Disney World has four resort categories and over 30 different resort options. This means picking the best Disney World Resort can be challenging. There are several factors to consider when choosing your Disney World Resort such as room size, resort amenities, location, and cost. We’ve stayed at Disney World resorts in every category over the last several years, and I’m here to help you choose the best Disney World resort in each category for your trip.
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Disney World Resort Categories
Disney World Value Resorts
Disney World value resorts are generally the least expensive option when staying on property at Disney World. Most of the value resorts have small, standard rooms with everything you need plus some nice extras like beverage coolers.
The average size of standard rooms at Art of Animation, Pop Century, or one of the All Star resorts is about 260 square feet (24 square meters). The family suites at Art of Animation or All Star Music measure in at 520 square feet (48 square meters). Not surprisingly, the family suite options tend to be more expensive than a standard value resort room.
Disney World Value Resort Pros
Disney Inspired Theme All Around
The Disney World value resorts have the most obvious Disney theming. The value resorts have bright, bold colors, and classic Disney characters all around the hotel property.
For example, you can find life-sized statues of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head at Pop Century or your favorite Cars characters at Art of Animation. These over the top Disney design elements are very exciting for kids of all ages and make great photo opportunities.
Clever Design In Remodeled Rooms
Pop Century recently renovated all of their standard rooms. The best part of the new design is that one of the double sized beds is a now a murphy bed.
The murphy bed easily lifts up to reveal a small dinette table and then converts back to a comfortable bed when needed. Having the second bed stored during the day makes the room feel much bigger and provides a great place to have breakfast or a late night snack in the room.
All Star Movies has started a similar renovation of their standard rooms, but not all rooms are renovated yet.
A standard room at a Disney World value resort is almost always your cheapest option for staying on-site. The family suites are certainly more expensive, but do provide a lot of space, plus two bathrooms.
Sometimes two adjoining value rooms can be less expensive than the family suites. However, Disney can’t always accommodate adjoining room requests, which may be a problem for families with small kids.
Unique Options At Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campsites
The Campsites at Fort Wilderness are on the list of Disney World value resorts, but it isn’t a traditional resort. These campsites can be literal campsites for people to pitch a tent or spots with full recreational vehicle hookups available.
Disney World Value Resort Cons
It Feels Like A Value Resort
When staying at a Disney World value resort you have a fun Disney theme and all the perks of staying on-site. However, a Disney value resort is a pretty basic hotel experience.
This is especially true if you have stayed at a Disney World moderate or deluxe resort on previous visits. In general the pools feel less luxe, and there is only quick-service dining on-site.
Windows Face Out Toward A Walkway
My biggest complaint with Disney World value resorts is that the room windows and doors face out toward walkways. This means you can’t open the curtains and hang out in your PJs without people being able to easily look into your room.
The Art of Animation family suites are an exception to this. The door to the room opens into a hallway and there are not walkways outside the windows of this room type.
The Disney World value resorts have put dispenser stations in the showers. Each station holds a large bottle of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Bar soap is available by the sink. Mousekeeping refills the dispensers as needed.
Remember to pack lotion when staying at a value resort. No lotion is provided in value resort rooms.
The value resort coffee makers are unusual. They are not Keurig brand, but a different type of coffee machine that uses tiny filter pods of coffee. I like strong coffee and even using half of the recommended water in these coffee pots makes extremely weak coffee.
To offset this weak coffee problem I have now started bringing Starbuck Via packets (affiliate link: Buy on Amazon) with me on Disney vacations. I run water through the coffee pot without a coffee pod. Then I just add my Starbucks Via to the hot water to get a nice, strong cup of coffee.
The Best Disney World Value Resorts
The newly remodeled Pop Century standard rooms are a great value at Disney World. We like the flexibility the murphy bed provides guests. This bed can be down for sleep or folded up into a table to provide additional space in the room.
There is a small shelving unit that makes a perfect spot for storing groceries and a decent size mini-fridge which keeps essentials cool. The Pop Century standard room also has a split bathroom and laminate flooring instead of carpet, which I really like.
Pop Century is a large resort with one bus stop near Classic Hall. Upgrade to a preferred room close to Classic Hall if you want to avoid a long walk to and from the bus or quick service dining hall.
Even though the All Star resorts are transitioning to the same remodeled room style of a Pop Century standard room, I still think Pop Century is the best standard value resort at Disney World. This is because Pop Century does not share a bus with any other resort. Not sharing buses means direct transportation from Pop Century to Disney World theme parks. Find our full Pop Century Resort review here.
