By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

Where Not to Stay

By Dave Shute


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 (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.


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 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 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…!)


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1 Mario { 06.30.12 at 2:45 pm }

Hey guys, I’ve been to CSR over 13 times and have never had service suffer because of a convention. It is what they do and they are very good at providing service. If you have any issues, you should visit the concierge desk at the main lobby and express your concerns to them or the manager. Try to find a CM who has a brass pin near the top of their Disney badge. Those are cast members who have been recognized for seniority or other accomplishments.

2 Tina { 08.19.12 at 9:22 pm }

Fred I stayed at the Coronado Springs and hated it!! We walked too far for busses then waited forever for them. I would advise you not to stay there.

3 Dave { 08.20.12 at 8:00 am }

Tina, your point applies to all the large moderates–CSR, POR and CB….

4 Michelle L { 08.28.12 at 12:01 pm }

Hi Dave,

I know a lot of your site is geared towards families, but I love all of your information (I wish I would have found it before my fiancee received vacation time for Nov 1-11 at his new company…yeah he can’t change it now). I always try to book a vacation for us over his birthday (Nov 11) and even living near NJ I didn’t know about Jersey week (I live just above Philadelphia).

That being said…we are very active adults, been together for almost 9 years, so I definitely want a smidgen of romance, but I don’t want it to deter from our adventure. Neither of us sit still very long, lol. So I was contemplating Coronado Springs as it is the most reasonable of the Moderates (I was originally going to do the All Star Sports until talking to a friend who just went and stayed at the Pop Century and said the busing was dreadful at the value resorts). Years ago (like 14 years ago!) my last time to Disney I stayed at the Dixie Landings as a kid (which I know is now Port Orleans Riverside), I don’t want to stay there again as I want us to both get a new experience. He has never been to Disney really at ALL (just Epcot at 16) and I haven’t been since I was 13.

What would your thoughts be on the Coronado Springs for two adults? I definitely don’t think I can make the jump to a deluxe resort (I’m a massage therapist running her own business), so the moderates are the most I can handle. I picked up a GREAT discount through a travel agent that my fiancee found through someone he works with. $3853.74 total for airfare, upgrade to the Disney Deluxe dining plan (we like to eat comfortably on vacation…thats our romantic part) at Coronado Springs.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the package before I book it.

Thanks for such an information site!

5 Dave { 08.28.12 at 1:04 pm }

Hi Michelle! Thanks for the kind words about the site. I think CS is a good choice, but that POFQ is much more romantic–see this:

CS’s romantic cred will be diminished if it is hosting a convention–it’s the only moderate with a convention center.

The buses are just as bad at CSR as they are at the values, but in a different way. The issue with the values is the crowd at the one stop–at the moderates, that there are 4 to 6 stops to get you all the way around. POFQ is the best of the moderates on this dimension as well.

The best way to test the value of your deal is to compare it to what it would cost if you booked it on your own–you can do that through using Disney’s online booking engine…just quit before you enter your credit card 🙂 See this:

6 Michelle L { 08.28.12 at 2:40 pm }

From the photos of POFQ it looks a bit more kiddie than CS and romantic definitely isn’t our reason for visiting Disney lol, we’ll be sweatballs by the end of the day. I will call CS, I wonder if they will tell me by phone if there will be a convention there during that time.

As for price, I couldn’t find the free dining plan on Disney until I just did some searching around. And her prices beat Disney by a good $500 or so, which is a giant savings.

I will definitely discuss with the fiancee the POFQ versus CS as that is around a $400 difference as well, CS being the cheaper.

7 Michelle L { 08.28.12 at 3:01 pm }

Just called and they couldn’t tell me over phone but I found this: 😀 I know it might be missing a few, but looks good to me. So I think CS will be our spot.

Thank you again for all of your wonderful information here! I will be bookmarking and having your site available during our vacation 🙂

8 Dave { 08.28.12 at 7:10 pm }

Got it! I misunerstoodulated your question…

9 Dave { 08.28.12 at 7:16 pm }

Thanks again Michelle and have a great time! Come back here when you are done and let me know how it went!

10 Sally { 09.11.12 at 7:25 am }

Hi Dave,
We stayed at Wilderness Lodge 2 years ago and are trying to book up something for oct 2013. We would like a villa this time as we are staying for a fortnight and a room would be a bit too cramped for that long. The only places we are being offered, with all the offers, are Saratoga Springs and Old Key West. We aim to visit all the parks with our 9 and 7 year old children but we are stuck on which one to go to. Do you have a particular favourite in your opinion?- and why?! We would so appreciate your help! Thank you

11 Dave { 09.11.12 at 8:11 am }

Hi Sally, between the two I’d advise OKW.

