One of my biggest tips of all- STAY ON SITE. Staying in a disney resort truly brings that extra sprinkling of pixie dust to make your vacation really memorable. So you say you can't afford it? Sure you can, Disney offers a resort for every budget, taste and preference. With over 20 resorts on property, you are guaranteed to find one you like. Of course, I love staying on site so much, that we just purchased the Disney Vacation Club, so we will ALWAYS be staying on site from now on (for at least 50 years!). Not to mention you'll get a host of benefits:
*free disney transportation with Magical Express from and to airport
*free disney transportation to parks/resorts- buses, boats and monorail
*Extra Magic Hours- get in select parks one hour before opening and stay 3 hours later at night! You must show room key (Key to the World card) to verify you are a disney resort guest to qualify.
*THE DISNEY MAGIC!!! and special touches!
I have experienced all many levels of the disney resorts (except Villas, which I will in Dec!) at Disney and in Orlando- from the cheap hotel off 1-4 to a cabin at Fort Wilderness to a nice studio at the Wilderness Lodge, complete with balcony and pool view. They all offer something for each guest.
So what do I love about staying on site?
- I can be completely immersed in the disney magic 24/7
- I am greeted by friendly cast members in the lobby, at the pool- at every turn
- The proximity to the parks is amazing! A quick walk out of bay lake tower at the Contemporary and we will be at the magic kingdom!
- Transportation- while we like to rent a car, we still enjoy the freedom of hopping on a boat or monorail!
- Towel animals. enough said.
- Refillable mugs- buy one and refill for free your entire trip with coffee, soda etc.
- The pools- simply amazing fun!
- The theming- where else can i go and feel like I am in the French Quarter (while in FL) or see a an ostrich egg built into my lamp design at the Animal Kingdom lodge? Disney really does it right with every detail in the room.
- The 'extras'- mickey soap, hidden mickeys in the carpet and bedding, seeing a giraffe from your balcony or watching fireworks from it!
- Extra Magic Hours- if done right, you can see so much more with these extra hours. We manage to get most of fantasyland done during the early morning extra hour at the Magic Kingdom before crowds get too big.
The value resorts offer what you might find in a standard value hotel like a Holiday Inn, but they are themed, clean and offer far better amenities (who doesn't love mickey soap, don't find that at a Ramada!). The large food courts offer a huge variety of dining options. There are on site shops for any souvies or necessities (like the sunblock you forgot). And don't forget the amazing themed pools for the kiddos (and kids at heart). Most of the rooms will sleep 4 (plus a baby in crib) and are 260 sq ft in size. During value season, these rooms can be as low as $82 a night and go up to $145 during busy season like Christmas week. There are always discounts to be found though to bring the price down!
The moderate resorts are more my style, a little more room with 315 sq feet and again, hold 4 plus baby in crib. The pools here are even better, with unique slides and activities like a fishing hole. Again, food courts are fantastic as is the shopping. I've stayed at all moderates except Coronado Springs, which I've visited on more than one occassion. CS is popular with the convention/business crowd. Port Orleans Riverside is my favorite- love the southern theme and beautiful landscaping! Rooms start usually at $149 for the slower season.
Disney's Deluxe Villas are designed for Disney's Vacation Club members, but are also available to the general public (or you can rent points from a DVC member). They feature additional space for larger parties- including a 2 and 3 bedroom villa. The Grand Villa sleeps up to 12. Prices are extremely high for the Grand Villa and it is a special treat, many are 2 story!
Lastly, don't forget about Disney's Fort Wilderness- this unique resort offers affordable campsites for under $50. As a child, this is how we did disney the first two times we went- in our pop up camper. Fort Wilderness offers amazing facilities with bathrooms, playground, general store, buffet, Hoop Dee Doo revue, golf cart rentals, pools, horses and more.
- 4 VALUE RESORTS- All-Star Music, All-Star Movies, Pop Century and
- 4 MODERATE RESORTS- Carribean Beach, Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter and Coronado Springs.
- 8 DELUXE RESORTS- Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Boardwalk Inn
- 8 DELUXE VILLA (DVC) RESORTS- Wilderness Lodge Villas, Bay Lake Tower, Animal Kingdom Villas, Boardwalk Villas, Beach Club Villas, Old Key West, Treehouse Villas, Saratoga Springs.
- It's no surprise to me, but SIX Disney resorts made the 2010 AAA Four Diamond lodgings list. They include the Boardwalk Inn, Beach Club, Contemporary (my new DVC home!), Polynesian, Yacht Club and the Grand Floridian which has been on this list for 21 years!
- Welcome Home buttons! As you enter a disney park, you are greeted by the 'button man' who has a host of different 'celebration buttons' for free to promote the 'What Will You Celebrate' theme for this year. They offer anniversary, birthday, first visit, family reunion and other themed buttons. NOW- they have added a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) button for DVC owners, that says 'member since.....'.
- SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, died when Tilikum, a popular orca dragged her under water and flung her around during a live show. Thoughts and prayers to her family both at home and at SeaWorld.
- ESPN weekend is February 25 - February 28, 2010 -this event is at the Hollywood Studios and features al ineup of popular ESPN and sports personalities.
- Alice in Wonderland debuts at theatres on March 5th!
- 17th Epcot Flower & Garden Festival at Walt Disney World Opens March 3!
- Star Wars Weekends Begin Landing in May at Disney's Hollywood Studios
- Toy Story 3 comes to a child's room near you on June 18th