Updated for 2017!
Planning a Disney vacation can often be confusing work, and work is certainly not a word we want to associate with a vacation. Choosing a place to stay in Orlando is one of the first big decisions you will make when planning your Disney trip, and if you decide to stay on property, there are now more than 25 Disney Resort locations to choose from, from the budget-conscious Value Resort hotels to over-the-top Deluxe Resort hotels.
We asked some of our team of Princess Travel Experts where they recommend you book your next trip when you are traveling with children.
Elizabeth recommends Port Orleans French Quarter.
I know this resort isn’t as obvious as the best for kids, but both my son and I love it. Port Orleans French Quarter (POFQ) actually has a lot for children to enjoy, and I love that it isn’t so large that all the activities are spread out across the resort. Here is a breakdown of why this Moderate level resort is one of best Disney’s kid friendly resorts:
Pool – Doubloon Lagoon, the name of the Mardi Gras-themed pool, is where King Neptune and his sea serpent “Scales” dominate this relaxing pool. Guests can ride down a “Scales” tongue on the 51 – foot waterslide. There is also a clam shell waterfall feature and jazz-playing gators all around the pool area.
Kid’s Splash Play Area – This new area is for guests that are 48 inches and under who want to splash around and keep cool. This adorable splash park has fun water cannons, water fountains, and slides that are kiddie sized. This adorable aquatic splash park is located next the Doubloon Lagoon Pool, which makes it easier for kids and parents to enjoy both fun spots.
Playground – Children ages 2-12 can burn off excess energy at the resort playground designed just for them. This is also very close to the pool area.
South Quarter Games – Almost all Disney resorts have arcades, so Port Orleans French Quarter isn’t any different there, but we love how close it is to the pool, food court and bus stop.
Free Water Taxi Transportation – This resort has boats that run to Disney Springs (this resort is located only 1.7 miles from Disney Springs) and Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside.
As I said, the greatest perk of this resort is how close everything is! It is a smaller resort, which means almost all of the buildings are close to the bus stop, the pool, food court, as well as the Jackson Square gifts and desires shop. Disney’s Port Orleans-French Quarter is romantic too, with its cobblestone streets and magnolia blossoms, but also has some colorful Mardi Gras fun mixed in.
Just a tip: if you are staying here, please try the beignets. They even have a gluten-free version. YUM!
POFQ is the sister resort to Port Orleans – Riverside. This means you can take advantage of amenities at both resorts. Riverside has the Royal rooms, so if you have a little princess, this is a must!
Amanda recommends Coronado Springs Resort.
I realize a lot of people will try to talk you into booking at a value resort, and I totally get that for budget reasons. If you can swing a stay at a moderate resort, my husband and I have always favored Coronado Springs because everything is situated around a beautiful man-made lake called Lago Dorado.
Coronado Springs is a Spanish colonial-themed convention resort located 2.7 miles from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This is a large resort, which some people do not really appreciate because there can be walking involved. The convention center itself offers over 220,000 sq ft of meeting space, including 2 ballrooms and an exhibition hall. Amenities include four pools, an arcade, nightly campfires, a spa, a 24-hour health club, plus multiple dining options.
While you won’t find rooms decorated so much for the kids, like you see in the value rooms, you will find these accommodations are decorated with Mayan accents, plus they all have work stations, free WiFi, minifridges and coffee makers. The Coronado suites sleep four or six and feature extra living spaces.
When our children were smaller, they loved the aquatic area built around a 50-foot replica of a Mayan pyramid. Water streams down the steps of the massive stone structure into the Lost City of Cibola pool, and both kids and adults flock to the spitting Jaguar Slide. This aquatic complex, known as the Dig Site Pool, is also home to the largest outdoor hot tub at Walt Disney World Resort—with room for 22 people.
Be sure to plan a “free day” to enjoy the pool. If you are traveling in the summer, make sure you take a swim mid-afternoon when the temps are soaring. Then grab a nap and get those kids back to the parks!
Julie recommends Disney’s Contemporary Resort
When I think of children and Walt Disney World, I think of Magic Kingdom Disney World’s original theme park, Magic Kingdom, which is literally next door to the Contemporary Resort. This is a deluxe resort for many reasons including amenities, and convenience which is great for families.
Walk to Magic Kingdom: It is less than a 10 minute walk from resort to park! Being next door to Magic Kingdom is a HUGE time saver in transportation time – and time is money when you are at Walt Disney World. It’s very easy to pop out of the park, walk to the resort for a nap, swim or just take a break from the sensory overload kids can get in the heat of the day when park crowds are highest.
Unique Transportation: The monorail, so quintessentially Disney, runs directly through the Tower. You can ride a bus too. Where else can you hop on a monorail inside your hotel and take it to Magic Kingdom or the Ticket and Transportation Center and transfer on the Epcot line?
Spacious Rooms: Speaking of layout, the rooms are the 3rd largest of all the rooms at Walt Disney World resort. Rooms comfortably accommodate a family of five with two queen beds and a twin-sized day bed. The room also handles everyone’s stuff with a built-in closets and plenty of shelves to store items.
Dining Convenience: You can dine at two of Walt Disney World’s most popular restaurants without ever having to leave the resort. Enjoy a meal with Mickey and friends in Chef Mickey’s or watch the fireworks as you dine atop the resort from the California Grille. You have quick access to other monorail resort popular restaurants too.
Amenities: Two pools and a hot tub offer a beautiful view overlooking Bay Lake and includes a water slide. You can rent a boat or parasail from the water sports dock. Looking to add special activities to your trip? Book a Fireworks Cruise or Pirates and Pals cruise which leaves nightly from the Contemporary. Rooms in the Tower offer views of Magic Kingdom, which are awesome for fireworks viewing or Bay Lake, where you can watch The Electrical Water Pageant, a nightly display that makes a circuit around Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake.
Bottom line… it’s worth saving up for the Contemporary Resort. For budget purposes, save money by staying in the Garden Wing versus the Tower. There is something to be said for convenience and time savings while on a vacation. For families with small children, choosing Contemporary Resort for its proximity to the Magic Kingdom park make it a fabulous choice! There is nothing quite like walking out the resort or looking out your window and seeing Cinderella Castle and Space Mountain.
At the end of a long day, you can walk out the gate of Magic Kingdom and avoid waiting in a bus, boat or monorail line to get your family back to your room resort in the same amount of time OR LESS than you would probably wait on transportation. And when you get to your room, you will be comfortable with plenty of space.
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you planning your next vacation. Bonus points if you include the kids in the planning.
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Amanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.
Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast.
We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Princess Travel Experts with Destinations in Florida travel, Elizabeth and Julie. You can also e-mail them at email@example.com.