Step 2: Choosing the Right Disney World Resort

1-5In my last post, I highlighted the numerous benefits that are available to you when you choose to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel property.  Unlike Disneyland, the ‘on property’ hotels at Disney World are available at a variety of price points making them accessible to just about everyone.

Disney World offers resorts in 4 separate categories:  Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villa.  Deluxe Villa Resorts are a separate animal altogether and can be booked in a variety of different ways.  We’ll discuss those in a later.

There are currently 29 Disney owned and operated resorts (Including Disney Vacation Villas) onsite to choose from.  That isn’t a typo.  Choice is certainly not something that is lacking in the resort department.  The challenge is that sometimes too much choice can be a bad thing too.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t even know where to begin when it comes to choosing your home away from home, you are definitely not alone.

I think the most important thing to consider when selecting your resort is how much time you will actually be spending at your resort.  If you plan on being in the parks from rope drop to the last kiss goodnight, then why pay $600 a night for a room that you will literally be sleeping and showering in and nothing more?  If, however, you’re planning on room service breakfasts, long afternoons lounging at the pool or spa, and gourmet, 3-course dinners, then that deluxe resort might be just the right fit for you.

Keep in mind the Disney Magic, pixie dust and world-renowned level of service are available in all resort categories.

Here’s the breakdown of my pros and cons for each of the Disney World Resort Hotels to help you decide where to stay:

Value Resorts

all-star-movies

All Star Movies

Pros:

  • Among the least expensive of all Resorts
  • Frequently available as part of Disney’s special offers and promotions
  • Fun theming for young children

Cons:

  • Buses are shared with the two other All Star Resorts, leading to longer commutes
  • Food Court is adequate, but nothing ‘special’
  • Food Court and pizza delivery are the only on-site dining options

Ideally-suited for:  Families with young children on a budget

all-star-movies
all-star-music

All Star Music

Pros:

  • Among the least expensive of all Resorts
  • Offers family suites that sleep up to 6 people
  • Frequently available as part of Disney’s special offers and promotions
  • Fun theming for young children

Cons:

  • Buses are shared with the two other All Star Resorts, leading to longer commutes
  • Food Court is adequate, but nothing ‘special’
  • Food Court and pizza delivery are the only on-site dining options

Ideally-suited for:  Larger families with young children, or larger families on a budget

 all-star-music


all-star-sports

All Star Sports

Pros:

  • Among the least expensive of all resorts
  • Frequently available as part of Disney’s special offers and promotions
  • Fun theming for young children, particularly boys

Cons:

  • Buses are shared with the two other All Star Resorts, leading to longer commutes
  • Food Court is adequate, but nothing special
  • Food Court and pizza delivery are the only on-site dining options

Ideally-suited for:  Families with young children on a budget, families with young boys, sports enthusiasts, those on a budget

all-star-sports
art-of-animation

Art of Animation

Pros:

  • Newest Disney Resort
  • Most lively and vibrant theming of any value resort
  • Food Court is the best amongst the value resorts and one of the best on property
  • Offers family suites that sleep up to six
  • Does not share buses with other resorts

Cons:

  • Little Mermaid rooms are rarely, if ever, included in Disney’s special offers and promotions
  • Most expensive value resort
  • Some guests have complained that Wifi connection and cell phone service are poor
  • Food Court and pizza delivery are the only on-site dining options

Ideally-suited for:  Fans of the Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, The Lion King or Cars; Larger families on a budget

art-of-animation
pop-century

Pop Century

Pros:

  • Frequently available as part of Disney’s special offers and promotions
  • Does not share buses with other resorts
  • Fun theming for young children

Cons:

  • Undergoing refurbishment in 2017
  • Some guests have complained that Wifi connection and cell phone service are poor
  • Food Court and pizza delivery are the only on-site dining options

Ideally-suited for:  Couples on a budget

pop-century

Moderate Resorts

caribbean-beach

Caribbean Beach Resort

Pros:

  • Lush and well-landscaped grounds
  • Rooms can accommodate up to 5
  • Offers Pirate-themed room upgrade

Cons:

  • Resort is large and spread out
  • Multiple bus stops within the resort lead to long commutes

Ideally-suited for:  Pirates of the Caribbean fans, those wanting a tropical getaway

caribbean-beach
coronado-springs

Coronado Springs Resort

Pros:

  • Lush and well-landscaped grounds
  • Adult-friendly
  • Offers a fitness center and room service
  • Rix Lounge offers some of the best margaritas on property

Cons:

  • Convention Center on site can result in limited availability and room options even during value season
  • Some guests have reported feeling too far removed from “Disney” atmosphere due to subtle theming

Ideally-suited for:  Couples, business travelers

coronado-springs
port-orleans

Port Orleans:  French Quarter

Pros:

  • Lush grounds and rich theming
  • Small property, limited walking
  • Offers boat transportation to Disney Springs

Neutral:

  • The only moderate resort without a table service restaurant. Can access the restaurant at Port Orleans Riverside, a short walk away.

