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There are 33 hotels on Walt Disney World property in Florida. Of these, 24 of them are operated by Disney. The other 9 are the Dolphin, Swan, Shades of Green, and several “Downtown Disney” hotels.
With so many options, where in the “World” is the best place to stay??? It really depends on your tastes and your budget.
My family has stayed in nearby vacation homes AND on property. They both have their advantages, but we definitely prefer staying on property now!
Our first stay on Disney property was at a value resort in November 2008 at the Pop Century Resort. Pop has 5 themed areas: the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. In each area, you’ll find larger than life sized icons of the time period they are from. We were in the 80s area and, specifically, in the building with the huge Lady and the Tramp dogs at the entrance. Our youngest was 18 months at the time and she couldn’t get enough of them!
Our other 2 stays on Disney property were at the moderate resort, Port Orleans Riverside. Since we have a family of 5, we are limited in which resorts we can stay in at an affordable price. Most rooms are only rated for 4 guests (a 5th guest under 3 can stay in these rooms, as well). So, we could either reserve 2 rooms, a suite, or stay at Port Orleans, which was the least expensive option for us. These rooms are located in the “Alligator Bayou” section of the resort and have a Murphy pull-down bed in the wall for the 5th guest.
Here’s what the Alligator Bayou buildings look like – and one of the many “quiet” pools on property that we enjoyed at 8 am:
And the gorgeous view we had each morning when we left our room (we paid for a Standard room, but something tells me we were upgraded to garden view):
Here’s a pic of the bed in the wall (and my lovely daughter modeling…lol)
It worked out great for us! The theme is similar to Princess and the Frog. We also used Garden Grocer for the first time this year to save us some money. I ordered some breakfast and snack type items online and they delivered it directly to our resort who then delivered it directly to our room. This is a pic of the dry items…and there was more in the fridge!
Here’s a pic taken on the bridge going over the Sassalooga River looking at the main lobby/cafeteria area:
The other section of the resort is called Magnolia Bend and reminds you of plantations of the south. If you take the riverboat to Downtown Disney, you get a wonderful view of it. Here’s a pic of it:
You also ride by Port Orleans French Quarter. It’s themed very similar to New Orleans!
(You also ride by the Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs. Our family is planning on staying at these for our next trip in November 2014):
We have traveled to other resorts for various reasons, as well. In September 2012, we visited Saratoga Springs to view the DVC presentation. It’s themed like a Florida golf resort/club.
In November 2008, we ate at Chef Mickey’s, which took us to the Contemporary Resort. This one is neat because the monorail goes right through the middle of the lobby!
We also went to the Grand Floridian on this trip to have breakfast with Mary Poppins. It was decorated for Christmas and very classy!
We made it to the Polynesian for the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show (AWESOME dinner show, if you can make it…). This resort may be tied for my favorite (next to Animal Kingdom Lodge):
In September 2012, we went to the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue dinner show at the Cabins at Fort Wilderness. This is like a huge campground!
On our honeymoon in June 2000, the hubby and I ventured from Epcot’s World Showcase into the International Gateway and walked around Disney’s Boardwalk. This is a pretty amazing place…you feel like you just might be in Atlantic City, NJ!
On our most recent trip in May 2013, we stopped by the Wilderness Lodge to check it out. It’s got a BREATHTAKING lobby, and you REALLY feel like you are deep in the forests of Washington State or Oregon. It’s gorgeous.
We were also able to eat at Boma ~ Flavors of Africa at Animal Kingdom Lodge. We were so excited to finally be able to go here. It’s been a resort we have drooled over for quite awhile. It’s definitely an amazing place. Here’s a few pics from our visit:
So…which resorts have you been to? Which resorts would you love to stay at? I can give you great recommendations based on your family’s budget and tastes. 🙂
I’ve been to Disney 6 times in 12 years. The first 3 times, we stayed in a rented vacation home. This was GREAT because we had a private pool and ate breakfast at the house. However, we rarely ate lunch or dinner there because we are the type of people that want to get our money’s worth at the theme parks by staying until close.
