Elizabeth and Chris Caran have lived in the Raleigh, NC area since 1999 -- the year they got married. They’ve been owners at the Villas at Wilderness Lodge since September of 2001 and have been Owner's Locker Members since 2008.
Introduce Yourself To Your Fellow Owner's Locker Members!
I've been a fan of Walt Disney World ever since I can remember. Literally, from the early days of my ability to speak, I was pestering my parents to take me to that magical place. They granted my wish in 1977 and I loved every minute. But I wasn't to return again until 1992 when I graduated from college and went down hoping to find work there. Although I didn't get the job, I have managed to make a Disney trip at least once a year on average since then. My husband had never been to Disney when he selected it for our honeymoon, knowing I would enjoy it. Turns out he liked it just fine as well, although he is by no means as big a fan as I am. By day, I'm a public librarian and my husband is a QA Manager for a small software company. By night, he is a gamer (video and table top) and I am a blogger. But all the time, we are parents to two beautiful children, ages five and three.
§ DVC Owners since 2001
§ Favorite Characters: The Classics: Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Pluto
§ Favorite Resorts: Contemporary (but haven't tried Bay Lake Towers yet) and Boardwalk
§ Favorite Restaurant: Victoria and Albert’s, though we can't go very often
§ Favorite Theme Park: Magic Kingdom
§ Favorite Attractions: Soarin’, Toy Story Mania, Philharmagic, and Splash Mountain
§ Most valued item in your purple locker: Salt and Pepper grinders because we cook a lot in our villa... and maybe the Jack Daniels.
What Brings You Back To Central Florida So Often?
We used to limit our trips to one per year, but in the last few years, we've been lucky enough to find we had several opportunities to visit the area, either to visit friends from out of the country here on vacation, traveling with other families, or even being given a free trip by my husband's employer. Now I have many friends who visit often, and that seems to draw me back into the area for Mommy getaways with my girlfriends.
Why Is Walt Disney World Such a Frequent Destination?
I love the fact that Walt Disney World instantly FEELS like a vacation. In fact, I used to always fly down, and when my husband and I drove with our then five-month-old daughter for the first time, I remarked that I didn't feel like it should be possible to drive into Walt Disney World. You have to fly because it's like being on another planet. I love having all the comforts of home including technology without feeling the need to plug in and keep up with the real world. Now that we have kids, it's also one of the easiest vacations we can plan. The whole place is instant entertainment... anywhere you go. So it's not like a beach trip, when you suddenly find yourselves looking at each other saying, "What do we do next?!"
Do You Have Any Traditions You Follow When You Are At The Resort?
We were developing a tradition of going to Downtown Disney the evening of our arrival and allowing the kids to play in the fountains after eating at Earl of Sandwich. However, we're finding that exploring the resort is a lot easier nowadays. Especially finding the playground after the ten-hour car ride. I always buy a pin on the trip, trying to choose something that represents the overall theme of the trip. Maybe it's a resort pin for the first time we stayed in that resort, or a Food and Wine pin if we're there for the festival. It's different every time. I have a full lanyard now, so next trip means buying a second one! Oh, and I might also have a tradition of getting a Glowtini at some point (so the kids can play with the ice cube, of course) and a Grey Goose Lemonade Slush at the France pavilion.
What Tips Can You offer to Other Walt Disney World Visitors?
Every person and family is different, so I suggest that you really plan for your own family's interests and needs. Don't do an attraction or event just because people tell you that you have to see it. And don't skip an attraction just because others tell you that you'll hate it. Do what interests you and your family first and foremost. For the frequent visitor especially, I encourage people to take time out to enjoy their resort and be sure to relax a bit during their stay. Disney has some great theme parks to rev up the excitement, but they also know how to chill you out and give you some down time.
I suppose I could also sneak in a plug for Take The Monorail--the blog I co write at www.takethemonorail.com. We specialize in tips for families for young children including craft and scrapbook ideas that help you build up anticipation for your trip and then remember the vacation later.
What's the One Thing You Think Everyone Else Is Missing Out On At Disney World?
We discover or do something new on each and every trip. Sometimes it's as simple as trying a restaurant we've never tried and sometimes it's more exotic like an Illuminations Cruise. There is so much to do that you can't possibly do it all. That said, I think it's definitely worth taking some time out to enjoy one of the mini-golf courses on property. My favorite is Fantasia Gardens. It's within walking distance of Boardwalk and the surrounding resorts and the theming is fabulous. It's a quieter, social way to spend an evening. And I say that despite the fact that I ALWAYS lose. Always. Kind of sad, really. And yet, it's still such fun!
And We Have To Ask... What's In Your Purple Locker?
A LOT! We have the boring rain ponchos, laundry detergent, toothbrushes, shampoo, etc. We also have some cooking supplies like salt and pepper, lemonade mix, aluminum foil, and storage baggies. I've got some crafting supplies in there for rainy days along with a deck of cards. Then there's the supplies for the trips with the girlfriends that include a corkscrew, cocktail shaker, and perhaps a bottle of whiskey and/or rum. (Why is the rum always gone?!) Basically, it's full of things that we LOVE to have at Disney with us, but we hate to pack because of the space they take up. Our Owner's Locker lets us add just that much more luxury and comfort to our trip.