Are you planning a trip to Disney World and are trying to figure out the best Disney World hotel for your vacation? Then look no further. I have been to Disney World several times and have toured so many of the Resort Hotels. While I’ve only stayed at a handful of them, I have been inside many of the hotels. There are many perks and benefits to staying at Disney World resort hotel. There are also some downsides. In this Best Disney Resort Hotel Guide, I’ll detail everything you need to know about the best Disney World hotel options. I’ll explain the different Disney Resort levels, which hotels are my favorites, and why. Keep in mind these are all my personal opinions. Let’s get into it!
Table of Contents
My Picks for the 10 Best Disney World Hotel Options on Property
1. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Without a doubt, my top pick for the best Disney World hotel has to be Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. I had the great pleasure of staying at this fantastic Deluxe resort a few years ago, and it has remained my favorite since. I’ve been back to have dinner there a few times since. At this Africa-themed Disney Resort Hotel, you can have a room that looks out onto their savanna with live animals such as giraffes, zebras, gazelle, and much more. It is truly magical to walk out onto your balcony and see these beautiful animals grazing.
The hotel itself is absolutely gorgeous with its theming. Beautiful African artifacts can be found throughout the hotel, and there are African influences everywhere. Even if you don’t have a room that looks out onto the savanna, there are multiple lookout spots where anybody can enjoy the animals from. The resort has fantastic restaurants and bars. The pool is gorgeous as well, with flamingos nearby. I cannot say enough fantastic things about this beautiful hotel. It is definitely on the higher end of the price, but I genuinely believe it is worth it. Without a doubt the best Disney Resort Hotel.
2. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Located in the Magic Kingdom Resort area is my second pick for the best Disney World Hotel, the Polynesian Resort. I haven’t stayed here as a guest since I was a kid, but I remember it very well. The entire resort is beautiful with Hawaiian theming everywhere you look. There are fantastic restaurants and even views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the resort. Although it is currently not running because of the ongoing pandemic, one of my favorite experiences in all of Disney is coming to the Spirit of Aloha show here at the resort. At this show, you’ll see hula dancers, fire dancers, and much more with an all you can heat lūʻau feast. The Polynesian Resort is definitely one that you should visit, even if you don’t plan to stay here. They have great character meals here as well. Definitely one of the best Disney World hotel options!
3. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Probably the most luxurious and beautiful Disney Resort Hotel on this list is the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. This is also located in the Magic Kingdom Resort loop and has access to the monorail to the park. The resort itself and surrounding grounds are immaculately kept and truly beautiful. I have never stayed at this hotel as it is one of the most expensive of them all. But I have been many times for drinks and dinner. They even have live piano music playing in the lobby. I highly recommend coming for drinks or a meal and just wandering around the grounds. This resort hotel is probably out of most people’s price ranges but you can still enjoy the grounds. If you are looking for a romantic stay, this is probably the best Disney World Hotel for couples.
4. Disney’s Port Orleans-Riverside
The best Disney Resort Hotel in the moderate category in my opinion is Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside. This beautiful hotel is themed after New Orleans with a southern style that is showcased all over the resort. You will find lots of references to The Princess and the Frog at this hotel. It is a bit of a more affordable hotel option compared to some of the others on this list. I have never stayed at Port Orleans Riverside so I can’t comment on how the rooms are but I have seen plenty of pictures and they look great. This is one of the best Disney World hotel options in the mid-range budget category.
5. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Similar to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is a country lodge-themed resort hotel. This hotel focuses on the typical American lodge experience with high ceilings and exposed wooden beams everywhere. There is lots of bear and mountain-related theming going on, all with a fantastic pool and beautiful grounds. You won’t believe some of the plants they have here considering you are in Florida. The hotel is a bit smaller but has absolutely beautiful interiors. If anyone if your group is a log cabin wilderness lover, they are sure to enjoy this as one of the best Disney Resort hotel options.
6. Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
Within walking distance to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn is one of the best Disney World hotel options in this resort area. Located on Disney’s Boardwalk which is a nod to the Atlantic City Boardwalk, there is so much to see and do. This is not the cheapest resort by any means but I feel like you get a pretty decent amount for your money. Being in such close proximity to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios is definitely a huge plus. Plus the boardwalk area is super cute and fun. There are arcades, lots of bars and restaurants and even ice cream stands here. The hotel itself has some great places to eat and all the amenities you could want at a Disney Resort Hotel.
7. Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort
Also along with the Boardwalk areas and within walking distance to Epcot and Hollywood Studios are Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts. I say resorts because they are technically two separate entities but are basically connected as one. Some great amenities of these resorts are the man-made beach, sand-bottomed pool, lazy river, and access to the Boardwalk area. The entire resort is nautical-themed and absolutely gorgeous. The close proximity to the parks and fantastic theming make this another great option for the Best Disney Resort Hotel.
8. Disney’s Contemporary Resort
One of the most iconic hotels at Disney World is Disney’s Contemporary Resort. While it may not be the most contemporary thing nowadays when it was built this hotel was quite modern. The hotel is located in the Magic Kingdom Resort area and famously has the monorail go straight through the building into the lobby. There is also the ever-popular Chef Mickey’s restaurant here which is a character meal with your favorite Disney characters dressed in their cooking attire. The resort itself is quite expensive and might not be my favorite but it’s not a bad option if you want to stay super close to the park. You can be at Magic Kingdom within 10 minutes of a ride from your hotel room. With amazing proximity to the most popular theme park, this may be the best Disney World hotel for families that love Magic Kingdom.
