Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Best Deals for Hotels On and Off Disney Property

When you go to Walt Disney World, you have two choices.  You can splurge and stay at the best of the best, or save and risk staying at the worst of the worst.

If you saw yesterday’s post on the climbing prices at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, you’ll see why I always save.  Gotta keep that economical thing somewhat in check.  Luckily, I also have a Disney "expert" who can tell you where to splurge.


I’ve stayed at medley of hotels around Walt Disney World that cost less than $50 a night.  Here are the top three:

#3 Howard Johnson Express Inn Suites Lake Front Park
4836 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee

Google Maps comes through for me when my memory fails,
yet again
Distance from Disney: 9 miles and 13 minutes
Rank on Trip Advisor: #48 of 165 hotels in Kissimmee
Average Price: $44/night

This hotel is not as close to Walt Disney World as some of the others, but it is directly across the street from a Target.  When we stayed there, there was a group of bikers staying nearby, which was a little awkward on the outside.  Inside though, the rooms were clean and neat.

#2 Maingate Lakeside Resort
7769 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee
Distance from Disney: 5.5 miles and 9 minutes
Rank on Trip Advisor: #59 of 165 hotels in Kissimmee
Average Price: $42/night

I have stayed at this hotel several times.  The location is great, the rooms are clean, and the front desk is beyond nice.  Even first thing in the morning, the clerk I spoke with was exceptionally cheery.  I probably, was not, after spending a day running around to Disney parks, but props to her for dealing with difficult guests.

#1 Ramada Gateway Kissimmee
7470 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee

Distance from Disney: 5 miles and 9 minutes
Rank on Trip Advisor: #39 of 165 hotels in Kissimmee
Average Price: $46/night

This hotel is pretty close to Walt Disney World, without actually being on Disney property.  I have stayed here several times before for my Disney experiences and it’s even rated as a “Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotel” (this is a good site to check out cheaper hotels that still get the Disney stamp of approval).  The inside is clean and there are mini-refrigerators in every room (which is important for drinking mimosas).

This hotel is not to be confused with the Ramada Maingate across the street. 

We stayed there once and got slapped with a “resort fee” of about $20, even though the pool was completely closed.  Not much of a resort.


If you prefer to stay in a Disney hotel, Economical Explorer’s Disney Expert, my Mickey-loving friend, Amy, has picks in each of Walt Disney World’s budget ranges (deluxe, moderate, value)


The Animal Kingdom Lodge works great for anyone who loves animals.  From the comfort of your room, you can view creatures from the window, just roaming around the property.

Courtesy of Amy S.
Different rooms feature different animals outside, so if you're into zebras, like Amy, make sure you request the zebra zone when you book.  No matter what creature you see outside the window, you’ll be in for a safari-type experience from the outside…

Courtesy of Amy S.
Right down to the bedspreads inside...

Courtesy of Amy S. - Can you believe there is someone else in
the world who takes pictures of every hotel room she's been to
BESIDES me?  I think that's why Amy and I are friends!
Average price: $314/night


Caribbean Beach is like staying in the islands, Disney-style.

Courtesy of Amy S.
Here, you can stay in different Caribbean countries like Trinidad and Martinique.  Each little area has its own pool and you can walk around the beaches and chill out in the hammocks.

Courtesy of Amy S.
Inside, the rooms have the same tropical vibe.

Courtesy of Amy S. - Blender not included, but if you're smart,
you'll bring one!
Average price: $199/night


Amy’s pick for the least expensive place to stay on Disney property goes to Art of Animation.  Unfortunately, we don’t have pictures of that because A) I’m too cheap to ever stay in a Disney resort and B) Amy saw the inside while visiting family but didn’t take pictures.  So, take her word on it.  It’s brand-new and features the major Disney movies like Cars, Lion King and Little Mermaid.  Amy’s family stayed in a suite modeled after Lion King.  Unfortunately, because this resort is new, it’s also a little bit more expensive, at about $232/night. 

If you’re looking to save a bundle while being at a Disney resort, Amy’s next pick goes to the All-Star Music Resort.

It’s themed around… well, music.  And even though it's Disney, you won't find as many kids gallivanting around (OMG, when did I turn into a 70-year-old lady?  Who says "gallivanting" anymore?).   The same cannot be said for the All-Star Sports Resort where a lot of youth sports teams stay.

Average price: $120/night

Here’s a full rundown of all Disney resorts if you did not enjoy my comprehensive guide and are  curious as to what else is out there.

Total Cost: $120-$314 per night to stay in a Disney resort
Best Deal: Florida residents and annual pass holders can get better deals, check for more information.

Would you pay extra money to be closer to the Mouse?  Or do you prefer to save where you can when visiting Walt Disney World?

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