(DISCLAIMER: The following was originally written by Jerry Skids back in 2009. He is a big Disney fan. He has his own WDW-themed podcast, which you can find here, or here. This is 100% Jerry’s words, completely unedited, out of respect to Jerry. I have not fact-checked any of this information. Obviously the prices have definitely changed since 2009, and should be used for comparative purposes only, not as actual real-time price quotes. And many attractions have come and gone since the time this was written. However, that does not invalidate his suggestions one iota. This is still useful, and I think this is so amazing, that I want to share his knowledge and wisdom. Thank you Jerry! Posted with his permission. – Editor)
WDW For The Single Guy: an experiment
The On-Property Resorts
(the only way to go unless you are a cheap party-pooper)
Here are your resorts. But before I list them, here are ways to get discounts.
- Ask them (they will be happy yo tell you on the phone) – if there are any discounts.
- Check MouseSavers.com for special rates for special people (not retards).
- Find an online seller … if it’s reputable.
- Be an annual pass holder.
- Be a member of AAA (they get 20% off) or other organizations.
- Have a travel agent figure it out for you. It doesn’t cost you any extra.
- Got family in the military, or working for the government? Ask Disney.
- You can get a refillable mug for $11.95 to get drinks at your resort all trip long.
Now I’m gonna list the hotels on-property w/ a brief description of pros and cons. They are broken into Value Resorts, Moderate Resorts, Deluxe Resorts, and Deluxe Villa Resorts.
Let’s Start Cheap! Disney’s Value Resorts: Limited amenities, smaller rooms, cheesy layout, etc.
Disney’s All Star Resorts (Movies, Music, and Sports) – [Animal Kingdom Area] (DAS)
These three separate resorts are laid out almost exactly the same. Each resort has its own lobby and food court, however, they are neighbors. Being that this is a budget resort (about $82 – $141 a night, depending on season), this place is crawling w/ kids and noise. Not ideal for a date. The themes are overly kid-friendly featuring oversized football helmets, tennis rackets, and baseball bats in the Sports, giant guitars, maracas, and saxophones in Music, and popcorn boxes and different icons from Disney movies at the Movies. They have regular pools and very bright & gaudy elements all-around. There is no full-service dining and not too many recreational choices. Finally, it’s “far” from most resorts and the bus picks up at all 3 resorts, causing “bus-crowding.” There are “family suites” but don’t bother — they suck. So does service. If you are going for the parks and don’t care about your resort, go here. Just to let you know, I found a piece of pizza w/ mold on it in the middle of the resort parking lot. It was still there when I left two hours later. Oh, one more thing… all the big school groups stay here… it’s loud… and obnoxious. I warned you!
Pop Century Resort – [Animal Kingdom Area] (Pop)
A step up from DAS, but not much… it’s also very gaudy and has no full-service dining and has lots of school groups, etc. The prices are the same, but Pop is WAY larger and is themed after the different decades. Separated into Legendary Years and Classic Years by the “Generation Gap Bridge”. You can stay in the 1900’s – the 1900’s with memorabilia and giant Rubix Cubes, Hula Hoops, Big Wheels and other greats (Disco balls, fedoras, etc.) The decor is easier on the eyes and the rooms are the same size as the DAS. Here’s some good news: apparently, the shrimp lo mein at the food court is out of this world. That’s what my cheap-ass friends say. Oh well.
Moderate Resorts: more amenities, more dining, better service, more recreation
Caribbean Beach Resort – [Epcot Area] (CBR)
Themed after the Caribbean islands, this was WDW’s 1st moderate resort — actually, it was the very first non-deluxe! It’s also 200 acres, surrounding Barefoot Bay. The villages are broken up into Aruba, Jamaica, (stop singing), Trinidad, North, Trinidad South, Barbados, Martinique, and Old Port Royale. As of (2009), they have themed the rooms to go along with Finding Nemo (which makes no sense since that movie takes place in Australia). (Ding! Ding! Mouse Rant) except Trinidad South and Old Port Royale, which (was) themed to Pirates of the Caribbean … this is very silly, but whatever. This is the only resort where you can adjust the AC and heat instantly. There’s a huge jogging/biking path as well as a beautiful beach front to take your chick and a marina to rent water crafts. Plus, you have a full-service restaurant called Shutters and a pirate-themed pool. Aargh! The only annoying thing is that the resort is so big that you have to take a bus around unless you’re from NY and a 15 minute walk seems like a block. The bus is available, but unreliable. Oh! And there are hammocks! Stay in Martinique or Aruba if you want to be close to the pool/food/exit of the resort where you’ll be the 1st to be dropped off and picked up. Oh, and grab some great alcoholic drinks at the pool bar! ($150 – $230 a night w/o discounts)
Port Orleans (Riverside and French Quarter) – [Epcot Bonnet Creek] Area (POR + POFQ)
There used to be two resorts: Port Orleans and Dixie Landings. In 2001, they merged into one resort with two sections. The smaller, southern part is called French Quarter and is themed as a sanitized Disney version of New Orleans’ 19th Century Mardi Gras area. The only difference is… no balconies… yes, I know you’ve seen all the Girls Gone Wild Mardi Gran videos and there are girls flashing on the balconies, but not here – – sorry. There’s no full-service restaurant, but this is connected to Riverside (a walk away) which does have one.
