Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Travel Tips Tuesday - Lodging Options

This post was originally written for and published for Babes in Disneyland.  Feel free to read the original post here and check out Lisa's fantastic Disneyland blog!

The Walt Disney World Resort has many hotel options for nearly all budgets.  The highest and most luxurious are the Deluxe resorts, such as the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa or the Animal Kingdom Lodge to the most basic or Value rooms at the All-Star Resorts.
When treating ourselves during my pregnancy, my husband and I splurged for the Contemporary Resort in a room facing the Magic Kingdom and Cinderella Castle.  What a way to wake up!  The resort itself was fantastic – beautiful rooms with a very modern feel (not just 70’s modern like the building itself).  The room was large and comfortable, though I didn't realize at the time to specify a king bed versus two queens, so we each had our own beds, which worked out perfectly being pregnant and using a ton of pillows. The bathroom was beautiful and luxurious.  It was wonderful to have the monorail in the resort for convenience, but it was loud, and though it didn't really bother us, I would say this is probably one of the more kid-friendly Deluxe resorts, especially with Chef Mickey's Character Breakfast on the main dining floor.

My only experience with a Value resort was a quick overnight stay at the All Star Music Resort in college.  Though nothing special, it's definitely a nice resort with easy access to the parks.

One important difference between staying on property and off - the Extra Magic Hours (EMH).  Each day, the parks are open 1 hour prior - and often stay open several hours later - for Resort guests only.  Every day, a different park opens early, and if you plan correctly, these can make or break a vacation.  Our baby is most definitely a morning person, so we used this to our advantage and left our resort every morning on the first bus (the first bus goes to which ever park has the EMH for the day and leaves 1 hour prior to park opening).  Being in the parks for that early hour with so few people really did make dreams come true (awwww).  If you're not morning or late night people and don't plan to wake up early on vacation to hit the parks, then this huge plus may not be a pro for your traveling party. 

Another perk of staying on property - transportation.  I'm not a huge fan of the bus system, but it saves paying $14 a day for parking.  The buses go from resort to a single park and back, plus there are buses from park to park (or monorail if you're going from Epcot to Magic Kingdom).  

There are 3 resorts on the Monorail - a direct connection to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot:
• Disney's Contemporary Resort
• Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
• Disney's Polynesian Resort

There are several resorts that access either 1 or 2 parks or Downtown Disney via ferry or boat.  To Magic Kingdom:
• Disney's Contemporary Resort
• Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
• Disney's Polynesian Resort
• Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
• Disney's Wilderness Lodge

To Epcot and Hollywood Studios:
• Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas Resort
• Disney's Beach Club Resort
• Disney's Yacht Club Resort
• Walt Disney World Swan Hotel
• Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel

To Downtown Disney:
• Disney's Port Orleans Resort & French Quarter
• Disney's Port Orleans Resort & Riverside
• Disney's Old Key West Resort
• Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort

If we're talking all about money and ignoring convenience and everything I've mentioned above, for just a little more than the value resorts (currently listed at $82 per night), you can stay off property on nearby Irlo Bronson Hwy or other areas in a 3 or 4 star hotel for $100 and up.  These hotels often have transportation to the WDW Ticket and Transportation Center via shuttle, just running hourly instead of every 10-20 minutes.  Also, many include higher quality beds, toiletries, etc... and continental breakfast for less than you would pay at a Moderate resort with lower quality. Much of the cost is convenience and "experience."

After I originally started this post, I started researching yet another option – renting local villas/vacation homes.  Our next vacation to WDW will be for the Half Marathon in January.  Our plan is to arrive a few days before and simply relax, then after the race stay for a few days and check out other local areas.  Since we only plan to actually visit the Disney parks for 1 day but plan to be in the area for up to a week, we don’t need to take advantage of those Resort perks.  As far as I can tell, this option has many benefits for our plans... but those will come on another day.

And for now with all that said, I still prefer to stay on property :)


  1. Staying on property is the best! It is so convenient, and they have the best customer service ANYWHERE! For those who go at least once a year, it might be a good option took into the Disney Vacation Club. We have ownership in that and it has been amazing!

  2. I have yet to be convinced on DVC.. I think because I don't normally do long trips but go on frequent short trips and visit family in S.FL.. but maybe one of these days I'll sit down with a DVC rep to be convinced!

  3. I babysat for family when they stayed on property and I have to say one of the best things about staying on property for families are the shuttles. We never had to wait on mom&dad, and they didn't have to wait on us. We could all go our own ways basically (with common sense supervision of course) and meet again at designated places.

    Another great benefit you didn't mention is if you buy things you can send them back to your room! I'm a Star Wars fan and when I got to the Star Tours shop, I bought a bunch of things. Carrying them around all day would have been a pain, an invitation to losing them either because of my brain falling out or a thief even, and a possibility of something becoming damaged. Instead, they guaranteed it would be in my room by that evening, and it was there before we got back! The convenience of only having to carry around drinks, snacks, and money and not having to worry about anything I bought was wonderful.

    When I take my own family, we'll be staying on property. Though probably someplace like one of the "All Stars" resorts which use the shuttles.

  4. Thanks for that last point! I definitely forget to mention everything, so thanks. The package delivery is a definite perk of staying in the resorts. Also, having everything charged to room keys instead of needing cash is fantastic, too. So many perks!