We have recently covered the Disney attractions that you have done after experiencing once and the Disney restaurants you have done after dining at once. So now it’s time to look at the Disney Resort hotels.
There are twenty-two Resort hotels to choose from when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. The Resorts are split into three categories, offering something to suit every budget. The three categories are Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. Additionally, there are the Disney Vacation Club Resorts to experience for Guests looking for a little more luxury. The Disney Vacation Club Resorts are generally extensions of other Disney hotels, except for the following Resorts where all accommodation is a Studio or Deluxe Villa:
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
But which Disney World hotels do you only need to stay in once? Let’s look at the Disney Resort hotels that we think are done after one stay.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
We’ll begin with the newest Disney Value Resort in Lake Buena Vista. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort opened in 2012 and immerses Guests in Disney animation. The Disney Resort is located at the end of the Disney Skyliner line, across Crescent Lake from Disney’s Pop Century Resort. There are four sections to the Resort:
- the Cars (2006) section
- the Finding Nemo (2003) section
- The Lion King (1994) section
- The Little Mermaid (1989) section
Each section has larger-than-life characters and is home to themed Guest rooms and suites. The family suites can be found in the Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King sections, while The Little Mermaid section is where regular Guest rooms are located. But why is it a Resort that you only need to stay in once?
The family suites are something to consider for Guests with larger parties. However, they do come at a cost. While Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is only classed as a Value Resort, it is generally expected to be more expensive to stay in than any of the Moderate Resort hotels. The Moderate Resorts include Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, and Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.
Guests who are happy with a standard Guest room can expect a particularly long walk back to their Guest room throughout their stay. Standard Guest rooms are located in The Little Mermaid section, which is at the furthest point of the Resort. Guests are also located a fair distance from the front desk, bus stop, merchandise store and quick-service location, and the Big Blue Pool, the main pool at the Disney Resort. Be prepared to do extra walking when staying in Disney’s Art of Animation Resort if you plan on staying in a standard Guest room.
We love to visit Disney’s Art of Animation Resort during a Disney vacation. Still, you’ll find us choosing to stay in its neighbor Resort, Disney’s Pop Century, for a lower price but an equally great location.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Located across the street from Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is inspired by Mexico. The Disney Resort is now home to Gran Destino Tower, which offers Guests the first Moderate Resort Club Level experience. The addition of Gran Destino Tower to the Disney hotel has brought different dining experiences for Guests to enjoy, making Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort the Moderate Resort with the most restaurants. The restaurants that Guests can dine in at the Disney Resort hotel include:
- Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood
- Three Bridges Bar & Grill at Villa del Lago
- Six Sports Bar & Grill
- Barcelona Lounge
- Siestas Cantina
- Maya Grill
- Cafe Rix
- El Mercado de Coronado
- Laguna Bar
Guests can choose to stay in a standard Guest room located around the edge of Lago Dorado or in a Guest room that may offer fireworks viewing in Gran Destino Tower. The pool area at Disney’s Coronado Springs is inspired by a Mayan and Aztec pyramid, making for a picturesque pool area to spend time at.
But when it comes to Disney Moderate Resorts, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is the hotel you can check off your list after staying once. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, the Resort is large, requiring multiple bus stops. This has been known to cause delays for Guests wishing to use the Walt Disney World Transportation System Buses, particularly in the early morning. The Disney Resort is also located closest to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, making for a long bus journey to Magic Kingdom Park and Disney Springs.
Disney’s Coronado Springs is also home to a convention center that is frequently used throughout the year. Guests whose vacation coincides with a convention at Disney’s Coronado Springs may find that the Resort is busy with convention Guests, causing noise around Guest rooms early in the morning. This is helpful if you plan on an early morning during each day of your vacation, but if you are a light sleeper or hope to have a slower morning, your plans may be disturbed.
We love to visit Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort to take a stroll and enjoy the restaurant choices available. However, we’d choose to stay in Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter Resort.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Disney’s Beach Club Resort is located on the shores of Cresent Lake and just a short walk from EPCOT International Gateway. Its location also makes it perfect for accessing Disney’s Hollywood Studios quickly and provides easy access to multiple dining and merchandise locations in its neighbor Resorts. Known for its pastel blue and green buildings, this Deluxe Disney Resort is the place to kick back and enjoy a seaside escape. Guests can enjoy character dining in Cape May Cafe at breakfast and a seafood buffet in the evening. Disney’s Beach Club lobby and grounds are relaxing places to sit, and The Solarium is the place to relax and have some family time around a board game.
