Disney World-Which Resort?

Old Nov 8th, 2005, 07:40 AM
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Disney World-Which Resort?

We are talking our first trip to WDW in February with our 4 & 3 year-olds. Staying 3 nights, visiting Magic Kingdom and maybe Epcot. We're leaning toward staying at the Grand Floridian because of location and amenities.

My question is, when vacationing with preschoolers at WDW, what are the priorities? For example, how important is it to have a playground on the resort grounds? How important is the pool? A refrigerator/microwave in the room?

My thought is, we'll keep them busy in the park all day, wear them out totally, then get a babysitter and enjoy the grown-up stuff at the resort or go to downtown or wherever.

We don't "necessarily" have a budget, but I wouldn't feel right spending over $500/night on the room.

Any thoughts? Thanks!
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 07:52 AM
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stjohnbound
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We took our nieces to WDW when they were that age, but it was during a much hotter time of year. We stayed at the Contemporary. A pool is definitely important, although I don't know how important during February. I would have a fridge but don't think a microwave is really necessary. We went to the Magic Kingdom during the morning and then back to the hotel for swimming and a nap, and then back to the park for the evening. I hope you're younger than we are if you're going to wear "them" out in the park all day and then go out at night! LOL!
 
Old Nov 8th, 2005, 08:05 AM
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Any of the resorts that are on the monorail will work well for you. They are the Grand Floridian, Polynesian and the Contemporary. These resorts work well with toddlers because of their easy access to both Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Many parents like to take their kids to the MK early in the morning, come back to their rooms around noon and have lunch, naps, a swim in the pool. Toddlers can only take so much of the park. Another advantage of the resorts are the kids clubs that are available and convenient. They are a place to drop the kids in the evening and they will be fed and entertained for a few hours for a fee.

My brother just stayed at the Polynesian with his 5 year old daughter and they loved it. They had a very nice room overlooking the lake and it had a view of Cinderella's Castle. Though his daughter didn't like the pool because the slide was too "scary" - I guess it required walking through a cave and she didn't like that.

While my brother's family were staying at the Polynesian, they came over to visit us at the Coronado Springs, a moderate Disney resort. His daughter loved loved loved the pool there as well as the very cool playground. The slide at this pool was less intimidating. The Coronado Springs is less expensive than the hotels I listed above but it has quite a few amenities that the deluxe resorts have like no charge for a refrigerator in your room, a coffee maker, a gym and hairdresser, etc. But it is not served by the monorail. You take busses to get to the parks. We've found the bus service to be qite good and we have never waited very long (5-10 minutes) for a bus.

As far as priorities, only you know for sure but I can tell you that my kids still place high priority on getting into the pool for vacations. And the better the pool the better the vacation. This has been true since they were your children's ages and its still true now that they are 10 and 13.

Enjoy your trip.
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 08:09 AM
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We've done two trips to WDW with our two toddlers, who are the same age as your children.

We've found the premium for concierge rooms to be well worth the extra cost. It's far easier grabbing breakfast in the concierge lounge and having drinks/snacks avauilable throughout the day than making plans for breakfast each morning. When you get back from the parks, it's a chance to grab a glass of wine and let the kids have a snack or color.

In terms of which hotel, you might want to think about the Polynesian instead of the Grand Floridian. While the latter is certainly nicer, on a toddler it's lost. The Polynesian is equally convenient as the monorail and boat launch run to the park. Some of the rooms are reported to be a bit dated but they've been refurbishing several of the buildings. All the rooms in the Hawaii building, which are their concierge level rooms have been redone.

We've also stayed at the Animal Kingdom Resort. Personally, I think that one is the best for young kids as the slide at the pool is more toddler friendly and their is a playground. If you kids like animals it is a kick for them to see then wandering past the rooms. But, it does require a bus to the parks. (We've managed to circumvent that by paying for valet parking at the AK, which allows you to use valet services at any of the other hotels. We'll just drive to the Polynesian, leave our car there and then head to the parks.)

In terms playground, we've only used it briefly at the hotels. The Magic Kingdom has two areas for kids to run and play and that's been more than enough.

All of the higher end Disney hotels have a "kids club". At the Polynesian, it's themed like Peter Pan. Our 4 year old son had a ball and didn't want to leave. They fed him dinner and he played games with several other kids.

I would suggest one of the Character Dining experiences. They are pricey, but then again, so is everything else at WDW.

In terms of tickets, you might think about the likelihood that you'll be making a return trip. Tickets for 1 day are something like $59. If you buy a multi-day ticket, the prices drop on a per day basis. We found that buying a 7 day, park Hopper, without the expiration feature worked out to be far less expensive per day than a 2 or 3 day pass. It was on the magnitue of 25% to 30% less, per day.
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 08:17 AM
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Yes, the character breakfasts are great. Just don't expect your kids to actually eat anything! They are much too busy and in awe of seeing those characters they all know and love. It's very cute.
 
