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Old 03-19-2013, 08:49 AM   #1
Indecisive
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Question Wilderness Lodge Studio Villa v. Art of Animation Family Suite

I am planning our family's first visit to Disney World. Our boys will be 4 and 7. Although I woud love to stay at the Polynesian, it may be cost prohibitive. As more economical choices, I was thinking about maybe a Studio Villa at Wilderness Lodge using rented points or a family suite at Art of Animation. I realize that these are VASTLY different choices.

I think the pros of AOA are the separate sleeping areas so DH and I can more easily stay up after the kids are in bed and, of course, the incredible kid appeal of the resort for our young sons. However, I am worried about the transportation conveniece to the parks, the lack of a table serve restaurant (which we wouldn't need for every meal, but is nice to have sometimes), and the lack of a water slide. (I love water slides and so does the rest of my family).

The pros of the Studio Villa at WL are that we can use rented points, making it more affordable to stay at a deluxe resort with a family-friendly table service restaurant (and a water slide!), and with better transportation at least to MK. (And perhaps better transportation to the other parks? You tell me!). Also, at least DH and I could perhaps hang out on the balcony/patio after the kids are in bed.

Maybe you'll tell me that I already understand the pros and cons and that I just need to pick! But if I am missing some critical points of comparison or you can weigh in with personal experience, I would appreciate it!

Thank you!
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:13 AM   #2
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When is your trip?
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:14 AM   #3
Indecisive
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It's not set in stone, but I am thinking May 2014, so I am thinking way ahead!
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:15 AM   #4
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The Wilderness Lodge is a really nice resort. We stayed there for the first time last month and loved it enough to make a return trip in December. The biggest pros to the WL would be the resort itself, rather than the room. You would have to sacrifice the extra space for a nicer resort. You wouldn't have a separate place to hang out when the boys were asleep, but we have traveled with our kids from the time they were babies and never felt we needed that. The kids would fall dead asleep from the exciting day and I think a bomb wouldn't have woken them.

But the family suite would be nicer, there is no denying that.
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:27 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indecisive View Post
(I love water slides and so does the rest of my family).

(And perhaps better transportation to the other parks? You tell me!).

Maybe you'll tell me that I already understand the pros and cons and that I just need to pick! But if I am missing some critical points of comparison or you can weigh in with personal experience, I would appreciate it!

Thank you!
We were with our grandchildren, age 5 and 3 and they loved the water slide. There are life vests available at the pool, which they used, and they had a great time.

We also loved using the boat to MK. The kids had never been on a boat before, so that was fun for them. There is also a boat that travels between WL, CR. and Fort Wilderness. There is a really nice playground over at Fort Wilderness that the kids really enjoyed while we were waiting for our dinner reservation at Hoop Dee Doo. There is a big lack of playgrounds at WDW, so it was nice that we were able to use this one.

We would take the boat to CR to catch the monorail for our dinner reservations at the Polynesian and GF. It is a very short boat ride over there.

The bus to MK is really short, about 5 minutes. The buses to the other parks are longer because they stop at another resort, either GF or Ft W. When we were there, all of our buses stopped at Ft W except one, when it stopped at GF instead. But the good thing was that WL was always the first stop coming back from the parks.

There are bike rentals, boat rentals, a sandy beach, arts and crafts for the kids in the afternoon, and a nature trail. Our grandkids loved it there. All they talk about is going back to Disney so they can go swimming again.
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:28 AM   #6
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Hi - we loved AoA. I too was worried about transportation - our previous trips have been all deluxe. Nothing beats walking to Epcot and DHS from BW or BC! Well except taking the monorail to MK from the Poly. But we found the buses to be very convenient - they sent plenty - when it was a busy time there seemed to be always buses around. Twice we took a cab - once was for Chef Mickey's breakfast and the other time was coming back from YC dinner.
I was not a fan of no TS at the resort but we eat a big sit down lunch at the parks and then would have QS for dinner.

We loved having two bathrooms. It made it so easy for getting ready in the AM. The little kitchen area is the same as a studio but the pull down bed/table was a very nice area. With the family suite each of your kids would have their own sleeping space.
And yes - it was very nice having the tv and lights on after the kids went to bed. I had some of my best sleep in that very quiet parent bedroom. Loved it!
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:29 AM   #7
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Two vastly different experiences! We just got back from a studio WLV stay on March 11th, had a great time. Pros of VWL: location is great to MK and bus service is great, very relaxing and quiet, sit down restaurants, pool slide, etc. Also you can see the fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant from WL. Cons: room was far from entrance, no great views (trees), VWL is not in the main lodge so to go over to Roaring Forks to refill mugs was a hike, basically the room is a bit bigger than a regular room with a kitchenette. Also the second bed is a pull out couch (our 6 yr old didn't mind it).

AoA is much louder, brighter, more of a fun atmosphere for kids. The family suite would give you the second bedroom. The food court at AoA is much bigger than WL but there are no restaurants. Although there is no pool slide the pool looks REALLY fun. We went to visit the resort (have not stayed there) and loved it. Our daughter is begging to stay but as we have DVC we probably won't get a chance. AoA has dedicated busses so that is a plus as well.

Tough choice!
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Old 03-19-2013, 10:28 AM   #8
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We actually stayed at both places during our visit last year. We started off at AoA for a couple of days and then moved to WL Club level suite.

We reeeeeally preferred WL for a bunch of reasons, some of which will apply to you in a Villa Studio, and some of which won't.

1. We loved having multiple restaurants.
2. We loved having a QS restaurant so close to the pool.
3. We loved the pool area. Less crowded/rowdy, more shade, overall prettier view.
4. We loved the ease of getting to the Magic Kingdom and the Contemporary (for meals). We spent the majority of our time at MK, so taking a bus to Epcot one day and AK another day were not that much of a hassle.
5. I loved being able to see the Electrical Water Parade, and just having the lake right there. Beautiful.
6. Much more compact resort. At AofA it felt like we were constantly walking. Also, the QS restaurant was always a zoo. Not fun with two toddlers.
7. Quieter atmosphere.

Now that's not to say we didn't love AofA too. Our suite at the Cars building was great, the Cars pool was very nice (and quieter than the main pool) and the theme was tons of fun for our then-three-year-old sons. But we're going back this year and staying at a 1bdrm villa in WL, so I guess that tells you which we prefer even more than a long list!
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:17 AM   #9
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You'll have a queen sized bed and a double sleeper sofa in a VWL studio. There is one studio at VWL that does not have a balcony (no way to fit it in) and some are right next to the dumpster area that gets picked up early in the morning.
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Old 03-19-2013, 01:30 PM   #10
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This is great information, everyone! A lot of food for thought. Thank you so much!
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