Who says Walt Disney World is just for kids? With more and more special events being added to their repertoire, Walt Disney World is becoming a go-to destination for adults. One event in particular is the Highway in the Sky Dine Around. This unique, progressive dining event, modeled after the fan created “Monorail Crawl”, includes fine food and drink from the resort’s Monorail hotels.
Highway in the Sky takes Guests around the monorail resorts for a progressive dinner. The event starts at Disney’s Contemporary Resort then heads to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and then back to The Contemporary. Each resort will host a portion of your 5 course meal. From appetizers to desserts, Guests are treated to dishes that highlight the flavors of that hotel’s restaurants.
I recently had the opportunity to attend Highway in the Sky when my college friend and I were on a girls’ weekend. We thought the experience would fit nicely into our itinerary of adults only fun. Donned in our Dress Shop dresses, we made our way to The Contemporary to start our evening.
Check-in for the event takes place at The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. It was encouraged that we arrive at 5:15 for a 5:45 start. A confirmation call was made by the organizers 3 days before the event to solidify instructions and dietary needs. I requested a vegetarian dinner and they happily accommodated. After you check in, you are presented with your lanyard for the evening. Because of my vegetarian request, my lanyard was white so they knew of my need at each stop. The event is designed to be a social gathering. Participants are encouraged to mix and mingle with the other guests throughout the night.
Once check-in was complete, we were welcomed by the hospitality staff of The Contemporary and the head chef of The Wave. We were treated to a full-sized Bay Lake Sunset, a drink exclusive to The Top of the World Lounge. It’s a fruity drink made from Stoli Vanil Vodka, Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, and Pineapple Juice with a splash of Grenadine. An amuse bouche of Spring Pea Soup accompanied our cocktail. I was taken aback at first by the size, but knew we were in for a long night ahead and had to pace ourselves. Pretty soon it was time to go. As with every stop going forward, we were given a 5 minutes heads up to use the bathroom or finish any food or drink. With our 3 Cast Member guides, we were off to the Polynesian.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Stepping out of our own private monorail car, we headed into The Polynesian. Upon arrival we were welcomed by their hospitality staff and directed to the area immediately to our right. We were presented with leis and a giant Mai Tai cocktail. As we waited for our appetizers, we were serenaded by the musical stylings of a ukulele player from The Spirit of Aloha dinner show.
Three small appetizers were served during our time there. Our first appetizer was a Roasted Beet Salad with Golden Beet, Herb Goat Cheese, Pistachio Dust, Frisée Lettuce, and a rolled up Radish underneath a Vinaigrette Dressing. Here is where the differences between the regular and vegetarian menus began to happen. Though I am not vegan, mine was served without Goat Cheese. Though I appreciated that they erred on the side of caution, I did take the time to let our guides know that I would happily eat cheese if it was offered to me. Next was a piece sushi from Kona. My friend was served a spicy tuna roll while I had a cucumber roll. Last was a Crisp Pork Belly served on a bed of Pickled Vegetables. Mine was the same Pickled Vegetables but with deep fried tofu. All our appetizers were equally delicious, though we were beginning to feel the effects of the large drinks and the small amounts of food. We were hoping that our next stop, dinner, would be more satisfying.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
One thing worth mentioning is that with Disney’s new security policy, we were required to go through a bag check and security screening at each stop. While I understand the need for extra safety, we were being guided by Disney Cast Members throughout our journey. Therefore, the need to do this at each stop seemed unnecessary.
Garden View Lounge
We first stopped for wine and cheese at The Garden View Lounge. A charcuterie board of cheese and meats was served to pairs alongside a full glass of Iron Horse Fairy Tale Cuvee. Again, because I had requested a vegetarian meal, I was served a very nice tomato and bean salad with roasted pine nuts. My friend was kind enough to share some cheese with me. Bread was available to the both of us. By this point we had made friends with some of our fellow travelers. It was nice to sit for a bit to chat. I wished this portion of the experience lasted a little longer. Soon we were whisked off to dinner at Citricos.
Having dined at Citricos in the past, I knew I was in for a delicious dinner. Luckily we were seated with our traveling companions, but it was also nice to be seated with others who we hadn’t met previously. A huge basket of Citricos famous olive bread was waiting on the table along with sea salt butter. We had a choice of wines, either Lucente Italian Red or Stonestreet Estate Chardonnay.
