Need help choosing where to stay while planning your 2023 Walt Disney World vacations? How about we start by narrowing down which accommodations NOT to book, with a rundown of the worst 5 resorts for 2023, including a few hotels that we normally love–and one big time fan favorite!
What makes this list of the worst 5 hotels at Walt Disney World in 2023 different from any other time? Each of these resorts makes the list for a specific reason unique to 2023. In most cases, that’s either due to the impact of construction…or the lack thereof. (With that latter meaning that a couple of these hotels are looking worse for wear and are overdue for refurbishments.)
In a couple of cases, we’re also taking into account recent reader feedback, which has soured on some resorts at Walt Disney World more than others. (Across the board, complaints are on the rise, but with higher prices comes higher expectations.) In other cases, we’re proactively anticipating a rise in complaints come 2023, as past precedent is the best predictor of future performance, or guest (dis)satisfaction, as the case may be.
If you’re simply looking for how we rank the resorts at Walt Disney World without any special consideration for 2023, here are our individual ranking lists, all of which are current:
With that said, let’s dig into this list of the top 5 resorts at Walt Disney World for 2023…
All Star Resorts
We’ve done 3 stays at the All Star Resorts this year, and honestly, they look better than they have in years. It seems like the common areas and oversized icons got a refresh during the closure, and are really popping. This is especially true at All Star Sports, which had been showing its age for a while and now looks nice and bright. (It’s still not perfect…I spotted a Montreal Expos pennant, among other dated details!)
On top of that, the room overhauls are now finished at both All Star Music and Movies. By early 2023, the same should be true of the rooms at All Star Sports. We’ve stayed in these new rooms, which you can read about in Photos & Video: Newly Reimagined Rooms at the All Star Resorts. This is a huge upgrade from the previous design, which was more minor leagues than all-star caliber. Suffice to say, we’re fans.
On top of that, discounts through Spring 2023 put the All Star Resorts nightly room rates at under $100 during the off-season, and not much worse than that during normal dates. This is on par with real world hotels in Central Florida, and not too shabby considering the included transportation, Early Entry, and other perks.
So…what gives? Well, as you’ll find out in reading the rest of this list, “worst” is really a relative term. One of the things we also experienced during those stays was the All Stars hosting a youth sporting event at ESPN Wide World of Sports during dates I was pretty sure nothing was on the schedule. That was a rude reminder of how those can negatively impact the experience at the All Stars, and our expectation is that these will occur with increasing regularity as things continue getting back to normal.
Beyond that, we think it’s really worth paying the premium to upgrade to Pop Century unless you’re on an incredibly tight budget. That resort is really firing on all cylinders and the Skyliner continues to be a game-changer (especially for Early Entry). We’re not trying to scare you away from the All Stars, as the vast majority of guests will have a good experience there, but we feel it’s worth the extra money to improve your overall comfort and efficiency, even if that ends up being your one splurge for the trip.
Caribbean Beach Resort
As mentioned in Best Resorts at Walt Disney World for 2023, Coronado Springs has replaced Caribbean Beach as our go-to Moderate Resort, with Pop Century (and to a lesser extent, Art of Animation) supplanting it for Skyliner purposes.
That’s largely driven by the aging rooms. While we dubbed the resort “Poly-lite” several years ago when the current rooms debuted, other room updates have since passed them. By comparison, the Caribbean Beach rooms are looking dreary, dated, and worse for wear. They really could use a refresh, both aesthetically and with better space-saving design features.
Our expectation is that exactly this will happen in 2023. While Walt Disney World has only announced plans for the Pirate Rooms, it seems like an inevitability that a makeover to the regular rooms will also occur. Between the dated rooms and potential construction impact to address the dated rooms, we’d simply recommend staying elsewhere. None of these are major problems that make this a strong warning or anything of that sort–it’s just the Moderate Resort we’re least inclined to book for now.
Polynesian Village Resort
I can already feel the hate mail about to be written. No one is as passionate about their favorite resort as Poly fans, and arguably no Walt Disney World hotel has as many fans at the Poly. And for good reason. It currently ranks #3 and #1 on our Deluxe Resort and DVC Rankings, respectively.
The point is that we are far from Poly haters and we’re also not saying this to rile up the hardcore fans of this beloved hotel. Quite the contrary. When the Polynesian is firing on all cylinders–as it has been for the last year–it’s almost impossible to beat. The rooms, range of dining options, and that exceptional island atmosphere all get you into “vacation mode” like no other resort at Walt Disney World.
