Choosing Disney Hotels

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How Will I Know? Choosing the Right Walt Disney World Hotel for You!

There are 25+ hotels at Walt Disney World, so how do you know which resort is right for you and your family? There are a lot of things to consider when choosing Disney Hotels. Starting with the basics, the hotels generally fall into 3 categories: Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. There are also Deluxe Villas, which are generally DVC properties, and the Campgrounds. As you might imagine, the more amenities a resort has, the more it’s going to cost you. Is there a bad resort? Not really. They’re all really good hotels. But they do each fulfill a different level of needs and that is what sets them apart. So what should you consider when choosing Disney Hotels for your trip?

Choosing Disney Hotels: The Basics

value resorts
Choosing Disney Hotels - Value Resorts
Value Resorts – Art of Animation

Walt Disney World’s Value Resorts include the All-Stars (Movies, Music, and Sports), Pop Century, and Art of Animation. All five of these hotels are your basic hotels, some may even argue motel, due to their outdoor entry. Each room has beds, bathrooms, a closet, and a television. Nowadays, they all have a mini-fridge, too. The hotels themselves are collections of buildings set up in a cluster and, at Walt Disney World, these resorts are the most “Disnified,” usually featuring giant statues of Disney figures like Woody, and Cars, and Goofy, and Donald Duck, etc. They all have at least one large pool, a playground, and a food court, as well as laundry facilities, a gift shop, and an arcade. And they all have free transportation to the parks, mostly just buses but Pop and Art of Animation do have a Skyliner station.

If you have a larger family and a smaller budget, the Value Resorts do have options that include Family Suites. At Disney’s Art of Animation (one of my family’s favorite resorts) and Disney’s All-Star Music Resorts both have Family Suites available. They sleep up to 6, have two bathrooms, a kitchenette, and living areas that transform into sleeping areas. So for families of 5-6 (or sometimes even 4 but bigger people that want to spread out), these are some things to keep in mind when choosing Disney hotels for your trip!

Moderate Resorts
Choosing Disney Hotels - Moderate Resorts
Moderate Resorts – Coronado Springs

Walt Disney World’s Moderate resorts include Port Orleans (Riverside and French Quarter), Cabins at Fort Wilderness, Caribbean Beach Resort, and Coronado Springs. These resorts are some of the biggest on the property, representing that middle-of-the-road pricing that is supposed to replicate the “middle class.” These resorts all have multiple pools, multiple restaurants, gift shops, often internal busing as well as transportation to the parks, one big pool with a waterslide, an arcade, play areas, walking trails, and alternative transportation, including boats and the Skyliner. These are all heavily themed (from New Orleans to the Caribbean to the Spanish Southwest US) and have a vacation-on-vacation feel, but not necessarily Disney-themed. Usually, the Disney details are “hidden” within the decor as a cute little touch.

If you have a Deluxe Budget, but you want to parlay that into a longer stay, you might want to consider the Moderates when choosing Disney hotels. Sometimes moving from a Deluxe to a Moderate will give you 2-3 extra days, and you could use that for either extra days in the parks OR extra days to explore the beautiful resort you’re paying for! We have found, personally, that longer trips allow for much more downtime, and provide a much more relaxing Disney vacation.

Another bonus for many moderate resorts, too, is the option of fifth sleeper rooms. Gone are the days of the 2 kids and white picket fence dreams, and many families have a minimum of 3 kids. So the moderates offer rooms with fold-down daybeds, providing the space for fifth sleepers! Obviously this bodes well for families of 5 that maybe can’t swing the Family Suites in the Values, and the fifth sleeper may be the way to go!

Deluxe Resorts
Choosing Disney Hotels - Deluxe Resorts
Deluxe Resorts – Wilderness Lodge

Disney’s Deluxe Resorts are just that: Deluxe. Deluxe Resorts are Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, Boardwalk, Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, Riviera, and Yacht Club. All of these resorts offer regular rooms, Club-level rooms, suites, and Villas. They have fine dining, casual sit-down dining, and quick service restaurants, as well as lounges and bars. There are larger pools with huge waterslides and, in the case of the Beach and Yacht Clubs, a MASSIVE pool that is more like a miniature water park. The Deluxe Resorts have convenient locations, in many cases offering walks to the parks, as well as monorail, busing, boats, and Skyliner. They offer guests amenities like full kitchens and washer/dryer units in some instances (mainly in the attached DVC Deluxe Villas) and a more peaceful, relaxed feeling to your vacation, with quieter environments than you’ll have at the larger Value Resorts, with their outdoor access.

Choosing Disney hotels are very personal, but don’t let the term “Deluxe” make you look elsewhere! It never hurts to consider a Deluxe, even if you opt for a split stay, and only spend part of your vacation in the Deluxe Resort!

