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Picking the Right Resort for your Disney World Vacation

If deciding where to stay on Disney property were as simple as sticking to your budget, you’d book a value room and be done with it. After all, they’re clean, comfortable, and give you all the benefits of staying on Disney property while still being kind to your wallet. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Staying at a Disney resort is half the fun of visiting Walt Disney World, with each resort offering a unique feeling and experiences that make choosing downright difficult. Need a little help in deciding where to stay next time? Then try the following suggestions:

1. Set a budget within your comfort zone. Sure, you can probably swing $3500 for a week at the Grand Floridian, but how does that make you feel? If it makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s not the right resort for you even if you can afford it. The nice thing about staying within your budget is that it allows you to potentially say yes to a lot of other things, whether its tickets to a holiday party, a toy your child wants, or a big dinner at a signature restaurant.

2. Don’t get hung up on resort categories. Disney resorts are divided into three categories: Deluxe, moderate, and value. These categories are useful terms that can help you easily determine what type of amenities a resort has and roughly how much you’ll pay, but they’re even more useful to Disney in terms of marketing because of the ideas they connote to guests. Indeed, these are such powerful terms that I’ve seen guests completely adverse to booking in another, more suitable, category simply because they’ve decided that this category is what works for them and nothing else will do! My advice is to book based on what feels right, not on some label that a brilliant marketing strategist has decided to attach to your resort.

3. How big is your group? Quite often, where you stay will be based on occupancy requirements. Standard value rooms hold only four people (plus one additional child under the age of three). Most deluxe resorts and Port Orleans – Riverside hold five. The Art of Animation Suites, All Star Music Suites, Ft. Wilderness cabins, and some suites at Coronado Springs and the deluxe resorts hold six. You can also book a Disney Vacation Club properties that sleep anywhere from four to twelve. Keep in mind that if you’re on a budget but have a larger family, booking two connecting value rooms is usually the least expensive option.

4. Don’t book based on convenience. I’m frequently asked what I think is the most convenient resort on property and my answer is always this: They’re all equally convenient and inconvenient. Every resort has its transportation challenges, whether it be limited monorail hours, multiple bus stops, or location. While some are better than others—the walk from the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom is a dream—when it comes right down to it, no visit to Walt Disney World is complete without a little bit of time spent on a Disney bus. And you’re going to do that no matter where you stay.

5. Theming is important. Before I started staying on Disney property, I didn’t realize how much I cared about a resort’s theme. Then I stayed at the All Star Sports. Now, I know some people love this resort, but I’m not a sports fan and I spent a lot of time there rolling my eyes at the theming, all of which, shockingly, revolved around sports. Since then, I’ve tried to stay at resorts where the atmosphere is pleasing to me because I know that this really is a big part of the experience. It doesn’t have to be an expensive resort, but I want a theme I can relate to that’s carried out in the landscaping, lobby, and rooms.

How do you pick your resort room? Do you base it entirely on your budget? Have you ever booked a more expensive resort than you should have, only to regret it later? Please let us know in the comments.