The reason why I love Disney travel so much is that there is truly something for everyone and every budget! As a Disney travel agent, I get asked all the time which resort is the best resort to stay at. In my opinion, there is not one “best” resort, but there definitely is a Disney Resort that is right for you and your family! I have listed my top picks below.
For the family dreaming of a tropical getaway: Disney’s Polynesian Resort
The moment you enter this resort, you will feel like you have been whisked away to Hawaii. This resort offers white sand beaches and hammocks for sunbathing, koi ponds and tropical ambience. Your children will love the themed pool with water slide and the parents will love the Neverland Club which is a supervised childcare area right on site (additional fee applies). Enjoy the 2 table service restaurants at this resort, Kona Cafe and Ohana. Kona Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and Ohana serves up a character breakfast with Lilo, Stitch and Mickey himself. For dinner, Ohana serves up Polynesian-style cuisine Family-Style! Or maybe you would like to enjoy a dinner show at this resort. Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show offers music, authentic dances and all-you-care-to-eat feast all inspired with the flavor of Polynesia. You have to try the breakfast speciality, Tonga Toast. And no visit to this resort is complete without the famous Dole Whip, a cream pineapple dessert that can be found at the quick service dining location, Captain Cooks. My favorite amenity at this resort, is the monorail access. Disney’s Polynesian Resort is directly on the monorail line which makes it ultra convenient to get to Magic Kingdom. This is ideal for parents with small children so they can take a mid-afternoon break for naps! Rooms here can accommodate up to 5 guests plus child under the age of 3.
For the family looking for the ultimate Disney splurge: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
At this resort, you will relish the elegant, but not stuffy, atmosphere and decor. Rooms at this resort can accommodate up to 5 guests plus one child under the age of 3. All rooms offer either two queen-size beds or one king-size bed and a day bed. To take it to the next level, chose Club Level accommodations where you will receive personalized concierge services and Club Level only access to the lounge where you will enjoy a continental breakfast, midday snacks, afternoon tea and evening wine, cheese, cordials and desserts. This resort offers 5 table service restaurants, one of which offers a character breakfast and character dinner option. Two swimming pools, state-of-the-art spa treatments and convenient transportation (also on the monorail line) all make this resort the ultimate Disney splurge!
For the animal lovers in your family: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Imagine walking out onto your balcony and encountering more than 30 species of wildlife up close! This is a reality at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. This Disney resort is an African-style lodge with its own wildlife reserve. In order to take full advantage of the views at this resort, make sure and select a “savanna view” room. But if your budget won’t allow you to upgrade to this type of room, you will still have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the wildlife from the common areas and balconies that all guests are welcome to use. When nighttime rolls around, your children will love the opportunity to use the resorts “night vision” goggles to view the animals in their natural habitat. Rooms here can accommodate up to 4 guests plus one child under the age of 3. Or select a Villa at this resort that can accommodate up to 8 guests. This resort offers 2 table service restaurants and 1 buffet restaurant all serving up African inspired cuisine.
For guests that want quick and easy access to Epcot and/or Hollywood Studios: Disney’s Beach Club Resort
I love this lakeside resort that boasts Disney’s largest swimming pool, Stormalong Bay. Your children will love Stormalong Bay that features waterfalls, a sandy bottom portion, a circular lazy river and a themed water slide. You will love the quick and easy access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Both of these Disney theme parks are within walking distance or a short boat ride from the Beach Club Resort. Also, from this resort, you are within walking distance to Disney’s Boardwalk area that offers dining, entertainment and shopping! Enjoy 3 sit down restaurants here with one of the restaurants offering a character breakfast daily. Don’t miss Beaches and Cream Soda Shop for lunch or dinner. This is a classic American soda fountain with juicy burgers and ice cream delights are dished up. The rooms at this resort can accommodate up to 5 guests plus one child under the age of 3.
Let’s start with Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. This resort is a Disney Moderate Resort which makes it moderately priced (not the most expensive and not the least expensive hotel option on Disney property). Port Orleans Riverside is the only Disney Moderate Resort that can accommodate up to 5 guests plus one child under the age of 3, with two double beds and a trundle bed, which makes it perfect for the larger family that is on a limited budget. This resort has a “Louisiana, Mississippi” feel to it with sprawling mansions and southern charm. Your children will love Ol’Man Isalnd pool complex that offers a themed water slide. I love that you can take a fun and free boat ride from this resort to Downtown Disney where you will enjoy shopping, entertainment and a ton of dining options!
Disney’s All Star Music Resort is a Disney Value Resort that offers Family Suites that can accommodate up to 6 guest. The family suites offer one queen-size bed, a living room with a double-size sleeper sofa, and 2 twin-size sleeper chairs. 2 bathrooms and a mini-kitchen with microwave and a small fridge make this resort ideal for the larger family or for families on a budget that want the convenience of preparing some of their meals in their room. All Star Music Resort offers two swimming pools and a children’s pool. This resort also offers a food court where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served but you will not find a table service restaurant at this resort or any of the three other Disney Value Resorts.
For the family on a limited budget but want to experience the magic of Disney: Disney’s Pop Century Resort
This is my favorite Disney Value Resort for a number of reasons. First off, this is the newest of the Disney Value Resorts and although it is not brand new, the rooms here have recently completed refurbishments with new mattresses, new carpet, new bedding and new flat screen tvs! I love the theming at this resort. It’s like taking a trip down memory lane with all the fashions, catchphrases, toys and dances all noted throughout the resort. The food court here is outstanding as well, in my opinion. Don’t miss the “tie-dyed” cheesecake and the “Mom’s Night Out” dinners served up in classic tv trays! It’s a blast from the past. The best part about this resort is that this is the only Disney Value Resort that has dedicated bus service, meaning, once the bus picks you up at the resort to take you to one of the Disney theme parks, you will not be stopping at another resort along the way. This saves a lot of time and the other three Disney Value Resorts do not offer this “dedicated” bus service.
As you can see, there truly is something for everyone and every budget at Disney World Resorts! Still can’t decide which resort is best for your family? No worries, contact Heidi now to take advantage of her free planning services.
Heidi Marlowe is a Superoo as well as a Disney Vacation Specialist , Universal Studios Vacation Specialist, and Orlando Travel Expert with White Glove Destinations, an agent of Destinations to Explore. This agency is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner offering free concierge/planning services to all Disney locations and Disney cruises. Contact Heidi to learn more about Disney or to book your next magical vacation.
*All pictures courtesy Walt Disney World Resort