Heading to Disney World? You’ll need a place to stay.
With more than 30 different onsite Disney World resorts to choose from, not to mention the countless offsite options within a short drive to the parks, it may all seem a bit overwhelming.
When it comes time to book, how do you know what the best Disney World resorts are?
Let us help.
What to expect in this guide
Over the past several years, we’ve made it our mission to collect as much information as we can about all your different Walt Disney World resort hotel options.
We’ve not only stayed in all the resorts (most multiple times), but we’ve also spent a lot of time putting together videos and beefing up all of our resort-specific pages with our personal pics and reviews.
This is the first part of our Disney World Resort Guide. From here, you’ll find links to more info on both onsite AND offsite options.
After covering the basics, we’ll go a bit further and give you a list of some of the BEST Disney World Resorts with all our reasons why we love (and recommend) them.
This page has lots of links to more information. Start here, but don’t forget to click through to check out our additional resources, too!
Onsite or offsite?
First thing we recommend you do is learn a bit more about your 2 (or more like 2 1/2) options for Disney World hotels.
When visiting WDW, you’ll have the choice to stay:
- onsite with all benefits
- offsite with some benefits
- and offsite with no benefits.
Just what are those benefits, you ask?
Lots of things, like being able to make your Individual Lightning Lane Selections at 7 a.m. (instead of waiting until the park opens) and being able to make all of your dining reservations at once, instead of making them one day at a time.
It is important to understand all of those benefits before you start making any more decisions, so that’s the first task: read (and understand) about the benefits of staying onsite.
Once you are familiar with the perks you can find at some resorts, you’re ready to narrow down your resort choices.
Keep in mind that typically when securing a reservation, at most you can expect to have the *best* of any 2 of these 3 things:
- location (distance to the parks, with the closest of the resorts having those benefits we talked about above)
- price (the total cost for your reservation, including fees & costs associated with each resort)
- space (total square footage of your room or rooms)
Unfortunately, you just aren’t going to get the best location AND the most amount of space AND the lowest price, all together.
You’ll have to decide what is important for your trip: your location, the total cost, or the amount of square footage or space you’ll have.
Knowing which one of those to focus on will make it easier for you to decide if you need to be looking primarily at either onsite OR offsite.
Disney’s on-site resort hotels are often thought of as a destination themselves.
Heavily-themed and catering to a variety of budgets, you’ll want to select one of these resorts for the most all-inclusive feel.
Onsite resorts are typically going to be best for location (although there are some offsite options that are as close as most onsite resorts). Plus, they have the best transportation options for getting you to the parks.
If you want just a quick overview of all the resorts, check out this post for the pros and cons of each:
Who do we recommend stay onsite:
- First-time visitors
- People looking for convenience
- People who want to stay in the Disney bubble
- Guests without cars (you can’t beat Disney’s onsite transportation options)
Value Resorts are your least expensive option, and that is reflected in them also having the least number of amenities and the smallest rooms.
But Value Resorts are also some of the most fun and in-your-face Disney of any of the Disney World resorts. With over-the-top theming and giant icons that flank their grounds, plus family-friendly Quick Service dining options, this is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a budget-friendly on-site option that will wow kids.
Disney World has 5 resorts at their “Value” level:
- All-Star Movies Resort
- All-Star Music Resort
- All-Star Sports Resort
- Art of Animation Resort
- Pop Century Resort
A step up from the Value resorts, Moderate Resorts cost a bit more but have slightly larger rooms and more perks like pools with slides.
Disney World has 4 main resorts at the Moderate level:
- Caribbean Beach Resort
- Coronado Springs Resort
- Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
- Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
Disney also includes the Cabins at Ft. Wilderness in the Moderate category, though those rooms are very different from the other resorts and are really kind of their own unique thing. There are also Campsites at Fort Wilderness that do not fall into a traditional category.
Deluxe Resorts are the closest to the parks, and that comes along with a price tag to match. These are also the most luxurious of the resort options, with typically multiple Table Service dining options, transportation options, and things like spas or salons on site.
Disney World has 9 resorts at the Deluxe level:
- Boardwalk Inn
- Wilderness Lodge
- Contemporary Resort
- Grand Floridian Resort
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Beach Club Resort
- Polynesian Village Resort
- Yacht Club Resort
- Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
Deluxe Villa Resorts
These are your home-away-from-home option. Built for Disney’s Vacation Club (their version of a timeshare), Deluxe Villas offer the most space and amenities like full kitchens and villas with multiple bedrooms – perfect for large families.
The best part is that you don’t have to be a member of Disney’s Vacation Club to book one.
Disney World has 12 Deluxe Villa Resorts:
- Boardwalk Villas
- Beach Club Villas
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa
- Old Key West
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
- Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Riviera Resort
Offsite Resorts at Disney World
Generally, offsite typically means lower prices and in some cases, more space. The trade-off? Location.
Although you can save big on your hotel cost by staying offsite, keep in mind that you’ll have additional costs you may not have had if you chose to stay onsite (for example – for things like parking at the parks).
Who do we recommend stay offsite:
- Repeat visitors
- People looking to save money
- Guests who have points or travel rewards to use at participating hotels
- Guests with cars
Offsite resorts with benefits
There are several resorts and hotels located near Disney World that offer some (but not all) of the same benefits you’ll find if you stay onsite.
Offsite resorts without benefits
Most offsite resorts don’t provide any Disney World benefits, but if you can work around that you’ll find lots that can be quite easy on the budget.
Best Disney World Resorts
Now that we’ve given you an overview, let’s take a look at some of our favorite resorts.
Although these are some of the Disney resorts we think are the best, we also have a post that covers the Pros and Cons of ALL 30+ Walt Disney World Resorts that you may find helpful.