Best Value for Disney World Accommodations

To experience Disney World at its finest, choosing the right accommodation means everything. You might be asking yourself: “Why does it matter what hotel I get if I’m spending most of the day at Disney World?” Your “home away from home” can make your vacation more fulfilling and allow the magic of Disney to continue even after you leave the park. There are two types of hotel options when it comes to staying at Walt Disney World: First, you have the Disney area hotels that are close to Disney World but not on Disney property. Second, there are the Disney owned and operated on site hotels that get you right in the action day and night.

Briefly consider Disney area hotels. We know that Disney World sits on 47 square miles of land and has 4 theme parks and 2 water parks. You could be close to Disney World by staying off site but still be 45 minutes from the Disney theme park of your choice. While these hotels are wonderful, you end up losing precious Disney time just trying to get to certain parks. I prefer Disney on site hotels as they offer free transfers between the airport and hotel, free access to Disney transportation to get you from one park to another, and extra magical hours where, for resort guest’s, one theme park opens 1 hour early and another stays open up to 3 hours after park closing time.

Disney offers 4 different types of hotel experiences on site and choosing the best selection for your family helps make the trip much more exciting.

Value Resorts:
These are wonderful properties which I would equate to a Holiday Inn type hotel. They offer 1 king or 2 double beds. They have several swimming pools and a large food court. These hotels work well if you plan on spending the majority of time away from the hotel. Two of the value hotels offer family suites that will sleep up to 6 people, but you can usually get 2 rooms with connecting doors for less money than the family suite.

Moderate Resorts:
These resorts offer 2 queen beds and some have a trundle bed that can sleep a fifth person. The rooms are larger than the value resorts and they have more pools and food options.

Deluxe Resorts:
These resorts are the best of the bunch, rated 5 stars and have several transportation options (three are on the monorail system). They also have 2 queen beds and most rooms will sleep up to 5 people. They offer fine dining as well as the quick service food court. These rooms are very large.

Disney Vacation Club Resorts:
The Disney Vacation Club has condominium type accommodations. They offer a full kitchen, living room areas and are 1-3 bedrooms in size. You can have food delivered to your condo but there are no grocery stores on Disney property. These are the most expensive accommodations, but are the best suited for larger families. You do not need to be a member of the Disney Vacation Club to stay at the condos.

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Disneyland vs. Disney World Price Comparison

A vacation to a Disney Park creates memories that last a lifetime.  We have compared side by side the differences of visiting both Disneyland and Disney World using on site (Disney owned) and off site hotels and resorts.  We compared several hotels both on site and off site and averaged the prices for high, low and mid-season rates.  The infographic below shows our comparison of the different ways you can visit Disney parks for a family of four staying 4 nights and departing from Salt Lake City.


It is interesting to note that the on site hotels (Disney owned) are some of the best vacation values. Only the Disneyland off site option has a lower average cost. Disneyland is a closer destination and has lower airfare costs, but when you want the full Disney vacation experience an on site hotel at Walt Disney World vacation may be the best overall value.



Data was taken using vacation packages sold through Funjet Vacations and Southwest Vacations.

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Orlando Trip Planning Aids

It all started with Walt Disney World, but today there’s a lot more to do and see in Orlando.  Yes, there are theme parks galore:  four in Disney World alone; plus Universal Studios features two theme parks; then there’s Sea World; and also Legoland.  In addition, you can visit the Kennedy Space Center, and on May 4th the Orlando Eye opens.  A handy tool in planning an Orlando stay can be found at the website – a great source of information.  It also has discounts available for restaurants, hotels and several attractions.

Walt Disney World:

Four magnificent theme parks on 48-square miles of land – Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  On property are also 23 Disney resort hotels, two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon).  Whereas Disneyland in California is a weekend getaway, Disney World will require at least a full week.

