I think we have figured out when we are going to Walt Disney World. While the World seems to have something fun going on all year round, our choice, or rather, my choice of the time of year that we will visit is around the first or second week after Thanksgiving. Our Holiday season visits have often been at the same time as the Pop Warner Super Bowl. This week is sometimes a bit more crowded than others in early to mid-December, but I would really like to be back home in time for last-minute Christmas activities. So I feel this is probably the best time for our visit. We now need to choose where to stay.
I have stayed both off property and on property. May of 2017 my family stayed in a lovely 4 bedroom resort rental house in Kissimmee. It was beautiful and comfortable and was perfect for a group of people that wanted to visit other parks in the Orlando area rather than just Walt Disney World. The trip included “The Theme Park that must not be named” and Discovery Cove. My family and I love Discovery Cove and admission included tickets to visit Aquatica or Sea World. I didn’t go to Aquatica, but adult kids went and they had fun. I would say a vacation rental may be perfect for a family that is visiting more than one theme park complex, however, for my money and for the total immersive Disney experience, I would stay on property 10 times out of 10 for a Walt Disney World only vacation. Nowhere else can you get the totally immersive experience and lose your self in the Disney universe than by staying on property. Somehow, I kind of feel many of you know this already.
But where to stay on property is the real question. You might think, that after deciding that staying on property was the way to go, the decision would get easier. I’m here to say that with the vast array of price points and resort experiences, the choice of where to stay really doesn’t get any easier at all. I suppose the first thing to figure out is how much you want to spend on your resort. The price for Disney Resorts range from expensive to insanely expensive and everything in between. I have stayed at Deluxe Resorts, Moderate Resorts, and Value Resorts. The only resort that I have repeated has been the All-Star Sports resort. Even though I really liked the theming and the ease of getting to the parks, the major reason we stayed at the All Stars was simply the cost of the room. Please don’t get me wrong, I think the theming of the rooms at the All-Star Sports is great. The common areas enhance the Disney envelope and the cast members are all wonderful. One of the things that attracted us to All-Star sports was the bus service. Most of the time All Star Sports is the first bus stop on the route that includes all the other All-Star resorts so there was almost always a place to sit, especially in the early mornings when we tend to get out to the parks. While I really enjoy the All-Star resorts. I am also attracted to Pop Century. Having never stayed at Pop, and always wanting new experiences at Disney, We may choose that resort for our home base if we go with the Value resort option.
Of course, everyone has an opinion as to which their resort is their favorite. Each resort has something to offer and the experience is different for each of them. The problem is figuring out what experience that we want. I really like what many of the moderate resorts have to offer. On our first adventure to Walt Disney World as adults without kids, my wife and I stayed at the French Quarter in the Port Orleans resort. This was our first trip of many over the first week or so of December. I love the French Quarter at Port Orleans resort where had our first taste of the resorts at Christmas. One of the features that attract me to the resort could be summed up in one word, Beignet. The beignets, at the French Quarter resorts, are delicious. The best Beignets are served hot with a Café au lait at 2 am at Café Du Monde after exploring the French Quarter in New Orleans, but the beignets at the Sassagoula Floatworks food court are really really good as well. We often would just get some beignets and coffee for breakfast before venturing out into the parks. From some of the photos I’ve seen, the beignets are now Mickey shaped. I don’t know if being a hidden Mickey enhances the flavor of these wonderful nuggets of fried dough or not, but I would sure love the chance to find out. We found the rooms very comfortable and was lucky enough to have a room that was just a staircase up from the bus stop. So far, while I haven’t stayed in all of the moderates, the French quarter is my favorite. We don’t expect to get everything we ask for from the cast members as far as room location is concerned and we try to keep our request reasonable, but I know that the people at the front desk will do everything they can to accommodate us.
In 2000, my parents took my wife, my kids and I to Walt Disney World. They wanted to give their grandkids a celebration that they wouldn’t soon forget while they were still children. My daughter was about 10 and my son was still 8 and even at that early age, my daughter was unhappy to miss a couple days of school over fall break to go to Disney. I’m sure that my parents were unaware that it would rekindle a deep love for all things Disney in their adult son. I had been Walt Disney World before the 2000 trip but not when all four parks were open and I had never stayed on property. My parents had chosen the Caribbean resort to be our base of operations for this trip. I have many wonderful memories of our stay there. The food court was very nice and the pool areas around the resorts were great too, especially around Old Port Royale. At that time, and I believe that it is still true, a separate bus would take visitors from their section of the resort to Old Port Royale to catch the bus to the parks. We didn’t mind the extra bus so much back then. The bus driver would tell stories and give us Disney lore. The bus ride became a part of the magical immersive Disney experience. Sadly, stories and lore on the busses have been discontinued. I suspect they no longer allow the bus drivers to interact as much with their passengers for safety reasons, so the extra bus will absolutely be a factor in our decision. Of course, since the Caribbean Beach resort has recently been renovated and since the construction is almost complete, maybe we should revisit the resort, but probably not this year.
Because of length, this will be a two-part post. I hope to finish the second part in February. Thanks for reading!!!