Congratulations, you’re getting married! Unless you’re not… then… ummm… congratulations, you’re reading this blog!
If you ARE getting married, or thinking that you might someday consider doing so, then you may also be thinking about a honeymoon. If that’s the case, you may be looking at Walt Disney World as your destination. Or if you’re not… then… congratulations, you’re reading this blog!
My wife and I had our honeymoon at The Most Magical Place On Earth (check out my post about that trip here), and it was simply amazing. We had been there before, and have gone since, but the honeymoon trip was just extra special. So with that in mind, I thought I would share some advice on how to make your own Walt Disney World honeymoon even more magical.
I won’t be offering suggestions on who to marry first, though. You’re on your own for that.
First up, before you even start making reservations, consider this: you’re on your honeymoon. Even if you’ve been to Walt Disney World a million times before, you should consider this trip to be different and plan accordingly. How can you do this? Here are some suggestions:
Book a nicer hotel: On our most recent trip, my wife and I stayed at the Pop Century Resort, one of Walt Disney World’s value hotels. Honestly, going forward (unless we manage to score some great deal or suddenly get substantially richer) the value level is where we’d probably stay. We don’t need a lot of amenities, we’re generally out at the parks from morning until night anyway, and the money saved is money that can be spent on Haunted Mansion merchandise.
For a honeymoon, though, think about picking a nicer resort than you’d normally be prone to book. My wife and I stayed in a pirate-themed room at the (moderate level) Caribbean Beach Resort, which is an added expense that we wouldn’t have considered on a normal trip. Some friends who are getting married this summer are looking at staying at the deluxe Polynesian Resort. Even if it’s just for a night or two, staying somewhere nicer than you’d ordinarily stay can make the trip feel different. It helps turn it from “another Disney trip” into “a special Disney honeymoon”.
Go with some premium experiences: Maybe you could book a special meal at one of Walt Disney World’s finer restaurants? What about a special activity like a tour, or tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba? Do something on the trip that will make it stand out from any other Disney vacation, creating memories that set it apart as a special experience.
My wife and I had a romantic dinner our first night there, and a character breakfast a couple days later. We did things like the Pirates & Pals Fireworks Cruise and a wilderness horseback ride. These are all experiences that we probably wouldn’t do on a regular trip, but since it was our honeymoon we wanted to do different things. We actually only had two days in the parks (Hollywood Studios, for Star Wars Weekends, and Magic Kingdom) and the rest of the trip was filled with activities that helped make the trip into something different and special.
Because many of these things require reservations, you’ll want to think about this early. In most cases reservations can be made 180 days in advance and there are some restaurants (such as Be Our Guest and ‘Ohana) that need to be booked as soon as possible. Obviously many things can be booked closer to the trip, but having some ideas early can help ensure that you get in. Plus, planning a Disney trip can be fun in any case and even more so when you’re planning a honeymoon together.
So once you’ve decided where you’re going to stay and have an idea on what you’re going to do, it’s time to make the reservations! Keep this in mind:
Tell EVERYONE it’s your honeymoon! Whether you’re booking your hotel room or a meal, make sure you mention that it’s your honeymoon. In most cases the helpful operators make a note of this fact, and this can lead to some pretty special moments.
When we checked into our room, there was a signed photo from Mickey and Minnie congratulating us. There was a voicemail on the room phone from those same mice, happily congratulating us again. We had only been at Walt Disney World for a matter of minutes, and already we felt special. During our Pirates & Pals cruise, the “captain” announced that we were on our honeymoon to everyone.
Little special touches can only happen if the folks at Disney know why the trip is important, so when booking any reservation just say something. Additionally, if you’re going through a travel agent, make sure that they know to mention it.
Consider ordering Memory Maker: Unless you’re really sick of having your picture taken after the wedding, you’ll probably want some sort of photographic record of your Walt Disney World honeymoon. Sure, you can take lots of pictures, but unless you ask other people to help you’ll only end up with one or the other of you in the shot. Generally, the point of the honeymoon is to be seen together, so consider ordering the Memory Maker package.
