255 responses

  1. Deb mahoney
    April 8, 2019

    Hi , we usually stay at AOA and love it! We have two kids (boy and girl), and we’ve enjoyed our own bed and each kid gets their own bed as well (Murphy bed for one and fold out couch for the other). We also love the big blue pool. So, my big question….. we are planning for Oct 2020 and the big blue pool will be closed forcing everyone to crowd the smaller pools. Which hotel should we look at that will give our family the sleeping space we have grown to love???

    Reply

    • Dave
      April 9, 2019

      Deb, all the deluxes except the Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge have three bed options–the third being a fold down. These are not a separate booking class, however, so unless you add a phantom fifth family member you aren’t guaranteed one.

      Many DVC studios also offer 3rd beds, and for them, all the studios that offer them have them in all rooms. You’ll find the third bed (variously a fold-out chair bed or a fold-down bed) in studios in Boulder Ridge, the Poly, Grand Floridian, Bay Lake Tower, BoardWalk Villas, and Beach Club Villas.

      Among the mods, you can reserve a three bed room as a separate booking category at Caribbean Beach and Port Orleans Riverside. Cabins in Fort Wilderness have three beds, and Family Suites at the value All-Star Music have four! These last two also have two rooms, like AofA.

      Reviews/floor plans etc for all these are linked to from here.

      Reply

  2. Kristy
    January 30, 2019

    Hi Dave, we are wanting to stay at Sawn and dolphin because of the advantage of using Starwood points. Can we take advantage of a dining package. I really like the idea of prepaying so we don’t have to worry about money it at each restaurant or counter.

    Reply

    • Dave
      January 30, 2019

      HI Kristy! The dining plan is available only at the Disney-owned resorts–so not at the Swan and Dolphin.

      Reply

  3. Wade
    September 27, 2018

    Hi Dave! This website is so helpful! We’ve been planning for awhile and we’ve saved quite a bit. So, with the prices not being an issue, we are torn between the Polynesian or the Art of Animation for a first/possibly only trip for a five year old. We are doing 9 days and want to be as comfortable as possible. What are your thoughts? We want our son to fall in love with the resort/room and the Art rooms look like a lot of fun. Thanks for your help.

    Reply

    • Dave
      September 28, 2018

      Wade, assuming you are talking about a family suite, that’s a tough call. The AofA family suites blow the Poly’s rooms away. You lose however on dining and convenience. The Poly’s pools are also better. I think there’s no question that AofA is the better choice for your daughter, and she won’t care about the pool difference. Particularly if she’s a big fan of one of three movies that the suites are framed around, I’d do AofA, but maybe plan some babysitter time and a date night or two with some of the fine dining options elsewhere.

      Reply

  4. Amy
    June 26, 2018

    Hi Dave,

    I am planning my first trip to Disney World and I am trying to figure out the best of everything. I lived in California for 10 years and went to Disney at least 2x/week. Obsessed! So my husband and I are planning to go for our first time to Disney world and I don’t even know where to start or how long we should go for. I want to go around this December so I can see it decorated for Christmas. So I’m thinking around the first week or second of December, hoping to go before the big rush and kids being out of school. I want see everything and not be rushed at any of the parks. If you have any recommendations on when and the length of time we should stay and go to each park? Also which hotel and room is the BEST to stay in and has the best Disney theme and feel? Also any help and recommendations on need to know stuff please let me know. Thank you for your time and your site, it has really helped me.

    Reply

    • Dave
      June 26, 2018

      Hi Amy! On when to go, see this. You’ll note I highly approve of your choices!

      For an example itinerary for those two weeks, see this.

      For where to stay, see this! Best is highly subjective, though…Full reviews of each of the options begin here.

      Reply

  5. M Wood
    April 5, 2018

    Dear Dave,

    If availability were not an issue which would you recommend AKL or BLT. We are doing a first time visit for the 6 year old girl and first big girl visit for 9 yr old. I am not comfortable with buses and considering a car rental. My main focus after the transportation would be the best experience for the girls. POLY seems like it would be my first choice after reading your advice but our points don’t pay for more than 2 studios which are not guaranteed to be together.

    Reply

    • Dave
      April 6, 2018

      Hiya M! The only park you don’t want to drive to is MK, as the parking lot for it is distant from the park itself and requires another transport (ferry or monorail) to get to the park. For that reason alone, based on your preferences I’d rent a car, do Bay Lake Tower, walk or take the monorail to MK, and use your car for the other parks.