We heard about the Disney Dining Plan about 8 years ago, and decided to give it a try. However, in order to take advantage of it, we had to stay at the resort. When the FREE DINING promotion was announced for November 2008, we jumped on it!
And now we have stayed at the Disney resorts and participated in the dining plan ever since.
On our last trip in May, we had some AWESOME meals lined up. (I tend to stalk the DIS boards for reviews fairly often, so I was confident we would!) We finally got to try the popular steakhouse in the Canada Pavilion at EPCOT’s World Showcase – Le Cellier Steakhouse. We had the famous pretzel bread, Cheese soup, Glow-tini, and Filet Mignon. Every last one of them lived up to their reputation!
Most definitely the BEST steaks any of us have ever had, hands down.
We had breakfast with Mickey, Donald, and Goofy at the Tusker House in Animal Kingdom. Great buffet!
We enjoyed Flame Tree BBQ, a quick service restaurant at Animal Kingdom with a KILLER view of Expedition Everest.
We at at BOMA – Flavors of Africa at the Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner. It’s a neat buffet with lots of African food mixed in with some American cuisine, too. They are famous for “Jungle Juice.” You have to try it!
On my daughter’s birthday, we had breakfast at the Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom. The waiter was a “singing” waiter and got down on his knees and sang an old 70s love song to her. She was REALLY embarrassed, but it was awesome! (and check out that plate of food on the guy behind her head!)
There were alot of other places we tried, but the best dinner, hands down, was Liberty Tree Tavern in the Liberty Square area of Magic Kingdom. It was absolutely DELICIOUS. We WILL be back…oh yes, we will!
The Disney Dining Plan is SO worth it. For our family of 5, we prefer to order freely off the menu’s and not worry about price. And it’s a good thing, too. That meal at Le Cellier was almost $300. I am NOT kidding.
There are a few options for the dining plan.
If you are the theme park enthusiast who doesn’t care about dining and just wants the food to refuel and then run again, you’ll want the Quick Service dining plan. No fancy restaurants, just “fast” food (Disney-style). I’d love to tell you where the best ones are in each park!
If you like to enjoy as much as the theme parks as you can, but want to enjoy your vacation, too, with some great cuisine and a welcomed 1.5-2 hour break, go with the regular dining plan…you get one counter service meal and one table service meal per night of stay.
If you really like to eat, and you really like your breaks, go with the Deluxe dining plan. You get 3 meals of any type you would like per day, plus 2 snacks. I recommend this for people who don’t care to race for the fast passes and hit every show and ride. You’ll be doing ALOT of eating on this plan…but hey, you are on vacation, right?
There are a few other plans, as well, with all you can “drink” (adult beverages), and more. I’d love to tell you about them.
What’s been your favorite Disney restaurant? Are there any you have been wanting to try that I could tell you about? We have a “bucket list” for our next trip, and can’t wait to try more new things!
I am so excited, it’s beyond crazy.
Since May 29, I have been working my tooshie off in training, preparing, planning, and dreaming about my new career. I wanted everything to perfect for my new customers and clients.
Sometimes, my perfection gets in the way, though. Even though everything isn’t as awesome as I’d like it to be, I needed to launch my business off the ground. Because, frankly, it wouldn’t ever happen if I didn’t just go for it! So, as of Tuesday, we are LIVE!!!
My awesome friends and family have been liking and sharing my facebook page, and I’ve already received 6 requests for vacation quotes. Bring it on!
I have BIG plans…I’m collecting lots of fun prizes, gift cards, and more and will be smothering my followers and clients with incentives and giveaways. So, if you haven’t liked my Facebook page yet, what are you waiting for?
Here we go!
(Oh, and if you haven’t noticed…I added a snazzy “request your vacation quote” tab to my page, too. Fill it out…you know you want to!)