Choosing Your Disney World Resort
Table of Contents
As Walt Disney World winds down its 50th Anniversary Celebration (with the official end happening on March 31, 3023), one of the most amazing parts of the whole celebration has been looking back at the last 50 years of Disney in Florida and seeing just how much Disney has grown and evolved.
Rides and attractions have been added and updated to reflect the changing times, while certain classics have been kept and refurbished to preserve some of the original Magic of the Parks. And not only that, but entire Parks have been added, as well as dozens of Resorts, and tons of dining and shopping throughout the property, and especially in Disney Springs.
With so many options now available, it can be overwhelming trying to make choices about where to stay, dine, and which Parks to prioritize. One of the most important choices you’ll make about your Disney World Vacation is where you will stay. Whether your priority is being close to the parks, having the best pool, keeping to your budget, or the overall feel you’re looking for when you come “home” from the Parks every night, choosing the best Resort for your family will affect your whole vacation.
Of course, this is where your favorite Travel Team at Love of the Magic Vacations comes in!
As someone who has built her life’s work with Disney as the foundation, and expanded her expertise across the globe, you can bet Jamie knows the ins and outs of every single Resort throughout Walt Disney World. This blog will feature Jamie’s Favorite Resorts at each level (Deluxe, Moderate and Value), as well as input from other members of the Love of the Magic Team, plus how to ultimately make up your mind (because all the options are so incredible!).
Jamie’s Favorite Resorts
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
The Polynesian is such a unique Resort for so many reasons. Did you know the Polynesian is one of the two resorts that were the very FIRST resorts to open at Walt Disney World (the other Resort that opened with it was The Contemporary) in 1971? So when you stay at The Polynesian (or The Contemporary), you’re actually staying in a part of History! Another aspect of The Polynesian that makes it so special is the whole vibe and feeling you get when you’re there because of its impeccably well done theming; The Polynesian is made to bring the Spirit of Aloha to Florida, with its Polynesian and Hawaiian-inspired design.
In addition, the South-Pacific atmosphere is enhanced by the excellent dining options available throughout the Resort. The restaurant ‘Ohana offers a well-known and loved Character Breakfast featuring Lilo, Stitch and Friends, and then provides traditional Polynesian fare for dinner. The two Trader Sam’s locations, Grog Grotto and Tiki Terrace, are both very popular lounge areas that serve some of the most creative and themed drinks on property, along with some food options as well. And of course, The Polynesian wouldn’t be complete without its own place to get the famed Dole Whip, which you can find at the Pineapple Lanai. These dining options are just a taste (literally) of what you’ll find at The Polynesian Village Resort.
Yet another reason “Poly” is so popular (and such a coveted reservation to get), is because of its close proximity to the Parks. Guests staying at the Resort can see Cinderella Castle across the Lagoon, and get to enjoy Disney’s Electric Water Pageant as it glides along the water each night. And because Poly was one of the original Resorts, it has an enviable place on the Monorail, making transportation to the Parks the easiest it could possibly be. Not only that, but The Polynesian is only about a 25 minute walk to Magic Kingdom, and there are also Boats for transportation to Magic Kingdom and the Grand Floridian, too. When the Polynesian is your home-base, getting around couldn’t be easier.
Why Jamie Loves It
With everything described above, it’s not hard to see why The Polynesian tops Jamie’s list of Favorite Resorts at WDW (and if you’ve ever been there, it’s actually a challenge to somehow keep it off your own list of favorites)! Jamie absolutely loves the perfect theming and atmosphere; she loves that it’s super easy and fast to get anywhere from Poly, and especially that it’s on the Monorail; and Jamie really loves the dining options, and stops by frequently for meals out, or even just fun drinks! Plus, the Overwater Bungalows, in Jamie’s esteemed opinion, are the BEST place to stay throughout the entirety of Disney Property, so if you ever have the chance to score a stay at one of those, don’t hesitate to grab it while you can (especially since availability is crazy difficult to come by).
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Disney’s Beach Club Resort is another fabulously themed Resort where you will feel transported as soon as you step through the doors, though this time, instead of feeling like you are in the South Pacific like at Poly, at Beach Club, you will be immersed in the New England-style landscape found on the shores of the Atlantic in locations such as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
One of the most unique features at Beach Club is Stormalong Bay, which is arguably the best pool complex on all of Disney Property. Stormalong Bay offers three acres of water fun, including a life-size shipwreck with water slides, a sand-bottom pool, a lazy river, and leisure pools for a more relaxing aquatic experience.
Again, continuing in the New England-style of the Resort are Beach Club’s fantastic Dining options. Ale & Compass, though located next door at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, offers traditional New England dishes, specializing in seafood, like Lobster and Corn Chowder, since the Northeast is known for its delicious seafood-forward cuisine.
