/ Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Welcome back to another installment of the WDW Radio Exchange, where people from differing Disney backgrounds and experiences come together to answer YOUR Disney questions.  Today’s question examines one nearly everyone (except those lucky enough to live in the Orlando are) faces: what accommodations are the best?  Join us as we examine this listener’s question:

“Lou, I just recently discovered your podcast and I am addicted.  The rest of my iPod library is getting backed up as a result. Your enthusiasm for Disney is contagious.

I have been to Disney World four times and have always stayed off property. I am planning a trip with my wife and twin 5 year old girls. I am the only one who has been before. I would like to stay at a Disney resort. Money is a concern so unfortunately me dream of the Polynesian will have to wait. Which resort would you recommend so that both kids and adults have a good time? Even if you think a deluxe resort is the best option I would love to hear your opinion.  Do such a great job and I am so jealous that you have found a job that you obviously love.  Thank you for your time.”

Jim, The Chairman: “Well, if you are saying give our opinion even if it is a deluxe resort I think my favorite is probably the Beach Club. Atmosphere, location, pool…it has it all. Sorry, had to get that out there, I can’t wait to get back. Truth be told I have never stayed at any of the Disney value resorts. From all I’ve read, and all I’ve heard, I would pick Pop Century. I’ll be in Florida over the New Year’s holiday and actually don’t have plans to make it to WDW <GASP>. There is a slight chance we might make the 3+ hour drive and stay over one night. If we do, Pop Century will probably be the choice. I don’t know that amenity-wise there is too much difference between the value resorts. All have pools, food courts, and over the top theming. You didn’t mention the dates for your trip but the Art of Animation Resort is scheduled to open starting May 31, 2012. It will have mostly family suites which might be more convenient for a family of four if you’d like a bit more room.”

MB, The Money Minder: “For the money, I believe that Port Orleans French Quarter is the best bet.  The theming is beyond compare for a moderately-priced resort.  I really enjoy the proximity of the buildings to the pool and bus port.  That is very important when carrying sleeping children from the bus!  Other mid-priced hotels tend to be quite large and spread out.  There is a great counter-service restaurant and a beautifully themed pool.  You can also walk to the Riverside area to dine at the sit-down restaurant, or enjoy the pool there as well.  They have a great sing-along over there that you just shouldn’t miss.  You can also take a boat to Downtown Disney which is not an option at the other mid-price places.  Take the time to do a little research and request a building number by location and proximity to the amenities.  I believe the ‘Port O- French side’ is the shining star of the ‘moderately priced’ resorts and a great value for the money!”

Nicole, the Savvy Single: “If you are staying on property for the first time, you are in for a treat!  Disney’s hospitality is above reproach and, I warn you, you will never go back to staying off property!  The deluxe resorts are amazing and, sure, you would enjoy your time there are so many wonderful moderate resorts that there is no need to stress yourself about how much you are spending to crash at night.  My all time favorite of the moderate resorts is Port Orleans – French Quarter.  It has a wonderfully themed pool and you can really begin to feel that you are walking around New Orleans when you wander the grounds.  If you stay here, be sure to hit the cafeteria for beignets (fried dough in powdered sugar) for breakfast.  You won’t be disappointed!  As for the Polynesian, staying there at concierge level is my dream too.  Hopefully I’ll see you there one day!”

JJ, The Teen:  “The Value Resorts — The All-Stars (Movies, Music, and Sports) and Pop Century — will be the cheapest for you for sure. But they are far away from the Parks, especially Magic Kingdom. I prefer the Moderate Resorts because you’re in the heart of WDW, they’re not as expensive as a Deluxe Resort (Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Polynesian, etc.), and the Resort itself is great! I’ve stayed at Port Orleans: French Quarter, Port Orleans: Riverside, and Caribbean Beach. I recommend all of them. When it comes down to the Moderate Resorts and the pricing is similar for each, it is now just your preference on the theming of the Resort. Port Orleans: French Quarter is my highest recommendation because it has a highly detailed theme, a relaxing atmosphere, the pool is fun (the water slide is a Mardi Gras dragon), and is overall very family-friendly.”

Darby, The Disneyland Expert: “Deluxe hotels are always a wonderful thing but unfortunately, money is always the deciding factor. I would say your best bet to stay on property at a good price would be to stay at Disney’s Paradise Pier. They are the ‘Value’ hotel on property and though it’s the furthest from the parks, you still have amazing views of DCA AND!! Most importantly, a perfect view of World Of Color!! =)”

Leslie, the Super Mom: “Staying on property makes every Disney trip more special, and once you do you will never want to stay anywhere else!    There are options for every budget, and if you have some flexibility in the timing of your trip that can help, too.

