Walt Disney World will ring in its 50th anniversary October 1, kicking off an 18-month celebration that will include the unveiling of new attractions (like Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Epcot), shows (debuting in November, Drawn to Life will be a collaboration with Cirque du Soleil), fireworks spectacles (Epcot’s Harmonious will be one of the largest nighttime spectaculars created for Disney Parks) and much more.
If you plan to take part in the festivities at the “Most Magical Place on Earth,” finding the right place to stay is key. These five Orlando-area hotels will give your Disney trip its happily-ever-after ending.
For an over-the-top Disney getaway, visit the Four Seasons. Attend Goofy and his pals’ interactive breakfast at the hotel’s Ravello restaurant Thursdays and Saturdays, or hire Mickey to stop by your family’s private event at the property.
Then treat your children to princess, belle of the ball or shining knight makeovers in the spa complete with crowns, swords, fairy dust and more.
Wind down at Capa with a new dessert pairing October 1 that was made specially for the World’s Most Magical Celebration. From Capa’s terrace, you’ll sip cava; indulge in a platter of bonbons, mandarin pâte de fruits, chocolate torrones and berry sorbet; and gaze at the parks’ nightly fireworks.
Finally, retreat to the hotel’s top floor for the ultimate buyout: the nine-bedroom Royal and four-bedroom Presidential suites all to yourself plus a wrap-around balcony where you can see more of the fireworks illuminating the sky.
An official Walt Disney World hotel, the Waldorf Astoria provides exclusive perks, including early park entry so you can get a 30-minute jump-start on the crowds and complimentary luxury motorcoach transportation to the parks. When you retire to the hotel at night, you’ll get a coveted view: many accommodations overlook Walt Disney World and Epcot’s daily fireworks.
The Four-Star hotel offers its own itinerary packed with lawn games, mini golf, poolside s’mores, dive-in movies and a lazy river pool with a water slide. Gourmands who plan to go to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (through November 20) may want to double up on the culinary outings with Bonnet Creek Epicurious, a new fall offering (Fridays and Saturdays through November 20). The progressive four-hour dining excursion takes you through the restaurants at the Waldorf Astoria and neighboring Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek.
When you need a break from the Mickey-fueled fun, try The Ritz-Carlton’s family friendly activities, including a falconry experience; a sunrise safari to spot whitetail deer, bobcats, alligators and owls; mountain biking on a two-mile lake trail; and a canoe eco tour through Shingle Creek.
You can also participate in the hotel’s Fall on the Farm event, which takes place weekends in October. Head to the onsite 18,000-square-foot Whisper Creek Farm for pumpkin picking and carving with the resort’s Olympic world champion culinary artist and carver, or take a hayride around the corn maze. Be sure to check out the farm’s resident ducks, quail and chickens and pick up farm-made goods such as honey, jam, pumpkin popcorn and barbecue sauces and rubs.
Of course, you could just lodge in Disney World itself. This Victorian resort is a short walk or water taxi ride to Magic Kingdom Park. Your stay includes perks like early theme park entry, extended park hours on select evenings and surprise hotel appearances from beloved Disney personalities.
While at the Grand Floridian, dine at the newly renovated Cítricos. The 2D-animated sequence from 2018’s Mary Poppins Returns subtly influenced the garden-like décor (such as the floral print wrapping the armchairs and brass birds perched on table lamps) in the fine-dining restaurant. But the menu draws on Florida and the Mediterranean rather than Mary Poppins’ London with dishes like butter-poached cobia with mashed fingerlings, asparagus and local mushrooms with a grapefruit beurre blanc, and guava barbecue short ribs with aged cheddar grits, roasted poblano, curtido (a spicy Salvadoran slaw) and Brussels sprouts.
Those who prefer to be more removed from the theme park fray can make this Palm Coast haven their base. Ninety minutes from Orlando, it’s close enough so that you can do a day at Disney and then spend the rest of your time in Hammock Beach’s 91,000-square-foot Fantasy Pool complex shooting down the water flume or gliding along the lazy river.
Moreover, you needn’t fear that the kids will miss Disney for long. The hotel’s Kids Crew program will keep ages four to 12 entertained with scavenger hunts, beach activities, camps (with themes like mad scientist and the great outdoors) and more at the oceanfront resort. Meanwhile, parents can sneak away to sprawl out on the beach or play a round at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course or the Tom Watson-designed Conservatory Course dotted with waterfalls and brooks.