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Disney Dilemma: Best Disney World Hotel Options for Kids

It has been a dream of ours since our little girl was born 3 years ago to take her to Disney World when she’s old enough. My wife and I both have fond childhood memories of trips with our families. I know it may be a bit soon, but we’ve decided to go this fall when she is 4, which leads me to the point of this blog… and frankly a request for your advice. This is our first ever family vacation since our daughter was born, and I’ve got to ask…

How do you get younger children to nap during the day and sleep at night if you are in the same hotel room? I’m hoping you have some simple suggestions that we as new parents just haven’t thought of. Is the only option to sleep when she does… and does that work? My wife told me about one guy who pitched a small tent in the middle of their hotel room as a way to sequester and provide less distraction to his child at night. Would that work?

How do you get younger children to nap during the day and sleep at night if you are in the same hotel room?

Or should we pay extra for a “suite” that has a door for the bedroom… a place to hole up while our 4 year old sleeps? Orlando has hotels with multiple bedrooms, but we’d like to stay really close to the Magic Kingdom to make it easy to nip home for an afternoon nap before returning for more Disney fun?

Walt Disney Worlds Animal Kingdom Lodge Decorated for Christmas 2012Of course, the closer you stay (e.g. at one of the Disney hotels on the monorail – Grand Floridian, Contemporary or Polynesian) the more expensive the rooms are. So, a single room hotel may be the only financially viable option. Have you stayed at hotels with your kid(s)? How did that go, and how did you deal with naps and nighttime sleep? What do you recommend we do?

We’d love your help!

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  1. Michelle

    Disclaimer: we have always coslept with our babies and young kids, so I can’t really understand why people worry so much about sharing hotel rooms. Not a judgement, just means I’m coming from a different place.

    When I was a kid, my parents never worried about this topic either, so it isn’t just cosleepers who have no issues with this topic :)

    We go to Disney World every year. Our babies/toddlers have always napped in their strollers. They are so stimulated and worn out by Disney that they generally sleep more deeply than at home. While they napped in the stroller, we used the time to browse gift shops or have a relaxing snack or coffee and hang out together.

    At night, your daughter will be exhausted. She will probably fall asleep and stay asleep faster and longer than she might at home. My recommendation is to do your usual routine, tuck her in, and hang out quietly together or read a book. Once she’s out, you can probably flip on the tv, if you want, and she won’t wake up.

    Good luck and have a blast!

    BTW, we don’t only go to Disney. Our kids have been across the country to Yellowstone, on an overnight train to NYC, and dozens of shorter trips. I have four of them and weeks of experience sleeping in hotel rooms with kids!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Wow. I can’t believe there’s so much great advice already. You all are wonderful. I’ll try to respond to you all shortly, but let me start with this one… then I need to get my little girl tucked in.

      As you guessed, we didn’t co-sleep except when she was really young. She’s been in her own room for more than 2 years now, and I suppose some of my concerns have to do with lack of experience.

      But that was why I posted this. I knew a bunch of you would be willing to share all of your experience and tips. And don’t stop with the sleeping. I’m sure there’s a ton we need to know in other areas, too.

      Yes, my concern was in part, if we brought her back to the room for naps, would she sleep if one or both of us were there, too. And the same thing about night time, and whether we could turn on the TV etc without waking her.

      The thing is we’ve never had to deal with it, so we don’t know for sure. It sounds like she may be so tired and overstimulated that she’ll sleep in the stroller and at night, no worries?

      I really appreciate all the tips for we new parents. I’ll probably look back and wonder what I was worrying about. Newbies! 😉

  2. Martha

    We go to Disney at least twice a year. We live in Florida we are lucky to take advantage of resident discounts. At any of the resorts you stay trust me it will be great. Disney workers do just about anything to make you happy. We always get the standard room. Also there are buses that will take you to any of the parks, Downtown Disney, and water parks too. The buses run about every 10-15 minutes. The kids, when they used to nap, would nap in the stroller. When we got back to the room at night they would pass out. We have never had an issue when we are away, actually when at home bedtime is a nightmare. if you are going to all the parks and staying more than 4 days I recommend the Disney dinning plan. Have fun.

