Taking the Fantasy of Living at Disney to the Next Level
If you could live anywhere in any Disney park, where would you live and why? It’s a question we’ve often seen posted in Disney Facebook groups and we’re always surprised to see such responses as: “On the bench in front of the castle,” or, “Anywhere on Main Street.” Which always begs the question: Why would you choose a bench when you could live in the actual castle? In the realm of fantasy, which is our preferred realm when thinking about Disney, why not go for something a little more upscale? There’s nothing wrong with a bench in a good location, it just doesn’t sound very comfortable—or weatherproof!
So, we’ve taken the fantasy of living anywhere in any Disney park to the next level and gone in search of our perfect home in each of the parks we visit. Like a couple of house hunters, we scout locations in our preferred neighborhoods (or lands), in search of that perfect place that will satisfy all—or most—of our needs. In the end, we have a place we’ve chosen together, that we lovingly call our own, and that we can share in our heart and mind when we’re not physically at Disney. This is our way of never leaving!
What are you looking for in your Disney home?
This is what your Disney real estate agent would be asking before anything else, so it’s the question we asked ourselves: what would check all our Disney home boxes?
Start with, a balcony is paramount: the thought of enjoying a couple of cocktails on our Disney balcony, watching the people and raising a glass to those who look up, would be perfection—to us—and it’s one of our favorite pastimes when we’re staying at a Disney resort, such as Walt Disney World’s Boardwalk Inn or the Disneyland Resort’s Grand Californian.
Next is location. Where do we want our balcony to be in each Disney park? This one is tough, just like in real life. We want a nice view, of course, but that can mean different things at different parks. Do we want a heavily trafficked area, or something a little off the beaten path? Is a water view preferable to a city view? And what about light? Watching the sunset on our balcony would be ideal, but so would a view of fireworks, and we may have to choose one over the other.
Just like in real life, you start out believing you can get everything you want. Then you learn the meaning of compromise. The perfect location may not come with a balcony; a great balcony might not have the view you were hoping for; the ideal view might not be in a location you love—or have a balcony. So this is the point where you sit down over coffee and churros and discuss the pros and cons of your top three choices, accepting that no one place will check all of your boxes.
When you and your partner don’t see eye to eye
If you and your partner have never picked out a place together—or even if you have—you may find yourselves on different pages when it comes to “placing an offer” on your Disney home. Despite this being a fantasy scenario, you may still find yourselves locked in a stare of disbelief and unable to move forward:
“How can you not want to live there? It’s perfect!”
“It’s not perfect! It’s facing the most congested part of the park and it doesn’t even face the water!”
Before you start questioning the status of your relationship, it pays to listen to your partner’s objections with an open mind—and vice-versa. It’s easy to be so fixated on a particular feature or location that you lose sight of the bigger picture, like, maybe you don’t want to be directly above an outdoor eating area that’s going to get very loud and crowded two–to-three times a day—every day. Or, maybe, that’s a non-issue. The same might be true living in proximity to Splash Mountain, where you’ll be subjected to the screams of plummeting riders all the live long day—and well into the night, depending on time of year and park hours. If you’re going to be a “serious” buyer, these are the types of details that warrant consideration before putting down your imaginary down payment.
A real-life example in the Magic Kingdom:
Our first disagreement was over Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom. My best half thought the location was ideal: the Rivers of America would be in our front yard, the illustrious Haunted Mansion was just down the way, and a small farmer’s market was just steps away from what would be our front door. I, however, was concerned that the colonial residence might be a bit too upper crust for our more casual lifestyle—and that we’d have snooty neighbors who’ll be prim and properly attired at all times. My considerate consort listened, nodded with understanding, and then mounted a case for our potentially having a positive effect on the more conservative neighborhood and its residents. Now it was my turn to see from a different perspective, and in the end, I came around. This is now our Magic Kingdom residence:
The Epcot “We can’t afford that!” example:
From the moment we stepped foot in Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion, we knew we were home. But which home? Each and every domicile or flat had potential, and we looked at each one with a prospective buyer’s eyes. My beloved immediately fell for the charming cottage with the cobbled walkway and coiffed English garden, but I argued that it was likely unavailable, as that’s where the groundskeeper and his wife probably live—or maybe Mary Poppins’ great aunt. “So much for fantasy,” my mate snickered, but still he agreed that the home was too prominent to be available.
Across the street and next to the pub is a charming, single-story home—and right on the World Showcase Lagoon. We loved it instantly. Except… do we really want to be next to a pub? No doubt, there are a lot of couples who would have no problem—and even welcome—the proximity to the most happening place in town. But for us, we’d rather have a short walk to the watering hole instead of sharing a wall. With a heavy heart and a backward glance we had to pass.
A bit down the way and framing the fairy tale garden, is a cluster of perfect little English houses, but only one is a residence; the other two are stores. Rounding the corner towards the very British hedge maze is one of two very high-end residences. The one on Upper Regency Street, which directly faces the hedge maze and the bandstand, is the one my life partner entertained very seriously as we enjoyed our morning coffee in the garden.
“We can’t afford that!” I sputtered, shocked he would even suggest such a thing.
“Of course we can,” my gentler spouse scoffed, “this is fantasy, remember?”
“I knowwwww,” I whined contritely, “but we should still be in the realm of remotely feasible! That place is way beyond our means!”
Finally: “You’re silly,” came the conclusion. “And you flunk fantasy,” he added for good measure.
“I know,” I took a sip of coffee, “but that place is out of our league.”
And that was that for the time being.
It wasn’t until we were back home and looking through our photos that the perfect U.K. home revealed itself:
Only, my partner in life wasn’t convinced: There was no balcony, no water view, and it was above a store (albeit a charming little store—and a quiet one).
I painted the picture I saw in my mind’s eye that had convinced me it was perfect: “Look, though,” I was smiling lovingly at the photo displayed on screen, “see that window right there? That’s where I’ll be writing my novel and waving at you as you come back with coffee, which we’ll have every morning in the park—or behind the pub looking out at the water. And then in the evening, when you return from the high sees of the World Showcase Lagoon, we’ll go to the pub, or just hang out and listen to the band and watch the sunset, which we’ll have a view to every day.”
By time we returned to our desired location in Epcot’s World Showcase, my beloved was finally able to see my proposed home-away-from-home with fresh eyes and a more open mind. He looked up at the middle window, smiled, looked back at me, and nodded approvingly. “Clickety-clickety-clickety ding,” he chided, imitating my writing my novel on an old-style typewriter.
And so it was decreed, we’d found our U.K. home and we moved right in.
Where would you live?
Whether you’re a couple just getting started or one with a few years in, finding a place can be stressful. You may discover you have different tastes or different priorities—and that’s not even taking finance into account! This is why your Disney home can prove such a valuable find: it’s fantasy! And more importantly, it’s your fantasy! Forget about money, good school districts, commute times, the proximity to family members… all that “fun” stuff… and just ask yourselves this: Where do you both want to go to sleep every night and wake up every morning in the Disney parks you visit? Just start there. The constructive “adult” conversations you have around your Disney fantasy home will one day pave the way to your real life fantasy home, which you’ll be all the more ready for now that you know each other so much better through you Disney.