THEME PARK THURSDAY: The Disney Countdown Begins

Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

We are now 109 days away from my next Walt Disney World trip.  Normally, I wouldn’t book out this far in advance but summer is often a slower time of year for me so I thought I better go ahead and put down some money on the trip so that when it comes time to go I’m in a better financial position.  I’ve been booking on my own lately because Disney has made it pretty simple to use the Annual Passholder discounts on their web site, but since I’m booking so early there are no discounts out yet.

So I contacted my travel agent (Pam at Kingdom Konsultants, who is fantastic and I highly recommend her) and asked her to check on rates for the Pop Century resort.  She came back to me with an unusual “flex” deal at the Coronado Springs Resort for almost the same price as a value.

This bowling pin is one of the many iconic symbols featured at the kitschy Pop Century Resort

For those of you who are not Disney experts like me, let me explain why this is a big deal.  Disney has 4 classifications of resort hotel.  The Value Resorts are the most affordable and offer the least amenities.  The rooms are small (260 sq. feet), have full sized beds, and very little perks.  Now don’t get me wrong, if you’re on a budget or traveling alone or with one other, this is a great place to stay.  I stay there often as I don’t spend a lot of time at the hotel when I’m in Disney so I don’t need anything fancy.  Having stayed at every one of the Value Resorts I can tell you that you should try to book at the Pop Century if possible and if not then All Star Sports, All Star Movies, and All Star Music in that order.

The next level of hotel is the Moderate Resort.  There are four in this category: the Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter, and the Coronado Springs.  The rooms are bigger (about 314 sq ft), feature mostly Queen sized beds, refrigerators in each room, and are more subtle in their theming.  They are big, sprawling properties, and very nice but still feature external entryways to the rooms and do not have the amenities of a Deluxe Resort.

The lavish lobby at the Animal Kingdom Lodge . . . there are even live animals right outside your balcony in a Savannah View Room!

The Deluxes are really the way to do Disney if money is no object.  There are several geographical areas of Deluxe Resorts.  Close to the Animal Kingdom is the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  I’ve stayed there 4 times and love it very much but have decided its not worth the cost on these short solo getaways.  Also in the deluxe category are the Epcot Resorts like the Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk, Dolphin, and Swan.  Finally, there are four Magic Kingdom Deluxe Resorts including the Wilderness Lodge (stayed there), the Contemporary (stayed there, too!), the Polynesian, and the crown jewel Grand Floridian.  These rooms start at no less than $335 a night at their most affordable room and time of year and go up to a couple thousand dollars for their luxury suites.

The fourth category, by the way, are the Disney Vacation Club resorts and they are ideal for large groups and families as they feature a lot of Villa-type suites and are often attached to a Deluxe resort.  The DVC hotels are Bay Lake Tower (next to the Contemporary Resort), the Wilderness Lodge Villas, the Animal Kingdom Villas, the Boardwalk Villas, Beach Club Villas, the Key West Resort, and Saratoga Springs.

So, I was being offered a Moderate Resort at just a little more than a Value Resort room rate.  Since it is one of my goals to have stayed at every resort on Disney property at least once, this will put a notch in that belt and I’ll get to stay in a little nicer place during a time of year where I MIGHT spend more time at the resort due to potentially bad weather.  This was like winning the Disney lottery!  So I had Pam book the trip and was very lucky to find roundtrip airfare out of Dayton on Airtran for just $204 on a non-stop flight!  It was $308 on Delta at not as good of departure times when I priced the Cincinnati airport, so I’m very happy with this.

Even when I'm by myself, I stop and say hi to Mickey. Its fun being a big kid!

Because I have an Annual Pass, I already have my admission into the parks . . . . so before you think I must be rich to get to travel to Disney this often, I will remind you that I’m single, found cheap flights, stay rather affordably on property, and don’t need to buy souvenirs and can eat rather inexpensively while I’m there.  That is how I can go so often and I only go for a few days at a time to get away from the stressful job of being a professional counselor.

In the weeks to come, I’ll talk more about the details of planning this trip, what I intend to do while I’m there, and that will allow me to give you more information about the most magical vacation destination on the planet.  Stay tuned for more!

TOMORROW IS PHOTO FRIDAY!

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