Welcome to Part III of Planning Your Disney Vacation. In this installment, we will cover where to stay and then begin to look at some of the considerations surrounding dining at Disney.
As the number one tourist destination in the world, WDW boasts a number of options for accommodations. In fact, the Orlando area has more hotel rooms than New York City. For most people, vacation stay accommodations usually means a hotel room of one sort or another. There are a few other options which we’ll look at later. But for now let’s concentrate on hotel options.
All hotel options break down into two main categories; staying “off property” or staying “on property”. On Property means utilizing a Disney resort that is actually within the approximately 43 square miles that is WDW. Off property is any hotel that is not on Disney property.
Examples of off property hotels are listed below:
|Hotel Plaza Property||Cost per night range|
The on property Disney Resorts pricing is shown below:
|Disney Resorts||Cost per night range|
|Fort Wilderness Cabins||~$100|
|Value Resorts(All Star Music/Sports/Movies, Pop Century)||$84-$174|
|Art of Animation||$94-$169|
|Moderate Resorts(Port Orleans, Caribbean Beach,Coronado Springs)||$159-$279|
|Deluxe Resorts(Polynesian, Contemporary, Grand Floridian)||Prices Vary Widely$300-$780)|
|Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Studio||$300-$630|
|DVC 3 Bdrm Suite||$1700-$2500|
The range in prices in both tables is a combination of seasonal variation and accommodation type.
The Grand Floridian Resort
As you can see the cost of staying on property can be cost competitive with staying off property so cost need not be the deciding factor. I strongly recommend staying on property. There are several factors that point to utilizing a Disney Resort. The Disney Transportation System consisting of buses, boats and monorails will whisk you anywhere around WDW you need to go so there is no need to use a car once you arrive at your Disney Resort. Disney’s Magical Express (see Part II for more info) is only available to resort guests staying at a Disney Resort.
If you are staying off property, you will need to either shuttle in or drive every day. Parking at a Disney Theme Park currently costs $14 per day. If you have small children who need afternoon naps/downtime or an afternoon swim, you need to plan on going back to your hotel and then returning if you are taking in evening activities. All of which cuts into your precious vacation time. Resorts guests merely catch one of the Disney Transportation system vehicles and go back to their resort with no hassle. Disney resort guests also have the availability of using Extra Magic Hours (EMH). Most days Disney will open one park one hour earlier and keep one other park open for three (recent changes have reduced the evening EMH to two) hours. This allows you to visit your favorite attractions with far fewer guests in the park.
There are also some intangibles that add to your vacation enjoyment. Each Disney Resort has special theming unique to that resort. One amenity that I really like is your Key to the World Card (KWC) that you receive at check-in. This card acts as your room key, park pass and charge card all in one. I typically only take to the Parks my KWC, drivers license (because it has a picture of me) and a few dollars in cash for small purchases where the KWC is not taken. Almost all of my purchases: souvenirs, food, etc are charged to my KWC. I get a complete print out of all charges when I check out. In addition, I can look over the itemized list at the close of each day if I wish. The KWC purchases are transferred each evening to whatever major credit card you place on file when you check in. It has proved to be a painless way to manage my park spending.
Last and not least of the reasons to stay on property, is the feeling of “staying in the magic”. It’s hard to quantify but somehow when I arrive at a Disney resort, I just feel that I am more a part of the Disney Magic.
There are two other options that need to be mentioned before we finish with lodging options. If your family enjoys camping, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort has campgrounds where you can pitch your tent for around $50 per night. The grounds are landscaped for privacy, have picnic tables and grills. If your “tent” is a motorhome, there are also water, sewer, electrical hookups. There are even cable TV and high-speed internet hookups.
The final option I want to mention is a vacation home. If you are in need of housing a large gathering, All Star Vacation Homes has a variety of homes with up to seven bedrooms that will provide your clan with a place to stay together that is near WDW. They can be reached at www.allstarvacationhomes.com.
The topic of dining at Disney is a very extensive one. In Part IV of this planning series we’ll look at all aspects of Disney dining including: where should you dine; Disney Dining Plans; making dining reservations; food options; and finally provide an overview of the resources available to you to help select and plan your meals at WDW.Share