By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.





Where Not to Stay

By Dave Shute

OVERVIEW

Where Not to Stay from yourfirstvisit.netThis site recommends you stay in the deluxe resort Disney’s Polynesian Resort if you can afford it, or at the value resort Disney’s Art of Animation Resort if you cannot.

Three other resort categories exist:

While wonderful for trips after your first, none of these other categories is recommended for your first family trip.

THE DISNEY VACATION CLUB RESORTS

The Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resorts are expensive, and neither as convenient nor as kid-appealing as the Polynesian, their price comparator.

Their distinctive characteristics (for rooms other than studios) are extra space and full kitchens.  These just aren’t of much value to first time visitors who aren’t sure if they’ll ever return, who will be spending most of their time outside their rooms!

(A couple of exceptions: the Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and the Jambo House Villas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge have terrific kid appeal.  Kidani Village has substantial kid appeal, but a little less than Jambo House.)

They do make sense for large families, and/or those seeking spacious accommodations.  See this for large families; see this for more on the DVC resorts. For the most comfortable options, see this.

FORT WILDERNESS

The campsites and cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort are neither as convenient nor as kid-appealing as Disney’s Pop Century Resort or the  moderates, their appropriate comparators.

THE MODERATE RESORTS

The moderates unquestionably are much more appealing to adults than Art of Animation (and the other value resorts).

Their rooms are almost 2 feet longer and a foot wider than at the values, and the bedroom spaces are actually larger than those at some Disney deluxe resorts: see this.

Moreover, at most of the moderates you now get queen beds–a welcome change from only a few years ago, when they all had full beds (Some Caribbean Beach rooms still have full beds).

The moderates have more amenities than the values, and, to an adult’s eyes, much better landscaping and exterior design.

Even so, the moderate resorts are not a better choice for your first family trip than the values, even if you could easily afford them.  The issue is that alternatives have a lot more visual kid appeal.

If you could afford the moderates, a more kid-appealing and convenient itinerary would be to spend the first 5 nights of your trip at the wildly kid-appealing value resort Art of Animation, and the last 3 at Disney’s stunningly kid-appealing deluxe resort the Wilderness Lodge.

This approach costs you ~$150 more (total!) than staying at the moderates for 8 nights, but is much more convenient and kid-appealing.

(Note: do not reverse the order here–don’t go to the Wilderness Lodge first, and then to Art of Animation–or you will hear no end of complaining from your family…!)

MORE ON WHERE TO STAY AT DISNEY WORLD

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106 comments

1 Marion { 02.27.15 at 1:32 pm }

I think it is important to note that the trip to WDW is for all family members and not just the kids. Lack of kid-appeal doesn’t seem to me to be the #1 reason to pick a resort. Will everyone be comfortable there? Will the resort stay within my budget? Hey, you are taking the kids to WDW…..isn’t that appealing enough 🙂 Be sure Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Grandma and EVERYONE will have a good stay and not just the little ones!

2 Dave { 02.28.15 at 11:24 am }

Yup, Marion, that’s why my hotel reviews are thousands of words long…

3 Ronda Hoing { 03.04.15 at 9:30 pm }

My husband, my 5 year old daughter and I are planning a trip to Disney December 1-10. We were thinking of doing a split stay between Art of Animation (first 4-5 days) and Polynesian or Wilderness Lodge. Is this something you would recommend or will it be too much of a pain with the Dining Plan, park tickets, etc. I was looking forward to booking our dining reservations at 180 plus 10 days, but I don’t think I can do that with a split stay. . Any input or suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated. Any insight in choosing between WL and Poly would also be appreciated.

4 Dave { 03.05.15 at 9:58 am }

Ronda, I think it’s a great idea. It will have no effect on your 180+10. It does mean that you will overpay for the dining plan if you get it at both (because of minimum ticket orders when you book it.) However, the dining plan will save you little to no money, so I would not let that stop me.

Either WL or Poly would be a great choice–pick based on which theme is more appealing to you. Poly is much more expensive, but more convenient to MK. WL has much smaller rooms. Reviews are linked to from here.

