The pros and cons of every Disney World resort

by Shannon Albert · 138 comments · Like the Facebook page

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchoolIt’s one thing to have a table with all hotel info listed, but it’s another to have somebody (like me!) go beyond the stats to give you a better idea if a hotel is right for you.

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of every Disney World hotel, who is best suited to stay at each, plus some tips if you decide to book a reservation.



Deluxe Resorts

Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Dedicated buses
  • Less expensive than most Deluxe resorts
  • Great on-site restaurants for people with an adventurous palette
  • Beautiful theming
  • Club Level guests can go on Sunrise Safari Breakfast Adventure and/or Wanyama Safari (at sunset)
  • Savanna View rooms have view of animals
  • Zero-depth entry pool
  • On-site childcare for kids 4-12 available

Cons:

  • Not within viewing/walking distance of any theme parks
  • Standard View could be disappointing
  • On-site restaurants are African and the spices may not appeal
  • Low lighting in rooms
  • Rooms are smaller than the average Deluxe room size

Standard bed size: Queen

Tips: Book Savanna View if you want to see the animals, take advantage of night vision goggles at the resort to spot animals at night (located near Uzima Springs Spa)

Ideal for: Adventurous animal lovers

Other info:


Beach Club Resort and Villas

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • 5-10 minute walk to EPCOT
  • Best pool of the Disney resorts
  • Can walk or take boat to Hollywood Studios
  • 50 minute specialty cruise for up to 10-12 people available at the dock
  • Illuminations cruise available at the resort’s marina
  • Albatross Treasure Cruise for kids ages 4-10 departs from marina
  • On-site childcare
  • Disney trivia scavenger hunt available at guest services

Cons:

  • Buses are shared with other resorts and often lead to long commutes
  • Not as updated as other Disney hotels

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: To get a room that’s the best of all things offered at The Beach Club, request a room with a full balcony on an upper floor close to EPCOT

Ideal for: Families who love EPCOT and want access to a great pool

Other info:


Boardwalk Inn and Villas

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • 10-15 minute walk to EPCOT
  • Some rooms have views of EPCOT and Hollywood Studios
  • Can take a boat or walk to Hollywood Studios
  • Gorgeous theming
  • Illuminations cruise available at the resort’s marina
  • Albatross Treasure Cruise for kids ages 4-10 departs from nearby marina

Cons:

  • No restaurants inside the resort (have to walk out on the Boardwalk to get to them)
  • Shared buses often mean long commutes to Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney
  • Can be very long walks to rooms (especially Villas rooms)

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: Request a room close to the elevators

Ideal for: People who want easy access to EPCOT but like elegant theming

Other info:


Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Can walk to Magic Kingdom
  • 1 of the less expensive Deluxes
  • Views of Magic Kingdom fireworks
  • Can view Electrical Water Pageant from hotel
  • Monorail accessible from inside Contemporary
  • Pirate and Pals Fireworks Voyage departs from hotel
  • 50 minute specialty cruise for up to 10-12 people available at the dock
  • Large rooms
  • Salon on-site

Cons:

  • Pool isn’t anything special
  • Theming seems sterile to some people
  • Bathrooms don’t have separate sinks and showers
  • Bus transportation is shared with other hotels
  • Can be noisy from Chef Mickey’s
  • Less storage in rooms compared to other resort rooms
  • Bay Lake Tower rooms are smaller than at other properties

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: Request a Magic Kingdom view (costs more) on a higher floor on the opposite end of Chef Mickey’s

Ideal for: Families who will spend most of their time at Magic Kingdom

Other info:


Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • 1 monorail stop away from Magic Kingdom
  • Very elegant theming
  • Great on-site dining options
  • Can take boat to Magic Kingdom
  • View of Magic Kingdom fireworks and Electrical Water Pageant
  • 50 minute specialty cruise for up to 10-12 people available at the dock
  • Captain’s Shipyard Cruise for kids 4-12 departs from marina
  • Turn down service
  • Has a spa on-site

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Transportation to parks other than Magic Kingdom can take awhile (shared buses, have to transfer monorails to get to EPCOT)
  • Not as kid-friendly as other resorts

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: If you don’t pay for an upgraded view, request a dormer room which gives you vaulted ceilings

Ideal for: Couples who like a more formal theme and access to fine dining

Other info:


Polynesian Resort

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Easy access to both Magic Kingdom and EPCOT by monorail (can walk to the TTC to get EPCOT monorail if you like)
  • Also have boat option to Magic Kingdom
  • Theming
  • View of Magic Kingdom fireworks with music piped in
  • Very popular/delicious on-site restaurants
  • Beautiful grounds
  • 50 minute specialty cruise for up to 10-12 people available at the dock
  • On-site childcare
  • View of Electrical Water Pageant

Cons:

  • High cost
  • Shared buses which can mean long bus rides to places other than Magic Kingdom and EPCOT
  • Resort can feel too spread out

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: If you request the beach end of the Tokelau longhouse, there’s a good chance you’ll get a partial lagoon or Magic Kingdom view room, even if you booked a garden view. This longhouse is also centrally located, has slightly larger rooms and balconies on the 2nd and 3rd floors.

Ideal for: People who want easy access to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT and enjoy the Poly theming

Other info:


Wilderness Lodge and Villas

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Most affordable of the Deluxes
  • 1 of the most beautiful at Christmas
  • Great theming
  • Beautiful grounds
  • Quick boat ride to Magic Kingdom
  • On-site child care available for kids ages 4-12
  • Can view Electrical Water Pageant
  • 50 minute specialty cruise for up to 10-12 people available at the dock

Cons:

  • Shared buses
  • Rooms are smaller and will only accommodate 4 people (can have a 5th person if they are under 3)

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: Request a room on a higher floor facing Magic Kingdom for a chance at seeing fireworks (the trees have gotten pretty tall so it may not be as possible now as it once was)

Ideal for: Families of 4 or less who want the benefit of a Deluxe resort without paying top prices

Other info:


Yacht Club Resort

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Location is about a 5-10 minute walk to EPCOT
  • Boat ride or walk to Hollywood Studios
  • Stormalong Bay is the best on-site pool
  • Cast Members get higher praise than most other resorts
  • A bit more of an adult feel than other resorts
  • 50 minute specialty cruise for up to 10-12 people available at the dock
  • Illuminations cruise available at the resort’s marina
  • Albatross Treasure Cruise for kids ages 4-10 departs from marina
  • On-site childcare

Cons:

  • Not as well-suited for families with small children
  • Quick Service is located at Beach Club
  • Shared buses with a few other resorts can mean long bus rides

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: Request a room with a full balcony on an upper floor

Ideal for: Adults without children who want easy access to EPCOT

Other info:


Moderate Resorts

Cabins at Ft. Wilderness

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Accommodates up to 6 per cabin with separate bedroom and 2 TVs
  • Full kitchen
  • Peaceful, away from the theme park noise
  • Lots and lots of on-site activities (archery, campfire, fishing, pony rides, etc.)
  • Can park right next to cabin
  • 50 minute specialty cruise for up to 10-12 people available at Ft. Wilderness dock
  • View of Electrical Water Pageant from beach
  • Lots of special events held during holidays

Cons:

  • Transportation – buses have to be taken everywhere (including internally at the resort where they take you to the bus stops to the parks). You can take a boat to Magic Kingdom and nearby resorts.

Standard bed size: Full/Double

Tip: Request loops 2100 or 2200 to be closest to main pool, Meadows Trading Post and campfire area. If you want to rent a golf cart, look at non-Disney options to save money.

