When we aren’t living our best lives on vacation, my husband and I are forever discussing the things we most want to do and the DVC resorts where we would most like to stay. So here is a Top 5 Bucket List of resorts for future vacations…
I will get started with Number 5 which is Old Key West. A big reason I put this one on the list comes from my love of Disney Heritage. When it opened back in 1991 it was literally known as ‘The Disney Vacation Club Resort’ and was where it all started as the very first DVC resort. I would love to stay there and see how the DVC resorts have evolved over the years. Yup, nerdy I know. By all accounts, the rooms are actually amongst the largest for any of the resorts so that would be quite interesting to see too. Another thing that draws me to this resort is the theme. The real Key West is an island in the Straits of Florida and the resort has been designed with that in mind. Much like a lot of Disney property, it is inspired by a historic, idyllic perception of a real place, hence the ‘Old’ in the name but the theme has a real emphasis on a calm and peaceful beach lifestyle. You only have to do a little looking around (such as the resort overview from The Dis – yeah I did just plug that) to see those design influences. What attracts me the most is that laid back atmosphere. After a busy day park hopping I quite like to get back to a room that is a place to unwind and relax and let the excitement of the day ease away for a good nights sleep. Dare I say it, but for the most part, the resort looks almost un-Disney? Of course, there are the not so hidden Mickeys around the property and I imagine the service is at the level only Disney seems to achieve but it achieves it without being overtly obvious like some of the other resorts, say Disney’s All Stars Resort for instance (no hate, by the way, I enjoyed staying there but it definitely has a very different tone and pace!)
One of the big reasons I enjoyed staying at Saratoga Springs so much was because if it wasn’t for the fact I knew I was at Disney, I could easily believe I was in a different place, a non-Disney hotel perhaps, but still keeping that Disney service and magic. Just sometimes, I need that. To be able to stay on property, with that level of service but without having ‘Disney’ be quite so front and centre. I see Old Key West in the same light and so that is why it makes the list.
Next up, at Number 4 would be the Boulder Ridge Villas/Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Right off the bat, I will say that this has been influenced by a certain podcast/youtube channel/website personality who has spoken very highly of it coupled with the fact it at least appears to have a similar scale and grandeur as the Animal Kingdom Lodge resorts in terms of its architecture but with a rustic, turn of the century, national park aesthetic. I have previously stayed at Disney’s Grand Californian which has a somewhat similar theme and I adored it. Disney’s Sequoia Lodge at Disneyland Paris also has the National Park Lodge theme and it is quite possibly my favourite resort over there. There is just something about that natural log-cabin style and atmosphere that makes me feel warm and cosy which is definitely welcome after a day hiking around the parks! Given that the Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Grand Californian and Wilderness Lodge all had the same architect, I also feel a sense of comfort in knowing the kind of resort I would be staying at.
Of all the resorts on our list, I would say that Number 3 is also quite possibly the most unlikely. The Polynesian Resort is a beautiful location but it is quite specifically the Bora Bora Bungalows that take the next spot. We visit the Polynesian Resort on every trip without fail so that I can become a child again and enjoy my Ohana Breakfast with Stitch. If there is a character breakfast with Stitch, I am there and Ohana is quite possibly the best of them. Of course, staying at a resort just for its character breakfast offering might be a little bit excessive but even on paper, the thought of an over-the-water bungalow is incredibly enticing. Couple that with the fact that it is the waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon that you will be staying over and it sounds like absolute bliss to me. With a view of the Magic Kingdom across the water, the private deck would be a simply beautiful spot to sit with my family and watch Happily Ever After and the Electric Water Pageant (which I am still yet to see in its entirety) however, starting at 115 points per night, it is a little beyond our current points range. A logical person may suggest a split-stay, just to have that one night but even then, it may push us just beyond our points available and besides, I don’t have a great history with split stays!
A rather contentious one now, coming in at Number 2 is Aulani Resort. Many of you will probably wonder how on Earth this isn’t at Number 1 and to be totally honest, it very nearly could be. Aulani looks like the most beautiful, idyllic and tranquil place. Somewhere to go and relax, enjoy the sunshine and just be calm. That image certainly isn’t anywhere close to how a ‘Disney Resort’ holiday usually plays out for us and nor would we want it to. For all of its beauty, we still love our hectic, attraction-filled, epic long days in the parks (but calm relaxing nights in the hotels), after all, isn’t that one of the reasons we buy into DVC in the first place?
Finally, at Number 1, our most desirable location to stay (beyond our home Kidani Village resort of course) is Bay Lake Tower – Contemporary Resort. Ever since my first visit to the world back in 1998, I’ve held onto the memory of passing right through a hotel on the monorail on the way to the Magic Kindom. I couldn’t tell you exactly why that memory has stuck but I remember how enthralled I was at the fact I was on a train (for all intents and purposes) and I was passing right through the very middle of a hotel. It was magical and that was before we even got into the park! Over the years, that same moment has happened time and time again and every time I find myself wondering why we haven’t stayed there yet. They announced the Bay Lake Tower shortly after we became DVC members and I recall being over the moon, it could be our shot at finally staying at what I have, since the age of 15, seen as the space-age looking ‘gateway’ to the magic. Of course, I am (redacted) years old now and I am a father so Bay Lake Tower also has the attractive quality of being within walking distance to the Magic Kingdom which would surely come in handy in avoiding hauling a stroller (within size limits of course) on and off the monorail. It has, from what I am told, one of the absolute best restaurants on property and I can also sit and watch the fireworks from the roof. If we go to Walt Disney World to be to enjoy the magic, I imagine that sitting up at the Top of the World lounge, with my family, great food, great drink and a perfect view of the fireworks would absolutely fulfil the dream of little 15-year-old me.
What about you? Which of the DVC resorts would you most like to stay at?