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Favorite Evening Activities at Walt Disney World Resort Outside the Parks

Our Top Five Evening Activities Outside the Parks at Walt Disney World Resort

My family and I have found that some of the best memories are made during the evenings outside of the parks at Walt Disney World. These can be great options, especially for the night of arrival when we don’t want to add an extra day to our passes or just want a chance to sit and give our feet a rest from all those miles they’ve walked during the day! The Walt Disney World Resort actually has a lot of options for evening activities, but rather than making this a crazy-long post, I’ve narrowed it down to our top five favorites.

Favorite Evening Activities at Walt Disney World Resort Outside the Parks#5 – Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show

Want to escape to the South Pacific in the middle of Walt Disney World? It’s possible to get a taste of the islands, literally, at Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show. Dancers in traditional costumes perform dances native to the islands of the South Pacific including Tonga, Tahiti, and, of course, Hawaii. They even get the audience into the act! A few adults are selected to go up front to learn the dances, too, but everyone is welcome to join in. Children especially seem to enjoy learning the dances and turning the dinner into a giant South Pacific dance party.

For my son who was not “into” the dancing, the highlight of the show was the fire dancer. Disney describes him as “show-stopping,” and I’d have to agree. There’s just something about watching the twirling fire that was mesmerizing.

Of course, it’s a dinner show so I have to mention the food. For adults, everything has a distinctly South Pacific flair. There is a starter salad, pulled pork, Polynesian ribs, roasted chicken, vegetables, and my favorite, the pineapple coconut guava cake. Yum! For kids, there are also mini corn dogs, cheese pizza, and grilled chicken available. The food is served family style so everyone can easily get enough to eat.

There are two shows nightly, one at 5:15pm and one at 8:15pm. The cost depends on where you sit in relation to the stage. The best seats cost $78 for those over 10 and $46 for kids ages 3-9. Category Two seats cost $74 and $44 respectively while Category Three seating is $66 and $39. Disney Dining Plan credits can be used for Categories Two or Three seating. It’s actually a pretty small place and we sat in the Category Three seating area last time. It was way off to one side, but we could still easily see so don’t avoid booking if that’s all that’s left.

The Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show can be booked like any other dining reservation at Walt Disney World Resort. It can be done online at DisneyWorld.com under Things to Do or by calling (407)WDW-DINE. Reservations are a must!!!

After the early show, one can hang out at the beach at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort to get a glimpse at our next favorite.

Favorite Evening Activities at Walt Disney World Resort Outside the Parks

#4 – The Electrical Water Pageant

Compared to today’s technology, the Electrical Water Pageant is relatively simple, but for me, it brings back a nostalgia like the Main Street Electrical Parade. Even better, it’s free!

For those not familiar, the Electrical Water Pageant is kind of like the Main Street Electrical Parade, just on water. There are a series of floats being pulled by a boat. Each float has lights on it that make up pictures. For example, there is a green sea monster, a whale, an octopus, and other water creatures. The parade ends with the floats changing to a patriotic theme full of flags. All of it, of course, is set to appropriate music. It’s really cute and I love watching it.

The Electrical Water Pageant is shown nightly, weather permitting, at the resorts near Magic Kingdom. The times may vary slightly, but usually it starts at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort at 9pm, then goes to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa at 9:10pm, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge at 9:30pm, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground at 9:45pm, concluding at Disney’s Contemporary Resort around 10:10pm or if the Happily Ever After fireworks at Magic Kingdom are at 10pm, the pageant will begin shortly after the fireworks are done. Because it’s a long series of boats and floats, it can be seen pretty much from any beach or location near the water. I’ve also watched it from my patio in the Garden Wing at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the pool area at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and our Bungalow at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. If you’re not sure where to go, simply ask any resort Cast Member.

What if you want to see it and you’re not staying at one of the Magic Kingdom resorts? That’s OK. Simply park in the Magic Kingdom parking lot and take the monorail to any of the Magic Kingdom resorts. They do not require that you are a resort guest to go to the waterfront to watch the pageant.

Favorite Evening Activities at Walt Disney World Resort Outside the Parks#3 – Illuminations Fireworks Cruise

Have you ever wished you could have a front row seat for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot? I’m not talking about from the water’s edge; I mean, front row, a view from a boat in the water. You’re away from the crowd with no trees or other obstructions. You have snacks and refreshments and can just relax and enjoy the view. This is exactly what you get with an Illuminations Fireworks Cruise.

Around 8pm, guests board their own private boat at the Yacht Club Marina. While each boat holds up to 8 to 10 guests, the boats are rented by boat, not by person, so you can have a private, romantic sail for two or bring family and friends. After a warm greeting from the Captain, he will show you around the small boat – basically safety features like where the life jackets are as well as where the basket of snacks and cooler of drinks are, which are included in the cost of the boat rental. Optional additions are decorations such as a Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary banner if you are celebrating something special or one can order additional food and beverages through the Yacht Club in-room dining.

