ROMANCE IN THE AIR: Tips from AllEars® Readers
Debra Martin Koma
Senior Editor, ALL EARS®
OK, so it's not spring yet, but still… our fancy is turning to thoughts of love and romance.
A few months ago, we asked you to share your best tips for creating romantic moments while visiting Walt Disney World. Many of your responses didn't surprise us — romantic dinners at California Grill or Victoria & Albert's, walks on the beach at the Polynesian, spa treatments, and watching the fireworks from a cozy hammock are all just what we might have expected. But some of you definitely look for romance in more unusual places, and suggested some uncommon ways to put that romantic spark into a night at the Most Magical Place on Earth! As Valentine's Day is just around the corner, we thought we'd share some of the most romantic tips, as well as some magical romantic memories our readers created for themselves.
THE ROMANTIC DINNER OUT
Kelly Roberts: My husband and I have been fortunate enough to spend the past five anniversaries at Disney World. Each time we visit, we make sure to keep to our romantic traditions while also providing opportunities for new memories. We always spend our anniversary dinner at California Grill in the Contemporary Resort. As deluxe restaurants go, it's the perfect combination of exquisite flavors, amazing views, and love-my-honey ambiance! My husband and I time our dinner to coincide with "Wishes"; we'll take our drinks out to the outdoor observation deck and listen to the piped-in music as the fireworks explode in front of us. On our most recent anniversary, we walked on the beach of the Polynesian at night, timing it again with "Wishes." The music is piped in here as well, but the atmosphere is romantic for a different reason; here, we sat on the sand, arm in arm, sharing the event with just a few other spectators. Bliss!
Vincent: Our favorite romantic night out is a trip to Victoria & Albert's. It is one night (without the children) each trip where we spoil ourselves. I cannot describe the ambience better than your site. The little touches such as the harpist, the personalized menus and the personal attention all contribute to a night always remembered… We plan on a nice night out and are prepared to spend the money. No whim is too much. At the risk of sounding corny or using a cliché, this night is truly 'Magical' for us.
Jessica W.: I got engaged while on vacation [in WDW] in late November 2003. My boyfriend at the time booked the Romance Package, which included a carriage ride and two vouchers that we used for dining at Jiko and Bistro de Paris. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge, which was decked out in wonderful Christmas decorations. This was the perfect time of year for a carriage ride at Fort Wilderness in the dark. There were so many campsites that were decorated for the holidays with lights and wreaths. It was the perfect setting for my boyfriend to pop the question… We followed up our romantic carriage ride with our first meal at my all-time favorite restaurant, Victoria & Albert's… V&A's is definitely the most romantic, truly candlelit dinner on WDW property and worth every penny we spent. It was so nice to dress up and be treated like royalty by the best waitstaff you will ever encounter… The main dining room is definitely one of the most romantic spots at WDW with wonderful flower arrangements, harp music, soft lighting, fantastic food, superb service, and a rose at the end of the meal for the ladies. Who could ask for anything more?
Laurie DeGreef: Walt Disney World is definitely a romantic place, especially for the young-at-heart. My husband and I do not know who adores the place more, us adults or our three young boys! Luckily, during our last two trips, my aunt from Bradenton has come up to spend some time with us during our stay at Walt Disney World. She stays in her motor home at Fort Wilderness and even takes the boys for a sleepover one night. My husband and I actually get a "date night" at The Most Magical Place on Earth! We typically enjoy a romantic dinner at one of the Epcot restaurants and then stroll through the World Showcase hand-in-hand. The best part of the entire evening, though, is back at our resort — the Polynesian. Nothing is more romantic than sharing a hammock with my husband on the beach of the Seven Seas Lagoon, gazing out at views of the Grand Floridian, Magic Kingdom, Contemporary, and starry sky! Depending on the time, we can even catch a glimpse of Wishes or the Electrical Water Pageant. It is truly a Magical "Romantic" Moment!
Terri Gahr: I suggest eating at the California Grill on the top of Contemporary. Make sure you set your reservations so that you are there when the fireworks from Magic Kingdom go off. The restaurant dims the lights, and you just sit there watching the most magical show. The food it spectacular also! We did this on our honeymoon, and was very romantic.
