Last updated: 09:00 AM ET, Fri April 22 2016

Central Florida as Walt Knew It: A New Adventures By Disney 2017 Itinerary

Tour Operator | Michael Schottey | April 22, 2016

Central Florida as Walt Knew It: A New Adventures By Disney 2017 Itinerary

Photo courtesy of Adventures by Disney

Just when fans thought their Walt Disney World Resort vacation couldn’t get any better...

Adventures By Disney released details of its new 2017 itineraries, which include river cruises down the Rhine River as well as trips to both China and Australia. The most exciting for many Disney fans, though, will be one of the domestic adventures — a trip to Central Florida which includes time in the Walt Disney parks as well as excursions around parts of Florida as-yet-unknown to tourists.

The entire adventure is billed as a premium-priced event that showcases the Central Florida area, as Walt Disney would have known it years and years ago.

READ MORE: Disney Expanding ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Avatar’ Attractions

TravelPulse was fortunate enough to get a behind-the-scenes preview of the itinerary as part of the 2016 “Awaken Summer” press event, which includes a guided behind-the-scenes tour of the magic behind the Magic Kingdom and a Chef’s Table dinner at the Disney Contemporary Resort.

The tour itself should not be seen as similar to what one might gather from a television show based around the history or functionality around the park. While guests are taken behind the curtain, the magic is enhanced rather than peeled back or discarded. This particular tour is less about how the park takes care of its trash and more about how it creates its magic.

Disney Imagineer Gary Landrum continually pointed out that the number one product that Disney sells is emotion. The parks don’t just contain stories; they are — in and of themselves — self-contained stories heavily influenced with both design and architecture to guide guests through their own personal hero’s journey. Every archway, every tower, every sightline and every color choice has been carefully selected not just to tell each individual story, but also to help tell your story as you walk through the park.

Individual attractions can be replaced and refreshed to keep up-to-date with today’s guests, but many of the decisions in how the park is formed remain untouched through the generations.

The tour is not just a class about Disney, but also a master class in myth building and creating experiences that guests can appreciate even while they might not realize what exactly they’re appreciating. As Landrum pointed out on the tour, special effects work best when the audience doesn’t even recognize them.

As the group rested for a minute, I wondered aloud, saying something to the effect of, “now that I know all of this, how could I ever have truly appreciated the park before.” Landrum responded that it’s a fine line between enhancing and ruining the magic.

I believe the tour does a great job of explaining the once-hidden background. From the art and architecture around the park to the design choices, it is a lot like watching your favorite movie a second or third time but knowing where all the “easter eggs” are hidden. Perhaps the same wonderment and surprise are not there as with the first viewing, but the appreciation becomes deeper and more meaningful — more personal.

The world-class meal at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is only part of that particular event, because something even as simple as a dinner gets the full Disney experience with humor, wonder, innovation and top-notch service. The kitchen space in the resort was crafted with entertainment in mind, and guests will be treated to a night their eyes, ears and taste buds will never forget.

The meal finished with a “surprise” in every sense of the word as the chef mixed theatrics, gastronomy and (best of all), chocolate, to create not only a dessert but an experience that the assembled media would never forget. While I won’t ruin the surprise for any readers, I will tell you that the show was so incredible that even knowing what would happen didn’t dampen the delight of anyone around the table... nor did being stuffed from the rest of the preceding meal.

In addition to the sneak peeks around the resort that the media were privy to, the adventure also includes free time around the parks with plenty of FastPasses and events (both for families together and events to allow mom and dad some alone time). There is also a tour of Animal Kingdom’s safari and a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming “Rivers of Light” show, made complete with VIP seating.

The fun doesn’t end at the park, however…

The magic inherent to Central Florida is part of what drew Walt Disney to the area in the first place. The Adventures By Disney itinerary, then, looks to tap into some of that magic with an emphasis on the level of service that only Disney can provide. As one executive put it about their itineraries in general: It’s just not possible to put together the same trip and do every single thing in quite the same way that Disney offers.

So, while parents might endeavor to take their children to Cape Canaveral on the same trip as a tour around Walt Disney Resort, they won’t be able to create the same lifelong memories of personally learning what it takes to get a person up into space. Maybe a tour of Florida nature is on the horizon as well, but will it be with zip lines, airboats, horseback rides and kayaks? Probably not, nor will be done in such a way that moms and dads can be sure will go off without a hitch. Disney puts far more into researching and curating these trips than most travelers could ever do themselves.

READ MORE: AmaWaterways Launches AmaViola and Expands Adventures by Disney Partnership

The Adventures By Disney experience is all about adding incredible amounts of value to a premium product that will bring families of all ages and sizes together in a way they had never thought possible. With the new Central Florida option, the magic of Walt Disney wonderfully expands over this wonderful area of the country to create a unique experience absolutely everyone could enjoy.

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