Larger parties have a tough time finding spacious hotel rooms at Walt Disney World without breaking the bank. Although accommodations exist for 5+ people at many resorts, most are expensive and aimed at luxury travelers. Hence this, which lists best family suites at Walt Disney World, including multi-room options and sleeper picks. (Updated June 25, 2023.)
Family suites are actually a relatively recent addition to Walt Disney World’s hotel inventory, which is somewhat shocking when you consider Disney’s target demographic. Family suites weren’t a “mainstream” room category until 2006, when Walt Disney World research revealed there was unsatisfied demand for family accommodations. With that, Imagineering converted standard rooms at Disney’s All Star Music Resort into family suites.
Following the success of that, Walt Disney World decided to expand the initiative, and finally found a use for the abandoned project, Disney’s Pop Century: The Legendary Years. This was to be the second-phase of the existing Pop Century, but was postponed indefinitely after 9/11 and the resulting drop in tourism. About a decade later, work resumed–converting the building into what’s now a fan-favorite, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.
It’s not as if family suites were a new or novel concept at that point. To be sure, there were rooms for larger parties prior to the experiment at All Star Music and Art of Animation introduced character-themed options. Since the beginning, Walt Disney World resorts have had a selection of suites.
Even more significantly, Disney Vacation Club debuted almost two decades earlier and brought a range of room types, including 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, and Grand Villas. Disney’s “Best Kept Secret” has proliferated like rabbits since, with DVC being about the only thing that Walt Disney World builds quickly.
Call me old-fashioned, but it’s not really practical advice to suggest Walt Disney World first-timers drop thousands of dollars for a stay in a luxury suite or tens of thousands of dollars for a DVC membership. Those are great options for some guests, no doubt, but not even remotely realistic for regular families.
Hence this post. The goal here is to share family suites that are more ‘monetarily accessible’ to average Americans. These suites are still pricier than standard rooms at Walt Disney World (which themselves are expensive!), but there are viable options here for just about every budget. And nothing eye-roll inducing like “spend $5,000 per night for the Princess Diana Suite at the Grand Floridian” or “drop $40,000 for years of DVC magic!” So simple! Why doesn’t everyone just do that?!
Anyway, in addition to staying at every single resort at Walt Disney World numerous times, we’ve also done a variety of accommodations when visiting with family, friends…and sometimes just the two of us. Recently, we’ve been making the rounds at the family suites, revisiting familiar favorites since the rooms have been refreshed and trying new places for the first time.
From those first-hand experiences, we’ve put together this list of Walt Disney World accommodations for larger families. The spans a variety of options, but admittedly leaves out the simplest solution: booking connecting standard hotel rooms. That will frequently come out costing the least, but it’s (obviously) not the same as a family suite. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for what’s easiest and often cheapest, two standard connecting rooms will likely be your best bet.
Anyway, here are our favorite family-friendly accommodations options for larger parties who want a more economical option, more space to spread out without the luxury-level price, or those who want something fun for families…
All Star Music Family Suites – With rack rates starting under $400, these are the cheapest family suites at Walt Disney World. (Or rather, least expensive.) However, they’re also at the All Stars, a trio of resorts that have the reputation of being the least-desirable at Walt Disney World.
That’s at least partially unfair. Certain Walt Disney World fans are quick to dismiss the All Stars as overpriced and sketchy motels. This isn’t even remotely true. The All Star Resorts offer a slate of amenities superior to average motels in a setting that’s also dramatically better. The oversized decor, pools, and landscaping are miles above anything you’d find at most real-world motels. People can quibble over the thematic ‘quality’ of those oversized icons, but even that appeals to some families.
The more legitimate criticism is the location and lack of non-bus transportation. Unlike Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts, there is no Skyliner station at the All Stars. We view the gondola as a game-changer, providing fast and predictable transportation to two parks (EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios). The lack of that means reliance on often inefficient buses to all four parks. If you have a car, this is no big deal. If not, that alone might be enough to cause you to move up to Art of Animation or another alternative with family suites.
