People travel to Walt Disney World for a variety of reasons. Over the years, I have spoken with guests who want to kick back and relax at the resort, some who are all about convenience and easy access to the parks, or some who are heading to Florida to celebrate a special event.
With so many different resort options, I love considering the different features that each Disney Vacation Club location has to offer and see which resort is going to be the best match for the type of trip I have in mind. Today, I thought it would be fun to share some of my personal recommendations for different types of travel plans!
Convenience, Comfort, and Kiddos:
All of the Disney Vacation Club resorts are designed with families in mind; however when traveling with very small children, there can be some resort amenities that may be more important when considering where you want to stay. Every family’s preferences are different of course; however, in my experience traveling with little ones, we seem to spend the bulk of our park time at the Magic Kingdom. If you think this is likely to be the case for your group, I would recommend Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort!
Bay Lake Tower is the only DVC resort that offers a walking path to the Magic Kingdom, allowing guests the chance to get to and from the park quickly. This can be particularly advantageous during busier travel times, and also when it comes to heading back to the resort midday for naptime! Guests staying at Bay Lake Tower can easily access the monorail route, which goes right through the adjacent Contemporary Resort! The monorail access to three resorts, as well as the Magic Kingdom and Epcot can be very convenient, and sometimes more time-efficient than the standard bus transportation found at most resorts.
When staying here, you have access to the pool areas at both the Bay Lake Tower, as well as at the Contemporary Resort which shares the property. The Bay Cove Pool at Bay Lake Tower is home to an adorable splash play area for kids (and kids at heart) which is perfect for some afternoon downtime on a sunny Florida day!
Over at the Contemporary Resort side (easily accessed by a short walk across the skybridge), you’ll also find Chef Mickey’s. This restaurant is a great character dining option and features an expansive buffet, where you and the kids can enjoy a delicious meal, and even meet the Big Cheese himself!
My top DVC resort recommendation for adults traveling without children is Disney’s Boardwalk Villas, as it has an amazing array of features geared to older guests (who are still kids at heart), and you can take advantage of them all without even having to leave the property grounds!
Disney’s Boardwalk Villas offers a great combination of dining, lounges, nightlife, and entertainment, making it the perfect choice for those who are looking to keep the party going once the sun has set for the day! After a great meal at Trattoria Al Forno or Flying Fish Cafe, be sure to stop in at the AbracadaBar where magic and mixed drinks combine for a mystical experience!
Along the quarter-mile stretch of the Boardwalk, you’ll find the ESPN Club where sports enthusiasts can keep their eyes on the score of the big game, as well as Jellyrolls, where the dueling piano performances are not to be missed!
The theme parks are a lot of fun and can be an amazing way to spend your vacation days, but I also think there is a lot to be said for taking some time to relax and enjoy your resort. If you’re planning a trip that is going to revolve more around R&R and less stampeding through the parks, I would choose Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows!
The theming at the Polynesian Villas immediately gives visitors the feeling of being whisked away to a tropical paradise, and the lounge chairs surrounding the Lava Pool area beckon guests to come to soak up the sun! This resort also features fan-favorite dining locations, including the Best Friends Breakfast at ‘Ohana where diners have the chance to meet Disney characters such as Lilo and Stitch! If you’d like to sip something special, there are some great lounges to visit, such as Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto where cocktails such as the “Shrunken Zombie Head” and “HippopotoMai-Tai” are sure to inspire guests to dream of adventure in the South Seas!
If you’re looking for on-site entertainment, the Spirit of Aloha dinner show is held at Luau Cove, an open-air theater where guests can indulge in an all-you-care-to-eat Polynesian feast, and enjoy performances from dancers, drummers, and more! Guests can also check out the Electric Water Pageant, which floats across the waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon, as well as hula dancing lessons, pool parties, treasure hunts, and even a torch lighting ceremony!
Poolside Party Time:
If you’re looking to beat the Florida heat by staying at a DVC resort with an amazing pool, there are many great choices, but personally, I think Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Beach Club Villas blows the competition out of the water! This is definitely my top recommendation for those guests who will spend a lot of time poolside!
This expansive pool complex has something for everyone! Aquatic adventure awaits those guests looking for a thrill, as there is a 230-foot long waterslide just waiting to be conquered. Not only do you begin your journey from a life-sized shipwreck replica, it’s also one of the highest resort slides at Disney World! For little ones who also have the urge to splash in the sunshine, there is a miniature waterslide in the Shipwreck pool, along with shallow waters perfect for wading, and even a sandbar play area where kids can play to their hearts’ content!