They are close to each other and essentially un-themed, so there’s no distinction on kid appeal or convenience.

OKW however has much larger living spaces, so that’s why it gets the nod between the two. See this and also this

12 Dawn Caitano { 09.11.12 at 8:13 am }

I am a Disney Vacation Club Owner & the reason they are not showing availability for All of the Villas is because they go up to the owners first before they are put into inventory. They are smaller so the inventory is lower. It should open up with in 7 to 11 months prior to your arrival. So if you are currently booked, keep checking with them for availability and you can possibly change resorts once it opens up. Saratoga Springs & Old Key West open up first because they have larger inventory. I hope this helps. I agree that Wilderness Lodge is a great choice for a Villa.

13 Dave { 09.11.12 at 10:36 am }

Great point, thanks, Dawn!

14 Aimee { 09.21.12 at 7:52 am }

I’m honeymooning in disney in april. My soon to be husband has never been. With budget we can afford a standard view room and animal kingdom or we could go to one of the moderates, possibly CS. Which of these two would you recommend for a first time visitor/honeymoon trip?

15 Dave { 09.21.12 at 8:05 am }

Hi Aimee, I’d recommend the standard AKL room. If you need to go to a moderate for prices, then Port Orleans French Quarter is the most romantic of the mods…see

16 Jan { 11.22.12 at 9:00 am }

Hey Dave,
Great site — very helpful. We’ve been to WDW 5 times. Stayed at WL –awesome; CSR — nice but long walks to get to resort amenities; CBR — kids loved this — we stayed in Jamaica building which was quiet, but only a few minutes walk across the lake to the main pool/store, POFQ — delightful and romantic and so easy to get around, and PORS — great pool, no complaints. We’ve never had a bad stay at any of the resorts.
Going back in December and staying at the Cabins with six; me, hubby, adult daughter, teen daughter and her two teen friends. Chose Cabins over AOA which gave us free TS dining instead of just QS dining plan. Can’t afford the upgrade to deluxe resort. Rented a golf cart. What do you think of the Cabins? I’m a little nervous! 🙂

17 Dave { 11.23.12 at 3:24 pm }


Hi Jan and thanks!

The Cabins are very different–you’ve probably already seen this: but read it if you haven’t. The inside is charming and livable, and you also get a great deck and a charcoal grill. Fort Wilderness itself has lots of charms–campfires, horse rides, quiet walks. They are inconvenient, which your golf cart will help with a bit. And the full kitchen is a nice luxury, even if with your dining plan you don’t get much value out of it.

Have you done Hoop Dee Doo Revue? If not, it’s worth it…

18 Karen { 12.28.12 at 12:18 pm }

I think the appeal depends on your child. We went on our first disney vacation with my daughter shortly before her third birthday and stayed at the grand floridian, it is still her favorite (she is 6 now). We have had annual passes since then and went on multiple trips and have stayed at all the deluxe resorts, POFQ and Pop once. She did not like pop at all, she thought the pool was boring and the walks too far. Her second favorite resort is POFQ. I think that it is the CM’s at the Grand Floridian and POFQ you can’t beat the service at these two resorts:).

19 Dave { 12.28.12 at 3:03 pm }

Karen I completely agree with you that it will vary by child! My advice is based solely on visual appeal, and is based on the “average” child—your mileage will differ!

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20 sonny { 01.02.13 at 10:20 am }

hi excellent info .first timers from india just planning with 2kids a teen and age 5 .very excited but apprehensive too pl guide for 10 day trip on a budget. 18april2013 onwards .Weather food deals stay packages pass deals act.. also nearest int. airport from delhi and connecting flights.Thanks in advance regards

21 Dave { 01.02.13 at 5:39 pm }

Sonny, I’m sorry but I don’t track flights/airports. For the key points on everything else, start here and work your way through it:

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22 Lois { 01.10.13 at 7:21 am }

Have stayed at Pop Century before; but now planning on taking a trip (on a budget) with daughter/son-in-law (20’s) and spouse and 20 yr old son. Want to use the Disney shuttles to/from parks and stay at less expensive place that is geared more for us older kids! Any suggestions? Thanks so much!

23 Dave { 01.10.13 at 7:54 am }

Lois, if I am reading you correctly, you are talking about staying off site–as you won’t find anything on site that’s more than $5 a night or so less than Pop. If so, there’s no “Disney Shuttle” that goes to off site hotels. Such hotels have their own transport, which can be great or horrible.

So after you’ve targeted some, you’d need to call the hotels and get them to fax or email you their shuttle schedules to compare. Pay particular attention to how early and late they run, and how frequently.

I’m sorry, but I don’t have any recommendations for off-site hotels, as there’s hundreds of them and I can barely keep up with the on-site hotels! Suggest you buy a copy of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2013 It’s got a ton of pages on the off-site hotels.

