Disney Magic: Picking a Resort

Walt Disney World

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When planning a stay at one of the many resorts on Disney property, Chris and I always ask ourselves a few simple questions:

  1. How much do we want to pay?
  2. What park would we like to be closest to?
  3. How much time are we going to spend in the room?

The answer to those questions really come from what is best for your and your family.  When Chris and I first started traveling to Disney together we always wanted to be close to Epcot.  (What can I say, we love drinking around the world!)  Since we love to spend all the time we can at the parks, it isn’t necessary for us to spend a small fortune on one of the deluxe resorts (unless it’s for a special occasion like our wedding or 1st anniversary).

Resort Map WDW
Here is a list of all the different resorts and which park they are located closest to.

Over the past four years Chris and I have stayed at a lot of different Disney Resorts.  We’ve found that since we go so much, it’s better for us to stay at one of the Value Resorts and save the Deluxe or Moderate rooms for a special occasion.  The Value Resorts are great if you’re looking to save a little bit of money, or if you go a lot (like us) and don’t really mind staying a little further from Epcot and the Magic Kingdom.

Value Resort(s) we recommend: All Star Sports, Music, or Movie Resort

Why?  Oh gosh, there are quite a few reasons.

  • You have more control over the temperature settings in your room.  Chris loves to have a cold room, and the lower the temperature can go the happier he is.  In fact, I think he’s happiest when my lips are turning blue…
  • The food courts are enormous and there are plenty of options!  I love that you can come back to the resort around 11pm and buy a pizza to take back to your room (It’s a wonder I don’t weigh more than I do with the way I eat….)
  • The resorts are never overly crowded during the Spring/Fall months which means there is usually always sitting room when you take the Disney Transportation bus to a park.
  • And, there are more buses for the All Star resorts than any other Disney Resort which means you don’t have to wait long to board a Disney Transportation bus to go to the parks.

Value Resort we do not recommend: Pop Century

Why?  The Pop Century is one of the biggest resorts on property, second to the Art of Animation Resort that opened in 2012.  Since it is so big it is also very crowded.  If you like to take the Disney Transportation bus to the parks, you will be waiting for a while because they do not have very many buses running to and from each park.  And if you stay at a park until closing you will meet a very long line of people waiting to take the bus back to your resort.  I’ve seen parents have to stand while juggling a sleeping child in one arm and stroller in the other because the bus was fully loaded at night.  Honestly, it’s a nightmare.

However, they do have a great food court, and the rooms are all decorated from different decades which is fun to walk around and look at.

Moderate Resort we recommend: none of them

Chris and I have only stayed at one of the moderate resorts, Caribbean Beach, so we can’t fairly compare it to any of the others.  We loved the beach theme of the resort and the fact that, once again, Chris could keep the room at a below freezing temperature (I kid, I kid).  The only con is that the Caribbean Beach does not have elevators, so if you are on the second or third floor it can be a major pain to carry your luggage up the stairs.

Deluxe Resorts:

I’m going to write this part of the post a little differently.  We’ve stayed at four of the five deluxe resorts and I want to let you know the pros and cons of each of them.

Animal Kingdom Lodge
When did we stay?  Our first visit together in May of 2009
Type of Room?  Standard

Pros:

  • If you like animals this is a great resort.  You can supposedly see them from certain rooms (you couldn’t from ours) and if you walk around outside you can get lots of pictures.

Cons:

  • This resort is very far away from all the parks, except for Animal Kingdom.  It took forever for the Disney Transportation bus to take us to and from the parks.

Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

When did we stay?  Our engagement trip in August of 2011
Type of Room?  Club Level

Pros:

  • The club level had a separate building from the rest of the resort and you had to use your room key to be able to gain access to the building.
  • They put out food at different times of the day (as with any resort that you stay club level) and you could always access it any time day or night.
  • The resort is on the monorail so you can easily hop on and go to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot.
  • If you don’t want to take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom they had a small boat that would carry you back and forth.

Cons:  It’s expensive.

The Contemporary Resort
When did we stay?  Our wedding night in April 2012
Type of Room?  Club Level

Pros:

  • We loved the decor of this resort.  By far it’s our favorite!
  • We had an amazing view of the Magic Kingdom and were able to sit on the balcony and watch the fireworks at night.
  • This resort is also on the monorail.
  • You could get access to the food and drinks that come with the club level room any time day or night.
  • Chef Mickey (a restaurant at the resort) is delicious.

Cons:

  • It’s expensive
  • Because of the amazing views of the Magic Kingdom the resort fills up very quickly and you have to book very far in advance to be able to get a room.

The Wilderness Lodge
When did we stay?  Our first wedding anniversary in April 2013
Type of Room?  Club Level

Pros:

  • It’s very secluded
  • It’s not on the monorail system but they have a small boat that will take you to and from the Magic Kingdom.
  • We had a semi view of the Magic Kingdom and could see some of the fireworks at night.

Cons:

  • The food area is in a separate room and they will lock it periodically during the day to change out food, and then at 11:00pm they will lock it until breakfast the next morning.
  • There were a lot of nuts and peanut butter in the food area which made me extremely uncomfortable since I am highly allergic.

The Polynesian

We have never stayed at this resort because they do not offer King beds (Chris cannot sleep on anything but a King).  However, we’ve heard great things about it and do plan on staying there at least once…probably once we have kids!

Pro:  They’re on the monorail system so you can easily take that to Epcot or the Magic Kingdom.  They also have a boat that will take you to the Magic Kingdom.

And. that’s it!  I hope you’ve found all the information helpful when planning your Disney trip.  If you have any questions or suggestions, sound off in the comment section below!

2 Comments

    1. haha Wish I could! But, we’ve never stayed at any of them. It may be time for a Disney trip out to CA! 🙂

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