Planning a day at the Disney World theme parks can be overwhelming enough but deciding where to stay can be even harder. Thankfully, the TravelHyper is here to guide you through the process.
Should I stay on-site or off-site?
- On-site Exclusives: If you stay at a Disney property, there are many bonus things that won’t be available to off-site guests.
- You’ll be within direct access of the parks and have free transportation to the parks and Downtown Disney.
- If you arrive via airplane, you get free busing to and from the airport via Disney’s Magical Express. Luggage will even be transported by the resort so you don’t have to wait in baggage claim while you could be on rides.
- You can also take advantage of Extra Magic Hours, which can mean 1-3 extra hours in the parks each day.
- Guaranteed admission to a Disney park. This comes in handy on crowded days between Christmas and New Year’s.
- Ability to buy meals via the Disney Dining Plan.
- Off-site hotels:
- Many off-site hotels are actually right in Disney, they just aren’t owned by Disney and don’t come with all those special offers. You get the convenience of the location built right into your hotel stay.
- Our top picks: Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin Resort, Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort (these all even get you Extra Magic Hours and Disney buses) and Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel.
- Renting: If you have a larger family or just want some privacy, consider renting nearby. Magical Memories Villas and Beachtree Villas both have great benefits and larger rooms.
- Tiers: There are 3 different levels of Disney resorts for the average person to pick from: Deluxe, Moderate, and Value. Each category means different amenities and different pricing. Spread out between them are 17 different Disney resorts. You can even go camping.
- Same Exclusives: All On-Site Hotels mean you get those same exclusives I mentioned above. You just might expect nicer views, larger rooms, or a better pool the higher you go up the list.
- Compare: After reading this breakdown, you can compare your favorite resorts mentioned using this handy Disney feature.
- There are 4 Value Resort options:
- Size: Hotels in this class usually have 260 square foot rooms. They feature 2 double beds or 1 king bed. Each hotel offers 2 main pools and a kiddie pool, though guests at the All Star Resorts may visit the other All Star Resorts to share their pools. Buses are also shared between the All-Star Resorts.
- Cost: Rates start at $82 for standard rooms and $97 for preferred location rooms.
- Suites: All Star Music has family suites that hold up to 6 guests. Its rates start at $194/night. It offers a separate bedroom; a kitchenette; living room; sleeper sofa, chair and ottoman; and 2 bathrooms.
- New!: A fifth Disney Value Resort has been announced for a tentative opening in 2012. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will take over the area planned for a second phase at Pop Century and instead highlight Disney’s original animation projects like The Lion King, Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Little Mermaid. There will be 1,980 rooms. 1,120 of them will be family suites for 6 people while the remaining rooms will be the traditional style.
- There are 5 Moderate Resort options:
- Pools: The Moderate Resorts all offer upgraded pool options from value resorts with heavy theming at play. Nearly all feature spas and waterslides. Guests also can get towels at the main pool rather than bringing room towels.
- Cost: Price points vary more at these resorts. Many resorts offer a standard room rate, a water/preferred view room rate, and even more options. Rates start at $154 for Caribbean Beach/Port Orleans-Riverside/Port Orleans-French Quarter and $159 for Coronado Springs. Fort Wilderness Campsites start at $46 for tents and $61 for hookups. Fort Wilderness Cabins start at $275.
- Size: Room sizes are bigger at this resort. Coronado Springs, Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans-French Quarter-315 sq. ft., Caribbean Beach-340 square feet, and Fort Wilderness Cabins-504 sq. ft.
- Bonus: Rooms of this class get more amenities. There’s a fridge in the room and even softer toilet paper.
- For the Deluxe tier there are both Deluxe Resorts and Deluxe Villas.
