Orlando has something for everyone, but to create true bucket list vacation moments, consider indulging in these unique splurges.
From backstage VIP tours to unforgettable dining, these exceptional experiences take your Orlando vacation to the next level.
Backstage Tours at Disney
Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom each have multiple backstage tours which give guests unusual experiences and VIP access. Magic Kingdom’s Keys to the Kingdom tour includes lots of park history and a trip into the park’s underground “Utilidor.” Its Magic Behind Our Steam Trains tour shows how the park’s antique trains run and are maintained. Epcot’s The Undiscovered Future World tour and DestiNations Discovered tour take guests backstage at the park’s pavilions. Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers a Savor the Savanna tour which gives guests a nighttime trip through the Kilimanjaro Safaris savanna in a private, open-sided truck. Its Backstage Tales tour visits the park’s behind-the-scenes animal-care areas.
Victoria & Albert’s
For an evening to remember, this AAA Five-Diamond gourmet restaurant at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is worth its cost; it may be the best meal you’ve ever had. A seven-course dinner is matched to your personal taste. A special four-hour Chef’s Table option includes more courses, a kitchen tour and a chat with the cooks.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park holds surfing lessons at dawn in the surf pool, before the park opens to the public. Conducted on dry land, a step-by-step introduction teaches you the basics, then you get in the surf pool with a soft-sided surfboard and attempt to ride wave after wave. Instructors will critique and advise you throughout the 2.5-hour lesson, which includes 30 minutes on land and two hours in the water. Waves average about 5 feet for adults, half that for children.
Amphicar at The Boathouse, Disney Springs
With you riding shotgun and up to two of your friends or family members in the back seat, a trained captain splashes a rare Amphicar (amphibious automobile) into the lake at Disney Springs, then through the water for 20 minutes as he tells you the history of this bizarre 1960s German convertible. Similar tours are available on replicas of a 40-foot 1969 Italian water taxi and an itsy-bitsy 19th-century steamboat.
Wild Africa Trek
A swaying footbridge high over Nile crocodiles and a life-line lean over hippos highlights this three-hour hike through the Harambe Wildlife Preserve at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. An open-air private pickup takes you through the savanna, where a covered viewing stand serves superb snacks. You check in at the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris with a valid park pass.
Universal Orlando VIP Experience
A knowledgeable guide leads you and up to nine other people (whether they’re part of your party or not); the tour includes backstage access, priority front-of-the-line access to eight-to-10 attractions, reserved seating for shows, complimentary valet parking, a continental breakfast, some park history and discounts at select dining and merchandise locations. Or pull out all the stops with a Personal VIP Experience. A party of up to five people tours for one or two days at one or both parks. Taking a tour is the only way to skip to the front of the line at either of the two major Harry Potter attractions, though both have Single Rider Lines.
You can view Magic Kingdom’s Wishes fireworks show from a pontoon boat helmed by a funny storytelling pirate on the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage, and afterward you can meet these charming characters. For a private cruise, a guide takes a party of up to 10 people out to see Wishes or Epcot’s IllumiNations fireworks.
Ask about prices and rates for these exceptional experiences.