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Vote of the week: Where do you stay?

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Published: January 25, 2008 at 10:58 AM

Sometimes a visit to a theme park is a day trip (if you're fortunate enough to live near one), and sometimes it's part of a family vacation.

This week's question asks where you stay for the night on your typical theme park trip. If you've stayed with several these options over the years, pick the one you've stayed at the most.

And please do click over to our theme park hotels section to submit ratings and reviews for the hotels that you've stayed at on recent trips.

[Note: The service that hosts our votes is having problems this weekend. So if you do not see the vote form immediately below, try clicking the "more at Twiigs.com" link to see if the poll is up there. Otherwise, I apologize, and please try back here later to vote and see the results.]

Readers' Opinions

From Robert Niles on January 25, 2008 at 3:30 PM
Am I one of the few with family members in Orlando, then? ;-)
From DONTAE ROBERTS on January 25, 2008 at 4:37 PM
IF YOU HAVE KIDS, A REALLY NICE HOTEL TO STAY AT IS HOLIDAY IN SUNSPREE KIDS SUITS!! IT HAS EVERYTHING YOU NEED! POOL, GAMES, THEY EVEN HAVE A DAYCARE FOR SMALL KIDS. ALSO THERE IS A MOIVE SCREEN THEY PUT UP EVERY NIGHT AT THE POOL, SO WHEN ALL THE KIDS ARE IN THE POOL THEY CAN STILL LOOK AT MOVIES!! THEY HAVE BUNK BED AS WELL AS A SMALL BED FOR A TODDLER. YOU ALSO CAN EAT DINNER THERE, AND ONLY ABOUT 5 MINS AWAY FROM DISNEY AND 10 MINS FROM UNIVERSAL. ITS A WONDER PLACE FOR A FAMILY WITH KIDS!! I HAVE STAY THERE ABOUT 8 TIMES! WWW.KIDSUITES.COM
From Robert Niles on January 25, 2008 at 5:09 PM
Whoa, caps lock off there, please?
From Phillip Florendo on January 26, 2008 at 3:20 AM
I'm in So Cal. Day trips for me.
From Mitchell Botwin on January 26, 2008 at 5:19 AM
Living in Orlando, all the area parks are a day trip for us.
From David Sutter on January 26, 2008 at 5:54 AM
Living in the orlando area Im only 13 miles from the Disney parks, 15 mins. from Universal and SeaWorld, 1 hr to both Busch Gardens and Cypress Gardens so its always a dady trip for us as well.
From Mark Hollamon on January 26, 2008 at 6:14 AM
I have many opinions on this issue as my wife and I were frequent visitors to Orlando before we moved here. Our first trip was exausting! We stayed in Kissimmee at one of the "$29.95" a night hotels. We were going after the most we could do with our money via the longest stay and pack stuff in every day route. This is a flawed method used by many first timers. Please listen to this warning: IT IS NOT THE WAY TO GO!!! The "$29.95" per night hotels typically have management that doesn't care how many you pack into a room and our neighbors were a church group on holiday! There were like 8-10 people in the room with one adult to keep them from burning the place down and the rest were kids. YIKES!!!

Also, when you plan too much in a stay you cannot really enjoy it the way you should. You might feel cheated at the end!

We progressed up to the Embassy Suites on I-Drive. It was closer to everything and the property was significantly better than where we stayed before. It was, however, significantly more expensive.

It took us about four or five trips down before we stayed on property at Universal. We stayed at the Hard Rock just after it opened. While being more expensive than the Embassy (not a lot more) it opened our eyes to the "Time vs Money" concept. Most people think they have more time than money when it comes to vacations and to a certain extent that is true, however, by staying on property wherever you go (Disney or USF for us) you have the ability to do more with less time and you can do it at a slower pace.

If you come down and plan on just a weekend at USF, staying on site will allow you to have front of the line access to the attractions at both parks. With that you can easily get your fill in 1.5 days. That allows you time to lounge at the pool (something we never had time for before because we were always on the go) or see a movie or enjoy some nightlife!