    1. Michael Schmid

      My brother (he and his wife did their honeymoon at Disney World) told me about the buses. I must say though the idea of “walking distance” and/or rolling a stroller right on a monorail to your hotel is appealing (in concept if not financially).

      Yes, it sounds like many of my concerns about naps and such may be unfounded, having never experience that sort of activity overload with our girl. Naps in the stroller may be fine. My wife is looking into the meal plans. Sometimes they are offered complementary?

      Thanks so much for your help, Martha.

  3. Martha

    We go to Disney twice a year, because I don’t do birthday parties. I take the kids to Disney. We live in Florida we are lucky to take advantage of Florida resident discounts. At any of the resorts you stay trust me it will be great. Disney workers do just about anything to make you happy. We always get the standard room. Also there are buses that will take you to any of the parks, Downtown Disney, and water parks too. The buses run about every 10-15 minutes. The kids, when they used to nap, would nap in the stroller. When we got back to the room at night they would pass out. We have never had an issue when we are away, actually when we at home bedtime is a nightmare. if you are going to all the parks and staying more than 4 days I recommend the Disney dinning plan. Have fun.

    1. Michael Schmid

      I have some friends that are former Disneyland (in CA) employees (cast members) who say the quality of the parks, employees and maintenance has gone down. Clearly, as a big Disney fan, I hope that’s an exaggeration? What has your experience been as a local and frequent visitor to Disney World?

      1. Martha

        Yes, they do offer it complementary sometimes in the fall. :) The one we have done was the Deluxe Dinning Plan, it offer 3 meals and 2 snacks per day per person. It was A LOT of food. It includes appetizer, main meal, desert, and soft drink. Alcohol not included, but you can add it if you want. Signature restaurants cost 2 meal points, but totally worth it. Hubs and I are big foodies. :) the dinning plan can also be used for Character dinning. What we would do on somedays is a buffet breakfast at 9:30 then if we got hungry we would get our snacks and have dinner at a signature restaurant.

        1. Michael Schmid

          My wife is definitely looking into Character Dining for our little girl, and I’ve had some great food at some of the Signature restaurants, including the French one at EPCOT. Thank you!

      2. Martha

        I’ve never been to Disneyland. My experience at Disney World has been great. Last May my daughter forgot her leapster at Ohana, after a character dinning, we didn’t realize it was gone until hours later. The manager did his best to look for it. Unfortunately it wasn’t found, he returned our dinning points even though it was not his fault. We did not ask for them back he did that because he could see how upset we were about leaving it behind. I have yet to have a bad experience from cast members at Disney. If I ever do I will be very vocal about it.

        1. Michael Schmid

          That’s good to hear. I’ve been mostly to Disney World properties back when I hosted conferences in Orlando, but never with our child. I’ve only been to Disneyland once. I think their concerns were with the reduced maintenance of the properties to save money and related quality and safety issues, and none with the “cast.”

  4. Timmi

    This might not help with the napping but have you thought about going with another family? We are planning on going with my cousin and her daughter when we go, that way we can have adult time too, which I think would cut down on some of the vacation stress. I also agree to just try and go with the flow and see if they just fall asleep. I wouldn’t force them to take a nap (unless you know a meltdown is inevitable). I would maybe find a less stimulating area of the park and relax.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks, Timmi. Great idea. Actually it looks like my brother and his wife may come for a while. Their kids are grown, though. They might at least be able to give us a break and some adult time. They’d love to take our little girl to the park one day, for example. I really appreciate your input.

