Tag: Walt Disney World Planning

How to Become a Wilderness Explorer at Walt Disney World

Wilderness Explorer program at Disney's Animal Kingdom

“A Wilderness Explorer is a friend to all, be it plants or fish or tiny mole.”

If you’ve ever watched the Disney/Pixar film, “Up”, then you know how important being a Wilderness Explorer is to Russell.  Earning all those badges can be hard work!  Did you know that your little explorer can become an Official Wilderness Explorer while visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

Today we celebrate Earth Day.  The day where the world shows its support for environmental protection, is a perfect day to share with you information about Walt Disney World’s Wilderness Explorer program.  This educational and challenging activity involves your child participating on a self-guided adventure throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.  During his adventure, he can earn more than 30 different sticker badges to complete the 40 page Wilderness Explorers Handbook. The handbook and miniature challenges are included with the cost of your park ticket, so don’t worry about any extra fees.  It’s up to your child and, of course your family’s schedule, as to how many badges he earns in one trip to the park. Explorers are not required to fill the entire book in one day.

Wilderness Explorer HandbookThis past fall, my son Gavin became a Wilderness Explorer.  During our visit at Animal Kingdom, we stumbled upon the Wilderness Explorer sign-up kiosk located on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island.  We noticed a bunch of children yelling “Caw Caw Roar“, so headed over to check it out.  There Gavin met a Troop Leader and a Badge Guide.  They welcomed him into the program and helped him earn his first badge, “The Wilderness Explorer Call Badge”.  Then his Troop Leader handed him a pencil and a handbook, which included a map showing all the badge-earning challenges he had before him, and sent him on his way.  We quickly discovered that we could spend more than an entire day earning badges, but didn’t have quite enough time that day to complete them all.  So we decided to complete badge-earning challenges which were at the attractions that our family already predetermined to see that day.  The one badge-earning experience that really stood out from the rest was at Conservation Station.

Disney World September October 2013 259At Conservation Station Wilderness Explorers can earn a handful of important badges in one location!

Conservation Station was where Gavin learned about conserving natural resources, caring for our planet Earth and the animals that inhabit it.  During the years of working at Walt Disney World and then over a dozen trips to parks after moving back to Pennsylvania, I never took the time to go to this attraction before our Wilderness Explorer day.  What a mistake that was!  It’s a wonderful experience where learning meets fun.  Of course it is, this is what Disney does best!

Disney World September October 2013 269Although earning badges was fun for Gavin, Victoria spent her entire time at Conservation Station brushing the animals.  Don’t forget to wash your hands when you leave this station.  You’re child will earn his “Hand Washing Badge”.

Gavin truly enjoyed participating in the Wilderness Explorer program.  We plan to take his handbook with us the next time we visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom park and we’ll complete some new challenges until he’s earned all the badges to complete his handbook.

I encourage you to stop by the Wilderness Explorer sign-up kiosk during your next trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  When you do, tell them we said “Caw Caw Roar!”

Wilderness Explorer discoveries




Top Five Free Children’s Activities at Walt Disney World

Free adventures at Disney World

Vacationing at Walt Disney World isn’t cheap.  It’s nice to know that there are things you can enjoy in your down time from the parks that won’t add to your vacation expenses.  Today I’d like to share with you and your family our family’s top five things to do at The Walt Disney World Resort that are free for all guests to experience.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

1. Disney’s Boardwalk Entertainment

Varying from day-to-day, you will often find jugglers, magic shows and other street entertainment while walking along the Boardwalk.  Our favorite time to visit Disney’s Boardwalk Resort is in the evening.  When Epcot’s world-famous “Illuminations” show fills the night air with a beautiful display of fireworks you can see the fireworks from the Boardwalk.  If you’d like to explore Disney’s Boardwalk, and you’re staying on Disney property, you can get there by taking a bus to the Disney Hollywood Studios.  To the right of the park’s entrance you’ll find a boat launch, which can take you to Disney’s Boardwalk Resort.  If you’d like to walk to the resort instead of taking the boat, there is an illuminated path to stroll along.   If you’d prefer to drive there, you’ll find Disney’s Boardwalk Resort located in the Epcot Resort Area.  At the security gate of the resort, let the officer know that you’d like to check out the Boardwalk’s entertainment and he will tell you where you can park.

