Check out the best places to eat, which nearby attractions to check out and where to drop the kids off for a couple hours when you need a break!
Keep Food Costs in Check
If you’re staying at a Disney property and are looking to cut down on your food costs during your trip, a visit to the Goodings Grocery Store is a must before arriving in Orlando. This store delivers to all Disney resort hotels for a very reasonable US$25 fee.
There is a minimum order amount of US$50, and Goodings requests 48 hours notice for any order. Orders are delivered between 4 and 7 p.m. each day and, if you’re not at your hotel at that time, your delivery will be held at the bell desk of your hotel.
Most of the 20,000 grocery items that Goodings stocks can be delivered, save for two—alcohol and ice cream. One is due to a Florida law, the other is it just gets too messy in the Florida heat.
In terms of on-site dining, the food at Walt Disney World gets tiring, quickly. It’s almost impossible to escape the burgers, chicken fingers and fries that are sold everywhere. But if you do some digging, you’ll discover there’s a bigger range of options than predictable midway fare.
Dining Options at EPCOT
If you want to dine around the world in one afternoon or evening, take a trip to EPCOT and visit the takeaway food booths, outside most of the cultural pavilions.
Most offer easy-to-handle food from US$3 to US$5, with local wine and spirits, as well. If you do want to grab a seat and enjoy a proper sit-down meal, a couple of our favourites were San Angel Inn at the Mexican Pavilion and the Rose and Crown Pub found at the Mexico, U.K. and Morocco pavilions.
Columbia Harbour House at Magic Kingdom
Situated between Fantasyland and Liberty Square, this is one of the few spots in the Magic Kingdom where you’ll find some healthy food alternatives. Large salads, a variety of sandwiches and the “famous” clam chowder are all on the menu.
’50s Prime Time Café at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Centrally located, this café provides nothing special in terms of dining options—burgers, fries and Coke are the staples here—but it does provide your family with a fun step back in time where kids can be kids and the adults, well, they can be kids, too.
Other Attractions Nearby
Universal Studios Orlando is a quick 20-minute drive from Disney World, and while it’s still an amusement park, the real crowd-pleasers are the shows. Shrek 4-D is a must-see with the kids, just as Terminator 2: 3-D is with the older ones in your tribe.
Next door to the main Universal park is Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Built only 12 years ago, Islands is jammed with many more rides and far fewer shows.
The park is divided up into themes— much like Magic Kingdom—such as Marvel Super Hero Island, Seuss Landing and Jurassic Park. Younger kids can’t get enough of Seuss Landing, while thrill-seekers should make a beeline for Jurassic Park River Adventure, the newly constructed Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.
Veer a little farther south on the I-4 and you’ll find SeaWorld. This is a perfect daytrip from Walt Disney World where you’ll discover the pace is so much slower.
Yes, this is home to the white-knuckle rollercoaster Kraken, but most visitors seem happy to push strollers past tanks of spectacular sea life and be dazzled by the choreographed dolphin and sea lion shows.
Kids’ Clubs: When Parents Need a Break
As much as Disney is about family time, there are limits for most of us mortals. Disney’s answer is on-site kids’ clubs—aimed at those four to 12 years of age. The best and largest is The Neverland Club in the Disney Polynesian Resort.
Usually staffed by at least three supervisors, these clubs have the latest Xbox, PS3 and Wii games available, along with loads of crafts and toys. Most kid clubs are open from 4 p.m. to midnight and dinner is included in your fee of US$11.50 per hour, per child (with a two-hour minimum).
Those staying off-site have the option of in-room babysitting services. One of the most highly recommended is Kid’s Nite Out, with rates that start at US$16 per hour for one child, US$18.50 per hour for two children. A four-hour minimum is part of the deal.
Photos courtesy of Walt Disney World & Universal Studios