Ideal for: Families of up to 6 who have a car and want the benefit of being on-site but also want the ability to get away from it all

Other info:


Caribbean Beach Resort

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Beautiful grounds
  • Good pool
  • Option to book a pirate room
  • Marshmallow roasting at the beach
  • Island of the Caribbean Pirate Adventure for kids 4-10 departs from marina
  • Watercraft available to rent at marina (Sea Raycer, sailboats, paddle boats, canoes and pontoon boats)
  • Slightly larger rooms than other moderate resorts

Cons:

  • Rooms are often noisy
  • Resort is large and spread out

Standard bed size: Full/Double

Tip: Pay for a Preferred room which will get you a room in Trinidad North or Martinique, the closest villages to the food court, main pool and shops

Ideal for: People on a budget who like Caribbean theming

Other info:


Coronado Springs Resort

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Beautiful grounds
  • Less of a Disney feel and more adult-friendly than other resorts
  • Watercraft rental at marina available seasonally (kayak, pedal boats and electric boat)
  • Has a salon, health club and room service (these options are not available at other moderate resorts)

Cons:

  • Large and spread out which can mean long walks
  • Convention hotel which can mean large groups
  • Not as kid-friendly as other resorts

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: Book a Preferred Room at a slightly higher rate to be in Casitas 1, 2 or 3 which are close to the main building

Ideal for: Adults who want a few extra amenities without paying Deluxe prices

Other info:


Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Beautiful grounds
  • Great theming
  • Compact size
  • Can take a boat to Downtown Disney
  • Bayou Pirate Cruise for kids 4-12 departs from Port Orleans Riverside marina
  • Carriage rides available
  • Watercraft available to rent at marina (pedal boats, pontoon boats and canopy boats)

Cons:

  • No Table Service restaurant (can walk to Port Orleans – Riverside to eat at a restaurant)
  • Buses are sometimes shared with Port Orleans – Riverside which means they are more crowded and commutes can be long

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: The $5 upgrade from Preferred to River View can result in some really beautiful views at this resort. Request building 5 for the most convenient location.

Ideal for: People who like a smaller resort with less walking who can live without an on-site Table Service restaurant

Other info:


Port Orleans Resort – Riverside

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Beautiful grounds
  • Great theming
  • Can take a boat to Downtown Disney
  • Both a food court and restaurant on site
  • Some rooms accommodate up to 5 people
  • YeHaa Bob performs in the lounge area
  • Bayou Pirate Cruise for kids 4-12 departs from marina
  • Carriage rides available
  • Paddleboat rental is available
  • Catch and release fishing can be done at the resort or on a fishing excursion
  • Royal Guest Rooms are an option

Cons:

  • Spread out
  • Buses are often inconvenient

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: Paying for a Preferred room will get you a room in a building close to the main areas, saving a lot of walking

Ideal for: Families of up to 5 people who appreciate the beautiful grounds and theming (having a car doesn’t hurt)

Other info:


Value Resorts

All-Star Resorts – Music, Sports and Movies

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Fun theming especially suited for young kids
  • All-Star Music has family suites available

Cons:

  • Small rooms
  • Spread out
  • Shared buses between all All-Star resorts

Standard bed size: Full/Double (except All-Star Music suites which are Queen)

Tip: The small upcharge for a Preferred room will save a lot of walking and keep you close to the main building

Ideal for: Families who are on a budget but want all of the benefits of being on-site

Other info:


Art of Animation Resort

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Newest resort
  • Great theming
  • Dedicated buses
  • Most rooms are suites
  • Bigger, better food court than other Values

Cons:

  • Spread out
  • Spotty cell phone service and wifi
  • Most expensive of the Value resorts

Standard bed size: Full/Double in standard rooms, Queen in suites

Tip: You can’t pay for a Preferred Room here but you can request to be closer to Animation Hall or the main pool, which are near each other. The closest buildings are 1 & 3 (Cars buildings), 4 & 5 (Nemo buildings) and 6 & 10 (Lion King buildings).

Ideal for: Families who prefer a suite and enjoy the theming in the various sections

Other info:


Pop Century Resort

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Fun theming especially for younger kids
  • Dedicated buses

Cons:

  • Spotty cell phone service and wifi connection
  • Spread out
  • Can be noisy

Standard bed size: Full/Double

Tip: Pay for a Preferred room to be closer to the main building. If you don’t want to pay for the upgrade, request 70s Building B or the 80s Building B for the next best thing.

Ideal for: Families on a budget who want on-site perks and great transportation

Other info:


Other Resorts

Old Key West

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Largest rooms of all of the DVC properties
  • Least expensive of the DVC resorts
  • Great theming
  • Good on-site eating options
  • Volleyball, shuffleboard, basketball, golf and three lighted tennis courts are available
  • “Unbirthday Party” is offered for kids 5-10 (schedule varies)

Cons:

  • Can feel isolated
  • Bus rides can be long
  • Maintenance and mousekeeping get more complaints here than most other resorts

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: Book in the category “near Hospitality House” to be nearest the main building and reduce walking

Ideal for: People with their own car who want DVC amenities, more space and want to spend less money


Saratoga Springs

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Can walk or take a ferry to Downtown Disney
  • Can rent bikes and surrey bikes, as well as tennis, basketball and shuffleboard equipment
  • Spa located on-site
  • Beautiful grounds

Cons:

  • Remote location
  • Smallest rooms of all of the DVC properties
  • Theming isn’t as good as other resorts
  • Bus rides are long
  • More outdated than other resorts

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: To be closest to Downtown Disney, request the Congress Park section. To be closest to the main building, request the Springs section.

Ideal for: People traveling last minute who want a DVC property (most DVC resorts aren’t available last minute but SSR usually is)

Other info:


Swan/Dolphin

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Guests get many of the same benefits of people staying at Disney resorts – even though it isn’t one – such as Extra Magic Hours and Disney transportation
  • Can book with Starwood Preferred Guest points
  • Great location near the Boardwalk
  • Can walk or take a ferry to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios
  • Large 3 acre pool “playground”
  • On-site childcare for kids 4-12
  • National/Alamo Car Rental desk in lobby of Dolphin
  • Much more affordable than Disney Deluxe resorts, but with similar amenities
  • Dolphin has a spa

Cons:

  • Can’t use Magical Express to get from airport to hotel
  • Doesn’t feel like Disney
  • Can’t charge to your room from the theme parks like Disney resort guests can
  • Often large convention crowds
  • Hotels look more outdated than many others

Standard bed size: Swan has Queen beds, Dolphin has Full/Double beds

Tip: Request a room on a higher floor for the best views

Ideal for: People with Starwood Preferred Guest points and/or people willing to give up a bit of Disney theming to spend less money while getting a great location

Other info:


Ft. Wilderness campsites

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool

Pros:

  • Pets are allowed (and there’s a leash-free dog park here)
  • All campsites come with a charcoal grill, picnic table, electricity and city water (full hookup sites also provide sewer)
  • Lots and lots of on-site activities at Ft. Wilderness (archery, campfires, carriage rides, fishing, etc.)
  • Watercraft rental available at marina
  • Views of Electrical Water Pageant from the beach
  • Ferry to Magic Kingdom is available
  • Can view Magic Kingdom fireworks from beach

Cons:

  • Transportation can be confusing and take a long time
  • Can be long walks to get to things within the campground area

Tip: Get a Preferred Campsite to be closest to the main area. If you want to rent a golf cart, look at non-Disney options to save money.

Ideal for: People with their own car who enjoy the outdoors

Other info:


Added 1/10/2014: Shades of Green

Shades of Green is an on-site resort available to military personnel. Please read my post on tips and discounts for military personnel for more info. You can also visit MilitaryDisneyTips.com for more info.

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Where are you staying during your trip? What criteria is the most important to you? Talk about it in the comments.


The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchoolThe pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchoolThe pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchoolThe pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool
The pros and cons of every Disney World resort from @WDWPrepSchool
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{ 138 comments (add yours) }

Michelle February 8, 2013 at 8:36 am

Great information Shannon! Thanks for your hard work :)

Reply

Shannon Albert February 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm

You’re welcome. :)

Reply

marie fricchione April 1, 2014 at 11:46 am

Very important info. Thanks Sharon.

Reply

Crystal February 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm

What is your favorite resort, Shannon?

Reply

Shannon Albert February 8, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Ahh, I wondered if anybody would ask. I almost picked my favorites in each category but didn’t end up doing it.

