Disney World Vacation – the phrase either brings joy to your heart, or sends you into a cold sweat. We went to Disney World (Orlando)a few months ago and it was the trip of a lifetime. But we did spend a lot of time planning it, and I’d like to share some of the Disney World tricks and tips we learned along the way.
I’d also love to cover any topics that any of you have questions about. So feel free to leave your Disney World questions below.
Were did we Stay?
We stayed on Disney property, at the Contemporary Hotel. Disney hotels are organized into 3 classes: Deluxe, Moderate & Value. The Contemporary Hotel is considered a Deluxe hotel because of the available services, as well as its location right on the monorail. In fact, we picked it because although it is probably the least “Disney themed” of the hotels it gave us an easy way to get to parks by just taking our elevator to monorail level, rather than waiting outside for a bus we would be schlepping a stroller on and off of. It also has the unique feature of being the hotel closest to the Magic Kingdom, as well as walking distance to that park. We knew we were going to need to take afternoon naps with a little girl in our party that had just turned 4!
Are we glad we stayed there?
YES! It was absolutely the best possible choice for us. We were originally looking at Bay Lake Towers next store, it had a small kitchen and separate bedrooms because we wondered if our daughter would sleep with us in the room. It turned out that was not a problem! She conked out every night soon after getting back to our room, and in fact often was asleep in the stroller as we left the Magic Kingdom at night. We ended up changing our reservation, before we left because we were going to Disney during value season, and they offered FREE DINNING while we were there. The only catch was that each hotel only had a certain number of free dinning slots. And Bay Lake Towers was filled. So we went to our second choice Contemporary so that we could take advantage of that deal. It was the best thing that could have happened! We loved every second! Free dinning is also offered at the moderate resorts and value as well fyi!
Is staying on Disney property worth it?
I would say that depends a LOT on the ages of your party. If you have very small kiddos, then staying on property is likely to make everyone’s vacation less stressful. But if my daughter had been a bit older, we would have saved more money on the hotel by staying farther away. Hustling for a bus is a lot easier when everyone in your party is older. But on busy days those buses fill up fast, and waking up a sleeping preschooler, while folding up a stroller and trying to fit your party in a packed bus is not fun. We did it once on our trip and it wasn’t pretty. I would try to stay as close to the park as your budget will allow with young kids. If you have adults an older children feel free to stay off property with no worries. Or consider a Disney value resort that is a little farther away from the parks. It is true what they say “At Disney you don’t spend much time in your room!” But… I would add you may not spend much time in your room, but the further away from the park you are… the more time you will spend on getting there.
My formula would be: The younger the kids = the closer you want to be.
How did we get there?
We took the Disney Magical Express right from the Orlando airport. It was indeed magical. And I may or may not have teared up as the video monitors above our heads welcomed us to Disney World. Another great part of using the Magical Express to get to our hotel, was that we didn’t need to pick up our checked luggage. We checked into our flight, and didn’t do anything with our luggage again! It just magically appeared in our room an hour after we checked in. In reverse, when we checked out of the hotel there was an Orlando airport check in place right in our lobby. We showed our ID’s and they printed our tickets for us and checked our luggage right at the hotel. Then we got back on the magical Express. Easy peasy. And a real time saver.
Can you just use Disney Dinning at your hotel?
As I said, we visited Disney during a Free Dinning promotion. So we each got enough credits for 2 meals a day, and a snack. One meal could be a counter service, and another a sit down restaurant meal. Our hotel had a fancy restaurant on the highest floor (California Grill) and a cafeteria style counter restaurant near monorail level. We did eat there several times and it was super convenient. But dinning credits can be used at hotel restaurants as well as those inside the parks! Even character meals! You also get a free refillable mug for each person in your party. Free soft drinks, milk, coffee and hot chocolate on tap 24hours a day. But that perk is just good at your hotel. You can also choose to pay cash for meals you dont want to count as a meal credit. Because of the free dinning we ended up trying quite a good number of Disney eateries, which I will write about soon!
What was our favorite part of the hotel?
Probably the ability to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from our balcony!