  5. Daddy's in Charge?

    Dont worry about the afternoon nap. We have gone to Disney about 20 times with our kids, I know spoiled rotten, we stay in those pricey resorts but we bought Vacation Club… Disneys version of timeshare. We always get a one bedroom. Anyway at some point in the day just take her for a long walk and trust me she’ll be out cold. Throw all schedules out the window and just realize that EVERYONE is going to be tired. Do you really want to leave the park at some point in te afternoon and go back to a hotel. That could be a four hour process by the time you got back. Since some of the parks close at 7:00, it’s probably not worth it. My advice would be to stay on Disney grounds and utilize their buses and monorails. Bottom line NAP IN THE STROLLER. Anyone that tells you to go to your hotel to nap is crazy. What are you going to do at that time?

    1. Teresa

      Completely agree w/ everything!

    2. Teresa

      I agree w/everything too.

    3. Michael Schmid

      John, this is exactly the kind of advice I need. Having not done any vacation travel (our 3 year old has been on 12 flights, but always for family stuff) I don’t know what to expect. Getting advice from an expert is just what I needed. This is a huge help! Thank you.

      1. Daddy's in Charge?

        Let me add that the likelihood of your kid being awake when they get back to your hotel room is pretty slim. You’ll find bedtime to be pretty easy.

        1. Michael Schmid

          Thanks! So now I just need to decide where the best place to stay is?

  6. Teresa

    I agree with napping in the stroller. That’s what Madison did. Push her around & dont stop & then when she falls asleep grab a coffee & sit, people watch & relax…it’s a great break. As for at night…we all went to bed at the same time when we got back to the hotel. We were exhausted each time so sleeping wasn’t too tough. Just be sure to bring a couple of bath toys & an object she sleeps with for familiarity & if all else fails tell her Mickey is watching to make sure she goes to sleep. :). It’s hard, but try not to tell her she has to get to sleep for all the fun the next day because she’ll get all excited & ask two thousand questions. :). I’ve made that mistake one too many times. :).

    Also hit a Disney store outlet before you go. Get a stuffed animal & a couple of shirts & such. Much cheaper to buy them before you go! Just make sure they say Disney World. They tend to carry more Disneyland items. :)

    1. Michael Schmid

      Also hit a Disney store outlet before you go. Get a stuffed animal & a couple of shirts & such. Much cheaper to buy them before you go!

      I totally would not have thought of that, Teresa. Great idea. And it’s beginning to sound like the stroller naps is the way to go. Thank you. I’m a newbie daddy, so really appreciate everyone’s advice.

  7. RoryBore

    I tend to agree with Daddy’s in Charge — let them nap in the stroller….or wherever (we’ve had a picnic lunch in parks and mine have taken a quick nap on the blanket!). Really, it is best to go into a vacation knowing that schedules will be off somewhat, there might be difficult behaviour as a result, you will be tired and wonder if this is in fact “vacation”……but you will enjoy it much more if you find that fine line between keeping some of the daily home routine – but also knowing when something has to give.

    (However, if you know your child will completely meltdown at dinner or shortly after if there is no nap – then you have to make that judgement call. )

    Unlike myself with 3 children, you will just have the one: thus no other noisey, having trouble settling, cranky over-tired siblings to disturb her. When our youngest was a baby and definitely needed the afternoon nap, either my husband or I would take the other 2 to a park, MacDonald’s with Playland, or the most popular choice; the hotel pool. The one who stayed behind got some quiet downtime to either nap themselves, or read, etc. We’d take turns. If things are going south and fast; Tag team with your spouse to ensure you both get rest, and that the same parent is not left to deal with “issues” all the time, is the most important survival tip for family vacations. If mommy and daddy are not having fun – believe me – no one else is either.

    As for nightime, depending on how sound a sleeper your child is: you may have to go to bed when they do. But you should be able to watch TV with the volume down a bit, or at least read a book, work on a laptop. Our children know that just because mommy and daddy aren’t in bed – doesn’t mean they get out of bed. (who are we kidding – we can fall asleep any.time.of.the.day!) We often amend bedtimes so that our 3 go to sleep at the same time. And like others have mentioned – they are all usually so tuckered out from the day’s adventures, they go to sleep easily. If they DO NOT settle? I have actually gotten them back up and either read some stories, put a movie on, or even hauled them all down to the pool. Nothing is worse, to me, than being in small hotel room with 3 children who after 1 hour have made it abundantly clear: we are not sleepy! I take that as a personal challenge: Oh yes you will be child!

