Disney Luxury or is that an oxymoron?

Mar 3rd, 2009, 10:34 AM
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Disney Luxury or is that an oxymoron?

We are looking to take my DD to disneyworld this fall for her fourth birthday. I have never been to disneyworld, even as a kid. I'm getting alot of advice from friends and thought i'd come here for some other opinions as to how we should do this.

When we travel, we like to stay at very nice places and eat good food. I'm told this will be quite a challenge in disneyworld. some places i've heard are good are the Grand Floridian and the new villas at the Contemporary (opening August 09). We don't need a villa- a one bedroom suite will do.

Its also been suggested to book the Ritz carlton in orlando and hire s driver to bring you in and take you home. That way you don't need to eat every meal on property and you can get your monies worth for your room..

Although this trip is about my DD and not us, it would be nice to stay somewhere nice and have some good meals. I think when DD is older, staying off property will be harder-- as she'll wan to be in the park more, but at 4, maybe it's not such a bad idea to stay off property?

I'm a true novice at this. Anyone out there have any good advice on how to plan this trip?TIA!
emcash is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2009, 11:08 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
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It sounds like money is not an object for you, but here are my thoughts. The reason you stay on property is not for the luxury of the rooms, because they are nothing special, even the "deluxe" rooms. I have stayed at the Polynesian and Contemporary. I loved that they were only a monorail ride away from the Magic Kingdom, but for what you are paying, the rooms are very standard and do not, at all, have the feel of luxury. The grounds of the Grand Floridian are very nice, and the rooms may be a bit better than the Poly or Contemporary, but if you want a luxuriant feel, The Ritz-Carlton is probably more your speed.

I will say, also, that the theme of the grounds of each deluxe hotel, as well as the pool, can add to your experience if you are into that.

The meals at the resorts, as opposed to the parks, are actually pretty good. We love Ohana at the Polynesian. Chef Mickey's is a great character breakfast, and the food is good enough.

I don't see why you would need to "hire a driver" from the Ritz, but they may have shuttles back and forth. Or you can rent a car for very reasonable rates, so you have control over when you come and go.

Another consideration is whether you plan to leave for a mid-day break (nap or swim) and return for late afternoon/evening. If so, staying on site is more appealing.

Finally, once our kids were past the age of napping, we have rented houses at very reasonable prices. The houses have their own pools and are close to new. They are everywhere, and it was no more than a 15-20 minute drive from the house to the gate of the park. What is great about this was that we were not all on top of each other.

A great resource is www.mousesavers.com, as well as www.allears.net.

Hope this helps!
Owdo_Gace is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2009, 11:18 AM
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We stayed at the Boardwalk last year . . nice hotel with many Non-Disney resturants close by . . and a short boat ride from Epcot
Rich is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2009, 11:21 AM
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My experience with kids at 4 they do not want luxury - they want play time in the parks and time with the characters. Stay on site, with a pool. That way if she crashes at the park you have somewhere else to hang out - and is quick to get to. And please, please, don't make your kid stay in the park until "you have your money's worth" and have her whining and carrying on like many other parents. Go back to the room, relax, sit by the pool. Something, anything other than stress each other out and the other guests.
BuckeyeBud is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2009, 11:45 AM
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I agree that the lure of the onsite properties is their proximity as well as some perks (like early entrance passes) that you don't get outside the park. Still, you might look into conceriege level options. We did that at the Polynesian and the rooms were larger and nicer than other floors, with nice breakfast buffet, snacks during the day, and wine, cheese and heavy hors d'oerves during evening, and really nice views across the lake to the park. The floor was also quieter and easier for the kids to nap if needed. Not the RC, but certainly not bad at all.
dfr4848 is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2009, 11:48 AM
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We stayed at the Boardwalk about 2 years ago and loved it. We were 2 families with 4 kids. It was really nice to be able to walk to Epcot or catch the bus to the other parks. There were 2 other Disney hotels right by it, the beach and yacht club, or something like that. Anyway, they had a fabulous beach pool that might interest you.
mms is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2009, 12:23 PM
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We are just back from Disney with a 4 and 2 year old.

We stayed off property, so I can't comment on the hotels, but I can comment on the food and parks.

Get a "parkhopper" pass added to your ticket. The food at Magic Kingdom is just regular food. But Epcot actually has very good food. We would do a park in the morning (most days Magic Kingdom, one day Animal Kingdom) and then head over to Epcot for dinner. Most of the countries have restaurants and they have really improved them. They bring workers from the actual country to help with the ambiance. They are usually students hoping to earn some money and improve their English. But the important thing is TO MAKE RESERVATIONS IN ADVANCE. I mean several days in advance if not several weeks. They book up very fast.

Epcot has an area in the front that will appeal to a four year old. There is a Nemo ride and my 4 year old really enjoyed the ride through the Disney green houses.

