Posted by : Jameson Durall Saturday, April 07, 2012

When planning your trip to Disney World, one of the first things you need to decide is where to stay.  My family always stays "on property" and I want to go over some of the benefits so you can decide if it's worth it for your family.

Disney Transportation System
There is a system of buses, trams, boats and monorails that will take you anywhere you want to go!  This system is available for any guest, but the benefits start right away for resort guests who have buses coming to their hotel every 20 minutes for all popular locations around the property.  I'll go into the transportation system in depth in another post, but you truly can use it for ALL of your travel on property at zero cost.

Resort guests are given a parking pass for the length of their stay that can be used at any of the locations on property that have a paid parking lot.  The theme parks cost $14 a day to park your vehicle!  Be sure to consider this cost if you are going for a cheaper hotel outside of Disney property.  You may find this cost along with the added gas for the distance eats up into that savings fast.

Extra Magic Hours
This is probably my favorite reason for staying on property.  Every morning and evening one of the four parks is open extra time that is only available to resort guests.  There are cast members at each ride entrance and you must show a room key for each person riding to prove that you are staying on property.  Getting an extra hour before park opening or 3+ hours at night is a HUGE benefit, especially with the amount of people that actually take advantage of it.

Disney Decor
Every resort on property has a different theme and is filled with those "Disney details" that makes you feel like you are surrounded by the magic.  My son loves finding all of the "Hidden Mickeys" in the room that they put in the tiles, towels, etc.

Free Wi-Fi
All Disney Resorts have just added free Wi-Fi that can be used in all common areas and in every room.  Some would say this should be standard for a hotel, but it's not always free elsewhere and Disney used to charge for wired connection daily.

Which Hotel Should I Choose?
Disney Resort Hotels are broken down into three categories: Deluxe, Moderate and Value.  Along with the obvious cost difference there is also varying degrees of theme, amenities that come with each.

Deluxe Hotels
These hotels generally provide the largest rooms with good views and tend to be closest to the respective theme parks.  They also have some of the best table service restaurants on Disney Property making it easy to have a great meal without any travel.

The three original hotels (Grand Floridian, Contemporary and Polynesian) all fit into this category and are also include one of the best reasons to stay there: Monorail!  The monorail system actually has a stop at each of these hotels so transportation to Magic Kingdom and Epcot is quite simple and very fast.

The pools are the best on property and usually have some kind of elaborate slide and are themed heavily as something like a volcano or pirate ship.  Really cool stuff.

Moderate Hotels
These hotels are a nice way to get some of the luxury feel of Deluxe hotels without the extreme cost that comes with it.  They tend to have a really nice theme with great decor and some of them even have a table service restaurant.

The towels are nice and fluffy, there's a nice coffee maker and usually there's two sinks with a separated toilet area. We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside on our recent anniversary trip and found the noise levels to be much lower than Value resorts...we also found the bus waits to be much lower.

Value Hotels
We almost always stay in a Value resort because we feel it's the best option for our young son, Pop Century is by far our favorite.  These are by far the cheapest option and also tend to have the least amenities. No table service restaurants will be found, but the quick service options are usually pretty good.

These the the best rooms for families with young kids who don't spend much time in the room itself.  The beds are comfortable, but the rooms are just big enough to get by.  Two double beds or one king and a small table with a couple of chairs.  They did just add a free fridge to all of the value rooms, that used to cost $10 a day.

Basic heated pool that may have a fountain, but no slides or anything of that nature. But a great simple room that gets the job done, doesn't force to you to pay for frills you may not want, and gives you all the benefits of being on property.

If you want to get details and reviews on each of the individual hotels, check out the latest version of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.

I hope this helps you make your decision, let me know if I can provide any further details!

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