Let me repeat: I love this resort!
We stayed here in June 2009, and enjoyed every minute of it. Of course, with the passage of time and further Disney World experience under my belt, I would probably do things a bit differently now. Here are my top 5 tips for a family of five’s stay at Riverside:
1. First thing: feed the kids! There’s a great food court just down the hall from Riverside’s lobby. Although I haven’t yet done this, it seems like it would work well to get the kids a quick bite while my husband checks us in. It’s a great way to beat the low-blood-sugar blues. That way, we can leave our carry-on bags at the hotel (the checked baggage is delivered right from the airport to our room by Disney, free of charge!), hop on the bus to our park of choice, and get right into the fun!
2. Skip the Parkhopper option. On our first trip, we purchased the Parkhopper add-on. It might work well if you have little ones who need to go back to the room during the middle of the day for a nap, and want to go to a different park afterwards. Or, if you want to spend the majority of the day at a certain park, then go to another park for dinner. However, on our first family Disney trip, it seemed like we spent too much time riding on buses between hotels and parks. On our most recent trip, we skipped the Parkhopper and just did one park per day. This worked out great! We’d spend as much time as we wanted at our park of the day, then head back to the hotel for the night. On those days where we decided to head back to the hotel early in the evening, we took advantage of the nice pools to get in some fun swimming time. And, keep in mind, even without the Parkhopper, you can go to the same park multiple times in one day. For example, if someone in your party just needs to go back to their room and rest for a while, they can meet back up with the rest of you later on at the same park.
3. Bring breakfast things with you. We usually bring a box of breakfast cookies, two boxes of cereal, and a few protein bars right in our suitcases. With five of us sharing one bathroom at the hotel, there’s plenty of time for us to take turns eating breakfast and getting ready each morning. That way, everyone is fed and ready to roll at the same time, and we can get to the park without delay!
4. Bring Purex Complete laundry sheets if you plan to do laundry at the resort. On our first family trip to Disney, I didn’t do laundry, but packed LOTS of clothes (including extra outfits for when the boys got messy). This led to more baggage charges from the airline than was really necessary. For our most recent trip, I packed 3 or 4 outfits for each of us and brought along several Purex sheets in a zip-loc bag. At Riverside, the pool near our room had a building with laundry facilities right next to it. I could do a couple of loads while lounging by the pool. What a nice way to multi-task!
5. Skip the Dining Plan, unless it’s included as a “Special Offer.” When we purchased the Dining Plan, we ended up with more food than we needed. Plus, since the plan included one table service meal per day, we wasted way too much time sitting around restaurants when we could have been on rides! We have found that, for our family of five, we can purchase 3 or 4 quick-service meals and share them. Everyone gets plenty, no one goes hungry, and we have room a couple of hours later for an ice cream break!