When preparing for a vacation to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, one of the first and most daunting decisions is where to stay. Disney has more than twenty resorts on the property, so everyone from fantasy-enjoying kids to those looking for exclusivity will find what they’re looking for.
We’ve ranked resorts from best to worst in affordable, average, and luxury categories:
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
The newest of Disney’s budget-friendly hotels, Art of Animation features Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, Cars, and Lion King-themed guest rooms, as well as vast statues of the movies’ iconic characters on the grounds. There are both standard rooms and suites available at the resort (for when the adults could use a room with an actual door), and the resort has one of the more extensive food courts.
You can hear Dory talking if you swim in the Big Blue Pool and keep your ears to the floor. With the Disney Skyliner opened in late 2019, guests staying in Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, and Pop Century (across the lake) have new means of getting to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
This resort’s foyer features a time capsule-style collection of 20th-century pop culture, including vintage lunchboxes, toys, and music memorabilia that will appeal to fans of these objects. The resort’s grounds are also themed, including a Mickey Mouse phone that towers over the other buildings at the height of three stories. Recently renovated rooms feature one traditional queen bed and one queen murphy bed, perfect for those who require one bed but appreciate the added space.
Bathrooms have been meticulously planned with features like twin shower heads with a rain feature, numerous shelves, lockers for storing personal items, and sliding doors to separate the sleeping space. This is an excellent alternative for thrifty vacationers, as the prices are comparable to those at the nearby All-Star Resorts, and there is a dedicated bus service.
Disney’s All-Star Resorts
The All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, and All-Star Sports Resort Hotel Bundle is the most cost-effective option for staying on Disney property. The theming isn’t subtle, but that’s to be expected at a bargain resort from Disney. All-Star Sports is a great place to let kids burn off steam after a long day, thanks to the football field and life-size representations of recognizable faces and symbols.
Large groups often stay at the All-Star Resorts when they come to Disney World for kid sports events, which can cause park transportation to get crowded during peak times. Before making a reservation at ESPN Wide World of Sports, it’s a good idea to check out the crowd calendar and competition schedule.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
The Port Orleans French Quarter has a charming aesthetic, with gas lamp-lit walkways, wrought iron railings, and amusing fountains. You may chill out in the Mardi Gras-themed pool or at the Scat Cat’s Club, which features live jazz on the weekends. In addition, Port Orleans Riverside is next door, so you can easily access all of its luxuries.
French Quarter is superior to its neighboring Riverside resort because of its smaller footprint. It also boasts the only Mickey-shaped beignets at Disney World.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
Located along the Sassagoula River, this resort offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of nearby amusement parks. There are two separate areas in Port Orleans Riverside: The resort’s regular accommodations are located in the resort’s verdant Alligator Bayou. In contrast, the resort’s “royal” rooms are located in the resort’s manicured Magnolia Bend.
The decor in these rooms is fit for a princess, with deep jewel tones and whimsical touches like the genie’s lamp-shaped sink faucet. The “magic” fiberoptic headboard, however, features a fireworks display at the flip of a switch.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
As Disney World’s central conference hotel, Coronado Springs provides the amenities of a luxurious resort at a modest price. Recent renovations have given the rooms an air of refined sophistication with chevron-patterned carpeting, walk-in showers, and light wood furnishings. The Dig Site pool area is among the outstanding features of the hotel. Instead of going down the 123-foot water slide, guests can unwind in the 22-person hot tub or at the bottom of the 50-foot Mayan-inspired pyramid.
Recently, the 15-story Gran Destino Tower opened at Coronado Springs, featuring the Spanish tapas restaurant Toledo on its rooftop with beautiful scenery of the Disney World property.
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
Fort Wilderness offers the most original affordable Disney World lodging option because it combines cabins and campgrounds. With space for six persons and a fully equipped kitchen and charcoal barbecue, cabins are ideal for families looking for a more relaxed vacation. P&J’s Southern Takeout, conveniently located next to the on-site entertainment venue Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, serves the same fried chicken and ribs if you’d instead not cook during your vacation.
Fort Wilderness is a must-see if you’re in Disney World for the holidays. Tent dwellers go all out during the holiday season, adorning their campsites with lights and inflatable figures. Enjoy a self-guided tour of the grounds on a rented golf cart and meet Chip and Dale at the campfire every evening to roast marshmallows.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
With five clusters of guest structures named after different Caribbean islands like Martinique and Aruba, Caribbean Beach is the most extensive of Disney’s moderate-price resorts. There is a subtle tropical vibe to the standard rooms. Still, intrepid travelers can upgrade to a pirate room with a ship-shaped bed and stackable crate furniture. Although it may be far from many of the rooms, the newly renovated Old Port Royale, the resort’s primary center, is a great place to unwind and have a meal.
