A Disney honeymoon selfie, complete with “Happily Ever After” pins. (Photo: Lindsey Olander)
By Lindsey Olander
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Yahoo.Com.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “She’s a travel editor and she went where?” Those who know me know I am an adventurer at heart. I’ve traveled solo through Scotland and Scandinavia, flown straight from New York to Australia’s Northern Territory, and free-fallen from 15,000 feet over New Zealand. The destinations on my personal travel wish list are far-flung and visually spectacular: Iceland, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Mozambique. You’ll notice central Florida is not among them. But when it came time to decide where my now-husband and I wanted to spend the five free days we had after getting married, we barely hesitated: we were going to Disney World.
Deciding was the easy part. The challenge: breaking the news to everyone else. Reactions fell into two categories: the truly envious (“Tell me you’re going to meet a princess and ride Space Mountain!” “You’ve got to get those bridal ears!” “I will officially be stalking you on Instagram, and don’t forget to Snapchat the Magic Kingdom fireworks so I can relive my childhood”) and the irritatingly condescending (“I mean, if that’s how you want to live your life….” “You’re a travel editor and you chose Florida? Really?” “I’ve never been and I’m not going until I have kids.” “I would never go to Disney World even if I did have kids”).
To the last: well, good, because Disney World wouldn’t want you anyway. True, some might find it hard to get past the stroller parking lots that seem to out-acre the rides themselves, but Disney is so much more than your everyday amusement park. If we are true to ourselves, growing up doesn’t have to erase our love of castles or fables, belittle the magic of passing a princess or catching a wave from Mickey Mouse, or diminish that indescribable feeling you get when you board your favorite ride again (or experience it for the very first time). After having made a very big adult decision, spending our first days as newlyweds in the most magical place on Earth seemed like the best way to celebrate our own fairy tale.
Go ahead, wear those his-and-hers mouse ears. (Photo: WDW Disney Fine Art Photography)
Here’s how we did it, and what we learned:
The off-season is your saving grace
November was never my favorite month—it’s the standstill between Halloween and Christmas, when fall leaves become dead leaves and Daylight Savings Time steals away the morning sun—but it can be one of the best times to get away, especially to Disney. Mid-November through mid-February (barring holiday weeks) are exceptionally good times to go. When we visited the week before Thanksgiving, temperatures hovered in the high 70s, hotel rates were among the lowest of the year, and ride lines remained consistently 30 minutes or less—laughable compared with the hour-plus waits during summer peak days.
Stay at a Disney Resort
I’m a sucker for luxury and rooftop views—which the gorgeous new Four Seasons Orlando delivers in spades. But we opted to stay at a Disney Resort. Not only are Disney hotels closer to the parks themselves, cutting down transportation times, but they also really ramp up the perks: complimentary shuttle service to every park including Disney Springs, knowledgeable staff, and MagicBands. Gifted only to Disney-branded resort guests, these colorful rubber wristbands act as your hotel room key, shopping (and dining) credit card, and keepers of coveted FastPass elections. What’s more, MagicBands open FastPass reservations up 60 days in advance, whereas non-resort guests can only reserve FastPasses day-of — frustrating for those with their hearts set on a particularly popular ride. It’s like vacationing at an all-inclusive. We chose to stay at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort, modeled after the Old South, and reveled in romantic nighttime walks among colonial plantation houses, over arched bridges, and past winding canals disturbed only by the occasional passing steamboat.