Monday, April 19, 2010

So... You are going to Disney... Where should you stay??

So…… you are going to Disney World, where should you stay?
The big debate when planning your Disney vacation is should you stay ON property or OFF property? We have weighed these in our minds over and over and on property has always won for us, but I do understand why those who are more budget minded would opt for the off property locations. In this Disney planning installment I will discuss ON property and the next I will discuss OFF property.
The PRO’S for staying on property are:
-If you are flying free Disney Magical Express bus service to and from the airport to your Disney resort.
-Location Location Location, you are RIGHT on property so you don’t have to fight traffic, you simply get on your Disney convenient transportation bus at your resort and at the park and are at your destination in no time.
-The other LOCATION perk is being able to hop on a Disney bus (or boat depending on the resort) and go back to your resort easily and quickly for afternoon pool breaks or naps (this has been HUGE for us over the years).
-You will have the option to use the Disney Dining Plan
-You will have a “Key to the World Card” which serves as your room key, if you are on the dining plan your “dining key”, your park tickets (if you book a package that includes tickets), and you can use it for room charges.
-Any purchases you make at the parks or Downtown Disney can be sent back to your room at no charge so you don’t have to lug them around with you.
-The theming – you are on Disney property so the theming of these hotels are great.
-The customer service, when you stay on Disney property you are surrounded by Disney cast members, I have not seen customer service like this in any other hotel we have stayed in, Disney just knows how to do it right.
-You can make your dining reservations 180 days in advance PLUS 10 days, so all of your reservations can be made in one phone call for your entire trip when staying on property.
I’m sure I am leaving some perks out, but these are the biggies.
Now, if you decide you will be staying on Disney property for your vacation then you need to determine where you would like to stay. Disney has several levels of hotels: The Disney Campground, Value Resorts, Moderate Resorts, Deluxe Resorts, and Vacation Villas.
Before I go into the resorts I want to tell you to check out GREAT site that is always updating the current deals on Disney including the discount codes, this is where I found my first discount code years ago for only $124 a night at Wilderness Lodge and we were hooked on deluxe resorts and NEVER looked back.
MY FAVORITE Disney website is if you are planning a trip to Disney you MUST visit this website, look around and post questions, they answer you quickly, GREAT forum!
O.K, onward to the on property resorts:
The Disney value resorts range from 82.00-130.00 per night depending on the time of year you travel, type of room you request (you can request a preferred room that is closer to the food court and bus stops, I do NOT recommend doing this, I recommend saving your money and putting a specific location request on your reservation instead). These are the RACK rates for this room and often throughout the year Disney will give public discounts that really knocks the price down per night.
Value resorts are the smallest room size, come with two double beds and have outside access to your rooms so if it is raining and you get off of the bus and you have a hike to your room you WILL get wet. We stayed in a value our first year and we had a great stay and the kids LOVED it!
If you decide on a value resort our FAVORITE is the POP Century Resort.

It is the newest of the Value’s, has great larger than life icons, a nice main pool and pool bar with pools in each “era”. You can stay in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s locations. Each decade has it’s own theme, icons, and music to go with the theme, just LOVE that about this resort, and it’s own POOL! Pop has a nice big food court, doesn’t share buses with any other resort (which is a huge plus for us), and a nice arcade which our kids loved. Value resorts are the smallest room size, come with two double beds and have outside access to your rooms so if it is raining and you get off of the bus and you have a hike to your room you WILL get wet.
The next step up are Disney’s Moderate resorts. The average price for moderate resorts are $149-$249 per night (again these are the RACK rates, often they come out with discounts). You still have the exterior access to your room, but the rooms are a tad bit bigger, beds are bigger (queen sized), and the pools have slides and hot tubs. Our favorite moderate resort is Port Orleans French Quarter.

The theming here is great, kids love the pool with the huge serpent slide, and they have a boat that takes you to Downtown Disney. The other reason we love this moderate is it is BY FAR the smallest Disney moderate resort so your walk to the food court and bus stops is minimal, the other moderate resorts are SO spread out. We also love Port Orleans French Quarter because it does share transportation with Port Orleans Riverside but French Quarter is picked up first and dropped off first so we have always gotten a seat to ride on (I don’t like standing and riding on Disney buses). The food court here is good, and the arcade was nice as well, we really enjoyed our stay at this resort.
Also included in the Moderate category for the same rates listed above are the Fort Wilderness Cabins. This is a great option for larger families and it includes a full kitchen as well. We have not stayed at these but have heard wonderful things about them.

The NEXT step up are Disney’s Deluxe Resorts. There are two big differences in prices of the deluxe resorts. If you stay on the monorail you will pay a LOT more. Our favorite deluxe resorts that are not on the monorail so are in the lower tier of pricing are Wilderness Lodge:

or the Animal Kingdom Lodge:

These resorts are VERY similar (the all under one roof concept and so you have covered walkways from the bus into the nicely air conditioned lobby – this is GREAT in the summer). They have sit down restaraunts as well as food courts at the deluxe resorts, they have the pool slides, etc. The difference between Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness lodge is the theming, obviously there are Animals at the Animal Kingdom lodge and that is just AWESOME! Both resorts are incredibly beautiful and have wonderful pools with pool slides. Wilderness Lodge is VERY close to the Magic Kingdom and offers a boat to and from the Magic Kingdom which is a GREAT perk. These two resorts range in price from $240-400 per night (depending on room size, view, etc). Both of these resorts do offer a bunk bed option so you can have 2 queens in your room or a queen and a bunk bed which is great for families with kids. All deluxe resorts also offer a balcony which we loved because when the kids were falling asleep we could step outside from some privacy.
So those are the Disney ON property locations in a nutshell (that was hard to summarize and it was STILL wordy) . Next Disney blog I do will be on OFF property perks and locations, then I will do one on our favorite tips and tricks to getting around the parks and avoiding crowds.

Don't worry, I did NOT ignore the other part of the survey results that said many of you still want to hear about my family, I am NOT abandoning that either, more updates on our family will be continuing on this blog as well. Thanks for reading!


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