At first glance, Walt Disney World doesn’t scream “romantic” vacation. That could not be further from the truth. Evenings in the parks or at various resort areas can be the perfect setting for a date. This is the first in a series of articles to help you plan the perfect date night in and out of the parks.
We’ll explore how to have a date night at Magic Kingdom area resorts, Epcot area resorts, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.
Often, people wonder what to do at Disney on arrival day. I know there is only so much time I can spend in a hotel room, so arrival day is the perfect time to explore some other resorts and have a date night! For the first date night article, I’m focusing on the Magic Kingdom area resorts.
By Magic Kingdom Area resorts, I’m referring to the loop of resorts on the monorail (Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and Disney’s Contemporary Resort). This plan will allow you to get a taste of what each resort has to offer.
Begin your journey at the Polynesian Resort around 4pm. Personally, I love the walk from the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) to The Grand Ceremonial House (the Polynesian’s main building). Immediately after leaving the TTC area, you are transported into an area of lush vegetation and later in the evenings, lit tiki torches. Nothing says romance like tiki torches lighting your path!
If you’re coming from the Magic Kingdom, the boat transportation directly to the Polynesian is also great. The boat stops at a long dock, and you’ll pass by the pool area and some of the sandy beach areas.
Take some time to explore the resort. It truly makes you feel like you’re in Hawaii. After walking around a bit, head to Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace. While Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is an amazing adventure, if you’re looking for a laid back, date night setting, the Tiki Terrace outside is for you! Find a table (I like the ones on the edge where you get a glimpse of the water) and get ready for a great time! The drinks are the same in both places and they are adventurous.
For those who don’t drink alcohol, they have some great non-alcoholic drinks. While pregnant at Disney last year, they made me the best Shirley Temple with lots of little umbrellas! Best of all, on most evenings there is also live entertainment, I’ve seen some incredibly talented people singing and playing the ukulele. The Tiki Terrace is the perfect place to start date night – drinks, snacks, live music in a lush tropical setting.
From there, I recommend taking the walking path from the Polynesian to the Grand Floridian. Time your walk to the Grand Floridian as the sun is going down. The path is quiet and well lit. While you’re on Polynesian property, the same tiki torches that lit your way around the resort will light your way towards The Grand Floridian.
Then, as the lush vegetation ends, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to an entirely new place with the charm of the red roofed buildings of the Grand Floridian. The walking path is makes a great romantic stroll.
Enter the lobby of the Grand Floridian and take it all in. Be sure to spend some time wandering around. The shops and ambiance of this hotel are one of a kind. On the ground floor, there are floor tile mosaics with Disney Movie Themes. I always make sure we walk upstairs using the Grand Staircase, it makes me feel like a princess!
Often there is someone playing piano in the lobby, and if you listen carefully, the songs will be very familiar. Find a seat in the lobby and stop to listen, it will be worth your while. I also recommend heading up to Mizners Lounge. It’s an enjoyable place to sit, when you find a seat and there is live music on most evenings.
When you’re done at The Grand Floridian, hop on the monorail and take it to your final destination, The Contemporary. Make reservations at The California Grill for about an hour earlier than the fireworks are scheduled to begin at the Magic Kingdom. On most nights this will be somewhere around 7pm or 8pm. Dining at the California Grill is the pinnacle experience for this date night. You don’t just stroll into this restaurant, you have to check in at the podium on the second floor.
There is something exhilarating about stepping onto a private elevator that whisks you up to the fifteenth floor. Once inside take in the panoramic views – Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom. The California Grill doesn’t have a bad seat as panoramic windows line the perimeter of the restaurant. Be sure to let them know if you are celebrating something special.
As if the ambiance of this restaurant isn’t enough, each time we’ve dined here the food is incredible. Menus change seasonally based on what’s available. If you’re concerned about budget, share your meal. On our most recent visit, we split two appetizers, an entree and dessert. The staff is very accommodating, and are willing to pace your meal based on your preferences and what you order.
Finally, the highlight of your meal will be watching the Magic Kingdom Fireworks. You can opt to stay at your table or grab your drink and head out to one of the observation platforms. The music from the show is piped into the restaurant (and on the platforms) for what will surely be a highlight of your trip. This will definitely be the perfect ending to a great date night!
[Photos: Lucy-Kate Corker, Feature Image: Disney]