So here they are:

Value – Pop Century, Art of Animation
Moderate – Port Orleans Riverside (with a car), but I’d be willing to try any of them
Deluxe – Poly and Beach Club, but I’d stay at almost any

Reply

Sherry March 26, 2013 at 10:12 am

We stayed at the Beach Club this past summer we were trying to cover the deluxe resorts first so far we have been to the Boardwalk , Grand Floridian, Animal Kingdom and Beach club, my favorite is Animal Kingdom and belive it or not my grandsons is the Boardwalk mainly for convenience to the parks and so much going on on the boardwalk at night. My favorite place to vacation in the world.

Reply

Kelly M April 7, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I’m happy to see that Beach Club is one of your favorite resorts. We’ll be staying there in June for the first time. We can’t wait! Great information here.

Reply

Andy February 8, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Just to add, I feel that Disney’s Polynesian Resort is great and best for groups with little ones and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is great and best for groups with older ones (teens) and adult-only groups.

Reply

Bj February 8, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Thanks Shannon! This info is helpful. We are about to book a hotel stay for October at AoA. Any particular suite or building you’d recommend? Thanks

Reply

Shannon Albert February 8, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Most people seem to request according to the character they like the most. Buildings #10 (1 of the Lion King bldgs), #1 (1 of the Cars buildings), #4 and #5 (both Nemo) are the closest to the main building and would be the most convenient.

Reply

Bj February 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Thank you

Reply

Natalie February 9, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Recently stayed in Port Orleans Riverside – the after Christmas first of the year rush – it was OUTSTANDING! Family of 5 in one room. Beds are all queen and full size twin pull down murphy bed that my smallest loved!!! The storage is lacking in this hotel, but hey who’s really in their room that much anyway. We were in building 39 and were very close to a bus stop. Buses ran rather quickly, but one evening we did get stuck on the bus due to a driver desiring to take a break. Loved this place and WILL return to it!

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shelia February 9, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I was really hoping for information about other things, like comfort of beds, and cleanliness. We are annual pass holders, and have stayed at many of the resorts, from value to deluxe. All the beds are terrible, and when you are staying for any length of time, you need a comfortable bed. So we end up at Swan and Dolphin for that reason. While some of the others offer more “Disney” aspects, the All-Stars are always filthy, Animal Kingdom Lodge beds are terrible (despite the awesome savanna view), and sleep and cleanliness are top priorities in my book. Disney needs to step it up in those departments.

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Shannon Albert February 9, 2013 at 9:10 pm

You were looking for info on something you seem to already know? I couldn’t possibly know how Mousekeeping is currently doing at every resort but I did indicate the resorts that seem to have higher complaints than most.

Reply

Louise Temesy April 30, 2013 at 5:54 pm

In response to Shelia, it sounds to me that you are hard to please. I have stayed in many of the Disney hotels and i have never really had a problem with the beds or cleanliness in the room. Maybe if you have had such a bad experience with Disney you should just stay home in your comfy bed. FYI -I do hope you are leaving a daily tip for mousekeeping, as these men and women who pick up after you work very hard. I have been to Disney 9 times and i have nothing but positive things to say about it. Sometimes when i read such negative comments i have to wonder why any one would return a second and third time to a place they feel has uncomfortable beds and is dirty? It doesn’t make any sense to me. Anyway, first time on this site and it is awesome, great info, keep up the good work Shannon.

Reply

Catherine Kenny July 31, 2013 at 10:04 pm

I’ve stayed Port Orleans in 2010, Saratoga in 2012 and Animal Kingdom in 2013, I found all three to be clean and the beds very comfortable!

Reply

Jack B January 26, 2014 at 10:10 am

Shelia,
Unless you have stock in Swan/Dolphin I have to say you are way off target here. We stayed there for one night last August (we had an 8 night res. starting at Yacht Club the next night). This was a filthy a hotel I have stayed at in a long time. We have been going to Disney for the last 10 years, sometimes twice a year and although no one is perfect, we rarely had a problem with housekeeping. Yacht Club is very clean whereas we found the carpets in Swan/Dolphin to be worn and smelly. We had to change rooms 3x because of the smell until finally I told the wife and kids, “it’s the place and it isn’t changing anytime soon”. Sorry, there is just no comparison.

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Susie February 12, 2013 at 9:40 am

The Animal Kingdom Resort bus is not quite as good as it use to be. It is now shared with Animal Kingdom Villas which adds another stop. During our first visit the bus routes were dedicated Animal Kingdom Lodge only busses, that was wonderful. Now they cater to the villas, who get first service when returning from the parks which adds to commute time and packed busses.

Reply

Shannon Albert February 12, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Thanks for that update.

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Penny Smith January 15, 2014 at 12:22 am

You have GOT to be kidding. CATER to the Villas?? Uhm they share with them… It adds 5 minutes if that to the commute. You really think there should be a separate bus for the villas that are that close together? We were there New Years week (yes, a couple weeks ago) and stayed at Jamba House and Kadani Village, and it was hardly a hardship to stop at Kadani on the way back… WOW. Readers, don’t give this much credence. It isn’t that big of a deal. The only crazy full, had to wait for a second bus was on New Years Eve… and that is to be expected if you ask me.

Reply

Jennifer March 9, 2014 at 4:39 pm

It is that big of a deal. I stayed at Kidani for a week and I felt horrible when we would head over to Jambo House with an already packed bus and 50 more people waiting.
The buses at Disney are pretty bad in general, but it seems Disney has really dropped the ball with the Animal Kingdom resorts.
I like the theming, but I would never stay at AKL unless I was at Kidani.

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Emily February 14, 2013 at 9:07 am

We’re thinking about getting a Treehouse Villa at Saratoga
Springs. Any tips or suggestions for that? Thanks for the great
info, by the way. We’ve never been to WDW and are planning on going
January 2014. YAY!!! :)

Reply

Shannon Albert February 14, 2013 at 9:24 am

Hi, Emily!

If you’ll have a car, you will probably want to request to be near the main building. If you won’t have a car, request the grandstand section.

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Meg June 12, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Treehouse Villas are in their own area – you actually have to leave the main SSR property to get to them. We love them – we are DVC members and that’s always our first choice. We try to request a Treehouse near the South Bus stop, because that end is closer to the walking path to the Grandstand area. It’s about a 5-10 minute walk – last time we stayed there, my then 4-year old could do it easily in the morning, though my oldest usually piggybacked him home at night. I’m not sure if the square footage is larger than the main SSR villas, but they feel much more open.

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Sarah Ann February 15, 2013 at 8:44 am

This is such a great article with great information! There
are a few positives I feel were left out of the information
regarding the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin! I feel it is very
much a Disney hotel, and it situated on the lake connecting many of
the other resorts. It is next to the Yacht and Beach Clubs, The
Boardwalk, and many others that you can see on the way to the parks
by boat and bus. Although the Swan and Dolphin hotels are not
necessarily Disney “themed”, they are very Disney oriented and have
been an absolutely wonderful experience for me for the past 18
years! True, there are often convention crowds, as I had my first
stay with my father on a business trip, but I have not been able to
part ways with these hotels since. The Dolphin has a great space
for conventions and business clients, but there are still children
and families enjoying their Disney vacations! I have such great
memories there. The staff and atmosphere is out of this world.
There is convenient transportation by boat to Epcot and Hollywood
Studios, and of course Epcot has a monorail connecting to Magic
Kingdom if you’d like to link up that way, it is within walking
distance to Disney’s Boardwalk, where there is fantastic shopping
and restaurants, and Disney transportation buses come throughout
the day to pick up guests to take them anywhere in the Walt Disney
World Resort area- Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, Animal
Kingdom, Downtown Disney, etc. There are also phenomenal
restaurants in both the Swan and the Dolphin, but in the Swan
particularly(where I’ve stayed often), there is a Japanese Sushi
Lounge/Karaoke Bar called Kimonos, an authentic Italian restaurant,
an incredibly decorated domed ceiling Garden Grove Cafe, which
hosts character breakfasts in a child friendly, and beautiful
atmosphere. There are also several pools on the property, with
slides and waterfalls, and poolside restaurants and snacks
available. Obviously I am a fan of the Swan and Dolphin- so if
you’re a Starwood Preferred member, and don’t visit Disney often, I
suggest these hotels if it may benefit you in any way! I am open
minded to all other resorts too and just think Disney Resorts are a
magical experience for everyone, and the experience is like no
other, if visiting Walt Disney World. I am going to stay somewhere
else soon and see if I can get a grasp of what the rest of the
Disney resorts are like and I’ll comment when the time
comes!!

