Take a tour of Epcot's private Living Seas Salon
Everyday guests at Walt Disney World may not be aware that there are private restaurants, offices, suites and lounges tucked away among the buildings at Walt Disney World. These spaces are not accessible to the general public and, for the most part, also are not visible to the casual visitor.
The tradition started at Disneyland, of course, with Walt Disney's personal apartment and then Club 33, a members-only restaurant that remains an exclusive dining experience.
Perhaps the most famous hidden -- though by no means secret -- space at Walt Disney World, though, is the overnight suite in Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, which has received overwhelming attention since it was completed in 2006. During the next two years, one-night stays were given away daily to lucky families during a two-year promotion that was widely publicized.
But Epcot, with its large pavilions, is home to its share of fun and fabulous lounges, too. Some have corporate sponsors, such as the Siemens VIP Center that I visited for a media event last year, and others are run by Disney World. The latter can be booked by guests for special events.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Living Seas Salon, which is available for guest rentals. The space has been used for convention groups, weddings, bar and bat mitzvah's, local birthday parties and baby showers, said Janice Reindl, Walt Disney World Catering/Convention Services Manager.
The entrance to the Living Seas Salon is on the right side of the pavilion, where the Coral Reef restaurant is located. A cast member took us into the first-floor lobby, and then we proceeded upstairs in an elevator that offers some magical special effects during the ride. When we reached our destination, the lift opened to a small reception area where offices and bathrooms are located.
But the real show-stopper is visible at the end of a long hallway. There, guests will find a multi-level room with floor-to-ceiling windows that look into the aquarium that most park guests see from other angles inside The Seas with Nemo & Friends. More than 6,000 sea creatures representing more than 65 species -- including dolphins, sharks and stingrays -- swim by the large panoramic windows.
The ocean theme is reinforced with rich wood interior, blue and green fabrics, and shell and fish details. Plus, there is a separate bar area. The main room at the Living Seas Salon can accommodate about 100 people, though Reindl said 84 is ideal with the existing seating for the best viewing of the marine life.
So, how much will it cost you to have a party at the Living Seas Salon?
The venue is priced at $500 plus tax, and your contract includes an agreement to spend a minimum amount on food and beverages. For dinner, that's $5,500 plus 21 percent service charge and 6.5 percent sales tax; the lunch minimum is $2,450 plus the service charge and tax; and breakfast is $1,500 plus the service charge and tax. The minimum amount can include appetizers, a meal, desserts, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The venue fee is a flat rate and is not increased by the duration of the party, though Reindl told me most events last 3 to 4 hours.
Guests also can choose to enhance their experience by adding a jazz trio, character appearances or a visit from Scuba Mickey in the tank for additional costs. For questions or to book the Living Seas Salon, guests can call 407-828-3200.