Category Archives: Reader’s Questions

Reader’s Questions: February 8, 2014

   1.    Where/how can we eat without reservations?

While it can feel daunting, nay, impossible to enjoy all that WDW has to offer in the way of eateries without reservations, there are options.  Having said that, it is a good idea to make ADR’s, Advanced Dining Reservations, for any restaurant you definitely want to experience.  Some venues are always full and others tend to fill up at peak times of the year, like the holidays.  While some restaurants at WDW do offer stand-by lines, the majority have hosts who stand sentinel and utter that much maligned phrase, “I am sorry we are not taking walk-ups today.”  So, if you want to experience O’hana, Crystal Palace, Cinderella’s Royal Table, or Be Our Guest among others, be sure to make a reservation or you truly do risk not being able to dine at your desired venue.  What follows are some strategies we have found work when dining without reservations.

First of all, be willing to eat at off times.  In other words, have a late breakfast and midday snack and head to dinner at 4:00PM.  If you would like to eat at Be Our Guest for example, be there as soon as they open for dinner and be willing to wait.  Let the check-in cast member know that you would like to wait for a table.  In our experience, a fair number of guests will not show for early reservations and/or the restaurant may be able to seat your party.  The closer it gets to the 8:00PM witching hour, however, the harder it will be to get seated as a walk-in.  O’hana now has a stand-by line, but we have found that waits can still be astronomical.  In our experience, smaller parties have a better chance of being accommodated as walk-ins than do larger ones.  Be open to the greeter’s suggestions.  In some cases, we have been offered a table for 915PM for dinner and happily accepted.

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Also, be willing to eat something new or unusual.  Restaurants that offer steaks, buffets, and character meals tend to fill up first, so consider options like Restaurant Marrakesh in Epcot’s Morocco or Tokyo Dining in Epcot’s Japan.  We often notice that greeters for both Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo in the Japan pavilion at Epcot are encouraging patrons to avail of open sittings for dinner and lunch.  Likewise, we have luck as walk-ups at Mama Melrose’s in Hollywood Studios and Yak and Yeti at Animal Kingdom.  Be mindful of the fact that this strategy will be less effective during peak times and does not apply to the Magic Kingdom.  In almost no instance, we would attempt to be a walk-up at a Magic Kingdom restaurant with the possible exception of the Liberty Tree Tavern for lunch.  Which brings us to our next suggestion…

Leave the park!  Hop on the monorail, watercraft, or a bus and head to a nearby resort.  Many of the restaurants in resorts do not fill up for dinner or lunch and are likely to be able to accommodate walk-ins.  The restaurants along the Boardwalk often take walk-ins particularly at the beginning or end of service—5:00PM or 9:00PM for dinner.  The Captain’s Grille at the Yacht Club is a charming little eatery with excellent prix fixe offerings and superb service.  The Wave at the Contemporary Resort and the Grand Floridian Café at the Grand Floridian Resort are seldom full.  Maya Grill at the Coronado Springs Resort invariably has open dinner spots as does the Trail’s End Restaurant at the Fort Wilderness Campground.  Prices and service are often better than table service restaurants in the parks.  Note that this strategy will not work for popular venues like Chef Mickey’s, Cape May Café, or Boma.  Travel off the beaten path to find open tables!  Furthermore, do not forget about the wonderful restaurant offerings at Disney’s Swan and Dolphin resorts.  Fine and casual dining experiences abound here ranging from Todd English’s Blue Zoo and Il Mulino of New York fame, to Shula’s Steakhouse, the Fountain, and the Garden Grove Café.  The Garden Grove Café also hosts a very reasonable character breakfast on weekends.

Another possible way to enjoy meals without reservations is to visit Downtown Disney, the Marketplace, and West Side.  Many of the restaurants here, though popular, have seats for walk-ins due to their sheer size and turn over.  Raglan Road, the Portobello Yacht Club, and Paradiso 37 frequently have tables available as do the House of Blues and the restaurant at Splitsville, particularly at non-peak meal times like 2:00PM and 4:30PM. Many of these dining establishments house bars that serve food from the full menu.  We love grabbing a glass of wine or beer and sushi at the bar at the Wolfgang Puck Café before enjoying a movie.  Even more dining options are coming to Downtown Disney as it transforms into Disney Springs.

