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Disney Resort Recommendations

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#1 Dianna

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 10:01 PM

Have you stayed at a Disney Resort? Share your recommendations and opinions here!

 

Warmly,

Dianna



#2 Michelle Townes Lofton

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 08:10 AM

We've stayed at the Polynesian and at the All-Star Music resort.   

 

You can't beat the Poly for location, and the landscaping is wonderful.  We love being right in the middle of the "Disney Magic" and enjoyed the nightly electrical water pageant, bingo poolside, and movies and s'mores on the beach between the Poly and Grand Floridian.  

 

We are a family of 5, and the room was adequate with a nice balcony overlooking the pool area.  However, I have been in less pricey hotel rooms that are much more spacious.  Of course, this is Disney, so that is to be expected!  If the price was right, I would stay at the Poly again.  

 

My youngest two and I took a September trip last year to Orlando to visit Winter the dolphin (star of Dolphin Tale), participate in an all-day homeschool workshop at Kennedy Space Center, and the Disney class on marine life.  All-Star Music resort was our home-base because we scored a rate of $65 a night.  My kids LOVED it!  I thought it was great for a small family, but if our entire had gone, we would have needed more room. I do remember that the walls are a little thin at ASMu.  It wasn't too much of a problem during our stay since it was off-season.  But, honestly, I think I could hear whenever flushed the toilet in the next room! 

 

The pool area is not as shaded as at the Poly, but the kids still enjoyed it.  There is no full-service restaurant on-site, but there is a large food court area.   I rented a car for this trip since we were going off-site for several days, so I don't know what the transportation is like, but I think it is bus service.    



#3 DawnM

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 08:30 AM

Michelle, 

 

Was one of your kids under the age of 3?  We have been told that the Values Resort regular rooms will not hold 5 and Disney will not allow it unless the 3rd child is under age 3.

 

Personally we have decided a hotel room for any longer than a few nights is just not going to work for us anymore if we can at all help it!  

 

We did stay on-site once.  We stayed at Old Key West and rented Disney Vacation Points to get a good rate ($99 per night S-Th and double that on weekends).  However, we only had 2 kids then and they were quite young, so it wasn't such a big deal.   

 

My friends actually own DVC and they get a 1 bedroom at OKW and I visited their room and it was quite spacious.   It would be out of our price range though.

 

Dawn



#4 Dianna

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 12:03 PM

Was one of your kids under the age of 3?  We have been told that the Values Resort regular rooms will not hold 5 and Disney will not allow it unless the 3rd child is under age 3.

 

Dawn, that's right. The value rooms are small, and have only double beds, so it would be a tight fit.



#5 Dianna

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 12:11 PM

We've stayed at Pop Century and the Contemporary (when we got a great group rate in 2011). Pop Century (and the other values) are themed very well with Disney Magic. However, their rooms are small (two double beds, not much square feet), and their food (other than the breakfasts) left a lot to be desired. Still, Pop Century is our favorite value (haven't stayed at or seen the new Animation resort, so can't comment on that one) that may be worth your consideration if you can get a good room discount and don't have transportation.

 

We enjoyed the Contemporary much more - the room was big, fit 5 comfortably (and none of our children are small anymore), and it was so quiet and peaceful after a long day at the park. We stayed in the Garden Wing (not the tower) and our patio opened to the lake. So, so beautiful. It's much quieter than the values (theming and noise level). We *never* heard our neighbors while we were there.

 

That said, the majority of the families who stayed at the Contemporary with our group that year didn't enjoy it as much as we did. They didn't hate it, but said they wouldn't pay the very high non-discounted rate to stay there. It's not as themed as the other resorts, and they got aggravated with how they ran the monorail (it doesn't run after hours, so if the parks had extra magic hours, you had to find an alternative way to get back to the resort, negating many of the benefits of staying at a monorail resort).

