There are a lot of Walt Disney World Hotels to choose from when planning a trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth. In fact there are 18 resort hotels alone that are owned and operated by Disney. Each of them others something unique and special for you. They also can accommodate almost any budget from Value resorts to Deluxe Villa resorts. No matter what you’re looking for in a Walt Disney World Hotel you’re sure to find something!
We’ve had the opportunity to stay at ALL the Walt Disney World Hotels and are happy to recommend one to you based on review. We’ve integrated a star rating system based on how well we enjoyed the hotel based on several things including comfort, service, amenities, and location. Be sure to click on the individual hotel to read about what it has to offer, the things we loved and the things we didn’t.
Before we get into that though let’s break down how the Walt Disney World Hotels are categorized.
Value resort hotels are the cheaper hotels with rates starting in the $80+ per night. They tend to be smaller rooms (2 double beds, not 2 queens) and are located typically the furthest away from the theme parks. Many people who know they don’t spend a lot of time in their room vs. theme parks stay here. Just a short resting place. This is where the Walt Disney World Hotels start.
Moderate resort hotels are great step up from the Value resorts. We would recommend these above a value resort any day. They typically offer rooms with 2 queen beds and have a better location to the parks and better amenities and grounds. Some are really great for Walt Disney World Hotels and some not so much.
Deluxe resorts are the bomb. With these it’s location, location, location. If you want to be close to the magic and the theme parks these are the places to stay. Much better amenities than the moderate and value resorts and most of them offer great views of the theme parks and more modes of transportation to theme including by boat.
Deluxe Villa Resorts
There’s not too much of a difference between Deluxe Resorts and Deluxe Villa Resorts. Technically all the Deluxe Villa Resorts are located at Deluxe Resorts (with a few exceptions) but have different room options. Villa’s are part of Disney Vacation Club but because they’re not always booked all the time guests not part of DVC can book these rooms. So other than the room types and a few locations, it’s the same at Deluxe Resorts. They’re still at the top of the Walt Disney World Hotels list.
Our Top 4 Hotels
We get asked this all the time: what hotel would you recommend the most? It’s a loaded question but when we get right down to it we know which hotel we’d stay at based on the category. So it goes:
In the Value Resort category we will always choose Disney’s Art of Animation for a few reasons. First, it’s the newest hotel in the Value Resort category. Second, it’s location is closest to the theme parks when it comes to transportation. Third, the rooms are super fun and family friendly.
In the Moderate Resort category we stay at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter. Cobblestone streets, gas lamps, and the smell of fresh beignets just has us coming back for more. It’s a really fun atmosphere at night with live Jazz bands and strolls along the river. You can also take a boat from the resort to Disney Springs.
In the Deluxe Resort category you can find us relaxing on the boardwalk at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. Location is everything for use and the Boardwalk Inn is the best location for the theme parks. Walt to EPCOT in 5 minutes, walk to Hollywood Studios in 10 minutes, take the monorail from EPCOT to Magic Kingdom, and bus to Animal Kingdom. You can also take boats to Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. The less busing to and from theme parks the better we always say!
For Deluxe Villa Resorts we always stay at Disney’s Boardwalk Villas. You can see that we love the Boardwalk Resort and highly recommend a stay there. There are tons of shops and places to eat on The Boardwalk. You can find everything from seafood to steaks to pizza. The ESPN Club is a favorite of ours to catch a game and some great food. There’s always live entertainment throughout the day and a fun lightlife including dancing and bowling.
Our NOT Top 4 Hotels
Yes, we have hotels that we would not stay at again. We’re not saying you should go to these hotels because they’re so awful and disgusting. They just didn’t meet our needs or wants in a Walt Disney World Hotel. If you read about them and think you’d like the stay, go for it!
All-Star Resort’s are not our favorites by any means and yes we understand that we just eliminated 3 hotels technically by saying that. They seem to be full all the time, the busing system is crazy because they get long lines (because a lot of people of staying at them), and they are far away from the theme parks. Plus the rooms are small and they only offer 2 double beds instead of 2 queens which is kind of a bummer.