Free Adventures at Walt Disney World


Riding the monorail does NOT require a theme park ticket.  We love taking a ride on the monorail simply to enjoy the sights.  The monorail track has two different routes.  In the Magic Kingdom Resort area the Resort Monorail will stop at The Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, The Transportation and Ticket Center, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.  If you get off of the monorail at the TTC you can hop the rails over to the Epcot monorail route.  The kids love to ride and look out the window.  I enjoy getting off at the different resorts to check out themed décor and of course, their shops!  Warning, the shops may result in spending…

Electrical Water PageantPhoto credit: auntie rain / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

3. Electrical Water Pageant

The Electrical Water Pageant has captivated guests with its beautiful pageantry of lighted floats synchronized to a fun musical score since 1971.  I remember seeing it as a child during the 1980s when my family stayed at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground.  Now when I visit WDW with my family, we often watch the show at Disney’s Contemporary Resort or Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Regardless of where or when I’ve watched the dolphins dance across the water or saw the Crocodile chomp away, it’s always magical.   Every evening the parade performs in six different locations on the two waterways located in the Magic Kingdom Resort area, Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon.  This would be a perfect show to catch if you’re visiting resorts off of the monorail loop one evening.  As a reminder, there’s no cost to watch the pageant!  To find out more information about the pageant, such as show times and locations, please visit the link below.  It will take you directly to the Electrical Water Pageant page on Walt Disney World’s website.



4. The Lego Store at Downtown Disney

My son LOVES this place.  Located outside of The Lego Store at Downtown Disney is a wonderful Lego construction area for kids to create their own race cars and then put them to the test against each other.  The photo above of my son and nephew building their cars, shows an example of one of the several tables with Lego building supplies that are stationed through the common area.

IMG_2434I apologize for the poor quality of the Lego Store images.  They were last-minute photos with my cell phone.  Regardless, I think you can see from these photos, this is serious business for the little builders.  They’d race and rebuild and then race again.  No lie, the boys would have played for more than an hour if we did not move them along to another store.

DSCF87575. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground Settlement/ Marina Area

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground is truly a gem that is often overlooked when planning at Disney vacation.  There are so many fun and unique activities that you can do at this resort that I’d highly recommend all Disney vacation planners to take a look at this resort’s line up of fun experiences.  However, today I’d like to share with you the “free” activities that we like to experience at The Fort.

A Disney vacation can be, at times, overwhelming to small children.  Midweek during our vacation we always plan a couple hour excursion during the day to Fort Wilderness.  When in the Magic Kingdom Resort Area the best way to get there is by boat, the boat ride alone is wonderfully relaxing.  Then when we dock at the marina we head to the playground.  It’s simple, with a few swings and a climbing area, but it’s just what a little Mouseketeer needs to have a bit of down time.  Each time we visit we go during the day in the middle of the week, so there’s hardly any resort guests around.


Within the Settlement area is ton of things to experience.  To name a few, you can visit the Tri-Circle-D Ranch Stables to see ponies and horses, shop at The Settlement Trading Post (obviously this could cost you some money) or check out the Fort’s restaurants (again you may end up opening your wallet.)   Our family believes that hidden inside The Settlement area is the Fort’s hidden gem, Trails End Restaurant.  We’ve often eaten there for lunch.  There’s no wait time and the food is fantastic.  On the beautiful wrap around porch you’ll find games of checkers and building blocks for you and your children to play with.  In the evenings I’m certain they’re used by restaurant guests, but during the afternoon, when guests are at the parks the porch is empty and waiting for fun to be had.  Last but not least, enjoy a stroll on the beautiful sands of the marina’s beach.  During our walks at the Fort we’ve even come across an armadillo or two!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s review of my family’s top five picks for Fun Free activities at Walt Disney World.  Is there a free activity that you like to do while on vacation at Walt Disney World?  If so, I’d love for you to share!

Have a Fantastic Friday Everyone!

The Magical Reasons Our Family Loves Bay Lake Tower

Bay Lake Tower and The Contemporary Resort “Our Building”

Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is my family’s favorite resort at Walt Disney World. We stay there so often that my six year old son, Gavin, refers to Bay Lake Tower as “Our Building”. From the monorail, to Chef Mickeys, to the background sounds of a steam train’s whistle blowing nearby, to the side walk leading to the Magic Kingdom’s gates, to the beaconing boat dock by Bay Lake, every corner of the Tower leads to adventure. For my family, it’s the tower of our own Disney castle nestled nicely next to Cindy’s!

Today I’ll share with you the many magical reasons that my family choses to stay at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. You’ll read about the convenience. You’ll read about the fun. You’ll read about the potential money savings. And of course, you’ll read about the Magic!

walkway to Magic KingdomConvenience

My husband and I have two small children, 6 years old and 2 years old. The Magic Kingdom is our most frequented park during each vacation. Our mornings are as close to stress free as could be possible. There is no rushing to the bus stop in hopes that we don’t miss the next bus to the Magic Kingdom. We simply take the elevator downstairs, walk out our door and stroll along our side walk which leads us straight to the Magic Kingdom . Then, as the evening comes to a close and our feet are tired of walking, we hop on a monorail and get off at the first stop, The Contemporary Resort.  BLT (Bay Lake Tower) is connected to the Contemporary by a walkway located on the Concourse Level of the main Contemporary building.  The Concourse level is where you’ll catch the monorail and it’s also home to the famous Chef Mickey’s Restaurant and Contempo Café, a quick service dining option. So to get to our room all we have to do is roll our stroller off the monorail, walk across the walkway, hit the elevator button for our floor and we’re home.

Chef Mickey’s is the 2nd most popular character dining experience at Walt Disney World. Each year we kick off our first full day of our Disney vacation by having breakfast with the characters at Chef Mickey’s. We leave our room fifteen minutes before our reservation time and moments later we’re at the check-in desk of the restaurant. If you are not staying at a Magic Kingdom Resort, getting to the early morning breakfast reservations for Chef Mickey’s can sometimes be challenging, especially if you do not have a vehicle. There are no direct buses to the Contemporary from other Disney Resorts. With small children, mornings are stressful enough without adding the pressure of lengthy transportation ordeal to get to the Contemporary. For example, if you’re staying at the Coronado Springs Resort you would take a bus to Downtown Disney then transfer to a bus to the Contemporary, or take a bus to the Magic Kingdom and walk over to the Resort.

Another convenience of BLT is that Epcot is an easy and fun ride to the Transportation and Ticket Center and then a skip over to the Epcot Monorail. Traveling by monorail is massively convenient if you have an infant or a young child. Little ones love riding the monorail. It’s not out of the norm to hear that the monorail is a little Mouseketeer’s “favorite ride at Disney”! Also, strollers do not have to be collapsed for you to ride this mode of transportation. This is especially convenient if your child is taking his or her nap at the time.

Most importantly, Bay Lake Tower is a Disney Vacation Club Resort. Since it is part of the DVC family of resorts, all rooms have extra amenities, such as a kitchenette in the studio rooms and a full size kitchen in the one, two and three bedroom grand villas. Although this is a DVC Resort, you do not have to be a Disney Vacation Club member to stay at Bay Lake Tower.


Bay Lake Tower offers a variety of fun adventures.  In this photo my husband and our son wait on the boat dock for a boat to take them to Fort Wilderness Campground where we’ll check out the playground and animals.

Fun Adventures

An entire post could be dedicated to fun adventures to be had while staying on property at any of Disney’s resorts. However, today I’ll share the fun adventures that my family enjoys while staying at BLT.

After checking into our resort, the first thing we do is drop off our carry-on luggage in our room, check out our view of the castle and monorail, and then head to the monorail platform for a ride. Due to travel, our first day at WDW is often a half day, so we try to do some fun things that don’t require using a full day’s park ticket. Although the monorail is used to get to two of Disney’s four main theme parks, it also stops at three resorts, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Contemporary Resort. We enjoy stopping at each Resort to explore their gift shops, restaurants and entertainment.

Another fun exploration that’s a must do for my family is riding a boat from our boat launch over to the Fort Wilderness Campground where we let loose and explore. Our son loves to play at the beach, then move to the playground, followed by checking out the animals and he’s even frequented their arcade. The Fort seems to move at a much slower pace. They have less crowds in the middle of the afternoon, so it makes for a great place to go for a brief escape from the over stimulating environment that children are in while at the parks.

Once we return back to “Our Building” we stop in at Community Hall to check out the week’s special events and projects. The Community Hall is usually very quiet when we stop in during the day, so our son has the place to himself, pick out coloring pages, check out their movies and games. One great activity that is preschooler friendly and that they seem to do often, is make your own pillowcase or pirate treasure bag. We also note the movies that will be playing that week at our resort.

Having a young children that have an early bed time, we haven’t yet taken advantage of the following fun adventure, but I thought I would mention it, in case you have an older child that could enjoy the event. During the evenings, outside of Bay Lake Tower and the Contemporary, located in a nice open area, between the two buildings and close to the boat launch area, a Disney movie is shown on a huge screen for families to watch. I look forward to the future when I can take our children to one of those showings. I’m certain they will think it’s pretty cool.

IMG_2416And we can’t forget the awesome slide at the pool!  Not pictured in this photo is a wonderful splash area separate from the pool, perfect for toddlers and preschool age children.

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In the above photo Gavin intently watches the monorail while finishing up breakfast in our 2 bedroom villa at BLT.

Money Saving Potential

Since Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a Disney Vacation Club Resort, many of the conveniences of home can be found at the Resort and some even in your room. The resort has four types of rooms, Deluxe Studios, One Bedrooms, Two Bedroom, and Three Bedroom Grand Villas. The Deluxe Studio is the type of accommodation that we have recently chosen, since our family consists of four. In previous years, we have stayed in the Two Bedroom when we stayed with additional members of our extended family. Both types of accommodations at Bay Lake Tower were fantastic. In regards to saving money, the Deluxe Studio and the Two Bedroom saved us a lot of money when it came to purchasing food in the parks.

The Deluxe Studio at Bay Lake Tower has a kitchenette, which we used everyday. It includes a small refrigerator, a kitchen sink, microwave, coffee pot, toaster and a pull out pantry. The kitchenette area is stocked with plastic utensils and paper products, including paper plates and bowls. Other than the morning that we eat at Chef Mickey’s, we eat our breakfast in our room before leaving for the parks. It’s so nice to sit on the balcony and watch the park come to life in the morning. You can see the Monorails start zipping on their rail, hear the whistle of the steam engine warming up for its day, and watch as the astro-orbiter prepares for approaching passengers, all as you munch on a bagel and sip your tea. With the close proximity to the Magic Kingdom, we would eat one other meal at our resort each day. The short walk or monorail ride back to the resort allowed us to do this without missing too much of our day. On occasion, we would sneak in a quick nap for everyone.

The One, Two and Three Bedroom Villas all have full size fully equip kitchens with a small dining area and a spacious living room. It’s wonderful to have that extra space if you have a large family or are traveling in a group.

In addition, they have a washer and dryer within the one, two and three bedroom villas. The Deluxe Studios do not have the washer and dryer but there is a laundry facility at Bay Lake Tower and it is free for guests to use. I find that this has saved our family money. We usually travel by plane, so when we do we have to watch how much stuff we pack. Checking luggage can really add up to a large expense with multiple people in your family needing to check bags. We make sure that we take only enough clothing to cover three or four days, then we do laundry on our day off, usually the middle of our week.

As I mentioned many times earlier, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a Disney Vacation Club Resort. Our family members are DVC members. We use our membership to the fullest and know that it has saved us a lot of money. Honestly,we would not be able to afford to stay at this magnificent resort without our ownership. If you are a Disney Fan and love to travel to Walt Disney World and stay on Disney property, take the time to look into the membership. The DVC tours, that are done on Walt Disney World property, are stress free and fun. It could save you thousands too.