In addition, Beach Club features Beaches & Cream Soda Shop, designed to evoke the nostalgia of Atlantic Boardwalks, and serving burgers galore, though the main attraction here is, obviously, the ice cream and milkshakes! You can even grab a special milkshake to take poolside, and indulge in some of the best dessert and best pool experiences Disney has to offer!
Even with everything already listed about Disney’s Beach Club Resort, perhaps the most attractive feature it has to offer is its proximity to EPCOT, since you can actually walk to an EPCOT entrance from the resort in just minutes. Anyone who loves EPCOT will really appreciate how close Beach Club is, and how easily you can get there, especially if you have a Park Hopper Ticket, too, since you can pretty much go whenever you please throughout your stay. Besides that, the Skyline is also a short walk, and a great transportation option to have nearby, plus Beach Club also has boats, too, as another alternative to buses.
Why Jamie Loves It
Jamie loves Beach Club most for its proximity to EPCOT and the Skyliner, because anything that makes transportation easier and faster (wasting less of your precious Park time) is high on the favorites list. Plus, if you’re looking for a perfect place to relax poolside on your “down days” from the Parks, it’s hard to find anywhere better for a pool day than Beach Club (especially if you have a milkshake to enjoy from Beaches & Cream, too).
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside & French Quarter
Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts, Riverside and French Quarter, are situated next door to each other along the Sassagoula River not far from Disney Springs. Both locations evoke a familiar Southern charm, with Riverside themed in the style of Louisiana’s Grand Mansions, and French Quarter themed after the city of New Orleans, specifically (you guessed it) the French Quarter neighborhood. The grounds and gardens at these Resorts are lush and gorgeous, especially with the river backdrop, which are wonderful to take in during a Horse and Carriage Ride offered at both Resorts, and the wrought iron detail at French Quarter is particularly beautiful. Disney does an infinite number of things unbelievably well, including getting the theming of every single resort at every level spot on, down to the very last detail (and last hidden Mickey, too).
The restaurants and dining offerings at Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter fit in perfectly with the Southern Theme, serving a mix of Southern Comfort classics, and Cajun and Creole inspired dishes that are popular throughout New Orleans. One thing that definitely shouldn’t be missed are the beignets served at the Scat Cat’s Club Cafe at French Quarter; they’re delicious and Mickey-shaped, too!
Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter both offer a boat option to Disney Springs, just down the river, in addition to the tried and true Disney Bus System, which provides transportation to other destinations throughout Disney Property, including the Parks and other Resorts.
Why Jamie Loves It
The excellent decor and theming of the Port Orleans Resorts are what makes Jamie love Riverside and French Quarter as Moderate Resort choices. The overall feeling evoked throughout these Resorts really transports you into not just Southern Charm, but also includes Southern Hospitality as well, since Disney service and hospitality is hard to beat.
Caribbean Beach Resort
Designed around five distinct Caribbean Islands: Barbados, Martinique, Aruba, Trinidad and Jamaica, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort allows guests to experience Island Time in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Theme Park Property. One of the main attractions here is the impressive pool area, designed to look like an old fortress one might come across on one of the real Caribbean Islands (though hopefully minus the Pirate adventures going on in the pool water). Another feature that draws guests to Caribbean Beach is the Skyliner access it provides, allowing guests to easily get to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios via Gondola ride.
At a Caribbean-themed Resort, the dining options of course reflect the theme with the flavors and dishes served, from coconut shrimp to a variety of tacos. Like most Moderate and Deluxe Resorts at Disney, Caribbean Beach has sit-down, quick service and bar/lounge options available.
As mentioned above in the Resort’s Highlights, the Skyliner option for transportation is a major draw for guests still deciding where to stay. It offers easy and fun access to two parks, without having to solely rely on the Disney Bus system for transportation.
Why Jamie Loves It
As you’ve probably gleaned by this point, Jamie is a big fan of Resorts with easy access to the Parks, and the Skyliner provides not just that, but transportation with a view, too! So the Skyliner access, in addition to the fabulous pool, are what gets Caribbean Beach a spot on Jamie’s Favorite List!
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Themed by decade from the 1950s to the 1990s, Disney’s Pop Century Resort celebrates the cultural icons of each decade, such as yo-yos, rollerblades and even popular fashion of the day.
This super fun resort is a great value, especially for families who know they will be spending most of their time at the Parks anyway, but still want the trusted services and hospitality that Disney is known for. Pop Century features a huge pool, one of the largest of all the Disney Resorts, and also offers access to the coveted Skyline for transportation.