Campgrounds
Choosing Disney Hotels - Campgrounds
Campgrounds – Fort Wilderness

If camping is your thing, they offer tent sites all the way to deluxe RV connector sites. This is by far the largest area on the property and is across the lake from the Magic Kingdom.

So how do you choose?

It all boils down to 2 things: budget and amenities. We would all LOVE to have 2-weeks Club-Level access in the Grand Floridian, but we can’t always get what we want. First, sit down and consider what you MUST HAVE for vacation, and then sit down and consider what you can afford.

1. Will I spend much time at my resort other than sleeping?

Some families like to buy 4-day tickets but stay 6 nights/7days and have a couple of resort days. If this is for you, you may want to see if a Moderate or even a Deluxe resort is for you. If you know you only have 3-4 days and you’re going to be spending them entirely in the parks, go for a Value. You only need a bed, so may as well go cheap on lodging and spend more on activities, dining, and souvenirs, right?

2. Are food options and varieties important to me?

Value Resorts only have one food location, and they are all food court, cafeteria-style. That is not to say that they don’t have many options, because they absolutely do, they just do not offer any sit-down options. If you stay at a Value and want to dine at a sit-down location, you will need to go somewhere else to do so. Therefore, you will need to account for travel time.

The Moderate Resorts have the best of both worlds, usually offering a cafeteria-style quick service location and at least one sit-down restaurant.

All Deluxe Resorts all offer one small quick service location, and at least (usually multiple) different styles of sit-down restaurants, from casual to fancy, complete with dress code.

3. What amenities are important to me?

All resorts offer beautiful and well-themed pools. Deluxe pools are a little fancier and have slides, while Value pools are more basic, but still quite fun. Some resorts offer things like surrey bikes, a marina, a health club, a spa, or kids programs. In-room child care is available at all resorts.

Remember, though, that many activities are available for guests staying at other Disney accommodations. So, for example, a guest staying at Pop Century can enjoy a boat rental at the Polynesian Resort. Going to another resort to use the pool is a definite exception. You cannot pool hop, though, except for two exceptions: All-Star guests may use pools at any of the three All-Star resorts and Port Orleans guests may use pools at either Riverside or French Quarter.

4. What is more important: amenities or just getting my family to Walt Disney World?

Like to workout but can’t afford a resort with a health club? Could you sub in body weight workouts while on vacation in order to just get your family to see Mickey? Decide what you can and cannot live without and make the best choice for you!

Choosing Disney Hotels - Grand Floridian
DIsney’s Grand Floridian

You’ve Narrowed Down Your Must-Haves, Now What?

So you know that you need a pool (that’s everything) but just having water is enough for you, you don’t need those fancy slides. Or you know you want a slide and at least one sit-down restaurant, but not necessarily Club-Level service. Whatever your needs, your next step should be to reach out to your favorite travel agent (which, of course, is me), and tell them EXACTLY what you’re after.

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Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

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Read Time:4 Minute, 21 Second

Check Out My Review of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn!

We stayed at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, in one of the DVC Villas, on our last trip to Walt Disney World. This was a new resort for us. It was lovely, peaceful, and a new type of experience that we fully enjoyed. So let’s get into it! Like all Deluxe-level resorts at Walt Disney World, there is Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Disney’s BoardWalk Villas, which is the DVC Property. When DVC Owners don’t use their points at DVC resorts, those rooms are then available for anyone to book and pay for.

ROOMS

The Inn rooms sleep 5 (2 queen beds and a pull down bed) or you can book a Club-Level room (when available) which sleep 5-9 people, depending on the type of room you book. The Villas offer Studios and 1-3 bedrooms. The Studios offer kitchenettes, while the 1-3 bedrooms offer full kitchens and washer/dryer in the unit. If you have a larger family staying for a longer trip, I would highly recommend the Villas. Having the full kitchen and washer/dryer is a game changer!

For Club-Level rooms, you receive turndown service, concierge services, access to signature services (including VIP tours), Continental breakfast, midday snacks, evening wine, cheese, cordials, and dessert service, complimentary health club, personalized guest services, Club-Level Lounge, and more. If you have the means and want to have most everything taken care of for you while you are there, Club-Level is the way to go!

We stayed in a 1-bedroom Villa, as we normally do for long trips. 1-bedroom villas have a bedroom, jacuzzi tub, bathroom, washer/dryer, sofa bed in the living room, and full kitchen. There is plenty of storage for luggage so that it was out of the way the entire 10 days, and plenty of storage for all of our clothes, shoes, ears, and magicbands. The room was nice and clean and modern and we really liked the location. We were facing France, so we had a great view of the Skyliner and EPCOT fireworks, as well as a great view of the Hollywood Tower Hotel!

