My friend Mike is what I’d call a true Disneyland expert! He’s been there many times and plumbed the park for all kinds of fun experiences. He has written a number of Disney posts for me over the past several months and today, he’s back at it again!
Most adults have their ideas of fun. Sometimes that means luxury accommodations, other times it means value for the dollar. But do you remember the excitement you got as a child thinking about your first or next Disney vacation? It’s amazing what things excite our kids that we wouldn’t even think about. With that in mind, I asked my kids of 10 and 11 (and 1, but he mostly just drooled) what were their top choices for places to stay on their next Disney vacation and why.
#1: The Paradise Pier Hotel (Disneyland)
Amazingly, the least expensive of the three on-site Disneyland hotels still can hold the biggest draw for kids. Why? I’m sure it has something to do with the kid-friendly colors or the goofy statue in the lobby. The beach ball pillows in the rooms are a big hit. But the coup de gras for kids would of course be the roof top pool complete with water slide.
Another huge perk would be the nightly firework that can be seen from the pool deck as well. And if all that is not enough, it has a great character meal with Mickey and the gang. Though you can’t go wrong with any of the Disneyland area hotels, the Paradise Pier is a surprise hit with kids.
One of the newest hotels at the Walt Disney World resort has been a big win with kids. The first hotel to theme around some of the most popular Disney/Pixar films. 4 different sections that features rooms designed around The Little Mermaid, Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King. The big problem is getting all your kids to decide on which movie themed room is the best for you.
If that wasn’t enough, it has a few other perks that kids love. A great pool and Nemo splash area are big crowd pleasers (if you consider your kids a crowd, which I do). Disney even included music that can be heard only when you’re underwater in the main pool. The food court keeps the theme, with 4 areas, all with different foods to match the movies they represent.
You might think that having Disney movies at a Disney resort should be a no-brainer. Interestingly enough, this is the first resort to feature in such bold, bright and immersive manner the beloved characters throughout the rooms and resort. When my wife first saw the pictures online, she was afraid it might be a bit garish and overpowering. But once we got there, she definitely changed her tune and even as adults, we both were drawn into the magic.
Probably the biggest thing kids are into, the Art of Animation features family suites. No need to cram all in one room, suites offer a little bit of extra space. Additionally, there is a unforeseen joy when transforming the table into a convertible bed. Expect to hear a few “coooool!”s from the kids.
#3: Port Orleans: Riverside & French Quarter (Walt Disney World)
As with many kids, my kids couldn’t decide which they liked better. Both of these hotels fit into what Disney likes to call a “moderate” resort. Port Orleans is technically two resorts, French Quarter and Riverside. But they share amenities, so it’s almost like two for the price of one. That means two well-themed pools that include water slides. The boys seem to like the more wild and overgrown look that comes with the Alligator Bayou area. And there aren’t many girls who are not clamoring to stay in the “Royal Guest Rooms'” with Prince and Princess theme.
Another fun addition for the whole family is a nearly nightly fixture, Yehaa Bob. With several showings in the lounge area, Bob puts on one of the best live shows around. Piano fun, tons of audience involvement, hilarious. Kids will love it as Bob has years of practice in how to get them involved.
It all the small things that kids seem to love about Port Orleans. You can rent bikes or even go fishing. Port Orleans even offers a boat ride over to Disney Springs. Watching your kids race down the the dock to go on a boat ride is a simple pleasure as you start an evening of strolling around as a family in the newly renovated restaurant and shopping area.
#4: Aulani (Ko Olina, Oahu)
You would think kids wouldn’t be interested in a resort that has no theme park attached. But luckily due to an aggressive marketing campaign (thanks Disney), kids are dying to visit this magical resort nestled in Hawaii. And boy is there plenty for kids to love there. A giant splash area, two great water slides and lazy river are just the start of the fun to be found.
Aulani knows how to keep the kids busy and happy. Aunty’s Beach House is a great activity center. From science experiments to story telling, all done with that Disney quality you’ve come to expect. Not only that, there is always something to do as a whole family. Painting animation cells, games by the pool or renting a movie at the end of the night to watch together. There’s also the interactive Menehune Adventure game. With a mobile device given by the resort, you can wind through the pathways and resort areas and watch these little tricksters bring a bit of magic.
You might wonder if you’ll get the Hawaii experience if staying at this unique Disney resort. That’s what makes this so special. Disney built Aulani with the help and insight of the local elders. The entire resort tells the story of the Hawaiian culture. To add to this, they offer a Starlight Hui along with other cultural touchstones.
Kids love this resort. Amazingly though, you as an adult will love it more.
#5: Animal Kingdom Lodge (Walt Disney World)
Giraffes outside your window. That’s why kids love the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Set on its own wildlife preserve, this deluxe hotel has more than 30 species of animals to be seen and loved. Weather you have a Savannah view from your room or just enjoying from the pathways and observation areas.
Guests staying here can even partake of exclusive safari tours. In the evening, you can grab night vision goggles and continue to the animal viewing fun. Oh, and since this resort is considered a deluxe accommodation, it comes with some great pool areas and even a kids club.
Those are just 5 choices that kids seem to flock to that can really make your family vacation extra special. What about your kids? Where are they excited to stay?
Mike Rinehart is an independent travel agent affiliated with MEI & Mouse Fan Travel. Follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MikesTravelThoughts/ View more of this travel thoughts at mike-rinehart-e3x2.squarespace.com Or request your free no obligation quote on your next Disneyland, Disney World, Aulani, Disney Cruise (and any other cruise line) vacation by emailing him at Mike.Rinehart@mei-travel.com. Mention “The Coupon Project” and receive a free gift with your completed booking.