Finding the Right Hotel for Your Family or Party
With so many choices offered by Disney, how do you make a decision on what hotel to choose or even what type? When deciding on a hotel, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
1. What’s my baseline budget?
Disney offers a three main tiers of hotels according to budget: value, moderate, and deluxe. Within those tiers there are further breakdowns by room type, view, and proximity to amenities. Within the deluxe resorts there is also an additional category called the “Deluxe Villas” which offer additional amenities in the room (including multiple bedrooms and kitchens).
To get a rough estimate, depending on travel dates (and without promotions or tax):
- Standard rooms in value resorts run approximately $96-$199 per night; preferred rooms run approximately $118-217 per night; (family suites are an additional cost)
- Standard rooms in moderate resorts run approximately $182-$290 per night; (rooms with better views, closer proximity to amenities, and king beds have additional costs per night)
- Standard rooms in deluxe (non-villa) rooms run approximately $320-856 per night (which varies quiet considerably between resorts and seasons): (rooms with better views, king beds, bunk beds, closer proximity to amenities, or club level access have additional costs per night)
2. When do I want to travel?
Travel dates can effect costs per night and availability of rooms in each hotel differently. Value seasons like the majority of January (after the New Year season) and the majority of September (before Food and Wine begins) are generally the times when the cheapest rates are available and the most room types can be found. Holiday times (especially surrounding Christmas and New Years) have the highest rates and tend to have much less availability unless booked far in advance. Special events like EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival may decrease availability in certain resorts in close proximity of the event (in this example Yacht and Beach Club and the Boardwalk in particular) or certain types of rooms (like value resorts during Cheerleading competitions).
3. Will the size of my party fit in a standard room?
Most rooms fit 4 people with the option for an additional infant in a Pack ‘n Play. Some resorts allow 5 people in the room with an additional fee. For families larger than this, deciding between 2 standard rooms, joined rooms, a family suite, or a deluxe villa can be difficult. What you should choose depends on your budget, how comfortable family members are in sharing beds, how important the ability to cook/eat in the room is to your family, and the ratio of adults to kids (especially since you need at least one adult in each room).
4. How important is theming?
Disney resorts have the ability to completely immerse you in an alternate reality with their theming. Each resort has a very different theme to choose from. From a laid back stay immersed in the culture of New Orleans at Port Orleans French Quarter to an adventurous stay on the savannah at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, to the active and colorful atmosphere of the All Star Resorts; the right theme for just about anyone can be found. Perhaps there’s a certain style of theming or atmosphere you prefer that can make your stay at Walt Disney World that much more magical. It may be worth splurging on a moderate or deluxe resort to have that ambience.However, don’t feel that you’ll completely sacrifice theming at a value resort! From giant bowling pins, to larger than life Disney characters the All Star Resorts have surprises around every corner!
There are also specifically themed rooms in some Disney resorts. At the Art of Animation resort, family suites can be reserved with Finding Nemo, Cars, the Lion King, or the Little Mermaid themes. At Disney’s Caribbean Beach resort, families can stay in Pirate rooms complete with ship themed beds and at Port Orleans Riverside the prince or princess of your family will feel at home in the Royal Guest Rooms.
5. What about the pool?
If you plan on spending a good portion of time by the pool, it may be a determining factor in your hotel decision. Pools vary greatly by resort in terms of size, atmosphere, and additional offerings (like splash zones, playgrounds, food/drinks close by, and waterslides). Some pools have zero entry available for guests with mobility concerns, others have additional quiet pools for relaxations, and some have hot tubs by the pool.
Generally speaking, the pools at the moderates are more elaborate than those at the values and pools at the deluxe resorts are more elaborate than those at the moderates. Value resorts do not have waterslides or hot tubs and (with the exception of Art of Animation) are not zero-entry (but can accommodate guests with mobility issues with chair lifts). Looking at pools individually to see what has the amenities your family is looking for is the best way to ensure your needs are met.
6. How close do I want to be to the parks?
Proximity to the parks can be extremely important for those wanting to take afternoon breaks or head straight home after the fireworks. There is a huge difference between hopping on a 5 minute monorail ride and a 20-25 minute completely packed bus ride making multiple stops with over tired children. Keep in mind, many buses stop at multiple resorts and others may make only one (possibly very popular stop). When leaving parks at peak times (i.e. after the fireworks) you may have to wait for a bus to be able to accommodate you.
After a long day Food-ing and Wine-ing at the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival a short walk to the Beach Club or Boardwalk may be just what you need.
For those planning on hitting the ground running and getting to “rope drop” each morning, the shorter the transportation to the parks, the later you can sleep!
However, with kids who can sleep through anything, older children, or no children at all; you may be absolutely fine taking a leisurely drive to and from the parks. It’s a decision only you can make for your family!
7. Am I driving/planning on renting a car?
Some resorts; like Port Orleans Riverside, Caribbean Beach, Fort Wilderness Campground, and Old Key West; are pretty expansive and spread out. In some places, you may have to take a bus to get to the main bus stop which may be cumbersome particularly with those carrying strollers, small children and diaper bags or those guests with limited mobility. Those who plan on driving to the parks may have less issues here than those that plan on relying solely on Disney transportation.
This is also true for resorts like Animal Kingdom Lodge that may not require internal transportation but that transportation to and from the parks may be particularly lengthy. These things may not be troublesome for young couples, families with older children, or families used to public transportation (here’s looking at you, New Yorkers) but may be a consideration for other families or parties.