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Walt Disney World Accommodation

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NM

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Its over 10 years since I last stayed at Walt Disney World and was wondering if anyone has suggestions for accommodation. I'll be there for 8 nights with Mrs NM and 10yo daughter. Last time we stayed there stayed on-site at the All Star Sports accommodation and found it to be convenient and economical. The All Star "resorts" still seem to be the cheapest, but they were basic 10 years ago and not sure what to expect now. Basic is not a problem as its really just a place to sleep and we don't require high end luxury. So its "value" we are seeking.

I note that all of the Disney accommodations include free (with tip to the drive of course) transfers to/from MCO airport. So that is another benefit.

Other options seems to be some of the chain-owned properties at DownTown Disney, such as Holiday Inn or Hilton. These do not offer the free transfers and seem to be somewhat more expensive than the entry-level Disney accommodations. But booking early and using AAA rates generally can get breakfast included which I expect could be a saving of up to $20 per day when buying our own at the Disney accommodation "food court" places.

I also note that some hotels charge a "resort fee" and/or parking fees. While most of out time will be spent at WDW, we may want to take a day or two away from the resort which may involve renting a car. So not sure if we will rent a car for the whole stay, negating any benefit of free airport transfers, or look into rental options with pick-up at the hotel accommodation. Having a car give us options like supermarket shopping for essentials such as bottled water, snacks, fruit etc, as well as off-site restaurants for dinner and visiting other sights/attractions.

Then there are completely off-site accommodation options which can be cheaper again, but lose out on some of the convenience of staying on-site such as popping back to the room for a rest or change of clothes etc.

So I am seeking suggestions and experiences from fellow WDW travelers. All inputs appreciated.
 

Princess Fiona

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I have been to WDW twice. Once by myself and last Dec with the entire family.
I think a rental car is a must in MCO and I would get it for the entire time.
Hotels wise I've stayed at The Peabody (v.expensive) and Hilton Orlando at the Convention centre. The Hilton Orlando is a fantastic property with a great resort style pool and lazy river. Can be picked up on AAA rates and if Exec lounge includes the usual continental breakfast buffet. That part of Int Drive is good as there's a range of eating options at and around Pointe Orlando.
I haven't stayed at any Disney Hotel so cannot comment on that but it's only 15-20 mins drive from the Convention Centre area to WDW and the roads are great.
 

NM

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I have been to WDW twice. Once by myself and last Dec with the entire family.
I think a rental car is a must in MCO and I would get it for the entire time.
Hotels wise I've stayed at The Peabody (v.expensive) and Hilton Orlando at the Convention centre. The Hilton Orlando is a fantastic property with a great resort style pool and lazy river. Can be picked up on AAA rates and if Exec lounge includes the usual continental breakfast buffet. That part of Int Drive is good as there's a range of eating options at and around Pointe Orlando.
I haven't stayed at any Disney Hotel so cannot comment on that but it's only 15-20 mins drive from the Convention Centre area to WDW and the roads are great.
Thanks PF. If staying off-site at somewhere like the Hilton at the convention centre, I assume there is a daily parking fee to pay upon arrival at WDW?

I did make a day-trip to WDW when attending a conference in Orlando a few years ago, but can't remember if we had to pay for parking at WDW when we arrived.

With the WDW All Star accommodation at around US$100/night, its a lot cheaper than many places, and for the 5 or so days we plan to be nowhere other than WDW parks, seems to be a bit of a waste to be paying for a rental car if not needing it.

Anyone know if we can rent a car with pick-up drop-off at WDW rather than MCO or downtown if we just want it for a day or two?
 

QF029

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Over the years I've stayed at the Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian, the Tree House Villas and most recently the Hilton Lake Buena Vista. If I was going back I'd stay at that Hilton or the Hilton Bonnet Creek or Waldorf if the prices were good. Hilton Bonnet Creek has some very good pricing depending on the time of the year.

At Hilton LBV you get a bus to most of the activities so it's quite convenient. IMO comparable to anything NOT connected to the monorail. You also get the Extra Magic Hours plus benefits if you have HH Gold or Diamond. I paid as low as $79 per night although they have now introduced a resort fee.
 

NM

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NM

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Over the years I've stayed at the Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian, the Tree House Villas and most recently the Hilton Lake Buena Vista. If I was going back I'd stay at that Hilton or the Hilton Bonnet Creek or Waldorf if the prices were good. Hilton Bonnet Creek has some very good pricing depending on the time of the year.

At Hilton LBV you get a bus to most of the activities so it's quite convenient. IMO comparable to anything NOT connected to the monorail. You also get the Extra Magic Hours plus benefits if you have HH Gold or Diamond. I paid as low as $79 per night although they have now introduced a resort fee.
Hilton LBV is showing no availability for a 3 week period which includes the time we will be there. Either they have a few conventions booked or are planning some maintenance downtime. Hilton Bonnet Creek is showing as US$160/night. Unfortunately, after many years as a HH Diamond, I have just dropped from Gold to Silver and likely to be Blue by the time we travel next year, so no exec lounge access etc.