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24 Pam { 01.15.13 at 5:57 pm }

I really have enjoyed your site. We are going to WDW Decemeber 15 2013. We will probably do Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom but we also want to do Universal. Would it be better to find a place that’s in the middle of the two. Or stay onsite at disney? We are doing the value hotels because both our kids are in college so we won’t be in the rooms but to sleep!

25 Dave { 01.16.13 at 8:37 am }

Hi Pam, and thanks! The best approach if you can afford it is to stay at Disney while there, and at Universal while there. Universal hotel guests get stunning privileges in its parks–see this: The problem with Universal is that it has no value or moderate options, but even a one night Universal hotle stay gives you two days of perks…Staying in between will save you money, but that’s the only payoff…

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26 Holly { 01.29.13 at 3:08 pm }


My fiance and I are planning to have our Honeymoon in Disneyworld. We are thinking of 11/12-11/23 but we are flexible (wedding is 11/9). I just know that it’s cheaper to fly out during the week. Since it’s our honeymoon, I was considering getting a room with a concierge/club level/view but a lot of those hotels are pretty pricey. Do you think it’s worth the money for those extras? We would like a more adult hotel with less kids/noise. Are prices generally cheaper that time of year? I would appreciate any recommendations for hotel/dining plans/etc. Thank you for your help!

27 Dave { 01.30.13 at 5:34 am }

Hi Holly! That’s a great time to go–see weeks #6 and 11 on this page: Prices then are pretty low–see this:

The club level question is highly debated. I’d skip it and spend the money on fancier meals, a fireworks cruise, etc, but others swear by it. See this post from Steve at Tikiman–he’s talking about the Poly, but his points apply everywhere:

You can’t find a hotel without mobs of kids at Disney World–that’s like looking for a zoo without animals! Any of the deluxe resorts can be romantic, but especially the Polynesian, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Grand Floridian, BoardWalk Inn, and Beach Club. See thisfor links to more on these:

For dining, check out this page:

Hope this helps!

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28 Julie { 01.31.13 at 12:04 pm }

I LOVE this site!
We are planning on bringing our 3 year old to Disney World in May 2013.
We will be first time visitors from South Africa, could you please recommend resorts that would blow a 3 year olds’ mind and his mom and dads’… of course!
Thank you so much!

29 Dave { 02.01.13 at 7:23 am }

Hi Julie and thanks!

That’s actually a tough question. It’s easy to “blow” both 🙂 with an 8 year old, but some of what will knock an 8 year old out is too sophisticated for a 3 year old. The Wilderness Lodge is an example of this. See

If you were from Duluth, Minnesota instead of South Africa, the easy answer would be the Animal Kingdom Lodge– Exotic animals for the kids, and stunning architecture for the parents. But for you, its African theme may be too much of a busman’s holiday.

So I’m thinking about a Family Suite at Art of Animation.

If he is a fan of Nemo, Lion King, or Cars, then he’ll be delighted. There’s otherwise not much that will blow the parents away, but the suites are very livable–for the money, more livable than any other options at WDW. See this and the floor plan above.

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30 Gail { 02.05.13 at 6:13 pm }

I have been reading so much information on your site and find it extremely helpful. My husband and I are looking to make our second trip to Disney Dec 31, 2013 – Jan 4, 2014 and will be traveling with our 10-yr old daughter and 17-yr old son. Our dilemma is that we only want to incur the expense of a standard room but need separate beds for our children. Can you explain the “pull-down” bed which can be found at Port Orleans-Riverside and if there are weight limitations? We stayed at Pop Century during our first visit and have no complaints other than we wished the rooms and beds were bigger. Also, does the higher crowd tend to thin out after New Year’s Eve?

31 Dave { 02.06.13 at 7:06 am }

Hi Gail and I’m glad the site is helping!

For details and images on the fold down murphy bed, see this:

If the bed’s too small, the next best option is a Family Suite, of which those at All-Star Music are the least expensive–see

Unfortunately, Disney World will be wildly crowded through January 4th…

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32 Donna { 03.16.13 at 10:11 pm }

Hi Dave
My husband and I spent our honeymoon almost 40 years ago at Disney World. We would like to celebrate our anniversary by taking our 3 children and their spouses and our 4 grandchildren (ages 1-40) to WDW. We would like to stay together but we also need to be close to the hotel for children naps. We will stay 5-7 days and want to remain in the same hotel. What would you recommend. We are looking at some time in the fall. Thanks so much for your help.

33 Dave { 03.17.13 at 7:48 am }

Hi Donna, if I’m counting right you have 12 people.