At Disney, staying on property cuts the travel time down to each park dramatically! I am not sold on using the Disney bus line for getting around all the time though. If you don't mind paying for parking at one park for the day it might be better to take a car, or pay for a cab.

Guests at Disney parks get the advantage of "extra hours" as well and that is a big bonus!

I have had family visit and stay in a rental house in Davenport which is about 20-30 minutes from Disney property. The houses were nice and much less expensive than staying on property! They actually ranged between the "$29.95" joints and the middle range I-Drive establishments. Most have pools, nice kitchens, laundry, etc. Pretty good for a stay of 7 days or more.

In the end, it was cheaper to move here! Seriously, when the opportunity presented itself that was actually a factor for us.

To conclude, cheap doesn't equal good when staying in Orlando! For us the real value was quality of stay and in the end that is a big part of "vacation memories".

From Larry Zimmerman on January 26, 2008 at 6:45 AM
Although we're close enough to make day trips to the Central Florida parks, we like to make an annual "special" trip to one of the resort hotels and stay on (or very near) property. Advantages are numerous - early entry, free transportation (and parking!), package delivery, excellent food and accomodations, and you don't have to worry about traffic, timing, or other hassles. I can see the day coming when you won't be able to get into a Disney park unless you're staying on property...
From Justin Spisto on January 26, 2008 at 7:36 AM
For me it depends were I am for vaction. Whatever park I may be at I go to the nicest looking hotel in the area. But I usally do day trips to SFGAdv and Dorney, because I live in NYC.
From Deidre Dennis on January 26, 2008 at 8:00 AM
We have always stayed on site, whether in Disneyland, CA or WDW. The number one convenience is being right where all the action is and I feel safer staying on site. With the Disney resorts, the theming is always an added bonus, particularly for our son and any other children we may be taking with us. At WDW, we didn't use the on-site transportation but drove from park to park. Because parking is included with your package if you purchase from WDW, we left our sticker on the dash and didn't have to worry about paying that fee each time we went to a park. Also, being on site, you can't beat the extra magic hours. There were days when we would hit a park for a few hours in the morning and come back to our hotel to do absolutely nothing but relax and nap. Once rested, we could hit one of the park that had the extended hours that night. And the extra hour in the morning to Disney's water parks for resort guests... we were able to do everything several times before those parks opened to the general public and were eating breakfast by 10:30am.

This is a main decision as to where we will go on vacation this year: If the place we want to go actually has on-site hotels or not.

From JEANY SANCHEZ on January 26, 2008 at 8:13 AM
I really love to stay in the Port Orleans French Quarter this time!
From Missy Renee on January 26, 2008 at 8:58 AM
I live within 15 miles of Busch Gardens Europe and Water Country, USA, so most of my theme park visits are day trips from home. But when we travel once or twice a year to Orlando, we generally stay in a time share resort with extended family. The extra bathrooms (usually three full bathrooms for 6-8 guests) and full kitchen are especially nice features. We save a lot of money by eating breakfast and dinner at the resort, and we enjoy our time relaxing at the resort almost as much as our theme park fun time!
From charles henderson on January 26, 2008 at 9:05 AM
for years my parents could barely afford to take us to Disney world and the Oralndo area comming from Md.. So, we always stayed in a budget hotel, when I got old enough to take myself and my wife we would up-grade our accomidations every time, from a budget hotel to timeshare resort to resort hotel on Disney property. My goal is to stay at the Contemporary one day. I have dreamed ever since i was little to stay there.
From Claudine Deshaies on January 26, 2008 at 1:46 PM
I live in RI and have a timeshare in Kissimmee. It's easy to know I have the place to stay and just "wing it" as far as deciding which parks on which days. I would like to try to say at a park resort at least once to get in the parks earlier, though.
From Tony Stevens on January 26, 2008 at 9:12 PM
I read the commment about the $29.95 hotels and I couldn't agree more. In 2003 I went to Disney World and stayed in Kissemee. The hotel we stayed at advertised a shuttle to and from the parks. What they didn't say was that they shared it with every hotel in town. On top of that the bus picked up before all the nightly closing events at the park. On top of that we ended up in the wrong parking lot to catch the bus home and ended up having to take a cab back to the hotel. After that $30 trip we drove into the parks after that.

