Walt Disney World: Where to Stay
You’ve decided a trip to Walt Disney World is in order. You’ve got your dates figured out and your park plan in place. So, now it’s time to decide where to stay. Budget, luxury, off-property? I’ll help you decide and even show you how to save serious cash on Walt Disney World hotels! Keep this guide handy and make the right decision for you, your family and your wallet!
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On or Off Property
Walt Disney World currently spans over 40 square miles. FORTY! It’s roughly the size of San Francisco! To this day it’s only about 35% developed but the sheer size of the property is enough for me to insist that you stay on property when visiting the Walt Disney World parks.
If you have come to Orlando for Walt Disney World and only Walt Disney World, it really is the best way to be submerged in the experience and get around easily. Disney has its own bus system that will whisk you away to your hotel or another park. It’s easy to figure out and has drop off and pick-ups right outside your hotel room. If you’re flying in to Orlando airport the magic starts right at the airport with free bus shuttles to your hotel. Forget the rental car, skip the tolls and just relax on your way to your Disney hotel!
The only time I would ever recommend staying off property is if you are staying in Orlando for other reasons or spending more than half of your time at Universal Studios. Looking to spend time at Universal? Check out my guide to how we did ALL of Universal Studios in one day HERE! Universal and Disney are a good 20 minute drive away from each other, more during rush hour. If you decide on property is the right choice for you, read on!
Walt Disney World knows that every family has a different budget and they offer plenty of budget options. They’re not the most conveniently located but they’re part of the bus system and they’ll get you right to the park. Their budget hotels are:
– Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
– Disney’s Pop Century Resort
– Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
– Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
– Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
– The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Rooms are pretty standard looking and some of the themes are a bit cheesy but overall they’re fun hotels and a decent place to lay your head at night. The campsites at Fort Wilderness offer a unique take on staying at Disney. If you’re a camping family and you’re driving (or manage to check all of your camping gear), come on in and pitch a tent! They’re definitely the cheapest option of all.
– Disney’s Port Orleans Resort
– Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
– Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
– Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Disney’s mid-range options for hotels do not disappoint. Caribbean Beach Resort is worth mentioning for its kid focused atmosphere with a massive pool, kid’s water area complete with pirate ship and of course a beach! Because what beach resort would be complete without a beach?! For an older group, check out Disney’s Port Orleans Resort. They may not have a huge pool but they do offer boat transportation to Disney Springs, which is a great place to unwind at night!
– Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
– Disney’s Beach Club Resort
– Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
– Disney’s Contemporary Resort
– Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
– Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
– Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
– Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
If money is no object, and you want to make this an unforgettable vacation, there are a few places I recommend staying. The Boardwalk Inn is my first choice due to its theme and location. Nestled on the water between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, the boardwalk just outside the hotel offers its own nightlife, sports bar, dance club and piano bar. Instead of taking the bus to Epcot or Hollywood Studios you can take a boat! You can also walk along the water to either park but it is quite a long walk. It’s geared more towards older kids and adults.
If you have little ones in tow and plan on spending most of your time at Magic Kingdom, there are a few really nice options. The Contemporary, Grand Floridian and Polynesian Village are all gorgeous hotels that are right on the monorail line. The monorail system is a quick and efficient way to get direct access to Magic Kingdom! The Polynesian has new over the water villas that can offer a unique, unforgettable way to experience Disney!
How to Save on On-Property Hotels
I have a lovely little secret. I regularly stay at Disney’s luxury hotels for half the price! Disney discounts are few and far between but I have found a great little way to save money. Disney Vacation Club is a timeshare type of opportunity that tons of people partake in. Members receive points every year to use at Disney resorts. When they don’t use points, they can sell them at a steep discount. I use DVCRequest.com. They buy users points and then sell them to anyone looking to stay at Disney. They don’t have every hotel available but their rates are pretty reasonable! You can also use them to book Disney’s Hilton Head, Aulani in Hawaii and the Grand California at Disneyland.
Whether you opt to stay on or off property, your trip to Walt Disney World will be magical the moment you arrive. There’s so much to do and see that even the Disney skeptics will find something they love.