- Deluxe resorts and villas include:
- Animal Kingdom Lodge: The resort also includes villas:
- Beach Club Resort: This resort includes villas:
- BoardWalk Inn: This resort includes villas:
- The Contemporary: This resort includes villas:
- Grand Floridian
- Wilderness Lodge: This resort includes villas:
- Yacht Club
- Saratoga Springs (Deluxe Villa)
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort (Deluxe Villa)
- Upgrades: Shopping, dining, and pool options are all even more amazing at these resorts. The deluxe resorts give off a very luxurious vibe. Most have spa services on-site. The top tiered rooms at these resorts even have concierge service available. Most rooms at the deluxe level allow 5 people in a room while concierge rooms may hold more.
- Cost: Animal Kingdom Lodge-$240; Wilderness Lodge- $250; Jambo Studio Villas- $280; Contemporary-$300; Saratoga Springs/Disney’s Old Key West- $305; Beach Club/Yacht Club-$335; Villas at Wilderness Lodge-$340; Kidani Villas/Boardwalk Inn/Beach Club Villas/BoardWalk Villas- $345; Polynesian-$385; Bay Lake Tower- $395, Grand Floridian- $440
- Size: (in square feet) Jambo House- 316-2349; Bay Lake Tower-339+; Wilderness Lodge-340; Animal Kingdom Lodge- 344-381; Saratoga Springs- 355-2113; Villas at Wilderness Lodge-356-1080; Kidani Village- 366-2201; Disney’s Old Key West-376-2022; Beach Club/BoardWalk Inn/Yacht Club-380; Polynesian-409; Contemporary- 436; Grand Floridian-440; Beach Club Villas-726-1083; BoardWalk Villas-1296-2492
- Transportation: The Contemporary, Grand Floridian and Polynesian are all monorail resorts. This means the monorail comes directly to the resort and can be used to access any resort on the loop, Magic Kingdom, or Epcot.
- Villas: Many of the villas are part of the Disney Vacation Club. Don’t worry, they are still open to the public for regular stays so long as vacation club members haven’t booked the rooms in advance.
Beyond a Family of 4
- All Star Music: Has a limited number of family suites for 6; Starting at $194
- Art of Animation: Will have family suites for 6 for stays in 2012 and after; Pricing TBD
- Fort Wilderness: The cabins here fit 6 or you can stay at a campsite with the family; Starting at $275
- Port Orleans-Riverside: Rooms in Alligator Bayou can fit 5 if you have a person under 9 years of age or shorter than 5 feet to sleep on a trundle bed; Starting at $154
- Animal Kingdom Lodge: Concierge Suites can fit 6-8 guests; Starting at $740
- Animal Kingdom Lodge-Kidani Village: One bedroom villas fit 5, 2 bedroom villas fit 9, Grand Villas fit 12; Starting at $685
- Animal Kingdom Lodge-Jambo House: One bedroom villas fit 5, 2 bedroom villas fit 9, Grand Villas fit 12; Starting at $605
- Beach Club: Standard rooms allow for 5 people; Starting at $335
- Beach Club Villas: 2 bedroom villas sleep 8; Starting at $1375
- BoardWalk Inn: Standard rooms allow for 5 people; Starting at $345
- BoardWalk Villas: 2 bedroom villas fit 8, Grand Villas fit 12; Starting at $670
- Contemporary: Standard rooms allow for 5 people; Starting at $300
- Bay Lake Tower: One bedroom villas hold 5, 2 bedroom villas hold 9, Grand Villas hold 12; Starting at $490
- Grand Floridian: Standard rooms allow for 5 people; Starting at $440
- Polynesian: Standard rooms allow for 5 people; Starting at $385
- Villas at Wilderness Lodge: 2 bedroom villas fit 8; Starting at $680
- Yacht Club: Standard rooms allow for 5 people; Starting at $335
- Saratoga Springs: 2 bedroom villas fit 8, Treehouse Villas fit 9, Grand Villas fit 12; Starting at $570
- Disney’s Old Key West: 2 bedroom villas fit 8, Grand Villas fit 12; Starting at $570