With over 25 Walt Disney World (WDW) Resort hotel locations to pick from, finding the right resort for you can be based on budget, location convenience, or theme. WDW has 3 different categories of resorts: Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. The amenities and room accommodations match the category of choice as well as closeness to the parks. Yes, staying on property is part of being close to the parks, but since Walt Disney World spans over 40 square miles – roughly the size of San Francisco or twice the size of Manhattan, even on the property will require some travel time between your resort and the parks.
Deluxe resorts are closest to the parks, moderates further away, and value resorts even further away.
To help with the decision making, here is an example quote (as of today November 15, 2019):
*pricing subject to change
Dates: February 20-27, 2020
1 Adult, 2 Children (12,5)
Ticket Details: 7-Day Ticket with Park Hopper Option
Disney Dining Plan (one table service meal, one counter service meal, two snacks per person per night of stay plus a refillable resort mug for each guest)
Disney’s Pop Century Resort (Value Resort) – $4,777.78
(Preferred Room – 1 Queen Size Bed and 1 Queen-Size Table Bed – smaller than an average size hotel room)
Disney’s Port Orleans -French Quarter Resort (Moderate Resort) – $5,316.65
(Garden View – 2 Queen Beds – average size hotel room)
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (Deluxe Resort) – $6,848.90 ($8,598.28 for Savanna View)
(Standard Room 2 Queen Beds or 1 Queen Bed & 1 Bunk Bed – Deluxe Accommodations – by Animal Kingdom)
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort (Deluxe Resort) – $8,590.40
(Deluxe Studio – Standard View – 1 Queen Bed & 1 Double-Size Sleeper Sofa -Deluxe Accommodations on monorail system by Magic Kingdom)
*prices subject to change and availability
If you plan on visiting Magic Kingdom a lot during your trip and expect to go back and forth to your room for naps, staying near Magic Kingdom is going to save you a lot of time and energy. Being on the monorail line (as well as walking distance for some) makes going back and forth between your resort and the park so much easier than staying at a value or moderate resort. You won’t have to wait in line for the buses and be exhausted from the bus ride back and forth. The convenience can be worth the extra money. Especially if you stay late for fireworks or one of Mickey’s famous parties. And how much it worth to be able to watch fireworks from your balcony and stare at Cinderella’s castle until you fall asleep.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is, of course, by Animal Kingdom. It actually connects to Animal Kingdom at the safari and yes the animals do come to visit. You can literally sit on your balcony and watch them. While it may not be as close to the other parks, if you and/or your little one is an animal lover, this is the perfect place for you. I even got excited my first night there to walk out on my balcony and see giraffes eating leaves from a tree outside my room. You would have thought I had never seen a giraffe before. Lol
Beach Club Resort is a Once Upon a Vacation favorite. It is walking distance (or short boat taxi ride) from Epcot and Hollywood Studios. You can also catch the monorail from Epcot and head right over to Magic Kingdom. Buses are also available. The Yacht Club Resort and Boardwalk Inn are close neighbors to this resort.
If the deluxe resorts are breaking the budget, that leaves us between moderate and value. I only recommend the value resorts if everything else is maxing out your budget. Trust me, we’ve all been there and understand – so no judgment. I will be staying at one next week myself. But we also want to make sure you understand the difference so you know what to expect when you get there. (And it is still WAY better than staying off property.) The moderate resorts give you more conveniences as well as more space and a double vanity if that’s important to you. The value resorts are smaller than an average hotel room with only 1 vanity (unless staying in a suite). Pop Century (value), Art of Animation (value), Caribbean Beach (moderate), and Riviera (moderate) now have the new Skyliner transportation system and they all have bus transportation. Both Port Orleans resorts have boat taxi’s to Disney Springs as well. The value resorts tend to be more cartoon themed, while the moderate resorts have a mix of cartoon and not-so-cartoon themed rooms/areas. To me, it also makes a difference when the last renovation has been done. Even with Disney, rooms will start getting dated and it has to wait its turn for a facelift. That played a factor in my current trip that I’m planning. It was last minute trip and the only choices I had were All-Star Sports (value), All-Star Movies (value), or Saratoga Springs (deluxe). Saratoga Springs (my preference of the 3) was $1,000 more – putting it out of my budget. All-Star Sports was the least expensive but needs updating. All-Star Movies is newly renovated – which made my decision for me.
All of the travel advisors at Once Upon a Vacation do our best to stay up to date on renovations as well as pair you with the resort that fits your needs best. Every client’s needs are different and that is why there are so many options to choose from. And that is why we are here to make those decisions easier.
Amanda Howell has been with Once Upon A Vacation since 2016 and has visited Walt Disney Destinations over a dozen times. She enjoys traveling all over the world and lives in Mississippi. Find her on social media @OnceUponAVacationAmandaHowell (or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)