With dozens of resorts from which to choose, picking the best hotel for your Walt Disney World vacation can be a daunting task. That’s why we’ve assembled this list of the top 5 resorts for 2020, which covers the hot accommodations this year at WDW.
Okay, so while calling this up and coming hotels or even the “hot accommodations” of 2020 might be an overstatement, each of these hotels make the list for a specific reason. They’re not necessarily our favorite resorts at Walt Disney World, but we do feel they are deserving of special attention or consideration this year for one reason or another.
Basically, the list is a mix of the top recent upgrades made to Walt Disney World hotels, along with our personal preferences about which of these resorts are the best options in each tier. In a couple of cases, we’ve left off some otherwise obvious choices because Walt Disney World has also “realized” that the upgrades have enhanced the guest experience at those resorts, and adjusted prices accordingly…
If you’re simply looking for our top resorts at Walt Disney World without any special consideration for 2020, here are our lists:
With that said, let’s dig into this list of the top 5 resorts at Walt Disney World for 2020…
All Star Movies
In what might seem like a huge snub or mistake, All Star Movies is the lone Value Resort, making the list over Pop Century. Our reasons for that are two-fold. While Pop Century is a sentimental favorite that has only gotten better thanks to its new rooms and the Skyliner, it has also gone up in price considerably.
Second, All Star Movies also now has new rooms that are almost identical to those at Pop Century. So while you’re giving up the Skyliner, that’s really it. As with all of the All Star Resorts, ASM could use some enhancements around the resort grounds, but the bus service is generally pretty good and World Premiere Food Court has some guilty-pleasure favorites (especially at dinner).
Caribbean Beach Resort
As with Pop Century, room rates increased disproportionately at Caribbean Beach Resort. However, they didn’t increase by as much and there are better discounts typically available at Caribbean Beach Resort that help further close the gap between the two resorts.
Beyond that, there have been numerous other improvements around this resort beyond “just” the two Skyliner gondola stations to help justify that price increase. We view Spyglass Grill and Sebastian’s Bistro as underrated gems, and both Banana Cabana and Centertown Market are also good. Then there’s the opening of Disney’s Riviera Resort, which brings with it even more great dining within a 5-10 minute walk of most rooms at Caribbean Beach, Coke Freestyle machines conveniently located around the resort, plus superior pools and grounds.
If we had to pick only one resort as our top pick for 2020, Caribbean Beach would be it. Thanks to the direct Skyliner access to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, improved dining, and more upscale amenities, it’s now even more “Poly-Lite” than it was a few years ago when we coined that term for it.
Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs
For better or worse, Gran Destino is like a Las Vegas-lite hotel. The upside to this is almost all of the amenities you need under one air-conditioned roof, with excellent dining and lounges, a fitness center, and more all under one roof. Additionally, the main food court, convention center, and even the bus stops are all pretty close and under covered or indoor walkways. Price-wise, it’s also incredibly competitive, being only slightly more expensive than Moderate Resorts but significantly cheaper than all Deluxes.
As such, Gran Destino Tower is now our #1 mid-range hotel recommendation for an adults-only trip to Walt Disney World or for honeymooners who are on a budget and aren’t particularly concerned with a richly-themed environment. For families, it’s hard to see the appeal of Gran Destino Tower unless you can get past the use of space in the restroom and lack of Disney themed design. There are other upsides, but these two downsides would seem to pretty much make it a non-starter.
Animal Kingdom Lodge
It’s no secret that my two favorite resorts at Walt Disney World are Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge. Neither have the most convenient location, but they’re so thematically rich and beautiful that I’m willing to overlook this. They are also serene escapes from the fast-paced parks, and that sense of isolation makes the bus or Uber/Lyft ride to the parks worth it.
Animal Kingdom Lodge makes the list for this year because of its recent refurbishment. The highlight of this is the Awesome Animal Kingdom Lodge New Rooms, which reverse the trend of scaled-back theme in new rooms. (Although not yet officially announced, Wilderness Lodge will receive an even more extensive phased refurbishment throughout 2020–another reason to choose Animal Kingdom Lodge over its top tier counterpart this year!)
Grand Floridian Villas
Usually, staying at any Walt Disney World resort reminds us of why that particular property is special, and makes us want to revisit it sooner rather than later. That sort of happened with our stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort…except it left us eager to return to the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
Then we remembered that the walking path between Magic Kingdom and the Grand Floridian should be finished sometime this year (although at the current pace, it might not be done until around Summer 2020), which moved these villas from “high on our personal list” to high on our list of recommendations. Others might view the new Beauty and the Beast Bar as a reason to book the Grand Floridian, but we’re not fans of that lounge.
Regardless, we’re really looking forward to our 2020 stay at the Villas at Grand Floridian, and hope some other rumored dining enhancements come to fruition. Others seem to share our sentiment, as the Villas at Grand Floridian are really tough to book. If you’re thinking about a stay here and want to save money by renting DVC points to do it, you might want to book ASAP. Even fall and holiday dates are already starting to book up!
Overall, there are a lot of good accommodations options for 2020 vacations to Walt Disney World. As more refurbishment and reimagining projects progress in the lead-up to the 50th Anniversary, more potential options could join this list. By summer, All Star Music should be over half-done with its project. New rooms at Saratoga Springs are likewise a work in progress and a nice upgrade over their predecessors. Both of the Port Orleans Resorts have seen less-flashy enhancements recently, and have improved their thematic positions by virtue of Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs getting worse on that front. While some projects are ongoing, there’s no shortage of great resorts at Walt Disney World!
Which resort is your top pick for 2020 at Walt Disney World? Any hotel on our list that you would or would not recommend? Any other resorts we snubbed? Do you agree or disagree with our choices? 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!