The Definitive Guide to the Best Disney World Hotels

by | Mar 8, 2024 | Walt Disney World Resorts, WDW Blog

What are the best Disney World hotels? We’re sharing the answer in our definitive and comprehensive guide to staying at Walt Disney World.

Are you planning a trip to Disney World and feeling overwhelmed by all the available hotel choices? Staying on property at a Disney hotel is a wonderful immersive way to experience the most Magical Place on Earth. But comparing the different resorts, price ranges, and amenities can also be stressful.

The Best Disney World Hotels

Well, today is your lucky day! Here is THE definitive guide to the best Disney World hotels. And no need to worry, as my selections and opinions are 100% correct. I’m kidding, of course. Disney resorts are a very personal choice. What’s right for some is not for others. But this guide will help narrow down your choices and give you a great starting point as you consider which hotel to stay at. 

Best Resort for Families with Young Children

If you are visiting Disney World with young children, Disney’s Art of Animation should be at the top of your list. First, the theming here is incredible. Children and adults alike will enjoy the massive statues and scenes featuring characters from Finding Nemo, The Lion King, Cars, and The Little Mermaid.

Photo by Laurie Sapp

Most of the rooms here are family suites as well. These larger rooms feature a separate bedroom and two full bathrooms, making it perfect for traveling with children. Young kids can also enjoy the pool, splash pad, and playground. And don’t forget easy Skyliner access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT!

Our Pick: Disney’s Art of Animation

Best Resort for Families with Older Children

If your children are older, I recommend Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort primarily for one reason: Stormalong Bay. This is considered by many to be the best swimming pool across all Disney resorts.

Stormalong Bay

Stormalong Bay. Photo by Danny Shuster.

This massive water park area features a lifesize ship, a large water slide, and a sand-bottomed pool across its 3 acres. This resort is also a short walk to the International Gateway at Epcot, the Skyliner station, and the Boardwalk. It is also home to many popular restaurants like Beaches & Cream, Cape May Cafe, and Yachtsman Steakhouse.

Our Pick: Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort

Best Resort for Couples

Looking for a couples getaway to Disney World? Consider a stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort, a hotel that will make you feel like you’re on a romantic escape to Europe. While the theming may not be particularly appealing to children, adults will find plenty to be excited about here. Topolino’s Terrace not only has arguably the best character breakfast but also provides a signature dining experience, all with beautiful views.

View from Topolino's Terrace at Disney's Riviera Resort

The view from Topolino’s Terrace. Photo by Danny Shuster

Bar Riva is another fan favorite, with guests from all over Disney World coming to this popular pool bar for some food and drinks. And EPCOT is also just a short Skyliner ride away.

Our Pick: Disney’s Riviera Resort

Best Value Resort

If you are looking to get the best bang for your buck at a Value Resort, look no further than Disney’s Pop Century Resort. It’s generally priced in between the All-Star resorts and Disney’s Art of Animation. However, the defining advantage here is that it still provides access to the Disney Skyliner. Not only can it conveniently take you to not just Hollywood Studios and EPCOT, but also Caribbean Beach, Riviera, Yacht & Beach Club, and the Boardwalk.

Photo by Danny Shuster

So if you have dining reservations at any of these resorts, just hop on the Skyliner to be quickly whisked away. It’s also just a great ride to go on, even if you don’t have anywhere specific to go! Art of Animation is next door as well, which is a great resort to walk over to and tour the larger-than-life characters there.

Best Budget-Friendly Resort

The best resort for smaller budgets is Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort. I pick this one over All-Star Music and All-Star Sports because of the theming. Unless you have someone in your party who absolutely loves music or sports,

All Star Movies Resort

Photo by Andy Jerzewski

All-Star Movies has the best all-around theme. From Toy Story to 101 Dalmatians, this resort features areas themed after several Disney films and features the same type of giant characters found at Art of Animation, but at a much lower price. However, it is important to note that All-Star Music is the only one of the three that offers family suites.

Our Pick: Disney’s All-Star Movies

Best Moderate Resort

Many people would argue that since Caribbean Beach is the main hub for the Skyliner, that makes it the best Moderate Resort. But I am going to challenge that and say Coronado Springs is the best in this category (sorry, Port Orleans fans). What gives it the edge for me is the newest addition to the resort: Gran Destino Tower.

gran-destino-tower_2022-walt-disney-world-resort-hotel-spring-and-summer-discount_featured_svenson

Gran Destino Tower. Photo by Brett Svenson

This building not only provides additional room options, but it makes Coronado Springs the only non-Deluxe Resort with a club level, which grants club level room guests access to a special lounge with food and drinks included. Coronado also has a fantastic pool around a giant Mayan pyramid and several excellent dining options, including Maya Grill, Toledo, Three Bridges, and a whole host of lounges and bars.