    And if you and your wife cannot sleep — the bathroom and the tub are right there – can make for some nice downtime for mommy and daddy too, sharing a hot bubble bath. My husband and I have also taken turns going down to the hotel hot tub for a good soak. Or even the bar for a night cap. You probably won’t be the only dad there escaping a gone-wrong bedtime routine! LOL
    The most important thing I have learned is this: if you are relaxed about it, your child likely will be too. As soon as they sense mommy and daddy are worried, stressed, etc. their own behaviour will reflect that. You know your child and what they can handle the best — so just know that this first one might be a disaster (ours was), but that you’ll know what to expect for next time. You would be surprised how easily a child will adjust to changes, if they sense their parents are relaxed too.
    Have Fun!!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Yes, with just the one barely 4 year old, we’ll have it much easier than most of you all. I suppose I over think some of this, and need to learn to go with the flow a bit more? Oh, and this is great advice:

      And if you and your wife cannot sleep — the bathroom and the tub are right there – can make for some nice downtime for mommy and daddy too, sharing a hot bubble bath.

      I’ll try to take your advice and just relax and have fun together. After all, isn’t that what the trip is all about? :)

  8. Amanda

    We’ve never been a co-sleeping family, and yet, now that Lilah is two, she sleeps just fine with us in the same room. If possible, we get two bedroom or at least one bedroom suites with a door on the bedroom so we can have some separation while we sleep, but when it’s not possible, it’s generally been just fine. Sometimes I lie down on the bed beside her or beside the portable crib. It can take longer for her to fall asleep with me there, but with some back rubbing and shushing, she usually goes down. And then I can get out my book and read. And I agree with previous commenters: at night, she’ll probably be out like a light, with all that excitement during the day!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Like you, I had been thinking we might need a separate bedroom, but perhaps it’s less necessary than I thought. And it seems that most think naps in a stroller while at a park makes much more sense than returning to the room, and then going back after a nap attempt? If they hotel has WiFi we can watch Netflix movies on my iPad (I’ll need to get a headphone splitter). Thanks so much for your help, Amanda!

  9. Robin

    I haven’t read any of the other responses, but I wanted to give you my point of view.

    I have been going to Disney with my kids since they were 3 months old and now they are 5 and 6 years old. We have stayed at many hotels. As far as sleeping in the same room, my kids had NO problem falling asleep with lights on and TV going even at the end of the day. They were EXHAUSTED. As far as naps, we would sit in the room with lights out and they would be out fairly quickly. We also had them nap a lot in the stroller. They will be tired.

    A suggestion for staying at Disney. If you can splurge for the Fort Wilderness cabins, I highly recommend them. You would have separate rooms and the Fort Wilderness campground is AMAZING for kids. They have a free campfire with Chip N Dale at night and the pool is awesome. You are also a ferry ride away from Magic Kingdom which is so nice and easy. We have camped there twice in tents and my kids did awesome. Have fun!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Your nap and sleep advice is very much like all of the other experts above. This is helping so much. Thank you. We’ll definitely look into the Fort Wilderness cabins based upon your recommendation, they sound great. Are there any others you (or anyone else reading this) recommends for a just turned 4-year-old girl? Thanks so much, Robin!

      The-Cabins-at-Disneys-Fort-Wilderness-Resort

  10. Niel @GMIBADPARENTING

    We took our then two year old to Disneyland for a day while in LA for a wedding, she was very excited but she did take a nap in the stroller. Luckily the lines were short that time of year ,so we didn’t have lots of waiting to deal with.

    But watching her eyes light up when were inside some of the attractions was so amazing. I can’t wait till her brother is a little older so we can all head down to Disney World.

    1. Michael Schmid

      That sounds great, Niel. I hope my daughter (she’ll be four at the time) enjoys it as much as your daughter. It’s been a big dream of my wife’s in particular to take her, so that’s one of the reasons I’m looking for tips and ideas to help make it the best it can be.

