Storytelling Comes to Life at Disney Vacation Club Resorts
The Walt Disney Company has created movies, shows, and characters that many of us have grown up with and hold close to our hearts. Disney takes storytelling to a new level and brings the narrative to life at the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Resorts.
Hi, there! My name’s Kristen, and I co-head the Social Media Department at David’s Vacation Club Rentals. Disney storytelling and mythology have been a big part of my life since I was a kid, and I absolutely love seeing this translate to the Disney Parks and the DVC resorts!
Hi, I’m Taycee, and I am a Senior Vacation Coordinator and a Social Media Specialist here at David’s Vacation Club Rentals! I have been lucky enough to stay in 7 Disney resorts, 4 being Disney Vacation Club resorts, and I love how immersive yet unique each resort can be.
Please join us (Taycee and Kristen) as we explore 5 DVC Resorts and dig a little deeper into those unique Disney details that make them so magical!
Taycee: I had the amazing chance to stay at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, in 2017. I was so excited to stay at Aulani, and as I spent more time there and learned about the details and creation of the resort, I grew to love it more.
Kristen: I will let you take the helm on this one, Taycee. Aulani is a gorgeous resort full of beautiful storytelling, and I cannot wait to experience it someday! Can you tell us a little more about your visit to the resort?
Taycee: Absolutely, I can! As I walked through the resort doors, I was in immediate awe of the breathtaking Maka’ala lobby. Not only is there a gorgeous view of the resort through the open patio, but there is also the stunning mural created by Martin Charlot that encompasses the upper walls of the lobby. Depicting Hawaii before Captain Cook reached the island up to modern-day Hawaii, the mural reflects the history and changes made over the centuries. It is also divided into two sections, a “masculine” and a “feminine” section, representing the work of both men and women in traditional Hawaiian life.
The paintings for the mural are framed with kapa bands created by Dalani Tanahy. Each band represents one of the three realms: land, sky, and sea. Each band is then divided into a masculine or feminine side, representing Kū, the Hawaiian god of many domains and associated with masculinity and male power, and Hina, the goddess often associated with femininity and tranquility.
I love how, as soon as you walk through the lobby doors at Aulani, you are immediately immersed in the history and culture of the island, and it is continued not only throughout the resort but with each Cast Member at the resort. The resort has so much to see, do, and learn. The story of Hawaii is brought to life at Aulani!
Taycee: As the first DVC resort to open, you would expect Disney’s Old Key West Resort to have an elaborate theme, which it does! When creating the resort inspired by the Florida Keys, Imagineers created the fictional town of Conch Flats.
Kristen: Yes, my immediate thought when I first walked through Old Key West was that it reminded me of a pleasant, small community I’d visit if I had a summer cottage growing up. I didn’t have a summer cottage in my youth (or any kind of cottage), but if I did, I wish it had been in Conch Flats.
Taycee: Well, with many buildings and restaurants at the resort named after citizens of the fictional Conch Flats, you feel like you have lived in the town your whole life! Guests will check in at the Hospitality House, where you can see a bike propped up against the wall and some fishing gear. Inside the Hospitality House will be Papa’s Den, where you can curl on the sofas and read any books on the shelf.
Kristen: The atmosphere really does feel super casual and relaxed, which I think makes that “Welcome Home” from a Cast Member hit extra hard.
Taycee: Definitely! Remember that you can also stop into Olivia’s Cafe for a home-cooked meal. Olivia Farnsworth lives in a little cottage in Conch Flats up on Turtle Krawl. She loves to cook for all her friends and family, and her friends and family love to talk about her cooking. Word eventually got around about Olivia’s cooking, and she found that her house was getting crowded with mouths to feed. So, she opened her cafe by the Hospitality House and the Conch Flat’s General Store.
Kristen: I love that story! Olivia’s is definitely on my list of dining locations to try on a future Disney trip; I hear the brunch is amazing!
