Heyday Travel Company is here to help you choose the best Walt Disney World resort for you. Beyond just the numbers (location, tier, amenities onsite, etc.), we’ll also give you our personal opinions for any places we’ve stayed at. While we’ve made our way around to many of the locations, we haven’t gotten to all of them, yet! Fortunately, where we may not have stayed, we likely know someone that has and can always get a firsthand opinion for you.
Heyday Travel also provides an ongoing update for construction at the resorts and restaurants. We stay up to date on these so that we may help you plan your best Walt Disney World vacations.
Since our reviews are not aggregated (like ‘leading’ websites on the web), you’ll be able to find some consistency with what we say. This, of course, can be double-edged. While this absolutely weeds out any uninformed opinions, it also means you’re receiving only our point of view. This, of course, means we may disagree with your personal experience and opinions at times too. Have no fear though, just because we may not like a location for our personal tastes and preferences doesn’t mean we can’t or won’t identify it as lining up with yours! We’ve met plenty of people that disagree with our likes and have even vacationed with a few. Agree or disagree, you can trust that any opinions expressed here are from someone that has firsthand experience.
For this initial article, we’ll give you a broad highlight of each area, it’s resorts and overall general information. In other blogs, you’ll be able to find more detailed information and reviews for each. Don’t forget to read our other blogs about Planning the Core of Your Trip and our Planning Timeline.
DISNEY RESORT CLASSIFICATIONS
Disney loves to categorize things, so it’s no surprise that they’ve developed a hierarchy for their resorts.
- Deluxe Resorts: These resorts have the most extensive theming throughout, will have themed pools with slides and quiet pools, offer a food court, table service restaurants (with signature dining also available at most), a lounge bar, and a pool bar. These resorts tend to be closest to the parks with several transportation options. If you’re looking for options and amenities, these will be your best choice resort.
- Deluxe Villa Resorts: These rooms are part of the Disney Vacation Club (Disney’s version of a timeshare). Although these rooms are part of DVC, some rooms are available for general cash bookings. These rooms offer suites with more space. Some of these suites even offer full kitchens, in-room laundry, and multiple bedrooms/bathrooms. Many are attached to Deluxe resorts offering access to those amenities. Those that are not attached still offer the same deluxe and upscale amenities.
- Moderate Resorts: These resorts have moderate theming, although they do offer heavily themed rooms (Port Orleans Riverside and Caribbean Beach offer Royal and Pirate themed rooms respectively). The grounds tend to be gorgeously landscaped even if they aren’t very “Disney” themed per se. The pools are not as themed as Deluxe resorts and may offer a slide although not as large as those found at Deluxe pools and also offer quiet pools. Moderate resorts offer a food court, a table service restaurant, a lounge bar, and a pool bar.
- Value Resorts: These family-friendly resorts have some of the most “Disney-esque” grounds and theming of all of the resorts. You’ll see colorful buildings with giant (read multi-story) Disney icons, sports equipment, etc. flanking the buildings. These resorts will have 1 large themed pool and several other smaller pools available. There are no slides at these pools but may have “spray areas” and/or children’s pools. Value resorts have quick service food courts and in-room pizza delivery available, as well as a bar area near the pool.
DELUXE & DELUXE VILLA RESORTS
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – (Deluxe & Deluxe Villa Resort) – Step into the heart of Africa at this magnificent Resort hotel. Inspired by the traditional African kraal, the horseshoe-curved design provides spectacular views of 4 lush savannas that over 200 hoofed animals and birds call home. Delight in dazzling pool areas, exciting animal programs and one of the largest collections of African art in the United States as you experience your own African safari adventure with a touch of Disney magic.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort (Deluxe Resort & Deluxe Villa Resort) – Discover the casual elegance of this charming, New England-style Resort hotel. Savor exquisite dining, and explore the pools, lagoons, and spas of Stormalong Bay. Sail around Crescent Lake on a rented mini-powerboat, and experience the luxurious comfort of a Club Level Suite. Sharing many amenities with its more formal sister, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort is walking distance to Epcot and a convenient boat ride to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort (Deluxe Resort & Deluxe Villa Resort) – Delight in the formal grace of a grand New England-style yacht club at this lakeside hotel. Relax in the inviting elegance of a plush lobby replete with nautical touches, explore the whimsical Stormalong Bay and rent a variety of watercraft from Bayside Marina. Sharing many amenities with its pastel-toned sister, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is walking distance to Epcot and a convenient boat ride to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn (Deluxe & Deluxe Villa Resort) – Experience the charm and whimsy of turn-of-the-century Atlantic City at this waterfront Resort hotel. Make a splash at Luna Park Pool and delight in a massage at the state-of-the-art fitness center. Discover carnival games, unique dining and exciting nightlife on the Coney Island-style boardwalk. Strung like saltwater taffy along the shimmering Crescent Lake, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is located within walking distance to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort (Deluxe Resort & Deluxe Villa Resort) – Retreat to this ultra-modern Disney Resort hotel and discover award-winning dining, spectacular views, and dazzling pools. Whether you’re staying in the iconic A-frame Contemporary tower or the nearby Garden Wing, you can walk to Magic Kingdom’s main gate or catch the Resort Monorail as it breezes through the tower. Inside, a 90-foot-tall mural by Disney Legend Mary Blair—responsible for the distinct look and feel of the “it’s a small world” attraction—celebrates the Grand Canyon and the American Southwest.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (Deluxe & Deluxe Villa Resort) – Victorian elegance meets modern sophistication at this lavish Disney Resort hotel. Relax in the sumptuous lobby as the live orchestra plays ragtime, jazz, and popular Disney tunes. Unwind outdoors, indulge in a luxurious massage and watch evening fireworks light up the sky over Cinderella Castle. Just one stop to Magic Kingdom park on the complimentary Resort Monorail, this timeless Victorian-style marvel evokes Palm Beach’s golden era.
