Many factors go into the decision to select the right hotel for your Disney vacation, not the least of which is cost. So what a better way to help you pick than to offer up the pros and cons of every single Disney resort. The good news is that all Walt Disney World Resort hotels have several things in common.
- Magical Express, FREE transportation to and from the Orlando airport
- Extra Magic Hours
- Free Disney World Transportation
- Magic Bands
- Free Parking at the Parks
- Free Merchandise Delivery
- Early Fastpass+ Bookings (60 days out vs. 30 days out)
Disney divides their hotels into three price categories – value, moderate and deluxe. Let’s compare hotels within each category.
Disney World Value Resorts
All Star Sports & Music & Movies
Rates start from $96 – making it the cheapest hotel room option at Disney World. All Star Resorts are located in the Animal Kingdom resort area, your transportation will be bus. Each hotel has over the top décor that puts you into the magic with themed pools and large food courts. There is an option for family suites, to accommodate larger groups at a reasonable rate. The drawback to this resort is that being at the lower price point, they tend to attract large school groups and the atmosphere can become quite noisy.
Rates start from $108 – located in the ESPN Wide World of Sports resort area, your transportation will be bus. This value hotel is a little more spread out, to separate the guests with décor throughout that will wow the guests and have everyone reminiscing. There are multiple themed pools and a large food court and shopping area. Great plus here is a dedicated bus whereas All Star Resorts share among the three of them.
Bonus Tip: If you want to be close to the main building opt to pay for a Preferred room. If the extra money just isn’t in the budget, request 70s Building B or the 80s Building B for the next best thing.
Art of Animation
Rates start from $127 – the pricest of the value resorts but also the newest! Located in the ESPN Wide World of Sports area, your transportation will be bus. If you or your family loves Disney Pixar classics such as Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King and the Little Mermaid, this is the hotel for you! The theming is over the top throughout the entire resort, which boasts the largest pool at any resort. Themed suites are also available perfect for those visiting with large families. As with the other value resorts it is very spread out and can make you walk to the bus very long. Book a Finding Nemo suite to stay closest to the main building and the bus stops.
Campsites from $53 – located in the Magic Kingdom resort area; your transportation options are boat ride to the Magic Kingdom and bus to all other locations. This rustic resort will include every type of camper from a tent to large RV’s with all the amenities – even your pets are welcome! For time not spent in the park, there are activities that include swimming, archery, canoeing and horseback riding. For a value resort you can even catch a view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. There are some downsides to this resort though, it’s extremely spread out so it can take a long time to get anywhere here if you need a bus, not mention the bus system is complex here. It can be easy to get lost, it’s even happened to me once!
Moderate Disney World Resorts
Rates start from – $166 – located in the EPCOT resort area; your transportation will be bus. If there is a pirate in your party, this is the resort for you, upgrade to a pirate room and your beds will be in the shape of pirate ships. This resort has six separate areas spread out in a lush tropical environment. The Island Market offers a variety of casual food options that support the Caribbean flavor.
Port Orleans Riverside & French Quarter
Rates start from $194 – located in the Disney Springs Resort area, your transportation to Disney Springs is via boat and bus to all other locations. This resort offers multiple areas from mansions to bayou cottages. Rooms may be upgraded to the royal status of Tiana for an extra magical experience. We highly recommend that you catch Yehaa Bob’s comedy show at the River Roost Lounge after you enjoy all the southern specialties at Boatwright Dining Hall.
The cons here are the spread out nature of the resort which creates an overly complex bus system. If staying at the French Quarter there is no dining options so you will be stuck walking over to Riverside.
Rates start from $174 – located in the Animal Kingdom Resort area, your transportation will be bus. This Spanish themed hotel is spread out over a large area and has much more of an adult vs. Disney feel. This can be a downside however for those traveling for kids as there are less kids activities compared to other resorts. Unlike the other moderate resorts you can find a salon, health club and room service. Another drawback to this hotel is that it hosts conventions and can make it overly crowded at time.
Cabins at Fort Wilderness
Rates start from $309 – located in the Magic Kingdom Resort area, your transportation options are boat rides to the Magic Kingdom and bus to all other locations. This rustic resort offers cabins that can accommodate six adults and gives you a kitchen so that you can cook! The wild life is abundant and activities include exploration trails, a pool and the Hoop-Dee-Do Revue.