Families that need sleeping space for up to six people without the hefty price tag of a Disney World Deluxe Villa should consider an Art of Animation family suite. These spacious rooms have two bathrooms, a separate bedroom area, and a small kitchenette in the living room area.
There are three types of family suites: Nemo, Lion King, and Cars. The general layout is the same, but the theme is different for each family suite type.
The Nemo suites are closest to Animation Hall where the bus stop and dining is located. A Nemo suite is your best option if you want to minimize your walking. However, we loved the immersive Cars theme so much we didn’t mind the longer walk from those rooms.
Art of Animation also has dedicated bus service from the resort to the Disney theme parks. It is nice not having multiple stops on your bus route to or from the Disney Parks.
List of All Disney World Value Resorts:
- All-Star Movies Resort
- All-Star Music Resort
- All-Star Sports Resort
- Art of Animation Resort
- Pop Century Resort
- The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Disney World Moderate Resorts Overview
Staying at a Disney World Moderate Resort is a happy compromise between the bare necessities of a value resort and the expensive luxury of a deluxe resort. Disney World Moderate resorts tend to have a less obvious Disney theme, but are beautifully decorated.
Disney World moderate resort rooms are 314 square feet (29 square meters), which means rooms are slightly bigger than a value resort standard room. However, in practice they feel about the same size as Pop Century standard rooms, because the beds in a moderate room are queen sized versus doubles at a value.
The moderate resorts also have nice mini fridges and a freestanding bistro table with two chairs for in-room snacks.
The Cabins at Fort Wilderness are different from the other moderate resort options. These standalone cabins have 500 square feet (46 square meters), sleeping for six, plus a full-size refrigerator.
Disney World Moderate Resort Pros
More Dining Options
The Disney World moderate resorts tend to have quick and table service dining options available on-site. In fact, one of our favorite Disney World restaurants is Sebastian’s Bistro, a table service restaurant at Caribbean Beach Resort.
Moderate resorts usually have a nice lounge or bar option other than just a pool bar. For example, the small lounge at Port Orleans French Quarter has cocktails, appetizers, and live music most nights.
The pools tend to be nicer at a Disney World moderate resort. Most moderate resorts have water slides at the main pool and a splash play area for younger kids.
Disney World Moderate Resort Cons
Many of the things I dislike about Disney World value resorts are also present at moderate resorts.
Walkways Outside Your Window
I like to open the curtains when I get up in the morning, but at Disney World moderate resorts the room windows and doors open to walkways. This means people can easily look into the room as they walk past.
Just like the value resorts, the moderates have a dispenser station for shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in the shower. One nice toiletry addition at a moderate resort is an individual lotion left near the bar soap by the bathroom sink.
The Same Mediocre Coffee Pot As Value Resorts
The moderate and value resorts generally have the same flat pod coffee pots that make weak coffee. To avoid drinking mediocre coffee, I pack Starbucks Via packets (affiliate link: Buy on Amazon) whenever I stay at a Disney World value or moderate resort.
In the morning I run water through the pot without using the coffee pod. Once the hot water is ready I mix in the Via packet and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee.
The Best Disney World Moderate Resorts
Port Orleans French Quarter makes you believe for just a moment you have entered into New Orleans. The cobblestone streets, iron railings, colorful buildings, and fresh beignets transport you far from Disney World.
One of the reasons we like Port Orleans French Quarter the best is because the resort is compact. French Quarter is one of the easiest resorts to navigate in all of Disney World. Even from the farthest room it only takes a few minutes to reach the main lobby area, pool, or Sassagoula Floatworks.
Speaking of Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, this is one of the best quick service restaurants at Disney World with a variety of delicious southern inspired foods. Make sure you stop here and order fresh beignets. The beignets are really as good as people claim. In our first 48 hours at Port Orleans French Quarter we had beignets three times!
Although French Quarter is our favorite moderate resort, Port Orleans Riverside is a close second. Port Orleans Riverside is the sister resort to French Quarter, and there is only a short walk between the two.
Riverside is a sprawling estate with three separate resort room areas, each with their own style of building. Winding paths with lots of greenery connect all the parts of the Port Orleans Riverside Resort. We enjoyed walking around and renting a bicycle to explore the pretty paths.
If you have a huge princess fan in your group the Royal Guest room will bring their princess dreams to life. This adorable room has a welcome letter painted on the dinette table from Princess Tiana. Tiana tells you that the other princesses have given her special gifts over the years and invites you to look for all these special details in the room.
