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Disney Dreaming
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Disney World on a Budget
Credit Cards 101
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Preparing Kids For Disney
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Importance of Being Lazy

Preparing For Your Disney Cruise
Ten "Must Pack" Items
Touring With A Group
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iPhone, I Travel
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Child Safety Seats
CARES Harness Review
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First Aid on Vacation
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Pregnant at Disney
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Taking A 'Greener' Trip to WDW

Orlando Sanford Airport
Choosing a Resort
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Disney Resort Primer
Reserving a Room
Key to the World Card
Fun at Resort Hotels
Disney Vacation Club
All-Star Movies
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Animal Kingdom Lodge: Perfect for Teens
Villas at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Beach Club
BoardWalk Inn & Villas
Contemporary Resort
Ft. Wilderness Camping
Old Key West
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Home Sweet Home
Grand Californian #1
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Radisson Resort Parkway
Shades of Green
Westin Century Plaza
Making The Most of Bell Services at Disney's Deluxe Resorts
DVC's Old Key West Resort
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New Ships!
Cruise Security
International Port Security
Convincing a Husband to Cruise
Palo Dinner Review
Vow Renewals Onboard
Cruising With Special Diets
Cruising St. Martin
One in a Million Cruise
Zip-A-Dee-Zip-Line: A Canopy Adventure
A 'Magic' Time In The Mediterranean
A Wrap-Up From DCL's Inaugural Mediterranean Cruise
DCL: Not Just for Kids!
Spa Villas Review
Laugh Floor Comedy Club
Mickey's PhilharMagic
Fantasyland For Adults
Mission: SPACE
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
Star Wars Weekends
Animal Kingdom
Expedition EVEREST
Surviving the Parks as First Time Parents
Surviving the Holidays
Overcoming Kids Fears
Planning Park Days
Four Parks in One Day
Touring with Toddlers
A Kid's Perspective
A Teen's Take
Educational Epcot
Flower & Garden Festival
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
Scary Places (Halloween)
Playing "Millionaire"
Winning "Millionaire"
A Day With Allie
Past Attractions at Magic Kingdom
Meeting Mickey
Disneyland at 50
Future of Disneyland
Beyond the Disney Parks
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Monorail System
California Adventure
Expanding Disney's California Adventure
10 Reasons to Love Disneyland
A WDW Veteran's First Trip to Disneyland
A Disneyland Veteran's First Trip to Walt Disney World
Disneyland Homecoming
Walt Disney World With Pre-Teen Boys
Keys To The Kingdom Backstage Tour
Pirates & Princess Party
WDW with Teens? Absolutely!
Disney Dining Plan
More Dining Plan Tips
Dining Plan Revisited
Dining Plan Answers
Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) Strategies
Artist Point Review
California Grill Review
Nine Dragons Review
Spoodles Review
The Turf Club Review
Crystal Palace Review
Yak & Yeti Review
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Character Dinners
Dine With A Disney Imagineer
Eating Healthy at Disney
Food Allergies
White Water Snacks
MurderWatch Mystery Theatre
Disneyland Dining: Yamabuki
Disneyland Area Dining: Pirate's Dinner Adventure
Party For The Senses
Artist Point
1900 Park Fare Dinner Review
Making Magic
Romance At Disney World
Beating The Post Trip Blues
Discovering the Magic
Magic of Slowing Down
Unexpected Treasures
Wishes Fireworks Cruise
Backstage Tours
Epcot's Segway Tour
Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival
Taking Great Photos
Taking Great Fireworks Photos
Digital Photo Q & A
Souvenirs on a Budget
Pal Mickey
Birthdays at Disney
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Holidays (Christmas)
More Holidays
Disney Intimate Weddings
Disney Vow Renewals
Custom Events
Preserving Memories
Scrapbooking Supplies
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Hidden Mickeys
Hidden Mickeys Book Review
Richard Petty Experience
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Ft. Wilderness Trail Ride
Disney Podcasts
MouseFest 2006
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Making of PassPorter
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Adventures by Disney: Wyoming
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Zoos of the World
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New Attractions at Universal Orlando
Seuss Trolley Train Ride at Universal Orlando
Sanibel & Captiva Islands
Universal: For Non-Thrill Seekers?
Madison County, Iowa
The Great Smoky Mountains
Discovery Cove (Orlando)
Busch Gardens Africa: SheiKra Coaster Review
NASCAR AllState 400
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Niagara Falls, New York
Blue Horizons at SeaWorld Orlando
International Travel:
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London's Globe Theatre
Kent, England
Bath, England
Great Britain via Harry Potter
Stockholm, Sweden
Helsinki, Finland
Quebec City, Canada
Prince Edward Island
South Africa
Leeds Castle
Windsor Castle
Dover Castle
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Choosing a Disney Resort

by Jennifer and Dave Marx, Authors of PassPorter Travel Guidebooks

Ah, this is the fun part--deciding which of the resort hotels at Walt Disney World is best for you. It reminds us of picking one dessert from a tray laden with every imaginable, mouth-watering goodie. Some are a bit too "rich" for us, and others not quite "sweet" enough, but there are enough choices left over to make us feel quite spoiled. Sometimes we can't resist, and stay at two or more resorts in a single visit. Are you surprised?

