Looking for Your Experiences at Walt Disney World Deluxe Hotels

I know this is not gaming related, but I have had a tradition here of asking you for vacation advice and you’ve always come through. Since this is THE BIG ONE, help me ObiBearwani, you’re my only (trusted) hope!

The Big One. This is it. The Once in a Lifetime, buckle your seatbelts, do that one crazy vacation trip thing that makes no financial sense whatsoever but will provide a cherished memory for the children that will last a lifetime, rah rah rah.

We are heading to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida in mid-March for a special spring break vacation, coinciding with Alex’s birthday. He has no idea yet, which makes for interesting conversations around the house.

Sound good? Sound fun? Just don’t start thinking about the material items that kind of money can buy, think instead of supporting the economy and building memories.

Just keep spending, just keep spending, what do we do, we spend, spend. I mean swim, swim.

Anyway, we have a bit of decision making to do, the kind that a careful planner can stress about for days and lose sleep over.

We have booked the whole trip already. Soup to nuts, all-in meal plans, multiple parks planned, the whole enchilada. Mmm, enchiladas.

Bacon enchiladas? Hmm. Must investigate.

For our stay, we had booked one of the new Royal Garden Rooms at the Port Orleans Riverside, where they have been doing extensive renovations – a pretty looking themed resort based on the movie The Princess and the Frog, what Disney considers a ‘moderate’ level resort with multiple pools, nice eating options, and the plus of a freshly renovated room with 2 queen beds and really neat theming.

Any gamer can appreciate making selections based on level. The difficulty level of this resort is moderate. In MMO terms, you get more guild perks, but you don’t get a mount unless you upgrade.

Situation: The Port Orleans Riverside Royal Rooms were set to open the middle of February, so we thought we were being safe in giving it a month to get the damn thing done remodeling. Guess what, last week it was discovered that construction is three weeks behind (at best) and will now not be available until after we arrive. Maybe.

Through Cassie’s research and forum activities (read in there – crazy stalking) on some Disney boards, she learned of this big ass delay just last week, and she’s  been following the process of how they are handling it. Reading the forums devoted to sharing information about Disney trips, forums essentially devoted to stalking every move Disney makes at their resorts, seems to pay off.

It seems that people who had a royal room at the Port Orleans Riverside booked, who now won’t be able to have that room for their trip, are getting bumped to a ‘deluxe’ resort instead of the ‘moderate’ for no additional cost!

There’s some question as to whether we’ll get the offer because the new rooms are projected to open a day or two after we get there, so there’s some potential that they could offer us a different room at POR and then move us.  But general consensus/gossip is that all who are affected in any way are getting the upgrade option.  Some are getting a choice from a few available, others have been getting to basically choose their dream deluxe resort from all of them.  Contemporary and Grand Floridian are typically not being included – although a couple people reported they were able to select the GF, so it seems to flex a bit depending on which representative calls.

Do you get the Fairy Godmother or the Wicked Witch that day? Only the call center knows.

We want to be ready with a decision if they call and Cassie has been obsessively looking at all the options for days now, and she wants some advice.

Here’s where we’re at:

The majority are choosing and/or being offered the Polynesian first.  It looks like a really nice option and has the monorail available (which Alex would probably be super thrilled with riding in), being able to watch Wishes and the Electric Water Parade from the beach, great tropical feel, nice quick service food option for breakfast.  Downsides are the volcano slide is going to be waaaay too scary for Alex based on a video Cassie watched (he’s getting braver with longer slides at Wisconsin Dells, but nothing enclosed all the way at the top and really dark like the volcano one) and there’s no hot tub (which is also one of Alex’s favorite parts of any swimming excursion).

Wilderness is probably out because we have the Great Wolf Lodge that we frequently visit in Wisconsin Dells and the theming feels a bit too similar, so it’s not as exciting to us (although the lobby is beautiful).

