Now that you have decided when you want to vacation to Disney World, the next step is where to stay. There are a lot of factors when deciding where to stay; cost, location, transportation, amenities, etc. We have never stayed off Disney property so this blog will only focus on that.
We like to stay on property for all the added benefits. For one, being able to utilize the Magic Express to get you to your resort and then back to the airport. It makes traveling to Disney with littles a lot easier. You don’t have to worry about a car and car seat. Your luggage will go straight to the hotel so you do not need to worry about going to baggage claim. How amazing is that? It’s always a struggle to grab all your bags, wrangle in your child and get everything into a vehicle. This is probably our favorite feature. Once the bags get to the hotel they deliver them to your room.
Majority of the resorts have airline check-ins, so for your departure you will drop your bags off right at the resort, easy! Once you get to the airport all you need to do is go through security (which can be crazy). Tip: highly recommend getting TSA pre-check. It’s fast and so much easier to travel with kids when you have that.
Second benefit is access to Magic Hours. This is where parks on certain days will open an hour early or stay open later for Disney World Resort guests. This may not seem like a big deal, but an extra hour in the morning at a park is AMAZING. You can get a lot of rides in with minimal wait times. We don’t utilize the evening ones as much as we did before having a kid. A little harder as they need at least a little sleep to avoid extra meltdowns. The parks are fun at night and getting on rides during these times is a lot easier and minimal wait times as well.
Third benefit is transportation to all the parks. Disney really has it down when it comes to their transportation system. Between buses, boats, monorail and soon the Disney Skyliner (coming late fall), you’ll be to your park in no time. We also factor the type of transportation into our decision on where to stay. Having a toddler, we spend most of our time at Magic Kingdom, so we prefer to stay on the monorail loop. I will touch on transportation options a little more when I break down the resort categories.
The three categories that I am going to focus on are Deluxe, Moderate and Value. There are options for Villas, but I can’t speak to those.
There are 8 of them; Animal Kingdom Lodge, Polynesian Village Resort, Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk Inn and Wilderness Lodge. Out of these we have stayed at the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Beach Club and Wilderness Lodge (will do separate blogs on the resorts we have stayed at).
The Polynesian (Poly), Grand Floridan(GF) and Contemporary are all on the monorail loop which is extremely convenient especially if Magic Kingdom and Epcot are your favorite parks. When traveling with a child who still needs a stroller, the monorail is so much easier than a bus. You can just wheel it on and don’t have to worry about breaking it down and grabbing everything that you have shoved on the bottom. You can also take a water taxi to the parks from Ploy or GF. That is really fun to do a night during the fireworks or electric water parade. There is also a ferry that runs to and fro from Poly. You will have to take a bus to go to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.
The Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn and Yacht Club are located in between Hollywood Studios and Epcot. You can walk to either if you like the exercise or there are water taxis to take you there. We enjoy staying at this area for the easy access to both parks and the Boardwalk area has fun restaurants and shops. You will take a bus to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.
Fort Wildness Lodge is a fun area and feels nice and secluded in the woods. There is a water taxi that can take you to Magic Kingdom and back. Otherwise, buses will take you to the parks.
Animal Kingdom Lodge looks amazing from all the photos I have seen. Waking up and seeing live animals from your balcony has got to be priceless. You will have easy access to the park and will then take buses to Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
Deluxe resorts have a lot of nice amenities and for us feel less crowded. We also like the fact that they all have indoor room entrances.
There are 5 of them; Caribbean Beach Resort, Port Orleans – Riverside, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans – French Quarter and The Cabins at Fort Wilderness. We have stayed at Coronado Springs and Port Orleans – French Quarter.
You will take buses to get to all of the parks. There are quite a few bus stops at these resorts since they are much larger than Deluxe resorts. So staying in a building closer to the first bus stop is a must. A nice feature at the Port Orleans resorts is that you can take a water taxi to get to Downtown Disney where there are lots of fun shops and great restaurants.
Caribbean Beach Resort will be one of the hotels that has access to the Skyliner. The Skyliner will take you to Hollywood Studios and Epcot. This will be a very fun addition and nice to have another transportation option.
We find these resorts tend to be a little busier due to their size. They may give you slightly more amenities from the value, but save you cost from the Deluxe
There are 5 of them; Pop Century, All-Star Music, All-Star Movies, All-Star Sports and Art of Animation. We have only stayed at the Art of Animation.
Currently you will need to take a bus to all of the parks from these resorts. The Skyliner will run to Pop Century and Art of Animation which will take you to Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
We have only stay at one value so we can’t speak to all. What we noticed was just how busy they are and more people. They are much larger so more people can stay at them. When it came to catching a bus, it could take up to 4 buses before we could get on due to the amount of people (this was also during a slow time). However, the theming at the Value resorts are great for kids and it’s hard to be the cost for a family.
Currently Disney is running specials on each category. You can save 30% on Deluxe, 25% on Moderate and 20% on Value for most nights during May 28th – September 30th 2019 if booked by March 24th. Click on this link for all details https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/special-offers/sun-fun-room/.
This was just an overview on what to expect per category. I will write individual blogs on the resorts we have stayed at to give you all a little more insight.
Have a Magical Day!