Disney World September October 2013 018


The one word to sum up staying at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is magical. Each night the resort is in the middle to two special evening events, Wishes and The Electrical Water Pageant. Since there are several types of views at Bay Lake Tower, each room experiences a different view of the events.

The resort rooms are booked under the following “views”, Theme Park View, Standard View, and Bay Lake View. I’ve come to find out that there is another view labeled “obstructed” but this is not an option to book. The resort rooms are broken down into the following percentages, 25% of the rooms are considered Theme Park View, 25% are Standard View, and 50% of the rooms are Bay Lake View. On one occasion, we booked a Bay Lake View and were given an Obstructed View. This view was fantastic for us. We had a view of the Magic Kingdom but also some of Bay Lake.

Disney Easter Disney Birthday 025The theme park view in a Studio Villa during the day.

Most of our stays have been in a Studio with a Theme Park View. We enjoy staying in our room and using the balcony to view Wishes. The kids’ favorite part is seeing Tinkerbell fly!   After my children and husband are fast asleep, I enjoy a silent moment, soaking in the sight of Cinderella’s beautiful castle lit up for the evening. It’s simply breath taking and a site that I wish I could capture with a camera.

One or two evenings during our stay, my husband or I take the kids with us as we walk over the Skyway Bridge to The Contemporary Resort. Gavin’s tall enough that he can see over the railing of the bridge to view the Electrical Water Pageant. Of all the parades he has seen, this is favorite. The only down side is that the pageant stops at the resort a bit late for little ones, so he doesn’t get to see it every night.

For those Disney Vacation Club Members not staying in a Theme Park View but wanting to see Wishes at the resort, they are in for an extra magical treat. At the Top of the World Lounge located at the rooftop deck of Bay Lake Tower, DVC members staying at the resort are able to take in the sights of Wishes while listing to the music of Wishes in sync with Magic Kingdom firework display. The view is amazing and one of the most magical on property.

From rooftop to balcony, no matter what room we may stay in at Bay Lake Tower, my family believes “Our Building” is the most magical in the “World”. We hope you enjoy your next vacation to Walt Disney World and hope you get the opportunity to discover for yourself the magic at Bay Lake Tower.

If you have any questions regarding Bay Lake Tower, I’d love to answer them!  You can leave them in the comments section, or email me at info@mouseearsmom.com .

I hope you have a Magical Day!

Mouse Ears Mom’s Tour of The Villa’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Disney 2014 055 Have you seen Disney Vacation Club’s newest addition?

My family is full of devoted Disney Vacation Club members.  My parents became members in 2001, while I worked for Disney Vacation Club.  My husband and I were next to purchase points, soon to be followed by both of my brothers and their families.  There has never been a DVC point among us that has had a chance to expire.  When we reach the midpoint day of each vacation, we start planning our next trip to Walt Disney World.

Each family has their favorite DVC resort, my husband and I, along with our monorail-loving kids, refer to Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort as home.  The resort offers everything we could dream of needing or wanting in a resort.  So to say the least, when I curiously walked up to the new villas at “The Grand”, I didn’t expect to be overly impressed.  My heart already belonged to BLT.  Knowing that The Villas at the Grand were essentially part of “The Grand” Resort, I did anticipate they would be nice.  However,  The Villas were nothing short of phenomenal!  That’s all I can say.  I’m not an interior designer.  I know little about building materials, fabrics, and hardware, so I’m not even going to try to “Review” the resort.  Instead, I’ll share with you the photos that I took while touring the Studio, One Bedroom and Two Bedroom Villas.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my good camera with me and it was in the evening, so I apologize for the quality of the images.

Lobby Fountain  The Disney décor touches were themed primarily Mary Poppins.  This Mary Poppin’s Penguins fountain is located in the heart of the lobby.

Disney 2014 061In the center of the lobby, located directly above the fountain, there are two of these enormous chandeliers.

