I will say this, all the hours of planning and researching; the saving of little bits of money here and there-- it was all 100% worth it to constantly see this look on Lucy's face...
(She was pointing at the Mad Hatter's Teacups -- even though we had been on them SEVERAL times!)
I utilized several blogs, websites and online tools (which I will gladly share) to gain information as we planned our trip. Most of these were helpful once we decided when to go and where to stay and for how long.
We arrived in Orlando on Sunday afternoon, got checked in and then went to the Downtown Disney area for dinner and a little fun. We walked around and then visited the World of Disney Character Store. (Which is huge, by the way.. the largest Disney Store in the Resort. It's TWELVE rooms of fun stuff to look at kept us and the kids busy for awhile.)
Where to Stay:
Like any other aspect, this depends on several things, but most importantly your budget. Because of the structure of our trip, we had the opportunity to spend half of it within the Disney Resort and half off the property at an Embassy Suites so we were able to compare different aspects of each. We traveled with some friends of ours and we were able to get a very good deal on two rooms in the moderate resort. We stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside Resort on the Alligator Bayou Side. It was very relaxing with a "Deep South" Feel. The main pool area was beautifully done with a playground and water slide. One of our favorite aspects though, was the River Boat Ferry that took us from our hotel, down the river to Downtown Disney.. very charming.
The bridge from our building to the main lobby area, ferry landing, restaurants, etc.
the view from our front door
Here's an article on the benefits of staying "On Property" at Disney. The owner of this particular blog has an entire Disney Training Section which I found to be extremely helpful.
All that being said, the two nights we stayed off site were very nice as well. We were only a couple miles away, drove right in, (paid parking: $14.00 a day) and then rode the shuttle and the Monorail right up to the front gate of the Magic Kingdom. Both were fun experiences. (The Embassy Suites offered a shuttle but the times weren't often enough for us so we drove and it worked out fine.)
**Keep in mind the importance of the ease of transportation if you are traveling with small children. For us, leaving mid-day for a nice long nap made all the difference in the world for Lucy, and by extension, her parents. :) Coming back at night was so fun since we were fresh and ready for round two!
Come back tomorrow for "Traveling with Littles"