Choosing your Walt Disney World Resort Hotel can be one of the biggest decisions you make during your vacation planning.
This post is to help you with your decision making process. We will go over the various factors that go into making your decision, and give you a few tips and suggestions along the way.
Note in this post we’ll be discussing the Disney Resorts exclusively. Shades of Green is a DoD Owned and Operated Resort on Walt Disney World property. It’s a a former Disney Owned Deluxe Resort that maintains what I call a Deluxe minus or Moderate Plus level of amenities at a price level between the Values and Moderates. Rooms there sleep up to 5, suites up to 1o. It is a Magic Kingdom Area Resort situated between 2 PGA golf courses.
There are several factors that can go into deciding at which Walt Disney World Resort you would like to stay.
These decision factors are:
- Party Size
Each factor can be important for different reasons, some more so than others. A single factor might be the most important for you and control your decision. However it’s awesome when two or more factors lineup together filling 2 different desires!
There’s no two ways about it. You have to have enough beds for everyone to sleep!
As you go up in the number of people, room price (room class) increases and category (Value, Moderate, Deluxe, DVC) elevates.
Below each Resort is listed with the number of people their rooms sleep. Naturally if a room sleeps 6, it can fit 4 or 5 as well. A 2 indicates a solo King bed room. Suites naturally come with a significant price bump. Many suite options have a King in the master. Often in suites some of the beds are sleeper sofas or chairs.
Cribs can be requested for children under 3. Disney does not offer roll-away beds.
Disney’s Value Resorts
Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort – 4
Disney’s All-Star Music Resort – 4, 6 suite
Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort – 4
Disney’s Pop Century Resort – 2, 4
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – 4, 6 suite
Disney’s Moderate Resorts
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – 4, 5
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – 2, 4, 5, 8 suite
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside- 2, 4, 5
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter – 2, 4
The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort – 6
Disney’s Deluxe Resorts
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – 2, 4, 6 suite, 8 suite
Disney’s Beach Club Resort – 2, 4, 5, 7 suite
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn – 2, 5, 6 club level
Disney’s Contemporary Resort – 2, 4, 5, 6 suite, 7 suite, 8 suite
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa – 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 suite
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort – 5
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – 4, 6 club level
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort – 2, 4, 5
Disney’s Vacation Club Resorts
DVC Resort rooms are all studio, 1, 2, pr 3 bedroom suites. The living room in the 1, 2, & 3 bedrooms have a sleeper or 2 to come up with the numbers.
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort – 4, 5, 9, 12
Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – 3, 4, 6
Cooper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – 4, 8, 10, 12
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House – 4, 5, 12
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village – 4, 5, 6, 9, 12
Disney’s Beach Club Villas – 4, 5, 8
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas – 4, 5, 12
Disney’s Old Key West Resort – 3, 4, 7 12
Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows – 5, 6
Disney’s Riviera Resort – 2, 5, 9, 12
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa – 4, 8, 9
Disney’s Yacht Club Villas – 5, 6
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – 5, 7, 9, 12
Below as you read on there are links to our pages on all of these resorts, where you can learn all about the various types of rooms and bed configurations.
After making sure that your resort can accommodate the number of people in your party, the price of your room and any associated discounts can very often be the most important Factor of all.
Walt Disney World divides their resorts into categories, those being Value Resorts, Moderate Resorts, and Deluxe Resorts. The Disney Vacation Club Resorts, which are also deluxe, can also be booked just like regular Resort Rooms.
As the Disney’s resort categories go up, so does the price and amenities offered.
Each Resort has multiple room types at various price points.
Prices vary by date at all Disney resorts! The more popular times of the year to vacation (when kids are out of school) are more expensive.
All prices are based on double occupancy. Kids under 18 are free. Each additional adult adds an additional $10 at Values, $15 at Moderates, and $25 at Deluxes
There are five different Value Resorts on Walt Disney World Property. These are the lowest priced of Disney’s resorts and understandably have the lowest level of amenities.
Non-discounted prices here start at just over a hundred dollars and go up to almost six hundred for some suites.