For dinner my friend had a surf and turf selection, Red Wine Braised Short Ribs over Mashed Potatoes and Tilapia over String Beans. Both dishes were cooked perfectly with major kudos going to the Short Ribs. However, the portion size was a little small for her liking. Since we had small portions throughout the night, we were expecting more for dinner.
I was quite impressed with my Roasted Vegetables over Quinoa. A beautiful selection of seasonal vegetables were roasted to perfection over a bed of red quinoa. Comparatively speaking, my portion was a decent size and I left feeling satisfied. But there’s always room for dessert.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
It was time for dessert and fireworks at the Contemporary, outside on the Fourth Floor Observation deck. We were treated to a duo of cakes, Floridian Blood Orange and a Flourless Chocolate Pyramid. Of the two, the chocolate was my favorite. The desserts were accompanied by tea, soft drinks, hot cocoa and coffee. You had the option of having your coffee served with a generous pour of Kahlua, Bailey’s, Frangelico or Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur. We grabbed our sweets and found a prime seat on the overlook to watch Happily Ever After. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans that night.
A storm rolled in delaying the fireworks for about a half hour. Disney did a great job of continuing the experience by bringing the buffet inside and allowing us to continue the party. When the fireworks in fact did start, it was downpouring. We were each given an umbrella to use so we didn’t miss out on seeing the fireworks. Highway in the Sky happens rain or cold and guests are encouraged to come prepared for such events. Also the fireworks experience is subject to change or cancel without notice. It was disappointing, but we understood. As we left, we were presented with a box of truffles and a Mickey crisp rice treat to go.
My Thoughts on Highway in the Sky
I loved the concept of Highway in the Sky. It put a new spin on the average progressive dinner. I liked being able to meet with the hospitality staff and chefs, and also learn about the history of each resort hotel. The experience brought to light just how much time and consideration is put into the theming of each hotel. Everything, down to the food, has to fit into the concept in order to create an immersive experience for each Guest. I also really liked mixing and mingling with new people. It was nice to spend the evening with Disney fans and hearing other people’s stories and experiences.
Is it Worth it?
For the price, I expected more, food wise. Having been to many special events including dessert parties and DVC member events, I went in with an expectation. At previous events, Disney has always gone above and beyond to make sure Guests had more than enough to eat and drink. Between the small portions and the lack of asking for seconds, I came away feeling short changed. In fact, the next night we attended the Star Wars Dessert Party and came away feeling we got our money’s worth. Also, as a vegetarian, I paid the same price as everyone else, but seemed to get less.
Another consideration is the drinks. While having a signature drink at each location was great, it would have been nice to have a selection to choose from. I don’t usually drink Vodka, but felt compelled to at least try my drink at the first stop. Also, non drinkers might feel slighted. Whether you have the cocktail or not, you’re still paying the same price. It would have been nice to see an alcohol free specialty drink as well.
You could obviously piece together the same experience on your own. But with Highway in the Sky, you’re paying for the ease and accessibility of dining in all these places. You’re also being privately escorted and kept to a schedule so that you make it to the fireworks on time.
Overall, I liked my experience. I may consider doing it again for a Disney date night, but I think some of the issues mentioned above may need to be worked out first.
Know Before You Go (From Disney’s Website)
- Price: $160 per person plus tax; gratuity included.
- Reservations must be canceled at least 24 hours in advance to avoid forfeiting the full price of the experience.
- Check-in takes place at The Wave… of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary Resort at the time of your reservation. Please arrive 15 minutes ahead of check-in time.
- Valet parking included.
- Guests must be 21 years of age or older to consume alcoholic beverages. A valid form of government identification will be required to verify your age.
- Please alert the host at check-in regarding food allergies. Wherever possible, alternative dining selections will be offered.
- Disney dining plan entitlements may not be redeemed for this event.
- Discounts and promotions are not valid for this event.
- This dining experience is subject to change; fireworks experience is subject to change or cancellation without notice.
- The Highway in the Sky Monorail Dine Around will operate in rain and cold conditions. Please be prepared for portions of the evening to include time spent in outdoor elements.