The last post about Disney Basics touches on one of the first questions of where to stay. I love staying at the Walt Disney World Resort, or as you will hear some say “on property.” Admittedly, I haven’t stayed “off property” and I don’t really have any plans to do it either. Why? Because staying at Disney on property makes everything so easy. It’s basically an all-inclusive vacation.
I did my research before the trip and was put at ease with the thought of everything being included. The list of perks included when staying at any of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels is pretty impressive.
I love when Magical Express whisks us away from the airport to our hotel and the park buses transport us from our hotel to and from the parks. There is also a definite advantage in booking FastPasses and dining. I’ve been told and read about the disappointment of missing popular FastPass+ rides and also the tedious process of waking up daily to book dining and/or FastPasses.
Disney really is the one-stop-shop vacation. I can log-on MyDisneyExperience from the website or the app and make reservations for much of what we plan to do, though a few things require a phone call. After booking our stay, Disney Mail shows up at our house to give us a preview of our vacation. Magical Express information and MagicBands arrive within weeks of our trip so once we arrive at MCO we’re all ready to go.
To me, there isn’t much of a debate except exactly where on-property to stay. You can look back at the resort reports for our prior trips to find out what I loved and what was lacking at each, but why did we stay there?
Art of Animation
We thought it was our only trip to Disney as we planned our 2016 visit. Art of Animation was our definition of “all Disney.” If it was the only time we went we needed that feeling and we also didn’t want to break the bank. I did spend time looking through reviews, photos, and reading the feedback for all of the hotels, but specifically the value resorts. The values offer more in-your-face themes while the moderate and deluxe levels are more subtle. Dedicated buses at Art of Animation were a big selling point for us. All-Star Resorts shared their buses and it just seemed to be more tedious. My kids also knew all of the movies represented at Art of Animation. Seeing Ariel, Simba, and Nemo larger than life had us sold.
Port Orleans – Riverside
I believe I mentioned Port Orleans Riverside was a runner-up in 2016. I wanted to stay here because the resort just appeared laid back and relaxing. The layout is large, but when the view online has the Mansions area so meticulously manicured. It just was perfect for me!
Our stay here was literally luck–and taking what was leftover. There was no thought that went into it. In fact, it was not even on my list of resorts to attempt to book a reservation. I was basically told by Disney when I called “This is where we have available.” I’m so glad it was because we had an amazing experience and Grand Floridian really proved the old adage “Don’t knock it ’til you try it” to be true.
Beach Club Resort
Again, the Beach Club was not our first choice, but boy it’s amazing how location can sell nearly anything. I’ve still got five months to go and I never stop checking availability and pricing, but now it’s so hard to think of staying anywhere else for this next visit. We’ve got the ability to walk to two parks, proximity to the Boardwalk area, an amazing pool, so many food options at our fingertips, and Grumpy has a gym to workout.
Other On Property Resorts
There are so many more options to choose from in each of Disney’s three resort categories: deluxe, moderate, and value. If you really want an in-depth look at each my favorite site to check out is Your First Visit.
I still have a list of places that I need to spend at least a few days. Topping off that list was my prime choice for this fall’s trip, Wilderness Lodge. This resort just seems very fitting for my family. It’s a deluxe hotel but appears to have the most laid-back atmosphere. I truly think that we’d feel really at home in the Lodge.
One location not originally on my radar, but now high on the list, is Port Orleans French Quarter. When I looked at it online a few times it just didn’t speak to me, but when we hopped a bus ride there and walked through on our way back to the Riverside area I thought it was super-cute and very quaint. I loved the look of the “streets” as we walked them. The resort is also very small which is appealing after a long day in the parks.
I’d love to wake up one morning at The Contemporary and walk to Magic Kingdom. Or sit on the balcony at Animal Kingdom Lodge overlooking the savannahs. I think my pirate-loving children would love to have a pirate themed room at Caribbean beach and also enjoy the main pool. I also need to see what all the buzz is about Pop Century. So many people seem to love this value resort. The themes aren’t really my style, but I’m starting to like the look of the newly refurbished rooms a little more with each picture I see posted.
Ultimately, I wouldn’t mind checking into each of the Disney hotels for at least one night just to experience each of them. I’m not sure Grumpy is on board with my plan.