 

Dianna



#6 Jennifer Berry

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 05:39 PM

We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge, a deluxe resort, in spring of 2011 and LOVED it.  The food is good, with a counter service cafe, The Whispering Canyon sit-down restaurant (my children call it "the not at all Whispering Canyon" b/c it's one of those venues that is very kid-friendly and loud, with cheeky servers and wooden horse races), and another sit-down that was more Pacific NW "grown up food" than we were after but smelled heavenly.  The pool was excellent, with a small water slide; plus the hotel is on the lagoon so there's a "beach" where they show movies some nights and where you can see the floating boat parade go by.  The rooms were nice-sized, about the same as a $140/night hotel in the real world: two queen beds, dresser, desk and chair, vanity with sink, and then a bathroom with toilet and tub.  If you're facing the right way (we were) you can even watch the MK fireworks every night.  Wilderness Lodge is large enough to be fun but compact enough that you don't have a crazy walk from the lobby to your room.  Bus service is fine (although the bus stop was being rebuilt when we were there, so you had to walk a little further to the temporary one), and the trip to Magic Kingdom is a ferry across the lagoon.  The arcade was okay, nothing special.  What really sells this hotel is the atmosphere, the proximity to MK, and the good food options.  Like someone else said, I wouldn't pay full price for it, but with the 40% military discount we were able to get it was perfect.  Only thing better would be being on the monorail, but as someone pointed it out it doesn't run at all hours and can leave you having to make other arrangements.


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#7 bless9ings

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 11:25 AM

We have gone twice with our large family onsite to Disney.  In 2005 we stayed at the Wilderness Lodge.  If your asking how we afforded a deluxe with a large family of 6 children at the time, well....my mom decided she wanted to go with us and offered to pay for one of the rooms with our kids in it!  When I ran the figures it was a huge upgrade and bonus to us! :) (oh and she only would do deluxe acommodations...at first I kept thinking we couldn't afford it and then I realized it wasn't much more then us paying for two budgets with a huge upgrade)  We loved the theming!  My dad loved going downstairs and using his dining credits for bacon, eggs and coffee at the sit down breakfast while looking at the grand lodge entrance and waiting for our large family to get ready.  I can't even begin to explain how spoiled we were staying there!  :rolleyes: We brought cold breakfast for the kids in the room, but the kids loved to use their snack credits for cream cheese and bagals or what not.  My mom loved exploring the property.  Lets just say with such a big party getting ready in the morning everyone was very happy and not bored and getting upset at people. ^_^  I felt very safe with the kids going downstairs by themselves.  We only stayed in a moderate (Port Orleans Riverside) one night and it didn't have any of the luxaries that we were spoiled with.  For example, I didn't feel safe sending my children out of the room to walk who knows how far outside to the food, shops, pools, etc.  I didn't like the bus stop for my only means of transportation and it wasn't as convenient or nice as the deluxes.  I would do a budget or moderate if it meant staying on property...but we were spoiled! :wub:

 

We had so much fun in 2005, that we went again with my parents in 2008.  This time we decided for the Beach Club.  It was awesome for that trip!  I loved the decor!!!  The pool was the best for the ages of our range of kids!  We utilized it every mid afternoon.  One of the greatest tips for young children is to get out of the heat at mid day for rest, relaxation and naps!  It truly saves on having a fun, relaxed vacation.  As the person said, kids get grumpy when it gets hot out. (not to say parents too)  I am a very visual person, and could not believe how even I could get "visual overload" from being in the parks.  The middle of the afternoon rest reengergized everyone.  I loved the personalized character dining there.  The kids loved the "happy meals" in a pail at the pool restaurant!  After their meal they would take their pail and shovel and go play in the special sand beach and toddler sized themed beach for them only.  It was truly amazing how they did it all.  The pool area had different spots for all ages of kids.  The lazy river float, the pirates of the carribean slide from a recreated pirate ship, little fun fountains that squirted the little kids, and it all felt like you were at a beach! (and walkways going over different areas of the pool)  We can't forget the view of across the lake was the boardwalk and my husband and I could go for a stroll around the lake.  One morning we meandered around the lake to the boardwalk to a little breakfast nook and had breakfast.  The shop felt like you were in a different country.  And last, but not least you can't forget the boat rides(which I love) to Epcot or Disney Studios.  You can walk to Epcot and Disney Studios(I am not sure if you still can, I think we decided to just take the boat because I love that mode of travel)  It probably took longer, but I always walked to Epcot and took the monorail to Magic Kingdom.  I  love the monorail too!  I guess it is reminiscent of when I was in 5th grade and my family and my grandparents brought us to Disney and we stayed at the Contemporary.  Everytime we go we ask to ride up front with the engineer, it is a highlight!  I guess you can say I really like that area for the luxuries of the scenery and mode of transportation. (I like walking too! The buses are my least favorite)  I didn't mention that I loved the boat at the Wilderness Lodge!  We used it alot!  We always seemed to have good luck with walking down and getting on quite quickly.  We didn't use it for just the Magic Kingdom.  I loved it so much I would take the boat, then the monorail to epcot.  I tried to avoid the buses unless we were in a hurry.  Early in the morning we always had great service on the buses.  We did other times of day too, I just didn't utilize them as much.