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Finally, be flexible about where and how you are seated.  Many popular restaurants offer their full menus in their lounges or at their bars.  We have enjoyed many a meal in the lounge at the California Grill, the Crew’s Cup Lounge at the Yacht Club, and the bar at Sanaa.  If the venue is full, ask if you can be seated at the bar or in the lounge.  Bar tenders and cocktail servers know the menus well and can often make excellent suggestions.  Have four appetizers instead of two entrees, you may even save some money.

Do not miss the Truffle Fries at the Crew's Cup.

Do not miss the Truffle Fries at the Crew’s Cup.

For information on dining at WDW, check out our restaurant reviews and Top Ten lists!

2.  Which WDW resorts have the best pools?

While almost every WDW resort has wonderful pools with multiple options for activities poolside, there are several notable standouts.  In the value resort category, the Finding Nemo themed pool and the Cozy Cone themed pool at the Art of Animation Resort are both spectacular.  The Nemo themed pool, spanning a huge courtyard between buildings, sits immediately behind the Landscapes of Flavors food court.  Large, three dimensional renderings of various characters from the film surround the free form pool and transport guests to the big blue.  Giant jellyfish guard the entrance to the pool and a nearby anemone shelters Nemo and Marlin.  The scale and detail of these elements shrink humans down to the world of the film.  Music from the soundtrack of Finding Nemo can be heard in the pool underwater.  The cleverly named and themed Drop Off pool bar is nearby with a good selection of libations and snacks.  A short walk away, one finds the Cozy Cone themed pool in the Cars section of the resort.  Sheltered by guest rooms on three sides, this semicircular pool is surrounded by cone shaped open air cabanas that offer a welcome respite from the sometimes harsh Florida sun.  While the landscaping around the pool has not completely filled in yet, this pool promises to be a cozy and intimate refuge in a huge resort when the trees and other vegetation fill in.  The pools at the All Stars resorts, though not our favorites, are enormous and more than adequate for the number of guests.  These pool areas tend to be a bit loud for us and often over-run by tour groups or large groups of student athletes visiting WDW for a tournament.

The pools at Disney’s moderate resorts are a notable step up from most of the pools in the value category in terms of theming and amenities.  Pools at the moderate resorts feature slides and water features like fountains, sprayers, and jets.  Moderate resorts all have what Disney calls “feature pools” as well as “quiet pools.”  Quiet pools are located throughout the resort and usually do not offer elaborate water features or slides.  Our favorite moderate resort pools are found at the Port Orleans Riverside Resort and the Caribbean Beach Resort.  While the general theming of the Caribbean Beach Resort is a bit too familiar and dated for our taste, the Fuentes del Morro feature pool is brilliantly themed.  Turrets and crumbling fort walls envelop a free form pool.  A slide carries guests through the walls to a splashdown and cannons sprinkle guests with water.  Reminiscent of the El Morro fortress in San Juan harbor, this pool gels well with the Caribbean theming and echoes the pirate theming found in some rooms.  A nearby shallow water children’s play area, offers many water features and a giant pirate ship that periodically dumps water onto guests.  This pool truly transports guests and provides a welcome escape from the heat and midday crowds at the parks.

Ol’ Man Island at Port Orleans Riverside is home to our second favorite moderate resort pool.  Literally set on an island in the center of the Port Orleans Riverside resort, this pool features a lengthy slide and multiple water features which splash guests with cascading water.  Abundant theming and mature vegetation give this pool area a homey, cozy feeling that reminds us of the long gone River Country water park.  Rickety wooden aqueducts and make-shift sprayers drip, spray, and drop water onto guests throughout the pool.  This also seems to be one of the best Disney pools in terms of heating.  We were able to swim here in cold weather with no problems as the heating system actually keeps the pool at a welcoming temperature.  For the record, we find Disney are often way too cold and hot tubs excessively warm.  Cast members assure us that the pools are temperature controlled for our safety, but we remain unconvinced that hot tubs need to be set at 102 degrees when it is 92 degree-weather!  Port Orleans Riverside is also home to five other quiet pools that are surrounded by lush landscaping and adequately themed.  Although none of these quiet pools features a slide or other water feature, they stand ready as serene answers to the feature pool on Ol’ Man Island.  The quiet pools in the Alligator Bayou section of the resort are favorites of ours as they still offer a deep end and trees and bushes shade sections of the pool from the sun.

