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The Best Way to Stay at Disney

Monday, March 12, 2012

Let's face it: kids come with a LOT of baggage! Even an overnight trip requires multiple pieces of luggage. The younger the child is, the more they require. How does that work, right? A tiny little baby needing the most luggage? Well, as illogical as it sounds, every parent of young kids will agree. It's inevitable when you consider the amount of diapers, formula, baby wipes, baby food jars, multiple outfit changes for messes, etc. that babies and toddlers require.

Our family has figured out a way to severely minimize the amount of luggage we have to bring when vacationing at Walt Disney World... and that all started when we bought into the Disney Vacation Club (DVC). While I won't go into a pros/cons analysis of whether DVC is right for you, I will simply tell you how it has changed our vacations, and how you can experience it, too, without having to purchase a contract.

DVC accomodations are Disney's Deluxe Villa accomodations. The best part of that for us (and most people) is having an in-room washer and dryer and a full kitchen. What does this mean for our young family? The washer/dryer have been incredible for us! We now pack a few outfits for the kids (and the adults) and simply do a load of laundry when needed. Max spills chocolate milk all over himself? While in the past, I would have had to pack 3x the number of outfits required for an adult for a week to deal with these type of situations, I now throw that outfit in the wash in the evening, dry it before I go to bed, and the outfit is ready to wear the next morning!

Having a full kitchen has been amazing, too. When Max was a baby using formula, it was great to have a stove to boil the water. More importantly, though, it has allowed us to stock a fridge full of groceries! Because of the regular sized fridge in a Deluxe Villa, I started looking into doing my groceries in Orlando, rather than bringing a ton of non-perishable items from home! We stumbled onto GardenGrocer.com. You could most likely do it cheaper if you did the grocery shopping on your own, but we love the convenience of the groceries coming to meet us at our resort when we arrive. We never rent a car when we come to Walt Disney World because we don't like leaving the "bubble".

Once I realized I could buy Max's baby jars from Garden Grocer and didn't have to dedicate half of a suitcase to bringing ours from home, I started looking into what else I could order from Garden Grocer, and avoid packing! We now get our diapers and wipes from there, as well. This saves a TON of room in our suitcases. While you may say our costs have increased, this isn't entirely true. Having to bring diapers and wipes from home, as well as numerous extra outfits for each child would definitely cause us to have to pack at least one, if not two, extra suitcases. When you factor in the astronomical baggage fees that airlines charge nowadays, it's most likely a wash. BUT - what you do save yourself is the extra packing and the stress of navigating extra suitcases and two toddlers and strollers through airports and on and off the Magical Express.

Yes, DVC allows you the opportunity to wash and dry your clothes and stock a fridge full of groceries - but, not everyone wants to sign a 50 year contract with Disney. That's understandable. Of course, there is the option of renting a vacation home in Orlando for your Disney vacation. The "magic" may not be as present off-property, though (I don't know?). What are your options, then? You can certainly pay rack rates for Disney's Deluxe Villas... or wait for Disney to offer a sale (ie. 35% off in the off-season). However, a surprisingly more affordable option is renting DVC points! DVC members rent out their points if they cannot use them themselves. There are numerous websites dedicated to matching DVC members with vacationers who want to rent DVC units. We have done this once before we joined DVC and couldn't believe the deal we got!

While any accomodation will do as long as you're visiting the mouse, having some of the luxuries of home when travelling with small children definitely makes things easier.


About this column

Danielle Perry shares the adventures and challenges of travelling to Walt Disney World as a family.


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