Doing Disney right means more than just booking a flight and snapping up a pair of Mickey ears. You need to do a bit more homework to really knock the trip out of the park. So we turn again to our resident Disney expert to answer the real life questions that can make all the difference. Put it this way, would you rather leave with "It's a Small World" stuck in your head or with photos of you and your loved ones dining out Disney-style? Think about it.
Want to ask our Fodor's Disney expert a question? Shoot her an email:DisneyExpert@fodors.com.
What is the International Food and Wine Festival?
A: The International Food and Wine Festival is held at Epcot for eight weeks every fall. This year, it will run from September 27th to November 11th. During this time the World Showcase turns into a food lover's paradise. More than 75 booths are set up around the World Showcase Lagoon, each featuring a different country—everywhere from South Africa and Korea to Spain and Australia. Each kiosk has three or four bite size plates and regional wine or beer for sale. To make the most of this international buffet, consider purchasing a handy reloadable gift card to keep cash interactions to a minimum.
Serious foodies can buy tickets for a specialty dinner or party with celebrity chefs. (The one I attended required that each course use chocolate.) The Party of the Senses ($145) is a great way to sample the cuisine of dozens of amazing chefs—both those from signature Disney restaurants and from high-profile restaurants around the world. (Book ahead.)
During the festival, chefs are also on hand for culinary demonstrations around the World Showcase and there are wine and beer tastings as well.
We are having trouble getting a character dining reservation. What are some other ways to meet the characters in the Magic Kingdom?
A: Character meals are a great way to meet the characters but they're certainly not the only way. On the Family Magic Tour in the Magic Kingdom, both parents and kids get in on the action, following a guide on an interactive quest to save the Magic Kingdom from a Disney Villain, solving riddles, looking for clues, and playing silly games along the way. Each tour is slightly different but families always get private time with a character at the end. The activities on the tour are geared toward kids ages 4 to 12, but kids of all ages will enjoy it. And adults are required to get just as crazy as the kids.
My teenage sons and I are only visiting Disney for one day. Where should we go?
A: Teenagers always rate Disney's Hollywood Studios the highest. With two great thrill rides—Rock'n'Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror—next to each other, it's easy to see why. The recently refurbished Star Tours will thrill Star Wars fans, and with more than fifty possible ride combinations, you'll want to stop by more than once. But make sure to fit in the two action stunt shows—the more traditional (yet funny) Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and then Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, which goes behind the scenes on how high speed car chases are filmed. And all ages love Toy Story Midway Mania, an addictive virtual shooting gallery that zips you past your targets.
Take a break by visiting 50's Prime Time Café for lunch. The entire restaurant is a homage to classic 50's television shows. "Mom" will be in the back cooking up everyone's favorite food and you will be asked to take your elbows off the table, thank you very much! And try to plan your visit on a day when the evening spectacular Fantasmic! is slated to run; it draws major crowds, but is well worth the wait.
Photo credits: Courtesy of Walt Disney World