Why Stay at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel?
Big Castle Travel recommends staying “on property” at Walt Disney World more often than not. The benefits to staying at a Disney Resort hotel are incredible! For an overview of why we always try to stay on property, check out our page here.
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Walt Disney World Value Resorts
The three All-Star Resorts are the lowest-cost value resorts on Walt Disney World property. They are all fairly similar, with the biggest difference being the larger than life theming.
All-Star Movies hosts giant statues of some of Disney’s animated classics, including Toy Story, 101 Dalmatians, and Fantasia. Their World Premiere Food Court generally has the best food of the three All-Star Resorts.
Music fans will naturally find the All-Star Music Resort an inviting yet budget friendly option. The Calypso, Jazz, Rock, Country, and Broadway sections share two pools and the Melody Hall lobby area.
The Family Suites at this resort offer guest rooms for larger families. Several Standard rooms also can be joined by an interior door.
The best thing about the All-Star Sports Resort is that it is the first bus stop out of the three All-Star locations. Sports fans will get a kick out of the football, baseball, tennis, basketball, and surfing themed buildings.
Keep in mind that the All-Star Resorts tend to host large groups and events, like cheerleading competitions. These resorts are best if you simply need a place to lay your head at night after a long day at the parks.
Pop Century is Big Castle Travel’s pick for the best value resort. It is one part pop culture history and one part Disney history. The recent room upgrades across the resort also make it well worth the money.
This resort will walk you through the decades from the 50’s to the 90’s. You can quite literally walk through each year along Memory Lane next to Hourglass Lake. Along with Art of Animation, this is one of two value resorts on the Disney Skyliner system.
Directly across Hourglass Lake from Pop Century sits Art of Animation. This resort is predominantly family suites, but was originally started as the second half of Pop. The incredible theming ranges from Cars, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and Finding Nemo.
The recently refurbished Animation Hall offers lobby services, houses the delicious Landscape of Flavors dining hall, and hosts actual animation classes regularly. Art of Animation Resort shares a Skyliner station with Pop Century.
Do you like traveling in an RV? Is tent camping the ultimate way to experience everything Disney World has to offer? If so, the 788 campsites and RV pads at Fort Wilderness will be the perfect place to rest your head.
For an even more outdoors experience, don’t miss the Campfire Sing-Along with Chip & Dale, canoe and kayak rentals, and the Tri-Circle-D Stables. Many of the campsites are even pet friendly!
Walt Disney World Moderate Resorts
Disney is finally reaching the end of some major refurbishments all across the Caribbean Beach Resort. As the oldest Moderate resort, the changes came at a great time. Due to the size of the resort and the massive bus system, the Disney Skyliner station here will be a welcome addition.
The resort theming follows popular Caribbean destinations, including Jamaica, Aruba, Barbados, Martinique, and Trinidad. The interior architecture in the Old Port Royale and Centertown marketplace areas is something to see.
An all new tower, an all new logo, and three new dining locations are some of the recent upgrade to the Coronado Springs Resort. The 15-story Gran Destino Tower adds 500 more business-class rooms to an already large resort.
Three Bridges Bar & Grill not only adds adult-focused food items, but also provides a new way to cross Lago Dorado. The Ranchos, Casitas, and Cabanas buildings surround the lake and the Dig Site feature pool.
On the smaller side compared to other Walt Disney World Resort, the Port Orleans French Quarter Resort is quaint and accessible. It’s size means it’s in the sweet spot to have a dedicated bus line. You can also take a quick boat ride directly to Disney Springs.
Check out Scat Cat lounge for a unique New Orleans experience. Kids and adults alike enjoy Doubloon Lagoon and the Scales the Sea Serpent water slide.
Fans of the Disney move “The Princess & the Frog” will love Port Orleans Riverside. You can use the same boat services to Disney Springs as you can in the French Quarter, but your bus waits might be a little longer due to the four separate stops.
The Royal Guest Rooms immerse visitors into prince and princess themed art. Whether you choose the Alligator Bayou or the Magnolia Bend area, you are guaranteed to be transported to the luxuries of the Creole south.