Disney’s Old Key West Resort (Deluxe Villa Resort) – Experience the romance of the Florida Keys at this tranquil community of Conch Flats—a sprawling island hamlet with shimmering waterways, swaying palm trees and manicured golf-course fairways. Delight in sun-soaked pools, casual dining and such amenities as fully equipped kitchens or kitchenettes. A peaceful tropical paradise, Disney’s Old Key West Resort is also just a boat ride away from the excitement of Disney Springs.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (Deluxe Resort & Deluxe Villa Resort) – Celebrate the spirit of the South Pacific at this oasis of tropical palms, lush vegetation and so much more. From moonlit nights immersed in the outdoor island ambiance to the exotic tastes of our world-class restaurants, discover the signature tropical atmosphere that’s made Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort a favorite Disney destination since 1971.
Disney’s Riviera Resort (Deluxe Villa Resort) – Enchantment awaits you at a Resort hotel that’s inspired by Europe and imagined by Disney. Here, you can delight in exhilarating activities, delectable dining and stylish accommodations—from cozy Tower Studios to spacious villas with up to 3 bedrooms.
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa (Deluxe Villa Resort) – Inspired by historic Saratoga Springs—a late-1800s’ New York retreat famous for its spas and horse racing—this charming, Victorian-style Resort hotel is nestled between rolling golf course greens and the shimmering Lake Buena Vista. Delight in stately Studios and multi-bedroom Villas, dazzling pools and a spa. You can also explore the fun activities and exciting dining options of Disney Springs, just a boat ride away.
Treehouse Villas Resort (Deluxe Villa Resort) – Part of Saratoga Springs, Treehouse Villas also feature private decks and charcoal grills. These unique accommodations are elevated 10 feet off the ground and nestled amid lush forest—so you’ll be surrounded by the beauty of nature. An incredibly unique resort nestled in the woods alongside the banks of the Sassagoula River only a short distance from Disney Springs, the Treehouse Villas feel a world away from the rest of Walt Disney World.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (Deluxe & Deluxe Villa Resort) – Escape to the rustic majesty of America’s Great Northwest. Inspired by turn-of-the-century National Park lodges, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge celebrates American craftsmanship and honors the beauty of the untamed wilderness. Soak in the splendor of the great outdoors, from nature trails through pine forests to rocking chairs that overlook a murmuring creek. Inside, discover towering totem poles, headdresses and more, and enjoy the rustic elegance of the stone hearth and roaring fireplace.
OTHER DISNEY RESORTS
The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort (Campground Resort) – Camp amid the magic of the great outdoors. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground evokes the timeless beauty of the American frontier, with deer, rabbits, ducks, and armadillos roaming the Resort’s 750 acres of pine and cypress forest. Discover charming woodland trails, spectacular pool areas and rip-roarin’ entertainment at this picturesque backcountry retreat.
