Deciding which resort to stay at for your Walt Disney World vacation is one of the very first decisions you’ll make when you begin planning your vacation. With more than 30 different options, this can pose as a challenge but we’re here to break it down for you and help you narrow down your options based on your family’s expectations and priorities.
Before we dive in, there are a several benefits to staying on property at a Walt Disney World resort:
- One of the greatest benefits to staying at a Walt Disney World resort is that Disney offers complimentary transportation to and from the Orlando International Airport to all of their resorts for easy transportation. The Magical Express is the motorcoach that will take you to and from the Orlando International Airport. Complete with restrooms, plush seating and onboard entertainment, the Magical Express is where your magical vacation begins (and sadly, ends).
- Free parking at the theme parks is also an added benefit to staying at a Walt Disney Resort. Should you choose to drive or rent a car, you can park your car at your resort for a nominal nightly fee, but when you stay at a Disney resort, parking at the parks it is complimentary.
- Extra Magic Hours are easily another amazing benefit to staying onsite. Guests of Disney resorts can spend extra time in one of the theme parks each day, either before it opens or after it closes. This allows guests to enjoy select attractions and experiences with fewer guests in the parks.
There are 4 different resort categories that Walt Disney World uses to classify all of their hotels: value, moderate, deluxe and deluxe villas. This makes it a little easier to decide which resort and room type you feel most comfortable in.
They all are great places to stay during your vacation but they all differ greatly. Below we will include information on each resort: pricing, theming/overall aesthetics, room types, transportation, amenities and dining.
Value resorts are great for families traveling on a budget and/or those who do not anticipate spending a whole lot of time in their hotel room. Value resorts are also great for families with small children who love Disney animation.
The aesthetics of the value resorts is very bold, bright and decorated. The buildings are basic with large characters/icons relating to the hotel’s theming. The rooms are decorated with characters and brightly colored touches and finishings. For example, the Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation feature a shower curtain with Ariel on it, as well as a shell-shaped headboard.
Very basic accommodations are offered at value resorts. The standard rooms are slightly smaller at a value resort and feature two double beds, one king bed or one queen bed + one double-sized pull down bed. Standard rooms at the value resort category accommodate a max of guests. There is one bathroom in the standard rooms with the toilet and shower closed off. Preferred rooms are also available, which are the same as the standard rooms, but are located closer to dining and transportation. All rooms include a mini fridge.
Family suites are available at All-Star Music and Art of Animation and offer much more space than a standard room and accommodate a maximum of 6 guests (children under 3 excluded in this count). The family suites feature one master bedroom with either one or two queen size beds, one sleeper sofa, and/or one fold out/pulldown bed. They also feature two full size bathrooms (with bathtubs for little ones), which is very efficient when you have multiple people who need to bathe. The family suites also include a living/common area and a kitchenette, which includes a mini fridge, sink, microwave and coffee pot.
Transportation is one of the biggest differentiators when it comes to value resorts. The value resorts use the bus system, as well as the Skyliner at a couple of the resorts. In the list of value resorts below, we are including the transportation options offered at each.
Each resort has multiple pools on property, with a pool bar, so it’s great for those rest days in between the parks as well as food court areas for a quick bite before or after park days. Lifejackets are available at the pools.
Walt Disney World Value Resorts & transportation options:
- Disney’s All Star Movies Resort – bus only; shares transportation with the 3 All-Star resorts
- Disney’s All Star Music Resort -bus only; shares transportation with the 3 All-Star resorts
- Disney’s All Star Sports Resort-bus only; shares transportation with the 3 All-Star resorts
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – bus, Skyliner
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort – bus, Skyliner
Overall, the value resorts are all very similar with the main differences being the theming at each. Art of Animation differs the most with their option for a family suite.
(Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Little Mermaid Building)
Moderate resorts at Walt Disney World are ideal for families who would like a resort with more amenities, better hotel rooms and a compromise somewhere between the budget-friendly value resorts and the extravagant deluxe resorts. If you really want the most bang for your buck, moderate resorts tend to be just that, and for that reason, this is why we are big fans of the moderate resorts!
The aesthetics of the moderate resorts are still themed, but are much more toned down than that of the value resorts. They are also still kid-friendly and whimsical but also slightly upgraded compared to the value resorts so that children and adults alike can appreciate it.
The rooms at the Walt Disney World moderate resorts are a little bit more spacious than the value resort rooms and can accommodate a maximum of 4-5 guests per room, depending on the resort and room type.
The rooms in the moderate resort category feature two double beds, two queen size beds or one king size bed. 5th sleeper rooms are available at Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter and Caribbean Beach. The 5th sleeper rooms feature two queen beds + one child-size pull down bed. Each standard/5th sleeper room has one bathroom, as well as a mini fridge and coffee pot.
Suites are offered at one moderate resort only and that is at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Fort Wilderness offers cabins, which are standalone units that resemble suites, but are larger and feature a full kitchen. The cabins at Fort Wilderness include one queen size bed, one bunk bed + one sleeper sofa. Both the suites at Coronado Springs can accommodate 6-8 guests, and the cabins at Fort Wilderness can accommodate 6 guests.
