Some hotels have theme park view rooms at Walt Disney World. Monorail loop resorts offer some rooms views of Magic Kingdom. In this post, we’ll cover the best options for room categories & requests overlooking Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth at Epcot, and Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
We’ll start with the hotels with theme park view rooms around Magic Kingdom; Grand Floridian, Contemporary, and Polynesian Village Resort all have rooms with theme park views. If you’re looking for the best of the crème de la crème of these, consult our our Guide to Club Level & Concierge Lounges at Walt Disney World. All of these resorts offer a Club Level, and most have the best views of Magic Kingdom.
Even when it comes to this trio of monorail loop properties, not all theme park room views are of equal quality. Disney’s Contemporary Resort is the only one that is actually close to Magic Kingdom. It benefits from that fact, and also the reality that it’s essentially a tower-style hotel with elevated views that actually look into the park. No other resort in the Magic Kingdom area offers this…
In addition to Cinderella Castle, you can also see Tomorrowland and portions of Main Street, Frontierland, and Fantasyland from Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Part of the fun about this view is the details you can spot if you gaze long enough; Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Space Mountain are all easy to see, but a perceptive eye will notice much more.
With that said, it’s not all upside from the Contemporary. It does have the nearest and most elevated view, but it also has more visual blight than the other resorts. Between you and the park is a huge parking lot, bus drop-off area, and road. To some, this could ruin the illusion or magic of a theme park view. The perspective is also pretty far off-center, as the Contemporary is located mostly to the east of Magic Kingdom.
By contrast, both Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort are located slightly to the west of Magic Kingdom, but mostly to the south. This means the view is more centered, which is nice when it comes to fireworks. Both are farther away than the Contemporary, but they’re only separated by Seven Seas Lagoon.
On balance, most guests will probably prefer the nearer but blemished view of Magic Kingdom offered by Disney’s Contemporary Resort. There’s also the reality that Magic Kingdom is easily walkable from the Contemporary, which is not true at the Polynesian or Grand Floridian. This is somewhat off-topic when it comes to views, but it is a big deal, too.
My strong personal preference is for the views at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Not only is this the most centered perspective (which does make a big difference for fireworks–especially for the Halloween and Christmas Party ones with perimeter bursts), but the perspective is better layered and anchored by surroundings.
I’ll take the compromise of being a bit farther away but having the foreground of beach (and bungalows in some spots), lake in the mid-ground, and having a view flanked by both Grand Floridian and the Contemporary. There’s more to savor and appreciate here, including the quintessential elements of Walt Disney World. (Plus, no parking lot view!)
My pick for the worst of the bunch would go to the theme park view rooms at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the supposed flagship hotel at Walt Disney World. Here, there are two distinct categories of theme park view rooms: outer building and main building.
In both cases, you’re paying a significant premium for a compromised view. The outer building view is arguably better as it’s closer, but it’s not nearly as close as the Contemporary, and it’s nearly as far off-center. You can’t see into the park, meaning this is basically just a Cinderella Castle view.
The main building has a better angle, but it’s still not as good as the Polynesian, and you’re even farther away. I should probably disclose here that I think the Grand Floridian is somewhat overrated and I don’t think its quality or views even remotely justify its nightly rates. I’ll take the Poly over Grand Floridian any day of the week.
It’s worth noting with regard to the monorail resorts that all three also have Disney Vacation Club counterparts. If a view is your paramount concern, DVC is especially significant with Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Not only is it slightly closer than the Contemporary itself, but Bay Lake Tower also has a private top floor viewing area, Top of the World Lounge.
Because of the great views offered by Top of the World Lounge, we actually tend to favor the Bay Lake views (facing the other direction) here. At the Grand Floridian and Poly Villas, there’s no such equivalent, so you’ll want to spring for a theme park view. See our Money-Saving Tips for Renting Disney Vacation Club Points if you want to go this route.
Two other resorts in the Magic Kingdom area also bear mentioning here: Wilderness Lodge and Four Seasons Orlando. Both are farther away, and across Bay Lake rather than Seven Seas Lagoon. Wilderness Lodge is frequently overlooked as offering a Magic Kingdom view as few of its rooms do.
You pretty much need to be staying on the Old Faithful Club Level to have a chance at glimpsing Cinderella Castle from Wilderness Lodge. This is actually my favorite view of the bunch–a nice angle and a lovely serenity to it–but it can be challenging to score. At Four Seasons Orlando, you’re simply much farther away. You can see Cinderella Castle from a good number of the rooms, but it’s a distant few.
The only other resort area that’s theme park adjacent is Crescent Lake, and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts and Disney’s BoardWalk Inn don’t have the height to advertise views of either Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. However, many of the BoardWalk, Deluxe Club Level, and water view rooms at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn (and its Villas) will offer glimpses of both Spaceship Earth and Epcot’s fireworks.
There’s another option at Crescent Lake, and this offers rooms with what’s arguably the absolute best view in all of Walt Disney World. Those hotels are the Swan & Dolphin, which have long been derided for the way they intrude upon the sight lines behind World Showcase. What’s bad for the views of guests inside Epcot is pretty fantastic for those staying in theme park view rooms at these two hotels. (The above photo was shot from the Dolphin.)
At the other end of the spectrum, there are significantly cheaper, tower-style hotels that do offer views. These include Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs and Disney’s Riviera Resort, both of which have views of both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The view from Chronos Club at Gran Destino–or from the rooftop restaurant and lounge–into Disney’s Hollywood Studios is pretty solid. Similarly, the perspective of Epcot offered by Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort should be very good, too.
Several of the tower-style hotels in the Disney Springs Resort Area and Bonnet Creek likewise offer glimpses of the parks from a distance. More immediately, they offer a bird’s eye view of Disney Springs, which is actually fairly cool (especially when the Rainforest Cafe volcano “erupts”).
To our knowledge, none of these hotels have theme park view booking categories, but you might consider requesting a “fireworks view” at check-in. (In most cases, these rooms offer peek-a-boo views of the park icons, at best.)
Ultimately, rooms with theme park views are great, but you also have to justify the added cost. At some of the resorts above, you’re paying an extra $100 to $250 per night just for a view of the park–and often that’s simply a glimpse of Cinderella Castle rising above the tree line. (One hack to avoid paying a premium is using TouringPlan’s Hotel Room View Finder to request a room in a standard booking category with a partial park view.)
Almost without exception, a similar view can be found in the common areas of the resorts for no additional charge. At the Contemporary, head out to the balcony outside the Grand Canyon concourse. At the Polynesian, head to the beach or over to the Transportation and Ticket Center near the ferry dock. (If you want dinner with a view, check out our Best Restaurants for Magic Kingdom Fireworks Views.) Over at Crescent Lake, you can see the fireworks from numerous parts of the BoardWalk, with the best view on the bridge leading to Yacht Club from BoardWalk.
You thus have to ask yourself how much time you’ll spend on your balcony, whether you’d prefer a private view over these public locations, and how much money that view is worth to you. While we’ve had theme park views at all of the resorts in question, we’d never pay the premium for the booking category at any of them again. We’d rather splurge on other aspects of the Walt Disney World experience and enjoy the free views–but that’s just us!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Which Walt Disney World resort do you think offers the best theme park view? Do you prefer overlooking Cinderella Castle, Tower of Terror, or Spaceship Earth? How much is the theme park view worth to you per night? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? 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!