Disney resort experiences and recommendations

I heard from my friend Frank who stayed at the Caribbean Beach resort on his last vacation to Disney. He got tired of waiting for the little buses and having to drive to another resort just to hop on the monorail. Also, the rooms didn’t have refrigerators or any way to keep food cold.

If you have kids, the Polynesian (or any of the 3 “monorail” resorts) are the best option. The less time you have to get in and out of the buses with the kids the better. The monorail is extremely convenient.

I also learned that Port Orleans Riverside used to be called Dixie Landings. I’m told that Disney changed the name due to be more PC (something to do with plantation connotations).

The person who told me this has stayed there 4 times and loves the resort he still calls Dixie Landings. Port Orleans Riverside is a sprawling place with big pools. It’s nice to eat in what was the Landings, the big building with a water wheel. The Landings had plenty of choices, and was fairly reasonable, especially if you bought one of their reusable cups because you could refill anytime you wanted with soft drinks, coffee, or juice.

Someone else I know stayed in Port Orleans French Quarter and loved it. This person said that both Port Orleans resorts are outstanding because they are very quiet and you can take a nice relaxing boat ride to Downtown Disney.

There’s also some good information (be sure to read the comments) on my previous post Recommended Disney Hotels. It’s also not too late to buy a Disney Your Way package and get the dining plan free.

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  1. Denis Moore says:

    We have never stayed at a Disney Resort we didn’t like. We have never had the problems with transportation that we’ve read other bloggers complain about. The secret is knowing when the first bus arrives in the morning and the timing of pickups. We show up at the bus stop a few minutes before the scheduled time and, viola, a short wait for the shuttle. We have enjoyed Disney so much that we joined the Disney Vacation Club which has been an extremely positive experience. We use annual passes and schedule our vacations so that we get two trips out of each. In addition we take advantage of the DVC and Passholder discounts to get more bang for the buck. We will often take advantage of passholder room discounts to stay a few extra days before we check into our DVC home resort. Our goal is to try every resort on Disney property. We loved both Port Orleans and Caribbean Beach. The toughest part is deciding which resort to stay at this year.

  2. Gilda A. says:

    We have stayed both on and off Disney property for our vacations to Disney World and by far, staying on the Disney property has been the most rewarding experience. The Caribbean Beach Resort was nice and spacious. The only negative was that there was no refrigerator for keeping food or drinks cold. We never had any problems with the transportation leaving from the hotel. Our pick up point was just outside of our room. However, the return ride at night, especially after the parks close, was a bit of a problem. Too many people and not enough buses. Busses were way too crowded and routes were different causing some families to have an extra long ride back to their hotel. But all in all, Disney is the best vacation that we have ever taken

  3. Connie A. says:

    We have also stayed both on and off Disney property. I have to say that staying at a Disney resort was a great experience! The last trip we took, we stayed at Port Orleans Riverside. It was beautiful and quiet and peaceful. The dining offered many varieties, the food was of good quality. We felt very safe and comfortable walking around the resort day or night. The bus transportation leaves something to be desired though. We suggest that if you are driving to Disney, drive your own vehicle to the various parks. You get to the parks when you want to and when your ready to call it a night, you can get back to your hotel ASAP. Disney is a wonderful vacation!

  4. Kelli says:

    My family and I have been to DIsney World 19 times in the past 13 years, despite living 1000 miles away. We have stayed at 11 of the resort hotels so far and I don’t have any complaints about any of them at all!

    Yes, the monorail resorts are more convenient, by far, but when you have 4 children like I do, they are not practical.

    We stayed at Caribbean Beach in November of 2005 and our room DID have a refrigerator, and we were told that all rooms in the moderately priced hotels (Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans and Riverside and Coronado Springs) would have refrigerators very soon. So that’s one less drawback to staying there as opposed to the monorail resorts.

    The trick with the buses also is to make sure if you plan to watch the fireworks/Illuminations, not to stampede toward the exit like everyone else, but to walk leisurely and by the time you get there, most of the crowds will be gone. We tend to watch the fireworks one night and then leave the other nights as they start and you will probably find the buses deserted.

