Planning 1st WDW trip and torn between resorts.

Discussion in 'Disney Resorts' started by smelton521, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. smelton521

    smelton521 Mouseketeer

    Aug 2, 2013

    I am planning our family's 1st trip to WDW and am looking at late Feb or 1st week of March 2014. Our daughter is 5 and son will be 4. This will probably be our only Disney trip when they are this young and still believe all the characters are real and are their friends so I want it to be as magical as possible. We will be driving so we will have our car. That being said, would it be better to stay at a value resort like Art of Animation and drive ourselves to the park each day? Is there a charge for parking? Or would you suggest we take the bus even if we have our car? How long is the bus ride vs driving ourselves to the park and how far would we have to walk from our parking spot to get into MK, for example?

    I am worried about convenience for the kids. They may still need to take a break some afternoons back at the hotel for naps if they get worn out. I don't want it to be a major hassle to get back and forth to the park or to take too much time away from being at the parks due to driving, bus rides, etc. But at the same time it would be nice to spend less money on the hotel in order to have it to spend in the parks at BB Boutique, etc.

    With kids this age is it worth it to spend a lot more money to stay at Contemporary or Polynesian for the convenience of being on the monorail, particularly if we do have our car?


    (Additional questions since reading your responses)
    Has anyone stayed in a Finding Nemo suite at AoA? I was initially thinking of going that route so my parents can stay in the room with us if they come. But after talking to a Disney consultant I am thinking that may be a little too cramped. DH is 6'1" and my dad is 6'3" and a big guy. A standard room at WL is only $100 more than a suite at AoA. Are there any non-suite standard rooms in the Finding Nemo area at AoA or are they only in Little Mermaid area?
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  3. timandjanl

    timandjanl Mouseketeer

    Jul 26, 2013
    I stayed at AoA last fall and loved it. My son was 1.5 yrs at the time and we often came back to the room for naps and then went back out. You will spend a fair amount of time on the busses but I don't remember being frustrated by it. Also the bus was my son's favorite part. The thing I liked about the AoA bus is that we didn't share a stop with another resort. I don't know what the cost is to park but I'm sure there is one and there probably isn't any in and out privilege. Theres no way to know ahead of time how far your car would be to walk but I think its safe to say it'd be farther than where you'd catch the bus. I think the busses would be more convenient.
  4. GaBelle

    GaBelle DIS Veteran

    Jan 9, 2013
    If you can swing it in your budget, go with the Polynesian.
    With kids that age that may need a break or nap you cannot beat the location and convenience. It is so easy!
  5. timandjanl

    timandjanl Mouseketeer

    Jul 26, 2013
    I just read on another thread that you get free parking if staying on site. I still think the busses would be easier though.
  6. Desnik

    Desnik <font color=teal>I actually love packing and plann

    Oct 16, 1999
    AoA is a great resort. The bus rides to the parks are not too long. It would be much better to take the bus to the parks then your car, especially at the MK. At the MK you park your car in the lot then take a tram to the boat or monorail & take one of those to the entrance of the park. The resort bus is much faster. The parking is free at all parks for resort guests.

    I think with the over the top theming at AoA your kids would love it & will probably even enjoy the bus rides. I would want to have as much money to spend to make the trip special since you stated this will be their only trip at this young age.
  7. dimndgal1

    dimndgal1 One little spark...

    Aug 10, 2010
    We have taken DD to WDW when she was 3 and almost 5, both times with a car. We found we mostly used the Disney transit system and proximity to parks was a big help!!!

    Our first trip was inpromptu - DH was training in FL, so we met at WDW for a long weekend. We stayed at Shades of Green and the proximity to the monorail was a big help: we walked to the Polynesian and hopped on from there. I think you would find that staying on the monorail loop will be beneficial with ones that young and we found we spent the most time at MK, so it was super convenient.

    Our trip last year, we stayed at POR and YC (mostly because DD wanted a Royal Room and I was dying to stay at YC!). We rode the buses and DtD boat from POR to the parks, and used the buses and boat from YC. We considered driving the night we were doing MK EMH since it was going to be so late when we left, but I wanted to give DH a break and the buses weren't that bad getting back to the hotel. We also took midday breaks most days, and the buses were practically empty and the rides faster midday because there was less volume... but even at park closings, we had what I considered fast bus times, especially since it was mid-summer.

