Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thinking Out Loud About Disney World Resorts



Today I'm Think Out Loud about Disney Resorts! We kind of got off to a late start when booking our reservations for Disney's TOT weekend and here's why.

Last year during Wine and Dine weekend Scott and I stayed part of the time at a Disney Resort and then the other half of the time ( after the race weekend) at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort.

I have never stayed off Disney property before and if you were to ask me to stay anywhere else other than a Disney resort I would pretty much refuse too. After all, staying at an official Disney Resort is part of the magic right?   Well, last year Scott purchased some vacation points through Wyndham Vacation Club so we thought we would give it a try for a few days after the race. OMG, this place was fabulous! The Wyndham is a deluxe resort right on Disney property.
Check out these views! I was worried that it wouldn't feel very Disney-ish. But what could be more Disney-ish than seeing a theme park and other resorts right from your room. I seriously think this is one of the best views I've had at Disney. 


You can actually see the Swan and Dolphin Resorts in the Background of this picture. Its the pink-ish and green building.


You can see Hollywood Studios right in front and then over to the right is Expedition Everest from Animal Kingdom.

  A view of Pop Century. I think there was a view of a Disney park or hotel on every side of the Bonnet Creek Resort. In front is one of the Disney Golf Course.
 


I did a brief post about this resort if you would like to see more pictures and find out why this resort is considered to be the only non-Disney resort on Disney property and why it is actually land-locked, with Disney property all around it. It really is quite an interesting story.

So anyway, lets bring this post back to current day. We liked staying at the Wyndham so much that I thought we agreed that we would stay there again on our trip in the fall so I didn't bother booking a Disney reservation at the time we signed up for the race.  Just last week Scott told me that he thought we would stay at a Disney Resort in the fall and save our vacation points for another time. WHAT????  Everybody knows that as soon as you sign up for a Disney race that it is smart to book your resort stay right away, especially if you have a certain place in mind.

So needless to say, picking where we wanted to stay in the fall has been a little challenging.
Generally I like to stay some place new each time, but sometimes we just end up going back to our old favorites. I remember from a previous conversation that Scott had mentioned something about the Wilderness Lodge. We've never been to Wilderness Lodge before so I thought that might be fun for this trip. But after further discussion, we both realized that we wanted to stay in the Boardwalk Resort Area. The only resort in that area we have been to before was the Boardwalk Inn. That's not necessarily my favorite.  I don't like the fact that it doesn't offer any quick service dinning options right at the resort. We thought maybe we would try the Villas, or Beach or Yacht Club. As expected, none were available for our dates. So we decided on Wilderness Lodge.  I was still having some hesitations though. I admit I can't really judge a resort I have never been to before but WL seems a little "dark". When I think of a Disney Resort, I think of Sun and "Beachy" themed resorts.

I then remembered about the Swan and Dolphin resorts. Although not owned by Disney, they are situated right along Crescent Lake in the Boardwalk area and offer all the benefits as a Disney resort. I checked and there is availability so I will now be switching our reservation to there.


I must really have a thing for not staying at the WL because this is the second time now that I've had reservations there and ended up switching them.  Back in 2006 Lacey and I were going to stay at WL and then we ended up switching it to a different resort. Some day I will stay there I know. I just can't commit it to it now....lol

I'm actually really excited about staying at the Swan. I'm excited about being able to walk to so many of the attractions, HS, Epcot, Jellyrolls, Golf. And I love that there is a beach there for use and I like watching the swan boats go by.  The Dolphin is just a few steps away and between both resorts there are some amazing dining options.  I hope I'm not disappointed that I gave up WL for Swan. I don't think that I will be.

So I know that a lot of people Love the Wilderness Lodge. Please don't tell me that I made a mistake,,,haha or tell me how much you LOVE WL.

But If you have stayed at Swan/Dolphin or any resort/villa in the Boardwalk/Epcot area I'd love to hear about it. 

 I have visited that resort area a few times and I loved running through there this year for the Enchanted 10K.

