In 2020, when the pandemic interrupted our travels, my family purchased a four-bedroom, 3,600 square foot home in Golden Oak at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida.
My parents had wanted to buy a vacation home for some time. I have a five year old daughter and my brother was about to become a father so we were looking for a place to have some quality time together.
My husband and I live for about three and a half years hour drive to Miami, but Golden Oak is our home away from home. As we both work remotely, we can visit our daughter at least twice a month.
As travel and parenthood blogger, I get a lot of questions from my followers about what it’s like to have a home in Disney’s coveted residential community.
Disney Golden Oak is a gated estate of luxury single-family homes, just four miles from Disney’s Magic Kingdom park.
Divided into eight neighborhoods, the homes were designed by Walt Disney Imagineering, the division of the Walt Disney Company that oversees the design and construction of its theme parks.
Residents have access to pools, a fitness center, restaurants, and other Disney resorts. They are also members of the exclusive Golden Oak Club, which offers “concierge-type services“, including private VIP park tours and special event tickets.
Golden Oak started listing the homes in 2010. But although I’m a Disney regular, I had never heard of it until my parents visited friends at their vacation home there in 2020.
During their visit, they were able to visit one of the newer houses. They FaceTimed my brother and I to show us the house. We all fell in love with the place and made a deal at full asking price.
Homes in Golden Oak are selling fast, but we’ve been lucky with the timing. The entire first floor was furnished so we were all able to enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend just days after closing that year.
We live in The Cottages at Symphony Grove area. Each house has its own whimsical look. Ours was inspired by Belle’s cottage in “Beauty and the Beast”.
One thing all Golden Oak homes have in common are tiny Disney-themed details. Our property, for example, has over 50 hidden Mickey Mouse. Kids love trying to find them every time they come.
Our house is French cottage style, especially on the first floor.
The kitchen and dining room are complete with wood beams and other country accents.
Upstairs, the house becomes more clearly Disney-themed. On the second floor, my bedroom has a quote from “Beauty and the Beast” above the bed.
My brother’s bedroom has hand painted “Winnie the Pooh” characters on the walls.
The bunk room (aka the “Bambi” room) is tiny but full of lovely details like wood-panelled walls and a small nightlight for each bed.
My favorite feature in the whole house is a spiral staircase on the second floor that leads to “Belle’s Reading Room” on the third floor, which is now the girls’ playroom.
He salvaged wooden beams on the ceilings, hand-painted designs on the walls, a built-in bookcase, and the same banister as the stairway to the windows.
Finally, there is a guest suite that connects to the house through the outdoor patio. This whole area feels like you’ve stepped into a princess suite, thanks to a few Disney touches like the “Alice in Wonderland” doorknob.
We also have a small swimming pool and a jacuzzi. It is completely surrounded by the house, which makes the space more private. In the patio there is a dining table for six people, a lounge area with a sofa and chairs, a fireplace and an outdoor kitchen.
We don’t visit the theme parks too often when we are in Golden Oak. Most of the time we just enjoy the neighborhood and hang out together at home.
We have golf carts that we can use to tour the Golden Oak playground, parks and clubhouse.
Kids love watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the dock at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. We also take my daughter there to ride ponies. In the summer we use their paddling pool and swimming pool with an amazing slide.
For us, it really is the happiest place on earth.
Cristie Anne Cabrera, aka The Traveling Red, is a Miami-based mom, social media influencer, and travel blogger. Follow her on instagram, ICT Tac, pinterest and she Blog for a look at his trips to Disney’s Golden Oak and his road trips during his school bus conversion.