Disney Bucket List

We started a Disney Bucket List as a way to ensure that we embraced new experiences in Walt Disney World and Disneyland, and it’s expanded into motivation for traveling to new locations and trying new things. We think a Bucket List (Disney or otherwise) is a great thing to have as it helps you give you focus. Sometimes, the best way to accomplish your goals is to set them out on a tangible list, and to cross items off as you achieve them (or, in our case, to publish your list on a blog for all of the world to see!). The tangible list serves as a constant reminder of your goals and helps you avoid returning to the comfortable and familiar.

This last part, avoiding the comfortable and familiar, is especially important for us and became very clear in 2010 when we visited Disneyland for the first time, without a whole lot of excitement for the trip (which was a stop on the way to a wedding in SoCal). We had traveled to Walt Disney World before that twice a year because it was familiar, comfortable, and obviously we enjoyed it. There’s an old adage that is (something to this effect…I couldn’t find the adage via Google, so perhaps I made it up) that the man who eats dog food on a daily basis declines when offered filet mignon for the first time because he’s familiar with dog food, and enjoys it. He doesn’t know how good filet mignon is because he’s never tried it.

Before you send in hate mail, I’m not contending that Walt Disney World is dog food and Disneyland is filet mignon, I’m just trying to illustrate a point: we were reluctant to try something new because we liked our familiar Disney vacation. It turned out that we had an amazing time at Disneyland, and since then, we’ve made a point of experiencing new things whenever possible, even when in familiar locations like Walt Disney World.

This has led us adding every international Disney theme park to our Disney Bucket List to be experienced as part of longer international travels. Since we realize that these trips are pretty ambitious, we decided to add other experiences to our Disney Bucket List to keep us motivated to follow the list. Plus, after all, they say the best way to get over the bar is to lower the bar so much that you accidentally trip over it. (The lowest tier of our list isn’t quite that easy to accomplish!)

With keeping ourselves motivated and always focused on fresh experiences in mind, we made several different tiers for our list.

UPDATE: Since posting this list, we’ve already crossed a few items off of it! See strike-throughs below.

Easily Attainable

“Suit Up” Monorail Lounge Crawl – I haven’t settled on the particulars regarding which resort lounges this would include, but it would likely be more than just the three resorts on the monorail loop. It’s something we’ve wanted to do since before doing the “Suit Up” Disneyland Resort Lounge Crawl, but our plans have just never worked out for it yet. Why suits? Because suits can make anything more awesome.

Four Parks in a Day – We’ve done three parks in one day a number of times, but have never hit four parks in a single day. Transportation time makes it something that isn’t really pragmatic in most circumstances, but I could still see it being fun to do for the sake of saying you’ve done it. My ideal schedule would be Animal Kingdom Morning Extra Magic Hours > bus to Disney’s Hollywood Studios > Walk to Epcot > Monorail to Magic Kingdom for Evening Extra Magic Hours. It seems like that would be a reasonable way to tackle the challenge while maximizing park time and not wasting too much time in transit. Check.

Eat at Every Walt Disney World Restaurant – We are well on our way to accomplishing this, and although I don’t have an exact completion percentage, I think we’re at around 75% (we haven’t reviewed every restaurant at which we’ve eaten…not even close). Most of the remaining restaurants are in resorts or are places that don’t really appeal to us, but at some point we’ll likely give them a try because we’re completionists. We make it a goal to dine at one new restaurant per trip, at least. It is worth noting that any third party restaurants at Downtown Disney are not included on our list. This might seem a bit arbitrary since several in-park restaurants are also third party restaurants and we are including them on the list, but the difference (I think) is that the Downtown Disney restaurants are often “Orlando” locations of real world chains. If you don’t find that persuasive…it’s my list, so I can make arbitrary distinctions if I feel like it!

Finish a runDisney Event – Back early in 2012, I wrote this ambitious article about getting fit for a Disney trip. Shortly after that, we registered for the Tower of Terror 10-miler. Shortly after that, we stopped training completely. With just over a month to go until the race, we’re in terrible shape (unless eating ice cream and sitting on the couch are a solid training regimen) with no signs of improvement on the horizon. Perhaps I’m being a bit overly optimistic by placing this on the easily attainable list! If we do, somehow, manage to complete the race, this item is being replaced on my Disney Bucket List with the “Coast-to-Coast medal.” What’s a good Bucket List if it’s not a constantly moving target as you cross things off?! Check.


Do Every World Showcase Attraction in a Day – The biggest obstacle to this one is Sarah, who isn’t a fan of the many films in the World Showcase. I love most of them, and would really like to do every World Showcase attraction in one day. By every attraction, I’m using my own definition of attraction, not Disney’s, so things like the paining areas for kids would not be included in this quest. Although those might be something interesting to add to a Drinking Around the World attempt! 😉

Modestly Ambitious

Take 5 Disney Tours – By Disney tours, I mean in-park tours, not Adventures by Disney tours. I think the latter is an over-priced way for Disney to cash in on its name, and I can’t see us ever doing one of those trips (you never know, though). I don’t know how many in-park Disney tours I actually want to take, but five seems like a good starting point. Even though our number is relatively low, this will likely take a while to complete because I cringe at the tour prices. I don’t necessary think they’re overpriced, but they seem really expensive. We’ve already done the Behind the Seeds at Epcot Tour and the Holiday Time at Disneyland Tour, so we only have 3 to go!

Cruise on the Disney Cruise Line – This is one that Sarah really wants to do, and because of that, I suspect we’ll do it in the near future. Disney Cruises look fun, but there are a lot of places in the world that I’d like to see, so I’m not sure we’ll make it a regular thing. It would be nice to see Castaway Cay! Crossing this one off opened up a new can of worms.