Transportation at the moderate resorts tends to be more frequent and there are multiple pick up/drop off locations at each of the moderate resorts. One main pick up/drop off location will be at the front of the resort (closest to dining/shopping), and then there are additional locations for pick up/drop off strategically placed around the property so that you can access a pick up/drop off location quicker/easier from your specific room location. In the list of moderate resorts below, we are including the transportation options offered at each.
Moderate resorts feature multiple pools (usually one main pool + two to three quiet pools), as well as recreational areas and playgrounds. There are multiple bar locations within the moderate resorts as well.
Table service dining and food court/quick service dining are both offered at moderate resorts. (Value resorts only offer food court/quick service dining.)
Walt Disney World Moderate Resorts & transportation options:
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – bus, Skyliner
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – bus
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter – bus
- Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside – bus
- The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness – 6 sleepers
We love each of the moderate resorts for different reasons:
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – The Skyliner is the top reason we love it here!
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – The overall vibe is what makes this our favorite moderate resort, not to mention the newly renovated rooms & brand new Gran Destino Tower. This is a great resort for adult only vacations and/or girl’s trips!
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter – Quiet and laid back resort with great dining options (get the beignets)!
- Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside – We love being able to take the boat over to Disney Springs!
- The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness – These are spacious and the full kitchen is so useful, especially for longer stays! There are so many recreational activities to do here, too: fishing, bike rentals, golf cart rentals, horseback riding, campfires, etc…
(Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – Gran Destino Tower)
The deluxe resort category is the top tier of the Walt Disney World resorts and is in the luxury class when it comes to accommodations. At the deluxe resorts, you are going to find more upgraded/sometimes larger rooms, refined theming, more/upscale dining experiences (including character dining), the most efficient transportation and overall, the most top notch experience.
While the rooms at the deluxe resorts aren’t much larger in size, they do offer more of an experience than the other resorts. Some of these resorts do offer suite options if you would like the extra space. The best thing about the deluxe resorts are the views. Many of the deluxe resorts offer theme park views, water view rooms or at Animal Kingdom Lodge for example, you can have a savanna view room with a view of the animals. If you plan on spending a lot of time at your resort and/or appreciate the finer things in life, a deluxe resort is a great option.
Walt Disney World deluxe resorts offer multiple pools, extra recreation such as boat or bike rentals and some have spas! They are also known for their exquisite dining options with many guests traveling to these resorts just for the food and character dining experiences.
Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts & transportation options:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – bus only
- Disney’s Beach Club – bus, boat, walking distance to Epcot
- Disney’s Boardwalk Inn – bus, boat, walking distance to Epcot
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort – bus, monorail, walking distance to Magic Kingdom
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – bus, monorail, boat
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort – bus, monorail
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – bus, boat
- Disney’s Yacht Club – bus, boat, walking distance to Epcot
We love each of the Deluxe resorts for different reasons:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Live African savanna with views of animals; awesome dining options. (We LOVE Jiko!)
- Disney’s Beach Club – We love that you can walk to Epcot from here. It also features the best pool of all Disney resorts and the infamous Stormalong Bay slide. Character dining is also offered here.
- Disney’s Boardwalk Inn – Quick/easy access to Disney’s Boardwalk
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort – This is the only resort that is walking distance to Magic Kingdom! The Contemporary also features character dining.
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Some of the best dining options, including character dining.
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort – Dinner shows and character dining offered here. We also LOVE the pool!
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – The incredible character dining experience (Storybook Dining at Artist Point), it’s amazing pool, awesome lakeside bar, poolside nail salon and overall aesthetic of this resort is what puts Wilderness Lodge at the top of our list!
- Disney’s Yacht Club – We love that you can walk to Epcot from here.
(Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort)
Deluxe Villa Resorts:
The Deluxe Villa Resorts are separate buildings that are offered at some of the deluxe resorts (listed above). Deluxe villa resorts are where you will find your suites and villas in the deluxe category. These are the biggest, grandest and most luxurious accommodations at Walt Disney World. The villas and suites offer studios, as well as one, two or three bedroom villas and are idea for a large family that wants to stay together or multiple families staying together. Some of the rooms even offer spa-like tubs!
All deluxe villas come with a full kitchen for those wanting to prepare meals in the room and feature all of the same amenities of the deluxe resort category list above.
Walt Disney World Deluxe Villa Resorts & transportation options:
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort: bus, monorail, walking distance to Magic Kingdom
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge: bus, boat
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge: bus, boat
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House: bus
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village: bus
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas: bus, boat, walking distance to Epcot
- Disney’s Boardwalk Villas: bus, boat, walking distance to Epcot
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort: bus
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows: bus, monorail
- Disney’s Riviera Resort: bus, Skyliner
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa: bus
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian: bus, boat, monorail
Your resort plays a crucial role in your overall Walt Disney World experience. We highly recommend deciding which aspect is most important, and use that to base your decision. For example, if price is the most important aspect of your vacation, you will want to stay somewhere in the value category. If you want the best of the best (dining, transportation, rooms, etc…), the deluxe resort category is for you. If you want something right in the middle, the moderate resorts are a great option!
Helping you find the most perfect resort for your family is our specialty. We have stayed at nearly all of the Walt Disney World resorts (and multiple times) and would love to help guide you through this process! Click here to request your complimentary quote today.
Have you stayed at a Walt Disney World resort? If so, which is your favorite and why?