Disney 2014 059Above each of the glimmering gold elevators, you can find Miss Poppin’s Parrot Umbrella ready to help you fly to your room’s floor.

Studio Villa Pictures

Disney 2014 072Disney 2014 071These photos are of the bathroom area located within a Studio location.  When facing the vanity, there is a free-standing shower at the right and at the left is the bathtub and toilet.  In the photo of the vanity area take note of the mirror.  You can see in the bottom right hand corner of the mirror there is a TV.  Talk about a great distraction to use when trying to get a toddler’s teeth brushed!

Disney 2014 067Queen-size bed located in the Studio Villa.

studio Above the queen-size sleeper sofa is Mary Poppin’s themed artwork.

Disney 2014 066This Dumbo-themed twin-size sleeper is a great addition to the DVC studio format.  It allows for five people to sleep in the Studio Villa, instead of the traditional four people.

Disney 2014 068I fell in love with the understated color scheme of The Villas at the Grand.  Here is a close up of the material used within the Studio Villa.

Here’s some photos of the One-Bedroom Villa.

The One-Bedroom also sleeps up to five people.


Notice to the right of the stove is a large white cabinet.  This is actually the refrigerator.  To the left of the sink, in an other large white cabinet is the dishwasher.

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In this photo you can see the kitchen’s eat-in dining area.  The wall behind the nook is the division wall for the living area.

living room one bedroom

 Aren’t the Minnie and Mickey Mouse silhouettes on the wall adorable?  The couch is a queen-size sleeper sofa and the chair is a twin-size sleeper sofa.

one bedroom master bedroom walk-in closetIn the master bedroom there is a walk-in closet, equip with a personal safe.  If you have an infant who needs a pack-n-play, this is where you’ll find it.

Master bath tubThis photo of the master bath tub does not do it justice.  The tub is a claw-foot tub.

vanity in master bathThis vanity is in the Master Bathroom.

Toilet in the master bathroomAs you tell from this photo, the toilet area is separate from the bath tub and vanity.

Hallway to the Studio (second bedroom)After existing the toilet area into the common area, you’ll find the hallway to take you back into the kitchen on the left or if you have booked a Two-Bedroom Villa, this hallway will lead you to the door you see opened.  When walking through that door you’re entering into a Studio room, which is considered the second bedroom in a Two-Bedroom Villa.

The Two-Bedroom Villa sleeps up to ten people.

What I haven’t shown you in these photos is my absolute favorite thing about this resort- the view!  Since I toured the villas in the evening I couldn’t get a good photo of the balcony attached to the rooms.  The view of the Magic Kingdom was, in fact, GRAND.  In all the times that I visited the parks and gazed at Cinderella’s Castle, I’ve never seen it so picturesque.  I wish I could have captured the view with my camera.  It is one that I won’t soon forget and I wish I could have shared it with you!

Regardless, I hope you enjoyed my little tour of The Villa’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.  If you’ve stayed there, I’d love to hear about your experience!  Please feel free to tell us about it in the comments below or connect with me on Facebook.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today and I hope you have a happy Sunday!

Our Family’s Experience at The Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

TreehouseLooks inviting, doesn’t it?

Disney’s newly designed Treehouse Villas opened at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa in 2009. The Treehouse Villa’s floor plan is fantastic.  There are three bedrooms, two beautiful bathrooms and a large open-plan living/dining/kitchen area.  The living room area has a full size pull out bed sofa and chair that pulls out into a twin size bed.  The dining area has a large dining room table that seats at least six and a bar off of the kitchen area, which seats three.  Knowing how gorgeous these spaces are, why you might ask, did it take us four years to finally stay an evening in a treehouse?   The reason is that we LOVE to stay at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower at The Contemporary Resort, which coincidently also opened in 2009.  It was hard parting ways with our beloved BLT to stay in another resort, even if it was only for one night.  However, being a family of rebels, we were ready for this adventure and of course, extremely curious about sleeping in a tree!  The Treehouse Villas sleep nine people, so my brother, sister-in-law and niece shared this journey with us.  This “review” of the Treehouse Villas is totally and completely my opinion of our experience during our short stay.

