Spender vs. SaverI realize that as 20-somethings, the cost of the hotel is a major indicator of where you will stay during your trip. Splurge and stay somewhere amazing, or save and still get the perks of choosing a hotel on Disney property. There's really no bad option here!
My recommendation for those who have a larger budget for their trip is the Polynesian. Why?
- Great location: This resort is located on the Seven Seas Lagoon, very close to Magic Kingdom. In fact, one of the best parts of this is being able to view the Wishes fireworks show in Magic Kingdom from the resort.
- Transportation: Ferries to Magic Kingdom, Monorail to Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and buses throughout WDW.
- Food: Not only does the Polynesian house my personal favorite restaurant, 'Ohana, but it has great cocktails, as well as the ability to get a Disney Breakfast favorite, Tonga Toast (extreme French toast) at Kona Cafe.
- Theming: The Polynesian itself is a place to escape, to feel like you are really on a set of islands, not just a hotel in Disney. And with recent room upgrades, the luxury feel is only improved!
My advice to the saver is to stay at the Pop Century Resort. I know, it isn't the absolute cheapest on property, but for various reasons, the small difference in price is worth it for the upgrade.
- Transportation: The buses at Pop Century services only the Pop Century Resort, whereas the buses at the All Star resorts service all three. What does that mean? On busy days, longer waits and buses with more people at the All Stars, and more direct service at Pop Century.
- Nighttime Movies: If you're anything like me, it's likely that you won't be taking much down time during your vacation. However, if you make it back to the resort a little early, there are nighttime screening of movies that are projected in the main pool area.
- Theming: It's fun to enjoy the retro theming of the Pop Century.
- Transportation: Seriously, it's that important. You will spend most of your time going to the different parks, so the bus system is key.
Planner vs. Impulsive
So if you're anything like me, you'll want to know what is going to happen from the minute you arrive at Disney to the moment you leave. That being said, I see the appeal of not worrying about every little thing and just going with the flow (though if that's the case, the "research" thing probably isn't happening for you...). Which resort is best for each option?
So, if you're a planner, then you can, and probably will, analyze each of the other categories separately, and decide based on the other priorities of the vacation. However, the even mix of all the options makes the Caribbean Beach a great choice!
- Theming: Caribbean Beach is unique, with each "Island" (which are the hotel groupings) colored a different pastel shade, the white sand beaches with hammocks, and the main "Spanish fort" pool with waterslides. The Pirates of the Caribbean rooms are also a fun option; the beds are pirates ships, and the attention to detail is impeccable.
- Transportation: For the planner, transportation won't be an issue, because the bus system is reliable. However, because the resort is HUGE, there is an internal shuttle to get to each "Island," as well as the main building and food court. This may require leaving the room sooner rather than later.
- Food: The food court has quite a few options, and Shutters, the main restaurant, has a great list of tropical drinks!
For those who want the freedom to decide, or change, their plans last minute, then the Contemporary is likely the best option!
- Great Location: The Contemporary Resort is located within walking distance of Magic Kingdom! Many rooms offer a view of Cinderella Castle.
- Transportation: The Monorail runs right through the center of the Contemporary! This provides direct service to Magic Kingdom (if you don't feel like walking) as well as transportation to Epcot. Buses are provided to take you to the other parks. This ease of having the Monorail come right inside the building means having the ability to decide at the last second where it is the group wants to go!
- Food: The California Grill is a delicious restaurant, and provides a view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks for diners late at night.
Romantic vs. Fun
Visiting Disney with a significant other and visiting relatives or friends tend to lead to very different vacation experiences. This can set the mood with the first moment walking into the hotel lobby, so having the hotel to fit with the goals of the trip is definitely something to consider!
My pick for a romantic vacation is the Coronado Springs resort. Though many of the hotels on Disney property are themed to create a mature and immersive experience, there are a few things that makes Coronado Springs stand out.
- Other Visitors: Many sources I have read consider Coronado Springs to be a very "adult" resort, typically having a smaller population of kids staying there than some of the others.
- Spa: Though Coronado Springs is not the location of the main spa on property (Senses is at the Grand Floridian), there are a variety of massage options for adults here, as well as a salon that provides hair services and manicures/pedicures.
- Transportation: Coronado Springs is located near Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, and has bus transportation to all parks. The resort also has an internal shuttle to take you to the restaurant, main pool area, and lobby
Last on the list is the "fun" hotel! Though every resort at Disney has some unique feature that makes it fun, I believe that certain aspects of the Yacht Club Resort makes it adventageous for those looking to get the most out of their vacation.
- Pool: The Yacht Club shares the pool area with the Beach Club, and includes a 3-acre "water play area," with a lazy river, whirlpool, and large Shipwreck scene that has the tallest resort water slide.
- Location: Not only is the Yacht Club within walking distance of Epcot's International Gateway entrance, but a short jaunt around the lake puts you at Disney's Boardwalk Area, with various restaurants and entertainment. One of the most mentioned aspects of the Boardwalk (though I have yet to go myself) is Jellyrolls, an over 21 dueling piano bar.
- Transportation: In addition to the 10-minute walk to Epcot, there is also a Ferry service that takes guests to Epcot's International Gateway Entrance as well as Hollywood Studios! The normal bus service is provided for all other locations.
- Dining: Though the Boardwalk area is very close, there is no reason to leave the resort for dining! The Yacht Club has the Yachtsman Steakhouse (a Fine Dining Option) as well as other casual dining and lounges. The Yacht Club is also home to Beaches and Cream Soda shop where, among other things, you can get "The Kitchen Sink," an ice cream sundae with 8 scoops of ice cream and every topping that they have!
So that's it! My overview of the right resort for every vacationer! However, no hotel you stay at on property is going to be a bad one. Disney does a great job making each resort unique, but still keeping the Disney Magic!
Sometime soon, I plan on doing a breakdown of each price bracket (Deluxe, Moderate, and Value), so that those romantics who wants a deluxe resort or savers who want to have fun can know exactly where to go!