Disney has a resort for every occasion, budget, and travel style. I often see folks ask where they should stay and get a whole range resorts, because the truth is – there are a lot of right answers! Here’s my guide to choosing the right resort for you.
Prioritizing Your Needs
When I’m booking a Disney stay, there are a few key factors that I like to consider beforehand and rank in order of importance.
Convenience to the Parks
If you’re traveling with little ones, this could be the deciding factor in your resort planning. Each resort has different transportation methods to get to the park, most being by bus.
If you’re really looking for the pinnacle of convenience, look at Deluxe Resorts like the monorail Resorts surrounding Magic Kingdom and the walkable Resorts surrounding Epcot. There is nothing like being door-to-gate in 15 minutes!
There are also some deluxe and moderate resorts connected to a park or Disney Springs by boat, which can almost match the convenience, especially if they’re the larger boats that allow for strollers to roll on.
Generally, the buses become busier as your resort level drops. So, if you hate a crowded bus, this might be a top ranked priority for your trip. Personally, I don’t mind the buses, but my husband hates them!
Resort Amenities and Activities
Each resort offers unique amenities that match their theme. While there are many found across properties, regardless of resort level, there are some that may truly stand out for your family (like horseback riding or the biggest pool on property).
If you’re planning an action-packed trip with tons of park time, your resort amenities might not be a major factor in your choice. Conversely, if you like to plan “down days” in between parks, you may want more activities at the resort to fill those days!
Disney trips can add up, no matter what budget you’re working with! Consider what your total travel budget is and where you’re willing to cut corners.
Our family opts to drive, so we can spend our airfare savings on more Disney fun. We’ve also done blow-the-budget deluxe stays and more conservative value stays to free up more money for other things. It’s all about your priority for this trip.
I can assure you that you’ll have a magical vacation, no matter where you stay or how long you’re there for. Don’t let your FOMO blow your budget on a resort you don’t really need!
In our experience, our room sizes have been directly proportional to what level of resort we’ve stayed at. For lots of families, room size isn’t a deal breaker, because they’re out of the room a lot. For others, they need room to spread out and enjoy their down time.
For my family, we prefer a larger room. Our youngest still sleeps in a Pack & Play and we travel with a double stroller, so value rooms are a tight squeeze for us and our stuff. If we’re booking a lengthier stay, we take this into consideration before choosing a resort.
Other Considerations Before You Book
Time of Travel
Look at your travel window and decide how much wiggle room you have, if any.
Some families have to travel during school breaks and their dates are set in stone. If you have more flexibility, that may allow for booking around promotions and special events.
We often take our travel dates into more consideration than just promos. It partially ties back into the amenities ranking. If it’s going to be really cold, the pools aren’t a big deal. If it’s the holidays, one of the highly decorated resorts might be worth the stay. We also consider what holidays might affect pricing and park hours, like during Sept-Dec when Magic Kingdom closes early a few nights a week for parties.
Travel Party Size
Your travel party size can affect resort availability and pricing. You want to consider how many guests you’ll have and how they might be broken down into rooms. If you’re a large family with several children, you want to consider if you’d be comfortable requesting, but not being guaranteed, connecting rooms or if you want to look at a suite or villa.
Travel Party Ages
I think it’s impossible not to have fun at a Disney resort, but there are certainly some that are more fun than others for kids or adults. For instance, my girls would stay at Art of Animation every single trip because of all the artwork and interactive fun, while we would take the refinement and luxury of the Grand Floridian any day. It’s a balancing act! On our last trip, we split the time between AOA and Beach Club! Which brings me to my next point…
You Don’t Have to Choose Just One!
We are frequent resort hoppers. People sometimes think we’re a little mad, and they may be right, but it works for us! We love getting to have multiple resort experiences in one trip. It takes a bit of planning, but it’s completely doable. This can be ideal for travelers who want a taste of deluxe, but can’t swing the entire trip that way!
My Suggestions by Priority
If you want convenience and you’re prepared to spend…
Book at one of the Magic Kingdom monorail Resorts (Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Polynesian) for quick access to the park, as well as monorail access to Epcot.
If you’re traveling without kids or really prefer Epcot and Hollywood Studios, book at either the Yacht Club, Beach Club, or the Boardwalk for walkability to Epcot and a short boat ride to Hollywood Studios.
If you want convenience and you’re prepared to spend a little less…
Book at Wilderness Lodge or the Cabins at Fort Wilderness, so you still have the boat to Magic Kingdom (which is large enough to roll your stroller on) and the TTC (which means monorail to Epcot is an option too).
If you want an action packed resort and are prepared to spend…
Book at the Cabins at Fort Wilderness for some of the most unique amenities on Disney property. I can’t say enough about how much adventure there is waiting for you there!
If you want an action packed resort and have a tight budget…
Book at Pop Century or Art of Animation for a fun and vibrant environment and lots of stuff to explore.
If you want a peaceful resort and are prepared to spend…
Book at the Grand Floridian. It’s the lap of luxury and you won’t regret it.
You might also consider Old Key West or even Animal Kingdom Lodge, especially the Savannah view rooms!
If you want a peaceful resort and are prepared to spend less…
You might also consider the Cabins at Fort Wilderness, because there isn’t enough to be said for having your own “building”, patio, and no shared walls.
If you want to save your money for the parks…
Book at the All-Star value Resorts. They’re the most economical stay on property, while still getting the perks!
If you’re traveling with a larger party and want to stay together…
You may also consider Villas at the various Disney Vacation Club resorts, but those come with a much steeper price tag! The Treehouse Villas are on our wish list.