    In terms of driving yourself and parking, one thing you might find is that you end up having to take a tram from the parking lot anyway. Once you factor getting to the tram in, you might find that since the buses drop you off closer to the gates, the time works out similarly. Just a thought!!!
  8. Playgrnd

    Playgrnd Mouseketeer

    Jun 27, 2009
    Hi Shannon,

    I can only provide you with my personal recommendation however based on people's preference you will receive many different opinions.

    It all comes down to how much you are willing to pay for "Convenience" as you have already stated. We have been going to WDW for the past 5 years and my children where the same age as yours 3 years ago.

    Based on the age of your children I'm going to assume that you will be spending most of your time at the Magic Kingdom. It's also crucial that you break during the day (head back to the resort) for time away from the parks and most likely nap for a few hours prior to heading back out during the evening.

    If your budget allows for it the Polynesian, Contemporary and The Grand Floridian are going to get high recommendations since they are on the primary monorail line -convenience back and forth to your resort from the Magic Kingdom or Epcot can't be beat. My family's preference is to stay at the Wilderness Lodge which is located very close to the Contemporary resort and has direct boat access to the Magic Kingdom and to the Contemporary resort. This option is a close second when compared to staying at one of the resorts located on the primary monorail line. I'm not saying it's the same, however if you want Deluxe Resort accommodations at a discounted rate this is my recommendation.

    I unfortunately can't provide you with feedback on driving vs. Disney transportation since we only use Disney transportation during our time at the world. There are pros and cons to both options but we prefer to not have to worry about driving around on vacation with 2 kids in tow. Yes on several occasions it's faster driving directly from point A to B but we prefer to account for the time it takes to our destination and enjoy the family time together...

    Feel free to PM me if you have any off topic questions, I would be happy to provide assistance as best as I can.
  9. mickeynut1

    mickeynut1 DIS Veteran

    Apr 16, 2007
    We have never stayed at any of the values, so I can't comment on AoA or any others, but I agree with the pp that if a monorail resort is doable, that would be the best choice for convenience of going back to the resort for mid day breaks/naps, especially if a lot of time will be spent at MK. The Poly is our favorite, but we have had great stays at the GF (we are trying the CR for the first time in December). One suggestion would be to look at the CR garden wing rooms. The rooms are the same as in the tower and still convenient to the monorail, only cheaper. With that said, another great resort in close proximity to MK is the WL. It's not on the monorail, but is a quick boat ride to/from MK. The WL is a beautiful deluxe resort close to MK and the CR/Poly/GF for a variety of dining options, but quite a bit cheaper than the monorail resorts.

    Parking is free to all onsite guests, but we prefer to use Disney transportation as it's very easy and it's nice to leave the driving to someone else.

    Good luck deciding, but I'm sure you will have a great trip and the kids will love it no matter which resort you choose :wizard:.
  10. Scootchu

    Scootchu Earning My Ears

    Apr 29, 2013
    I have some experience similar to yours. If you have your car you can park free in any Disney lot if you stay on property. I like it because it gives me the freedom that I enjoy. We have done the bus thing too and it is much improved since our earlier visits. My advice would be to find what your comfortable maximum is and go with that. Wilderness Lodge would be awesome with kids your age and would enjoy the boat rides to the MK. Grand Floridian is not as exciting for little ones, having stayed their on my honeymoon. Poly is good for kids and adults too. :)

    Otherwise the rooms in the moderates are from my experience all about the same size, aside from the Swan and Dolphin, from what relatives have said. I have never stayed at a value so I cannot speak with any experience.
  11. dminnie

    dminnie DIS Veteran

    Jan 3, 2013
    I would save the money and do AOA so you have money for other extras. The monorail resorts are really pricey and they still don't completely eliminate the need for a bus ride to get to some parks. Another option might be a royal room at POR. Your daughter would love the theming, you can take a fun boat ride to downtown Disney and you can enjoy the pools at both Port Orleans resorts.

    Part of the fun for us is not having to drive while there. It's nice letting someone else worry about the driving. No matter how you get around, it will take some time. It is a huge place! You may want to check out the transportation boards for more information. For example, even with your own car, most people recommend taking Disney transportation to get to MK. Other parks are easier if you want your own car.

    Also, these busses are not your typical city bus... Many bus drivers are calling the girls "princess" or singing Happy birthday to someone with a b-day pin on.
  12. dimndgal1

    dimndgal1 One little spark...

