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Seeking WDW Hotel Advice


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  • [Question] Seeking WDW Hotel Advice

    Hi! I'm planning a trip to WDW with my son (age 11) in March. We're both DLR veterans, but I haven't been to Orlando in many years. After some basic reading up, I thought I'd ask for more personal suggestions from the experts.

    I'm not looking to spend too much, but this'll likely be our only Florida trip for a long time, so expensive is worth considering. I'm biased toward staying at a Disney hotel, based on my memory of the convenience it adds. We'd like to maximize our park time, especially at the non-MK parks - I think he'll love Animal Kingdom and EPCOT - and the water parks. We're there for about a week and plan to visit many different parks (and maybe sneak out to Harry Potter one day).

    Are the buses that bad? From a quick price check, it looks like getting a hotel on the monorail route would have a meaningful effect on his college fund. Is it worth it?

    Are there walking options to get from hotel to (any) park? Based on Google Maps, some of the hotels look close enough to Animal Kingdom or Hollywood to walk, but I don't know if such a thing is possible.

    I'm currently not planning on hanging out at the hotel too much, but if any of them have an impressive swimming pool or other entertainments, that would be a nice perk. Any standouts in that department?


  • #2
    Re: Seeking WDW Hotel Advice

    I've stayed at all 3 levels and I can say that no matter what level you choose, buses, monorails, boats... you'll have no trouble getting anywhere you need to. Buses really are not a problem at the resort. They are reliable and they get you from point A to point B. Of course there are learning curves to the buses, learning how best to use them, when not to leave the park so that your bus isn't crowded to standing room only on the road home.

    The beauty of staying at the deluxe resorts around the Magic Kingdom is the amount of transportation options you have to chose from, boats, monorails and even buses. Value resorts, your only option are buses. Moderate resorts, buses again are your only option.

    There's nothing wrong with a bus, even when it's empty and you've got a chance to sit back and relax, letting someone else do the driving. I will say that the value resorts buses will most likely be the ones near the end of the night or just after a parade that they become the most crowded aka Standing room only.

    I now you're a solid Disneyland fan but staying at the hotels around the MK really does elevate the experience. You have the hotels to hop around using the monorail and boats aka Disney dining, character dinners at the hotels, viewing the water parade from the hotel beaches, shopping and walking around the hotels at night are pretty awesome, watching the fireworks from Polynesian beach. The price for these hotels add up of course but the experience really is quite unforgettable and it really is something you can't get from the Disneyland Resort.

    Moderate resorts like the Carribbean Beach resort is a grand getaway that once you arrive and are in the bubble of the CBR you feel like you're miles away from WDW. The themeing of this hotel/resort is crazy good. Again you have "beaches" and water activities, dining, shopping, great island feel.

    Value is where your money is best spent and of course stretched out the longests. My advice is to stay at the Pop Century resort mostly due to the option of walking across the beach to visit the new highly themed "value" resort Art of Animation resort. All the outdoor walkthroughs are there, new hotel features, new pools. I really don't think the hotel will have in issue with Pop Century guests walking over to use their pools but I could be wrong about that.

    If you want a taste of 2 sides, Stay at a value resort a few days and then upgrade later in the trip on a high note at one of the hotels around the MK. If it's your only trip in a while might as well get a taste of both ends of the hotel stays.

    I would avoid walking. Contemprory Resort is a quick walk to the front gate during the day, probably 10 mins or less, depends on how fast you walk. If you're staying at the Beach, Yacht or Broadwalk hotels between MGM and Epcot, all three are much closer to the side entrace to Epcot, possibly a 10 minute walk again. Hollywood studioes is a definite further walk and I would advise using the boats. to get to HS. Animal Kingdom... bus bus bus is the only way to get there other than a car.

    Hope this helps in your thoughts on WDW and their fine hotels.


    • #3
      Re: Seeking WDW Hotel Advice

      Disney World is a huge place, and the maps sometimes make it look like things are within walking distance, but almost always they are not. That's why they have the wonderful transportation system that they have.

      I always planned my hotel choice, around what I wanted to do on the vacation. The monorail hotels are perfect if you want to spend the majority of your time at MK, and perhaps Epcot. Buses will get you to AK and DHS from those hotels.

      It is important, when planning, to decide how likely is it that you will use the hotel amenities? I chose Port Orleans Riverside when my grandson Sean was 11, so that he could go Cane Pole fishing. We even took an afternoon to walk over to Port Orleans French Quarter because they had a great waterslide. When Sean was 12, we stayed at the Beach Club. he swam in their pool, which has a sand bottom. The walk to Epcot was great. Sean and his mom especially liked the boat to MGM. MGM was Smack Dab in the middle of special Star Wars activities, and Sean was able to battle Darth Vadar. It was the highlight of his trip. MGM, of course is now called DHS.

