If you've got kids or have never quite stopped being one yourself, a trip to Disney World is a no-brainer. But before you start packing, you've got a big decision to make - which of its many, many hotels should you stay at? The options are almost boundless, with something for every taste, every budget, and every family. There are upscale resorts for adults in need of a little luxury, Disney-themed hotels for kids, Polynesian-inspired bungalows, Caribbean cottages.... you name it, Disney World's got it. To help you make the right choice, we've ranked the 10 best on-site Disney World hotels. Here they are:
10. Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas' huge, turn-of-the-century style boardwalk is entertainment central, with music halls, carnival games, endless shopping opportunities, and character dining. On top of that, guests get to enjoy movie nights on the lawn, cocktails at the magical Abracadabar, and family fun at its three pools, one of which boats a carousel-themed pool bar and a thrilling 200-foot roller coaster waterslide. If you're looking for a lively, family-focused hotel within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios, it's perfect.
9. Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
If you want a moderately priced option that doesn't scrimp on the detail, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort is a great option. Centered on five guest buildings named after Caribbean Islands, it's one of the biggest resorts in the mid-budget price range, with enough accommodation options to suit every budget and taste. Standard rooms are built around a tropical theme, but guests who want to push the boat out can upgrade to a pirate room with a ship bed and themed furniture. Onsite amenities include pools, free WIFI, and several restaurants.
8. Disney's Contemporary Resort
If you want to be within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom, Disney's Contemporary Resort is the hotel for you. The attractions don't end there: as well as having direct access to the monorail via the main atrium, it also boasts a very appealing mid-century modern theme, gorgeous views over the parkland, award-winning dining, and several pools. If you can, book a room on the Magic Kingdom side - most come with bathrooms with moveable partitions that let you enjoy the nightly fireworks while soaking in the tub.
7. Disney's Art of Animation Resort
As value-level hotels go, Disney's Art of Animation Resort is hard to fault. The accommodations, which come in a choice of single rooms or suites, are themed around kid-friendly animations like "The Little Mermaid," "Finding Nemo," "Cars" and "The Lion King." The animation theme is continued in the lavish courtyards, which are stuffed with oversized movie characters. Amenities are extensive, with some excellent dining opportunities, access to the Skyliner, a playground, nightly movie nights on the lawn, a jogging trail, evening pizza delivery direct to your room, three pools (one of which is the largest of any Disney Hotel) and free wifi throughout.
6. Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Despite its central location just across the bay from Magic Kingdom, Disney's Wilderness Lodge rocks some gorgeously tranquil vibes. Ringed by majestic pines, this is a place that celebrates the great outdoors, even if that great outdoors has been Disneyfied to within an inch of its life. There are nature trails through the forests, rocking chairs overlooking a babbling brook, and, inside the hotel, rustic log fireplaces, towering totem poles, and colorful headresses. The theme extends into the guest rooms, which feature carved wooden furniture, Native American-styled textiles, and large balconies overlooking the geysers and waterfalls of the grounds.
5. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Named as one of the best hotels in Disney World by The Points Guy, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort was inspired by Walt himself. Located just a few minutes from Magic Kingdom by monorail, its Pacific Island theme is dreamy, as is its extensive list of amenities and attractions. Guests can look forward to free movie nights on the lawn (which also provides the perfect setting for watching the fireworks display at Magic Kindom), volcanic eruptions and first-rate cocktails at Trader Sam's, excellent dining options, and a fabulous choice of accommodation. Along with the studio rooms, there's also the option to push the boat out on an overwater bungalow - they're expensive, but worth the splurge.
4. Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort
Named by CNN Travel as one of the best resorts in Disney World, Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort boasts a ton of attractions, including a huge water park with a lazy river, a sand-bottomed pool, and a thrilling 230-foot long water slide, numerous dining options (be sure to grab a Kitchen-Sink Sundae from Beaches & Cream Soda Shop), campfire activities, and outdoor movies nights. Its location is just as excellent, with Epcot just a short walk away and a regular bus service to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.
3. Disney’s Riviera Resort
According to Trip Savvy, Disney’s Riviera Resort offers buzz-worthy dining, luxury amenities, and easy access to the Skyliner gondola transportation system. The emphasis is on luxury, rather than Disney, with the result that it feels slightly more adult orientated than most of Disney World's other hotels.... if it weren't for the inlaid murals from Disney movies decorating the outdoor spaces, you'd forget it was a Disney hotel at all. The rooms are upscale and modern, with a choice between small studios with pull-down queen Murphy beds and mini-kitchenettes or three-bedroom suites with full rooms kitchens and every mod con you can think of. When it comes to dining, guests are treated to four different options, one of which features a rooftop terrace with excellent views of the Hollywood Studio's firework displays.
2. Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Animal Kingdom Lodge isn't a standard hotel, even by Disney's standards. After all, how many other hotels in Florida have giraffes and wildebeests grazing outside the bedroom windows? Wrapped around a 46-acre savanna, the hotel promises a truly unique experience. Together with the gorgeous views, guests can expect to enjoy the hundreds of pieces of African art scattered around the public spaces and guests rooms, a superb African, Indian, and Mediterranean inspired menu at Jiko (which also happens to boast the largest South African wine list in the US), charming service, and surprisingly budget friendly prices.
1. Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
When it comes to luxury, Disney World's flagship resort has it covered. Everything is geared to make an impression, from the grand Victorian lobby with its tantalizing aroma of aloe and green clover to its exceptional range of amenities. If you feel like sailing on Bay Lake on a 52-foot yacht, you can. If you'd rather tuck into some world-class food at Central Florida's only AAA five-diamond rated restaurant, you can do that instead. There's also an exceptional spa for a bit of indulgence, a boutique for kids to transform into their favorite Disney prince or princess, a first-rate fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment, and a pool with waterslides. Although it has the highest standard room rates of any Disney World hotel, you can't say it doesn't deserve them.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson