We’re starting a series on ways you can “plus” your vacation at Walt Disney World. If you’re not familiar with the term, “plussing” is Disney-talk for taking something great and wowing the guest by making it even greater. Our first article talks about options for larger hotel rooms.
Walt Disney once said that Florida had something special …the blessing of size. It is called Walt Disney World, after all. But with all that space and elbow room at Walt Disney World, wouldn’t you want the same for your accommodations? Today we’re talking about where to find larger rooms at Walt Disney World. Fortunately, several Walt Disney World resorts offer options for large families or anyone looking for some extra space during their stay. I’m comparing the pros and cons of the Fort Wilderness Cabins, the Art of Animation and All-Star Music Family Suites, and 1-Bedroom DVC Villas in pursuit of the best option for your family when looking to plus your stay!
Fort Wilderness Cabins
The 504 sq. ft. cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground sleep up to six adults and offer a bedroom, full bathroom, and a full kitchen/living space. Each cabin has a small driveway for either a personal car or golf cart, as well as a deck with a grill and picnic table. The cabins are classified as a Moderate Resort, but in actuality they are a wild card in the Disney resort classification system as no other accommodations on property are quite like them!
Our own Steve Bloom wrote up a stay in the cabins this summer after the resort received a large refurbishment.
The full kitchen is one of the biggest perks of a cabin stay with a full size refrigerator with filtered water/ice maker, a dishwasher, convection oven/microwave, toaster, coffeemaker, and a abundant cabinet and counter space. Cups, plates, silverware, and more for six guests is provided, plus cutting boards to can openers to a casserole dish!
The cabins make excellent use of space with an impressive amount of storage, and daily housekeeping is provided just like any standard resort room at Walt Disney World.
The cabins are my idea of camping offering privacy and tranquility, yet close proximity to all sorts of recreation plus the Magic Kingdom. They also offer a feel that’s less like a hotel and more like a home.
The Fort Wilderness Cabins are smaller in square footage compared to other resort options. They also have only one bathroom and one sink. Sleeping 6 in a cabin (as Disney claims is the capacity) is going to feel cramped.
The biggest downside (for some) is the transportation system. The resort is massive and walking isn’t always a realistic option. Many guests drive their own vehicles or rent a golf cart for $62.84. The only other alternative is the internal bus system. Boat transportation is offered from The Settlement to the Magic Kingdom, which is great in a way, but can be cancelled due to choppy waves or bad weather. In this case, the resort offers buses to the park, but it can cause confusion and delays regardless. For more info, check out Camping 101: Getting Around Fort Wilderness.
Cost Range: $309-$539
Art of Animation Resort & All-Star Music Resort Family Suites
Two of Disney World’s Value Resorts, the Art of Animation Resort and All-Star Music Resort, offer family suites that sleep up to six adults. The suites at both resorts offer a master bedroom with a queen size bed, two bathrooms, a kitchenette, and a double sleeper sofa. However, sleeping accommodations, theming, and square footage slightly differ between the two.
At the Art of Animation Resort, three of the four themed wings have 565 sq. ft. family suites intended to immerse guests in the worlds of Finding Nemo, Cars, and The Lion King. To accommodate more guests, the living room table converts into a double-size bed.
The All-Star Music Resort is also divided into wings and themed after musical genres. The Jazz and Calypso buildings house the 520 sq. ft. suites, but the interior theming is more standard. For more sleep space, the suite has a twin-size sleeper chair and sleeper ottoman.
The Art of Animation and All-Star Music Family Suites are larger than the Fort Wilderness Resort Cabins; but the best part is that they have two bathrooms!
The Art of Animation Resort is the newest and best of the Value Resorts with the largest resort pool at Walt Disney World and a fantastic food court. Also, unlike other Value and Moderate Resorts, the Art of Animation suites face interior hallways like the Deluxe Resorts.
The All-Star Music Resort is the costs the least of the large resort rooms and the most affordable option.
Despite the size of the suites, they only offer kitchenettes. As most rooms at Disney World Resorts already offer mini-fridges, you’re only getting a sink, microwave, and a little counter space.
While you’re paying a price that is far out of the “value” category, these resorts are still firmly “values” when it comes to amenities. You do not have the dining options that come with a moderate or deluxe resort, and Disney transportation is strictly by bus – no boats, monorails, or walking to your theme park.
Finally, the two resorts offer extremes in theming. The Art of Animation décor is a hit with kids, but it can be a little much or slightly plastic-y to adults. On the other hand, the All-Star Music suites are bland and basic with only a few themed touches.
All-Star Music Rates: $225-$404/Art of Animation Rates: $300-$505
DVC 1-Bedroom Villa
The Disney Vacation Club (DVC) is Disney’s own timeshare program. Each Walt Disney World Deluxe Resort has a wing of DVC Villas ranging in sizes that even non-members can enjoy if there’s availability. For the sake of comparison, I’m zeroing in on the 1-Bedroom DVC Villas as they are the closest in square footage and guest capacity to the cabins and family suites. Note: Not all 1-Bedroom DVC Villas can accommodate more than four adults but offer more square footage than the cabins or suites.
While 1-Bedroom DVC Villas vary from resort to resort, guests can count on a full kitchen, living space, private balcony/patio, two bathrooms, and a master bedroom.
A 1-Bedroom DVC Villa offers a full kitchen equipped with everything guests may need, just like at the Fort Wilderness Cabins, and the television in the living room has a DVD player.
In addition to offering the Deluxe Resort experience, a 1-bedroom villa has two roomy bathrooms with a whirlpool tub in the master bedroom, and a stackable washer and dryer so guests can do their laundry for free! Several Disney World Deluxe Resorts offer a separate lobby for their DVC Villas, such as the Beach Club Villas and Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge. It’s like having two resorts in one to enjoy and explore!
Lastly, if a DVC Villa is outside your price range, guests can rent points through a reliable source which secure a stay for a reasonable, even cheap, rate! It’s definitely the way to experience a Deluxe Resort on a budget. To learn more, check out Tips for Renting Disney Vacation Club Points.
Daily housekeeping is not provided if guests are staying on DVC points. Instead, villa guests receive trash and towel service on the fourth day of a 7 night stay or less; but if their stay is more than 8 nights, housekeeping is providing on the fourth day with trash and towel on the eighth. Additional housekeeping, towels, soap, coffee, and etc. costs extra.
Also, while renting DVC points can make a villa affordable, the process can be intimidating to some. Booking through Disney is the easiest, but guests will pay a Deluxe Resort rate.
DVC Villa rates vary greatly by resort, size of accommodation, time of year, and how you book them. For one bedroom villas expect a rack rate of around 50% more than a standard room if you book through Disney rather than with an owner.
Between the Fort Wilderness Cabins, Family Suites, and DVC Villas, how do you choose? Each resort offers its own solutions for families looking to plus their accommodations, each with its pros and cons. Personally, I prefer the cabins and the villas when looking for space, but the family suites do offer affordability and plenty of room to move around in a kid-friendly setting, ideal for families with little ones.
Have you ever stayed at the cabins, family suites, and a DVC Villa? Where would you prefer to stay? Share with us!