I stayed on property in 2006 and it was the best thing to do. While we could have taken Disney transportation it still worked out that we had our own vehical. The best thing about staying on property was being able to use the meal plan in the parks.

From Karin S on January 27, 2008 at 9:28 AM
Most of the time, the parks are day trips since we're about an hour and a half from Tampa and Orlando - but the past couple of years we did make occasional weekend trips to WDW and stayed at an All Star resort.
From claudia maffei on January 27, 2008 at 10:17 AM
I agree with the people who live in Orlando it is cheaper to live there. My husband is hoping to get a job there when the housing market here picks up a bit. I also love Florida so that is a plus.
We currently live in Phoenix Az. That is the cheapest you can get to living near Southern Cal. I think it is cheaper to just go on weekends there than living there.
Our only family is in Northeast PA and unfortunately that is freezing right now.
When we do get a hotel we usually stay at a place that has a 2 bedroom suite since we have a son who is autistic and that gives him his own space and basically is the only way any of us get any sleep. I also give him tylenol pm the first night until he is use to it.
Near Disneyland the Staybridge Suites are great and give a full breakfast with waffels etc... and the Residence Inn also.
From steve lee on January 27, 2008 at 12:37 PM
It really depends on what perks (if any) there are with the resort hotels. Clearly Universal has the Front-of-the-Line thing, but since I go out of season lines are rarely a problem. Usually we stay at the aforementioned $29.95 hotels in Kissimmee, but we've never had any problems with other guests there (again, out of season).

Look, I'm not a "sit around the pool" kinda guy. The only use I have for a hotel is a place to cover the three S's: Shower, sleep, and defecate. All I really care about is that I don't have to wear shoes in the shower. We never linger in a hotel room any longer than we need to, since there's just so much else to do everywhere else. Since we're spending oh, at least a hundred dollars less per night, that's extra money in the "having fun" pile.

I'm sure my attitude would be entirely different if we had kids or if going to parks was a special event situation. If we didn't have our own transport, staying on site would be a serious consideration. But we'll drive pretty much anywhere east of the Mississippi so we tend to have our own car with us (and there's no rush to procreate, so that helps).

From Olivier Sanguy on January 28, 2008 at 1:33 AM
As it is my first comment, first a great thank you for Robert Miles who created this useful web resource for theme park fans.
About this vote of the week, I would have choose "Vacation Homes" but there is not that choice. Last time I've been to WDW (december 2006 along with a shuttle launch!) our family party of 7 rented a vacation home: a very good bargain, nad neighbour was very quiet.
However that was in a very low season (6 to 16 december), so I don't know how it is in higher seasons with a lot more people.
From Rob P on January 28, 2008 at 3:02 AM
We tend to mix it up a little so we get the best of all worlds.

We normally visit for three weeks. The 1st week we go to the Royal Pacific at Universal. I can't say enough good things about this hotel and it's staff and being on site has so many advantages like being able to have a beer in the evening because you don't have to drive and , of course , the fastpass room key. The car only comes out for those occaisional days out and visiting Seaworld.

Then we move on down to one of the hotels on Plaza Blvd for a week or so because of the close proximity to Downtown and the bus network.
We've stayed at the Courtyard a couple of times ( good ) , the Grosvenor ( so-so ) and the Wyndham ( good).

Then if we've saved enough money by staying at one of these it funds a few days at the Grand Floridian for that extra special touch at Disney.

So if you play your cards right you can have it all without it costing the Earth.

From Robert Niles on January 28, 2008 at 4:29 PM
D'oh! Spaced the vacation homes option. Sorry about that one.
From Keith Lowery on January 30, 2008 at 8:19 PM
We are DVC’ers and really enjoy all the perks of staying on property; however we still tend to travel off and check out non-disney entertainment. Our favorites are Old Key West, Wilderness Lodge, and Saratoga Springs, each have their own unique interests and seem to be the ones that we tend to repeat again and again. We are planning to use our package to travel to some nice resort hotels in non-park related areas as well.

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