Choosing the Right Walt Disney World Resort

As someone who has traveled to Walt Disney World multiple times in the past 8 years, has always stayed on property, and has stayed on all levels of property, I’d say I’m almost an expert on how to plan.  I have always stayed on property for the dining plan benefits, convenience of Disney transportation, and Extra Magic Hours.  There are multiple things to consider when deciding on the perfect “home” for your vacation.

First of all, you need to decide if it is important for you to stay on property.  Do you want to be submersed in the Disney experience for the length of your trip or do you need a break? Perhaps you have other destinations to experience, such as Universal Studios, SeaWorld, etc where staying off property would benefit.  Or maybe you have friends in the area that you are planning to stay with?

By staying on property you can take advantage of Disney’s Dining Plan where you pre-pay for your meals and snacks.  It is accepted at the majority of Walt Disney World dining locations and it can be useful, depending on you and your guests eating habits.  And in the past, Disney has at times offered Free Dining promotions with your stay, which have been a huge advantage!  You also can experience Extra Magic Hours during which one park each day either opens 1 hour early or stays open 2 hours late for on property guests.  It’s the perfect way to experience rides and attractions with a smaller crowd.  Guests can also reserve FastPass+ 60 days in advance of their trip (as opposed to 30 days for off-property guests). And finally, Disney operates boats, buses, and a monorail to transport guests to and from the hotels, resorts, and Downtown Disney area.  For some of us who have lengthy commutes daily, it is a huge relief to let someone else do the driving for a week. 

As always, one of the biggest considerations is cost.  The price per night varies significantly from over $500 to less than $100 per night, depending on the tier of resort.  The value resorts costabout the same has a regular hotel room, often less than $100 per night.  The deluxe hotels are at the high end of spectrum and with those you are definitely paying for the experience.  The value resorts are set up like a standard hotel room with 2 beds, a bathroom, table, etc.  The deluxe resorts have a several room types from a studio to grand villa.   The size of room you desire will depend on how many are traveling with you and how much space you will need.  For example, we’ve found that 3 adults in a standard room or studio is crowded enough. 

Each resort has a feature pool and often smaller “quiet” pools, at least 1 restaurant or food court, and laundry facilities.  The restaurants vary from quick service to 5 star dining, depending on the tier of resort.  It is great fun to visit other resorts and taking in their ambiance.  You might just find your next home.

Next month, I’ll be giving you a review of my return visit to WDW staying at Pop Century, a value resort.  😀   Have a magical day!

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Adrienne is originally from the Chicago area but lives outside of Indianapolis with her husband, 2 dogs, and 2 cats. She went to Disneyland when she was 7, which started her love of Disney. She even named one of her dogs after her favorite princess, Aurora. She and Kenny, her husband, celebrated their honeymoon at Walt Disney World in 2007 and have returned for every anniversary. They have stayed at variety of resorts on property and traveled with friends and family. Adrienne and Kenny bought into DVC in May 2011 and rewarded themselves with their first fall trip for some of the special events. Adrienne and Kenny consider WDW their “second home” and have become the go-to people for any Disney related questions and advice from friends, families, and acquaintances.

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