Lasts year, Disney started a new program at the Walt Disney World Resort called “My Magic Plus,” which will enable you to plan your entire vacation before leaving home.  You can reserve your free “fast-pass” options 30-days in advance of your vacation.  Fast-pass lets you reserve a time for up to three rides – show up without waiting in line.  If you are staying at a Disney on site hotel, you can start reserving 60-days prior to travel.  You can reserve three fast-passes per person per day.  After you use your three fast passes, you can reserve three more at any of the fast pass kiosk’s located throughout the parks.

Guests staying at a Walt Disney Resort hotel will receive a “magic band.”  The magic band is programmed to contain your room key, Disney admission pass, your fast-passes and your dinner reservations.  You can actually set up your “magic band” to charge all your purchases if you would like.

Get the ball rolling by registering at  From this website you can select the color for each family member’s “magic band” and have them sent to your home prior to your vacation.  You can also sign up for your fast-passes, make dinner reservations and, for select hotels, pre-register and bypass the front desk by going straight to your room.  Your magic band will be your room key.

You can also get an app for your smart phone that will show you your fast-pass reservations, wait times and the different attractions.

Universal Studios Orlando:

Here you will find two parks:  “Universal’s Islands of Adventure” and “Universal Studios Florida,” of which the former is home to “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.”

Add a second week to your vacation and get an “Orlando FLEXTICKET,” which will give you park to park admissions at Universal, as well as “Wet n’ Wild,” “Seaworld” and “Aquatica.”  Purchase a ‘FLEXTICKET PLUS” and you can add Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay (about two hours away).

Kennedy Space Center:

Located about an hour outside of Orlando, but well worth the drive, the space center offers several tour options, as well as astronaut experiences.  Also on display is the space shuttle Atlantis.

The Orlando Eye:

This will be a 400-foot tall observation wheel (like a giant ferris wheel, but with enclosed gondolas) similar to the London Eye and the Las Vegas High Roller.

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Pluto’s Tips For Making The Most Of Your Disneyland Vacation!

1- Arrive at the park a few minutes before opening. The first 3 hours the park is open are the least busy hours of the day. It is amazing how many rides you can do during this time.

2 -Take the train to New Orleans Square for Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Big Thunder Mountain. It is quicker than walking up Main Street.

3 – Start at the back of the park and work towards the front, most people do the opposite.

4 – Utilize the free Fast Pass system to make reservations for future ride times. The most popular rides that run out of fast passes first are Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Radiator Springs Racers and Soaring Over California. These rides will also have the longest lines later in the day. You can have your fastest walker take everyone’s park pass to get the fast passes, while the rest of your group holds space in line for the next ride.

5 – People start leaving the park to go home after the fireworks. If you stay from the end of the fireworks until closing you will have shorter lines.

6 – There are smart phone apps that show the current wait times for the most popular rides. There is also a board to the top and left of Main Street that has the current wait times as well. For the California Adventure Park the board is straight ahead as you walk towards Paradise Pier.
Normally the least busy times to visit Disneyland are Jan 5-March 10, April 27-May 20 and September 8-Sep 30.

You are entering a magical place so relax and enjoy every minute of it!

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Five Tips for Traveling with Kids


Traveling can be a challenge for even the most experienced traveler; but when you add a couple of children to the mix, to say that traveling is a challenge is an understatement.

So what can a frazzled parent do to make their dream vacation a reality? Here are a few tips to help you plan your next family vacation:

1 – Keep the kids involved in the planning. Purchase a destination or city guide and let the kids review it and mark the attractions and places they want to visit.  Get older kids an inexpensive digital camera and a journal and encourage them to write down their memories of the vacation.

2 – If you have young children or kids who have never flown before, explain to them what will happen at airport security. Your kids will have to walk alone through a metal detector or enter the full body scanner without their shoes. This can be scary.

3 – Don’t set your expectations too high. Understand that when you travel with kids nothing is easy.  Then be prepared to go with the flow. After all, you are on vacation.

