In my previous posting I mentioned where we were staying on our up coming trip, we've been going to Florida since 2005 and though we do tend to stick with what we know, we have tried out a few different resorts.
So, as I've already said we'll be spending this trip between Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House and The Boardwalk, our absolute favourite resorts...
Before buying into DVC we had stayed mainly offsite with both International Drive and Lake Buena Vista, Hotel Plaza Boulevard. Now if you cannot afford to stay onsite at Disney, then Hotel Plaza Boulevard is the answer for you, it's positioned along Downtown Disney making it walkable within 10 minutes max from each resort along the road. Most Downtown Disney hotels are also listed as Disney's good neighbour hotels and so provide complimentary (though the drivers do have a tips box) shuttles to the parks throughout the day, and a bus to the Downtown Disney area after 6pm.
Also, in 2006 we stayed at Disney's All-star Music resort and loved the place, having stayed at many cheap motel/ hotels I was very impressed with Disney's cleanliness, this for me is an absolute must for accommodation - add this to Disney's 'Mickey' carpets and I'm perfectly satisfied.
Since buying into DVC we've begun trying out the different resorts though we absolutely must stay at 'home' AKL on each and every trip. So we've stayed in Jambo house, The Boardwalk, Saratoga Springs and Old Key West - we have tried for Wilderness lodge before but for those that understand how DVC works our waitlist didn't come through, for those that don't get it - essentially Wilderness Lodge was booked out during our dates. Currently, the Yacht and Beach club doesn't appeal to me, I'd rather stay on the Boardwalk though I guess as the boys get older and can go in the pool without us then Stormalong Bay will become a must do...
I'll give you my very brief opinions on each resort, these are just my opinions and are not meant to cause any offense or make you think twice about staying at a specific resort, after all this is Disney, they don't do things by half!
The Boardwalk, the absolute appeal of this place is the night time entertainment, the resort is so relaxed throughout the day but at night it completely comes alive, and it's fantastic if after a whole day in the parks you want to relax at tea time and then wander along to Epcot to watch Illuminations before crawling into bed. The decor is nice, don't get me wrong and I know it has theming but to me - it's just not themed... this is maybe because this is what I love about the Animal Kingdom Lodge...
The Animal Kingdom Lodge with it's African theming is just amazing! You're surrounded by animals whether you've paid for the savannah view or not (something we've only ever done once) as there are viewing platforms and windows all around the resort, including the night vision - you've guessed it, at night. Around tea time cast members begin telling stories and playing games with the kids, teaching them tribal songs and dancing. The resort has 3 restaurants, Boma a buffet restaurant that I must say we've only tried for breakfast - every trip, Jiko a more formal place with dress code which, having 2 young boys we've never had the opportunity to try, and the Mara, downstairs by the pool is a counter service diner where I've always been happy with the prices and the number of options throughout the day, you can also take your meal back up to your room which is very handy with the boys when they're tired and whingy.
Saratoga Springs resort, the bonus of this place was that we could walk to Downtown Disney in minutes, but we chose our location that way. We used this resort when we first purchased DVC and having received the previous years we opted for the 1-bed size room. The 1-bed comes with a kingsize bedroom with jacuzzi bath and a sleeper in the lounge, while this room size does come with full kitchen and laundry facilities I found that it wasn't good use of our points as we'd much rather eat out while on holiday, and members have free use of DVC laundry. We probably wont stay in anything other than a studio again, and save the points for further trips.
Our choice of room was miles away from anything else, we found that with the kids we had to take the car across to the dining and stores, however this was our choice of location and is not the case for the entire resort. I did also find the decor a bit plain here. The counter service restaurant was all that we tried here and with a family of fussy eaters there were fewer options here than an other resort counter service we've tried. I didn't hate this resort, I just didn't love it... however, I'd pick it over Old Key West...
Old Key West, I was begrudged to book this place but when we booked I needed 2 studios for a full week at a time and there just wasn't the availability at other resorts I had enough points to book. I know many owners at Old Key West but I just don't like the look of the place, for me it was just like a non-Disney apartment complex, it had no Disney feel that I've grown to love. Having requested to be close to the boat jetty and store we couldn't be placed further away, I asked again at check-in only to be told that was the only place that had space, though the resort didn't look too busy to me!
Our rooms was shabby, I thought they'd finished refurbing this place but our room must have been one of the few that hadn't been done. We were right out next to the freeway so at night found it to be noisy, this wasn't helped by the fact that our balcony door didn't close tight. Our balcony opened onto the aircon fans and this added additional noise but the foliage was so overgrown that no light came through the canopy, no sun on our balcony - might as well have not had one! the room wasn't filthy but it could have been cleaner and the bathroom was incredibly dated. I was not happy staying here at all and I wouldn't be happy to stay here again, the only way I will is if we cannot get a booking elsewhere. But, like I say I know many who stay here over and over and love it
One thing I can say about every resort we've stayed in is that if you have a door adjoining to the next room along your neighbours may drive you nuts. Now being in a hotel I do my best to keep my boys quiet, not silent but just not screaming at the top of their lungs - we've found that others are not so considerate and we have had kids waking us up morning and night with no sound of an adult telling them to keep the noise down!
Richard, my husband would love to try Baylake Towers, he loves the look of it, but the only appeal for me is having a view of the fireworks at night, I'd much rather stay in the main part of the Contemporary Resort. I'd like to try the Wilderness Lodge too - for no other reason that I like the look of it from the pictures I've seen, we've never been in but we do have a dining reservation at the Whispering Canyon for our upcoming trip.
That leads me to my next post I guess, dining that we've tried and want to try... you don't have to break the bank eating when in Orlando, we tend to stick to what we know but I'll give a post a go
Thanks for reading, and happy planning