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Monday, April 7, 2008

Walt Disney World Resorts - Choosing the Right Hotel

So, I figured it is time to compile some of my massive amounts of information and try to put together at least a first draft of a guide to figuring out which hotels to stay in while enjoying your Disney World vacation. There are several factors which go into this decision, money being only one of them, albeit a very important one.

If you really want all of the information you could ever hope for and more, then my first recommendation is to simply buy an Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. In the guide you will find detailed ratings and reviews on all hotels close and not-so-close, driving distances, links to sites with the best deals, and more. If you want to search a bit more on your own first, keep reading.

Before deciding on your hotel, you should ask yourself several questions:

  1. How much do I want to spend? Of course, this is the big question, and the one which affects all others. For the most part, more money leads to being closer to the park, though you may be surprised how close you can get for cheaper. So, determine how much of a hotel budget you have, and divide that into how many nights you will be staying. That number needs to include hotel prices and tax.
  2. With that budget in mind, check out prices for Disney Resorts and off-site resorts. Here are a couple of links that will help you out: a) for a complete list of Disney Resort rates, CLICK HERE for a great list sorted by season (thank you MouseSavers.com), and b) check out rates for outside the parks using a couple of options: 2000orlando-florida.com (CLICK HERE) for a comprehensive list of hotels outside WDW, and Octopus Travel (CLICK HERE) for the best rates on hotels outside WDW.
  3. Now that you have your list of hotels you can afford, you have a few more decisions to make. They are in no particular order:
    1. How close do you want to be to the park? This is where an Unofficial Guide really comes in handy, as they have a complete list of hotels in the area and their driving distance from the park. Otherwise you'll have to use the internet sites above and an online map service to figure it out. If you are close most hotels offer shuttles to the park just as if you were staying in a Disney resort, so transportation really isn't an issue.
    2. What kind of an experience do you want? Do you want the character breakfasts and the Disney themed rooms? Do you want to be close to other Orlando sites? Do you just need a place to sleep at night, or do you need to return several times a day for breaks and naps for little ones? You are going to want higher quality if you are going to spend more time there. Check out MouseSavers.com and TouringPlans.com for ratings on different hotels from people who have stayed at them.
    3. And of course, are there rooms available? Book quickly as rooms fill up fast.
From the simplest perspective, that is really it. After you have gone a couple of times and developed a feel for the area you may want to try other options (such as condos, vacation homes, etc.). As a side note, if you want to save money on hotels do not use Disney's vacation packages - those are built for convenience not savings. If you want more information on room-only savings, CLICK HERE for a previous post.

As a bonus treat, here are what visitors to WDW say are the top 10 hotels:
  1. Celebrity Resorts Orlando - great quality, a little far, very affordable
  2. Shades of Green - great quality, on the park, very affordable
  3. Extended Stay Deluxe Convention Center - good quality, close, very affordable
  4. HomeSuiteHomeEastgate - a little far, okay quality, quite affordable
  5. Palms Hotel & Villas Kissimee - a little far, good quality, very affordable
  6. Quality Suites Maingate East - a little far, good quality, very affordable
  7. Extended Stay Universal - close, good quality, affordable
  8. Vacation Village at Parkway - a little far, great quality, a little pricey
  9. Sheraton Studio City - close, great quality, affordable
  10. Quality Inn & Suites Eastgate - a little far, good quality, affordable
Again, for more info, check the guide!

Walt Disney World Resorts - Choosing the Right Hotel

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