Thursday, September 16, 2010

Disney Thursdays: Lodging

This was supposed to post yesterday, but didn't... sorry to the two of you who care about Disney Thursdays!

A vacation to Orlando has a RIDICULOUS amount of options for lodging. From the chain hotels to timeshare resorts to home rentals to theme park resorts, one can find themselves overwhelmed in the choices. In our multiple trips, we've actually stayed at every option mentioned. Here was our experiences.

Chain Hotel: We did a 3 night stop en route to Fort Lauderdale. Our goal was to spend a ton of time at the parks. We were simply looking for a place to clean up and lay our heads on a pillow. A simple search at Orbitz or will show you availability of nearly every chain you can think of within miles of entry to the Disney Resorts.

Timshare Resort: We've stayed at multiple ones. This has been made possible through the generosity of a friend making a one week rental available through his/her timeshare ownership. Timeshares tend to offer 1,2, or 3 bedroom suite options with living room area, full kitchen, and often have a jacuzzi tub in room. On-site amenities tend to be plentiful (themed pools, ponds, shuffle board, Again, there are a HUGE amount of options, but finding the best deal can take some work or "connections".

Home Rental: We tried it once. There are 2-6 bedroom homes available and the drive is close. Homes often include their very own pool. It's more expensive but a great option if going with multiple families.

Theme Park Resorts: Disney has a variety of lodging options on site. They vary from deluxe hotels to villas to camping and cabins. Prices range from aroun $70 a night (camping) to $350 a night (deluxe villas/hotels). The main options that a Disney traveller will take advantage of are nothing more than Disney themed hotel rooms. There are plenty of perks for staying at an on-site Disney Hotel. Here's my list of pros and cons.

Pros: Extra Magic Hours: Those staying on site get into select parks 1 hour early or stay 3 hours late each day. This creates opportunity to get the parks to yourselves in a sense, especially on the early morning ones.
Disney Transportation: If staying on site, you can get to any Walt Disney Resort spot by using their buses, monorails, and boats. The Magical Express is also a system that takes you from the Orlando Airport to the Disney Hotel you are staying at. This makes it entirely possible to do a full vacation at Walt Disney World without needing to rent a car. Also, if you drive your own car, you don't have to pay to park at the parks.
All out Disney Theming: If you want to do a "Disney Vacation" over an Orlando vacation (meaning Universal Studios, Sea World, Medieval Times, etc.), on-site takes the Disney vacation to another level.

Price: It's expensive. A double/double room at Disney can cost twice to three times as much as a similar room off-site.
Rooms/Beds: Comparing the actual room amenities of a timeshare/rental home and a disney hotel room, the disney hotel room is weak.

We have stayed on site three times and are heading into our fourth stay on site. For us, once we started staying this way, we fell in love with the convenience and possibilities. So be warned, if you stay on site, you may have trouble doing a Disney Vacation any other way. There are key ways to get "deals" on the rooms on site (another post on that soon).


Shelley said...

I loved staying on site, but with 4 kids, it's just not a possibility. We have talked about still doing it so our kids get the whole Disney experience, but when we can stay in a 3-5 bedroom condo for the same price as 1 night at Disney, the potential "Disney experience" pales.

Maybe someday after your cousin hits it big! Just kidding . . . .

Tom Carpenter said...

Someone who has gone to Disney World and not stayed on site at least for a short time has not had the entire "Disney Experience." They are unmatched with their customer service. My favorite is when you arrive and they say "welcome home."

Having said that, I would not say the same thing applies to Disney Land. Without the massive amounts of land making up the resort property, like in Florida, you would be better off finding the best deal since you will not miss a whole of lot of "Disney Magic" in California.

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