If we don’t already have a Walt Disney World holiday booked, then from time to time, you’ll find me checking the prices for our next one. And yes – that included the day we got back from the last trip! So far, every visit we have stayed at a Moderate resort – or Old Key West, which while technically a Deluxe Villa, we found to be the same cost and experience as a Moderate.
So firstly, why not a Value resort? Well that’s easy, in the UK ‘free dining’ is not offered on the Value resorts – you get nothing for a value, quick service for a moderate and the full plan for a Deluxe. We stay on site and always gets the full dining plan and by the time you’ve added the cost of the dining plan onto the value resort, instead of just the upgrade from quick to full dining at a moderate, a value resort can actually be MORE expensive than a moderate! Two weeks in October 2012 at All Stars with the Dining Plan and tickets for two adults is currently £2333.02 ($3649) and it is £2173.10 ($3398) at Port Orleans with free dining plus dining upgrade. That won’t apply for everyone – if you don’t mainly stay on site, then the dining plan won’t be worth getting but for us, moderates make more sense.
So the question for us is do we upgrade to a Deluxe? We would certainly like to – every single time we go, we come back saying “next time, we’ll save up and go to…”. Which Deluxe varies - The Beach Club, Animal Kingdom Lodge (but only with Arusha Savannah view) and the Polynesian have all made our “next time” list in the past and the Contemporary is currently our number one choice for our next trip – the walk to Magic Kingdom, free WiFi in the lobby and the one stop monorial to ‘Ohana has elevated it to the number one spot.
So why is it that each time, we end up back in a moderate? It comes down to cost – not whether we can afford it as such - it would be a stretch, but if we really wanted to, we could – it is more whether it is ‘worth it’? I’m aware I go on about this a lot, but I do think the difference is the typical length of our holiday – the extra money for a 14 night holiday is a lot harder to justify than for a week. That and the offers – ‘free dining’ seems to be a much more common offer in the UK than a discounted room rate. To put it in real terms, a fortnight, room only in Port Orleans for October 2012 (i.e. a moderate at a ‘cheap’ time of the year) is currently £1498 ($2343) - standard room, standard view. The same time, cheapest room at the Contemporary is £3556 ($5561)- well over twice the price. It is not quite as simple a a straight comparison – with a moderate you only get free Quick Service, so we pay for a upgrade to the regular dining plan, but including that and tickets for two adults, excluding flights, the holiday is £2173.10 ($3398) compared to £3848.20($6017). £1675 ($2620) is a lot of money!
So is it worth an extra £1675/$2620 to stay in a hotel like the Contemporary? What am I paying for?:
- Convenience - this is the number one factor for an upgrade for us – a walk or short monorail ride to Magic Kingdom is VERY appealing – or a walk to Epcot from the Beach/Yacht Club. The Magic Kingdom resorts also have four of our favourite restaurants – Kona Cafe, Narcoossee’s, California Grill and ‘Ohana. But £1675 is a lot for convenience – its not like we only have a short amount of time to cram everything we want to do into. And Deluxe hotels usually share buses with other nearby Deluxes, therefore taking just as long to do the ‘pick-ups’ as a moderate for the parks that they bus to, so are not always more convenient.
- Deluxe rooms – having never actually stayed in a Deluxe hotel, the only comparison I have is a Studio at Old Key West, which apart form the size, didn’t feel any different to a moderate. I’m assuming the pricier Contemporary’s rooms would have a more ‘plush’ feeling to them – which of course would be nice. But given we literally use them to sleep and change and then run out of the door, I’m not particularly looking for a fancy room for my Walt Disney World holiday.
- Peace and quiet – I always perceive the Deluxe hotels to be more peaceful than the values or moderates. Given that they, like all the others, are full of extremely excited kids, I’m not sure that is actually the case – especially as because they have the ‘hotel’ indoor corridors as opposed to ‘motel’ outside corridors, the walls are often thinner. Having said that, the Grand Floridian is definitely quieter!
- Free Wifi – at the Contemporary at the moment- used to skype my Mum in the UK and occasionally use the Walt Disney World website to book a restaurant. Well clearly the extra is not worth it for this! While we be-grudge paying for it, we can get the Internet in our room for $10 a night – $140 if we needed it everyday. We’d have to take a router with us, but even so! Or paying for US to UK calls would cost about the same.
So each time, we um and ahh about the cost and so far, have always decided that it is not worth the extra. I do sometimes wonder though if we did upgrade one year, if we’d realise what we’ve been missing. We never really understood the benefit of paying more to stay in a Disney hotel, until we did it and now we would never stay anywhere else. We’ve not yet booked our next trip – so I’m sure we’ll carry on discussing it for some time yet.