Thinking about staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, but not sure which is right for you? In our Disney hotel reviews, we share the strengths and weaknesses of each hotel, give our opinion as to whether they are worth the money, and offer an idea of what type of guests (families, honeymooners, commando tourists, etc.) will like or dislike each hotel.
Each full Walt Disney World hotel review contains photos from the hotels, including room photos and photos of main areas of the hotel, to give you an idea of whether the decor of the rooms and the theme of the hotel will appeal to you. In addition to this, the reviews offer Walt Disney World resort hotel tips, information about amenities, and dining recommendations at the hotels.
We have stayed at every on-site hotel at Walt Disney World, so unlike many hotel review sites that crowd-source or aggregate information from other sources leading to inconsistent ratings or uninformed “opinions”, our reviews are all first-hand accounts of our personal stays at each of the hotels at Walt Disney World. You may totally disagree with our opinions, but at least you’re getting the actual opinions of the same two people who have stayed at each of the hotels.
We are missing full reviews for a couple of Walt Disney World hotels because we either forgot to take room photos of the hotel or last stayed at the hotel before we started taking room photos (hey, how many of you take hotel room photos?!). Additionally, Disney has been aggressively refreshing its hotel rooms in the last year or so, and we haven’t yet had a chance to stay in every new room and update the photos. Our goal is to have this completed by early 2015.
Off-site and third party hotels at Walt Disney World like the Swan & Dolphin, Waldorf Astoria Orlando, Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels, and other similar hotels are next on our list of places to start staying at and reviewing, so check back regularly and stay tuned for those reviews.
Below we have blurbs with quick-hit pros and cons of each Walt Disney World hotel if you just want basic information. If you want to know more about each hotel and see Walt Disney World hotel photos, click the name of the hotel to go to its full review!
Disney’s Beach Club Resort Review (Deluxe & Deluxe Villa Resort) – The lighthearted sister resort to Yacht Club, Beach Club has a lot going for it. The theme is lighthearted, fun, and well-executed. The Storm-Along Bay pool is by far the best at Walt Disney World. (It has its own lazy river!) It’s a short walk from Epcot, and a walk or boat ride to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. On-site dining is excellent, with the exception of mediocre counter service. Weaknesses are price and shared bus transportation to the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. We also think the rooms are superior at Yacht Club, but aren’t bad here by any means. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn Review (Deluxe & Deluxe Villa Resort) - BoardWalk is the hotel at which we stay most regularly, and we love it for its walking-distance proximity to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, plus charming turn-of-the-century Atlantic boardwalk theme. Rooms here are attractive and fairly subdued while still being well-themed. In terms of cons, price and the shared bus service are the main ones. BoardWalk also lacks a great full counter service restaurant, although you really can’t complain too much about the excellent BoardWalk Bakery! Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort Review (Deluxe Resort) – Yacht Club is the more ‘sophisticated’ sister hotel of the Beach Club, and is more or less the same aside from a slightly more refined theme. Like Beach Club, the pool, convenience to Epcot & Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and dining options are major strengths. We’d also give the slight nod to Yacht Club in terms of room design. Weaknesses are nightly price, shared bus service, and on-site counter service. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort Review (Deluxe Resort) - The Contemporary approaches theming from a minimalist perspective, so it’s a good option for those wanting a respite from the Disney feel of the parks. Thanks to its A-frame design and the monorail running through it, it still has a distinct look. The monorail is another pro, as it offers convenient access to the Magic Kingdom (which is also within walking distance) and Epcot. Great dining options are another plus, as is the compact layout. Weaknesses are high nightly rates, generic pool, and a theme that may not appeal to Disney fans or kids. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Review (Deluxe Resort) – The Poly as it’s known by fans, this resort celebrates tiki culture, meaning that it’s more of a 1970s caricature than an authentic portrayal. This is not a knock on the hotel, as it’s a fun environment. Strengths of the Polynesian are its beautiful grounds, great restaurants, and location on the monorail, making it a short ride to the Magic Kingdom. It’s also a short walk to the Ticket & Transportation Center. Weaknesses are that it’s one of the most expensive resorts at Walt Disney World, is dated in some regards, and utilizes shared transportation to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Through March 2015 extensive construction to add Disney Vacation Club and remodel parts of the hotel is occurring, and we highly recommend staying elsewhere at this time. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Review (Deluxe & Deluxe Villa Resort) - One of my favorite (if not my absolute favorite) resorts at Walt Disney World, Wilderness Lodge scores huge points for its accurate, idealized take on a US National Park lodge. Other highlights include its gorgeous grounds, underrated dining options, compact layout, location near the Magic Kingdom, great boat transportation, and lower price point than other Deluxes. It also is second to none at Christmas in terms of ambiance. Some guests may not appreciate the rustic theme, and its bus transportation can be slow. If you like the theme here, Wilderness Lodge is tough to beat. