Many people will join Disney Facebook groups or ask their family and friends if it is worth going to certain restaurants, events, tours, etc., at Walt Disney World. Some items cost extra money. Some items just take extra time, which is a commodity when you are going to the Happiest Place on Earth. Everyone has their own opinion, but you really do not know if you will like something until you try it at least once. Then, you can form your own opinion and decide if you would want to do it, again, or not. At least you can check the item off of your bucket list!
Over the years of helping people plan their Walt Disney World vacations, these particular items are asked “is it worth it” most often. Some I would like to experience, again, but some I would not. But, I am happy I tried all of them, I have no regrets and I will never “wonder” if I would like it or not ever again. These events, restaurants, entertainment and activities are some experiences that everyone should try at least once in their lives.
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party–While it is extra money, the parties allow you to ride most of the attractions with minimal to no wait. The special fireworks, entertainment and parades can only be seen during these parties. Disney really does a fantastic job with making the parties as special as possible, which makes this item on the top of the list as something that EVERYONE should try at least once. So, add it to your bucket list!
- Epcot International Festival of the Holidays — Candlelight Processional–You can select your desired meal at participating locations and enjoy a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner and then go watch this very popular show in your guaranteed seat in the evening. It features a celebrity narrator, a 50-piece orchestra and a massed choir. It is a great Christmastime event.
- Epcot International Food & Wine Festival–Many people will hear the negatives and opt out of going for a variety of different reasons. There are still great times to go during this festival and avoid the excessive crowds and the adults that go overboard with the alcoholic beverages. It is popular for a reason. It is not cheap, either. It is best to experience this Tuesday-Thursday and during the day. Start visiting each country as soon as the World Showcase opens. If you have the Disney Dining Plan, using your snack entitlements for the food is best. Click here for more information. We love to try the different foods from all of the countries. In an effort to save money, we buy what we want and share it. This, also, allows us to taste it and eat more at other locations without becoming too full. After making your way around the World Showcase, you will not want lunch, because you are full from all the bites from every country. Click here and review the random tip about Food & Wine Festival before you go.
- Tours–Disney has a variety of different tours available for an extra cost. You can hear tour details from many sources, but until you are on the tour and hear/see the details from the Disney tour guide, you do not get the full, educational and enjoyable experience. One of the most popular tours is Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour. It is a 5-hour tour. Lunch is included and you get to go on a couple of attractions without having to wait in line. Click here to see more details about some of the tours.
- Liberty Tree Tavern, Magic Kingdom–There are no characters, but the food is fantastic. This colonial-style inn is a great place to sit back and relax for lunch or dinner. They serve a traditional New England-inspired fare. It is a perfect location to book your Thanksgiving dinner!
- 50’s Prime Time Diner, Hollywood Studios–There are no characters and you may look at the menu and think it is nothing special, but it is for many people. This restaurant takes you back to the 50’s and the waiters/waitresses treat you like mom would have back in the day. It is very comical. Plus, the food is “just like mom used to make” back in the day. While some young people may not understand that now, they would quickly get an education on how things used to be if they leave something on their plate. Do not try to hide the collard greens under the chicken bones. They check there!
- Cinderella’s Royal Table, Magic Kingdom–Just being able to dine at least once in the Cinderella castle is worth it to me. Yes, that up-front cost when you make reservations for your entire vacation party will shock you, but keep in mind that the cost includes tax, non-alcoholic beverages and tip. The only thing you would have to pay for when you are there is if you bought other items not included like alcoholic beverages and extra tipping, because the extra purchase. Upon entry, you meet with Cinderella and have your pictures taken with a Disney photographer. Then, you are guided upstairs to the dining area. The food is really good and being able to see the princesses without having to stand in a long line some place or waste a FastPass to see the princesses is worth it!
