…and some old favourites. So last time, I told you a little about Walt Disney World Resort, Florida’s fabulous free dining offer. This time, I thought I’d bring you an update on some fabulous new experiences at Walt Disney World, including stunning new dining options and new attractions. I’ve also added in a few things that aren’t new, but that I experienced for the first time too. So sit back, grab a cuppa, and I’ll begin…
First things first, though, after dropping our car with APH Parking (I always do the meet and greet – there’s nothing nicer than being met with a friendly face who then spirits your car away and meets you back at the airport when you land) we treated ourselves to a manicure and a cocktail (it contained marmalade so was clearly a breakfast item) in the deliciously decadent Virgin Clubhouse Spa at Gatwick Airport:
After a lovely flight, and determined to rise to Virgin Holiday’s #seizetheholiday challenge, we grabbed a hearty breakfast at our pretty hotel, Disney’s Beach Club Resort (with a little help from some old friends), got our trainers on and headed straight for the parks (one of the days, we hit 11 miles on our step counter!).
The Magic Kingdom is currently decorated for Halloween (my favourite decorations!), and we set off on a whirlwind tour of tons of attractions: Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid, Winnie the Pooh, It’s a Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight (what? They’re classics), the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, the Haunted Mansion, and many more.
I even discovered an attraction that I’d missed on previous visits, the Jungle River Cruise, which is another classic, and VERY funny:
Talking of the Jungle Cruise, there’s a brand new restaurant right next to the attraction: the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen. We popped in for lunch (you know, just for research purposes) and weren’t disappointed. The food (and decor) reflects the theme of the ride, serving food from Asia, South America and Africa.
We started with some warm, spiced Ethiopian Ambasha bread, served with an unusual, but very moreish honey dipping sauce, then shared South East Asian shu mai dumplings with pork, shrimp and edamame beans. Wanting something light, I chose the black cod, served with vegetables in a fragrant lemongrass broth. Delicious, and really healthy too:
The next day, we hit Epcot. I was so excited to visit Arendelle that I literally dragged poor Erica straight to the Norway pavilion. We weren’t disappointed. The new Frozen Ever After attraction is wonderful, and the area around it, including the Royal Sommerhus, where you can actually meet Anna and Elsa, is just beautiful:
I’m not going to spoil the surprise of the actual ride – suffice to say that you board an ancient gondola and undertake a journey into the world of Frozen!
Another new attraction that I was really looking forward to is the updated Soarin’ Around the World. It truly is breathtaking. If you loved the original, you’ll adore this – we went on it multiple times. There are new sights and scent as you fly over the world. Magical.
Our visit also coincided with Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, so it would have been rude to leave without experiencing a few little nibbles there too, especially when we discovered that my favourite Kalua pork sliders were once again featuring at the Hawaii booth! Yum.
The next day, we decided to have a lazy day away from the parks to explore beautiful new Disney Springs (more of this, including shopping and dining, very soon!). We started the day at one of my favourite places, the beautiful Disney’s BoardWalk area, where we had a peek into the newly refurbished Flying Fish restaurant. It’s a fine dining restaurant specialising in incredible seafood and great steaks and I’m desperate to go again (another one for the bucket list). The newly opened magical-themed cocktail bar next door, Abracadabar, looks gorgeous too, but we had important business at Trattoria al Forno: breakfast! This casual dining Italian restaurant does the best pizzas and pastas, but it’s also open for delicious, hearty breakfasts. I usually go for the amazing berries and cream pancakes, but this time I was tempted by the tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella scrambled eggs, served with chicken sausage, those lovely breakfast potatoes and a random croissant. I’m definitely going to be adding mozzarella to scrambled eggs from now on. It’s the future.
The next day, we headed to Animal Kingdom – my favourite park at Walt Disney World. I just love the theming and think it’s absolutely gorgeous: where else can you wander through Africa with a view of Nepal all before breakfast? We arrived really early, and the view of Expedition Everest in the morning light was just incredible:
We headed out on one of the Kilimanjaro Safaris, and even our driver was surprised at how many animals we saw:
We were very lucky to have a lovely Disney guide, Jordan with us, and he was brilliant in suggesting attractions that we may not have done before. One of my favourites was the Majarajah Jungle Trek, a really attractive walking tour, themed around South East Asia, including loads of animals and incredible scenery:
We also went and saw the fabulous Festival of the Lion King. This is a must-see, as the performers are so talented. Erica and I both left in tears, it’s so moving!
Finally, I wanted to visit Tiffins, Animal Kingdom’s newest fine dining restaurant. It’s a little tucked away at the moment, but eventually it will have a beautiful view of Pandora- the World of Avatar. The restaurant is inspired by the journeys that the Disney Imagineers took whilst undertaking research during the creation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the menu is pretty much global in its inspiration. We started with a lobster popcorn Thai curry soup which was rich and flavourful, poured around a tender morsel of lobster. We then tried the ‘taste of Tiffins’ where you can choose two items from the menu, served with jade blend rice. The crispy fried fish, served with a perfect fresh, sweet, spicy, sour, salty som tam and a black bean sauce was excellent, and the chermoula rubbed chicken was also good, but we thought it could maybe have done with a bit more punch in the spicing.
Service was really attentive and friendly and the interior is gorgeous. Overall we were impressed, especially with a restaurant that has been open such a short period of time. I’d love to head back and dine in the evening – I can imagine the ambiance is completely different.
So many new experiences. It’s one of the things I love about Walt Disney World – it’s always changing and you never have the same holiday, no matter how many times you visit! Don’t forget, keep clicking back to see more news and old favourites from our magical trip – next up, Disney Springs!
Don’t forget to book your package by 20th October to make use of the fantastic free dining offer, for arrivals from 1st January 2017 to 30th November 2017.
Seven nights in Florida with Virgin Holidays, including scheduled Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick direct to Orlando, Disney Quick Service Dining plan, accommodation at the Disney’s Port Orleans Resort with hire car included. Price is per person based on 2 adults and 2 children travelling and sharing a standard room and includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Price is based on a departure on 03 June 2017.
Start your holiday before you’ve even taken off in the v-room at Gatwick or Manchester Airport… adults £24.50, kids from £14. Virgin Holidays is a member of ABTA and is ATOL protected. To book: www.virginholidays.co.uk, 0344 557 3859 or visit one of our 110 stores located in Debenhams and House of Fraser stores nationwide.