Choosing what hotel to stay at is a very important part of booking your vacation. I’ve been to Walt Disney World many times and have stayed at some of their onsite resorts. Disney offers many different resorts, each uniquely themed and to suit all budgets. Disney’s resorts are categorized into value, moderate and deluxe resorts. There are also deluxe villa resorts to choose from too which are part of Disney’s Vacation Club programme. More on these later. All of the resorts are located in either the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Wide World Of Sports and Disney Springs resort area. Disney also offers a campground for people who like to camp. Strangely there is no Hollywood Studios resort area. Please note that the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin are not actually Disney hotels.
Contrary to popular belief all Disney resorts are not super expensive and offer something for all budgets. Disney has it’s expensive and more affordable resorts. Staying at a Disney value resort doesn’t cost that much more than staying offsite at somewhere like International Drive.
These are your cheapest option are offer good quality standard accommodation. Transport to all Disney locations is by complimentary bus. Rooms have a really fun and colorful decor and have outdoor corridor access. The theming around the resorts is really fun with giant figures of Buzz and Woody at the All Star Movies. The value resorts also offer a really big pool, food court and gift shop.
- Pop Century (Wide World Of Sports)
- All Star Resorts – Sports, Music and Movies (Animal Kingdom)
- Art Of Animation (Wide World Of Sports)
All Star Resorts
The moderate resorts cost a bit more than the value ones and offer bigger rooms. More attention is spent to the theming around the resort and there are slightly more facilities too. Some of the moderate resorts offer a full service restaurant in addition to the food court. Transport to all Disney locations is either by bus or water taxi, depending on which resort you stay at.
- Caribbean Beach (Epcot)
- Port Orleans – French Quarter and Riverside (Disney Springs)
- Coronado Springs (Animal Kingdom)
- The Cabins At Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort (Magic Kingdom)
These are your top resorts and are the most expensive. Theming is fantastic and the resorts offer a quick service food court in addition to a good choice of full service restaurants and bars. Some deluxe resorts have a few gifts shops in them too and the room sizes will be a lot larger. Depending on how much you want to pay you can either pay for a standard room or splash out on a suite. Transport varies depending on what resort you stay at and can either be by bus, water taxi or monorail.
- Animal Kingdom Lodge (Animal Kingdom)
- Polynesian Village (Magic Kingdom)
- Grand Floridian Resort And Spa (Magic Kingdom)
- Wilderness Lodge (Magic Kingdom)
- Beach Club (Epcot)
- Yacht Club (Epcot)
- Contemporary (Magic Kingdom)
- Boardwalk Inn (Magic Kingdom)
The Deluxe Villas are part of Disney’s Vacation Club, the timeshare programme which isn’t timeshare. Non members are more than welcome to book a stay at any of the Deluxe Villas although some are harder to book. The Polynesian Village and Bungalows looks the best as the bungalows are actually located on the water. Getting a booking for these seems impossible as there is hardly any availability for them.
If there are 5 or more of you why not consider staying at a Deluxe Villa resort. They come in one bedroom villas which sleep 4-5 or two bedroom villas while sleep between 8-12. They come with separate sleeping and living areas, along with a kitchenette. I think the Disney Villas are a great alternative to those off site houses many travel agents try to sell to large parties. Not only do you get the full benefits of staying at Disney but they are great for people who don’t or can’t drive (believe it or not, not everyone who goes on vacation to Florida hires a car).
- Saratoga Springs Resort And Spa (Disney Springs)
- Old Key West Resort (Disney Springs)
- Polynesian Village And Bungalows (Magic Kingdom)
- Bay Lake Tower At Disney’s Contemporary Resort (Magic Kingdom)
- The Villas At Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort And Spa (Magic Kingdom)
- Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village (Animal Kingdom)
- Animal Kingdom Villas Jambo House (Animal Kingdom)
- Boardwalk Villas (Epcot)
- Beach Club Villas (Epcot)
- Boulder Ridge Villas At Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (Magic Kingdom)
- The Campsites At Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort (Magic Kingdom)
Not only do you get to stay at a great resort but there are also a load of benefits to staying onsite at Disney World.
- Early access to Disney Fastpass+ planning.
- Extra Magic Hours. Every day select attractions are open longer at one of the Disney theme parks. Valid park ticket and resort ID are required.
- Complimentary Magic Bands
- Disney’s Magical Express. Complimentary coach transport to and from Orlando International Airport. Note: this service is not available for guests flying in and out of Sanford Airport.
- Complimentary resort wide transport
- Complimentary parking at hotels, parks, water parks and Disney Springs for guests who have a car
- Disney Dining Plans
- Disney themed rooms can also be booked at select hotels
- Resort room charging privileges
- Complimentary resort package delivery of any merchandise you buy
Staying onsite at Disney is highly recommended especially if Disney is a must do on your Florida vacation. I stayed offsite at International Drive back in 2010 and getting back to the hotel was a nightmare. The hotel I was staying at offered a shuttle bus back and forth. Every day it would always turn up almost 2 hours late and leave us waiting for ages in the parking lot. Then when it did turn up it would be overcrowded and some people couldn’t get on. One day on the way to Disney in the morning, one bus broke down, meaning we had to wait for another one to arrive. In comparison, the Disney transport is very good and buses to and from the hotels come on a regular basis. The same with water taxis and the monorail.
Sure, you can drive to Disney from where you are staying, but that means having to pay for parking every day, so you don’t really save any money. Parking varies from $20 – 25 a day, depending on what vehicle you have.
Staying onsite also means you don’t leave the magic behind at the end of every day as it continues in the hotel with all the fantastic theming. Plus on a hot day like it is, most days in Florida, you can go back to the resort in the afternoon for a rest and go back into the park later on.
So if you are considering going to Disney World I highly recommend staying at one of their hotels. They are definitely worth checking out.
Have you stayed at any Disney resorts?