When you hear about Disney VIP experiences, you mostly think of private theme park guides, fireworks cruises, etc. At least, that’s what I thought. However, one of the most luxurious things you can do in Disney World is have your very own private party. I’m talking great food, fab service, fireworks, no crowds, and characters. Sounds like a Disney dream to me!
During our 2014 Disney trip, I had the unfortunate experience of my anniversary surprise to Josh (a fireworks cruise on the Grand 1), get cancelled. I was so bummed by the way Disney handled everything, that during our latest trip, which fell over Josh’s birthday, I wanted the experience to be beyond amazing.
To book the Grand 1, all you have to do is call Disney’s “PLAY” number 90 days in advance. It really doesn’t involve much.
In doing research, and the fact that Disney plans weddings, I knew Disney throws events in which you are assigned a planner, and that’s exactly what I wanted this time around. This way, should something go wrong (like the Grand 1 breaks down and becomes unusable!), I wouldn’t be stuck with simply nothing. I’d have someone working WITH me to create this fabulous experience.
So as soon as we booked our Disney trip (for Aug/Sep 2015), I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for Josh’s birthday, but I knew I wanted it to be spectacular. I also knew that I didn’t want the Grand 1 (I’m just not over that disappointment yet, ha!). I also knew that Disney can do basically anything (with a little
dreaming money)! I’ve known about dessert parties for weddings, and Epcot’s fireworks are Josh’s favorite, so that’s where I decided to start.
In January (2015), I emailed email@example.com and vaguely explained what I was looking for. Within two days I received a generic message from Disney’s Catered Events, letting me know that while they usually gear towards groups of 10 or more, they can accommodate a smaller group (of 2), starting from $1,000 + tax & service. I said okay, and later that day, a Catering and Convention Sales Manager emailed me.
Then, the following day, the catering and convention sales manager gave me a call to learn more about what I was looking for – budget, details about Josh (since this IS his birthday surprise party), etc.
Eric became my planner for the months to come, and he was wonderful. He offered many great suggestions and constantly listened to what I wanted and didn’t want, and through many emails and phone conversations, we planned a spectacular event.
I won’t go into the many tedious details planning an event involves – coming up with a theme, menu, etc, etc. However, the plan for Josh and I was that after dinner, we’d go to Epcot for fireworks.
To Josh: We were going to Epcot for fireworks. That’s it.
But Really: We were having our very own private dessert party at UK Pubside while we watched the fireworks, followed by yet another surprise! After fireworks, it was off to Fez House for birthday cake (and a character surprise!).
We had dinner reservations at Yachtsman Steakhouse, right at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort (where we were staying), as that’s where Josh wanted to eat his birthday dinner. The food was spectacular!
After dinner, we headed to Epcot watch the fireworks. However, unbeknownst to Josh, someone met us at the entrance. It was my planner, Eric, and an event escort. He approached Josh, “Mr. LASTNAME, I hear it’s your birthday, please follow me.”
The excitement (and confusion/curiosity on Josh’s part) began!!
- Cost: $12.95 pp plus tax, Illuminations Viewing Fee (since we didn’t pay park admission)
We were off to UK Pubside with our guides. I was floored by just how many staff members Disney employed for our private event. I’ve never felt so VIP in my entire life. The pathway leading down to UK Pubside, and then blocking it, was filled with cast members all welcoming us and wishing Josh a Happy Birthday. I wanted to spend time talking and thanking each one of them, but there just weren’t enough hours in the night.
Josh was so surprised!
- Cost: $595, Photographer to capture the details (2 hours)
- Cost: $100 + tax, UK Pubside (to reserve the location)
I had a vision for the space, which was executed perfectly.
- $75.00, Custom keepsake scroll menu’s
- $338.75 + tax, Linen, napkins, candles, floral
Then it was time to sit back, relax, and be pampered – Disney style! We were handed glasses, which turned every light source into Mickey heads.
We had a chef concocting our desserts.
There was a bartender, offering Josh a sampling of beers from around the world and wine for me.
Then, it was time for the dessert…
- Cost: $260 + tax and service, The food, which featured cheesecake with “Captain’s hook,” a smoking apple crisp, maleficent cupcakes, and more.
- Cost: $100 + tax and service, bartender fee
- Cost: $4.95, Bottled Water
- Cost: $7.00 per + tax and service, Beer Tasting
- Cost: $14.00 per + tax and service, Wine
Next up – the fireworks! UK Pubside is my new favorite place to view them. I’ve never had such a clear shot before. It was truly spectacular!
Once fireworks ended, Josh thought we were done… until we didn’t head to the park exit…
And this is what I loved about Disney… they took a vision and ran with it. Despite the MANY events they do per year, they have never done one in the next particular location my planner proposed, Fez House. I love how they are constantly thinking out of the box! Despite it being a courtyard, with the above open to the elements (IT WAS HOT & HUMID), it was a hit, as this space was absolutely perfect for what was about to happen next!
- Cost: $250.00, Fez House Event Space
The ONLY downside to this space, is there’s no doorway. I wanted to have characters, and even though the park was technically closed, people were still exiting. In Disney, you have to “enclose” the space when there’s characters, because you’re paying for the private experience. If another guest sees the characters, they can’t turn them away. It’s not the Disney way. The characters ALWAYS have to stay IN character and say hello. So originally, my planner proposed draping, which cost over $1,200.00. I wasn’t looking to spend that, and he really worked hard in coming up with a better solution that was more budget-friendly. We settled on plants, which was so much less expensive than the draping! When he first told me the price, I thought it was PER PLANT, but he said it was for the whole thing! I was impressed!
- Cost: $250.00 + tax, Privacy plants
There were a lot of other things we went back and forth on, such as elaborate chairs (which I nixed, because they cost $400! For chairs!). I also took out the smoke for the entrance, as well as specialty lighting, which I noticed was still in the space, and I wasn’t charged for! It was such a great surprise, especially for me, because it’s small details like these in which I notice.
Anyway, Josh was so surprised his night wasn’t over yet.
The space was wonderfully decorated as well, with two cocktail tables (a high and low), each adorned with gorgeous linen and fresh flowers. The low had two chiavari chairs for us to sit (a much better solution than the $400 chairs!), and on the high table sat the most amazing cake I’ve ever seen.
- Cost: $338.18 + tax, Linen, napkins, florals, etc.
This cake… Let’s talk about this cake. The theme of this portion of the evening was Aladdin. It took place in Fez House (Morocco), and I told Disney I wanted something that fit the theme. They went above and beyond. Who would’ve thought to do a Cave Of Wonders cake?! Only Disney. It smoked. It changed color. It had every. little. detail. you could think of.
- Cost: $400.00 + tax & service, Cake
And of course, what would a Disney party be without some guests?
- Cost: $2,325.00, Having Aladdin, Jasmine, Jafar, and Genie show up
I was so impressed with the character interaction. And the fact that they stayed for so long. Josh (and I) had a blast taking pictures with them, but don’t worry, I won’t bore you with too many of them.
So after the characters left, we sat and actually had some of that delicious cake. We had the photographer for a little longer, so we took some more shots around the Morocco pavilion before calling it a night.
Although the cost was pretty hefty, and I’d have to save up before doing it again, I would definitely do it again in a heartbeat. It was surely an unforgettable experience, and I cannot thank Disney enough for the fabulous memories!