      Reply

  6. Amanda
    February 23, 2018

    Hi Dave!
    We are planning a trip to WDW for the end of August and are considering renting DVC points. We are a family of 4, with 2 boys- 5 and 7. My husband and I have always stayed at POR, but are now wanting to do a Deluxe Villa Studio since we are celebrating a birthday and anniversary. My kids are very into pools, architecture and the monorail. My hubby is leaning to the Bay Lake Tower as both he and my eldest love modern designs and monorails. I love the look of AKL, but worry about the heat in August and cranky kids. I figure a close by resort might be a lifesaver on humid days when we need to retreat. What would you recommend for a 8 night stay?

    Reply

    • Dave
      February 26, 2018

      Amanda, because of the booking calendar for DVC point owners (because of which one tranches of rooms disappears into reservations eleven months before, and another tranche 7 months before), and the popularity of studios in general and BLT in particular among them, the odds are not inn your favor for getting a BLT studio on such (by DVC standards) short notice. Go ahead and try, but have some alternatives–of which AKL would be a fine one…

      Reply

  7. Caitlin
    December 27, 2017

    A year ago after reading your website, I couldn’t imagine how anyone would opt for a value resort over a moderate. When we first stayed at the Poly, I thought the rooms felt so dated. We had the annual passes this year and tried almost every resort on property and now after my initial skepticism of your reviews, I am coming back here to say that I now understand and wholeheartedly agree with your hotel advise! It’s spot on!

    The only moderate I’d return to is French Quarter, and I don’t see that happening because I’m not getting much more there than at a value. My family surprisingly loved AOA’s lion king suite and I would consider returning there. Honestly, I didn’t hate All Stars Movies either. Dare I say the values were more fun for my family than any moderate?

    The deluxe resorts are our favorites and we always stay club level. Because we don’t eat quick service, we get a good value on club level with breakfast and dinner in the lounge and only one dining reservation a day for lunch. I cannot say the Poly is my number one favorite because I like different resorts for different reasons—GF is probably our favorite overall, but costly. Contemporary has the best location because nothing beats walking to MK. Plus its garden wing is a great value. I love AKL’s theming and restaurants the best. If I am going to my favorite park, Epcot, I will only stay at the Boardwalk (or Epcot resort). However, overall the Poly offers the nicest club level for families. The lounge at the poly has a direct view (not as close as others, but the best angle) of the fireworks. It’s the most family friendly and offers a lot of great amenities. The poly’s club level cast members were the best and everything there is just so much fun. My mother has always refused to stay anywhere but GF, but now, despite the rooms being more casual than she would like, she only wants to stay at the Poly for their wonderful club level and fireworks viewing.

    We just booked a last minute room at the Poly for next week to end our year of APs and we won’t be back again until we do it again for Disney’s 50th anniversary. Maybe the new transportation system they are building will be a game changer, but for now, your advice about where to stay is truly accurate. Thank you for sharing your insight!

    Reply

    • Dave
      December 29, 2017

      Caitlin, thanks so much for your thoughtful and detailed post!! One nuance is that I advise against the moderates only for first timers–for returning visitors they can be a great choice, as they are so much more affordable than most deluxes, and more spacious than most values. I personally agree with your take on POFQ!!

      Reply

  8. Jesus
    June 9, 2017

    Thanks Dave!

    Do you know when the construction in Caribbean Beach will be ended?
    Our trip will be on May’18

    Reply

    • Dave
      June 11, 2017

      Jesus, 2019.

      Reply

  9. Jesus N.
    June 8, 2017

    Hello Dave,

    We cant decide where to stay, if the Art of Animations or Caribbean Beach Resort. we are traveling 4 adults (27 yo)
    I have read some of your tips and you recommended AoA as the best (Polysian is out of our budget),

    In your experience, is there a difference between AoA and Caribbean about how many kids are in each resort?

    Thanks in advance,
    Jesus

    Reply

    • Dave
      June 9, 2017

      Jesus, for four adults I’d recommend neither. Art of Animation rooms will be too small, Caribbean Beach is undergoing a major construction project. Take a look at Coronado Springs.

      Reply

  10. Linda
    April 18, 2017

    Hi Dave,
    I’ve been to WDW three times now and still turn to your site for advice! Thanks!