Then there are the rooms themselves. The Family Suites at Disney’s All Star Music Resort were recently reimagined, and the difference is night and day. (Seriously, don’t rely on reviews or tours of the old rooms to make a decision.) The old rooms were dingy and dark, and felt like an afterthought–a quick retrofix to test the market, and very clearly a combination of two standard rooms.
In terms of basics, these 520 square foot suites have two full baths, a kitchenette with microwave, a full-sized refrigerator & freezer, sink, and single-cup coffee maker. The main bedroom in the family suite has a queen bed and 55″ flat screen TV above the dresser.
The second room has two pull-down queen beds and another 55″ flat screen TV above the dresser. One of the two bathrooms has a tub-shower combo, whereas the other is strictly a walk-in shower. There’s a lot of convertible space, which is a pro or con depending upon your perspective. We have a ton more photos & thoughts in our comprehensive All Star Music Family Suites Review.
Art of Animation Family Suites – As noted above, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is a Value Resort offering Skyliner gondola service to EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s also a short walk across Hourglass Lake to Pop Century Resort, which effectively expands your slate of amenities and dining options.
Like the All Star Resorts, oversized movie icons are the name of the thematic game at Art of Animation Resort. Unlike those, there’s a sense of immersiveness here, with sections dedicated to Lion King, Finding Nemo, Cars, and Little Mermaid that are each very good. The Cars section, in particular, is a personal favorite, and does a pretty good job of simulating Radiator Springs. (It doesn’t hold a candle to Cars Land at DCA, but they’re fundamentally different.)
There are a handful of ways that Art of Animation feels like a Value+ Resort, with the most notable being the internal hallways in the buildings that house the family suites. The food court, pools, and other recreation are all arguably better at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Given all of that, it can be worth the premium pricing over the All Star Music Family Suites if the price gap isn’t that wide or you’re willing to splurge. (Personally, we think these rooms are “worth” about $40 more per night, but your mileage may vary.)
As for the rooms themselves, the Lion King, Cars, and Finding Nemo family suites at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort are each 565 square feet. Like those at All Star Music, these family suites are approximately the size of two standard rooms combined into a single unit.
Each suite has a master bedroom, living room, two bathrooms, and a kitchenette with mini-fridge, microwave, coffeemaker, and two 55″ flatscreen televisions. Each family suite sleeps up to 6 guests: two in the main bedroom’s queen bed, two in the living room’s convertible full-size sleeper sofa, and the last two in the living-room table that pulls down into a full-size bed.
On paper, these rooms are very similar to the family suites at All Star Music. Personally, I prefer the pull-down beds to the convertible ones, which is a slight edge for All Star Music. However, the layout–offering more separation for each bed–is superior at Art of Animation.
Swan Reserve – The new “Scranton-style” office park addition across from the Swan & Dolphin has almost as many suites as traditional rooms. The hotel itself is quite a bit different than the main resort, with much less in-hotel dining and a slightly longer walk to the parks.
On the plus side, the Swan Reserve is only a couple minutes from the much more interesting and expansive Swan & Dolphin grounds. In fact, it’s a shorter walk to the Grotto Pool from many rooms at the Swan Reserve than from those at the Swan & Dolphin. It’ll take less than 5 minutes to get there from the Swan Reserve, and about 10 minutes or less to get to the restaurants in those buildings.
Turning to the rooms, the family suite equivalent is the Signature Suites that offer “residential-style comfort and boutique décor” according to the Marriott website. The downside–and it’s a big one–is that most of these suites only accommodate 4 guests, so they’re not really for larger parties. They’re for normal parties wanting a larger space.