Grand Floridian looks beautiful, but is a little too “fancy” for our tastes especially with Alex.  Seems more like an adult type of theming.

Beach Club/Yacht Club also looks very nice and we like the option to walk or boat to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.  But not sure how much time we’ll really have for swimming or what the weather will be like in early/mid March either.  Plus again, it’s a fancy waterpark which we have lots of at Wisconsin Dells and the slide looks too scary for Alex at this one too.

So that would leave:

The Polynesian (see thoughts above)

Animal Kingdom Lodge, which looks really cool, but we probably would not get the upgrade to a Savannah room, instead would have a standard view (parking lot, buildings, etc). While everyone affected by POR situation is getting upgraded to deluxe, the category you get there is limited to the type of royal room you booked.  We booked garden view as it was the only one available at the time, but there were also water view and river view options added afterwards and those people get the Savannah view, Lagoon View, Theme Park view, etc at the Deluxe level.  We like the look of the pool and, of course, the animals at the AKL.  Downside is that it’s more out of the way, especially since we only plan to do one day at AKL and our room wouldn’t have a nice view unless we get super lucky at check-in.

Boardwalk Inn – The pool area at this one looks really fun and like something Alex would enjoy (the crazy clown slide, animals around the pool, etc).  Downsides are really not much for quick service options for breakfasts/fast meals and a bit more adult feel to the resort from the pictures we’ve seen.

So, what are your thoughts/experiences from those that have been to any/all of these?  Cassie is going insane and has viewed hundreds of pages of comments/opinions/fact sheets/videos/etc (and keeps trying to make me look too, which cuts into my WoW time!), so please help us (and quickly since the call could come any moment).

Any advice on specifics on what you liked or disliked from the point of view of a trip with an 8 year old, not very adventurous boy would be HUGELY appreciated! Considering this is about three years savings for this trip so Alex gets his one chance at having a Disney World dream come true, I’d like to make it our best possible for him.

Thank you all very much!


Edit based on comments – We should have included this in our original post.  We definitely will have a car the entire time we are there (it is already completely paid for and we are going off property several times so that’s a done deal at this point).  We know for hours of research how wonderful the Disney transportation is, but regardless, we will have a car and may choose to use it at times especially for our non-Disney days which are already planned.  We will likely not use it for our Disney days, but don’t want to choose a hotel based simply on transportation concerns because we will have the choice of Disney options or our car.

Final edit and update: We did get the phone call from Disney that we were expecting, and were offered a different resort to choose from since ours was still going to be under construction. We have confirmed with Disney that we will be staying at the Polynesian at a nice garden room, and I have to tell you that we are really looking forward to it. With all that you folks have said, I think that this is going to be the best possible vacation we could hope for, and I do appreciate everything you’ve done to help guide us to that. Thank you, very much.

33 thoughts on “Looking for Your Experiences at Walt Disney World Deluxe Hotels

  1. Some other WDW pointers. BTW, I’ve been 14 times.

    If you tend to exhaust easy and you WILL be walking a lot and are going in the summer, alternate park/waterpark. It will give you a chance to rest. The Typhoon Lagoon’s Lazy river will rest your feet.

    Each of the big parks really only have two big-ticket attractions that have big lines. Hold your Fast Pass for those. A fast pass is where you go to the ride and swipe your card and get a designated time to come back and not wait. Use this!

    Magic Kingdom – Space Mountain (getting kinda dated) and Splash Mountain (mildly wet, with animated intro).
    Hollywood – Rocking Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror
    Epcot – Race Track and Soarin’
    Animal Kingdom – Mount Everest (coaster) and the Kilamanjaro (sp) Safari… The Dinosaur ride is cool too.

    Just be sure to try these two in each park as a minimum. Riding them during parades works as well, unless you like parades. Parades are better in the fall when it’s not too hot to stand outside.

    Most of Disney rides incorporate some amount of being inside… so even if it’s horribly hot, you’ll get some relief.

