Making a decision on where to stay when visiting Walt Disney World is one of the most expensive and important options in your vacation planning. The right resort will provide you with a quiet place to re-energize, places to refuel before and after the tour day, and even a great place to explore when you’re not in the parks. A wrong resort could keep you awake at night or generate stressful mornings while everyone tries to prepare for the day.
For parties with young children, the choice becomes even more important. Space becomes an even bigger problem if you need a crib or a pack-n-play. The volume of noise around the room in the mid-afternoon is more important if you have children taking a nap. And is there any place where parents spend time when children go to bed? My family has gone to a few different resorts with our young children, and the little things at some point make a big difference. What things have other parties experienced with young children and what resorts value them more or less significantly than other types of parties?
Explain the math!
We collected satisfaction data from resorts in our post-visit surveys of WDW visitors using TouringPlans. Part of this survey asks you to rate your resort (and room) based on several factors. There is an overall satisfaction score that we use to compare different seasons. This score ranges from “Very Dissatisfied” to “Very Satisfied,” with five total options. To compare scores statistically, we can convert each answer to its equivalent number. Very dissatisfied = 1, Very satisfied = 5, etc. Therefore, the average satisfaction in a complex is expressed as a number that is an average of all these scores in each complex.
But we also want to recognize that resorts are changing. Renovations are taking place, food offers are changing, things are deteriorating, and so on. Therefore, I would like to highlight the responses to the surveys that came in more recently compared to those of months or years ago. To do this, I have two options. The first option is to limit the responses I am getting to a specific time period. But this ignores a story that may be interesting and decreases the size of my sample. The second option is a weighted average, where I still consider all the resorts of all time, but weigh the minors “less”.
For today’s analysis, I will keep the weighting fairly straightforward. I leave any revision for the last 3 months to maintain its full weight. It counts as a whole answer. But if something was older than that, I start to gain weight. I will continue with the following weighting system:
- 3 to 6 months ago? 1/2 pes
- 6 to 9 months ago? 1/3 of weight
- 9 to 12 months ago? 1/4 weight
- 12 to 15 months ago? 1/5 weight
- 15 to 18 months ago? 1/6 weight
Therefore, reviews from the last 3 months are 6 times more “important” than reviews from 15-18 months ago. This means that the overall score will reflect much more recent scores, but still not completely ignore the past.
I also need to find out how different these scores are for parties with young children, which means I need to know what scores belong to these parties. When someone fills out a post-visit survey, they can also tell us the sex and age of the party members. I created two different groups: all party polls that had someone under the age of six entered the “little kids party” group, and all the other polls grouped “everyone”.
Resorts where parties with young children are most enjoyed
- Swan + Dolphin (4.76 i 4.63 for parties with young children; 4.41 i 4.23 for the rest)
Swan and Dolphin appear at the top of the list, where party satisfaction scores with young children show the biggest difference compared to parties that don’t. Probably a lot of that comes down to price and space. Swan and Dolphin rooms are larger than Disney’s moderate resorts (and are roughly on par with “Lodge” rooms in some of the luxury resorts). But you can use Marriott offers or rewards to stay in Swan and Dolphin and still get all the benefits of being on site and close to EPCOT.
Riviera Resort (4.92 for parties with young children; 4.46 for the rest)
4.92 ?! Riviera must be doing something right with young children. Space is probably one more factor, as luxury studios reach 423 relatively large square feet (it’s larger than any other luxury studio other than Polynesian). And if your kids can never stay up until they wake up with fireworks, no sweat, because many Riviera studios have fireworks views (use the room finder to find and request -ne un). There are also plenty of other outdoor activities and easy access to the Skyliner, allowing you to make quick round trips to the parks if you need to return for the night.
- Contemporary complex (4.66 for parties with young children; 4.51 for the rest)
Real talk. What a little boy it doesn’t do you love monorail? I have two girls and they love new and interesting forms of transportation. So, it is a place to regularly watch this monorail and also eat with all your favorite classic characters. And to have this easy access to Magic Kingdom with most of your favorite attractions? Successful recipe right there.
Polynesian complex (4.75 for parties with young children; 4.61 for the rest)
The standard rooms at the Poly are the largest of all rooms other than the Grand Floridian. For reference, the value rooms are 260 square feet. Good luck even gathering a crib there. One room at the Poly, however, is 415 square feet. Much better. And the pool area is legitimately cool, with a water play area perfect for younger children. As with other Magic Kingdom stations, you have quick access to many of the attractions that are made for this age group as well.
- Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani (4.70 for parties with young children; 4.60 for the rest)
Animals! Most of the themes of the other resorts that made this list are space and location. Neither are factors at Animal Kingdom Lodge. You have a short bus ride to Animal Kingdom, but everything else is more of a transport, especially if you don’t have your own car. And the studios aren’t particularly wide, with 366 square feet. But there are animals everywhere. And if your little one exclaims excitedly about the “canteloups” they can see from their porch, are you really living your best life? Ha!
Resorts where parties with young children enjoy less
- BoardWalk Inn (4.34 for parties with young children; 4.60 for the rest)
At the “end” of the list for parties with young children is BoardWalk Inn. It is the complex with the largest negative difference between the two groups. If you ask me, the clown pool has definitely impacted you. But even recently it doesn’t work so well. It has smaller rooms than other Crescent Lake resorts, and although the clown is no longer there, its pool is pale compared to Stormalong Bay. So if you have young kids, you almost definitely want to stay at the Beach Club or Yacht Club instead of BoardWalk.
Star movies (4.07 for parties with young children; 4.25 for the rest)
The All-Stars already usually appear at the bottom of the WDW resort group for satisfaction. So for them to fall even lower when young children participate is frankly quite impressive. Interestingly, films in particular show this decrease in satisfaction, while music and sports do not. This probably boils down to expectations more than anything else. There is a lot of potential for the Movies theme. And instead, the most exciting section is probably Toy Story. And even that feels a little called. More potential = more potential for disappointment.
- Century Pop (4.43 for parties with young children; 4.53 for the rest)
Pop Century is a fantastic resort for cost-conscious adults. The topic is fun, but not really important. There is the Skyliner. The food court … used to be good. For young children, the theme probably doesn’t have the same appeal as Art of Animation on the other side of the lagoon, with a much more appropriate theme for kids. The rooms have more space now after the redesign, but they are still small. But if you’re staying in a Value room with young children, Art of Animation is the way to go.
What does this mean for you?
- The number one topic for resorts that are successful at parties with young children? Space. All space, please. Small humans are small, but they require A LOT of space. Research the size of the room before booking. Or use the lovely travel agencies here at TouringPlans to do this research.
- Topic number two is definitely location. If you travel with young children, you are more likely to return to the room more often. Therefore, if you can get a resort with walking, monorail or Skyliner access to a park, your life will be much easier.
- Topic number three is … theme. It may not be at a high level. But if you’re a young mermaid fan, a stay in the Art of Animation’s Little Mermaid section will probably get everything else out of the water. Toddlers have a few things to achieve, and if you can get that interest while on vacation at WDW, it makes everything even more magical.
Have you had a spectacular stay at the resort with young children? A place where you all fit in and feel comfortable? Or somewhere you would suggest avoiding parties with young children? Let us know in the comments.