To that point, the Signature Suites are 610 square feet, versus 330 square feet for the traditional room. These suites are essentially the traditional room plus a living room. Assuming my math is correct, that living area is about 290 square feet. These rooms feature high-quality finishes, furniture, lighting, etc. The huge windows make for a brighter room than you’ll find at Walt Disney World’s Value and Moderate Resorts. The natural light flowing through the windows against the blue and white color scheme really pops.
The headboards, bedside tables, lamps, carpet, and even the dresser drawers also give the rooms plenty of personality. Even the otherwise all-white bedding has a bit of texture to it. Everything about the rooms has heft, texture, and a substantial feeling. There’s a tremendous amount of attention to detail and quality in the rooms at the Swan Reserve.
Pricing for the Signature Suites at the Swan Reserve is all over the place; I’ve seen these rooms both lower and higher than Art of Animation, depending upon the dates. These are going to be a better option for those wanting something more sophisticated and “less Disney” while still being amidst the heart of the action at Walt Disney World. Another distinction is that these rooms only sleep 5 (really only 4 comfortably). Despite their larger size, these are more about spreading out and having space than high occupancy. For more photos & comprehensive thoughts, see our Swan Reserve Resort Review.
Fort Wilderness Cabins – These rustic cabins are interesting from the perspective that they’re technically a Moderate Resort, but with pricing and amenities more akin to a Family Suite or Deluxe Villa. The Cabins at Fort Wilderness might have a rustic theme, but they’re entirely modernized. The kitchen is one highlight and distinguishing factor, as it has a full-sized fridge, dishwasher, convection and microwave oven, plus 2 countertop burners.
The living room features a dining room table, couch, and side chair along with a pull-down murphy bed behind the large television. The bedroom offers bunk beds and a queen bed, with ample storage space under the bed, in a dresser, and closets. There’s one bathroom with a bathtub with a shower.
Fort Wilderness Cabins measure 504 square feet, with most of the size differential between these and the All Star or Art of Animation Family Suites coming down to the cabins only have one bathroom. However, these are also standalone units that also offer a private patio with picnic table and charcoal grill–the Value Resorts don’t even have balconies.
Essentially, the Fort Wilderness Cabins are great options for anyone wanting privacy, outdoor space for dining or activities, or a secluded and serene atmosphere. Fort Wilderness as a whole is fantastic–a great way to decompress after busy days in the parks, and all only a short boat ride from Magic Kingdom.
(Note:Fort Wilderness Cabins will starting being replaced by Disney Vacation Club Cabins at some point in either late 2024 or early 2025. Currently, it’s possible to book the Cabins at Fort Wilderness through December 2024. It’s unclear whether this means the DVC project is delayed, will happen in phases, or guests booking the cabins will be moved. All are possibilities and something to keep in mind if you’re making reservations in late 2024.)
5th Sleeper Style – An increasingly common room category that’s now found at several Walt Disney World resorts is the “5th sleeper” style. These rooms offer accommodations for a party of 5-6 people, depending upon ages. The rooms typically have 2 queen beds that can each sleep 2 guests (of any age or size), plus a pull-down bed for a small adult or child.
There’s no hard and fast rule about who can sleep in the 5th sleeper, but we’ve noted in the past that it’s “suitable for Sarah.” In general, you’d probably want to have a child under 5’6″ and 120 pounds use that bed. Even that is pushing the bounds of comfort for a longer stay. Essentially, these rooms are suitable for up to 4 average American adults, plus one atypical adult or child, and an infant in a crib. At least, on paper–the square footage of the room and only one bathroom might make housing that many people a non-starter.
Unlike the other entries on this list, 5th sleeper rooms do not have a wall separating the living and sleeping area, so they are not suites. However, they’re also not priced like suites. If you can deal with the smaller square footage and lack of a wall, these are going to be an incredibly economical option–cheaper than suites or booking two connecting standard rooms.
Little Mermaid Rooms at Caribbean Beach – This is the newest example of a 5th sleeper room that is actually suitable for a family of 5-6. You’ll note the above asterisk about the other 5th sleeper rooms only being suitable for larger families on paper due to the square footage and usable space.