There’s only one room type that sleeps 12–two in a king bedroom, 4 each in 2-queen bedrooms, and the other 2 in a fold out couch. These rooms, called Grand Villas, cost an arm and a leg, and are tough to reserve (that is there aren’t many and they book up fast.)

You can find them in all the DVC resorts except for the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge and the Beach Club. For rankings of these DVC resorts and links to reviews whihc include floor plans of their grand villas, see this:

Otherwise you’ll need two spaces (at least). For ideas in the deluxe resorts, see this and for less expensive options see this:

Hope this helps! And if it does…

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34 Christina { 03.17.13 at 4:11 pm }

Hi Dave!

I have been planning our first trip to Disney for the last two months and can not seem to stick with any plans! It is so overwhelming! I am such a “planner” so trying to narrow down everything from where to stay, where to eat, and “must have” experiences has been mind boggling! My husband and I are planning to stay 8/5/13-8/13/13. Initially I made reservations to POR but do not feel the kids (8 & 4) will get the full disney appeal as it seems targeted to older kids and grown ups. I was thinking of staying off site but that also will take away from the fact that this is a “DISNEY Vacation”. Now after seeing what you had to say about split stays I think I have found a solution to my problem! We are thinking maybe Pop for 4 nights and Poly for the other 4. I am wondering if this plan is more ideal than my previous ones. My only concern is not knowing what to expect at a Value seeing as though you usually get what you pay for. We also will not have a car. Would you recommend the dining plan? Also any sit down dinner experiences that are worthwhile for first timers? Thanks in advance for your help!

35 Dave { 03.18.13 at 7:39 am }

Hiya Christina!

First, POR is widely loved, so you won’t have a bad time at all if you end up there.

Second, you will have a more kid appealing and fun visit if you do the split stay. With the ages of your kids, consider Art of Animation Little Memraid and Wilderness Lodge instead of Pop and Poly. AofA is here: and WL here:

You will likely never stay in a smaller for person room than at AofA (or any of the values) but since you are doing it early, with the peak excitement, you’ll be just fine…and if you do feel cramped, you’ll know you are going to a bigger room with bigger beds soon!

And yes, there’s several meals I strongly recommend. See, for example, the itinerary here–the dining is at the top of each day on the image

The dining plan is optional–it helps with budgeting, but no longer saves much money. And no, you don’t need a car…

Hope this helps, and if so…

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36 Christina { 03.20.13 at 1:01 pm }

Thanks so much for your response Dave! This site has been a life saver! So after discussion with the husband a split stay is not ideal, seeing as though picking up and moving half way into the trip would throw us off supposedly. So we narrowed it down to The Royal Rooms at Riverside or Wilderness Lodge. My understanding of what you say on the site is Wilderness would be a better choice? The only things that are important as far as lodging is good pool, comfort, and convenience. What I have read of Riverside’s Transportation is quite scary. I would love to book poly but its soo expensive during the time we are going. Thanks again for your help!

37 Dave { 03.20.13 at 2:17 pm }

Christina, yes, WL is by far the better choice than POR!!

38 Beth { 04.05.13 at 10:11 am }

My husband and i are looking to ksm a trip for November 2013 around the 9th.
We will have 2 grandmothers with us and a 5 year old.
We were looking at renting a house as we heard that it is far more cost effective to do so.
We will have a tight budget and want to make sure that this trip will be amazing for our daughter as we are not sure if we will be able to do this kind of trip again. Its kind of a trip of a lifetime for us. We are thinking of staying for about 10 days.
We want to be cost conscious but not overly frugal. Do you have any suggestions about best places to stay , things tht we must absolutley do and things that we should just avoid.
Its really hard to go throuogh all of the disney informatin on the web and make choices when we have never been there before
Any advice you would have would be great !

39 Dave { 04.06.13 at 8:37 am }

Hi Beth! my thoughts on renting a house–which really will save you money–can be found in the material that starts here:

But here’s the thing: if it truly is a once in a lifetime trip, I’d strongly urge you wait til she’s a few years older. See this for why:

Give it a look and some thought…and if you still want to do this now, get back to me and I’ll help with the specifics…

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40 Jon Bruner { 04.25.13 at 11:43 pm }

My family and I are taking our first Disney Trip in Oct 2013. I have been to Disney multiple times but have not stayed at any of the resorts. We are going to be there 10/12-10/19 or 7 days. It will be my wife and I and we have 6 and 14 year old girls. Currently I have made reservations at the Coronado Springs. My sister went to Coronado last year and liked it but I have been reading reviews on other websites as well as your coments on here about all of the Moderate resorts in general and am having second thoughts. I understand the Moderate has things that the Value does not but I am not sure the costs are really justified or that my kids will really get any more out of a Moderate resort. I see your suggestion about staying at 2 different places, Value and few nights at Wilderness. If you do not mind which Value resort would you recommend, Pop? Then we would spend 5 nights in Value and then 2 nights at Deluxe(Wilderness)? Also just curious why you recommend the Wilderness over the Animal Kingdom that is the same price. Sorry for so many questions but last one, if I were to stay at a Moderate for all 7, which one would you recommend for my family. My only concern with your idea and thing I would have to sell my wife on would be switching resorts in the middle of the week which may not be easy for me to do. Thank you in advance for your opinion and help with this.