Taycee: When most guests think about prominent themes and DVC Resorts, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas probably comes to mind. With animals roaming the savanna and the largest collection of African art in the United States, you feel transported.
Kristen: Yeah, to me, nothing beats waking up, walking onto your Savanna View room’s balcony with a fresh cup of Joffrey’s, and watching giraffes have their breakfast.
Taycee: Totally! On top of the beautiful décor and animals, something that sets the theming at Animal Kingdom apart is the cultural representatives that work at the resort. The cultural representatives at the resort are there to help guests learn about the animals in the savanna and African culture. They also help with activities and provide information about the resort and its offerings. Hearing stories about their homes and learning about cultural traditions first-hand makes me feel so welcome and immersed in the resort.
Kristen: I am so excited that cultural representatives have returned to Animal Kingdom Lodge, and I cannot wait to learn from them on my next trip.
Taycee: Kristen, you should also stop by to see the Artisan Wood Carver in the Jambo House lobby near Zawadi Marketplace. It’s a great way to see the technique and creation of wood carving incorporated throughout the resort.
Kristen: Oh, I’ll have to do that!
Taycee: Now, the theme for the Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge may not be too clear to most guests. Many think it is just themed after the outdoors and wilderness, like Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. However, the theme is actually inspired by the 1860s railroad hotels in the American West.
Kristen: This distinction is one of my favorite things about visiting both the Copper Creek and Boulder Ridge Villas. While the over-arching narrative is one of turn-of-the-century American craftsmanship and the beauty of nature, Boulder Ridge is truly unique.
Taycee: Yes, my favorite part of the resort that broadcasts the theming is the Carolwood Pacific Room, which you can find just off the lobby in the Boulder Ridge Villas building. Filled with scale model trains from Walt’s personal collection and photos of Walt admiring his trains, the room reminds us that Walt is still all around us, even today.
Kristen: If you’re looking for a little break from the crowds at Magic Kingdom, I highly suggest taking a short boat ride to Boulder Ridge to visit the Carolwood Pacific Room. There are multiple seating areas, including comfortable leather armchairs and rocking chairs, next to ornate fireplaces.
Taycee: Walt Disney was a huge fan of trains, and this can be seen in many of the Disney theme parks around the world. So what better way to honor the creator of the happiest place on earth than by making a resort influenced by the beginning of railway travel?
Kristen: When I say that Disney’s Riviera Resort is my next dream DVC stay, sometimes people are perplexed, and I can understand that. At first glance, the Riviera can appear as a minimalistic resort with nominal theming. However, there are so many hidden gems and unique elements that make this resort distinctly Disney.
Taycee: I agree! With overall architectural and design inspiration from the European Riviera, Disney’s Riviera Resort makes you feel transported across the globe and time. Walt Disney loved to travel, and you can see his love for the places he traveled to in many of his resorts, such as Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. Further paying homage to Walt, the Riviera reflects not only the essence of the place but the time in history when Walt would have visited.
Kristen: One of my favorite areas at the Riviera is the Voyageur’s Lounge, a seating area just past the lobby and adjacent to Le Petit Café that features unique artifacts, including photos of Walt and other pieces of Disney history. The intention behind the Voyageur’s Lounge is that it is a place where travelers can share tales of their own adventures, much like Walt’s!
Taycee: To add to the story of travel, the Riviera Resort is the only DVC resort to have its own Skyliner Station. When walking from the resort to the station, guests pass by two murals in the tunnel, one of the London skies at night with Peter Pan, Wendy, Michael, and John flying to Neverland, and one of Rapunzel’s tower and the floating lanterns. Both of these murals symbolize flight, which makes them the perfect pieces as you head on your flight on the Skyliner.
Whether it’s reflecting on the history of the people and culture that inspired the resort, creating a whole town and making it real, or making sure Walt and his impact are remembered for years to come, DVC not only makes you feel welcome but makes you feel like you truly are at home.
~Kristen and Taycee