The Disney Skyliner, a gondola system with its central hub at the Caribbean Beach Resort and connecting to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, will open this fall, adding prestige to the resort.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Guests at the Wilderness Lodge have a convenient location across the harbor from Magic Kingdom. However, they retain the impression of being in a remote place due to the hotel’s isolation. The lodge-like atmosphere of the lodges in U.S. national parks is brought to Central Florida by the hotel’s design, which has a pair of 55-foot artistically carved totem poles, a towering, log-framed lobby, and a stone fireplace that measures 82 feet in height. Wilderness Lodge, the least expensive of Disney World’s premium resorts, features handcrafted wood headboards and Native American-inspired tapestries in its rooms.
Views of the Bay Lake’s artificial geysers and waterfalls can be seen from several balconies. The hotel’s most prominent feature is undoubtedly the direct boat service between the dock and the Magic Kingdom, which transforms the sometimes tedious process of leaving the park into something more similar to an evening stroll.
Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort
Stormalong Bay is a three-acre water park shared by the connected resorts. It features a sand-bottom pool, a lazy river, and a water slide 230 feet long. The Beaches & Cream Soda Shop is on-site and serves its famous Kitchen-Sink Sundae. Guests of the resorts can enjoy the convenience of being near Disney’s BoardWalk without dealing with the crowds by staying on the other side of the lake. The Yacht and Beach clubs are conveniently located near Epcot and Hollywood Studios, respectively; both offer boat transportation to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom and bus service to the parks.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Unique to the Animal Kingdom Lodge is the opportunity to watch grazing giraffes and wildebeests from the comfort of your balcony each morning. Even if you don’t spend the extra $150 each night, you can still enjoy the view from the hotel’s lobby and adjacent patio, which extend around the 46-acre savanna. Well over 380 pieces of African art can be found in the resort’s public areas. Another 4,000 can be found throughout the resort’s guest rooms, all of which were inspired by Disney Imagineers’ visits to almost a dozen African lodges.
Jiko is a restaurant for mature guests that serves a fusion of traditional African, Indian, and Mediterranean dishes and the most comprehensive South African wine selection in the United States. The lack of boat or monorail connectivity to other deluxe resorts is a significant negative—still, the resort’s modest price and charming atmosphere more than make up for the inconvenience.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
The Polynesian Village Resort is one of Disney World’s most luxurious lodging options. It is conveniently located on the water’s edge of Seven Seas Lagoon. Only two monorail stops from the Magic Kingdom. All guests are greeted with a floral lei and an enthusiastic “aloha” at this resort, the design of which is based on a colorful, cheesy interpretation of tiki culture from the 1970s.
One of the best parts of the resort is the variety of restaurants it features, from the pool Pineapple Lanai, where you can have a famous Dole Whip soft serve, to the breakfast staple of the Tonga Toast at Kona Cafe. (You may order this banana-filled French toast with strawberry compote in the comfort of your room.) Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is a tropical haven with potent drinks, vivacious bartenders, and an array of collectible drinkware.
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
The BoardWalk Inn is a Disney resort for adults. It and the surrounding BoardWalk area are themed after Atlantic City in the early 20th century. The idea is carried out with precision, although some of the attractions, such as the water slide in the shape of a clown or the nanny seats with toothy grins strategically placed around the communal spaces, might be unsettling.
The best part of staying at the BoardWalk Inn is its proximity to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. The resort’s eating options are located along the BoardWalk area. However, the strip is sometimes congested with locals and park visitors late at night and on the weekends, and it may be quite far from many guest rooms.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
The Grand Floridian, Disney World’s premier hotel, is instantly recognizable as soon as you see it. As they approach the grand Victorian-style lobby, where jazz musicians perform each night, guests are greeted with fresh aloe and green clover aroma. A 52-foot yacht is available for hourly rent on Bay Lake at the Grand Floridian. Victoria & Albert’s is the only establishment in Central Florida to get AAA’s highest rating of five diamonds. The Grand Floridian, only one monorail stop away from the Magic Kingdom, has some of the priciest introductory room rates in all of Disney World.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
The Contemporary, one of the first Disney World hotels, has a feature that no other resort does; and no, we’re not talking about the monorail stop right in the center of the atrium. As the only pedestrian entrance to the Magic Kingdom, it comes in handy late at night when you don’t feel like waiting in yet another monorail queue. This resort, decorated in a retro-futuristic style, offers unparalleled vistas.
If you can, book a room facing the Magic Kingdom to see the nightly fireworks display, or if not, reserve a table at the California Grill on the resort’s top level and watch the show from the balcony. We ranked this resort lower than others because of the monorail platform and the open layout of the main concourse, both of which contribute to an air of disarray; nonetheless, noise from these areas does not reach the rooms on higher floors.
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