Deluxe Disney World Resorts
Rates start from $574 – located in the Magic Kingdom Resort area; your transportation options are boat rides and the monorail to the Magic Kingdom, monorail to EPCOT and bus to all other locations. This is Disney’s premier resort, but I feel that Victorian beach elegance theme is a little stuffy and pretentious. The hotel does host many great events throughout the year such as an Easter Egg display and a real Gingerbread House! It truly is a spectacle during the holidays. Every night not only do you have a chance to watch the Magic Kingdom but you can also catch the Electric Water Pageant Parade as well. Considering this resort is the most expensive on property, I was disappointed in the room decor. Many of the less expensive resorts have much better themed rooms.
It’s important to note this resort also host the premier restaurant on property, Victoria and Alberts. Be warned this Five Diamond Awarded spot will come at a hefty price and scarce availability. Citricos, Grand Floridan Cafe and 1900 Park Fare are all excellent dining options as well! For a special experience you can even book Afternoon Tea at Garden View Tea Room.
Surprisingly, considering the cost to stay here transportation speed to parks other than Magic Kingdom can can be lacking. This is due to this hotel having shared buses and having to transfer monorails to get to Epcot. Again, with the stuffy nature of this resort we find that kids activities can be lacking here. They do have a great splash and soak pool for the really young kids.
Rates start from $452 – located in the Magic Kingdom Resort area, your transportation options are boat rides and the monorail to the Magic Kingdom, monorail to EPCOT and bus to all other locations. One of Disney’s original hotels, the South Pacific theming carries throughout the resort, with a relaxed all immersive theme. The rooms are slightly larger than most and great access to the Magic Kingdom make this hotel an excellent choice. Viewing the nightly Electrical Water Pageant and the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the sandy shore is magical experience.
Rates start from $378 – located in the Magic Kingdom Resort area, your transportation options are boat rides, monorail and walk to the Magic Kingdom, monorail to EPCOT and bus to all other locations. If your family spends the bulk of their time at the Magic Kingdom then this is the resort for your. A unique feature here is that the monorail travels right through the center of this hotel!
Just like the other Magic Kingdom Resorts you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks nightly. The Electrical Water Pageant is another great one to catch nightly on the Lagoon.
On the downside we find the pool at the Contemporary pretty lack luster in comparison to it’s counterparts. The bus system here is shared with other resorts so it’s not as speedy as other locations, but on the plus you really only need the bus for Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.
Rates start from $408 – located in the EPCOT Resort area, your transportation options are boat rides to Hollywood Studios, walk to EPCOT and bus to all other locations. The location of the EPCOT resort hotels is great if you spend your evenings at EPCOT, you simply walk back to your hotel! This elegant mid Atlantic inspired resort boasts an actual boardwalk with food, activities and nightly entertainment.
Beach & Yacht Club
Rates start from $374 – located in the EPCOT Resort area, your transportation options are boat rides to Hollywood Studios, walk to EPCOT and bus to all other locations. These two hotels are side by side and I think that they have the best pool on property; it actual has a shallow play area with sand in the water!
Rates start from $307- located in the Magic Kingdom Resort area, your transportation options are boat rides to the Magic Kingdom and bus to all other locations. This hotel has one of the most impressive lobbies on property and it is worth the trip to the see even if you do not stay at this resort. An advantage of staying at this resort is the nightly Electrical Water Pageant that can view from the hotel. The proximity to Magic Kingdom along with the quieter grand hotel feel makes this a special hotel.
Animal Kingdom Lodge
Rates start from $319 – located in the Animal Kingdom Resort area, your transportation will be bus. This hotel lobby and animal viewing area should be visited even if you do not stay at this hotel. The craftsmanship is outstanding and the authentic African art completes the décor. The dining experiences at this hotel should not be missed. Check out our review of this hotel http://www.wdwvacationtips.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-staying-at-disney-animal-kingdom-lodge/
Disney Vacation Club Resorts
Rates start from $330 – located in the Disney Springs Resort area, your transportation to Disney Springs is via boat and bus to all other locations. This Disney vacation club resort is nicely themed but a little out of the way of most the park. If Disney Springs is a stop you make frequently it is just a short walk or boat ride away. This resort typically has openings and is a great last minute option if you are looking for a DVC room.
This DVC resort offers you the smallest room size which isn’t the greatest. We also think the theming is lacking here compared to many of the other resort offerings.
Old Key West
Rates start from $330 – Located in the Disney Springs Resort area, your transportation to Disney Springs is via boat and bus to all other locations. The top feature of this DVC resort is it hold the largest rooms on property and it is the least expensive of the DVC properties. The food here is great! We recently ate at Olivia’s and loved it (be sure to try out the prime rib!).
This resort is tucked back there pretty far out from all the other attractions areas. It can feel very isolated and the bunch rides are longer than most of the other Disney resorts.