  11. Teresa

    Another tip…if you are going to have breakfast w/ Cinderella in the castle book the reservation at 8:30 am when there isn’t a morning magic hour, then show up at 7:45 or 8:00 and there’s no one in the park (someone is there to let you in) so you can take all the pictures you want on the way to the castle without anyone else in them! Especially in front of the castle! It’s an awesome expirence!

    1. Michael Schmid

      That’s a really super tip, Teresa. That sounds awesome, and as you can imagine our little girl is all about the princesses. :)

  12. Angela

    We had the same concerns as you bringing our daughter to Disney -which is my favorite place to go in the world i think! We’ve now been twice – at almost 4 and almost 5 (and we’re going back in February!!!) We were lucky enough to stay in the park both times. Up until this year she was always a great napper (very sad that naps are no longer a part of her life as we still very much enjoy the whole afternoon nap event!) so we found that starting on the earlier side was great. It allowed us to have plenty of time in the parks until lunch and then we would all enjoy a nice rejuventating nap (for everyone because that place is totally exhausting!) and then head back out for more park time and a nice dinner. if you’re not exhausted from running all over the place then staying awake and reading or hanging out on a deck if you have one should be easy. Flexibility as others have pointed out is key and that was really hard for me – But it’s impossible to get into the experience and just enjoy it unless you can let go of routines a little. Our daughter went right back into her sleep/nap routine once we got home. she has also slept in her own room since she was 6 months old and being in the same room wasn’t a problem at all. One thing I did figure out – if you have any flexibility on dinner plans, going to the character dinner at the Contemporary without a reservation worked out fine for us and we were a party of 7. One person waited for our name to be called while the rest of us wandered around. Reservations can be hard to get unless planned far in advance and we weren’t that organized. just my 2 cents as a Disney devotee. ‘m thrilled to be heading back now that my daughter is over 42 inches and able to go on all the cool rides!!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Flexibility as others have pointed out is key and that was really hard for me – But it’s impossible to get into the experience and just enjoy it unless you can let go of routines a little.

      That seems to be one of the keys, Angela. Do you mind if I ask at which park hotel you stayed and if you liked it? How was the transportation (bus or monorail or boat, whatever you used)? Thanks so much for all the great advice. It really helps!

  13. Ivy

    I’m loving this advice! We’re taking my son to Disney next year when he’s 6. This is all great stuff to hear!

    1. Michael Schmid

      I’m so glad it’s helpful, Ivy. People are so wonderful about sharing their advice, and the cool thing about the internet is this will be around for other parents looking for advice about Disney World with your kids. :)

  14. Anna

    By the time I am writing this comment, you are most likely back home from Disneyland (?). SO, how did you do? Do you have some good practical advices after all? :)

    1. Michael Schmid

      Actually, Anna, we heard how important it was to plan in advance, so while we do have a deposit on in park lodgings, we may well change them if we get better recommendations from the experts here in the comments. :) We’re actually not going for months.

  15. Lorie

    I have found the napping is never an issue because the little ones are typically pretty worn out after being at Disney all day.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Several people have said that, Lorie. I’m wondering if naps in the stroller (at the park) may be the way to go? Now if I can just figure out how daddy gets a nap. 😉

  16. Catwoman

    I don’t think that the hotel has any importance. I haven’t been in a Disneyland in the states, but in France, we always sleep in the cheapest hotel, our kids are always tired and weary at the end of the day, they could fall in sleep on a bank, too.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hmmm… perhaps we should go to Euro Disney in France instead? I’m kidding, but that might be fun. We do plan on some international travel when she’s just a bit older. I’m American, but lived in Europe twice as a kid.

  17. Derek

    In terms of where to stay, we have always opted for staying on the Disney property as we’ve found that to be much more convenient. With that said, there are a number of hotels that should suit your needs and not be too insanely expensive. Besides, you’re usually so exhausted by the time you get back to your hotel that you simply collapse and call it a night so the luxury hotels might not be worth it.