      When I stayed at CBR with friends, we actually planned a no-park day, when we just stayed at the resort and did fun stuff. We also planned our special dining for that day. Pop Century was great, and even though we never made it into the pools, due to rain, I loved the atmosphere of the place. I found their buses dependable, and the food court hours are just about perfect.

      My goal has always been to stay at each of the hotels at least once. Finances have kind of put a damper on that plan lately. However, I am of the belief that if you are going to stay in a themed resort, you should take some time to actually enjoy the place. I believe that is why the Resort was built the way it was built.


      • #4
        Re: Seeking WDW Hotel Advice

        I've stayed at most resorts on property, and my recommendation would be the Wilderness Lodge. You get the convenience of the boat to the Magic Kingdom, despite buses to the rest, and a deluxe resort at one of the cheapest rates for a deluxe. In addition, you have one of the most magical resorts on property, IMO. A fantastic amount of amenities, a wonderful theme, and absolutely gorgeous surroundings. If I had to choose only 1 resort to stay at every time I visit, this would be it.
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        • #5
          Re: Seeking WDW Hotel Advice

          I have always wanted to stay at the Wilderness Resort at WDW. Having seen it featured on the Travel Channel, by Samantha Brown, in her travels, I am remembering that it had a fantastic waterpark as well. The Whispering Canyon Cafe is there, and it is one of the most fun restaurants to eat at. An 11 year old should really love it.


          • #6
            Re: Seeking WDW Hotel Advice

            I have stayed at the Wilderness Lodge on several occasions and in my opinion is the best combination of location, quality, and theming. As a bonus since it is not on the monorail loop it is a lot less expensive than the other hotels in the MK area. You also have access to the boats to the MK in place of the monorail and you get to see the water "parade" each evening.


            • #7
              Re: Seeking WDW Hotel Advice

              To answer some of your question.

              The only hotels that are within walking Distance to a park are:

              Contemporary - Magic Kingdom

              Disney's BoardWalk Resort - Disney Hollywood Studios & EPCOT
              Disney's Yatch & Beach Club Resort - Disney Hollywood Studios & EPCOT
              Swan & Dolphin Hotel - Disney Hollywood Studios & EPCOT

              All the rest of the hotels are not within walking distance or do not have sidwalks built for it.

              Personally transportation all over WDW is roughly the same. Disney makes it fairly easy to get from point A to point B regardless if you are at a value or deluxe.

              So the real question isn't Deluxe, Moderate or Value, but what experience do you want to have?

              Do you want to have a larger than life Disney experience, where it is hustle and bustle and lots of people every where? Then the Value resorts are for you.

              Do you want quiet charm, and space to explore with subtle details and charm? Then the moderates are more for you.

              Do you want a unique experience that might be having an African Savannah out your window, or tropical oasis, or geysers, or a lively BoardWalk, or Sand Bottom Pool, or a Monorail transporting you to the Kingdom? If so then a Deluxe is for you.

              Then also how do you want to spend your money. Do you want to spend your money on the ambiance and environment around you? Or would you rather spend it on fine dining experiences, or maybe unique purchases.

              Again it all comes down to what kind of experience do you want.
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              • #8
                Re: Seeking WDW Hotel Advice

                Originally posted by Micoofy Duck View Post

                If you want a taste of 2 sides, Stay at a value resort a few days and then upgrade later in the trip on a high note at one of the hotels around the MK. If it's your only trip in a while might as well get a taste of both ends of the hotel stays.
                This is a FABULOUS suggestion! If I were you, I would stay at a value resort (Pop Century seems to be the favorite on these boards, but I find the All-Stars to be more pleasant because they are smaller) for the first few nights, and then finish up at one of the hotels with walking/boat access to Epcot, such as the Boardwalk. Staying near the MK seems like a waste since it is so similar to Disneyland, which you already know so well...but then again, the new Fantasyland will be open by March, so perhaps that will affect your decision.

                As far as the bus service goes, I have never had a bad experience. Sure, there is the occasional longer-than-average wait. And yes, if you leave the park at the same exact time as everyone else, the bus will be crowded. No different from navigating public transportation or traffic in any city on earth. A lot of people bash the All-Star bus service, but when I stayed at All-Star Sports, we rarely shared a bus with the other All-Stars, and when we did, Sports were the first ones dropped off.

                If you do venture off Disney property for a day to go visit Harry Potter, a cab will cost you about $40 each way, if I remember correctly.


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