Pools at Disney’s deluxe and villa resorts rival those of any resort in the world.  We are water babies and regularly spend whole days poolside swimming, reading, and catching some Z’s.  Of no surprise to any Disney fan, the 2.5 acre Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club resorts reigns supreme as our favorite WDW pool complex.  Actually a small water park unto itself, this sand-bottomed pool provides a lazy river, an impressive waterslide, a shipwreck, its own bar and quick service restaurant, and a large beach and shallow water play area ideal for tots and toddlers.  Guests could easily spend days here and it is hard to drag kids away even for a trip to theme park.  Four large separate pools are connected by wooden bridges and shaded walkways.  The river pool encircles an island that connects to Hurricane Hana’s Bar and Grill as well as to a pool where in-water volleyball and other games are offered.  A three story tall water slide begins its descent from the crow’s nest of a wrecked ship along the shores of Crescent Lake.  Guests slide over the sidewalk and down, around, and into the activities pool on a fun, decent lengthened ride.  A large windmill marks the hours and several waterfalls tickle the surface of the pools enchantingly.  Stormalong Bay sits alongside a walkway providing patio seating for Beaches and Cream, a very popular fifties-style eatery and ice cream parlor.  A separate counter and line provides access for guests in their bathing suits who would like to order ice cream or snacks to go.  Stormalong Bay lounge chairs fill up early and access is restricted to guests staying at the Yacht and Beach Club or the Beach Club Villas.

Several other deluxe resorts are home to incredible pools.  For sheer size and escapism, the pool at the Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House is a winner.  One of the largest pools on site, the Uzima  pool is nestled between two arms of the Animal Kingdom Lodge which add a much-needed architectural frame to the space.  Lush, overgrown vegetation creates areas of shade and seclusion that break the pool deck up into intimate areas ideal for reading or grabbing a nap.  Although the slide here leaves much to be desired, the hot tub is an oasis unto itself surrounded by towering bamboo trees that sway and creak in the wind.  Trees actually form a canopy over the large hot tub.  An afternoon at the Uzima transports you to another world and screams “vacation!”  The excellent Mara quick service restaurant and Uzima Springs pool bar are steps away.  The pools at the Contemporary Resort occupy a favorite spot with us as well.  Although somewhat stark in theming, these pools are huge and offer water features, a slide, and killer views to boot.  The main pool directly behind the Contemporary’s A-framed tower offers a slide and several sprayers and fountains.  One jet shoots water over 15 feet into the air and the falling water attracts adults and children alike.  A series of arched jets create a semicircle of cascading water that forms a tunnel of sorts.  Guests love to stand under the jets for an impromptu head or neck massage as the pounding water provides relief.  Set along the shores of Bay Lake, this pool complex enjoys great vistas of watercraft, parasailing adventurers, and swooping birds.  With the Wilderness Lodge and campground in the distance and trees ringing the lake, a peaceful, uninterrupted view soothes and transports.  The second pool in this complex actually sits in Bay Lake surrounded by a deck.  Although not truly floating in the lake, this circular, deep, and well-heated pool serves as an escape from the hustle and bustle of the main pool during game time.  Views here are equally good with views of Bay Lake and Bay Lake Tower on one side and the Contemporary itself on another.  The main tower of the Contemporary also shades pool goers from the afternoon sun as it sets in the west.

