Douglas Fir Inn
Located on Tunnel Mountain Road on the east side of Banff the Douglas Fir Inn is a great place to stay but there are some things you need to know first. The hotel is caters to families who are on ski trips in the winter and road trips in the summer.
If you read the reviews many people will say the hotel is dated. To be honest it is. We stayed in one of the stand alone duplex chalets. It has seen better days the carpet is worn the galley kitchen is small and dated. That being said we enjoyed this hotel. It had many amenities that made our stay here great.
Laundry: The hotel is located across the street from a large camp ground, and by large it is huge so the General Store and Laundry facility always have traffic. But, we never had a problem when we washed clothes. For long trips like this if we have access to laundry we usually take advantage so we don’t have to pack as much.
Waterslide: The hotel has two waterslides that are indoor, guests can use them as part of their stay. They are not special but at the end of each day our kids loved racing down these slides over and over. Many adults partook as well including this one. In the pool area is an area for toddlers. Outside but connected to the waterslide area is a hot tub. It is quite large and has a nice view of Tunnel Mountain.
General Store: Think any general store in any National Park and that is what you have here. It was great for quick things like a quart of milk but if you need to go to the store make the trip to town or even better stop in Canmore on your way in from the east.
Indoor Play Area: The hotel converted an old racquetball court into a multi-level indoor play place. While we would never tell anyone to book a hotel based on things like this, it was nice to have especially in the morning while everyone was getting ready to take the boys over here to burn off some steam before a car ride to the days journey.
We enjoyed staying here and would recommend it but make sure the hotel is right for you.
Glacier View Inn
Located on Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada 185 km North of Banff, 104 km South of Jasper. The Glacier View Inn is a tale of two hotels. Located on the 3rd floor of the Glacier Discover Center which from 8 am to 5 pm is full of people coming and going from tours and hikes to the Athabasca Glacier. From 5 pm on the whole area clears out and you can have the area to your self. We spent one night here in late July. It snowed on the glacier the night before we got here. Needless to say any visit this far North even in the summer make sure you pack appropriate clothes.
As for the hotel itself it was great. A mix between and chalet and a Best Western. The room was great, we stayed in the rooms with a loft for our kids. Defiantly worth staying the night.
Restaurants: There are 2 food options here. The Dining Room is a more expensive restaurant. It serves 3 meals but has pretty strict hours so check that if you plan on eating here. There is a cafeteria style restaurant. It is open during the day when visitors are in the Glacier Discover Center. We ate at both places, neither were amazing but there were only two choices.
Coming Soon The Glacier Adventure, which is really the reason to stay at the Glacier View Inn
Before you make the call:
Where do you want to stay?
Many people choose to stay off property when going to Disney World. This is a great option if you are going to other Orlando area attractions such as Cocoa Beach, Lego Land, or Universal Studios. For this post we are going to talk about staying on Disney property. While staying on property you won’t need at rental car as Disney has transportation from all of its hotels and campgrounds to all 4 amusement parks, 2 water parks and Downtown Disney. Staying at a Disney hotel will also give you access to extra Magic Hours. Extra Magic hours are when you can enter the parks early or stay later in the parks because you are staying at a Disney Hotel.
There are four tiers of accommodations at Disney World:
Consider choosing a hotel that is closest to the parks your group wants to visit. Your transportation from hotel to park can be up to 30 min each way. For instance, the Wilderness Lodge is about a 5-minute ride to the Magic Kingdom, which was important to us, but it can take 30 minutes to get to the Animal Kingdom.
How long will you stay?
There are 4 amusement parks and 2 water parks. This decision will be what really makes the mark on your wallet. We like at least 2 days in EPCOT, 2 days in the Magic Kingdom, 1 day at Animal Kingdom and 1 day at Hollywood Studios. Just like that we are at 6 days. If you are going to spend 5 or more days in the parks I highly recommend a rest day in the middle. We do this at Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach. There are entry fees for these parks as well, so if you are trying to save a little money have a pool day at your hotel or rent a car and go to Cocoa Beach which is just under an hour from here. Either way, make sure you plan a rest day or by the end of your trip you will be spending more time on a bench than on your favorite ride.
Should you get park hopper ticket or not?
This is about a $50 per person decision. We chose to do it because we can break up an EPCOT or Animal Kingdom day if the little kids are getting bored. We can get dinner in EPCOT; sneak over to the Magic Kingdom on the monorail and get in a few more laps on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or my favorite Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. On our last trip we had a day start and end in Hollywood Studios and we took the boat to EPCOT and back for lunch and snacks during the Food and Wine Festival. I think the park hopper is more of a luxury than a must do but still a decision to be made.
Should you get the dining plan?
As with all the questions in this post, this will add more money per day but can get you dining experiences at Disney that you might not normally choose to do if you were just paying for each meal as you go.
Disney has 3 Dining Plan options:
Platinum provides 3 meals a day plus 2 snacks. We chose the Magic Your Way Premium because we can still get character meal experiences without spending all our time in a sit down restaurant. Premium allows for 1 quick service meal, 1 sit down meal and 1 snack a day. The Quick Service plan allows for 2 meals a day both quick service and a snack every day you are staying at Disney.
Whether you get a meal plan or not you are paying for food but there are benefits to the dining plan. You can budget and prepay for your meals. Here is why I like the Dining plan, it allows me to budget better for the trip and it opens up restaurants that I probably wouldn’t have eaten at had I not had the plan. Our favorite highlights: (see our post on Reservations for our restaurant recommendations)
Step 3 Booking your Trip…