I'm going to Disney World!!! (Crap, what do I do there?!?)
March 28, 2008 9:34 AM   Subscribe

Turning 24 in Disney World... what should we do there? I'll be there in 2 weeks for 4 days and need some ideas to make sure the SO and I are adequately entertained. So I need your suggestions for the Can't Miss things in and around Disney World. Please, help me plan my vacation!

As ya'll helped me decide in this post: link, the SO and I are going to go to Disney World for a little vacation. We've never been and I need help to make this exciting for both myself AND the boy.

About us: 24, working stiffs who are looking to kick back, hang out, have a great time, and party. (We see each other frequently, so no need to make this a romantic type thing...) We are staying in a hotel that is right across the street from Downtown Disney. The hotel has a nice pool, bar, restaurants, etc.

We will be getting in on Friday the 11th (my b-day), around noon or one. What should we do friday during the day? Any suggestions for a nice dinner friday night? Where should we go out afterwards (bars, etc)

We want to go to the parks 2 days. Which ones should we go to?? I definitely think I want to go to the Magic Kingdom one of those days... but if it were you, which ones would you go to?

We don't fly out until 10 and the hotel said we can stash our bags for the day. Should Monday be a relaxing pool day or do you have any other suggestions?

**Sorry to go to this forum for these questions... I've checked out a bunch of other links like this one and this one, but those seem to be catering to a different demographic and I don't know anyone who has gone to Disney World before :(

Basically, what do two 24 year olds who like to have a good time do in and around Disney World for 4 days and 3 nights? Need suggestions for restaurants, entertainment, bars, etc. as well as how to make the most out of our Disney Experience.
posted by CAnneDC to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You could check out the secret Disneyland restaurant.
posted by nitsuj at 10:10 AM on March 28, 2008

You should probably pick up a copy of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World which you may be able to find at your local library. I think there are also probably websites specifically devoted to discussing things to do at Walt Disney World - there are people who really really get into this stuff.

Your demographic is a little unusual for Disney World. All of Orlando is pretty cheesy, but I personally still like the international part of Epcot, because it's the one Disney Park where they serve alcohol. In general, for the most part, the theme parks are really mostly fun if you have really small children, I think. Depending on your tastes, the rides at the Universal Parks might be your cup of tea. The Universal parks have a CityWalk thing with bars.

Honestly there is something I find depressing about most Orlando "nightlife" - the one time we went to the Hard Rock Cafe, I actually had to ask my waitress if my Hurricane had any alcohol in it.

I hope you are not staying in Grosvenor's Resort near Downtown Disney. It's one of the worst hotels I've ever stayed in (we actually moved to another place after one night).
posted by thomas144 at 10:12 AM on March 28, 2008

Have a look at www.disboards.com for discussion of all things Disney and lots of good planning tips. Also "The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World" is a good guidebook. Follow their park touring plans to avoid standing in line longer than necessary. If you want to eat at any sit-down restaurants within the Disney parks, make your reservations now. Epcot is fun during the evenings and has an exceptionally good fireworks show.
posted by Daily Alice at 10:14 AM on March 28, 2008

One thing that you have to do is the Adventurers Club in the downtown disney/pleasure island section.
posted by majortom1981 at 10:24 AM on March 28, 2008

When it's your birthday, make sure to go to the Town Hall and tell them that it's your birthday. You get a big sticker that says it's your birthday. Wear that sticker, all day.


The park staff will do some fun things, and there are some treats that you might get because of it. But the neatest thing about it when I did it a few years ago was that other park guests, complete strangers, will be saying "Happy Birthday!" to you all day.

It's exactly like I always thought birthdays should be like when I was little.
posted by MrVisible at 10:36 AM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you're staying in/near Downtown Disney then you might look into eating at Raglan Road (warning: lots of Flash) and seeing La Nouba, the local Cirque du Soleil show. As for the parks, I recommend the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. One thing you should definitely try (despite your age) is the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor in the Magic Kingdom. The jokes are actually pretty funny and the technology behind the presentation is very slick.
posted by jedicus at 10:37 AM on March 28, 2008

Best answer: Friday:
If you don't have a rental car, you'll probably want to spend Friday at Downtown Disney. If you want to go dancing, Mannequins at Pleasure Island is good and there are several other clubs there as well. I like both The Adventurer's Club and the Comedy Warehouse, but if you might not like them so much if all you want to do is party. For dining, both Fulton's Crab House and Portobello Yacht Club are good. Planet Hollywood is mediocre at best.

If you do have a rental car, you might like CityWalk over at Universal a little better.

Saturday & Sunday:
The Magic Kingdom is a full day park, you'll have no shortage of things to do there. Don't bother with Stitch's Great Escape, it blows chunks. The recent updates to the Haunted Mansion are excellent, and Pirates of the Carribbean is also much improved (but still nowhere near as good as the Disneyland version). If you happen to be there after dark, going on Jungle Cruise in the dark is pretty cool. The Wishes fireworks show is also very, very good.

Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM) are both half day parks. You might consider going to one of those to start the day on Sunday. Animal Kingdom has Expedition: Everest, which is fantastic, and the safari is pretty cool as well. On the other hand, the Sudios have the Tower of Terror and the Rock 'n Roller Coaster. What you could do is start the day at the Studios, and then in the afternoon you can actually take a boat ride from there over to the International Gateway for Epcot. It's an entrance that doesn't get used much, and you come into the world showcase right between England and France instead of down by Spaceship Earth. As a previous poster mentioned, there is plenty of alcohol available in the world showcase at Epcot. For rides, Soarin' is very good, and both Mission: Space and Test Track are fun as well. The Illuminations fireworks show at the end of the night is absolutely spectacular, the best in the parks.

You might consider going to one of the water parks (Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach). It's in the 80's here today, and I expect it will still be plenty warm for you in two weeks. You don't sound like someone who is into golf, but if you are then you might also consider hitting one of the courses there.

Ditto on the Unofficial Guide, it's the best book out there. (And I don't say that just because my son is mentioned by name in the entry on Snow White's Scary Adventures). That will answer a lot of your questions.
posted by Lokheed at 10:40 AM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

EPCOT at night, done deal.
posted by Freedomboy at 10:59 AM on March 28, 2008

Best answer: Hello there...

i live in between Tampa and Orlando and work for the company that Disney contracts to do their "Flights of Wonder" show in Animal Kingdom. It is an amazing show and I highly recommend going to Animal Kingdom if you like animals at all. Their African Style Buffet Restaurant "Boma" is good to explore African food while also having some "safe" foods to fall back on. It is pricey though. Good drink menu there.(its situated the the A.K. Lodge) I believe you can eat at Boma park there and they have their own animal viewing if you just want a bit of African Animals to see and not have to pay for Animal Kingdom... The Yak and Yeti is also a good place to eat lunch if you do decide to visit Animal Kingdom.

Sea World is just a few miles up the road and they have a new water park that JUST opened called Aquatica.

If you want a bit of religion added to your trip just before you get to downtown disney on I-4 there is The Holy Land Experience... which i have never visited but it catches my eye every time I go by and I don't know why. LOL.

Orlando is pure CHEESE. well said Thomas144 :) Be prepared for gaudy everything.

There are plenty of places to eat and shop there in Downtown Disney. The House of Blues is there so maybe a good show will be booked while you are there.
Planet Hollywood is nearby - don't recommend it but it's there.
There is also a permanent Cirque Du Soliel show at Downtown Disney.

Magic Kingdom is one of those places you always want to see so you can say you saw it.(Its a Small World, Space Mountain) But I agree really geared toward children. (I hear they added Jack Sparrow to the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride)
Epcot is more interesting for adults the International area is cool. Lots of "ethnic" photo ops for you and the SO.

The Universal parks are a little more "hip"?

Pleasure Island has lots of clubs if that is more what you are into

If you just drive down International Drive there are lots of shops and restaurants to visit.
if you like tropical fruity fun Bahama Breeze is a restaurant near downtown disney that I enjoy.

The Mall of Millenia is near by for some shopping...

If you are into live music I have heard good things about "The Social" which is an intimate music venue. It's on Orange Avenue.

Hmmm... that is what I could come up with off the top of my head. Basically you are pretty close to a million things to do where you are staying. But it will all be touristy and overpriced of course. I am sure there is a lot more under ground stuff that is not so cheezy but since you aren't staying too long I think you'll have more than enough to do right around you.
posted by fogonlittlecatfeet at 11:00 AM on March 28, 2008

Adventurer's Club
posted by tiburon at 11:45 AM on March 28, 2008

The theme park area of Orlando was all I knew for years until I went there recently and visited a friend who actually lives there. We went into downtown Orlando and I was really surprised by how cool it was (really!). You should try to take a drive downtown if you want to have a romantic dinner. You really shouldnt miss the Church Street Station! Its an old rail station that has recently been restored to its original glory and its GORGEOUS. There's a fancy pizza restaurant where I had a really delicious fig and gorganzola pizza, and next to that is a lovely place called "Ms. Dessert" or something that has amazing looking cakes and pastries. There's also a three story dance hall thats unbelievable and across the street is an amazing looking Spanish restaurant. I really can't emphasize enough how worth it it is to go check this area of town out.

Also, if you want to check out a neat local dive bar, go to BBQ Bar. I don't know if you're into more rough and tumble stuff, but this place was pretty damn cool and had people form every walk of life there. Fun stuff.

Nearby, for an after dinner walk, check out lake Eola. Its very pretty and tranquil and has a path all around.

Here are some photos I took of all of this if you want to see what I'm talking about:
Downtown Orlando on Flickr
posted by minicloud at 2:30 PM on March 28, 2008

Just to correct one thing mentioned above - the Magic Kingdom is the only location on property where you CANNOT get alcohol - beer, wine and cocktails are served at all other parks and resorts on property.

Also, the Animal Kingdom can definitely be more than a half-day park, if you are at all interested in animals. The theming of the park is cool, and you can spend hours on the trails in "Africa" and "Asia" looking at the animals.

