There are plenty of hotels in and around Walt Disney World. There are ‘good neighbor’ hotels and there are villas/condos for rent. But for this section, I will stick with the official Hotels of Walt Disney World.
VALUE RESORTS: These are small, basic hotel rooms but the resorts themselves are very Disney-fied. There is a food court, a lobby, and a Disney store. The resorts are large and so is the decor as they feature larger than life icons throughout the hotel. There is always one main (large) pool and a couple of ‘quiet’ pools. All feature two doubles and sometimes a king. You must special request the king bed. Small refrigerators are now included in the cost of the room. Previously, guests were charged $15 a day.
Art of Animation: this is the newest resort – value or otherwise – and quite popular because of that. The pool features characters from Finding Nemo who talk to you if you’re under water. Pretty cool! The rooms are either Little Mermaid normal rooms (approx 277 sqft) or Lion King, Finding Nemo, or Cars family suites (565 sf) – that have twice as much room, sleeping for six, two bathrooms, and a mini kitchen. The resort was slated to be part of Pop Century originally. The space (largest of the value resorts) was empty for years while the economy went on a downslide. They opened the doors in 2012.
Pop Century: This is my favorite of the value resorts. Basically because it seems to represent my childhood everywhere I look. There’s a huge Big Wheel – and there are giant Rubik’s Cubes. Just an assortment from different decades. In fact, your rooms will be located in buildings featuring details from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s. Approximately 260 sf
All Star Resorts: These used to be listed as All Star Sports, All Star Music, and All Star Movies. Now, they are all lumped together but each feature the decorations of their name. The rooms seem darker and smaller than Pop but it could just be because they are older. All Star Sports was the first of the ‘value’ resorts and is showing its age. Icons are large hockey sticks and such. All Star Music features a pool with Donald Duck and the Three Caballeros. All Star Movies is themed on Disney movies. Rooms are typically 260 sf
MODERATE RESORTS: These rooms are slightly larger than the Values. Plus, they have more pools – and their theme/main pool has a slide. There is a food court, at least one store, and a sit down restaurant. The decor inside is more upscale than the value. All have two queen beds except the Caribbean Beach Resort (two doubles). All rooms have a mini fridge.
Port Orleans Riverside: This is my favorite of the Moderates. PLUS, there is room for a family of five in the Bayou section. The resort is huge with rooms divided between more of a plantation feel and a bayou feel. There are plenty of options for things to do – you can rent boats, take a boat ride to Downtown Disney, fish with a cane pole, and take a carriage ride. The restaurant here has delicious prime rib! There are ‘themed’ Royal Rooms here based on the Princess and the Frog. Room size 314 sf.
Port Orleans French Quarter: Based on New Orleans, this resort is smaller than its sister property (Riverside) but has an excellent pool and slide. Rooms are 314 sf.
Coronado Springs: Two visits here – and two different feelings. With two small children under four, this resort was not what I was looking for. However, move ahead eight years and it was great! The rooms are larger and the upscale feel here is because this is known as a ‘corporate’ resort. They have meeting space – and lots of business meetings. The feel here is not as ‘Disney’ as other resorts but it is just a gorgeous facility. The grounds are wonderful. The pool is set among a pyramid with a slide along side it. Boat rentals are no longer available but there is a ‘lake’. There is no food court but there is a ‘take away’ spot for food – which is quite good. There is a sit down restaurant, a cafeteria, and at least one bar. Rooms are 314 sf. This is the newest of the ‘moderate’ resorts.
Caribbean Beach Resort: This is the oldest of the moderate resorts. As such, it was created with the previous ‘deluxe’ models in mind. This place is huge and delightful to the eye. There are special ‘pirate’ rooms here based on Pirates of the Caribbean. There is a great pool and several quiets. The restaurant is good – and the shopping area goes for the ‘right off the boat’ feel. Rooms are 340 sf
The Cabins at Fort Wilderness: These look like mobile homes made out of logs. I’ve never stayed or to be honest – never seen these in person. They have room for six. There is a place to barbeque outside, too. 504 sf
DELUXE RESORTS: These are the top of the line at Disney. Larger rooms, at least two restaurants, bars, fantastic fun themed pools, and great themes. You cannot do better. Each resort has something special about it. Most Deluxe resorts sleep five (Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom sleep 4).
Polynesian: This is my favorite of the Deluxe properties. I like being on the monorail. The restaurants are excellent (character meals, luaus, O’hana’s, etc.). The pool has a great slide in a volcano. There is a beach where you can watch the Magic Kingdom Fireworks at night — or better yet — watch them from your room! The rooms are large and spacy. 409 sf.
Grand Floridian: This is also a monorail resort and the ‘queen’ of the properties. It is gorgeous. The restaurants are amazing. The grounds and the pool are breathtaking. However, I don’t think I would enjoy staying here just because it seems so stuffy. Rooms are 400 sf.
Contemporary: Before staying at the Polynesian – I would have said this was my favorite hotel. The rooms are great – there’s the Chef Mickey’s restaurant – and it is on the monorail. The pool is great and all three of these monorail hotels have views of the electric light water parade at night. 394 sf.
The Boardwalk Inn: I love all of these Boardwalk hotels because of their location. While not on the monorail, they are quite easy to get to a park because you can walk or take a short boat ride to either Epcot or Hollywood Studios. The decor is amazing and the pool slide is incredible. Love, love, love this hotel and its wonderful location and restaurants. 380 sf rooms.
Animal Kingdom Lodge: This resort – like the Wilderness Lodge – have the smallest of the Deluxe property rooms. We’ve stayed here a few times. I love Boma’s, one of the restaurants located onsite. They have a nice pool but again, I think they could have done better. What you pay for here – why it is considered a ‘deluxe’ – is the view. In a ‘savannah view’ room – you can see zebras, giraffes, and other wild animals. At first, it is very exciting. By the third day, its old hat. You can stand in a l-o-n-g line at night to get to use some night vision goggles to see the same exact animals you’d see in the daytime, only in a green hue. The rooms are one queen and a bunk bed, one king, or two queens. The space is very tight in the room. But the lobby is gorgeous. Even in August, you want to go sit by the fire and just ‘watch’ everything. It is lovely. They put us in one room once (I asked to be moved immediately) that overlooked the parking lot. The ‘balcony’ had room for one chair and the door touched the rail. It was that small! At 344 sf – it is just 4 sf larger than the Caribbean Beach Resort rooms.
Wilderness Lodge: I have not stayed here – but from what I understand – the rooms are similar in design and space as Animal Kingdom Lodge. The smallest of the Deluxe properties with rooms at 340 sf (same as Caribbean Beach Resort). Those that stay here love it though. It supposedly is gorgeous and based on a lodge from the Pacific Northwest.
The Yacht Club: The pool at this resort is well known and loved. Plus, it is at the Boardwalk so the short walk or boat ride to Epcot and Hollywood Studios applies. The restaurants are loved. The rooms are great and the entire hotel is themed great. Sister property to the Beach Club. 380 sf
The Beach Club: Right next door to the Yacht Club, this Deluxe property has everything you could want. Great restaurants, shopping, and a great location. The rooms and pools are amazing as well. 380 sf
DELUXE VILLAS (AKA, Disney Vacation Club properties):
Villas can be found at Animal Kingdom, the Beach Club, the Boardwalk, and Wilderness Lodge. Their descriptions can be found above. Room categories range from studio suites to multiple bedrooms. Also included in this category is the Old Key West Resort and Saratoga Springs Resort. The room categories are similar, the properties are considered deluxe, and the restaurants and pools are in the excellent category.