How to Choose the Best Accommodations on a Disney World Vacation

By: Craig Elliott

Making the decision to take a vacation at Walt Disney World may be easy; however deciding where to stay can be more of a challenge. With over 30 hotels, timeshares and resorts on the Disney World property, there are options available to suit every budget and style. You can stay in a perfectly adequate room for less than $100 or pay several thousand dollars for a luxurious suite. On average, a family of four will pay around $500 a day to vacation at Disney.

There are many options available to the vacationer at Walt Disney World. While staying at a hotel in one of the parks generally costs more than staying at a hotel in the surrounding area, there are advantages to being close to the action. Spending the night in the actual park makes visiting the park a bit easier. Not only can you be standing in line when the doors open in the morning, you can easily return to your hotel room during the day for a much needed break.

In addition to these benefits, vacationers who stay at a Disney hotel have access to "Extra Magic Hours" which allows guests of the hotel to experience one of the four theme parks an hour before the normal opening time, or two hours after normal closing time. It's a great way to make the kids happy and to avoid some of the crowds.

If you are going to stay at a Disney hotel, the next decision is which one to choose. Price will most likely be a deciding factor and Disney resorts typically fall into one of four categories, based on the room price and the general amenities. Regardless of your choice, booking the room as far ahead of time as possible, especially during summer, at Christmas and during school vacations is the best way to get your first choice.

The eight Disney deluxe resorts offer larger rooms ranging from 340 to 410 square feet, as well as balconies on most rooms. They also offer such extras as stylish dining options, concierge service and spectacular locations. Rooms at the deluxe resorts range from around $230 to $700 although larger suites can cost a lot more - you can pay up to around $2700 for some suites.

The moderate resorts offer rooms at prices ranging from around $150 per night to $250. These hotels also offer more stylish dining options than less expensive hotels and the rooms contain coffee makers and refrigerators. Pools at the moderate resorts offer such extras as hot tubs and poolside bars.

The least expensive category is the value resorts, with room rates ranging from around $90 to $140. Rooms are around 260 square feet and can comfortably sleep a family of four. Value resorts don't tend to have stylish dining options, rather a choice of fast food type options in a food court setting.

Disney also offers several resorts that they call Home Away from Home Resorts, which are basically condo rentals, and part of Disney's timeshare program. Rates range from around $280 to around $2100, which are based on the season and the size of the unit. Apart from the extra space, the condos offer such extras as full service restaurants, landscaped and attractive grounds and activity programs.

Walt Disney World is an extremely large resort; and, next to price, the location of your hotel is the next factor to consider when on deciding which hotel to choose. The three best hotels, location wise, are generally considered to be the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian and Disney's Contemporary resort. All three are conveniently located on the Disney monorail line. If you stay at any Disney hotel, free transportation throughout the parks is included in the room cost.

Depending on your preference, you may want to choose a Disney hotel with a particular theme. Hotels have themes based on such diverse things as rock music, the American wilderness, old New Orleans, and of course, Hollywood and the movie industry.

The themes are skillfully and subtly incorporated into every element of the hotel; the architecture, room design, and restaurants all reflect the particular theme. The resorts offer entertainment as well, everything from live jazz to nightclubs and stand up comedy. If you are visiting Disney without children, you may want to consider one of the more adult-oriented resorts.

If you happen to be traveling with children to Disney World, as many people are, kids tend to enjoy staying at the themed hotels. Also, children under 18 stay for free in Disney hotels on what is known as the family plan. Check in time is 3pm at most Disney hotels and check out time is usually at 11am.

If you are traveling with your family and you need a break from the kids, Disney makes that easy as well. All the Disney resorts, as well as many other hotels in the Orlando area, offer baby sitting services. The more expensive Disney resorts have child care facilities with activity programs throughout the day. So, give some thought when choosing your Disney hotel, it can make all the difference when it comes to having a magical and memorable vacation.

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