“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends”. Advice from, Walt Disney, one of the business world’s great marketers. I am a New York resident, so I don’t get to either of Disney’s theme parks in the US very often. Unlike my Mother, who saw the theme parks as only a money making machine (see my previous post “A Mother’s Gift“), I see them as a wonderful escape. So when my job made it necessary for me to travel to Orlando for training, (really, it wasn’t my idea) I was excited to think I would be so close to WDW.
But sad I wouldn’t be able to spend time in the parks. Would today’s Disney Corporation live up to its creator’s marketing advice and lure me there somehow to spend my hard earned money? If so, would the experience be worthy enough to “bring my friends”?
My Disney brain was working overtime trying to find a way to take advantage of my close proximity to the “Happiest Place on Earth”. After the smoke cleared a bit, (I think my brain pan needs an oil change) I began to see possibilities. I had to eat, right? And WDW has some restaurants that feel, sort of like attractions, right? My wife was joining me and we planned the trip like many of our vacations (Disney or otherwise)– we plan our days around meals. Since my days were spoken for by my employer from 7am-7pm, the plan was to soak up as much of the Disney Magic at dinner as possible without buying a park ticket. But was food wasn’t going to be enough? Undeterred I pushed ahead.
We decided to pick some old favorites and one new restaurant for the three dinners we were planning. To maximize our enjoyment potential, I felt the Resorts might offer more than just a meal. Even though we were limited to Resorts, there were still many options. Boma was an easy choice. Not only is the resort a favorite, but I love a buffet and the African inspired cuisine is not something you find everywhere (even in NYC). We also loved our stay at the Polynesian. While Kona has never been at the top of our list, it does have the great tiki-style drinks and sushi, which is hard to find in WDW. For our new restaurant, I had just read that Iron Chef Cat Cora’s Koussina was closing and we had never tried the food, which also offered some unique WDW choices. Now that we had our three restaurants, we were ready to find out if we could make an evening out of it filled with WDW magic.
Koussina at the Boardwalk seemed like a no brainer for things to do before and after a meal. The Boardwalk itself is designed as an entertainment center. There would be stores, busker-like entertainment, a dance hall, a piano bar and beautiful Crescent Lake to look at as we strolled the boardwalk. Hey, maybe, this wasn’t going to be too hard. Buoyed by our first choice, we confidently approached our second meal,
Kona Café at the Polynesian. We had loved watching the fireworks from our room overlooking the Seven Seas Lagoon during our last stay. After a little research, I learned that we could get the same view from the beach near the Volcano Pool. The Polynesian also had the closest thing to an attraction we were going to get this trip – The Monorail. I know it’s a bit of a stretch. But it’s a nice ride that gets us very close to the Magic Kingdom, goes through the Contemporary Resort and would give us a view of the Grand Floridian, all for free. There was some concern when we learned that the lobby might be under construction, but there would always be a nice walk around the grounds if we wanted the tropical feel.
Finally we tackled Animal Kingdom Lodge, a Resort that holds many wonderful memories for our family. (Although there was an infamous trip during which we lost, not one, but two digital cameras there). With its soaring main lobby, the African artifacts to see, African music, the Cape Town Lounge, and African animals, it seemed we could make an evening of that meal.
In my next post, I’ll reveal how successful Disney was at making us feel like we were part of the magic and whether Walt would be proud that his creation could “bring us back for more”.