So you have decided to take a family vacation and have decided that it is going to be at Walt Disney World.
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World can seem overwhelming with 4 Theme Parks, 2 Water Parks, more than 20 Disney Resort hotels, a multitude of dining, recreation and other fun things, you can throw your hands up in the air wondering where to go first or what to do!
In a series of articles I take a look at some topics with the help of veteran Disney travelers to give you some advice:
Fourth – Where to Stay?
I asked Mike Rahlmann, a travel agent with the Magic For Less Travel agency, which specializes in Disney vacations, what was the biggest planning decision for a family taking a trip down to Walt Disney World. “Probably your biggest decision when it comes to planning your Walt Disney World Vacation is where you want to stay.” Mike explained, “I would strongly encourage guests to stay on-property, meaning in a Walt Disney World owned and operated resort. By doing this, you surround yourself with the magic of Disney 24/7, plus you get many benefits which will enhance your vacation experience. From Extra Magic Hours, access to the Disney Transportation system, and Disney's Magical Express this can enhance the overall vacation. With resorts ranging from Value to Deluxe, there really is something for everyone!”
Value to Deluxe? Walt Disney World has 20 resort hotels where you can stay. You can choose by cost, location, or theme. There are properties that they call value resorts, ones called moderate resorts, and ones called deluxe resorts.
Value resorts are perfect for travelers looking to enjoy Disney on a budget, but don’t let the name fool you. A “value” resort at Walt Disney World doesn’t mean less than world class customer service. With five resorts that fall into this category, Disney’s Pop Century, Disney’s All Star Movies, Disney’s All Star Music, Disney’s All Star Sports Resort, and the newest one, Disney’s Art of Animation, you are bound to find one just for you!
Rikki Nibblet, co-host of the BeOurGuest Podcast and creator of the website, It’s A Disney World After All, has a distinct recommendation for those looking to stay at value resorts: “I would suggest Pop Century.” Rikki says. “It’s got a fabulous food court, doesn’t share buses like the other resorts and is right near the Art of Animation Resort, the newest Disney hotel.” Mike Rahlmann agrees, “My family loves Disney's Pop Century Resort on the value end of the scale with larger-than-life pop icons all over the place, awesome themed swimming pools, and a very fun food court!”
Some travelers choose a Disney resort hotel based on a particular theme. No matter the type of resort at Walt Disney World, there is always a theme, and most theme resorts can be found in next category: Moderate. Disney’s moderate resorts offer great theming but unlike the value resorts, Disney moderate resorts have a more grown-up theme. Kids tend to love the value resorts where they can see iconic Disney characters throughout the hotel, plus moderate resorts generally have their own sit-down restaurant. Moderate rooms are slightly bigger than values and typically offer more amenities you’re the value resorts. A favorite themed resort most enjoy staying at is Disney’s Port Orleans’ Riverside or French Quarter Resorts, where you can see the pageantry of the historic by-gone era in Louisiana. “I would suggest Port Orleans French Quarter.” Says Rikki, “It is the smallest of the moderates so it is easier to get around, has a really great laid back feel with fun pools, you can take the boat to Downtown Disney and also has a sister resort in Port Orleans Riverside, which is charming in its own right.” Mike Rahlmann agrees, “you really can't go wrong with Disney's Port Orleans - French Quarter Resort. Themed after New Orleans, you will be tapping your toes to the jazz music playing throughout the resort and you watch boats pass by on the Sassagoula River.”
Finally, some travelers choose a Disney resort hotel based on location. Looking to stay near a specific theme park? Want to “hop” around Walt Disney World on the monorail? Most resorts with good locations can be found in the next category: Deluxe. There are eight deluxe resorts that offer a variety of room types and sizes and some have either views of theme park elements or theme parks themselves, have multiple service dining options on site, and have transportation to the theme parks via buses, boats or monorail. For example, if you are staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge you are in for a treat as many rooms overlook animal habitats.
You can easily travel between the Magic Kingdom park and Disney’s Contemporary, Polynesian or Grand Floridian resorts via the monorail. Rikki and Mike however, recommend another one: “If you are looking for a Deluxe, I would suggest Disney's Beach Club.” Rikki explained, “It has the best pool on property with Stormalong Bay, has fabulous restaurants, it is element but relaxed and you are close to 2 theme parks, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.”
Mike agrees, “If you really want the ultimate in luxury, try our favorite Deluxe Resort, Disney's Beach Club! With a seaside feel, this resort has beautiful, spacious guest rooms with amazing views! Also, you are in the middle of the magic being just footsteps from the International Gateway entrance to Epcot.”
No matter where you wind up staying, each resort has its own special décor sure to take your breath away.
I want to thank everyone who I interviewed had for all their great contributions, Walt Disney World is a great place and you can find more information about trip planning at their various sites: