So by using your pros and cons list or the ‘pin in the calendar’ method you have now decided WHEN to go….next to decide WHERE to stay. Personally I find this a difficult decision; one that I usually change several times before I make my booking, going back and forth between a couple of hotels and usually sticking with the one that appealed to me in the first place!
Until 2005 I was the standard British Walt Disney World visitor. I had visited several times with my family and we had always stayed in the International Drive area; staying at various hotels, all with various standards. I kind of like International Drive and its ‘touristy’ feel; it reminds me of Orlando holidays in the 1990’s! There’s a theme to my favourite things about I Drive; Mickey D’s, Denny’s, Dunkin Donuts, Walgreens, shopping malls, Ponderosa, Golden Corral, Denny’s, Dunkin Donuts…I could go on but I think you get the idea!
International Drive is great if you want a bit of ‘Orlando’ with your WDW holiday. Obviously you’re close to Universal Studios and Sea World, with the Disney parks a short drive away. It’s a great location if you have a car; a lot of the hotels run shuttles to the main tourist attractions but they can be a little restrictive…none of this going back to your hotel for a midday nap before hitting another park for the evening!!
And despite how much I enjoy visiting I Drive during my vacation it’s unlikely that I will ever stay in a hotel in that area again because in 2005 I experienced my first holiday at a Disney resort. I can’t really remember why I chose it but my first stay on property was at the Disney Moderate resort, Port Orleans Riverside.
It’s a beautiful place, the buildings are spectacular and the location is perfect. Nearly every evening we would get the boat to Downtown Disney, escaping the hustle and bustle of the parks. Port Orleans Riverside is a big resort and I think I was a little surprised at how busy and noisy the hotel could be. Unfortunately we were there at the beginning of December and so were the groups of cheerleaders visiting WDW for the Pop Warner event. It appeared that they were using Riverside as an overflow hotel for the cheerleaders as the Disney Value resorts were full, this was not a great experience and the resort manager would agree with us on that!
I haven’t returned to Riverside since that trip but I would consider staying at Port Orleans French Quarter at some point in the future. We did use this resort to escape from the noise at Riverside and we loved it. It has the same pretty setting as Riverside and shares the same location, but it’s also slightly smaller, meaning less noise!
My current WDW resort of choice is the Disney Deluxe resort, Wilderness Lodge. I remember a few years back sitting on a shuttle bus on the way to the parks from our hotel and stopping to pick up guests from Wilderness Lodge. I looked up at the buildings and thought how wonderful it looked, I thought how lucky those guests were to be able to stay there.
When we were looking to book our last trip we looked at websites, brochures and maps of the WDW property and decided it was time….time to experience a Deluxe resort. There is very little I dislike about Wilderness Lodge. We stayed there in December so we were lucky enough to see their magnificent lobby decorated for the season. We got an excellent room location close to the Roaring Forks food area, the bus stop, the beach area and the gift shop. We were even on the right side of the building to hear the music from the Electrical Water Pageant on Bay Lake every evening!
We don’t use a hire car for our WDW trips as we’re pretty content using the Disney bus system. We found that we could get to all the parks in reasonable time from Wilderness Lodge; meaning that we popped back to our room for a midday rest, a change of clothes, and even to stock up on spending money for a shopping spree!
Now when I started thinking about our next trip as always I sat down with the brochures and looked at each resort. I had wanted to experience another resort, another location on WDW property, but the draw of Wilderness Lodge was too much! Wilderness Lodge ticks all the boxes for my WDW vacation, and so I’ll be returning to my ‘home away from home’ later this year.
So what about you? Do you choose your hotel based on price, location, facilities? Do you pick a different resort each time to have a new experience or do you return to the place which feels like home?