The Vacation Kingdom of the World: Vacation Resolutions for 2013by Tom Richards, contributing writer
New Year's resolutions are typically promises we never intend to keep. This year, in the spirit of starting the year off on a positive note, here are some Walt Disney World-related resolutions that will be a pleasure to keep as we look forward to Disney adventures in 2013 at the Vacation Kingdom of the World. Each item on the list is either something we've never experienced before or something we haven't experienced in years.
We love the atmosphere at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. The prices at most of the resort's restaurants, however, can be off-putting. This year, we hope to take advantage of the Afternoon Tea at the Garden View Lounge, something we have never made time to try. I was never much of a tea drinker until a sojourn at Cambridge University in England, where I learned to appreciate the tradition of a light meal at teatime. The offerings at the Garden View Lounge look tempting and reasonably priced. We plan on treating Grandma to a dress-up afternoon and a quiet, relaxing experience.
The Magic Behind Out Steam Trains Tour
"I have always loved trains," Walt Disney once famously said. From its initial visual inceptions, Disneyland was surrounded by a railroad. It was natural, then, to include this key element at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom as well. We haven't taken a Disney behind-the-scenes tour in years, so we plan on taking Grandpa on this one (he loves trains as much as Walt did). The highlight is sure to be the roundhouse where all the engines are serviced and stored. The added bonus? The monorail roundhouse is located directly above the railroad roundhouse.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
I am not a fan of the recent trend of Disneyfied Future World attractions. I long for the original spirit of EPCOT Center in its early years. As a result, I've avoided the former Living Seas pavilion since its reinvention as a spin-off of the popular Disney-Pixar film Finding Nemo. Now that my sons are 4 years old, however, I know they will be very interested in visiting this attraction along with "Turtle Talk with Crush." This resolution is really twofold: one, to visit the attraction and two, to keep an open mind and try to experience it all through the eyes of my sons rather than through the eyes of an adult who has overly romanticized the early days of EPCOT Center.
As a rule, we avoid character dining. Most are buffets, and none of us are big eaters. As a result, we never really feel that we get our "money's worth" from a buffet-style meal. Secondly, the character visits can be ill-timed and intrusive. Even the photos of family members and characters crowed around a table filled with half-eaten meals are awkward. With the exception of breakfast at the Crystal Palace (a sentimental favorite that reminds my family of Disney World visits of long ago), we typically stay clear of the all-you-care-to-eat-with-the-characters meals. This year, however, we've resolved to take the kids to Chef Mickey's for several compelling reasons. The kids love the "traditional" Disney characters, the Contemporary Resort is fun, and we recall meals with Chef Mickey at his former location at the old Disney Village Marketplace. With the right mindset, I am confident that a good time (and a good meal) will be had by all.
Renting boats from the many Disney resort marinas is sure to be a welcome break from theme park visits. There's really no better way to enjoy the great outdoors than to spend some quality time in the sun while coasting through the enchanting waterways of Walt Disney World.
Fine Dining in World Showcase
Epcot's World Showcase truly expanded my cultural horizons as a child and instilled in me a love of world travel that continues to enrich my life. When returning to Walt Disney World, we tend to revisit favorite dining locations rather than take a chance on something new. This year, we plan on dining at some of World Showcase's newest and highly regarded restaurants: Monsieur Paul in France, the Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in Italy, or Via Napoli also located in Italy. We hope to discover a new favorite or two this visit.
One Man's Dream
I love Disney history, and one place that still celebrates the Walt Disney Company's storied past is this small attraction located at Disney's Hollywood Studios. It's an attraction that does not necessarily appeal to every member in our family. After all, it's basically a very well designed museum exhibiting memorabilia related to the life of Walter Elias Disney and the company he founded. Still, I promise to treat myself to a leisurely visit this year to wallow in Disney memories, gaze at mementos from classic Disney films like 20,0000 Leagues Under the Sea and Mary Poppins, and stare in amazement at models of castles and attractions created by the artisans at Walt Disney Imagineering.
Tom Sawyer Island
One of my childhood joys was reading the classic adventure stories written by Mark Twain. Disney's loving re-creation of caves, hills, bridges, and rafts—located in the heart of the Magic Kingdom—is the perfect way to introduce the stories of Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher, and Huckleberry Finn to a new generation of kids. All too often, we forget to plan a visit to the island. It has special operating hours, which complicates things a little. Its appeal is also limited to certain members of our family. It's not to be missed, however, and I look forward to sharing its many wonders with my sons soon.
Purchase a Mickey Mouse Balloon on Main Street
There's something about the iconic image of a child holding one of those Mickey Mouse balloons that truly captures the "magic" of visiting Walt Disney World. Recently, Disney has resumed selling the classic double-balloon—a colorful Mickey Mouse head surrounded by a clear balloon. I know that the balloons are overpriced, they don't last very long, and they are very impractical. Still, they're fun—so I intend to purchase several.
What are your Disney related resolutions this year? Please feel free to add them below!