Monday, May 13, 2013

Renting a Condo at Disney World – Which to Choose??

Planning a Disney World vacation in the near future? There are so many options for places to stay, where do you start? If there are more than two of you traveling, you want to stay for 5 - 7 days, and would rather save money than have daily housekeeping, there are several condo-style accommodation options available. Disney’s deluxe villa resorts are part of a timeshare ownership club called Disney Vacation Club. You can rent them straight from Disney at a huge price tag... or you can rent them directly from an owner at RedWeek.com and save more than 50%. And, trust me, you'll need that extra money for all the other things you'll want to do while you're there!

There are eight different options for deluxe villa accommodations and they are all quite different, so it can be overwhelming to sift through listings and reviews. Luckily for you, we've done that work for you while preparing this article!

First, decide where you plan to spend the majority of your time: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, Epcot, or the resort pool? The resorts all have access to complementary transportation to all the parks, but you should expect lots of walking and waiting to be involved. It's a good idea to stay close to the place where you plan to spend the most time, especially if you have young children who will need breaks. Once you have that figured out, check out our quick guide to the pros & cons of each Disney resort on the WDW property and find the one that's best for you!

Magic Kingdom Area:

Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort
  Pros:
  • Location! This is by far the closest to Magic Kingdom - just an easy walk away. Because of that, it may be the best choice if you’re doing Disney World with young children. 
    Bay Lake Tower - closest to the Magic Kingdom
  • Views: Some units have views of the nightly fireworks. 
  • Pool: Great one on-site
  Cons: 
  • Lack of Disney Magic. The resort itself may not be as magical as some of the other options 
  • Availability: It can be hard to get in here!  RedWeek has just 7 by-owner Bay Lake Tower rentals starting at $196/night.

  Pros: 
  • Fun theme: Grand northwest lodge retreat. RedWeek member robertj389 calls it, “Quaint, comfortable, and quiet.”  
  • Disney's Wilderness Lodge with tons of Disney magic!
  • Location: Just a short ferry ride to Magic Kingdom, making it another good option for young kids. 
  • Pool options: Guests of the villas have access to a smaller “quiet” pool which is a nice alternative to the resort’s main pool with waterslide.
  • Restaurants: Whispering Canyon Café is a good, casual option for the whole family, and Artist Point offers a more upscale alternative.  

  Cons:
  • Walking: if you have a load to carry, or other trouble with walking long distances, you may have trouble with the long hallways and trek from your parking spot to your room. You can request a room close to the lobby or elevators. 


  Pros:
Stormalong Bay pool area at Disney's Beach Club Villas
  • Pool! If you care more about the pool than the rooms, stay here! The Beach Club’s pool, Stormalong Bay, is more like a waterpark on 3 acres, complete with pirate-ship waterslide, lazy river, hot tub, waterfalls, and sandy-bottom beach area. And, you can’t access it if you aren't staying at the Beach Club or Yacht Club (a non-DVC resort). 
  • Theme: Beachy resort getaway 
  • Location: Walking distance to Epcot, and walk or take a boat to Hollywood Studios. 
   Cons: 
  • Villas: Some of the villas at Disney's Beach Club are a bit more worn than units at the other resorts, and the views aren't quite as spectacular as some of the other resorts can offer. 


  Pros:  
  • Boardwalk Villas - in the heart of the action
    Dining and Entertainment: Along the resort’s boardwalk, there are tons of restaurants and things to do. One RedWeek member said, “The evening walk around the boardwalk watching the entertainers, having a drink, mingling with people is our favorite way of unwinding after a Disney day because the magic still continues.” 
  • Location: Walking distance to Epcot, and walk or take a boat to Hollywood Studios. 
  • Pool: Great theme and waterslide. 
   Cons: 
  • Accessibility: long hallways, lots of walking required. May be difficult with young children.


Downtown Disney Area + Typhoon Lagoon Waterpark:

  Pros:
Old Key West - a quiet Disney World retreat
  • Quiet and Relaxing: may be best if you want a peaceful retreat from Disney craziness. Our members’ reviews say, “Beautiful, quiet and relaxed on Disney property” “quiet, secluded” and “Have stayed at many Disney 'on property' locations but Old Key West is the best if you're looking for a peaceful break from the parks”… “Old Key West can be fully booked and it still never feels crowded. Tons of space to stroll around, 5 pools, great restaurant, bar, and of course Disney activities” 
  • Location: Nice boat ride to downtown Disney. 
  • Villas: Some of the largest of the Disney timeshare options. 
  • Availability: Easiest to rent because more owners have posted rentals here than any of the other properties.  As of May 13, 2013, Disney's Old Key West rentals available from $153/night, or you can buy a timeshare package with this as your home resort for less than $20k and go to Disney every year.
   Cons: 
  • Accessibility: There are not elevators in all buildings, making getting around a challenge for some, and you can expect to do lots of walking. 
  • Dining and Entertainment: Not as many options as the other resorts. 

  Pros: 
  • Quiet & Relaxing: The location provides a retreat from Disney parks. 
    Lots to do on-site at Saratoga Springs
  • Proximity to Downtown Disney: Just a walk or boat ride.
  • On-site Activities: Great pools and things to do on-site make Saratoga Springs a good option if you want a Disney experience without having to park hop.
  Cons: 
  • Location: Farther from Magic Kingdom. Free transport is not the most convenient for quick trips back. You may want to rent a car for convenience. 

Animal Kingdom Area:

We have two resort pages for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort. The Jambo House accommodations are studio, one, two bedroom units, and one-story grand villas in the main Animal Kingdom lodge building – a bit grander, and more central to all the resort features. Kidani Village is also impressive.  It’s a newer building, much less crowded, and the rooms tend to be a bit larger. You still have access to all the features of the main lodge, but it can be a far walk because of long corridors.
Animal viewing at Disney's Animal Kingdom

  Pros: 
  • Theme and on-site entertainment: The animal viewing here is unreal, even if you don’t have a view room. There is also a spa and fitness center, 24-hour playground, etc. Wonderful choice if you want to primarily enjoy the resort’s amenities. 
  • Restaurant options: The four restaurants are arguably the best on-site options among these resort choices. Though, it also made our cons list below. 
  • Villas: This is one of the newer Disney resorts (Kidani Village was completed in 2009), and the villas reflect that. These villas may be the best of the Disney World timeshare options. Kidani's "Savannah" view rooms can see African animals throughout the day.
  • Pools: Two excellent pool areas. 
  Cons: 
  • Accessibility: Lots of walking required in the Kidani Village, unless you get a room close to the lobby. Jambo House isn’t as much of an issue, since the rooms are in the main lodge.
  • Location: Far from Disney World parks other than Animal Kingdom.
  • Lighting: Several visitors have complained about the lighting within the resort – too dark for the taste of many.
  • Restaurant options: While the restaurants are good, Kidani Village only has a full-service restaurant, no quick dining options. Also, guests without a palate for spicy, non-American foods might be dissatisfied, and need to rely more on bringing in groceries. 
Our takeaways for all the resorts: extensive walking is a constant theme.  If you have trouble getting around or have young kids with you, you'll want to make sure to request a room close to the resorts' lobbies and transportation (and bring a stroller!).  Also, when renting a Disney timeshare, don't expect daily maid service… this is one of the cut-backs for the timeshare owner savings.  You will get some minimal service on the 4th day.

No matter which you choose, you can't REALLY go wrong - a condo at any of the Disney resorts is going to be a good base for exploring the parks.  But, choose one that fits your travel party's individual needs and you will have an AMAZING time!  Go to RedWeek.com to browse owners' Disney listings today.


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