You’ve got the itch. The Walt Disney World itch that is and boy, oh boy, is this one that you need to scratch! Planning a vacation to Disney can feel overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Unlike other destinations, this requires some planning if you’d like to do more than wait in line and eat hotdogs. I’m here to help! Marc and I have been traveling to WDW for years and I think we have a pretty darn good system (I often joke that he should charge people for planning out their trips!). Here is a guide to booking Disney on a budget:
When thinking of the Most Magical Place on Earth, I start with location. Location, location, location. I always advise staying on property. WDW is HUGE and driving in and out each day will:
- Take away from your magical experience
- Cost you in parking fees ($25 – 50 per DAY!)
- Limit your time in the parks
When I’m on vaca, I want to VACATE my daily chores, like playing taxi to wherever we’re headed as a family. When you choose to stay at a WDW Resort, there is a free shuttle service to and from the parks, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost, gas, and finding your rental car in the million car lot. BONUS: staying on property will earn you Extra Magic Hours! This means that by choosing a hotel Disney owns, you get additional time in the parks, either in the morning before public opening, or at night. With a toddler, this can been awesome for the morning! She is up anyway, so we might as well be in the parks enjoying ourselves.
Disney offers a range of hotels at different price points:
Value Disney Resorts:
- All-Star Sports
- All-Star Movies
- All-Star Music
- Pop Century
- Art of Animation
Value resorts are a great place to start if you’re new to Disney or are looking to be cost efficient. These range in price based on when you travel. During a low travel time, these rooms can be $99 per night! To check average room rates, The Dis has excellent and up to date information!
Marc and I have personally stayed at Pop Century, All-Star Sports, and All-Star Music. Our very first trip when we were just college sweethearts was to Pop Century and I was SMITTEN. Without this price point, we would never have been able to travel to WDW and started our love affair with this place.
The Pros of a Value Resort:
- Value resorts typically fill up last because they are large, so your window of time to book is a little more lenient
- Bus transportation – no driving!
- Extra magic hours in the parks
- Cost efficient
The Cons of a Value Resort:
With this style resort, each of the pros can also be factored into a con.
- Size. These are designed to hold many families, so they are massive. Your room can be a TREK to the bus stop in the morning.
- Busses. I know, no driving, but I’ve become somewhat of a WDW vacation snob. You have to take a bus EVERYWHERE instead of more relaxed transpo.
- Lack of upscale dining options on site.
Art of Animation is the newest addition to the Value Resort family! It is unique because of the suites it features, all themed to be different Disney family films (think The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Cars, etc.). The Big Blue Pool has underwater speakers – this is a WDW first and tailored to only this property. Because of its newness, it also includes more family and child-friendly services than its peers. There is so much to do here without ever leaving the property!
Which Value Resort would you pick? Do you have experience with any of these? I’d love to know your thoughts!
Moderate Resorts are up next!