One of the reasons Pop Century is great for families who plan to spend most of their time on the go at the Parks is because the dining options available are Quick Service or Pool Bar Service only; there are no full-service restaurants at Value Level Resorts. Therefore, you can get your meals the fast way with Quick Service, without wasting too much time outside of the Parks and Disney Springs. And if you’re worried about the options available, there are a plethora of Quick Service options at the Everything Pop Shopping and Dining, plus some of the best Resort Dining Options on Property are available just a Skyliner Ride away at the Riviera!
Based on the information above, you’ve surely realized by now that Pop Century features one of the best forms of transportation that Disney has to offer: the Skyliner. Although Pop Century is a Value Resort, having such a great transportation option makes a stay at Pop highly valuable indeed. Of course, in addition to the Skyliner, Pop Century has buses for transportation to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs, too.
Why Jamie Loves It
You already know this one! The Skyliner of course! A fabulous transportation option will always win Jamie over! Plus the bold design of the Pop Century Resort is fun to experience and has a unique larger than life appeal.
How To Choose
Ask Your Favorite Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor
If you’re considering a vacation to Disney, the best way to start figuring out which Resort is most suited to your needs and preferences is by consulting with your favorite Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor. Every LOTMV TA has extensive training and knowledge about all things Disney, and we also know just the right questions to ask in order to suggest a few Resort options where you’ll enjoy a fabulous Disney Vacation. Without reaching out to our team, the number of available options can feel overwhelming, plus we know which resorts will meet your specific priorities, and we have all the answers you may not find through your own search. Planning with an LOTMV TA will ensure your Disney Vacation is the absolute best it can be!
Narrow Your Options by Perusing Resort Websites
Once your LOTMV TA has provided you with Resort options that meet your needs and preferences, you can definitely look into each Resort to help make your decision! Looking through pictures and perusing amenities becomes a lot less stressful knowing that all the Resorts provided by your LOTMV TA will be a great fit for you and your family! Sometimes it comes down to which Resort has your preferred transportation, or maybe it comes down to the feeling you get from the overall theme!
While at Disney, Explore Other Resorts for Future Trips
One of the best ways to figure out where to stay (next) is to build in Resort exploration during your time at Disney. And there are a bunch of fabulously fun ways to do this! The easiest way to explore another Resort is to make a dinner reservation at one of the incredible Resort Restaurants, which does two things at once: it gives you an excellent dining experience, and at the same time allows you to feel out the Resort where your reservations are.
You can also decide to do a Bar Hop across the Lounges and Bars at various Resorts; this allows you to check out more than one other Resort all within an evening of activity. In addition, if you happen to be visiting during the Holidays, visiting the famed Gingerbread Houses at the various Resorts is a super festive way to spend some time, especially if you have a down day and the weather is too chilly for sitting poolside.
Favorites from the Love of the Magic Team
While the Resorts listed above represent Jamie’s Favorites, and we all know how valuable Jamie’s opinion and guidance is in planning our vacations, when it comes to Disney, a “bad” option doesn’t really exist. With the amount of Resorts Disney has to offer, and because the whole Love of the Magic Vacations Team is so well versed in everything Disney, I thought it would be fun to share the favorite Resorts of other members of our team, too! That way, if you don’t happen to have a favorite LOTMV Travel Advisor yet, but you know what you’re looking for in a Disney Resort, you can find an Advisor whose opinion is close to yours to work with.
Of course, no matter what our own preferences are, we are all extremely skilled in matching YOU to YOUR perfect Resort, at Disney and beyond, but if you’re looking for a fun way to find a Travel Advisor, reading through the following list could be it!
