Living in Florida and a mere 2 1/2 hours away from Walt Disney World has afforded me the ability to make numerous trips to the Disney theme parks multiple times a year. Naturally, I have experienced much of what the Walt Disney World resort has to offer, but believe it or not, there is still plenty to do there that I’ve never experienced. In fact, I’m often asked, “Why do you go to Disney so much? Aren’t you tired of riding the same rides over and over again?” I actually rather enjoy explaining to these people that there is always something to experience for the first time at the Walt Disney World Resort regardless of how many times you’ve been. In fact, I even have a “Walt Disney World Bucket List”, and I’m going to share it with you.
1. Experience the Candlelight Processional at Epcot
The first item on my list is one that I’m almost ashamed, as a Disney fan, to admit to not have gotten around to experiencing yet. The Candlelight Processional has been amazing guests at Epcot during the Christmas season with celebrity narrators retelling the story of the birth of Jesus accompanied by a full choir and beautiful lighting and music since 1994. This is a show that has an undisputed reputation for being nothing short of breathtaking, but for some reason, I can never seem to make it over to The America Gardens Theater at Epcot to see it.
Part of the reason is, with the busy schedule my family tends to keep during this time of year, we usually only make it down briefly during the Christmas season. Since the show is immensely popular, it’s hard to work it into your day when you’re trying to experience all of the other amazing things there are to see in Walt Disney World during this time of year. The line for the Candlelight Processional gets so crowded that people start lining up during the first showing in order to go to the second showing. You can avoid some of this by booking a dining package, but that requires planning, which is something my family doesn’t really do a lot of on our trips to Disney. That being said, this one is at the top of my bucket list and it is one I’m hoping to check off very soon!
2. Stay at every Walt Disney World Resort hotel
I’m actually pretty close to achieving this one, but there are still a few resort hotels on property that I have yet to stay at for various reasons. For instance, I’ve never stayed at The Contemporary. This is mainly due to the price point of the hotel. If I’m going to stay at this hotel for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I want to stay in the main A-frame building just steps away from the monorail. Many people don’t know that there are external wings of The Contemporary (not including their DVC addition of Bay Lake Tower). The lower rates for this resort (which are still rather pricey by hotel standards) are generally for rooms in these outer wings apart from the main A-frame building. Usually, the pleasure of staying in the main building comes at an even heftier price tag, but I would still love to experience this at some point in my life.
Other resorts just haven’t been convenient for me to stay at yet. The Art of Animation resort is a value resort that opened in 2012, but a majority of the rooms at this resort are suites, which don’t fit my family of 4’s needs, and the individual rooms tend to book pretty quickly. Likewise, I have yet to find enough people to book a trip with me to justify staying in the 3 bedroom Treehouse Villas. Disney’s original DVC Resort, Old Key West, is one I’ve visited but never stayed at. The Key West theming doesn’t appeal to me as a Floridian, but I’m going to have to be content with theming that I see every day if I want to cross this item off of my Walt Disney World Bucket List.
3. Run a Walt Disney World full marathon
For many avid Disney fans, there’s no greater motivation to get out and be physically active than the opportunity to run through on-stage and off-stage areas of all 4 Walt Disney World theme parks in a Walt Disney World marathon. At one point in my life, I was pretty active in RunDisney events. I’ve completed 2 Walt Disney World half-marathons and I was actually registered for a Walt Disney World full marathon one year. I ended up not being able to run and went down to cheer on other runners instead. Over the years, I’ve allowed life to get in the way of my running, but I’m eager to get back in shape and do another half-marathon soon. If that goes well, maybe I’ll take another shot at the full marathon.
4. Eat at every Walt Disney World resort restaurant
This one is going to be extremely challenging to mark off my list, and it will never be permanently marked off my list. However, I will certainly enjoy trying! There are so many fantastic places to eat on property. Some have great food, some have great atmosphere, and some actually have both. There are some experiences that I’ve enjoyed more than others over the years, but I always enjoy eating somewhere I’ve never been before on property. One restaurant that is at the top of my “must try” list is Narcoosee’s located at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. Having seen the menu and heard reviews of this experience, it definitely seems like I can’t go wrong with this one. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy upscale seafood overlooking the Seven Seas Lagoon and Magic Kingdom?
Collect all 26 letters of the Disney character alphabet pin set (pictured below)
I’m not really an avid pin collector, but some time ago, I did get into doing some casual pin trading. I generally don’t purchase pins (unless there’s just an awesome pin that I really want), because the fun for me is all in the act of trading them in the parks. I enjoy hunting for them and then interacting with cast members when we trade.
Now, there are several different alphabet sets out there featuring Disney characters, but the set pictured above has special significance to me. First, it is the first alphabet set that I decided I was going to start collecting back in 2011. The reason I decided I was going to start collecting them had to do with the fact that my wife and I were expecting our first child. I told myself that I would have fun trading and collecting all of the letters of the Disney alphabet and then hang them in a shadow box frame on the wall of the nursery.
I discovered that, as I collected them, I began to relate a story and an experience with each one. For instance, I found the letter “P” pin, featuring Penny from The Rescuers, one day at Epcot when it began pouring down rain and we were waiting for the rain to stop inside one of the shops in the France pavilion. So, the pins took on an even more significant meaning.
I only have one more pin left to collect. My son is now 6 and, as more and more time passes and more and more new pin sets are released, it gets harder to find the pins from this set in the parks. However, it is still on my Bucket List to complete the set on one of my many trips to the Walt Disney World Resort.
There are many reasons why Walt Disney World continues to be a favorite vacation destination for my family and I including: nostalgia and childhood memories, proximity to home, and timeless attractions. But the thing that makes the Walt Disney World Resort such a fantastic repeat experience is the fact that you’ll never experience every single thing it has to offer; not in a week, 2 weeks, or even a month. There is always something new to experience that we just haven’t gotten around to yet….and I hope there always is.
What items are on your Walt Disney World Bucket List? List them in the comments below.