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Jennifer March 9, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Swan and Dolphin may feel like Disney resorts but they aren’t. They’ve also clogged up the Epcot resort buses. They need their own transportation.

Reply

Kathy February 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm

We are getting ready to reserve at the All Star Music. What
do you recommend for them? 2 adults and 3 kids

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Shannon Albert February 15, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Hi, Kathy -
I recommend upgrading to a Preferred room so you’re closer to the main building and have a lot less walking.

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Cathy February 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm

We stayed at Saratoga Springs recently and loved it. It had great pools and the bus services was very timely. The longest we ever waited was 8 minutes. We were able to catch a water taxi to Downtown Disney, which was great fun. We stayed in a 2 bedroom villa, which was quite large. It had a full kitchen and fit our family of 6 perfectly.

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Taylor February 16, 2013 at 9:02 pm

I noticed you specified some resorts have on site child
care for ages 4-10 or 4-12, and other resorts are not specified.
Are those open to all ages, or should I check with each one about
age restrictions? Thanks for this, it was VERY helpful!

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Shannon Albert February 17, 2013 at 11:22 pm

On-site child care is always available for all people staying on-site for ages 4-12. If your resort doesn’t have their own child care, you can use the child care at another resort. (The references I made for kids ages 4-10 were regarding some of the kids’ cruises that depart from the resorts.)

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Tanya February 20, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Hi Shannon,
Love the article. Two pros to add.
Polynesian – rooms are larger than most and the day bed is a great bonus!
Cabins- having Mousekeeping just like any other room and they do dishes that are in the sink is a huge plus. We also like the deck/porch with picnic table at each cabin to dine al fresco for breakfast.
Thanks,
Tanya

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Christy February 21, 2013 at 3:40 pm

First off: Great info.

Just warn when booking the value resorts to ask if the cheerleaders or youth athletic programs are staying then at the same time. It can get quite noisy then they are on the grounds.

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Julie C. February 22, 2013 at 8:20 am

My family stayed in a Nemo Suite at the Art of Animation in
January. We loved it! The room theming was cute, the kids were
obsessed with the arcade and huge pool. The spacious suites let our
family of 4 spread out a bit. The only downside for us was the
commute time to Magic Kingdom. Between the wait time and the
driving distance, we had to budget about 45 minutes each way. That
made it difficult to follow our mid-day break strategy. So if your
time at Magic Kingdom is limited and that afternoon nap is
essential to your plans, pick a resort that’s closer in. The resort
location did work great for Hollywood Studios, however!

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Kathleen September 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm

That’s a good tip. We’re staying at the Pop Century Resort. I have a 4 year old we plan on making sure he naps at least 1 out of the 4 days. For those days, what is the best site to be at to get back to our resort fairly quickly or without a long delay? thank you

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Kimi V. February 26, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Any tips on Shades of Green?

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Shannon Albert February 26, 2013 at 4:42 pm

MilitaryDisneyTips.com has some info you might find helpful. http://www.militarydisneytips.com/Shades-of-Green.html

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Lauren April 7, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I have stayed there many times as a military child, 6 to be exact. I stayed there BEFORE the renovations and during renovations they put us up at the contempory for the same price. So I have not stayed there since they renovated. Any way, it was always nice. I never had any issues with them, but maybe it’s because they are always dealing with military and they are just respectful of that. Not that they aren’t anywhere else but we never ever had a problem with staff. It certainly doesn’t scream Disney like the value resorts such as Music, Sports and Movies but you are still of Disney property and feels like Disney…if that makes since. I can promise you, if it wasn’t nice, my mom would not have continued to book our vacations with them. I’m going to Disney in June and will not be staying there because I’m not going with my mom, and it will be weird for me to not be at the Shades of Green! But I’m looking forward to a different experience.

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Val March 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Has anyone ever stayed at Shades of Green? Apparently owned by DoD but on Disney property supposedly across from Magic Kingdom? Any comments appreciated.

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Kris March 5, 2013 at 9:11 pm

We’ve stayed there and loved it. Rooms were plenty spacious. We’ve been twice and loved it both times!!! A huge savings on the cost of the rooms.

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Lindsay March 11, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Obviously you have to be military to stay there. But its a nice hotel. There is no awesome theme and you wouldn’t even realize you were staying at Disney. But the rooms are fine and the restaurants are good. 2 pools. You can even walk to the polynesian to hop on the monorail, about 1/2 mile or so. There is a small grocery store that is really nice too, and cheaper than getting things elsewhere.

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Kelsey March 20, 2013 at 7:27 am

We always stayed there when I was a child. My grandfather
was retired military, so my grandmother would always travel with
us, and we would stay there. The location is great – just a short
walk from the Polynesian if you want to take the monorail, and they
do have buses to the other theme parks and the TTC. Like someone
else mentioned, you do have to have a DoD ID card to stay there (my
mother-in-law works for the school system on Post – she can stay
there, too, but usually opts for a value resort). It’s beena few
years since I stayed there, but we were always very happy with it.
When Grandma got tired of walking around the parks, she would go
back to the hotel and (supposedly) watch golfers practice on the
greens outside the hotel(She swears she saw Tiger Woods pkaying
there once). It does not have some of the “Disney” amenities that
the Disney properties have, such as the refilliable mug. I think
(but I’m not certain) that this resort is also excluded from Extra
Magic Hours and Package Delivery. And you can’t charge to your
room, either. Regardless of whether you decide to stay at SOG or
not, if you have a DoD ID card, be sure to check out their
discounted ticket rates!

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Robin April 5, 2013 at 10:49 am

I have stayed at Shades of Green several times, as part of a large family group, as a couple, and as a couple with my granddaughter. We love it there. The rooms are among the largest at WDW, the resort is quiet, and when there are golf tournaments there, you just might catch a glimpse of a famous golfer using the ATM machine. There is a small “commissary” where the prices for things are cheaper than in the parks, the ticket office has lots of discounted passes for various attractions in the area, and the bus service is outstanding (dedicated Shades of Green busses). The rooms have refrigerators, so it is easy to keep drinks and food handy. Even if you’re not military, you may still qualify to stay there (see the website for details). FYI…you do qualify for the Extra Magic Hours if you stay there, but not for Disney’s Magical Express from the airport. You can rent a car at the airport and park in the garage at SOG, but there is a daily charge. Or, if you just need a car for a day or two, there is a car rental booth in the hotel. If you can qualify to stay there, I highly recommend it.

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Sarah March 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm

After much searching on disneys website my daughters fell in live with thd pirate room st Carribean Beach Resort. We are going for the first time in May. Any tips about Careibbean or any of the parks? My daughter had a liver transplant when she was9 months old and I have been trying to contact someone at Disney to make her trip memorable but I gave had no luck. Talked to AAA and Disney about it so far.

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Kelsey March 20, 2013 at 7:37 am

Hi, Sarah! I have stayed at the Caribbean Beach resort
twice. The first time we stayed for one night while we were waiting
for our regular reservation (we arrived early). The second time, we
stayed for a week in July. It is definitely a spread out resort,
and sadly the Pirate rooms are the farthest out from the main
house. There is a bus stop near the Pirate rooms, and the buses for
all of the parks stop there. There is also an internal shuttle to
transport you around the resort. How old is your daughter now? I am
a Disney fanatic, and could give you all kinds of ideas on how to
make a memorable vacation (we have been 5 times in a year and a
half, and already have two more trips planned before July). One
thing that is quite popular with young girls is the Bibbidi Bobbidi
Boutique – a really cool “princess makeover” experience that is
available at both Downtown Disney and at the Magic Kingdom. If
she’s into pirates, they also have a similar pirate makeover.
Consider having dinner with the princesses (or other characters),
and you can never meet too many of your Disney favorites. Disney
has a thing called Photopass – there are photographers all over the
parks and other various locations (including many character meet
and greets) that will take your picture and put it on your
Photopass acct. You can review the pictures later and purchase
prints of them. You can also add borders and autographs to the
pictures, or order a CD with all of your photos on it.