The other area, Riverside (formerly Dixie Landings), is the quieter of the two, with more beautiful scenery. It is themed after the Mississippi River area of Louisiana. You can stay in the Mansion area (plantation-style architecture) or the Bayou area (tin-roofed rustic wooden buildings). The theme is reminiscent of Mark Twain’s vision of Tom + Huck. There is a full-service restaurant here, called Boatwright’s. This is the moderate most Cast Members (CMs) from NY and CA visit.
The two resorts are connected by Sassagoule River, there’s a marina to rent water crafts, and the pools are exceptionally done – especially Doubloon Lagoon. Many say these are the best moderates, because it’s more peaceful and there are wonderful views. Just like CBR there are various sports and biking trails available here too. Here is a moderate, but beautiful place to screw a chick!
Coronado Springs Resorts – [Animal Kingdom Area] (CSR)
WDW’s only moderate convention property. Themed and inspired by northern Mexico and the American Southwest, this resort is where you will find most adults in business suits. It’s one of the least popular for tour groups and school groups for this very reason. YAY! The resort is broken up into the Ranchos, the Cabanas, and the Cesitas. The ranchos are themed as cattle ranches, the cabanas as beach resorts, and cesitas as Mexico City’s area. It’s got a really cool pool w/ a reproduction of a Mayan steppe pyramid w/ a waterfall cascading down its side, so that’s pretty neat. Oh and a waterslide! There’s a sweet little food court, which is different from any other resorts called the Pepper Market and a full-service restaurant called Maya Grill. Not to mention a fitness center, a business center, and an expensive lounge area called Rik’s Lounge. So grab some margaritas (regular of frozen) from Siesta’s Pool Bar and Grill, lay out, and have a blast. By the way, it takes 20 minutes to walk around the resort at a NYC pace – but they have little carts that will pick you up along the way if you wish. And just like CBR, there are various bus stops around the resort as well.
Deluxe Resorts: more amenities, more expensive , concierge service, monorails, and more.
Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas – [Animal Kingdom Area] (AKL)
Personally (and biasedly) I believe it’s the best resort on property. Along with Wilderness Lodge (by the same designer) it is also the least expensive deluxe resort on property, ranging from $225 – $2,820 per night. ($2,020 is concierge). This resort brings together African tribal architecture with the exotic savannah populated with over 200 free-roaming animals. To see the animals from your balcony, request a savannah view. It’s a little extra, but definitely worth it. AKL also offers free-dining at Jiko – The Cooking Place and an amazing buffet-style restaurant called Boma. Both restaurants are well-known in Florida. It is also home to the beautiful Victoria Falls Lounge (for your drinking needs) and a crazy huge pool with a huge waterslide. The bus from AKL to the parks is one of the only bus routes that does not stop off at other resorts. Many say it’s “too far” from the parks, but I have gone from to Magic Kingdom in LESS THAN 10 MINUTES! So don’t listen to that crap. Also, there is a health and fitness center, private balconies for each room, it’s directly next to Animal Kingdom, and there’s many, many activities having to do with African culture. If you stay concierge, you can go on a private early morning safari with a very small group of the trails in Animal Kingdom, seeing lions, cheetahs, giraffes, okapi, bongos, elephants, ostriches, rhinos, gazelles, and more. OH! And concierge gets constant free snacks and hot hors d’oeuvre in their special section.
As of 2008, Disney has added on Kidani Village which is their new Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Resort for all AKL. I’ll explain that later. But it has a special savannah view and more. It opened in early 2009, so I don’t know much about it. I want to go though. (These are villas).
The Swan + Dolphin – [Epcot Area] (Swalphin)
These resorts are on property, but are technically owned by the Westin and Sheraton, respectively. There is less of a Disnified theme in these resorts, ranging from $229 – $519. In both service and theme, very Art Deco, but mostly like a confusingly adventurous regular hotel. They both have nice pools, a good selection of recreational activities, a health/fitness center, and extremely nice guest rooms (with the most comfortable pillows in WDW! – according to the Unofficial Guide). There are a few nice restaurants here, and the Boardwalk is only 5-10 minutes away! You can walk to Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios from here (the latter is a bit longer) or take a boat. Guess what? If you stay here, you still get Extra Magic Hours, but the bad news is you can’t use Magical Express. The transportation is very crowded since it stops at many other resorts, but you may be able to see Epcot’s fireworks from your room!
