Help me pick my hotel

Our trip dates are Nov 10-18, 2018. I have 3 kids (ages 9, 8 and 5 at the time of travel). I’m one of those who think “why pay a lot of a hotel at WDW when all I’m going to do is sleep there?” But I can be convinced otherwise! I currently have a reservation at AofA for the Little Mermaid rooms. My rationale for AorA is:


dedicated bus service (can anyone confirm if this is true in November?)

theming is kid-friendly. The other resorts seem nicer, but I think my kids will like the animation theme, since they are young and into the movies.

Good food court

Tell me why I’m nuts and should choose another hotel (and which one), or why I’m smart and I’ve made the right choice. :slight_smile: Thanks!

My DW and I stayed in one of the LM rooms when we visited WDW last year.

The price was great. The only issue that we had was with the transportation. They do indeed have a dedicated bus. However, they just have one bus stop, and it is quite far from the LM section. We timed it one day, and it took us about 12 minutes to walk from our room to the bus stop. Keep in mind that we are two adults who walk at a fairly brisk pace and it was in the morning, so we were excited. When we would return from one of the parks, it was like a death march going back to our room because we were so exhausted. Being that you will have some young ones with you, this might be something to factor into your decision.

To put it in perspective, there are roughly the same number of rooms at AoA as there are at POR, but POR has three bus stops.

Other than that, I really liked staying there. The LM theming is a bit over-the-top, but I love that. Although we didn’t do them, the pools looked rather inviting too.

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We stayed at AoA the week following Thanksgiving and LOVED it. I do agree with RopeDropper…the walk is sometimes long. We only really minded it at the end of the day, when it was pouring rain. But if you look at all the great things, they outweigh the bad. I would stick with it!

We are doing a split stay in early December, and one of the hotels is AoA, for many of the reasons you already pointed out. I am hoping we’ll be happy with it but I don’t anticipate any issues other than possibly noise. We are doing a Finding Nemo suite because although my family has two children (DD6, DS4), my Mom will be staying in our room with us so the suite will give us some extra space and I am thrilled with more than one bathroom! I hear the Little Mermaid rooms are around a pool that is much quieter, so if your family plans for pool time, that might be a “pro” for you.

FWIW - our other hotel is Wilderness Lodge, and when my DD6 saw the two brochures Disney sent us with pictures of each resort in them, she took one look at “The Big Pool” at AoA and promptly declared it to be ‘the best hotel in the whole world’ - so clearly it’s a winner for kids! :):laughing:

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OK - so this basically comes down to budget, if you have car, and a whole bunch of other things. However I will go on the general premise that you want to stay in the bubble and you will not have a car.

Value - is a wonderfully squishy terms. I can spend $100 on something and it can be an AMAZING value or it can be a crappy value - all depending upon what I deem value to mean.

Although we don’t lounge around the hotel etc - I find that the hotel at a destination has a LOT to do with my overall enjoyment.
1 - Location. Will being in a particular area make my getting around a bit easier (or a bit more fun)?
2 - Room size. 5 people in a VALUE sized room and 5 people in a deluxe cateogry room are two very different things
3 - Beds - my queen requires a queen (nuf said)
4 - Crowd. Although all the hotels are rather large - is the common area large enough to make it feel open / not crowded
5 - Atmosphere. I chose atmosphere and not theme. For me, it it calm, is it nice, is it clean. Is there interesting architecture/spaces. Does it give me a sense of decompression once I get back from the parks - can I relax there with a drink (or two) (or three on those long days). Does it help me to unwind and just “be”.

There have been times where I found a LOT of value at a Hampton Inn while traveling. Nice, Clean, consistent. On our most recent trip to WDW / US. We stayed at Portafino in US and SWAN at WDW. Although the Portafino cost me a lot more - I found A LOT more value in it than I did the SWAN.

So there is a big difference between VALUE and COST. For me - a more expensive resort that truely allows me to relax and be taken care of is well worth the value.

However to provide you with an answer you are probably looking for. With three small kiddies - I would highly recommend the WILDERNESS LODGE for good value.


I totally agree that “value” does not (and should not) always equal ‘cheapest!’ Very good point. I should have clarified that my parents will also be traveling with us, so we’ll have 2 rooms - 1 room with 2 adults + 2 kids and 1 room with 2 adults + 1 kid.

I looked up the Wilderness Lodge, and while I said I can be convinced to stay elsewhere, WL is out of our price range. LOL - wish I could afford it though! Looks very cool and my kids would love it I’m sure.

I heartily agree with you. To me, value (in this sense) means: Am I pleased with what I received for the price that I paid.

Sometimes, low price is more important and a lower price therefore increases value. But sometimes not.

I have a question. If room price is a concern to you why pay the extra money for a themed room. Non themed rooms are very nice and comfortable. They are basically the same room just difference wall paper.

