Disney World with your toddler can be a wonderful experience! There really is no age that is “too young” to bring to Disney World. If you are bringing toddlers to the Disney parks, your touring schedule, pace and expectations will need to be planned out much differently than you would with older children and adults. Deciding where to stay is one of the first steps if you are following our planning guide.
There are pros and cons to staying on site at Disney or staying in a hotel off site in Orlando. If you are planning on staying on site at Disney, you will need to figure out the best Walt Disney Resort to stay at. This is both fun and a bit overwhelming! Let’s jump in.
Walt Disney World Hotels
The first thing to remember in picking out a resort is there is really no bad choice. If this is your first time to Disney World, rest easy that every resort, restaurant, shop and anything else on the Disney Property caters to kids.
They understand crying, potty emergencies, meltdowns and everything else that real life toddlers and their adult companions (parents) go through. Instead of a condescending glare, you almost always get a smile and assistance from one of the Cast Members working at the resort.
Second, all Disney World hotels have some things in common. All have at least one swimming pool, restaurants, as well as transportation link to the parks and other Disney properties (bus, monorail, or walking path).
There are many perks you receive by staying on the Disney Property like Early Theme Park Entry, the option to participate in the Disney Dining Plan, advanced dining reservation booking, gifts and other purchases sent to your room, and many other little perks.
Finally, no matter which Disney resort you choose, Disney does a wonderful job of making you feel part of the Disney magic no matter if you are in one of the parks or back at your resort. It truly is one of the great benefits of staying in one of the resorts.
List of the Resorts Categorized by Tiers
Disney has three tiers of resorts: Value, Moderate and Deluxe. There is a 4th category called Deluxe Villas. The Villas are accommodations mostly for Disney Vacation Club members, however, non-members can book them when they are available.
Most people look to book in one of the three main resort tiers – this will be our focus. We have an entire post dedicated to help you understand the the Disney Resort tier system. You can find details about sizes of standard rooms, pricing, pools, and more.
Disney Value Resorts
This is the least expensive hotel option. 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
Disney Moderate Resorts
These hotels are middle of the road pricing. Currently these include:
- 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
Disney Deluxe Resorts
This is the most expensive category of hotel. Currently these include:
- 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
What Is The Best Disney Resort For Toddlers
It is hard to pick just one hotel as “the best” for families with young children. There are many variables – especially price – that each family needs to take into consideration. We will share with you the top two Disney Resorts for toddlers in each of the three hotel tiers.
Best Disney Value Resort For Toddlers
The All-Star Movies Resort
The All-Star Movies Resort is considered not just by us, but many others, as the very best Value Resort for families with toddlers. This hotel is themed very well with huge, larger than life, two story statues of Buzz Lightyear, the Dalmations, Mickey Mouse and other Disney favorites your little one will love to see. The resort is like a huge playroom except the toys are all ginormous!
The World Premiere Food Court is decorated like a movie theater box office. The cuisine is divided up into different sections. There is plenty of seating in the dining area and of course, wide screen TV’s everywhere showing Disney cartoons to keep your small children from eating. :). But seriously, there is plenty of kid friendly food.
There are two wonderful pools but the main pool we want to draw your attention to is called Fantasia. As you may have guessed, the Fantasia pool is centered around Sorcerer Mickey Mouse with a huge fountain. Right next to it is a wonderful kiddie pool where your toddler will enjoy cooling off with Mickey in the background.
The Art Of Animations Resort
We love The Art of Animation Resort for toddlers! First, this resort has family suites that are roomy, sleep up to six (actually 7 if your toddler is under three years old and in a crib). Each room has a fridge and microwave which is perfect for your toddler along with the older kids.
If your little one has ever seen Ariel from Little Mermaid, or Lighting McQeen from Cars or any other Pixar/Disney characters, they will be overjoyed at the themed decor around this resort. This alone makes it a great choice for any toddler. They will be overjoyed to see their favorite characters around this resort!
