The Best Hotels at Walt Disney World

by Darren Wittko

All of the the Walt Disney World Resort hotels are sure to impress, but here I set out to show you my professional take on the Best of Best - those that offer special conveniences, extra detail and theme, or a better value for your money. 

On this page:

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

Best Hotels at Walt Disney World: Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
 

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has rich, tropical gardens, a volcano pool, and a South Seas theme throughout. I like it for the nostalgia as an opening day hotel in 1971 (it hosted celebrities like Bob Hope and the Disney family). But it's also on the monorail to Magic Kingdom, within walking distance to the Epcot monorail line, it offers excellent dining options, spacious rooms, and torch-lit walkways. All these conveniences plus the South Seas theme come together to create a true vacation vibe.

WHY IT'S BETTER

Location, location, location! Connects to Magic Kingdom and Epcot via monorail. 

Rooms are 415 to 478 sq.ft., among the largest on property. 

Great pools! Brand new Lava Pool with new volcano waterslide. Children's splash pad and interactive water playground.

Excellent dining onsite: Kona Cafe and 'Ohana are both popular restaurants.

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto is the most popular lounge at Walt Disney World.

Pineapple Lanai serves the infamous Dole Whip - a pineapple ice cream treat that has become a Disney World favorite.

Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show - an authentic Polynesian luau. 

Complimentary resort entertainment: Electrical Water Pageant show, nightly fireworks viewing from the beach (with the soundtrack broadcast on the beach) and an evening torch lighting ceremony.

Motor boat rentals from the marina.

Water cruises and fishing tours depart from the hotel.

Lilo's Club House - a child activity center.

GOOD TO KNOW

There are 875 guest rooms at the Polynesian. Studio Villas and bungalows have recently been added.

Rooms are located in 11 outer buildings known as “longhouses.”

Typical rooms have two queen size beds plus a daybed and can sleep up to 5-guests plus one child up to age 3 in a crib. 

Many Standard Views are located in the Rarotonga Longhouse, a great location! Close to the pool, transportation and dining. 

Not all second floor rooms have balconies so be sure to make a request for a 3rd floor room or a 1st floor patio. Requests cannot be guaranteed. 

SaveatWDW.com often lists special offers for Disney's Polynesian Resort.  


Disney's Beach Club Resort

The Best Walt Disney World Resorts: Disney's Beach Club Resort
 

Relaxed yet luxurious, Disney’s Beach Club Resort offers a wide array of amenities including a sand-bottom pool, health club and a beachfront promenade with special access to Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and the unique shops and restaurants at Disney’s BoardWalk entertainment district. Just a few feet away is Disney's Yacht Club Resort offering additional dining options.

WHY IT'S BETTER

2.5 acre pool complex "Stormalong Bay" offers a life-size shipwreck with water slides, snorkeling, sand-bottom pool and lazy river.

Connects to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Boardwalk entertainment district via walkway and boat.

Cape May Cafe - seafood dinner buffet is very popular, even with Orlando locals.

Yachtsman Steakhouse is among the best on property. Dry aged steaks and a knowledgable waitstaff make this one of the best for steak at Walt Disney World. 

Additional dining options and lounges are nearby at Disney's Yacht Club Resort, Boardwalk, and Swan and Dolphin Resorts. 

The Club Level lounge has recently been expanded and totally refurbished.

Sandcastle Club - a children's activity center is onsite. 

In-Room Dining: 24 hours

GOOD TO KNOW

There are 575 guest rooms at Disney’s Beach Club Resort,

Rooms are 380 square feet and most can sleep up to 5 people plus one child up to age 3 in a crib. 

The majority of rooms have 2 queen beds and a daybed but it's important to note that there a small number of rooms do not have a daybed. If you need the daybed for your party's sleeping arrangements, be sure to make a request. Requests cannot be gauranteed. 

SaveatWDW.com often lists special offers for Disney's Beach Club Resort. 


Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort

 

An entirely unique experience just outside Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Disney has created the thrill of staying at an African wildlife reserve with animals grazing just beyond the hotel. There's an unmistakable feeling of relaxation and rejuvenation for both body and spirit in luxurious surroundings while sharing the grandeur of the African wilderness. The beauty of the savannah, the rhythm of tribal drums, exquisite cuisine in lush settings and the lure of authentic African treasures all come together to provide the most unique hotel experience you'll likely ever encounter outside of Africa.

WHY IT'S BETTER

The most uniquely themed hotel at Walt Disney World!

A crossover resort between Disney Moderate hotels and Deluxe hotels. Typically the least expensive Deluxe hotel. 

Bunk bed rooms available.

Club Level is available with some Villas (see below) 

200 animals including giraffe, zebra, Thomson’s gazelle,  roam the savannahs. 

VIP Tours of the resort and exclusive tours of Animal Kingdom Theme Park offered to hotel guests - some at additional cost.