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Cathy July 2, 2013 at 9:18 am

My 7yo daughter also loves pirates. Last year she chose the Pirates’ League over Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for her makeover. Not only did she love it, the theming was amazing inside, the cast members were amazing, she got lots of “loot” to go with her new “Empress” look, and I believe that she enjoyed it far more than she would have enjoyed the princess makeover. Kids that have this done can then participate in the Pirate Parade that afternoon — with Captain Jack Sparrow! And honestly, I think the girls outnumber the boys!

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Shannon Albert July 2, 2013 at 9:43 am

And this is why you’ll never see me writing about things for girls or things for boys. As a girl who liked a lot of the same things that boys did, I know how alienating that can be.

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Michelle March 8, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Question: why do you have OKW and SSR in an “other” category? They’re Deluxe Villas like some of the other resorts you listed. I’m just afraid newbies might think they’re “less Disney” like S&D are.

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Shannon Albert March 8, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Because I didn’t want to list Beach Club and Beach Club Villas twice since they basically have the same pros/cons.

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Kylie July 10, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Doesn’t OKW stand for old key west, not beach club villas? Michelle you are correct that they are Disney hotels, but they accomadate more DVC members than normal guests as they are DVC hotels.. I am assuming that is why it is in the other section?

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Shannon Albert July 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Of course that’s what it stands for. :) Her question was about why I included some DVC resorts in the Deluxe category and some in the “Others” category. My answer was that I didn’t want to mention resorts twice when they’re basically the same, such as Beach Club and Beach Club Villas. OKW is a strictly DVC resort without a Deluxe resort attached to it so it’s in the “Others” section.

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Lindsay March 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm

You should also include Shades of Green, the military resort. Formerly The Golf Resort. I’ve stayed there a few times and like it. It is cheaper than most, has 2 pools, and the rooms are good. There is bus service and you can even walk about 1/2 mile to The Polynesian to take the monorail. Drawback would be there is no fun Disney Theme.

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Lavonne Smith March 12, 2013 at 9:58 am

Great information all in one place! Just a note about the Animal Kingdom Lodge..We were fortunate enough to be able to book club level accomodations to celebrate our son’s graduation (he is a special needs child and was able to “walk the stage” with his class when he was senior age). The cast members on that level couldn’t have been more wonderful with him! He made many friends among them that week, and was always treated with the utmost kindness and respect. I would return in a heartbeat! Also – if you are staying on club level, I highly recommend the Sunrise Safari! It begins with a bus ride to the Animal Kingdom Theme Park, where the small group boards the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. We spent a great deal of time in the safari area, with lots of photo ops – I would say it was close to an hour – followed by a wonderful buffet breakfast at a restaurant inside the park. If you have the opportunity to do this – take it!

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Megan March 13, 2013 at 9:34 am

We are going over Christmas 2013 and staying at the Boardwalk Inn. We have 2 boys 2 & 4. Any tips with what to do around the resort? Best park to go to? Any helpful tips would be appreciated. This will be our first trip!

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Shannon Albert March 15, 2013 at 9:16 am

Hi, Megan -
You might find my trip plan for toddlers helpful. http://wdwprepschool.com/a-toddler-centered-disney-world-trip-plan/

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Kelsey March 20, 2013 at 7:43 am

I knew most of this information already, but it was great
to see that someone took the time to compile it all and make it
available! We travel to Disney a lot, and have stayed at almost all
of the value and moderate resorts. I have to say that I agree – my
favorite resort (by far) is Port Orleans: Riverside. It’s so quiet
and beautiful, but I don’t think it’s quite as spread out as
Caribbean Beach. We also really like Pop Century – it’s worth a few
extra dollars a night to stay there instead of the All-Star
resorts, because you get a designated bus. A word of caution to
anyone considering the Little Mermiad rooms at Art of Animation -
they are by far the farthest rooms from the food court/bus
stops/store/etc. We liked the theming when we stayed there, but for
a few dollars less a night we can stay right across the pond at Pop
Century – dollars better spent for anyone who isn’t dying to stay
at AoA. If you want to, you can just walk across the bridge at
check out the decor at AoA, eat at the spectacular food court, and
then walk back to your room at Pop (that’s what we are doing in
April) The family suites at AoA, on the other hand, appeared to be
much nicer than the suites at Music. They have interior entrances,
which is unique at a Value resort on Disney property. They are also
all pretty close to the main building – a huge plus when traveling
with little ones. Also, the food court there is AMAZING!

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Larry January 8, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Thanks for telling us about the little mermaid room. I was considering that room but I don’t way to be far away from everything

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Monica White March 22, 2013 at 10:37 am

We are taking our 4 kids this summer and are staying at Shades of Green. Do you have any tips, suggestions, info on this resort?
Thanks,
Monica

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Shelbe February 8, 2014 at 9:44 am

Hi Monica!

We are going in May and it will be our second time staying at SOG. I LOVED it. The rooms are huge, they’re clean, views are great, service is excellent. I do remember not loving the dining experience but it may have just been a bad day (for me!). They have a great photography service where a ‘professional’ photographer will take family photos of you at the resort. The Bx, Px, whatever branch you are from is great. There is a mini fridge in the room so we stocked up on breakfast items saving a ton of cash! Transportation to the Parks can be tricky. You take a dedicated bus to the Tram station then take the Tram (waiting..waiting..waiting) to the Parks. This was during spring breaks and it wasn’t that bad and the cost of staying at SOG surely makes any small inconvenience worth while! The pools are great and there’s a club by the pool that I think makes decent enough Pizza. Not for sure on that. I do know they served beer which the adults liked! I was very impressed with the resort and I’ll confess, I was a bit leery because we’ve stayed at the base hotels before and um….yeah…not great. LOL! I was worried it’d be like that but it couldn’t have been more opposite! Have fun!

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Shelbe February 8, 2014 at 9:50 am

Chris (see below) just mentioned walking to the Polynesian to ride the rail. I forgot about that. Clearly, not an inconvenience since I didn’t even remember it. We did walk it a few times. Not a big deal at all.

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Marie March 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm

This is very helpful thanks. For my first WDW trip, I stayed at Port Orleans Riverside last year in late August and loved it, except for two things: the wait for buses going back to the hotel (no waits really to get to the park) and that there is not enough seating in the onsite food court at peak-time for breakfast or dinner. Fortunately, we only had one day where we didn’t have ADRs offsite. Although POR is much bigger than POFQ, there seemed to be twice as many POFQ buses heading out of the parks. These did not have planned stops to POR, by the way. We often jumped on one of the POFQ buses and hoofed it over to the POR property rather than stand around and wait because by the time a POR bus would come, the line would be so long that you might not get on anyway.

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chris March 23, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Shades of Green is the military resort and deserves a shout out. The resort is open to military and there family and friends only.
Pros
Largest rooms of all the resorts including the deluxe
Dedicated bus line
Walking distance from the Polynesian Resort so if you want to ride the monorail you can
Price is based on military pay grade so it is affordable for the junior enlisted folks that would otherwise not be able to afford a deluxe resort
Able to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours
Staff is amazing
restaurant on site is very tasty

Cons
Dining plan is not an option, neither is the Magic Shuttle from the airport
The decor is not Disney (it’s beautiful just not Disney)
You have to call Really far in advance to book because it fills up fast

Hope that helps

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Shelbe February 8, 2014 at 9:49 am

I forgot about walking to the Polynesian to ride the Rail. I don’t remember that being a big deal though. It’s a nice walk. Of course, we were there in March so I’ll see if I think it’s nice in May. I do wish Disney would include us in the Dining Plan and the Fast Past ++++ I don’t even know what it’s called anymore! That’s kind of a bummer. But, you can’t beat the cost of the tickets! AND, now they will email you a few weeks before your trip and you can book your Disney tx (and US, IOA, Water parks, etc) online! I love that because waiting in line to get the tx was not fun.

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Libby March 26, 2013 at 7:25 am

When do you make your request for certain sections/buildings? When you book or when you check in? We are staying in a pirate themed room at Caribbean Beach Resort. Should I make any requests, and do you know if these rooms are in a good location?

