Part 2 of this series is all about booking a resort/hotel. I want to start packing my bags right this minute. From day one of our planning process we saved and budgeted to stay at a DisneyWorld resort. I’m admittedly biased here, but I’m happy to say that there are plenty of other decent options nearby with a good relationship with Disney. So, don’t let my biases deter you from going at all! For today, though, I’m giving my reasons for loving the Disney resorts so much that I schedule time into our trip to just to enjoy our hotel. I mean resort.
1. The service really is better. I’ve stayed at non-Disney resorts here before, and they are fine. Really! They often cost a little less, but the service, cleanliness and atmosphere just don’t quite compare to the Disney resorts. Staying at a Disney resort only adds to your total experience, with bonuses like extended park hours, Fast Pass perks, and the little “pixie dust” touches, like impromptu visits with favorite characters. Read: no standing in line for hugs from Goofy!
2. Convenience. All the Disney resorts offer frequent complimentary shuttles to the parks. From some resorts you can also access the various parks via boat or monorail or even on foot through dedicated private entrances. For example, the Beach Club Resort has a special direct entrance to Epcot from the inside of the park. Additionally, when you reserve a Disney resort, you can take advantage of their complimentary (and highly comfortable) Magical Express ground transportation from/to the airport. It’s free. It’s rad. And it’s free. And it’s rad. This one is huge for me.
3. Amenities & Activities. Always keen to get every detail right, and to make even your time at your hotel special, DisneyWorld puts a lot of thought into guest rooms and recreation. Room amenities are thoughtfully packaged, and there are special touches everywhere. The fun might include beautiful green space with jogging and biking paths, evening s’mores and movies under the stars, basketball, sand volleyball, game rooms, playgrounds, even pirate excursions for kids (there is a fee for this outing). And the swimming pools? Awesome. Really, some of them are downright amazing, with real sand beaches and sandy bottoms! For lots of nightlife, check out the Boardwalk. For Horseback riding and boating, Fort Wilderness Campground. For incredible luaus, the Polynesian. I could go on and on and on here.
4. Dining. Most DisneyWorld resorts offer more than one option for dining, and accommodate various budgets. From $5 breakfast entrees, to elegant evening meals, to casual pool-side snacks or pizza delivery and room service. Far better than usual lackluster hotel breakfast buffets and vending machines. Some of the very best dining in all of DisneyWorld can be found the resorts. A few quick suggestions include Artists Point at the Wilderness Lodge, The Boardwalk’s Trattoria al Forno, and Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
There are 4 categories of resort at DisneyWorld: Value, Moderate, Deluxe, Villa. There’s even a completely fabulous campground with tons of wonderful amenities! Value resorts are the most budget friendly, especially at off-peak times of the year. Moderate are a little more sophisticated, Deluxe offer the most luxury and amenities, and Villas accommodate large groups in beautiful comfort with multiple bedrooms and kitchens. There are awesome options in each category–one of the biggest pools belongs to a Value resort! Some of the moderate and Deluxe resorts offer wonderful activities available to any guest, not just those staying at the resort, like fishing and boating. To check them all out and compare, visit Disney’s site.
We originally planned & budgeted to stay at this resort, in the moderate range. It’s beautifully styled and landscaped, and a pretty good value. Some rooms here offer drop down bunks to accommodate a fifth guest at no extra charge, there are special royal pirate themed rooms, nice pools, evening s’mores and storytelling, a fantastic dining hall with affordable options all day long, bike rentals, game rooms, even a fishing hole and playground. Tempting enough to stay here all day.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is where we’ll actually be staying, and I can hardly believe it. It would just never fit in our budget. But, a family member graciously shared their Vacation Club points with us and surprised us with reservations here. It’s so beautiful and peaceful–a little bit zen. The authentic African theme is distinctive and cool, with exotic dining options, gorgeous pools, also playgrounds, tennis and basketball, safari themed activities for kids, and a spa for me (ok, probably not in my real life budget). But I haven’t even told you the best part: the savannah view from our balcony! Giraffes, kudu, zebras. All just right there. My boys are going to flip. If your budget can swing this far, I highly recommend it. Even if you stay elsewhere it’s worth a visit here–there’s lots to see from the gorgeous sweeping veranda and observation areas. This is probably one of my top 3 DisneyWorld resorts. Did I mention I’m excited about this?
Which DisneyWorld Resort is your favorite? Which one do you dream of visiting?
*This post is not sponsored by any entity whatsoever, I’m just really happy to share what I’ve learned as we plan and execute this thing, and what I’ve loved from past experience.