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 Disney World Resort. The good news is that all Walt Disney World Resort hotels have several things in common.
- Early Theme Park Entry
- Extended Evening Theme Park Hours (Deluxe Only)
- Free Disney World Transportation to Parks
- Use of Magic Bands (no longer included but available at a discount)
- Free Parking at the Disney 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
The value resorts will be your most inexpensive picks for an on-property Disney hotel. If you plan on spending all your time out in the parks or at Disney Springs you will be more than satisfied with a room at one of these hotels.
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 a bus. Each hotel has larger than life 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. Here your transportation will be bus or the Disney Skyliner. 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. A 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 priciest 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.
For more read: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort Cars Suite: The Unsung Hero
Campsites from $53 – located in the Magic Kingdom resort area; your transportation options are a boat ride to the Magic Kingdom and buses will take you 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 the 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 to mention the bus system is complex here. It can be easy to get lost, it has even happened to me once!
Moderate Disney World Resorts
If you plan on spending some amount of time at your resort you may want to spend a little extra on a moderate resort. For the pool lovers, this will get you upgraded pools with slides. And the foodies will enjoy there are table-service restaurants to enjoy at these resorts as well.
Rates start from – $166 – located in the EPCOT resort area. When staying here your transportation will be by bus or the Disney Skyliner can take you to Epcot or Hollywood Studios. If there is a pirate in your party, this is the resort for you.
Simply 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 is 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 the 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 with kids as there are fewer 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 times.
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 take a 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 poo, and the Hoop-Dee-Do Revue.
Deluxe Disney World Resorts
Guests staying at Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels or Disney Deluxe Villas can enjoy extended evening hours. During this time you can enjoy select attractions, shops, and dining after regular park hours. This is in select theme parks on select nights. If you are looking to get an extra ride on Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind this is a great way!
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 the 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 the Magic Kingdom 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 a 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 lackluster in comparison to its counterparts. The bus system here is shared with other resorts so it’s not as speedy as other locations, but on the plus side you really only need the bus for Hollywood Studios and the 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. At Epcot, you can also hop on the skyliner and head to Hollywood Studios.
The location of the EPCOT resort hotels is great if you spend your evenings at EPCOT, you simply walk back to your hotel! If attending a festival at Epcot is your main focus look no further than the Boardwalk. 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 buses will take you to all other locations. If you take a short walk to the back entrance of Epcot you can also catch the Disney Skyliner and take it to Hollywood Studios.
These two hotels are side by side and I think that they have the best pool on property; it actually has a shallow play area with sand in the water! They also house some of the best food. If you are a steak lover be sure to snag a reservation at the Yachtsman Steakhouse. If ice cream is more your treat don’t miss getting a Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream.
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 Disney 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 the 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 here.
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 Disney theme 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. You can read our full review of Saratoga Springs here.
Old Key West
Rates start from $330 at Old Key West. 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 holds the largest rooms on Disney 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.
That wraps up the pro and cons of every Disney World resort. There are so many fantastic Disney resorts to choose from you really can’t go wrong with staying on property at Disney World. Be sure to share your favorite resort to stay at in the comments below.
I have been visiting the parks annually since my parents first brought me at just a year old. Recently I was able to fulfill my life long dream of being a Florida local and moved from the wintery Northeast to the sunshine and fun of central Florida. Now I am hoping to share my Disney knowledge with you so you can have the best vacation possible!
Need More Help Planning Your Vacation?
A travel agent is an essential resource when planning a vacation. Reach out to Magical Travel and they will make sure your vacation is pure magic and no stress! Their services are 100% FREE to you!
Wednesday 9th of January 2019
Please know that Old Key West is sadly lacking elevators. There's two buildings that have them, the rest do not. So if you can't climb stairs (like me), this might be a resort to pass on. You can request a building with an elevator, but it's not guaranteed you'll get your request. I didn't on our last visit when I requested a room close to the lobby & transportation and told them it was because I'm disabled and can't do a lot of working. I'd paid for a preferred room, but still got a room as far from the lobby & transportation as I could be and still be in a preferred room. I'd like to stay here, but just can't gamble on being placed in a bldg without an elevator.
Tuesday 5th of December 2017
Definitely should update your info on Port Orleans. Dumping it in with Riverside does not do it justice. It is a wonderfully quaint resort that is a wonderful option for those who do not want to stay at an oversized spread out resort. And there is dining. Great food actually. You would never have to walk over to Riverside for dining unless you wanted table service. Otherwise the quick service dining at Port Orleans is superb!
Saturday 26th of August 2017
We loved French Quarter! Great food, bars, and live entertainment. So unbelievably quiet - even in peak season! And tranportion stop is very close to most park entrances/exits! (Not MK). Tranportation wasn't busy during our stay - always first bus ... sometimes alone!
Littler mermaid rooms - stroller required from bus to room with kiddos! LONG walk to bus transportation when leaving parks for this resort as well. Had to buy a stroller .... the in park rental didn't cut it with the long walks. Also ... be prepared to wait for several busses to load and leave before you get on one.
Monorail perk - your bags are screened when you board the monorail. You get to skip that line at Magic Kingdom and go right in!
Wednesday 23rd of August 2017
Great review of all resorts! Having stayed at most of them I agree with almost everything. I would add that Old Key West studios are the only ones on property that have 2 queen size beds vs. a queen and sleeper sofa at the others.
Sunday 20th of August 2017
Port Orleans - French Quarter does have dining. You don't need to walk to Riverside unless you want. The dining at FQ is quick-service, but only Riverside & Coronado Springs have table service restaurants.
It might also be important to note that the Little Mermaid rooms at the Art of Animation resort are value-priced, but the suites are high-end moderate to low-end deluxe rates (starting in the $360 range (can be more depending on time of year). The Little Mermaid rooms are VERY far from the bus, pool, and dining area.