How to Have Fun While Attending a Work Conference at Walt Disney World
Taking co-workers to buffets allow you to know exactly how much to budget.
By Suzanne Burmeister
The worst has happened — you are supposed to go to Orlando to a work conference and not to enjoy Walt Disney World. But there are ways to turn those grueling conference days into a magical visit.
STEP ONE- Explore some of Disney’s amazing restaurants with your co-workers after hours.
Most of the time, you can use Disney’s free transportation to get there. Not only will you impress your colleagues, but you’ll get to enjoy a taste of Disney via non-park restaurants.
- Where to Take Large Groups
My crowning achievement was taking a total of 23 people to a single dining event, and believe me, I felt like I needed to carry a flag to guide everyone to the bus stop. Where did we go?We went to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to dine at Boma. Boma is great for large groups for a variety of practical reasons:
- The space includes a lot of big tables (so my large party ate at two different long tables, side-by-side).
- You don’t have a specific menu with potentially expensive a la carte menu items. Instead, everything is the same — buffet for everyone. So you know how much to budget for that corporate credit card.
- The buffet format allows everyone to get what they want and how much they want, including salad and dessert.What makes Boma special: The interesting foods mean it’s a restaurant like no other. You won’t find these African dishes back home, and I find that asking everyone what they tried is a great conversation starter. Such as, “Hey, did you try the Fufu?”Bonus points: Boma allows for dietary restrictions. I’ve taken a vegan, a pescatarian, and Muslim to this restaurant with no complaints. The chef actually personally took my Muslim co-worker around to point out the acceptable dishes.
While you’re waiting for your table, your party can certainly make use of the adjoining bar (which my company did not pay for) or retreat outside to check out the animals roaming on the Animal Kingdom’s savanna. You’ll also find a really amazing gift shop that has a lot of unique African crafts.
- Where to Take Smaller Parties
My colleagues are not always writers like me. Some of them are professionals my company wants to schmooze, so I often take that into consideration. They tend to like their fine wines, so I make sure to arrange dinners that involve more intimate settings and offer some sophistication.Among the favorites are the Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk, Narcoossee’s at Grand Floridian, and Jiko – The Cooking Place at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. These restaurants are less family oriented, so you won’t find many guests moseying in from the theme parks or the pools. All of them include a dress code, which makes you feel as though you’re mostly among other professionals. One caveat: Be sure you’re aware of the prices and budget accordingly.What makes them special: You can hear yourself talk to one another, which is conducive to some business discussions. Plus, you’re apt to impress at restaurants like these.
- Where to Take Actual Parties
Suppose you have the best of both worlds — co-workers that are more like friends and colleagues who love to cut loose. My favorite restaurant is ‘Ohana at the Polynesian. Like Boma, ‘Ohana has no menu. Everyone gets family style dishes, so you can easily budget your expenses. Plus, the food is amazing. While the ambiance isn’t exactly elegant, you can feel free to get loud and have fun. I enjoyed a magical night where the waiters gave my group each a lei, after much laughing and cutting up.
What makes ‘Ohana special: If you time your reservation appropriately, you can experience the fireworks. ‘Ohana dims the lights and pipes through the music, so you can watch the fireworks bursting over the distant Cinderella castle. You definitely feel like you’re a part of Disney magic.
Don’t Overlook Step Two — Staying Longer!
Step two? When work ends, shift into vacation mode. Don’t look longingly at the other guests who are enjoying Disney World. Stay a bit longer, and treat yourself to all that Disney offers. Extend your stay with Get Down to Disness! Check out the latest packages, and we can help you make the most of your work trip!