We’re back with a rundown on last week’s vacation to the happiest place on earth, Disney World! By now you guys have probably picked up on the fact that we’re total Disney geeks. We talked a little bit about it here. And we even have a Disney-inspired print in our Etsy shop here. Even though we mainly chat about our house here on the blog, some of you have voiced that you want to hear more about us. So to capture our vacation, we decided to document it “Instagram style”.
Last Saturday morning, we packed up, threw our luggage in my parents’ SUV, and headed down I-95. It was a family affair. My mom, dad, little brother (Abram), Greg, and I all traveled to Orlando. When we, in the words of our English-speaking (as opposed to American English) navigation system, “reached our destination”, we met up with our other family members (my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins) who live in the area. Yep, we’re one big, happy, Disney-loving family.
The drive from here to Disney is about 13 1/2 hours. It seems like a long drive, but it actually isn’t that bad, since there’s plenty of stuff to look at along I-95. I wanted to stop at a couple of antique stores, but I was out-voted. Next time. The main perk to driving rather than flying (for us) is that we don’t have to rent a car to have our own transportation while we’re down there. Disney has a ton of transportation options, but we like being able to come and go from the hotel as we wish. Plus, road trips are fun!
We spent most of our time talking, playing car bingo (um, no, we’re not too old!), and listening to
Taylor Swift the UVA football game. My vote was Taylor Swift. But whatever. A perk of traveling down I-95 was the fast food choices. I know, totally unhealthy… but it’s a road trip! While we were in college, my and Greg’s favorite fast food stop was Zaxby’s, but here in Richmond, we don’t have one within a 50 mile radius. Needless to say, we had our fair share of Zaxby’s stops on our road trip. Oh! And Bentley went along for the ride, as well. We couldn’t bear leaving him at the “doggie hotel” for an entire week. So we decided to pack his bags, too, and bring him a long. He’s a very good travel companion. For the car ride, he really liked hanging out curled up in his travel crate.
We rolled into the condo on Sunday morning. (We decided to stay Saturday night in Brunswick, Georgia, since we couldn’t check into the condo until Sunday afternoon.) We spent the first day catching up with the family, going out to dinner, and getting settled in our room. We normally stay at a Disney hotel (The Contemporary Resort, The Boardwalk Villas, and The Caribbean Beach Resort are our top three favorites), but this time around, things were a little different. For one, there would be 11 of us, total. Secondly, we brought Bentley along this time around, so the place we stayed needed to be pet-friendly. Therefore, my grandma (the Queen of Family Vacation Planning), booked four adjacent condos at Vacation Village at Parkway. You could see Downtown Disney from our balcony, and we even caught a glimpse or two of the nightly firework show at Epcot.
Greg, Bentley, and I had our own 1-bedroom condo complete with a living room, dining area, full kitchen – (more than what we have at our house at the moment!) , bedroom, bathroom, and a washer/dryer combo. The above photos really don’t do the place justice. My grandparents’ condo was right across the hall. Their place housed all of the food for the week and served as our family’s “central hub”. My grandma had the fridge stocked with enough lunch meat and breakfast ingredients to feed an army! There was also a good supply of games. The entire family is now addicted to Bananagrams.
The rest of the week was spent hanging out with family, going to the parks, hotel hopping, dining at great restaurants, and generally relaxing. If you’ve been to Disney World, you know that there are so. many. things. to. do. There’s no possible way to give you a complete rundown of everything we did without using an unreasonable number of words. With that in mind, we decided to highlight our favorite things to do at Disney World:
FAVORITE RIDES: It’s impossible to pick out just one or two of our favorite rides. That’s like asking someone who their favorite child is. We don’t have a “favorite”, but we do have a few must-do’s that we, well, must do while we are at Disney World. For Greg, his must-dos include Pirates of the Caribbean and Philharmagic (which ranks pretty high among my must-dos, too). At the top of my must-do list is the Great Movie Ride at
MGM Hollywood Studios and The People Mover (AKA Tomorrowland Transit Authority) at the Magic Kingdom. The People Mover is one of my very first Disney memories as a kid, and being one of the oldest rides, it’s total “classic Disney”.
FAVORITE RANDOM MUST-DO’s: Call us crazy, but Greg and I like riding the Monorail – even when there’s no place to go. Like the above failed attempt to take a photo of us on the Monorail? We find it relaxing to chill, have small talk with the people around us, and saying, “Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas,” along with the recording over and over. I’m quite certain that makes us sound crazy, but that’s 100% okay! Another random must-do for us is looking out for hidden Mickey’s. They are everywhere… in the carpet, railings, tile, rugs, murals, fabric… you name the place, there’s probably a hidden Mickey there. We even bought this book to clue us in on even more hidden Mickeys. I think it would be really fun to one day have enough photos of hidden Mickeys to put together a coffee table book!
FAVORITE RESTAURANTS: The Brown Derby is located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and is first on our list of favorite restaurants. Not only is their menu always really good, but the old Hollywood atmosphere “has me at hello” everytime. For you I Love Lucy fans, remember the episode when Lucy goes to the Brown Derby for lunch and accidently dumps pie all over William Holden? Best episode ever. Kona Cafe at the Polynesian is another one of our favorite restaurants at Disney. One of our favorite things there isn’t even on the menu – it’s the Hawaiian Sweet Bread with macadamia honey butter they bring our before your meal. It’s delish! If we’re in the mood for a “Character Breakfast”, Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort is the place to be. We really like the atmosphere – even though we’re normally the only people there without kids! Another favorite and a must-do every time we visit WDW is dinner at California Grill. It’s located at the very top of the Contemporary Resort. Not only is the food superb (and the sushi amazing!) but the view is without a doubt the best view anywhere on Disney property.
FAVORITE SHOPPING SPOTS: A girl can shop till she drops in Downtown Disney. For real. I’m never really one for buying a ton of souvenirs while on vacation – though I like to hang on to things like our Magic Kingdom parking pass and chop sticks from Kona Cafe. Even so, Downtown Disney is a lot of fun to browse and stock up on post cards and that gift you promised your BFF. On this trip, we did score some Mickey ears for Bentley. And I must say, he looks really cute in them. My absolute favorite place to shop at Disney is Sid Cahuenga’s One of a Kind Antiques and Curios. It’s located right inside the gate of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, directly to your left. Okay, so the only thing I’ve ever bought in there was an Audrey Hepburn fridge magnet when I was 16. But that’s because this store is actually more like a museum than your normal gift shop. Every time we go, there’s something different. Last time we stopped in, they were selling the jacket Dick Van Dyke wore in Mary Poppins. I know, right?! I literally almost got emotional. Of course, I couldn’t take it home. Coming in at $65,000, it was a little out of our souvenir budget.
Sunday morning, after having a farewell family breakfast at Kona Cafe, we headed back to Richmond. We rolled into our driveway around 10:00 pm that night. Even though we miss the nightly firework shows, we’re glad to be back home, picking up where we left off on our to-do list.
I hope I managed to give you a good run down of our vacation. If I missed anything you’re wondering about, ask in the comments section and we’ll be sure to answer your questions.