    Good luck, it’s all a matter of planning and using common sense.

  5. maggie Shaak says:

    We have been to Disney World many times. I always recommend to people to I know going forthe first time to stay at either The Grand Floridian ( our favorite) or The Polynesian for several reasons. As far as the transportation issue, these hotels both have the monorail but they also have my favorite way to get to the Magc Kingdon,small launch boats ( not to be confused with the large ferry boat) There are often lines to board the monorail at the end of the night after the fireworks but there are never any lines for these launches. They deliver you across the lake to your hotel’s dock within 5-7 minutes. It is quiet and relaxing at the end of the day. These hotels also offer covered, fanned waiting areas for buses while sone oth the other hotels ( particularly the value ones) do not. We have never had to wait long for a bus at the Grand Floridian but we have had long waits at the resorts including The Yacht Club ( it makes way too many stops and takes forever to get to the park or back), The ALL Star Movie Resort ( i’d never stay there agin for too many reasons to list). The Grand Floridian and the Polynesian also have many other benefits that make the price wothwhile including on site child care centers, very nice restaurants (especiallt true at Grand Floridian), a dock where you can rent out small&large boats, take fireworks cruises ( highly recommened), nice pools, wonderful staff, a sand beach to play at and a spa ( Grand Floridian) for the adults. There are also character breakfasts at each of these resorts makingit very convenient. Another tip do not go to Disney over any school breaks ( except Christmas)or in the summer. It is way too crowded and you will become frustrated waiting in lines in the summer heat with whining kids. I reccommend going over Christmas break, January, February, beginning of May, throuhout the fall. Hope this in helpful for first timers or for people who have been but weren’t very happy with their experience. Disney is awesome if you plan throughly and don’t try to go cheaply

  6. C.Marz says:

    I’ve stayed at Port Orleans Riverside 2X. In June will be # 3.Also have been to every resort. Save a minimal of $1000 for a week by avoiding deluxe resorts and staying at Riverside. The deluxes are great ( Wilderness Lodge is my fave ), but lets face it, your here to be out and about. If your spending all your time at the resort and not in the Parks – get your head examined. Riverside is excellant for all the reasons mentioned previously mentioned by the others. If you do not rent a car, then it is close to Downtown Disney by bus or boat ( boat is nicer) Once you get to Downtown you will have more food choices and if you can stand a little walking – close to the Maingate and more dining choices. Coranado and Carribean Beach are too far from the Maingate to get better dining Choices without a car. You may actually save money by renting the car. That $150 rental for a week may save you money in the long run by giving you cheeper choices out the Maingate. It is possible to save as little as $ 50 a day on a family of 4 for meals outside of Disney by having that car. Thats a minimal of $300 per week. Split that in half and you paid for the car and have $150 or more left in your pocket.

    While staying at Riverside, try the ribs – excellant. Head next door to French Quarter for an excellant juicy burger. The piano playing entertainer in the Bar at Riverside will show you a good time. Riverside will give you more bang for your buck. Pools , Pools, Pools. Even during Hurricane Charley 2 years ago – it was an excellant stay.

  7. C. Marz says:

    Just to update all those on my last travel blog, just completed my last stay at Port Orleans Riverside ( 3rd time ),From 6-15-06 thru 6-21-06. Excellant again. Always a great choice – Riverside. First timers, try Riverside, you will not be disappointed.

    Here is some advice if you are a first timer and plan on returning soon. If you have a car on the trip, spend your last day visiting all or most Deluxe or Moderate resorts. This can give you an idea of what each is like if you choose to try another resort for your next trip. Just take 1/2 hr. to an hour at each and even have lunch at one. If you must visit a Value resort, do just one, they are all similar. Get out of the car at each, visit the front end shops and check out the scenery.

    For the record, all our fine folks who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. Military, are you aware that Disney World has a resort just for you and your families? It is called Shades of Green, and it has just gone thru a major makeover.

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