What You’re Forgetting When You Choose a Disney Resort Hotel

There are 31 Disney-owned hotels on the Disney World property. They all differ in price, location, amenities, and more, so it can be hard to choose which one is right for you.

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

When choosing a Disney World hotel, the obvious things to consider are the theme and the price. Some Resorts have compelling themes — like Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge — and some have great prices — like the Value Resorts. But some other variables aren’t so often debated.

We’re taking a look at some things that you might not have considered when choosing the best resort for your stay.

Transportation

There are several ways to get around in Disney World, including the bus system, the Monorail, the Skyliner, boats, and even your feet! Check which options are available at your Resort so that you’re prepared to find the best route possible when you just want to get to the Parks ASAP.

Monorail Transportation
Epcot Monorail

With so many transportation options, it’s important to note that many of the Resorts with multiple transpo types are Deluxe Resorts. We’re talking Resorts like those on the Magic Kingdom Monorail loop, which are all Deluxe and also offer bus, boat, and walking path access to the Parks.

Grand Floridian Walkway

The only Moderate Resort with multiple transportation options is Caribbean Beach, which is the hub for Skyliner. In the Value Resort category, the only Resorts with an option beyond the bus are Art of Animation and Pop Century, which share a Skyliner station.

Art of Animation/Pop Century Skyliner Station

Ultimately, you’ll need to decide if multiple transportation options are important to you and if you’re willing to pay more to get them.

Distance from the Parks

The distance from your hotel to the parks will affect how long you have to wait to get on transportation, how long that commute takes, and how frequently transportation goes between the hotel and parks.

Disney Bus

If you have a favorite park, consider finding a resort that’s closer to that park so that it’s easy and quick to get there! If your favorite Park offers different types of transportation, you may use that as another factor to choosing a proximal Resort.

Resorts Closest to Magic Kingdom

Some of these resorts have multiple options to get to Magic Kingdom, like walkways from the Contemporary and Grand Floridian and boat rides from those, the Polynesian, Fort Wilderness, and Wilderness Lodge.

Magic Kingdom Bus Stop

Resorts Closest to Hollywood Studios

There are walking paths to Hollywood Studios from the BoardWalk Inn (with longer walks from the other Resorts on Crescent Lake — Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Swan and Dolphin), and the bus ride is pretty short from the other resorts in this area, too. Skyliner access at Hollywood Studios also connects this Park to Skyliner Resorts.

Hollywood Studios New Walkway from Bus Stops to Park Entrance

Resorts Closest to EPCOT

Some of these resorts have a few different options to get to EPCOT, including a bus, a boat, the Skyliner, and walking paths.

Monorail and Bus Entrance

Resorts Closest to Animal Kingdom

From all of these resorts, you can get a relatively short bus ride to Disney’s Animal Kingdom! Animal Kingdom has no other forms of transportation available.

Animal Kingdom Bus Stops

Resorts Closest to Disney Springs

All of these resorts have buses and boat services to Disney Springs!

Disney Springs Bus Stop

The Problem with Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is the largest Disney park by far, beating the others by more than 100 acres of land! The park itself is big, and there’s extra land around it to keep the animals that you see in the park and on the Kilimanjaro Safaris ride. Because of its size — and to protect the animals from all the noise of other parks and fireworks — Animal Kingdom is also the farthest park from most resorts.

Animals on the Safari

Animal Kingdom Lodge is located close to Animal Kingdom, so it’s a shorter trip there but farther from the other parks. Just be aware that these two spots are a but farther out, which might mean longer bus rides and a longer wait at the bus stops in between. But being near Animal Kingdom has its perks — one of them is the awesome views that guests get when they stay at the lodge! That leads us into the third thing to consider: Views!

Views

If you’re planning to spend some time at your resort, it’s good to know what you can see out the window! Some resorts have great views of nighttime fireworks shows, and others just have really pretty land around them that makes for a great backdrop. Here are the Disney World hotels with some of the best views.

Savannah Views

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can request a Savannah View room, which means you’ll get to look out over a savannah habitat and the animals that call it home!

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge — a room with a view!

In our opinion, it’s really hard to beat this view, which means you basically get to have a safari as your hotel room!

Magic Kingdom Views

If you’d rather watch Cinderella Castle and nighttime Magic Kingdom fireworks, try Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, or Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

When fireworks are running, California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort offers spectacular views of the show!

Contemporary is right beside Magic Kingdom, so it has the best views of the park and fireworks. Polynesian and Grand Floridian are just across Seven Seas Lagoon, so the castle looks tiny, but you can still see fireworks every night that they blast off.

EPCOT Views

EPCOT has a fireworks show as well, which you can see from some rooms at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn!

Epcot Forever Fireworks 2
Epcot Forever fireworks show as seen from the Showcase Plaza in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida on Friday, December 6, 2019.

One of the best places to see fireworks from BoardWalk is in the Concierge Lounge. Club-level rooms with a garden view are the best for seeing the fireworks from a room.

If you don’t mind long-distance views, some rooms at Riviera Resort and at Coronado Spring’s Gran Destino Tower may offer limited views of EPCOT’s fireworks.