5 Mary { 07.11.15 at 11:07 am }

hello Dave,
Thanks for all the info on this site.
Above you suggest the option of splitting a trip between two hotels (Art of Animation for 5 days; Wilderness lodge for 3).
How much of a hassle is it to change rooms during one’s stay? Does Disney move your luggage for you? Just thinking that it could end up with a wasted day made up of room hopping.

6 Dave { 07.12.15 at 10:04 am }

Mary, Disney will indeed move your stuff. So the main hassle is just packing and re-packing.

7 Pat { 07.12.15 at 3:47 pm }

we would like to plan a trip for the first week in May 2016 and would love to get the free meal plan. What are our best chances.

8 Dave { 07.13.15 at 9:25 am }

Pat, except for UK residents, there’s been no free dining before August for years now, so I would not plan on getting it in May.

9 Jeff { 08.12.15 at 7:29 pm }

We’re going to be making our first trip to WDW from California. We’re going to be staying for 7 nights. We’re looking at staying at one of the port Orleans places. We’re really not sure where to stay. We are bringing our 2 year old boy and 4 year old girl. Is there better places that you would recommend to stay at. It’s going to be and expensive trip so I don’t want to go to overboard but I want it to be nice as well. Any advice is appreciated. Also is the dining plan worth it. If so which one should we do. Thanks

10 Dave { 08.13.15 at 8:59 am }

Jeff, all my resort reviews are linked to from here. Within price class, they are in recommended order.

The regular dining plan usually loses money for adults, and saves money for kids 3-9 if you eat at a lot of character meals. (It’s not available for your 2yo–he can eat off the plates of the rest of you. No other dining plan is worth considering) If you had one more eligible kid I’d say go for it, but with your age structure my advice is no.

11 Susan { 08.14.15 at 1:48 pm }

I think the whole topic of value vs. moderate vs. deluxe really depends on your family and how old the kids are. We took our kids who were at the time 9 (girl) and 12 (boy) to POR and they loved it. My daughter might have liked the larger than life visions that AoA or Pop Century offered but my son would not have. They both loved POR which has a great pool. We were able to do a resort day there- we rented a boat one day right from the dock, went fishing, rented bikes; and never having been to the deluxe resorts they didn’t know what they were missing, so to speak, and we went back to POR a number of times. CBR is also great for kids with their pool. You can see a big square pool anywhere; it’s the twists and turns, and nooks and crannies that make those moderate pools so fun. Many years later the “kids” are now older teens and we are headed to Y&BC instead. Being that they are older they’ll enjoy the pool there much more and appreciate the walk to Epcot. They can even hang out at the hotel together by themselves. So it really comes down to how old the kids are and what they regard as fun. I wouldn’t be so quick to put down the moderates for families looking for something with a more upscale feel but not being able to afford a deluxe. I would be afraid if we split out stay years ago, the kids would never want to go back to a moderate! Of course if you are one time visitor and don’t plan on going back, the split stay might be fun…

12 Dave { 08.15.15 at 7:34 am }

Susan, your last words are the key “Of course if you are one time visitor and don’t plan on going back, the split stay might be fun…” These recommendations are precisely for first timers who may not return!

13 Susan { 08.15.15 at 9:05 pm }

True, but I should’ve said a split stay at a moderate/deluxe might be fun, which is what I was thinking, at least with older kids. I wouldn’t recommend a split stay at one of the value resorts if you have older kids, especially if they are not especially thrilled to be at Disney thinking it’s for kids (even though we know that’s not true!) unless you as a parent know they’d actually enjoy the decor and larger-than-life icons that are geared toward much younger kids. The moderates on the other hand, are better for the older kids because they are past the elementary school longings for all things Disney. The moderate resorts give you a lush environment without the price tag and the ratio of cost jump from value to moderate to deluxe is huge. (Although the pool at POFQ is not the best if you are looking for heavy theming)

14 Dave { 08.16.15 at 9:18 am }

Susan, all good points. I am working here to a straitjacket of my own creation. Part of the point of the site is to allow people to make great decisions quickly, which means ranking among alternatives based on reasonable criteria. The criteria I chose–almost a decade ago–for resorts is first, deep visual kid appeal (which the mods suffer on), and then second as a tie-breaker, convenience for a Magic Kingdom focused trip. Other criteria are possible, and yield different answers. That’s why I have deep, multi page reviews of all the resorts.