The Captain will then take the boat for a short sail. Ours have always headed over to Hollywood Studios before heading back toward Epcot. This is especially nice when the Christmas decorations are up. The boat is the perfect place from which to view the giant Christmas tree at the Hollywood Studios entrance.

Shortly before 9pm, the Captain will head to Epcot via the International Gateway between the United Kingdom and France Pavilions in World Showcase. He will “park” your boat alongside other boats just inside the bridge that goes between United Kingdom and France. This provides an amazing view of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth and while not private, since there are other boats right next to you, it does still give a feeling of having your own private show.

For our upcoming cruise on Thanksgiving, we were quoted $325 for the cruise plus $25 for the decorations plus tax. When booking, they state there are no discounts, but last time when we paid on the night of the cruise, they did give us a DVC member discount of 10%. It never hurts to ask. To book a cruise, call (407)WDW-PLAY. As of right now, there is no way to book it online.

Favorite Evening Activities at Walt Disney World Resort Outside the Parks#2 – Pirate & Pals Fireworks Voyage

Ahoy, mateys! There be pirates and they’re out to recruit you! All pirate recruits should report to Disney’s Contemporary Resort where they will meet up with Captain Hook and Mr. Smee. Before departing on their maiden voyage, recruits will be enticed by snacks like popcorn and ice cream and an assortment of soft drinks and bottled water. There is also plenty of time for photos with Captain Hook and Mr. Smee before parading to the marina to board the pirate ships (well, they’re actually just boats, but I’m keeping with the theme).

Once on board, Disney Cast Member “pirates” named Patch will take over captaining the boat as well as entertaining everyone with sing-alongs, jokes, and trivia. If you’re lucky and really up-to-speed on your pirate knowledge, you may even win a small prize!

The captain will “park” the boat in a perfect viewing position for the Happily Ever After fireworks at Magic Kingdom, basically in the lagoon straight out from Main Street with a view of the castle. The accompanying Happily Ever After soundtrack will be played through the boat’s sound system. While the boat is not close enough to see the detail in the castle projections, it is still a great view.

On the way back to Disney’s Contemporary Resort, there is usually a great, up-close view of the Electrical Water Pageant. Then, once back at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, there is one more surprise. Peter Pan is there to greet you along with a lantern with “Tinkerbell” inside.

The cost of the Pirate & Pals Fireworks Voyage is $72 for adults and $43 for kids, plus tax. The time of the voyage varies based on the time of the Happily Ever After fireworks. Reservations are a must and can be booked by calling (407)WDW-PLAY. Online reservations cannot be made at this time.

Photo Courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Co., WDWNews. All rights reserved.

#1 – Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

This had to be number one because it’s really multiple activities that can be done in one night or multiple nights.

First, one can take a horse-drawn carriage ride. For me, there is nothing more relaxing than riding along in a carriage, moving at the pace of the horse, listening to the clippity clop. It helps to be surrounded by a lovely forest and at night, it seems to take on a magical quality, especially in view of campfires. Even the smell of the campfires makes it seem like one is world’s away from the busy day at the park. Around the holidays, one can travel by sleigh instead in your very own version of Jingle Bells. Whether by carriage or sleigh, the ride lasts 25 minutes and leaves from Crockett’s Tavern. The cost is $45 for the carriage or $75 for the sleigh. Both seat 4 adults or 2 adults with 3 small children. Reservations should be made in advance by calling (407)WDW-PLAY.

If your carriage ride has made you hungry, head on over to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue for some grub and a rip-roarin’ good time. The Hoop-Dee-Doo is so entertaining. Guests enter what looks like an old west saloon complete with a stage and upright piano. The entertainers sing songs, tell silly jokes, and provide uproaring comedy throughout the evening. Even my 13-year-old has had a good time ever since his first time at the show seven years ago, so it really appeals to all ages. The meal of salad, fried chicken, barbecue ribs, baked beans, cornbread, and strawberry shortcake are served family-style at your table. Prices vary by proximity of your table to the stage. Category 1 is $72 for adults and $43 for children, Category 2 is $67 and $39, and Category 3 is $64 and $38 respectively. Reservations are a must can be completed online just like any other Disney Dining reservation at DisneyWorld.com under Things to Do or can be made by phone at (407)WDW-DINE.

I don’t know how this could happen, but if you didn’t get enough to eat at dinner, you can always join Chip ‘n’ Dale for Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire Singalong (or simply enjoy the singalong without eating). Sit around the campfire roasting marshmallows you brought yourself or from a s’mores kit available for purchase. While your marshmallows are roasting, sing along to the tunes played by a guitar-strumming cowboy or take a break to visit and have photos with Chip ‘n’ Dale. Immediately following the singalong, enjoy an outdoor Disney movie. Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire Singalong is held nightly, weather permitting. Both the singalong and the movie are free!

I hope you’ve found something new to try on your next visit to the Walt Disney World Resort. What’s your favorite evening activity outside the parks?

