A non-Disney fan's guide to Disney

What do you think of when somebody says ‘Walt Disney World’? If images of Mickey Mouse, Disney Princesses and fast food spring to mind, then you’re certainly on the right track. And if these things aren’t your idea of fun, then you’ve probably never thought about visiting there for a holiday.

I’m one of those people who’d rather spend hours wandering around a museum than a theme park, so you can imagine that Florida, and Disney in particular, has never been on my wish list for a holiday. However, I recently had the opportunity to spend a week in Walt Disney World and I was pleasantly surprised at the attractions on offer that cater to a much wider range of tastes than I could’ve ever imagined. Here are seven things that I really loved about the whole experience:

1) The Music of Pixar Live!

Whether you’re a fan of Disney or not, chances are that you’ll have seen at least one Disney movie and you’ll be aware of how amazing the soundtracks are. The Music of Pixar Live! is a show which gives you the chance to listen to a live orchestra performing some of Disney Pixar’s most well-known pieces, whilst watching the scenes from the films in the background.

2) Festival of the Lion King

Keeping with the musical theme, Festival of the Lion King could rival a West End show. This half hour performance has something for everyone; world class gymnasts, dancers and singers make this high energy show one of the best that I’ve ever seen.

3) Pandora – The World of Avatar

Pandora – The World of Avatar

The newest attraction at Disney is Pandora – The World of Avatar. Try and work out your schedule so that you’re in the park after dark, as this is the best way of experiencing the other-worldly atmosphere created by the luminescent landscape. For fans of simulator rides, Avatar Flight of Passage is one not to be missed. This takes virtual reality to a whole new level! The technology used matches your body to your own banshee so that the feeling of flying through Pandora is incredibly real.

4) Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

With your feet firmly back on the ground, go searching for the Big Five in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. This impressive recreation of an African savannah gives a real safari experience and is yet another side to this hugely diverse attraction.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

5) Disney Springs

If you’re ready for a break from the characters and rides, head out to nearby Disney Springs for laid-back shopping, eating and drinking. Make sure you visit STK Orlando for amazing steaks, delicious cocktails and a lively atmosphere, and don’t miss out on a huge range of high-end brands and boutique shops for gifts to take home.

6) Dining options

As well as attractions, the other surprising thing about Walt Disney World is the high standard of food and drink options available. There are a number of places where you can get the kind of food that I expected to find such as chips, burgers and hot dogs. But there are also a surprising number of restaurants serving a much more varied menu. Try Tiffins for a different take on Asian cuisine or Trattoria al Forno for fine Italian dining. I’m a vegetarian and, although the menu didn’t appear to offer a lot of options for me, I only had to mention my dietary requirements to the waiter and he reassured me that the chef could make me whatever I wanted. True to his word, I enjoyed the most delicious risotto with seasonal vegetables, made to order.

Disney Dining options

7) Jellyrolls

If you’re looking for a fun way to end an evening, make your way to Jellyrolls at Disney’s Boardwalk. Inside the bar, there’s a stage with two duelling pianists, who’ll play whatever you request, for a small donation. Think of your favourite song, write it on a piece of paper, throw it in the jar with five or ten dollars and wait to hear if your tune gets picked.

After spending a week in the home of Mickey and Minnie, I can honestly say that this is a holiday that has something for everyone, even if you’re not a fan of the mouse! So if you want to experience live music and theatre, great food and entertainment, wildlife and shopping, all sprinkled with a touch of magic, why not think about trying Walt Disney World, Florida, for your next holiday? I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it.

What do you love most about Walt Disney World? Or maybe you’re like me and never thought it’d be somewhere you’d enjoy? Let me know in the comments below.