Being entry level resorts, Values have entry level amenities such as: Quick Service food courts, pizza delivery, an arcade, playground, heated pools, basic pool bar, luggage service, in room safe, iron and board, and coffee makers.
These resorts are very large is size, containing from 1600 to about 3000 rooms each. Due to the lower price younger families, children’s athletic teams participating in competitions at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and South American vacationers, mostly frequent them. They can at times be hectic and noisy in general, especially the food courts in the morning and after Park closing!
All Values, except the suites at Art of Animation, have doors that open to the exterior of the building (not to interior hallways).
The Disney Value Resorts are:
- Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
See these links for detailed information on each resort.
The All-Star Resorts are 3 c0-located resorts on the west side of Walt Disney World properly. These 3 Resorts are the cheapest Walt Disney World Resorts!
Besides the 4 person standard rooms at the All-Stars, Family Suites are available at the All-Star Music. These suites offer twice the room and sleep six.
The other Value Resorts
A little bit higher in price are the Pop Century Resort and the Art of animation resort. These 2 resorts are co-located, are located closer to the action, and are both Disney Skyliner Resorts.
At both these Resorts you will find 4-person rooms and Family Suites that sleep 6 at Art of Animation for a higher rate
Pop Century Resort’s Standard rooms here or about $40 more than at the All-Star Resorts.
The Art of Animation Resort is the most expensive Value Resort. This resort has 4 person standard rooms and 6 person suites. Standard rooms here sleep 4 for $25 more than pop century and $65 more than the All-Star Resorts. The suites here are $128 to $365 more than the ones at All-Star Music.
There are five different Moderate Resorts on Walt Disney World Property. These resorts come in at a price point between the Values and the Deluxes.
The Disney Moderate Resorts are:
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
- The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
The Moderates fill the needed middle of the road in both price and amenities between the Value and Deluxe resorts.
Non-discounted prices here start at two hundred and thirty dollars and go up to almost five hundred. The cabins at Fort Wilderness top out at almost eight hundred. The Coronado Springs Resort has a convention center and caters to conventioneers, this is the only non-Deluxe Resort to have Club Level rooms. Suites here can top out over two thousand dollars.
Disney Moderate rooms are somewhat larger than the Value rooms (on average 315 square feet compared to 260). They offer a small table and two chairs, dresser, TV, and small fridge. The bathroom proper is separated from the double sink vanity area, while the vanity area can be separated from the room with a curtain or door. Even with your suitcases out you’ll still have room to move around.
These are mid-level resorts and as you expect have mid-level amenities such as: Table Service dining (except French Quarter), Quick Service food court, pizza delivery, room service at Coronado, an arcade, playground, heated pools some with waterslides, hot tub, a gym at Coronado, indoor and pool bars, luggage service, in room safe, iron and board, and coffee makers.
All Moderates, except the San Destino Tower at the Coronado Springs Resort, have doors that open to the exterior of the building (not to interior hallways).
There are eight different Deluxe Resorts on Walt Disney World Property.
The Deluxe Resorts are the premier hotels of Walt Disney World. They are decorated exquisitely based upon their overall resort theme.
The Disney Deluxe Resorts are:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
These hotels are for those who really want to splurge on their accommodations. They are high in both price and in services.
Disney Deluxe rooms are larger than the Moderate rooms and fall into 3 size groupings: 400 square feet plus (Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian), 370-380 square feet (BoardWalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club), and 344 square feet (Wilderness and Animal Kingdom Lodges).
The Wilderness and Animal Kingdom Lodges are sometimes referred to as Moderate Plus or Deluxe Minus, due to their room size and price.
These resorts are at the top of the Disney World lineup! You’ll find all the amenities that you would expect at a first class resort, such as: Fine Dining, Table Service dining, Quick Service food court, room service, an arcade, playground, the best heated pools with slides, hot tub, a full service Spa at most, a gym, indoor and pool bars, luggage service, valet parking, balconies or porches, in room safe, iron and board, and coffee maker.
All the Deluxe Resorts except the Animal Kingdom Lodge are all very near at least one of the theme parks, which gives you easy access to that park.