Old Nov 8th, 2005, 08:25 AM
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I think you would love being on the monorail. The Contemporary is in the middle of a refurbishment...you could get a new cool room or an old tired room. The location CANNOT BE BEAT!!! The Polynesian is lovely, but no hot tub. Grand Floridian gets mixed reviews.

Go to allearsnet.com and look at the pictures of the resorts on line.
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 09:33 AM
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With such young ones, I suggest being on the monorail should be top priority. It makes it so convenient to come and go from the park.
As someone already said, taking the kids back for some downtime and maybe even a nap during the mid-day is a great idea. The kids will get over-stimulated, tired and cranky if you try to spend too many hours in the park at one time. Our kids never got worn out at the parks. They'd get wound up to the point that they went on over-drive! Until we left the park so they could nap. And 3 and 4 is pretty young for all the goings-on of Disney World.
We stayed at the Contemporary many years ago with our kids. The breakfast restaurant there has characters walking around every morning. It's no additional charge and a great way for your kids to see them. They make a point of visiting each table with kids so you can take photos of your kids with them. Also less intimidating for your young kids to be at their own table, rather than standing in line to see a character. (You might double-check with the Contemporary that they still do the characters that way.)
The Grand Floridian seemed more for adults, but I could be wrong. It's more fancy and elegant, than designed for kids. We had a nice dinner there one night. The Polynesian has a great dinner, too. We had very nice dinners in the restaurants of the Disney hotels.
Have fun!
 
Old Nov 8th, 2005, 09:48 AM
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Maureen,
Not sure when the last time you went to the Contemporary Resort Breakfast was, but I can assure you they charge a premium for the characters. Character Dining is a big revenue stream for WDW and I'd be surprised if they had any kind of free character dining these days.
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 09:57 AM
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Staying on the monorail should be your priority. You will likely spend most of your time at MK. I suggest with a 3 and 4 year old that your second park be MGM or AK instead of Epcot. There are more attractions geared to preschoolers at those parks, and those parks are smaller.
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 10:11 AM
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Thanks all, this is so very helpful! Now leaning heavily toward Polynesian. We honeymooned in Hawaii 7 years ago so we can "sort of" have a second h-moon, with kids!!
Probably going with the concierge level, based on the reviews I read on allearsnet.com.

again thanks for all the comments and please keep them coming!
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 11:38 AM
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Ryan, you're probably right, that's why I suggested they double-check. It was probably 10 years ago that we were there. But, the price we paid for the breakfast buffet was about $20 apiece, so maybe that high price covered having the characters there. I'd ask them, because its easy to take the monorail between the Contemporary and the Polynesian, to have breakfast in different spots.
 
Old Nov 8th, 2005, 11:59 AM
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We stayed at the Contemporary primarily because it is the closest to Magic Kingdom, the monorail stops inside the hotel, and Chef Mickey's character breakfast is there. It is the oldest, but for that very reason, it is the most convenient to Magic Kingdom.

It worked out perfect for us. We were able to return to our hotel room mid day for a nap, then return to the park later and stay all evening. We didn't have time for pool although there was one. Our purpose was to enjoy the theme parks as much as possible.

Be aware that the WDW is large in area, and it does take time to get from place to place (which is why we wanted to be close to Magic Kingdom). When budgeting your time, be sure to consider travel time.

You may want to save Epcot for a late afternoon or evening without the kids, or skip it if you are short on time. You could also use your 3rd day going to two other parks, say Epcot and MGM or Animal Kingdom. Watch out for those 3 pm showers!
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 04:04 PM
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I've been to WDW in February and we went to one of the waterparks so it'll probably be warm enough to use a pool. I would recommend that you take a look at the Boardwalk...it has an amazing pool with a great "zero entry" area for toddlers. We stayed there in June and rented Disney Vacation Points from someone on disboards.com's DVC forum. Our room had a refrigerator and a microwave. The view of the Boardwalk is lovely, you can rent surrey bikes and it is an easy walk to the international gateway for Epcot -although other non-walking transportation is readily available.
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 04:11 PM
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You may run into nay-sayers who will try to discourage your taking toddlers to WDW. Smile politely and ignore everything they have to say. My toddlers LOVED Disneyworld. We tried to adjust our expectation level accordingly - if they wanted to spend more time than we thought reasonable at the Animal Kingdom playground, and weren't as intersted as we'd hoped in something else, we tried to remember that it was their trip too. My daughter really loved Epcot - it was the right speed for her. I strongly recommend letting kids see the Chinese acrobats at the China pavillion - they are child acrobats which really impresses the kids. Krystos is a Cirque du Soliel style balancing group that is impressive and the Jammitors are a fun kind of Stomp style percussion group that impressed my kids. The Japanese candy artist is neat too - get there about 10 minutes early and get up close to her cart and your kids will probably get to pick an animal and color for her to make - then they'll get the lollipop...it's even free. Gotta love that.

