So there is no surprise to those of you that know us, we LOVE Disney.
We often get questions about it. Why go to Disney without kids? Is it really that much fun if you don't have kids? Yes, Yes, and Yes to any other question you can think to ask. When dh was based in Florida we had annual passes and used them often, this year sadly we let them expire, though I am guessing we will get them again in the future. I thought since we love Disney and have been so much I would do a series of blogs about them from our point of view, without kids. A lot of the information isn't necessarily "dink" (Double Income No Kids) or "child free," after all you are at Disney, but I do add in tips geared toward adults. This is the first blog in the series and will cover hotels, not too exciting but it's info you need to know.
So if you stay "on property" at a Disney Resort and are flying in you get to use the free Magical Express Bus that runs from MCO (Orlando International) to the various Disney Resorts. Also you get extra magic hours that are only for guests staying on property. Disney has, more or less, three levels of resorts. They call them Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. The also have a Campground and "Super Deluxe Villas."
Let's start with the Value hotels. The name says it all, nothing fancy, the rooms have a small fridge in them, but other than that they are a basic generic hotel room. All the different levels of resorts have pools, however, the pools at the Value level have a lot left to be desired. They are of course nice and clean, after all it is Disney, but they remind me of a sea of concrete, they have some umbrella's and chairs but nothing to really write home about. The Value resorts all have a food court in them, much like the food court at your mall, your options run from pizza, to sandwich's,burgers, salads, and chicken. Nothing really exciting but it's a step above McDonald's, plus they do have cans of beer and small bottles of wine. The Value Resort buses are usually pretty busy too, it seems like they always have a long line at the end of the night.
Now to the Moderate Resorts, this is my favorite level of resort. It is (of course) a little more expensive but well worth it in my book. The rooms are slightly nicer and the grounds are a lot nicer, more tree's and more of an ambiance. This ambiance carries through to (most) of the pools, my favorite pool of any of the resorts we have stayed at is the Port Orleans Riverside pool. It's wonderful, lots of trees and shade if you want it, a nice bar almost on the water, they even have a slide which my husband loves, as well as hot tubs! The Moderate Resorts all have a food court similar to Value Resorts but they also have a nicer sit down restaurant and bar as well. Buses still seem busy at the end of the night, the big drawback to a larger Moderate Resorts is that they have a lot of bus stops within the resort, so it seems to take forever to get out of the resort itself.
Lastly on to the Deluxe Resorts, now we have only been lucky enough to stay at a Deluxe Resort once (Boardwalk) for two nights before they cancelled hubby's crew discount. Deluxe Resorts are way to expensive for us, but that doesn't stop us from walking around them and going to the bars! The room at Boardwalk was amazing. Amazing. It had a balcony, and a kitchen, it was the best room we have ever stayed at in the park. On the flip side we were there so little I wouldn't spend that kind of money for a room like that again, unless of course you aren't going to the parks for a few days and want to enjoy the resort, which is also totally fine. The pool was great, it also had a slide and a bar, though I still liked Port Orleans pool better, but none the less still very nice. Also the restaurants around there (Boardwalk) are great, they have The Big River Grille and Brewing Works. This is of my favorite restaurants anywhere on Disney property, the price is good as is the food, and of course the beer! While we haven't stayed at the Polynesian we love the Kona Cafe for breakfast, it seems like all the Deluxe Resorts we have visited have some great restaurants. The one big plus of the Deluxe Resorts is proximity. Most of them are very conveniently located to one park or another and actually within walking distance to some parks, so it does save a lot of time waiting around for the bus.
Now there are two hotels I haven't mentioned, The Swan and The Dolphin. They are Disney Hotels but don't fall under their normal "Resort Categories." Price wise they fall between Moderate and Deluxe. I haven't ever stayed at them as they book up early, so I can't comment too much on them, only that I would love to stay at them as they are super convenient to EPCOT which is one of my favorite parks. So if you have a chance I would certainly stay at either one.
*Disney Resorts do not have that annoying resort fee that so many others are adding these days.
Now for the off property options, you can stay off property but close at the Downtown Disney hotels or you can stay far off property.
Downtown Disney hotels are mostly convenient and it's not even necessary to have a car as you can take a shuttle from the airport to the hotel for $25 pp each way. They also offer more dining options as it's a quick walk to Downtown Disney with all the restaurants they have to offer. For the really ambitious you can even walk about 2/3 mile down the street to the shopping plaza where there is a grocery store, McDonald's, BW3, Pizza Hut, and various other chain restaurants which do help the budget. The Downtown Disney hotels have a wide range of pricing; there is a Best Western, but also a Hilton, all within walking distance to Downtown Disney. However as a side note if you rent a car most of these hotels charge you to park, and also have resort fee's.
Now for the real off property hotels
These run from scary cheap hotels to super nice Sheraton's and condos. We have stayed at all of the above, my feeling is if you're committed to staying off property you should just go as cheap as you can stomach since you are already paying for a car. Also beware the resort charge, I hate them but they are becoming more and more common, so that room you think is $50 is really $70 after the "resort fee."
Now for a few "adult" suggestions . I would say unless you really love kids shy away from the Disney Value Resorts. Nothing against them, I've stayed there many times as they are cheap, but they kind of have that Chucky Cheese feel to them, loose children everywhere and the only place to eat is the food court, no bar to escape too! Overall I would recommend a Disney Moderate Resort or a Downtown Disney Hotel. These seem to be the best compromise of price and quality, along with more adult entertainment. For instance Port Orleans French Quarter has a jazz bar, and downtown Disney has some pretty good bars my favorite being Raglan Road which is an Irish bar. Downtown Disney also stays open later and is pretty nice at night after most of the kids go to bed. If you have the extra money I would of course recommend the Deluxe Resorts and their Super Deluxe Villas. These are always almost close to a least one park, have some of the best restaurants, pools and even bars. I heard a rumor that the renovation at the Polynesian will include a Trader Sams type bar like the one in California, which was amazing and probably deserves it's own blog!
Next time I will cover the "Holy Grail" aka The Magic Kingdom, until then, Whistle while you work!