The atmosphere at Riverside is beautiful, but since the resort is large it can be a long walk from your room to the main lobby. The large size of Riverside is why French Quarter is our preferred Port Orleans Resort.
List of All Disney World Moderate Resorts:
- Caribbean Beach Resort
- Coronado Springs Resort
- Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
- Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
- The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Disney World Deluxe Resorts Overview
The Disney World deluxe resorts are luxurious places for those willing to spend money on a premium hotel experience at Disney. Each deluxe resort has a completely different style and theme.
The size of Disney World deluxe resort rooms varies quite a bit from around 340 square feet (32 square meters) at Wilderness and Animal Kingdom Lodges all the way up to 440 square feet (41 square meters) at Grand Floridian. Disney World deluxe resorts usually have great locations and a greater variety of dining options.
Disney World Deluxe Resort Pros
One of the best things about the Disney World deluxe resorts are their locations. Several deluxe resorts are within walking distance of Epcot, one is walkable to Magic Kingdom, and several are on the monorail line.
Disney World is very large, about the size of San Francisco, so transportation times can add up. Having the ability to walk to a park is one of my favorite things about some Disney World deluxe hotels.
The Disney World deluxe resorts usually have nicer dining options on-site, a little better pool plus water slide, and little things like individual toiletries. Although none of these items is a huge difference when added up they tend to make for a more luxurious overall experience.
Disney World Deluxe Resort Balconies
My other favorite thing about Disney World deluxe resorts is each room has a balcony with two chairs and a small side table. The balconies usually have privacy dividers between rooms and are a great place to start your day with a cup of coffee or end with a drink from the lobby bar.
Kuerig Coffee Maker
Most of the deluxe resort rooms we have stayed in have a basic Keurig K-Cup coffee maker. Although not my favorite option, these are a large step up from the flat pod coffee pots in most of the value and moderate rooms. However, we did have a Cuisinart flat pod coffee maker at a recent Polynesian resort stay which was disappointing.
Disney World Deluxe Resort Cons
The biggest downside of staying at a Disney World deluxe resort is the cost. The rooms are usually bigger and the resorts a little nicer, but this comes with a considerable increase in price.
The great location of many of deluxe resorts means less need to take Disney World buses. While having the monorail, boats, or even a walkway is great it means that the deluxe resort bus transportation is lackluster.
When a bus is taken to a Disney World park from a deluxe resort it tends to make multiple stops. For example, the bus route from Disney’s Beach Club to Magic Kingdom includes stops at both Yacht Club and Boardwalk.
The Best Disney World Deluxe Resorts
The Grand Floridian is the premier Disney World deluxe resort. The minute you enter the ornate high-ceiling lobby you can understand why Disney’s Grand Floridian is a bucket list resort for many people. Live music from a pianist or band depending on the time of day makes lounging in the Grand Floridian lobby a treat.
The grounds at Grand Floridian are stunning with curving walkways, manicured garden beds, and sweeping views of Polynesian. We also felt the service we received at Grand Floridian was the best of any Disney World trip we have ever taken.
The rooms at Grand Floridian are the largest of the deluxe resorts. Our room was comfortable with a great view and easy access to the leisure pool.
Grand Floridian also has a fun character dinner at 1900 Park Fare with Cinderella, the Prince, the Step-sisters and Step-Mother. It is a quick hop on the monorail to reach Magic Kingdom, or with a transfer at the Transportation and Ticket Center the monorail takes you all the way to Epcot. I would love to stay here again even though it is definitely a splurge.
Yacht Club is a beautiful deluxe resort within walking distance of Epcot’s International Gateway. Disney’s Yacht Club and Beach Club are sister properties with many shared amenities.
We liked the room at Yacht Club a little better than the one at Beach Club due to the larger bathroom and laminate floors. The best part of Yacht Club is the amazing Stormalong Bay pool. This pool complex shared by Yacht and Beach Club has a sand bottomed pool, lazy river, and one of the biggest water slides at Disney World.
Another great thing about Yacht Club is the easy walk to Boardwalk Inn and Villas. The Boardwalk has free live entertainers that perform along the wooden boardwalk at various times. This free entertainment is always a hit with our family.
Disney World Deluxe Resorts:
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Beach Club Resort
- BoardWalk Inn
- Contemporary Resort
- Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Polynesian Village Resort
- Wilderness Lodge
- Yacht Club Resort
Disney World Deluxe Villa Resort Overview
Disney World deluxe villas are truly a home away from home. Deluxe villas are primarily built as timeshare locations for Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members. If there are rooms available after the exclusive window for DVC member booking then Disney allows these rooms to be rented by regular visitors.
