A Walt Disney World vacation is certainly a “splurge” for a lot of families. But tucked within the gates of Walt Disney World, guests will find more ways than ever to splurge and create extra magical experiences during their stay at Walt Disney World.
Whether it is a makeover experience, the Ultimate VIP Tour, or staying at a new Disney resort for the first time, there are plenty of ways to spend your money and time on amazing experiences while you are at Walt Disney World.
Today, I am going to share what I consider the Best Splurges at Walt Disney World, in hopes that you will find something extra special to add to your Disney experience!
1. Dessert Parties
Walt Disney World has several dessert party options ~ at least one at each of the four parks! A dessert party allows your family to enjoy sweet and savory dessert and appetizer options, while enjoying a reserved seating area for that evening’s show. The most popular is the Happily Ever After Dessert Party at the Magic Kingdom.
Why is a dessert party a worthy splurge? First, you do not have to stake out a spot at least an hour or so before the show. For some shows, such as Happily Ever After, this is the main reason guests book the dessert party. If you have seen Main Street USA and the hub area at fireworks time, it is absolutely packed with people.
No one wants to stake out a spot, and sit for an hour or more before the show, when you could be enjoying some nearby attractions and then slide in for the dessert party.
EPCOT currently offers the FROZEN Dessert Party, which is the same concept. In my opinion, this one has a higher value than the Happily Ever After party because of the food and beverage offerings. I found the food to be more of a variety, and better, at the FROZEN Ever After Dessert Party.
They do serve alcohol, whereas at the Happily Ever After party they do not. And, you are entitled to a ride on FROZEN Ever After right after Illuminations is over. Keep an eye out, to see what Disney offers when the new EPCOT Forever show comes about this fall.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom both offer dessert parties for their evening shows as well. These are great if you want an extra special experience, but in my opinion they do not gain you a better seat. Just a seat in the amphitheater ~ which is definitely a good thing.
2. Character Dining
Whether or not you add the Disney Dining Plan to your package, that is entirely up to you and how your family eats. I personally love it, but I also know it is not for everyone. I do think that booking at least one or two character meals during your stay is definitely worth the splurge.
Character dining allows you a few things. First, it allows your family to have a nice, sit down meal together. As a mom who has three kids with three different palates, this is wonderful. Most character dining experiences are a buffet, so everyone can pick and choose and eat their favorites to their heart’s content. Secondly, the characters come to you.
So, you do not have to stand in line, wait to see them, over and over again in the parks. Often there are 4-5 characters at each experience. You can easily see princesses or Mickey and his friends at character dining, and spend the time in the parks on the attractions. Character meals are also a great way for shy or unsure kiddos to see their favorites and not be too overwhelmed.
3. Memory Maker
This is Disney’s photo package, that you can add right to your Walt Disney World room/ticket package. Or you can certainly purchase it stand alone through My Disney Experience. Throughout the Disney parks, you will see Memory Maker photographers all over the place!
They are in front of your favorite icons, at character meet and greets, and you can even get a beautiful photo with Rapunzel’s lanterns at Magic Kingdom!
RELATED READING: Beginner’s Guide to Disney World’s PhotoPass Memory Maker – Is It Really Worth It?
Coming home with all your photos is priceless, at least for me. I love downloading them when I get home, and sharing them with my family and friends via social media, using them for Christmas cards, etc.
4. Behind the Scenes Tours
Walt Disney World offers a plethora of tours that take you backstage in the parks. Some, such as the VIP tours, are hours long and can get you into areas or on attractions you may never get to see. Others are specialty tours, and only concentrate on one area or aspect of the parks.
Tours such as Behind the Seeds, Caring for Giants, or the Up Close with Rhinos tours are great for “first timers”. They are only about an hour long, and give you a concentrated look at one aspect of the parks.
Also, they are reasonably priced, and a good value. If you are already in the parks, you may as well take some time to see what goes on backstage, and learn a little bit about the Disney parks!
RELATED READING: Inexpensive Ways to Have Fun with the Kids at Disney World & Disney Springs
5. Park Hopper Tickets
Park Hopping gives your family the flexibility it needs to enjoy the Disney parks with perhaps a bit less planning and stress. When you have the park hopper option on your tickets, you can move freely between the parks on the same day.
With base tickets, you are tied down to one park per day. When that park gets crowded, or you feel as if you have done everything you want to do, you can’t go to another park that same day unless you have the park hopper.
Park hopping allows so much flexibility, and you can see so much. I especially love park hopping on a shorter trip. When families only have 3 days or so to spend in the parks, park hopping is ideal! This way you can experience more Disney in a shorter amount of time.
6. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or Pirates League
Where else in the world can you go, and get a true princess or pirate makeover? The Disney Parks, of course! Pirates League and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique are both found at Magic Kingdom Park. You can also find the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Disney Springs and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
RELATED READING: Everything You Need to Know About Disney’s Deluxe Resorts
Both of these experiences makeover your child in an exceptional, storytelling way. At the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, you can choose from your favorite princesses, or a tutu and sparkly shirt. Better yet, you can bring your own princess dress and still experience a magical makeover from your Fairy Godmother in Training.
At the Pirates’ League, even parents can join in on the fun! This location offers mermaid, pirate, and empress makeovers for all ages, where as the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is only for children. At either location, the theming is fantastic, and the Cast Members make your child feel like a true princess or pirate!
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These are great options before Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, or before dining with your favorite princesses!
7. Staying on Disney Property
With over 25 Disney resorts to choose from, one of them is bound to be perfect for your family. Ranging in pricing, theming, and location, staying on Disney property is probably the best splurge you could make for your trip.
Staying on site makes your trip seamless. From the moment you arrive in the Disney “bubble”, you are fully immersed in the magic. The resorts are themed so well, you truly feel as if you are on vacation, on an escape from reality.
Also, you have onsite benefits. You can book park attractions and shows in advance, dining 180-days in advance, you have access to Disney’s Magical Express, and it truly is part of a Disney vacation experience.
What are your favorite ways to splurge on a Disney trip? Have you experienced any of these? Which did you enjoy the most?