And then in each country, there is a kid station where you add little country tags to a mask that they give you. The kids really get into collecting these tags. Plus there are some attractions that are fun in the countries such as the boat ride through Mexico.

The other good thing about Epcot is since it is sort of a grown up place, the characters are easier to get to. If you get the Disney Visa before you go, you can wait in line for a special photo session with two of the top characters.

We tried the MGM Studio park a couple of years ago, but it is really for teenagers. I would suggest one day at Animal Kingdom, evenings at Epcot, and several days at Magic Kingdom.

Buy a book about Disney before you go. It will have all the restaurant info and phone numbers you will need. It will explain the fastpass system which will save you many hours in line. Especially with a 4 year old, we would send an adult ahead to wait in a line while we did something else and they would call us when it was almost our turn. It is good to have a plan each morning of how you will attack the parks.

If you do stay off property, I would just rent a car. Then the world is open to you. If you do rent a car, buy your Disney tickets from AAA and have them include a parking pass. This little piece of paper was invaluable to us. It allows you to park in a special lot right by the gates of all the parks. It made park hopping so much easier as well as exiting at night. We didn't have to deal with shuttles out to our car. I used autoeurope.com to rent our minivan and got a great deal. It was $278 for the week with all taxes and airport fees included. Parking at Disney is $12 a day, but if you switch parks, your parking is covered. But I assume the Ritz will probably charge for parking as well.
kelliebellie is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2009, 12:56 PM
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I would stay at the Beach Club which is in walking distance from Epcot. The pool complex is the best I experienced at WDW. You can stay on the concierge level which is nicer but not luxurious. This gives you the option of walking in to Epcot for dinner. You can also walk over to the restaurants on the Boardwalk which are pretty good. I would definately stay on property for the convenience.
jerseysusan is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2009, 04:12 PM
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Even the "upscale" Disney hotels are 4* and not 5* (if you're looking for Ritz Carlton/Four Seasons quality). There are very true really excellent restaurants in Orlando (most places are just max calories stuffing oneself) - and even most of the disney "better places" - as in Epcot restaurants are little more than acceptable. I believe the restaurant in the Grand Floridian is legitimate quality - but not world class.

We have stayed a couple of times at the Cypress Grand Hyatt, which has a nice pool complex and a decent bistro in Hemngways - but the hotel is still 4*, not 5 - and the restaurant would not be noticeable in a city with generally good food.

Frankly, we would never stay in property - there are just too many kids. (It's not that I dislike children but in large numbers they soon become irritating.)
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2009, 07:28 PM
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Hi emcash and welcome to Orlando and Walt Disney World! Fall is a perfect time to come here.

Orlando is not New York nor should it be! Don't look for a Southern version of NYC. For one thing, it is more casual, partly out of deference to the climate. For another, we have a lot of "irritating" children at the attractions, including WDW. Nevertheless, you and your DD will have a great time.

If you want some restaurant recommendations for adults, I recommend Artist Point and California Grill. I think Victoria and Albert's (an 8-year recipient of the prestigious AAA Five Diamond award) may be wonderful for you, but not fully appreciated by a 4-year old. They also have a minimum age requirement of 10 to eat there.

Having said that, you can enjoy a high level of comfort at some of the WDW hotels and even enjoy "good food". Check out the Grand Floridian and even the Wilderness Lodge. Even though I live here, I would also recommend that you stay on Disney property for the great convenience they offer.
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2009, 08:21 PM
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Personally, if I'm going to drag my buns to Disneyworld, I'll stay on-site. The hotels aren't the peak of luxury, but the better ones are fairly nice. What you get on-site is a much more complete and extended resort environment. With a 4-year old, being able to conveniently take a nap or a break by the pool in the afternoon can be a big plus.

Grand Floridian is probably the top-line hotel, it's probably a bit less kid-oriented (though it will still have lots) than many of the others. Yacht Club, over by Epcot, is fairly nice and has what is regarded as the best kids pool complex.