 

Sorry if I went on too much...my ramblings some might find enjoyable!


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#8 bless9ings

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 03:05 PM

If you were wondering which of the deluxes I and kinda general consenses of of our family would pick of the two in the previous read, it would be:

 

I personally love the Beach Club the best.  The theming is more my style with the beautiful paintings and white painted woodwork and the New England or East Coast Teddy Roosevelt time period style. (where the style was like what the rich would vacation in on the east coast)  As a rabbit trail, I would realy love to try the Grand Floridian, but my mother did not want to pay that much money with all the kids!  Plus like I said the pool was what we were paying for that particular vacation with the wide range of childrens ages. Plus being able to walk to Epcot.  I didn't mention the walk to Epcot is a pretty, enjoyable walk.  It brings you in between Britain and France in the showcase.  And all the modes of transportation that didn't include using a bus!  Well there is one nice thing about the buses, I talk and get to know alot of different people from all over the world on the buses.  It is rather boring for me, so I talk.  Where as the other modes of transportation I am watching everything and the kids.  It seems as though the busses were also more conducive to peoples eyes getting bigger and bigger watching the long trail of a big family and watching all the fun personalities.  It always made for interesting coversations an witnessing.  Summing the Beach Club up:  the grandness of the hotel, oh sorry I love the lobby and think the Boardwalk lobby is my favorit,  the pool and the walk to vacinity and the multiple modes of transportation.

 

Wow, that being said, we all agreed that the Beach Club was a luxary and we would still be very happy and content for the pleasures of the deluxe and the theming of Wilderness Lodge, (with its boat of course) because it is quite a bit less! :P   Are you surprised?!?



#9 bless9ings

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 03:28 PM

Sorry, I was thinking some more...you can't tell we were spoiled with the deluxes and what comes with them.  I love the lobby and it being a hotel versus a motel.  I was thinking that you feel special at the deluxe hotels.  Everyone treats us as very special, which Disney is good at doing everywhere, but...my experience at the deluxes was excellent.  I always felt when I talked to them that I was very special and not just another traveler coming in and I am sure they do it at the other resorts but...at the Port Orleans Riverside it wasn't quite the same.  They were magical still, but not quite treated as special.  I felt like I was the next person in line and then the wave of pixie dust and next.  The atmosphere seemed more rushed, where as at the deluxes it didn't.  The atmosphere does seem differant at the deluxes verses the one moderate we stayed at.  And I also have to admit I wasn't happy with our first room at the Beach Club.  For the money we paid, I was so disappointed and was afraid my mother would be sorely disappointed.  The guest relations let me look at a few different rooms, because we were there like at 6 or 7 am.  I picked the adjoining rooms I wanted with the best view.(one was overlooking a pebbled rooftop.  The place is so big, I knew for entry level they had to have better view in the price range.  Looking at the parking lot would have been prettier.)  They were so nice and accomodating.  I must admit, I was almost in tears and I am sure it showed on my face.  I think Disney would do that at any resort if they can, especially being there so early, but I still love hotels!



#10 Dianna

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 03:33 PM

Don't apologize - feel free to post about all of your experiences. It helps others who've never been there before. They'll have a better trip with all this advice from the "experts."  :)

 

Warmly,

Dianna



#11 Lisa Schroeder

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 03:33 PM

We have stayed at :

 

POP Century 2009.. was awesome, clean, small rooms, outside entrances, best food court and shopping. 

