If you are going to Disney World you are going to have a great time wherever you stay. Disney and Universal will wrap their magic around you and fully immerse you in total escapism. I am lucky enough to visit Disney World regularly and I have done this many ways. Over the years I have become a Disney pro and I am going to tell you about different type of accommodation their individual positives and negatives.
This is a great way to save money when visiting Disney. You can rent a large 4 bedroom villa in Florida with a pool for about £600 a week. On top of this you must factor in the cost of heating the pool depending on the time of year and the cost of cleaning the villa. This is a great option if you want to get away from the parks and have some peace.
On the down side most villas are 30 minutes away from the parks. This time is generally when you arrive onto Disney property passing through that magical bridge. You still have a considerable time to drive to a park and park your vehicle. You then need to grab transport from the car park to the park gates. This time really adds up especially when you have had an active day walking and your tired.
A hidden cost of a villa is all theme parks charge $20 to park your car. This really adds up. 10 days parking is $200, I would rather spend this on other things. Also villas generally do not have restaurants within walking distance so you will need to drive to for dinner if you’re not cooking at the villa.
For me a villa is just normal life picked up and put somewhere else. Florida is not a place for normality and humdrum. I have only stayed in a villa once in Florida, it was good but I would not do it again. Make of that what you will.
International drive or I Drive is 11.1 miles in length. This is the main tourist strip in Orlando. To the north Universal Studios is located. There is a massive variety of hotels here to fit all budgets. Many of the hotels also run free shuttle services to the parks. This is great as you avoid parking charges and can enjoy and alcoholic drink without the need to drive.
There are so restaurants on International drive, two of my favourite are Charlie’s Steakhouse and Chili’s Bar & Grille. I love the Margaritas at Chili’s. There is plenty of shopping locations here such as Orlando International Premium Outlets. This is my favourite outlet mall and it’s a must. Here you will find Bath and Body Works, Adidas, Nike, Diesel, Converse and Puma. Many shops are open late until 10pm including the outlet malls
The negative of the I Drive is it will still take you a good while to get into the parks. It depends on how many days you are in the parks as to how much this will matter.
On site at Disney:
There are currently more than 25 resorts hotel locations at Disney World to choose from. Whatever your budget or whatever you have in mind from adventure to luxury, Disney has it. This is the hassle free option included with your stay at Disney is transfers to and from Orlando Airport on the Magic Express. This is the start of Disney wrapping its magic around you. The Magic Express is a comfortable air conditions coach that tells you about Disney as your driven towards it.
Included with all onsite stays is free transportation around Disney World which ranges from busses, monorails, boats and soon to be sky track. Transportation is frequent and easy to use. It’s a massive bonus not to drive while you are onsite at Disney. There are so many lovely cocktails in the parks and resorts, it would be a shame not to have a few!
The hotel resorts are come in three categories Value, Moderate and Deluxe.
Value Resorts are brightly coloured with larger than life iconic theming. These are family focused locations which have large food courts. They tend to be more on the outskirts of Disney property and as a result it takes a little longer to get into the parks.
When free Disney dinning is offered a quick service package is included when you stay at a value resort and purchase a Disney park ticket. Quick service Dinning plans includes two quick service meal and two snacks for each night you stay. It also includes a resort refillable mug for the length of your stay.
Below is a photograph from Pop Century
Transportation into the parks is via busses that come frequently and service all park locations including Disney Springs.
Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
I have stayed at some of the value resorts when I am holidaying with friends. My best friend, Vicky is also Disney obsessed like myself. When she was getting married we headed off to Disney World for her hen do. We stayed at a value resort and we could not fault it for what we were looking for. Its basic and clean but if you’re in the parks all day and out at night, its perfect. We didn’t use the pool as we would go to the water parks instead. Below photograph is us at All-Star Sports resort heading off to Typhoon Lagoon.
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Moderate resorts have more muted colours with more work on the theming, room interiors and landscaping.
The pools are a little more impressive than the value resort pools. They also offer bus and boat transportation to the parks and Disney Springs. Below is the boat at Port Orleans to take you to Disney Springs. Great way to arrive!
When free Disney Dinning is offered a stay in a Moderate Resort with a Disney ticket will give you the Disney Dinning Plan. This includes one quick service, one table service and two snacks for each night of your stay. It again includes the refillable resort mug. This is my preferred dinning plan as I enjoy the table service meals. The next plan up is the Deluxe Disney Dinning plan with three table service meals and 2 snacks. On this plan you spend a lot of time sitting in restaurants and not exploring.
A perk of a moderate resorts is its location. They are all positioned closer to the parks than the value resorts as a result all of the transportation times are a little bit shorter. Moderate resorts a below:
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside
Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter
The cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
This is the best of Disney and often come with a high price tag. The resorts are beautiful with fantastic pools. The theming and landscaping is detailed and fantastic.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s Beach Club
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Resort
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
They all have great restaurants that are well worth a visit such as the Yachtsman at Disney’s Yacht club or the Kona cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Resort where you enjoy the legendary Tonga toast. The pools in each resort at large and luxurious. Also these resorts are closest to the parks. I also found the transportation to the parks less crowded and more frequent.
One of my favourite deluxe resorts is Yacht Club. The pool not only has a lazy river but the pool has a sandy bottom and island in the middle. Also great pool side cocktails to enjoy here. I love Beaches and Cream soda shop great milkshakes, icecream and Floats. Also with the board walk a shot stroll away there is so much to see and do.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is great fun, I enjoyed opening the curtains every morning and seeing giraffes, zebras, bison and much more walking in front of my balcony. A cup of tea on the balcony watching the animals is a great way to start a Disney day. The resort is immersive and you really could be on an African safari. The only down side to this resort is its minutes from Animal Kingdom but very far from all other Disney locations.
Above I am in the reception of Animal Kingdom Lodge and below I am in the jacuzzi at Animal Kingdom Lodge
If you are going to Disney you’re going to have a fantastic time! If you cannot decide on accommodation make sure you watch out for Disney deals and weigh up the hidden costs of not staying on site before you make a decision. I now only stay on Site at Disney as its hassle free, you don’t need to drive and they think of everything!
Have a great holiday
Alyssa and Castle Magic Collective (Follow us)