Possibly a surprise to some of our readers, the pools at the Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa make our list of favorites.  Their number, scale, and variety make them constant favorites of ours.  The Congress Park pool affords direct views of Downtown Disney and the Characters in Flight balloon.  This large, plain pool is immaculately kept and seldom busy.  We enjoy reading under an umbrella between dips in the pool and watching water craft go by.  The lap of the waves is soothing as are the antics of the river otters who often make an appearance along the shoreline.  The Grandstand Pool is themed to horse-racing and offers a pool bar and children’s play area with water sprayers.  A nearby BBQ pavilion makes this a favorite with families grilling lunch or dinner.  Adequate tables and chairs and the theming make this pool fun.  The newly renovated Paddock Pool now offers zero entry, a twisting slide wrapped around a water tower, an extensively themed children’s splash area, and its own bar and grill.  This lively pool is a much needed improvement and provides an alternative to the main pool area in the Springs section of the resort.  The Springs feature pool area near the Carriage House check-in complex features a water slide, two hot tubs, a bar, and access to the adjacent arcade, community hall, and quick service venue, Artist’s Palette.  This pool is home to nightly movies under the stars.  Each pool at Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa offers guests a distinct theme and experience while staying true to the theming of the resort.

For further information, check out our resort reviews and Top Ten Pools at WDW.

3.  Is it possible to buy things that are actually on sale at WDW?

This is tricky!  Disney has periodic sales that are not announced ahead of time.  These sales are frequently on items that are being phased out or are out of season.  Unfortunately, it is almost impossible on the consumer side to predict when these sales will take place.  In our experience, however, bathing suits and related items seem to go on sale in the late summer and early fall when new items are coming in.  Boutiki at the Polynesian resort and the Fittings and Fairings store at the Yacht Club seem to offer the best sales.  In fact, we have found that the resort shops seem to have more sale merchandise.  Sale merchandise seems to go fastest in the theme park shops since they enjoy higher volume.  Sale items are usually marked with a white sticker with red border and usually end in a 99.  Ask a cast member if the store has a sale section.  For example, the northeast corner of Tren-D and the north and south walls of the Mombasa Marketplace at Animal Kingdom often have sale items.  Merchandise with dates on it, like a shirt that says “Epcot 2013,” will go on sale as the year goes on.

Sale items at WDW usually feature this sticker.

Sale items at WDW usually feature this sticker.

The best way to find deals at WDW stores is to avail of the myriad discounts Disney offers.  For example, often during peak crowd periods, Disney will offer a 20% discount on your entire purchase if you use a coupon found on your receipt from select quick service restaurants. Usually, one must use the coupon before 1:00PM at select theme park stores to receive the discount. Disney uses these coupons to incentivize guests not to shop at the last minute as parks are closing.  Anyone who has ever been in the Emporium about 30 minutes prior to park closing knows that it can be a mad house!  We have found this to be the best possible discount. As a point of comparison,  Premium Annual Passholders now only enjoy a 10% merchandise discount.  Check out the forums at in the news and rumors section for updates about when these coupons are being issued.  Additionally, Passholders and DVC members are entitled to merchandise and dining discounts.

The Marketplace Fun Finds store at the Downtown Disney Marketplace offers sale items and promotions like five items for $20.  This is usually a hodge podge of quite random items, but there are deals to be had.  Mouse pads, phone cases, wine glasses, coasters, Christmas ornaments, Hanukah plates, and journals have all been found here.  This is a great option for souvenirs and/or gifts for kids back home.  We found wine glasses here at five for $20 that were still selling for $12.99 at other WDW stores.

