"If you can't go to Disney World, why not try a different vacation?"

I had a long chat yesterday with a friend about the various vacations we’ve been on in our lives. I mentioned in another thread that I’ve spent around $30,000 on just five WDW vacations in the last three years and I’ve sometimes wondered what else I could have done with the same money. Skiing trip? Alaskan cruise? Dream safari? Singapore? Taj Mahal?

I’m reasonably well-travelled in Europe (London, Paris, Barcelona, Venice, Rome, to name the big ones) and pretty widely travelled in the US (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, DC, Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago, San Antonio, Denver, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Niagara Falls, Grand Canyon, … many of these multiple times).

I haven’t visited much of the rest of the world: I’ve been to Hong Kong (including Disneyland!) and Australia (Sydney, Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef). I’ve skied in France, the US and Canada, again multiple times.

So what kept me returning to Orlando after my first serious trip in 2017?

I’ve always found America a tremendously exciting place to be. I get an adrenalin jolt as soon as I exit the plane and enter the airport. The air smells different. It’s usually much hotter than I’m used to. The road signs are different. The cars are bigger. Everything is bigger. People speak English so there’s no stress about communication, but it’s clearly a different country to my own. There are skyscrapers. There are amazing food choices, and the food is often great and always plentiful. It’s never boring.

But I did reach a point in the 1990s, when I was in my twenties, where it did start to feel a bit samey. I did a very successful “Grand Tour” in 1996 — a two month East Coast to West Coast and back again trip. It was awesome. The first half was with a small tour group — we were driven around in a minibus and mostly camped out overnight. The second half I city-hopped by plane and stayed in hotels.

I planned a second, six week, trip in 1999. But I cut it short after two weeks. I felt really alone (I almost always travel solo) and I felt like I was just arriving at a city, checking into a hotel, and then ticking off the must-see places in the guide book. After a while, one art gallery is pretty much the same as another.

Visiting WDW (and UOR) almost feels like cheating. The insane level of planning aside, it’s just so easy. Everything is right there. If you’re on property, there’s no worrying about how to get around. If you’re not, well, there’s Uber and Lyft. Not forgetting the boats, monorail and Skyliner, for when you’re in the parks themselves.

There’s every type of food, much of which is really great. The restaurants are often visually really interesting, and some have some form of entertainment — character meals and so on.

Everywhere seems really safe and everyone — for the most part — seems really happy. The staff are typically really friendly. You do a lot of walking, but it’s not far from one thing to do to the next thing to do. It’s not like getting from the gallery to the science museum, which is a trip across town, and you better hurry because it closes at 5pm.

There are better places for thrill rides — even in the UK — but there are no better places for themed rides. And some of the rides are quite unlike anything I’ve experienced anywhere else: Flight of Passage and Spider-Man are two stand-outs for me.

There are multiple immersive lands — Batuu, Pandora, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Amazing shows, parades and spectaculars.

And, yeah, I love the planning and the comforting control it gives me.

So, given the choice, I still think I’d rather go to Orlando than on an Alaskan cruise, or a real African safari.

(You American types should appreciate how lucky you are. For me, it’s a nine hour flight. That’s long. And expensive. And then we have the misery of typically at least an hour waiting in the immigration line. For you people the flight is at most about half that, and you sail through the arrivals gates. Some of you drive for much longer hours, but that’s a far better experience than flying.)


Maybe you should just move over here! We need tutors here too. :slight_smile:


An Alaskan cruise is pretty awesome. My husband planned our honeymoon in 2001 and when I found out we were going to Alaska, I was so disappointed. HOWEVER, it was awesome and I would go back in a heartbeat. I had pictured iceburgs and polar bears. I did not expect to lush greens and beautiful flowers. The wildlife was awesome. It was such a relaxing trip. We would sit on the deck chairs with a blanket and hot chocolate and just watch the whales. I would recommend going at least once.


I did, in 1999. Stayed nearly three years. If I’d discovered WDW during that time my life might have played out very differently . . .


Stop confusing me with options.

