Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Disney with Kids - Where to Stay?

 Now that you've decided to take your kids to Disney World, where are you going to stay during your visit? Do you want to stay on-property in a Disney resort or off-property at a hotel or condo? This will depend on the size of your family, of course. I don't really have a lot of advice to offer on off-property locations, but check out this forum on the Disboards. You might be able to find some good info there.

 For our family of 4, it is much easier to stay on property. There are several advantages to staying at a Disney resort. Here are some:
1. Free transportation to and from the airport via the Magical Express
2. Free parking at all the parks
3. Free bus service to all the parks, as well as Downtown Disney
4. Charge to your room privileges - you don't have to carry lots of cash
5. Dining plan offers, sometimes even free dining
6. Free delivery of purchases in the parks to your resort gift shop - great if you don't want to haul around that giant Tigger all day!
7. Extra Magic hours - almost every day, at least one park opens earlier or stays open later for guests staying on Disney property

And of course, the biggest perk for us is just the Disney magic! The attention to detail keeps us coming back.

So now comes the hard part - which Disney resort is right for your family? For most of us, cost is usually the first consideration. But you might also want to consider what amenities you find desirable, what type of theming the resort has, and how large the rooms are. Here's a chart with room sizes in the various resorts to give you an idea of how much space you will have available.Think about how much time you want to spend in the room, too. You might not mind a smaller size if all your family is going to do is sleep there!

The Princess in our room at the Coronado Springs Resort in 2012
 Disney resorts are grouped into four categories - value, moderate, deluxe and deluxe villas. Cost is, of course, the main difference. As you go up the ladder in price, you also get more amenities. For example, each value resort has a pool or two. Some of the moderate resorts have a main pool with another "quiet" pool per building. Most moderates also have hot tubs and fitness clubs. Deluxe resorts offer closer proximities to the parks. The deluxe villas are just that, villas with one, two or three bedrooms, along with a kitchen or kitchenette.

By the way, every pool on Disney property is heated, so you can even take advantage of the pools in the cooler months. We had great fun this past February at our resort's pools!

To see descriptions, pictures and rates for the Disney resorts, visit Disney's accomodations page. You can see what the rooms and pools look like and get a feel for the amenities offered in each one. You can also check out the theming, which is different for each resort.

Where we've stayed

For our first two visits, we stayed at the All-Star Movies Resort. We requested the Toy Story building and got our request both times. Also both times we were close to the bus stop so we didn't have far to walk to hop a bus to the parks.

Mr. Lego in the Toy Story courtyard 2007

This resort was very kid-friendly. The theming was great and we enjoyed wandering around and exploring it. Because it was kid-friendly, it was also pretty noisy. If you're looking for peace and quiet, you might want to upgrade to a moderate. But for the price, it was great for our kids when they were smaller.

Also, the bus service to the resort was shared with two other All-Star resorts. So it was almost always crowded and there was nowhere to sit and wait for it.

On our last trip in February, we chose to stay at the Coronado Springs Resort. We chose a moderate because all the bed are queen-sized, while the value resorts only have double beds or one king per room. The theming for this resort was Southwestern, and it really felt like were were in Mexico or Arizona!

The Dig Site pool was amazing
We liked the bigger beds, quiet pools, hot tub and the relaxed atmosphere. But this resort was very spread out, so it took a bit to walk to the main building or the bus stop. Overall, though, the bus service was very good and we rarely waited longer than a few minutes.

I think from this point on, we will try to stay at moderates. With the kids getting older and bigger, the larger rooms and beds are a must. In fact, we're already planning our next trip for November 2013, and we're hoping to stay at Port Orleans Riverside. They have refurbished some rooms into Royal Guest Rooms complete with princess theme. Since the kids are getting older, we thought it might be our last chance to stay in a themed room without them feeling too childish.

If you have any questions about either resort we've stayed at, please ask. I'm no expert by any means, but I'll honestly share our experiences with you.

See my previous Disney with Kids - How old should they be? post

Next Disney with Kids topic - when should you go?

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