animal_kingdom_lodge_southernBecause we live only seven hours away from Orlando, we visit Disney World two or three times a year but we usually visit on the cheap.  We may go to Orlando for another reason (conference or a visit with friends) and visit Downtown Disney.  My kids are small enough that they don’t know the difference. 

We may make the trip to Orlando and only visit one park.  We typically stay off of the grounds.  We have eaten only one character meal and almost always bring our own food while we are there.  I didn’t really see what the point to staying at a Disney property was when there are many different cheap family vacation options out in town.

Boy, was this Southern Traveling Mom wrong!

I am here to tell you that there is something to be said about staying at a Disney property for many reasons so next time you are taking a family holiday in Orlando, consider splurging a little bit.

Total Immersion

I know that if you live in the United States you aren’t traveling to another country when you go to Orlando, but when you stay at a Disney property you are totally immersed in the Disney attitude.  I had the opportunity to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge for the first time.  Taking an African safari is a dream of mine and I was so worried that the Animal Kingdom Lodge would be too commercialized for me and ruin it.  Don’t get me wrong…it was very much in your face but it was done tastefully from the South African restaurant to the décor to the animals outside of my balcony.  When I was sitting on the comfy chair on my balcony watching the kudu jump around, I could almost picture myself on a real African safari.

Transportation Perks

If you stay at select Disney properties, you have the option to take the resort transportation available (bus, boat, monorail).  We stayed at a Disney property in the middle of one of their busiest weeks several years ago.  I felt like we were riding a bus, boat, or monorail the entire time we were there.  I cannot even tell you if we rode rides because it took forever to get from one place to another.  This is why I was thrilled to learn that if you stay onsite, you can park at the theme parks for free.   When you go through the gates, you will show your room key or your parking pass and you will be allowed to park.  For me, this is a huge perk because it will eliminate the need to ride the bus without having to pay to park!

Amazing Pools and Playspaces

Disney does a lot of things right and their pools and playspaces are no exception.  The Uzima pool and slide at the Animal Kingdom was the perfect place to lounge.  There are game rooms, playgrounds, and many of the hotels have activity centers where you can drop your kids off (with an extra fee) for a parent’s night out!

Choices for Every Budget

There are over 20 different properties that you can stay at on the Disney World grounds.  We have stayed in a Disney World budget resort and felt as equally spoiled there as I did at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is a little pricier.  There is also a different theme for every budget.  Animals, boardwalks, beaches, sports, music, and more can all be found throughout the different properties.

Have you splurged and stayed at a Disney World property?  Which one is your favorite? 

Disclosure: My visit to Disney World was sponsored in part by Disney.  My reviews are based solely on my experiences and opinion with no outside influence (except maybe the kudu and impala that greeted me underneath my balcony each morning).