PassPorter Walt Disney World (the book) offers a detailed comparison chart, listing every Disney-owned resort and their amenities. We'll take a slightly different tack here, and address the general factors that go into making your choice.

PassPorter focuses its attention on the "on property" resorts at Walt Disney World. These resorts are truely part of "The World," and offer an immersion in the Disney experience that off-property resorts can't hope to capture. That's not to say that excellent accomodations and values can't be had if you're willing to stay off property. It's just not our focus

There are twenty "on property" resorts at Walt Disney World. Ninteen are open to the general public and one (Shades of Green) is leased by the U.S. military for the benefit of armed services personnel. Of the rest, seventeen are operated directly by Walt Disney World, and two (Dolphin and Swan) are operated by other lodging companies. All twenty benefit from Walt Disney World's internal transportation system, as well as their proximity to Disney's theme parks and the amenities at the other on property resorts.

Resort Categories
Walt Disney World groups their accomodations into four categories: Deluxe, Moderate, Value, and Disney Vacation Club (formerly "Home Away From Home"). Within each grouping Disney tries (and succeeds) to offer a variety of experiences, to suit the varied tastes of the public. Walt Disney World offers everything from Chief Executive-level villas to tent platforms, and everything in between.

Disney Vacation Club resorts is an odd category. It groups together those resorts that offer mostly villa or suite accomodations. These facilities work well for families and friends who need room for larger groups and want to cook at least some of their meals in their rooms. Some are quite deluxe, while others are comfortably middle-class. Fort Wilderness offers a wide variety of facilities, from tent and trailer sites to "cabins" for six which are actually well-disguised "manufactured housing".

Some factors to consider beyond price include "theming," proximity to specific theme parks, in-resort dining options, health club and recreational facilities, and on-site childrens programs.

"Theming" is purely a matter of style. Do you wnat to stay in a grand hotel from the turn of the last century? How about an island resort, a Southern plantation, or a majestic mountain lodge? At times it's hard to tell if you're staying in a hotel or a theme park, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Since you're here to enjoy Disney magic, go wild, and see if you can make a fantasy come true.

The Deluxe resorts enjoy the best proximity to the major parks. From a Deluxe resort you can board either a boat or monorail to the nearby park(s). In some cases you can even walk. With the exception of the Fort Wilderness Campground and Resort, which also offers boat transportation to the Magic Kingdom, the remaining resorts require a bus or car ride to get to the parks.

In-resort dining may not be a factor for you, as you can dine at every park and can take easy advantage of the restaurants at other resorts. If you expect to spend a lot of time relaxing at your resort, though, this may be a significant factor. As you may imagine, in-resort dining is most extensive at the Deluxe resorts. The Deluxe resorts all offer a choice of full service sit-down restaurants, along with less formal fare and room service. Most of the Moderate resorts offer a choice between one full service restaurant, a reasonably-priced food court and either room service or pizza delivery (the exception is Port Orleans French Quarter, which does not have a full service restaurant). The Value resorts only offer a food court and pizza delivery. The dining options at the Disney Vacation Club resorts are varied, as each addresses a very different clientele.

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Health club and recreational facilities vary widely between resorts. Some Deluxe resorts have world-class health spas and extensive health club facilities. Although any Disney guest can take advantage of "the World's" 99 holes of golf, you may prefer to be adjacent to the 18th fairway. Most Deluxe and several other resorts are graced by tennis courts, and the majority of resorts have some sort of marina with a variety of water craft available. Every resort has at least one pool, and some have pool complexes reminicent of a water park. If a soak in a hot tub spa is high on your list of "must" factors, be sure your resort has one. Most do, but there are exceptions.

Finally, most of the Deluxe resorts offer an (added-cost) evening child care program, which makes it simple for Mom and Dad to take a well-earned evening off at Pleasure Island or Epcot's World Showcase. Guests at other Disney resorts can generally also take advantage of the facilities, but you still have to go out of your way to drop the kids off and pick them up again. (Yes, you do have to take them home with you.)

The Deluxe resorts are: Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, Contemporary, Dolphin (managed by Sheraton), Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Swan, and Yacht Club. Moderates are: Caribbbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans Riverside, and Port Orleans French Quarter. Value resorts are: All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, and Pop Century. The Disney Vacation Club resorts are: Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas, Beach Club Villas, BoardWalk Villas, Saratoga Springs, Fort Wilderness, Old Key West, and Wilderness Lodge Villas.

Special Needs
A final factor in your choice may be discounts or special needs. Although all resorts accomodate the differently-abled, some resorts have a fairly limited number of wheelchair-accessible rooms. This site gives a good rundown of what to expect. When it comes to saving money, if you hold an Annual Pass, or take advantage of other discount programs, you can make a decision based on what deals are offered. You may have to schedule your vacation based upon availability, but you may also get the opportunity to sample one of the pricier resorts without a major stretch of your budget. This is a great way to make dreams come true!

This article was last updated on 2/19/2008 by Marnie Urmaza.

Related Articles:

Beach Club Resort
Contemporary Resort

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Updated 04/06/07 

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