If you have never been to a Disney Resort before, tell me what you look for in a vacation resort? Do you like to be secluded or in the thick of things?


                 

26 comments:

  1. I agree WL is dark, it reminds me of being up North, as it should given the theme. My personal favorite is Caribbean Beach, it feels like you are in the Southern Caribbean, given the theme it is very accurate and the running trail is AWESOME. If you want a real kick, book the Pirate room, my hubby loved it!!! We will be staying there for TOT & Wine & Dine again this year.

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    1. Yes, I have been to Caribbean Beach before and have enjoyed it. WE never had a pirate room though. Actually I think we stayed there before the pirate rooms were even created!

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  2. Never stayed at the Swan, but it looks like a lovely resort! Can't wait to hear about your experience there!
    We are huge fans of the WL! We've stayed at AKL once in the past and I actually feel as if AKL is darker than WL in both the rooms and the lobby...but that's just a personal opinion. This is why I love Disney so much - there's so many different options that fit everyone's lifestyles and preferences! BTW, I didn't know that Boardwalk doesn't have a quick service! What's up with that?

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    1. Both WL and AKL were on our short list! We will get there someday if I plan to fulfill my list of staying at all the resorts..haha.
      If you stay at BWI I guess you are suppose to walk down to the shops/restaurants that are actually on the boardwalk. Call me funny but I actually like the cute little food courts at the Disney resorts. They are great for a quick breakfast before heading out!

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  3. I stayed at the Swan when I was in Disney World with friends last year. I loved it! The rooms were beautiful and the beds were super comfortable. The service was great and the pool area was really nice. Of course, being able to walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios (or take the boat) was the icing on the cake. For some reason, when I looked for our Tower of Terror dates there were no rooms available there so I ended up booking at the Caribbean Beach resort. I may have to go check again on whether there are rooms at the Swan/Dolphin.

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    1. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed your stay. I am getting super excited for it. (oh, and I actually didn't make my reservations through Disney. They didn't have any rooms left for the Swan or Dolphin). Since I am a part time Travel planner I used a different Travel provider. If you are interested in seeing if there is availability left, let me know and I will check!

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  4. I stayed at the WL and that's all it took for it to be my favorite! I love that dark, woodsy kind of feel and the fitness options - both indoor and outdoor - are the best! That being said, I've stayed at the BWV a few times (thank to family DVC members!), and I love it there too. I agree though about the lack of quick-service options. I've never stayed at the Swan or Dolphin, but they seem kind of on the stuffy side? Whichever way you go, I don;t think you can go wrong. Unless you go Value Resort. Thin walls. WAY too thin walls. Ugh!

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    1. We only stay at Value resorts when we go for super short trips. I've never noticed how thin the walls are but then again I fall asleep immediately!. I am very excited about staying at the Boardwalk area!

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  5. My parents just sold their time share at the Boardwalk, but we'd been going there since 2005 I believe, and I had stayed at the Boardwalk Inn for vacations before that. I love the pizza window, bakery, restaurants, and it's proximity to EPCOT and MGM. You can also walk to Fantasia Gardens if you like mini golf.

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    1. That stinks that they sold their time share. Did they buy somewhere else?

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    2. They moved, and we've been focusing more on DL. For now they're enjoying their new home base.

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  6. I've only ever stayed at the Boardwalk, but I agree the location of those resorts is awesome! I'm a Hollywood Studios super-fan, and I love to eat at Epcot, so the Swan would be perfect for me. This year, for Wine & Dine, we are staying at the Hilton across from Downtown Disney. They have extra magic hours and buses direct to and from the parks. Only thing I'm worried about is the actual race events, but even if we have to take a cab, the free room (from frequent traveler points) makes up any difference. Hoping my off-property experience is as great as yours!

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    1. I wouldn't mind checking the Hilton out either!