The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort (Moderate Resort) – Nestled on 750 acres of pine and cypress forest, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground evokes the timeless beauty of the American frontier. Teeming with such wildlife as deer, ducks, armadillos, and rabbits, the Resort welcomes you to delight in scenic woodland trails, exciting pool areas, rootin’ tootin’ entertainment, and hearty country eats.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort (Moderate Resort) – Discover a world where life slows to a leisurely pace and worries melt away amidst Calypso rhythms. Awash with vibrant colors and lush landscapes, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort transports Guests to a relaxing paradise that captures the essence of 5 distinct islands: Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad, and Aruba. Celebrate the spirit of the Caribbean with blissful sights and fun-filled activities—including colonial forts, lively markets, pristine beaches, splashy florals and swaying hammocks—sure to awaken the imagination
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort (Moderate Resort) – Celebrate the unique blend of Spanish, Mexican and Southwest American cultures at the newly reimagined Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. This beautiful lakeside oasis offers classic influences, Disney touches and modern comforts to energize and inspire as you delight in an array of new features, eateries, and enhancements.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter (Moderate Resort) – Revel in the romance and pageantry of New Orleans’s historic French Quarter at this Moderate Resort hotel, where cobblestone streets, gas lamps, wrought-iron balconies, and fragrant magnolia blossoms evoke the Antebellum era and colorful Mardi Gras characters and jazz keep things lively. Then stroll along the lushly landscaped Sassagoula River to Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, where the bayou beckons, as do Cajun and Creole specialties.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside (Moderate Resort) – From the stately white-column mansions of Magnolia Bend to Alligator Bayou’s quaint backwoods cottages, delight in a picturesque setting that evokes the romance of rural Louisiana. Take a short walk along the Sassagoula River to Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter, known for Southern specialties like gumbo, jambalaya, and beignets.
Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort (Value Resort) – Scouting the perfect location for your vacation? Larger-than-life characters from Toy Story and 101 Dalmatians are just the beginning of the epic excitement. Take your “pic” of movie-themed pools—inspired by The Mighty Ducks and Fantasia—or get your game on in the arcade. Our food court is just the ticket for pleasing your whole crowd. And movies under the stars make a happy ending to your family’s day.
Disney’s All-Star Music Resort (Value Resort) – Let the rhythm move you at this Resort hotel that pays homage to some of the world’s most popular music genres, including country, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, calypso and Broadway-style show tunes. Large-sized, music-inspired icons outside and subtle song-and dance surprises inside provide a harmonious setting for music lovers of all ages.
Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort (Value Resort) – Get in the game at this Resort hotel that salutes the world of competitive sports, including baseball, basketball, football, surfing, and tennis. Go the distance and don’t be afraid to celebrate your inner fan amid sporty décor starring some of your favorite Disney characters.
Disney’s Art of Animation Suites (Value Resort) – Be surrounded in the artistry, enchantment, and magic of Walt Disney and Disney and Pixar movies. Stay at a Disney Resort hotel that invites you to explore the storybook landscapes seen in such classics as Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. From delightfully themed family suites to wondrously detailed courtyards, Disney’s Art of Animation “draws” you and your family in to become a part of some of your animated favorites.
Disney’s Pop Century Resort (Value Resort) – Experience the unforgettable fads of the 1950s through the 1990s all over again. From yo-yos and Play-Doh® to Rubik’s Cube® and rollerblades, this Resort hotel salutes the timeless fashions, catchphrases, toys, and dances that captivated the world through the decades.
HOW TO CHOOSE A DISNEY RESORT
So now that you’ve decided you want to stay on-property, how do you choose which resort? There are nearly innumerable considerations, but let us give you some factors to consider:
- Cost: Of course, right? Your budget will absolutely play a part and something you’ll want/need to consider.
- Location: With your budget in mind, think about how you want this trip to go. Will you be focusing on just one or two parks? Will you be going to multiple? Hopping between multiple each day? These things may impact where you want to be.
- Room Quality: Yes, you’ll be able to save some money staying at a Value resort. However, if you expect to spend a considerable amount of time in the room you may not enjoy it as much as if you were at a Moderate or a Deluxe.
- Size of your group: With greater numbers come more considerations. Especially if you expect your group will break-up during the day. Some may stay back for the pool while others go park hopping. Would you like to split up rooms or try to all be in the same suite?
- Theme: All Disney resorts will have a theme or some theming. There is a significant difference though between the theming at Wilderness Lodge, Caribbean Beach, and Art of Animation.
- Dining: The resorts with the greatest quality and selection are those in the Epcot area. Not only do you have significant in-resort options but also relatively easy access to the World Showcase and Epcot and Disney Springs.
- Amenities and Recreation: This is something else to genuinely consider if you intend to spend significant time at the resort. Some resorts offer unique recreation opportunities and more elaborate pools. Most of these are still available to you even if at another resort, they’ll just be less convenient.
- Nightlife: The Epcot and Disney Springs resort areas offer the most nightlife options for you. The extensive happenings at the Boardwalk and the numerous bars and restaurants at Disney Springs.
Feeling Overwhelmed? Let Us Help YOU!
Heyday Travel Company can plan a Disney vacation that’s perfect for you. We are a free Disney travel planner with expert knowledge of the entire Disney catalog and Universal Parks destinations. No matter where you want to go, our experienced team is excited to help you make it happen. We provide our service at no charge, so you’ll only have to pay for the vacation itself. If you want help planning a Disney trip that’ll make your dreams come true while also fitting your budget, let’s talk!