Guide to Disney's Resort Hotels (and more!)
Walt Disney World Resort Hotels are divided into three main categories: Deluxe, Moderate, and Value Resorts. As the names suggest, Deluxe Hotels are the most expensive, followed by Moderate Hotels, and Value Hotels being least expensive. Each Hotel is unique and offers a totally different lodging experience. Each one has its own special qualities - so no matter what your budget, it's likely you'll find one that appeals especially to you!
In addition to hotels owned and operated by the Walt Disney company, there are others in the general surrounding area that may also meet your needs. I'll discuss my impressions of each in turn.
Disney World Resort Hotels
Here are my recommendations for each Resort category.
Although these are the most pricey, these resorts offer three main advantages:
* Often, they are most closely situated to each of the parks, making transpiration quick, comfortable, and super convenient (a must especially if you're traveling with small children).
* The special theming of each of the hotels makes staying there a special, spectacular experience - it's often like being in another theme park!
* Each offers its own special events/programs for children, as well as adults.
In the Deluxe category, my feeling is the best value for your money are Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney's Wilderness Lodge. These two are the least expensive in the Deluxe category, by virtue of not being directly connected to the monorail transpiration system (Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge offers efficient, free bus service to each of the Parks; while Disney's Wilderness Lodge offers free transport by bus or ferry boat - see details below). However, these hotels are nonetheless spectacular experiences in their own right!
In my opinion this is one of the "World's" best kept secrets. You can often find special deals with lower rates (depending on the season - see my "Best times to go " page), and the theming is unparalleled. I have seen children, parents and grandparents alike totally mesmerized by the wildlife you can observe right outside your window. Savannah-view rooms allow you to observe wildlife first hand, right on your own private balcony. Tip: If you've booked a non-Savannah view room, try asking for an upgrade to Savannah view upon arrival. If there's space available, there's a good chance for a free upgrade. But even if you choose one of the less expensive, non-Savannah view rooms, there is ample opportunity for you to observe the animals by going out to one of the many comfortable deck viewing areas throughout the hotel. Tip: Try viewing the animals during feeding times, most often in the early morning or at dusk. You'll be amazed at how many different species you'll see, including giraffes, zebras, gazelles, cattle, and many others. Also, don't miss Jiko restaurant (see my "Dining" page) and Simba's Cubhouse for the little ones (see my "Other Things to Do at Disney" page). The only cons of staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge is that the rooms are a bit small, even for a family of four (the resort does offer a limited number of larger "Deluxe" rooms, at a higher price); and, it may take you a bit longer to get to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and MGM parks using the bus service. But, all in all, I think you'll find it's a spectacular experience, leaving you feeling like you just stepped into Africa.
Also one of my favorite resorts, with the added benefit of being a little less pricey than some others in the Deluxe category. The theming, like all of the Deluxe resorts, is amazing - you'll feel like you just stepped into the woods of the Northwest. Don't miss the neat pool area, complete with the Fire Rock Geyser that goes off every hour! The Resort has two top-notch restaurants - grown-ups will love the high-end Artist Point, while the kids will have a blast at Whispering Canyon Cafe (see my Dining page for more details). A neat extra: at nightfall, the Electric Boat Parade comes by on the lake in front of the resort, complete with brightly lit sea-monsters and music! if you happen to get one of the many lake view rooms, you'll be able to see this from your private balcony (again, if you haven't booked a lake view room, try asking for an free upgrade upon arrival - you may just get one). If you want to splurge a bit, stay on the Concierge level. In addition to additional services from the concierge staff, the free buffets provided throughout the day are incredible. The food is so high quality and plentiful, that you probably won't even want to pay to get meals at a sit-down restaurant - it's well worth the extra cost. The only downside to Wilderness Lodge is that transportation to the parks takes a little bit longer than at the other Deluxe resorts. Little ones will enjoy taking the ferry boat across the lake to Magic Kingdom, but you'll have to deal with an extra stop at the Fort Wilderness campground before you get there. Bus service is excellent to both Magic Kingdom and the other Parks, but again, takes just a bit longer than it would on the Monorail.
in the Magic Kingdom area - The Grand Floridian, Disney's Polynesian Resort, and Disney's Contemporary Resort - are also excellent, but here you'll really pay a premium.