The Treehouse Villa kitchen features Granite Countertops and Cathedral Ceilings!

This blog is going to be a love letter to villas in general. Really, kitchens.  We just returned from a trip to the Beach Club Villas, where we stayed in a one bedroom studio. The rumors are true, they are definitely in need of their scheduled update. But we’d do it all over again, and spend more time in the villa if we could.

“Whatever do you mean?”, I am sure you are asking me. “You just said they needed an update. And you were within an easy walk of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. MORE time in the room? You crackpot!”

Give me a chance to explain. We’re-on property people. We know it’s faster to have a car, but we like to monorail, boat, and bus to our heart’s content. We have three stroller-aged kids and we enjoy the drink carts scattered around the World Showcase. We also love the Dawa Bar in the Animal Kingdom. We take that Magical Express and breathe a happy sigh that says “goodbye, real-world—hello adventure!”

Back to the kitchens.

This past trip, we were ready to splurge. I considered the dining plan—we were going to do at least one meal out each day and two most days. After using a handy online calculator I determined it wasn’t conclusively the best choice, especially because as DVC members we can snag a Tables In Wonderland card, which means 20% off of food and alcohol at most of the places we eat. So we skipped that, but for me to consider the Dining Plan means we are planning to EAT!

And we did. Buffets, mostly. Akershus. Cape May. Hollywood & Vine. We did a few blockbuster meals too—Yachtsman and the new Boathouse. Some quick service, which is not our normal style—(OK, so we’ve had the fish and chips in EPCOT England more than one trip) and lobster rolls at Hurricane Hanna’s.

But here is the thing: we felt stuffed. We were so full from dinner we couldn’t enjoy the Moscato Coladas to the fullest extent. And despite walking 10 miles a day (that is not an exaggeration and I can prove it) we did not lose weight. In fact, by the end of the trip, my ankles were inexplicably swollen. The last time that happened to me I had a baby a month later.


This fully equiped kitchen can be found at Kidani Village in the three bedroom villa!

So for our family, we need a kitchen. We need to have lighter meals available every day for at least two meals a day. We just don’t enjoy eating out that many times—it means we’re not as hungry for those fantastic snacks—the Mickey-shaped Crispy Rice Treats, the Grey Goose Slushies, etc…. which is really where we want to blow the caloric banks.

I want to be clear, the food in WDW is good. VERY good, even. And there are a bunch of places that could even classify as great (Artist Point, Victoria & Alberts, EPCOT England’s Yorkshire Fish & Chips). But eating out sparingly keeps it a treat and keeps your vacation wardrobe from pinching halfway through the trip. And DVC isn’t the only option, although it is a good one—there are full kitchens in the Cabins at Fort Wilderness too. The Family Suites at Art Of Animation have kitchenettes—mini refrigerators with microwaves.

We plan a sequence of meals that incorporate similar ingredients (pasta, chicken, pesto…. then some salsa, some cheese, some tortillas, some ground beef…. Some lettuce…) so next thing you know, we’ve got a grilled chicken salad, chicken wraps, burritos, nachos,  pesto chicken pasta… well, you get the picture.

Not up for all that cooking? Try frozen meals. Not kidding. Get some lasagna, pizza, mac n cheese… you can get some really gourmet dishes at Trader Joes and there are now two in the Orlando area. Having home-style meals does not have to mean lots of effort on your part.  And it means you can stock what you know your kids should—and will—eat.

We spend less too, but that is not what it’s about. It’s about eating what we normally do so we don’t spend half the vacation feeling uncomfortable and slightly ill. And we can guzzle those Tiki drinks at Trader Sams or nosh on the fish and chips…. Like my wise mother always says, hunger is the best condiment.

Give a kitchen a try some trip. Tell me Joffrey’s  French Bistro Blend you think. For a day or two, sure, I can survive with just a coffee maker. But for trips any longer than that, I have discovered I don’t want to hightail it to a park most mornings for breakfast AND a pastry basket in Beast’s Castle.  I just want a piping hot almond croissant, a fresh plum, maybe some brie and some home-brewed Joffrey’s  French Bistro Blend on my balcony…for a DVC’er, thank goodness, that is not too much to ask.


Emily Honsa Hicks tweets at @firstcomeswdw and blogs at and