    Another thing I would recommend is not to over plan… just have a gross idea of what you wanna do and go with the flow. Too much detailed planning ruins the fun with it doesn’t happen according to plan (I’m an over planner).

    So TL;DR… Eat at one nice restaurant per day, hit the high points, have rest days.


    • Yes, that’s a great site that I’ve been to several times. It’s definitely helped me to know which longhouses to request as our preferred ones if we get the call (which we still haven’t yet). 😦


  2. You have chosen wisely IMO oh great bear.

    Been AFK for a bit and I also and a big Disney nerd, I would be willing to send you my personal Disney Spreadsheet of Doom (TM) if you are interested.
    But based on what I read the proximinty to the Magic Kingdom that the Poly offers is your best bet. I have heard some nice things about the Animal Kingdom from my Brother but the downfall is it is jsut SO far away from erything else other than AK.

    Personally I love Wilderness Lodge, being the Flag Family for the day is an awesome experience, but understand from your reason why it was nixed (make time to go see the lobby as it is just a short boat ride away from MK and you can take the boat back to the Contemp and Monorail it bac kto Poly from there.)

    Enjoy your trip I look forward to feasting on Disney Trip Bearwall when you return!



  3. My ex-wife and I honeymooned at the Polynesian concierge back in Sept 2002 and truly had an amazing time. I couldn’t say nicer things about the resort. The staff were amazing, the resort grounds made you forget you were in Orlando and the dining options were quite enjoyable. I’m not sure if they still offer it but at Kona Cafe they had a character breakfast. Still have a picture of Goofy and me standing side by side because the server was amazed that I was taller than him. I am really excited for the three of you and looking forward to hearing about it when you get back.


  4. Thank you all VERY much for your comments, advice, experiences and suggestions. Also thank you, those of you that emailed me more detailed descriptions and suggestions, Cassie and I have enjoyed reading all of them, and have learned quite a lot.

    Based on everything, we are planning on going with the Polynesian, IF we get the call asking for us to pick someplace as an alternative due to our existing booking not being ready. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’ll admit, while I know Alex will be excited no matter what we do, the poor kid inside of me that never experienced WDW in any way other than ultra-economy trailer-trash mode is excited as HELL at riding the monorail.


  5. Hey buddy, sounds like a pretty good conundrum to be in. Me and my wife think that the Polynesian is your best option. We went to Orlando in September, and the idea of being able to stand on the beach and watch the water light parade alone would sell me on the Polynesian. I know my daughter, Addison, who was only 20 months when we went LOVED the parade. I’m pretty sure your son would LOVE to sit and watch that with you guys, and probably more than once. The fact they don’t have a hot tub or good slides is kind of a turn-off but if we aren’t incorrect, I believe if you want to make a trip of it, as long as you are staying at a Disney World Resort, you can go to another resorts pools and enjoy them.

    If you decide not to do the Polynesian, we think the Contemporary would be a good place to stay for the simple idea that the monorail stops in there and it’s very central on the Walt Disney World grounds.

    Keep all of us updated, I’m really curious where you guys end up. Either way, I’m pretty sure that no matter where you end up you guys are going to make some memories that you’ll never forget. I know we did, and even though Addison may not remember them, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Enjoy your trip Bear!


  6. While it was many years ago at this point, I’ve stayed in The Polynesian. Overall, it’s pretty fantastic, lots to do around the hotel itself with a pretty fantastic restaurant upstairs. It definitely has a very laid back feel to it as well.

    As for having a vehicle available, unless you’re deadset for going off campus into Orlando, it’s pretty much unneeded IMO. Park transit is pretty phenomenal across the board and very timely; I don’t recall ever having to wait that long for either.