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Reader’s Questions: Jan. 31, 2014

1.  Where can I find the best vegetarian meals?

Although all WDW restaurants offer some vegetarian options, there are several locales that we find provide the best vegetarian options.  Sanaa, at the Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village, is one of our favorites and has wonderful meat free dishes.  (See our review of Sanaa.)  Bread service and all the accompaniments are vegetarian as are most of the vegetable sides and main courses. (Naan may be made in the same tandoor oven as meats dishes, so check with your server.) Salad Samplers are available here and include refreshing combinations like a watermelon, cucumber, and fennel salad.  The Sanaa Vegetarian Sampler gives diners a choice of two of five vegetarian entrees and a side of Basmati rice or five grain pilaf.  The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary resort reigns as our second favorite for vegetarians.  Although the windowless atmosphere can be a bore when the restaurant is crowded, veggie options here are easy to come by, macrobiotic, and usually organic.  The side dishes are particularly noteworthy here.  Chefs here always whip up hearty, flavorful veggie dishes here which leave our vegetarian guests more than happy.  The Wave does a great job of offering vegetarian dishes that stand up to their best non-vegetarian offerings, not alternatives that are thrown together and feel like an after -thought.

California Grill and Citrico’s both offer extensive vegetarian options on and off the menus.  Again, let your server and the greeter know that you will need vegetarian options.  California Grill nudges past Citrico’s in terms of best veggie offerings, but both are excellent.  The vegetarian sushi at California Grill is one of our favorites.  Selections of rolls and traditional sushi include unique combinations of vegetables.  We often share two orders of vegetarian sushi and drinks in the lounge at the California Grill about 4:45-5:00PM, before the crowds settle in.  Watching the sun slip below the horizon over the Seven Seas Lagoon while relaxing in the Cali Grill lounge is one of our favorite things to do at WDW. Since Citrico’s sources so many local ingredients, chefs here are very adept at creating vegetarian dishes with local ingredients with lots of flavor punch.  One could easily make a meal of the vegetable side dishes at Citrico’s.

Buffets are also an excellent option for vegetarians as they allow for much more choice than table service restaurants.  At least one hot vegetarian option is on each buffet with many sides and salads that are also meat free.  In some cases, servers can request special meat free versions of dishes.  We have had several stir fry dishes made with tofu in lieu of meat.  Always let your server know when seated that you have a vegetarian in the party and note the same when you make an ADR.  Boma is a phenomenal choice for vegetarians as is the Crystal Palace which always seems to have an abundance of offerings.  Although O’hana is not the optimal choice for vegetarians, we have had chefs there make wonderful stir fry dishes, tempura vegetables, and Thai curries for the vegetarian in our party.

Art of Animation is the best option for quick service dining for vegetarians.  This reimagined answer to a food court is clean, welcoming, and bright.  It offers several stations that feature different foods.  Options include Indian food, create your own pasta, and salads.  The vegetarian in our party always finds something she loves here.  Be sure not to miss the pistachio gelato if you’re not vegan!

2.  Where can you see fireworks without going into a park?

Options abound for viewing fireworks without entering a park.  Indeed, having a dinner or a snack and then settling in for fireworks is a low key way to spend an evening.  After fireworks, stroll nearby stores or enjoy the ambiance of a resort lobby.  Except for very busy times of the year where parking is a nightmare and crowds at certain resorts become a nuisance to guests paying to stay there, Disney welcomes guests to visit their resorts.  The Polynesian becomes very crowded around the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve and guests may not be permitted to park there unless they have dining reservations or are registered guests.  In some cases, we have seen Disney actually issue wristbands to guests staying on property in order to allow them to view Fourth of July fireworks, but, again, this practice is rare.  Disney has also begun repeating special holiday fireworks displays on days besides just the holiday itself.  For example, New Year’s Eve fireworks are displayed on December 30 and 31 and Fourth of July fireworks often run for several days before and after Independence Day.

Any of the resorts circling the Seven Seas Lagoon offer great views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks.  Consider making a dining reservation for a few hours before fireworks and then settle in on a beach, bench, or swing to view fireworks.  In some cases, resorts offer grassy shorelines which are perfect for fireworks watching.  Bring a towel to sit on to avoid damp grass.  Remember to be considerate of others when choosing a fireworks viewing spot.  For example, guests at the window tables at Narcoossee’s are often troubled by guests standing in front of the windows on the deck to watch fireworks.  Similarly, do not stand directly in front of someone’s ground floor patio at the Polynesian, effectively blocking their view of the fireworks.  If you are fortunate enough to be staying in a concierge level room, head to the concierge lounge for fireworks viewing when appropriate.  Many concierge lounges offer spectacular views of fireworks from their windows or balconies.

