As operations initiative director at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Brian Betts ’96, pictured here, leads efforts to introduce new rides, experiences and even new theme parks. We interviewed him for the summer issue of NC State magazine, and in addition to telling us about his job, he graciously shared some of his recommendations for NC State alumni planning trips to Walt Disney World Resort.
Stay “on property.” It’s the best way to immerse yourself in the full Disney experience. There are a lot of wonderful hotels within the resort, but Betts’ favorites are the two lodges, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, in the Magic Kingdom area, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, where you can wake up, open your curtains and stare a giraffe in the eye.
Don’t limit yourself to the Magic Kingdom. “I certainly think the Magic Kingdom is a can’t-miss, but usually I don’t have to recommend that to people,” Betts says. “That’s on their list anyway.” Betts encourages friends to see some of the less-iconic parks as well, particularly Disney’s Animal Kingdom. “You can go on safari, ride a runaway train on Expedition Everest, and see a Broadway-caliber show,” he says. “There aren’t many places on the planet that you can go and have all of those experiences, all in one day.”
Prioritize the rides. Not enough time to see and do everything? Betts always tells friends to make sure to make time for these special attractions. (And also to start planning a return visit!)
- Soarin’ at Epcot. Betts’ verdict: A unique, popular ride that simulates a hang-gliding flight with a crowd-pleasing queue.
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and The Pirates League. Betts’ verdict: Great for little kids. “Even though it’s a premium product, we just hear from our guests that [the experience] was worth five times what [they] paid for it.”
- Tower of Terror and Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Betts’ verdict: A great way to get in a dose of thrills.