    Aug 10, 2010
    Just want to second this!
    We are going next year with a 1 and 7 year old and contemplated these very two locations until finally settling on WL. I liked the fact WL was close to MK and the monorail resorts, which opened extra food options for us as well as easier transportation, and the fact I'm saving enough money by staying at WL instead of Poly that we can pay for DDP. That said, one day, we plan on springing for CR - MK view... one day!!!
  13. vacation_junkie

    vacation_junkie Have Suitcase...will Travel :)

    Sep 13, 2009
    No charge for parking.

    We always rent a car and wouldn't do Disney without it.
    I love being able to grab some snacks and water on the way from their airport to the hotel. Sure you can use Garden Grocer but I like being able to get my own stuff.

    We also take a half day or a day to go shop. We hit the Character Outlets and buy alot of our Disney Goodies there to bring back home to family. Hit the flea markets..Outlets... etc

    We love having a car with us at the parks to store all those "just in case" things. ie: extra pair of shoes, change of clothing...etc. All the things you may need but do not want to lug around the parks with you. It will take less time driving from the park back to your resort then waiting for Disney Transportation.

    Nothing beats getting back to your own quiet car after a hectic day in the parks.

    As far as a room.
    You are only in it for a short period of time. Decide what's more important to you.... A more expensive room or more money to spend and make your trip a touch more magical.

    At the end of February there should be the Play/Stay/Dine promo still going on (should be bookable to the general public in early October) With this package you pay rack rates for your room but Adults pay Children prices for Park tickets and Dining plan.

    Keep in mind that all disney promo's have stipulations in their room categories & Resorts. For P/S/D the little mermaid rooms are excluded at AoA.

    We book our room based on the experience we feel we will have. Not because of the price.

    Because of our professions we are fortunate to be able to pick and choose where we stay disregarding the $.

    When our son was younger we would stay at a Value. Not because its all that we could afford but because we knew he'd appreciate the larger then life Disney aspect of it.

    Sure the rooms were smaller then a mod/deluxe and they were more of a motel then a Hotel. But it was all about our child and watching the look of awe on his face as he walked through the resort property admiring all the larger then life things.

    We have stayed in Values, Mod's & Deluxes.
    Would we stay in a Value again? Absolutely!
    In fact my son is requesting we stay at Pop again for our January trip. He said its more "disneyish".

    A vacation is about making memories for your family.

    Your children are 5 & 4...they will not remember the room they stayed in but they will remember the time you spent with them in the parks doing things.

    One neat thing that we have done instead of an autograph book is we brought a photo frame mat. We had all the Disney Characters sign the Photo Mat and then when we got home we chose our favourite Disney Picture and framed it. Its a nice little momento to walk past in the hallway!

    Regardless of where you choose...have a magical time and make lots of memories :tink:
  14. disney-akj

    disney-akj DIS Veteran

    Aug 12, 2009
    When we have our car, we drive to all parks except mk because then the bus seems better (never stayed at a monorail resort though so we would probably not drive to Epcot in that case). Not a big fan of being cramped on a bus with sweaty strangers, and would rather wait in the comfort of our own car (better for tired kids too in my opinion). I also find it to be slightly quicker, but not by much.

    I can't speak for a monorail resort because I have never stayed at one because the $$$ and I can only travel during peak times being a teacher. We did enjoy art of animation though. Our kids loved the look of the resort and were so excited. We often took breaks with no trouble too.

    Have a great trip and happy planning!!
  15. sunshyne51404

    sunshyne51404 Earning My Ears

    May 12, 2013
    We have been to Disney 3 times with our young children . This will be our 4th trip in September and our Children are the same ages. We stay away from the action in a 1 bedroom Villa at OKW. Our children love the pools, and the feel of the Florida Keys so this is perfect for us. We tend to like more space in our room so we can spread out. Our kids also do not like to sleep together. So we need a room that no matter what has 3 beds and that is a request at most of the other resorts. But the resort is preference to each family. We like it at OKW so we always stay there.
    As far parking at parks you get a free parking pass for the length of your stay. We always drive down with our many things to fly with at there age. And it is cheaper for us by about 600.00 each time we go insteafd of flying.

