I visited the Florida parks 35 times this year and experienced new attractions and restaurants.
I loved riding Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and having a luxurious $575 dinner for one.
Riding the brand-new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind coaster was a thrill.
In May, Disney World opened its newest attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, at Epcot.
It quickly became one of my favorite attractions at any Disney park, and I'm not even that big of a Marvel fan.
It's one of the largest indoor roller coasters in the world. Plus, it pairs elements I love from Space Mountain with newer technology and fun music.
Snagging a reservation at Topolino's Terrace was totally worth it.
One of the best meals I had at Disney World this year was at Topolino's Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera.
As one of the newest restaurants at Disney's Riviera Resort, it's also one of the hardest to get reservations for.
I was finally able to dine there this summer after landing a last-minute reservation. I loved the views from the rooftop, the stunning atmosphere, and the Italian and French influences on the menu.
My solo meal was expensive at $120, but Topolino's is now my favorite signature restaurant at Disney World.
I was pleasantly surprised by the updates at Tony's Town Square Restaurant.
For years, I avoided Tony's at Magic Kingdom because of its lackluster menu compared to other offerings.
I decided to give it another try after the menu was revamped this year, and I was pleasantly surprised. It ended up being one of the most relaxing afternoons I've ever spent at the park.
I enjoyed the new menu items, especially the garlic bread.
Story Book Dining at Artist Point changed my mind about character dining.
I usually shy away from character dining at Disney as it can be overpriced and underwhelming, but Story Book Dining at Artist Point changed my opinion.
Located in Disney's Wilderness Lodge, the restaurant's character dinner is more upscale than most. It features a prix-fixe menu and appearances from beloved "Snow White" characters.
My party of two spent $200, but our meal was absolutely delicious and I loved the elegant atmosphere.
I was excited about the return of the iconic Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.
I visited Disney's Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness Campground, and it was just as good as I remembered.
The popular dinner theater temporarily closed in 2020, but it finally returned in June.
It continues to be a great value, with incredible entertainment, a delicious multicourse meal, and unlimited sangria. I particularly love the fried chicken and the ultra-moist strawberry shortcake.
It's definitely worth making the trek to the resort for Hoop-Dee-Doo.
I celebrated the return of Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios.
One of my favorite nighttime spectaculars finally returned after being temporarily closed for over two years.
Fantasmic made its return to Hollywood Studios in November, and I loved the updated technology and added story scenes.
Trying the burger at Steakhouse 71 was a highlight of the year.
I enjoyed lunch at one of Disney World's newest restaurants, Steakhouse 71.
Located at the Contemporary Resort, the restaurant celebrates the opening years of the theme park.
On my visit, I had to try the cheeseburger, which has quickly become a fan favorite. Priced at $20, it lived up to the hype and was big enough to split between two people.
The service, drinks, and atmosphere were also excellent.
Staying at the Polynesian Resort always makes for a good trip.
I often visit my favorite resort, Polynesian Village, but I don't usually stay there.
Since I grew up staying there, it holds a lot of memories, and I was excited to finally return as an adult. My husband and I enjoyed plenty of pool time, breakfast at 'Ohana, and tiki-style drinks at the many bars.
It proved to be the most relaxing Disney vacation I've had in a long time. I loved ending our evenings on the sandy beachfront with views of the fireworks at Magic Kingdom.
I attended my first Magic Kingdom fireworks dessert party.
In past years, I've attended fireworks dessert parties at Hollywood Studios and Epcot. But for the first time, I splurged on one at Magic Kingdom.
The price is steep at $114, but I found it to be worth it for a special occasion.
The 50th-anniversary-themed party started off on a private terrace with plenty of sweet and savory treats as well as free-flowing champagne.
After plenty of time to relax and eat, I loved having a reserved section to watch the fireworks.
I love returning to Epcot's Festival of the Arts every year.
I love visiting Epcot each season for its themed festivals. But one of the smaller offerings, the International Festival of the Arts, has quickly become my favorite.
I always try the incredible small plates from booths throughout the park, and I love that the festival celebrates the performing and visual arts with live entertainment and exhibitions.
It typically runs from the middle of January to the end of February each year.
Resort-hopping around the holidays always puts me in the Christmas spirit.
The Disney theme parks get all decked out for the holidays. But some of the most elaborate decorations can be found at the resorts, which are free for anyone to visit even if you're not staying there.
I loved exploring Disney's Yacht and Beach Club resort this year. The elaborate holiday displays included a candy stand, a hot-chocolate bar, and the 22nd annual gingerbread carousel sculpture.
The completely edible creation is inspired by Disney princesses and created from over 2,000 pieces of gingerbread.
Discovering happy hour at Disney Springs changed the game for me.
It can be tough to find a deal at Disney World, but this year, I discovered there are happy hours at Disney Springs.
My favorite is at the high-end steakhouse STK, which offers excellent prices on cocktails and my favorite appetizer, fresh oysters.
I had the best steak at Wine Bar George.
I've dined all over Disney World, but my favorite meal this year was the skirt steak from Wine Bar George.
The meat was perfectly cooked and served with a tangy chimichurri sauce. It paired well with the wine I chose from the restaurant's list of over 150 pours.
It was really special to stay in an Epcot fireworks suite.
I enjoyed staying at Disney's newest resort, the Swan Reserve, which is within walking distance of both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
My family splurged on the Epcot fireworks-view suite, which offers floor-to-ceiling windows with great views of the park's nighttime spectacular, Harmonious.
The entire resort impressed me, with its wonderful pool, coffee shop, and on-site dining.
The 50th-anniversary celebration was still in full swing throughout the year.
I loved taking advantage of the special extras that are part of the ongoing 50th-anniversary celebration.
Some of my favorites included finding golden statues of beloved characters scattered throughout the parks and trying specialty treats.
Festivities started in October 2021, but they ran throughout 2022 and will continue until March 2023.
I splurged on a $575 meal for one, and it was worth every penny.
I enjoyed a splurge meal at one of the fanciest restaurants at Disney World, Victoria & Albert's, which reopened this year after being closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Located at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the AAA Five Diamond award-winning restaurant offers a 10-course menu with a wine pairing for $575.
It was incredibly extravagant and lasted almost four hours. But it was a magical, bucket-list experience, and I enjoyed the opportunity to get dressed up.
I visited Typhoon Lagoon for the first time in a decade.
I'm not a huge fan of water parks, but I was glad I visited Disney's Typhoon Lagoon for the first time in a decade.
I loved the relaxing vibe and thought it was a great way to take a break from the theme parks.
My favorite attraction was the low-thrill family raft ride Miss Adventure Falls. The food options also impressed me, especially the specialty Dole Whip flavors.
There's always more to explore at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Although I'd visited it many times before, this year, I was able to stay at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge for the first time.
I found it the perfect resort to relax and explore, and it had an upscale feel as one of Disney World's deluxe offerings.
I enjoyed the expansive pool, dining at Sanaa, and sipping wine at Victoria Falls, which had an impressive selection of globally sourced pours.
I discovered my new favorite resort lounge.
During a stay in Disney's Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs Resort, I discovered the rooftop oasis Dahlia Lounge.
The Spanish-inspired spot was gorgeous, with whimsically colored décor, large windows, and a balcony with sweeping views of the theme parks and fireworks.
I enjoyed the expertly crafted cocktails and tapas, including garlic shrimp and an aged progression of manchego cheeses.
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