A Festive Getaway at Walt Disney World

When the sun sets, the popular Village of Harambe at Disney's Animal Kingdom becomes a hot spot with the Harambe Wildlife Parti. Here, "party animals" can dance alongside a variety of entertainers and local street musicians, and enjoy the lively rhythms of African music. Guests can also partake in exotic foods and libations, and explore the diverse wares of village artisans and merchants in the vibrant marketplace. (David Roark, photographer)

Get ready for a vacation full of diverse attractions, festivities and flavor from around the world. A rich collection of cultures converge in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. offering something for everyone.

The four parks at Disney World are Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot. Each offers a truly “magical” experience for all.

Epcot World Showcase Theme Park

One of the greatest appeals of Epcot is the World Showcase, offering a tour of 11 represented countries. Not only is the sightseeing breathtaking, the food is phenomenal. Each country brings authentic cuisine, a marketplace and iconic landmarks within each the country.

Shop in Mexico at the scenic marketplace while being entertained by lively Mariachi bands. The marketplace is inside a pyramid, which also has a Mexican restaurant with a stunning night scene of the Mayan pyramid and a smoking volcano

Guests are welcomed to the Far East as they enter the China pavilion. Here you will discover beautiful bamboo groves, the replica of the Terracotta Army along with sites from the past and present. Browse at The Yong Feng Shangdian shop where everything from Chinese lanterns to jade can be found. It is one of the largest shopping destinations at Epcot.

Leave China and enter Germany, which features village houses in a cobblestoned plaza, a clock tower and a statue of St. George slaying a dragon. Enjoy some beer and bratwurst while shopping along the streets of Germany. Oktoberfest can be experienced at Biergarten, an all-you-can-eat-buffet featuring rotisserie chicken, red cabbage, sausage, pork loin, wine kraut, potatoes and spatzle.

Italy is adorned with romance and beauty with Venetian bridges and a replica of Doge’s Palace. Sample some wine at Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar. Authentic cuisine can be enjoyed at Tutto Italia Restaurant.

Japan features a replica of a seventh century Horyuji Temple and stunning Japanese gardens. Listen to the sounds of Matsuriza, Japanese drums, while eating and shopping. Teppan Edo is an entertaining and dining pleasure. Guests are seated around a large grill where chefs skillfully prepare each meal of choice.

Morocco showcases warm terracotta tiles and carved plaster buildings amid a bustling marketplace with artisan-crafted jewelry, ceramic pottery and colorful silks. Find a reproduction of the Koutoubia Minaret of Marrakesh and enjoy some Mediterranean delicacies. Restaurant Marrakesh takes guests into an Arabian haven of dining where authentic shish kabobs can be savored.

In France sample French wines in the European marketplace and save room for pastries. Take time to view “Impressions de France,” an enchanting film tour through its cities and countryside. Les Chefs de France is a delightful restaurant offering European authenticity in surroundings and flavor.

United Kingdom displays the Hampton Court Palace, breathtaking flower gardens and fish and chips at the corner pub. Visitors feel as if they are in London while walking along the cobblestoned streets.

Canada features the Canadian Rockies, lively entertainment by a rock band and a Circle-Vision 360 film. Le Cellier is a popular choice for fine dining, so reservations should be made. The Steakhouse offers the finest choices of meats. The Canadian cheddar cheese soup is a favorite with visitors.

Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Disney’s Animal Kingdom takes adventurers through the enchanted lands and jungles of Asia and Africa. Sip some masala chai while strolling through Tibetan and Nepalese villages with ancient storefronts. Groove to some Bhangra music as an Indian dancer demonstrates how to move to the beat. Thrill seekers will enjoy Expedition Everest, legend of the forbidden mountain ride in the Himalayas.

In Africa ride on the Kilimanjaro Safari and view crocodiles, hippos, lions, elephants and the rare white rhino in their natural habitats.

The Pangani Forest Exploration leads guests down a leafy trail through lush jungle glades into the adventurous heart of Africa for an intimate view of wildlife research with some of the world’s most fascinating animals.

Watch a live performance of “The Lion King,” where singers, dancers and high-wire aerialists bring favorite characters to life.

Highly recommended is a character lunch at the Tusker House.

Animal Kingdom Lodge

Upon entering the Animal Kingdom Lodge, guests are awestruck by the marvels of Africa. Themed after the world’s second-largest continent, it provides top-rated accommodations and more. The lobby is filled with vivid colors and unique African-themed art. You’ll find shopping at the Zawadi marketplace — filled with such exotic finds as tribal masks, hand-loomed fabrics and textiles. Disney sent a team of researchers to Africa to locate one-of-a-kind treasures to showcase at the marketplace.

When making reservations, request a room with a Savannah view to observe all the wildlife. White-bearded wildebeests, zebras and giraffes are just some of the animals grazing on the grassland ecosystem. One of the most memorable moments is being able to hear the animals walk and graze in the stillness of the night. Designated areas throughout the lodge offer 24-hour viewing.

Experience some sensational dining at the lodge at Jiko and Boma.

Boma offers an exhibit kitchen and bakery that allows guests to walk up to a half-dozen side-by-side cooking stations and have their entrées freshly prepared. Entrees are flavored with exotic curries, chutneys and other Indian and Asian influences. The buffet is a must try.

Jiko pays homage to the African theme: Swahili curry shrimp with artichokes and coconut rice; roasted lamb loin with herbed couscous, figs and more. The restaurant boasts the largest South African wine selection in the United States.

For a more spacious accommodation, consider a suite at Art of Animation offers. There is a small kitchenette with a sink, refrigerator and microwave, which is ideal when staying on property. A living room offers a double size sleeper sofa, a clever double size table bed and a queen bed in the bedroom. Young guests, or young at heart, will be amused by the animated “table bed.”

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