Just Pretty Views

There are some resorts that just have gorgeous grounds that are pretty even without special events and fireworks views! One of these is Disney’s Coronado Springs. Coronado Springs has a blend of Spanish, Mexican, and Southwest styles, and the buildings are arranged around a lake. This is a picturesque spot to relax, and the base of Gran Destino Tower has some long, lovely benches you can use for just that purpose.

Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort also has really pretty grounds around the resort, including beaches on the lake! You can hammocks and lounge chairs here, too!

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

The grounds of both Port Orleans Resorts are lovely, and we dig that the landscaping at Art of Animation varies depending on which part of the Resort you’re passing through.

Cars Section

When choosing a Resort hotel for your vacation at Disney World, consider whether you want to spend more for particular views. A theme park view at Grand Floridian, for example, is going to dwarf the price of a parking lot view at a Value Resort — but maybe for you it’s worth the splurge (or not at all worth it).

Amenities

Dining

One of our favorite Resort amenities is the available dining options. There are a few resorts that have some stand-out restaurants and snacks spots. Port Orleans — French Quarter, for example, has the beloved Mickey Beignets and some tasty Jambalaya.

Mickey Beignets at Port Orleans French Quarter

The Contemporary Resort has a few good restaurants, like California Grill and the Wave…of American Flavors. Right now, the Wave is closed for renovations, but you can still get its breakfast upstairs in the California Grill space.

The Wave Feast

At the Polynesian Village Resort, you’ll find ‘Ohana! It’s a family-style restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner, which both have Polynesian-inspired food.

ALL the food

And, honestly, some of the AllEars staff just love a decent food court where everyone in the family can get what they want. Consider what works for your group in terms of dining. Do you just need something quick and easy? A Resort with a food court might be good enough for you. Do you need a solid Table Service option or just more than one option? You’ll need to budget for a Moderate or Deluxe Resort in that case.

Pools

Another amenity to consider is Resort pools. At Coronado Springs, the Fuentes de Morro pool makes a big statement.

Lost City of Cibola Pool

The Uzima Pool at Animal Kingdom Lodge gets points for its beautiful setting. 

Uzima Springs Pool

Art of Animation has a massive pool — the Big Blue Pool — but we love its smaller Cozy Cone Pool, too.

Cozy Cone Pool at Art of Animation

But the pooliest pool of all the pools is Stormalong Bay, which spans both the Beach Club and Yacht Club and includes over three acres of water fun that includes a lazy river and a sandy bottom.

Stormalong Bay

If a Resort day spent poolside is a big factor for you, be sure to check on the number and type of pools at the Resorts you’re considering to be sure your selection has the relaxation you need.

Kitchens

If you’re planning to eat in your Resort room (or just bring back leftovers to heat up), you might want to get a Resort room with a full kitchen or a kitchenette. Resorts with kitchens are usually villas, such as at the Riviera Resort.

Riviera Resort Full Kitchen

Family suites usually have at least a small fridge and microwave, which is usually enough if you’re just bringing back snacks or leftovers. You’ll find family suites at Art of Animation and at All-Star Music (though these are few in number).

Art of Animation Lion King Family Suite

The Cabins at Fort Wilderness also offer full kitchens, and they’re considered Moderate Resorts. Definitely worth checking out if you want to compare and contrast Resort options with kitchens and kitchenettes.

Spas & Fitness Centers

If you’re looking for some more relaxing amenities, a few resorts have spas on the property. You’ll find these at the Grand Floridian, Saratoga Springs, and the Animal Kingdom Lodge. These spas offer classic treatments like facials, massages, and more.

Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

Ultimately you’ll want to take time to consider what you want from your Walt Disney World Resort hotel. Are you going to be at the Parks all day and just using your Resort as a place to recharge? Will you want to spend time at your Resort and enjoy some of the amenities your stay includes? Perhaps you’re a foodie looking to sample everything the World has to offer. All of these factors and more should play into your decision.

Click Here to See Our Ranking of the Disney World Hotels by Their Transportation!

Which Disney World hotel is your favorite? Tell us in the comments!

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2 Replies to “What You’re Forgetting When You Choose a Disney Resort Hotel”

  1. Another thing they forget is the huge cost for parking. I think this alone pushes people off Disney property. Not everyone flies to Disney.

  2. I find with the Disney resorts that the money you spend on your resort determines how long you spend your vacation in a Disney transportation vehicle. If you go economical (All Stars, Animation (ariel rooms)) you will be walking a long way to the bus stop (there is only one for the resort) or skyliner. Moderates: you have to pay extra to be closer to the action (food court, gift shop, and pool); Port Orleans Riverside is best for that. Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter have a boat ride to Disney Springs. We are upgrading to Deluxe after walking a lot at Caribbean Beach the last time we went. At Caribbean Beach, we walked a bit from Martinique (upgrade, close to food court) to the Skyliner (we wanted to stay at P.O. Riverside but it was closed). Wilderness Lodge has less walking (everything in one building). We hope to go to Polynesian next time.