Is it the HH Diamond/Gold benefits that are pointing you towards the Hilton properties? Or are there other reasons for your preference?
 

QF029

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Is it the HH Diamond/Gold benefits that are pointing you towards the Hilton properties? Or are there other reasons for your preference?
It's a combination of the benefits (internet, points, breakfast) and price. I consistently find that Hilton in the US are the cheapest chain when using AAA / MVP rates). I would probably still stay there without status (assuming I didn't have status elsewhere). I know from forums such as Disboards that rentals through VRBO are very popular.
 

Deewhy

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I've stayed at hilton GVC parc soleil, if you're after a unit. Was pretty pleased with that. Free parking, but you do need a car. Relatively new and huge rooms. Full kitchen and laundry. Hilton bonnet ck was full so we chose this place. $128/nt if I recall. Downside is only one on site restaurant and just a small convenience store, but supermarket just a couple if miles down the road. Holiday inn Buena vista was the other option, but glad we stayed here.
 

Paddy55

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Visited WDW 18 mths ago with Mrs Paddy and one of the Paddy Jnrs.

Being there for 8 nights we knew we wanted to see some things elsewhere too - Cirque de Soleil, Cape Canaveral and flew up to Atlanta to watch an NFL game :shock:

There's quite a few other attractions offsite eg Universal Studios, etc.

For us that meant staying in a 2 bed suite at the Staybridge Lake Buena Vista, renting a car and paying the $15/day parking was just terrific value, gave a bit of freedom, and there were many restaurant choices too. Gave a break from the all enveloping Disneyess of it it. Would absolutely do it again.

Of course if you don't want to venture away from WDW itself then staying onsite makes a lot of sense.

Now, whatever you do I found two absolutely essential tools:

1. A Kindle book "Unofficial Guide to WDW"
2. Touring Plans | Disney World | Disneyland | Universal Orlando | Disney Cruise Line - Vacation Planning Tools which is an awesome planning tool for your time in WDW - saved hours of queuing time and gives real time info on queue lengths and allows you to plan ahead.

Enjoy!
 

Homer

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Last year we rented a house for two weeks that was about 15 minutes drive from WDW and that worked really well for us. However we had to spend the first three nights at a hotel as the house wasn't available and so I booked two rooms at The Hilton Bonnet Creek. On checkin they upgraded us to the Waldorf next door (both hotels are joined by a conference centre in the middle). We really liked staying there, it was very close to WDW (closer than the house we rented) and I think it would be ideal for a shorter stay.
 

Austff

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I would be renting a car as it is cheap & Orlando is very spread out .If you want to see other attractions (Kennedy Space Center ) & take advantage of cheap shoping it will be a must .
If you do rent a car then a condo accomodation is best as the dining options are massive & great value .
Try " magical vacation homes.com " , we stayed at a 2 br condo at Windsor Hills Resort called " dreams unlimited " , from $75 nt , it's on top floor so no noise or lights from cars parking around condo & you can see fireworks from balcony .
Try " go disney vacation.com " ,I can recommend a great 3br condo at " oakwater resort " 2 miles from Disney .
 

NM

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Thanks for all the great suggestions and links. we are going to have fun starting the experience long before we board the flights as we go through the planning phase.

I am going to need to undertake a detailed cost/benefit analysis of all the various accommodation options. There are lots of things to be considered. some of the main considerations for us will be:
  • We will have 8 full days in Orlando, and plan for at least one day in the middle of the stay to be non-Disney. That day will likely include some shopping and some rest.
  • We don't plan (at this stage) to visit any (many??) other attractions in the area. I have done Cape Canaveral a few times and the others have little interest in it. We are from Qld, so a USA version of Sea World does not hold great interest for us (yes, I know its bigger and better in the LOTFAP). And Universal Studios would add significantly to the cost when compared with the difference between a 6 and 7 day Disney Park Hopper pass.
  • Do we go for the Park Hopper pass or just the base pass?

So need to weigh up the costs of things like:
  • Car rental and Disney parking if staying off-site, verses the benefit of mobility for things like supermarket shopping and restaurants.
  • Disney meal plans verses pay-as-you-go verses supermarket/restaurant meals
  • The ability to book Disney restaurants 180 days out (if staying at a Disney resort property) verses 7 days out.
  • The ability to book FastPass+ reservations 60 days out verses 30 days out (not sure of the necessity of this one??)
  • Earning IGH, HH or other program points for the stay (this is AFF after all!!)
  • The convenience of being able to pop back to the hotel room for change of clothes, drop something off, rest etc verses getting a break from the Disney theme in the non-park times
  • The extra hours park access available for Disney and a few other selection accommodations - 10yo will not cope with late nights anyway

So much to think about! Thanks again for all the suggestions and comments. All will be considered in our planning process.
 