CONS: they have not kept it up as well as they could, things on the cleaning front are not as good, beds are smaller and harder, tiny bathrooms, no changing space/privacy. Can be a very long resort walk if you don't get a "preferred" room, which is closer to the main building. Pool has no slide. 

PROS: great food court, great staff, cheaper, better bus service than most deluxes.

 

Boardwalk

Pros: awesome ambience, especially if you get a boardwalk view. Fun to watch boardwalk performers from your balcony, or from the boardwalk. Lovely rooms, Incredible beds, Quick walk to EPCOT, longer but still pleasant walk to Hollywood studios. Watch EPCOT fireworks from your balcony.Cute playground/splash area near pool. Boardwalk has interesting nightlife.

CONS: Pool has what some would call a creepy clown. Incredibly long walks from some rooms to elevators or exits. Decor is somewhat fussier/sharper for tiny kids who may need edge bumpers on the furniture! Far from MK. Buses are not reliable, and take a long time. 

 

 

Contemporary Garden Rooms: 

Pros: water parade viewed from room.. parking right outside room, no paying bellmen to bring in bags, bigger than average rooms, patio/ glass doors, nice beds, quick walk to contemporary/monorail/food options, very quick to pool. Fast walk to Magic Kingdom..upstairs balcony/patio area to watch fireworks in main contemporary building.

Cons: Bathroom sinks so flat and modern that they splashed on you constantly, no vanity space, bus service unreliable and slow. Monorails break down a LOT these days... and are slower than driving or walking. 

 

Bay Lake Tower (DVC villas at the contemporary):

Pros: Huge space, nicely decorated, incredible views of castle/fireworks. Kitchen, washing machine, full amenities. Great beds, huge, amazing balconies (if you get a park view), close to walkway is best, since you can pop to contemporary quickly, and the elevator is close. 

Cons: Not the best finishing, some things were already broken/ peeling in the rooms (and they are some of the newest rooms on property), fold out chairs and couches for some "beds"

(same bus and monorail complaints as above)

 

I would stay at any of them again, but my preference would be for the Boardwalk, followed by Bay Lake, and Garden Contemporary.



#12 bless9ings

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 03:59 PM

Dianna,

 

Have you stayed at more than Pop Century, the Contemparary and the Swan(I know it is not a Disney owned resort, but is like because of location and that it has the amenities of emh and transportation)?  I am assuming you have.  Also it sounded like you like to stay on Disney property.  Which ones are you thinking of for your stay?



#13 Dianna

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 04:31 PM

Yes, I've stayed at others (on and off-property). Swan has all the amenities except for Magical Express (transportation from airport to Disney). I haven't talked to my family about which we'll be staying at. Probably two value rooms (less expensive than the suites) at Pop or at the new Animation Resort (right across the lake from Pop). It's still up for discussion, though. And who knows... maybe the Swan will come through for me. Most of my families loved it last year. (Although some had problems with their rooms - it's a convention hotel and could use a major renovation.)

 

