Where Should I Stay At Walt Disney World
For those planning their first trip to Walt Disney World, deciding where to stay can be a pretty daunting process. With 25 resorts on Walt Disney World property and countless hotels in the Orlando area catering to Disney visitors, its hard to know where to begin. Follow our steps and youll be booking your package in no time.
1.Decide whether you want to stay off-site or on-site. Though there are massive bargains to be had when staying offsite, it pays to do the math. Sure you may be saving $40 a night but when you factor in gas to get to and from the parks, paying $20 a day for parking, and the cost of a car rental , how much are you really saving? Staying at a Disney Resort comes with nice perks that eliminate many of these costs along with some fantastic extra benefits including:
- Free parking at the resort and theme parks.
- Disneys Magical Express shuttle to take you between your resort and airport for free.
- Disney Transportation is available at each resort to take you to the theme parks and Disney Springs.
- On-site guests can make dining reservations at 180 days.
- Resort guests may also purchase a Disney Dining Plan allowing you to pre-pay for meals including character dining.
- Fastpasses can be booked for on-site guests 60 days in advance.
- Magical Extras. Disney will often offer a discount card to resort guests offer savings on shopping, Childrens Activity Centers, dining, tours and more.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Checking into Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa feels like stepping into a seaside Victorian resort . This lovely Deluxe resort is just one stop away from Magic Kingdom Park on the monorail, and you can see the nighttime fireworks or the Electrical Water Pageant for a magical end to a day at the theme parks. From the resort, you can walk to the Magic Kingdom, hop on the monorail to Epcot, or grab the buses to the other Disney parks. There are several dining options, including a “Beauty and the Beast”-themed lounge, Enchanted Rose, plus pools, a spa, and more.
Disneys Port Orleans Resort
This resort sits squarely in the Moderate category and, in fact, has yet to reopen at all after the pandemic closure. Its big and spread out, with more than 3,000 rooms combined across the French Quarter and Riverside areas. The French Quarter theme will remind folks of New Orlean, and fans of The Princess and the Frog will enjoy seeing Tiana in some guest rooms.
These resorts originally opened in the early 1990s, and though theyve been updated since, the rooms are still on the smaller side. Port Orleans has pools on both sides of the resort and youll also find horse-drawn carriages along the river. But neither have the sorts of activities that can keep kids occupied when youre not in the parks. The restaurants here are also focused on quick service.
Some folks love the charm of Port Orleans. But for the price, wed choose a Value resort over this Moderate resort.
Read Also: Disney World Map Of Resorts And Parks
Are You Picky Pool People
If you are traveling to The World in the midst of summer, or any time apart from about two weeks in January when it can be a little brisk, adding in some pool time is usually a given. Some guests like to choose their accommodation based on the type of pool access available and its suitability to their traveling family.
If you have children that love swimming, water play, and water slides, there are many resorts in the lower price ranges that can make your time magical. On the other hand, if you have much younger children, you may prefer a quieter environment for them to cool down and enjoy the water.
Since many of the resorts offer multiple pools and buildings, consider where your room will be located compared to where you want your pool time to be spent. You may prefer to be further away from the action if the sanity of your afternoon relies on little ones getting a midday nap. Alternatively, you may have older children that you would allow to visit the pool alone but would like to be close by or in eyesight of them.
There are many options available, and while Disney doesnt guarantee which building you want to be in, special requests can be made, and if needed, preferred buildings can be booked.
The Best Part Of Every Magic Kingdom Area Resort Hotel
So when you get ready to book your Disney World vacation, we recommend making a list of your priorities and doing a little reading up on each resort to see which one best suits your wants and needs. And well keep sharing all our great tips and advice to help you make the most of your Disney World vacation!
Whats your favorite Disney World resort, and why? Let us know in the comments.
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The Cabins At Disneys Fort Wilderness Resort
One of Disney Worlds least-known resorts is also one of the most entertaining.
Disneys Fort Wilderness Resort has plenty of campsites and RV spots. If youre not interested in either, the cabins at Fort Wilderness are an excellent choice. Theyre almost too good in that youll want to enjoy all of the onsite activities when you may have already planned to spend all of your time at the theme parks.
The cabins sleep up to six people, with a queen bed, two bunk beds and a relatively comfortable pull-out sofa.
Just trust us on one essential expense when staying at Fort Wilderness: Golf carts. Its about $60 per day, but you should definitely rent one if you stay here and reserve far in advance since theyre known to sell out.
Fort Wilderness is spread across 700 acres, so the golf cart will come in handy and is fun even if you have nowhere to go. Whether youre heading to the Meadows Trading Post for snacks or venturing to the docks to head to Magic Kingdom, a golf cart makes Fort Wilderness an adventure.
