Discerning Disney

Palm trees in the wind on the beach
Palm Beach, Florida // Photo by ddmitr/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Four Seasons Resort Orlando is edged by a natural Everglades Sanctuary that’s home to indigenous wildlife.

Four Seasons Resort Orlando is edged by a natural Everglades Sanctuary that’s home to indigenous wildlife.

 

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Luxury is coming on strong in Orlando as Four Seasons brings its own magic to the ever-popular multigenerational destination with the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World. Upon opening in August, the hotel will sport a The Royal Suite will be the top pick for those real-life princesses and their families. Why? The suite offers a pantry kitchen and as many as eight additional connecting rooms (dwarves in tow?), allowing guests to expand the suite to a nine-bedroom residence. This includes two additional 1,000-square-foot living rooms. Nice touch: Guests have direct views of the nightly fireworks at Magic Kingdom.

Note: All guest room bathrooms have two sinks, shower and separate bathtub, plus an in-mirror television. For VIP bookings, reach out to Kristin Miller, director of sales, travel industry ([email protected]; 407-313-6734), who can see to special details.

Each room at Four Seasons Resort Orlando is well appointed with contemporary white furnishings accented with orange and teal.Pictured: Each room at Four Seasons Resort Orlando is well appointed with contemporary white furnishings accented with orange and teal.

Of course, when staying at a Disney World resort, everything is meant to be magical, but we hear there are some ways that the Four Seasons can truly make a vacation sparkle. Just reach out to Sandra Ferrarese, chief concierge ([email protected]; 407-313-7777), who is on hand to arrange behind-the-scenes tours at the Magic Kingdom Park, semi-private Wild Africa Trek safaris at Animal Kingdom, and more.

After a day of park-hopping, photographs and roller coasters, a trip to the spa is a must. The 18-room facility includes two bungalows for private retreats. It is best to book at least 30 days out. To do so reach out to Derek Hofmann, spa director ([email protected]; 407-313-6971). Since the resort will not be open until August, we don’t have the details yet on what some of the signature treatments will be.

While the parks at Walt Disney World are within a stone’s throw, the resort is pretty decked out in itself, with five pools and Explorer Island, a five-acre playground with a family pool and lazy river, climbing wall, waterslides and a Kids for All Seasons program. Activities include beach volleyball, basketball, a video gaming center, outdoor movie nights and more.

The Magic Kingdom Park offers classic attractions, nightly fireworks, daily musical parades and Disney characters across six lands.Pictured: The Magic Kingdom Park offers classic attractions, nightly fireworks, daily musical parades and Disney characters across six lands.

Dining options span five restaurants, all of which are open to locals. The seat to beat will no doubt be one at the rooftop Spanish-style steakhouse, which will specialize in expert cuts, tapas and Florida seafood. Cool touch: The fireworks display can be seen from the restaurant. Other restaurants will include an Italian restaurant with indoor/outdoor seating, and a poolside southern-style smokehouse and rotisserie.

Couples staying at the resort will love Ravello Bar, which is located at the lobby level. We hear the drink to try will be the Lucero, a Spanish-inspired cocktail with Bulleit Rye Whiskey, vermouth, sherry, honey, lemon and orange bitters.

Golf enthusiasts will love the Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons, which is a certified Audubon Cooperative Wildlife Sanctuary.

Families aside, Disney World is often a top selection for the meetings market. At the Four Seasons there will be 37,750 square feet of meeting space. Most rooms will feature natural light through floor-to-ceiling windows, with access to terraces and lawns. The hotel’s relationship with Walt Disney World gives planners access to creative talent and production resources as well (think private theme park events, professional development through the Disney Institute, specially priced tickets and more).

MyMagic+

We were on location at Walt Disney World Resort to learn more about MyMagic+, a new high-tech initiative for guests.

Magic Bands eliminate the need for turnstiles, paper tickets, room keys and even cash at Walt Disney World.Pictured: Magic Bands eliminate the need for turnstiles, paper tickets, room keys and even cash at Walt Disney World.

MyMagic+ upgrades Disney’s FastPass program to FastPass+—a much more high-tech (read: paperless) variation of the traditional service. Using either an app or a dedicated website (www.mydisneyexperience.com), individuals can reserve access to experiences both before departure (book early for popular rides) and on-the-fly (finished your first ride of the day? Book another for the afternoon). And since all reservations are made electronically, there is no need to get paper tickets in order to skip the line. Just show up within the designated window of time (generally an hour), tap with your “MagicBand” and enter. The “MagicBand” replaces several variations of paper or plastic cards and tickets (and even cash) used in the passed. It can be worn as a bracelet and uses an RFID signal to serve as an all-purpose pass around the resort.

MyMagic+ and MagicBands are available to guests at Disney Resort hotels and Walt Disney World Passholders. Guests staying off-site (and who don’t have passes) will get a card to use much as they would the band, or they can purchase a wristband upon arrival and link it to their account.

How it works: When guests check into their Disney hotel, they get the bands instead of a room key. When they arrive at one of the theme parks or attractions, they tap a discrete post to enter. Upon arrival at a ride, they tap again. When they shop in one of the stores or dine in one of the resort restaurants, they can tap to pay with a linked credit card. And when an official photographer snaps a photo, they will tap the guest’s band to link the pictures for easy downloads later.

The Grand Floridian is a Walt Disney World Resort hotel where MagicBands are available.Pictured: The Grand Floridian is a Walt Disney World Resort hotel where MagicBands are available.

Très chic: Parents and kids who visit MyDisneyExperience.com before their trip can personalize their MagicBands by selecting one of seven colors and having names etched on the inside of the band. At the resort, guests can add accessories that are sold in shops to the bands, including plenty of bling elements.

Security: The MagicBand uses radio-frequency technology when serving as a room key or ticket to parks or attractions. When using the bands for purchases, guests must supply a PIN for added security. The bands are not GPS-enabled and cannot be used for tracking. They can, however, be used to help reunite separated children and parents.

Good to know: MyMagic+ has doubled the number of attractions in the FastPass program (hence the upgraded name), so beyond the rides, visitors can get access to prime viewing spots for parades and meet & greets with characters. In the Magic Kingdom, Be Our Guest is a restaurant serving as a prototype for how different businesses throughout the park can work with both FastPass+ and the MagicBands. Guests not only make reservations for dining times at the restaurant, but can look over menus and select their meals before arrival. When they come in, the staff greets each guest by name and escorts them to a table, and the food arrives shortly afterwards. When they are finished, guests pay by tapping their wristbands and walk right out. So far, there is no word on how long the testing phase will last or if it will expand to other restaurants.

As always, affluent travelers to Disney can book a VIP Tour Guide (407-560-4033). This option is available for groups of up to 10 people, and the Disney team will help create each itinerary. Perks include door-to-door transportation, preferred event seating (watch the parades up close!) and expedited entry to select attractions.

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