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort Review (Deluxe Villa Resort) - The Disney Vacation Club wing of the Contemporary, this is the closest resort to any theme park at Walt Disney World. It’s less than a 10 minute walk to the Magic Kingdom, and a monorail ride (it connects via a skybridge to the A-frame of the Contemporary) to Epcot. Room design here is superior to the Contemporary with more touches of Disney. Due to its clean, modern design with flourishes of Disney and proximity to the Magic Kingdom, this is Sarah’s favorite resort. Its strengths and weaknesses are the same as the Contemporary. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s Old Key West Resort Review (Deluxe Villa Resort) – Old Key West is the original Disney Vacation Club resort, and that was actually its name when it first opened. A lush environment themed to Key West, Old Key West features the largest rooms of any Disney Vacation Club resort, and all recently received a top to bottom refresh. The theming here is very well done, but whether a resort themed to Florida in Florida is for you (I love it) is another matter. On-site dining and amenities are great. The biggest downside is how spread out Old Key West is, which means a long walk to dining and an inefficient multi-stop bus system. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa Review (Deluxe Villa Resort) – Saratoga Springs is another resort that was constructed as a Disney Vacation Club resort, meaning that it’s built with villas in mind. The theme here is subdued, and the resort overall feels very new and fresh. It’s also within walking distance or ferry distance of Downtown Disney. On the downside, it’s the largest and most spread out resort at Walt Disney World, utilizing multiple bus stops which makes transportation to the parks a chore if you don’t have a rental car. On-site dining is also weak. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Review (Moderate Resort) - The vibrant, tropical feel of this resort seems to be a bit divisive–it even is among the two of us. I find it to have a fun theme with interesting rooms, while Sarah isn’t a big fan. It is the oldest of the Moderates, which is good and bad. Good in the rooms being larger than the norm, bad in it being a bit dated. The pool here is arguably the best of any Moderate. This resort is great for families who want an upgrade from the Values. Dining options here are subpar as compared to other moderates. Just like other moderates, it has multiple bus stops and inefficient transportation. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort Review (Moderate Resort) – Coronado Springs has the room quality of a Deluxe Resort for the price of a Moderate. It also has dining options on par with a Deluxe. This is because it is the primary convention hotel at Walt Disney World, which is both a good and a bad thing. On the plus side, its amenities are on par with what conventioneers who aren’t interested in theme parks would expect. On the downside, many vacationers don’t appreciate the “convention crowd” at their resort. This resort is good for adults traveling without kids and bad for families. Other weaknesses are its spread out nature, and a theme that is overall sort of bland. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground Review (Moderate Resort) - In my early childhood, camping at Fort Wilderness was a yearly tradition. As adults, we have stayed at the Cabins at Fort Wilderness (these are why it’s a Moderate Resort). Fort Wilderness is unlike any other resort at Walt Disney World, and if you didn’t know better, you might have no clue that a theme park was across the lake from it. Great outdoor activities like fishing, boating, archery, campfires, and more. Cabins are great values for money if you have a large party and enjoy the ambiance. Inefficient internal bus system is biggest weakness. Either Fort Wilderness is for you or it isn’t. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside Review (Moderate Resort) - Riverside has the theming of a Deluxe Resort for the price of a Moderate Resort. It has the entertainment offerings of a Deluxe Resort for the price of a Moderate Resort. We consider it the perfect Walt Disney World hotel for honeymooning on a budget because of its romantic atmosphere. The only downsides are its spread out layout, which leads to long (romantic?) walks and multiple bus stops. If you don’t rent Disney Vacation Club points, this is our pick for the “best value” of any hotel at Walt Disney World. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s Art of Animation Suites Review (Value Resort) - Art of Animation is the newest hotel at Walt Disney World, and already one of the most popular. The majority of its rooms are cartoony (you’ll see what we mean when you look at the photos) family suites, which is either a pro or a con depending upon your perspective. Design throughout the resort can be both a pro and con (likely a pro for families and avid Disney movie fans and a con for adults looking for a romantic or relaxed escape). Across the board pros include the food court and transportation. Cons are the spread out layout and price, which is above the rest of the Value tier. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s Pop Century Resort Review (Value Resort) – A good Value Resort choice because it costs less per night than Art of Animation and some rooms are within walking distance of the Art of Animation food court. Pop Century has divisive, oversized icons adorning the property, and many of these will resonate less with kids because some are pop culture references that are over their heads than the icons at the other Value Resorts. Pop Century also has dedicated bus service and a fairly nice food court of its own, plus Disney amenities at a reasonable nightly rate. This makes it a good option for “commando touring” trips where the hotel is only for sleeping and showering. Weaknesses are that it’s basically a Disneyfied motel and is spread out. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s All Star Music Resort Review (Value Resort) – Each of the All Star Resorts has the same basic strengths and weaknesses. Theme is one thing that will be divisive, and the larger than life icons will be considered a pro by some while it’s a con by others. See the photos of the resorts to judge that for yourself. In general, the All Star Resorts are Disneyfied motels, and are fairly spread out. Strengths here are the price and the fact that you can still take advantage of Disney on-site amenities. Of the All Stars, we find Music to be the most relaxed and best laid-out. Weaknesses are transportation, overall quality, and design (for some). Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s All Star Movies Resort Review (Value Resort) – Like All Star Music, the greatest strength of All Star Movies is its price point. It also has a fun theme for kids and movie fans, although many others will find it tacky and over the top. All general strengths and weaknesses are the same here as Music. Of the three All Star Resorts, Movies is our least favorite, as it is the last stop on the bus route (meaning it gets skipped sometimes) and because it’s the most dated. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s All Star Sports Resort Review (Value Resort) - Exactly the same general pros and cons of the other All Stars. Additionally, All Star Sports benefits from having a nicer food court than the others, and being the first stop on the shared bus loop. Its biggest downside is that it is the hotel most frequently used for large youth groups. If you don’t think this is a big deal, you’ve never had a group of cheerleaders practicing their chants at 11 pm outside your room. Click here to read our full review and see room photos.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (Deluxe & Deluxe Villa Resort) - We have stayed in the main building of Animal Kingdom Lodge but not Kidani Village, and have yet to review the hotel. This is one of our favorite resorts at Walt Disney World. Pros of Animal Kingdom Lodge are its encompassing “resort” feel, with a litany of great dining options, plus on-site “entertainment” in terms of animals to view and a high quality art collection. Thematically and culturally authentic, Animal Kingdom Lodge is perfect for guests looking for a resort that, itself, offers something to do. Its biggest con is its remote location; it also has only an average pool area.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (Deluxe & Deluxe Villa Resort) - We have stayed at the Grand Floridian once, and were very underwhelmed by our experience, finding the rooms woefully inadequate (I’ve frequently referred to them as 1990s Country Living Magazine mixed with Victorian). However, we toured the new rooms at the Villas and they are beautiful, and the main buildings are in the process of having a top to bottom overhauls. We will review the hotel once we have a chance to stay in the new rooms. General strengths are excellent on-site dining (best at Walt Disney World), location near the Magic Kingdom on the monorail loop, and a nice ambiance in general around the resort. Weaknesses are that it is the most expensive resort at Walt Disney World, and shared transportation to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Price is the big issue, though. It’s seriously expensive.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter (Moderate Resort) - French Quarter alternates between romanticized version of New Orleans and caricature of it. Its biggest strength is its compact size and single bus stop, which is a stark contrast to other Moderates. The pool is also cool, as are many areas of the resort. Weaknesses are that it shares some amenities with Riverside (French Quarter has no table service restaurant because of this). Due to its small size, it is also rarely discounted, meaning that–as a practical matter–it often costs much more than the other Moderate Resorts.
In addition to our reviews, we have some other resources that compare Walt Disney World hotels or help you save money at them. Here are some helpful reading materials:
Tips for Renting Disney Vacation Club Points – Renting DVC points is a great way to stay at Deluxe Villa resort hotels for about the price of a Moderate Resort. Save a ton of money over booking these resorts directly from Disney.
Off-Site v. On-Site Walt Disney World Hotels - The pros and cons of staying in an on-site Walt Disney World hotel, versus staying at a hotel outside of Walt Disney World. Largely comes down to convenience v. cost, but here are other things to consider!
Best Walt Disney World Resorts for Free Dining - Walt Disney World’s frequent “Free Dining” promotion is not the same for all resort hotels, and it’s not offered at all of them either. This post looks at the best hotels for maximizing the value of the promo.
Value Resorts v. Moderate Resorts – Exactly what it sounds like. An article that helps you determine whether Value Resorts or Moderate Resorts might be right for you, if you’re unsure.
Value Resort Rankings - Post ranking the Value Resorts based on our opinions. Looks at amenities and quality versus cost.
Moderate Resort Rankings - Post ranking the Moderate Resorts based on our opinions. Each Moderate Resort has strengths that could make it #1, so this sorts out those strengths and weaknesses.
Disney Vacation Club Resort Rankings - Post ranking Deluxe Villa Disney Vacation Club resorts. Takes into account cost, size, amenities, and other features to give an idea of best bang for buck and overall quality.
Best Disney Vacation Club Resorts at Christmas - Rankings of the various Disney Vacation Club resorts during the Christmas season. Considers point cost, convenience, and decor.
If you are unsure of which Walt Disney World hotel might be best for you–or need personalized help with planning any aspect of your vacation–we recommend contacting a no fee “Authorized Disney Vacation Planner” (Disney’s term for a travel agent) to get a quote and to help you plan. They get their commission from Disney, so none of the authorized (key word) planners will charge you for booking their trip and helping. Here’s one such recommended Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.
For Walt Disney World trip planning tips and comprehensive advice, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and related articles.
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At which Walt Disney World hotels have you stayed? Do you have a favorite hotel? A least favorite hotel? Please provide some feedback and share your thoughts or questions in the comments! If you’re a first timer with some questions, feel free to post them and we will do our best to answer!