Picking a Disney World Resort that is Right for You

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Picking a Disney World Resort
This guide to picking a Disney World resort considers cost, the number of guests, things to do and the distance to the parks.  The result is a resort right for you.

One of the two most worried about decisions when planning a Disney World vacation is picking which Disney World Resort Hotel to stay at. (The other is when to go.) Where to stay is based on what you plan to do at the resort, how many people can fit in the room and how easy it is to get to a park and how expensive it is.

For example – my 32 year old son and I recently went to Walt Disney World. My wife, Pat is not going. My son and my primary concerns were expense and spending as much time together in the park doing new attractions. Our choice hotel was Pop Century because the Skyliner was a big plus and the cost was inexpensive. Our concern was bathroom time (one is very slow). When discounts were announced we changed to two rooms in All Star Sports solving the bathroom issue and allowing each of us to have adult privacy at about the same cost.

When Pat and I go we have entirely different priorities. Restaurant options and in depth, adult theming are far more important. We are more likely to stay at a moderate or a deluxe resort.

We’ve accumulated a quick cheat sheet that can help you decide which resort is best for you and your family.

Picking a Disney World Resort
Deluxe Villas, like Old Key West, have studio, one, two and three bedroom options.

Picking a Disney World Resort Based on the Number of People in Your Party

The Disney standard room can accommodate four people plus one child under three in a room. King bed room in deluxe resorts can accommodate two adults and one child under 3 in a crib. While Tower Studio rooms in the Riviera can only accommodate two adults. The Disney Standard room is what this blog is based on.

However, Disney offers a variety of accommodation sizes. On the bigger end, there are Disney villas that can accommodate 12 adults and one child under three in a crib. To view the Room Occupancy Guide click here. Many of the resorts offer adjoining rooms with doors and these can be options for larger groups.

Picking a Disney World Resort
Deluxe Resorts, like the Contemporary, offer a wider variety of transportation option. At the Contemporary you can walk to the magic Kingdom or ride the monorail.

Picking a Disney World Resort Considering how to get to the Parks

Experienced Disney World fans can you that a chunk of your vacation travel to and from parks. Where your resort is located should align to what you are interested in. Generally, the more you spend, the closer you will be to the parks and the more transportation options you will have.

All resorts are on bus lines to each park, Disney Springs and the water parks and all buses are free. Buses run about every twenty minutes to each park except when the resort is connected via a Skyliner.

Value (Farthest) Moderate Deluxe / Villas (Closest to Parks)
Magic Kingdom These resorts are on the Monorail and have boat transportation to Magic Kingdom: The Villas at the Grand Floridian, Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, Copper Creek Villas and Cabins, Boulder Ridge Villas, Bay Lake Tower, Polynesian Village Resort, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Contemporary Resort,

 

This resort has boat transportation: Wilderness Lodge

Epcot Caribbean Beach Resort has Skyliner access to Epcot or Hollywood Studios You can walk to Epcot from these resorts or take a boat to Hollywood Studios: Boardwalk Villas, Beach Club Villas, Disney’s Yacht Club, Boardwalk Inn, Beach Club Resort

 

The Riviera Resort has Skyliner access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios

Animal Kingdom All Star Sports, All Star Music, All Star Movies Coronado Springs Kidani Village, Jambo House, Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney Springs – All resorts have boats to Disney Springs Port Orleans – Riverside, Port Orleans – French Quarter Saratoga Springs Resort, Old Key West
ESPN Wide World of Sports Both Art of Animation and Pop Century Resort have Skliner Access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios
Picking a Disney World Resort
Moderate Resorts, like Caribbean Beach, have adult theming, pools with sides and table service restaurants.

Picking a Disney World Resort based on Amenities

No Disney resort is without amenities or charm. Each resort has a pool or pools, restaurants and bus transportation. As you “Buy Up” you will get more options to eat, play and relax between park experiences. Listed below is a side by side “quick comparison”. If you want a more complete comparison go here.

Theming and Recreation

Value Moderate Deluxe & Villas
Theming Kid Friendly Grown Up Feel – Lush Landscaping Elegant and Consistent throughout
Pool (s) – If multiple there will be one main themed pool and multiple smaller pools Themed Themed With Slide Well Themed With Slide
Arcade Yes Yes Yes
Playground Yes Yes Yes
Recreation Centers & outside Sports (ex: Tennis, Basketball courts) Yes
Exercise Jogging Trails (most) Nice Jogging Trails Gym, Jogging Trails
Marinas and Water Activities If on water

Rooms

Value Moderate Deluxe & Villas
Rooms open to Outside Corridors Yes Yes No – Inside Hallways
Rooms with Private Balconies Many
Bed Size Double –
Pop Has Queen
Queen Queen
Special Themed Rooms Available
Separation Between Bathroom and Sink Curtain Door Door

Restaurants/Food

Value Moderate Deluxe & Villas
Food Court/Quick Service Yes Yes Yes
Table Service Restaurant Yes Yes
Fine Dining/Character Dining Gran Destino Tower Yes
Microwave/Refrigerator only to Complete Kitchen Yes – Varies
Picking a Disney World Resort
Value Resorts, like Pop Century, feature over the top, kid friendly theming.

Picking based on Cost

Disney World uses a surge pricing system. Surge pricing anticipates the demand for a room. Therefore, room rates are more expensive on busy days than on less busy days. Detailed room rates by day can be found here (select any resorts you are interested in).

Average Weekly Costs
This chart displays the effect of surge pricing on a weekly basis.

The charts below shows the average cost of the resorts throughout the year. These costs are based on the lowest price standard room (4 people plus an under 3 year old in a crib). Deluxe resorts are based on the lowest price deluxe studio.   Using these charts you can compare costs for each hotel. Actual costs are based on time of year you are planning to visit.

So, what do you look at as the main priorities for when planning your Walt Disney World Resort hotel stay? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter!

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