41 Dave { 04.26.13 at 1:08 pm }

Hey Jon, for the split stay I’d advise Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation (see this): and whichever of WL or AKL you think will most appeal to the girls. Both are great choices, and you can go wrong with neither. I put WL ahead as having a slightly more broadly-appealing theme–and for being more convenient.

If you do end up at a moderate, see this for a slightly different take on the rankings: French Quarter shares the moderate problems the least, and you should also take a look at the Royal Rooms at POR to see if the girls might be interested–see this:

Hope this helps!!

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42 Jan { 04.26.13 at 3:43 pm }

Hi Dave,

First, I just wanted to thank you for this very informative and helpful website! I LOVE it! =) My husband and I are planning to take our 2-yr. old son to Disney this coming May 17-21, 2013 and will be staying at Orlando Vista as we are on tight budget. We are just using our unused ticket voucher with American Airlines for this trip as it’s expiring this June. This will be our first-time at Disney, travelling from Toronto, Canada and was wondering if you could suggest a good itinerary for our 2-yr. old to enjoy given that we only have 5 days of stay as we are leaving the morning of May 21st. =)

Looking forward to receiving your reply.

Thank you kindly,


43 Dave { 04.27.13 at 3:54 pm }

Jan, I’m sorry, but all my itineraries are aimed at kids 8 and older. For help with younger kids, see this and this

44 Kelly { 10.02.13 at 9:57 am }

Hello, I have 2 kids who will be 10 and 12 when we travel. Our problem is that we would like them to be in a separate sleeping area from us so we can talk, watch tv etc after they go to bed. Are there any resorts reasonable priced that have that type of set up without having us grown ups sleeping on a pull out couch in the living room (our backs couldn’t handle it LOL)? We stayed at Great Wolf Lodge and they had great room layouts there so I was wondering Disney did as well. Thank you.

45 Dave { 10.03.13 at 7:47 am }

Kelly, the Disney layouts don’t lend themselves so well to this, as they are designed for the parents to be in the private space.

There are, however, two resorts where the second space bed(s) is, or includes, a pull-down bed–much more comfortable than a fold-out bed.

These are the family suites at Art of Animation, where a bed pulls down to replace the dining table, and the Cabins at Fort Wilderness, where a bed folds down out of the living room wall. See and

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46 Erna { 10.06.13 at 8:18 am }

Hi Dave
Thanks for all the info.
We (girls are 8 and 10) are about to book for Disney but can only get there by 29/30 dec. I realize will be crowded. We have accommodation at Holiday Inn Orange Lake with time share exchange for 2 weeks.
If we get to the parks at opening time, will the queues be hours long?
You mention that plans should be finalized 180 days in advance, will we miss certain highlights if we haven’t booked it by now?
We were planning to be at Disney for max 10 nights, what is ideal over that time?
Does it make a diff if we arrive 29 or 30th dec?
What is the best/quickest/cheapest way to buy passes? We live in South Africa.
How do you rate the holiday inn orange lake?
We must still book our flights, so will consider canceling this trip if there are too many negatives.
Kind regards

47 Dave { 10.06.13 at 9:28 am }

Hi Erna!

First I don’t know anything about that hotel.

Second, the parks will be fine from the 5th until the 11th, when they will clot up again over the weekend because of the Marathon.

From the 29th/30th til the 5th they will be miserable, and most of those days at MK and other parks guests staying at a Disney hotel will get in an hour earlier than you can, so those parks will already be a busy when you can get in.

I would go a different time if I were you…see

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48 sab k { 10.10.13 at 6:25 pm }

Hi Dave!
I love your site and all the info you are providing! We are planning a trip for November this year (last minute… I know… I have a hard time with this since I like to keep my options open). We will likely arrive between the 11th and 17th and stay about a week. We can get the free dining option since we are from Canada, and this is where I’m wondering… the resort options we were given price estimates for were the Pop and the Caribbean. The Carribean price was only about $300 more (although they priced for 10 nights rather than 6 or 7, which we could only do if we choose to fly), but we have the regular dining plan instead of the quick service. Is it worth it to get the regular over the quick service dining? We usually only do quicker service style foods when we do eat out, but the idea of table service sounds nice.

