We often think that for the ultimate Disney experience, one needs to stay at a Disney Resort. It’s true that taking advantage of Disney’s stellar service and convenient transportation would make for an excellent trip. But sometimes the size of your party or the limitations of your budget may make those Disney Resorts a little out of reach. Have no fear! As a mom of four, I’m right there with you, and I can say from experience that staying at one of these slightly-off-property places hasn’t compromised the magic one bit.
5. Instead of Disney’s Beach Club Try Lake Buena Vista Resort (pictured above)
Disney’s Beach Club looks so amazing with its pirate ship pool slide. But if your budget won’t allow for it, try the next best thing at Lake Buena Vista Resort. It’s a Disney “Good Neighbor” Hotel, which means there is a guest services desk on-site to help with your Disney park planning. The two-bed, two-bath suites start at $167 (3 bedrooms are available too!) and come with a full kitchen and balcony. The rooms are HUGE (think walk-in master closet and jetted bathtub) and super quiet, though they lack black-out curtains so you may want to bring clothespins to hang blankets over the windows at night. And guess what? They’ve got a pirate ship pool slide! Daily kids activities (including the opportunity to hold a live gator) and a spa (with pirate and princess makeovers) add to the appeal. There is a Disney shuttle, but it’s a little inconvenient so you may want to drive the 3 miles and pay for parking in order to keep your own schedule.
4. Instead of Disney’s Contemporary Try Hilton Lake Buena Vista
Mere steps from Disney Springs is the chic Hilton Lake Buena Vista. It may have a sophisticated look, but the amenities are definitely family friendly. Since the Hilton Lake Buena Vista is considered an Official Walt Disney World Hotel, you get many of the same perks that you would at a true Disney hotel, such as advanced dining reservations, free Disney shuttle service, Disney merchandise store, and discounted park tickets. Regular hotel rooms start at $75 depending on demand, and there are suite options available for larger families. If you’re looking for value and accessibility without compromising on style, the Hilton Lake Buena Vista could be just the spot for you.
3. Instead of Disney’s Grand Floridian Try Gaylord Palms
The Grand Floridian is known as the most regal resort on Disney property. If you’re looking for the glamour within a tighter budget, the Gaylord Palms will not disappoint. In the gorgeous atrium you’ll find multiple posh dining venues and themed garden areas. Outside you’ll find both a relaxing adult pool as well as a kid-friendly waterpark complete with four slides and an enormous water-spouting fort. There’s also a full spa on-site for post-park-day pampering. During the holidays, Gaylord Palms takes festivities to a whole new level, with stunning decorations and the renowned ICE exhibit. You’ll have to compromise a little on Disney accessibility (approx. 5 min car ride from WDW entrance) but with rooms starting at $150, it may end up being worth it for your family.
2. Instead of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Try Caribe Royal
Literally just down the road from The Place Where Dreams Come True you’ll find the lovely Caribe Royal. Every room is either a suite or a villa. The one-bedroom suite has a separate bedroom and living room (containing pull-out couch) and will cost you around $160 per night. At the Caribe Royal, kids will adore the waterslide, sports courts, kiddie pool, and playground. Adults will love the rich Caribbean surroundings, on-site spa, and multiple dining facilities. You may be slightly off Disney property, but the extra space to stretch out—along with the wiggle room in your budget—may end up being a good trade-off.
1. Instead of Disney’s Boardwalk Try Villas at Fantasy World Resort
Fantasy World Resort is located about 5 miles from WDW entrance, but it is a playground all its own! With two waterslides, a heated lazy river, multiple hot tubs, tennis, shuffleboard, arcade, splash pad, daily kids activities, outdoor movies, mini golf, and an affiliated indoor surf facility, there is never a lack of things to do. These two-story town homes sleep six with two separate bedrooms and a pull out couch, making them ideal for bigger families. And the full kitchen and screened patio offer a lot of flexibility for meals. The Disney shuttle is not very convenient in my opinion, so I’d recommend driving to the parks. But with prices starting at $120 per night (yes, for a town home!), you can easily afford to pay for parking at Disney.
Here’s to finding the resort that’s just right for you!
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