At Walt Disney World, the kids can’t hug Mickey and Minnie these days. Instead, because of the ongoing pandemic, they wave to them on parade floats and balconies. One water park, Typhoon Lagoon, has yet to reopen, along with attractions such as Disney’s Festival of Fantasy parade and a half-dozen shows. Even the way you wait in line—or skip it—will evolve this fall, as FastPass+ is being phased out in favor of a paid digital system called Disney Genie+ for expediting entry at popular rides.
None of this has stopped the crowds from returning. In the third quarter of 2021, Disney’s theme park division turned a profit for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek says the parks are welcoming the maximum number of visitors allowed by capacity restrictions. That demand is only set to rise further, now that Disney World kicked off an 18-month celebration of its 50th anniversary on Oct. 1. VIP offerings are therefore harder to procure than ever. If you’re planning your visit with an eye to luxury, here are some workarounds to ensure you can still cut lines and greet princesses, without a hitch.
WANNA HANG WITH GOOFY?
Head to the Four Seasons
Your best chance at meeting a favorite character won’t be in the park. It’s at Ravello, the airy first-floor Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando, located right outside the Magic Kingdom’s gates but within the Walt Disney World Resort complex. For its prix fixe Good Morning Breakfasts every Thursday and Saturday, the spot is staffed by friendly servers bearing bagels with house-smoked salmon. Mickey and Minnie’s crew are also there strolling through to offer socially distanced photo ops for each family. (Brunch is $48 for adults, $28 for children; reservations are required.) It’s a better choice than the character meals at Disney’s half-dozen official venues, which offer more basic breakfast fare. Can’t snag a reservation? The hotel can arrange a private meet-and-greet event, which runs about $7,500.
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