The pros and cons of every Disney World resort

by Shannon Albert 281 comments Like the Facebook page

It's one thing to have a table with all hotel info listed, but it's another to have somebody (like me!) go beyond the stats to give you a better idea if a hotel is right for you.

Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of every Disney World hotel, 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
  • Club Level guests can go on Sunrise Safari Breakfast Adventure and/or Wanyama Safari (at sunset)
  • Savanna View rooms have view of animals
  • Zero-depth entry pool
  • On-site childcare for kids 4-12 available

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, 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
  • Not as updated as other Disney hotels

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 Downtown Disney
  • 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
  • 1 of the less expensive 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: People with Standard View rooms might want to request Samoa for its central location (though you should be aware that it's the most requested longhouse, and that the second floor rooms don't have a balcony).

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
  • On-site child care available for kids ages 4-12
  • Can view Electrical Water Pageant
  • 50 minute specialty cruise for up to 10-12 people available at the dock

Cons:

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

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
  • 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

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
  • Watercraft rental at marina available seasonally (kayak, pedal boats and electric boat)
  • 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

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 the main building

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 Downtown Disney
  • Bayou Pirate Cruise for kids 4-12 departs from Port Orleans Riverside marina
  • Carriage rides available
  • Watercraft available to rent at marina (pedal boats, pontoon boats and canopy boats)

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 $5 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 Downtown Disney
  • 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
  • Paddleboat rental is 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 request to be closer to Animation Hall or the main pool, which are near each other. The closest buildings are 1 & 3 (Cars buildings), 4 & 5 (Nemo 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 Downtown Disney
  • 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 Downtown Disney, 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 and Disney transportation
  • 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:


Added 1/10/2014: 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 for more info.

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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.