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  7. BWI has greatly improved their quick service location, you can get breakfast lunch and dinner there, right on the boardwalk. Not a HUGE selection but does the trick. We heart boardwalk! I will also say we love WL. we stayed there for wine and dine and dopey and it's a top 5 resort for us, you should def try it sometime. I can always book it for you :)

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    1. Thanks Heather! I'll be looking forward to browsing the food selection when we get over to the boardwalk area! I did notice last year that the boardwalk bakery has started selling sandwiches and such not a huge selection like you mentioned, but its something!

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  8. We stayed at the Dolphin for Marathon Weekend in 2013 and LOVED it! If the prices had been more reasonable for this year we would have stayed there again, but then again, we stayed at Coronado Springs this year for Marathon Weekend and enjoyed it for completely different reasons.

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    1. YAY! I'm glad you loved it. Great reviews get me super excited!

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  9. Coming from Orange County, I was surprised at how far apart everything was at WDW. It felt like a waste of time to keep getting on buses to get anywhere.
    As far as the resort, we stayed at the All Star Music. Since we had a packed schedule between the Space Center, the race and the parks, we spent very little time in the room, so all that was necessary was a bed and a bathroom. The only real quibble I had was that the food court was not great for breakfast. I'm not crazy about eggs and bacon that have been sitting under a warmer for who knows how long. A regular restaurant would have been nice, but overall, it was fine and I'm glad we didn't spend extra money for a room we really only slept in.

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  10. I honestly only hear amazing things about the WL...
    We stayed at the Orleans last time we were there... I just like being on property so we can send packages back to the room. It was like Christmas walking into our room & seeing our things :)

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  11. I've only been to Disney once (GASP!) and I was staying with a friend who lived close by so we didn't stay at a hotel. I love reading all these comments though because we will definitely be taking Ashton in a few years and will most definitely be staying inside the park so he gets the full experience! The one that appeals most to me (I haven't done much research) is the Animal Kingdom lodge because I heard you can see the animals all over the resort, which I think it really cool!

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  12. I"m sure you'll love your stay and have a great trip!!! I've only been to DW once when I ran their marathon, we stayed at the Coronado Springs Resort, and to be honest it was pretty good and the rooms were nice too. We didn't spend much time there we were playing in the parks, but I do remember we enjoyed it. Looking at your pictures takes be back to the memories:)
    I remember seeing the different resorts when we'd take the shuttle to DW, and it looks like their are so many amazing places to stay there, I bet they all have their own unique charm and maybe there is not wrong place to stay when your at a resort there:)

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  13. We stay at Old Key West for most of our trips and will be staying there again for ToT. I know we should explore other resorts, but it's just so hard since we love OKW so much!
    Next on my list will be to stay in the Epcot resort area since Epcot (and the World Showcase in particular) is my favorite place and I love going through the International Gateway! I stayed at Yacht Club once but I was very young although I do remember thinking it was so cool to walk over to Epcot and take a boat to HS.
    We are Wyndham rewards members....maybe I'll have to start saving my points towards a night at Bonnett Creek!

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  14. As a kid, we stayed at the Yacht Club and Grand Floridian, which are amazing! As an adult paying for my own trips, I've stayed at Art of Animation the last 2 times which is nice and brand new, but the 2 times before that I stayed at the Caribbean beach resort and Port Orleans French Quarter and I loved both of those. They're not as expensive as the delux resorts but have a nicer, more Disney-like feel than the economy resorts.

    One of these years, I'd like to stay somewhere within walking distance of Epcot. Waiting for endless busses gets so old!

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  15. I've stayed at the Dolphin, Beach Club and Yacht Club. I loved all 3! That area is a great location for running, going to the parks and fun outside of the parks.

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  16. We've never stayed at a Disney resort. The last time we went, we rented a 3 bedroom condo about 20 minutes away from the parks. It was perfect because it easily slept all 7 of us, wasn't too expensive, but was close enough to the parks that it wasn't a huge hassle.

    TaMara @ Tales of a Pee Dee Mama

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  17. The Swan and Dolphin hotels look gorgeous, but I always notice lots of fees in addition to the price they quote you, so I always choose a Disney resort because they give you the official total at the time of booking which makes me happy as a planner!

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