The Fort Wilderness Cabins are in the same area as the Campsites, but are mentioned separately since the Cabins are definitely a nicer type of accommodation. The 407 cabins are all air-conditioned and can sleep 6 adults and 1 baby, in a crib.
Despite being a campground, the cabins receive daily maid service. Each cabin also includes a stove, microwave, and dishes and utensils. The Fort Wilderness Cabins can be the perfect option for families who aren’t eating in the parks for all meals.
Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts
The BoardWalk Inn is a great throwback to American boardwalk shopping districts. Adults and kids alike will find fun, from the ice cream Ample Hills Creamery to the dueling pianos at Jellyrolls.
A major perk for the BoardWalk Inn is the ability to walk from the resort to Epcot in about 5 minutes, and to Hollywood Studios in about 10 minutes. You can also take a ferry boat to either park. You might want to check out pictures of the pool if your kids are afraid of clowns though!
The Beach Club Resort is Big Castle Travel’s favorite Deluxe resort at Disney World. The combination of walking distance to Epcot and the incredible sandy bottom pool at Stormalong Bay is enough to keep us coming back. Cape May Cafe is also one of the few places outside of the parks to meet most of the Fab 5!
While Beach Club is the sister resort to the Yacht Club Resort next door, the feel and ambiance are entirely different. If you are looking for a relaxed beach vibe with upscale service, you have found the right place.
As the name suggests, the Yacht Club swings more toward classic New England boating themes. Lots of deep wood tones, ropes, and polished gold accents. This area’s convention center is located in the Yacht Club Resort and the ambiance is tied to the upscale business mindset.
That isn’t to say families shouldn’t consider staying here, as this is really just one half of the whole that is the Yacht & Beach Club Resort area. It is hard to argue with any room that gives you MagicBand access to Stormalong Bay!
When Disney sets out to provide a unique and accurate cultural experience, they rarely miss the mark. Animal Kingdom Lodge is an impeccable representation of prominent African cultures. Also, who wouldn’t love the ability to walk out of your room and be greeted by giraffes, zebras, and other wildlife!
With the wildlife close by, it is easy to spend a resort day enjoying Jambo House’s Uzima Pool area. From the Zebra Domes at Boma to the bread service at Sana’a, the food at Animal Kingdom Lodge is always on our must-eat list.
Have you ever visited a train station and thought, “This would be an awesome place to sleep!” Well you are in luck, because that is a short summary on Walt Disney’s love for trains. Welcome to the mid-century modern Contemporary Resort, where the monorail goes directly by your room!
You don’t have to worry about noise though, as Disney’s Imagineers definitely had that figured out. Whether you love monorails, enjoy amazing dining experiences like California Grill, or simply want to walk to Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary has something for you.
If you had to pick a polar opposite of the mid-century modern craze, you would probably pick the equally interesting mid-century tiki phase. The Polynesian Village Resort is the epitome of the tiki lifestyle, while also hosting a solid amount of cultural ties to the Pacific Island areas.
The Polynesian Village Resort is on the monorail line connected to the Magic Kingdom, but you have to step outside to catch the train. The food and drink options here are some of the best with ‘Ohana, Kona Cafe, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, and Spirit of Aloha. Kids will love the redesigned Lava Pool with its enormous 142-foot long waterslide.
Nostalgia and reverence for America’s national park system are on full display at the Wilderness Lodge. This is the lowest cost resort in the Magic Kingdom area and is not on the monorail line. However, this is still a Deluxe resort and there is no shortage of value for your dollar.
Dining experiences at Artist Point and Whispering Canyon Cafe is fantastic. Don’t be surprised if you see a geyser spouting off while you are out enjoying the nature-rich grounds.
The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is the top tier of Disney elegance and grace. Modeled after turn-of-the-century Florida beachside resorts, this is considered the pinnacle of luxury for most Disney vacations.
Victoria & Albert’s is the only AAA Five Diamond restaurant on property. It is located next to Citricos, another delicious restaurant at the Grand Floridian. Even if you aren’t staying here you should jump on the monorail and check out this incredible resort.
