Choosing a hotel at Disney World is a key decision in your planning process. These are the best hotels at Disney World ranked based on our vast experience visiting Walt Disney World personally.
It’s no secret that the expenses for a visit to Walt Disney World can add up quickly. When you consider the cost of travel, accommodations, transportation, tickets, dining, shopping, and any other experiences you’d like to participate in, planning a trip to the parks ends up becoming very pricey. With these factors in mind, it’s important to think about how you can get the most bang for your buck throughout your vacation.
Like everything else at Walt Disney World, the resorts on property can be fairly expensive, especially if you decide to visit during a busier time of the year like spring break season, summer vacation, or the holidays. However, depending on the features you and your group are looking for in your “home away from home,” you really can make the most of your money with some of the Walt Disney World hotels.
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These Are the Best Disney World Hotels – Why Stay On Property?
There are many benefits to staying at a resort on property when vacationing at Walt Disney World. No matter which Disney World hotel resort you choose to book, they are all in relatively close proximity to the theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs, with typically only about 10-15 minutes of travel time in any direction. You can take advantage of complimentary transportation from all the resorts as well, with buses, boats, the Monorail, and the Skyliner all as potential options depending on where you’re staying.
When you stay at a Walt Disney World resort, you can also plan ahead to help make the most of the time you have during your vacation. As a hotel guest, you are able to book reservations for dining throughout your entire trip 60 days in advance, and you can purchase Individual Lightning Lanes for the most popular attractions before the parks open each day. You can also take advantage of low ride wait times during Early Entry and Extended Evening hours. These are the best Disney World hotels for each type of visitor.
Best for Families: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
If you’re traveling with a large group, especially one that includes children, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is the perfect choice. The four main sections of the resort are themed after two Disney animated classics, The Little Mermaid and The Lion King, and two Disney-Pixar favorites, Finding Nemo and Cars.
Each area is bright and vibrant and full of larger-than-life scenes and main characters from the films. There is a playground and a splash pad at “The Big Blue Pool,” so there are plenty of spaces to play that are great for kids of all ages. And the decor inside the themed rooms will excite fans of the beloved movies.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is a great option for bigger groups because in addition to the standard studio-size rooms, there are family suites that sleep up to six people, with a separate master bedroom that offers more privacy. It’s also in the Value Resort category, meaning it has one of the most affordable price points of all the Walt Disney World hotels.
Best Disney World Hotel Theming: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
The resort where the theming truly makes you feel like you’ve left Walt Disney World and entered a new world is Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. The inspiration for this hotel comes from the Northwestern United States, and when you take your first step into the lobby, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to a hunting lodge deep in the woods.
There are so many great design aspects of Wilderness Lodge hotel at Disney World that completely immerse you in the experience. The décor throughout the hallways and in the rooms is rustic and natural and highlights aspects of Native American culture. The Copper Creek that travels from the main lobby area out into the back courtyard turns into a waterfall that spills over a large set of boulders and into the swimming pool. There’s even a geyser that erupts every hour that will make you feel like you’re right in the middle of a National Park.
Because Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is located on the edge of Bay Lake, you can’t see any of the theme parks or other hotels from the property. The lack of any other distinctly Disney buildings in view and the wooded areas surrounding the resort really add to the atmosphere, making this resort one of the most well-themed in Walt Disney World.
Best Disney Resort For Pool Days: Disney’s Beach & Yacht Club Resorts
Everyone plans their Walt Disney World vacation differently, and some spend a day enjoying the resort amenities rather than going to the theme parks. For those that love a good, relaxing pool day, the best way to make the most of your money is staying at either Disney’s Beach Club Resort or Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.
These two resort hotels at Disney World share a pool that is so large, it’s considered a miniature water park. In addition to the standard features of a kiddie pool and hot tub, Stormalong Bay boasts some incredible extras, including a massive slide, a lazy river, an area for water volleyball, and a sandy beach. Both resorts also offer excellent dining options. You can enjoy a character breakfast at Cape May Cafe, delicious ice cream at Beaches and Cream at the Beach Club, and a fancier dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht Club.
At the Yacht Club Marina, you can rent pontoon boats to take out around Crescent Lake. And it’s only a short walk over to Disney’s Boardwalk area, which has plenty of nighttime entertainment and bar options and a Community Hall with crafts and activities. You’ll be able to find plenty of activities to keep you occupied during your day relaxing at the resort!
Cheapest Disney World Hotel: Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Sometimes, the truly best way to make the most of your money is by finding the hotel that has the lowest price tag. Walt Disney World resorts can generally be quite costly, but a great option that doesn’t sacrifice quality for value is Disney’s Pop Century Resort. It falls into the Value Resort category, but it has more to offer than some of the others included on that list.
The rooms at Pop Century have gone through a major makeover in the last few years, and now they feature new décor and a new room design. Perhaps the best part of the upgrades is the pull-down bed, which when tucked into the wall turns into a dining table. Value Resort rooms are generally quite small, so being able to clear up some floor space by putting up the bed is a very positive change. This is our favorite cheap Disney World hotel.
There is also a Skyliner station located near the resort, equidistant from Disney’s Art of Animation, which definitely levels it up a bit compared to the other Value resorts. You can quickly travel to EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios via the Skyliner, and this keeps you and your group from being packed onto a bus when heading to and from those parks. Check out other cheapest Disney World hotels.
Best for a Central Location: Disney’s Boardwalk Inn & Villas
If you are a vacationer who doesn’t like to waste time traveling from one place to another and would like to get where you’re going efficiently, the best resort for you to stay at is Disney’s Boardwalk Inn & Villas. Out of all the resorts in Walt Disney World, the Boardwalk is definitely the one that has the most central location to all the major areas on property. This is the best Disney World hotel for proximity to the parks and walking. If you are used to visiting Disneyland like we are, you’ll enjoy the walkable access.