1 Like

It’s just as expensive, if not more expensive, than a trip to Disney and we know you like to spend money on vacations. Ha!

It is probably more accurate to say, “You like going on vacations that require you to spend lots of money.” The spending itself? Not so much! :wink:

1 Like

True. I like your wording much better.

We do a family trip every other year to Disney World. Last year, we did Hawaii (though we did stay at Aulani for part of the time), and two years earlier we went to London.

I think what keeps me coming back every other year is the quality of service and experience. I know we are going to have a good time. I know we will have things to do. I know if something goes wrong, they will try everything they can to make it better. I went for the first time as a grown up 11 years ago and I couldn’t believe how easy they made it for me, a busy working mom who decided a month earlier to go on that trip. They picked me up from the airport. They took care of my luggage so I didn’t have to deal with it. They had transportation to easily get me around. It was SO much easier than the other child-friendly options were were considering with our two year old.

And like @mousematt said, everyone is happy. Everyone is having a good time. When I went on my trip with my girlfriends last year, I was going through a rough patch at work and I could not get over how just joyously happy I looked in ALL of the photos we took.

I was talking to someone last night about my August trip this year. Though I’m likely going to cancel (I just don’t predict the COVID situation getting better before my trip), were I to go, I know I would feel as safe as practical. I know Disney will require everyone will wear masks. I know they will do temperature checks. I know they will follow recommended procedures. The quality of service at Disney is consistently phenomenal. It’s such a high bar of quality and service that almost every other amusement park is a joke (Universal is also wonderful, of course, in its own way.)

1 Like

I agree completely.

There is something about Disney that just makes it so easy! And helps me rationalize the expense. I don’t have to drive, my kids are so entertained, DH and I had so much fun. Other vacations just weren’t as relaxing fir us.

Our next big expense will be a Disney trip just not sure when!

1 Like

It’s ironic you being “jealous” of us. I’m jealous of your ability to spend a few hours on a train and be in an entirely new country, in less time than I can be in a most other states.

Ever since I was a pre-teen, I have dreamed of traveling to Europe. When I was financially able to consider a trip I was living on the west coast, and the air fair was crazy; knowing that I would find myself back on the east coast I put it off. Sadly, I’ve lived on the east coast for 20 years now and it still hasn’t happened.

Next year is our 30th Anniversary (in November) and I’m considering a European trip as a way of celebrating. A big draw would be seeing the Christmas Markets in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Looking through some travel websites, I found one tour that included Munich, Salzburg, Innsbrook, Lindau, Freiburg, Strasbourg, and Zurich with the option of adding days before or after. Of note, my mother’s family (the Friederichs) all came from the Bavaria/Black forest area, thus my interest in southern Germany. A second trip would include Ireland and Scotland (my father’s ancestry), England, and Wales. A third trip would be to Italy for the Renaissance art and history and the food.


I think you’re right there, we forget that we have access to a LOT of countries, quite close by and relatively cheaply.
I love America and do sometimes wish it was closer, I want to see all of it! But, I feel lucky to be able to experience whole different cultures right on my doorstep.
This is why we do Disney every other year, the one in between each trip is to places usually in Europe…and I really like the balance of that.
Don’t forget to come to Stratford Upon Avon on your England stop off…I know you will love it!

Me too!!! DH and I were planning on going to Italy this October. It would’ve been our first time overseas! :sob::sob::sob:


But @bswan26 - since we’re all planners here, I highly recommend Rick Steves’ guidebooks if you haven’t started your planning yet. I’ve been fortunate to do several trips to Europe - Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice, Sicily, Cinque Terre, Milan, Naples, Padua), Austria (Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna), Switzerland (Zurich, Lucerne), Germany (Munich), France (Paris, Nice, Avignon, St. Remy), Spain (Barcelona, Madrid, Alicante), Belgium (Brussels, Brugges, Antwerp, Ghent), England (London, Oxford, Stratford Upon Avon - @AllmadhereUK is right. You’ll love it), Scotland (Glasgow, Edinburgh), Ireland (Dublin, Galway). Every single one of them? Rick Steves was my guide. Found great hotels, great food, and interesting sites. Plus, he has a lot of audio tours you can download and listen to while you’re walking around these ancient cities…

1 Like

It may partly be a grass-is-greener issue.