DINING

Dining options are truly out of this world at the Boardwalk. You do not get the normal quick service options that you get at the other resorts, as there is not one location for quick service dining. But there is the Boardwalk Bakery (drink filling station), Pizza Window, Leaping Horse Libations (Luna Park Pool, with food, drinks, and, of course, Libations), Funnel Cake Cart, and To-Go Cart. This is all in line with the Coney Island/Atlantic City Boardwalk feel of the resort.

Now if you want to make reservations and sit down, you have Trattoria al Forno (one of our favorite places!), Big River Grille and Brewing Works, and Flying Fish. Want to grab a drink to unwind after a long day? Boy oh boy, the Boardwalk is for you! Of course, you can stop on the Boardwalk and get one of Boardwalk Joe’s Marvelous Margaritas! You can also get a drink at the wonderful AbracadaBar or pop up to the Belle Vue Lounge.

Boardwalk Inn - the Boardwalk

If you don’t mind walking, Beach Club and Yacht Club are directly across and a short walk along the Boardwalk, where you can pop into their Quick Service location or make a reservation at any of the restaurants there!

RECREATION

Boardwalk has SO many recreation opportunities!! There is the Luna Park Pool, with it’s no-longer-freaky-clown waterslide, plus 2 leisure pools! You are just a short walk to Fantasia Gardens miniature golf. Right next to the Luna Park Pool you will find the Arcade and Muscles and Bustles health club. There are also tennis courts as well as fishing and surrey bike rentals! You can also do Yoga on the Lawn, enjoy a campfire, or catch a movie on the Lawn! There are plenty of non-park activities to enjoy on your non-park days!

TRANSPORTATION

Boardwalk offers bus transportation to all parks and Disney Springs. You can also Lyft or Uber. In addition, you can take a Friendship Boat to EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Beach and Yacht Club, and Swan and Dolphin. In addition to THAT, the Skyliner Station at EPCOT is just a short walk away. And finally, the piece de resistance: you can easily walk to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In my opinion, the Boardwalk area (including the Boardwalk Inn AND Beach and Yacht Clubs) is the best location, simply because you can easily walk to two parks. This means less time waiting on transportation during your trip. It is also a beautiful area to sit and relax. One night on the Boardwalk, we watched the Magic Kingdom fireworks, followed by Hollywood Studios fireworks, with a grand finale of the EPCOT fireworks. Boardwalk was a great resort but does have some disadvantages that lands it below some of our other favorites. BUT… LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION! It truly was a game changer!

Boardwalk Inn
Boardwalk

Have you stayed on the Boardwalk before? Where does this rank for you in resorts? And COMING SOON: updates! Ready to book your trip? Contact me today!!

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Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

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Read Time:6 Minute, 26 Second

Walt Disney World has 27 resorts, but none of them feel like home to me quite like Disney’s Wilderness Lodge! Nestled on the shores of Bay Lake, this resort evokes the peace, beauty, and quiet of the Pacific Northwest. The Lodge is just secluded enough to feel like a peaceful oasis amidst the chaos of Disney! But this is not the campgrounds. Fort Wilderness is actually an entirely different resort, though they are basically right next door to each other, and you can take a bus to the campgrounds. Not only do you have regular resort room options, but this resort also has two DVC properties. The first, in a separate building, is the Boulder Ridge Villas. In the main hotel, you will find the Copper Creek Villas and the Cabins are located down on Bay Lake.

Disney's Wilderness Lodge
It’s so secluded even the front is obscured by trees!

Wilderness Lodge Rooms

Courtyard View Room Tour-Post Refurb

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge literally has room types for everyone! When you book a room at Wilderness Lodge (not Boulder Ridge or Copper Creek, which are the Lodge’s DVC Properties), you have standard rooms and club level rooms to choose from. All of the standard rooms, Standard View, Courtyard View, Nature View, and Nature Fireworks View, all have room options with 2 queen beds or 1 king bed.

In addition to concierge-level service and access to the Old Faithful Club on the 7th Floor, Club Level rooms are available to sleep 2 (Standard View King Bed), 4 (Standard View 2 Queens), or 6 (Deluxe 2 Queen Beds and Queen Sleeper Sofa). At the Club Lounge, you get access to not only amazing views, but FREE Continental Breakfast, afternoon snacks, evening tea, and desserts and cordials.