    For small kids, some of the All-Star hotels might be appealing. They have different themed hotels, such as movies, music, or sports. There might be another one or two now. When we have gone, we usually stay at Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans, or Coronado Springs. They are a little more expensive than the All-Star but not crazy, and we’ve found the eating options and other amenities to be just right.

    I noticed your comment about your brother honeymooning at Disney. My wife and I got married there and honeymooned there. We originally had booked at Wilderness but we weren’t too happy, so we switched and moved to Caribbean Beach and loved it (and it was cheaper).

    One other note, not sure how others feel but I would recommend the park hopper passes. We liked that because it allowed the freedom and flexibility to move about as we wished; if we wanted to hit Epcot for just one or two things, we could do that and then head over to another park. We didn’t feel obligated to spend the entire day at one park because the ticket was only good for that day.

    Alright, I’ve probably said more than enough yet only a fraction of what my wife would share. Hope you guys have a great trip!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Wow… that’s really helpful, Derek. Thank you! I’ll definitely be sure we take a closer look at the Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans, or Coronado Springs resorts, and also the Park Hopper Pass. Makes a lot of sense. Don’t apologize for sharing so much, this is great. Oh, and per your comment, feel free to have your wife add her 2,000 cents as well. 😉 I need all the help I can get. Actually my brother and his wife got married and honeymooned there, too! They loved it.

      1. Derek

        Small world…just don’t tell me that they got married in 1999 at the gazebo on the lake at the Boardwalk. :)

        I’ll pass this along to my wife and see if she has anything additional to add.

        1. Michael Schmid

          Wow… very close. I think it was ’97 at the Boardwalk. 😉

  18. Teresa

    I just sent you some info on http://www.touringplans.com. I hope it helps! :)

    1. Michael Schmid

      I just sent you an email, Teresa. That info is really helpful, as I know the site will be. I hope your upcoming trip to Disney is wonderful! Please let us know afterward how it went, and if you have any new tips. As I mentioned in my email, we’re not going until later this year, so anything we can learn from you “experts” will be great!

  19. Martha

    I’ve stayed at Port Orleans French Quater and Carribean Beach both are great. If I were to stay in any of them again it would be carribean because of the kids water play area, it’s definetly the best one. It’s a ship wreck with slides. My kids LOVED it. We havent done Coronado yet but we might in May for DG birthday, they have a pretty nice pool too. :)

    1. Michael Schmid

      As I expect you noted, those same hotels were mentioned by someone else as well. My wife and I will definitely look into them The Caribbean Beach Resort sounds interesting. We do plan to stay on site at a Disney property. Thanks so much, Martha!

  20. Jon

    We just got back from our vacation to WDW with our 20-month-old little girl, and as much research as we did in advance, there was still a lot that was learned. You just need to know your kid, and know she’ll be way off her groove, but it makes for an adventure, and you will be tested as parents. So just roll with it and keep your expectations in check and enjoy the fun moments. When it’s tough, seek out a relaxing adult beverage (all parks except the Magic Kingdom).

    We stayed at the Beach Club (wife works for the company so we got a pretty good rate). We chose this resort for its good-sized pool, balconies, and location within walking distance to Epcot, which is where we spent most of our time. The balcony was pretty crucial to our stay. Since we just had the one room, our daughter could sleep in the room itself and we could enjoy snack and drinks out on the balcony during naps and at the end of the day before the adults were ready for bed.

    I would, however mention that the Beach Club, while in the “deluxe” class of resort, is pretty run down. It’s a bit behind in maintenance and that kept popping up in weird annoying ways. It was good enough, just not worth what they were asking to stay there. We’ve stayed at the Animal Kingdom and that resort is MUCH nicer.

    Someone on this chain suggested the Wilderness cabins. I think those look really neat, and could be a lot of fun for your little girl. They seem like they’d be the best value if you could go with another family or extended family. For three it may be pricey. Really anywhere on the property is about equidistant via bus overall when you average all of the bus rides to the various parks together, so location can be somewhat of a wash. Pick what suits your budget best and what you think is the best fit for your needs and desires from a resort. They’re all pretty fun.

