Friday, November 18, 2011

7 Days 'til WDW: Picking the Perfect Disney Hotel

Today we will be discussing one of the most important decisions you will make in your Disney vacation planning process--choosing the perfect Walt Disney World Resort hotel.

In today's discussion, I will only focus on official Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Yes, there are many options off property. However, unless someone is giving you their time share, or you are staying with family or friends, I believe that Walt Disney World Resort hotels give you the best bang for your buck. If you are a large group, however, you may want to consider a "vacation home" off property.

But my rule of thumb: You will be as close as you can get to the Disney Parks with a guaranteed clean and nice hotel if you stay "on property." Plus, staying on property at any level, gives you access to the following:
  • Transportation to and from the Parks (This is constant throughout the day)
  • Extra Magic Hours
  • Disney's Magical Express
  • Early Advance Dining Reservations

The first question you should ask yourself is this: What is my hotel budget? 

All Walt Disney World Resort hotels fall into five categories:
  • Value Resort Hotels
  • Moderate Resort Hotels
  • Deluxe Resort Hotels 
  • Fort Wilderness Campgrounds
  • Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts
The first three categories are where the majority of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels fall.

The Value Resorts (Disney's All-Star Movies Resort, Disney's All-Star Music Resort, Disney's All Star Sports Resort and Disney's Pop Century Resort) are your bare bones resorts, with your basic amenities. They are very heavily themed and if I compared them to a non-Disney hotel, I would say they are comparable to a Hampton Inn. They are clean, a great place to sleep and have everything you could possibly need, including massive pools and a great food court. I often recommend these resorts to people who are all about the parks and nothing else. If you have no interest in sit down restaurants and will be at the parks from open to close and are simply going to the resort to sleep and take a quick dip in the pool, then the Disney Value Resorts are for you. Why spend more money then you need to? Disney Value Resorts will cost you anywhere from $80 to $175 per night, depending on season.

The Moderate Resorts (Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter and Disney's Port Orleans Riverside) are a step up from the Value Resort. They all offer (with the exception of Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter, which is a hop, skip and a jump from Riverside) a full service restaurant and bars. In addition, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort recently upgraded their rooms to include "Pirate-themed" rooms. If you have a little boy in your family, it's sure to be a hit. I usually recommend the Disney Moderate Resorts to those who can't quite swing the Deluxe, but still like to have a sit down meal at the resort. Also, the Moderate Resorts tend to be a lot quieter than the Value Resorts. Disney Moderate Resorts will cost you anywhere from $150 to $300 per night, depending on season.

The Deluxe Resorts (Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney's Beach Club Resort, Disney's Boardwalk Inn, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Wilderness Lodge and Disney's Yacht Club Resort) give you everything you could possibly want or need in a hotel. From amazing restaurants, to breathtaking views and incredible pools, you cannot go wrong with Disney Deluxe Resort! The best part of the Deluxe Resorts? Location, Location, Location! The Contemporary, Grand Floridian and Polynesian are just a monorail ride away from the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. The Beach Club, the Yacht Club and the Boardwalk are in the backyard of EPCOT (within walking distance) and a short boat ride away from Disney's Hollywood Studios. I would recommend Disney Deluxe Resorts to people, well, who have the money. It is pricey to stay at a Deluxe resort if you do not plan on doing anything but go to the parks. But, if you are truly looking to kick back and relax, the Deluxe resorts are where you should do it! Disney Deluxe Resorts will cost you anywhere from $250 to $1,500 per night, depending on season. 

Disney's Fort Wilderness Camp Grounds are a place to park your RV and have a fun old fashioned family vacation in a resort cabin. I do not feel comfortable reviewing this, as I have never experienced it personally. Fort Wilderness camp grounds will cost you $270 to  $435 per night, depending on season. 

Finally, Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts (Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas- Jambo House and Kidani Village, Disney's Boardwalk Villas, Disney's Beach Club Villas, Disney's Old Key West Resort, Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa and the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge) are those resorts that are a part of the Disney Vacation Club. The Disney Vacation Club, or DVC, is Disney's timeshare program. I will talk about the amazing benefits of the DVC in another post, but the Disney Vacation Club Villas are perfect for large and extended families. There are options from one to three bedrooms and some sleep up to 12 guests! I truly recommend the DVC Villas for those with large families. I especially recommend them for families that have other interests outside the theme parks. The DVC Villas have a wide range of activities throughout the day, without stepping foot in the parks. DVC Resorts are most often purchased through the DVC point system. However, if you purchase them outside of DVC, it will cost you anywhere from $275 to $2,500, depending on room size and season.

Where we are staying in 7 Days:
Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village! 

Kidani Lobby
Why Kidani Village-

  • It is our Disney Vacation Club "home" resort; therefore, we had the ability to choose our room from 11 months out
  • We get to wake up, go out on our balcony, and see beautiful animals roaming the savanna  
Kidani Village Savanna - Who wouldn't want to wake up to this?
  • The purpose of this trip is mainly to experience all of the various Christmas decorations and activities around property
    • While we are hitting the parks hard, the parks aren't the only reason for our visit
    • We will have a vehicle, which is helpful because the Animal Kingdom Lodge is the furthest on-property hotel from EPCOT, Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios
  •  We were able to get a two bedroom villa, which sleeps nine and will comfortably sleep six adults. And two wonderful bathrooms are very helpful! 
The "Living Room" of a Kidani Village Villa

So there you have it!  How to pick the perfect resort in a nutshell!

Feel free to comment with any questions. The most important thing to remember is that no matter what resort level you choose, you will be staying at a high-quality resort with many extra amenities!


Unknown said...

We can't afford DVC, so when we need room we stay at Windsor Hills - vacation home. Luckily, we go in January when we need the room, so the parks are a 1-2 crowd, so very doable even without EMH. But that view is on my one day list!

Rosanne said...

I've heard wonderful things about the Windsor Hills vacation homes! The most important thing is to be close to the happiest place on earth!

I am interested in seeing the new Art of Animation Resort when it opens. I think that may pull some business away from the vacation homes. It's long overdue for families with more than two children!

Thank you so much for reading!

Leanne said...

We hope to do DVC someday! I've never stayed anywhere but the value resorts and I love them, but we are definitely getting into that "too many people in a room" issue! I am also looking forward to the Art of Animation Resort!! Thanks Roe!! Love it! Stop by sometime next week...can you guess what Lucas's birthday theme is?

Kimberly said...

EXCELLENT post!!!! Very informative :) The last few times we've gone to WDW, we've gone with my parents, who have DVC. Someday... I would like to take the kids, without them (shhhh, they don't know that). For someone who knows the place very well, I didn't really know the price-ranges of the resorts from a non-DVC point. Thanks! I really enjoy your blog :)

Rosanne said...

Leanne - We love DVC. We were lucky to have my parents buy in during my professional internship where I was able to get them a huge (read: 30%) discount off the price. Art of Animation should be interesting though! As for Lucas birthday party theme guesses, I'm going with Toy Story because of his obsession with Buzz Lightyear. Let me know if I'm right!

Kim- thank you :) I actually remember that your parents had DVC. I know when they came down to visit you during our CP they stayed at Saratoga. We actually found out that you can purchase the DVC villas last year when we helped a family friend plan a trip. They were an extended family-mom, grandma, kids and uncle and didn't want separate rooms but obviously needed more space. It was a great option for them!

Thanks everyone for reading! New post up about choosing new park tickets.

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