At Boulder Ridge Villas, located in the building next to the Wilderness Lodge, you will find a Deluxe Studio as well as 1 and 2 bedroom villas. Copper Creek Villas, located inside the main Wilderness Lodge building, offer Deluxe Studios, Deluxe Studios with walk-in showers, 1, 2, and 3 bedroom villas, and Cabins. The DVC properties are available to book as long as a DVC member has not already reserved them, and you’re willing to pay for them!

boulder ridge villas
  • Deluxe Studio: Sleeps 5 (Queen Bed, Double Sleeper Sofa, and Single Pull-Down Sleeper)
  • 1-Bedroom Villa: Sleeps 4
  • 2-Bedroom Villa: Sleeps 8
copper creek villas
  • Deluxe Studio: Sleeps 4
  • Deluxe Studio with Walk-in Shower: Sleeps 4
  • 1-Bedroom Villa: Sleeps 4
  • 2-Bedroom Villa: Sleeps 8
  • 3-Bedroom Villa: Sleeps 12
  • Cabin: Sleeps 8

Amenities

Every guest at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge receives free wifi, microwave and mini refrigerator, in-room safe, soaker tubs, and phones. You will also get a coffee and tea set up and flat panel televisions in every room, too. Heading to the pool? No need to pack your towels, they’re available as part of your stay! Each room will have a patio or balcony, hair dryer, and basic toiletries, etc. Your basic resort amenities. The rooms in the Wilderness Lodge are all located in the main building, so there isn’t as much walking as staying at a larger resort, like Caribbean Beach.

When you opt for the Club Level, you also receive Complimentary Health Club Access, key access to the Club-Level Lounge with daily refreshments, and free Concierge Service.

The DVC rooms have a bit more to offer, and the Studios will give you everything the main hotel offers, plus a kitchenette. All Villas will give you a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and 1 to 3 full bathrooms, depending on the size of the villa that you reserve. The Cabins sleep 8 adults, with 2 bedrooms, a full kitchen with an island, and a private porch and hot tub.

resort amenities

In addition to room amenities, the resort offers a number of amenities for on-site guests to enjoy as part of their reservation at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. You will enjoy both watercraft and bus transportation. The buses take you to all 4 theme parks, Disney Springs, and Fort Wilderness. You can take the boats to Magic Kingdom, or Fort Wilderness and the Contemporary. Enjoy Sturdy Branches Health Club or a Spa Day at Salon by the Springs. Daily Mousekeeping is available (except for DVC members, who receive full service on Day 4 and Day 8), as well as online check in and laundry and dry cleaning services.

Recreation

Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Copper Creek Springs Pool
pools

There are very awesome pools at the Wilderness Lodge. The first is the Copper Creek Springs Pool, a heated pool surrounded by nature. There is a 67-foot waterslide in the middle of the pool and a hot and cold spa. You can grab a drink or a meal at the Geyser Point Bar and Grill, and eat either at the restaurant or at your lounge chair. You can also find a water play area for the guests under 48″. Right beyond the pool is the replica or Old Faithful and it goes off every so often, going along with the theme of the Northwest U.S. Lodge.

If the hustle and bustle of the Copper Creek Pool doesn’t appeal to you, head over to the Boulder Ridge Cove Pool for a more quiet and relaxing pool experience. This pool is a zero-depth entry pool, nestled in the quiet of the Boulder Ridge Villas. It has a whirlpool spa and 6 shaded seated areas that are first come first serve.

dining

Hungry? Stop by one of four dining locations. For higher-end table service dining, you might try dining at Artist Point. Here you will join Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy, and the Evil Queen for Storybook Dining! For a quick service dining opportunity, stop by Roaring Fork, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This is also where you will find the drink refill station, for those of you that purchase the refillable drink mugs. Out by the Copper Creek Springs Pool, grab a bite at Geyser Point Bar and Grill. This is also available as a To-Go Mobile Ordering location.

Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Great food and hijinks await at Whispering Canyon Cafe! Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they specialize in all-you-can-eat skillets at every single meal. I’ve yet to not leave fat and happy!

MORE recreation
Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Teton Boat & Bike Rentals
Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Looking for some fun on your non-park days? Head to Teton Boat & Bike Rentals, where you can rent everything from surrey bikes to pontoons and even private fishing excursions!

Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Stay healthy by visiting the Sturdy Branches Health Club! Or go for a run on the jogging trails! You can even book a massage or a full spa day at the salon! There is plenty to do to help you relax!

Looking for some fun on your non-park days? Head to Teton Boat & Bike Rentals, where you can rent everything from surrey bikes to pontoons and even private fishing excursions!

Don’t forget the kids! There is plenty to keep kids from shouting “BUT I’M BORED!!” Catch a nightly campfire, watch a movie under the stars, watch the Electric Water Pageant and Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach, or blow off some steam in the Buttons & Bells Arcade!

A spot not to be missed, don’t forget to stop into the Boulder Ridge Villas and see Walt Disney’s Trains and other memorabilia in a relaxing Northwest Lounge setting. A great place to relax and take in some of Walt Disney’s personal property? Sign me up.

Are you ready to book your stay at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge? Let’s chat!!

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