Commando Touring Plans: Value Resorts Are Best!

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The Tempo Bay Resort

In the Disney community, one style of vacationing that has emerged is known as “Commando Touring.” While I can’t trace the exact origins of this term, I believe the story goes something like this: many Christmases ago, one of the TouringPlans staff strolled into the Emporium to buy a Mickey Mouse doll for his son. He reached for the last one they had – but so did another man. As the TouringPlans staffer rained blows upon him, he realized there had to be another way–wait a second, now that I think about it, this is the story behind the origins of Festivus. As for “Commando Touring,” I’m not sure of its exact origins, but I seem to recall seeing the term sprinkled throughout Len Testa’s doctoral thesis on queueing theory. In any case, Commando Touring is a take-no-prisoners style of touring that relies heavily upon Touring Plans, stamina, and a heavy dose of awesome (for good measure). But I digress, as I the origin and meaning of this spectacular term is not the point of this post. The point of this post is pinpointing at which resort tier Commando Tourers (or is it Tourists?) should stay. As you can probably deduce by the title of this post, I advocate Disney’s Value resorts.

The most frequently cited reason I hear for staying in Value Resorts is, “it’s just a place to sleep.” While I would agree that hotel rooms do provide a place to sleep (all of them, not just Value resorts!), I do not think this is the most compelling reason for Commando Tourists to stay at a Walt Disney World Value resort. After all, if the paramount consideration were having a place to sleep, Value resorts actually wouldn’t be the best option; cheap off-site hotels would be better, as they are priced lower.

Last Call

Instead, the most important consideration is Extra Magic Hours. This is because Commando Tourists, if they’re really as fervent as the term describing them implies, should want to hit the parks as early as they can and stay as late as possible. Now, this isn’t the official advice you’ll often find on the Crowd Calendar, but in all fairness, the Crowd Calendar is written for mere mortals. The kind of people who can’t log an 18-hour day in the Magic Kingdom. (Can’t be done? We’ve logged a 19 hour day before!) If you’re a Commando Tourist, you log as many hours as can be logged, hopping parks as necessary to cram more touring hours into the day. If you don’t stay in a Disney resort (or one of the Disney-affiliated resorts that also offers Extra Magic Hours), you can’t partake in Extra Magic Hours. Right there, you lose up to 4 of the best hours for touring each day.

The next reason goes hand-in-hand with the most important reason, and is actually the most frequently cited reason mentioned above: for Commando Tourists, a hotel room provides little more than a place to sleep, shower (and if you’re a Commando Tourist, it’s especially important to remember this crucial step–don’t be “that guy” no one likes standing next to in lines), and get ready. Plus, since Commando Tourists are compelled to be efficient (more on this later), a Value resort is the best option because it makes the most efficient use of a Commando Tourist’s resort-hotel dollars.

So now that you Commando Tourists have your best choice narrowed down to a specific resort tier, which particular resort within that tier do you pick? Without question, you stay in Pop Century or All-Star Sports. Pop Century is the easy pick for me since it’s newer and generally nicer, I think. These two resorts are the best choices because Pop Century has a dedicated bus system, and All-Star Sports is the other choice because it is the first (and often only) stop on the All-Star Resorts bus system when the All-Star Resorts are sharing buses. If you are visiting at a time when the All-Star Resorts are sharing buses and you stay at Movies or Music, be prepared for long waits at the bus stop. These long waits violate commandments numbers 1, 3, and 7 of the “Commandos Commandments,” which are: 7. Thou shall be efficient, 3. Thou shall be efficient!, and 1. THOU SHALL BE EFFICIENT!!!

The Perfect Conclusion to Her First Full Day as Mrs. Bricker

In fairness, this may be a non-issue for some Commando Tourists, as they may elect to rent cars, but after dealing with the hassle of exiting the Magic Kingdom, then taking the monorail to the Ticket & Transportation Center, then taking the tram to the parking lot, then searching the parking lot for a rental car you barely recognize, then driving the car to a resort, then finding a parking spot, then walking to the room–all after a long and tiring 18 hour day in the parks–one too many times, many Commando Tourists wise up and utilize the Disney transportation system to its fullest.