Select an out of the way spot for more pleasant viewing.  The end of the dock at the Polynesian is often uncrowded and affords amazing, direct views of MK fireworks.  Similarly, the fourth floor outdoor lobby on the north end of the Contemporary offers stunning views of Cinderella Castle.  At the time of this post, Disney Vacation Members not staying  at Bay Lake Tower can still access the Top of the World lounge for fireworks viewing at certain non-peak times of the year.  Call ahead for this option.  Parking is not always available at the Contemporary for non-resort guests even though the lounge may be open to all DVC members.  In this case, take WDW transportation to the Magic Kingdom and walk over.  Viewing the fireworks from the resort watercraft is another treat.  Board a launch or cruiser at a resort and catch the fireworks from the water.  Be aware that cast members will ask you to exit and re-board if there is a line at your destination.  For example, if you plan to make a roundtrip from the Wilderness Lodge to the MK, you will have to disembark and re-board for the return trip.

The Boardwalk is an excellent place to spend an evening and enjoy fireworks.  Make reservations at one of the dining locales at the Boardwalk, Yacht, or Beach Club resorts, browse the shops and have a cocktail until fireworks time.  Illuminations can be seen from many locations along the Boardwalk although some of the lower elements of the show are not visible from the Boardwalk.  Holiday shows like those for the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve tend to be launched higher into the air and so are more visible from the Boardwalk.  Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios has pyrotechnic elements that can be seen from the bridge between the Swan and Dolphin and the Yacht Club resorts.  Apart from this, Hollywood Studios does not have a nightly fireworks show.  For holidays, however, Disney presents fireworks at Hollywood Studios to help spread out the crowds and relieve the pressure on the MK and Epcot.  In our experience, New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July fireworks are clearly visible from the aforementioned bridge.  Be aware that it may not be possible to park at the Boardwalk, Yacht, or Beach Club resorts at peak times even for guests staying on Disney property.  At busier times of the year, consider springing for valet parking at one of the resorts.  Keep in mind that traffic after fireworks shows during peak times like Christmas week, New Year’s week, Spring Break, and the week of the Fourth of July can be abysmal.  It can take two plus hours to get home from a resort by car or WDW transportation.  Enjoy an after fireworks snack, drink, or stroll to let the crowds diminish a bit.

For a real treat, consider splurging on a fireworks cruise.  Cruises depart from the resorts along Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon as well as the Yacht and Beach Club resorts.  Although pricey, boats accommodate up to 12 people and guests bring their own refreshments onboard.  This is a wonderful option for anniversaries, birthdays, or other magical milestones.  When the price of the cruise is divided by the number of guests, it makes the cruise less expensive for all involved.

3.  Where can I dine without being mobbed by kids?

Keep in mind that Disney attracts families, so kids abound.  In our experience, most kids are happy to be at WDW and well behaved.  That being said, by trade we are teachers, so sometimes a break from the little ones is welcome.  Generally, the fine dining restaurants host fewer children than do other restaurants, especially character meals.  Try Artist’s Point at the Wilderness Lodge or the Flying Fish at the Boardwalk.  In our experience, these two venues seem to attract fewer families than other fine dining establishments.  Additionally, the later you eat, the better chance you have of dining with more adults.  Let the greeters know you would like a more secluded table away from families with children.  Do not be shy about asking to be moved.  At the Coral Reef restaurant, we were once seated on the back wall, right in front of a very boisterous party of 12.  The raucous noise totally destroyed the calm, undersea atmosphere of the Coral Reef so we simply went back to the welcome desk and asked to be reseated.  You may have to wait a bit longer to get a better table, but it can be well worth the trouble.  Counter service restaurants are most crowded at peak hours, from 11:30AM to 1:00PM for lunch and from  6:00PM -8:30PM for dinner.  Consider eating at counter service venues at off times, the later the better.  We have found less kids eating lunch at 1:15PM than at 12 noon.  Also, visit WDW when most kids in the country are in school.  Avoid holidays, summer, and long weekends, especially those in the winter and spring.  The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World has spot-on charts and recommendations for when to visit WDW with the least crowds.  They also have wonderful touring plans for adults travelling without children.