It is within walking distance of both EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with only about a 10 and a 15-20 minute walk to each respectively. You can also take a short boat ride to both of these parks, and if there is inclement weather, the bus ride to each is a quick journey. The drive to the other two theme parks, Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is approximately 10 minutes long. The hotel is also located right within the Disney BoardWalk area with restaurants, shops, and bars.
If you’d like to enjoy the other amenities around Walt Disney World, like Disney Springs, the water parks, or the mini golf courses, those trips also typically take less than 10 minutes. Since time is money—especially during an expensive vacation—staying at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn & Villas is definitely going to be the best option for quickly getting you where you want to go!
Best Disney World Luxury Hotel: Disney’s Riviera Resort
While there are many top-of-the-line Walt Disney World resorts to choose from, if you’re looking to make the most of your money in luxurious accommodations, your best option is Disney’s Riviera Resort. This hotel is the newest on property, having opened at the end of 2019, and its inspiration comes from the elegance of European countries like France and Italy.
The feel of the resort is classic and polished, and the décor combines minimalistic elements with ornate furnishings. It’s a great choice if you and your partner are traveling alone, since it is the only Walt Disney World hotel that features Tower Studios, which are smaller, more private rooms specifically designed for two people enjoying a private getaway. Learn more tips for adults-only trips to Walt Disney World in our guide!
Disney’s Riviera Resort has several restaurants to choose from that serve an array of high-quality food and drinks. It is also fairly close to all the theme parks, and it features a Skyliner station, so you don’t have to travel far to experience all the amenities that are available on property. If you like to spend your stay in the height of luxury, this is the best Walt Disney World resort for you.
Best Hotel at Disney World For Recreation: Disney’s Port Orleans Resort
All of the Walt Disney World hotels provide some type of extra activity offering, but if one of your main vacation goals is to take advantage of all the recreational experiences you possibly can, the resorts where you can make the most of your money are Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.
These two properties are located right next to each other, with a beautiful walking path you can take along the Sassagoula River to get from one to the other. In addition to taking a leisurely stroll between the two hotels, there are quite a few amenities you can enjoy during your stay that are great for all ages.
You can rent individual bicycles to ride around the resorts, or you and your group can take out a surrey bike. If you’re a fan of fishing, you can partake in old-fashioned pole fishing at the Fishin’ Hole, or you can level up your experience and book an exclusive bass fishing excursion along the river. There are private horse-drawn carriage rides available as well if you’re looking for something more romantic. With so many different recreation options to choose from, everyone in your group will be sure to find something that suits them.
Best Hotel at Disney World Dining Options: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
For those who enjoy making the most of their money on high-quality meals, your best hotel choice is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. In addition to being one of the most elegant resorts on Walt Disney World resort property, the Grand Floridian is also known for having many excellent restaurants that feature a wide range of cuisines.
Fans of fresh seafood will want to have dinner at Narcoossee’s, while those who like exploring unique flavor combinations will prefer Citricos. If your tastebuds are a little less adventurous but you still enjoy good food, you can eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the Grand Floridian Café or Gasparilla Island Grill. There are also a few bars around the hotel, including Enchanted Rose and Citricos Lounge, where you can get small plates along with your drinks.
If you really want to take it up a notch, you can book a meal at Victoria & Albert’s, the most expensive restaurant on Walt Disney World property. You’ll get to choose between a couple different tasting menus that include multiple courses of dishes that are innovative and delicious. Between the wonderful dining options and beautiful rooms and resort grounds, staying at the Grand Floridian is truly a foodie’s dream.
If you enjoy spending money on lavish experiences like a high-class meal, you may decide you need to save in other areas of your trip. Make sure you know how to avoid wasting money during your Walt Disney World vacation.
Best for a Unique Experience: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
One of the most amazing parts about staying at a Walt Disney World hotel is that every single one is completely different with its own unique theming and atmosphere. However, if you’re looking for a truly one-of-a-kind experience, the resort you should choose for your vacation is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
While this resort is a bit off the beaten path compared to the rest of the hotels on property, it is for good reason—there is an entire savanna on the hotel grounds, complete with African animals like giraffes, zebras, and gazelles, that can be viewed from many areas of the resort, including some of the rooms! You can even book a specialty nighttime tour of the savanna to watch the animals roam, complete with night vision goggles.
This resort is also the location of one of our top little-known areas to relax. Read about our other favorite secret Disney World spots for some more ideas!
Another wonderfully unique perk of staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is the presence of the Cultural Representatives. These Cast Members are from several different countries throughout Africa, and their role is to teach guests about different aspects of their culture. The programs they put on feature lessons on a range of topics, including African music, food, art, and history.
These Are the Biggest Complaints We Hear About Disney World Trips
While Disney World is intended to be the happiest place on earth, some experiences can make your trip less-than-magical. Some of these common complaints are legitimate, but there are always solutions for every problem. Read more about the biggest complaints we hear about Disney World trips!
Top 10 Most Addictive Desserts at Disney World
Disney World is the home of countless delicious treats, but there are a few that steal the show. We’ll take you through our favorite ten addictive desserts from Disney World and what makes them can’t-miss treats that you’ll want to try during your next trip.
Worst Dates to Avoid at Disney
Certain times of the year draw in huge crowds that can easily make your park experience frustrating. Make sure you’re in-the-know about which Disney dates to avoid at all costs if you hate crowds!