Reflections on My First Walt Disney World Resort Adventure in 18 Years!

It had been 18 years since I last went to Disney. I was 10 years old, and while I still had fond and unforgettable memories of Epcot and Cinderella’s Castle, I couldn’t recall everything in great detail. I knew when I left after the first time I would return someday, but we just got around to it now. 

Pre-Trip Anxiety before Disney World

I had some anxiety about the trip. It had been so long since I went on a vacation. I was thinking about all the other ways I could’ve spent $3200. But as the day finally came, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was ready for the break in the routine I had found so safe in the three years since the pandemic.

After a long trip in a van rented by my family, we made it to the entrance of the hotel parking lot. I was immediately in awe of the Caribbean Beach Resort. And when we spoke to the cast member checking our car in, he hit us with a “Welcome Home.” A phrase I didn’t know would hold so much weight until we were driving away. 

Before I get into the experience, I need to preface this by saying I had yet to learn of the room types, resort types, and other things I wish I had known or researched before going. Since I was a child, my last visit, going as an adult with a child of my own, made Disney a whole new world. Most of what I learned about the parks, resorts, food, and app functionality I learned as I went over my week stay.

Staying at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort 

We were staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort in three separate rooms. I really enjoyed my stay here. The rooms are underwhelming, but that matters little to me since it’s where we sleep. The view of the sky-liner, the vibrant colors, the music, the smells, and the bridge connecting some of the further sections to the main lobby was all wonderful. I felt like I was in a tropical Tomorrowland. 

Caribbean Beach Resort Photo
Caribbean Beach Resort Photo

A major complaint about this resort is how large it is, and as someone who walks regularly, it wouldn’t be an issue for me. But I was humbled quickly. My 10k daily steps did not match the 30k daily steps I clocked in the parks. By day two, I developed “Disney Blisters” on the bottom of my feet. The walk to grab a snack after a full day in the park became a chore. That was only at night when my body already cooled down from the day’s adrenaline, though. When the sun would rise, I was ready to walk around the resort and enjoy its beauty before hopping on the bus or sky-liner to the parks. 

Overall, for a “moderate” resort, it felt like a deluxe experience (which I have yet to actually experience). Hands down the most beautiful resort I have stayed in my life. When I discovered that there are deluxe resorts and CBR was moderate, it made my mind run wild. Aside from the room, how could it get better than this? Well, I went down the rabbit hole that is the different Walt Disney World resorts, and I’m slightly obsessed with them now. I may have to dedicate a trip to visiting the various resorts.

Where to Stay next at Disney?

Would I stay at CBR again? Absolutely. But am I going to stay there next time? No, probably not. Getting a taste of what this resort offers has piqued my curiosity about the others. As I prepare for my next trip in October (purely for business purposes, I swear), my family is looking to stay two to three nights at Art of Animation (Value resort) and one of the Port Orleans resorts (Moderate).

I look forward to writing about those two resorts when I return from my next trip. 

In the future, we can go the DVC rental route and get a villa at a deluxe resort. My party of 8 spent about $9,600 in three separate rooms at CBR. If we pool our money together next time, for this amount, we could’ve gotten a three-room villa at a deluxe resort through a DVC rental site. This is something I plan to do in October 2024.

WDW Park Experience

While I will not elaborate on the parks individually here, I have too much to say. The parks at Disney World fall into a category above a theme park. And don’t get me wrong, I’m a theme park girl. One of my side gigs is chaperoning a teen group at various theme parks and attractions in the northeast. That job took me to Six Flags Great Adventures just a month before my June Disney trip. Sure, the Kindga Ka coaster was fantastic, but otherwise, there’s no comparison. The world’s tallest roller coaster has nothing on the immersive experiences that are Disney attractions. The Imagineers really know how to tune into our five senses. 

Epcot is my favorite as a 10-year-old and even now as an adult. I’m just a sucker for that World Showcase. Plus, with Cosmic Rewind, the most amazing ride I have ever been on, Epcot will always be my #1. The park is under construction, but there was still enough to do; I only got to do some things I wanted to. I can’t wait until construction wraps up. 

I don’t have as easy a time picking a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th favorite park because I love Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom for different reasons. Each park has a unique vibe and different strengths and weaknesses, and I loved at least two attractions in every park. 

Each park was filled with enough magic to focus on the good and distract from the people, heat, sweat, and achy feet. Enough magic that my anxieties about leaving my home, my plants, and my routine felt silly. And perhaps that’s why I was blown away by this experience and looking into buying a timeshare I can’t afford by the end of it. 

Overall Thoughts After 18-Year Break from Disney World

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Disney. It’s because, for the first time in a while, an experience met and exceeded expectations. It was worth every penny. The day before we checked out, my heart was heavy and sad that I had to leave and return home. Seeing the signs on the roadway change back to normal was an emotional experience, and something I’ve learned has been coined the Disney Blues. But I love that it awakened my desire to travel more, and Disney will be my destination of choice from here on out. One can literally travel the world through Disney! Needless to say, I can’t wait to go back in October and hope to make this an annual experience for my family. 

Author: Gabby Menegazzo

Whether you’re traveling with young children, teens, or adults, we’ve got you covered. From the whimsical fun of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort to the luxurious elegance of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, we’ve got something for everyone. So look at our resort reviews and start planning your dream Disney vacation today!

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