Find any Photopass photographer in the parks (seriously, they’re just about everywhere) and they’ll take your picture. Many rides have photos. Even some special meals (like the character breakfast at ‘Ohana) will have you stop and pose for a pic before bringing you to your table. All of these photos are saved to your Memory Maker, and available for you to download (or they can put them all onto a CD for purchase). The Memory Maker is a little cheaper if you order it in advance, so it’s something to think about before you go, but it can be a great way to get lots of pictures from your honeymoon. This is something you may not do on a normal trip, but you want all of your friends and family to see how happy you are and how much fun you’re having, right?
You can ask the Photopass photographers (or any cast member) to take a picture with your own camera/phone/oil paints, and still get shots together without spending the money on Memory Maker. Bear in mind, though, that you’ll generally get more photos if they use their camera (most Photopass photographers take several shots) and you also edit those photos with fun borders. You’ll also get the ride photos, and you can ask the photographers about Magic Shots in which they add Disney characters into the pictures. So even if this isn’t something you would do on a normal trip, it’s something to consider for your honeymoon.
Once you get to Walt Disney World, there’s one more important thing to do: Get event buttons. You can do this at the front desk of your Disney hotel, or at Guest Services in any of the parks. These buttons proudly proclaim that you’re on your honeymoon, and can open the door to lots of extra magic. Cast members (and even guests) will congratulate you as they pass by. Characters may notice, creating an extra-special interaction. You may even get free cupcakes after meals, or who knows what else, all for wearing a button that proclaims your “Happily Ever After”.
Another piece of advice is this: take a day to relax. When we went on our honeymoon, we arrived on a Friday and just spent Saturday lounging around the hotel. We spent time at the pool, we roasted marshmallows on the beach (at a cast member-organized campfire. I don’t condone randomly setting fires on Walt Disney World property). Our trips before and after have been fairly frenetic–like four parks in one day–but this easy-going day just spending time together was exactly what we needed after the stress of the wedding and before we started rushing around theme parks. I recommend some down time during any Disney trip (and, oddly, it’s advice I rarely listen to myself) but it really made our honeymoon a ‘nice’ trip and not just a ‘fun’ trip.
As a sort of side note: look into a honeymoon registry to help pay for all of this magic. Disney does offer their own, but there are honestly better ones out there and a quick web search will give you plenty of options. We did one, friends and family pitched in money as gifts, and it really helped us pay for a trip that we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.
As another sort of side note: If you want to surprise your new spouse (or you know someone who is going to Disney for their honeymoon and want to surprise them) you can have flowers or other items sent right to the room or have something waiting for them when they check in. You can have Disney’s floral and gift department handle it if you want it waiting in the room, or an outside florist can have something delivered to the front desk. My wife, a graphic designer, had gotten special honeymoon shirts made (you can see them in our picture with Mickey Mouse above) and sent to the hotel, and they were given to us when we checked in.
Maybe you and your new spouse are all about riding rides at theme parks. Maybe you want a relaxing spa experience, or to play golf together. Perhaps a water park is how you want to celebrate starting your new life together. What’s cool is that Walt Disney World has all of that. With a little planning, you can really turn the honeymoon into a magical experience.
True, going to Disney for your honeymoon isn’t exactly everybody’s cup of pixie dust. There are a lot of kids, lots of noise, lots of cartoon characters. Some people may not find a pirate-themed room as romantic as we did, or would rather see Europe or lounge on a tropical beach (did I mention that the bed was a PIRATE SHIP?!?) or do something that doesn’t include a voicemail message from mice.
But if you can see you and your spouse spending your honeymoon at Walt Disney World, then hopefully my advice can help make it a magical experience that you’ll remember forever.
Oh, and congratulations! You read this blog!