4 – Pack an arsenal of emergency supplies. Aside from the standard bandages and medication to treat an upset stomach, bring fever reducer, allergy medication, a laundry stain stick, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, a small flashlight, chargers and extra batteries.  If you have young children, pack extra clothes in case of spills or accidents. Also throw in some empty quart or gallon sized zipper top bags. They can be used to store anything from soiled laundry and sundry items to souvenirs or shoes.

5 – Pack a backpack of snacks and activities. Choose your books and toys wisely. Toys and games with small parts are difficult to keep track of and often end up on the floor and under seats. Art kits with blank paper, colored pencils and crayons can keeps kids occupied for hours. Bring a few old favorite toys as well as a couple of brand new toys. The novelty of a new toy alone is enough to provide hours of enchantment for any child. Video games, DVD and music players also have their place when traveling.

Below are some tips from our radio show listeners and facebook fans:

a – Go to dollar store and allow children to purchase toys and treats for the trip

b – Have kids prepare a report on the area traveling to

c – Take plastic grocery bags with you both on an airplane and in the car. Kids generate so much garbage and it is so nice to just hand over a bag to the flight attendant instead of having handfuls. (You can also use them to contain dirty diapers!)

All it takes is a bit of time and planning to make your family vacation a reality. Columbus Travel can help with all of your family vacation planning needs.

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Disney Cruise Trips and exercise

When you hit the high sees on a Disney Cruise trip there is one thing you can be sure of, you will never go hungry. With so many different restaurants and eating joints your stomach will always be full. But with so many eating options you run the risk of increasing your pant size when you get home. To avoid gaining all that extra weight try out some of the fitness and sport activities on board. They will keep you entertained and help work of those Mickey ice-cream bars.

Fitness on a Disney Cruise Trip
On all Disney cruise ships you will find a work out facility loaded with weight and cardiovascular machines. You can also take group classes as well as sign up for personal training sessions.

Goofy exercises too
Located on the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy is Goofy’s Sports Deck. Here you can play a round of miniature golf with your family or you can check out the sport simulators. To get your heart rate up you can head to the basketball and volleyball courts and get you game on. Remember to make it a friendly game, it is Disney and Goofy could be watching.

A Disney Cruise Trip and the Wide World of Sports
If you take a Disney Cruise Trip on either the Disney Magic or Disney Wonder ships, you will find the Wide World of Sports. On this deck you can play basketball, ping pong and other sports. If you get too tired, you can always take in the ocean view while eating another popsicle- we mean jogging in place.

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Disney Cruise trips and finding your inner artist

A Disney Cruise trip has all the magic you would expect from Disney. Your favorite characters, Broadway caliber shows, fireworks and character parties can all be found on the ships. Disney Cruise trips have added extra magic with some of the art classes they offer on the ship. Step into these classes and you will leave having discovered your inner artist; and depending how bad you were going in, these classes really will prove to be magical.

Doodling on a Disney Cruise Trip
The magical world of Disney, and everything it is known for, started with a drawing of a mouse named Mickey. Since Walt Disney put pen to paper and created this lovable character, Disney and its artists have continued to create characters that are loved by people of all ages. On the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder cruise ships you can test to see if you have the talent of the Disney artists by learning how to draw all your favorite characters. Now, if turns out you can’t draw as well as the Disney artists the characters won’t be offended. Mickey and Minnie will still hug you and sign your autograph book.

“The Art of Entertaining” on a Disney Cruise trip
Besides the drawing classes, Disney Cruise trips offer other art classes as well. On some Disney seven-night cruises, an “Art of Entertaining” class is offered. Learn how to make amazing desserts from Disney chefs. They will also teach you how to create table-scapes and floral center pieces that will wow your party guests once you get back home. Another great thing about this class is you won’t have to cram everything you learn into your suitcase, which means there is more room for all your Disney paraphernalia. Which we know you and your kids will be really excited about.

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