We came to Disney in spring of 2011 and stayed off site with a rental. Did everything cheap… only had one reserved sit down restaurant in the park which was only ok in my books (Crystal somethin-or-other with Pooh and friends) but I don’t think we’ll go back to that restaurant. This time I am hoping to go to our room for naps (we have a 5 yo, 3 yo, and 9month old at travel time) and thought it might be worth it to stay on site. If we fly, we would prefer on site… and I’m still undecided about flying or driving (I hate airports/planes… and a round trip flight is easily $1000 more than driving… but driving down equals 30 hours on the road one way which means 7 days instead of 11…). We’ve been saving up and I’d like spending money… which wont happen if we fly (that plane eats a lot of the budget!). Haha… now I’m rambling!

Basically, I want to see the Christmas theming, it is also for my 30th birthday and a late 10th anniversary trip. I’m unsure if we should do the Pop or the Caribbean, which dining option would be best, or if we should drive vs fly. I’m actually close to saying ‘scrap it… let’s push it to next year’… except that I would so love to go this year (we can pull my daughter from kindergarten easier than in grade 1 and don’t have to wait until the Christmas break rush)! Any advice for me?

Sorry for the novel, hahaha

49 Dave { 10.11.13 at 7:23 am }

Hi Sab k, and thanks for the kind words about the site!

Here’s what I think: since the best-loved table service meals book out months ahead (see this: ), you won’t get a lot of value for table-service free dining. The table service venue at CB itself is not worth much–you wouldn’t eat there more than once were it not free.

On drive vs fly…OMG I couldn’t imagine 30 hours each way…Is there some middle way, like you drive to someplace that has really cheap flights, and fly from there? Check out the nearest place Allegiant serves near you–Allegiant can be a pain (very infrequent service, flies to Sanford rather than Orlando) but is often dirt cheap. See this

Was this even remotely helpful?

Well then mosey on over to the home page, and like it on Facebook or pin it on Pinterest!

50 Sab K { 10.11.13 at 2:40 pm }

Thanks so much, Dave!
Yes, the drive is long… I’ve even looked into going by train, but that cost is even more than flying and we’d still be out one vehicle. Looks like Allegiant is much much cheaper… comparable to driving! Thanks for the advice!

Thanks for the advice on table service… I didnt think we’d use it much, to be honest. Sitting for long periods doesnt work well for this family… unless we’re playing a video game or watching movies.

51 Dave { 10.12.13 at 9:05 am }

OK, Sab K–and good luck!!!

52 Rita { 10.22.13 at 5:59 pm }

I wanted to say that I have stayed at the All-Star Movies Resort and Fort Wilderness. My grandparents took my mom and I in a motorhome every year when I was little and I loved Fort Wilderness! The Campfire was great, there were playgrounds and a petting zoo! The trees and landscaping were so beautiful- my mom and I would rent bikes and ride around!

I have been in the All Star resort twice. It was nice, but I have to say I’d prefer Fort Wilderness camping if I had to choose! (and I’m speaking from my 10 year old self!)

53 Dave { 10.23.13 at 7:20 am }

Rita, what a wonderful story. If you love camping (as I do) you can have a great time at Fort Wilderness without even going to the parks!

54 Chris { 01.07.14 at 2:38 pm }

First off, this is a great site with lots of great information and that’s much appreciated!

My son and I, he is 11, plan to visit this coming June. It will just be the two of us and we don’t plan on spending a lot of time in our room, but would like to stay somewhere nice though. I guess I’m a little unsure of the “kid friendly” part. He is a typical boy , but out of the “Disney” theme, so to speak. What might you suggest for a place to stay for a father/son combination?

BTW: We plan to stay about 4-5 days, budget isn’t limited. We plan to visit MGM, Universal, & probably start out with Disney World, since I think he will like it the least.

You’re input is greatly appreciated!

55 Dave { 01.08.14 at 9:59 am }

Hey Chris, thanks!!

On one thing you didn’t ask (and may already know)–stay in a Universal hotel on your Universal days. You get enormous benefits from this. See

For your DIsney World hotel, if you expect–like most–to spend a couple fo days at the Magic kingdom, I’d go with the Contemporary–see this: If you think you’ll skip MK, then do the Beach Club

56 Chris { 01.10.14 at 4:10 pm }

Thanks for the quick response, Dave.

I didn’t know that and TY!

As of now, we plan to stay onsite at Disney (not 100% decided where) & stay 2 days to see MK & others. After that, we plan to stay at the Hard Rock or Portofino Bay for 3 or 4 days, while we check out Universal / Discovery Cove / Sea World and use a day just to relax or revisit something we really enjoyed.