Cons:

  • Can share buses with Port Orleans Riverside, resulting in longer commutes

Ideally-suited for:  Couples, those who prefer short walks to the Food Court and resort bus stop

port-orleans-french-quarter
port-orleans

Port Orleans:  Riverside

Pros:

  • Lush grounds and rich theming
  • Offers boat transportation to Disney Springs
  • Rooms in Alligator Bayou accommodate up to 5
  • Offers Royal Guest Rooms with luxurious theming

Cons:

  • Resort is large and spread out
  • Can share buses with Port Orleans French Quarter, resulting in longer commutes

Ideally-suited for:  Couples, families with little girls who love princesses, larger families

Port Orleans Riverside.jpg

Deluxe Resorts

animal-kingdom-lodge

Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas

Pros:

  • Among the least expensive deluxe resorts
  • Zero-depth entry pool
  • Every room offers a balcony (except ground level)
  • Does not share a bus with other resorts
  • Some of the best table service restaurants on property
  • Offers rooms with a Savannah View for animal spotting
  • On-site childcare available

Cons:

  • Restaurant and dining options may not appeal to picky eaters or those who do not have adventurous palettes
  • Not within walking distance of any theme park
  • Some guests have complained the rooms are dimly lit

Ideally-suited for:  Animal lovers, fine-dining lovers

animal-kingdom-lodge
beach-club

Beach Club Resort

Pros:

  • Best pool of any Disney World Resort
  • Within short walking distance of Epcot
  • Within walking distance to Hollywood Studios
  • On-site childcare available

Cons:

  • Shares buses with other resorts, leading to longer commutes
  • Construction will be ongoing at the on-site Convention Center until 2018

Ideally-suited for:  Those attending Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, those wanting to spend a lot of time at the pool

beach-club
boardwalk-inn

Boardwalk Inn

Pros:

  • Can walk to Epcot & Hollywood Studios
  • Offers rooms with views of Epcot or Hollywood Studios
  • Jelly Rolls is the best lounge on property

Cons:

  • You must walk out onto the Boardwalk for dining
  • Shares buses with other resorts, leading to longer commutes

Ideally-suited for:  Those attending Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, those who prefer old-world charm

boardwalk
contemporary-resort

Contemporary Resort

Pros:

  • Within walking distance to the Magic Kingdom
  • Monorail transportation to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC)/Epcot
  • Least expensive of the “Monorail Resorts”
  • Offers Theme Park View Rooms
  • Salon on-site

Cons:

  • Some guests describe the pool as ‘sterile’
  • Very minimal Disney theming in rooms
  • Rooms in the Tower are noisy

Ideally-suited for:  Those who plan on spending a lot of time at Magic Kingdom or Epcot, adults, business travelers

contemporary
grand-floridian

Grand Floridian Resort & SPA

Pros:

  • Monorail transportation to Magic Kingdom, Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC)/Epcot
  • Boat transportation to Magic Kingdom
  • Offers Theme Park View Rooms
  • The most on-site dining options of any resort
  • Has an on-site Spa

Cons:

  • Most expensive resort
  • Transportation to parks other than the Magic Kingdom is not convenient and can be time consuming
  • Not as child-friendly

Ideally-suited for:  Honeymooners, fine dining lovers

Grand Floridian.jpg
polynesian-village

Polynesian Village Resort

Pros:

  • Monorail transportation to Magic Kingdom and Epcot
  • Boat transportation to Magic Kingdom
  • Has some of the most popular restaurants on property
  • On-site childcare available

Cons:

  • The only Deluxe Resort without signature dining options
  • Reservations at table service restaurants are difficult less than 180 days out
  • Bus transportation to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios takes awhile

Ideally-suited for:  Honeymooners, Lilo & Stitch or Moana fans

polynesian-village
wilderness-lodge

Wilderness Lodge

Pros:

  • Lush theming and grounds
  • Boat transportation to Magic Kingdom
  • Least expensive deluxe resort

Cons:

  • Shares buses with other resorts, leading to longer commutes
  • Under construction for a majority of 2017
  • Rooms can only accommodate 4 (5 if the 5th person is under age 3)

Ideally-suited for:  Those traveling during the holiday season, nature lovers

wilderness-lodge
yacht-club

Yacht Club

Pros:

  • Best pool of any Disney World Resort
  • Within short walking distance of Epcot
  • Within walking distance to Hollywood Studios
  • All rooms have balconies
  • On-site childcare available

Cons:

  • No quick service dining on-site
  • Shares buses with other resorts, leading to longer commutes

Ideally-suited for:  Those attending Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, those wanting to spend a lot of time at the pool

 yacht-club



Specialty Lodging

fort-wilderness

Fort Wilderness Cabins

Pros:

  • Accommodate up to 6 people
  • Full Kitchens
  • Numerous on-site activities – archery, campfire, fishing, pony rides

Cons:

  • You need to take a bus everywhere (even within the resort)
  • Many guests have reported they feel disconnected from the “Disney Magic”

Ideally-suited for:  Those who have their own car, who want to feel ‘away from it all’, nature lovers

fort-wilderness-cabins

Fort Wilderness Campsites

Pros:

  • Numerous on-site activities – archery, campfire, fishing, pony rides
  • All campsites come equipped with a charcoal grill, picnic table, electricity and city water
  • Pets are allowed

Cons:

  • Long commutes to Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom
  • Lots of walking to access amenities within the campground

Ideally-suited for:  Camping enthusiasts, those on a budget, nature lovers

fort-wilderness-campsites

In the coming months, look for blog posts that review each resort in great detail.  For now, hopefully, this helps point you in the direction of your perfect home at the happiest place on earth!

Disney Disney World Uncategorized

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