Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Disney Hotels - Hotels with Kids - Value

So, there are a lot of choices of hotels for people wanting to stay on property. They do cost more but you shouldn't overlook them. I'll be pricing up the hotels which (in my opinion) are best. All hotels will eventually be covered (some time or another.) That being said, all prices are correct at the time of posting and prices will be sourced directly from the source...so, Disney hotels prices come from the official website.

So, let's start with the obvious one. Hotels for families with children. Here is my top Value resort.

Value Resorts

Disney's Art Of Animation.

This is my number one choice for people travelling with families with children. Here's why -

- It has the BIGGEST resort pool on the WDW property.
- It's colorful and bright, which is fantastic for kids.
- There is plenty of space to run around and play.
- They have family suites with kitchenettes.
- The have a bus service to and from the parks at no extra cost.
- Pizza delivery for when you want to relax in your room.
- Amazing food court with plenty of options
- Disney themeing - which children might expect.

    Art of Animation pool - image from www.thomson.co.uk/

So, how much does it cost?

For a 2 week stay in August 2015, based on a family of 4 sharing the cost is as follows

- £1526 for a Little Mermaid room. This features 2 double beds, a bathroom, mini fridge, TV, safe etc. It's a basic hotel room. If you have small children and don't all mind being together, this might be one of your cheapest options.

- £3556 for a Family suite. These include the following themes - Cars, Lion King or Finding Nemo. They are much bigger and feature a queen bed, a double sofa bed and a double table bed. You also get 2 bathrooms, a sitting area and a small kitchenette. If you have children that are a little older or you just want a bit more space, this is for you.

The above prices don't include travel, tickets or food. It is a room only basis.

    A jungle-themed living room area with a double-size sleeper sofa and flat screen TV, next to a kitchen area
    (Lion King Room - sitting area-  taken from disneyworld.disney.go.com/)

The hotel has some other great things to do such as movies under the stars on selected nights, free wifi, babysitting services and a really expansive Disney store. 

The food court (Landscape of Flavors) serves over the counter meals such as Barbecue Pork Sandwiches, Soup, Pizza, Chicken Platters, Burgers, Salads, Rice, Cupcakes, Icecream...you get the picture. Even if your kids are really fussy eaters, they will find something here.

The hotel itself has managed to get 4.5 stars on trip adviser, which is pretty good going for a 'budget' hotel.
So..what's not to like?

It is expensive -  it's at the top of the scale for Disney's budget resorts and if you're working to a budget it is cheaper to stay off property.
It's huge. This can swing either way. Some people like the idea of having a lot of room to explore, whilst others like everything to be close together. It really does depend what you like.

Other value resorts do come in cheaper, for example -

Disney's All Star Music 

 - £1162 for a family of four in a standard room (same get up as the Little Mermaid Room)
 - £2926  for a family suite (same amenities as Lion King/Nemo/Cars suites)

Now, don't get me wrong, it is a lot cheaper. Plus, you still get all the benefits of staying on Disney, such as free transportation around the parks, extra time in the parks and shuttles to and from the airports. However, the other Value resorts don't seem to POP quite as much as the animation resort and whilst you'll find everything you need, I don't think they have the excitement children would look for. If you were an older couple travelling on a budget, I'd probably suggest these - plus - they can be more nostalgic if you understand the references each resort is making.

Disney's All-Star Music Resort
Disney's All Star Music - Image from www.disneyholidays.co.uk/

One thing I would say is wait for the offers. Throughout the year Disney offer free dining or half price tickets when you stay with them. This is probably the best time to book as you can save a small fortune. If you are tempted by adding dining, I would consider an upgrade to a Moderate Resort - as it can work out cheaper. Have a look at the next post to see my top Moderate resort for people travelling with kids.

Disney Hotels - Hotels with Kids - Moderate

Moderate Resorts -

Disney have a couple of moderate resorts and depending on what you are after, depends one which one is most suitable. However, if you're staying at Walt Disney World with kids, here is my top pick for the moderate resorts.

Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort.

This resort is stunning and gives you a real 'holiday' sort of feeling. You have white sand everywhere, a couple of pools and a really pretty food court.
So, why stay here with kids?

- Exciting pool with a cannons and fort themeing.
- Little bits of characters in the rooms (Nemo on the bed sheets)
- Pirate rooms available.
- Great food court and a table service restaurant.
- Free dining at selected times of year.
- Free transport to and from the parks.
- Arcade.

    Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort - Image from www.virginholidays.co.uk/

So, how much does it cost?

For a two week stay on a room only basis (no flights, no tickets) for 2 adults and two children the costs are (in total) -

- £1944 for a standard room. This includes two double beds, with a bathroom, safe, mini fridge, TV, table and chairs are also in the room. It's a standard hotel room and if you're okay being in close quarters this will suit you fine.

- £2412 for a Pirate room. Pretty much the same as the standard room except for some pretty cool pirate designs which kids will love. (See the image below) They do cost quite a bit more, however if you want the room to feel more exciting, it's probably an option you might want to take.

Pirate-themed room with ship-inspired headboard opposite a flat-screen TV
Pirate Room - Image from disneyworld.disney.go.com/

The hotel has a lot of extras compared to the value resorts, so for example whilst pizza service is still an option, you also have a food court and sit down dining area (Shutters Restaurant). There's also rental option for push bikes and surrey bikes, fishing, movies under the stars as well as an arcade (if your kids are a bit older).