The main thing to remember with Epcot is that you have to keep an eye on the show schedule - if you don't, Epcot can feel like just a lot of gift shops.

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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 04:16 PM
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Here's another way fun thing for toddlers - especially good on the day you arrive, if you aren't going into the parks. Take the bus to the Ft. Wilderness campground. There is a petting zoo (free) that I think is open until 3 or 4. Pony rides are about $5. Then eat at the Trails End Buffeteria. Afterwards, go to the Campfire Sing-Along with Chip and Dale. It is a very fun character interaction event and its free. You can buy a S'mores kit for about $5.00 and do S'mores in the campfire. After the sing-along, they show a Disney movie on the outdoor screen. It was "Bambi" the night we went but you can get the schedule on the disboards.com camping forum at the beginning of the month.

If the movie doesn't interest you, you can go for a horse drawn hay ride - we didn't get to do that so I'm not sure of the fee.

Some great WDW websites are allearsnet.com, wdwinfo.com, mousesavers.com, and tourguidemike.com. Tour Guide Mike is a subscription service with articles and touring plans for about the cost of a guide book. We found the information very helpful
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 04:16 PM
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Here's another way fun thing for toddlers - especially good on the day you arrive, if you aren't going into the parks. Take the bus to the Ft. Wilderness campground. There is a petting zoo (free) that I think is open until 3 or 4. Pony rides are about $5. Then eat at the Trails End Buffeteria. Afterwards, go to the Campfire Sing-Along with Chip and Dale. It is a very fun character interaction event and its free. You can buy a S'mores kit for about $5.00 and do S'mores in the campfire. After the sing-along, they show a Disney movie on the outdoor screen. It was "Bambi" the night we went but you can get the schedule on the disboards.com camping forum at the beginning of the month.

If the movie doesn't interest you, you can go for a horse drawn hay ride - we didn't get to do that so I'm not sure of the fee.

Some great WDW websites are allearsnet.com, wdwinfo.com, mousesavers.com, and tourguidemike.com. Tour Guide Mike is a subscription service with articles and touring plans for about the cost of a guide book. We found the information very helpful.

You'll have a great time.
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 07:35 PM
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We stayed at the Polynesian last year and we absolutely loved the place!

We were in the "FIJI" area, and the moment I looked out the window I could swear I was in an island paradise lost some where in the middle of the pacific! I don't think I can even convey how perfect the beach was with the white sand, the palm trees and that romantic swing...

There is a marina in the hotel from which we rode little individual speed boats around the lake and saw the magic kingdom and all its resorts on the lake! We also drove around the boats that take the MK visitors from the parking lots to the MK, and we could tell that those people on the boats were really jealous!

We stayed at the Grand Floridian a couple of years ago, but were a little disappointed. While there's nothing wrong with the hotel, we expected it to be more like the Four seasons or the Ritz being Disney's top hotel where rooms cost at least $450. However, the rooms were no different than your average 4 star hotel.

Have a great vacation!
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 08:00 PM
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We stayed at the Polynesian years ago and it was perfect for our 6 & 3 yo sons! The reason I chose it was it had direct access to the monorail. I was SO glad I did this! When they get tired and cranky, it's so easy to just ride the monorail back to the room for a nap!
Then head out again when rested!

The place was exotic feeling and had great restaurants! Also, they had a Mickey Mouse Club daycare (or in our case, evening care) that allowed us a night out one evening...and the kids had so much fun with the Disney characters, they wanted to return!

The place only allows no more than ?1/2 a day (they don't want us dumping the kids, as it's a family place).

I had thought, since that was so long ago (my sons are now in their 20's), that it may be out of date. Not so!! a co-worker had a travel agent make her arrangements, staying in one of the newer places, but when she returned, she stated "next time I'm staying at the Polynesian...because the monorail stops RIGHT THERE!" (she had a small child as well).

Belle
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 08:24 PM
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We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge when my kids were little and it was great but 5-10 minutes wait for a bus seemed very long with toddlers. Staying on the monorail line is a good idea.


We didn't stay on the concierge level but the hotel had a great little casual eating area with plenty of inexpensive breakfast foods and snacks, and a microwave that we could use ourselves. Check to see if
the hotel has a place like that before you spend alot extra on the concierge level.
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Old Nov 10th, 2005, 07:44 AM
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we stayed at the polynesian and loved it also. but I would consider how you book your hotel. We used travelocity and when we got there (early), they said they were overbooked and sent us to the awful contemporary.

meanwhile, others (I spoke with a few, and all had booked directly with Disney) continued checking in after us. they comp'd us for the night at the contemporary and gave us some free park admission to make up for the time we spent moving around but it wasn't worth the aggravation.
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