15 Sue { 10.07.15 at 10:33 am }

Really??? we did this once.. we went from the wilderness lodge to French quarter -Port New Orleans.. My kids Hated Wilderness Lodge.. and were so happy when we moved.The other problem with this idea is when we have gone, we do the meal plan. if you stay in the cheaper hotels your meal plan based on your hotel you will only get quick service meals, not sit down.
Quick service meals become very borning after a day or 2.

16 Dave { 10.08.15 at 7:45 am }

Sue, I’m curious what they “hated” about WL. And you can, of course, buy any dining plan regardless of which Disney price class you stay in, so of course you can get the regular (or premium) dining plan in the value resorts.

17 GeorgeyBoy { 02.18.16 at 3:18 pm }

Hi, what is the transportation situation from the CBR? Do you have to share a bus with another resort? Loved that we didnt at Pop last time we went.

Has anyone noticed that prices at art of animation for late October are extremely high? Higher than some moderates?

18 Dave { 02.19.16 at 11:07 am }

Georgeyboy, CB does not share, but there are may stops there. See this.

Standard rooms at AofA are not higher than moderate rooms. You were probably seeing family suites quoted.

19 jo { 04.10.16 at 10:39 am }

Hi
We are planning a trip to Disney May 2017. 8 adults and 6 kids ages 6-2yrs. Reading all the reviews Polynesian sounds awesome but we are paying for all so cost is an issue where would you suggest for convenience and theme for kids? Don’t want to spend all we are going to and be disappointed because we didn’t spend that little bit more for the best spot for us. thxs for the help!

20 Dave { 04.11.16 at 11:58 am }

Jo, it’s hard to say not knowing your budget. Your cheapest option will be renting a vacation home offsite, but then you’ll need multiple rental cars. Disney offers hotels in various price classes. My recommended hotels in order by price class are here, also with links to reviews.

21 Josie { 09.21.16 at 5:11 am }

Hi Dave,

I am booked 12/20/16-12/26/16 at WL club level. My concern now is all the construction during our visit. I’m considering switching the reservation to ALK. We always rent a car so transportation isn’t a concern. I’m traveling with my husband and two kids 11 and 4. I picked WL for Christmas because people always rave about the giant tree. I’m opened to other suggestions to possibly switch too. TIA

22 Dave { 09.22.16 at 10:47 am }

Josie, I would switch. AKL is a great choice, but the next best Christmas resort after WL is the Grand Floridian.

23 Josie { 09.24.16 at 4:56 pm }

Thank you Dave! I switched to AKL and saved $1200 on a club level savannah view room. Thanks for the suggestion!

24 Dave { 09.25.16 at 8:56 am }

Cool, Josie!

25 Bre { 07.02.18 at 12:02 am }

Thanks so much for your wonderful site! I planned to do a split stay between a Cars Suite at A of A and the Polynesian for our first trip to WDW but the cost was so high we are now booked for 7 nights at the Carribean Beach Resort. Our trip is in Fall of 2019 so I believe the construction will be done there hopefully. I’m a little nervous about the CBR due to its size but think the Polynesian Lite may be relaxing and fun. Do you recommend driving to MK and AK or taking the bus? The Skyliner should hopefully be done by then for transportation to HS and Epcot. We requested the Jamaica village because it looks pretty close to the main pool, bus stop, and new Skyliner station going in. Would you recommend the Jamaica village for these reasons or am I missing something?

26 Dave { 07.02.18 at 8:24 am }

Hi Bre, and thanks for the kind words! I think this should work out just fine, and Jamaica is the perfect choice!

27 Bre { 07.02.18 at 2:17 pm }

Thanks Dave. We are very excited. I really like your site for helping me plan.