On the subject of efficient transportation, if you are a widget manufacturing tycoon or are otherwise independently wealthy, perhaps staying in a Value resort isn’t the best option for you because the resort buses are not always efficient. If money is no object and you’re a Commando Tourist, you’re best off at the Contemporary, the Polynesian, or one of the Epcot Area Resorts on Crescent Lake. This is because the Contemporary and Epcot resort-hotels are located within walking distance to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, respectively. Similarly, the Polynesian is within walking distance to the Ticket & Transportation Center, which provides quick access to both Epcot and the Magic Kingdom via the monorail, which is (typically) much more reliable and efficient than the bus system. However, unless you’re the kind of person who lights his cigars with $100 bills (there are people who do that who aren’t cartoon characters, right?), if you’re a Commando Tourist, you probably won’t want to stay at one of these more expensive resorts.

Where's the Party?

Now, if you’re not a Commando Tourist, there are plenty of compelling reasons to stay at many other resorts. There are great reasons for our touring types to stay at any of the other resort tiers, and there are compelling reasons to stay at each specific Disney resort, too, for that matter. However, other touring types aren’t the subject of this post. For true Commando Tourists, it’s Disney Value resorts or bust. After all, “Commando Commandment” number 6 is, “Thou shall stay in a Disney Value resort!” for a reason!

What do you think about Commando Touring and my resort recommendations for it? For you? Not for you? Also, if you have any suggestions for the rest of the “Commando Commandments,” I’m all ears, as we really need to get these engraved on slabs of rock somewhere in the parks. (I know the perfect place at the entrance of Epcot…) Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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Posted on September 9, 2011

16 Responses to “Commando Touring Plans: Value Resorts Are Best!”

  • I really enjoy your blog articles, but what happened to Foto Fridays and Foto Faceoffs? I miss those!!!!

  • We tend to be “Commando Tourists” if all we have is a 3 or 4 day long weekend in the parks. We also stay at the All-Stars Movies. We like the decor there better than the other “Value” resorts. And if we do choose to take a mid-day break, the pool is great as is the food court. We never have a problem with the bus since we are in line for the first bus and by the time we leave the park, the bus lines are non-existent. There have been times where we were the only ones on the bus. We also have been known to spend 19 hours in the park with the aid of Extra Magic Hours. Can’t wait to do it again :)

    • If you leave your resort early enough and stay in the parks late enough, you definitely won’t have any issues with the bus. We try to leave our resort as late as we possibly can to still arrive 5 minutes before the parks open (not exactly the advice of the Unofficial Guide, but it also doesn’t contemplate staying in the parks so long), which means we’re usually in line with a lot of other people.

  • We are definitely not commando tourists: we get up early and stay late, but we do these things in service of spending the hottest and busiest parts of the day back at the hotel, enjoying the pool and amenities. We find that the ease of transportation to our favorite parks from the Epcot resorts helps us get in to the parks on time (to let us tour efficiently) and back to the resort easily (so we’re more likely to take a break and actually enjoy the amenities we’re paying for!).

  • I would add Saratoga Springs to the list even though it’s not a value resort for DVC members, specifically if you stay in Congress Park. This gives you double use of the DTS because not only do you have access to all the parks – you’re walking distance to Downtown Disney which also gives you easy access to all of the other resorts, thus expanding your dining options. :)

  • We used to be commandoes — before kids, that is. Now with a 6 year old, a 3 year old, and another baby on the way, we don’t try to go all out all day anymore. Maybe if we have ANY energy left when the kids are old enough to appreciate commando-style touring!

  • We’re totally commando tourists and are always the first ones in line when the parks open, EMH or not, with our touring plan in hand. Our car never leaves the resort lot all week. I think we get more militant every year – it’s great fun! We’re staying at Port Orleans Riverside next week. Maybe next year we’ll opt for one of the other resorts you recommended if the bus service is better. Thanks for all you guys do. It’s so much fun to get everything we want done, done, without ever waiting in line very long for anything.

    • The bus service isn’t necessarily better than POR, my rationale is that you can’t really enjoy the amenities of a nicer resort if you’re touring like a Commando, so why not stay on the cheap? Obviously this isn’t necessary or desirable for everyone, though!

  • Just park your car at the contemporary and walk over. If its a slower time of the year they don’t care

  • LOVE the Festivus reference. We just made our first trip ever to Magic Kingdom today and we are not Commando Tourists. We have 4 children (9,7,3 & 1) and I feel like we ran them into the ground with just a normal day of touring.

  • Hi my name is Laura and I am an a Commando Tourer (Tourist?). Your article explains exactly why we stay at Pop. Catching an early bus was no problem. No other stops. Bed, check. Shower, check. Done!

    We only maxed out at 15 hours of touring and it was between MK and Epcot, so there was transportation time involved. But we did manage 35 rides. So I’ll take it!

  • Interesting Article was helpful.

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