Our Pick: Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Best Deluxe Resort

Here’s the thing with Deluxe Resorts. They may be incredibly expensive, but they all provide an amazing experience. And regardless of which hotel I pick, I will have hordes of devoted fans of other resorts that will send me hate mail. So with that said, the best Deluxe Resort is… drumroll please… Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

poly-resort-lobby_reasons-to-stay-at-disneys-polynesian-village-resort_svenson

A look inside the Polynesian Village Resort lobby. Photo by Brett Svenson

The theming is fantastic and is home to ‘Ohana, one of the best restaurants at Disney World. Its convenient location allows guests to take the monorail, boat, or even walk to Magic Kingdom!  You can also watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach, where they pump in the music from the show while you enjoy a Dole Whip from Pineapple Lanai. And if you have the cash, you can even stay in an overwater bungalow!

Our Pick: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Best Resort for a Unique Experience

Did you know you can camp in a tent or RV at Disney? How about shooting a bow and arrow at the archery range? Have you ever wanted to ride a pony, rent a bike, canoe, kayak, or fish in the most magical place on Earth? You can do all this and more at Fort Wilderness!

hoop dee doo revue, best disney world hotels

Photo by Jeff Chiu

Fort Wilderness can’t be beat if you are looking for the most unique stay while at Disney World. If you prefer glamping, there are cabins available as well. And don’t forget the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, an all-you-can-eat dinner show!

Our Pick: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campgrounds

Best DVC Villas

I rarely use the acronym IYKYK, but if I had to apply it to a Disney resort, it’d be Disney’s Old Key West. This Disney Vacation Club resort flies under the radar of many guests, but it’s one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed at. It is the first Disney Vacation Club resort built and provides boat service to Disney Springs.

It also includes Olivia’s Cafe, which many guests would include on their list of favorite underrated restaurants at Disney World. The rooms here are also larger than many other resorts, yet is one of the cheaper Deluxe-level resorts you can stay at, especially if you rent DVC points. If you want a relaxing and quiet atmosphere with big rooms, this is the place for you.

Our Pick: Disney’s Old Key West Resort

Best Resort for Foodies

While Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is known for its savannahs filled with exotic animals that can be seen from your hotel room, it is also home to some of the best restaurants you’ll find at Disney World. Now granted, you need somewhat of an adventurous palette to truly enjoy the dining here.

animal kingdom lodge, best disney world hotels

Photo by Danny Shuster

But this hotel offers the power trio of Boma, Jiko, and Sanaa. Enjoy African-inspired buffets at Boma, a signature dining experience at Jiko, and Indian-influenced African dishes at Sanaa, including the famous Bread Service that comes with naan and NINE amazing sauces. One thing is for sure: you won’t go hungry while staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge!

Our Pick: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Best Resort During the Holidays

Fans of Disney’s Grand Floridian may get upset that I didn’t choose their favorite resort, especially since it features the famous life-sized gingerbread house. But for me, nothing beats the Wilderness Lodge during the holiday season.

There’s something about the rustic decor surrounding the giant Christmas tree that works so well together, and it just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This resort also has the popular Geyser Point Bar & Grill and the Whispering Canyon Cafe, where servers bring you food and plenty of sass and shenanigans to go around!

Our Pick: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

And there you have it. Hopefully, this guide has been helpful as you plan your next trip to Disney World. Let us know which resort you end up choosing!

Posts by David Lee

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David is a corporate operations leader by day and a travel writer by night. He is a lifelong Disney fan and a self-proclaimed Dole Whip enthusiast. There's a good chance you'll find him planning the next trip to take his family on, whether it's to Disney World, a National Park, or some remote island halfway across the world. You can follow his other passion (Disney World and travel photography) on Instagram at @smallworlddavid.
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Authored by
David Lee

David is a corporate operations leader by day and a travel writer by night. He is a lifelong Disney fan and a self-proclaimed Dole Whip enthusiast. There's a good chance you'll find him planning the next trip to take his family on, whether it's to Disney World, a National Park, or some remote island halfway across the world. You can follow his other passion (Disney World and travel photography) on Instagram at @smallworlddavid.
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