Disney World September October 2013 366The common area inside and outside of the Treehouse Villa is abundant.

The number one benefit of the villa is that it’s an awesome place to entertain.  The layout of the floor plan optimizes the space to allow a large area for families to gather and enjoy each other’s company.  Although we had 8 people checked into our villa, my parents, other sibling with his family of four and a close family friend with her daughter spent time together socializing together that evening.  That’s a total 15 people using the inside of the villa and outside deck space to have a wonderful time and we didn’t feel cramped at all.


Before staying in the treehouse I googled images of the units.  I can honestly tell you that the photos that I saw, and the ones you’re seeing in this post, do not do the place justice.  They simply can not capture the rustic, but yet contemporary feel of the space.

Master Bedroom’s Bathroom

Bathroom in Master Bedroom

Second Bathroom, separate from the second and third bedrooms

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There is a total of two bathrooms and three bedrooms.  If we had nine adults staying in this villa, we would have needed three bathrooms to feel comfortable, but since we only had four adults in our party, the two bathrooms suited our needs.

Master Bedroom

What you can’t see in the below photos is that each room has a flat screen TV, making a total of four flat screen TVs in one treehouse.  The ceiling is also vaulted in the Master Bedroom and the bathroom is behind the door directly to the left side of the bed .  It’s an amazing room!

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The Second and Third Bedrooms

Each room sleeps two people.  One room is equip with a queen size bed and the other room has bunk beds.  These rooms are smaller than the master bedroom but acceptable for our family.

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Overall Review of the Villa

Sleeping “with the birds” was a peaceful experience.  Waking up in the morning, there were no sounds of buses going by or other families running around above or outside of our room.  We couldn’t even hear my brother and his family, and they stayed in the same treehouse villa!  If you’re family would like to stay in a somewhat secluded getaway, the Treehouse Villas is a beautiful option.

Would I recommend this resort for a family’s first trip to Walt Disney World?

Absolutely not.  Disney’s transportation system for the Villas is horrible.  There’s one bus route that travels throughout the Villa section of Saratoga Springs.  You have to take this bus to the main building at Saratoga Springs to then get another bus to take to any park.  Plan on waiting ALOT.  Getting to any of Disney’s four theme parks will take close to an hour of your precious vacation time.  If you rent a car while on vacation, your travel time will be better, but do you really want to take your car everywhere you go?

Location, Location, Location

Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa is located in the Downtown Disney District.  There’s a walking path that leads you to downtown Disney and also a water ferry that can take you there.  It’s a pretty walk or boat ride, but again it takes time.  It took us about twenty minutes to walk to the Downtown Disney West Side.  Of course, your walking time will depend on where your Treehouse Villa is located in the treehouse section of the resort.

In addition to the travel time, we experienced a bit of a bug problem outside as soon as the sun went down.  The treehouses are located in a wetland area, so of course it should be expected.  Unfortunately, we weren’t prepared. So although our little boat ride to Downtown Disney was beautiful, the boat’s passengers were actually part of a buffet for mosquitoes.  Our poor children’s legs were a mess with bites.  The inside of the villa wasn’t full of bugs, but I did see an extra-large bug scurry out of the sink drain.

 Would My Family Ever Stay in a Treehouse Villa Again?

Possibly.  As I mentioned earlier, the villas are a perfect choice to have a large group of people gather.  If multiple families or friends decided to meet at Walt Disney World for a family reunion, I’d chose this resort option.  Honestly, that’s the only reason we’d return there.  As you may have guessed by this point, our next stay at the Walt Disney Resort will be back in our home away from home, Bay Lake Tower.  We miss it already!

Does your family have a favorite Disney Resort?   I’d love for you to share why it’s your favorite resort in the comments below.

If you’d like more information on Disney’s Treehouse Villa’s, stop by Disney’s site.  Here’s a link that will take you straight to Saratoga Spring Resort’s page.  https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/saratoga-springs-resort-and-spa/rates-rooms/