Thank you very much for your information, it has helped tremendously on helping plan.

57 Chris { 01.14.14 at 2:17 pm }

Current high overview itinerary – please let me know if you see anything I might be missing or something you would suggest, as your expertise is much appreciated.

My son and I, plan to arrive at Disney (Polynesian) on Saturday. We plan to spend 4 days / 3 nights @ the Polynesian. From there we plan to jump over to the Hard Rock Cafe for 2 nights, followed by the Portofino Bay for the last 2 nights of our stay.

While @ the Polynesian, we plan to visit Hollywood Studios & the Animal Kingdom on the same day. Devoting one entire day for Epcot and an entire day for the Magic Kingdom.

While @ Universal – we plan to visit Universal Studios and Isle of Adventure on separate days, but may spend some of both days at Isle of Adventure. Our last full day will be spent at Discovery Cove & Seaworld.

At this time, we plan to use Disney’s Magical Express from the airport, but not sure on how to get from Disney to Universal & from our Universal hotel to Discovery Cove/Seaworld and back to the airport. We may use Mears or go with a taxi or combination of the two.

I’d love to hear your thoughts/suggestions.

58 Dave { 01.15.14 at 7:24 am }

Chris, first I’d just rent a car if affordable. You can rent while staying at the Poly from National, whihc is on site, so you’d only pay for the rental the last part of your trip, and should be able to return it at the airport (double check that when you rent…) See

Second overall your itinerary looks fine, with one comment. You won’t get much out of whichever park you go to second on your two park day unless you use it as your FastPass+ target… I’d do the two parks Monday, starting with AK which has morning extra magic hours (arrive before they start)!! and ending at HS which has a later close plus also evening EMH…

59 Chris { 01.16.14 at 3:35 pm }

Thank you very much, Dave.

I’ll plan to rent a car @ the Polynesian and will look further into FastPass for HS.

Thank you for everything – it is much appreciated!

60 Dave { 01.16.14 at 6:38 pm }

Great Chris, have a wonderful visit, and tell me how it goes!

61 Danielle { 03.27.14 at 10:50 am }

We have sort of followed your suggestion, we are staying at the AofA suites for 6 nights, and then Animal Kingdom Lodge for 3 nights with our 8 year old son, and 5 year old daughter. (Animal Kingdom was a little cheaper than the Wilderness Lodge and with the summer discount it cost about the same as what the moderates would have been.) I read somewhere that if you pack your belongings ahead of time, Disneyworld staff will move them to your new resort. Is that true? We will be leaving property that day and visiting one of the Gulf beaches, so I don’t think we’ll feel homeless for the day. I just want to make sure we won’t need to pack the cars, but if we do, at least we’ll know!

62 Dave { 03.28.14 at 6:31 am }

Danielle, yes, Disney will get your stuff from one Disney resort to another. Talk to the bell staff the night before about how the process works…

63 SaraM7 { 04.04.14 at 10:02 am }

Hi Dave! Do you do anything on split stays? My biggest concerns would be how the tickets work as I know the longer you stay the less expensive it becomes to go into the park. Would I have to make two different ressys? And wake up at two seperate 180 marks as far as my ADR’s are concerned? Could I book all the tickets through one hotel so it stays cheaper and then just do room only or room and dining without tickets at the more expensive hotel? Considering doing a moderate for 4 nights and aoa for 4 nights. Or doing aoa for 6 nights and then doing the poly or beach club for 2 nights. Thanks so much!

64 Dave { 04.04.14 at 2:21 pm }

Sara I do split stays on almost every trip. What you’d do is have the ticket for the full number of days you need as part of the first-arriving reservation (e.g. 4 nights but 7 ticket days..) then make a second room-only reservation for your second-arrived at hotel. You can make dining ressies for ten days out based on the first 180, even if your stay is not ten days. You can’t do the dining plan for longer than the first hotel visit. But given how little it saves, that doesn’t much matter…

65 SaraM7 { 04.04.14 at 4:16 pm }

Thanks, Dave!

I think the dining plan is nice to have because it forces me to save for food 😉 & since it all has to be paid off within 45 days it is a surefire way to do that.

I do however think that I would be more conscious of what I am spending on food in the parks/restaurants though without it. I worry I would be penny pinching the whole time versus having it paid off in full prior.

Also, the Cast Member today was going to let me make my reservations with the first one being booked at Art of Animation and all of the tickets through that and the dining. Then she was going to start my second reservation without tickets WITH dining! It is not something they offer online as it is brand new. She was thrilled with it though and said they have needed this for a long time as people do split stays very often! Hope this helps!

66 Dave { 04.05.14 at 7:52 am }

Sara, first thanks so much for passing along the yes dining/no tickets for the split stay–that’s really cool news!

