The pros and cons of every Disney World resort

by Shannon Albert 320 comments Like the Facebook page

(Article last updated: April 24, 2016)

There are several Disney World resorts that you could choose for your trip.

Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of every resort, who is best suited to stay at each, plus some tips if you decide to book a reservation.



Deluxe Resorts

Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas

animal kingdom lodge
Pros:

  • Dedicated buses
  • Less expensive than most Deluxe resorts
  • Great on-site restaurants for people with an adventurous palette
  • Beautiful theming
  • Savanna View rooms have view of animals
  • Zero-depth entry pool
  • On-site childcare for kids 3-12 available
  • Every room above ground level has a balcony
  • Free daily cookie decorating at Boma

Cons:

  • Not within viewing/walking distance of any theme parks
  • Standard View could be disappointing
  • On-site restaurants are African and the spices may not appeal
  • Low lighting in rooms
  • Rooms are smaller than the average Deluxe room size

Standard bed size: Queen

Tips: Book Savanna View if you want to see the animals (visiting during a less busy time and willing to take your chances? Book a Standard Room and request a Savanna upgrade), take advantage of night vision goggles at the resort to spot animals at night (located near Uzima Springs Spa)

Ideal for: Adventurous animal lovers

Other info:


Beach Club Resort and Villas

beach club
Pros:

  • 5-10 minute walk to Epcot
  • Best pool of the Disney resorts
  • Can walk or take boat to Hollywood Studios
  • 50 minute specialty cruise for up to 10-12 people available at the dock
  • Illuminations cruise available at the resort's marina
  • Albatross Treasure Cruise for kids ages 4-10 departs from marina
  • On-site childcare
  • Disney trivia scavenger hunt available at guest services

Cons:

  • Buses are shared with other resorts and often lead to long commutes

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: To get a room that's the best of all things offered at The Beach Club, request a room with a full balcony on an upper floor close to Epcot

Ideal for: Families who love Epcot and want access to a great pool

Other info:


Boardwalk Inn and Villas

boardwalk inn
Pros:

  • 10-15 minute walk to Epcot
  • Some rooms have views of Epcot and Hollywood Studios
  • Can take a boat or walk to Hollywood Studios
  • Gorgeous theming
  • Illuminations cruise available at the resort's marina
  • Albatross Treasure Cruise for kids ages 4-10 departs from nearby marina

Cons:

  • No restaurants inside the resort (have to walk out on the Boardwalk to get to them)
  • Shared buses often mean long commutes to Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs
  • Can be very long walks to rooms (especially Villas rooms)

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: Request a room close to the elevators

Ideal for: People who want easy access to Epcot but like elegant theming

Other info:


Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower

contemporary resort
Pros:

  • Can walk to Magic Kingdom
  • Less expensive than several Deluxes
  • Views of Magic Kingdom fireworks
  • Can view Electrical Water Pageant from hotel
  • Monorail accessible from inside Contemporary
  • Pirate and Pals Fireworks Voyage departs from hotel
  • 50 minute specialty cruise for up to 10-12 people available at the dock
  • Large rooms
  • Salon on-site

Cons:

  • Pool isn't anything special
  • Theming seems sterile to some people
  • Bathrooms don't have separate sinks and showers
  • Bus transportation is shared with other hotels
  • Can be noisy from Chef Mickey's
  • Less storage in rooms compared to other resort rooms
  • Bay Lake Tower rooms are smaller than at other properties

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: Request a Magic Kingdom view (costs more) on a higher floor on the opposite end of Chef Mickey's

Ideal for: Families who will spend most of their time at Magic Kingdom

Other info:


Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

grand floridian
Pros:

  • 1 monorail stop away from Magic Kingdom
  • Very elegant theming
  • Great on-site dining options
  • Can take boat to Magic Kingdom
  • View of Magic Kingdom fireworks and Electrical Water Pageant
  • 50 minute specialty cruise for up to 10-12 people available at the dock
  • Captain's Shipyard Cruise for kids 4-12 departs from marina
  • Turn down service
  • Has a spa on-site

