Years ago, as we were first discovering exactly how much we enjoyed returning to Florida again and again, we found ourselves wishing we had a few of our favorite things here... favorite bedding, a coffee maker, an autograph book, comforts of home. We longed for the kind of things that are delightful to have on vacation, but impractical to bring on vacation.
Enter one of our favorite entrepreneurial success stories: Owner's Locker. John Van Meter correctly perceived the desire of many Disneyphiles to have ready access to the comforts of home while visiting central Florida. He launched Owner's Locker to fill that need. Owner's Locker rents heavy duty purple plastic storage bins to customers, which they can fill with virtually anything they can imagine. When a customer arrives in Florida, Owner's Locker delivers the customer's bin to the hotel or vacation rental of their choice. When the guest departs, Owner's Locker picks the bin back up and stores it safely in an air-conditioned warehouse until the customer's next visit.
For us, our little flock of personal bins made the difference in Florida feeling like a vacation destination and feeling like home. You might say our lockers helped us decide to buy Kilimanjaro Cottage. It is a great comfort arriving at Kilimanjaro Cottage and finding our lockers here waiting for us. It's like being greeted by old friends.
If you visit Florida regularly, we highly recommend checking out Owner's Locker's website: www.ownerslocker.com
...or give them a call: 800-431-6588
One of the things our family loves about visiting Florida is the time we spend together. In addition to the fun and excitement of the parks, going to Florida allows us to leave most of the busyness of our normal routines behind and relax in a way we can’t quite seem to do at home.
We are far more likely to read a good book, all gather around to play a game, or spend time with other similar joyfully unproductive pursuits.
We have equipped Kilimanjaro Cottage to help our guests enjoy this aspect of a Florida vacation, too. In addition to flat screen televisions in all three bedrooms and the living room, visitors will find a variety of books, family board games and card games and puzzles placed around the Cottage for their enjoyment. Enjoy!
We are big believers in not doing marathon "forced march" days at Disney. We each pick a favorite thing we want to do on any given day, and treat everything else we do as a bonus. There are a number of excellent crowd forecast websites, that can give you a very good idea of how big the crowds will be at each park on any given day.
Another part of crowd strategy is having favorite low-crowd/short line attractions in each park.
For our family, these would include:
Epcot: Spaceship Earth, Living with the Land, Living Seas with Nemo and Friends, green version of Mission Space, Agent P's World Showcase Adventure, the Tres Caballeros boat ride in Mexico, the Taiko drummers in Japan, and the Impressions de France movie in France. The food is very good in China, the pizza place in Italy, Japan, Morocco, France and Britain. Higher demand ride favorites (which we fast pass) are Soarin' and Test Track.
Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Midway Mania is a great attraction, but absolutely requires a fast pass, even with the newly opened third track. Star Tours is fun, and varies from an easy walk on to a fast pass ride, depending on crowd size. The Frozen sing along show is fun.
Magic Kingdom. Our no wait favorites include Mickey's Philharmagic, The People Mover, the train, Swiss Family Robinson treehouse and the Monsters Incorporated Laugh Floor. The new Fantasy Land attractions, and the famous favorites (Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Small World, Peter Pan, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean) all need fast passes.
Animal Kingdom. We always fast pass the Kilimanjaro Safari, but in all but peak times, you can usually ride this with a minimal wait even without a fast pass. The Pangani Forest Trail and the Maharaja Jungle Trek are both great, and have no wait. The Flights of Wonder bird show is surprisingly good, and has no wait. Expedition Everest is a fun roller coaster, but requires a fast pass candidate.
While some queues are better than others, it is possible to have a fulfilling Disney vacation which is fun for the whole family without ever standing in line for more than ~30 minutes at a time.
Disney World is our family’s place of sanctuary. It has been for years.
We love travelling, and at different times have enjoyed a variety of destinations: Europe (before kids and 9/11), California (while Kirsten’s grandmother was living), East Texas (while my grandmother was living). While we have always gone other places, for the last ten years or so Florida has been our family’s place of sanctuary and recharge. It is our place of selah. In Florida, we have fewer demands on our time and our attention. We unplug. We rest. We simply enjoy one another’s company.
We have celebrated triumphs, accomplishments, birthdays and anniversaries in Florida. We celebrated the successful conclusion to my Mom’s chemo there in 2011 (she rode in both a race car and a biplane). We have mourned losses and recuperated from tragedies in Florida. We have made friends and sunk roots. We have reconnected with long lost friends.
We have seen rockets and astronauts blast into space. We have hiked, kayaked, driven and flown. We have enjoyed both coasts. We have picked oranges. We have pet dolphins (some now famous). We have the autographs of princesses and amazing creatures. We have fond memories of attractions now gone, and are anxiously anticipating new attractions.
We are asked frequently why we don’t move to Florida. We love finding sanctuary in Florida, but we love living in Texas, and we love our family and friends in Texas. We will never leave. But after years of exploring the idea, we decided this year the time was right to own a second home in the Sunshine State. We purchased a townhome as close as we could get to Walt Disney World. We have stayed in many of Disney’s “on property” resort hotels, as well as many vacation rentals around the Disney World area. We invested a decade’s worth of experience in the decision and purchased a lovely townhome in a resort community just minutes from Disney World which we knew we would enjoy and would enjoy sharing with friends.
We are now well along in the process of renovating our new second home to be a vacation destination rivalling our favorite Disney resorts, yet with far greater room, which we can offer to guests at a fraction of resort hotel prices.
We have just returned home from a two week trip to apply the HGTV home renovation lessons we have learned over a decade’s worth of Florida trips. We look forward to this next chapter in our family’s time in the sunshine state, and invite you to visit our Kilimanjaro Cottage when you are planning your next Florida vacation.