  7. Disclaimer — this is all about 15 years ago. We did an extravagant trip for our tenth anniversary, and given our proclivity to procrastinate, the only resort available on short notice was the concierge level at the Polynesian. we had an absolutely wonderful time, and it turned out to be well worth the money for two reasons: first, our son was at *that* age — he wouldn’t touch the macaroni & cheese at WDW because he had become used to white cheddar and wouldn’t even touch the traditional orange kind. He survived on PB&J for free at the concierge lounge the whole week — they also had fruit and cookies, and a great view of the evening parade. Second, the resorts on the monorail got a “late open” night that rotated between Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and MGM. We took advantage of the Magic Kingdom night and were able to go on the popular Buzz Lightyear ride without a line — just get off and right back on. Our son ended up with the high score.

    We continued going back to the Polynesian, until one year we thought we’d expand our experience. We stayed at the boardwalk for a couple of days then back to the Polynesian for the rest of the stay. Don’t get me wrong, the boardwalk was nice, but getting to the Polynesian, we all felt like we were coming home. It’s friendly, laid-back, and close without being too close.


  8. We try to head back to WDW with the kids (now 8 & 11) every few years — it’s always been one of my favorite places. I tend to lean towards the Magic Kingdom resorts — all of their resorts are excellent, but the choice of transportation options around MK wins me over every time. We always seem to end up spending most of our time there and I prefer to not ride the buses *everywhere*. For us MK always ends up being the crowd favorite — and with the park hopper option we often found ourselves heading back there for a few hours after some of the other resorts. *shrug* Both the Polynesian and the Wilderness resorts are great. The Polynesian will definitely give you more of a beach feel… which would be the perfect cure for the winter doldrums.


  9. Boardwalk (or Yacht and Beach Club) … for access to parks if that’s your digs. Personally I LOVED the Animal Kingdom lodge (animal side), but it’s not close to much.

    All the hotels have bus transit and you’ll get where you want to go and burn your puppies out regardless. You won’t spend a lot of time in the hotel so it really won’t be that much of a difference except for what makes you feel most at home. I’ve done port orleans, the lodge and polynesian… of those 3, Animal Lodge was the nicest.

    As for parks… never go to the one that is opening early for hotel members… WHY? Because everyone else in the hotels go there and it will already be crowded… it’s not a deal.

    Epcot / Hollywood are the most fun for adults.

    Animal Kingdom… get there EARLY because the animals sleep in the evenings…. hit the Safari FIRST while the animals are about. This park closes earlier than others.

    I also recommend picking at least one of their nicer restaurants per day to eat at one sit down — Not the brown derby (too fru fru). Don’t accept the “early access” offers in restaurants… just show up early for shows.


  10. I just noticed that you were giving thought to driving a car…..this will be a bad choice, believe me been there done that mistake…never again, we typically go twice a year, Disney transportation is the way to go, they have buses coming and going from Orlando airport every 10 min., they are there to guide you right to your resort, you do a quick check-in at the airport, you board the bus, they play a Disney movie explaining all the parks perks on the way to the resort (20 min ride) very entertaining for the kids. You do a quick check-in at the resort (they take your bags to your room so you can jump right on the bus to get to a park or you can take your bags up yourself, whatever you prefer) Its incredibly efficient, they drop you off at the front gate basically so a short walk gets you into the park. We will never go back to a car, everything you’ll need is at the resort, if you require a car for a daily trip away from Disney (Seaworld for ex.), you can go do to the front desk and they will book a car/minivan for you for pickup at the Dolphin resort (I believe this is the name) where you take a bus from your resort to there and pick the car up, no need to drive all the other days, not worth it looking for gas stations, hassle of traffic, parking, paying for parking, walking long distances to the entrance, backed up traffic when you leave at night…UGH, glad those days are over.