Disney Vacation Club Resorts
The Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s take on timeshares. Members buy into a property and use points for stays at DVC properties worldwide.
DVC resorts offer Deluxe accommodations in studio, one, two, and three-bedroom suites. These suites can also be had for money (versus using DVC Points) through the regular Walt Disney World reservation process.
There are currently a total of 13 DVC resorts at Walt Disney World, many of which are co-located with a Deluxe Resort and share facilities with that resort. There are 3 stand alone resorts, which aren’t co-located with a Deluxe Resort.
The co-located Disney Vacation Club Resorts are:
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Cooper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Yacht Club Villas
The Stand Alone Disney Vacation Club Resorts are:
DVC Resorts are essentially Deluxe Resorts as most Deluxe resorts have a DVC section.
Non-discounted prices here start at just over four hundred dollars and go up to fifty-five hundred dollars.
We discussed the full price for rooms above, but there are often discounts available.
Disney Armed Forces Salute
The first discount to consider is the Disney Armed Forces Salute Room Discount. Disney offers sup to 30% off at Values, 35% off at Moderates, and 40% off at Deluxes.
This discount is offered on an as available basis and a sliding percentage off based on date, specific resort, and room type selected.
You can read more about how this works here: How Disney Armed Forces Salute Room Discounts Work
Read full details of the discount here: Disney Armed Forces Salute. See this post for full rules and excluded resorts/room types.
General Public Discounts
You should also consider available general public discounts as they might be available on dates when the salute is not for your desired preferences, or might be a better discount due to the sliding scale of the Salute.
This post talks about checking all discounts: Cheapest Walt Disney World Room Prices for Military Families
Walt Disney World divides its all of its resort hotels into groupings called Resort Areas. This is to give you a quick sense of what the resort is near. There are five resort areas, they are the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and the Disney Springs Resort Areas.
The Magic Kingdom Area has four Deluxe Resorts and a campground with campsites and Moderate level Cabins. They are the Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Polynesian Village Resort, Wilderness Lodge, and Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. All of these except the Campground have a colocated Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property.
As you would imagine the Magic Kingdom Resorts are closest to the Magic Kingdom. The two original resorts (Contemporary and Polynesian) as well as the newer Grand Floridian are “Monorail Resorts.” They are located on the Magic Kingdom monorail line that makes the transit to the park a snap. They are also some of the most expensive rooms on property because of this. All Magic Kingdom Resorts have boat service to the Magic Kingdom as well and bus service to the remainder of the property. The Contemporary and Grand Floridian are close enough to walk to the Magic Kingdom! The Polynesian has a bit longer walk.
The Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness are located nearby on Bay Lake. As mentioned they have boat service to the Magic Kingdom as well and bus service property wide.
The Epcot Area has three Deluxe Resorts, one DVC Resort and one Moderate. They are the Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, the new Riviera, and the Caribbean Beach Resort. The first three, all Deluxes are located adjacent to Epcot and offer boat service to the Epcot International Gateway and Disney Hollywood Studios entrances. You can also easily walk to Epcot, while the Studios is a bit longer walk. The Riviera, the DVC and the Caribbean Beach, the Moderate are located across a major street from Epcot, so no walking, but Skyliner gondola service is available to Epcot and Hollywood Studios as well as bus service to all other WDW destinations.
From Epcot’s International Gateway guests of the Yacht Club, Beach Club, and BoardWalk Inn may enter the rear section of Epcot, or board the new Skyliner gondola system.
Walt Disney World’s Skyliner provides service between Epcot’s International Gateway and Hollywood Studios as well as the Riviera, Caribbean Beach, Pop Century, and Art of Animation Resorts.
In this Resort Area only the BoardWalk and Beach Club have co-located DVC properties. The Riviera Resort, is a stand alone DVC property.
The Animal Kingdom Area has one Deluxe, one Moderate, and three Value Resorts. They are in order the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Coronado Springs, and the three All-Star Resorts (Movies, Music, and Sports). The only transportation method available for all of these resorts is the WDW bus system. The Animal Kingdom Lodge has a colocated DVC property.
