Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Top 5 “Budget-Friendly” Resorts at Walt Disney World

by: guide4wdw - Collin

A trip to Disney is never a “cheap” endeavor, but in nearly every case, you can save a great deal of money and sacrifice very little by staying at certain resorts. These resorts offer exclusive accommodations that set them apart from the rest, and that is where my list has to begin. While you may not be staying at the Grand Floridian, (regarded as one of Disney’s most luxurious resorts) you may very well be receiving the benefits other resorts have to offer and at a much more budget friendly price point. So, to further narrow things down, I’ve created a winner for each of 5 categories: Best Price for Luxury, Best Price for Large Groups, Best Hidden Gem, Best Theme for the Price, and Best Accommodations Outside of the Disney Brand for the Price. 

Best Price for Luxury:
The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts
(Photo: flickr)

-The Swan and Dolphin are resorts that are often overlooked and have a unique affiliation with Disney. As one of the only resorts to have exclusive rights to a variety of benefits provided solely to Disney resort guests, these two resorts are unique exceptions to what is usually considered "off-property" (resorts not owned/affiliated with the Disney company). The Swan and Dolphin participate in extra magic hours, fastpass+, and free Disney transportation. Each of these are a huge benefit to anyone visiting the parks.

-In addition, the Swan and Dolphin offer luxury accommodations at an affordable price. Certain times of the year, the rate is even as low as $180 per night. Combine that with the “Heavenly Beds”, incredible pool area (complete with waterfalls, hot tubs, and basketball courts), and high end restaurants at the resort and it’s very hard to beat for the level of luxury it provides to guests.        

Best Price for Large Groups:
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa 
(photo: flickr)

-While this resort falls in the Deluxe Villa category of Disney resorts, it is one of the few that accommodates larger groups comfortably while each guest can remain in the same resort room. Saratoga Springs offers guest rooms in studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom layouts. Also, for the largest of groups, three bedroom Treehouse Villas are also available which are quite literally a home away from home. 

-Also, the resort offers complimentary transportation to Disney Springs, extraordinary pool areas, and a level of service that accompanies a Disney Vacation Club Resort. If you are searching for a resort for a large group, this is your best bet for a fairly reasonable price.    

Best Hidden Gem (sometimes): 
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort

-While this resort is currently under renovation, and this “hidden gem” may end up costing more in the future, at the time being Wilderness Lodge is one of the best values for the money at the Deluxe tier. While many of the resorts in the Magic Kingdom area are some of the most expensive resorts on property, Wilderness Lodge is almost always an exception. While it is quite a bit more cost effective in many cases, you lose very little that the other resorts offer. You don’t have the option of Monorail transportation, but you do have the option of boat transportation to Magic Kingdom. Also, you get the opportunity to experience the cozy nature of the resort which really sets it apart form all other Disney resorts. For many guests, once they stay here, they don't wish to stay anywhere else. It’s really just an added bonus that it’s one of the best budget-friendly accommodations available.   

Best Theme for the Price:   
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort (French Quarter as well as Riverside)
(photo: flickr)

-In the moderate category and price range, this resort is incredibly hard to beat. The resort feels upscale, offers a great variety of dining offerings, and features one of the most unique atmospheres of the entire Disney resort lineup. It’s a little slice of New Orleans right in the heart of central Florida. Beyond the resort accommodations themselves, boat transportation is available to Disney Springs, which is an added benefit which is not found at other Moderate resorts. Of course the rest of the parks require that you travel via bus, but it is always great to have an extra option and many times an extra experience as a result of the watercraft transportation. 

-For the price, Port Orleans greatly outranks its resort category. Many guests even tend to view it as a category of its own (between the elaborate amenities of the Deluxe resorts and the other Moderate offerings). You really can’t go wrong with the beautiful New Orleans theming (and the food), and as a result it is my top choice for a combination of being economical and upscale.     

Best Accommodations Outside of the Disney Brand for the Price: 
DoubleTree Lake Buena Vista

-While I typically don't recommend staying off property, The DoubleTree is a rare exception, especially for Hilton Honors members. While it is not run by Disney, or associated with the Disney company, you receive the added benefit of suite style rooms for an almost identical price to that of a standard Disney resort. For many, this benefit often makes up for the lack of theming which a Disney resort would provide. Unfortunately, they are not a part of the Disney transportation program, but do have their own transportation system to the parks. It’s not a perfect system, but not a horrible option either. Expect the journey to the parks to take some time and be prepared for crowded buses, but you will save quite a bit of money if you opt out of driving to the parks. 

-However, one of the perks to the resort is the fact that often times Hilton Honors members are given a free breakfast per night of their stay. Surprisingly it is a pretty good breakfast and the staff is entertaining to say the least. So, if you weigh the benefits, this is probably the best option if you opt to stay at a resort not associated with the Disney company. The resort is about a mile from Disney Springs, offers a lot of benefits, but it does take you outside of that “Disney Bubble” many of us have grown to expect from a vacation to Walt Disney World.

Did we leave out your favorite resort? Do you think we overlooked anything? Be sure to let us know down below and if you liked the article, please SHARE it! Thanks! 

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