Technically the Swan and Dolphin are two different resorts. Technically they aren’t Disney properties, but are instead owned by Starwood. But since they are walking distance from Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and on the boat line for each, we won’t let technicalities get in our way!
The Dolphin is a Sheraton brand, and the Swan is a Westin hotel. If that means something to you, then you have probably made your decision on where to stay already. If not, then come to the Swan and Dolphin for a less expensive stay within the same class as Disney’s Deluxe hotels and with all of the same amenities.
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
The new Star Wars-themed deluxe hotel is currently under construction near Hollywood Studios. With an unofficial target date of 2021, this hotel will be an immersive experience to accompany the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge park.
Visitors to the Galactic Starcruiser will board a starship for transportation to their room and directly to Galaxy’s Edge. The hotel seeks to be fully immersive, to the point that all windows will actually be video screens displaying views of space. Stay tuned to this page for updates and blog roundups for this immersive experience.
Walt Disney World DVC & Deluxe Villas
Opening on December 16, 2019, the newest Disney Vacation Club Resort is already accepting reservations! The Riviera Resort is inspired by Walt’s travels around the Mediterranean coastline.
We expect to see a significant level of grandeur through European art and styling. The rooftop restaurant, Topolino’s Terrace, is the planned location for a new character dining experience. The Riviera Resort will also have a station on the new Skyliner system!
Modeled after the city of Saratoga Springs, New York, from the late 1800s, this DVC property is exclusively studio and condo-style accommodations. The Treehouse Villas area offers even larger units with full kitchens that can sleep up to 9 guests.
Located next to the Disney Springs shopping district, Saratoga Springs is a great spot for large families and those taking longer vacations. Due to the size of the resort, the bus transportation to parks can take extra time. Being one of the older resorts on Disney property means that you can sometimes snag a room at a big discount!
The Beach Club Villas are physically separated from the main Beach Club Resort. You can find them in the turquoise building across from the Beach Club Marketplace.
Similar to the BoardWalk Inn, our favorite amenity here is the 5 minute walk to Epcot. The Beach Club Villas are a great choice for larger families and longer stays.
If you want to walk to Magic Kingdom, the shortest distance is from your room at Bay Lake Tower! This DVC area is the large tower next to the Contemporary Resort and is connected by a skybridge.
Rooms with fireworks views at Bay Lake Tower are well worth the premium price. If you don’t have a fireworks view room, then the Top of the World Lounge is a perfect option for viewing the Happily Ever After show.
Kidani Village is home to villa rooms only and is separated from Jambo House, the main building at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Kidani Village also houses Sana’a, one of the unique and delicious restaurants in this immersive resort.
You will enjoy the same great views of animals on the savannah here as you will at Jambo House. The pool is also much quieter on this side of the resort.
DVC owners and regular guests have two distinct options at the Polynesian Village. The first are standard villa rooms, which were recently added to the property and provide upgrades over the standard studio room.
The second option is the most unique: stand-alone bungalows situated over the beautiful water of Seven Seas Lagoon. While the bungalows are large and luxurious, it is difficult to justify the steep cost.
Old Key West Resort is the enormous original DVC property nestled between Epcot and Disney Springs. The advantage of being one of the older resorts is that the rooms tend to be 20% larger than modern accommodations.
The size of the resort does mean that bus transportation can be inefficient and time consuming. The dining options also reflect the age of the resort, and you will be better served taking the boat to Disney Springs for dinner.
Boulder Ridge is the original DVC portion of Wilderness Lodge. The rooms here are being gradually refurbished, but in general are cheaper than similar rooms at Copper Creek.
We will repeat our recommendation for staying in any of the Wilderness Lodge accommodations around the holidays because it just feels so right at this resort.
Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge, continues Disney’s tradition of enjoying the natural environment. This resort is being built in the location of Disney’s old River Country park, and will also encroach on the Tri-Circle-D Ranch.
Opening in 2022, stay tuned here for what promises to be another elegant DVC property!