    This will be our second trip in 10 months and it is for our DS 4th birthday...Celebrating in style. You have to way the special offers as well. If they have a room discount sometimes it is better to stay a villa resort and cook because you will save $$$ on food, which is what we do...therefore we have the extra money to do BBBoutique and Cinderellas Royal table and Cape May cafe for breakfast and still save $$$ instead of DDP. If they have FD and it is worth foryour family then do it. But remember to weigh them carefully. My children have max times when we are out to eat....they last 75 minutes and then they are ready to get out of there and play again.

    have fun planning!!!!!!!!!!!!
  16. prune1977

    prune1977 DIS Veteran

    Oct 15, 2010
    Hi Shannon,
    First off my name is also Shannon. :). We took our first Disney trip when our kids were DS5, DD3, and DS 10 months. We stayed at Wilderness Lodge & what a trip!! If you can swing it I highly recommend it. It don't have the monorail but it does have buses and a boat to MK. Waits for buses were never bad and the boat ride was great. We always went back in the afternoon for naps and it was great if we the adults didn't want a nap to go sit out on the patio. It was also great at night to sit out on patio and watch the electric parade go by. Whatever you decide it will be fun just to watch your kids.
  17. POTCfan

    POTCfan Mouseketeer DVC Gold

    Aug 7, 2010
    We are big fans on driving. We like the ability to store things in our car and to leave from a park to wherever we want to go (and not worry about where we have to transfer if there is not a direct bus). We have done buses (either when we know we will have a few cocktails or if we are in a group and are arriving different times at a park), and we will continue to occasionally, but prefer most other times to drive. It doesn't take too many times of waiting for a bus and seeing buses to other resorts come and go before we tire of the bus system (and it hasn't happened a lot - but it does happen). Since you are bringing your car, you can try the bus on the first day and decide then. As others have posted, parking is free so you have that option at any point in your trip - it's not like you have to commit one way or another, or prepay for anything related to transportation (except maybe gas).
  18. mum2four

    mum2four DIS Veteran

    Dec 29, 2012
    We stayed at AOA in May and the bus service was absolutely perfect for us! Maybe we just had good timing, but it seemed busses were constantly arriving at the resort and even wait times to leave the parks were minimal. We had four kids in tow and took afternoon breaks some days, yet we never found the busses to be a hassle. The great thing is that AOA has dedicated bus service, meaning busses don't make any other stops, unlike some other resorts. So, you get on the bus at AOA and your next stop is the park! Driving time from AOA to MK was 10-13 minutes. :thumbsup2

    That said, if you are spending a lot of time at MK, then the Poly or CR may be faster for getting back and forth. However, if you are looking to stay at AOA, I would not worry about the bus transportation at all. :thumbsup2
  19. Sue M

    Sue M DIS Veteran

    May 27, 2009
    No idea what your budget is, are you talking about family suites at AoA or Mermaid value room? There's a big price jump.
    Regardless of where you stay, I would use WDW transportation to MK. If you drive you have to park at TTC ( ticket & transportation Center) then take tram from parking lot to monorail or boat to MK.

    If its in the budget for a deluxe MK resort, both CR and Poly have the largest rooms.
    Poly has the advantage of also being walking distance to TTC for Epcot monorail. So you only need busses to 2 parks, DHS & AK.
    CR has the advantage of being able to walk to MK. And take monorail to TTC to transfer to Epcot monorail.

    If its going to break the bank, stick with a value or moderate resort.

    A less expensive option is WL. It is in the MK resort area, just not on monorail. It's across the lake from CR. they have a boat to MK which we love.

    Since you'll have a car, you can try driving to parks, and taking wdw transportation to see which you prefer.
  20. "Cinder" Ella's Mom

    "Cinder" Ella's Mom DIS Veteran

    Sep 26, 2006
    I would stay at the Poly for sure if you can swing it. It is our favorite and I grew up going there. We just stayed at CR and liked it a lot, but Poly is my favorite. I have also stayed at GF and loved it. We do stay at CSR now that the kids are older and we always drive to the parks (it is free to park for resort guests ). It is easy and very convenient if you go early to all parks except MK. You can't really drive there, but to the Transportation and ticket center and you still have to take the monorail or boat.
    I would stay at Poly for the convenience, but drive to AK or HS. Have a great trip!!
  21. rsb7706

    rsb7706 Earning My Ears

    Oct 5, 2011
    We drive down so we have our car with us the whole time. I don't think we had to pay to park because it was free if you're staying on property. We've never taken the bus but we've still had the opportunity to ride the monorail.

    I don't have kids but if I did I think I'd save the money and stay at a value resort instead of a deluxe. The kids will like all of the huge character decorations that are around at Art of Animation and you can save money for more like BB Boutique.

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