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Monday, August 30, 2010

Stay and play at Disney World, even on a budget

By Maria Mora

Magic Kingdom Park

Enjoy a cheap Walt Disney World vacation at Magic Kingdom Park.

My family always stays at a Walt Disney World property when we visit the Disney theme parks, so that we can enjoy perks like free transportation, themed pools and special guest-only hours at the four major Walt Disney World parks. My secret to keeping this a cheap Disney vacation? Instead of sacrificing convenience by staying at cheap Orlando hotels off site, we take advantage of seasonal rates at Disney’s moderate and value resorts.

Here’s the inside scoop on the best cheap Florida hotels on the Disney property.

Camp Out in Style Near the Magic Kingdom
Cheap Walt Disney World vacation: Frontierland If you’re traveling with family or friends, your best options are the Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Sleeping up to six adults, these cabins start at around $270 a night during week days in August and September.

  • Property Perks: There’s plenty to do at Fort Wilderness without ever having to leave the resort property. Rent bicycles, a Segway or a golf cart to tour the 750-acre resort. The resort pool was recently updated to include a splash area for toddlers and a new slide. On most afternoons, Disney Cast Members provide guided activities near the pool. And you won’t want to miss wagon and horseback rides in the evenings.
  • Money-Saving Tip: Hit the market to pick up hot dogs and buns for a budget family cookout on your cabin’s grill and picnic table. Then head over to the Chip n’ Dale’s campfire sing-along to roast marshmallows.

Enjoy a Southwestern Adventure near Animal Kingdom
Cheap Walt Disney World vacation: Animal Kingdom Coronado Springs Resort feels very upscale for a moderately priced property. As with most of the Disney resorts, it’s heavily themed. Because the theme is Spanish-colonial Mexico, it looks more like a giant spa than a theme park. Sure, they have lots of features for the kids, but overall this is a great option for adults who want to relax between theme park visits.

  • Property Perks: The huge 22-person hot tub is the perfect place to soak your body after spending a day walking. Kids love the massive pool and waterslide. While it isn’t Nickelodeon-related, kids will pick up on the fun “explorer” vibe thanks to the Mayan Dig Site and adventure playground. Because this resort is located on one of the area’s manmade lakes, guests can enjoy kayaking and motorized watercraft rentals, too.
  • Money-Saving Tip: On weekdays in August and September, standard rooms are less than $160. Try the junior suite option if you’re traveling with a big group. At around $350 a night, the junior suites can accommodate up to six guests.

Epcot®Pop Over to Epcot from Disney’s Value Resort Hotel
Walt Disney World Resort offers four value hotels, with rates starting at a reasonable $82 a night. Celebrating 20th-centry pop culture fads, the Pop Century Resort is closest to Epcot, making it a great option for guests traveling to one of Epcot’s many themed events.

  • Property Perks: The price is right at Pop Century. The value resorts are the least-expensive options, but still offer the great benefits of staying on the Disney property — including Magic Hours and free transportation to the theme parks. Just because it’s a cheap hotel doesn’t mean it skimps on fun. Pop Century has three swimming pools, a spray park, and a great arcade for kids. The dining options aren’t exactly expansive, so hop a bus over to Disney’s Boardwalk for a great meal.
  • Money-Saving Tip: If you plan on staying for several nights, pay the extra fee for a mini-fridge. Eat quick meals in the room once in a while to offset the cost of dining out during the rest of your stay.

Related Resources

Maria Mora is a memoir blogger and wannabe photographer. She travels extensively throughout Florida and the Caribbean with her two young sons.

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