As a Travel Agent, there is one question that I am frequently asked…Where should I stay? I love to help people narrow down their choices, but I feel the pressure when starting with a blank slate! For some people, the hotel is the largest percentage of their vacation budget, so it had to be just right. The good news is that no matter which Disney resort you pick you will surely enjoy it. But, finding the perfect resort is a bit trickier and changes from family to family or even trip to trip. Here are some factors to consider when weighing your resort options:
On or Off Property – So if you have read any of my previous blog entries, you know that I love to stay on Disney property. I am assuming you are with me for the purposes of this article…
Budget – Budget is probably the single biggest factor people weigh when considering a resort hotel. Wouldn’t we all love to stay in a 2 Bedroom Suite at Bay Lake Towers Deluxe Villas? And if you have saved your pennies for a splurge trip, this would be a fantastic choice! If your reality (like mine) is a little different, then there are many other resorts that will work with a budget. I am a big fan of the moderate level of resort. It gets the job done comfortably, and seems to be a nice compromise between the smaller, busier Value hotels and the pricier Deluxe hotels. While a splurge is worth it if it works with your wallet, I urge you not to break your budget on a hotel. While you will surely enjoy it while you are there, you may find yourself bitterly eating Ramen noodles for 3 months after you return.
Transportation – If you are relying on Disney transportation to shuttle you from park to park then you must factor that into your hotel stay. All resorts rely on buses to get their guests around the world. In addition, you can choose a resort on the monorail for quick and easy access to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge rely on ferries to shuttle passengers to the Magic Kingdom, so if you are not a fan of boats, consider another resort! The Port Orleans resorts also run regular ferries to Downtown Disney. Some resorts are within walking distance of a park, so you can bypass Disney Transportation all together!
Location, Location, Location – If you are planning on spending every day in Animal Kingdom, the Downtown Disney area resorts may not be the best choice for you. If you have young children that have strict nap schedules, or if you plan to be in the Magic Kingdom or Epcot for most days of your stay, it may be worth splurging on a monorail resort.
Theme – Disney resorts are synonymous with amazing themes! The details in some resorts are fascinating and worth exploring in their own right. While it is easy to let the theme rule your resort decision, I urge you to at least consider some more practical details first. That being said, when you can match the right theme to the right family it is just magic. It is that something extra that says “Disney” and keeps magic going day and night.
Pool - The pool factor is one that I frequently dismiss, and I shouldn't. I come to Disney for the parks, a quick dip to cool off in the middle of the day if fine, but I can swim at home! For many kids, the pool is the highlight of their trip. If you have a longer stay, choose a resort with a great pool and make time to use it! A “resort day” mid week is a great way to recharge everyone’s batteries. Conversely, if you are a theme park nut, a less spectacular pool (or at least a room without a few of it) may prove less of a lure to your children.
Bed Size – I love my husband. No, I absolutely adore him. But I would rather sleep on the floor than try to share a double bed with him (or my children for that matter!) To borrow the old break up line…"It is not you, it’s me!"... and it is true. I need room. I get hot. I toss and turn. I require at least a queen size bed if I have to share. If you are a picky sleeper, like I am, be sure to consider your sleeping arrangements before you book your trip.
Room size – There is a decent size difference in the rooms in a Value vs. a Deluxe hotel. If you plan to be in your room to sleep and only sleep, then this may be less of a consideration. Just know that a family of four in a Value hotel for a week may redefine the term “family togetherness”!
Outdoor Space – As I spent my last trip to the world sitting on the edge of the bathtub, trying to read a book, and waiting for my children to fall asleep, I found myself wishing for a little balcony or patio. It would have been wonderful to sit outside with the door cracked so I could hear the mandatory excuses for why they could not possibly go to sleep. It also would have been a great spot to drink my coffee and eat my granola bar while my husband was shaving and the kids were getting dressed. Next time – balcony!
Amenities – Is it not a vacation without a spa? Is a sit down restaurant a must or will a food court suffice? Is a morning workout a must? Is a hot tub required at the end of a long day? Be sure to check the fine print and know what to expect before you check in!
I encourage you to take some time to find the perfect resort for your family. I have found my greatest resource to be my friends. Don’t just ask your friends which resort they liked…ask WHY they liked it. The reasons they loved it may be reasons you won’t! They also may be able to communicate some “X Factor” that has been overlooked by the guidebooks that may click with you…after all they certainly know you better!
What else do you consider? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!