But even if you narrow location down to resorts in the Magic Kingdom area, you still have four hotels from which to choose — so how do you decide?
We’re ranking each Magic Kingdom Resort hotel based on a number of deciding factors.
One of the main factors you might consider is how close your Resort is to Magic Kingdom. Two hotels win in this category; the Contemporary and the Grand Floridian are close enough to Magic Kingdom that you can walk there. Both also have access to the Monorail.
The Polynesian comes in third in location because it does have access to the Monorail, though a walk to the Kingdom would be lengthy. And Wilderness Lodge comes in last because it’s just not as accessible to Magic Kingdom; you’ll need to take a boat.
This leads us to transportation. Being able to get to and from Magic Kingdom easily as well as to other Disney World parks is important. And again, the three Monorail resorts win out here: Contemporary, Grand Floridian, and the Polynesian.
When it comes to dining, the Polynesian wins this category — which isn’t to say the other Resorts don’t have decent dining; indeed, they’re all destinations for dining even by those not staying there.
What the Poly has going for it is that there are so many highly-prized and guest favorite Table Service and Quick Service locations at this resort, including ‘Ohana, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, Kona Cafe, Kona Island, Capt. Cook’s, and Pineapple Lanai (where you can get Dole Whip in a number of flavors).
Dining is where Wilderness Lodge shines, too; the dining options here are high quality and often underrated. You’ve got Territory Lounge, Whispering Canyon Cafe, Roaring Fork, Artist Point, and Geyser Point Bar & Grill.
If it’s more upscale dining you want, though, Grand Floridian is the resort you want to book. Not only can you dine like royalty at Victoria & Albert’s, but you can also grab a meal in the Mary Poppins-themed Citricos, eat some fresh seafood at Narcoossee’s, have cocktails in the Beauty and the Beast-inspired Enchanted Rose, grab Quick Service at Gasparilla Island Grill, and try brunch favorites at Grand Floridian Cafe.
The Contemporary Resort does have some decent dining options, but not as many are dining destinations. Here, you can enjoy fine dining at California Grill or get some Quick Service at Contempo Cafe. Soon you’ll be able to order a steak at Steakhouse 71, and you can dine with Mickey and friends at Chef Mickey’s. For coffee and pastries, try Contemporary Grounds.
Honestly, we have to say that all four Resorts knock dining out of the Park, but guests tend toward the Polynesian, primarily to enjoy family style dining at ‘Ohana.
But what if you want to stay somewhere that has extra-magical theming? This is where Wilderness Lodge comes out on top. It’s inspired by turn-of-the-century national park lodges, and you feel like you’re staying in the middle of a grand national park rather than in the middle of Disney World. There are tons of outdoor vistas here that can take your breath away, along with nature trails and forests. These connect to Fort Wilderness Resort, where you can compound your feeling of being out in the wild by participating in things like archery, horseback riding, and fishing.
Moana fans are in for a big treat at the Polynesian, though. The rooms here just recently got completely renovated and now sport a theme dedicated to Moana. Even the Cast Members working here now sport Moana-themed outfits. These rooms offer a bright and fresh style.
Next up is the Grand Floridian, which really lives up to its “grand” name; from the moment you arrive in the lobby to the moment you get to your room, this hotel just screams “luxury” in a way that only the Grand can.
By comparison, the rooms at the Contemporary are fairly boring and plain. Big Disney fans have lamented the lack of a “Disney” feel here, but for adults who’ve wanted a grown up feel, Contemporary has been a solid choice. However, that’s about to change as the rooms are getting a new Incredibles theme, making them sleeker with an understated, mod look.
Finally, for most families, one of your most important priorities when staying at a Magic Kingdom Resort (or, really, any Resort) is price. All of the Magic Kingdom Resorts we’re comparing fall into the Deluxe Resort category, so they’re priced accordingly. However, Wilderness Lodge is the most affordable of the four, with room rates averaging around $500 per night.
The Contemporary comes in next at around $675 per night, while the Grand Floridian runs around $700 per night. The Polynesian is the most expensive of the four and runs around $825 per night. Note that these rates also depend on the time of year you visit Disney World, so they could fluctuate upwards quite a bit and downward… a bit.
When deciding on a Magic Kingdom-area Resort, it’s tempting to say you really can’t go wrong. Every option has incredible pros and few cons. But to help you decide which is right for you, decide which variable discussed above is most important for you and your traveling party, and work from there. Happy planning!
Which of the Magic Kingdom-area Resorts is your favorite? Let us know why it tugs at your heartstrings by commenting below.