Where you’re going to stay is a big part of most people’s planning when they’re planning a trip to Disney World! There are so many places to choose from though that sometimes it’s hard to figure out exactly where to start! This post is all about Picking Your Disney World Resort!
This post is NOT sponsored, we just love Disney and I love to plan our trips. 🙂
This is a part of a Disney Vacation Planning Series here on BigBearsWife.com – This series is a work in progress and I’m going to be constantly adding to it. To see all of the parts, visit the Disney Section of my blog!
Other than looking at Disney World menus and dinning, the deciding on the resort that we’ll stay at is one of my favorite parts of the planning!
There are over 30 different ways/places to stay on property at Disney World while you’re on vacation. Picking a resort at Disney can be overwhelming. We always stay on property when we go to Disney. I’m crazy about Disney details and details in general, Disney hotels are amazingly full of sweet little Disney details.
You also get some nice perks for staying on property that I’ll talk about further down in this post.
Resort prices range anywhere from $100 a night all the way up to $800 (or more) a night. These prices will change depending on when you go and where you decide to stay. Depending on your budget, wants and needs for your vacation, you’re going to want to take a look at a few of them before you pick a place to stay.
Over the years I’ve stayed at all types of Disney resorts and while it’s easy to only look at the price tag to decide on where you want to stay, you really need to take a good look at the resorts and what they offer. I know a lot of people say that it’s “just a place to sleep and shower” when you’re on vacation but I want to sleep and shower in a place that I love when I’m on vacation and I also like to stroll around resorts with Thomas, now that we have Jackson we will having “down time resort days” during our trips and I don’t always want to travel for our meals!
When I get ready to pick our resort there are a few things I need to consider:
- Our Budget
- How many people are traveling with us and how many beds we need (or how many rooms)
- Who is traveling with us
- Disney transportation available
- food courts and restaurants
- pools and activities
Now in the post I wrote on picking your Disney World vacation dates , I used the dates May 6th – 11th, 2018 as my hypothetical trip, so those are the dates I’ll use here too.
It’s time to pick a Disney Resort!
I use this tool here on the Disney site to take a look at all of the resorts. This tool lets you look at each resort, the amenities of each resort, the price, photos of the rooms and it even let’s you compare 3 at a time.
Just click on “places to stay” when you’re on the site. Then add in your dates and how many people are going with you. Hit find resorts and it’ll pull up all of the resorts available for your dates and party size
Then you can click on each one and see what the rooms look like, what the food options are at the resort, what kind of transportation this resorts offers and from the parks and how many pools this resort offers (along with other amenities).
Our budget for our hotel room depends a lot on when we’re going and how long we’re staying.
I try to keep our room budget to around $200-$250 a night
I could go lower but the $100-$150 a night rooms are normally “All-Star Resorts” and while they are nice hotels, Thomas and I just aren’t fans. The rooms and beds are small, it’s geared a lot towards kids and teenagers in our opinion and we just opt for different hotels. (Again, totally just a personal preference)
While we have stayed at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, our normal vacation budget normally had us staying at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter or Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside (although I’m ok with staying at other resorts in that price range too)
DON’T PAY EXTRA FOR A NICER ROOM VIEW
I know it’s tempting when they offer you a “garden view”, “water view”, etc, but really……how long are you going to be standing at your hotel window looking at the “view” while you’re at Disney.
To be honest I hardly EVER open our curtains to our room, mainly because I don’t want people looking into our rooms since a lot of the walkways are right at the windows at some hotels.
My only exceptions to this are:
#1 – The grand Floridian, if you get a outward facing room, these rooms have balconies and they’re nice to sit on in the mornings or evenings.
#2 – Animal Kingdom Lodge – Where you can see the animals from your windows/balconies (get the Savanna View!)
Number of people with us
If it’s just Thomas, Jackson and myself we just need a room. However if my brother and sister in law are traveling with us or if my parents are coming too, we will need more than 1 room or we will need a suite or a villa. Not all resorts offer suites or villas but you can always requests rooms beside each other!
There are a few different ways to get around Disney World and to the parks:
- Disney Buses
- Ferryboat/Water Taxi
- Your own car (don’t forget to show the parking attendant at the parks your hotel car sign so you get free parking!!)
The monorail picks up and drops off at each of these resorts:
The Monorail also goes to the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center (you’ll have to switch monorails here to get to Epcot)
(I don’t have a photo of the bus haha, oops)
The buses pick up and drop off at all Disney Resort, All of the Disney Resort Parks and Disney Springs!
