Ask a Disney Expert: Where to Stay

Posted by Kim Wright Wiley on August 19, 2008 at 4:58:47 PM EDT | Post a Comment

080820_polynesian_resort.jpgFor Fodor's recent "Ask a Disney Expert" Contest, travelers submitted their toughest Disney questions for Kim Wright Wiley, author of Walt Disney World with Kids 2009. Kim will answer questions from the contest's 8 winners, along with several others, in a four-part series on Winners will receive a complimentary copy of the guide. Thank you to everyone who sent a question in! View all of Kim's tips: Dining at Disney | Touring Tips | On a Budget Today Kim answers questions related to the best resorts and hotels to base your family for your Disney vacation...


"Any tips that you know of that may help us get a free upgrade at a Deluxe resort like the Wilderness? We are celebrating the anniversary of our daughter's adoption and want it to be a special trip!" --- submitted by wagsmom (winner) Kim's Answer Call in before you arrive and inform the Guest Services desk that you'll be celebrating a special day. I can't promise you an upgrade---although they try hard to accommodate requests in situations such as yours---but they will do something to earmark the occasion. Also, stop into Guest Relations as you enter the parks, especially in the Magic Kingdom. They have pins and goodies for people who are earmarking a significant event whether it's a birthday, anniversary, or their first visit to Disney World. And finally, if you'll be visiting a certain restaurant on your daughter's adoption anniversary, give them a head's up in advance too. The general rule at Disney is "Ask and you shall (probably) receive."


"Is there one Disney budget/moderate resort that is better than the others as it relates to children with large age gaps---in my case 10-year-old and 2-year-old daughters? It would be nice to be at a resort that the characters visit." --- submitted by alwaysgreen, (winner)

Kim's Answer I like Port Orleans because it has a really fun pool area. The All Stars are full of kids of all ages---poolside playmates for everyone---and the price is definitely right. The characters don't visit the moderate and budget resorts (such snobs!) but there are plenty of opportunities to greet them in the parks. If you take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours, in which only Disney hotel guests are allowed into the parks you'll find plenty of characters then.


"In your opinion, where are the best accommodations for toddlers (a boy and a girl under age 3)?" --- submitted by lorimb

Kim's Answer If you can afford it, stay at one of the resorts on the Magic Kingdom Monorail line. These three deluxe resorts (the Contemporary, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian) aren't cheap but you can't beat the convenience, especially when you consider that with kids the ages of yours you'll probably be spending most of your time in the Magic Kingdom. Families staying on the monorail line can leave the park and be back in their room within minutes for a nap---very important when you consider how tiring the parks are and how quickly the temperaments of toddlers can change. If these resorts aren't an option price-wise, consider the budget All Stars resorts. They have huge pop graphics and bright colors that are total eye candy for kids.


"Will you suggest an on Disney property hotel for perky parents traveling with an unenthusiastic teenage-princess?" --- submitted by prbailey

Kim's Answer My top hotel pick for families with older kids is the Yacht and Beach Club. It has a great pool and beach area and easy access to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios, both of which have great rides for teenagers. Plus the resort is lovely enough to please even the most demanding princess.


"Which resort at Disney would you recommend for a family with two boys, ages 10 & 11? This will be the first time we visit." --- submitted by rowdy1968

Kim's Answer Both the Polynesian and Wilderness Lodge are very popular with families, because they have cool boy-friendly themes, lots of sporting options, and extremely easy access to the Magic Kingdom. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is a bit farther out (close to the Animal Kingdom, naturally, but a bit farther from the other parks) but has the unbeatable appeal of wild game viewing from the hotel lobby.


"When staying off-site, where are the most cool and comfortable "wait for us here" spots for Grandma and Grandpa when they get a bit tuckered out?" --- submitted by lincasanova

Kim's Answer There are resting areas throughout the parks. At the Magic Kingdom, I like the quiet, shady little picnic area in Liberty Square. At Epcot, there are plenty of indoor rides and shows so adults who aren't quite in the mood for Test Track can rest inside an attraction like Universe of Energy or Living With the Land. At Hollywood Studios, there's a covered snack bar near the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area. And the restaurants at the Animal Kingdom all have pleasant shady dining areas with fountains. Grandma and Grandpa can get a drink and simply sit and relax until the family returns.


"My family will be visiting WDW in late September. We will be there for eight days and hopefully have the energy to travel quite a bit from park to park including the water parks and La Nouba one night. Would you recommend renting a car? We are staying at the Polynesian Resort." --- submitted by alb0312

Kim's Answer I honestly don't think you need one. You can use the Disney transportation to get around to the parks and the Polynesian has lots of transportation options---buses, boats, and monorails. La Nouba is a bit more of a hassle because while you can take the Downtown Disney bus it makes multiple stops and the very last one is the West Side where La Nouba plays. I've gotten mail from families who have missed the beginning of the show because they got stuck on a bus that kept making stops. So that night, I'd say take a cab. They're almost always waiting at the Disney hotels and, if not, the bellman can call you one quickly. You'll also have no trouble getting a cab from the West Side when it's time to go back.


"Does it make sense to have one adult buy an annual pass to get advantage of on premises room discounts? " --- submitted by greginmadison

Kim's Answer It depends on when you're visiting. The room discounts only apply during the off-season, i.e., times other than summers and holidays when the parks aren't as crowded and Disney is willing to cut some deals in order to fill their hotel rooms. While rates vary by week, in general annual pass holders get discounts of about 20%. But the thing is, almost any family can get a discount during the off-season so before you buy an annual passport simply for this reason, check the annual passport room rate versus the general value season rate to make sure it's really worth it. And, make sure to make your reservations as far in advance as possible. Only a certain number of rooms are set aside for the discounts and when they're gone, they're gone.

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