Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to Disney World you go!
One of the decisions you need to make when you decide on a Disney Vacation is if you will stay on or off the Walt Disney World property. If you have decided to stay on site you now need to decide which one of the 25 Disney Hotels is right for you.
It really can be a dilemma. Price, comfort and location can be great concerns that you need to take into consideration. We always wrestle with how much money we should spend on a hotel room that we will only sleep in. Heck, we spend all our time each day at the parks!
Walt Disney World Resort Hotels
Before we dive too deep into the different hotels at Disney, there are amenities that are standard throughout the Disney Resort hotels. Every Disney Hotel offers the following perks:
- Complimentary shuttle service from the Orlando airport to your hotel with the Magical Express. Unfortunately, Disney has announced recently that it is ending the Magical Express on December 31, 2021. This is incredibly disappointing, as this was one of the major benefits of staying at a Disney Resort. We are waiting to find out what, if anything, will be replacing this perk of staying on site. We are hopeful that Disney will choose to keep the magic alive with a different mode of transportation. Stay tuned!
- Complimentary shuttle service on the bus system from your hotel to all parks, hotels, and downtown Disney
- Use of the resort pool
- Dining reservations up to 180 days beforehand
- FastPass+ reservations 60 days beforehand
- Mini fridge
- Complimentary magic bands
Three Tiers of Walt Disney World Resorts
Now that you know what every single Disney Hotel offers it is time to dive into what makes the hotels different from each other. Disney has three tiers of resorts which are Value, Moderate and Deluxe. Each hotel on the Disney property is designated to one of these tiers.
There is actually also a 4th category called Deluxe Villas. The Villas are accommodations mostly for Disney Vacation Club members, however, non members can book them when available. We will be focusing on the main three – Value, Moderate, and Deluxe.
Which Walt Disney World Resort is the best?
The answer to this question is completely dependent upon your family and preferences. The best hotel for a family with small children will not be the best choice for a family with older children.
If you prefer more themed accommodations you will enjoy one hotel more than a family who is more into classic decor. If you have a tighter budget a value resort will be best for you. If you will be spending a lot of time at the pool, a higher tier may be best for you.
Our goal is to give you the basics of each tier of hotel to help you begin to narrow down your Disney Resort choices. You need to have a good understanding of the pros and cons of each tier in order to help you determine which category of hotel to choose.
Let’s look at the amenities within each tier to help you make a decision regarding which is best for you.
Walt Disney World Value Resorts
Value Resorts are the least expensive option of hotels at Walt Disney World. These are great options if you are on a budget but still want to stay on site.
The new Disney Skyliner gondola has a shared station between Pop Century and Art of Animation, which may be a perk for some families.
photo credit Alexis Lariscy
Here is a list of the Disney Value Resorts. Currently these include:
- Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
7 Things You Need to Know Before Staying at a Walt Disney World Value Resort:
photo credit Alexis Lariscy
- The best price of all the levels! Typically you can pay $100 to $200 /night for a standard room.
- Fun, bright, kid-themed rooms, pools and court areas. These resorts are big on character and are great for families with kids!
- Mostly double beds sleeping four.
- Rooms are smaller than the other two tiers.
- Value Resorts have pools but no slides.
- Value Resorts have a food court but no table service option (a consideration if you are using the Disney Dining Plan).
- Most have motel type rooms. The rooms open to the outside.
All Star Sports photo credit Alexis Lariscy
Which Walt Disney World value resort is the best?
Pop Century is often considered the best value resort. Pop Century has its own bus service and access to the Skyliner. Additionally, the food here is considered better than the other value resorts.
Art of Animation photo credit Alexis Lariscy
Should I choose a Walt Disney World Value Resort?
Value resorts are the least expensive but they are wonderful for the little ones! They don’t have the bling of the more expensive hotels but if you aren’t going to spend a lot of time at the hotel, it may be wothwhile to at least consider one of these resorts.
Do take note that typically these resorts are busier (largest set of Disney transportation busses), louder (school competition teams stay here) and overall more chaos. If you are looking for the least expensive option look here, but if you are looking for quiet and relaxing, you may want to look on!