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Transportation to parks other than Magic Kingdom can take awhile (shared buses, have to transfer monorails to get to Epcot)
  • Not as kid-friendly as other resorts

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: If you don't pay for an upgraded view, request a dormer room which gives you vaulted ceilings

Ideal for: Couples who like a more formal theme and access to fine dining

Other info:


Polynesian Resort

polynesian resort
Pros:

  • Easy access to both Magic Kingdom and Epcot by monorail (can walk to the TTC to get Epcot monorail if you like)
  • Also have boat option to Magic Kingdom
  • Theming
  • View of Magic Kingdom fireworks with music piped in
  • Very popular/delicious on-site restaurants
  • Beautiful grounds
  • 50 minute specialty cruise for up to 10-12 people available at the dock
  • On-site childcare
  • View of Electrical Water Pageant

Cons:

  • High cost
  • Shared buses which can mean long bus rides to places other than Magic Kingdom and Epcot
  • Resort can feel too spread out

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: Consider a Studio in the Villas section instead of a Standard Room in the regular resort. Here's a comparison of the rooms to help you decide.

Ideal for: People who want easy access to Magic Kingdom and Epcot and enjoy the Poly theming

Other info:


Wilderness Lodge and Villas

wilderness lodge
Pros:

  • Most affordable of the Deluxes
  • 1 of the most beautiful at Christmas
  • Great theming
  • Beautiful grounds
  • Quick boat ride to Magic Kingdom
  • Can view Electrical Water Pageant

Cons:

  • Shared buses
  • Rooms are smaller and will only accommodate 4 people (can have a 5th person if they are under 3)
  • Under construction until sometime in 2017

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: Request a room on a higher floor facing Magic Kingdom for a chance at seeing fireworks (the trees have gotten pretty tall so it may not be as possible now as it once was)

Ideal for: Families of 4 or less who want the benefit of a Deluxe resort without paying top prices

Other info:


Yacht Club Resort


Pros:

  • Location is about a 5-10 minute walk to Epcot
  • Boat ride or walk to Hollywood Studios
  • Every room has a balcony
  • Stormalong Bay is the best on-site pool
  • Cast Members get higher praise than most other resorts
  • A bit more of an adult feel than other resorts
  • 50 minute specialty cruise for up to 10-12 people available at the dock
  • Illuminations cruise available at the resort's marina
  • Albatross Treasure Cruise for kids ages 4-10 departs from marina
  • On-site childcare

Cons:

  • Not as well-suited for families with small children
  • Quick Service is located at Beach Club
  • Shared buses with a few other resorts can mean long bus rides

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: Request a room with a full balcony on an upper floor

Ideal for: Adults without children who want easy access to Epcot

Other info:


Moderate Resorts

Cabins at Ft. Wilderness

cabins at ft. wilderness
Pros:

  • Accommodates up to 6 per cabin with separate bedroom and 2 TVs
  • Full kitchen
  • Peaceful, away from the theme park noise
  • Lots and lots of on-site activities (archery, campfire, fishing, pony rides, etc.)
  • Can park right next to cabin
  • 50 minute specialty cruise for up to 10-12 people available at Ft. Wilderness dock
  • View of Electrical Water Pageant from beach
  • Lots of special events held during holidays

Cons:

  • Transportation - buses have to be taken everywhere (including internally at the resort where they take you to the bus stops to the parks). You can take a boat to Magic Kingdom and nearby resorts.

Standard bed size: Full/Double

Tip: Request loops 2100 or 2200 to be closest to main pool, Meadows Trading Post and campfire area. If you want to rent a golf cart, look at non-Disney options to save money.

