Now we dare to discuss the rarefied air that are the deluxe resorts. Of all the places I have stayed at Walt Disney World, the comfort and theming of the deluxe resorts cannot be matched and the proximity to the parks lets us better utilize our precious Disney Vacation time. Who wants to spend hours of their vacation waiting on transportation or riding on a bus. There are still a few Deluxe resorts that require a significant bus ride to get to some of the parks. The Tree House Villas, for example, require two bus rides. Our extended family stayed in the Tree House Villas at Saratoga Springs a few years ago. To me, It was one of the most beautiful resort settings in all of Walt Disney World. This resort is tucked in the Florida woods near Saratoga Springs just across from the golf course which we could see through foliage out our window. The Tree House Villas has a pool of its own and may be the quietest resort on property. The three bedrooms gave us plenty of room for the seven of us. My son and Future Son in law used the bunk beds. My mother-in-law was in a bedroom and her sister in another. My daughter used the sleeper chair and my wife and I were on the sleeper sofa. A quick sidebar about the Sleeper Sofas at many of the Disney resorts, these are not the sleeper sofas that have the metal bar across your back causing weary travelers to lose sleep. This is Disney and this was a deluxe resort. That can only mean comfort. The Sleeper Sofas at the Tree House Villas were wonderfully comfortable. The only real downside that I could find was the extra bus that transported people from the Villas to Saratoga Springs. Once at the Carriage house, folks could catch a bus to the various parks. I would say that it added an additional 10 to 20 minutes to the bus.
We also, as an extended family, stayed in the wilds of Africa. Our African adventure was a bigger expedition that required two, 2 bedroom Villas at Kidani village in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We had a wide variety of ages in our party. Some of us were in our 80’s while some of us were under 10. My kids were in their 20’s at the time. Kidani was a great place to bring such a diverse group of people. There was something there for everyone. The savanna view that one of our Villas had was amazing and endlessly entertained the younger set while the food in Kidani kept the adults entertained. We have made meals of the Appetizers, Flatbreads and Cheese service at Jikos and thoroughly enjoyed it with plenty of food. That’s a great tip if you want to save a little money on your meal expense but still want to experience Disney’s signature restaurants. Appetizers and small plates are almost always available and in my experience, and are always big enough to share. The room was beautiful and comfortable with Lion King theming throughout. We had plenty of room for all 14 of our party. We added 2 more during our stay as my daughter, who was doing an internship in Pensacola, came towards the end of the week. At the end of the week, we had 16 total people in two 2 bedroom villas with plenty of room. The Animal Kingdom is a bit off the beaten path, perhaps staying in tune with the African theme. The remoteness of the resort contributed to the extended times riding in the bus getting to the other parks, but this is a great place for large extended families to get together and have a great immersive Disney experience.
I must say that I really like staying at the Boardwalk resort near Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Once again, it was during the Christmas season that we visited. (The timing of our visits to Walt Disney World seems to be a habit with us) The resort was all decked out in its Christmas finery. Garlands were hung around the Fireplace and the whole lobby area smelled of Gingerbread from the Gingerbread house that was erected in the lobby. One of my most memorable moments came in the mornings. Our room faced the Swan and Dolphin which is just a short walk from the Boardwalk. Almost every morning, perched atop the head of the swan was a bald eagle. I’m sure that this magnificent bird was looking for breakfast. Also, very often in the morning, we could see hot air balloons floating above the tree line. The morning air is calmer before the sun heats the ground and causes thermals to rise so most often, hot air balloons fly in the morning. I would always wonder what beautiful views of the parks the passengers on the balloons were getting. Usually, starting in the afternoon, the games on the Boardwalk would open, which turned the whole area into an attraction worthy of Walt Disney World. The restaurants on the Boardwalk are among my favorites and the bakery on the Boardwalk serves up amazing morning munchies that we ate often. To top that all off, Epcot is just steps away and Disney’s Hollywood Studios wasn’t that much farther. If your feet were tired and mine often were, visitors could take one of the Friendship water taxi’s to both parks. The Friendships loop between Epcot and Hollywood studios with stops at the Boardwalk, the Yacht and Beach Club and the Swan and Dolphin which was incredibly convenient. The pool area is very cool even if the clown is just a little creepy.
I have a deep seeded desire to stay on the resort loop as well. My dream vacation would include a stay for a week in the DVC resort, Bay Lake Towers. Imagine, watching out your window every evening to see the Happily Ever After fireworks show. Imagine being able to jump on the monorail to visit Ohana or Narcoossees. How amazing would it be to have access to the Magic Kingdom by simply walking a few hundred yards? I would also love to stay at the Polynesian village where we could spend evenings on the Poly beach watching Holiday Wishes. I was already a fan of the South Pacific vibe. Who wouldn’t want to stay in the beautiful Grand Floridian with all its Victorian splendor? Both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot would be a mere Monorail ride away. Unfortunately, to pay for this through normal Disney channels we might have to take out a second mortgage on the house. We might be able to save enough money using rental points to make this trip feasible.
Now, the time has come to venture into the Unknown, at least unknown to me. The Disney Vacation Club has been around for many years now. In December of 1991, the first Vacation resort opened named appropriately if a bit unimaginatively Disney’s Vacation Club resort. The site that is now known as Old Key West. Disney has opened many DVC resorts since the DVC resort and more resorts are planned for all of Walt Disney World. The average visitor can save money by renting points from a DVC member and using those points toward a resort room. Using a popular point rental agency on the internet and pricing from Tuesday, December 3nd to Tuesday December 10th we could get a theme park view studio at Bay Lake Tower for $2538 or 141 Rented Points For the same time period a savanna view studio at Animal Kingdom Lodge would cost $1836 or 102 Rental points. The cost per point at this site was $18 per point. The current rate quoted on the Walt Disney World website for the same style room is $5860 at Bay Lake Towers and The Disney Website cost for the same room category at the Animal Kingdom Lodge is $4368, Of course, your mileage may vary, and my numbers are informational only. From my research, you can find points for less in some of the forums. While it doesn’t happen very often from what I have read, people using the forums have been ripped off from time to time. Personally, for my comfort, I would use a reputable firm to rent points. More research will be required before my family ventures outside our comfort zone to rent DVC points. But the cost savings are significant.
The changes in pricing changes for Disney tickets and resorts have made finding the best price for a room and the best price for a ticket dizzyingly complex. First-time visitors might want to use a Certified Travel Partner to help book and plan their trip. Our friends here at the Resort Loop podcast are Certified Partners with Disney and can help people save money on your next Disney Vacation. I have had great interactions with Bob and Tim and I know they would do everything in their power to save you money on your next trip to Disney world. For me and many like me, part of the fun of the trip is planning and executing the plan, but I will admit that even people with Math Degrees might not be able to maneuver all the different choices available to Disney Customers. Resort Loop Travel Group’s services are completely free. The website address for Bob and Tim’s travel group is www.resortlooptravel.com.
Next month we try to figure out where we want to eat. With all the wonderful restaurants and food stands at Disney world, this won’t be an easy task. As you can see from my picture food is always something dear to my heart!