The three pools are beautifully themed as well with one of them even playing music underwater. When it comes to dining, the Landscape of Flavors restaurant caters to children with many kid favorite foods from Uncrustables to the ever popular Mac and Cheese. One note about value resorts is there is no full service dining, however, the large food court has a fairly diverse menu.
Finally, the new Disney Skyliner runs through The Art of Animation Resort. It is completely free, a fun way to get easy access to the parks (some directly) and your toddler will be thrilled by the experience.
Art of Animation photos credit Alexis Lariscy
Best Disney Moderate Resorts For Toddlers
Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort might be a head scratcher for you. Obviously a toddler is not going to get the themed pirates and buccaneer lingo, and the cute Pixar/Disney animation Characters are not around much. That being said, the Caribbean Beach Resort does have some great appeal for young kids.
First and foremost, this hotel is the hub for the Skyliner. As we told you in the Art of Animation Resort, the Skyliner has great appeal for the little ones. Additionally, it can get you places quickly – including a direct route to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
Furthermore, the Caribbean Beach hotel is full of bright colors, giving it a happy feeling that everyone will love. This resort has a great kids splash pad pool area with a pirate ship dumping out large buckets of water as your toddler plays.
The resort has recently been refurbished making the dining not only easier to navigate but making the dining options better too.
This is a great option for families with toddlers and elementary age kids.
Port Orleans French Quarter Resort
If spending time with your toddler in the pool is important, then Port Orleans needs to be high on your list to consider. The resort’s Doubloon Lagoon is a fantastic aquatic play area where you will be able spend hours with your child. This pool has great colors and characters, including a Sea Serpent water slide.
In addition to the pool, Port Orleans French Quarter is small (relative to many other resorts), so the distance to the main buildings and the bus stop is shorter.
To put it in perspective, there are 1,008 guest rooms at POFQ and Port Orleans Riverside has 2,048 and Coronado Springs Resort has 1,917, so you can see the difference. The smaller size also means you are closer to the main lobby, which is great if you need help from any of the Disney cast members.
There is no formal sit down dining at this hotel. You will need to decide how much you will be eating dinner at the Resort and if sit down dining is important to you.
photo credit Alexis Lariscy
Finally, smaller size means quieter. The resort doesn’t cater as much to large tour groups and the peaceful atmosphere can be just what you need with your little one.
Best Disney Deluxe Resort For Toddlers
Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a fantastic choice in the Deluxe category! What makes it a great choice? It’s proximity to Magic Kingdom makes it a fantastic option alone.
If you are going to Disney World with a toddler and you are walking distance from the Magic Kingdom, the park little ones love the most , you can’t do any worse. You can leave the park for naps very easily. You can head back to your room in a moments notice if there is any kind of issue that can happen from time to time with toddlers.
Additionally, the Contemporary is simply a beautiful resort with multiple dining options including the famous Chef Mickey’s. Your little one will love to eat here as Mickey, Minnie, and other Disney characters come out to visit each table.
One drawback of the Contemporary is that the pool is a bit understated. There aren’t the wild statues and crazy serpent slides as are in the other resorts, but again, you need to figure out what is most important to you.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Last, but certainly not least, is the wonderful Animal Kingdom Lodge in the deluxe category. Let us ask you a question…does your toddler love animals? We thought so. They all do. So what is better than staying at a place that is surrounded by exotic animals?
If you are in the Savannah view room, you will literally be able to view animals from your own balcony! Imagine the delight of your little one when a couple of giraffes saunter by….or a few antelopes appear. There are educational activities for your toddler throughout the day and there is a zero-entry pool as well.
This resort is themed well and even the lobby is quite breathtaking for you and your little one. One of our favorite restaurants, Boma, is at this resort! One other fun perk of the Animal Kingdom lodge is that some rooms have bunk beds! This can be a blast for kids of all ages.
As you can see, there are a number of great options for you to consider. Which hotel is the overall best Disney hotel? That is truly only a decision you and your family can make! Take into consideration your family’s needs, wants, and budget and you will be sure to find a hotel that works for you. Like we said, there really is no wrong choice!