Choosing where to stay on a Disney vacation is one of the most discussed and researched parts of planning a trip to Walt Disney World. Of course it’s easy to understand why, as the cost is a huge part of a Disney vacation budget. But I have also found that most folks are also looking at things beyond just cost: theme, amenities, location, and transportation are just a few of the things people consider when deciding on a Disney hotel or resort property.
So let’s take a few minutes today and discuss some things to think about when it comes to Disney properties specifically…because while there are certainly other options, the vast majority of people are probably interested in staying with Disney.
And for good reason.
Disney offers a number of benefits to staying with them. Free transportation to the parks, as well as Disney’s Magical Express, that will transport you from and back to the airport will save you both time and money. Other Disney “perks” like “Extra Magic Hours” are a nice way to get additional time in the parks. Plus Disney offers the Disney Dining Plans to those buying a Disney resort package…..including the popular Free Dining promotion that should never be overlooked when planning affordable Disney vacations.
Then there is “the Magic factor”. Arguably the most important thing that a Disney property provides, that you will not have if you stay off-site, is that 24/7 immersion in the Disney “magic”. And for many people, that’s a big deal!
So you want to stay with Disney? Then let’s talk about your options.
Briefly, Disney basically has four categories of hotel accommodations: Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas.
While there are clearly some differences among these categories in terms of size, location, amenities, and cost, all Disney resort properties share in those great perks described above. And when deciding on the most affordable option, you certainly need to take all of that into consideration.
As to the resorts themselves, Value resorts such as All-Star Music or Pop Century offer fun themes, food courts, smaller rooms, and the lowest prices on Disney properties. They are also typically located farthest away from the theme parks. Or you could consider the new Art of Animation resort, which offers a large number of family suites, in fun themes like Nemo, Lion King, and Cars: these suites that enable a larger family to stay in one “room” although you should do a cost comparison to see if this is most economical to you.
The Moderate resort category, as the name implies, is “in-between”. These resorts, like the Caribbean Beach, or Port Orleans also have food courts, have slightly larger rooms, typically more elaborate pools, and are usually a little closer to the parks.
The Deluxe category hotels, which include properties such as the Polynesian, Yacht and Beach Club, and Disney’s flagship Grand Floridian, are the closest to the parks, have the largest rooms and most luxurious amenities, and do not typically include the “food court” option. They are also the most expensive….most of the time. I say this because they are also the properties that, when Disney offers resort discount promotions, are most likely to be discounted the heaviest because they do not book up as quickly. This is where having some flexibility as to when you are traveling can be beneficial: it is certainly possible to be able to stay at a deluxe resort during non-peak times for less money than a moderate during peak times.
The final category is the Deluxe Villas which are really a “different” category entirely, because they are Disney Vacation Club properties that are not booked by vacation club owners. These properties can be perfect for larger families since they include one and two bedroom villas that have kitchens. Again, depending on the time of year and potential promotion available, when considering your family’s needs, a Deluxe Villa can be an affordable option for your family.
So many choices when it comes to where to stay at Walt Disney World! What is your favorite Disney resort? Let us know in the comments below!
- Disney Vacation Planning: Choosing Your Hotel
- Affordable Disney Vacations Step by Step. Part Eight: What to Know if You Want to Stay at a Walt Disney World Resort
- Disney World with Little Ones: Picking the Right Resort
- Choosing the Right Walt Disney World Resort
- Thrifty Thursday: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort