Updated: December 2017
Best Disneyworld Hotels and LodgingDisneyworld offers a lot of lodging options, ranging from very expensive and very extravagant, to very cheap motel-like accomodations. Whatever your budget is, you should be able to find something that meets your needs. For many families, the added expense of a first class resort is not worth it when you are spending all your waking hours out at the amusement parks - who cares about the service and resort amenities and views when you are only sleeping in the room, and then up at the crack of dawn the next morning with the kids? For others, the elegance and ambience of their hotel is what makes the vacation memorable and enjoyable, and they don't mind spending an extra hundred dollars a day to stay at a nicer property. In this guide, we will list all the Disneyworld hotel and resort properties, with cost information and highlights/lowlights of each hotel to help you decide where to stay on your Disney World vacation.
Disney World MapThe map below shows the general location of all the Disney World parks and resorts, to help you get an idea where everything is as you read about it..
Disneyworld Deluxe ResortsThe Deluxe Resorts include: Disneys Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney's Wilderness Lodge, Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian, Polynesian Resort, Beach Club Resort, Disney Yacht Club Resort, Boardwalk Inn, and the Walt Disney World Dolphin and Swan Resorts. The most expensive resort hotels at Disneyworld are the four that are clustered right around the Magic Kingdom Park (Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge). These properties give you direct access to the Magic Kingdom via boat or monorail service - no need to ride the buses with the rest of the sweaty masses! The deluxe resorts offer suites, valet parking, 24-hour room service, character dining options, whirlpool tubs, and access to spas. The lowest priced rooms in this group run from $205 per night in the off season, to $335 per night during peak holiday seasons -- keep in mind these are the LOWEST available prices for the most basic rooms. You can spend up to $2500 per night for luxury suites, if that's in your travel budget. First off is the Grand Floridian. This classic looking white hotel with red roofs is modeled after the Victorian beachside hotels from the late 1800s. The beautiful 5 story lobby will take your breath away, and the view across the Seven Seas Lagoon to Magic Kingdom is just as grand. Pools, beaches, balconies looking out over the water, monorail service, direct boat access to Magic Kingdom, it has it all, and you pay for it. To be near the monorail and bus service, try to get a room in the main building
Disney World Polynesian ResortThe Polynesian Resort is just a stroll down the white sand from the Grand Floridian (quarter mile walk, takes about 5 minutes), comprised of 11 out-buildings and the Great House. You'll feel like you are in the South Pacific with all the tropical plants and water features. The monorail also connects here, giving you convenient access to the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, or the other nearby resorts. This is one of the older hotels, built in 1971, but is has been recently updated and continues to charm visitors. Keep in mind that you can get rooms in these two resorts that face the lagoon and Magic Kingdom and watch the nightly fireworks show right from your balcony. You can also see the show from the beach area, but an elevated viewing platform gives you a better view. The Contemporary Resort is further around the lagoon and closest to the Magic Kingdom (yuo can walk to the park if you dont want to wait for the monorail). The monorail passes right through this large, modern hotel (there are also two garden building with rooms). The Contemporary also has white sand beaches on the lagoon and a huge swimming pool (over 6000 sf). You get great views from all the rooms in the main tower building, looking out either over Bay Lake or the Magic Kingdom (and across to the Grand Floridian). This is another orginal resort that is currently being renovated, scheduled for completion in 2007. The California Grill restaurant is located here - it is one of our favorites. If you stay in a Garden building, go for the North Garden building - it is better than the South. The final Deluxe property is the Wilderness Lodge, set back from the Contemporary a bit. Designed to look like the National Park Lodges you see at Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Grand Canyon, the 864 rooms at the Wilderness Lodge will put you in another era. Check out the 80 foot high fireplace in the lobby, and the totem poles. Visit the pool with geysers and waterfalls - you may think you ARE in Yellowstone! The only drawback is that the monorail skips this resort - you must take the boat to get to the Magic Kingdom, or buses to reach other destinations.
Epcot ResortsSeveral other of the deluxe resorts abut the EPCOT park. The Yacht and Beach Club resorts and the Boardwalk Inn straddle Crescent Lake and are within walking distance of EPCOT (the side entrance to the international pavillion, not the front gateway), while the Dolphin and Swan resorts are right next door. The Disney Yacht Club and Beach Club resorts stand 5 stories tall, with over 1000 rooms between them. Located between EPCOT and MGM Studios, they offer boat and walking access to EPCOT, and bus service to MGM and the other parks. The Boardwalk is right across Crescent Lake, about a 10 minute walk (also about 10 minutes to EPCOT). You will pay more for water views, but a room with a balcony looking over the lake is worth it. The Boardwalk Inn looks like something from Atlantic City in its heyday. Stores and restaurants line the boardwalk, with guestrooms above. With only 370 rooms, this is a smaller hotel with a single pool. If you don't choose to stay at the Boardwalk, at least drop by one evening for a stroll. Spoodles is a Mediterranean restaurant there, great food, great family atmosphere. Have dinner, then walk along the boardwalk and enjoy the sun setting over the lake. Shoot over into EPCOT and watch the Illuminations laser/firework show. Its a great location.
Sheraton owns the Swan and Dolphin resorts. The rooms here are very large and nice, having been redecorated in the early 2000s. They may lack a little of the Disney charm since they aren't Disney properties, but they offer easy access to EPCOT and MGM, and are centrally located for bus service to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom as well.
Animal Kingdom LodgeOur last Deluxe property to discuss is the Animal Kingdom Lodge. This is Disney's newest resort, which just opened in 2001. It is the furthest hotel from all the other parks, but it has great charm in its African theme. The lodge is built around a savannah with free-roaming animals, making it quite the experience to look out from your window and see the park wildlife. We like the Jiko restaurant there - the food and ambience is better than the Boma restaurant we think. The Kudo and Zebra trail wings have the best rooms when it comes to viewing the wildlife. Rooms on the 3rd or 4th floor give you the best views. There is a pool complex here as well, which will keep old and young guests alike happy during the warm Florida afternoons you are sure to encounter. If we had to pick where to stay, money is no object, we would go with the Grand Floridian first, then the Wilderness Lodge, then the Animal Kingdom Lodge, then the Boardwalk.
See more Disney World Guides here.