Fort Wilderness has a nonstop list of activities you probably didnt know you could do at Disney World, including pony rides, archery, fishing, wagon rides, horse-drawn carriages and evening campfire sing-a-longs. And, when the day winds down, we look forward to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue hopefully returning.
Gran Destino Tower At Disneys Coronado Springs Resort
Disneys Coronado Springs was the definition of Moderate: an older resort with two-story buildings spread over a large property. The rooms are small, though theyve recently been renovated. The main pool has an Aztec them and a little waterslide.
Coronado Springs is one of the few remaining Moderate resorts where the only complimentary transportation to the parks is the bus network and walking isnt an option, given its distance to the parks. Its a resort geared toward the convention crowd, with large restaurants focused on quick service. But, a funny thing changed recently that landed it on this best Disney resort hotels list.
Disney World built a new tower at Coronado Springs called the Gran Destino. This hotel within a hotel has a stunning lobby and an equally snazzy lobby bar. If youre looking for a completely different perspective, let an elevator whisk you up to the 16th floor, where the rooftop Dahlia Lounge awaits along with an award-winning wine list.
Gran Destino also has the distinction of being the only Moderate resort at Disney World with a club lounge option. That amenity is still closed for now, but when it opens, its a great way to make a moderate stay feel deluxe.
The Spanish themes of the resort are evident here, with sumptuous Serrano ham and Spanish cavas. But dont worry, youll find plenty of games and books to entertain the kids while you enjoy the lounge.
Gran Destino Club Lounge
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Best Place To Stay Near Disney For Large Families
For families who need more space than a typical hotel room provides, cabins at Disneys Fort Wilderness Resort may be the thing. These moderately priced cabins have plenty of room to spread out and feature a queen-size bed, bunk beds, and a double sleeper sofa. Cabins can easily sleep six, and also come with a fully equipped kitchen, small dining space, outdoor grill, picnic table, and private patio deck.
There are plenty of activities at Fort Wilderness, too, including horse-drawn carriage rides at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show, and campfire marshmallow roast with Disney characters and a movie each night.
Club Wyndham Bonnet Creek
Families will enjoy a vacation in Orlando, Florida Club Wyndham Bonnet Creek. They designed their amusement parks and tourist attractions to create laughter and lifelong memories. Also, the resort is just a few minutes drive to Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando.
The fantastic resort is a huge multi-building complex with lush landscaping and great outdoor pool areas. Furthermore, it offers friendly staff, spacious condo-style suites, and a fun atmosphere for families. While strolling along the lakefront sidewalk, you and your family can enjoy an immense range of resort amenities and family activities.
Among amenities they provide are Business Center, 24-hour front desk, gift shop, and concierge. Additionally, other resort services are shuttle transportation to Walt Disney World Resort theme parks. This beautiful resort property offers everything a modern family could need for the perfect vacation.
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Extinct Benefits & Drawbacks
FastPass Booking Windows There has been a lot of outrage about the paid Genie+ line-skipping service, which is Walt Disney Worlds paid replacement to free FastPass+. This is particularly understandable among Deluxe Resort guests and Disney Vacation Club members, who now may be wondering what, exactly, theyre getting for the exorbitant amounts of money theyre spending to stay at Walt Disney World.
However, one key thing thats frequently overlooked is the positive impact for off-site guests. Previously, the on-site booking window for FastPass+ meant that anyone not booking ~60 days in advance got shut out of the most popular ride reservations unless they devoted significant time to constantly refreshing in search of cancellations. By the 30 day mark when off-site guests could book, all of the best options were gone that would save considerable time, leaving mostly the consolation prize FastPasses that were often pointless.
Genie+ and Lightning Lanes make it much easier to justify spending less money to stay off-site. There is no on-site advantage in booking Lightning Lane reservations via Genie+ and even the benefit for booking Individual Lightning Lanes is minimal and usually unnecessary. You can thus book off-site and reallocate the savings towards spending $16 per person on Genie+ each dayor on just Magic Kingdom and Disneys Hollywood Studios days, which is really where its most necessary and useful.
Disneys Old Key West Resort
I previously mentioned my DVC affiliation. Well, my home resort is Old Key West, which makes it close to my wife and my hearts.
We own a small piece of Disney at Old Key West. But then again, wed still love it without that emotional connection.
This resort recaptures the Ernest Hemingway era of Key West, Florida, a time when six-toed cats ran through town unabated. Actually, thats still kinda true.
Anyway, the point is that no Disney resort is more Floridian than this one, even the one with Floridian in the name.
At Old Key West, you can hang out by a pool whose waterslide takes the form of a sandcastle. The mouth of the waterslide eerily resembles a Hidden Mickey, though.
