Choosing a Disney World Resort hotel can seem like a huge task! But really, it comes down to a few things; price, location, and amenities (or how fancy do you want it to be.) Once you take a look at those items, it becomes much clearer and much easier to choose.
Disney World has three levels (really 4...I'll explain) of hotels on property. That can seem like a lot. I'm not even counting the campground (which I love!) What's the difference between them? And why do they have so many? Well, you came to the right place, cause that's what we are going to discuss here!
Disney World Is A Big Place!
Disney World is a big place! That is one of the reasons there are so many Disney World Resort hotels on the property! A lot of people visit because there is a lot to do! It is actually the number one vacation destination in the world! Think about that for a minute. That is a huge thing!
With all of those people staying on property, there need to be a lot of hotel rooms! And there are! The Disney World Resort has over 30,000 rooms on the property! Think about that! There are cities that don't have that many, NOT EVEN CLOSE!
That also means that all those different people want something different, and have a different budget. That is where all the different properties and levels come in.
There is something for everyone on Disney property. So choosing a Disney World Resort hotel can be a big decision, with lots of choices. Let's take a look at the different levels to start with.
First: Disney Value Resort Hotels
Is wasn't too long ago that Disney was too expensive for most people to stay on property. And the hotels along Interstate 9 were more than happy to pick up the slack. You could get a room for a lot less off property than on the Disney property. There just wasn't an inexpensive option to choose at Disney World.
Disney finally got the message and started building value resorts. These are hotels that are around $100 a night. Sometimes you can get them for less, sometimes more. But the point is that you no longer have to stay off the property to get a nice hotel for a good price. Disney has you covered. You could now choose a Disney World Resort hotel to stay on the property, on a budget!
They are motels. The doors to the rooms are to the outside, not in a corridor. That really isn't a problem, just something to know. They also don't provide a nice place to eat. Instead, you have a food court, and that's about it. You might have a bar by the pool, but not much else. The store is also not themed as nicely as other places.
You will also notice that the rooms are not as big as some of the moderate or deluxe resorts. That is also not a big deal, just a few square feet different. And I'll be honest here, I don't think that really matters. You are not coming to Walt Disney World to stay in your hotel room! Even if you are on your honeymoon, you are probably going to leave the room occasionally. (And let's be real, if you are on your honeymoon, are you concerned about room size? Is there a bed? That's what I thought!)
The main pool is themed, but it may not be as elaborate as say a deluxe resort pool is. It's still a great pool and a lot of fun, just maybe not as fancy. I don't really think most people care. It's a cool pool, and you can have fun in it and cool off.
So what's next? Well the moderate resorts of course!
Next: Disney Moderate Resort Hotels
This is where things get interesting. Choosing a moderate Disney World Resort hotel is more expensive, but they have much more to offer. They are much more detailed than the economy resorts. You still may not have a door in a corridor, but they feel special! I'm thinking specifically of Alligator Bayou at Port Orleans Riverside. It is my favorite place to stay. You really feel like you are staying in the bayou of Louisiana. So cool!
The moderate resorts have more eating options that the economy resorts. You probably still have a food court option, but the place you sit to eat is much nicer. Much more themed to the resort with a lot more detail. The food choices are also much better. Not just typical food court stuff. You also have a lounge to go to if you like. And maybe even a sit down restaurant. It may not be high end, but it is definitely nice.
The overall detail of the resort is much better at a moderate resort. You really feel like you are in the Caribbean at Caribbean Beach Resort. You really feel you are in New Orleans at Port Orleans French Quarter! You can even get beignets there! (Oh, can you get beignets!)
The rooms are also bigger at the moderate resorts. Not a huge amount, but bigger. You also get two queen size beds instead of 2 double beds. To me, that makes a huge difference. We sleep on a queen size bed at home, and when we try and sleep in a double bed, we kick each other...a lot! So when choosing a Disney World Resort hotel, that is a big deal to us. The bathroom is also bigger and nicer in a moderate resort.
And have we talked about pools here? The moderate resorts have some really nicely themed pools. They usually have a great slide, and the area is really themed nicely with a lot of details. There are usually other activities going on at moderate resorts. Either carriage rides, or bicycle rentals. They just have a lot more going on.
Now that being said, if you are staying at a value resort, you can go to a moderate resort to eat or ride a bike or do a carriage ride. It's just really nice to have that at your resort.
That only leaves us with one more level of resort.
Finally: The Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels
The Disney Deluxe resorts are the top of the heap. You will never be disappointed by choosing a Disney World Resort hotel at this level (if you can afford it!)They are themed in the most unbelievable ways. When you walk into the Wilderness Lodge, you would swear you were walking into a national park lodge. AND THERE IS A CREEK IN IT! These resorts transport you to another place or another time, or both. The Grande Floridian is breathtaking! The Polynesian Village Resort makes you feel you in the south Pacific. The Animal Kingdom Lodge transports you to Africa! You get the drift
In the deluxe level resort the food options are numerous. You don't have just one or two places to eat, you may have five places to choose from. You could do a quick service, or have a signature dining experience. There are usually several places to get a drink. We are talking high end here.
I would love to say that the rooms were a lot bigger, but I can't. This is probably my one complaint (except for you Polynesian Village. You still impress). The rooms are not as big as I think they should be. Granted they are gorgeous, but just not as large as one would guess. I just don't want you to be disappointed.
But one thing you are paying for is LOCATION! Isn't that what is important in real estate. You are close to the parks! You are either on the Monorail for the Magic Kingdom (or to Epcot). You can walk to Epcot or Hollywood Studios. You can take a boat ride to those places. Or you are right next to the Animal Kingdom with a bus that comes about every 10 minutes. So location is one of the draws of these resorts.
And can we talk about pools! They are themed to the max! And the Yacht And Beach Club pool IS THE BEST!! It is the most amazing pool I have even been in. It's called Storm Along Bay, and is a water park. AMAZING!
I will tell you that The Wilderness Lodge, The Beach Club, and The Polynesian Village are my favorite places to stay! They are beautiful and transport me away from the real world.
So How Do I Choose?
So getting back to the initial question: How do I choose a Disney World Resort?
Choosing a Disney World Resort hotel can be tough. You have to decide what is most important to you. Is Budget your most important factor? Then you will not be disappointed with a value resort. If you can stretch into a moderate resort, great, but you will still have a wonderful time at a value resort! Is location the most important thing, and the budget is not an issue? Then the deluxe resorts are for you.
How much time do you plan to stay at the resort? If you are just using it to sleep, you can't go wrong with a value resort. If you plan to spend some time at the resort, then you may want to try and stay at a moderate or deluxe resort. Are you going to want pool time at an amazing pool? Or is an awesome pool OK?
You see what I'm doing here? It is all about what is important to you and your family. This is also where a Disney Vacation Planner can really help you out. You can tell them your budget and what you would like, and then let them do their magic. You should never pay rack rate for a hotel at Disney World! There is always a discount to be had, and these planners know them inside and out, and how to get them for you. You will be amazed at what they can do for you!
You will notice that I have not mentioned the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) at all. That is a totally different animal. You can definitely stay at a DVC resort. They are timeshare condos, so they are different than a hotel room. I'm cover DVC in the article What Is The Disney Vacation Club.
You can't make a bad decision here. Anywhere you stay is going to be fun. And hey, YOU'RE IN WALT DISNEY WORLD! How bad can that be!
Let me know your thoughts? Do you have any questions? Leave a comment below!
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