For those who prefer a more leisurely poolside experience, you’re in luck here as well! If you’re anything like me, you could spend the entire day soaking up the sun with your toes dipping into the water from your inner tub while winding your way through Stormalong Bay’s very own lazy river. You can cool off with a dip in one of the many serene and sand-bottomed pool areas, and then dry off with some extra rest and relaxation on the elevated tanning deck! There are also whirlpool spas and a quieter leisure pool just outside of the villas building.
For a Fabulous First Visit:
All of the DVC resorts are designed with magic in mind; however, there are some resorts that have more immersive themes than others, and if you ask me, the Animal Kingdom Villas is at the top of that list! If you’re a first-time visitor and are really looking to be fully encompassed in the ambiance of your resort, all with magical Disney touches, the Animal Kingdom Villas is the place I would suggest!
As soon as you arrive on the grounds, you feel as though you have been magically transported from central Florida to a deluxe African lodge. The awe-inspiring grandeur of the lobby at Jambo House is sure to make an amazing first impression!
Over at Kidani Village the lobby is a little smaller, but it also features many interesting and beautiful pieces of African art and artifacts, along with stunning floor-to-ceiling windows for a sneak peek at the Savannas on the grounds.
Even though I have visited many times and have been lucky enough to stay at this amazing resort, it still blows my mind that not only do you have the charm of Disney, you also feel like you are on a safari adventure at the same time! To start the day enjoying a coffee and wildlife watching, then head to a theme park for a day packed full of magic is an experience unlike any other, and keeps the dream-like experience of a Disney vacation in full swing from sun-up to bedtime!
Super Special Celebrations:
In my opinion, there is nowhere better to celebrate life’s milestones than Walt Disney World, and why not make it extra special by staying in style at one of DVC’s most luxurious and elegant resorts? If you’re celebrating a special occasion such as a wedding, honeymoon, birthday (or even an un-birthday), my top recommendation would be the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa!
This resort effortlessly combines the magic of Disney with upscale accommodations, while the Magic Kingdom beckons from just across the Seven Seas Lagoon. The DVC villas are exquisitely decorated with soft neutral colors and subtle Victorian touches, for the perfect mix of modern comfort and timeless elegance.
The Grand Floridian is also the perfect place for some pampering! Guests here can rent private cabanas to unwind poolside, or perhaps spend some downtime indulging in a treatment or two at Senses – A Disney Spa. This Floridian garden-inspired retreat offers massages, facials, aromatherapy, and more!
After a full day of rest and relaxation, you’ll definitely be in the mood for a delicious and decadent meal. Good thing this resort is home to some of Disney’s most popular signature dining locations! Your taste buds will be thrilled to visit Citricos for dishes inspired by the Mediterranean, or Narcoossees for fresh seafood selections. If you’re looking for an extraordinary culinary experience that is sure to enhance any special celebration, you can’t go wrong with marking your life’s milestones with a meal at the award-winning Victoria & Albert’s!
Anyone who has traveled with a large family or group of friends knows that trying to get all of your arrangements and accommodations settled can be a bit more of a challenge. The same can be said for guests who are looking for as much magic as possible and want to visit Disney World for a more extended period of time. In both cases, I like to recommend Disney’s Old Key West, and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa!
As Old Key West and Saratoga Springs are two of the largest DVC properties, their spacious, tranquil grounds lend themselves to larger groups or longer stays and often hold availability quite well. Another perk to these resorts is that they tend to be some of the more budget-friendly DVC options, so an extended stay, or a stay with extended family, won’t always break the bank, even in deluxe accommodations!
Both resorts have great locations allowing for just a walk or relaxing boat ride to Disney Springs (bus transportation is available to all theme parks), as well as fantastic dining and recreational options, and a plethora of pools perfect for making a splash!
Disney’s Old Key West treats guests to the tranquil and serene ambiance of the Florida Keys, with sparkling waterways, golf course fairways, and palm trees swaying in the breeze! The main Sandcastle pool has a waterslide, and even a little sand beach perfect for soaking up the sun.
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort brings the historic charm of New York’s upstate region, well-known for rejuvenating spas and the thrill of horse racing.
Here you’ll find rolling green fields, waterside pathways, and Victorian-style décor. There are two feature pools (the High Rock Spring Pool and the Paddock Pool), both with exhilarating waterslides, aqua-play areas for kids, perfect for cooling off on a warm Florida day!
Disney knows that guests traveling to their destinations are looking for magic, and any of the DVC resorts are the perfect destination for leaving your cares behind for a few days! As you can see, each of the deluxe villas offers something special, so no matter where you stay during your next Walt Disney World vacation, I hope you have a jolly holiday!