Apr 3, 2013

How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Disney World, Part Three: Where to Stay

For those who have been following our series, welcome back! If you're new here, we hope you'll have time to catch up on parts one and two.

Monday, we established our opinion on staying on Disney property, so today we'll take a look at Disney World Resort options. They have three categories of resorts: deluxe, moderate, and value. What's the difference?

The colorful sign and entrance to Disney's Pop Century Resort
Value: All Star Movies, All Star Music, All Star Sports, Art of Animation, and Pop Century Resorts ($85- $176/night)

The value resorts are very large and have hundreds of rooms. The rooms are split up into different buildings, each with its own themed decor. The Art of Animation Resort is the newest of the value resorts, and it offers many family suites (Disney does not allow more than four people per standard room). Art of Animation and Pop Century have their own bus lines, while the other three value resorts share a bus. Each resort has several shaped pools but no water slides. They also each have a food court, a pizza delivery service, and onsite childcare.

A tree-lined lane lit with antique-style street lamps
Moderate: Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans French Quarter, and Port Orleans Riverside Resorts and the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds and Fort Wilderness Cabins ($162- $253/night)

The moderate resorts are a little bit smaller than the value resorts, so you may not have to walk as far to get from the lobby to your room. They also share buses, but the buses run more frequently to these resorts. Some also have water transportation available. They all have hot tubs as well as pools with smaller water slides.Of the moderate resorts, Port Orleans French Quarter is the only one that does not have a full-service restaurant. All have a food court, pizza delivery service, onsite childcare, and limited room service.

Disney's Polynesian Resort seen from the blue waters of Seven Seas Lagoon
Deluxe: Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn, Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Wilderness, and Yacht Club Resorts ($279- $748/night)

The value resorts are incredible. They have interesting architecture and beautifully themed lobbies and landscaping. These resorts are close enough to the theme parks that you may be able to enjoy fireworks from the pool or the resort's beach. They offer a variety of transportation options. Depending on the resort, you can travel by bus, boat, or monorail, and many of the resorts are within walking distance of one of the parks. They have great hot tubs and pools with big water slides, and most have beach access and a marina with water sport options. They have food courts as well as full-service restaurants and room service. The deluxe resorts have childcare service available as well as valet parking and a concierge.

Our Pick
For us, our resort room is just a place to rest our head at night. We rarely eat at the resort, and since we go to the water parks, we don't often use the resort pools. Regardless of where you are staying, you can make reservations and dine in the other resorts' full-service restaurants. You can also visit their beaches and marinas. When I go to Disney, I go to see the parks. Your resort choice will depend on where you spend the majority of your time and what your priorities and preferences are.

In my opinion, the extra amenities at the fancier resorts are not worth the extra cost. I could go to Disney World one time and stay at a deluxe resort, or I could take the same money and take THREE trips if I stayed at a value resort. If you have the money to do it, go for it. Maybe someday we'll splurge and spend a week at the Polynesian, but for now, a value resort is our top pick.

Of the value resorts, Pop Century is our favorite. It is a little closer to the parks, and it has its own bus line. If you go with a moderate resort, I highly recommend Port Orleans French Quarter. It's very compact, so you don't have to walk very far to get from the lobby or bus stop to your room. There is no way I could pick a favorite deluxe resort; they all look incredible!

We hope this series is answering some questions you may have had about planning a Disney trip. We'll be back Friday with our final part of the series!

How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Disney World, Part One: Myths Busted
How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Disney World, Part Two: Money Talk

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House of Hepworths
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