The ESPN Wide World of Sports Area has two Value Resorts. They are the Pop Century and the Art of Animation Resorts. These two Values are the newest of the Disney Value Resorts, Animation being the newest. Skyliner gondola service is available to Disney Hollywood Studios and Epcot’s International Gateway as well as the Riviera and Caribbean Beach Resorts. Bus service is available to all other WDW destinations.
Disney Springs Resort Area has two Moderate Resorts and two stand alone DVC properties. The Moderates are the Port Orleans – Riverside and the Port Orleans – French Quarter. The DVC Resorts are the Saratoga Springs and Old Key West Resorts. These resorts have boat service between each other and Disney Springs as well as bus service to all WDW destinations.
The Port Orleans Resorts were originally separate resorts named the Dixie Landings Resort and Port Orleans Resort, in 2001 they were both combined under the Port Orleans umbrella with the hyphenated names and a change to Riverside from Dixie Landings. It is suspected that this was due to the perceived negative connotations of the word “Dixie.”
MDT Recommended Resorts Based on Location
Here we’ll discus my recommended options based on convenience; we’ll start with the most expensive as these are the most conveniently located and move on to cheaper options.
Walt Disney World had a good bus system, and once you are on the bus and it’s moving, nowhere on property is more than 15 minutes away. Keep in mind though that there are waits of up to 20 minutes (sometimes more) between buses for a given destination.
Deluxe – If price is no option the Monorail Resorts are the place to stay. The convenience of the monorail is amazing.
Walking can be a big timesaver during peak travel times. It’s a 5 minute walk from the Contemporary and 10 minutes from the Grand Floridian. The Polynesian is quite a bit further clocking in at about 20 minutes.
On the monorail line you’ll have multiple dining options at all 3 resorts and the theme park.
A slightly cheaper option would be the Wilderness Lodge with boat service to the Magic Kingdom.
Moderate and Value – In the lower price ranges, there is nothing nearby, but remember the bus system!
Deluxe – For Epcot, again if price is no option, we recommend the Epcot Deluxe Resorts, the Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, these resorts are just steps away from Epcot’s International Gateway, where you can enter Epcot or catch the skyliner to Hollywood Studios. Walking times are 5-10 minutes. Boat service is also available to the International Gateway.
Being at Epcot’s back door gives you access to the huge number of dining opportunities in the park as well as all the options in the resorts. The Skyliner puts the Riviera’s Restaurants nearby as well as Hollywood Studios’ dining locations.
I love attending the various Festivals at Epcot, the Beach Club is my go for these times of year.
Moderate – The Caribbean Beach Resort is my Moderate pick with its Skyliner access to Epcot’s International Gateway.
Skyliner lines can get long prior to the 2 parks during park opening, so plan accordingly!
Value – The Values most convenient to Epcot are Pop Century and Art of Animation, which share a Skyliner Station.
An important consideration here is that you’ll have to wait in line at the Skyliner station here, then when you get to the Caribbean Beach Station you’ll have to wait in another long line for the next leg of your Skyliner journey during peak commute times. For this reason we recommend staying at the Moderate Caribbean Beach instead if you can swing the price increase.
Disney Hollywood Studios
The list for Hollywood Studios is exactly the same as for Epcot, except we’ll add in the Riviera to the Deluxes.
Deluxe – We again recommend the Epcot Deluxe Resorts. Skyliner and Boat service are available to Hollywood Studios and it is possible to walk as well. Walking distance is 1 to 1.25 miles from the resorts to the Studios.
The longer walk also prompts us to add in the Riviera which has Skyliner access to Hollywood Studios, equalizing the convenience. At the Riviera Station you’ll wait in a short line and then the long one at the Caribbean Beach Station.
Moderate – Our moderate selection is the same as Epcots. Of all WDW Resorts, the Caribbean Beach is the very best Resort for access to Hollywood Studios with it’s new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge!
Value – Pop Century and Art of Animation are the most convenient Values to the Studios, but remember to account for the double Skyliner wait lines!
