Happy 2014! Last month I introduced you to my favorite topic: all things Disney. We’re focusing on Walt Disney World right now because so many families like to begin their vacation planning during the winter months! In fact, December’s column talked about the best time of year to go to Walt Disney World. Now we’ll talk about where to stay on your magical vacation.

where to stay at disney contemporary monorailIt’s one of the first questions people ask me: what is your favorite Disney resort? Oh, my, that’s a tough one because I have more than a few picks! There are 24 unique full-service resorts on Walt Disney World property. They range from modest accommodations in the fun, budget-friendly Value category to luxury suites in one of eight Deluxe resorts. You can find a huge campground for your RV (or rent a comfortable cabin there) or Deluxe Vacation Villas that sleep up to twelve of your nearest and dearest relatives. Location, amenities, type of transportation and room size are some of the factors that determine a resort’s category. ALL Disney resorts include free transportation to and from the airport, complimentary transportation to and from the Disney parks, feature swimming pools, and either food courts (Value resorts) or food courts and table service restaurants.   Disney’s three monorail resorts are the ultimate in convenience. Situated on the Seven Seas Lagoon just off of the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary and Villas, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian and Villas resorts are often great choices for families with young children because of their location. It’s so easy to get to and from the Magic Kingdom for nap time and at the end of long park days! Many of my calls begin with, ”We want to stay on the monorail!” Wilderness Lodge and Villas and the Ft. Wilderness Campground are a lovely boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom. The monorail will also whisk you to Epcot!

The Epcot-area resorts are fantastic. Situated on Disney’s Boardwalk, The Yacht Club, Beach Club and Villas, and Boardwalk Inn and Villas are Deluxe resorts that offer a short walk to Epcot and a nice boat ride to Hollywood Studios. I do have a favorite resort here and it’s also my pick for families with older children. The Beach Club is a lively property with the best pool at Disney World! Shared with the Yacht Club, Stormalong Bay is actually a three-acre water park that just happens to be the resort’s pool. Your children may never want to leave! Everyone will enjoy walking the Boardwalk with its restaurants, entertainment, music, and shops.

The final Deluxe resort is Animal Kingdom Lodge. It is a fantastic world of its own. The rooms and Villas offer balconies where you may watch a giraffe eat his breakfast. Savannas surround the resort and all kinds of African animals share your home-away-from-home. The Villas I mention here and at the other Deluxe Resorts are studios, one, two, or three bedroom spaces that contain full kitchens and washer/dryer combinations. Disney Deluxe Villas are my pick for large families or anyone who needs room to spread out!

where to stay at disney vacation planning nashvilleThe Moderate Resorts, Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter, Caribbean Beach, and Coronado Springs, are terrific. All except for Caribbean Beach (two double beds) have two queen beds in a room. Some rooms at Port Orleans Riverside have trundle beds and sleep five, making them an excellent Value for families with three children. Both Port Orleans resorts offer boat access to Downtown Disney, a huge shopping and entertainment complex. Access to the theme parks is by bus. Coronado Springs has, in my opinion, the best pool in this category. My favorites here are, by far, Port Orleans Riverside (beautiful!) and Coronado Springs. The Moderate resorts are my pick for families that want queen size beds, full-service restaurants, pool slides, lush landscaping, multiple bus stops, easy access to Downtown Disney, and good-sized rooms.

Disney’s Value Resorts offer over 12,000 rooms at five resorts. Three All Star Resorts (Music, Movies and Sports), POP Century, and the brand-new Art of Animation Resort make up this category. All rooms have two double beds except the wonderful family suites at All Star Music and Art of Animation, which sleep six. The rooms and resorts all have bright, fun themes and huge food courts making them a great choice for first-time families with small children. My pick here is definitely the Art of Animation Resort. The standard rooms are Little Mermaid-themed and your family suite will have Finding Nemo, Cars, or the Lion King!

So, how do you make a decision? I hope I’ve helped you! Deciding When to Go and Where to Stay are two of the biggest factors in planning a Walt Disney World trip! Now that you’ve tackled those, the REAL fun can begin! I am here to help you. Email me with your general questions about any Disney Destination. I want to write about what interests you and answer your questions here!