Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cheapskates at Disney - Lodgings, Part 3

In this post, I plan to tackle the Moderate and Deluxe Resorts at Disney World.

1.  Moderate:
Larger in size than the Value Resorts, at about 340 square feet, and more elaborately themed, the Moderate Resorts appeal to those who need a bit more space to settle in. More storage is available in these rooms, and most have two sinks (not Coronado Springs). Bus transportation is readily available to all theme park areas. The food courts are a step-up, too, and many of the Moderate Resorts have a table service dining option. The pool areas are more lavish and most include hot tubs, which are not found at Value Resorts.   Rooms in moderate resorts also come standard with small refrigerators and coffee makers.

Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort is rather large.

The pool area at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort is one reason why I fell in love with staying at a Disney Resort.  Dianna first got into a Disney swimming pool right over there by those steps up the Mayan pyramid.

It's lovely shaded walkways that give Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort's Alligator Bayou area its secluded feel.  This is my favorite moderate resort.  I would love to stay here again.  If the lush wooded areas don't appeal to you check out the Acadian House side of this resort - think stately southern manor life.  Take the boat from this resort to Port Orleans French Quarter and Downtown Disney.  Bus transportation is available to all other theme parks and attractions.

The lobby fountain alone of Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter is enough to make me want to stay there.  Many folks feel that is resort makes a great romantic getaway, although I'll say that the best anniversary trip for just my husband and me was had at the Riverside portion of Port Orleans.  This resort features a fun waterslide and is just a boat ride away from Downtown Disney and Port Orleans Riverside.  You can get to any of the other major Disney attractions by bus.

The cabins at Fort Wilderness Resort are considered a Moderate level, but they are quite different from the other Moderate resorts.  Much more comfortable for a growing family, the cabins come with a full kitchen.  Also found at Fort Wilderness are sites for your RV, pop up camper, or tent.  You can get really rustic here!

Well, that covers the moderates.  My bottom line? My favorite moderate resort, hands down, is Port Orleans Riverside.  The lushness of the scenery made it feel so secluded. 

On to the Deluxe Resorts . . .

Deluxe Resorts are lavishly themed with dynamite views, both from the individual rooms as well as from the public areas.  The pool areas are more elaborate and most have a kiddie pool area, a spectacular water slide, and a hot tub or two.  Dining options abound.  Resort activities are numerous, including a showing of a Disney movie under the stars each evening, often near the pool.  You can splash away, or relax in the hot tub, and enjoy a family flick. (Not first-run.  When we were there in July of 2011, Rapunzel was being shown.)  Standard rooms are around 340 square feet and deluxe rooms run a bit bigger.  Some of the Deluxe Resorts have expanded suites available.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is an absolutely beautiful resort.  This picture shows the Christmas tree in the 6 story lobby.  Just past the large wall of windows in the background are multiple viewing areas of the resort's savannahs.  Zebras, giraffes, and other exotic creatures are frequently seen.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn is just full of fun, as you can see by the waterslide in the background.  There are numerous dining and shopping options at this Deluxe Resort, and more to do right around the corner.  In the background of this picture, you can spot another Deluxe accomodation: The Swan.  The Boardwalk Inn is within walking distance of both Hollywood Studios and Epcot, and boat transportation is also available to these parks as well as the nearby resorts, The Swan and The Dolphin, The Beach Club, and The Yacht Club.  Bus transportation is available to all other guest areas, although the busses are shared between the same resorts as the boats. (This can mean a rather long wait for a bus or a rather crowded bus or a rather long ride, depending on where you are in the transportation route.)

Oh, Disney's Contemporary Resort is a work of art!  Yes, that monorail is entering the resort! You can eat breakfast downstairs, take the elevator right up to the monorail loading area, and get whisked away to the Magic Kingdom!  With super-modern decor, this resort will take your breath away.  I had a really hard time choosing a picture to show you, since you really need to see them all to get a good idea of the amazing-ness of this resort.  Someday . . . Yes, someday I will get to stay here.  (It isn't cheap! Like the other Deluxe Resorts, rooms run from the $300's per night to almost the $3,000's per night depending on the room type and time of year of travel.)

As I browse through pictures of each resort, I'm astounded.  They just keep looking better and better.  Each one better than the last!  Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is Disney's flagship resort in the Orlando area.  It doesn't get any better than this.  And the price tag doesn't get any higher, hitting in the $3,000's depending on the type of room and time of year.  Food options abound.  The monorail makes a stop at this resort to take you directly to the Magic Kingdom or to the Ticket and Transportation Center so you can transfer to another monorail heading to Epcot.  The beach area is beautiful, allowing for great views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks show and the Electric Water Parade each evening.  This resort is renown for its romantic atmosphere.

Disney's Polynesian Resort is spectacular.  Look at the lavish theming in the lobby!  Amazing!  We have never stayed at this resort, but we frequently visit.  We'll be having breakfast with Lilo and Stitch at 'Ohana on our upcoming summer vacation, and we'll be back for lunch at the counter service restaurant, Captain Cook's.  The volcano-themed pool area is beautiful, as are the beaches where, like the other Magic Kingdom area resorts, perfect views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks and water parade are available.  You can take a boat from this resort to the other area resorts.  The monorail makes a stop here, as it does at the Contemporary and the Grand Floridian.  Bus service is available to all other guest areas.

Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful? The lobby of Disney's Wilderness Lodge just takes my breath away.  I clearly remember walking into the building for the first time and just thinking, "I didn't know places like this existed on earth."  The Magic Kingdom is just a boat ride away; no monorail service here, though.  Fort Wilderness campground and cabins are within walking distance on a paved, partially shaded walkway.  There are two table service restaurants as well as a pool bar and counter service offerings.  Rooms here, like other Deluxe Resort rooms, are pretty standard in size, although the larger suites and presidential rooms are available.  The price tag is about the same at this resort as the others as well; you'll pay at least $300 per night to stay in this beauty.

The Stormalong Bay pool site is really a highlight at Disney's Yacht Club.  The sand-bottom, zero-entry enormous water play area is a huge amenity at this amazing resort.  Within walking distance of Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and the Boardwalk, there is plenty to keep you busy.  When you're ready for a treat, head over to Beaches and Cream at the nearby Beach Club and try out the Kitchen Sink, a $24, 8-scoop treat topped with an entire can of whipped cream!

Disney's Beach Club is so much  like the Yacht Club that I had a hard time finding a picture that was unique enough to post.  The architecture of the two resorts is nearly identical.  From the outside, you can tell where the Yacht Club ends and the Beach Club begins because the buildings are different colors.  The two resorts share the Stormalong Bay pool area as well as boat and bus transportation.

The Swan

The Dolphin

I'll be honest and say that I don't know a whole lot about the Swan or the Dolphin.  I know they are close to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.  And I know that they sometimes have pretty decent rates (as in less than $200 instead of over $300 per night).  I'm not familiar with the recreation or food offerings at either resort. has plenty of information, though, if you're thinking this might be the place for you.

Wow, I'm exhausted from all the possibilities at Disney.  And after the big dollar signs in this post, does it seem unrealistic to stay at any of these places without having to boycott buying movies, Starbucks, or any food at all for 8 months?  In my next post, I'll tell you how I've stayed at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney's Wilderness Lodge, Disney's BoardWalk, and Disney's Beach Club but paid less per night than I would at a Value Resort.

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