In the real world, a family of five isn’t a “large” family, but by Disney World standards, it is. It’s true that some Disney resort rooms sleep five people, but the cold hard fact is that they don’t all do it comfortably. This means that if you’re a larger family, you may find yourself tempted to stay off site. After all, you can get a two-bedroom condo or even a gorgeous rental home for a reasonable price. But if you’re like me, you love the benefits of staying on site: Transportation, extra magic hours, package delivery services, the dining plan, and being in the “Disney bubble.” Frankly, it’s going to take a lot of get this family of five to stay off site.
So what works for larger families? Let’s look based on the different levels of resorts:
The Value Resorts:
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the value resorts, where you’ll get the same service and benefits as someone staying in a deluxe resort for a fraction of the price. Unfortunately, standard value rooms only hold four guests (excluding the first child under age three, who does not count towards your occupancy), so booking a single value resort room is out of the question for larger families.
A great solution is to book two connecting value rooms. Combined these will average around $200-300 a night, depending on the time of year. The advantage here is not only space, but that you’ll have a place where the adults can relax at night after the kids go to bed, always a plus. Make sure you request connecting rooms when you book. These are never guaranteed, but since the values have a high percentage of rooms that connect, your request will most likely be met.
Another solution for larger families is to stay at a family value suite at All Star Music or at the recently opened Art of Animation resort. These suites sleep six and have two bathrooms, a queen-sized bed in the “master” bedroom, two televisions, a fold-out couch, a table that converts into a bed, a refrigerator, and microwave. The only downside is the price which can top $400 a night during peak season. Another caveat: Due to their popularity, it can be harder to find discounted value suites. If getting a discount is important to you, book a suite but plan on switching to two value rooms (which almost always have a discount available except during peak season) later if a discount doesn’t materialize.
Port Orleans-Riverside, known affectionately by Disney fans as POR, is the only moderate resort room that sleeps five people in its standard rooms. There’s a catch however: The Murphy-style fold out beds are small and better suited for children under ten years of age.
An alternative to a single room is to stay in the cabins at Fort Wilderness. These cabins sleep six and include a bedroom, living area with Murphy bed, a full kitchen, and one bath. You’ll also get a large deck and a place to grill outside. For more information on the Ft. Wilderness cabins, please see this article.
Most Disney deluxe resorts sleep five, excluding Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Wilderness Lodge, which both sleep four in a standard room. At approximately 400 square feet, these rooms are roomier, with two queen-sized beds and a fold-out couch, but it’s important not to lose sight of one thing: Everyone will still be sleeping in the same room. So if privacy (to say nothing of having an extra bathroom) is important to you, the extra 100 or so square feet you gain over a moderate resort room really isn’t going to make that big of a difference in your comfort level. Consider two connecting value or moderate rooms, a value suite or, if money isn’t an issue, a Disney Vacation Club villa instead.
Disney Vacation Club Villas:
One solution for larger families is to book at a DVC resort. You can do this through Disney or by renting points through a private owner. Generally, you’ll find that renting points from a DVC owner is cheaper, but there are steep cancellation penalties (you risk forfeiting everything) and the entire transaction requires a lot of trust since you’re dealing with an individual owner rather than directly with Disney. You can read more about renting points here.
DVC resorts are basically one, two and three-bedroom condos with full kitchens and living/dining areas on Disney property. They’re often attached to deluxe resorts, although some, such as Saratoga Springs, are solely DVC properties. The theming is excellent and the amenities are some of the best on property, but they’re also some of the most expensive rooms available at Walt Disney World.
If you plan on booking one of these villas through Disney, you should be aware that not all resorts will be discounted when promotions are announced, so be flexible if getting a discount is important to you. I’ve found that Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, and Animal Kingdom Lodge have the most rooms available under discounted promotions. Finally, it’s fairly rare that three-bedroom units (also known as grand villas) are discounted. Sometimes it’s easier and more economical to get two two-bedroom units.
As you can see, there are plenty of options available on property that will accommodate larger families. Personally, I prefer the option of two value rooms. It gives you plenty of space and you won’t pay more than you would for one moderate room. Just make sure before you make a decision you look at all the options and price out different scenarios, keeping in mind that not all discounts are created equally. In the end, a little extra time and paperwork can save you a lot of money and put you and your family into the most comfortable and appropriate resort for you.