Disney’s Contemporary Resort – [Magic Kingdom Area] (CR)
Four words: Five Minutes From Magic Kingdom… that’s five words… whatever. Also, the monorail runs right through this hotel… oh, when I said five minutes, I meant walking. This resort is literally next door to Magic Kingdom (MK). The theme was the future in 1971, but now it’s literally a normal hotel in a V-shape. After the last bout of construction, each room here comes w/ flat-plasma screen TVs, a computer w/ wi-fi connection, and built-in closets. The pool has slides and waterfalls, and it is home to a super arcade next door to their character breakfast area, Chef Mickey’s. There’s a whole bunch of eateries, including the brand new health conscious 21st Century restaurant, The Wave, and The California Grille. [The new Disney Vacation Club Resort Bay Tower just opened next door, but I have no clue what the specifics are yet.] At $270 – $2,755 a night, CR is great if transportation is important.
The Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts and Villas – [Epcot Area] (YC or BC)
So these two resorts have THE best pool on property. You need wristbands to get in because other guests from other resorts try to sneak in. Only thing is… it’s the only pool to close at 8PM – however, I believe the quiet pools are 24/7… no lifeguard on duty. YC is nautically themed like the New England seashore (circa 1800s) with model ship and navigational instruments. BC is just that: a 19th Century Beach Club. Between the two, there are nine restaurants & lounges. You can walk to Epcot in like 2 minutes and Boardwalk is RIGHT next door. This is one of the resorts that combine transportation with many others. But take the boat to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS) / Epcot if you wish. ($325 – $2,400)
Boardwalk Inn and Villas – [Epcot Area] (BWI)
So right next door to YC + BC is the widely popular Boardwalk. This is a detailed replica of turn of the century “Atlantic coast boardwalk.” Basically Atlantic City. This is a ridiculously “happening” place. Take your chick or get a freakin’ date — OR pick up one here! Waterfront skyline, beautiful boardwalk, clubs, restaurants, street performers… you name it, they got it! Well… not monkeys… just kidding… Monkey’s Too!! They have a pool here that is fashioned after an old amusement park. The fuckin’ slide is a ROLLER COASTER! The service here is excellent and the complex is luxurious. Fitness center, crazy recreational activities, but wait til you hear about the boardwalk… later!
Polynesian Resort – [Magic Kingdom Area] (Poly) ($340 – $2,810)
The 2nd best resort on property BY FAR! Themed to the South Pacific tropics, this paradise of a resort is broken up into Tahiti, Tokelau, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Rapa Nui, and the concierge area of Hawaii (among many others). This is another great romantic getaway. First of all, there’s a rainforest atrium lobby with a large waterfall and real tropical plants. Over 50 species!! It’s right along the Seven Seas Lagoon (which borders MK), has three beaches, a nice pool themed to the Hawaiian tropics. There are a few restaurants, including The Kona Cafe (with 100% Kona coffee) and ‘Ohana (an all-you-can-eat, table service, meat skewers — unbelievably good if you’re a carnivore). All rooms have high-speed internet access, very, very spacious closets and storage area, and outward curving showers!! Not only is it a resort you can grab the monorail at, but you can also walk over to the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) (5 minute walk at the most) to grab the monorail, the ferry, or a bus to any other resort or park! Fuck the bus at Poly – just walk to the TTC! Also, you get a fridge and a microwave if you ask. Like a few others, Poly is a great resort. So the shower heads are low-flow … but so what?! Request a MK view for balcony view of the fireworks every night. It’s a little more money, but not much! (There’s a volcano in the pool.) Oh! And a kinda cool night show called “The Spirit of Aloha” w/ slutty chicks.
