Everyone loves Walt Disney World “secrets”, but how many are really left? Are there any unexplored frontiers left in the Most Magical Place on Earth for veteran guests?
We certainly think so! Indeed, even after years of regular visits, there are still hidden pockets throughout Walt Disney World that most regulars have never seen. We’re not talking about completely inaccessible areas like the forbidden interior of Discovery Island or River Country. These are areas of Walt Disney World beyond the parks proper that you can go visit yourself without guilt or fear of drawing the ire of Disney security. Here are our five favorite hidden gems in and around Walt Disney World that even the most dedicated guests may have never seen. What are your favorites?
1. The Four Seasons Orlando
A visit to the Four Seasons Orlando might leave you wondering why any guest at this amazing resort would even bother to visit Walt Disney World parks. Young or old, there is so much to do at this hidden paradise, you might never want to leave!
Most guests miss the Four Seasons Orlando because of its secretive location tucked away in Disney’s exclusive Golden Oak community. However, all you need to get in are the magic words that you are visiting one of the resort’s outstanding restaurants. The PB & G pool bar alone is a writer favorite here at Theme Park Tourist and is nicer than a majority of restaurants in Walt Disney World, while Ravello offers a character breakfast that even hardcore foodies say is one of the best offered anywhere on Disney property. You can also pick up sandwiches at the Tranquilo Golf Clubhouse’s restaurant, Plancha, or make a reservation for a world class steakhouse experience at Capa on the 17th floor.
Oh, and if you aren’t in the mood for all that fuss, just pick up an ice cream and some amazing coffee from Lickety Split. Seriously, this coffee shop is one of the only places (besides the Java Bar at the Swan) to get a truly outstanding no-Joffrey’s-or-Starbucks cup of coffee in Disney World!
While you’re visiting, be sure and take a stroll through the resort’s mind bogglingly beautiful grounds. The pool is reserved for guests, but you should still explore the sprawling lagoons that make up the resort’s water recreation area. The pools surround a replica of a Spanish fortress, complete with a water slide and a rock-climbing wall. Teens in particular will love the resort’s outstanding youth center! In short, the Four Seasons Orlando is an attraction all on its own well worth a visit.
2. The trails at Fort Wilderness and Old Key West
Florida’s beautiful ecosystem is an ever-present part of Walt Disney World that many guests completely miss. If you want to spend some time watching birds and taking in nature at the Most Magical Place on Earth, the best place to start is a visit to the hiking trails surrounding the Fort Wilderness campground, as well as the Old Key West resort.
The trail that runs between Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge is a favorite of guests looking to jog, bike, or simply watch for local wildlife. Guests have reported seeing Floridian birds and even deer along this lovely trail. It has several off-shoots for those who like to explore as well. Similarly, the Old Key West resort has a lovely nature trail that goes between it and Downtown Disney that is a favorite of regular visitors. It travels along the Walt Disney World waterways and is also known as a very good birding and jogging trail. Don’t be confused by the signage. The trail is referred to as the Old Key West Nature Trail, Saratoga Springs Nature Trail, and Conch Flats Trail. They are all the same!