Someone mentioned avoiding busses when you're at one of the Epcot resorts. Think about that, actually... 50% of the parks don't require busses when you stay there. Over the course of five or more days, I can't even put into words how much better that will make the entire trip, especially if you close a park.
Which brings up another point about what the room is really for. Maybe I'm not typical, but I don't spend every possible hour in the parks. If I'm staying five days, I just assume save one of those to relax, do Fantasia Gardens mini-golf (amazing!), or tie one on at one of the many places to eat. In such cases, a nicer room certainly doesn't hurt. That said, having stayed at Pop Century four times, it's fairly adequate, just not close to anything.
My visits are much like Jeff's. We spend a good chunk of time in the condo.
Given your preferences so far, I think there are two ways to go. One would be an AoA suite. But, the other (and the way I would go) is to rent a stay at Beach Club Villas (or possibly Boardwalk Villas) from a DVC owner. It will be quite a bit less than paying Disney even under a promotion, and give you more room: I'd get at least a 1BR, though my family of four really prefers 2BRs.
I am not sure why the busses get such a bad rap. Personally I don’t mind the busses and other than a few times I may have had to wait a little longer than usual, I find it a pretty efficient way to get around the resort. Yes, during peak travel times the busses can get packed, but most bus rides are under 20 minutes so it is quite bearable.
Even if you drive, you still have to navigate to the parks, get parked and settled than take the tram to the park entrance. If you timed it from door to door, I don’t think the busses are that much slower on average.
Plus, I like to have a few drinks sometimes and the busses make a perfect designated driver.
You described the part I hate, the waiting and packing at the end of the day. Doing that even twice in a week is too much.
If you stay at the DVC resorts (Old Key West, Saratoga Springs) you will almost never have a packed bus (except at the end of EMH) because they really cycle the busses through those resorts.
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We were at Disney the first week of October, granted, not the busiest time. We also did Magical Express to Port Orleans so we had no car and I was a little nervous about the bus service. I surely didn't want that to be the biggest part of our day. I think our bus stop was one of the last out of the resort, and only once in 4 days did we have what I consider a really crowded bus, so it was good.
I'm a big fan of drop off service, and every time we got off or got on a bus I'd look at the huge parking lots and the poor folks having to schlep out to their cars after a tiring day only to then sit in traffic. Especially at Magic Kingdom. Ugh.
The only time I've ever found the busses to be a long painful experience was when I've park hopped. It seemed the park-to-park busses were few and far between, and every time I'd get out there I'd see the ass end of my bus just leaving, which meant I was sitting for a while in the parking lot waiting for the next one.
The buses are adequate for getting between a resort and one of the four theme parks. They will be crowded mid-morning, and right after the evening show ends, and sometimes you will wait a long time for one, but overall it's not that bad.
If you have any other trips in mind (to/from the water parks, to/from downtown disney, between two resort hotels, or between many theme park pairs) drive or take a cab.
On balance, I prefer to have a car, and I'll drive everywhere except to/from MK. But, there are times when I'll skip it---especially when I'm in the Epcot area resorts, where EP and DS are in easy reach.Last edited by Brian Noble, Sunday, May 12, 2013 8:42 AM
We always rent a car. Part is because I have friends/relatives at Busch and Universal so we always go there. Part of it is because my wife is a stickler for car seats for the kids. Part of it is because of what was said above:
The buses are adequate
Adequate is not what I'm looking for in a vacation.
Disney transportation worked very well for us when we stayed at Wilderness Lodge. We went to the 4 theme parks, both water parks and Downtown Disney (though only once as for us it was a been there, done that) and traveled between all of them during the day. We traveled early in the mornings though so maybe crowds are lighter.
Two years ago we used Disney transport again at the Beach Club. We walked to/from Epcot and from Studios, didn't go the water parks or Downtown Disney. Never thought about getting a car either visit.
I think anyone taking young kids to the parks should plan on spending at least some time at the hotel beyond sleeping (at least if you are staying a week or more). Disney is intense in terms of experience (sights, sounds, etc) for little kids. Summer heat makes it tougher. Spending a little down time (in the pool, nap in the room, etc.) is important in terms of recharging batteries. Anyone who has gone to Disney has seen kids in full meltdown who could have benefited from a little down time.
Our kids will be 2 and 6, so no, we won't be opening and closing the parks.
Thanks, everyone, again for your help...it has been very insightful and made this process easier.
That is all.
That's generally been our experience. We're DVC members, and buses are generally not packed, and pretty plentiful.
Since many of you helped, I thought I would let you know what we decided.
We'll be in the Lion King wing of the Art of Animation resort in one of the larger family suites, which has a separate bedroom for us and two bathrooms. The packages aren't quite ready for 2014 yet (we'll be visiting right after my university's graduation in May), but we will no doubt be going with one of the dining plans, and staying for a week to soak up all the 'magic' we can stand.
Disney family visit #1 is officially on the way.
Sounds like a solid choice.
Yeah, I think there's a lot of bang for the buck at that particular resort, and the themed rooms look amazing. Again, not fond of the location, but if you can stomach that, it should be awesome.
I just looked at a map. Wouldn't it be awesome if Disney built a walking path to the Studios park from that resort? Then you really would only need a bus to get to AK. Walking paths are inexpensive enough, and it would add even more value. Just an idea.
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That would seem reasonable.
Yes, the distance from the resorts is less than perfect for sure, but we're going to have our own vehicle there to run around in if we need to. I'll be channeling my inner Clark Griswald as we road-trip it down to Florida.Last edited by OhioStater, Wednesday, May 29, 2013 5:23 PM
With your own car, it almost doesn't matter where you stay. Don't sweat it.
I'm still surprised by people who want a car at WDW. Am I the only person who associates getting into a car with work and having to do stuff I would rather not do?
I enjoy driving. Partly because I enjoy the independence of having complete control of when and where I travel, and partly because I'm sort of...for lack of a less cringe-worthy term, a driving enthusiast.
I think I'd probably opt to rent a car at Disney, for the first reason alone.Last edited by Vater, Saturday, June 1, 2013 6:21 PM
That makes sense. I don't care for needing a car. As my income has grown over the years, I've mostly stuck with cheap cars until I bought a Prius. Even then, I had huge purchase regret, and it was only the gadget factor that motivated me.
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