Grand Floridian Resort + Spa – [Magic Kingdom Area] (GF)
This is the biggie. Disney’s flagship resort. It’s inspired by Florida’s grand Victorian seaside resorts from the turn of the last century. It is a very “formal” area, but includes some of the most elegant things on property including: The Wedding Pavilion; Victoria + Alberts (which AAA has given 5 diamonds and is voted the best restaurant in Florida); and Narcoossee’s (the wife swap place! — to be filled in on that last comment, please listen to WDW Today Podcast – theme song by Jerry Skids.) The resort is, of course, monorail accessible, has ferry service to MK, and is a short walk to Ploy. The rooms are HUGE and the service is magnificent. Lots of old people, so it really feels like over a hundred years ago. The spa is rated the greatest in Central Florida, but I think there’s one better. There’s a big pool w/ a slide … if you bring a chick here, she will melt, fall in love with you, and fuck the shit outta you. I think it’s a bit overrated and expensive, but that’s me. Steer clear of the Wedding Planner or else she may get some stupid ideas. There are rarely kids here because the dining, shopping, pool, and theming is geared towards adults. Kids would be bored. So this place is usually very quiet. ($385 – $3,795)
Fort Wilderness Resort + Campground – [Magic Kingdom Area] (FW)
You can stay in the cabins or camp out on your own. Renting out a camp site for your tent or RV is $42 – $81 per night (including water, electricity, and sewer). The cabins, which are equipped with air conditioning, a fully stocked kitchen (not w/ food, with supplies idiot), a king bed, a bunk bed, and a Murphy bed, plus a BBQ outside. (You have to buy your own charcoal from a supermarket or from an on-site store — the on-site store is E-X-P-E-N-S-I-V-E!!) The cabins are a mere $255 – $380 a night! FW also offers THE most recreational facilities and activities out of any resort in Disney. Sports, watercrafts, hiking trails, biking/jogging/walking, horseback riding, carriage rides, fishing, a petting zoo, canoeing, a campfire jamboree AND a campfire movie session, dinner theatre (The Hoop-de-doo Revue), water-skiing, and more!! There are two convenience stores, a restaurant, and a tavern, not to mention “next door neighbors” who you can hang out with and meet! Do I have to mention easy trailer trash? Cheap easy trailer trash? … You do the math. Not only that, but you can walk over to Wilderness Lodge, take a boat to MK, and rent golf carts to fly around in all day. Ok, ok, I need to mention the bad news: it’s got very confusing transportation. One side of the resort (the marina side) houses transportation MK and DHS, the other side (which is FAR) (the entrance area) houses transportation to Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Downtown Disney (DTD). There are three bus lines that travel internally, and once you figure out the difference between the three, you can easily get around. My advice: stay in the 2800 area, because you can easily walk to the entrance to get to Epcot, AK, and DTD.
Old Key West – [Epcot Bonnet Creek Area] (OKW)
The very first Disney Deluxe Villa and the very first Disney Vacation Club Resort. This is a timeshare-based property, but can also be rented out normally. Themed to Key West, the resort is quite large and confusing. If you like golfing and stuff, then stay here. It’s got lots of landscape and a few private swimming pools throughout – plus you can get boat service to DTD… otherwise, it’s really nothing special. Plus the bus SUCKS! The villas are ($285 – $1,645).
Saratoga Springs Resort + Spa – [Bonnet Creek / Downtown Disney Area] (SSR)
Themed to Saratoga Springs, NY in the 1800’s – kinda like a lakeside retreat. Once you get past the ugly colors, the place is alright. Again, this is a DVC Resort, but it rents out rooms to regular people too. It’s another huge resort and visually has an opening. But it has, I believe, the best spa at WDW! They have golf, hiking, jogging, biking, lots of watercrafts and waterskiing. It overlooks DTD. The fitness center / spa was named one of the top five destination spas in North America and the Caribbean! The pool is really cool – it tumbles over boulders into a clear free-form heated pool. Plus waterslides winding around the rocks, whirlpool jacuzzi, and two quiet pools. The bus service sucks here too because it services all of OKW (like a million stops), all of SSR (also a million stops), and sometimes BWI! It is a beautiful resort. Single women love to relax here – just sayin’…. Oh — as I said, the bus takes forever or never shows!
Other Resorts – You can’t get Extra Magic Hours or Magical Express here*
Shades of Green* – mostly free military resort – you can’t go so fuck you!
Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort + Hotel – Just a place.
Buena Vista Palace Hotel + Spa – Lots of amenities, an Outback, breakfast buffet, etc.
Doubletree Guest Suites – Sports here… no balconies … it’s all-suites.
Hilton Walt Disney World* – If you can spot Paris Hilton, you can fuck her… otherwise, a Benihana, and a Disney character breakfast on Sundays, a game room, exercise + 24 hour fitness center.
Regal Sun Resort – Don’t go here. The staff is nasty.
Royal Plaza – There are tower rooms and garden rooms. The tower’s better, I hear.
*Correction: Shades of Green and the Hilton both participate in Extra Magic Hours, but not Magical Express.
Disney Vacation Club (DVC)
Just like a time-share, you pay money and get a certain amount of points a year. There are a bunch of DVC resorts. You choose one as your “home” but can go to whichever one you choose. If you go every year, it’s a good deal, saving over a thousand dollars a year. And if you die, it passes to whoever you want. Oh, and you can buy points from whoever you want. I like that idea. So you can go twice a year if you wish.
(To be continued…)