by Chris Boyer (Destinations to Travel)
“Which of the Disney resorts would you like to stay at?”
This incredibly important question is one that often kicks off the interactions I have with both new and repeat clients and is generally followed by some very specific Disney resort requests. Seasoned Walt Disney World Resort visitors have their favorite resorts they typically stay at, and new visitors often have either researched resorts online or obtained a recommendation from family and friends, resulting in them either having a specific resort or a very short list in mind. Ironically, for most travelers, their short list tends to be the same as just about every other client I work with. Those wishing to stay at Value Resorts request Pop Century more often than not. At the Moderate Resort level, one of the Port Orleans resorts are typically at the top of the list. And for those targeting the Deluxe Resort level, the Polynesian or Beach Club are the most requested Disney resorts for quotes.
While all of the resorts I just named are indeed amazing, guests are missing out on some great opportunities to stay at one of Disney’s less popular, but still amazing, resort hotels. Oddly enough, these ‘less popular’ resorts are actually among my favorite on property and are the ones that I target when planning my own personal travel to the House of Mouse. Since my family typically avoids the Value resorts, my recommendations for must-try resorts target the Moderate and Deluxe levels.
With regard to Value resorts, I will simply say reconsider the All-Star trio of resorts. They don’t get the love the deserve and feature some great theming and fun pools!
For Deluxe resorts, my family LOVES to stay at Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa. Saratoga Springs is built on the land that previously housed the Disney Institute, and opened as Disney’s second Disney Vacation Club resort in 2004. While this is primarily a DVC resort, Disney does continually offer rooms here for those looking to book a traditional Magic Your Way package, as well as a room-only reservation. Saratoga Springs is also typically included in all of Disney’s promotions (including the fan-favorite FREE DINING), making this an incredibly affordable family resort option. As of the writing of this blog piece, for example, the hypothetical family of 4 (2 adults, 1 junior, and 1 child under 10) can stay for 5 nights in a deluxe studio early September at Saratoga with 5-day park hopper tickets for just $3, 686.48 including tax under the Enchanted Escape Package currently being offered. Email me if this sounds like a great deal to you!
Saratoga offers much more than a spacious room at an affordable price. The grounds are absolutely beautiful, and the resort is located within walking distance of or a short boat ride to Disney Springs. The 1,260 rooms at the resort are built to reflect its theming of an 1880’s Victorian-Style upstate New York lake retreat. The 355 square foot studios include a kitchenette and full bathroom, while the 1 and 2-bedroom villas contain a full kitchen! For golf fans, the resort offers direct access to Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, and many of the rooms offer views of the fairways (I especially love sitting on my room balcony sipping on coffee while overlooking this beautiful course). The resort also features a super fun main pool, a Senses Spa for you to unwind, a quick service restaurant, and the ability to grab dinner or a late-night drink at the Turf Club Bar and Grill. If you are looking for a relaxing resort with beautiful grounds and an amazing atmosphere, Saratoga may be just what you are looking for!
Jumping to the Moderate Level, the resort I feel does not get the love it deserves is the Coronado Springs. The theming at Coronado is just amazing and will make you feel as though you stepped right into the American Southwest or even Mexico itself! The feature pool here, known as the Dig Site, gets my vote for the second-best pool on property (bested only by Stormalong Bay at the Yacht and Beach Club). The Dig Site contains a 46-foot tall Mayan pyramid that houses a 128-foot water slide, a playground, hot tub, beach volleyball net and an arcade. In addition to the main pool, each area of the resort also has its own quite pool for more leisurely swimming close to ‘home.’
One area in which I feel Coronado really shines is the food! The Pepper Market is one of the most unique dining experiences on property. This Quick-Service location features a ton of Southwestern fare including Andouille Sausage Gumbo, Yucatan Roasted Chicken, Cheese Empanada, Nachos, and a Carnitas Mexican Rice Bowl. The Maya Grill (one of the sit-down dining spots at Coronado) has varying reviews online, but we really enjoyed our dinner here during our last stay.
Coronado Springs contains a total of 1,915 rooms, most of which measure 314 square feet and contain two queen beds. Those looking for a bit more room can check out one of the Junior Suites, or 1 Bedroom Suites which can sleep up to 6. For those traveling with even larger parties, the executive suite can sleep up to 8 with a total of 4 beds (1 king size and 3 queen size). Disney is currently refurbishing the rooms at Coronado, meaning your next stay here can be in a completely refreshed room with new flooring and furniture.
Have you ever stayed at Saratoga Springs or Coronado? If so I would love to know what you think. If not, I highly recommend you consider staying at one of them during your next visit home! Do you have any resorts that you feel fly under the radar? Drop me a comment and let me know all about it!
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