There are several deluxe villa options. Most deluxe resorts have studio, 1-bedroom, and 2-bedroom villas available. A couple of places offer 3-bedroom options as well.
Disney World Deluxe Villa Resort Pros
The deluxe studio villas are about the same size as a regular deluxe room, but the 1 bedroom villas range from 710 to 940 square feet (66 to 87 square meters). The 2-bedroom villas are larger with a range of 1075 to 1300 square feet (100 to 120 square meters) and the 3-bedroom villas are a whopping 2000 to 2490 square feet (190 to 230 square meters).
Disney World deluxe villa resorts are often part of a deluxe resort. The villa buildings may be attached to the deluxe resort like Copper Creek Villas and Wilderness Lodge or next door like Bay Lake Towers and Contemporary. This means many of the deluxe villas are extremely close to a Disney World theme park.
A Kitchenette and Real Coffee Pot
Studios are like a large regular room, but with a sink, larger mini fridge, toaster, and microwave. The 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom options all have a full kitchen. To see what a 1-bedroom deluxe villa kitchen looks like check out this full review on Bay Lake Tower.
Studio villas sometimes have a regular 10-cup coffee pot and sometimes the dreaded flat pod coffee makers. All of the larger villas have a regular coffee pot. If you are staying in a large villa you can use the provided coffee pods or order some of your favorite coffee from Garden Grocer. Just remember to order or pack coffee filters, too.
Each deluxe villa (except studios) has a small stacked washer and dryer combo in the room. This in-room washer and dryer can be handy when packing light for a long trip.
Disney World Deluxe Villa Resort Cons
If you thought a Disney World deluxe resort was pricey, a deluxe villa is even higher than that. Sometimes you can find a discount during low seasons directly through Disney World, but the best way to save money on a deluxe villa is by using a service like DVC Rental Store. Find out everything about the DVC Rental Store and rental process in this article.
Please note: I get no commission or discount from recommending DVC Rental Store. I recommend them because I have successfully used them for stays at Disney World, Disneyland, and Aulani.
The Best Disney World Deluxe Villas
The Polynesian studio villa is one of the largest studios at Disney World at a whopping 465 square feet (43 square meters). The Polynesian studio villa is also unique in that it can sleep up to five people and has a partial second bathroom. This makes a Polynesian studio villa a great choice for larger families.
The Polynesian also has great pool areas, on-site Dole Whips, and the most transportation options of any resort at Disney World. The tropical island feel transports you away from the hustle and bustle of a theme park day as soon as you step foot on property.
Disney’s Copper Creek Villas is attached to the beautiful Wilderness Lodge. Admire the beautiful rustic lobby with huge fireplace inspired by one at the Grand Canyon. Enjoy fine dining with Snow White, Grumpy, Dopey, and the Queen at Artist’s Point or relax at the pool.
Studio villas usually look a lot like a regular deluxe room but with a kitchenette. However, a small number of Copper Creek Villas have a unique design where the bed is partially separated from the living room area. These special Copper Creek studio villas are some of our favorite rooms at Disney World because for studio villa prices you get something closer resembling a small 1-bedroom villa.
Our favorite 1-bedroom deluxe villa at Disney World is Bay Lake Tower. Bay Lake Tower is connected via a covered walkway to Disney’s Contemporary Resort with easy access to the Monorail.
The best thing about Bay Lake Tower is that it is the only deluxe villa that is walking distance to Magic Kingdom. Not having to take any transportation to or from the Magic Kingdom is great, especially when you have toddlers than need a midday break.
Some of our favorite memories of Disney World when Elizabeth was little is watching fireworks from our room in our pajamas with a snack. The incredible location and sleek design is why Bay Lake Tower is still one of our favorite resorts.
Disney World Deluxe Villas:
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
- Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Beach Club Villas
- BoardWalk Villas
- Old Key West Resort
- Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Riviera Resort
- Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Final Thoughts On The Best Disney World Resorts By Category
Staying on-site at Disney World provides a variety of perks no matter if you stay at a value, moderate, deluxe, or deluxe villa resort. We’ve stayed at Disney World resorts of every category and have places we love at all price levels.
My number one recommendation is this: Do the Disney World trip that you can afford. The Disney World resort is the least important part of your Disney World trip.
If you need to save money on your room so that you can do character dining or a Disney After Hours Event book a less expensive Disney World resort. And if you want to make this a luxurious splurge then go ahead and book one of the deluxe resorts. You can have an amazing trip either way.
Need more information on planning your Disney World vacation? Look through our comprehensive Disney World guides.
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