Dianna



#14 Jennifer Berry

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 08:32 PM

Okay, Dorothy, I am by no means an expert, but I've done some poking around for you and this is what I've come up with. A family of six only has a few relatively inexpensive places they can stay on site as far as I can tell. You can do the family suites at Art of Animation or All Star Music for (Disney price) $2200-2500 (that's for the whole week, November 16-24, 8 nights). If you are a AAA member, Disney Visa holder, or ID-having military retiree then you can often get some discounts in the 5-15% range. The disadvantage to these rooms are that they JUST sleep 6, with the two smallest bed being a twin fold-out chair and a "single" fold-out ottoman; the value resorts are more spread out, so there's more walking from room to bus stop, food, etc. although each complex of three buildings usually has its own water play/pool area (check a map to see what I'm talking about); and you're pretty much stuck with Disney's food as you might have a little fridge but nothing else, so that adds a bunch of $$.
Another option is one of the 2BR villas at Saratoga Springs, a Deluxe Resort. The big advantages here are that it's much bigger, sleeps 8, so the master BR has a king-sized bed and the other three are queen beds or sofabeds; and you get a fully equipped kitchen, which can cut down TREMENDOUSLY on your food costs. Now, I know you don't want to be in there cooking all the time, but even if you just had a quick breakfast in the room and then made sandwiches to take to the parks for lunch (or had them for dinner after an afternoon swim) you would be SO ahead of the game. You would just have to have the food arranged to be delivered, but there are several companies that do that. This option IS more spendy of course, and you don't book it through Disney b/c that would cost you more than 6K. You go to a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) rental site, like dvc-rental.com, and you pay someone for their extra points to rent it in your name. I ran those numbers for your family, again for my dates which is 8 nights, and that came to about $3200. Add your airfare (check Southwest directly, they don't participate in fare-finder sites and they're an Orlando hub), figure one Disney meal per day plus whatever you think breakfast and sandwich/chips/fruit/snacks would cost for the week (a lot of the delivery sites have "menus" you can price from), and then assume $230 per person for 8-day tickets. I have no idea what Universal and Sea World tickets are going to cost, so I'm not sure what to estimate there. And then pray for a big tax refund!!! :-)
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#15 Dianna

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 08:56 PM

I probably already mentioned this, but two rooms at a value resort (instead of the suites) are less expensive, and sleep 8 (with two double beds each).

 

I think the new Animation resort has standard rooms, in addition to suites. If not, I'd recommend Pop Century if you decide to go this route.

 

I'm going to move both this message, and Jennifer's, to the Disney Resorts thread, where it fits better, but will leave a message for Dororthy to look there for it.

 

Warmly,

Dianna



#16 Jennifer Berry

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 10:48 AM

Is there a way to guarantee the rooms would be connecting, though? When we stayed two years ago we requested adjoining rooms and did not get them, at Wilderness Lodge, even with me calling ten days ahead when they're supposedly making the room assignments to reiterate.

#17 Dianna

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 11:54 AM

Jennifer, it depends on the ages of your children. The way it was explained to me several years ago is that if you have more than two adults in your party, they won't guarantee connecting (door in between) or adjoining (side by side, but no door between) rooms. If there are only two adults and the rest under 18, they will guarantee connecting rooms. Did you at least get adjoining rooms at Wilderness Lodge?

 

My guess (no proof, just guessing) is that they're more apt to guarantee connecting or adjoining rooms at Pop Century (or any of the values) due to the families with younger children that usually stay there. We've always gotten guaranteed connecting rooms there (5 years in a row, I think).

 

Warmly,

Dianna



#18 Jennifer Berry

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:19 PM

Ahhh, that is good to know!  No, we didn't get adjoining/connecting rooms at WL, but we DID have more than two adults in our party so that may have been why.  I was really worried that if Dorothy didn't get connecting rooms that it would leave her and her dh having to be separated, and that's not much fun! LOL  Hopefully that wouldn't be an issue.  That also means that *I* should do some looking at the value resorts, because right now in order to get some theming we are planning to pay $150/night at the Nickelodeon Suites just outside of WDW.  But the more I read about the traffic the more I want to get us on-site so we can just use the buses!  Still not sure we can do it for cheaper with two Value rooms, though...unless I get a discount code or something.  But if I wait for that I can't book Nick b/c it's non-refundable. :-(



#19 Dianna

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:38 PM

Jennifer, there will most likely be a Disney room discount code for our dates... probably around 15-20%, so factor that in. But it'll still be more than Nickelodeon, I think. Maybe not if you factor in parking fees each day at the park. Traffic won't be so bad during our dates, so I wouldn't worry about that. If you won't have a car, and don't plan to rent one, I would lean more toward on-property than off.

 

Dianna



#20 Jennifer Berry

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 01:18 PM

Well, we're just in North AL, so it's only about a 10 hour drive for us and would save us about $700 on airfare (after subtracting gas and meals during the trip) plus no rental car needed for Universal/Sea World, so we're leaning that way.  It also allows us to bring food if we get a room with a kitchenette.  I've run the numbers about six ways for the last two years and will do the same this year, then we'll figure out which covers more of our preferences without breaking the bank.  I really do appreciate the advice!! :-)