Also, theres a lighthouse because Bioshock fans know theres always a lighthouse.
Finally, you can eat delicious fried chicken at Olivias Café, a place so committed to Disney family vacations that pictures from past ones decorate the walls.
I never feel more at home at Disney than when Im at Old Key West.
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Best Of The Disney Hotels For Adults And Grown
Inspired by the Mediterranean beach retreats of the French Riviera, Disneys Riviera Resort embraces a casual elegance and leisure lifestyle. The swanky resort features chic, modern rooms filled with art and décor evoking European masters with subtle Disney touches. Balconies overlook the water, and the signature restaurant, Topolinos Terrace, offers stunning views of Walt Disney World and the nighttime fireworks.
Transportation from this deluxe-level resort to Epcot and Hollywood Studios is provided by Disneys Skyliner gondola system that guests get to by walking through a tunnel with grand mosaics murals of classic Disney scenes.
A Family With Special Needs
I completely understand that when you have special needs in your family, your requirements for accommodation tend to be a little bit different. We contend with autism and ADHD, among other things, which means that a calm environment that isnt too noisy or overwhelming is a must at the end of an overstimulating Disney day.
Ask for the top floor of your accommodation, even if it is less convenient to get to. This means that there will be no one staying above you which will save you from those noisy footsteps back and forth in the middle of the night when other guests get home from the fireworks.
Choose a resort with a calmer aesthetic. There are several moderate resorts that can give you a break from the endless theming of 100% Disney, 100% of the time. Check out the Swan and Dolphin resorts, which are close to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, have great transport options and also tend to be a little quieter
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Make Use Of Your Hotel Kitchen Suites
Guests with cars can also save money on food by staying off-property at inexpensive suites with kitchen facilities, or by renting a vacation home Also, some non-Disney hotels and resorts offer free meals for kids when kids dine with a paying adult. Certain Disney lodgings have kitchens, i.e. the Vacation Club Resorts but these are not a low-budget choice.
Wherever you stay, and even if you cook your own meals every night, try to budget for a splurge at one or two of the restaurants in the Disney World theme parks. Character Meals with all-you-can-eat buffets, for instance, are both filling and fun.
More Perks Of Staying At A Disney World Resort
Besides the free Magical Express airport shuttle and the free Disney bus system, Disney World gives several other nice services to resort guests.
- Guests at Disney World resorts are entitled to Extra Magic Hours: every day, guests can beat the crowds at one theme park by entering an hour early, or staying for later evening hours. The excellent water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, offer morning Extra Magic Hours too.
- If the theme parks are overcrowded, Disney resort guests have never turned away.
- Purchases made in the theme parks can be delivered to a guest’s resort.
- Disney resort guests can buy the Dining Option that can be added to the Magic Your Way base tickets for admission to the theme parks. The Dining Option is generally considered a good deal.
Another good feature for families is that the main pools at the Disney Resorts are lifeguarded.
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Four Seasons Resort Orlando At Walt Disney World Resort
Tucked away in a picturesque residential setting, yet just a short drive from the Disney World theme parks, the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort offers five-star luxury with upscale accommodations, an outstanding food and beverage program, and incredible amenities. The AAA Five Diamond resort has a beautifully landscaped family pool complex with waterslides and a lazy river, plus an adults-only pool oasis . From the calming spa to the Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando to the rooftop Capa steakhouse and lounge, adults will love the luxe amenities. Plus, the Kids for All Seasons program offers supervised children’s activities, so parents can enjoy some much-needed alone time. And there’s plenty on property for Disney fans, too, including a character breakfast, rooms with views of the theme parks and nightly fireworks, and perks like early entry to the Disney parks.
Best Moderate Disney World Resorts
Moderate resorts at Disney World represent something of a challenge when it comes to vacation planning. Accommodations at some of these properties are certainly better than the Value resorts , but they tend not to have immersive themes like those priced both above and below this tier.
But, as always, there are standouts in every category. Prices at Disney Moderate resorts often cost between $200 and $400 per night.
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Disneys Coronado Springs Resort
Since its recent refurbishment and the addition of the Gran Destino Tower, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort has become one of the top choices in the Moderate resort category. Located near Disney’s Animal Kingdom, this Spanish-, Mexican-, and American Southwest-inspired hotel has one of the best pools on property, with a 50-foot Mayan pyramid centerpiece and a 123-foot waterslide . Rooftop Toledo Tapas, Steak, & Seafood and Dahlia Lounge offer upscale Spanish flavors with a great view. We recommend staying in the Gran Destino Tower for easy access to the restaurants and resort transportation with nearly 2,000 rooms spread out in many buildings across the resort, some are a bit of a walk from the main tower.