  11. Disney now offers shuttles to Universal Studios, like $15 per person round trip, they drop off 3 different times (like 9, 10, 11am) and pick up 3 different times (like 5,7,7pm) very convenient, taxis costs about $64 round trip and renting a car means you have to find your way around and pay for parking (more hassle), just an option if you plan of taking the kids to see Harry Potter world like we did this past November, get there as soon as the park opens and go right to Harry Potter it was a little crowded but 2 hours later as we were leaving the Harry Potter area we realized we made the right decision (Huge crowds about 1-2 after park opens, at least in that area)


  12. Wanted to mention something about the monorail. If you ask the driver, they will probably let you ride up front in the nose of the thing where you get a really cool view. We did that last time we were there and my kids loved it. I love staying at the Polynesian, the ease of access to the Magic Kingdom adds up to a lot of time NOT sitting (or standing) on a crowded stinky bus.


    • They actually do not let anyone but the driver sit up front anymore. I don’t want to get into details, but there was an accident which caused this change in policy.


      • That is correct, this policy has since been changed, we were lucky to have been able to ride up front a few years ago, but asked early last year about riding up front as was told by the driver that the policy has changed and only drivers are allowed in the driving compartment.


  13. I looked at the title of your post in my feed reader and I thought I had missed something in my Disney folder. Then I saw it was in my Druid folder, and took a second look. First off. GREAT Birthday Surprise! Next: I’ll be in Florida at the same time, though not in the Disney Area. You guys have fun!

    If I had to make the decision, honestly I’d be looking into the Boardwalk, It isn’t nearly as Adult Oriented as you’d think, just don’t get a Boardwalk view, because those tend to have loud people outside at all hours of the night. Not really, but until 1AM or so… The pool is fun. The slide isn’t scary, as long as the Clown won’t freak Alex out. They may not have the best quick service meal options, but you’re a hop skip and a jump from the Beach/Yacht Clubs, and also EPCOT and DHS(Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

    I’d also look at the Contemporary. You didn’t even mention it, but it’s on the Monorail, and has lots of food options. They have two pools, and what I read they have two whirlpools. If you get a tower room, your view will either be of the 7 seas Lagoon, or the Magic Kingdom, which are both great. In a garden Wing room, you don’t get the great views, but the rooms are quite nice.

    My last choice would be the Polynesian. Meaning I’d pick anything else before it. If Alex will be scared of the Volcano Slide, the pool adds nothing for you, and There’s no hot tub. like you said.

    When I go back in October I’ll be staying at the Beach Club, and their Pool looks awesome. It’s just plain Huge, and it’s walking distance from EPCOT. But you said the waterslide may be scary to Alex, so it gets bumped down the list.

    As for having a car. Use it sparingly, or only if going to a resort breakfast at one other than your resort. No Disney Busses from resort to resort unless there’s a stop at a park, (takes an hour or more to go from one resort to another unless it’s a Monorail or EPCOT resort.)


  14. There’s really no bad choice, however, as someone who is going to be at the Boardwalk in a couple of weeks and who goes almost every other year, here’s my take:

    EPCOT Resorts: You can’t beat Boardwalk and the Yacht/Beach clubs for access to all parks. The bus to the Magic Kingdom is not a long ride, you get to walk in the easy access (not crowded) BACK entrance to Epcot, and you have a boat ride to MGM (Hollywood Studios). You can also (if ambitious) walk to MGM along a path beside the waterway. I personally prefer the Boardwalk because I like the theming there — they have a great “Coney Island” type pool area. However, hands down, Yacht/Beach club has the best pool out of all the resorts. It’s huge and beautiful, with many different sections, sand!, Sunken Shipwreck slide and you have to be staying there to use it.

    Animal Kingdom: This resort is beautiful. I recommend going there to see the animals and possible have a meal at Boma (which I’ve heard is excellent). However, it is VERY out of the way. Getting here from any of the resorts is a LONG ride. I can’t recommend it at all just based on that fact. However, if Alex is all about animals/Africa, it could be worth it then.