Make sure to check the schedule and the front of the buses because each bus goes to different parks and resorts.
Not all resorts have water taxis but here are the ones that do:
(Also, not all resorts that have water taxis take you everywhere)
Water Taxi to and from Magic Kingdom:
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
You can ride the ferry to the Magic Kingdom from the Transportation and Ticket Center.
Water Taxi to and from Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
- Walt Disney World Swan Hotel
- Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
Water Taxi to and from Disney Springs
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort—French Quarter
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort—Riverside
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Your own car:
We hardly ever use our own car when we’re at Disney except on 1 occasion and that’s when we go to Animal Kingdom. We like to get there early and we don’t stay the whole day so we always drive over there.
Parking is normally $20-$25 BUT if you’re staying at a Disney resort show the parking attendant at the parks your hotel car sign so you get free parking!
What I love:
We love staying at the monorail hotels because the monorail is my favorite way to get around Walt Disney World BUT those hotels are EXPENSIVE! Yes, they are amazing and wonderful and awesome but they cost $$$$. So we don’t always stay at those.
My second choice is the water taxi. We love taking the water taxi from Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside to Disney Springs. It’s nice to be on the water and they’re not super crowded even when the seats are full because they limit the amount of people.
The buses, although we do take them, are my last choice. They are normally ok in the mornings but in the afternoons and at night, they’re super crowded, hot, and you’re right up on top of each other and I hate it. Plus unless you’re up front in line, you’re probably going to end up standing for the ride and standing all the way back to the resort when you’re super tired and your feet are already killing you is awful.
Food courts and restaurants
While a lot of our meals are eaten in the parks, I do try to make sure that the resort I pick for us has a good food court (and not one under construction haha) or some type of 24/7 Quick Service restaurant.
We love to eat breakfast at the resort before we start our days. I’m not a big breakfast eater but Thomas is. At the food courts or the Quick Service places I can just grab an apple and juice and Thomas can have his giant breakfast all in the same place.
Also, you can get these Disney Refillable mugs from the food courts and quick service places at the resorts.
$15.00 for the cup (that was the price last time we were there) but then you get free re-fills at any of the refill stations at any resort. We saved a ton of money on drinks with this cup!
Also, if you’re hungry and you get back from the parks late it’s nice to be able to run in and grab something to eat there or take back to your room!
One night we got fish and chips at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside:
One night we got late night Sushi for dinner at The Gasparilla Island Grill when we were staying at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa:
Pools and Activities
While we haven’t scheduled a lot of “resort relax days” in the past, now that we have Jackson, we’re going to have to! There is no way that our little guy can hit the parks all day like we can.
So on our vacations from now on ,until he’s older, we’re going to schedule relaxation days where we just stay at the resort, play in the pools and enjoy the activities at the resorts!
All the resorts have different themed pools and a different number of pools.
Disney’s Resort – Riverside has the following:
Ol’ Man Island – a 3.5-acre pool area with huge pool with an abandoned sawmill theme and it has a 95 foot-long waterslide. This area also have a whirlpool tub, the Muddy Rivers pool bar and a kiddie pool.
Port Orleans Riverside also has 5 smaller leisure pools throughout resort.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – this resort has two pools – 1 large one and 1 smaller one
You can check out each resorts pools under Resort Recreation under each hotel.
Activities (at no extra cost)
A lot of resorts also offer awesome activities like:
- Movies under the stars
- Campfires Roast Marshmallows together (tons of locations)
- Carriage Rides – Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts
- Fishing – Fishin’ Hole at Old Man Island at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort
You can check out all of the activities Disney offers here.
Here are a few of the resorts that we’ve stayed at (the highlighted ones are ones that I’ve written about on the blog)
- Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort (will be updating soon)
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
PERKS OF STAYING AT A DISNEY RESORT:
- Free transportation to and from the airport
- Free transportation to and from the parks!
- You can book your FastPasses 60 days prior to your check-in date
- You can start making dinning reservations 180 days prior to your vacation
- You get to use Extra Magic Hours!! (Talking about this in the next post!)
I’ll be going back to visit some of these to take photos and write about them AND we’ll be visiting new ones too!
Next in the series………
To read more about how I decide on our Parks and Tickets for our Disney vacation, check out this post, “Disney Vacation Planning Series: Picking Your Disney World Parks, Days and Tickets”.