For more ways to enjoy evenings at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Top 10 Pools at Walt Disney World and Disneyland for Tweens and Teens

Top 10 Pools at Walt Disney World and Disneyland for Tweens and Teens

My 13-year-old son has been going to the Disney Parks since he was 10 months old. He’s been on at least one Disney Parks trip per year since then, sometimes more. Because of that, he often prefers that we hang out at the resort and resort pool rather than the parks. For today’s post, I asked him what his favorite pools are at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World and these were his picks. Continue reading

It's Time for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

It’s Time for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World

We are visiting Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party as part of this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing the Fall events happening at the Disney Parks.

It may only be the beginning of September, but Disney is already helping guests celebrate Halloween. A great way to ring in the season is Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, a separate ticket event on select nights at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort®. This is a really fun way to spend time with one’s family. Here are my top 5 reasons we attend. Continue reading

Family Fun at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort – Part Two

This is Part Two of my review on the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort. See Part One for information on our experience at check in and the amazing pool area.

Family Fun at the Four Seasons Resort OrlandoBeyond the huge pool area, there is so much more to do on property. While we were enjoying the pool, my husband and some friends enjoyed a round at Tranquilo Golf Club, which he said was a great course. While I didn’t golf, I did spend some time in the pro shop. Just like everywhere else on the property, the staff was very courteous and over-the-top friendly and helpful. If I had wanted to golf, I could have signed my son into the Kids for All Seasons program. This is a program for kids ages four to twelve. During the day (10:00am – 6:00pm), it’s free. For a night out, parents can arrange for children to go there for a fee. There is also a spa, fitness center, tennis, The Hideout (a location with video games and more for kids), basketball and sand volleyball courts, and shopping boutiques.

We were getting hungry so decided to check out another of the four restaurants on site, Ravello. It is located on the first floor and specializes in Italian cuisine. Being in the Four Seasons Orlando, I had expected the prices to be really high, but we were able to find reasonable 20160312_111424options. My husband had pizza and I had spaghetti. Both were really good. They also have a children’s menu with options like pepperoni pizza, spaghetti, and a burger as well as steak and salmon. For dessert, I had the Pistachio Cherry Chocolatissimo, which was amazing.

We spent so much time enjoying the 20160312_111506amenities of the hotel, we didn’t really explore our room until that evening. Since our son is 12 and is getting to the age where he wants his own space even in hotel rooms, we had upgraded to a suite. Our suite featured a kitchenette with a 4-person dining room table, a living room with a sleeper sofa and chair, a bedroom with a king bed, two full baths, and two balconies. At 825 square feet, there was plenty of space not only for the three of us to spread out, but we also had friends over to hang out. If that’s too big of a splurge, though, the Four Seasons regular rooms are about 500 square feet, still large for a hotel room.

Family Fun at the Four Seasons Resort OrlandoOne of the added benefits of our room was a view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. That’s what was advertised. As it turns out, we had fireworks all evening. We could see the Symphony in the Stars fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot, AND Wishes at Magic Kingdom from our balcony.

Though it is not a Walt Disney World Resort, the Four Seasons Orlando has some of the benefits of being on the property of Walt Disney World. First, there is complimentary transportation to the parks. They also offer a character breakfast with Goofy & Pals on Thursday and Saturday mornings. One can also have purchases delivered to the resort instead of carrying around packages all day. There is a Disney Planning Center onsite and one can purchase packages that include Walt Disney World tickets. The main items I noticed that were not offered to Four Seasons guests were Disney’s Magical Express, although the Four Seasons will arrange airport transportation, and while Disney Resort guests can make FastPass+ reservations 60 days out, Four Seasons Orlando guests can only make FastPass+ reservations 30 days out just like other off-property guests.

I’m hard pressed to find anything negative about this property. I guess the first would be the price. It is pretty expensive, but it seems like every time I looked, they were having some sort of a promotion. I found a pay for two nights, get the third fee promotion and one that gave 20% off if the stay was prepaid. It is a clear case of getting what you pay for, however. The service is so outstanding and there are so many amenities included in the room that I would expect them to charge more.

For me, the biggest drawback is that there is so much to do that we never wanted to leave! It’s a good thing I had made no plans to visit any of Walt Disney World parks that trip because I don’t think we would have made it. My son was having too much fun with everything the Four Seasons Orlando had to offer. Actually, now that I think about it, my husband and I were having too much fun, too. Next time, I’m staying for a week!


Family Fun at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort – Part One

I had been hearing a lot of good things about the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort located inside the prestigious Golden Oak community so on a recent trip, I decided to check it out for myself. The reality behind this resort went so far beyond my expectations, I hardly know where to begin. I guess I’ll just have to begin… at the beginning.

Their exemplary service began even before we arrived. I received an email asking for details about our trip and our traveling party so they could customize a welcome package for us and suggest experiences. They also offered to make dining reservations, golf tee times, transportation to/from the airport, and anything else we needed for our stay. Continue reading