The pros and cons of every Disney World resort

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort

(Article last checked: April 1, 2017)

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

Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of every Disney World 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 (my favorite Disney World resort!)

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
  • 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 Deluxe Disney World 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 not a Disney World resort, but it 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 World resorts (even if you aren't staying there), see my article on that topic.

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Leave a Reply

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Christina

I will be taking my mom with me for Marathon weekend in January 2018. She is in relatively good health (73 years young), but she tends to get a little tired at times and can be a bit overwhelmed by new surroundings. Any suggestions for a moderate or deluxe hotel that would suit her? Although I plan on taking her into the parks and to DS, I would also like a hotel resort that she can feel comfortable “exploring” so she doesn’t get bored while I am at my races that weekend. Thanks so much. 🙂

Diana

I’ve been struggling to find the best resort, it’s my kids first time at Disney (age 6 and 5). We’ll go to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. My son has autism so I’m thinking after a stimulating day at the park, we’d need some quiet. But, I want a “Disney” experience. Something kid friendly and that they can only do there. I can’t afford the most expensive but don’t want the Disney Springs area. Would like something with multiple transportation options.

Emily

Hello! We are planning a trip to WDW. It is myself, my husband and our 8 year old son. My husband and son have never been. My son loves a good pool and my husband and I enjoy a great pool bar. Recommendations on where to stay? I’m also super picky about hotel bathrooms:). Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

rachael

My 40th birthday coming up. Any recommendations for the best hotel for the food and wine fest? there are 4 girls staying 3 nights.

Carissa Roe

I spent my 40th at Disney too! Deluxe closest to Epcot: Beach Club. I’d do Coronado if you’re going moderate. Pop or AS Movies if you’re going value. Have a magical trip!

Hi

My wife and I have 6 kids. 5 girls who will be ages 11, 9, 4, and twin 1 year olds. We also have a 6 year old son. We’re looking for a resort that can accommodate us and be kid friendly. We’ve stayed at Shades of Green in the past and also at the Wilderness Lodge (Wilderness w/o kids). We’ve heard that the Art of Animation is pretty good. What are your recommendations?

Jennifer Santos

I feel the Art of Animation would be great for your family. We stayed with 6 and just having 2 bathrooms was fantastic. I love its a dedicated bus and the food court was really quite good.

Michelle M

Hi – my husband, my 10 year old twins and I will be going to Disney World this summer for the second time. We are trying to decide between staying the Port Orleans Resort – Riverside or the Caribbean Beach Resort. Can advice that can be given would be great – thanks!

Patti Houston

The reply you received from Nicholas was a bit misleading. The princess rooms are at Port Orleans Riverside and the pirate rooms are at Caribbean Beach. We stayed at and liked both resorts very much. Caribbean has a very beachy feel and Riverside has a canal running through it with lots of lush trees, nice gardens and fancy mansions. The princess rooms are at the farther end, closer to the Frech Quarter. The walk from the main lobby, pool and restaurants isn’t bad and you can also walk a bit farther to the pool at the French Quarter, which is really kid friendly with a colorful sea serpent slide. The princess rooms have a lot of special touches that any little girl will love. We stayed there in November. We never stayed in the pirate rooms. They are at the farthest end of Caribbean, which is very spread out to begin with. We always stay in the Martinique section. It is closer to busses, main pool, food court, etc. You really can’t go wrong with either choice. Enjoy!

Nicholas Abu-Janb

I have been to both and my preference is definitely Port Orleans Riverside. Both have great theming, but I found that the walk can be extremely long in Caribbean Beach, depending on where your room is. Do you have girls or boys? In Port Orleans Riverside, they have special pirate rooms which definitely add a special touch, and in Caribbean Beach they have royal guest rooms which is also a great addition. Note that the pirate rooms in Caribbean Beach are very far from the main food court. Either way, you’re getting a great resort:)

Madelin

Hi

My daughter turns 9 on New Year’s eve. I want to do something special for her. Trying to decide where to stay. We also have a 11 years old and a 3 years old.

anna

hello
My friend and I (2 female friends ; no kids) are going to Orlando for about 2 weeks. We want to go to most parks (Disney Universal Sea World etc )and we are not sure where to stay. We would prefer to use a shuttle and not rent a car. We want to share a bedroom to cut costs…so ideally 2 queen beds.
any suggestions would be appreciated.
thank you so much
A.

Leas

Hi – taking my 6 and 4 year old daughters to Disney for the first time, right before Christmas. Epcot, magical kingdom are mists and we have various reservations. Animal kingdom or beach club?

