Where to Stay at Walt Disney World?
The decision around where to stay can be fraught. There are so many options available and Walt Disney World and the surrounding area can cater for every budget.
Walt Disney World Resorts
If you want the full Disney experience then staying at a Walt Disney Resort would be a good idea.
Whilst we’ve stayed at Disney hotels at other locations, we have never stayed at a Walt Disney World Resort. This is primarily because with two girls we want the space. The majority of the accommodation that is in our budget would result in us all sharing a room.
Whilst there are certainly cheaper options in the surrounding area, you do get some great added benefits.
1: Free Transportation
Disney provide free transportation to/from the airport in Orlando. There is also free transportation to the parks and other Disney locations. So if you are only planning on visiting Disney, then this is an easy and efficient way to get around. It’s also cheap, it’s worth remembering that parking at the theme parks cost $20 a day. Fun fact – The Walt Disney Resort area is the size of Manhattan. So whilst there are certain resorts where you might be able to walk to a park, the majority require some form of transportation e.g. bus, boat or monorail.
2: Magic Hours:
Magic hours are where Disney open a different park each day to guests staying at their resorts. The park is open either an hour before opening or an hour after the park closes. So you will get to enjoy an extra 2 hours of fun without the crowds. A great perk during peak time which means your wait times should be shorter for your favourite attractions.
3: Early Access to Fast Passes
What’s not to love, you have your tickets and you get access to select your fast passes 60 days in advance. It’s useful for planning and because some rides are very popular it means you are likely to get a fast pass.
4: The Disney Experience
Look, it’s unlikely you are ever going to travel anywhere else in the world that takes care of all the little details like Disney does. The resorts are not just places to stay but places to experience. You can for example enjoy movie nights, story time and roasting marshmallows around the campfire etc. It’s worth remembering that some of these experiences are also open to the public.
5: Free Dining
At certain times of the year Disney will run a free dining promotion. You need to stay at certain resorts and purchase your park tickets at the same time to qualify. The plan covers two meals, two snacks and a refillable mug. The plan can cover quick service to delux Disney dining, it’s all dependant on your level of accomodation. Ultimately you will save $100’s and it allows you to budget as a big part of your daily expense on holiday is food. It’s worthwhile investigating the dining plan.
6: The Magic Band
No more key or key cards. You will receive a magic band to access your room. The band will also hold your park tickets so you can access the park and activate your fast pass. You can load your card with funds and pay for items in the resort area. An added perk is that your dining plan is also loaded to your band. It truly is magic!
So you’re not planning on staying at a WDW Resort, it means that a little research is required. I tend to use one of the plethora of hotel booking sites available. I mainly use two sites – expedia.com or booking.com.
Expedia is my preference. The site is easy to use. You can search multiple options e.g. flights or flights and accommodation etc. The prices are competitive and the information on the page is kept to a minimum. This is helpful as you can clearly see if the price includes everything or if there will be additional extras when you arrive e.g. resort fees and taxes. A big plus is that you pay at the time of booking.
Booking.com is another site I’ve used in the past. You can find great accommodation at competitive rates but the amount of detail on the page can make it easy to miss the small print. For example sometimes bookings are non-refundable or the tax is not included in the price. I was caught out on our last trip, I booked non-refundable accommodation which did not include taxes. This meant the addition of hundreds of dollars being added. So be mindful to read the fine print.
My Pick – Worldquest Orlando Resort
Each time we have visited, we have stayed at the Worldquest Orlando resort. This resort has two to three bedroom apartments and a large pool. The apartments have all the essentials – a fully equipped kitchen, washing and drying facilities. Our preference is self catering as it allows us to come and go as we please. It also feels a little in the middle of no-where. It’s a short drive to the parks but far enough away from the hustle and bustle.
There are six buildings. Building 1 and 2 overlook the pool and can be slightly nosy. Building 4 to 6, you can see the motorway which runs alongside. We’ve stayed in building 1 twice and on our last visit building 4. I quite liked building 4, you can not hear the traffic and you overlook the lake. I spent many mornings on the balcony looking for alligators, snakes or turtles.
You will definitely need a car to stay here and parking is free. They do have free transportation to the parks but we have never used this. They have a small store onsite supplying essentials which is open 24/7 but Walmart and other stores are a short drive away.
Ultimately, wherever you chose to stay will be fine. Orlando can cater for every budget and every family size. A little research goes a long way. If you know that you are the type of person who is “on holiday” and wants everything at your fingertips then I would recommend staying at a Walt Disney Resort.
Enjoy your vacation!