Cultural representatives from Africa are on hand to discuss artwork, animals and hotel architecture.

Jiko has won multiple restaurant awards and is among the most popular restaurants at Walt Disney World. 

Sanaa allows you to dine in beautiful African surroundings with picturesque views of the wildlife Savannah. 

The free-form pool is quite large and handles peak times well. It's also just steps away from the Savannah. 

If you're an early riser, get some coffee and head out to one of the Savannah overlooks at sunrise. The animals are very active at this time. It's a special, relaxing experience that you won't get anywhere else. 

The Savanna is illuminated at night in such a way that simulates moon light. This makes it possible to see the animals in the dark without disturbing them. Night vision goggles are also available at select times.

Simba's Clubhouse - children's activity center.

GOOD TO KNOW

Both Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney's Wilderness Lodge were designed to be "Moderate First-Class" hotels, between a Moderate Category and a Deluxe Category hotel. Disney later felt that creating this new category would be confusing to guests.

This resort does have a remote location but that's the point! When at the hotel, you'll forget about the hustle and bustle of the Theme Parks, standing in lines, and large crowds. Here's is all about being immersed in a truely relaxing environment. 

Unlike other Deluxe hotels, rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge sleep up to 4 people plus one child up to age 3 in a crib. 

There are 1,293 guestrooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge, regular rooms are about 345 sq. ft.

Bunk Bed rooms are available here and also include one queen size bed. Standard rooms have two queen beds or one king bed and day bed.

Savannah View rooms are nice to have, but Standard View rooms are fine too. There are numerous overlooks and observatories throughout the hotel so everyone can enjoy the animals.


Disney's Coronado Spring Resort

coronado_Springs_pool
 

Considered the top-of-the-line Moderate resort, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort combines the cultural elements of colonial Spain, Mexico and New Mexico. Palm-shaded courtyards and Spanish-style haciendas create the perfect climate for relaxation. The Resort features colorful plazas and picturesque vistas making this a tranquil lakeside hotel with many amenities of a Deluxe category resort.

WHY IT'S BETTER

Central air conditioning (other Moderates have window units)

The only moderate resort with Business Class rooms, similar to Club Level accommodations at the Disney Deluxe hotels. Here, these rooms offer upgraded soft-goods and lounge access that offers a continental breakfast, snacks, and an evening service that includes wine, cheese, desserts, and hot appetizers.

Dedicated work space - rooms have a writing desk with an adjustable office-chair 

A wide-array of suites are available: Junior Suites, and 1 Bedroom Suites and Executive Suites. Other Moderates do not have suites. 

La Vida Health Club with massage services available - this amenity is not found at other Moderates.

4 Pools. The feature pool has a 5-story Mayan Pyramid and water slide.

Splash pad for little ones and pyramid-themed playscape.

GOOD TO KNOW

As with other Disney Moderates, most of the 1,921 guestrooms are 315 square feet with outdoor corridors. This is a convention hotel so there are multiple room categories here to attract business travelers. 

Rooms can be a 10-15 minute walk to the lobby and dining. There are multiple bus depots around the resort for added convenience. I recommend requesting a room near the main lobby. Requests cannot be guaranteed.

TouringPlans.com members can use the Room Finder tool to help them find and request thier preferred room choices.


Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Best Walt Disney World Hotels: Disney's Art of Animation Resort
 

Disney's Art of Animation Resort hotel is perfect for those who love Disney feature animation films.  Art of Animation draws its inspiration from four classic Disney Animated films: Finding Nemo Family Suites, Cars Family Suites, The Lion King Family Suites, The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms. If you're seeking Standard Rooms, you might also consider Disney's Pop Century Resort located just steps away. 

WHY IT'S BETTER

Little Mermaid Standard Rooms offer a more extensive theme than other value hotel rooms.

Inside corridors help make this Value hotel a little more quiet

Overall theme and decor is a little more refined compared to other Disney Values.

The food court, Landscape of Flavors, focuses on fresh, healthy options.

The feature pool is the largest pool at Walt Disney World. Be sure to listen for the underwater music!

Little ones will enjoy the Finding Nemo themed splash pad.

Oftentimes the Little Mermaid Standard rooms are sold out - If so, check the availability at Disney's Pop Century Resort. It's located right next door and I consider it a close runner-up.  

The lobby displays original artwork and animation cells from some of Disney and Disney-Pixar feature films.

GOOD TO KNOW

There are 865 standard guest rooms, known as Little Mermaid Standard Rooms. They sleep up to 4 people plus one child under age 3 in a crib. These are the fastest-selling rooms at Walt Disney World - early booking highly suggested!

The 1,120 Family Suites accommodate up to six guests, plus one child under age three in a crib.

When booking a Family Suite, if you don't specify a themed room category, you will likely be assigned a Lion King Family Suite. This section does not have its own pool but it does an great playground for kids.

Family suites do not have balconies.

Updated January 2017