Sara

We just stayed at the All-Star Music resort and it was such a disappointment. The Disney touches were few and far between in the decor, there was mildew in the shower, the fridge wasn’t cold. The pizza delivery to the room was convenient after a long day at the park. We had no issues with the buses to or from the parks.I would say if you are making a long journey and will not be able to get back to Disney for a few years you should pay the extra money for a nicer hotel.

Christine

Hi
My husband & I would like to celebrate our 45th Anniversary in either late September or early November….skipping October as a choice b/c we are not fans of Halloween themes.
What hotel would you suggest for active adults? We’d like to take advantage of the free meal plan & aren’t sure which hotels are included.
Also would like to rent DVC points from a broker, any help with that? Thx for your help?

James

Me and my husband are planning our wedding renewal at Disney World and will have about 18 people attending. The ceremony will most likely take place at the Wedding Pavilion at the Grand Floridian Resort, but we don’t really want to stay at that resort due to our budget. Luckily my husband does work for Disney World so we do get discounts on the resorts. We were wondering what you would suggest for our guests to stay.

The ages range from 3yrs all the way to over 70yrs old. We will most likely just be going to Magic Kingdom for those that want to go to the parks. We were thinking about the Art of Animation or the other resorts close, but I don’t want the older adults to have to walk as much. We have never stayed at a Disney World Resort yet, so we have no info on what resort we should choose.

Gemelee

Hello,
I am planning to go to WDW with my family from 11/27/16 – 11/29/16 (very short trip) – my daughter is 15 and my son is 10 – myself and my husband will be going. I cannot choose between AOA Family Suite and Disney Yacht Club – with your experience and expertise – can you help me to choose?
Thanks!

RPM

Hi, We are planning our trip to Disney and will have 4 adults and 3 children (1yr, 4 yrs, 6 yrs old). Do you have any suggestions on where to stay. We hope to spend 2 days at Magic Kingdom, and also visit Hollywood Studio and Animal Kingdom. I would also likely need to return back to the hotel mid -day for a nap for the 1yr old. Moderate pricing should be ok.

milly kay

if you can i would stay at the contemporary. its in walking distance from the magic kingdom. very accommodating to all party sizes and is only of my favorite resort to stay at beside the grand floridian.

Laurie

Hello!
I’m planning our first ever WDW trip March of 2017 as an early graduation gift, both girls will be 18. Do you have a suggestion as to the best option for getting around / convenience and also something a little more mature? None of us have been and it’ll just be the three of us. They’re afraid it’ll all be geared towards children and I’m hoping to prove them wrong. I’m looking for something that will appeal to them and be nice enough to be a real vacation for myself. Nicer dining options and relaxing for an adult.
Thanks!

Shayla

Hi Laurie!
I suggest The Yacht and Beach Club as my number choice for older children/adult children. The resort is beautifully themed and has gorgeous grounds. It is less expensive than many of the deluxe resorts as well. The resorts share many restaurants and lounges (9 in total) ranging from fine or character dining to casual or quick service. But let’s talk about Stormalong Bay, it is a waterpark in itself! Hosting a man made beach/pool, lazy river, whirlpool with artificial current, many spas/hot tubs, and shipwreck where the waterslides are located. In addition the resorts share 3 leisure pools! The overall feel is more on the mature side and are within walking distance to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, which are the theme parks that are more geared toward a more mature crowd.
And if the girls aren’t interested in the water all that much and really love animals, then I suggest Animal Kingdom Lodge. Nothing beats waking up and sipping your morning coffee on your balcony while watching giraffe, zebra, wildebeasts and many other exotic animals roam the grounds below (Arusha Savannah Rooms are the only rooms with views of the zebras). While you are there you need to make reservations at Boma and Sana, both are fantastic and Sana has exquisite views of the animals! Bear in mind that the restaurants on site are African themed and may not be suitable for the unadventurous palette. And do be sure to request an Arusha Savannah View room, if not then make certain to get a Savannah view room or you may be disappointed there.
Good luck and have magical day!

Caytie

Laurie,
I totally agree with Shayla! I worked at Disney World as a 19 year old and I love both of her suggestions.

I loved the The Floridian and Polynesian Resorts when I was there, but as a old mom now, I realize how expensive those are! 😉 Plus if you’ve been to Hawaii, Polynesian isn’t as special. I have MANY friends that stay at the Yacht and Beach Club just for the pool and surrounding dining/entertainment.

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