You don’t have to be a kid to want to spend time at Disney. Although having kids certainly makes the experience a bit different. For the past three years, we’ve been blessed with the opportunity to attend Walt Disney World as part of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. We’ve always extended our stay beyond the days of the conference because, well, it’s Disney. Any excuse to stay longer warrants use of said excuse.
A lot of people ponder the idea of staying at a Disney Resort (AKA “On Property”) versus at a location offsite. We’ve researched offsite properties but ultimately recognize that the benefits of being on property greatly outweigh any savings that we might find staying elsewhere. The biggest advantage is transportation. Not only do you receive complimentary shuttle service to/from Orlando Airport via the Magical Express (no matter what time your flight arrives or departs) but there is transportation to get you to/from the other Disney locations, too. The most obvious is the monorail but there are also buses available that coincide with park hours and complimentary taxi services to get you to the less common locations like Disney Golf Courses.
The past two years, we stayed at deluxe properties and value properties. This year, we decided that since our stay was a full 11 sleeps in Disney dreamland, staying in a variety of properties was our goal. Specifically, at least three nights in each level of property (excluding Deluxe Villas, Campgrounds and Vacation Club properties) to really get a feel for the pros and cons of each type. When experiencing all within in the same trip, it’s easier to see the differences! Disney makes moving between properties extremely easy; check out of your room and leave your luggage with the cast members at the bell desk. Let them know your destination room, they’ll advise you what time your bags should arrive at your new hotel then head off as you normally would for the day. When you are ready to return to your hotel, just head to your new resort instead. Your bags should be waiting for you when you arrive. Easy peasy.
One thing that is common to all properties is that towels and wash cloths aren’t just towels and wash cloths. Every visit we’ve ever had to a Disney resort of any level has included some kind of special welcome. Believe it or not, I look forward to seeing what the room cast members set up to greet us with!
Here are some specific details about the properties we stayed at during this trip:
The Contemporary Resort is a deluxe property and sits on the monorail making access to Magic Kingdom and Epcot a piece of cake but also includes buses to other properties. The rooms are luxurious from the decor down to the toiletries. It also features sit down restaurants and a fun pool with a water slide. In the past, we’ve stayed at the Grand Floridian as well as the Yacht Club with similar characteristics.
The main pool at Yacht Club is one of our favorite pools of all the Disney resorts and has awesome access to both Hollywood Studios and Epcot. In general, the deluxe properties tend to be more formal in design, decor and landscape while still maintaining the theme of the specific property. They also are home to some of the nicest sit-down restaurants.
Caribbean Beach Resort
Caribbean Beach Resort is a moderate level resort that offers multiple pools, both a sit down restaurant and food court and bus stops throughout the property to reduce walking time. This was our first experience staying at a mid-level resort. The property surrounds a lovely lake with a scenic walking path. It’s an extremely large property so there are multiple smaller pools throughout and beaches along the way also. As with all the properties we have stayed at, there are special activities scheduled daily. Our girls thoroughly enjoyed the after-dinner marshmallow roast on the beach.
The rooms are spacious, include a coffee pot and refrigerator and a large vanity area. We didn’t have a need for the laundry facility since we had already done all our laundry at the prior property but it was close by if we needed it. The closest bus stop was also just a short walk from our room. From what I have researched, the moderate level properties tend to be a good cross between the Deluxe and Value properties with the main distinguishing factor being the divided bus stops to ensure that everyone has a reasonably short walk.
Pop Century and Art of Animation are value properties filled with festive decorations, multiple themed pools and activities to excite the entire family. Each features a large food court with a variety of food types and one primary bus station for each property. The dedicated bus services offers easy access straight to most parks and attractions as well as Downtown Disney. There’s only one bus stop at each value property but the walk to get you there is filled with character.
Art of Animation
Art of Animation provides the option of both standard rooms as well as family suites. While the value properties don’t offer the same “feel” as a deluxe property, they certainly offer something that those properties don’t: a family-friendly, fun and festive decor.
Don’t get me wrong, the deluxe properties are beautiful but the value properties have themed-pools and decorations throughout that even the youngest child would recognize and appreciate. The small details, like the light disguised as a pearl on the headboard in the Little Mermaid rooms, that make it extra special. If you happen to stay at Art of Animation, be sure to hit the main pool. We got a kick out of the fact that different music was playing underwater than was playing above water. Although I wasn’t able to find it on the official WDW website, after swimming in it, I’m pretty sure it’s a salt water pool.
Oh yeah… and a resort that offers a pool shaped like a keyboard near a staircase shaped like a Rubik’s Cube and hula hoop in the lobby is a winner in my book any day.
There are a number of each range of properties tailoring to specific themes and offering different amenities. To find what property is best for your trip, check out all the Disney Resort choices before committing!
3/14/2016 Editor’s Note: We’re excited to share that our list was featured on Trekaroo as part of their comprehensive list of 15 Expert Tips for your Disney vacation. With information like ours about selecting a hotel to food, tours, pictures and more. Stop by their post and check out all the tips then enter to win one of two Disney vacations!