Ranking the moderate Disney World resorts – PREP081

I just got back from staying at the last of the Disney World Moderate Resorts so today I have my rankings for all of them.

I also have a quick tip about why it makes sense to show up last minute to some of the shows at Disney World.

These are notes from this episode. There's much more info included in the audio so be sure to listen to the episode for a better explanation.

Common characteristics between all moderates

All Disney World Moderate Resorts have beautiful grounds, well-themed buildings, rooms that open up to outdoor corridors, and food courts.

All of the resorts except French Quarter also have multiple internal bus stops (7 at Caribbean Beach, 5 at Coronado Springs, and 4 at Riverside), an on-site restaurant, and Preferred Rooms you can book.

My rankings

#4 - Caribbean Beach Resort
We just returned from staying at Caribbean Beach which had great staff, beautiful landscaping, a view of Illuminations from the beach areas, and the ability for families of up to 5 to stay. However, it's also logistically difficult with 7 internal bus stops and having the check in/out building separate from the main building, a bad on-site restaurant, and the least value for a Preferred Room.

#3 - Coronado Springs Resort
We spent spring break of 2014 here and it definitely has a more grown-up feel than other resorts, particularly because it's a convention hotel that caters to that group more than families. The Preferred Rooms here are a fairly good value but don't put you close to the main pool. This resort has extra amenities that are not offered as other moderates such as an on-site salon, health club, and business class (concierge) option for rooms.

#2 - Port Orleans French Quarter
The small size of this resort means that everything is more convenient but it doesn't offer as many amenities as a larger resort. For me, the things it lacks (such as an on-site restaurant) are easily made up for by heading next door to Riverside. There is a boat to Downtown Disney which is a nice option. There's only 1 bus stop here which is often convenient, but buses are sometimes shared with Riverside.

#1 - Port Orleans Riverside
With the best value for a Preferred Room, ability for families of up to 5 to stay here, the boat to Downtown Disney, good food court and on-site restaurant, this is my favorite of the moderates. The reputation for transportation being difficult here is well-deserved, but Disney is working on making that easier. People with a car will find it even more convenient (though I don't recommend driving to Magic Kingdom since the buses can deliver you to the front of the park).

Free Dining
No discussion of Moderate Resorts would be complete without mentioning Free Dining. During the Free Dining promotion, Moderate Resorts get the the Basic Disney Dining Plan for free, just like the Deluxe Resorts, so Moderate Resorts are the best bang-for-the-buck.

However, the Port Orleans resorts are usually excluded from the general public offer (but are often included in individual PIN code offers or bounceback offers). Families of 5 will need to stay at Caribbean Beach Resort, while others should decide if Caribbean Beach or Coronado Springs are better suited for their families.

Quick tip of the day

Some of the shows at Disney World have a better view from the back and it often makes sense to show up to those last minute rather than waiting in line far ahead of time. For instance, I usually slip in to Fantasmic just 5-10 minutes before it begins. Another example is the Finding Nemo show at Animal Kingdom which is easier to watch from the back.

Have a quick tip of your own? Call it in at https://www.speakpipe.com/WDWPrepToGo

Subscribe to get new episodes

There are a few ways to get new episodes of WDW Prep To Go (if you're used to listening on the website, subscribe so you can take new episodes with you on your phone)

Ready for a trip quote?

The handpicked team of agents at Prep School Travel can help you out. Fill out the info below to get started.

Leave a Reply

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
ATLmom

We just returned from a trip to Port Orleans Riverside and we are in love! We had an unexpected extra day and rather than going to a park, we spent it at the resort! We fished, had lunch at the pool bar, played at the arcade (again), went swimming (again), and rode the boat to Disney Springs (again)!
Transportation was the biggest “con” in the pro/con list. The boat was awesome but the busses were crowded, uncomfortable, and not quite frequent enough. We also had two very unusual housekeeping issues – something missed in cleaning and a misunderstanding of our check out time.
But everything else was beyond perfect and exceeded expectations!
Thanks for making this your #1 pick!

John

We have stayed at CBR three times in the last 6 years. We always travel to WDW by car, like approximately 70% of visitors do. The Custom House is not an issue when you have a car. During our trips, I have been able to handle issues right in Old Port Royale without need to go to Custom House. We stayed at POR trip before last and decided we prefer CBR.

Janet

We are a family of 5 booked at Port Orleans Riverside in October. We were hoping to get Free Dining on our trip. Do you suggest booking something else?

Lauren

Hi! My husband and I are planning a trip to Disney for January 2016. I have read every ranking and pro/con list, but I still can’t decide between Pop Century, AofA, and POR. Any help would be appreciated!

Trudy

Are you a young couple without kids? Just the 2 of you? I wouldn’t stay in a value resort. We are a retired couple, but even years ago when our son & his friends went, we didn’t care for them. Too many little kids & not enough amenities.
It’s not that we don’t like kids, I was an elementary teacher for 34 years.
I have heard some nice things about A of A, but again very kid oriented.

Alaine Goodacre

Shannon, thanks for sharing your review, I really enjoyed it. However, we are booked for CB in August…we always stay at POFQ and decided this year to be brave and make a change…but now we are regretting it…we have now read other reviews and it seems many are not impressed…so now what should we do?? We have free dining with a bounce back offer…do we stay at CB or do we try CS or PORS or spend more for a suite at Art of Animation? Or go to a value resort and pay the extra to go from QS to regular dining??? Ahhhh! Any advice would be really appreciated!! Thanks!

