How important is an upgraded room view at your resort? It really depends on where you stay, but I’m of the belief that if you’re stayng at a resort that doesn’t have a balcony, it’s a complete waste of money. Here are the ins and outs of room views and why you might want to upgrade–and why you may not.
Value and Moderate Resorts:
I’m a huge fan of Disney’s value resorts, where you get all the benefits of staying at a deluxe resort without the high price: extra magic hours, package delivery, use of the dining plan if you choose, great transportation, and free parking. Oh, and let’s not forget, the ability to make dining reservations and fastpass reservations before off-site guests. However, the fact is, you don’t need to pay $15 more a night to get a “view” of the pool as you walk out of your room.
Interestingly, until just a couple of years ago, there was no such thing as a “view” at these resorts until some marketing genius (I may be exaggerating at this point) decided it would be a good idea to divvy up the rooms by view. Now you can have a standard room with a lovely view of the parking lot or you can really live it up, pay a bit more a night, and see the pool. Of course you can’t really see the pool unless you’re standing outside, but let’s not quibble. The fact is, when you walk out your door, there’s the pool. For $15 to $25 more a night.
On the other hand, a preferred location, which has nothing to do with the view and everything to do with where you’re located, can be a huge plus, so don’t overlook those, especially if you’d like a shorter walk from your room to the lobby.
Here’s where your choice gets a little more difficult. Who doesn’t want to go to sleep looking at the fireworks? I know I do. But are all these views at Disney’s deluxe resorts worth it? Let’s look at the pluses and minuses of upgraded views at each resort where views can enhance your experience.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort: Here, the views of the lagoon and theme park are really gorgeous, but it’s the theme park views from the buildings closest to the ferryboats over at the Ticket and Transportation Center that are a problem. There, unless you’re a sound sleeper, you’ll be waken up by horns as the ferryboats dock for half the night. Obviously, this isn’t particularly restful. Just know when making your reservation that this can be a problem and plan accordingly. Ear plugs? That might be a solution. Personally, after doing it once, not staying in those rooms is my solution.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort: I love the theme park views here, but keep in mind that during the day, you’re mostly looking at a parking lot. The opposite is true for the Bay Lake side: During the day it’s gorgeous but you can’t see much at night . If you’re not in the room during the day, a Bay Lake view might be a waste. Alternatively, If you don’t care about the view at all, try the Garden Wing rooms. While you are not in the main building, the rooms look exactly the same as they do in the Tower and you’ll get all the amenities and convenience at a much lower price. One caveat regarding these rooms however; since they are so much lower in price, they are rarely discounted.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort: I don’t honestly think there’s a bad view here, so my advice is to go with the lowest room category available. It’s true that some rooms are simply a view of the monorail, but even those will include some “garden” or “water” elements. The theme park views here are nice, but the angle of the resort means you will only see a small sliver of park. If that view is important to you, book the Contemporary and ask for a high floor. It’s really the best view of the park on property.
Yacht and Beach Club: You can get a water, pool or garden view at these two “sister’ resorts, but keep in mind that neither resort has many true balconies and they have even fewer standard rooms. If you’re the type who likes to gamble, book a standard room and ask for an upgrade. Since there are so many in the “better” category of rooms, you might just get it.
Wilderness Lodge: Again, you have a choice of woods view, water view, or garden view rooms in the upgraded category at this resort. If you’ll be spending time on the balcony here, the woods view (the lowest price in the upgraded room category) is a nice option since the standard view rooms here look out over parking lots or worse, backstage areas (i.e., dumpters). Although one “dumpster” view is also the secret “theme park view” at this resort. I was lucky enough to get it one time and we saw Wishes (okay, just barely) each night from our room.
Animal Kingdom Lodge: This is actually one resort where an upgraded view is well worth the price. Choose from a pool, savanna or Arusha (this is the best savanna view) view. I love the pool view here, but keep in mind that if you’re too close, you will hear noise from the pool. That’s a big detriment for people who like to sleep in since the music starts as soon as the main pool opens and continues until it closes. Most savanna views are created equal, and by that, I mean you have animals outside your room, so if seeing animals grazing and sunning themselves from your balcony as you enjoy a cocktail in the early evening is your idea of good time (actually, that sounds perfect right now) then by all means, pay a bit more and have that luxury.
Animal Kingdom Lodge standard rooms have an interesting quirk in that many of them are partial pool or partial savanna views. For this reason, they can’t be classified as an actual savanna or pool view because guests would absolutely complain (and rightfully so) if they were put into, for example, a savanna view room and instead got a view of three zebras and a utility road. This can work to your advantage when you make your room request; just ask for this type of view or even make a specific room request if you know that it has this type of “standard” view. I have had great “standard” view rooms that overlooked the savanna or even a combination of the savanna and the pool (at Kidani VIllage) and I’ve had awful standard rooms that were literally right on top of Bell Services. So definitely make that request. It can’t hurt.
How Do I Decide What to Book?
The reality is, if you’re visiting the parks most of the day and into the night, you don’t need an upgraded view. I rarely spend more than ten minutes at a time on my balcony (if I’m at a deluxe resort) because I’m too busy seeing Disney’s amazing parks and I’m saying this as someone who visits around once a month. There are exceptions of course. Going on a romantic trip? Get the balcony unless it’s not in the budget (and really, you’ll get more out of a nice dinner than a theme park view, I’m guessing). Trip with the kids? Some parents tell me they like to relax and have a glass of wine after the kids go to sleep–that’s a nice option to have, especially if the children are little and go to bed early.
What About Discounts?
Here’s the thing. If you’re trying to save money, book the standard view room, but keep in mind that quite often when Disney releases discounts, they release only a small number of standard rooms under the promotion or, none at all. This is often the case with the Contemporary Resort, as noted above, where it’s rare to see a discounted Garden Wing room or with Port Orleans Riverside, where a discounted standard room is incredibly rare.
As always, my advice is book what you can afford before discounts come out and remember, all rooms at Disney are great. Why? Because you’re in Disney World!