4.  Are deluxe resorts really worth it?

In our experience, there is no doubt about it.  This, of course, depends on what kind of WDW vacation you are planning.  We love the additional amenities and services offered at the deluxe resorts and visit them often!  Having worked for years as a travel agent and personal trip planner, one of us knows from experience that people have the best vacations when their expectations are met on the actual trip.  If your party plans to spend every waking moment in a theme park from dawn to dusk, then perhaps the added expense of a deluxe resort is not the best option.  Ask yourself: how much time will we spend at our resort?  If you will spend considerable time at your resort and would like a more elaborately themed pool, better restaurants, a grand lobby,  and spa services, then certainly consider a deluxe resort.  If you plan to be park commandos but have little ones in tow, a deluxe resort stay can be essential and might make the difference between a busy but pleasant trip and a stressful one.  We advise taking breaks no matter who is in your party, but with kids under 12, this is a must.  Therefore, having a deluxe resort nearby to which you can return quickly for a nap and dip in the pool is a blessing.  When the child in our party was younger, we would take a touring break.  We’d procure an umbrella table near the pool and let our youngster nap on a lounge chair in the shade while enjoying the pool, our books, and perhaps a snack or cocktail.  This afforded her a much needed break and saved us from sweltering humidity and midday crowds.

Take advantage of the dining options at a deluxe resort even if you are not staying there.  For example, for a break from the MK no matter where you are staying, take the monorail over to the Cotemporary for a quick service meal at the Comtempo Café or visit Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian.  Then people watch or park it in the shade for a spell while the little ones chill out.  Please note, however, that non-registered guests are NOT permitted to use WDW resort pools.  In other words, you cannot use the pool facilities at the Polynesian unless you are a registered guest there. (We know that there are exceptions for DVC members.)

Again, expectations are the key.  We love the moderate resorts and find the theming wonderfully transporting.  Our favorite moderate resort is the Port Orleans Riverside with its lush, overgrown landscaping, many pools, food court, and meandering paths.  The only drawback of a moderate for us is the lack of a balcony.  In many cases, other guests can see right into your room if the shades are not drawn.  Moderates offer many of the same amenities found at deluxe properties, but not as grand in scale, theming, or number.  For example, a deluxe resort may have four table service restaurants, several bars, and a tea room (Grand Floridian) while a moderate may have one table service, a bar, and a food court (Port Orleans).  The hardware at the moderate resorts constantly improves, with down blankets and duvets added to many rooms and refrigerators in all moderate rooms.

Location should also affect your decision about where to stay.  Would you like to be close to the MK or Animal Kingdom?  Do you want to be in the center of the action?  Port Orleans is a moderate resort but it offers excellent boat transportation to the Marketplace at Downtown Disney and all the shops and restaurants it offers.  Disney’s Coronado Springs resort is central and so equidistant to almost all areas of the World.

Take advantage of deals and promotions being offered.  Frequently, non-view rooms at deluxe resorts are close in price to those at moderate resorts with views.  In other words, a River View Royal Room at Port Orleans Riverside is sometimes not far in price from a standard view room at the Wilderness Lodge or Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Thus, you can enjoy all the amenities and theming of a deluxe resort at moderate pricing!  The Caribbean Beach Resort tends to offer the best promotions in the moderate category followed by Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.  Both of these resorts offer pervasive theming and fun feature pools with great slides as well as several other quiet pools scattered across the respective properties.  Since we live in South Florida the architecture of the Caribbean Beach Resort feels too much like home to us.  You can also spoil yourself at a moderate resort.  The Port Orleans Riverside resort offers Royal Rooms with gold bathroom fixtures and fiber optic elements like fireworks in the head board.  The Caribbean Beach Resort offers pirate themed rooms that are a hit with adults and children alike.  Email us at for more ideas and resources.