Ranking the Magic Kingdom Resort Hotels

No two Disney World hotels are the same, but when you’re deciding on where to stay, you might consider some important factors like transportation, location, and pricing.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

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.

It’s time to break down Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

Location

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.

Grand Floridian Walkway Sign at the Magic Kingdom

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.

Transportation

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.

Monorail at Contemporary Resort

On the other hand, Wilderness Lodge relies mostly on boat transportation, which can be a lot slower. All four resorts also offer bus transportation to the parks.

Dining

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).

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

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.

Territory Lounge

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.

Enchanted Rose

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.

Theming

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.

Wilderness Lodge

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.

New Moana-themed rooms

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.

Grand Floridian

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.

Pricing

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.

Wilderness Lodge rooms ©Disney

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.

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5 Replies to “Ranking the Magic Kingdom Resort Hotels”

  1. Always loved the Poly, since my first stay back in 1994. However this past stay (June/July 2021), was terrible (the previous week at OKW) was much better. Many items to list — things in room broken / not working, poor food quality and terrible transportation.

    Would recommend other (and possibly off site locations) given this poor experience.

  2. Our All Time Favorite is the Polynesian. We went there for our Honeymoon in 1972 . And again for our 25th anniversary and now we are planning on staying there again for our 50th in June of 2022 . So Excited it has that island feel and the food is so good. We try to go Disney every couple of years all of the hotels are excellent but this is truly our Favorite!

  3. The Grand and Poly for food , staff, theme and selection of restaurants. The grand edges out the pPoly by a nose as they have better restaurants and staff.

  4. I think if you are an Epcot fan than the Epcot resorts are a no brainer and the boardwalk gives you a ton of extra options like restaurants and a unique setting. If you spend most of your time at MK then you would probably be better off at one of the big 3 on the monorail line JMHO

  5. Over the years I have been graced with being able to stay at each of these resorts. I will rank these from least favorite to my own personal best.

    4 – WL Reason, very nice theme, awesome lobby and good food. Only boat and bus transportation. Too far from other resorts & park.

    3 – GF Reason, Lack of theme throughout the resort. Albeit, very nice for adult trips. And by the way, I am not a fan of paying that price and having to walk outside in the elements to get from your room to do anything, like; eating, shopping & transportation.

    2 – CR Reason, I like the CR. Albeit it can be very busy. Which equates to noise if you are staying in a tower room. Views are, IMO, not very good for what you pay. Let me explain, the lake view is my favorite. If you are paying for a MK view, that’s great, so long as your eyes can avoid looking at the parking lot below your balcony. That is a shame, for the cost.

    1 – Poly Reason, I love staying in the DVC Villas or resort building close to these. Being able to walk to the TTC for the monorail to MK or Epcot, priceless. Taking the launch boat or ferry, very relaxing. And this past May, I would go for my walk in the very early am over to the MK. Then continue on to the CR. Grab a coffee and then either take the Monorail back to the Poly, walk or take the launch boat.

    Food at the Poly is good. You also have easy access to both the GF & CR. And you can take the launch boat from the CR to the WL and continue on to FW for the HDDR. That’s awesome.

    The grounds are stunning. And the music on the beach in evening, looking across the Seven Seas Lagoon at MK & Cindy’s Castle. Absolutely, great way to unwind, relax enjoy an adult beverage & a cigar. With no one else around. When most folks have turned in for the evening. I think I am being transported there right now.

    I do have 1 negative. And to me it is a big one. If you are staying in a building over looking the lake and close to the TTC. You always hear the horn from each of the ferries, every time they arrive & leave the dock.

    That’s My2Cnts.