Staying at a resort close to a Disney theme park is the dream of many theme park tourists. By vacationing in close proximity to the parks, guests can maximize their time spent enjoying Disney’s finest attractions. And that truly is the point of such a family trip. Nobody wants to spend a large portion of their free time navigating through traffic or waiting for transportation.
Also, everyone in the hotel industry competes to position their resorts as close to Disney as possible. Once they have that optimal position, the Field of Dreams maxim applies. “If you build it, they will come.” Tourists from everywhere on the planet will flock to these destination hotels. The problem that non-Disney resorts struggle to overcome is that Disney takes a large portion of the tourist money. If they hope to compete, their hotels should stand apart as having the finest accommodations imaginable. In turn, Disney has to guarantee that their resorts are so pristine that folks will pay more to stay there rather than choose a cheaper location offsite.
As is always the case with competition, consumers ultimately win. The overwhelming majority of non-Disney resorts close to Disney theme parks are the best that the hotel chains have to offer. And Disney doesn’t have a single disappointing resort in their entire Parks and Resorts division. It’s a point of pride for the dominant force in the theme park industry. The end result is an odd arms race in the hotel industry in cities such as Anaheim, California, and Orlando, Florida. Everyone in the industry must offer the finest possible hotel rooms and amenities to entice potential guests to their property. The same is true internationally as well. Tokyo, Japan, and Shanghai, China, are an older and new example of the phenomenon.
Since strategists in the hospitality industry know that millions of potential guests will visit those cities each year, they can justify nearly any expense in the creation of a hotel. The corollary to this concept is that outdated accommodations quickly fall out of favor. To stay on top of the hotel business, corporations must build spectacular properties capable of hosting thousands of guests at once. And they must update their breadwinner resorts to guarantee a lucrative piece of the tourism pie.
The above explains why the hotels surrounding Disney theme parks are so glorious. Of course, hospitality industry planners recognize that another option exists to boost the bottom line. They can cater to the same clientele but loot their pockets for even more money. In order to do so, they build suites so decadent that the people staying there for the night feel like royalty. I touched on some of these in a different article on the 14 breathtaking hotel suites that few can afford to stay in. In this article, I’ll highlight 16 more, all of which are magnificent in their own unique ways. They’ll run the gamut from “affordable for most” to “must be co-founder of Google to stay there.”
Walt Disney World
Finding Nemo Suite – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Walt Disney World
Out of the three suite options at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, the Finding Nemo Family Suites are the most expensive option. These rooms cost approximately $530 per night during the busiest times of the year and as little as $340 during the off-season. That’s more than double the price of a regular room at the property. Basic rooms there can go for $128 a night in January and February.
That leads to the logical question. What does a guest get for twice the money when they stay in the Finding Nemo Suite? Well, you won’t feel any surprise to learn that a healthy dose of Nemo comes with the package. The wayward clownfish from one of Pixar’s most beloved movies adorns the walls, and an ocean atmosphere permeates throughout the 565 square feet of the suite. Watery pastels provide the color palette for the backdrop, and sea creatures are visible virtually everywhere.
More important, the Finding Nemo Suite functions as an odd way to spend money while saving more money. It’s the rare Disney All-Stars room that includes a kitchenette, which allows larger families to offset the room price by lowering food costs. Nobody will cook a three-course meal in a Finding Nemo Suite, but a microwave and mini-refrigerator provide some nutritional options. A savvy shopper who orders some supplies at GardenGrocer.com can get by for a couple of meals in the room. Alternately, they can save themselves Disney’s upcharge costs on snacks and beverages. Besides, a lot of families don’t really have a choice.
A family of six doesn’t enjoy many options staying onsite at Walt Disney World. They can get two rooms or they can stay in a room like the Finding Nemo Suite. It sleeps six, and clever Disney planning provides parents with a bit of privacy from their children. The suite divides naturally, providing children their own bathroom, bed, and play area. For many parents, that’s reason enough to justify the additional expense. If you want to look at the suite, watch this official Disney video.
Cars Suite – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Walt Disney World
The Lion King Suite – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Walt Disney World
The Little Mermaid Room – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Walt Disney World
Most of what I just said about the Finding Nemo Suite applies to these three options as well. The important difference for travelers on tight budgets is that they’re a bit cheaper. We’re only talking about $20 or less in the instances of the suites, but every little bit helps.
Cosmetically, the difference is in which Disney character appeals to you. More precisely, do your children prefer Nemo, Lightning McQueen, Ariel or Simba? If you have boys, the Radiator Springs option is the most likely, at least judging by Disney merchandise sales. Cars has earned $10 billion in toy sales, which is twice as much as Frozen and even approaches Star Wars.
The Cars Family Suite is similar in composition to its Nemo counterpart, as the square footage is identical, which is true of The Lion King Suite as well. The differences are all in theming. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort offers 1,120 suites as opposed to 864 standard guest rooms. They divide the seats into quadrants or, as Disney describes them, wings.
The Cars wing is a celebration of Radiator Springs similar to the Disney California Adventure expansion. Lightning McQueen’s stopping point during his visit, the Cozy Cone Motel, is the setting. Thankfully, the Disney hotel version offers more than the traffic cones from the movie. They do maintain the cone shape, though!
The Lion King Suites reside against an African backdrop. Guests must traverse the scary wilds inhabited by lifelike hyena statues to reach their hotel buildings, each of which features an animation cel of Simba or one of the other characters from the film. Several of them show up in the suites as well. Zazu the hornbill aka the glorified mascot who advises the king(s) in the movie even provides some comic relief on the headboards of the furniture.
The seaweed is always greener in The Little Mermaid room at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. You’ll never feel more nautical than when you rest your weary feet (or fins) in a clamshell chair. Starfish adorn the bedding, and a happy octopus stares at you from the shower curtain. I won’t lie. That part is a little creepy. Still, your favorite princess, who may or may not be the face you see in the mirror each day, will feel giddy each time they (i.e. you) see Flounder grinning from the wall. This spectacularly thematic room isn't a suite like the other three options, but it is a perfect tribute for the film that triggered the second golden age of Disney animation. And if you can enter this room without singing, “Darling, it’s better down where it’s wetter,” you’re made of sterner stuff than me.