28 Dave { 07.03.18 at 10:16 am }

Have a great trip, Bre!

29 PegP { 10.18.18 at 7:36 pm }

To say that the moderates don’t have kid appeal is a bit confusing to me. We’ve stayed in moderates, and I don’t find that at all. We stayed at Coronado Springs because that the resort my child chose based on the awesome pool there. She also wants to stay at Port Orleans Riverside because of the Princess rooms. The boys like Caribbean Beach because of the Pirate rooms. And if you can afford Art of Animation, you can afford the moderates, so not sure why AoA would be recommended in the same post that says moderates are too expensive. We’ve stayed at AoA and it is a nice resort, but only if you stay in one of their suites. The Little Mermaid rooms are incredibly far from the pool, lobby, dining, and transportation (which is why we ended up upgrading to a suite after our first day there).

The Polynesian is even more expensive. It’s up there with the Grand Floridian when it comes to cost.

I’m not even sure why the DVC villas were ruled out as too expensive and inconvenient. If you rent DVC points, they are about the same as the cost of a moderate. And they have villas at the Polynesian (which was recommended). They’re hardly less convenient than the Deluxe resorts since most are located in the Deluxe resorts (except for Saratoga Springs and Old Key West).

Personally, I try to avoid the Value resorts whenever possible. They’re the farthest from the parks, which means long, crowded bus rides eating valuable park time. The rooms are very small. And the dining choices are pretty much take it or leave it.

30 Dave { 10.19.18 at 9:11 am }

You and I agree more than you might think, PegP. But pages like this on my site are for first time visitors who may never return, and also who don’t want to spend days making a decision. So these types of pages sharply point people towards some options—like a standard room at AofA or the Poly—and away from others. The ones I steer them away from are noted as being great choices for a second trip, and of course I have detailed multi-page reviews on this site of them all from my almost 160 stays in Disney World-owned rooms, cabins, villas, studios, suites and campsites—including 37 stays in the moderates and 47 stays in DVC studios or villas.

Some specific responses to your points:

“To say that the moderates don’t have kid appeal is a bit confusing to me.” It would be confusing to me, too, and that’s why I don’t say it. What I say is that “alternatives have a lot more visual kid appeal.” To me it is profoundly true that on average Art of Animation, Pop, the Wilderness Lodge, etc. have more visual appeal to the typical kid than, say, Port Orleans Riverside.

“And if you can afford Art of Animation, you can afford the moderates, so not sure why AoA would be recommended in the same post that says moderates are too expensive. We’ve stayed at AoA and it is a nice resort, but only if you stay in one of their suites. The Little Mermaid rooms are incredibly far from the pool, lobby, dining, and transportation (which is why we ended up upgrading to a suite after our first day there).” The Little Mermaid rooms are indeed the most distant. The furthest of them is about a 200 yard longer walk than the furthest suite. But for some, that extra 2 or 3 minutes of walking is worth the price difference. I offer advice even to those who can only afford standard value rooms.

“I’m not even sure why the DVC villas were ruled out as too expensive and inconvenient. If you rent DVC points, they are about the same as the cost of a moderate.” I would never advise a first-timer to rent DVC points. It is a needless complexity, a somewhat disquieting transaction the first time you do it, and can have profoundly different cancellation terms.

“And they have villas at the Polynesian (which was recommended). They’re hardly less convenient than the Deluxe resorts since most are located in the Deluxe resorts (except for Saratoga Springs and Old Key West).” My suggestion that people stay away from the DVC resorts on their first visit, because of their extra expense and the fact that they won’t spend much time in their rooms, really applies only to villas. DVC Studios are a fine substitute (except at BLT) for a regular deluxe room, and I could make that clearer.

“Personally, I try to avoid the Value resorts whenever possible. They’re the farthest from the parks, which means long, crowded bus rides eating valuable park time. The rooms are very small. And the dining choices are pretty much take it or leave it.” I personally agree with much of what you say here, but this site is also for those who only can afford a value.

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