However, we’ve also experienced the Poly when it was a veritable construction zone (more than once), and it’s absolutely not the same. We stayed at the Polynesian roughly a decade ago while the lobby and pool were being redone, longhouses were being converted to DVC, and the bungalows were being built. It was a sea of construction walls–a lot like the front of EPCOT is right now.
During that time, the vibe at the Poly was anything but relaxed and the atmosphere wasn’t even close to the same. (Honestly, Disney should’ve closed the resort given the scope and scale of that work–it wasn’t ‘show ready’ for guests, let alone worthy of Deluxe pricing.)
Without question, construction of the new tower at the Polynesian will be different. Rather than being in the middle of the resort, it’s on the periphery. That work won’t be visible or audible from most guest rooms. However, there’s nothing to say that’s the only construction that’ll occur at the Polynesian in 2023. The resort infrastructure will need to accommodate hundreds of additional rooms, and it’s likely other modernizations will occur to the existing buildings to help them blend together better (which is what we saw at Coronado Springs when Gran Destino Tower was built, and what’s currently occurring at Disneyland Hotel).
I’m not suggesting that the Poly will be unpleasant in 2023. Personally, I’d be inclined to roll the dice if it were $300 per night and themed to the clamoring crescendo of construction noise and workers. But it’s themed to island serenity and costs $650 per night and up. It’s also the only resort that has been excluded from all Winter & Spring 2023 discounts thus far. Given all of that, it is simply not worth the gamble. Save your stay for later in 2024, and move next door if you really want to splurge in 2023.
BoardWalk Inn & Villas
It’s almost the exact same story with Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas, which will be reimagined over the next couple years. Compounding matters is that we don’t really know the scale or scope of the project, nor do we have a timeline as to when it’ll start or when various areas of the resort will be impacted.
At this point, all we know is that Walt Disney World is adding and changing elements along the turn-of-the-century promenade, with new and reimagined restaurant concepts. Inside, the Deluxe Resort will get a new lobby design, nearby coffee bar, delectable dining options, refreshed guest rooms, and more. That leaves a lot of latitude for the impact to guests. Those new features could be as simple as the “reimagined” BoardWalk Deli (basically the same thing as before, but with a new sign and menu) or be total overhauls that last for several months or longer.
When you add to that uncertainty the reality that the rooms at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn–and especially the DVC villas–are really starting to show their age, it earns an easy ‘avoid’ designation. While the reimagining could be a total non-issue for the overwhelming majority of guests staying at BoardWalk in 2023, we’d rather err on the side of caution and book elsewhere.
Bay Lake Tower
This made the ‘best of’ list as a wildcard for the second half of the year, and that more or less ran down why Bay Lake Tower should be avoided until then. The rooms were poorly constructed from the outset, and Disney’s band aid approach to fixing them over the years is very apparent. (It’s still possible to get one that’s in nice condition, but that’s simply a matter of luck.)
Honestly, I was inclined to include the entirety of Disney’s Contemporary Resort in this, but there’s no reason to believe its status is unique to 2023. The Incredibles IP injection appears complete…and yet, the Grand Canyon Concourse was never touched?! Between that 90s hodgepodge and mediocre new rooms, Contemporary continues to fall in our rankings. It hasn’t helped that Gran Destino and Riviera show how tower resorts can really shine at Walt Disney World.
Ultimately, there are a lot of great accommodations options for 2023 Walt Disney World vacations. There are tons of recently-redone resorts and room reimaginings, most of which are significantly better than the old rooms (anything pre-2018). This is great for guests, and makes it easier to be picky about where you stay.
The bad news is that price increases make every resort option much more expensive than they were back then, so you should be picky about where you’re paying a premium to stay. In our view, these resorts just aren’t up to snuff and won’t offer a guest experience commensurate with the cost due to construction or datedness. (Excluding the All Stars from that, which we simply would avoid due to transportation and team events.) Our hope is that this list of accommodations helps you narrow down where you want to stay when planning your 2023 trip to Walt Disney World.
Which resort(s) will you be avoiding during 2023 at Walt Disney World? Think we’ve making too much of the construction at the Poly or BoardWalk? What about room conditions at Bay Lake Tower and Caribbean Beach? Any hotel on our list that you would or would notrecommend? 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!