    Grand Floridian: Beautiful resort, absolutely the closest to the Magic Kingdom (it’s the next stop on the Monorail). Maybe not quite as “fun” looking but a really nice hotel

    Polynesian: I personally have never stayed here, but I have friends with kids who did and they loved it. This is also very convenient to the Magic Kingdom.

    I’ve got a PDF somewhere of “helpful hints” that my friend and I put together. feel free to email me if you want a copy!


  15. I second the suggestion made earlier about the Boardwalk (or Yacht and Beach Club) based on location alone.
    Yes, the monorail makes the Polynesian really convenient to the MK but the Boardwalk has just as convenient (if in a slower vehicle) travel to both Epcot and Hollywood; Epcot is walkable, and all hotels have more than adequate bus transportation to the parks – and you don’t need to be a guest at an MK hotel to ride the monorail. Especially if you have the meal plan, Epcot is a great place to book the sit-down meals, and is my favorite walking around park- My then 7-year old liked Epcot fine, it wasn’t too adult (Magic Kingdom is still the runaway fave).

    If quick breakfast is your concern, I wouldn’t worry about it at the Boardwalk. One of my favorite places for Breakfast is at the Boardwalk – Kouzzina by Cat Cora ( http://allears.net/menu/menu_kouzb.htm ). It’s “Disney” cheap, they take the sit-down meal plan (though breakfast is cheaper than other meals so you may want to save), good food (basic eggs/sausage/toast/potato-style with a house spin on it), and it was never busy for breakfast. It was not as fast as zipping through a buffet line but I, for one, enjoyed my “sit down and get mentally prepared for a day of jostling. You are also in walking distance to the Swan, Dolphin, and Yacht and Beach Club for dining (One of the Swan or Dolphin has a cafeteria-style breakfast and the other has a full buffet, both did the trick). Don’t discount the hotels for meals, this is where having your POV will come in handy – with the parks I’d stick with Disney transport.

    A note about the Animal Kingdom Lodge, it is way more than a little out of the way, and on two trips was the source of 50% of my “waiting for the bus” time.

    I hope you have fun, I definitely understand the “obsessive research” stage, in fact, it’s half the fun–as long as you keep in mind that there are no wrong answers, you’re going to win no matter what. When I first went, we got the meal plan and I spent my research time on restaurants, and made a half a dozen reservations 6-8 months out. I wouldn’t do that many again because I put too much of a “schedule” feel on things – but I don’t regret the decision at all, I got to experience what I wanted to. I say make at least one top-tier dining reservation, I think they’re worth it, and around mid-week, you’ll want to slow your roll for at least an afternoon/evening and have someone wait on you.


  16. I too have to support the statement that your own car will be the least convenient of your transportation options. Even the buses, which will feel slow, will get you there with less effort than dealing with the truly massive parking lots.


  17. Hi All,

    If it changes anyone’s opinion, we definitely will have a car the entire time we are there, so we will not have to rely on buses/monorail/boats unless we choose to do it for a particular reason (like the MK day so we don’t have to deal with parking at the TTC and taking another method then into the park).

    Thanks for the comments so far! Keep them coming!


    • I’m with Tyben and a couple other posters: unless you’re leaving the Disney parks, a car isn’t all that necessary and can actually be pain to park. Disney’s mass transit options really do work well, travel frequently, and drop/pickup pretty much at entrances. We didn’t miss having a car either of our two trips.
      That said, if you’re heading out of Disney or staying off property, then a car is pretty handy.


      • We are doing things off Disney property like Kennedy Space Center while there, and already have a car completely paid for, so we will definitely have it. Depending on where we stay, we may or may not use it on property, but I’ve done a lot of research so we know which places may be more of a pain to use it than it’s worth (like going to MK). Thanks!


      • For anything in Disney Property, their transportation is ALMOST always faster. Unless you’re going from one resort to another. Using a car sounds nice and fast, but you always forget the time waiting in line in the Parking lot, then walking to the tram, then waiting for the tram, then riding the tram….