9. Disney’s Port Orleans- French Quarter
Similar to Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter is themed in a similar New Orleans style with more emphasis on the French-specific theming of the area. They are both moderate resorts and so have “motel” style rooms where you walk outside to get to your room. This is one that I have never personally been to but during a trip, I have researched this extensively. I was planning on staying at Port Orleans French Quarter for a trip in 2015 but last minute decided to upgrade to Animal Kingdom Lodge. But from all my research this is a fantastic place to stay for a moderate resort. This is another one of the best Disney World hotel options for a moderate budget.
10. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
The only value resort on this list is Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. This is probably the best Disney World hotel for saving money while still enjoying the immersive experience at these Disney Resort levels. There are other value resorts but I think that this is the most attractively themed. As you walk around the hotel, you get to see the sketches of the creation process of some of the most beloved Disney characters. The entire theme is to immerse the guest into the “art of animation” or the creation of animation. The rooms at the value resorts are all pretty similar as far as design goes but this one seems to be the best in my opinion.
Why Stay at a Disney Resort Hotel
There are so many great reasons to stay on Disney property to make your trip all the more magical. While staying on Disney property is definitely more expensive than a chain hotel or even an Airbnb, there are a lot of perks that come along with Disney hotels. It really depends on what your budget is and what you expect to get out of your vacation. It also depends on the size of your party and how easily you want to be able to get around. I have stayed both on Disney property and at Airbnb during my several trips to Disney World and there is definitely a major difference.
Perks of Staying on Disney Property
- Some of the perks of staying on Disney Property include:
- Transportation – From monorails to buses and boats, all transportation between your Disney Resort Hotel and the parks is included so you don’t have to worry about driving the entire trip. This can allow everyone in the group to have more fun without worrying about getting around. The transportation systems at Disney are very efficient.
- Early Park Access- By staying at a Disney Resort Hotel, you get access to “Early Magic Hours”. These are special times when the parks open an hour or so earlier or later with only Disney Resort Hotel guests having access to the park. This gives you a slightly more private time at the parks before the regular day guests arrive.
- Themed Resorts– All of the resort hotels have a special theming to Disney. You’ll get to see your favorite Disney characters in the artwork around the hotel. Each hotel has a special theme, with some being more kid-oriented with others being quite glamorous.
- An Immersive Disney Experience– Whether traveling with children or just as a couple, you get the full immersive Disney experience when staying at one of the resort hotels. The customer service at Disney is truly amazing and they really go the extra mile to make sure you and your party have a magical experience.
- Convenience– It is extremely convenient to stay at Disney Resort Hotel. From check-in to the day you leave everything is super easy and seamless. If you want a less stressful vacation as far as convenience goes, best to stay at one of these best Disney World hotel options.
Disney Resort Levels Explained
When choosing the best Disney Resort Hotel for your vacation, you’ll come across different Disney resort levels. These different levels represent different price points and styles of accommodations. There is a Disney Resort Hotel for every budget in every level of comfort. Some of the best Disney World Hotel options can reach prices that are absurd while other times you can get pretty decent deals. But anyway, here are the Disney Resort levels and what they each mean. Keep in mind with the ongoing pandemic that some hotels may not be open so check the official Disney World website for the latest up-to-date information.
What Each Disney Resort Level Means
- The Different Disney Resort Levels
- Deluxe Villas– The top tier of the Best Disney World hotel options are the deluxe villas. This option includes larger size accommodations usually including a kitchen or kitchenette and is designed to be more luxurious. These are located at the Deluxe Resort Hotels but are a different stay than just a usual hotel room. You can expect to pay the most when choosing this option.
- Deluxe Resort Hotels- The Deluxe Resort Hotel options are the most luxurious hotels on Disney property. These include some of the most iconic hotels like the Grand Floridian, Contemporary, and Polynesian Resorts. These large hotels have every amenity you could want from multiple on-site restaurants and bars, large swimming pools, immersive experiences, and the highest end of customer service and quality. These are also very expensive.
- Moderate Resort Hotels- The Moderate level hotels are usually a little more budget-friendly but still have amenities like restaurants and highly themed areas. These are usually in “motel” style, though you walk outside to get to your room instead of staying inside a hotel with a lobby and halls leading to your room. These are still very nice hotels though. If you need to save money, these might be the best Disney World hotel options.
- Value Resort Hotels– Value Resorts are the most affordable budget option for staying at a Disney Resort Hotel. These usually have some theming but are not as refined as some of the other hotels. There usually are still amenities at these hotels but not as many restaurant options and the pools might not be as large or luxurious. If you plan to spend the majority of your time at the parks and don’t care how fancy the hotel is, this could be a great place to save some money!
- Campgrounds– There is a campground on Disney World property if you plan to bring an RV or a tent. This is the absolute cheapest option but you obviously have to bring your stay with you. You are just renting a campsite. There are some facilities but don’t expect too much.
The Best Disney Resort Hotel Guide Conclusion
As you can see, there are so many options for the best Disney World hotel for your vacation. No matter which Disney resort levels you choose to stay at, you’ll be able to experience the magic of Disney. Obviously, the best Disney resort hotel is all just a matter of opinion. I have always enjoyed my stays and experiences at these hotels. I may have a bit of expensive taste so keep that in mind with this guide. With the costs of staying at Disney rising, sometimes it makes sense to go with a more budget-friendly option so you have more money to spend at the parks. That is completely dependent on what your priorities are for your vacation.
Either way, I hope that you found this Best Disney World Hotel guide to be helpful in your decision-making for your trip. There are so many different options at each of the Disney Resort levels. For more of my Disney World related content, check out these blog posts here. If you enjoyed this blog post, please consider sharing it with your friends. Also, be sure to follow me on social media to stay up to date with my latest content and all my travels. Also, if you’d like to be notified when I post new content be sure to sign up for my email list. Thank you so much for visiting my website!