And I get you about the value of not having to worry about who orders which expensive entree…if you are paying cash, it’s about the last thing you can economize–I’ve had chicken many times my kids have had steaks–and it’s nice to not have to worry about it…

67 SaraM7 { 04.05.14 at 11:03 am }

Dave you rock! I really hope to hear more about the split stays as it is getting more and more popular it seems!

I wonder how long they will offer the ticket-less option w/dining and if it will work out economically for me the consumer! ha!

68 Dave { 04.07.14 at 6:48 am }

Sara, allowing it for split stays makes perfect sense to me, so I’d expect that, them having figured it out with your help, that they will keep it up!

69 Liz { 04.29.14 at 7:46 pm }

Your assertion that moderate resorts aren’t a great choice for first-timers is based on the fact that they don’t have a lot that appeals to kids. However, after tagging along with my father and staying off-site due to the convention he was attending, I’d like to return to Disney, hopefully this fall, and do what I didn’t get to do on that four-night trip, which is quite a bit. So this will be my first stay on property.

I’m 23 years old, and I will be going with my 50-something mother and possibly said father, so “kid appeal” is a complete non-factor. Mom has explicitly said she would appreciate staying somewhere that /isn’t/ full of loud youngsters and I would like something a bit nicer than a value resort. My main concerns are comfortable and attractive rooms, access to decent dining options, and a pleasing theme for those times we need to crash or just rest for a while. Ideally, we would be staying in Wilderness Lodge, but I am more than willing to downgrade to Moderate if it means getting to stay one or two more days. I have heard some not-so-super things about CBR, so right now I’m looking at Coronado Springs and both Port Orleans resorts. Currently leaning toward Riverside, but I would like to hear your take on things.

(Apologies if I come across as brusque, I sometimes have trouble getting the tone of my words just right)

70 Dave { 04.30.14 at 7:54 am }

Liz–first thanks for your apology at the end, as in fact I don’t say “they don’t have a lot that appeals to kids” but rather that other options have more kid appeal than they do. The difference is huge to me–tho not to you :)–as kids will love anyplace they stay at WDW! All the WDW resorts have kid appeal, but some have truly distinctive kid appeal. None of the mods are on this “distinctive” list.

There’s no place at WDW to avoid loud youngsters. They are rarest at Grand FLoridian and Yacht Club, but still there. Among the moderates, they are rarest at Port Orleans French Quarter, whihc might be a great choice for you if it had table service dining–which it doesn’t.

Take a look at this: The issue with the mods is that each has some very basic flaws…

71 Katie { 08.18.14 at 3:34 pm }

We plan to take our kids for their first trip to Disney next year when they are 3 and 8. We want to stay for 6 nights, so it doesn’t seem worth it to move. If we can catch a good special (25% off or more), we would like to stay at Wilderness Lodge. Otherwise, we are thinking of staying at Port Orleans Riverside in a Royal Room since they appear to be more kid-themed than other room there. What do you think?

72 Dave { 08.20.14 at 6:39 am }

Katie, the Royal rooms are indeed the only kid-themed roomed at POR. My review of them is here: Deals of 20-30% on WL are pretty common unless you are going at a high demand time. WL, overall, is much better than POR on every dimension except rom size–you actually get a more spacious room at POR!

73 Cyndi { 10.27.14 at 12:48 pm }

I read somewhere that you can text your room preferences to your Disney resort. How do you do that?

74 Dave { 10.29.14 at 7:54 am }

I’m not aware that you can do that, Cyndi. All my text interactions with WDW have been push from them–e.g. room ready, room number, etc. You can sign up for these as a part of on-line check in.

75 Cynthia { 01.28.15 at 3:29 pm }

Hi Dave this site is a wealth of information thank you for providing it.
we are making our 1st trip to Disney 14-21st. 3 adults 2 boys 10 and 12. I was trying to price out your recommendation and I am coming out over $700 higher. 5 nights a AA and then 2 nights at Wilderness., but I am open to any combination. I prefer 2 separate rooms need a king bed also. 1 for grandma and boys and then for my husband and myself. I think the family room would be too cramped. I had originally priced it out at POR. Any suggestions you have would be great
thank you

76 Dave { 01.29.15 at 7:28 am }

Cynthia, what month?

77 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!

78 Dave { 02.28.15 at 11:24 am }

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

79 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.

80 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.

81 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.

82 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.

83 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.

84 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.

85 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

86 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.

87 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…

88 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!

89 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)

90 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.

91 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.

92 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.

93 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?

94 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.

95 jo { 04.10.16 at 10:39 am }

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!

96 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.

97 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

98 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.

99 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!

100 Dave { 09.25.16 at 8:56 am }

Cool, Josie!

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