Walt Disney World Resort Recommendations

Photo credit: Heidi Carvalho

In the Walt Disney World Planning Guide, one of the steps is to start with finances/budget, because Disney has 3 levels of hotels. They have value, moderate and deluxe. When I am asked “What hotel would you recommend?”, I refer them back to deciding a level first, because choosing 1 resort without knowing their budget is moot.

Polls were conducted in our Facebook group, All Access Disney Group, to help you choose a resort on each level. In addition to choosing their choice for a resort for people who will have children under the age of 12 in their vacation party, polls were conducted for people who have children over the age of 12 and no children at all in their vacation party.

Tip: These polls do not include Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Resorts/Rooms, which are available for anyone to book a reservation, but many non-Disney Vacation Club Members are not aware they are an option. All DVC resorts are deluxe resorts. The top recommended resort would not change, but your room location/building location could change if you wanted to stay in a DVC resort. For ways to save money on a deluxe DVC resort stay, click here to read about renting DVC points for your stay. Join our Disney Vacation Club group for more DVC information.

To see the differences between all 3 levels, take a look at this page showing the differences between Deluxe resorts and Moderate resorts and this page showing the differences between Moderate resorts and Value resorts.

Deluxe Resort With Children Under 12

  1. Animal Kingdom Lodge
  2. Wilderness Lodge
  3. Polynesian Village
  4. Contemporary Resort
  5. Yacht Club
  6. Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  7. Beach Club
  8. BoardWalk Inn

Animal Kingdom Lodge is very popular for people with children due to the animals. As an adult, I LOVE staying there for the comfort, the peace and quiet, the animals, etc. Animal Kingdom Lodge is my favorite resort so this does not surprise me that it came in at #1 for the Members’ choice. It took 44% of the votes. Wilderness Lodge took 19% of the votes. This is my 2nd favorite place to stay. It is more compact, it is a stunning resort and I LOVE the option to take a boat for transportation to the Magic Kingdom. It may take longer, but I prefer to take the boat to the Contemporary and take the monorail from there to go to Epcot. Both of these top chosen resorts have some of the best table service and quick service restaurants on Walt Disney World property.

Deluxe Resort With Children Over 12 Or Without Children

  1. Animal Kingdom Lodge
  2. Polynesian Village
  3. Wilderness Lodge
  4. Contemporary Resort
  5. Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  6. Beach Club
  7. Yacht Club
  8. BoardWalk Inn

As I said above, Animal Kingdom Lodge is my favorite as an adult. It does not matter if I have kids with me or not. Once again, this is not surprising that Animal Kingdom Lodge is the “chosen one”. While it is number 1, the votes were more spread out over the top 4 resorts. Animal Kingdom Lodge took 32% of the votes, Polynesian took 27%, Wilderness Lodge took 19% and Contemporary took 13% of the votes. The biggest bonus for Contemporary, in my opinion, is the ability to walk to the Magic Kingdom. Not having to wait in line for the monorail, which can be rather lengthy, AND, the ability to avoid the mass exodus to transportation after the fireworks is priceless. Just walk back to the Contemporary. Yes, you may be tired from walking all day, but you either stand in line for a long time waiting to get on the monorail, which could be an extra hour or more, or walk an extra 10 minutes to get back to your room.

Moderate Resort With

Children Under 12

  1. Port Orleans French Quarter
  2. Caribbean Beach
  3. Cabins at Fort Wilderness
  4. Port Orleans Riverside
  5. Coronado Springs

Port Orleans French Quarter took 38% of the votes. It is more compact than Port Orleans Riverside. If you want to see the differences between these two resorts, click here for details. Numbers 2 and 3 were close with total votes (21% and 19%). Choosing 1 out of the top 3 would be tough for me, but if I had to choose one……no. I can’t. They are all good. I would choose the one that has the least expensive nightly rate in order to choose from the top 3 at this point. To see a video of a cabin, click here.

Moderate Resort With Children Over 12 Or Without Children

  1. Port Orleans French Quarter
  2. Port Orleans Riverside
  3. Cabins at Fort Wilderness
  4. Coronado Springs
  5. Caribbean Beach

Port Orleans French Quarter dominated this poll taking 46% of the votes. As you can see, Riverside got bumped up 2 spots and took 26% of the votes. The cabins took 15% of the votes. If I had to choose one from the top 3, I would choose Port Orleans French Quarter for this particular category.

Value Resort With Children Under 12

  1. Art of Animation
  2. Pop Century
  3. All-Star Movies
  4. Campsites at Fort Wilderness
  5. All-Star Music
  6. All-Star Sports

Art of Animation took 50% of the votes. Pop Century took 29% of the votes. Numbers 5 and 6 did not get any votes at all. You really cannot go wrong with 1 or 2. Click here to see a video of a room at Pop Century. At this point, if I had to choose between 1 and 2, I would choose the one with the least expensive nightly rate.

Value Resort With Children Over 12 or Without Children

  1. Pop Century
  2. Art of Animation
  3. All-Star Movies
  4. Campsites at Fort Wilderness
  5. All-Star Sports
  6. All-Star Music

Pop Century and Art of Animation were very close with votes (38% and 37%). Like I said in the poll above, “you really cannot go wrong with 1 or 2”. All-Star Movies took 18% of the votes. All-Star Music did not have any votes at all.

If I was going to Walt Disney World with my significant other for the first time without kids, I would splurge a little and choose a moderate resort or a deluxe resort. There are 3 levels of resorts for a reason. Take a look at this page about pros and cons of staying at a value resort. Some minor negatives could be huge to some people.

From a personal point of view, I always stayed in a moderate resort until we decided to splurge once and stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge. That is when we learned about Disney Vacation Club, became a member and have stayed in a deluxe resort 99.9% of the time. The only time I have not stayed in a deluxe resort since becoming a DVC member was due to lack of deluxe resort availability due to a last-minute addition to my trip. In that case, I go with a moderate, but I have stayed at Pop Century once on my solo trip to WDW, also, which was good, but I am not fond of the transportation. Take a look at this video, which shows you how to maneuver from your room to the Magic Kingdom (Including bus transportation. I talk about the double bus at 5:55). Now that the Skyliner is at Pop, I do not know if they still use the double bus, but I know that the wait for a bus can be lengthy and WDW cut the number of buses during certain times to encourage use of the Skyliner.

Keep in mind that I am an avid Walt Disney World guest and I spend more time in the resorts than first-time or infrequent WDW guests. First-time guests will spend more time in the parks than the resorts. Some people just want a place to sleep and shower so staying in a value resort is good enough for them. There are differences between each level or there would not be levels at all. Be sure to look at this page showing the differences between Moderate resorts and Value resorts. There are some differences that are important to me which is why I prefer to stay in a moderate resort at a minimum.

To learn more details about Disney Vacation Club, click here for the guide.