Walt Disney Resorts

Walt Disney Resorts

There are also quite a few hotels along the periphery of Disney World, such as Westin resort hotels and others, in addition locations in Disney’s own time share program called the Disney Vacation Club.

The Disney Vacation Club

Disney has a type of vacation ownership program called the Disney Vacation Club (DVC).  People with a membership to the DVC purchase a certain amount of points for a specific and available resort, such as Saratoga Springs, which is across from Disney Springs.  There is an annual fee, and members may stay at their home resort, other Disney resorts, or at over 500 international hotels and resorts around the world.  If you plan to visit the Walt Disney World Resort frequently, the Club can save you money in the long run.  As an added bonus, Disney Vacation Club members also get discounts at shops and other retail outlets in Disney Springs.

If you are an occasional visitor, check out the various hotel and resort options below.

Disney Resorts offer fun themes and proximity to the parks.
Disney Resorts offer fun themes and proximity to the parks.

Disney World is composed of four theme parks, two water parks, a sports complex called the EPSN Wide World Of Sports, many resorts and themed hotels at all price points from deluxe villas to moderate resorts to value hotels, and lots of free entertainment destinations.

The Magic Kingdom Area

Around the Seven Seas Lagoon, reflecting the beauty of the Magic Kingdom at the far side, there is the Contemporary Hotel (the monorail goes right through and stops at this pyramid-shaped building), the Polynesian, the newly-built Bay Lake Tower (a part of the Disney Vacation Club), the Grand Floridian (a deluxe resort the ultimate combination of luxury, comfort, and spectacular architecture – and a sight to behold at Christmastime), and even a few rare chances to actually stay inside Cinderella’s Castle – but only if you are a very lucky winner or a VIP.

Epcot Area

Epcot doesn’t feature any hotels in itself but can easily be reached via monorail or car, or from other Disney resorts and hotels via a Disney Transportation bus.  Down the boardwalk from its International Gateway entrance is the Disney Yacht Club, then the Disney Beach Club, and an actual Boardwalk Resort.  The latter is based on Atlantic City’s and has carnival games and live performers along the length, plus a dancehall, restaurants, cafes, the ESPN zone, real beaches, and a great new restaurant run by Iron Chef Cat Cora called Kouzzina.  She serves wonderfully refreshing Mediterranean inspired food there.  All three of these resorts have some portions assigned to Disney Vacation Club members but anyone can rent those as well, if they are available.

Animal Kingdom Area

The Animal Kingdom park is tied into another Disney Vacation Club property — The Animal Kingdom Lodge.  The villas here are incredible as they look out onto different savannah areas where live animals roam.  This is separate from Animal Kingdom itself, and it’s at the edge of the Disney property, but still a short bus ride to Animal Kingdom, the Ticket And Transportation Center, and other theme parks.  To get to this lodge you have to use your car or Disney buses.  The Animal Kingdom Lodge has an excellent buffet called Boma, a fine dining restaurant called Jiko, and cafes.  The lodge is done in a colonial safari style and is an architectural sight to behold.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Area

The Disney’s Hollywood Studios area doesn’t have any resorts or hotels within that park but as with all of the Disney Parks, there are plenty close by.  One great thing about Disney is that they frequently offer package deals and super bargains at different times of the year.  With plenty of themes going, they may offer large group packages, family packages, and value resorts packages.  There are a lot of new value resorts where families can stay at modest prices, such as the All Star Music, All Star Sports, and All Star Movies Resorts.

Ready To Climb A Tree?

A super resort to stay at are the Treehouse Villas – a perfect location if you need to accommodate perhaps a dozen people or more.  These are a village of villas on stilts and they are round and actually in the trees.  This area started out as a few simple treehouses for staff members to stay at when they came over to work from their native countries for a year.  The Treehouse Villas are directly across the golf course at Saratoga Springs and they consist of several bedrooms clustered around a living area, with a deck and stairs to get up to the main level.  The village has easy access via bus or pathway around the golf course to the amenities at Saratoga Springs and you can get to the villas separately by bus if you wish.  Transfers are available from a couple of Saratoga Springs bus stops (they have 4-5) and the buses are frequent.

From Luxury Accommodations To The Great Outdoors

At Wilderness Lodge, families get to experience the grand lodges that used to exist in Yosemite National Park and other areas.  The Disney campgrounds at Fort Wilderness allows you to “rough it,” while many themed value resorts such as the All Star Resorts provide great value for the money.

Some resorts have their own uniquely dressed cast of Disney characters.  Staff at all of these Disney resorts (and theme parks and areas too) are dressed in appropriate costumes to keep up the theme of that specific area.  At Saratoga Springs, for instance, staff members are in Victorian attire a lot of the time.  At Animal Kingdom Lodge, they are in safari outfits.

Disney Springs

Disney Springs (one section of Disney Marketplace) has Disney Quest, a multi-story video and interactive game center, the House of Blues, Fulton’s Crab House (an actual riverboat), the Lego store, a small train that kids can ride on, a bandstand for free live performances and which backs up against the lagoon, and the amazing circus-meets-acrobats show called Cirque Du Soleil – La Nouba.  There are also many cool restaurants such as the Rainforest Café (complete with simulated rainstorms in a nighttime environment, animatronic gorilla, and live aquariums) and T-Rex (dinosaur bones and a safari vehicle right outside!).

Around the corner from Saratoga Springs is Disney’s Old Key West resort.  Saratoga and Old Key West are close to the Disney Marketplace area with its many shops, restaurants and entertainment venues.  Because this area is bright and colorful, you’ll find plenty of free entertainment here by looking though the retail outlets or grabbing a wonderful meal.

Every single Disney World Resort has a lot to offer and the only difficult task is choosing which one to stay at.

Perks For Staying On Disney Property

Whenever you stay at a Disney resort, they will have a lot of information about all four theme parks and any specials going on, park hours, and any current discounts which would apply to guests at that resort.  Often, Disney guest services cast members can help you learn about discounts and specials for amenities at that resort or hotel.  They can also help with purchasing park tickets and making dining reservations.  And they always make you feel like a preferred guest.

Within all of these resorts on the property, you’ll find specific discounts, spa packages, and retail opportunities unique to that place.

Another one of the great privileges of staying on site at Disney is the free use of Disney transportation. With the extensive bus network you can reach all resorts and all the different theme parks – you sit back and relax as you leave the driving to someone else.

If you stay at a Disney resort, you can enjoy “Extra Magic Hours” on select days.  You can enter a select theme park before it will be open to the general public, and you can enjoy select attractions with little wait.

Friendly Disney cast members will be glad to help you make departure arrangements when it is time to checkout and your trip comes to an end.

Good Eats

If you stay at any Disney resort or hotel around the property, you may buy (beforehand) a Meal Plan, which enables each member of your group to get sit down or quick service (or both) meals and snacks around the property.  Several forms of this exist and several months ahead reservations are suggested for any “sit-down” restaurants.  This is a real savings as Disney has terrific chefs, excellent restaurants, and wonderful and truly high quality fast food.

Disney resorts have a heavenly spa or two sprinkled amongst them, special offers for all ages, and other perks for guests of all kinds.

Great Variety And Great Fun

There is such a variety of Walt Disney Resorts that you could come to Orlando for years and still not have a chance to stay at all the Disney Hotels.  If you haven’t visited in a while, there are a full range of breathtaking new hotels, rejuvenating spas, challenging golf courses, beaches perfect for sunbathing, and exciting dining.  Make plans to vacation at one, and then try another the next year. Why stay anywhere else?  Staying on site at Disney resort is a recipe for magical experiences – and staying there can be a highlight of your trip!