First Timer’s Guide To Walt Disney World – Choosing A Resort

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Making the decision to take your family on a Walt Disney World vacation is a VERY smart thing to do – it’s a great place to visit and they have something for everyone to enjoy there! Once you decide to go, you’ll also have some other decisions to make – one of them being where to stay and this can be a tough one, as Walt Disney World has TONS of amazing Resort Hotels right on WDW property (staying on property is really an easy decision – read on here to find out more about the perks of staying in WDW). So if you aren’t sure which WDW Resort is right for you, then read on for some helpful info that will make the decision much easier:

Value, Moderate Or Deluxe? First thing you need to know about the WDW Resorts is that there are three levels – the Deluxe are the priciest (but the nicest, and closest to the Parks!), the Moderate are less expensive (and offer fewer amenities and are further from the Parks), and the Value are the most wallet-friendly (and therefore are the furthest from the Parks). Depending on what your family wants/needs, you will want to pick your “level” accordingly. If you need a bigger room or want to be just short monorail ride (or walk!) away from the WDW Theme Parks, then Deluxe is probably best for you. Value Resorts offer smaller rooms, and they are the furthest away from the Parks – which are accessible only by bus. Moderate Resorts fall somewhere in-between the two (as the name suggests!) – with medium sized rooms and slightly more dining/transportation options than the Value Resorts

Theming: Every Resort has its own unique theme that is carried out in everything from towels to walkways, landscape, and décor. The Value Resorts are a bit “louder” when it comes to theme – giant character statues, bright bold colors, and upbeat music are some of the things you can expect to find around the Value Resorts. As you go up in price, the theming becomes more subtle, and a bit more upscale too – you notice it in the little things like the bathrooms, the lobby, and the landscaping. Here’s a rundown of the themes at each WDW Resort:

Value Resorts

All Star Movies: Movie themed

All Star Sports: Sports themed

All Star Music: Music themed

Pop Century: 20th Century pop culture themed

Art Of Animation: An homage to Disney animation

Moderate Resorts

Caribbean Beach: a lush tropical paradise

Coronado Springs: American southwest/Northern Mexican theme

Port Orleans Riverside: Themed after the Mississippi – Bayou area of the Old South

Port Orleans French Quarter: New Orleans/Mardi Gras themed

The Cabins At Fort Wilderness: “Wilderness”/Camp themed

Deluxe Resorts

Grand Floridian: Turn of the century Victorian theme

Polynesian Village: A South Pacific paradise

Contemporary & Bay Lake Tower: Modern/contemporary theme

Animal Kingdom Lodge: Recreates the feel of a South African wildlife reserve lodge

Boardwalk Inn: 1920’s and 30’s Eastern seaboard themed

Wilderness Lodge: Modeled after the historic Old Faithful Lodge circa 1904 in Yellowstone National Park

Yacht Club: Themed after seaside New England hotels of the late 1800’s

Beach Club: Styled after the New England seashore at the turn of the century

Swan & Dolphin: Sophisticated and swan/dolphin themed respectively

Proximity To Parks: Depending on who is in your family/party, this might be a big factor for you when it comes to choosing a WDW Resort. Like I previously mentioned, the Value Resorts offer only bus transportation to other areas of WDW. Of the Moderate Resorts, a few offer boat transportation in addition to buses: Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter offer a boat shuttle to Downtown Disney, and Fort Wilderness has boat service to the Magic Kingdom. Most Deluxe Resorts offer boat transportation to at least 1 theme park in addition to the buses, so if you know what park(s) you plan to frequent the most, then you might want to think about choosing a Resort closer to your favorite Park. Another reason you might want to be closer to the Parks is if you’re traveling with young children – the amount of time you spend on a bus to go to and from the Parks from a Value Resort is considerable, and it can get boring for little ones

All WDW Resorts have a food-court style dining option, at least one gift shop, multiple pools, laundry facilities, and super helpful cast members to assist with whatever you need during your stay.

Overall, the rule of thumb with WDW Resorts is – if you pay more, you get more – more amenities, more dining and transportation options, and bigger rooms – so if money is something you consider when planning a vacation (it probably is a big factor for most families out there!), then you may want to consider the cost vs. what you really need/want out of a hotel room and Resort. No matter which WDW Resort you pick, you will be sure to have a great time at the most popular vacation spot in the world – Walt Disney World!


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One thought on “First Timer’s Guide To Walt Disney World – Choosing A Resort

  1. I take exception to your remark “if you pay more, you get more”. That is not altogether true. On my last visit in September I was assured that if the dining plan was to be offered, I would be reimbursed for the same seeing that I paid for the dining plan when I made my resort reservations. Needless to say, I was not reimbursed for the plan, while everyone else enjoyed the luxury of “free dining” I had to pay for mine even though I fell within the free dining plan time period. So, all is not as it seems. Be extra careful when booking. All is not as it seems.

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