One Day Guide: Channeling the Magic at Walt Disney World

April 23, 2016 Orlando, Florida

Beyond the mouse ears, Walt Disney World enchants its grownup visitors with belief in happily ever afters. Following up from our last recent feature on "Magic in Matrimony" and what Disney can teach us about marriage, our editor-in-chief Chelsea continues with a one-day abbreviated guide of some of her favorite Orlando-area adventures within the Disney resort park.

Belle is admittedly my soulmate. I grew up in the Disney way, and the joy that Disney as a culture has nurtured for generations is still strong even in my thirties. And even as grown-ups, Walt Disney World has its own special kind of magic to give to vacationing couples. Whether it's a reminder that we should all channel that inner child-like heart sometimes or that happily ever afters can exist, the Disney tradition is very alive and well in Orlando.

Surprisingly enough, it does get chilly in Florida, especially at night! For this particular trip, I visited in January and wore jean pants, long-sleeved shirt, and a thin sweater and was perfectly content. As for packing a bag, you can bring water and snacks into the parks, so I made sure to bring a few with me as backups. Disney is very, very knowledgeable and friendly for food allergies, so I knew I didn't need to bring my normal amount of snacks like I would in other places. Thank goodness! I also like to have just-in-cases with me so I brought along a little survival kit from Coastal Kit Company. (Lip balm and safety pin for the win that day!)

Quick Tip: Download the My Disney Experience app before you leave. You can make your dining reservations, look at maps, and more no matter where you are. For a planner like me, this was my favorite, and it was seamless in user-friendliness. It allowed me to snag a reservation on the go to Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom!

Where do you even begin? I visited Animal Kingdom first thing in the morning and was personally so thrilled to see this side of Disney, especially in Asia with a lot of Thai art influence. In a visual culture that tends to favor Chinese and Japanese aesthetic, it was great to see other Asian countries get some love in dining, architecture, and park experience. There is plenty to do here for couples-- adventurous safari rides, romantic strolls through the viewing trails (to see the animals!), and beautifully-done park shows like Festival of the Lion King.

While we visited Magic Kingdom for the legendary Be Our Guest Restaurant (definitely do it!), to be honest, as a kid who grew up going to Disneyland in California every year, WDW's Magic Kingdom just doesn't speak to me as well as the original does. Its charm is different and each has its own merits, but in Orlando, EPCOT, however, is my personal favorite. Cultural fusion, beautiful international education, and so much more, it's no surprise that EPCOT continues to be a favorite with grownups. The nightly fireworks, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, alone are a feast for the eyes and a beautiful way to end a magical day.

EPCOT is definitely my favorite park to eat, but let me really back it up to Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney) for this article because this place makes your dining options magical and the best date night experience in Orlando. Separate from the rest of the Walt Disney World park empire, this resort entertainment and shopping area is by far my favorite spot to find yummy treats... and you don't need an admission ticket!

Owned by Gloria Estefan, Bongos Cuban Cafe reigns supreme when it comes to food allergy accommodations to spectacular taste. I frequently miss Cuban food, and this hit every spot. From live music to energetic dancers to delicious food, this is my new go-to spot when in town. I had the Ensalada de Aguacate (avocado salad), Vaca Frita de Pollo (shredded chicken), and maduros (sweet plantains), and I'm still dreaming about when I get to have it again.

After dinner, it was a must-stop into Erin McKenna's Bakery also in Disney Springs for a gluten-free sweet treat... including a Girl Scout Cookie Samoa-inspired donut. No words needs for that one!

Quick Tip: Disney Springs is a multi-trip kind of place. On a previous Orlando trip years ago, my husband and I loved walking up and down this area. There is a movie theatre, bowling alley, and so many other things to do and see... making it the perfect date night area once or twice during your vacation!

The Disney spell will always enchant couples with beautiful memories of happily ever afters and dream-making. It never grows old, keeps our spirits young, and reminds us that there truly is magic in sharing that experience with our loved ones.

- Chelsea

Disclosure: Many thanks to Walt Disney Resort for hosting Tidewater and Tulle with park hopper day admission! And while the disclaimer is that we were given admission to the parks, these words, video, and our love for the brand are all our own. Some of the above product links are affiliate-linked and purchasing through these links helps support Tidewater and Tulle and its wonderful partners! You can find our full disclosure policy here.

Magic in Marriage via Tidewater and Tulle
A Couple's Pixie-Dusted Honeymoon at Walt Disney World via This Fairy Tale Life

A Peek at Disney World's Animal Kingdom
Be Our Guest Restaurant Experience
Hello from Main Street USA
EPCOT IllumniNations Fireworks