Shana

I have stayed at CBR twice before and we are headed back there in 11 days. We really love it. There is a beachy vibe and the grounds are beautiful to walk through. You are really only at the Custom House for check-in and check-out which isn’t long. My kids also love the pool! I hope you enjoy it!

Steve Gehret

I believe you can make the best of of any resort. Don’t let one review deter you. My wife and I prefer Caribbean Beach over French Quarter, but that’s what we like. The custom house is a little out of the way, but they have an internal shuttle, plus how often are you going to be there. Just for check in and check out hopefully. We never had an issue with check in or check out. The rooms are nice since they remolded them. My advice for CB, is to ask to stay in Jamaica or Aruba close to the bridge. This way you can easily walk over to the food court across the bridge. It’s a nice 10 minute walk in the morning to grab some breakfast or coffee. Also these are the first 2 stop when coming back from Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Also at night coming back from Magic Kingdom if you you get on one of the new double long buses, you are also one of the first 2 stops. I never did eat at the sit down place there, but I heard it isn’t special so we never tried it before.

Alaine Goodacre

Thank you so much for replying and making so many specific suggestions! I really appreciate it! I have already cancelled my ‘shutters’ reservation!

Lauren Kostiuk

Hi! I just wanted to ease your worries as well. My fiance and I stayed at CBR last September and we booked to go there again this September. We LOVED it. We stayed in Jamaica and had no issues at check in. We just called the Bell Hop on the day of check out and they came to get us and brought our luggage to the Customs House. The resort is so pretty to just walk around and relax!

Danyelle

We just stayed at the CB resort and we loved it. We also canceled one of our character meals at the end of our trip because we were just tired of eating buffet and needed a break from having to be somewhere at a specific time. We ended up eating at Shutters the last night of our trip right before we headed back to MK for the Wishes and Electrical parade. It was the one of the best meals that we had had that week. We both got steak and it was really good. Just remember everyone has different taste and what isn’t so good to others may be great to someone else and vice versa. Hope you have a wonderful time. Also the pools located around the resort are really nice and are nowhere near as crowded as the main pool.

Greg Nevius

Yep, Port Orleans Riverside is the best. We’ve been fortunate enough to stay there, as well as French Quarter and Coronado Springs and always find ourselves comparing those resorts to Riverside; it just feels like home. The intimacy of French Quarter is great, but we did find ourselves walking over to Riverside for a couple of evening meals and the great selection of goods with their larger gift shop.
Shannon, glad to hear your about your stay at CB, since we have considered that as our next stop. Thank you!

Susan

We have stayed at POR every time we have gone to Disney World. We are booked for this November 17 to the 23rd. This will be our 7th time at POR. It is so relaxing and beautiful. The boat ride to Downtown Disney is a bonus.

Alix

I’m so glad to see that Riverside is #1 as this is where we are staying for our fist visit in April! We have the QSDP included with our package as part of the promotion (I am in the UK so not sure if the deals are different here?) so I’m looking forward to making the most of everything. Hoping my boyfriend loves it as much as I know I will and we can return in the future! 🙂

Thank you for a very useful website! Lots of great information here for a first-timer!

Rachel Freeman

I’m with bonnie on this one – we are looking to book for Oct 3-10 this year and we are trying to earn the dining plan for free as well I was also under the impression that only POFQ was the exclusion from the dining plan. I hope to stay at Riverside for the beautiful preferred rooms any way!

We have been listeners of your podcasts since our first family trip in 2013. Thanks for all of your advice, Shannon!

Rachel Freeman

Ok, so all dining plans set aside, how do you rank the character dining? We have done chef mickey and the crystal palace. I am looking forward to trying some new ones, possibly cape may and Cinderella’a royal table. How do you weigh in on those options? Thanks!

Christina Jarrett

You mentioned your favorite dining experience this week, what was that?? Inquiring minds (who are making some last minute reservations!) want to know. 😉

Sonja Edgington

We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside this year in Jan. Were very disappointed because the pool and hot tub closed at 8pm, so didn’t allow time to use them after parks. Others we have stayed at had pool open but without lifeguard.

Bonnie

Hi Shannon!
We have a POR reservation for 9/29-10/6. We’re hoping to try to snag Free Dining and are a bit flexible on our dates so I was prepared to adjust and make a new reservation depending on the offer. We picked POR based on your recommendations and because we need the pull down bed, but sadly I was thinking it was only POFQ (not both) that was usually excluded from this promotion. If the dates line up and we switch, are CBR’s Preferred Rooms the ones that accommodate 5 (with pull down bed)? Do you think it’s really worth the switch? We’d love to take advantage of Free Dining but would never pay for the plan out of pocket– we’d just never eat that much. Thank you! Your site is the best 🙂

wpDiscuz
Animal Kingdom Epcot Hollywood Studios Magic Kingdom Water Parks
Guide to Festival of the Arts at Epcot
Complete guide to Epcot
All about the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party at Epcot
Planning Process Overview Step 1: Pick a Date Step 2: Lodging Step 3: Make a Daily Plan Step 4: Dining Step 5: Park Touring Step 6: Extra Magic
2018-2019 Disney World crowd calendar
Starbucks at Disney World – here’s everything you need to know
The pros and cons of every Disney World resort
Babies and Toddlers Characters General Reference Group Travel Luxury Saving Money Special Needs Technology Transportation
Best Disney World restaurants to share meals
How to rent DVC points (deluxe hotel for moderate prices!)
Disney Springs restaurants and dining