Mike Ceglio: Probably the most romantic dinner I have ever had at WDW was in the San Angel Inn, in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot. For the optimum romantic experience try to get the latest seating when most people are getting for Illuminations. If you can, request a table by the water, where the boats from the ride go by. With the dimly lit ambience of the restaurant, the backdrop of the beautiful colors of the boat ride, and the late hour not having too many small children in the restaurant, we had a wonderful romantic time. Naturally we did this in the spring, before schools got out.
Chris in Iowa: My wife and I took our honeymoon at Disney. My best romantic tip would be for a couple, whether they have kids or not, take one evening out and have a Disney Date. For us that meant Dinner at Spoodles, dessert at Seashore Sweets, a tandem bike ride around Crescent Lake and fun and a few drinks enjoying the show at Jellyrolls. Disney offers so much more than rides. Plan an evening that you and your spouse can relax and have some adult fun. Maybe Dinner at Bongos and a concert at House of Blues. Maybe Wolfgang Pucks and a movie at the AMC Theaters. Or the Hawaiian Luau and a evening stroll along the beach to watch the Lighted Boat parade. To make it even more special, make it a surprise. Make your reservation at your favorite restaurant or buy your tickets to a show ahead of time but don't tell your spouse. If you have older kids tell the oldest they are in charge for the evening at the pool. Or if you have young ones, set them up with Disney In Room Babysitting. Then that evening tell your spouse to get ready for a dinner reservation (which is a fake) and surprise them only when you're ready to leave that it's an evening just for the two of you. It might end up being the most Magical Date you've ever been on.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Olivia Burns: My tip is to stay behind after the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom and just enjoy the atmosphere and being together! My husband and I spent the last night of our honeymoon doing this and found ourselves dancing to the background music and just enjoying one another's company in the happiest place on earth! Needless to say I didn't ever want to leave!
Kristin McCown: My husband and I spent our honeymoon at the World, so we know how romantic it can be! One of our favorite romantic activities is to walk along the Seven Seas Lagoon between the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian at night. For some reason, it is almost always deserted, so you don't have to fight the crowds to get a chair or hammock at the beach area. And if you time it right, you can watch the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. We also stop by the lounge outside of 'Ohana at the Polynesian to get an appetizer or a cocktail after our walk.
mm1eyej: Make sure to go to City Hall for your pin if you're celebrating a special occasion as they give you buttons to wear and lots of the cast members make a big deal about it. We even got special things (free dessert, priority Fastpasses, etc.) in the parks because we had those on.
Shelley: There are plenty of "traditional" romantic activities at the World (my personal favorite is a quiet tea-for-two at the Garden View Tea Room). But some of our most romantic moments have been in a less obvious place — Spaceship Earth. After hours in the parks fighting the crowds and heat, it is such a joy to snuggle up in the little car and enjoy a peaceful ride. It is dark and cool, and we feel like we are in our own little world, if only for a few minutes (it is particularly cozy during off-peak periods when you have empty cars on either end). And every time we reach the top of the sphere and see the stars laid out above us, I remember the most important part of the trip — spending time alone with my favorite person in the world at the happiest place on earth!
D. Nash: The best spa treatment is a his-and-hers steam bath/mud bath at the spa on the cruise. There is a beautiful, private steam room with different bowls of mud. A staff member explains where each type of mud should go on your body. She then leaves and you each take turns smearing the mud on one another. There is steam and showers in the room to wash off in. It is private and romantic and a bell chimes five minutes before a staff member enters so no embarrassing moments happen! I had to drag my husband to this on our honeymoon but he ended up loving it and it is a fantastic memory for BOTH of us!
Leslie and Mike Mack: The following location/time I am going to suggest as "romantic" may be a surprise: We both love and will not miss the brunch at Cinderella Castle! I knew we were in for a treat on our first visit when the hostess stated, "Please go into the lobby and wait to be greeted by the Fairy Godmother…" From there we entered into the circular shaped elevator and when the doors opened it felt like we entered a different world. The sun was shining through the stained glass windows, the princesses were visiting each table, and we were greeted like we were royalty… The ambience, food and early admittance into the park can not be missed! My husband was very reluctant to try it, but enjoyed every picture with the princesses, the food, and our amazing anniversary toast to each other with OJ! What an awesome way to start the day in the Magic Kingdom! No matter what age or circumstance, the brunch is not to be missed.
