I remember our first Disney trip so vividly. I get a little misty eyed remembering it it because my babies were still babies. But that first time I was also utterly unprepared for the logistics of it all. I didn’t even know what I was getting myself into.
If you read my introductory/bio post you will know that the logistics of Disney travel is one of the major things that prompted me to start this blog—to try and make it easier for other families—there’s a lot.
That first trip I spent a good three weeks picking a hotel in Orlando, and saw phrases used that I’d never even heard of—Extra Magic Hours, Disney Dining Plan, Disney Resort vs. Disney Owned (what was the difference?), Disney transportation, Universal Area, etc., etc., etc. Finally we settled on a beautiful Five-Stat hotel called Reunion Resort (where that cover photo above was taken), that although stunning, was 20 minutes away from where we needed to be.
Suffice it to say, we learned a few things about picking Orlando hotels on that trip, as well as a few things we should consider. It’s also worth noting that for my family and I, as a general rule, we never stay at any hotel with less than a Four-Star rating. This way we know we’re always guaranteed a beautiful and good time. And don’t let that steer you away from thinking you will find a good price/deal. We’ve stayed at many four-star properties that have been very reasonably priced and offered many extra perks. I plan on writing so many more posts about Orlando and Disney hotels, but for now here are 5 basic rules to consider:
- Traffic: Everyday is a weekend in Orlando, and there’s always somebody there on vacation. Within Disney World there’s no such thing as Monday Blues and people don’t come out to play only on Friday nights (though this doesn’t hold true for places like Disney Springs.) It’s a crowded place every single day (though obviously some days like Holidays and special events are even more crowded than usual.) You don’t want to take into account an extra 30 minute driving time to your destination for traffic because you picked a hotel in the heart of Disney during Christmas break.
- Location: Pick a hotel within close proximity to where you will predominantly be. Staying for a week but planning to go mostly to Universal Studios and only 1 Disney Park? Pick a hotel close to Universal, it will save you driving time on most days of your trip.
- Activities: If you plan on spending most days at a theme park you don’t need to stay at a Five-Star hotel that charges an extra 40 dollars for a resort fee, on a resort you will never have the time to use. The same holds true for the opposite. If you know you’re going to have down time for a few days on your vacation and you plan to spend it swimming, look for a hotel with amazing outdoor resort pools since you will be using them.
- Traveler Ages/Interests: Do you have a kid that just loves Pirates? Well there’s a Disney hotel with that theming. Have you always wanted to go to New Orleans but didn’t get the chance? Well there’s a New Orleans themed hotel that will give you that vibe. Do you love Disney movies and love seeing them displayed? Well there’s a Disney hotel for that too! Don’t like theming at all and simply want to stay on a luxury property? There’s plenty of Orlando and Disney hotels that offer that as well.
- Car Rental: I will touch more on this during future posts, but renting a car is sometimes a reason we choose not to stay at a Disney (or Universal and Sea World) Resort Hotel, since they offer free transportation. For us, we feel that using Disney transport is a major reason to stay at Disney property, and since we’re paying for the car rental anyway we have more options that include both Disney and non-Disney properties.