    I’m helping my brother plan a trip from the UK for two weeks. He is on a tight budget so the Poly is out of the question. I have no experience of the value resorts and am concerned regarding the size of the rooms for a family of four when staying for that length of time (and all the extra luggage that will involve).
    Would Art of Animation still be your resort of choice for a budget trip or is it worth the stretch on finances for a slightly bigger room at a moderate resort?
    Another factor to consider is that the current UK offer includes QS dining plan in the moderate resorts or free breakfast in the values (I feel as if a free breakfast is only going to slow you down making rope drop harder to achieve).
    Thanks in advance,
    Linda

    Reply

    • Dave
      April 19, 2017

      Hi Linda, that is a great question. A moderate would make sense in the circumstances, especially if anyone is tall and this can’t fit as full bed. Or, if that stretches budgets too much, half the time in a a value and half in a moderate would work. Have them do the moderate second, as otherwise there will be too much whining when they move from a larger to a smaller room.

      Reply

  11. Tom LJ
    January 30, 2017

    Hello Dave and Kelly,

    Thanks for the very speedy update, Dave. You set the bar high in terms of response and it is appreciated that you also deliver. The hot plate is not a surprise, now that I think about it. We have discussed the room situation in a bit more detail with each family and having a stove is pretty important. Two of the kids have pretty strong allergies, so Disney Dining is probably not an option. The littlest boy – 6 when we visit – cannot have any grains, so finding food without corn, wheat, rice is always a challenge. Gluten and sugar are relatively easy when compared to that. Essentially he has to eat a ‘paleo’ diet, but not by choice. Pools are not a huge concern as our daughter has a severe chlorine allergy. An hour at the pool equals anywhere from 1-4 days in the hospital.

    I will follow up with you via email, Kelly, and see what options you can think of. We are pretty much expecting to rent DVC points and have a school friend whose home resort is BLT. She has 220 points she is trying to sell and is okay working through David’s Vacation Club Rentals.

    I will follow up later today.

    Thanks to you both!
    Tom

    Reply

  12. Dave
    January 29, 2017

    Tom, Kelly is my travel agent partner. She’s right about both the hot plate (fire code) and the time back and forth to the room. I’m not as keen on the dining plan as she is, but if you have a ton of kids along 3-9 years old and plan a lot of one credit character buffets, it can save some fair change.

    I walked about WL on Wednesday, and the bungalow exteriors are largely done, the new quick service will open any day now, and the pool has its bones in. The pool could be done anytime from March through July (later is more likely). It’s hard to tell when the villas being built in the main lodge will be done, but I’m sure the “noisy” part of that will be done soon.

    Reply

  13. Kelly B – Agent with Destinations in Florida
    January 28, 2017

    HI Tom –

    I’m Kelly, the dedicated Destinations in Florida Travel agent for Your First Visit. I would love to help you and your family plan your upcoming Disney Vacation.

    If you are staying in a standard room/Studio, hot plates are not allowed in the rooms. In order to have a stove top, you would need to get villas, like the ones you mentioned.

    The Disney Dining plan is a great option and can save lots of time and money. While the monorail will bring you back and forth quickly to the resort you mentioned, that isn’t the case for AK, EP or HS. That quick “back to the room for lunch/dinner”, takes a lot longer than you think. Depending if you catch the bus in time it could take about an hour one way. Hour to eat, hour to return. So that “quick” lunch just turned it 3 hours out of your day.

    Wilderness lodge still is experiencing renovations, with no guarantee the will be done when you visit. Switching to standard rooms, could decrease your price. With the savings you could purchase the dining plan and not need the stove top.

    Just some ideas. I would love to discuss more details. Please feel free to contact me at 980-429-4499 or by email at KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com

    Reply

  14. Tom LJ
    January 28, 2017

    Welcome back from the trip Dave.

    Hope is was great. I have been doing more reading with regard to various room options for our group of 11. I am dazed and confused at the moment. I’d like to have tried the Poly with 3 studios, but we are looking for one room with a stove, since we have some people with food challenges. Given the Poly doesn’t have stoves, I suppose we could bring a couple of hot plates along.

    Apart from that option, I am leaning Bay Lake Tower, getting a dedicated 2 bedroom for convenience more than kid appeal, followed by Boulder Creek for kid appeal then convenience. We ride buses every day, so either a launch or monorail would make it a bit more special. I am expecting Boulder Creek will still have significant construction, given they are building the lakeside cabins? At least that is the rumor I have heard.