Patty Lesko: Some romantic things my husband and I have experienced at Disney in the past have been:
1) Finding a nice quiet spot at the Animal Kingdom Lodge porches at the back of the resort at night… sitting on the rocking chairs staring at the tree which kind of resembles the Tree of Life, watching the stars and enjoying the peace and quietness of the resort. Or just sitting on your balcony overlooking the savanna or pool with a glass of wine, enjoying the night and not having any worries or cares.
2) Arriving at Epcot when World Showcase opens at 11 a.m., walking up to the lake just behind the shops and just taking in the beautiful view of all Italy, France, China , etc. with your arms around each other and a breeze blowing through your hair.
3) Relaxing on the Polynesian beach during the day with your honey, sipping on a Mai Tai, and listening to the waves roll in from the Seven Seas Lagoon.
4) Chilling out with your honey on a pontoon boat on the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Jackie: My husband and I just LOVE Epcot. At night after IllumiNations finishes, we sit and wait for everyone to leave, sometimes in the back area of UK by the mazes. We let our son run though the shrub maze (he is 7 now) if he is not sleeping in a stroller and we sit and watch him. Hardly anyone goes back there as the shops wind down for the night. It's like having a private area to yourself. There are water fountains if the kids get thirsty, or you can grab a snack from the fish and chips shop prior to this retreat. We have had some of our best "we are so happy we are married and so happy we are in Disney World" moments and conversation back there while we sit and share a moment. The lights are at a decent level, and we can still hear the songs they always play after IllumiNations.
Hilary H. Sommer: I met my husband in 2001 and since then we've been to WDW twice together with another trip coming up… I am slowly but surely converting him! Here are just some of our romance suggestions:
— Swimming late at night (assuming the pool is open); it is often very quiet and you may just have the pool to yourselves!
— Strolling around Port Orleans (either Riverside or French Quarter) after dark, holding hands and listening to the sounds of nature (real or Disney-created)
— Hitting the Victoria Falls Lounge at Animal Kingdom Lodge and viewing the animals — something very romantic and seductive about the African setting
— Riding the boat from Ft. Wilderness or the Wilderness Lodge to the Magic Kingdom
— His/hers spa treatments at Grand Floridian or Saratoga Springs
Jessica W.: My husband and I like to hop on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority at any time of day; it's one of our favorites. However, the most romantic time is during Wishes. It's fun to ride around Tomorrowland, in and out of the buildings, and catching the sounds and glimpses of the fireworks. I would definitely recommend it to couples who have seen Wishes a few times and are looking for a new way to experience the fireworks. We also love to sit on one of the benches near the hub after the huge surge of people have left the park for the night so that we can hold hands and watch the castle change colors.
Melissa Slocum: The most romantic evening I had at Disney was when we took a carriage ride at Fort Wilderness. I planned it for our anniversary and it was perfect. In the middle of the carriage ride we started to see and hear the firworks, which made it even more romantic. I would recommend this to any couple of any age.
The Ravster13: The rocking chairs that surround the outdoor fire at the Animal Kingdom Lodge are a great place to spend some time with your significant other, especially on a cool night with a warm drink.
Nancy Harrison: We spent part of our honeymoon at Disney World as "second timers" with grown children. No, the kids didn't come with us, but that would have been fun! We started with a Disney Wonder cruise and there's nothing about the cruise that is not romantic. Special highlights were dinner and brunch at Palo. We also did a spa treatment, but had more fun giving out little Disney trinkets to children near the family pool. I'd brought extra pins (for the bigger kids) and purchased some baby toys for the little ones… Other fun moments included getting in one of the Jacuzzi spas at the adult pool very soon after we'd boarded — it was deserted. Also taking walks along the promenade late a night — very quiet and peaceful. And what can I say about Serenity Bay? What a treasure!