    My final bit of advise is to study up on the dining options. There’s so much there that it’s great to know what is available around you, so you’re not stuck with burgers and fries all the time. If you can talk your little girl into a nice restaurant or two, there are many to choose, but you do need to make reservations in advance (check the WDW website for details). Our girl particularly enjoyed the show at the Biergarten at Epcot, and a berry smoothie at Le Cellier. Definitely grab something (or as many things as you can carry) from the Boulangerie Patisserie at the France pavilion in Epcot. We started going here much too late in our trip and wish we’d visited every day.

    Keep us posted. I hope you have a wonderful time, and her face will make any hard moments completely worth it.

    1. Michael Schmid

      I can’t begin to thank you, and everyone that provide such comprehensive, practical advice for our trip to Disney World later this year. We’ve booked a room, but can get our deposit back if we determine something else will be better.

      I want anyone reading this to be sure to visit Jon and Erin’s blog, which has part one up of details on their recent Disney experience: Walt Disney World Vacation: Playing At The Parks (part 1)! And subscribe so so you don’t miss their future posts.

  21. eRin @ Growing Up Senge

    Thanks for the link!

    Jon’s comments are right on the money. Booking a room with a balcony was probably our best move. Our daughter still takes a morning or lunch time nap, and we were able to come back to the room every day around noon to let lay down. Whether she slept or not, she was able to rest and wouldn’t have been able to make it through the rest of the day without a chance to reset. We got to relax on the balcony with an adult beverage and enjoy some couple time. We’d planned to take advantage of night, be were all so tired each night that early bedtimes suited everyone. It definitely depends on your daughter’s regular napping/sleeping schedule. If she needs a nap to get through the day, definitely consider arranging your day to include some hotel time. Our daughter can’t/won’t nap anywhere but her bed, otherwise we would have taken advantage of the stroller nap.

    We honeymooned in Disneyland (without kids) and even then found ourselves coming back to the room in the middle of every day for a nap and we did the same this time. It’s never felt like an inconvenience or a waste of time. We use the opportunity to visit one park in the morning and another in the afternoon. We always check the Early Magic Hour schedule and plan accordingly!

    As a cast member, I can say that the maintenance of the hotels and parks seems to be slipping but the customer service is still very, very high – especially in Disney World. I’ve stayed at both “moderate” and “deluxe” properties and the rooms are generally very similar (minus balcony options in most of the moderate rooms), the extra cost is usually a reflection of the superior resort property and amenities (animals, pools, proximity, restaurants, spa, etc). The same rate will buy you mostly the same room experience, but very different experiences in resort age, decor, amenities, and conveniences. Don’t stress too much though, you will have a wonderful time making magical memories, no matter where you stay.

    Jon is right that the Beach & Yacht Club were not as nice or well maintained as the other deluxe category hotels. It was nice to be within walking distance to Epcot, since we spent so much time there, but I think I’d stay somewhere else if our child was older. The Animal Kingdom is wonderful, especially if your little girl is into animals. The only downside is that it’s the furthest away from everything else, and using the resort bus system can use up a lot of a little kid’s “good” time.

    We visited the Wilderness Lodge and dined at the Artist’s Point restaurant during our stay and were really impressed with the hotel and the pool. I’ve heard great things about the cabins as well. I’ve also heard good things about the Contemporary Resort and their new Bay Lake Towers, which are within walking distance to the Magic Kingdom. That might be my first choice for our next visit with a bigger princess =)

    The comment to visit Cinderella’s Royal Table for breakfast before the park opens is totally the way to go! The princess dining at the Norway Pavilion is also supposed to be a winning option for the little princesses.

    We’ll be sharing more magical photos soon, and I think we’ll put together a post that goes into a bit more detail about our particular observations and experiences on this trip.

