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Your Guide to choosing the best Disney Resort for your family

If you haven’t figured it out yet, every mother, father, sister, uncle, aunt, neighbor or mailman will offer you an opinion on where you should stay for your Disney trip. And while they mean well, here’s the deal: They’re telling you what worked for their family, which may not be what works for your family. And that’s where I come in!

Deciding where to start and choosing a place to stay is where most people begin to feel overwhelmed. So I’m going to give you the nuts and bolts of the key differences between Disney’s resort categories so you can decide what priorities matter most for your family. Once you decide where to stay, I help make sure the rest of the planning comes together seamlessly!

While there are lots of differences between each of the Disney resort categories, I’m going to focus on the ones that are most likely to have an effect on your overall experience. But first, I’m going to give you my opinion, for what it’s worth: I hear a lot, “The room doesn’t matter because we won’t be spending much time there anyway.” While this may be true, the ONE thing that is completely about the adults on this trip is your comfort and the resort you choose will definitely affect your comfort level.

The single most important thing differentiating the price categories is that you are trading price for convenience. I’ll elaborate below.

Value Resorts

Value Resorts are a great fit if your primary concern is budget. The location of the Value Resorts puts them the furthest from the parks. The rooms are quite small, averaging about 260 square feet, so remember that if you’re going to have extra things in the room like strollers.

To put that size in perspective for you, the industry average of the typical hotel room in the U.S. is 300-350 square feet. Don’t let the heavy theming at the Value Resorts suck you into choosing a room that is too small for your family or one with a bed type that might not be the most comfortable for you. All of Disney’s resorts are kid-friendly and your kids (if you have them traveling with you!) are going to love the resort, no matter which one you choose. Pop_Century_RogerRabbit

Other items to consider: The Value Resorts are large and spread out, with between 2,000-3,000 rooms at each resort, meaning you may have quite a hike to/from your room (1/4 to ½ half a mile); the rooms can only accommodate four people, unless you plan to stay in a Family Suite, which is pricier; the pools don’t have extra water features such as slides; the rooms open to the exterior (important during hurricane season) and can be noisier; the only transportation option is via bus at the All-Star Resorts and bus or the Skyliner gondolas at Pop Century and Art of Animation; and there are no sit-down restaurant options onsite.

Moderate Resorts

Moderate Resort rooms average about 314 square feet, so that’s more in line with the typical hotel you stay in and some rooms can accommodate families of five in a standard room. The bedding is upgraded (so that mattress and those sheets might feel just a bit better after a day of fun at Disney!). Similar to the Value Resorts, the Moderate Resorts are expansive and have about 2,000 rooms with exterior facing doors. The Moderate Resorts are a little more centrally located, so it takes a little less time to get around, with your mode of transportation being the bus system at all but the Caribbean Beach Resort, which also has a Skyliner gondola station. Authorized Disney vacation planner Alison Chambers of Neverland Adventure Guides shares inspiration for fantastic adventures on her Lend Me Your Mouse Ears blog.

Other items to consider: There will be a table-service restaurant onsite as well as a lounge bar; the pools have water features like slides; and there are often other entertainment options such as recreational boating.

Deluxe Resorts

Here is where the price vs. convenience factor I mentioned earlier comes into play. The average number of rooms at a Deluxe Resort is about 900, with some as small as 700 rooms. That means a LOT fewer people competing for resources! Additionally, at most of the Deluxe Resorts, you will have multiple modes of transportation options. That could mean the monorail and a boat and a bus. Or it could mean you can walk to Magic Kingdom or Epcot. (Animal Kingdom Lodge, Old Key West and Saratoga Springs are the exceptions to having multiple modes of transportation options.)

There is also a fantastic perk for clients staying at Deluxe Resorts – Extended Evening Hours at select parks on select nights ONLY for Deluxe Resort Guests, which means the parks are dramatically less crowded! Most rides are walk-on or have minimal wait times.

So, if you loathe waiting in lines; you have young children you’d like to take back to the room for a break some days; or you want to maximize your time in the parks, then the convenience of a Deluxe Resort is for you. The rooms at Deluxe Resorts are going to be larger, between 370-400+ square feet. You can also find some Deluxe Resorts that have Villas with accommodations for up to 12 people with full kitchens.

Other items to consider: These are the resorts that are going to have the more-popular table-service restaurants; the pools are elaborately themed; Club-Level amenities are a room option, allowing you access to the Club Lounge for continental breakfast and snacks and beverages throughout the day, among other benefits.

[Scroll down to learn what using me as a travel advisor will entail!]

Finding the perfect combination of what I call the “Three Cs” – comfort, cost and convenience – is where I come in! Think you might be ready to start planning? I’d love to help you and my services are complimentary when you book your Disney stay with me.

Here’s how it works when I plan your trip:

  • Some people like to schedule a time for a call so that we can talk about your family and what your vision is for your vacation. I’m available during traditional work hours but I realize that it’s not always easy for my clients to plan a vacation while they are working, so I do make myself available for after-hours calls by appointment.
  • Maybe you prefer to start the process via email? I can do that too! You can shoot me a message here: Email Me!
  • Or, you can click the Start Planning link, give me a few details and I will get the ball rolling by sending you some options that I think might be a good fit for you. From there, we can tweak the plans until we get it just right.

What happens next? Once you’ve chosen the right package for you, there is a refundable $200 deposit to secure your room pricing with Disney, and then I help you with the entire planning process from start to finish at no cost to you! Disney realizes this process is overwhelming, so they compensate me without passing that cost on to you.

You don’t have to research a single thing! I’ll help you choose restaurants and make those reservations for you and I’ll teach you everything you need to know about the My Disney Experience app and the Genie+ system (Disney’s method for access to shorter lines). I will watch for discounts and get those applied to your reservation as long as there is availability; I’ll help you figure out the best days to go to each park to minimize your time spent in line; I’ll make sure you see of all the “must-do” attractions and rides; I’ll send you a printed itinerary; and I’ll even send you a packing list! I do it ALL! You can relax and focus on making memories with your family!

HOW TO CONTACT ALISON: Email achambers@neverlandadventureguides.com, call/text 501.772.3137, send a FaceBook message.

Still on the fence? Read reviews from my clients here!