I dunno. Europe is fabulous. Stunning. But America tends to excite me more. I like new stuff. And it’s a geographically diverse place, what with being big and all.

1 Like

I think variety in vacations is important. I’ve gone to fairly exotic places before - Japan, Hawaii, England, Korea, Russia - all over the U.S. But when it comes down to it, sometimes your * true * vacation must be in a place that feels like home. For me, that’s Disneyland - I just don’t feel at peace unless I have a plan to be back there soon. So I’ve worked it out into something of a pattern:

  • Every calendar year must include at least one trip to Disneyland of at least 2-3 days.
  • Visit family in UT/ID 1-2 times per year
  • Visit a beach once a year (California, South Carolina, and Hawaii are my favorite options)
  • Do something outdoorsy every 1-2 years
  • Go to WDW every 3-5 years
  • Take one non-Disney domestic trip every 3-5 years (NYC, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, etc.)
  • Try to visit Hawaii at least every 5 years (I lived there when I was in elementary school)
  • Plan one foreign trip every 5-7 years

It usually works out to 3 trips per year - Disneyland + Family + one other. So far it’s worked pretty well. I may add a second major trip when I’m more financially stable.


I love the variety in US. Mountains? Ocean? Desert? Desert near the ocean?

Other than day stops on cruises, the only other countries I’ve been to are Kenya, Dominican Republic and Canada. We’ve cancelled Egypt (1997) Greece and Turkey (1999) and France (2017). It’s not meant to be, I guess. I do want to see DLP though.

I’m all about road tripping. Surely you can road trip around Europe. (I’m not particularly interested, but I’m the outlier.)

Alaska cruise sounded good to me until i froze at Epcot last November. Now I hate the idea of a chilly vacation.

1 Like

The US is a pretty cool country. For 5 years, while DH was a teacher, he, one or two of our grandkids and I spent up to 5.5 weeks - no, glorious weeks - every summer traveling around some part of this country, camping in our RV, staying mostly in state and national parks or other Federal rec areas.

We camped in probably 40 states at least, visiting 48 states, and 7 Canadian provinces. We visited close to 50 national parks and monuments. At Rocky Mountain we spent a whole day at a parking lot in an area where big horn sheep were known to frequent, in case we’d be able to see some. We saw some cool animals, but no big horn sheep. On another trip we traveled 8,000 miles. 800 of it on interstate - the rest not.

In this big country, you have to do some major planning to do that much traveling. Even tho our grandkids were 8 when we started on these trips, I think they appreciated most of their experiences.

Seems to me exploring the UK a week or two at a time ought to be almost as much fun. Cheaper than a WDW trip, and you can bring Calvin.

Does the UK have dog parks? Couple of Iowa cousins brought their dogs with them to a reunion in Colorado, checking out as many dog parks as possible, along the way.

Speaking as someone who lives close to UK and France the South West of the UK is great to explore, as is Scotland and I would assume Wales. The midlands is the historic industrial heartland where the birth of the industrial revolution happened so if you are into history a good place to explore. France, at least western France is great too. Normandy and Brittany produce some of the best food - gallets, crepes, cider (hard cider I think you may call it), Calvados. There is a brilliant theme park - Puy Du Fou (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMwC3d_V1sg) which has a functional ‘Roman’ arena, a number of highly themed walk throughs and lots of shows - a good 3 days worth as well as historically themed hotels. Futuroscope (https://www.futuroscope.com/en/) is also there - similar to Epcot. The Channel Islands are little bits of the Caribbean dropped in the English Channel - lots of brilliant white sand beaches, castles, German fortifications (WW2) and even Neolithic buildings older than the Pyramids. There is plenty to explore over this side of the pond

1 Like

@qwerty6 I went to Alaska in June and the temperatures were in upper 50’s to low 60’s. I used a light jacket. It was not cold when I went.

1 Like