Planning our Disney World Vacation Part 1 – Choosing a Resort

Choosing a resort is the first step to planning your Disney World Vacation.

Planning a Disney World Vacation

This may sound strange, but I actually enjoy planning a vacation almost as much as I enjoy going on vacation.  This is especially true for a Disney World vacation.  I love reading advice from other bloggers and researching the restaurants and rides in the parks.  The second I find out we’re going to Disney World, I start my planning.

This Disney vacation was a little different from the ones we’ve taken in the past.  My cousin decided to get married at Disney World, and as her matron of honor, I was obligated to go.  A love of Disney World is one thing my cousin and I have always shared.  We traveled there together when we were younger, and we went on a Disney Cruise together.  I couldn’t wait to experience the magic with her again!  I also couldn’t wait to start planning!

 

Where to Stay

There are so many choices when it comes to finding a place to stay when you’re visiting Disney World.  The hotels on Disney property are divided into three main categories.  There are Deluxe Resorts, Moderate Resorts, and Value Resorts.  I’m definitely not an expert on all of the resorts at Disney World.  I’ve actually only stayed at two of them (well, technically three if you count Bay Lake Tower as a separate resort from the Contemporary).  When I find a place I love, I tend to stick with it.

 

All-Star Movies Resort

I stayed at the All-Star Movies Resort when we went to Disney World for my high school class trip.  Since we had to raise the money to pay for the airfare and rooms, we needed a Value Resort.  We slept with four of us in each room so it was a bit cramped.  However, we were just so excited to be there that it really didn’t matter.  The rooms were nice enough, and the food at the food court was okay.  For a bunch of seniors going on a class trip, it was perfectly suitable.  It would definitely not be my choice for traveling with my family, though.  My kids would enjoy the fun atmosphere of the All-Star Resorts since they are decked out with decorations and play areas with the movies, music and sports themes.  However, I remember long bus rides to the parks, which would not be fun with small children.

 

The Contemporary Resort

Disney World vacation
The Grand Canyon Concourse at the Contemporary Resort

 

When my family traveled to Disney World as I was growing up, we always stayed at the Contemporary Resort.  Yes, it is a Deluxe Resort so it’s a bit more expensive than some of the other options, but the advantages are worth it for us.  We love having the monorail to get us quickly to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  There is also a walking path to Magic Kingdom that we use in the morning or if the monorail is too busy.  Now with two small children, these features make it so easy to go back to the room for an afternoon rest.  That is a lifesaver!

The Contemporary also has some great food options.  Their quick-service restaurant, the Contempo Cafe, has a wide variety of options, like a Cajun Seared Mahi sandwich, Beef Pot Roast, and a Hot Turkey Sandwich.  It was an easy place to quickly grab lunch after a morning in the parks.  Chef Mickey’s is also located at the Contemporary.  They have character breakfasts, lunches, and dinners where you can meet Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, and Minnie.  Breakfast at Chef Mickey’s was my daughter’s favorite part of our whole trip.  The Wave is another restaurant located at the Contemporary.  I haven’t eaten there yet, but they seem to get really good reviews.  All of their food options sound really fresh and delicious.  It’s definitely on my list for my next trip.

 

Disney World vacation
The Contempo Cafe

 

Bay Lake Tower

Bay Lake Tower is located right next to the Contemporary.  In fact, it’s even connected to the Contemporary with a Skybridge.  Bay Lake is a Disney Vacation Club property, and my aunt and uncle are Vacation Club members.  They offered us the opportunity to stay in a 2-bedroom villa.  Wow!  The room was incredible!  We had a full kitchen, living area, three full bathrooms, two large bedrooms, and a laundry room.  The large balcony had a beautiful view of the pool and Bay Lake.  When you stay at Bay Lake Tower, you have access to all of the amenities of the Contemporary.  We could easily grab food at the restaurants, and we had access to the monorail.  We also could have used the Contemporary’s pool, but Bay Lake has its own separate pool.  It was my son’s favorite part of the whole trip.  Hmmm, both of my children said their favorite parts of the trip were at the resort.  Did I even need to buy park tickets?

 

Disney World vacation
My son enjoying the living room at Bay Lake Tower

 

Disney World vacation
My kids enjoying lunch from the Contempo Cafe at our kitchen table

 

 Staying off Disney property vs. staying on Disney property

I know a lot of people consider staying off Disney property since it is less expensive.  We did that one time, and I refuse to do it again.  Yes, we got an entire house with its own swimming pool for less than it would have cost to get two rooms at the Contemporary.  However, the experience just isn’t the same as staying on Disney property.  We spent a lot of time driving to and from the parks.  I really missed my 5 minute monorail ride!  Staying off property also made it nearly impossible to take our midday break.  At that time we didn’t even have children, but it still would have been nice to go back to an air conditioned room.  Not only do you get to cool down for a bit, but you also avoid some of the larger crowds and the hottest temperatures of the day.  Personally, I also like to shower and change clothing before going to our dinner reservations.  I hate being sweaty and covered in sunscreen!

There are so many other wonderful resorts at Walt Disney World.  You can find out about all of them under the “Places to Stay” tab on the Walt Disney World website.  I hope you find a resort that your family will love, and I hope you decide to stay on Disney property.  It will definitely make your vacation more magical and more relaxing.  There are even more advantages to staying on Disney property, which I will cover in the next posts in this series.  Check back soon to find out how to plan your schedule for your Disney vacation.

What are your favorite resorts at Disney World?

 

 

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14 thoughts on “Planning our Disney World Vacation Part 1 – Choosing a Resort

  1. Hi Tara,
    You have some great points. I’ve only been to Disney World once & it was a great experience. We stayed out of the park. They were just beginning to build the hotels…that’s how long ago it was. I would love to go again sometime & next time I think I’m going to stay there. I had no idea how to go about planning for it, so it’s nice to hear someone’s perspective on it.
    Florence (new mbr of WayWow) Posted to G+

  2. I grew up in Orlando and my parents still live there, so their house is my favorite resort! 😀 However, I spent a ton of time “playing” around all the (older) resorts while growing up, so I can definitely understand the appeal of staying at them! I had my senior prom at the Grand Floridian just after it opened and attended another prom at the Dolphin. The Grand Floridian was a Disney dream come true! Oh! And I love planning a vacation just as much as the trip, too!

    1. Wow! I’m so jealous that your prom was at the Grand Floridian. That would be amazing! It’s also great that you have a place to stay for free when you visit Disney. That’s a huge perk since the resorts are all so expensive.

  3. I haven’t been to Disney World in so long! My family went when my sibling and I were still really little. I have thought about going back. But, I never really thought about how much better it would be to stay on Disney property rather than off. I always thought about the money saving aspect. But, the prospect of not going to dinner sweaty is very appealing indeed.

    1. Gina, normally I try to save as much money as possible. However, Disney World is one place I splurge, especially with kids. It’s so much easier to stay in a Disney resort and use their transportation. I hope you get back to Disney soon!

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