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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tip Tuesday: Larger families

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

Visiting Walt Disney World is a highlight of the year (or several years) for many families. However, as some families begin to plan their trip, there's a little extra hurdle they have to clear: finding a room to accommodate everyone.

This actually can be a greater challenge than it sounds.

Most rooms at Walt Disney World resorts, especially value and moderate resorts, only can accommodate up to four guests. For larger families, like mine, four only to a room just doesn't cut it.

So what do you do?

Last week, Disney announced they will be constructing a new series of family suites on the portion of land across from the Pop Century resort that was supposed to be phase 2 of Pop Century, but never happened (some have dubbed it the"Legendary Years" area).

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, the 26th resort at Walt Disney World, will be one-of-a-kind, with themed building exteriors and room interiors, and larger-than-life icons from the animated films in the courtyard areas. All of the themed suites and rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort are expected to open by the end of 2012.

In the meantime, there are some other options for large families. I'll examine these at each category of resort.

Value Resorts:
The All-Star Music Resort has family suites that can accommodate up to six guests. While I have not personally stayed at these suites, I have heard that they are still pretty tight, especially with six guests.

That's pretty much it aside from the old standby -- booking two rooms, which may be an option, especially for very large families of nearly eight members.

Moderate Resorts:
In the moderate category, there are two resorts that can accommodate larger families.

The first are the cabins at Fort Wilderness. These cabins can sleep up to six guests and even offer curbside parking - a plus, especially if you have your own car (which you might want, since bus transportation to the parks from Ft. Wilderness can be a bit cumbersome).

The second option in the moderate category is Port Orleans Riverside. Rooms in the Alligator Bayou section of POR can sleep up to five guests. One caveat: the fifth "bed" actually is a trundle bed. For those who don't know about trundle beds, a trundle bed is a bed under a bed. Basically it's a mattress on a small rack that you slide out from underneath one of the other beds. We stayed in one of these rooms for our first trip to WDW in June, 2007, and I can tell you, it was a little tight when the trundle was pulled out. These trundle beds are suitable for children up to around age 10. A child older than ten might find the bed to be a bit small.

That's it for the moderates, aside from the old standby -- booking two rooms.

Deluxe Resorts:
Now we get to some real options. Just about every room at any of the deluxe resorts can accommodate five guests and some can sleep six guests. Most larger-family rooms have two double beds plus a daybed that can convert into a twin bed. My family and I have stayed at several different deluxe resorts and every single room offered plenty of space, even with the daybed opened up.

Notice that every option I've discussed so far involve families of up to six. For even larger families, the choices (aside from booking multiple rooms) become quite limited and, frankly, boil down to one word:

Villas.

Something some people might not realize that villas located at the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resorts can be booked by anyone, not just DVC members. Depending on your family's size, you can get a villa that can sleep up to 12 guests! There's one major drawback of villas -- the price.

Villas can get very expensive, especially when considering Grand Villas. Rates can be nearly $400 (and even more) per night. These are some of the best places to stay, especially since villas come with kitchens (studios have a mini kitchen, one and two bedroom villas have a full kitchen), washer/dryers and living rooms (for one and two bedroom villas).

Disney has a few resources online for families of 5 or more. These resources can help you plan out your trip.

If you have a larger family, I hope this helps and you enjoy your trip to WDW!!

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