Have you ever been at the end of a Disney vacation and you said to yourself, “I’ve got to move here!”  You’re not alone!  Many vacationers have expressed the same thoughts after every Disney vacation.  Wouldn’t it just make life better if you lived close enough to Walt Disney World to visit anytime you could?  Well, there are people in this world who are that fortunate and we are lucky to have one of our agents live within the shadows of the happiest place on earth.

Welcome to Believe Vacations’ Weekly Post where today, we will share with you how locals do Disney.  Today, Brian has invited Ashley Suit (Windemere, FL) to share what it is like to live so close to Walt Disney World.  The full interview is in the video above but highlights and answers to the more commonly asked questions are below:

How often do you go?

I go about two times a week but sometimes three.  Usually, I bring my park buddies (my two sons).  We make a morning of it and come back by mid-afternoon.  If it’s my oldest, he’s tall enough now to ride most of the rides and we’ll hit up his favorites.  If it’s my youngest, we’ll go during the school hours and ride the smaller kid rides or walk around.  But if I know a Believe Agent or any adult friends are in the parks, I’ll make the special trip to go over and say hi because we all know, adults can have fun at Disney too!

Via Napoli in Disney Epcot. Thought it was going to be overpriced garbage, but instead it was one of the best pizzas I have eaten. : Pizza

Do you randomly pop in for dinner?

If we’re in the mood, it’s nice to pop in and go grab something at WDW.  During the first year of marriage for my husband and me, we did a different EPCOT country restaurant on the 16th of every month.  Via Napoli is solid and the pizzas really are the best.  They import the water, everyone loves pizza even picky eaters but there are salads and pastas you can enjoy as well.

What are you favorite and worst times of year?

February is a great month.  Temperatures are a little cooler, sky is much bluer (it seems) and the plants are in bloom in Florida.  Except for race weekends and President’s Day weekends, the crowd levels in the parks are really low.  Everyone needs to experience a cold Disney day at least once!

Spring Break is not the time for locals.  Crowds are higher and lines are longer.  Any major holiday and summer also add to the crowd amounts.  Basically, the traditional “vacation” times are not the best for the locals.

What are the COVID-19 restrictions for locals?

The park pass reservation system applies for us as well.  There have been days when it is beautiful outside and we want to go for the day and unfortunately, there is no availability.  But we’re just thankful the parks ARE open when they are.

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How do you do a “vacation” at Disney?”

It is rare and it’s hard to justify spending the money to stay on property.  But when we do, it’s for birthdays and special occasions.  The difference is we spend more time in the parks.  We get to do the parks often so if we pay for the resort(s), we will enjoy the resort(s)!  I always encourage at least one day just to wake up, enjoy the resort, take a nap, simply VACATION and not feel like you have to go into the parks.

As an agent, how do you sell packages to locals?

We don’t get the large packages with tickets due to many annual passholder clients, but they still want to get inside the “Disney bubble!”  I love when clients get my personalized itineraries where they can slow down and not feel like they are running from ride to ride. I make it a point to showcase the details in  the sights, sounds, smells and scenes surrounding you.  And try to enjoy the history of the entire surroundings.  When you are outside the parks, I always like to look at the surroundings as they are, without all the parks and resorts.  Looking at Bay Lake and the cypress trees and “old Florida,” it’s cool to see what Walt saw and how impressive it is that he had the vision for everything we see today.

Winter Garden Florida - Things to Do & Attractions in Winter Garden FL

What is there to do outside the “Disney Bubble?”

Let’s start with Universal Studios.  I went as a high schooler and now, with my son, it rekindles those fun memories.  It’s a different speed than Disney and we are more apt to staying multiple days at the resorts there than Disney.  I also recommend the Four Seasons Resort with it’s amazing dining options, incredible gift shop and very welcoming to non-guests.  Lastly for a feel of “Old Florida,” I recommend Downtown Winter Garden, Florida.  There’s a brewery, a fountain kids can run through, shops, a train museum all among oak trees and a unique look at the Citrus Initiative from decades ago.

What are the downsides of living so close to Disney?

There are not a ton, but the biggest thing is not being able to be completely immersed in the Disney bubble.  When you go to the parks for a few hours, it’s not “vacation,” it’s a field trip.  You have to come home and still do dishes and laundry and yard work and normal chores.   You can’t just leave your responsibilities behind.  Also, living in the tropics, the summers can be brutally hot.  Another reason why February is a perfect time of the year for us!

Finally, what is the ultimate piece of advice you give any of your clients?

Slow down and try to take it all in because it’s such a masterful work of imagineering and art and themeing and design and building and layering!  It’s worth taking a little time to get a vacation out of it!

Brian Pavlick

Brian Pavlick

Brian Pavlick is a husband and father residing in Maylene, AL. His love of Disney goes back to his early memories of watching the New Disney Channel on cable, occasional vacations to Orlando Florida and attending Disney Institute Management Training classes. He keeps up with Disney news and updates by reading numerous websites, experiencing attractions by watching YouTube videos and introducing his family to classic and timeless Disney movies, attractions and songs.