Guests staying in Disney’s Beach Club have the pleasure of being able to access Stormalong Bay. It isn’t just any pool area but a water park offering a lazy river, water slide, sand-bottomed pool, and jacuzzi spa. Disney’s Yacht Club Guests can also use Stormalong Bay, with the pool area between the Deluxe Disney Resorts. Stormalong Bay is a reason to stay in Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, as access is only granted to Resort Guests.
But why can you check this Disney Resort off your list once you have stayed there? Stormalong Bay most definitely entices Guests to return to Disney’s Beach Club and its close proximity to EPCOT theme park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you are looking for theming, we felt underwhelmed by Disney’s Beach Club Resort. The Guest rooms are decorated in neutral tones, and the lobby lacks the grandeur of other Deluxe Disney Resorts. In terms of theming, we prefer the more luxurious feel that Disney’s Yacht Club provides. Alternatively, we like the activities and surroundings offered by a Disney Skyliner stop away from EPCOT in Disney’s Rivera Resort.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Located on the shores of Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, Disney’s Contemporary Resort is an original hotel that opened with Magic Kingdom Park in 1971. Known for its A-Frame, the Deluxe Disney Resort is a short walk away from the Disney Park and is the Resort that all Guests of the Disney Monorail pass through.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort is deceiving in size. Most Guests will expect Guest rooms to be located in the A-Frame. However, there are surprisingly several other parts of the Resort located in the Garden Wing. Guest rooms in this part of the Resort are accessed externally and offer views of Bay Lake or Seven Seas Lagoon. Follow the walkway from the 4th floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Guests will reach Bay Lake Tower, which is part of the Disney Vacation Club.
The Disney Deluxe Resort, which is located just one Disney Monorail stop away from Magic Kingdom Park, is an excellent spot for dining. There are several full-service restaurants to choose from at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and quick-service locations as well. These include:
- Steakhouse 71
- California Grill
- Chef Mickey’s
- Contempo Cafe
- Contemporary Grounds
- The Sand Bar
Disney’s Contemporary Resort appears to have a lot going for it, so why is it a Resort that we’d choose to stay in once, and once only? Let us explain. The first and foremost reason is cost. Disney’s Contemporary Resort is most likely to be among the five most expensive Disney Resort hotels when visiting Lake Buena Vista. We love a little luxury, but when you plan on visiting the Disney theme parks for most of your stay, it isn’t easy to justify spending a significant amount on accommodation.
The second reason Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a once-only stay is transport. The Disney Resort is ideally located if you plan on spending most of your time in Magic Kingdom, but if you want to visit other Disney Parks and Disney Springs, you can expect a long bus journey. Guests will often find that the buses that service Disney’s Contemporary Resort also service Disney’s Wilderness Lodge during quiet times. This can result in busy bus journeys and longer journeys as well.
It is also worth considering that access to and from EPCOT may be limited to the Disney Monorail, especially during peak times of the day when buses are required to service other Disney Resorts without access to other modes of Disney transport. This is the same for Guests staying in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. You may find a long line for the Disney Monorail when you wish to return to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Using the Disney Monorail to travel between Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and the other Magic Kingdom Resort hotels, and EPCOT also requires a change of line at the Transportation and Ticket Center.
Our Favorite Resorts
You may be wondering which Disney Resorts we choose to return to, as we have ones that we would instead check off our list than return to. Regarding Value Resorts, we’re happy to stay in any of the Disney All-Stars Resorts or Disney’s Pop Century. Disney’s Pop Century is likely to be the one we choose if it’s available, as access to the Disney Skyliner makes for easier access to EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios than only having access to the Disney Buses like Disney’s All-Star Resorts.
In terms of Moderate Resorts, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort is the one we’d choose any day. The feeling and theming of the Disney Resort are what keep us going back. We also love its easy access to Disney Springs, Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort is also easily accessed from its sister Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. This provides additional access to a quick-service location, and lounge area.
When it comes to Deluxe Resorts, there’s three that we would always choose between Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, or Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Theming, dining locations, location, and luxurious experience are reasons we’d choose to stay in these Disney Resort hotels.
There’s no denying that we’d recommend every Guest to stay in every hotel in the Walt Disney World Resort to allow them to find their favorite Resort hotels and those they don’t wish to stay in again. Every Walt Disney World hotel helps add to a Guest’s Disney experience, creating memories inside and outside of the Resort. That being said, we can’t help but skip some of them in future Disney vacations. Unfortunately, Disney’s Art of Animation, Disney’s Coronado Springs, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Disney’s Beach Club Resorts are all hotels that fit into this category. We can’t deny that there is plenty to offer in these Resorts that we enjoy as a Disney Guest, but without staying there.
Do you agree with our choices, or have we listed your favorite Disney Resort hotel? Which Walt Disney World Resort hotels will you skip after staying once? And which ones do you return to, over and over again?