Disney World vacation

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a six-part Q&A series on “Bringing the kids to Disney World.” Today, Jonas Lehmann-Karp, of The Walt Disney World Moms Panel, gives Orbitz’s Robin Gallagher his top Disney hotel recommendations.

Q: Can you give me your top hotel recommendations for Disney World vacations for families with young kids? Some things that would be important would be small fridges in the room for cold drinks and medicine, multiple room options for different bed times, and, of course a really cool pool.

A: Staying on Disney property is a must for our family vacations and luckily, Disney provides a range of hotel options for every taste and budget, from value resorts to deluxe grand villas. Families with young kids will be able to choose from a wide range of options, and I have favorites in every category that should fit the desired hotel features you list of a pool, separate rooms and a fridge.

In the value category, I highly recommend the family suites at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort. Themed to celebrate various genres of music, such as country, rock ‘n’ roll and jazz, the All-Star Music Resort is the only Disney World value resort with family suites. These suites sleep up to six guests and feature a separate bedroom, a pull-out sofa in the living room, two bathrooms and a kitchenette. All-Star Music has two fun swimming pools, a huge guitar-shaped pool and a smaller piano-shaped pool. The resort also features the Intermission food court, a 1.5-mile walking/jogging trail, an arcade, a playground and shopping. As an alternative to the family suite, you can reserve connecting rooms at any of the value resorts; however, standard rooms don’t include a refrigerator. You could rent a small refrigerator from the resort for a small daily fee.

Disney World vacation
Disney’s Contemporary Resort

For a moderate resort experience, try the cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, located not far from the Magic Kingdom. The cabins feature a separate bedroom with a double bed and bunk beds, a large living area with a pull-down double bed, a dining area, a fully-equipped kitchen, a charcoal grill, access to a pool, and a private patio. Your family will also be able to enjoy the activities and restaurants at Fort Wilderness.

For a deluxe resort, I enjoy Disney’s Contemporary Resort. I first stayed at the Contemporary as a 6-year old and still vividly remember how enthralled I was by staying in a hotel with a monorail running right through it. You’ll also be close to Chef Mickey’s character meal dining and a monorail ride away from the Magic Kingdom and other Disney attractions. The rooms have small refrigerators, but if more than one room is a requirement, you would need to reserve two connecting rooms.

For a deluxe villa experience, consider staying at one of the Disney Vacation Club properties. While reserved for Disney Vacation Club members, these resorts are also available to non-members based on availability. The larger deluxe villas, such as the one- or two-bedroom villas, are similar to being at home and feature amenities such as separate bedrooms, a full kitchen, a whirlpool tub, DVD player, and in-room washer and dryer.

Disney World Vacation
Disney’s Beach Club Villas

While there are a number of wonderful deluxe villas to choose from, my two favorites are Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Disney’s Beach Club Villas. At the Animal Kingdom Lodge, my kids were mesmerized by the dramatic lobby expertly themed and filled with African artwork, artifacts, a fireplace and huge windows. There are also a number of kids activities available during the day, and during our last Disney World vacation the following activities, among many others, were available to our children: ceramics, cookie decorating, African storytelling and face painting. There is also a childrens activity center, Simba’s Clubhouse, for kids between ages four and twelve.

If it’s all about location, location, location for you, hands down your family’s best bet would be the Beach Club Villas, which is located on the Boardwalk area and is walking distance to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The resort also features a playground for toddlers as well as what most consider the best resort pool on Disney property, Stormalong Bay. You’ll probably want to carve out a day just to spend at Stormalong Bay, which features an expansive sand-bottomed pool, a “Shipwreck” themed area and a slide.

Remember, staying at a deluxe villa is not a necessity to satisfy your room requirements for a Disney World vacation. Connecting rooms are available at all resort levels, and it may be less expensive to reserve two connecting value or moderate rooms than a deluxe villa. Wherever you choose, staying on Disney property provides a myriad of benefits including, but not limited to:

  • extended theme park hours,
  • free airport transportation to and from Orlando International airport (a.k.a. Disney’s Magical Express),
  • complimentary transportation (bus, boat and monorail) within Walt Disney World Resort,
  • delivery of Disney World purchases back to your hotel,
  • and room themes, service and atmosphere like only Disney can provide.

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Tagged: Do Disney, Family time, Florida Vacation, Orlando Vacation, Travel Tips

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