Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Planning to See The Mouse: Where to Stay

Assuming you don’t live in the greater Orlando area, you’re going to have to pick a place to stay. There are on-site Disney resorts, off-site resorts, vacation homes, and time shares in the area. What’s the best choice for you can get out of hand in a hurry. Here’s what we usually do…

On-site v. Off-site

We’re DVC members, so this decision is pretty easy for us for the most part. However, when we extend a stay by a day or two, we need to stay outside of our chosen DVC resort. What determines on-site v. off-site are a couple of things: Price and distance from the parks.

Price is the first one. You’re already dropping a good chunk on a trip to Disney, why spend more on a place “just to sleep?” Off-site hotels can be cheaper at face value. However, you’re going to have to pay for parking ($12 a day). You’ll also be further away from the fun, which you’ll have to determine what your travel time is worth.

Disney’s Value resorts can have discounts which gets them under $70 a night…if you find a good $40 deal off-site but have a 20 minute drive every morning and a $12 parking fee greeting you, maybe it’s not that big of a bargain.

Another perk of the on-site hotels are that they participate in Extra Magic Hours. This allows Disney Resort guests to stay in the parks longer or arrive earlier on certain days for each park.

However the biggest perk of staying on-site is all the Disney transportation at your disposal. They’ll bring you in from the airport, then they’ll move you all over the resort by bus, boat, or monorail. We’ve driven from Ohio to Disney, parked the car, and not gotten back in it until it was time to drive back to Ohio.

Which Level of Disney Resort

We’re going to go ahead and settle on a Disney resort, which we usually do, but which one? Deluxe? Moderate? Value? Tough choices…again!

They break down pretty easily, though. The closer you are to the parks and the more space you have in the room, the higher up the chart you go. Value resorts are typically the furthest from the parks, though the Pop Century isn’t too far from Epcot or the Studios. The moderates are a bit closer, though still a decent bus ride away, and the deluxe resorts can be walking distance from the action.

The other differentiator are the eateries. Value resorts will have a food court and some quick grab stuff. Moderates will have a sit down restaurant along with the food court. The deluxe resorts will have multiple sit down restaurants and a “grab and go” type place.

One last thing to keep in mind is which area of Disney World you will like to stay. They break the resort areas into the Magic Kingdom Resort Area for those closest to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Resort Area for those resorts closest to Epcot and the Studios, Animal Kingdom Resort Area for those near the Animal Kingdom, and the Downtown Disney Resort Area for those near Downtown Disney. The maps that Disney provides online breaks it down pretty well, and you can see which resorts are where.

So, what’s our choice? As noted before, we’re DVC members, and the Boardwalk is our home resort…and it’s our favorite. The location is great, steps from the back door of Epcot and an easy trip to the Studios. The boardwalk area at night is great, and though the pool isn’t quite what they have across Crescent Lake at the Beach and Yacht Clubs, it does quite well.

The resort choice is never an easy one, even after you’ve stayed at a few of them.

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