Pushka

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We stayed at the WDW Caribbean Resort. Loved the convenience of staying on site with free transport etc. we had a 10 year old and a five year old. It was the 5 year olds birthday while there and we had a fabulous party at Mickeys Restaurant. He came out with a birthday cake in a balloon and signed a birthday card.

ImageUploadedByAustFreqFly1401386432.508144.jpg

We hired a car and went to Sea World and Cape Canaveral on a tour which was fantastic. We spent 10 days all up.

Look out for WDW books in the bookstores now. Lots of tips about the parks

This is the pool at the Caribbean resort. Middle of a Florida Winter (January) and hot - the pool was heated.

. ImageUploadedByAustFreqFly1401386591.720512.jpg
 

NM

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We stayed at the WDW Caribbean Resort. Loved the convenience of staying on site with free transport etc. we had a 10 year old and a five year old. It was the 5 year olds birthday while there and we had a fabulous party at Mickeys Restaurant. He came out with a birthday cake in a balloon and signed a birthday card.

We hired a car and went to Sea World and Cape Canaveral on a tour which was fantastic. We spent 10 days all up.
Did you stay at Caribbean Resort for all 10 days?

I loved Cape Canaveral, but have done it twice and Mrs NM and Mini#4 are less interested. So we plan on just doing Disney parks for 6 or 7 days. We are not so interested in the pools at the accommodation as we expect to spend maximum daylight hours in the parks and probably at least one day at the water park(s). For us, the accommodation room is just going to be a place to crash each night after a long day of rides and walking, so we are not overly concerned about luxury and more concerned with value for money (not necessarily cheap, but value).

How did you arrange the car rental? Was it from WDW resort or did you need to make your own way to the car rental location?
 

Princess Fiona

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Just a quick note on Universal NM.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and in particular the Forbidden Journey ride were thought by our entire family to be unmissable ( best ride at any park ever).
Universal itself isn't quite as busy as WDW and very worthwhile to spend a day or two at IMO.
 

jakplus1

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We spent 3 weeks in Orlando in 2009... The VERY BEST way to get really good quality accommodation, at AMAZING prices... is to visit this site The Ultimate Disney World Savings Guide and buy her ebook... It was the best $20 I've ever spent.

We had 2 weeks in various Disney Resorts (Animal Kingdom & BLT) and a week off-site, and paid about $100 a night (at DW) instead of around $500 a night, whilst our off-site was $600 for 7 nights for 5 of us... I would go as far as to say that book saved me well over $5000 - on tickets, on accommodation, on food packages... etc.

Staying at Bay Lake Towers, with a view over The Magical Kingdom is spectacular... oh and make sure you jump on one of the boats that takes you across the lake to the other accommodation... just as the fireworks are about to start.. it was a truly magical experience!!!

We are going again in January... but having stayed at DW last time we are staying off-site this time... we've secured 15 nights for $1300 for a 4 bedroom Unit... found that through homeaway.com - we will have a rental car and we will have to pay for parking, but you can get discounted parking by purchasing a Diamond Parking Ticket off eBay!!!

We actually found the buses were a bit inconvenient... really enjoyed having a car and being able to get around (oh, and experience driving on the 'wrong' side of the road!)

As for things to do... if you haven't done Medieval Times, I would highly recommend it! We grew up hearing about it when Mum & Dad would travel over there, and it definitely did not disappoint when we went ourselves!!!

Universal was also fantastic... definitely worth doing!

The Character Dining experiences were AMAZING... even Dad (Straitman) thought it was pretty cool to have breakfast with the crew from Winnie the Pooh!!! They can actually be booked 180 days out even if staying offsite... if staying onsite you can book them 180+10 days out.

Disney Dining... we did take it up... but it's not something i'd necessarily do again... it's all VERY fatty... 3 weeks in DW on the dining plan... i put on 7kg!!! I was craving salad and vegies a week into the stay!! ;)

There really is so much to think about... but the book is a really great place to start... she'd actually included a Testimonial from me in there... i was just so impressed with it (as you can tell)

Good luck... happy to answer any questions you might have!

Karen
 

Pushka

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Yep. Stayed at the Caribbean resort for 10 days. We'd schlepped across the USA for four weeks prior so nice to stay in the one place for a while. We didn't tire of the place as like you we were rarely in the room. Way too many other things to do. We also visited Universal studios.

Agree with Karen about the food. Our next stop was SF and we were craving normal types of food. SF seemed way better. I ended up with tummy upsets as I wasn't used to fries for breakfast. :eek: so after a few days it was all rejected. Maybe that's - ejected. :p

The car hire - I believe we caught a cab to the car hire depot.

It was a fantastic experience way out of normal life.
 
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