Teresa E.: My husband and I try to take at least one adults-only trip per year to the World. Last year my husband called the Disney Florist at 407-827-3505 and received tons of help in making our trip romantic. They offered everything from rose petals and champagne waiting for me in our room to a ride on Cinderella's carriage complete with footmen and a glass slipper. Unfortunately for me, this one was a wee bit out of his budget, but the helpful cast member had plenty of other romantic ideas. I didn't mind at all that they weren't his!
Cindy and Gerald Ellison: My husband and I enjoy the horse and buggy rides at Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter. The evening ride through the softly lit hotel grounds is romantic. The moss-covered trees, the light reflecting off the water, and the gentle breeze makes for a memorable evening.
Heidi Weymouth: My husband and I always go to the Boardwalk area for dinner and relaxation the first night of our vacation. After dinner we stroll around Crescent Lake taking in the sights and sounds, making sure to spend plenty of time just sitting on the many benches located on the path. We enjoy the free entertainment near the Boardwalk Inn and play some of the carnival games, too; it's very romantic to have your sweetie try to win you a prize! (Here's a tip within a tip: If you are staying at a Disney hotel and took a bus or boat to get there, take a taxi back to your hotel. Nothing can ruin an evening like having bus problems or delays. Taxis are waiting just outside the Boardwalk Inn entrance; ask a valet to get you one.)
Diana from Maine: As the mother of two children, ages 7 and 5, my romantic tip is: GO WITHOUT THE KIDS! WDW is a favorite spot for our family, and we try to visit from Maine every winter, but it is so wonderful to go with just my husband, even if it's just for a quick getaway. Take things at a slower pace,stroll through gardens or along the waterfront. Hit all those "grown up" restaurants and rides, but don't be afraid to go on the "kiddie" rides too. If it rains, who cares? One year it poured and as everyone huddled around the doors of the Mexico Pavilion waiting for it to let up, my husband and I made a mad dash through the puddles, holding hands and laughing, and we felt like we had all of Epcot to ourselves! It couldn't have been more romantic! And let's face it, just being able to think about ourselves for a while, without carrying around all the gear that goes with our kids, melts the stress away and makes WDW romantic, just being with the one you love!
Maria V Torres: Once of the best moonlit walks we ever did was on the grounds of the Caribbean Beach Resort. After a wonderful dinner at Shutter's, we took the path from Port Royale back to our room. The paths were lit with low lights and the moon shining above. With all the foliage surrounding the paths it made us feel almost like we were in a jungle on a different continent. We decided to go sit on a hammock and do moon gazing instead. It was one of the most beautiful breathtaking moments we've had — looking at the water, moon and stars!
Christine DeFilippo: Nothing is more romantic then walking World Showcase at night with your significant other. My husband and I recently had the opportunity to visit WDW by ourselves for the first time without the children. We went to Epcot one day and we were able to take time to appreciate all the little things we don't get to do with the kids. Then we walked down to the Beach Club for drinks and to change into something a little nicer. We walked back to France and had dinner upstairs. After we walked around the countries hand in hand. It was like being on vacation in several different countries at once. The music was playing, it wasn't crowded, the lights were low. It is very romantic.
And finally, Shannon Bonadurer is pulling out all the romantic stops: I have just recently planned a surprise second honeymoon for my husband and me. I started with getting reservations at the hotel we stayed in on our honeymoon — the Polynesian. Then I called the Disney Florist and ordered rose petal turn down service, champagne and cheese, and chocolates, and matching embroidered Mickey robes. Each day I have a clue for him for something that is planned. That Saturday he will open a bag with an appropriate card and a hula girl inside. We will attend the Luau front row center and be presented with orchid leis from the Disney Florist. We did this on our first honeymoon. The next day he will open a bag with a card and spa products inside. We have an 80-minute couples massage scheduled. The next day he will open a bag with a card and a small Christmas ornament of a Yacht. We are taking the Grand 1 Yacht out for three hours with champagne and hors d'oeuvres to watch the fireworks. I think it should be pretty romantic. I have a card and a gift bag before we leave, and the card has our plane information and the bag has a Mickey Mouse and a Hawaiian shirt. I also have a limo to pick us up.
