Planning a Walt Disney World vacation for one family can feel overwhelming. Planning one for a large family with wide-ranging ages? I can sense your anxiety from here. But don’t worry; I’m here to help bring your stress levels down a few notches. This post is going to be Part 1 in a series I’m putting together for individuals planning a trip to the most magical place on Earth with larger families or those who are planning a multi-generational trip. Since one of the first things most people book when planning a trip to Disney is their hotel, let’s start off by looking at some of the options you’ll have when choosing Walt Disney World accommodations for large families.
Did you know this post is part of a series about travelling to Walt Disney World with a large family? Be sure to check out my other posts, Walt Disney World Planning Tips for Large Families and Walt Disney World Dining for Large Families.
Walt Disney World Accommodations for Large Families
Last summer, after years of mental planning on my end, I took my nephews to Walt Disney World for the first time. Disney has always been a special place to me, and I was so excited to finally be able to share that with them. Obviously for a trip this special, my parents and sister also wanted to get in on the action! With 7 of us travelling total, booking a single, standard size hotel room logistically was not going to work.
I briefly researched Orlando vacation home rentals, but I wanted my family to have the fully immersive Disney experience by staying on property. Luckily, there are so many different options when looking at Walt Disney World accommodations for large families. It includes everything from booking adjoining or connecting rooms, family suites, or the deluxe/DVC villas. With 31 different resort hotels, there is an option for groups of any size or budget.
Walt Disney World Resort Hotels
Whether I’m travelling with my entire family, friends or going solo, my first choice when booking accommodations for a Walt Disney World vacation is always an on-site hotel. I love the benefits resort guests receive, including:
- Complimentary transportation from Orlando International Airport to your hotel on Disney Magical Express;
- FastPass+ booking window 60-days prior to your arrival (compared to 30-days for non-resort guests);
- Extra Magic Hours in the morning or evening allowing you to extend your days in the parks.
Each resort has a unique theme and offerings, but there are a number of amenities you can find regardless of where you stay: multiple pools (most of which include slides, to my nephews’ delight), table and quick service dining, and a variety of daily activities for anyone who finds themselves at the resort that day. Beyond that, I personally enjoy staying in my ‘Disney Bubble’ when I travel there on vacation. It’s nice to forget the real world exists for awhile and let yourself be overtaken by the magic.
There are three primary options you’ll want to consider for Walt Disney World accommodations for large families.
I don’t have personal experience with the family suites, so rather than do the same research you could find on your own, let’s consult an expert! My friend Tania of LolaLambchops.com, who has a family of 7, recently took an in depth look at the Art of Animation and All-Star Music family suites at Walt Disney World. As she says, “The Disney World Family Suites are awesome! This is a good budget Disney World accommodation for larger families. I would even recommend them to smaller families where parents just want some privacy. 2 TVs, 2 bathrooms, a kitchenette, more square footage.”
Be sure to check out Tania’s full post for more details on the Disney World Family Suites!
Adjoining or Connecting Rooms
If your large group is comprised of several families, another option is to book adjoining or connecting standard hotel rooms. This is a great way to allow each family to have their own separate space while staying close together. Most Walt Disney World resort rooms can hold 4-5 people and include 1 king or 2 queen-sized beds. A few resorts such as Port Orleans – Riverside and Caribbean Beach are also equipped with pull-down beds connected to the dressers. These additional beds are meant for the smaller members of your party, fitting guests shorter than 64″.
When booking adjoining or connected rooms, each room will need to be booked separately. After making the reservation, you can request that rooms be connected (having a door that opens between two rooms) or adjoining (rooms that are next to each other without a door connecting them). You will have the option to do this either on the website when making your reservation or by calling the Walt Disney World Central Reservations Office at (407) 934-7639.
Make sure to have both the name and reservation number for each room when making this request over the phone. Disney cannot always guarantee adjoining or connecting rooms will be available, but the earlier you make this request, the more likely they will be able to grant it.
If you’re looking for even more space, have needs that require a full kitchen, or want to feel at home while still receiving all the benefits entitled to resort guests, consider the Deluxe/DVC Villas. The Deluxe Villas and Disney Vacation Club Villas are identical except in the way that they are booked and the allotment of rooms available to each group. We’ll talk about booking in a second, but first let’s get into the rooms themselves.
These villas range from studios which sleep 4 to grand villas which sleep 12. Studio rooms are very similar to the traditional style hotel rooms. They differ in that rather than two queen beds, studios are furnished with one queen bed and a sofa bed. Studios also have a kitchenette area with a sink, microwave and coffee pot. As with standard hotel rooms, studios can be requested as adjoining or connecting. But in my opinion, those considering villas as an option for Walt Disney World accommodations for large families would be better off focusing their attention on the larger villas.
Most 1-bedroom villas can accommodate 5 guests, while 2-bedroom villas can fit 8 or 9 guests. And, as mentioned, the resorts which have grand villas (Saratoga Springs, Bay Lake Towers, Boardwalk, Old Key West, and Animal Kingdom Villas), can fit 12 guests. These larger villas all feature a minimum of two bathrooms, a washer/dryer, full kitchens with ovens, stove tops, microwaves, coffee pots, and dishwashers. They also provide a LOT of space – not just to move around, but for storage as well.
There are two ways of booking villas. You can book deluxe villas directly through Disney online or over the phone. However, this can be a costly option depending on the size of the room and time of travel. But don’t let that dissuade you completely. If the villas fit your travel needs but not your budget, there is another option – renting Disney Vacation Club(DVC) points. I have used this option on a number of occasions and can’t recommend it enough. Companies like DVC Rental Store facilitate point transactions between owners and renters. Once the reservation is made, you can link it to your My Disney Experience account and proceed like you would with any other reservation. I’ll go more in depth about renting DVC points in another post soon, so keep an eye out for that!
Planning Tips for Disney World Accommodations For Large Families
- Assess your needs. Will you be spending a lot of time at the resort, or just need it as a place to sleep? Will it be easier to get everybody ready if you are in the same space or do you need to spread out? Do you need a washer and dryer in your room or do you mind walking across the resort to the community one if needed?
- Determine your budget and do the math. Adjoining or connecting rooms at value resorts can be booked for as low as $97 each per night (or $1455 for three rooms for a 5-night stay). A 2 bedroom villa at Saratoga Springs which sleeps 8 could run you around $612 per night (or $3060 for 5 nights). And keep in mind Disney is constantly offering promotions for resort stays, so play around on their website and see what you can come up with!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If after reading this you are still unsure what type of room you’d like to book or comparing the pricing of all your options is overwhelming you, consider working with an authorized Disney travel agent. They will be more than happy to assist you in planning your dream vacation at no additional cost to you. And if you just want to chat about Disney resorts or planning a trip with a large family, come find me on Twitter or Facebook!
Have you visited Walt Disney World with a large or multi-generational family? Where did you stay and what did you think? Any other tips you’d offer those looking for Walt Disney World accommodations for large families? Leave it in the comments! Also, be sure to check out Part Two in this series, Walt Disney World Dining for Large Families.