As another thought… since you are paying for 2 rooms, have you looked in to renting DVC points? A 2 bedroom suite at a resort like Saratoga Springs or Old Key West, might be more comfortable (especially if you DO have a car). It would probably be a little more expensive than 2 rooms at AoA, but if you cooked a few meals in the room, you might make up the savings… and have a lot more space.

Just a thought.

Have you considered pofq? The moderates are more budget friendly, but closer to 3 of the parks. This is the smallest moderate, so easy to get to food and pool and bus. Also you can take the boat to Disney Springs. Also my friends used Disney magical vacations travel agency last year and were able to get a delux resort for the price of moderate. I know they only have special rates at certain times. I am sure you will have a good time st which ever resort you choose. For me when I stay on site, my biggest concern along with price is how easy is it to get to and from parks, Because that is where I spend most of my time. Or if we need naps or to rest, how hard is it to get back.

So I also offer Swan / Dolphin. I found Swan to be nice (not great) but think it is a step up from AofA. Location is awesome (which is a primary reason on why I liked it). The decor is decidedly Michael Graves and a park of me did keep thinking that I was going to find someone from either The Golden Girls or Miami Vice as there is a bit of an '80s vibe that persists on the exterior. Rooms are freshly redone and Swan offers QUEEN beds.

Prices are much more reasonable than those of WDW hotels and as theme is not high on your list - may be a good choice. You do get all (or at least most) benefits of staying on site. There is no Magical Express - but a car to / from MCO is very reasonable.

We also like the swAn and dolphin because we use points to get free nights. Transportation and location are great, but no dining plan if that is important. They also charge a resort fee And if you have Car a parking fee. And as the previous writer said, less Of a Disney theme.

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What are the non-themed AofA rooms? You mean at Pop Century or other value resorts?

The biggest downfall to AofA is how long it will take us to get to/from the parks. If we have a 10-15 min walk to the bus stop, wait for the bus, transportation time and short walk to park entrance (reversed on the way home), then it seems like a pretty hefty undertaking for a mid-day break. And with small kids, maybe I should be prioritizing this more.

I really want to stay at the Contemporary. Why can’t I win the WDW lotto!? :wink:

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Definitely need to look into this option. I don’t know much about the Swan/Dolphin but the location is enticing.

I just replied to another post where a couple was looking to save money and get a deluxe resort. Please check out my post about the Labor Day special via the Travel Agency Magical Vacations Travel. I just booked a great deal for March and an unbelievable deal for late summer 2018. You want to win the Lotto? Check accommodations out for my post (Magical Vacations Travel Labor Day Special 2018. Other than a customer I have NO affiliation with MVT. Have Darcy give you a quote for whenever you are looking at. These specials are only on at certain times and have limited availability. Other posts out here will verify that MVT is on the up and up.

Also for swan / dolphin - they offer discounts for military / nurse / teacher. I would also get the hotel CC ASAP as that can help out very quickly in deferring cost of rooms. Once again - I think it is an OK hotel - however location is awesome. I would think it is a bit of an upgrade from AofA. Also look at Bonnett Creek resorts as well. You loose some of the “on site” benefits - but you are so close and at a better price.

The other cool thing about these hotels is actually the bus transportation in the fact that you can take SWAN / DOLPHIN / Boardwalk / Yacht etc - take any of the buses and just walk a bit. We took Yach buses back a few times as they were ready to leave. So we just enjoyed a little walk back to the hotel (ok one day I dragged our 9 year old as she had melted)

I personally just don’t care for the “mass of humanity” on the buses - especially at the end of the evening. I would much rather drive.

So if “THEMING” isn’t important to you and location is more important - I would look at these hotels.

Also look at the Hotels at Disney Springs. You are on the cusp of the bubble as well.

The difference between a themed room versus a non-themed room is about $75 extra per night. I am unsure on which value resorts have both types but I think most of them do. AofA is relatively new so I am unsure about them.

Everything at AOA is themed.

Standard rooms are Little Mermaid.

Suites are Cars, Lion King, or Finding Nemo.

Anything I’ve ever heard about AoA is that it’s loud. People have told me it’s like camp and kids are running all over the place and the walls are thin. I’m not in the hotel room for long, but when I am there it’s to sleep.

I would suggest POFQ, It’s quiet and is a nice break from over stimulated from parks. The pool isn’t too crazy but it’s never crowded and had the fun dragon. My DD was excited b/c she loves Princess & the Frog and she couldn’t wait to stay in NO and eat beignets.

I think no matter where you choose, it offers something Disney that kids can relate to, you just have to play up the theme. I have not researched much about Wilderness but it seems that most families prefer to go there if they can. We were headed to the Polly this week but my daughter broke her arm and required surgery so we’ll be going in April. Again, not a super movie theme, but it’s enough like Moana to get my DD7 and DS4 excited.

I agree with POFQ as well. With three kids, the close proximity of the bus, pool and dining was most important to us and we loved it there! So peaceful after the chaos of the parks! It’s not in your face themed like AOA, but it’s very charming! Highly recommend!