While there is nothing that compares to staying at a Monorail resort, staying further out can be just as much fun, I promise.  My kids are 11, 7 and 4, and for us, breaking the day up with some swimming and downtime at the resort makes the whole trip run more smoothly. We start early at whatever Park is offering Extra Magic Hours, and then go back to the resort for a few hours after lunch before heading back out for the evening.  For this reason, I prefer to stay at least at a Moderate resort.  The Value resorts are a lot of fun, but the rooms are smaller and I think they are best suited to those with only 1 child – with 4 people it just is too crowded for my tastes.  Of the Moderates, Coronado Springs is my personal favorite, because you get Deluxe amenities at the Moderate price point.  Rooms either have 1 King size bed or 2 Queen size beds, while most other Moderates have 2 Double beds (though Port Orleans is in the midst of a refurbishment, and are moving to Queen beds – you just can’t guarantee you’ll get placed in an area that has been renovated already.)  Coronado also has one of the best pools in the Moderate category, and there are games and activities there in the afternoon, and movies in the evening.  This lets you have options for some fun even when your little ones are so tired that going back to the park would spell disaster (and as a parent, I know you know what I’m talking about!)

If you’re flexible about when you go, investigate your options by modeling some trips on the Disney World website, or contact a Disney-authorized travel planner and have him or her put together some options for you.  There are some weeks through March of 2012 that offer Free Dining which makes a big impact on the price of your trip.  You will want to avoid peak holiday weeks, and spring break, but if you can schedule for a week with Free Dining , the savings can help cover the cost of your hotel and tickets.”

Brian, the Timekeeper:  “What a great trip you have coming up!  Experiencing the world with your family is wonderful… but if it is their first time, it is even more magical!  I am the ‘optimize your time’ member of the panel…  so I will answer your question by giving you my favorite choices of moderate/value resorts that are closest to each respective park.  This will minimize your travel time between resort and park and maximize your fun!

Magic Kingdom:  Fort Wilderness   /   EPCOT:  Port Orleans Riverside  /  Hollywood Studios: Art of Animation / Animal Kingdom: All-Star Sports (I chose All-Star Sports because it is the first All-Star in the line of them… buses will stop there first before hitting All-Star Music/Movies.  When they fill, they head to the park…so Sports tends to have shorter bus waits).   All of the resorts I chose have great activities for both adults and children.   It’s hard to go wrong staying on property!   Whichever you choose… I hope you have a magical stay!”

Emma, The International Traveler: “Wow, what a tough but fun decision you have to make! Being an international visitor I spent many visits staying off site until I took the plunge and stayed in my first Disney resort, now I couldn’t stay anywhere else! Each Disney resort has its own unique charm and we all have reasons for choosing our favourite resorts. I know that money is a concern but I have to recommend my favourite resort which is Wilderness Lodge. Both the buildings and outdoor space are so wonderfully themed and you can sometimes feel a million miles away from WDW. This resort is located in the Magic Kingdom area so it won’t take long for you and your family to get over to the park, there’s even a boat ride if you want a change from the bus. If you fancy a romantic evening you could book a table at Artists Point whilst the girls have some fun at the Cub’s Den. The outside pool is always very popular with children and even in December we saw a few youngsters enjoying a swim late into the night! There always seems to be some kind of activity going on like the erupting geyser and the nightly Electric Water Pageant, which can be watched from the boat dock or the Lodge’s very own beach.  Whichever resort you choose I know that this will be a trip full of magical memories.  :)”

What would YOUR advice be?  Post your thoughts in the comments below!  And stay tuned… the next WDW Radio Exchange will examine a favorite topic of WDW Radio: FOOD!!!!



1 thought on “WDW Radio Exchange: Disney Resort Hotels on a Budget”

  1. Maria The Disney Pennypincher... says:

    I have stayed at many different Disney resort properties over the years. While Deluxe resorts are truly awesome, you can’t beat the Value resorts if price is an issue. They do not have any extras like balconies or sit down restaurants. They do each have a Food Court which serves breakfast, lunch and dinners. Also they have snacks and drinks. Do your self a favor if staying at a Value resort and reserve a Preferred room. They are a little extra a night but are close to the Food Court, pool, and playground. Also when you are tired after a long day of pounding pavement, the cost will be totally worth it!There is also a single bus route for just Pop Century. While the other 3 Value resorts share the bus routes to and from the parks. Have a great time with your family!! =0)