Ideal for: Families of up to 6 who have a car and want the benefit of being on-site but also want the ability to get away from it all

Other info:


Caribbean Beach Resort


Pros:

  • Beautiful grounds
  • Good pool
  • Option to book a pirate room
  • Marshmallow roasting at the beach
  • Island of the Caribbean Pirate Adventure for kids 4-10 departs from marina
  • Slightly larger rooms than other moderate resorts
  • Recently refurbished rooms can accommodate up to 5 people per room

Cons:

  • Rooms are often noisy
  • Resort is large and spread out
  • The most internal bus stops of any Moderate Resort
  • Preferred Rooms put you close to food court and main pool, but not next to building with the lobby and Magical Express pickup

Standard bed size: Queen (except for Pirate Rooms and King Bed rooms)

Tip: Pay for a Preferred room which will get you a room in Trinidad North or Martinique, the closest villages to the food court, main pool and shops

Ideal for: People on a budget who like Caribbean theming

Other info:


Coronado Springs Resort

coronado springs
Pros:

  • Beautiful grounds
  • Less of a Disney feel and more adult-friendly than other resorts
  • Has a salon, health club and room service (these options are not available at other moderate resorts)

Cons:

  • Large and spread out which can mean long walks
  • Convention hotel which can mean large groups
  • Not as kid-friendly as other resorts
  • Preferred Room doesn't put you right next to the pool like it does at many resorts

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: Book a Preferred Room at a slightly higher rate to be in Casitas 1, 2 or 3 which are close to El Centro (main building where the food court and lobby are located). If you book a Standard Room, request Cabanas 8A to put you close to the pool, a bus stop, and the path to El Centro.

Ideal for: Adults who want a few extra amenities without paying Deluxe prices

Other info:


Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter

port orleans french quarter
Pros:

  • Beautiful grounds
  • Great theming
  • Compact size
  • Can take a boat to Disney Springs
  • Bayou Pirate Cruise for kids 4-12 departs from Port Orleans Riverside marina
  • Carriage rides available

Cons:

  • No Table Service restaurant (can walk to Port Orleans - Riverside to eat at a restaurant)
  • Buses are sometimes shared with Port Orleans - Riverside which means they are more crowded and commutes can be long

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: The upgrade from Preferred to River View can result in some really beautiful views at this resort. Request building 5 for the most convenient location.

Ideal for: People who like a smaller resort with less walking who can live without an on-site Table Service restaurant

Other info:


Port Orleans Resort - Riverside

port orleans riverside
Pros:

  • Beautiful grounds
  • Great theming
  • Can take a boat to Disney Springs
  • Both a food court and restaurant on site
  • Some rooms accommodate up to 5 people
  • YeHaa Bob performs in the lounge area
  • Bayou Pirate Cruise for kids 4-12 departs from marina
  • Carriage rides available
  • Catch and release fishing can be done at the resort or on a fishing excursion
  • Royal Guest Rooms are an option

Cons:

  • Spread out
  • Buses are often inconvenient

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: Paying for a Preferred room will get you a room in a building close to the main areas, saving a lot of walking

Ideal for: Families of up to 5 people who appreciate the beautiful grounds and theming (having a car doesn't hurt)

Other info:


Value Resorts

All-Star Resorts - Music, Sports and Movies

all star movies
Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Fun theming especially suited for young kids
  • All-Star Music has family suites available

Cons:

  • Small rooms
  • Spread out
  • Shared buses between all All-Star resorts

Standard bed size: Full/Double (except All-Star Music suites which are Queen)

Tip: The small upcharge for a Preferred room will save a lot of walking and keep you close to the main building

Ideal for: Families who are on a budget but want all of the benefits of being on-site

Other info:


Art of Animation Resort

art of animation
Pros:

  • Newest resort
  • Great theming
  • Dedicated buses
  • Most rooms are suites
  • Bigger, better food court than other Values

Cons:

  • Spread out
  • Spotty cell phone service and wifi
  • Most expensive of the Value resorts

Standard bed size: Full/Double in standard rooms, Queen in suites

Tip: You can't pay for a Preferred Room here but you can book a Finding Nemo suite which is slightly more expensive, but located closest to the main building. The closest buildings for the other suites are 1 & 3 (Cars buildings), and 6 & 10 (Lion King buildings).

