Monday, September 7, 2009

Disney Days: Home Is Where Your Resort Is

Well, it's been a while since I last posted on this series, but I'm back, ready and raring to go on one of my favorite trip planning topics... resorts.

Usually the largest expense of your trip, resort choice can be difficult, especially with all the wonderful options out there. All told, Walt Disney World offers over 25 different resort accommodations, not to mention a handful of non-Disney options in Downtown Disney, as well as a seemingly infinite number of choices in the greater Orlando area. It's no surprise that this part of the trip planning process can give novices and pros alike a massive headache. So, my advice...

#1 - Stay on site.
Sure, you can save some cash by staying at a non-Disney hotel, or even renting a home, but you'll miss a lot of the magic if you do. Only Disney resort guests can utilize Disney's extensive transportation system. Those buses, boats and monorails beat a rental car any day! Staying on site also means you can use Extra Magic Hours. Extra time in the parks = extra fun on a trip. And most of all, the theming of a Disney resort can't be beat. At what other resorts can you be a flag family, participate in piano comedy, do the hustle or watch the changing of the (life)guards? (Those can be done at the Wilderness Lodge, Port Orleans Riverside, Pop Century and All-Star Music, respectively.)

#2 - Choose the amenities you need. Disney's resorts are grouped into different levels, with the amenities (and price) changing according to the level of resort. Here's a general guideline:

Value resorts are the least expensive. These resorts have large food courts, but no sit-down restaurants, multiple pools, but no slides, and rooms that you enter from an exterior door. The rooms are smaller here than at the other resorts, but the entire place is heavy on the Disney theming. Value resorts include Pop Century, All-Star Movies, All-Star Sports and All-Star Music. All-Star Music is the only value level resort that has family suites.

Moderate resorts are, no surprise, smack dab in the middle as far as expense goes. These resorts have medium-sized food courts, a sit-down restaurant and pools with slides. You'll still enter your room from an exterior door, but the rooms are a bit bigger. Theming is still a top priority, but no longer is Disney the center focus. Moderate resorts include Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter and Coronado Springs. Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds is also a part of the moderate category.

Deluxe resorts are the cadillacs of Disney resorts, and have a price tag to prove it. These resorts have tiny food courts, but multiple sit-down options and pools with slides. The biggest difference you'll note here is that the rooms have interior entrances, so guests have access to almost all amenities without ever stepping foot into the great outdoors. Again, theming is number one, but Disney isn't the focus. Deluxe resorts include the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk Inn, Contemporary, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, and the granddaddy of them all, the Grand Floridian. While not operated by Disney, the Swan and Dolphin resorts are lumped into the deluxe category.

Do you need interior-entry rooms or pools with slides, or are you more interested in Disney theming? Let the amenities you need drive your resort choice.

#3 - Pick what you like. In case you missed it in the last bullet point, Disney loves a good theme. Each resort is specifically designed to take you to another place - the Northwest, the African Savannah, New Orleans or the 80s. If you're going to spend a week or so away from home, you might as well do it at a place that speaks to you. If your desire is bright, bold colors and larger-than-life foosball, Pop Century is the place to be. If you want a hammock, a palm tree and some Hawaiian flavor, try the Polynesian. Or if you want to "rough it" in a tent under the stars, head on over to Fort Wilderness. Whatever your heart desires, Disney has a resort designed for you!

I hope you found this post helpful, and don't forget to click all the blue links to learn more. And, stay turned for next week... Eating Around the World.

Missed the previous topics? Check them out here:


Lara said...

This is actually some wonderful info. I don't know when I'll ever get to go, but I appreciate the tips!

**MIGNONNE** said...

I want to go to Disney World so badly. It seems very overwhelming but this helps! One of these days...

glitzen said...

Wow, such great information! We have always just gone to Disneyland, but someday I'd like to go to DW instead. This year, no vacation at all, but this is great to know anyway. Thanks! :)

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