Walt Disney World Moderate Resorts
Moderate Resorts are the middle of the road option for hotels at Disney World. These are a bit more upscale than the Value Resorts but also more expensive. Here is the current list of Disney Moderate Resorts:
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
- The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
photo credit Alexis Lariscy
9 Things You Need to Know before staying at a Walt Disney World Moderate Resort:
- Prices, depending on the season can be from $230 – $500 per night.
- Slightly larger rooms than the Value hotels (around 60 square feet bigger)
- Mostly queen beds and many rooms can sleep 5 comfortably
- Similar to the Value resorts, most rooms open directly to the outside
- More adult theming with beautiful landscaping
- Some Moderate Resorts offer more “kid” themed rooms. Caribbean Beach has wonderful pirate themed rooms!
- Bigger pools and they usually have slides
- Moderate Resorts have table service dining available along with the quick service dining.
- Some of these resorts are very large. This means longer walks to the pool and shuttle areas.
Which Walt Disney World moderate resort is the best?
Most people agree that Port Orleans Resort (French Quarter) is the best moderate option for adults, and the Caribbean Beach Resort is the best for families with children.
French Quarter photo credit Alexis Lariscy
Should I choose a Walt Disney World Moderate Resort?
Moderate Resort vs. Value resort….Let me sum up. Moderate resorts are definitely more expense than the Value resort. You get a bit bigger room with more upscale, mature surroundings at each resort.
Moderate resorts are quieter and less chaotic. These resorts should really be considered if you can fit the extra expense in your budget. (Be sure to check out our 15 tips for doing Disney on a budget if you are wanting to free up some extra cash for a moderate resort!) From personal experience we feel older children really enjoy these digs!
Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts
Deluxe resorts are the most expensive yet nicest resorts on the Disney Property. These hotels have the best of everything. Here is the current list of Disney Deluxe Resorts:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
11 Things You Need to Know Before Staying at a Walt Disney World Deluxe Resort:
- Prices can start at $320 per night and really get up there!
- Rooms are spacious and comfortable with inside corridors
- Table service and quick service at all resorts
- All resorts can accommodate up to 5 people in standard rooms. Most deluxe resort rooms have queen beds.
- Immaculate pools, landscaping and surroundings!
- Several Deluxe Resorts have character dining on site.
- Enhanced transportation options. (Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary are right on the monorail system!)
- Children’s Activity Centers at most Deluxe Resorts
- Pools are over the top! Sand-bottomed pools and volcano-themed pools are just a couple that you will find!
- Concierge/club level option
- Resort footprints are smaller so less walking to get to your bus or monorail transportation.
Which Walt Disney World deluxe resort is the best?
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Polynesian Resort are considered the top two in this category. The food at Animal Kingdom is some of the best and you can see animals from your room! Polynesian is a classic Disney Resort with amazing views of the Magic Kingdom.
Should I choose a Walt Disney World Deluxe Resort?
Full disclosure: we are always on a fairly tight budget when we go to Disney World so to pay up for the Deluxe is not without great forethought and some agony. That being said, the Deluxe Resorts in our opinion need to be considered. Our rationale is we want the vacation to be as wonderful as possible and staying at a Deluxe resort can add that extra magic.
Can the magic be found in the lesser hotels? Absolutely! We have stayed at the Value and Moderate Resorts and enjoyed them greatly! As you think through each one, ask yourself what you are looking for most in a hotel and go for it.
Walt Disney Deluxe Villas
Disney Deluxe Villas are an entirely separate category on their own. As we mentioned, these are primarily for Disney Vacation Club members. We do think it is important for you to know which parts of Disney are considered Villas.
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins 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 Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Walt Disney World Resort Hotels
Value vs. Moderate, Moderate vs. Deluxe….you now have a good idea of which category of hotel is right for you and your family. Now comes the fun part – choosing the actual resort you will make memories in!
Spend some time looking at each hotel in the category you chose – but be warned – it IS possible to do too much agonizing! Once you choose the hotel don’t look back. There really is no bad hotel option at Disney World. Once you arrive at your resort – no matter which one it is – you will be welcomed home and your memories have begun!
If you are following our timeline for planning your Disney Vacation, you know that the next step is booking your transportation and work on your itinerary. Once that is completed, you are all set to begin booking restaurant reservations and start looking ahead to FastPass+ selections. You are well on your way!