        And at night it’s worse. Walking to the tram, waiting for the tram, remembering where you parked, walking to the car, waiting in line to get out of the parking lot…

        It adds a TON of time and aggravation to a day. I promise.


  18. BBB,

    We stayed at the GF and it was fabulous (my wife and I did a Disney Wedding). We also stayed at the Animal Kingdom lodge. The only draw back is that you must take a bus or have a car no monorail there.

    I’ve seen suggested the Polynesian that has access to the monorail. We did the luau and its a great show.
    The wife said that years before she stayed at the Contemporary and it was very noisy because of the monorail going right thru it.


  19. As both a Wow nerd, and a HUGE Disney fan, and a resident of Orlando as well…I am also going to suggest the Poly….I also frequent a certain Disney forum, maybe even the same one Cassie was at…but anyways, based on what you put, I would choose Poly. If nothing else, the monorail makes getting to 2 parks easy, the others are just a bus ride away…

    As for the weather in March…it is hit or miss….I am sure there will be time for some swimming though!


  20. Congrats on the trip!

    We’ve done DW twice, once to the Contemporary when our son was 6, and once a couple year before last to the Beach Club when he was 12 and my daughter was 6.

    The Contemporary was quick and convenient to the Magic Kingdom, since the monorail comes right inside the hotel, and has a decent beach/pool in the back. But overall, it’s biggest (only) real advantage was location.

    The second time, we thought long and hard between the Polynesian and Beach Club. I was all for going for the extra cost for the Polynesian, but we ended up going to the Beach Club.

    And it was the best choice for us — BC is a great property and we had an absolutely great time.

    Here’s some reasons to consider the Beach Club:

    – VERY family friendly but still really nice. Rooms were clean and spacious.

    – A couple minutes walk to the back entrance to Epcot (you come in near France and England). Extremely easy to get to a prime view of fireworks displays at Epcot (if you’re lazy, you can even see most of it from the first bridge just outside Beach Club, but walk to Epcot for the full spectacle — and maybe a crepe 🙂

    – Easy access to buses and boats to other parks. We had no problem getting to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.

    – A good variety of easy family food options at the hotel — poolside sandwiches, a big sundries shop with breakfast and late night snacks, a really nice buffet restaurant (with character meals), and a fancier sit-down restaurant.

    – Great water complex – huge sand bottom pool/beach complex with many sections only 2-4 feet deep, hot tubs, a lazy river ride, and the pirate slide (which is probably a bit much for littler kids). There’s a second regular pool tucked into the other side of the complex. While I know water parks are a dime a dozen, but this one is really nice, and having a fun place to take a break every day really helped our kids (and us!) from having park “melt down.” At nights if the weather is clear, they showed movies out on the beach — or you could take a boat over to the Boardwalk.

    No matter where you go, I’m sure everyone will have a great time. Best of luck!


  21. When we went we were still active duty and got a deal which had us stay at the Polynesian. It was great because the tickets allowed for early access, the tram was right there and they send your purchases right to your hotel. It was also not necessarily as crowded as the other hotels which are splashier. We really enjoyed our stay but let’s be honest, mostly you just sleep in the hotel and get up in the morning and grab food and go *laughs*. You spend so much time in the parks (or surrounding areas) you barely see your room.

    Whatever choice you make though I know it’ll be an awesome time for all!


    • That is kinda my take on it, I’m not expecting to spend much time at the actual resort just for “fun”, although Alex is a HUGE waterpark/pool fan. If there is a single night he doesn’t make us go to the pool, it will only be after a complete exhaustion ride during the day.


  22. My family stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge when I was … 12? 13? … and loved it. I don’t remember much about it, but I do know that I had a lot of fun.


  23. It’s been five years since my last trip, apply salt shaker accordingly. I have stayed at the Sarasota springs and the Old Key West multiple times. I also had a semi-business weekend of intensive tours of several of the other resorts. Still, the following is all subjective: ymmv.