Food in the parks is somewhat hit or miss. Some places have a fun ambiance to help out. Sci-Fi diner at Disney Studios is fun. The Mexican restaurant in Epcot has a nice setting. We thought the food at "Yak and Yeti" in Animal Kingdom was fairly good (as park food goes).
curmudgeon is offline  
Mar 4th, 2009, 05:52 AM
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Thanks all for your replies and suggestions. I'm hearing that the new villa at the Contemporary is supposed to be very nice-- has anyone heard the buzz on that?
emcash is offline  
Mar 4th, 2009, 06:28 AM
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I don't think you will be disappointed in Grand Floridian. I like Polynesian and Contemporary as well. I don't know anything about the Villa's. GF is a notch above. I would definately stay on Disney Property. There are 3 or 4 nicer restaurants to dine at. We enjoyed Victoria and Alberts several years ago. We have stayed at Grand Floridian twice, Polynesian, Contemporary, Port Orleans, Cornado Springs, and off property at Grand Hyatt. Staying at a place that has monorail access is much better. If you are going to stay somewhere that doesn't have monorail, then you might consider off property. A nice trip we took with our daughter when she was 6 was a 4 day Disney/3 day cruise package. Stayed @ Grand Floridian, and then had a nicer room on the ship. We think Disey does things right. I think you will be pleasantly suprised. Your daughter can have a great time and you still stay at very nice place and enjoy some good food along the way. The character meals are pretty good, also have a character meal in the Caste.
spirobulldog is offline  
Mar 4th, 2009, 09:42 AM
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We've stayed at the Grand Floridian twice and then at the Beach Club with our 5 year old grandson. We prefer the GF because the restaurants are a bit nicer, everything is still kid oriented. The rooms are about the same at both hotels. The pool at the Beach Club is actually made like a beach, with a graduated sand bottom and a lazy river. We found that the 5 year old was too young to be interested in the lazy river, a little scary for him. However, we still liked the GF better. They have a nice pool with a 3' end and a very nice beach for the children, along with another pool that caters more to children with a slide, waterfall, etc. We also preferred the GF because there is a Monorail stop so getting around and to the park is somewhat quicker. When you make reservations you should ask whether the hotel you are considering is on the Monorail or a bus stop. We preferred the hotels on the Monorail (GF, Polynesian are two). At the Beach Club (and some of the other hotels), you catch a bus which takes you to the park. We never had to wait more than 10-15 minutes for the bus, but it makes multiple stops at the other hotels to and from the park. Either way, the transportation is free (in a manner of speaking!), and quick and makes life so much easier than driving, parking, etc. Be sure to do the Cinderella/princess tea at the Grand Floridian with your daughter. You'll need to make reservations for all character meals as far in advance as possible. I would recommend getting the card that covers a certain amount of food daily. We found that it does save you money (and time) and can also be used at most of the nicer restaurants too.
dgarland is offline  
Mar 4th, 2009, 10:27 AM
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Have fun planning this trip. There are no Four Seasons like hotels at Disney. However, the Deluxe hotels are nice and have lots of amenities...particularly the pools. It is great to be on property so that you can easily go back to the resort for a late afternoon break/nap and rest up before going back at night. The hotels each have their own theme and some are on the monorail, some have boat transportation and some have buses. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is the only Deluxe that does not share a bus.

In terms of dining...there are so many options at so many price points. You really do need to do some research. Also, if your daughter is in to girly stuff and wants to do Cinderella's Royal Table or one of the Princess meals, they need to be booked very, very, very far in advance. Confirm this with Disney but I believe they open up reservations 180 days in advance and Cinderella books up by about 8am at the 180 day mark.

Have fun at Disney with your daughter. Sounds like a great birthday.

taitai is offline  
Mar 5th, 2009, 10:37 AM
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Visit vipthemeparktours.com and go to their partners page. Then check out the Gaylord Palms hotel. Luxury and still kid friendly with some very nice restaurants.
disneyorlando is offline  
Mar 5th, 2009, 11:05 AM
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If budget is not an issue, book the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, or Contemporary concierge rooms. Do it before the 180 day window opens for your stay. Then let the concierge people get reservations made for Cindererellas Royal Table breakfast and a private Illuminations(that's a Fireworks show at Epcot)cruise. There are a few things at disney that are really hard to get booked, but the concierge people can usually get it done if you have your hotel reservation made before you get to the 180 window. There are other nice resorts at WDW, but only those three are a monorail or boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom. The Poly is my personal favorite. It has the best view of the Magic Kingdom and the nightly fireworks. The atmosphere is the most relaxing of the 3 monorail resorts. My kids LOVED the Poly pool at that age. They're all teens and tweens now and the still like it.
scarboroughmom is offline  
Mar 5th, 2009, 12:03 PM
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I'm not that much of a high end traveler. But years ago I went with my top clients to DisneyWorld. They had never been and they paid for it, planning on me to be their guide. They are the type who only go on a cruise when the very best suite on the very best ship is available, and they only travel when they can get the best suite at the Four Seasons, the Crillon, or the Lanesborough -- that type. They were truly impressed with the Grand Floridian Concierge level suite they booked. Truly impressed! But that's when it was quite new, so not sure it is quite the place it used to be.

Disney luxury does not have to be an oxymoron.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Mar 7th, 2009, 05:22 AM
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Thanks everyone! we decided on the new Bay Villas at the Contemporary. Through AAA, we were able to save $100 per night over the Disney direct price. It wasn't crazy expensive for a one bedroom suite. If it opens on time, it will have been 2 months old when we go. If it doesnt.... well, here's hoping!
emcash is offline  

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