A family of five isn’t a “big” family by any means, but it is by Disney standards, where most rooms sleep four people. Because of this, many families mistakenly believe they won’t fit in a standard room, much less in a value room, when in reality there are some attractive options for “larger” families. Even better, these options don’t have to break the bank.
Value Resort Options:
Disney value resorts are the gold standard for guests looking to economize on vacation. The good news is that a value room gives you all the benefits of staying on property at a great price. The no-so-good news is that a standard room in a value resort can be a tight fit, with just two double beds and a small bathroom, and since these rooms only sleep four (plus one child under the age of three), they’re unsuitable for larger families. Fortunately, almost all Disney resort rooms connect, so you can book two rooms for up to eight people. Depending on the ages of the children, parents can have one room to themselves and the kids can share the other room, with the door open between them. This is by far the most economical option for most larger families. When you make your reservation, ask to book your rooms under one reservation number and one deposit.
Disney’s All Star Music and Art of Animation Resorts both have family suites that sleep six. In addition to two bathrooms, these rooms have a small kitchenette and a bedroom which affords more privacy than a standard hotel room. Of the two, I prefer Art of Animation. Not only is it newer, it also has the best theming on site. You’ll pay slightly more for Art of Animation, however, so keep that in mind if you’re on a strict budget. In addition, these suites are usually more expensive than booking two standard value rooms.
Moderate Resort Options:
All Disney moderate resort rooms sleep four except for Port Orleans-Riverside, which sleeps five. This is slightly tricky, however, since Riverside’s fifth person has to sleep on a small fold-out (or Murphy style) twin bed that’s suitable only for a child under the age of ten or so. Coronado Springs offers suites that sleep up to six, but the price is prohibitively expensive; I would recommend booking a Disney Vacation Club property over one of these suites, which are more popular with the convention crowd that fills that resort.
One nice option for larger families at the moderate level is to book a cabin at Ft. Wilderness. These cabins sleep up to six people, with a bedroom that features a double bed plus bunk beds, a Murphy bed in the living room, a good size bathroom, and a full kitchen. The cabins also have a large deck with a grill, so you can enjoy the outdoors at night. One thing I often tell guests is that while the cabins are not exactly “roughing it,” it’s also not a true resort experience in the sense that you won’t be able to just run down to the lobby for a coffee in the morning. However, if extra space and privacy are what you want, the cabins might just be the ideal option for you.
Deluxe Resort Options:
All deluxe resorts except for Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Wilderness Lodge sleep five in a standard room. In most rooms, you’ll find two queen-sized beds plus a daybed that folds out. Unlike the rooms at Port Orleans-Riverside, this fold-out is big enough for an adult.
Disney Villa Options:
If the above options don’t work for you, you have one more roomy, and very pricey, option: Disney villas. These villas, which sleep anywhere from four to twelve people, offer tons of space, a full kitchen, multiple bathrooms, one to three bedrooms, and even your own laundry room. Villas fall under the “deluxe” resort category and are most often attached to Disney deluxe resorts, so you can use the amenities at those resorts as well.
The advantage here is that everyone is under the same roof and there’s ample space. The trade off, not surprisingly, is the price. Keep in mind that these villas are part of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) properties, so you may have some difficulty booking farther out because DVC owners have priority. In addition, discounts at the villas are very limited, so be sure that you’re comfortable paying the full price if a discount isn’t released later.
If you have a larger family or travel with a larger group, how do you handle the room situation? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.
We are a family of 6 and my mom always travels with us (Built-in Babysitter! Yay!) so that’s 7. We have stayed at Old Key West for our last 4 trips (with 2, 3, and the last two trips with 4 kids). It IS pricey, but it’s possible to “buy” points from other DVC members and we’ve had great experiences doing that. We also save some money by ALWAYS having breakfast in the room and at least a few times, dinner (Pizza Hut is still cheaper than Disney…). There’s a full-size fridge which means you can stock up on water, drinks, and fresh fruit and snacks along with the necessities for simple meals. You can even freeze water bottles which will keep cold for at least a couple of hours in August! It’s a HUGE “room” with plenty of space for the kids to spread out (and lose things). You can also cut WAY down on packing if you’re going to be there for awhile because you can wash clothes – this is a HUGE plus with 4 kids or if someone gets the flu (3 out of 5 of us got it on one trip).
Good points. I hear tons of good things about OKW. One of the CMs I was talking to the other day called it one of Disney’s best kept secrets. It’s funny, because (except for busy weeks) you can almost always get discounts there.
As a family of five, we usually stay at Port Orleans Riverside in the Alligator Bayou section and love it! The theming of this resort is so nice and relaxing. However, now that our 3 kids are getting older and outgrowing the POR murphy beds, we plan to try out the All Star Music family suites on our next trip to the World. I’m a little nervous about the comfort level of the pull-outs in the living room. Does anyone have experience with this that they could share?
They are not bad, but I think the “innova” bed at AoA is more comfortable. Should be fine for kids.
Thanks, Chris! We have one child in particular who is averse to pull-outs. We’ll see how he does at ASMu. If it’s a thumbs down from him, we’ll probably try AoA next time!
We bought our share of DVC in Dec. 1995; Old Key West is our home resort so we can reserve 11 months prior. Depending on how many are travelling, we’ve stayed in every size unit offered from the studio up to the 3br. Next summer we’re taking our family of 5, 5 relatives and 5 friends of the kids. We’ll do a 1 bedroom and 4 studios (grandparents in one, sister & her kids in another, all the college girls in the 3rd and the HS & college boys in the 4th). This all to allow privacy yet still have a full kitchen & living room and a place to meet up for breakfast and our daily meeting before everyone heads off. Last summer July 2012 we did a 3 br for our group of 3 adults & 7 teens. Hate using the sleeper sofa in the living room but that’s what made it work.
Just curious – how old were your kids when you bought in? Ours are currently 10, 8, 6, and 4.
For years, we tried to make things work by booking connecting rooms at value or moderate resorts, and then we shifted over to getting a single room at the Contemporary or the Polynesian, where the accommodations are larger. When the kids were smaller, that worked pretty well, but as they got to middle school, it became too crowded.
So we bought a DVC membership, specifically so we would always have enough space. We have enough points so that we can get a one-bedroom villa at a pricy resort like the Bay Lake Tower or Disney’s Grand Californian, or a two-bedroom villa at the cheaper resorts like Old Key West or Animal Kingdom Lodge. The five of us fit very nicely, and we get two bathrooms (or three, if we’re at Kidani Village in a two-bedroom).