(photos: The Grand Floridian dressed for the holidays, Emma and Noah dwarfed by Mowgli at Pop Century, and our living room at the Wilderness Lodge Villas)
Last week’s vacation marked our third family trip to the World in just over a year, and my fourth trip there this year. Add that on to the two times I stayed in a Disney Resort as a child and I’ve stayed in a total of six Walt Disney World Resorts. While I am far from an expert, I think it’s safe to say that at this point I can give an educated opinion of what it’s like to live at the World during your Disney vacation….and that I have a serious Disney addiction.
Value, Moderate, Deluxe – Learn the Lingo
Walt Disney World resorts fall into three basic categories. Value resorts offer the least amount of square footage for what I really believe to be a rock bottom price – truly a value. Beginning at $82 a night during the value season, you certainly cannot beat what you receive for your dollar. Moderate resorts have a bit more space, a little more pomp and circumstance, and a price that begins at $149 a night during the value season. I have stayed at both Value and Deluxe resorts, but have yet to stay at a Moderate, so everything that I know about this class of resort comes only from what I’ve read. I do know that for many people, Moderate resorts are a favorite offering some of the glitz and glam of a Deluxe resort without the sticker shock. Deluxe resorts truly offer top of the line hotel accommodations with room size at the flagship resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, rivaling many Manhattan apartments. Prices at Deluxe resorts begin at $240 a night during the value season and go as high as $649 a night during Christmas week.
My three year old will tell you without reservation that his favorite place to “live” at Disney is Pop Century. One of the Value resort properties, Pop Century’s larger than life portrayals of pop culture favorites ranging from Play-Doh to Big Wheels to favorite characters such as Lady and the Tramp make it a little slice of heaven for kids from three to eighty-three. Staying at a Value resort? Request an in-room mini-fridge for just an extra $10 a night, grab a quart of milk at the resort store, and eat breakfasts in your room each morning to save money. Worried about the long walk to the bus stop? The spokes on a wheel set up of the buildings helps to prevent this from being a concern, but if you’re still worried, considering paying just a bit more a night for a preferred room. We did just that for our June trip and enjoyed not only an easy walk to the main building and bus stops, but also a great view of the central pool, the Hippy Dippy. Manager Greg Chase does an amazing job of keeping this expansive resort running like a well-oiled machine, and the transportation system also serves this property very well with waits for buses to the parks never lasting longer than ten minutes during our off-season trip.