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Tammy March 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm

This is great! I just posted a link to it on my http://www.facebook.com/AllAboutVacationsmn
for my fans to see. We have stayed at the French Quarters and Art of Animation. I want to stay somewhere else next time and this will help us make our decision. For us it’s about the space in the hotel room. Having teen boys and a girl having a bit of privacy helps keep everyone relaxed. We also have an ASD teen boy and being in a crammed room would never work for him. Thanks for putting the time into this!

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Jill April 5, 2013 at 9:16 am

My family just stayed at Art of Animation just after Christmas for a week. Our group included 4 adults and 2 children (ages 6 and 9) and there was plenty of room for us all in the Cars suites. Grandparents got the bedroom, my husband shared the sofa bed with one child and I shared the murphy bed with the other child. All of the Cars and Nemo buildings were close to the main builiding and dining area. We were worried about all the walking we would have to do in the resort alone, but it wasn’t too bad at all. It was a little too chilly to enjoy the pools much, but that didn’t stop my kids who loved both the main pool and the small Cars pool. My youngest even napped in a “Cozy Cone” while his big brother and I swam. This was an absolute magical resort for my first time Disney family! (This was the first trip for my children and my parents!)

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Cat April 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Do you have any tips for large families? I have 5 children, all under age 9, and I’m at a loss. We would need a room for 7 people. Any info you have would be beneficial. Disney, so far, doesn’t seem large-family-friendly and I’m getting discouraged.

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Shannon Albert April 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Yes. You might find this trip plan for large groups helpful. http://wdwprepschool.com/doing-disney-duggar-style/

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Jennifer June 27, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Cat,
Were you able to find answers? Are any of your children under 3? If so, they do not count in your numbers, so you could stay at a resort that technically sleeps fewer, you may just be crowded! The first thing I thought of were the Cabins at Ft. Wilderness. They would give you a little more space by having a dedicated bedroom for the kids. That bedroom has a full bed and a set of bunk beds, then a pul-down bed in the family room area. They sleep 6, but as long as one of your kids is under 3, you would be fine. You would also have the full kitchen for meals, if you wanted to have any at the cabin. We loved the Campfire with Chip & Dale and Miceky’s Backyard BBQ at Ft. Wilderness, so that is another bonus! Feel free to e-mail me if you have any other questions about my experiences!

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Amanda April 27, 2013 at 11:48 am

I have been planning our family’s 1st trip to the big park and am so thankful I found your website. We’ve been to Disneyland quite a bit but now we want to go bigger. Do you think the Art of Animation hotel would be a good place for us to stay with our 5 & 2 yrs old for our 1st trip there?

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Amber May 4, 2013 at 5:09 pm

I am sure they will love it there!! The little kids seem to be the most drawn to the big themeing of the values.. go for it!

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Nicki Henry April 28, 2013 at 5:34 am

Great info!! Thanks :) Can you please do the same breakdown for Shades of Green and put it under other? Lots of military families probably visit your site as well ;)

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Angela May 4, 2013 at 4:33 pm

We are taking our kid to Disney World for the 1st time this summer. We have booked the Grand Floridian but I am wondering if this is the best hotel to take a 9 and 10 year old for thier first visit??? I still have a few days to decide and change it if I need to. I just want a good experience and a place that will leave that lasting impression. I have heard several other people say that some of the more “themed” hotels were more kid-friendly. Please advise me on this. Is the Grand Floridian a good place for our 1st time?

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Michele May 4, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Here’s what I like about the GF: the theming is laid back and relaxing, the grounds are very well designed, there are 2 pools, there are restaurants that appeal to a wide variety of people, they have a character meal, the view of the castle and Wishes is fun without being in the park, they have a Pirate Adventure (that your kids might love).
The GF has all the activities that other “more kid friendly” resorts have – and the location is great for MK.
It will be our 5th visit there in as many years and we are looking forward to taking our 8 yr old niece and 2 year old nephew.

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Dayzee May 4, 2013 at 4:52 pm

The Grand Floridian is a BEAUTIFUL resort but definitely NOT kid-friendly. I use to work at the Grand Floridian and recommend you see it and go to a restaurant there but not to stay. If you want a resort close to Magic Kingdom, then the Polynesian is the way to go. So many more kid-friendly activities and the scenery is so much more appealing to kids. Some other resorts that are kid friendly though are Port Orleans Riverside, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Beach Club.

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Amber May 4, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Angela, for a monorail resort, I would suggest the Polynesian, it is more laid back with a fun pool for the kids being that it is a bit more themed. For a Magic Kingdom area resort, I would suggest the Wilderness Lodge.. the themeing is wonderful, it is a fully contained resort so there is no need to walk outside to the food court if it is raining, and it is still only a boat ride from MK. I don’t like walking in the rain for a drink if I am paying for a deluxe. All that said, their ages are fantastic to really enjoy the pool, Stormalong Bay at the Yacht and Beach Club resorts. It’s the best pool on property, outside of the actual water parks, and let’s be real: kids want pool time!! :) Animal Kingdom Lodge, savanna view with bunk beds would be awesome, too! Ok, really, have you considered picking your top 3 and letting them decide?? Or, have them pick their top 3 and you surprise them with the one you ultimately pick? So fun. GOOD LUCK!!

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Maria May 12, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Hi, Shannon. I know the GF and Contemporary have cabannas, but does the Beach or Yacht Club? Thanks for the info! LOVE your site!

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Shannon Albert May 13, 2013 at 12:08 am

As far as I know, only the Magic Kingdom monorail resorts have cabanas you can rent.

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Maria May 13, 2013 at 7:24 am

Thanks, Shannon!

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Courtney May 14, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Hi Shannon!
I really appreciate this pro/con list as I’m always so indecisive of which hotel I want to stay at when I go to Disney. My trips have a couple of years in between so it can be difficult to narrow down choices. I do LOVE the Poly though.

I have a question. I’m thinking about going to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and I noticed that you said this “Club Level guests can go on Sunrise Safari Breakfast Adventure and/or Wanyama Safari (at sunset)”. Forgive me for not being up-to-date on all the traveler info for Disney resorts, but what exactly is Club Level? Can I not do those hotel attractions without being Club Level? What’s the benefit or being this—and is it a significant increase in price to get that level? If this is already on your website somewhere, I apologize for asking here–but I’m pretty confused by it.

Thanks!

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Shannon Albert May 14, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Club level is found in most nicer hotels (not just at Disney World). Here’s an overview of what it means at WDW resorts: http://allears.net/acc/concierge.htm

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Courtney May 17, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Thank you so much Shannon!

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JHS2 May 30, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Shannon,
Our family is getting ready for another trip to Disney,but this time we will have the privilege of our kids having their grandmother come along for the magic. She will be using a motorized scouter to get around. She can walk for very short distances. Do you have any advice for which resort might be the best for someone considered handicapped? Including their grandmother there will be six of us for this trip. Thanks!

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Skrabadoo December 18, 2013 at 10:42 pm

JHS2,

I just came back from a trip (Nov 2014) my scooter using mom came with us. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge and we didn’t have any trouble with the scooter.

From that resort you can take a boat to the MK. Most of the boats were large enough to roll right on. Twice leaving the MK at night, we got the smaller boat. We just waited for the next boat to come (maybe 10 minutes tops). We never saw a bus that wasn’t scooter accessible, and the monorails were all very scooter friendly.

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LaToya Barbour June 19, 2013 at 11:19 am

How is Liki Tiki?

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Shannon Albert June 19, 2013 at 1:58 pm

It’s not an on-site resort at Disney World and I’ve never heard of it until now. Trip Advisor reviews might be helpful. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g34352-d86038-Reviews-Liki_Tiki_Village-Kissimmee_Florida.html

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Kimberly June 26, 2013 at 9:32 pm

We stay at the Grsnd Floridian and find it VERY kid friendly. The location is fabulous.

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Jackie July 7, 2013 at 6:07 am

Thanks for this information. My family of 3 (19 yr old) are staying at the all stars music, for a couple reasons, value, airport shuttle, magic hours, free bus ride to Kennedy space centre – do you think this resort is going to drive us crazy as tailored for young children.. We don’t want to spend too much time in the room?

