Even though the main attraction at Walt Disney World is arguably the theme parks, the resorts make a HUGE impact on the guest experience!
Where you stay can completely change the outcome of your trip depending on transportation options, cost, and amenities.
Disney is known for having some top-notch resorts that are a cut above the rest, but some of the most popular resorts were almost VERY different!
The Magic Kingdom Resorts Are Some of Disney World’s Best
The Magic Kingdom area of Disney World is home to some of the best resort options! They’re minutes away from the most popular park, and they’re home to some spectacular theming and remarkable dining options. Each one is special for its own reasons — let’s discuss!
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
One of Walt Disney World’s two resorts that were available on opening day, the Contemporary Resort has a linear architecture with an A-frame design. On the main concourse on the 4th floor, you’ll find several restaurants, gift shops, and even a monorail station with access to the other monorail line resorts and Magic Kingdom.
The rooms here are getting a makeover to incorporate a new The Incredibles theme. There are several dining options throughout the hotel, including some upscale options, including the popular California Grill!
Disney’s Polynesian Resort
On the other side of the Seven Seas Lagoon lies Disney World’s other opening day hotel, the Polynesian Village Resort. This resort is getting some major updates, including recent renovations of the main guest rooms to fit a Moana theme.
Here you’ll also find several fan-favorite dining locations, including Kona Cafe, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, and ‘Ohana. It’s home to the Spirit of Aloha dinner show and some immersive Polynesian theming and decor. This is where you stay if you’re looking for a tropical vacation and a theme park vacation in one!
Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
A short boat ride away from Magic Kingdom is Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground with campsites and cabins available for your vacation.
This rustic resort is another property that has been around since 1971, and it has a lot of charm. It’s home to a couple of restaurants, including the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue dinner show, and during the holidays (like Halloween, Christmas, and 4th of July) many guests decorate their campsites and golf carts!
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Next door to Fort Wilderness, you’ll find the Wilderness Lodge, which has a National Park lodge feel to it. You could spend hours walking through the beautiful landscape or sitting in the grand lobby. Plus, the dining options are top notch; you can score some seriously delicious comfort food!
This is also one of the cheaper hotel options in the area, considering it’s a little bit further away from Magic Kingdom than the others. Staying here truly can feel like its own little quiet getaway, even though the theme parks are a bus or boat ride away!
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Sandwiched between Magic Kingdom and the Polynesian Village Resort is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. This property is made to feel luxurious and fancy, and it’s even home to Disney’s Wedding Pavilion!
The pristine white buildings include a breathtaking lobby and both regular and Disney Vacation Club guest rooms. Here, you’ll also be able to dine at several upscale restaurants, from Narcoossee’s to Citricos to the uber-luxe Victoria & Albert’s. And Grand Floridian recently got a walking path directly to the park!
These Resorts Were Almost VERY Different!
Those five options may be icons of the Magic Kingdom Resort area now, but they were originally planned to be VERY different. Disney envisioned opening three other Resorts with the Polynesian and the Contemporary — Resorts that never came to be.
The Asian Resort
The original plan for the plot of land where Grand Floridian is now was to build an Asian-themed resort, inspired by the architecture of Thailand.
It was supposed to open in the original phase of Walt Disney World with the rest of the Resort but was delayed due to the energy crisis of the 1970s. In the concept art, it looks very similar in design to the Polynesian Resort — they would’ve made great neighbors!
The Persian Resort
The next never-built hotel was the Persian Resort. It would’ve been located on the shores of Bay Lake and been home to a monorail station to connect it with the other resorts, the park, and the Transportation & Ticket Center.
It would’ve been representative of Middle Eastern architecture, and the Shah of Iran allegedly offered to fund the project in the late 70s. However, its progress was halted due to the Iranian Revolution.
The Venetian Resort
Finally, there were also plans to build a Venetian-themed resort between the Contemporary Resort and the TTC! This project has actually been planned and halted three separate times.
It was going to be themed after Venice, Italy, and was also originally put on hold because of the 70s energy crisis. This site was then chosen for a Mediterranean Resort in the 90s, but that time was canceled due to the fact that the land was too swampy. Today we have some form of European theming with the Riviera Resort.
If those three hotels had been built, just think how different Disney World would be today!
Which Magic Kingdom resort is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
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