Disneyland and Walt Disney World on the Same Day – This would be very easy for anyone who lives in Florida. Just enter one of the parks before flying to Disneyland. Thanks to time zones, that makes it relatively easy. However, we don’t live in Florida, and I can’t think of many reasons why we’d take a single trip that involved stops in both Florida and California. This is far from the top of my list as it’s something that I think would mostly be cool to say you did (and not actually all that cool to do), but I’m throwing it on here anyway.

Eat at Every Chef’s Table in US Disney Restaurants – Several restaurants at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World have Chef’s Tables, and we think it would be a lot of fun to experience all of these. As our palates become more refined, we find ourselves wanting to experience more restaurants that offer an interactive component with the chefs so that we can learn about what we’re eating. I am still pretty inept when it comes to cooking just about anything, but I enjoy learning new things, and these meals are great for that!

Visit the Walt Disney Family Museum – I often preach that any Disney fan owes it to themselves to visit Disneyland because of the history and significance of the original park. Likewise, I suspect the Walt Disney Family Museum is a must-visit because it offers insight into Walt Disney, the person, and likely will lead to a greater appreciation of the parks. After touring the Walt Disney Studios (and crossing that off our list!), we want to tour the WDFM even more.

Very Ambitious

Stay in Every US Disney Resort-Hotel – This one pretty much speaks for itself. We’re already really close to accomplishing this, nightly rates at the Grand Floridian and Polynesian will likely prevent us from crossing it off the list in the immediate future. It’s tough to justify those rates!

Tour Walt Disney’s Apartment Above the Disneyland Firehouse – Walt Disney’s Apartment is closed to the general public, but it’s my understanding that a few tours go up there, and you can get up there if you know the right people. “Right people” if you’re out there reading this, let me know! 😉

Visit Tokyo Disney Resort – We came really close to crossing this off our Bucket List this year–so close that we even had a hotel room booked at the Hilton Tokyo Bay–but ultimately cancelled because a Spring 2013 trip works better for our friends with whom we’d travel. We didn’t mind too much, as fall airfare to Tokyo is ridiculous. Thanks to Tokyo DisneySea and a clean design-aesthetic in Tomorrowland, Tokyo Disney Resort is my #1 international Disney destination. Check.

Visit Disneyland Resort Paris – Taking Tokyo’s spot for this fall is Disneyland Paris. We’re excited to see London, Paris, and the beauty of Disneyland Paris all decked out for the holidays. Disney Dreams, the 20th Anniversary Celebration, and dinner at Walt’s are all anticipated highlights of the Disney leg of the trip! Check.

Visit Hong Kong Disneyland – Once the third phase of expansion, Mystic Point, is complete at Hong Kong Disneyland, it should be one of the better Magic Kingdom-style parks. We think it would be awesome to visit Hong Kong Disneyland in Spring 2013 for the opening of Mystic Point, but that might be a little ambitious and difficult to time. We may try to tack it on to our Tokyo trip, as that presents the most immediate opportunity for us to visit Hong Kong Disneyland. Done–that’s every Disney resort worldwide that’s presently open!

Relatively Unattainable

Opening Day, Shanghai Disneyland – Who among us doesn’t wish that we could say we were there for Disneyland’s opening day? While I realize there’s a bit of a difference between Walt Disney’s Original Magic Kingdom and the sixth Magic Kingdom park, I really think Shanghai Disneyland is going to be something special as it’s breaking the mold on Magic Kingdom style parks, and I want to be there for opening day. I don’t think it will be the last Disney theme park to open in my lifetime, but it could be the biggest. While money is an obstacle here, so too is planning a difficult international trip with an opening date that may either be somewhat fluid or not set sufficiently far in advance to plan the trip. We are going to do everything in our power to cross this one off our list, though!

Shanghai Disneyland Concept Art – ©Disney

Stay in the Disneyland Dream Suite or Cinderella Castle Suite – We’ve toured the Cinderella Castle Suite twice, but we think it would be pretty awesome to stay there (or in the Disneyland Dream Suite) for a night. Disney wisely doesn’t rent this out to the general public, so it seems like our options at this point are winning a contest, becoming high-level Disney executives, or infiltrating the Church of Scientology and using connections there to make me a famous Hollywood actor who will be offered a stay in the Suites. Hmmm…sounds like the last one there is the easiest route! 😉

Photograph the Sunrise in Epcot – I have this listed under “Relatively Unattainable” because right now, park hours are such that it’s impossible to ever be in Epcot for sunrise. Even around New Year’s Eve when the days are shorter and park hours are longer, the earliest Epcot has opened in recent history is 8 am and sunrise is around 7:18 am. Despite this obstacle and my classification, I am convinced that someday I will have the opportunity to photograph the sunrise in Epcot. I don’t know how or why, but I think the opportunity will be there, and when it is, I plan on jumping on it! Check.


Ride Ear Force One, Zip-A-Dee-Doo Duck, or Spaceship Earth Balloon – I don’t know if any of these “vintage” balloons are even still in use, but I would love to fly above the Magic Kingdom in one of them. If that’s not possible, I’d love to fly above anything in one. If that’s not possible, I’d settle for just photographing the things (ideally photographing them above the parks, since I’ve made a big compromise by not getting to fly in it myself ;)).

Your Thoughts…

That’s our Disney Bucket List! What does your Disney Bucket List include? Give us some ideas of things to add to ours, or let us know what’s on yours in the comments!

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