Disney Animal Kingdom
The Animal Kingdom has no Resorts with easy access. While the Animal Kingdom Lodge is about a mile away, there are no special methods of transportation to the park, like monorail, boat, or Skyliner. There also is no way to walk. Your only option is to take the Disney Bus System.
For this park we honestly have no resort preference on Resort!
The Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas is closest, the All-Stars next closest at 2 to 2.75 miles away. Discounting wait time these resorts are a 5 to 10 minute drive away, putting them 5 to 10 minutes closer than other resorts by Disney bus.
Those who plan to spend little time in their room or at their Resort because they will be in the parks as much as possible understandably often opt for the cheaper end of the spectrum. Single travelers or those who just don’t care much about the amenities do this as well.
But maybe you want the whole experience of enjoying a beautiful room, perhaps with a view, or having more entertainment options at your resort, or better dining options.
Well here I’ll describe what you can expect at each level of resort and make some recommendations.
The Value Resorts are each decorated in a big way based on the theme they represent, with large exterior icons decorating the buildings, themed pools, and bright color schemes throughout.
The Value rooms have a small price (by Disney standards) and are small in size too. Standard size rooms offer 2 double beds, which sleep four (a crib may be requested for children under 3), a small table and two chairs, dresser, TV, and small fridge. The bathroom proper is separated from the single sink vanity area. Set a few suitcases out and it gets “very cozy” in these rooms. Disney is remodeling these resorts with updated furnishings including coffee makers and a fold down, Murphy style, double bed table combo, which when folded up makes the room more spacious.
Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
The theme of the All-Star Movies is, as you’d expect, Disney Movies! Each section of the resort has its own theme: Toy Story, 101 Dalmatians, Fantasia, The Mighty Ducks, and Herbie the Love Bug. Large 25-40 foot tall icons (statues) decorate the exterior of each building. You’ll see Buzz Lightyear, Woody, a broom from Fantasia, and Pongo to name a few.
Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
The theme of the All-Star Sports is of course various Sports! Each individual building has its own theme: Football, Baseball, Basketball, Tennis, and Surfing. Large 25-40 foot tall icons (statues) decorate the exterior of each building. You’ll see giant tennis racquets, surfboards, and football helmets to name a few.
Disney’s All-Star Music
The theme of the All-Star Music is various types of music! Each individual building has its own theme: Calypso, Jazz, Rock, Country, and Broadway. Large 25-40 foot tall icons (statues) decorate the exterior of each building. You’ll see giant cowboy boots, jukeboxes, and electric guitars to name a few.
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
The theme at the Pop Century Resort is the fads of the 1950s through the 1990s! Each individual building has its own theme which is from a different decade: 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Large 25-40 foot tall icons (statues) decorate the exterior of each building. You’ll see giant yo-yos, Play-Doh, Rubik’s Cube, and rollerblades to name a few.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Art of Animation is Disney World’s newest Value resort. The theme of the resort is straight out of some of Disney’s most famous animated movies: Cars, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and The Little Mermaid. Each movie has its own section with big icons from the movies and buildings painted to match.
Trivia: The location of the Art of Animation was originally to be the other half of Pop Century, featuring the 00s through the 40s, but the downturn in the travel industry after 9/11 caused its construction, which had just started, to cease for many years. Pop Century’s opening was delayed for years even though its first half had been finished. Construction on the second half was later restarted as the new Art of Animation Resort. One section of this Pop Century second half had basic building construction finished when construction paused. This is now the Little Mermaid section, featuring 4-person rooms and exterior doors like Pop Century. When construction resumed the new building were built as 6-person suites with interior halls and room doors.
The Moderate Resorts are each decorated in various facets of an overall resort theme. For example, the Port Orleans Riverside Resort has two different sections, Magnolia Bend and Alligator Bayou. Each is themed differently both inside and out. Magnolia Bend has large three-story buildings, which look like New Orleans style mansions with elegant interiors, while Alligator Bayou has a more rustic feel with smaller tin roofed, wood sided, two story buildings with simulated roughhewn interiors.