Third Party “Bubble” Resorts – Already mentioned is the Swan Reserve, which is a third party hotel located within walking distance of EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In addition to that, there are on-site third party hotels offering suites at Bonnet Creek and Disney Springs, as well as the Four Seasons Orlando.
Admittedly, aside from the Four Seasons Orlando (which is hardly a budget option), we haven’t stayed at the aforementioned suites within the last few years. Nevertheless, you can check out our Disney Springs Resort Area Hotel Rankings, which covers the accommodations there–just keep in mind that it’s not totally current.
Flamingo Crossings – For those who are unfamiliar with Flamingo Crossings, it’s an up-and-coming area of Walt Disney World and Central Florida. Flamingo Crossings has a “Pleasantville meets college campus” vibe to it, as it’s home to housing for Disney College Program participants and Cultural Representatives and features a walkable, downtown-like area that’s limited but useful.
For our purposes, the hotels are the pertinent part of Flamingo Crossings:
SpringHill Suites by Marriott at Flamingo Crossings Town Center/Western Entrance
TownePlace Suites by Marriott at Flamingo Crossings Town Center/Western Entrance
Residence Inn by Marriott at Flamingo Crossings Town Center
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott at Flamingo Crossings Town Center
Homewood Suites by Hilton at Flamingo Crossings Town Center
Home2 Suites by Hilton at Flamingo Crossings Town Center
All of these offer suites, which is probably obviously by “suites” being in every single name save for the Residence Inn, which doesn’t need the word since its name implies suites. We haven’t stayed at every hotel in Flamingo Crossings (yet!), but that Residence Inn is my favorite thus far (read our full review here).
This entire area warrants mentioning because these hotels all offer family and budget-friendly accommodations. Prices can vary considerably based on demand, but we’ve frequently found options at or under $150 per night during normal seasons. This puts the hotels about on par with the Disney Springs Resort Area.
The key difference is that many of these are family suites with more space. There are a range of extended stay or family suite style rooms, many of which have fully-equipped kitchens so you can prepare meals. If you’re curious about this area, read more in our Guide to Flamingo Crossings at Walt Disney World.
Treehouse Villas – At the absolute opposite end of the spectrum is the Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs Resort, which sit on stilts above the wetlands in an undisturbed area of Walt Disney World. These date back decades, and have an incredibly interesting history as mixed-use accommodations that were once housing for Disney Institute guests and International College Program participants before being renovated and turned into DVC villas.
The Treehouse Villas are neither cheap nor easy to book, making them relatively impractical as far as suggestions for family-friendly accommodations go. However, I absolutely love these old school Walt Disney World hidden gems, and find them to be perfect for extended family vacations or reunions where the parks take a backseat to bonding.
Disney Vacation Club Rentals – On a similar note, we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least mention DVC point rentals as a viable option. While we dismiss the idea of dropping tens of thousands of dollars to buy into Disney Vacation Club, point rental is a much easier and more economical route. There are a number of sites from which you can rent points, and they offer a cheap way to ‘get your feet wet’ with DVC, so to speak. You can also book Deluxe Villas from Disney directly, although this isn’t as cost-effective.
Savings vary by date, type of accommodations, resort, how far in advance you’re booking, and a range of other variables. In general, you can expect to pay less than half of the price that Walt Disney World charges directly for Deluxe Villas, which still (usually) ends up being more than family suites at Art of Animation or All Star Music. There’s a lot more to know–if you’re potentially interested, we’d highly recommend reading our Money-Saving Guide to Renting Disney Vacation Club Pointsfor everything you need to know.
Have you stayed in any of these family suites or larger accommodations at Walt Disney World? What did you think of the rooms? Looking forward to checking out the Swan Reserve, Art of Animation, All Star Music, or any other options on this list? Do any of these accommodations look appealing to you? Anything not to your tastes, preferences, or needs? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!