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Ashley July 9, 2013 at 10:08 pm

There is also a great hotel for anyone in the military, Shades of Greens is a military only resort on the park grounds. It tends to be more quite, you can get cheaper tickets when you buy through the resort, there is a breakfast bar every day plus each day there is a different theme downstairs. They also have an on site bar/restaurant and an Italian place. There is also a ice cream shop and a coffee stand. There are even 2 pools. The rooms are a good size and the buses go only the resort. They also have a spa, golf course and even a walking trail with a pond. I have stayed there during my trips and it had always been a blast. Plus I always felt safer with all the military people there.

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Kylie July 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm

The studios at Bay Lake were fabulous. Honestly, you can’t even tell they are smaller than most deluxe hotel rooms. They also have a kitchenette in them. Sometime if you are lucky (we were) you can request a lake view, with a higher floor level and sometimes get a split lake view and Magic Kingdom view. I highly recommend Bay Lake and Contemporary. Everything here was just so convenient. It is true you share the bus, but with only one other resort, and you only take the bus to two of the parks, HollywoodStudios and Animal Kingdom. We were never on a bus that at was overly full. The Coronado is an amazing resort as well, but as you stated very spread out. If you plan on staying there suggest the closest buildings on either side of the main building. Buildings 9b and 9a are actually much closer to everything, but the pool.

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Maria Trader July 11, 2013 at 8:07 am

Thank you so much for putting this together! We are planning our first Disney trip and this is incredibly helpful!

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Brittany Waller July 15, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Just came across this on pinterest! What should we be looking to spend for 4 days 5 nights at a Value room with meals, drinks (non alc), and tickets? Not sure if I get a reply but brittanymwaller@yahoo.com is my email. We are planning for 2016 but want to start saving now because I heard the cost is pretty expensive! :)

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Shannon Albert July 15, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Are you flying as well? I’d say $3000 or so is a good guess.

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Brandy July 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Thank you for your wonderful site! My family of 3 (2 adults and a 4 year old) will be going to Disney World in early may. I can’t decide between the convenient but expensive Polynesian, or a suite at the Art of Animation. I was thinking Poly might be faster to and from parks for naps since it has multiple kinds of transportation, but the larger room at Art seems nice. What is your suggestion?

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Alicia August 3, 2013 at 7:49 pm

AoA is awesome and fun but it is a LONG bus ride to and from the Magic Kingdom. If you have kids who would benefit from nap time, I’d go for a resort with easier access to and from the parks.

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Brandy August 31, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Thank you again. I booked the Poly based on location for ease of naps, monorail and ferry use, and kid fun factor. Now I see that it is about to undergo major renovations and I don’t know what to do. I am booked for early May. Do you think I should change my reservation or wait? Where should I change my reservation too that would be similar to the Poly??
Help!!!

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Lynette Lias July 18, 2013 at 8:26 pm

What is the best resort to stay at since my 16 year old daughter is in a wheelchair?

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Lisa July 20, 2013 at 4:09 am

First off Shannon, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! It is great that you broke down pros/cons of the different resorts and the levels they are. This will be helpful in planning future Disney stays. My family (all 8 of us, ages 66,61,43,33,31,18,15, and 6) will be visiting WDW Nov. (Thanksgiving week) 2014 for 8 nights and 7 days. We are going to rent an RV for the trip and are staying at the Fort Wilderness Campsites. We buy our tickets ahead of time because we would rather buy 10 day non-expiring Park Hoppers with visits than to book the whole vacation and pay out the wazoo. We only use 3 or 4 days of tickets each trip and just fill in the blanks with other stuff. I want to know what to expect at the campsites. This is our first time to stay on-property. We normally stay at a hotel near Downtown Disney and rent 2 rooms. I know you won’t be able to tell me what the RV is like, but what are the must dos for the resort. I know the campfire thing with Chip and Dale and Mickey’s BBQ are on our agenda, I’ve never seen the water parade, and I’m not sure about the water taxis to stuff and where they go. What parks will we need to catch a bus? On the days where we skip theme parks, we will probably use visits for the water parks (if open) but will leave fairly early and just want to know how to make the most of our time at Disney. What perks (other than extra magic hours) do you get for being on-property?

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Alicia August 3, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Fort Wilderness is a fav of ours! You might want to bring bikes, if possible, because they are kind of expensive to rent and you’ll want bikes or a golf cart to get around the property. You can take a ferry to the Magic Kingdom and you can enjoy the fireworks from the beach (which is a nice bonus!) Enjoy!

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Victoria Brofman February 2, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Fort Wilderness is my favorite place to stay. We have camped in a pop up trailer and a motor home. Since we no longer have a camper, I have found two places where you can rent a travel trailer for a pretty reasonable cost. They take the trailer to the campground and set it up completely and everything is included — linens, dishes, camp chairs, you name it. The one thing we have found is that it is easier to take the boats to the Magic Kingdom and then take the monorail to Epcot or to the Ticket and Transportation Center and take a bus to the park we want to visit. It is a lot quicker than taking the buses from the campground because some of them stop at other resorts. Or if you have a car, drive to the parks. Since you are staying on property parking is free.

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Richelle July 21, 2013 at 12:47 pm

What room do you recommend for the port orland riverside to be close to the bus and how long are the bus rides to the park usually
Thank you

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Wendy July 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Hi there

Thank you for all the information on this site. We are planning our first trip to Disneyworld in October with our 2 daughters (ages 4 and 7). Can I ask what website you booked your accommodation and tickets? Did you use the Disneyworld official site or is there a cheaper option?
Thank you

Wendy
Australia

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Pierre Kavanagh August 23, 2013 at 1:01 pm

So far, we been twice to All Star Music resort and once at Port Orleans Resort French Quarters. Going back for 10 days at Christmas 2014, we will go to the Fort Wilderness campsite. First time on your website but from beint the last time. A real gold mine of information….

Pierre
Canada

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Brandy August 31, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Thank you again. I booked the Poly based on location for ease of naps, monorail and ferry use, and kid fun factor. Now I see that it is about to undergo major renovations and I don’t know what to do. I am booked for early May. Do you think I should change my reservation or wait? Where should I change my reservation too that would be similar to the Poly??
Help!!!

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Jen September 1, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Do you suggest driving to parks from animal kingdom lodge?
Thanks! And love your site!!!!!

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Lisa Lawrence September 15, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Art of Animation is beautiful and with a small child it is great since they have the cool Nemo pool. My only complaints are the sheer size of the resort and number of people even in the off season. We have been to Carribean Beach and French Quarter but never felt like we were staying with thousands of people. At of Art of Animation you really see and feel the volume of rooms. We did experience spotty cell service and I know it is a small thing but the hair dryer blocks the light switch in the master bath of the family suites. With so many people it was difficult to catch a bus back after busy events. One night even after staying an hour past closing time of MK it was about a 40 minute wait for a bus.

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Kay Rowan September 16, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I am bringing my sister. For her 50th b-day and have reservations for. Movies at value resorts . What do you think of that one and should I try to get into Pop Century.? Is it better to rent a car to save time. I do have free parking. Thank you.

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Andrea Daniel September 18, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I am just starting out for the first time booking a vacation. It will me just me and my 7 year old son. Is there anywhere to go or call to book an all inclusive deal?? Meaning… meals, hotel, parks, etc. all in one??? Im so confused.

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Shannon Albert September 18, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Yes, that’s a package. Click on the link to the travel agent in the sidebar on the right side of the site. Her name is Cheryl and she will help you out.

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Nick C September 22, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Best, easiest and most informative website I have found yet! Thanks for your hard work. I’m looking for suggestions on where to stay…Going in 2014 during mardi gras (3/4/14-3/8/14) so not going to be going for too long and probably wont need a resort with lavish pool because of weather. Plan to be at park majority of the day ( I am guessing). Bringing daughter of 5yrs. Does not have to be too kid friendly b/c we wont be there during the day. Deluxe preferred. Also, any suggestions on anything I would need to make a reservation for months in advance (princess themed events?).
thanks again!