– Christina M. says, “Port Orleans, Riverside or French Quarter, for the food!” firstname.lastname@example.org
– Gabby C. agrees: “I love Port Orleans French Quarter, especially because the pool is so fun!” email@example.com
– Christine G. loves “The Grand Floridian, because it’s on the Monorail, and for it’s beautiful lobby and gorgeous Victorian Theming!” firstname.lastname@example.org
– Sam O. has two favorites: “I love the Contemporary; being able to walk to Magic Kingdom is such a game changer. I also LOVE Beach Club; it has the best pool on property, and the ability to walk into Epcot and catch Remy at Early Entry is my jam!” email@example.com
– Ilana S. enjoys Disney’s Yacht Club Most: “Yacht Club is beautiful, relaxing and pretty quiet; it has an amazing pool, great food options, and it’s easy to walk to EPCOT or Hollywood Studios, plus it has Skyliner access and boat access; overall, the location is amazing because it’s so easy to get anywhere.” firstname.lastname@example.org
– Lauren T. loves Yacht Club as well, but has more than one Favorite: “Yacht club is hands down our favorite, especially for the pool and access to EPCOT and the Skyliner. And another favorite is Fort Wilderness. We love renting golf carts, horseback riding, boating to Magic Kingdom, campfire/movie nights, and my kids love the bunk beds!” email@example.com
– Amy S. appreciates the Value Resorts: “My family loves Pop Century and Art of Animation. They are Value priced, but the rooms are perfectly adequate, especially for us, since we spend 95% of our time at the parks. Plus both are on the Skyliner route!” firstname.lastname@example.org
– Alysia S. also loves The Art of Animation Resort: “Our family favorite is Art of Animation! It’s a great price for a one-bedroom option. Also, a Murphy bed instead of a pull-out couch is a win. The theming just can’t be beat, especially for the little ones. And of course the Skyliner access!” email@example.com
– Brittany K. has a favorite Resort at every level: “Our Family Favorite at the Deluxe level is Animal Kingdom Lodge because the theming is like nothing else, and Boma is our favorite breakfast buffet on property! For Moderate, we love Port Orleans Riverside for the relaxed atmosphere and the boat to Disney Springs. And for Value, Pop Century is our choice because of the Skyliner access.” firstname.lastname@example.org
– Ashley S. loves Fort Wilderness! “It’s so amazing if you have a camper, and offers Moderate Resort Perks at Value prices, plus the Ferry to Magic Kingdom is so convenient. And, of course, Halloween at Fort Wilderness is the best! Have you ever wanted to bring part of your house with you on vacation? That’s what Fort Wilderness feels like! We love it! I can pack my fridge and bring it all with me, including my Nespresso machine! And, for families with children who have special needs, being able to travel with your own familiar camper that feels like home really helps ease the transition to vacation and an out-of-the-ordinary schedule.” email@example.com
– Megan O.’s favorite Resort is Wilderness Lodge: “I think Wilderness Lodge is a hidden gem for a Deluxe level Resort. It offers a more private feel, and the boat access to Magic Kingdom from Wilderness Lodge is great.” firstname.lastname@example.org
– Lindsay D. is also a fan of Wilderness Lodge: “Wilderness Lodge is definitely my favorite, especially during Christmastime; the tree in the lobby is absolutely majestic.” email@example.com
– Haley P. prefers Wilderness Lodge for the Deluxe level as well: “My top choice for a Deluxe Resort is Wilderness Lodge because it’s quiet but still close to the Magic; for Moderate, I’d choose Port Orleans French Quarter for its theming; and for Value, Pop Century for its Skyliner Transportation.” firstname.lastname@example.org
– Wilderness Lodge is actually my favorite, too! Living in a log cabin has always been a dream of mine, and Wilderness Lodge offers a log cabin feel with Deluxe level amenities. I also love the Polynesian for its theming and dining options! email@example.com
– Jocelyn D. loves Animal Kingdom Lodge: “The atmosphere and the animals on property make Animal Kingdom Lodge so unique compared to other Resorts.” firstname.lastname@example.org
– Rebecca T. has two Resort preferences: “Art of Animation is a great choice for large families with small kiddos. Plus, access to the Skyliner and having only one bus stop to the other resorts makes for easy transportation. For an adults or girls weekend, I’d choose one of the Port Orleans Resorts.” email@example.com
– Amy K.’s top Resort pick is The Riviera: “I love Riviera because of its elegance and Skyliner access. The whole Resort is just dreamy, from the theming to the amazing dining!” firstname.lastname@example.org
– Dana J. loves The Caribbean Beach Resort: “My family’s favorite Moderate Resort is Caribbean Beach. We typically spend our days at the Parks from open to close, so we don’t spend a lot of time at the resorts. Caribbean Beach gives us quick access to two Parks, Hollywood Studios and EPCOT, via the Skyliner without losing time riding buses. When we do decide to stay at the Resort for a day, my kids love the pirate/fort pool themed area, the playground, and the nighttime movies. Plus, the jerk chicken at Caribbean Beach is incredible!” email@example.com
– Ashley Sch. puts Disney’s Coronado Resort at the top of her list: “My family and I love the Coronado. With the new tower, it really feels like a Deluxe Resort at a Moderate price! Plus, their Club Level is the absolute best!” firstname.lastname@example.org
Ready to Plan?
Even with all these options, there are still fabulous Resort choices at Disney that haven’t been mentioned yet. As we all know, Disney sets its standards exceptionally high, and wherever you decide to stay will help create an unforgettable Disney Vacation for you and your family!
All of us at Love of the Magic Vacations would absolutely love and appreciate the opportunity to help you choose the Disney Resort that’s perfect for you, and of course, we’d love to plan your whole Disney Vacation, or any other kind of vacation, with you as well! You can email any of us at our email addresses listed above, or you can email hello@LOTMV.com to get started planning today!