Disney Moderate rooms are somewhat larger than the Value rooms (on average 315 square feet compared to 260). They offer a small table and two chairs, dresser, TV, and small fridge. The bathroom proper is separated from the double sink vanity area, while the vanity area can be separated from the room with a curtain or door. Even with your suitcases out you’ll still have room to move around.
These are mid-level resorts and as you expect have mid-level amenities such as: Table Service dining (except French Quarter), Quick Service food court, pizza delivery, room service at Coronado, an arcade, playground, heated pools, hot tub, a gym at Coronado, Indoor and pool bars, luggage service, in room safe, iron and board, and coffee makers.
These resorts except for French Quarter are very large and spread out, they have from 1000 to over 2100 rooms each. The Moderates all have a lake or river where you can rent various watercraft and even fish. The food courts, which are the primary breakfast dining locations, can be hectic in the morning!
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
The Caribbean Beach Resort is the oldest Moderate and is themed on the Caribbean Islands. The resort is divided into five sections, each with a different theme, the sections are: Aruba, Jamaica, Martinique, Barbados, and Trinidad. Each section has its own quiet pool if you don’t feel like making the trek to the main pool. The Caribbean offers Pirate Rooms, your little swashbuckler will love the skull and cross bones and pirate ship décor.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
The Coronado Springs Resort is the newest Moderate and is the only one in this category which has convention facilities. Due to this, the clientele tends to be weighted more towards the adult side of the age spectrum and the atmosphere a little more laid back. Club Level rooms with a club lounge and other upgrades are offered at the Coronado.
The theme at the Coronado is Southwestern, with three different themed groups of buildings. Casitas is modeled after a Southwestern urban area, Rancheros, which are themed on Southwest cattle ranches, and Cabanas, which represent Mexican coastal villages.
In 2019 a new 15-story tower adjacent to the resort’s old main building was added. This became the new main building and added 500 rooms, including suites and concierge-level services. The new tower features rooftop dining with panoramic views of nighttime fireworks from Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort
Riverside is themed on the Mississippi River communities in Antebellum Louisiana. It is divided into two sections that display the opposite ends of the spectrum. There is Magnolia Bend, where the buildings look like Southern Plantation Mansions and then there is Alligator Bayou, which, has tin roofed wood plank, sided buildings.
Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter Resort
French Quarter as the name suggests is themed after New Orleans. As the smallest Moderate, French Quarter is much less busy. There are no sections due to the resort’s small size.
The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
The Fort Wilderness Cabins fall into the Moderate Resort classification. The rest of this large resort is comprised of campsites for RVs, campers, and even tents. You can rough it in comfort with these cabins, which are 50% larger than the other Moderate category rooms and come with a kitchen. These suites, which resemble log cabins on the outside, are situated along winding roads running through the piney woods.
Deluxe Resorts & DVC Resorts
Disney Deluxe rooms are larger than the Moderate rooms and fall into 3 size groupings: 400 square feet plus (Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian), 370-380 square feet (BoardWalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club), and 344 square feet (Wilderness and Animal Kingdom Lodges). Prices in this category fall in a larger range than in the others due to the different room sizes and special amenities offered.
The Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge are sometimes referred to as Moderate Plus or Deluxe Minus, due to their room size and price.
These resorts are at the top of the Disney World lineup! You’ll find all the amenities that you would expect at a first class resort, such as: Fine Dining, Table Service dining, Quick Service food court, room service, an arcade, playground, the best heated pools with slides, hot tub, a full service Spa at most, a gym, indoor and pool bars, luggage service, valet parking, and balconies or porches.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Animal Kingdom Villas
The Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas are a joint property. It is both a Disney World Resort and a Disney Vacation Club property. There are two buildings, the first is called Jambo House, it is the original building and contains all of the Resort rooms as well as some DVC villas. The second newer building is called Kindani Village and is entirely comprised of DVC villas.
The majority of rooms in either building have views of the Lodge’s savannas, areas where African animals live. You’ll enjoy watching animals such as giraffes and zebras right outside your balcony window.
The Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas is themed after East African Hunting Lodges.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Beach Club Villas
You’ll enjoy the beach/ocean theming in this beautiful resort. The Beach Club is also collocated with the Disney Yacht Club and they share many facilities including Stormalong Bay, the awesome sand bottomed, zero entry pool with pirate ship water slide and kids water play area.
The Beach Club Villas, a Disney Vacation Club property, is attached to the Beach Club Resort and they share all facilities.
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
The BoardWalk Resort represents Atlantic City (before the casinos) and the East Coast in general from the 1930s era. Behind the resort buildings is an actual BoardWalk, like the famous one in Atlantic City. Along it you’ll find restaurants, shops, and clubs. During the evening street performers will be on hand to entertain you.
The BoardWalk Villas, a Disney Vacation Club property is collocated with the BoardWalk Resort and they share all facilities. There is also a Convention Center located at this resort.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower
The Contemporary Resort is one of the original Resorts that opened at the same time as the Magic Kingdom in October 1971. Just a stone’s throw away from the MK’s Tomorrowland, the look and feel of the Contemporary used to fit right in with the original theme of Tomorrowland.
The look and feel of Tomorrowland has since moved on to a more 50’s retro Sci-Fi look, leaving the Contemporary as the sole version of the classic look that it once shared with Tomorrowland.
The Contemporary is divided into two buildings, the huge main A-frame Tower building and the Garden Wing, a two-story outbuilding.
The Tower has guest rooms on the west and east sides, all with views of the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom to the west or Bay Lake to the east. The center of the building is all open space with the WDW Monorail Line running right through.
The Garden Wing is a sprawling building which houses cheaper rooms with Standard and Garden Views.
Co-located with the Contemporary resort is the Disney Vacation Club’s Bay Lake Tower, which shares amenities with the Contemporary.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Inspired by Florida’s grand Victorian seaside resorts from the turn of the last century, the Grand Floridian is the Walt Disney World Flagship Resort! The Grand Floridian theming features pristine white wood sided buildings with multiple porches, latticework, dormers, and turrets beneath a red-shingle roof.
The colocated Disney Vacation Club building offers studios and suites.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
The Polynesian Village Resort is also one of the original WDW Resorts, opening in October 1971 with the Magic Kingdom. The “Poly” is both a Disney World Resort and a Disney Vacation Club property. The theme here is the South Pacific tropic islands. Celebrate the spirit of the South Pacific at this oasis of tropical palms, lush vegetation, and white-sand beaches. From moonlit nights on torch-lined waterfront to the exotic tastes of our world-class restaurants, discover the signature tropical ambience that’s made Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort a favorite Disney destination since 1971.
Guests stay in two and three-story Hawaiian “longhouses” situated around the four-story Great Ceremonial House.
There is a co-located DVC portion of the resort which encompass separate buildings and bungalows on stilts over Bay Lake.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Cooper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
The Wilderness Lodge is a joint property. It is both a Disney World Resort and a Disney Vacation Club property. There are two buildings and a collection of cabins along the lakefront.
The original main building, the Wilderness Lodge has been divided into regular guest rooms and DVC wings, the DVC wing being called Cooper Creek Villas. The newer building, originally the only DVC rooms in the resort is called Boulder Ridge Villas. Then there is a collection of new cabins along the lakeside which are DVC properties called the Cascade Cabins.
All major common areas (front desk/bellhop services, dining, and merchandise) are in the original main building.
The look and feel of the Wilderness Lodge was inspired by national-park lodges of the early 20th century. There is lots of stonework and exposed timber. The lobby soars eight stories and has huge totem poles and a stone fireplace, which represent the various levels of the Grand Canyon strata as it rises through the lobby.
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
You’ll enjoy the nautical theming in this beautiful resort. The Yacht Club is also co-located with the Disney Beach Club Resort and they share many facilities including Stormalong Bay, the awesome sand bottomed, zero entry pool with pirate ship water slide and kids water play area.
The Yacht Club Resort is also home to a large convention center.
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
This resort dates back to the beginning of the DVC concept. It opened in 1991 as the first and only Disney Vacation Club Resort. This huge spread out resort started life with just four buildings! As the name implies, the resort has a Key West look and feel.