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Shanna September 24, 2013 at 12:17 pm

My husband and I are staying at Saratoga Springs in early December for our 10yr anniversary, he has NEVER been to Disney & we wanted to see it all decorated for Chrsitmas (without bringing kids). Is it too late to ‘request’ certain room areas at our hotel and what do you recommend? Also is there anything you recommend we see/do while at Disney? Thank you!

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sara October 14, 2013 at 6:03 pm

i do have a question if you, or anyone could help. We have never been and are really wanting to come to disney world for the first time with are 2 children ages 6 boy n girl. And want to go the cheapest routes :) . Also we are driving not in a plane. What is the best ways to save money hotel wise? and is everything seperate there? whats the going rates to get in? do they have several parks? or all considered one? sorry i have soooo many questions but have no clue. Thanks so much

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Shannon Albert October 14, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Hi, Sara -
I recommend the planning kit that I created to help first-timers who are overwhelmed and need a crash course in planning trips. You can get that at http://wdwprepschool.com/kit/

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carla October 20, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I am planning to go to wdw and my kids want to stay at the cabins at ft. Wilderness would that be a good choice if we are not driving and not planning on doing any type of driving.

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Kristina Valcarce November 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Have to say, one thing we have learned to pay special attention to is bed size! My husband and I like to share a queen sized bed and I find that traipsing around theme parks all day and then trying to squeeze into a double bed (like they have at the values, Caribbean and Wilderness Cabins) is NOT a comfy experience!

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Elaine Smith December 21, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Hi Shannon, And I thought I was a Disney Guru, you top me. Would you know which WDW Resort could accommidate a family of 7 ages 74, 71, 50, 47, 23, 22, and 16. We haven’t decided if we will fly from Toronto or drive (which would be my preference). We are looking to come in July 2014. Any suggestions would greatly be appreciated. Thanks You, Elaine Smith

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rianne December 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm

You list “cabins @ Ft Wilderness Lodge” but its not at the Wilderness Lodge but at Fort Wilderness, the campground.

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Kristine December 31, 2013 at 9:51 am

Hey Shannon, I’m going to Disney World the first week in Nov. for my honeymoon. Which resorts do you think would be good, any help or tips would be greatly appreciated!

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Carol January 1, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Hi Shannon! Great info! We recently stayed at Coronado Springs and really enjoyed it! It is quite a large resort, but we ended up close to the pool which was really nice. We have a 12 yr old and a 2 yr old, and one thing we loved was the pool area. It’s a great pool, with a toddler pool, as well as a playground, ping-pong table and arcade all together! Very convenient for all ages. Just thought I would add my 2 cents!!

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Lynn Shoffler January 4, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Shannon, can you provide information for Shades of Green, which is also a Disney resort for military families?
Thank you!

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trish belford January 14, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Shannon,

Could you recommend the best place to stay on Disney grounds for a 1 year old (1 1/2 at time of travel) and a 2 year old (almost 3 at time of travel). We have been many times but usually stay at Orange Lake. We have older children and have decided to just take the younger ones this time.
Your advice would be appreciated.
Thanks

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Cassie January 26, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Shannon,

Do you know if the monorail at the Contemporary Resort is available to others to ride into Disney World even if they aren’t staying at the Contemporary Resort?

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Shannon Albert January 26, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Yes, anybody can use Disney transportation, including the monorail.

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Rachel January 29, 2014 at 1:18 pm

HELP!! My almost 6 year old has been begging to go to Disney for over a year now! We are going to try to surprise her and take her in June but we do also have a 1 year old! I am not familiar with Disney at all and don’t even know what she would like to do/see. Can you help with that? And where should we stay? I don’t want to spend a fortune but I want it to be nice. We are also thinking of inviting the grandparents along but would have separate rooms.

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Richelle January 31, 2014 at 1:47 am

Our family (my husband and I and our two daughters 3 and 5) is planning our WDW trip and was thinking about staying at the Cabins at Fort Wilderness. I was a little confused about the comment about the buses. Please clarify, is it difficult to maneuver the buses? We love the idea of having a full kitchen so that we can cut down on the expense of eating out.

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Victoria Brofman February 2, 2014 at 8:49 pm

The buses can be confusing and in busy times slow. If you have a car, drive to the Ticket and Transportation Center and take either the monorail to Epcot (and the water taxis from there to Hollywood) or get on a bus to the park you want to visit that day. Usually the buses from there go directly to the parks. Sometimes the buses at FW stop at other resorts (during slower seasons).

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elena d February 8, 2014 at 9:31 am

how was the noise level at nite at AoA in the cars suite? worried about toddler being awakened after a long day when it takes him forever to fall asleep.

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TENAYA UMARA COLLINS February 13, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Familys first adventure to Disney world what do you recommend for a party of 10. 6 adults 4. Babys 1-3 years of age what is tge best resort for them it is 2 of thems birthdays need help need a resort with fun stuff and close to parks.

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Lynn March 10, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Tenaya,
My extended family has gone twice 9 and then 10 of us. We all stayed at Music and at Movies and it was PERFECT. The rooms aren’t large, but they are clean. There are so many more buses for these cheaper resorts, that we rarely waited long, unless it was very late after an evening large performance, or once, during a sudden horrific downpour. :) But, most people standing in line are fun to meet and greet. These resorts have a couple Laundromats by one of the pool areas which is very helpful, especially with little ones. And I met the loveliest people from ALL over the world in there. We have no plans to stay in any of the more expensive places – we would rather put the money into the experience in the parks, but that’s just us. The food courts were really wonderful. The staff is OUTSTANDING and will remember you every morning. My dad was even reminded by a cashier one morning that he had forgotten to get my mother’s banana. Priceless! And, you bet we let her manager know how much we appreciated her thoughtful spunkiness. Have a blast!

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Todd Blanchard March 13, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Very awesome site….i have searched high and low for reviews and yours is the best yet..i have saved you to my favorites.

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Todd Blanchard March 13, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Me and my wife are going to be going June 25 2015 for our 25th annaversary,want to stay 8 or 10 days and really want the ultimate experiance as all do..we have never been to WDW.I will definitely be using your site and travel agent when we start planning completely. Any more advise for 1st timers is greatly appreciated.

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Julia March 15, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Thank you so much for posting this! It was very helpful! My family and I are going in April, and we are staying at the Old key West Resort. I’ve been there many times before the renovation. Does anybody know if the transportation is easy without a car? We are not renting a car, and worry that the bus rides will be long. Has anybody stayed there recently?

Thanks,
Julia

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Ali March 15, 2014 at 11:30 pm

Hello!!!
We are going on june 2014 with my Kids (7,4, And 1 year old).

Any suggestion of an excelent hotel, big rooms And kitchen? Cribs And Fun pools?

Thank you very much!
Ali

(México)

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Chelsi March 28, 2014 at 10:06 pm

My boyfriend and I are going in May 2014 and staying in the All Star Sports Resort. I have been twice before, but never stayed on property; he has never been. Are there more pros/cons you can think of about the resort as a heads up?

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John March 29, 2014 at 1:12 pm

We are trying to decide between a Royal Room at Port Orleans-Riverside (I have heard they are newer/cleaner, or a preferred location room at that resort. We will have a 6yr old and a 1 yr old with us on the trip and I will likely be carrying one at all times.. I was hoping to avoid the long bus lines from MK back to the hotel by taking a taxi but my wife made a good point about car seats. If we dont plan to lug around car seats will the disney busses be our only option?

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Kartik April 7, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Very nicely written! Shows your hardwork Sharon. Thanks!

A question for you – I have reserved a stay at the Grand Floridian Resort, but have 2 young kids (age 4 and 1). Do you recommend any other resorts of similar quality because I feel the Grand Floridian won’t be as much for the kids.

I’d appreciate your input!

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Kartik April 7, 2014 at 10:08 pm

*shannon

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Rachell April 9, 2014 at 3:15 pm

My family has reservations for Port Orleans- Riverside in Oct, family will be coming along but has reservations at AoA. Will it be much of a headache trying to meet up by staying on different resorts and if someone was willing to change reservation which should we stay with?

Thanks!

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