- Beaches & Cream Soda Shop, Beach Club Resort–Somewhat like 50’s Prime Time Cafe, this restaurant is designed to bring you back to the days when teenagers would hang out in soda shops and indulge in flavored sodas and malted milkshakes while listening to oldies on the classic jukebox. It is not just about the ice cream or their famous “Kitchen Sink”. They have grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers, tomato soup, etc. The Kitchen Sink has 8 scoops of ice cream smothered with every topping they have. It is huge and rarely finished.
- Dessert Party–There are several dessert parties to choose from. All of the parties include fireworks or a show. In order to stay away from the crowds, not having to stake out your place so early in advance of the fireworks and have a seat versus standing the whole time (some do not have seats), book a party. Click here for details about each dessert party. It is a great way to treat yourself and/or your vacation party with something more special.
- California Grill, Contemporary Resort–It is expensive to dine here, there are no characters and there is a dress code, but it is worth it! The food is exquisite. It is great if you can see the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from your table or the balcony at the restaurant, but I would dine here even if that is not an option.
- Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant–The food is ok, there are no characters and the seating in the cars is not good for people who are bigger than Pooh size or have knee problems, because you cannot stretch your leg out, but it is cool to see the decor, the screen, the cars and sit in one of the cars, if you are able to. There are tables available for those who cannot dine in the cars. See the picture below to see the limited space you have to sit in the car. There are 3 rows in each car, which fit 2 people per row. All seats face the large screen.
- 1900 Park Fare–It is expensive to dine here. After all, you are in the Grand Floridian and it has characters. It is a buffet. Great variety of food for the pickiest eaters. This is another place that is great to bring the kids in an effort to avoid long lines or wasting a FastPass to see the characters. If you have the Disney Dining Plan, it uses 1 Table Service entitlement per person to dine here, which is a steal, in my opinion.
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall–The food is good and once again, if you have the Disney Dining Plan, it uses 1 Table Service entitlement per person, which is a steal, because of the character experience. You enter to see one of the princesses and are able to take pictures with her with a Disney photographer. Great time to have the Memory Maker! You choose the entree you want and the rest of the princesses visit the table. Then, the princesses gather children and they walk around all of the tables in the restaurant.
- Victoria & Albert’s–There is a reason why this restaurant has been the winner of the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award every year since 2000 and the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award for 2018 – 2019. This is probably once in a lifetime strictly because it is so incredibly expensive, there is a strict dress code and it is EXTREMELY difficult to get a reservation. Not many people like to pack their “Sunday best” clothing in their suitcase and take that much time out of their vacation for a dinner. Plus, there is a minimum age to dine here, as well. This is a very, very special place for people to dine who do not live locally. I, for one, have NOT had the opportunity to dine here, yet. I have experienced everything on this page except this restaurant. I plan to try to get reservations when it is only my husband and I going on a WDW trip. Some day. It is on my bucket list!!
- Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, Polynesian Village Resort–While enjoying an All-You-Care-to-Enjoy tropical feast, you are entertained with dancers, drummers and a fire-knife performer. It is open-air theater in Luau Cove. My family really enjoyed this experience. Click here to see a sample of the dancers at the luau.
- Visit Resorts on the Monorail–What a great time to take a break from a busy park, rest after being on the run in a park for hours, cool down on a hot day in the parks or whatever reason that would bring you to grab the “resort” monorail and stop at each resort and tour the properties. It is free! Maybe you are searching for other resorts to book a stay in the future? Maybe you want to stop and have a beverage at one of the numerous lounges? How about viewing the restaurants for future reference? If you are there during the Christmas season, viewing the spectacular decorations at each resort is worth the extra time you are taking out of your day from the parks. All resorts are fully decorated by Thanksgiving Day. Viewing the resorts on the monorail is a less busy and relaxing activity.
- Disney Springs–Surprisingly, many people do not make the time to go to Disney Springs. They may only be at Walt Disney World for 4 or 5 days and live at the parks from sun-up to sun-down. Disney Springs is great to walk through during the day and at night. There is more there than just dining and shops. Consider visiting Disney Springs on the day you arrive instead of going to a park and save your park tickets for the days you can be in the parks all day. Once you go to Disney Springs the first time, you will want to go every time!