You don't need a car if you are staying "on property" at Disney (at one of the Disney hotels). Buses run between all of the resorts and parks, as well as the monorails and water transport between some of them.

There are plenty of great restaurants at Disney as well. Some of my favorites (non buffet-style) are Jiko at the Animal Kingdom lodge, the Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht Club and the California Grill at the top of the Contemporary. Eating in the parks is a little more hit and miss, but I agree with the 'Yak and Yeti' recommendation at the Animal Kingdom, the "50's Prime Time" at Hollywood (MGM) Studios is cute and Le Cellier in Canada at Epcot is great as well.
posted by dforemsky at 3:01 PM on March 28, 2008

I was just down in Orlando a couple weeks ago.

As for parks, if you're looking for rides you should probably just go to Islands of Adventure. Hulk is good and Dueling Dragons (basically 2 diff inverted coasters) is really fun as well. If you like log flume type rides, it's got Jurassic Park, which is a bit lame and Dudley Do Right's Ripsaw Falls which we did about 20 times. Spiderman is the best simulator/3d ride ive ever been on. For another 10 bucks you can get into Universal Studios as well...which is basically terrible except for The Mummy coaster and the T2 3D show, which was just cheesy enough to be entertaining.

We also went to that new water park mentioned Aquatica. It's alright but if you want some realllly sweet water rides, prob the best i've ever been on, go to Wet n' Wild. It was like 20 bucks to get in (w/ student ID) and we were entertained for about 6 hours straight.

Disney is more for the atmosphere from what I understand, not the rides, and it' pretty pricy. So depending on what you're looking for, Islands of Adventure might be better suited for you and your SO.

Can't really speak to the nightlife anywhere...we stayed outside Orlando, sorry.
posted by pilibeen at 3:26 PM on March 28, 2008

I took my husband to Disney World for the first time a year ago. You can see photos and commentary from our trip here. We *hated* Downtown Disney. It was impossible to get a table for dinner unless you had a reservation. However, Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge (which someone mentioned above) was fantastic. We spent one day at the Magic Kingdom and one at Epcot. We'd been really excited to go on "Soarin'", but quite frankly I thought it was a huge letdown. "Test Track" was much better.

We also made a side trip to Gatorland (as recommended above), and it was AWESOME. Not worth a whole day, but definitely a cool way to kill a few hours.

I don't know if it'll be on during your dates, but if you or your boyfriend are nerdy types, you HAVE to do the Astronaut Training Experience over at Kennedy Space Center. It's one-day Space Camp for grownups! My husband got to be Flight Commander in the simulator, and I got to be the pilot. We had lunch with an astronaut (John Blaha, who was on Mir for a long time) and had a VIP tour. I also got to go on the Multi Axis Trainer, the spinny whirly thing that spins you in three dimensions. It was awesome. In fact, I highly recommend KSC even if you can't do the Astronaut Training thing. It's only an hour's drive from Orlando and there's a LOT to see and do.
posted by web-goddess at 4:02 PM on March 28, 2008

OH! And if you go to Gatorland, pay the extra $10 for the "Adventure Hour." You get to chuck raw hunks of meat at live gators and pose for pictures with them, like, THREE FEET AWAY. Danger is fun!
posted by web-goddess at 4:04 PM on March 28, 2008

I really loved the shit out of Disney World when we took my daughter last year. One thing to look into is if there is an after-hours party -- when we went there was a "Pirates and Princesses Ball" that opened about an hour after the park closed and ran until midnight. It wasn't hard to get tickets, just a little pricey.

I also very strongly recommend Animal Kingdom. The safari was shockingly good, and the design and architecture is phenomenal.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:40 PM on March 28, 2008

Slate just ran a diary on Disney World: The Mecca of the Mouse.
posted by mingshan at 7:40 PM on March 28, 2008

Best answer: I know you've already marked answers, but I'm going to chime in with a few more suggestions - (I'm 27, and I've been to Disney World four times, including twice last year)

1. MAKE RESERVATIONS! I can't stress that one enough. Pick a restaurant and call the reservations hotline. There's something called the Disney Dining Plan, and that's made many table-service restaurants extremely busy. The good news is that if you're even a little flexible, you can make reservations with only a week or two before your trip and still snag something.

2. If you plan to go to more than one park in a single day, buy Park Hopper tickets. Otherwise you can't change parks at all. My recommendations as far as parks go - Epcot and Magic Kingdom. Epcot is probably the most adult-oriented park, as far as they go. They're all worth going to, but if you're only choosing two, those would be the two.

3. Don't worry about your bags, they'll store them for you securely. As for whether or not you want a pool day, it's up to you. You could buy water park tickets for something different. Or perhaps spend some time at the pool and some checking out the resorts (just hop on the Disney buses), resort restaurants (which are among the very best), etc.

Disney has golf courses. And mini golf courses. But possibly best of all, they have Spas. If you can afford it, a couples' massage could be nice.

4. Visit this site, it has pretty much all the info you'd ever need and was invaluable for trip planning, especially the restaurant menus section. http://www.allearsnet.com .
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:43 PM on March 28, 2008

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