DISNEY WITHOUT KIDS: ROMANTIC CHOICES IN A PANDEMIC WORLD

With Walt Disney World operating at a limited capacity and some restaurants and resort not open, it might seem premature to write an article on this topic, but I suspect that as Disney slowly opens options in 2021, more people will look into Disney because this was going to be the “great 50th anniversary year of the park.

Here is my evaluation. Right now, WDW is best suited for locals, annual passholders, and frequent visitors who already know what they want to do and see. That would describe my family.  Considering the high costs, WDW in 2021 is a poor choice for families with small kids since there are few character meets or meals, strict rules on masks and lines, and even disciplined ways to eat and drink.

Magic Kingdom Fireworks at Bay Lake Tower & Contemporary Resort

Disney without kids and less people might NOT be such a bad vacation trip or place for romantic celebrations.  Disney is still not an inexpensive holiday spot.  Still, here are my choices for romantic WDW for this year’s options and years to come:

WHERE TO STAY:  To no one’s shock, the opening of WDW resorts favored villas and upscale resorts, and not value hotels. Since this article is for 2021 travelers, we are including reopening dates.

WILDERNESS LODGE (June 6) and open now COPPER CREEK VILLAS & CABINS, BOULDER RIDGE VILLAS.  Just a neat boat ride from Magic Kingdom, the Wilderness Lodge has lakeside cabins and lakeview villas. I give high marks for the romantic lakeside Geyser Point Bar & Grill and have breakfast/lunch fun at Whispering Canyon.  You feel you at in the Pacific Northwest with all the forests and natural Bay Lake.

Cabins and villas at Wilderness Lodge are lakeside

JAMBA HOUSE & ANIMAL KINGDOM VILLAGES at Kidani Village – the Lodge is closed and with it Boma and Jiko, but if you have an automobile, this is the place to get away to Africa. The animals await at the windows of Sanaa restaurant and the Uzuma Springa Pool Bar is a plus as is two good lounges.

At a window at Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge, you get exotic food critics.

CONTEMPORARY RESORT and ultra-expensive BAY LAKE TOWER VILLAS is for urbanites with its monorail to Magic Kingdom and Epcot, plus classic top-floor CARIBBEAN GRILL and quality THE WAVE and its Lounge.

Bay Lake Tower gets a two lake ultra-view.

YACHT CLUB, BEACH CLUB (May 30) and BEACH CLUB VILLAS lost points for unopened Yachtsman Steakhouse & Cape May Café, but win points with its boat-ride to Epcot and boat-ride or gondola to Disney Studios.  Location to the best parks and best pool are strong points.

GRAND FLORIDIAN and VILLAS are just very expensive and sneak onto this list for having good lounges, facilities, the monorail, and NARCOOSSEE’S, a romantic restaurant.

Narcoocssees is the Grand Floridian’s waterfront seafood star.

It is hard to spend less money in Disney’s moderate and value resorts and still carve out a romantic atmosphere. CARIBBEAN RESORT has the gondola to Disney Studios and Epcot, but the table restaurant was closed.  So I look into these non-Disney but inside WDW choices:

DOLPHIN and SWAN RESORTS are Marriott resorts so you can use your hotel points, and with less conventions, they need lots of visitors. They have some low rates. These hotels are in the middle of WDW with boats to Epcot and Disney Studios, and facilities like a quality spa, several pools, lots of bars, and 17 restaurants, including such good romantic spots as Kimonos, Todd English’s Blue Zoo, and El Mulino.

Todd English Blue Zoo bar is really in the blue (Dolphin Resort).

WARDOLF ASTORIA BONNET CREEK with its attached HILTON is perfect if you come by automobile and want a golf course outside your door, two of Orlando’s Top Five restaurants, a lazy river, and the use of two resorts (like the Dolphin/Swan) to explore.  Bonnet Creek is actually “inside Disney property”, but not owned by Disney.

* * * *

ROMANTIC PARK DINING: Although not all restaurants have yet reopened, Epcot had always been “the adult’s park”

EPCOT easily wins here as it is the “adult-park.”  Try to get a window-side table at Hacienda de San Engel or a hideaway corner at Le Cellier or Tutto Italia.

MAGIC KINGDOM has always been a fast-food wasteland. Overpriced Be Our Guest is nice for dinner and if you are somewhat daring, look into the menu at Jungle Navigation Skipper Canteen.

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS is best with a corner table at the Hollywood Brown Derby, but you will have great fun at the food spots at Star Wars Galaxy Edge.

Find a quiet corner table & pretend you are a movie star at the Brown Derby.

ANIMAL KINGDOM has only Tiffins for romantic dining, but you should enjoy an other world trip to Pandora’s Satuli Canteen.

Eating on the another planet at the Satu’li Canteen in Pandora, Animal Kingdom.

DISNEY SPRINGS is not a park, but WDW’s food and nightlife plus shopping spectacular is here and since these are not Disney restaurants, most are open. Beautiful Marimoto Asia, Jalio, and STK Steakhouse are logical choices, but look at the DRINK and ENTERTAINMENT choices.

The Boathouse dock is a great place to eat and watch the automobiles (?) drive by.

* * * *

Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs is not your typical local Chinese restaurant.

ROMANTIC DRINKS & ENTERTAINMENT:  Since most the clubs at Disney’s Boardwalk complex are not open, Disney Springs is the place to go particularly if you eat there. Raglan Road was nightly music and dancers and all those massive bars imported from Eire.  The Edison is the only spot resembling a nightclub with no less than seven food and drink areas.   The bar out of the dock at the vast Boardwalk restaurant has a good menu of food and drink.    Enzio’s Hideaway is a speakeasy in an underground location – certainly atmospheric.

About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as an Emeritus college professor, he moderates the FHIC at www.floridahistory.org
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