    Good luck with the planning, the anticipation is almost as much fun as all the fun you’re going to have with your little darling!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Erin, I can’t thank you and Jon enough. Between your comments and your blog posts you have been an enormous help. We’ve decided on the Bay Lake Towers, immediately adjacent to the Contemporary. It has the best of the Contemporaries location and amenities, but also a separate bedroom for us adults to escape. :)

  22. ellyfilho

    We visit Florida every year .. and I never had the guts to do a Disney trip with my kids before now ( the age of 11,12 and 14 ) I guess it was because I wanted to make sure they enjoyed every ride ( due to their height) and I just found out there are more things for little kids there then there is for big kids hahaha oh well.. We are still going we will be there in 9 days and I can’t wait..

    Every time we travel we try to get hotels that have the separate rooms but most of the time due to prices we end up staying in a double bed kids share one bed LOL it always worked for us.. We try to save on hotels we will only be sleeping anyways, and spend more out eating and enjoying things at the park… Hope it all works out for you guys good luck and have fun :)

    1. Michael Schmid

      Yeah, I can see your point, Elly. I’m sure we’ll go back again when she’s older, but I’m pretty sure neither my wife or daughter would let me postpone this trip much longer. 😉 As I noted in my comment just above yours, we finally did settle (I think) on a place with a separate bedroom. It ended up a bit less price-wise to a room with a view at the alternative. I really appreciate your advice, and your ongoing online friendship. Have a super evening!

  23. Manchester

    wow what a fun it will really funny for young gun..do u know i have also desire to join them will u give opportunity to take it…Thanks…

    1. Michael Schmid

      I must confess I’ve no idea what you are saying, but appreciate the comment… I think?

  24. Jesse

    Everyone’s chipping in what worked for them, but you have to know your kid. We’ve already been twice with our 2 year old, and if we didn’t have separate bedrooms and go back for a nap, everyone would have been miserable – and personally, I don’t want to be at the parks from open to close – the “nap” time is a good break for Daddy! We use the Orange Lake Resort. as the crow flies its less than half a mile form the Animal Kingdom, and you can have a 2-bedroom suite with a full libing room, kitchen, laundry and patio on a golf course for 1/3 the price of staying in a normal room on Disney property.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Good point about everyone’s kids being different. I appreciate your tips very much, Jesse.

  25. Mothering4Money

    We’ve gone to Disney twice. First time rented a house nearby. Second time stayed in larger room in Animal Kingdom. Both had separate rooms but we didn’t go back for naps. The youngest kid slept in stroller. When staying in a one room hotel, I have put the play yard in the corner and tried to block it off with blankets, furniture, or the stroller so baby could fall asleep without distraction.

    If you are trying to save money, pack your lunch, snacks & drinks to take inside Disney park. This is what we did the 1st time cause were on tight budget. You can buy one meal in Disney and split with family to combine with PB&J that you packed. My experience with the meal plan option is that each restaurant tries to not give you everything you have prepaid for. Most left off the fruit, for example, and that was what we were saving for snacks later on. Many left off dessert.

    Another way to save money is to buy Disney themed items for the kids beforehand and hand them out at Disney. I bought stickers from dollar store, costumes after Halloween, and tshirts on clearance at Disney.com then at the beginning and end of each day the kids found souveniers on their bed.

    If you want the Disney photopass, buy it at home before going to the park. It’s cheaper. Or if you have a nice camera, just get the Disney photographers to use your camera when they take pictures of the kids.

    And now I’m realizing that I should just write my own blog post. Umm, sorry. Hope y’all have loads of fun!

    1. Michael Schmid

      I hope you did write your own post on this. It’s super advice, and my wife and I took much of it, and it really helped us save money. After meeting Cinderella, our 4 year old returned to the room to find Cinderella had left her a note and a Cinderella nightgown, and that sort of thing. It was great and very inexpensive. Thanks so much for your help!

      If you are trying to save money, pack your lunch, snacks & drinks to take inside Disney park… Another way to save money is to buy Disney themed items for the kids beforehand and hand them out at Disney. I bought stickers from dollar store, costumes after Halloween, and tshirts on clearance at Disney.com then at the beginning and end of each day the kids found souveniers on their bed.

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