You’ve made the decision to go to Walt Disney World and your whole family is excited. You will need to begin planning. You will make your travel plans naturally but one of the more challenging decisions is where you are going to stay. There are so many things to consider.
There are hundreds of hotels, condos, or Airbnb places to stay in Orlando. You may think it too costly to stay at a Disney Resort but some hotels close to Disney are more expensive than the resorts themselves. If you decide you’d like to stay at a Disney Resort what factors should you consider?
Here are a few things to help you make the right choice:
- 1) Price – Low to High
- 2) Proximity to the Parks
- 3) Amenities
- 4) Recreational or Shopping Opportunities
- 5) Theme
PRICES – LOW TO HIGH
The cost of where to stay affects everyone. Lodging is one of the first things to consider. Unless you are a DVC member and have points to use, you need to know and determine which resort to stay at based on the price. Do your research.
Some resorts listed below are less costly than some hotels close to Disney. If you are going to get the full experience of being at Disney, you need to stay at one of the many resorts.
Here is a list of some resorts from low to high. And remember “you get what you pay for.” If your budget allows, go for the medium to high resorts if you want a nice stay for the money. I have only listed the all the resorts here, for comparison. Check here if you’d like to see the full list.
Fair to Low Priced Resorts –
Disney’s Pop Century – from $153 per night plus tax
Disney’s All-Star Movie Resort – from $117 per night plus tax
Disney’s All-Star Music Resort – from $117 per night plus tax
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – from $184 per night plus tax
Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort – from $60 per night plus tax
Moderate to High Priced Resorts –
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – from $232 per night plus tax
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside – from $241 per night plus tax
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter – from $241 per night plus tax
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – from $246 per night plus tax
Disney’s Riviera Resort – from $356 per night plus tax
The Cabins at Fort Wilderness – from $362 per night plus tax
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – from $363 per night plus tax
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House – from $373 per night plus tax
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – from $374 per night plus tax
Disney’s Old Key West Resort – from $375 per night plus tax
Disney’s Animal Kingdom – from $379 per night plus tax
Higher Priced Resorts to Deluxe Villas –
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village – from $427 per night plus tax
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort – from $440 per night plus tax
Disney’s Beach Club Resort – from $440 per night plus tax
Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – from $451 per night plus tax
Disney’s Contemporary Resort – from $452 per night plus tax
Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – from $471 per night plus tax
Disney’s Boardwalk Villas – from $482 per night plus tax
Disney’s Beach Club Villas – from $482 per night plus tax
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn – from $484 per night plus tax
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
– from $525 per night plus tax
Disney’s Polynesian Village – from $530 per night plus tax
Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows – from $546 per night plus tax
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – from $621 per night plus tax
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – from $639 per night plus tax
Disney’s Treehouse Villas (at Saratoga Springs Resort)
– from $908 per night plus tax
Note: Make sure to check Disney’s resort prices and packages. When researching prices for this article I found in most cases booking sites like booking.com and trivago.com and others were $20-$40 higher than Disney’s resort prices. Do your research before you make your reservations. Often time Disney offers vacation packages that include lodging, tickets and meals that are budget friendly.
PROXMITY TO THE PARKS
If you are looking for a resort that is close to theme parks, you are in luck. There are several. You must decide which theme park you’d like to be closer to.
If you’d like to be closer to Magic Kingdom, you can stay at the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian, the Contemporary Resort or Bay Lake Tower. These are all within walking distance of Magic Kingdom. There is also boat transportation and the monorail. Just a short walk or ride on the monorail will get you to the park within minutes. You can also stay at the Wilderness Lodge which is a short bus ride or boat ride over the lake.
If you’d like to stay closer to Epcot, the Boardwalk, Beach Club Resort, Yacht Club Resort and the Swan & Dolphin Resorts are a ride on the “Friendship” boats down the canal or within walking distance. There are mini golf courses across the street also if you are looking for extra activities away from the parks.
If Hollywood Studios is your preferred them park, the Boardwalk Resort, Swan & Dolphin Resort, Beach & Yacht Club Resorts are very close. You can walk or take a short boat ride. Disney’s bus transportation also gets you there.
The new “Skyliner” (Gondola) also goes across the sky to Hollywood Studios from Disney’s Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach Resort, Pop Century and the new Riviera Resort, which just opened in December 2019.
Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite theme parks, but unfortunately there are no resorts close enough to walk. The Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village and Jambo House are just a short bus ride away.
Each Resort has their own special and unique qualities. They all offer different amenities, so it depends on what you are looking for as to which resort you and your family chooses.
If you are all about the amenities, each resort offers you and your family such a variety of extra activities. You just about can’t go wrong with any pick of the resorts. Most if not all the resorts have very large, beautiful swimming pools, a community center or arcade, a recreation area for tennis and basketball and all offer one or more modes of transportation to the theme parks, water parks and Disney Springs.
If you are looking for a nice simple stay with a few amenities you’ll want to look at Pop Century, Art of Animation and the All-Star Resorts.
For resorts with more outdoor space, walking paths, running paths or water sports you’ll want to check out Old Key West Resort, Wilderness Lodge, Port Orleans Resorts, Caribbean Beach Resort, Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and Treehouse Villas.
Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House or Kidani Village is the place to be if you and your family enjoy watching the animals. You’ll see the animals at all hours of the day.
For the more luxury type resorts with a spa you’ll want to check out the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and Coronado Springs Resort. These resorts have other amenities also like more upscale fitness centers.
RECREATIONAL OR SHOPPING OPPORTUNITIES
For those who look for extra recreational opportunities like golf, water sports or shopping, the resorts to check out are the Grand Floridian Resort with golf courses very close by or Saratoga Springs Resort with Lake Buena Vista Golf Course on the property. Water sports are available at the Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian Resorts, Beach & Yacht Club Resorts and Old Key West Resort.
If you are looking for a beach atmosphere and want to lay out in the sand and sun, you’ll want to check out the Grand Floridian Resort, the Contemporary Resort, Wilderness Lodge and Beach & Yacht Club Resorts.
For easy access to shopping opportunities you’ll want to stay at Saratoga Springs Resort which is within walking distance or a short boat ride across the lake to Disney Springs. The Boardwalk Resort also offers some shopping with its many shops and restaurants. Old Key West Resort and Port Orleans Resorts are also just a short bus ride or boat ride to Disney Springs.
Every resort has a different theme. Animal Kingdom Lodge has an African theme with live animals. Old Key West Resort has a coastal flair. Saratoga Springs, which is our favorite resort, has an old days Saratoga Springs, New York horse racing theme. The Caribbean Beach Resort has a Caribbean vibe with beaches, walking paths and music. The Polynesian Resort has a Hawaiian or Island theme.
Whichever resort you choose you will find it has its own unique theme and you may decide it is your favorite and keep going back to the same resort each time you visit Disney or you may want to see them all. One our favorite things to do at Christmas is to go resort hopping (more about Disney at Christmas). That way you can see the different resorts and decide if you’d like to stay there next time.
Remember, when you are planning a Disney vacation, do your research. Go to the Disney websites and look at the different resorts, compare their prices to the booking websites which are often more than Disney’s prices.
When planning with your family, write down some of the most important things to you, whether it is the price or proximity to the parks or more outdoor opportunities. Do you want more amenities and recreational activities outside the parks? Do you want to do some shopping? Do you just want to lay around the pool? The right choice for your family is our there.
These are all things to consider when making your plans to visit Disney World.
Have fun planning! And have fun at Disney!