Ideal for: Families who prefer a suite and enjoy the theming in the various sections

Other info:


Pop Century Resort


Pros:

  • Fun theming especially for younger kids
  • Dedicated buses

Cons:

  • Spotty cell phone service and wifi connection
  • Spread out
  • Can be noisy

Standard bed size: Full/Double

Tip: Pay for a Preferred room to be closer to the main building. If you don't want to pay for the upgrade, request 70s Building B or the 80s Building B for the next best thing.

Ideal for: Families on a budget who want on-site perks and great transportation

Other info:


Other Resorts

Old Key West

old key west
Pros:

  • Largest rooms of all of the DVC properties
  • Least expensive of the DVC resorts
  • Great theming
  • Good on-site eating options
  • Volleyball, shuffleboard, basketball, golf and three lighted tennis courts are available
  • "Unbirthday Party" is offered for kids 5-10 (schedule varies)

Cons:

  • Can feel isolated
  • Bus rides can be long
  • Maintenance and mousekeeping get more complaints here than most other resorts

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: Book in the category "near Hospitality House" to be nearest the main building and reduce walking

Ideal for: People with their own car who want DVC amenities, more space and want to spend less money

Other info:


Saratoga Springs

saratoga springs resort
Pros:

  • Can walk or take a ferry to Disney Springs
  • Can rent bikes and surrey bikes, as well as tennis, basketball and shuffleboard equipment
  • Spa located on-site
  • Beautiful grounds

Cons:

  • Remote location
  • Smallest rooms of all of the DVC properties
  • Theming isn't as good as other resorts
  • Bus rides are long
  • More outdated than other resorts

Standard bed size: Queen

Tip: To be closest to Disney Springs, request the Congress Park section. To be closest to the main building, request the Springs section.

Ideal for: People traveling last minute who want a DVC property (most DVC resorts aren't available last minute but SSR usually is)

Other info:


Swan/Dolphin

dolphin resort
Pros:

  • Guests get many of the same benefits of people staying at Disney resorts - even though it isn't one - such as Extra Magic Hours, Disney transportation, and the ability to book FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days beforehand
  • Can book with Starwood Preferred Guest points
  • Great location near the Boardwalk
  • Can walk or take a ferry to Epcot and Hollywood Studios
  • Large 3 acre pool "playground"
  • On-site childcare for kids 4-12
  • National/Alamo Car Rental desk in lobby of Dolphin
  • Much more affordable than Disney Deluxe resorts, but with similar amenities
  • Dolphin has a spa

Cons:

  • Can't use Magical Express to get from airport to hotel
  • Doesn't feel like Disney
  • Can't charge to your room from the theme parks like Disney resort guests can
  • Often large convention crowds
  • Hotels look more outdated than many others

Standard bed size: Swan has Queen beds, Dolphin has Full/Double beds

Tip: Request a room on a higher floor for the best views

Ideal for: People with Starwood Preferred Guest points and/or people willing to give up a bit of Disney theming to spend less money while getting a great location

Other info:


Ft. Wilderness campsites

ft wilderness campsites
Pros:

  • Pets are allowed (and there's a leash-free dog park here)
  • All campsites come with a charcoal grill, picnic table, electricity and city water (full hookup sites also provide sewer)
  • Lots and lots of on-site activities at Ft. Wilderness (archery, campfires, carriage rides, fishing, etc.)
  • Watercraft rental available at marina
  • Views of Electrical Water Pageant from the beach
  • Ferry to Magic Kingdom is available
  • Can view Magic Kingdom fireworks from beach

Cons:

  • Transportation can be confusing and take a long time
  • Can be long walks to get to things within the campground area

Tip: Get a Preferred Campsite to be closest to the main area. If you want to rent a golf cart, look at non-Disney options to save money.

Ideal for: People with their own car who enjoy the outdoors

Other info:


Shades of Green


Shades of Green is an on-site resort available to military personnel. Please read my post on tips and discounts for military personnel for more info. You can also visit MilitaryDisneyTips.com.

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For info on things to do at all of the Disney resorts (even if you aren't staying there), see my article on that topic.