    BLUF: Based on what you said, go Polynesian. The bottom line is access.

    Remember that your resort experience is still only a fraction of the total time you’ll spend at the park. Second, keep in mind that your eight year old is going to be walking and walking and walking (and so will you) through each of the parks. At some point the word exhaustion is what you see in the rear view mirror. When that time comes, the monorail becomes your IWIN button.

    Longer winded expansion…

    Your means of transport are the shuttle bus, the monorail, the water taxi/ferry boat, your POV, and walking.

    Remove both the POV and walking from your list. Yes, you’ll get a pass for the POV. Nonetheless dealing with amusement park traffic at high traffic times will lead to a grouchy bear. You can’t tank the idiots.

    Shuttle buses were clean and timely. With few exceptions my max wait for the ‘next’ bus was 20 minutes. However, the bus still has to go through the same traffic as your POV. In addition some of the wait places are one more long walk from the gate. Not as far as the parking lot, balanced by the fact the really large lots have parking lot shuttles (trams, or extended golf carts, basically). Still, I learned to plan for an hour from park to resort (or park to park). It might be faster, but planning an hour meant I didn’t feel I was behind the clock.

    Boats, both the water taxis and the ferry boats, were enjoyable. However, they weren’t on as frequent a schedule as the buses, and a number of things could delay or even stop them from running. If you have the chance, ride one or more. But don’t plan on it as your primary transportation.

    The monorail quits being special fairly soon – it’s an elevated train, big deal. However, it will get you to your destination twice as fast as the shuttle bus without stoplights and other traffic joys.

    If you choose a resort that has a monorail stop, this means your fast transportation takes you to your door. 15 minutes from Magic Kingdom. 25 minutes from Epcot. Add time for crowds (after the fireworks), but you’re still going to be in bed before the first post-fireworks shuttle gets your fellow travelers to their door. (Note that you have no monorail option for hollywood studios or the animal kingdom. It’s not a 100% fit. Still what’s there will maximize your play.)

    There is no reason (IMO) besides transportation and personal taste to take any of the resorts. The Grand Floridian, for all its grandeur, is more than ready to entertain and amuse people like Alex. The Polynesian will have things for him besides the volcano. And so on, and so forth. Disney makes money by making you wish you were coming back.

    I’d go back in a heartbeat if I could afford it.


  24. We’ve stayed at the Boardwalk multiple times. It’s great place, yes, it’s more on the adult side, but you are in Disney World, its not kid unfriendly in the slightest. Last time we were there (4 years ago) there was an old school arcade in the hotel… The boardwalk area is great, lots going on there for adults and kids, some nice places to eat, and access to the boats which take you to Epcot (might as well walk) and MGM (take the boat). The pool area is very nice, and if I’m not mistaken you can actually use the pool areas at the other resorts nearby like the beach club (we did anyway). Epcot has a lot of fast meal options, but yeah, directly on the boardwalk there’s not a lot.

    The main reason we stay there is the location, and transportation. The boats to MGM and Epcot are great, those are our personal favorite parks, but the busses to Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom are quick. You’ve got easy access to the fireworks shows at Epcot, and more importantly easy return back to your hotel. The monorail is classic and kinda cool, and of course you can still take it from Epcot over to the Magic Kingdom, but we’ve always preferred just to take a bus directly from the hotel.

    Bottom line is you really can’t go wrong with any of their deluxe resorts (or even the moderate ones for that matter), but the boardwalk is really a cool place to stay…


  25. I have been an avid reader for many years. I also, happen to be a huge Disney nerd. The wife and I have been to Disney twice together, and I have been two more time before we got together.

    Based on your comments, and your choices, I would say the Polynesian would be your best choice. Although, if you get the chance, get reservations for the Alice in Wonderland character breakfast at the Grand Floridian. The character breakfasts are really good fun.


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