Staying in Disney World is an extremely cool experience and is full of perks, but contrary to what most people think you don’t have to shell out tons of money to do so. Yes, there are expensive, luxurious Disney resorts, but there are also Disney resorts for those of us who can’t spend thousands of dollars on lodging. These are my top 3 choices for each budget, and Disney refers to the pricing as Value, Moderate, and Deluxe.
Value: Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
I stayed at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort when I was a kid and I can guarantee you I didn’t know it was a “value” resort. It seemed unbelievably cool to me, and I couldn’t believe my parents had gotten us a hotel room here. No, the rooms in the value resorts are by no means spectacular, but the hotel itself has the fun Disney feel. There are Toy Story themed rooms and big Woody and Buzz statues, as well as 101 Dalmatians, The Lovebug, and more. Rooms are set up for families of 4, so if you have a bigger family you will need two rooms, or have to stay at a moderate resort. Each room has 2 beds, a television, bathroom, and just the basics. Although the room is not much different than a regular hotel room, there is so much to do at the resort that you won’t be spending much time there anyway. The Movies resort has 2 swimming pools, a playground, an arcade, and a jogging trail. You can grab a bite to eat in the fast-food style restaurant that is set up like a movie theatre concession stand (but with more options). They offer free transportation to and from the Orlando International Airport, the Magical Kingdom, all of the theme parks and water parks, and basically anything Disney related. You can even take a free bus to any of their other resorts. I would highly recommend the All-Star Movies resort, or any other Value resort, to a family with young children coming to Disney World. These resorts are really set up for kids to have an amazing time .
Rates: $82 – $97 per night, depending on the time of year
Keep an eye out for the Disney’s Art of Animation Resort which is set to open in the Summer of 2012. Not only will it feature themes from newer movies, such as Cars and Finding Nemo, but it will be a value resort that will have family suites for up to 6 guests. This is great news for larger families on a budget.
Moderate: The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
The Cabin’s at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort are my favorite moderately priced resort because of how different they are. Most of the other moderate resorts still have a very hotel feel to them, but the Cabin’s do not. Your family will get their own log cabin, which has a front patio and BBQ pit with picnic table. Cabins hold up to 6 people, and feature a separate bedroom that contains one double bed and a set of bunk beds, and then a pull-down double bed in the living room. The kitchens are fully equipped so you can save money by cooking your own meals or barbequing in the warm weather. They do have the Trail’s End Restaurant which serves home-style cooking, a Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical dinner show, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, and Crockett’s Tavern, if you feel like going out to eat. You can swim in Bay Lake or play on its white sand shores, rent a boat, go fishing, horseback riding, use the playground, hike trails, play tennis, swim in the pool, or watch a movie under the stars. The list of activities at the Cabin’s goes on for pages. Your kids will not complain that they’re bored, and just as with the value resorts, transportation is free. Although other moderate Disney resorts might run a little cheaper, there is much more to do at the Cabins, so you won’t have to spend as much money entertaining yourselves outside of the resort; and you also get a private cabin, as opposed to a hotel room.
Rates: $275 per night, depending on the time of year
(More standard hotel-type moderate resorts start at $154)
Deluxe: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Its African style makes you feel like you left the country, and it’s on a 43 acre wildlife preserve that has over 30 different types of animals that live in 4 savannas. Depending on the type of room you stay in, some allow you to actually see the animals from your window, but if you can’t stay in one of those rooms, there are windows and outdoor areas to watch the animals throughout the resort. The first time I saw a zebra through the window, I thought there was no way I was in Florida. You can take a trip on a safari, or munch on African food at Jiko – The Cooking Place, Boma – Flavors of Africa, or Sanaa Restaurant. If you are in the mood for some American food you can eat at The Mara, and have some of your familiar favorites. A playground is open 24 hours a day, as well as an arcade. The massive pool is surrounded by lounge chairs, palm trees, umbrellas, and outdoor cabanas; and the resort has African trees and shrubs sprinkled everywhere. There’s a community hall which houses pool tables, televisions, video games, ping-pong tables, and a foosball table; and the resort also has a jogging trail, Simba’s Clubhouse Children’s Activity Center, a massage and fitness center, and more. A standard room for 4 people, with a view of the parking lot or roof will start at $250, and as the view gets better the standard room goes up to $390. After that you get to Club Level rooms that start at $396 and go up to $2225, depending on room size, view, and amenities. Transportation is free, as with the value and moderate resorts, but there’s so much to see and do that you won’t have much time to leave.
Rates: $250 – $2255 per night depending on room style and time of year
Take some time to look at the different Disney Resorts, and see which ones best suite your type of family and your budget. You are sure to find something in your price range that your kids will love, and your family will remember forever.