Heather Fresa: A few years ago, my husband and I took a romantic trip to Canada to celebrate our anniversary. Lucky for us, we get to relive those lovely memories much closer to home. We love to visit the Canada pavilion at Epcot because it takes us right back to that happy time, much better than pictures ever could. We stroll through the gardens and remember our afternoon at Butchart Gardens. We eat at Le Cellier, and we're immediately transported. As we enjoy our meal, we reminisce about all of the wonderful restaurants and sights we enjoyed on our trip. After that, we go to the O Canada Circlevision program and watch our memories come to life on film. I imagine there are many others who experience the same special feelings when they visit Epcot pavilions representing countries they've traveled to… especially if it was a romantic trip.
Perry Woodard: My husband and I have gone to Disney World for quite a few years to celebrate our anniversary. This year will be our 34th anniversary. For our 30th though, we had a special romantic evening at Victoria & Albert's. This had to be the most romantic, delicious and elegant meal we had. It was wonderful. So wonderful that we did it again the next year. We also took some suggestions from our Disney Guide book for romantic things to do and when we were at Epcot we strolled the gardens in France with a glass of champagne, We sipped tea in the UK and a secluded romantic corner of the restaurant in Italy and enjoyed it regardless of the hustle and bustle around us. We finished our evening with a glass of wine in Germany. Traveling from country to country and enjoying an appetizer or dessert or glass of your favorite wine is a great way to just stroll around the world with that special someone. The next year we enjoyed a lovely dinner and fireworks display at the top of the Contemporary at the California Grill. The hostess seated us in a secluded corner with a fantastic view and the meal was terrific.
Linda Brantner: My husband and I have been to the two most romantic places in all of Disney World: Victoria & Albert's and the California Grill. I gave my husband Dan a surprise weekend in Disney World for his 50th birthday. We actually never went into any of the parks that time we just visited all the hotels, Downtown Disney and played miniature golf (things we are just to tired to do when we go to the parks). On that Saturday night I had made reservations at Victoria & Alberts. The experience was one of sheer delight and unbelievable taste sensations and the ultimate romantic experience with harp music and your own two servers treating you like royalty. It's not something the average vacationer will put into their budget, but for a special occasion it is worth every penny. The next time we do it we will reserve the Chef's Table.
The second most romantic experience in Disney World we had was on our 10th anniversary. My husband Dan and I took our daughter and her family that year to stay with us at Boardwalk — our Disney Vacation Club home. Dan had told me ahead of time that we would go out one night by ourselves for a nice dinner. Well, the nice dinner turned out to be at the California Grill. After dinner and before dessert, he got down on one knee in the restaurant and proposed to me "again" and gave me a beautiful diamond anniversary ring just as the fireworks started at the Magic Kingdom. It was the most MAGICAL experience of my life and just confirmed again why I'm so in love with my husband.
Mrs. Leto: My husband and I just returned from WDW where we celebrated our 15 year anniversary without the kids. We had a wonderful and relaxing time. There was one thing that really sticks out. We watched Wishes from the rose garden at the Magic Kingdom. We had a wonderful view! Afterwards my husband and I decided to just let the crowds head out and we would take our time leaving. After about 10 minutes we walked down into the rose garden further and it was so peaceful and really all we could hear was the music from the park, so we danced. It was a beautiful end to a beautiful evening. My husband told me I was as beautiful as all the roses surrounding us. It truly must have been some "Disney magic"; he usually isn't quite so mushy. Anyway, it is something I will always remember and that spot will have a special place in my heart.
A. Brooks: My late husband and I used to celebrate our December wedding anniversary at Disney World. One evening, we went to the Grand Floridian to check out the elegant lobby in its Christmas splendor. A small band was playing on the balcony and my husband asked them to play "Stardust," one of "our" songs. As the sweet strains began, my husband slipped his arm around me. We stood on the upper level in an almost dream-like state, enchanted by the music, gazing at the twinkling Christmas tree and the holiday beauty below. The music completely filled the lobby and as the final notes hung in the air, I walked over to the band, tears dripping from my chin, and blubbered, "Thank you." Today, whenever I walk into the Grand Floridian, I can still hear "Stardust" and think of that special night.