Forget the spinning teacups and hugs from Winnie the Pooh—there’s an entire world of experiences happening at Walt Disney World that you’d never know about. Truth be told, not everyone is sweating it out in line for the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster. There’s a way to skip those FastPass+ planning windows and stressful dining reservations in favor of a blissful day bopping between rides and ridiculously good food. From phenomenal properties to private tours, here’s the 411 on the most extravagant ways to enjoy that Orlando trip.
Private VIP Tours
The VIP Tour is so much more than a way to skip the lines on attractions across Walt Disney World. Led by professionally trained staffers who knows the ins and outs of everything at the Orlando parks, VIP guides—lovingly referred to as “plaids” because of their uniforms—simply get the job done. Want reserved seating at parades, dining reservations, or the ideal viewing spot for fireworks over Cinderella Castle? With unlimited access to FastPass+ attractions, door-to-door transportation, and behind-the-scenes shortcuts, it’s all part of the package. The Signature Services planning help makes the stress involved in planning a Walt Disney World vacation simply melt away. Pricing starts at $425 per hour for 10 guests with a seven-hour daily minimum; theme park admission and gratuity not included.
Ultra Fancy Dining
Although “fine dining” and “Mickey Mouse” don’t often go hand in hand, Walt Disney World is as much a culinary wonderland as it is America’s greatest vacation destination. You won’t even have to look far for something more gourmet than Mickey waffles and churros because some seriously fancy meals are happening beyond its four parks. Tucked within Disney’s stately Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is Victoria & Albert’s, whose AAA Diamond rating, coursed menu enhancements, and oft-booked Chef’s Table make it the pinnacle of edible experiences at Disney World—though plenty others are hiding in plain sight. A private meal in Cítricos’s wine cellar at the Grand Floridian, a customized California Grill meal served deep beneath the Contemporary Resort’s A-frame structure, and an extravagant one-night-only Disney dinner series can be made possible through Disney’s Signature Services concierge. Even Disney Springs, the hybrid mall–entertainment complex just beyond the parks, offers high-end dining at restaurants helmed by famed chefs José Andrés, Masaharu Morimoto, and Art Smith with various special and seasonal events. Prefer a taste of the champagne life in lieu of a full glass? Don’t miss the “outstanding by the ounce” pours at Wine Bar George, a must-do for wine aficionados.
Plenty of Disneyholics know about Disneyland’s private members–only club, but Walt Disney World has its own—and they’re much more secretive. Hidden behind blink-and-you’ll-miss ’em doorways at Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Epcot (with a fourth on the way at Disney’s Animal Kingdom) are impeccably decorated hideaways exclusive to an elite few lucky enough to hold memberships. (Magic Kingdom’s, for example, has a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea–themed Nautilus bar complete with a view of “fish” swimming past.) Membership comes with perks, sure—annual passes, special events, and more FastPasses than you’d know what to do with—but the big sell is year-round, top-tier service from Club 33’s high-caliber concierge staff. They’re so below the radar that you’ll never see photos taken inside, but there is one way in: Unlike the Disneyland location, known for its epic waiting list, Walt Disney World is currently accepting recruits. Initiation begins around $30,000; inquire directly at Club33@WaltDisneyWorld.com.
You can’t move into Cinderella Castle, but for the discerning Disney guest who hopes to permanently set up shop in the Mouse House, there’s Golden Oak, a community of luxury mansions just beyond the Magic Kingdom. Each of the approximately 300 homes comes with benefits like round-trip park transportation, exclusive events, and private access to Markham’s, a newly remodeled restaurant packed with rustic-modern touches and subtle nods to Disney history. Golden Oak’s steep price tag will make that week at Disney’s Grand Floridian seem cheap—the average home here costs $3.2 million—but a community this idyllic explains why so many owners reside year-round. Guests looking for something even more luxurious can scoop up Golden Oak mega-mansions built in conjunction with Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort. These large-scale properties, starting at $5 million, grant full access to the golf course and pools at the AAA Five Diamond Resort hotel as well as luxe built-in features, like chef’s kitchens for in-home hotel catering.
Rest assured, there are plenty of ways to send your Walt Disney World trip over the top without splurging on a mansion or membership. Everything from its deluxe resorts—some rooms let you gaze at Cinderella Castle from your balcony—to on-site spas, upscale Disney Springs shopping, and in-room surprises can enhance your next visit for an affordable sum. There are also group VIP tours, like the Ultimate Day of Thrills and Ultimate Nights of Adventure, that cost less than an hour of private touring for a day’s worth of elite access.
Disney Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons cater to guests celebrating once-in-a-lifetime events. Don’t miss out on special ticketed events offered at Walt Disney World like Early Morning Magic and Disney After Hours, which allow access to the park before it opens or after it closes with shorter lines and complimentary food, and seasonal ticketed parties for Halloween and Christmas. Whether you’re taking a private pontoon boat out to watch nightly fireworks from the water, splurging on a ticket to a group viewing, or attending an in-park dessert party, there’s always a way to make your trip that much more special.