    Looking forward to your follow up.

    Tom

    Reply

  15. Jen
    January 17, 2017

    Hi Dave, Great site! I have been reading so much! lol
    I plan on doing a first, and possibly only Disney vacation this coming Dec. with my 8 yo daughter and 12 yo son. I am going to try and get free dining when it is released, and am contemplating the Cabins at FW. My son is getting into being a lazy teen (lol) but likes fishing and fires ect. We think this might be a good resort to get a camping trip and a Disney vacation all in one; as we talked about renting a cottage for a summer vacation as well this year. Do you think this would be worth it for us? I plan on an 8 night trip, with 2 days to hang out at the resort, 6 days for parks. I welcome any recommendations! Thank you 🙂

    Reply

    • Dave
      January 17, 2017

      Hi Jen, see my review of the cabins here. These work much better if you have a car!

      Reply

  16. Tom LJ
    January 13, 2017

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the site, it is amazing. I am planning a trips for 3 families for mid-September 2017, or possibly later recommended weeks. 7 adults, 4 kids, 6,9,9,11 yrs. We are considering Boulder Ridge DVC, and I was wondering what your thoughts are regarding construction status at that point?

    Thanks in advance.
    tom

    Reply

    • Dave
      January 15, 2017

      Tom, I’ll have a point of view after my visit there at the end of this month.

      Reply

      • Tom
        January 16, 2017

        Thanks a Dave, i noticed that you were headed there the end of the month after seeing another post. At this point we are looking at either 3 studios at the Poly, or sharing a 3 bedroom villa at Bay Lake Tower as potential alternatives.

        Reply

  17. Nikki
    December 9, 2016

    Hi again,

    Loving all this info and reading all questions! The internet and blogs have me on info overload. We are planning for our 1st trip with our little guy for his 3rd birthday . We are really thinking we will only be able to afford the All Star Resort(AoA was my pick, but for the $, mightest well upgrade). I like the the theming outside of Movie. However, I have heard so many mixed reviews! Im getting nervous. We will also have my parents with us, so 4 adults and a toddler. Will these rooms suffice? Just want all of our 1st trips especially little guys (who is Mickey obsessed) to be magical. Thoughts?

    Reply

    • Dave
      December 9, 2016

      Nikki, I don’t know anyone who thinks the All Stars are an upgrade over AofA. Four adults and a toddler will be quite cramped in any value resort standard room, especially if anyone is over 5′ 9″, as the beds are full-sized. It’s been done, a lot, and you won’t be in your room much.

      Note also that Disney only allows 4 people 3 or older to be booked into these rooms.

      Reply

  18. Eric
    September 22, 2016

    ^^If splitting the trip to two hotels, does Disney “take care of” all your bags? Or are we left to transport them independently?

    Reply

    • Dave
      September 24, 2016

      Eric, yes Disney will move your bags–check with the concierge the night before to get specifics.

      Reply

  19. Stephanie
    September 21, 2016

    Hi Dave! First of all, your site is amazing! I am trying to plan my family’s first (and probably only) trip to WDW fall of 2017. I want to take your advice and stay at the Poly because of all of your reasons, however I can’t help but think my 2 younger daughters (will be 7 & 10 when we go) would love the suites at Art of Animation due to the Nemo or Little Mermaid rooms. What would your thoughts be on splitting the trip and staying 4 nights at Poly & 4 nights at AOA?

    Reply

    • Dave
      September 22, 2016

      Stephanie, splitting is a fine idea! Note, though that there are no Little Mermaid suites–the only suites are Cars Lion King and Nemo. Little Mermaid rooms are standard rooms.

      Reply

  20. Michele
    August 14, 2016

    Thank you, Dave!

    Reply

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My response to questions and comments will be on the same page as the original comment, likely within 24-36 hours . . . I reserve the right to edit and delete comments as I choose . . . All rights reserved. Copyright 2008-2019 . . . Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by me--even the ones in focus--except for half a dozen from my niecelets . . . This site is entirely unofficial and not authorized by any organizations written about in it . . . All references to Disney and other copyrighted characters, trademarks, marks, etc., are made solely for editorial purposes. The author makes no commercial claim to their use . . . Nobody's perfect, so follow any advice here at your own risk.

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