The food court (Old Port Royale) serves a variety of foods such as sandwiches, burgers, chicken nuggets, curry and roast meats as well as some Caribbean style dishes. Shutters, the restaurant serves Caribbean food also (as you'd expect) and features items such as Jerk Mahi Mahi and Barbecue Pork Brisket as well as chicken, strip steak and rice. Both are available on the dining plan (quick and table service respectfully) and if you book at the right time of year, dining is free when combined with park tickets. This is something I would personally recommend. It cost about £10 a day to upgrade to the regular dining plan, but it is seriously worth considering as it opens up masses of restaurants, including character dining buffets and some of Disney's most famous restaurants.

So, why don't I want to stay here?
Like everything on property, it does cost more than what you'd pay at the Hilton down the road. However, you are getting your extra park hours and transportation around the resort as well as potentially getting your food included.
The rooms might be too small for older families, and with only a curtain to separate your bathroom/dressing area from where you sleep, it could be a bit cramped.
The resort is also massive with a lot of open waterways to rivers and on the beaches and some parents might to like their children to be able to run freely. It is very pretty and if you are supervising, it's also very safe, but be aware there aren't any barriers.
The food court is also much smaller than that of a value resort and the options are set with the theme, rather than a mix of everything, however, you can still travel to the parks and other resorts to eat.

This is, generally, the cheapest of the moderate resorts on property, but if you're looking for a different theme, take a look at the Princess and The Frog rooms over at Port Orleans Riverside. For the same time of year and same family set up (August 2015, 2 week, 2 adults, 2 children, no tickets/flights) you're looking at £2631 for a Royal Guest room. These have a lovely fiber-optic display on the headboards and the beds are slightly bigger than the Caribbean Beach Resort plus Port Orleans is a stunning ground (check it out in the best moderate hotel for couples without children - coming soon!)

Port Orleans Riverside - Royal Room - Image www.portorleans.org

It's totally up to you what kind of room you're looking for and what your family needs. I'll be updating soon with my top Deluxe resort for families with children and until then I hope you've enjoyed reading.

Disney Hotels - With Kids - Deluxe

Deluxe Resorts

So if you have a fair bit more spare income and want some real luxury, where is there to stay on property? Disney World has a ton of deluxe resorts and each have their own unique charm and theme. You have options of character dining at your hotel, more dining options plus you are much closer to one of the parks. The themeing of these resorts is a lot more grown up however there is still plenty for kids to do.
So here is my top pick hotel for families travelling with kids:

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

First off, you'll be glad to know it's one of the cheaper deluxe resorts and as the name suggests it falls pretty close to Animal Kingdom park. So, what's so cool about this resort?

- Kids clubs for children from 0-9 years old in the hotel.
- Exciting pools that have water cannons and slides.
- An outdoor play area.
- An arcade for older kids.
- Its has a campfire.
- It's on a safari park with plenty of animals to see.
- In room dining.

    Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Image from www.virginholidays.co.uk/

So how much does it cost?

For a 2 week stay in August with 2 adults and 2 children (total cost) on a room only basis (no tickets, no food, no transportation)

- £3280 for a standard room. This could have 2 queen beds, 1 queen bed & bunk beds or king bed and a day bed (you can ask for a particular one when booking). The rooms have all the standard stuff, TV, wifi, mini fridge, bathroom, table and chairs and a balcony which could overlook just about anything. I would be tempted to ask for bunk beds, especially if your kids are a bit too old to share or just like their own space. The room isn't tons bigger than a standard hotel room, so if you want more space, you might want to look elsewhere.

- £3815 for a pool view. Everything else is the same as above but you can see the pool.

- £4313 for a Savanna view. Again, exactly the same as the standard room but from your balcony you can see the wildlife park that surrounds the hotel which is absolutely stunning and very relaxing. If you love animals, you should consider this. If you want bunk beds the price is £4380 and if you can also upgrade your savanna view but it will cost you £4578 (£4856 with bunk beds) to marvel at the animals from a better vantage point.

This hotel does have club options which feature multiple rooms and they are incredibly expensive, but just case anyone is interested, here are the prices for the same basis as above.

- £10152 for a Savanna view club level 1 bed apartment. This has a separate sitting area and gets you free breakfast, snacks and refreshments through the day with a DVD player. This room has 2 queen beds in the bedroom and another queen in the parlor room.

- £17887 for a 2 bed suite. This is the same as the 1 bed apartment, but with an extra room. 1 king bed, 2 queen beds and a queen bed in the parlor  or 1 queen, bunk beds and a queen in the parlor.

There are also the presidential and vice presidential suites starting at £26566 which features the same amenities as above but with much more space if you really want to splurge. 

    Bunk beds next to a queen bed across from a TV armoire
    Animal Kingdom Bunk Bed Room (pool view) - Image from https://disneyworld.disney.go.com

There's a lot to like about this resort and the bunk bed options are great. You've also got several table service and quick service restaurants that serve all the standards (burgers, nuggets, flat breads, sandwiches) as well as some African flavors down at Jiko, Boma and Sannaa. You can sample foods such as Tandoori shrimp and Chicken Chat. You'll also be glad to know that these are all on the Dining Plan which at some times of year comes free with park tickets (and, there is no need to upgrade as the free standard dining plan gives you a counter service meal, a table service meal and a snack for every day of your stay).

So, why wouldn't I want to stay here?
- It's expensive compared to other resorts off property and can feel like you're paying a lot just for a hotel room.
- There's a lot of animal love going on, and if you don't like animals there isn't much point staying here.
- Kids might favor being closer to parks such as Magic Kingdom.
- It doesn't have onsite character dining, which can be a major perk of paying to stay in a deluxe resort.
- The themeing isn't very 'Disney'. Whilst it is stunning and atmospheric, it doesn't feature the characters or character rooms that are available in moderate or value resorts.

So, what did you think of our top picks? If you have any questions or comments please let me know below and I'll help you as best I can!

Until the next post,

See ya real soon :)