Caribbean Beach Resort is not a favorite of our either. Although it is a Moderate Resort it’s the most crowded and biggest Moderate Resort. This means there’s always a lot of people staying here and the busing system takes for-ev-er to get you anywhere. The reason this resort is so crowded? It’s pricing per night is really close to that of the Value Resort’s..so given the opportunity when booking, a guest will choose to spend $10-$20 more per night to jump from a Value Resort category to a Moderate Resort category.
Saratoga Springs is an interesting Deluxe Villa Resort. It’s technically an all DVC resort but it’s never filled with members so they always have rooms available. This place is super spread out though. Some of the building are pretty far away from the lobby and restaurants. Here’s our biggest complaint: it’s not taken care of very well. Especially the building’s furthest away (non-preferred rooms). It has the feeling of being old and running down sort of. Also all the rooms are the outside doors meaning there are no enclosed hallways to walk through to get to your room. You’re outside then you’re inside your room. We’re not big fans. The busing system is also not that great.
The Swan and Dolphin Resorts close out our NOT Top 4 Hotels. While their locations are good everything else about the hotels is mediocre. Now we must admit that for the price and location, these are great. No issues there. The hotels though have a casino feel to them, they’re always packed with conferences so even though it doesn’t transpire much into the theme park part of things, when you’re at the hotel it’s busy. The rooms are older and not super great. The big killer with these resorts? The dreaded resort fee or as they call it the “service package” fee. It’s $28 per night plus taxes and fees. Bleh. None of the Walt Disney World Hotels charge a resort fee.
Staying on Property has it’s Benefits
Walt Disney World Hotels have many benefits to them including:
- Early entry and late stays at the theme parks: Each day, Disney chooses one theme park where guests of their property hotels can enter the parks earlier than the general public and stay later. This ranges from 1 hour to a few hours depending on the season.
- Magical Express: Free motor coach from Orlando Intl. Airport to your hotel and back upon departure.
- MagicBands: If you’d know much about MagicBands you can read our guide here. To get to the point, MagicBands are FREE when you stay at a Walt Disney World Hotel. It’s like a $12 value per band. They’re very handy to have!
- Free Room Delivery: Anytime you purchase something in the parks, you can have it sent to your room free of charge. That way you don’t have to carry it around all day. Whew!
- Free Park transportation: Disney will shuttle you from park to park for free on their buses. There’s no need for a car unless you prefer to drive yourself.
There’s more but you get the idea. Walt Disney World Hotels have their benefits compared to staying off property. Which leads us into our next section:
There are several to choose from and we have our favorites here too. We won’t go so deep into these as we did the property hotels above but here’s a favorites:
Four Seasons Resort Orlando is incredible. It’s not blasting Disney but it has it’s subtle touches here and there including a Character Dining Breakfast. It’s the only AAA 5 Diamond Award hotel in Central Florida. It’s also expensive…
We love staying at Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort, Disney’s “Best Kept Secret.” There’s also a Hilton and Waldorf Astoria Hotel on this property. Tons to do including a great pool area with lazy river and splash pad. Great views of the Walt Disney World Resort, golf course, and tons of restaurants.
savings on Walt Disney World Hotels
There are savings to be had when it comes to booking a Walt Disney World Hotel. We recommend Park Savers if you want a good deal on your hotel. They are always lower than booking direct with Disney(including sales and offers) and have great resources to help you find the exact hotel and room you’re looking for.
Outside of booking with Park Savers we would recommend booking with your travel agent or membership with AAA or Costco. Never pay rack rate for a Walt Disney World Hotel room. Even Disney offers discounts on rooms year-round. You just need to shop in advance, typically 4-5 months for the best deals on rooms.
Read our reviews on each of the 18 Walt Disney World Hotels and see what we thought of them! Our system is a simple star ranking based on several things including comfort, service, amenities, and location. We also give you some great tips and tricks to use at the hotel to make your stay even better. Simply click on the hotel below to read our review of it.