Disney Hotels and Resorts :: An Overview

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Disney's all star music resort pool area
I have stayed at 5 Disney resorts and visited several others, and I can honestly say, I haven’t seen a Disney hotel or resort where I would NOT want to stay. They are all gorgeous and beautifully themed.

You may or may not know that Disney has three levels of resort options. The deluxe resorts are the most expensive and as Disney puts it “the ultimate in luxury, style, and comfort.”  They start at $250 a night and go up and up and UP from there.

Some of the deluxe resorts include villas with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a full working kitchen. We’ve gone three times as a large extended family and each time we’ve stayed at a different deluxe resort villa — Old Key West, Bay Lake Tower and Saratoga Springs. Our favorite by far was Bay Lake Tower, but all three are lovely and spacious and perfect for a group our size — 5 adults and 3 kids.

I’ve been on several press trips and stayed in regular rooms at the Beach Club Resort and the Yacht Club Resort. Beach Club and Yacht Club are next door neighbors and very similar. I like both very much. The theming is very posh and both resorts are spacious and comfortable.

disney yacht club

I have also been to the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary for meals, and both are incredibly luxurious as well as incredibly convenient due to their location on the monorail.

The value resorts are the cheapest.  They are geared towards families with young kids, and the themes are bright and colorful and fun. I’ve toured the All Star Music and Art of Animation resorts on my recent blogger trip to Disney. They were much nicer than I had expected, and with rooms starting at $82 per night, quite affordable.

Disney Art of Animation Resort Pool

Then falling somewhere in the middle are the moderate resorts. I have never seen a moderate resort, so I can’t say much about them. I do know that rooms start at $149 a night. Disney describes them as “an enchanting combination of amenities and value” and I’ve heard great things from people who have stayed at Port Orleans and others.

You can see pictures of all the resorts on disney.go.com.

Staying at a Disney resort means extra amenities such as extended theme park hours, complimentary airport service, complimentary resort transportation, the Disney dining plan, package delivery, and more. Do I sound like a travel brochure yet?

Of course there are plenty of non-Disney accommodations, but I don’t have any experience with them. As I’ve talked with people who have stayed off Disney property, they say they like it because they can get a break from the Disney experience. And of course, the Disney faithfuls say that is exactly whey they like to stay on property, so that they never have to leave the Disney magic. At least, not until they enter the Orlando airport. I can speak from experience that there is no Disney magic in the Orlando airport. See my post about my trip home if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

In a nutshell, there are lovely accommodations for most budgets available at Disney World. What’s your favorite?

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Comments

  1. says

    We went to Disney World in March and we stayed at the All-Star Music Resort. (We actually stayed in the building with the huge maracas in your picture.) The nice thing about that resort is that they have regular hotel rooms and suites. The suite had a living room, bedroom, kitchenette, and two bathrooms! The living room had a pull-out couch, pull-out chair, and an ottoman that was a pull-out bed too. The only downside to staying at this resort was that you had to take a bus everywhere.

    We had dinner at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and I would love to actually stay there sometime.

    The last time we went to Disney (10 years ago) we stayed at the Contemporary and we found that much more convenient for getting to the parks, but our room was much smaller (and had only 1 bathroom.)

  2. says

    Oh my grapes – I haven’t been to Disney since I starting having kidlets 11 years ago. I’m going to have to break down and take them one day soon, I suppose. I want to wait until the youngest is old enough to DO something besides stand beside me and watch everyone else have fun on the rides. I’m thinking next year when she’s four is a good time.

    Great info!

  3. says

    I have stayed at Yacht Club, Wilderness Lodge, The Polynesian, Port Orleans, and the one that’s like Mexico–what’s it called? Darn. Can’t remember.

    I’ve loved them all. Yacht Club has the best pool (with a sand bottom). Wilderness Lodge has a great rustic design and great restaurants. The Poly has a great view of the fireworks via the beach. Port Orleans was one of my favorites because we looked out over the riverboat route. The other one–the Mexico theme–had a neat pool too. It’s mostly for adults attending conventions and it’s very spread out.

  4. kelly says

    We have stayed at the Disney Wild Animal Lodge ( I forget the offical name) VERY VERY nice….and just a month ago we stayed at Disney Pop Century. Very nice also.

    I enjoy Disney Resorts because you just walk out of your room and catch the shuttle bus to any Disney park…VERY EASY. Also they provide aiport transfer in a very big and comfy bus. :) LOVE IT.

    On this past trip, we didn’t even have to pick up our luggage at the airport baggage claim, upon arrival. We had Disney Resort Tags, and a company collected our baggage and took them TO OUR ROOMS…all we had to do was get off the airplane and go to the shuttle bus to go to the resort. VERY NICE.

    Kelly S.

  5. says

    I actually have never stayed at any of the Disney resorts/hotels, but I think we will definitely consider it for our next family vacation after reading your post. I like the idea of the convenience of being close to the parks and the added “magic” of keeping the Disney theme alive for the entire vacation.

    With all this talk about DisneyWorld, I can’t help but wish there was more talk of DisneyLAND. Since I’m from Arizona, we’re much more likely to travel to CA and I’d love to hear more about the features of Disneyland (traveling with a toddler, hotel options, restaurant options inside the theme park, etc.). Did you think Disney will eventually branch out and do a Disney Moms Panel for DisneyLAND? :)

  6. says

    We live a grand 10 hours from Disney, so for mother’s day, hubby bought us all a DVC membership! I’m so excited to bring out little one every year. Our favorite is Beach Club — where you stayed — because of Stormalong Bay and the Sand bottom pools. We have also stayed at Saratoga Springs which is very nice because you can take the boat to Downtown Disney. All Star resorts are nice — stayed in them in High School with our dance team — they are really nice for a value resort!

    Has anyone done the dining plan? We are going in September and trying to decide if it’s worth it.

  7. says

    My family always loved Ft. Wilderness. We took our trailer and camped when I was older, but I know we stayed in a cabin when I was young. It was definitely not crowded-feeling (the part of Disney that I think people sometimes want to get away from), and was green and lovely.

  8. says

    We went to Disney last month and stayed at the Gaylord Palms Hotel & Conference Center (not a Disney hotel). We got a great deal b/c it is usually reserved for business travelers. It was a great hotel, a destination in itself, with lots of amenities (2 pools, huge splash area, putt-putt golf, alligator/snake habitat, plenty of restaurant options) but it still was not a Disney hotel. We were bound by their shuttle times or stuck paying extra $$$ for a cab. Sometimes that wasn’t a problem, but when we had breakfast reservations at the Beach Club, their shuttle wouldn’t have gotten us there on time. We won’t be going back until we can afford to stay on Disney property (and until our youngest reaches all minimum height requirements!).

  9. says

    We went to Disney over New Year’s and stayed outside of the park.
    I can honestly say, if you have young children, NEVER do that!
    It sucked…although our hotel was nice, transportation was awful.
    The hotel had shuttle service to the park, but it did not run at convenient times, so we took a cab everywhere.
    All in all, when we go back, we will be staying IN Disney.

  10. says

    I’ve stayed at Shades of Green (military hotel on Disney property-very, very nice ), Contemporary, Pop Century, and my families very favorite, The Polynesian. I think after staying at the Poly, we’ll have a hard time staying anywhere else because the whole experience was wonderful :) We’re Disney fanatics though, so if the only choice was camping out in Magic Kingdom’s parking lot, we’d do that too :)

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