I mentioned in a previous post that when I was a kid, I would plan out detailed trips to Walt Disney World – including itineraries, hotel reservations, and more. While the particulars are a little different now than they were when I was younger, I definitely do still have a dream trip in mind.
THEN: TreeHouse Villas at the Disney Institute
There are so many reasons why this made no sense. First of all, at the time, the general public was not allowed to stay in these Villas (maybe Disney Vacation Club members were?), but rather it was reserved for groups actually taking classes at the now completely reinvented Disney Institute. Second of all, my family was/is four people. Meanwhile, these rooms accommodate up to NINE. I’m not sure who else I thought would be coming with us, or if I just wanted to be able to spread out…a lot. On top of that, it’s not exactly easily accessible from most of the other resort attractions.
NOW: Studio at Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
Admittedly, the Boardwalk and I go way back. In my 20’s, I spent many a night at Jellyrolls and had many a deep conversation while walking around Crescent Lake. Add those great memories to the fact that you can walk from there to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and I’m sold. Plus, they have some of the best dining options at any resort (hello Boardwalk Bakery and Flying Fish) and one of the most fun pools around: Luna Park. There’s entertainment (games, performers, etc.) and lots to see for those days/mornings/evenings not spent in a theme park.
THEN: 5 Day Super Duper Pass
Yes, that’s really what it was called. This magical ticket was valid on admission to any of the (then-three) theme parks, including park hopping, as well as unlimited admission to Typhoon Lagoon, River Country, Discovery Island, and Pleasure Island. I’m tired just thinking about it! And let’s be real, one park was more than enough for my parents each day. But as a kid, you want it all! I absolutely believed I could enjoy every. single. attraction Walt Disney World had to offer.
NOW: 5 Day Magic Your Way Base Ticket
…with no park hopping. I love the idea of a leisurely, stress-free vacation, and for me that vision does not include running from park to park in a single day. I imagine much more casual days with no pressure to see everything or be at a park from rope drop through the last firework display. On this dream trip, we’d spend the morning (through lunch) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We can sleep in a little on Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ day, see what we want to see, and only stay for the fireworks if we feel like it. The Epcot day would likely have a later start, too; IllumiNations is the one fireworks display I absolutely refuse to miss, and dinner in the World Showcase is hard to beat. Then we could split the Magic Kingdom between two shorter days to avoid having to run from one thing to the next. Free time can be spent lounging at the pool, exploring the new Disney Springs or just walking around our resort.
THEN: King Stefan’s Banquet Hall
Before it was known as THE princess meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table, King Stefan’s Banquet Hall was just the fancy restaurant in the castle. And even though Cinderella didn’t always greet you at the door, the thought of eating in that magical building was always enough for me. It felt SO special, and, while I couldn’t tell you a single thing I ate there, I will never forget when my parents took me as a child.
NOW: A little of this, a little of that…
In my years working at Walt Disney World, I had the pleasure of dining at so many of the amazing restaurants on the property. Some of my favorites have been Artist Point (at the Wilderness Lodge), Beaches & Cream (at the Beach Club), and Portobello Country Italian Trattoria (at Disney Springs) — among the 30+ places I’ve tried. My favorite dining experience? Sampling snacks from around Epcot’s World Showcase. For that reason, I forfeit the grand table service experience in favor of bite-size delights from around the world. The International Food & Wine Festival is my absolute favorite; I want to try EVERYTHING!
I’m sure 20 years from now my ideal Walt Disney World vacation will look a lot difference. But you know what won’t be different? I’ll still have an ideal Walt Disney World vacation.
Do you dream of castles and fireworks, too? Any on-property recommendations for me? Or is there another place that will always be your go-to vacation destination?