fun to race around the Tomorrowland Speedway with the tykes, or fly high in Dumbo, don’t have reservations because those attractions are “for the kids.” Trust us, you won’t be the first adult.
If you see a silly Pluto hat that you think would be fun to wear for some photos, buy it. Likewise, you’re never too old for customized Mickey Mouse ears. Make crazy monster faces when you meet your favorite characters! Don’t be dismissive of something that you think might otherwise be fun because you’re embarrassed that you’re “too old” for it. Walt Disney World is the perfect place to let loose, and have fun. Walt Disney built Disneyland for the young and the “young at heart.” The same philosophy was carried over to Walt Disney World. Embrace the “young at heart” within yourself. Trust us, you won’t be sorry!
If you have other trips for a great Disneymoon, or trip at Walt Disney World in general, leave them in the comments! Questions? Ask!
If you’ve honeymooned at Walt Disney World, what do you recommend to others that made your trip special? Planning on something not on the list that you think others might want to try? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts in the comments!