Old Key West is a very large spread out resort, with many sections being quite a long way from the lobby and main area. There are five bus stops within the resort that act as both internal stops and for all WDW destinations.
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa
This Victorian-style Resort hotel is nestled between rolling golf course greens and the shimmering Lake Buena Vista. It is inspired by the historic Saratoga Springs, a late-1800s’ New York retreat famous for its spas and horse racing.
Saratoga Springs is located across Crescent Lake from Disney Springs and is a large, spread out property. Disney World’s Treehouse Villas, which date back to the early days of WDW are now run out of Saratoga Springs.
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Walt Disney World’s Newest Disney Vacation Club Resort is Spectacular! Beautiful rooms and common areas, great restaurants, and Skyliner access make this one of WDW’s very best! The Riviera Resort is a Disney Vacation Club only property. It is not co-located with a regular Walt Disney Resort as many DVC properties are.
The Riviera captures the look and feel of Europe and the Mediterranean and has a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere.
The guest rooms at the Riviera are bright and beautifully decorated with lots of interesting artwork. You’ll also find lots of artwork around the resort in hallways and common areas.
MDT Recommended Resorts Based on Ambience
Here we’ll discus out recommended options based on spending time at your resort.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and the associated DVC properties are without a doubt the most unique places to stay at Walt Disney World!
Being able to sit on your balcony and watch the African animals right outside your window is fantastic! You can spend lots of time doing this if getting to the parks isn’t a priority.
Both pools on property are great and fun to spend time relaxing around.
This deluxe, along with the Wilderness Lodge, is cheaper than most Deluxes!
Detractors are that this resort is somewhat isolated, a bus ride is required to go anywhere and most dining options have an heavy African influence, which might not be for everyone.
We’ve stayed here 3 time total and have really enjoyed it each time. Twice we used the Disney Armed Forces Salute discount at Jambo House, and once rented DVC points to stay at Kidani.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort, as I mentioned above, The Beach Club is our Go To when Focusing on Epcot!
When making a reservation we always ask for a room closer to Epcot, making it a couple minute walk away!
The rooms and Resort are beautiful and you have access to so many dining locations when staying in this area. You can dine at the Beach Club, Yacht Club, BoardWalk, Epcot’s many options, or even hop on the Skyliner to dine at the Riviera.
Stormalong Bay, the Beach Club’s shard pool area with the Yacht Club is awesome! This meandering pool has sandy beaches, sand bottom walk in sections, a lazy river, volleyball, and more! Hurricane Hanna’s pool bar is there for snacks and refreshments too.
Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter Resort – Is our favorite Moderate for Ambience!
This smallest Moderate has a much less crowded feel. The food court is much less crazy at breakfast than at the other Moderates and Values due to the smaller size.
The New Orleans feel architecture is beautiful. And there is a nice pool to relax by.
There’s a single bus stop, alleviating the multiple stops at the bigger Moderates before you can start heading to your destination.
Boat service is offered to Port Orleans – Riverside, Saratoga Springs, and Disney Springs
A detractor is that this resort is the only Moderate without a Table Service Restaurant, but other dining options, especially at Disney Springs are just a boat ride away.
All the Values have big, in your face decorating! Sp any ambience is for the kids…
They are all pretty similar as far as pools.
Disney’s Pop Century Resort has been my Go To Value for years, even before the Skyliner opened.
I often stay in Values when traveling alone for research and stay at Pop unless it isn’t available.
The reason being that the food options and quality at Pop, and even more so at Art of Animation (which is a short walk away) is better than at the All-Stars.
Now, having Skyliner Access is a bigger plus.
Well, that’s it for our take on selecting a Disney Resort Hotel.
Please feel free to ask questions or share your favorites in the comments section below!
I hope this helps in your decision making process!
This MDT Post By: Steve Bell
Steve is the the Military Disney Tips Founder. He a retired U.S. Military Member who's been touring the Disney Parks since 1971! Steve's mission is to help military families with their Disney vacations in every way. Check out Steve's Bio.
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