7 Disney Resorts that I’m Most Likely to Stay
I visit Disney theme parks a lot. Like, I just filled out my taxes and if I hadn’t have lived through it, even I would question my travel expenses. My friends think of me as the go-to person for information about when to go, what to do, and where to stay. I’ve covered some of the other stuff before, but I’ve never really talked about my favorite Disney hotels. Here are the seven Disney resorts where I’m most likely to stay.
7. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Something I should point out in advance is that I’m married and in my 40s. We don’t have children, and so we tend toward the Moderate and Deluxe Tier resorts. I’m not averse to the All-Star Resorts in the least.
To the contrary, I think that they provide tremendous value and warmly recommend them to friends and family alike, particularly anyone traveling on a tight budget. I’m of the opinion that spending a lot on the room only makes sense when you plan to be in the room a lot.
As it happens, my wife and I are homebodies, and our behavior extends to our Disney vacations. We spend more room at the hotel than most guests, causing us to prefer the ones with the best amenities. Your mileage may and should vary. Everyone vacations differently.
Keeping that in mind, I’ve always loved Animal Kingdom Lodge. Jambo House in particular is a glorious place to spend time, even when you’re not a guest at the resort. The lobby is so relaxing that I’ve dozed off more than once, and the animals on the hotel grounds are unlike anything I’ve ever seen during a vacation stay. The beauty of looking at your window to see animals frolicking is unmatched. Oh, and I’m a Boma-holic, too.
6. Disneyland Hotel
I’m quite fond of all three resorts at Disneyland. In truth, I’ve never stayed at an official Disney resort that I didn’t love. All of my experiences are universally positive. But Disneyland Hotel is special.
This hotel was the first of its kind in the world. Walt Disney innately understood the value of slotting a hotel right next to the Happiest Place on Earth. Unfortunately, he was too broke to build it himself. He passed along the idea to a business associate, and The Walt Disney Company would have to wait decades to buy it.
When you stay at Disneyland Hotel, you’re standing on hallowed grounds. It’s living Disney history of the best kind, with amenities befitting theme park royalty. You can ride the monorail waterslide or eat a character meal at Goofy’s Kitchen or drink a smoking, glowing adult beverage at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.
When my family visits Disneyland Hotel, our biggest issue is time. We get so distracted roaming through the towers that we spend too much potential park time. Since this hotel is an extension of Disneyland itself, however, I don’t see this as a bad thing. To the contrary, I’m reverential about any stay at Disneyland Hotel.
5. Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
You’re about to see how important logistics are to my family. We’re all about the parks, and we want the quickest accessible possible. Historically, we wouldn’t have ranked Caribbean Beach this high, as the bus system here isn’t ideal due to the sheer size of the campus. Recent and impending changes have fundamentally altered our perception of Caribbean Beach, though.
In recent months, this hotel has upgraded its restaurant offerings. The Centertown Market section provides one-stop shopping for all of our Quick Service dining needs. It even participates in the Mobile Ordering program, one of the few resort restaurants that does so. You can save a lot of time and aggravation by pulling out your phone and ordering a meal here during Disney downtime. The (relatively) new Table Service joint, Sebastian’s Bistro, is also excellent.
The star of Caribbean Beach is something that is still a few months away from opening, though. This resort will have a Disney Skyliner depot. Better yet, it will be close to the main section of the hotel. Guests who stay here are only minutes away from either the front of Disney’s Hollywood Studios or the back (aka the World Showcase) of Epcot. It’s a game-changing amenity.
4. Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Like many Disney fanatics, I’m addicted to Magic Kingdom. During a 10-day trip to Walt Disney World, it’s not unusual for us to enter that park 15+ times. No matter what else we do in a Disney day, we’re likely to visit Magic Kingdom at some point. My wife needs her visit to Haunted Mansion, and I need my walk down Main Street, U.S.A.
For Magic Kingdom addicts, the Contemporary is the best place to stay at Walt Disney World. Since opening day, this hotel has towered over its companion theme park, providing the best logistics imaginable. Whether you prefer to walk or catch the monorail, you’re only a few minutes away from the park entrance.
Plus, the updated security measures mean that Contemporary Resort guests can head straight to the entrance at the park rather than stand in line. You’ll either get checked prior to boarding the monorail or halfway through your walk to the park. It’s much more convenient and efficient.
As for the resort, I adore the food, especially the Contempo Café and Chef Mickey’s. My wife and I even ate at California Grill for our tenth wedding anniversary, and so you know it must be special to us. Factoring in the shops, pool, and view of the bay, this resort offers everything we need during a Disney trip. The fact that we like three others more than it speaks volumes about the impeccable quality and value of Disney resorts.
3. Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter
When we need a room and intend to spend most of our time at the parks, we favor Port Orleans – French Quarter. While it doesn’t have the most convenient access to the various parks, it has a couple of huge positives that matter to my family.
The first is the theming. My wife is all about the N’awlins lifestyle. She digs Cajun food and has beads that I’ve never mustered up to the courage to ask her how she got them. She reads Anne Rice novels and salivates anytime anyone on Top Chef prepares a beignet. Oh, and she loves The Princess and the Frog, too. So, French Quarter checks off all the boxes for her.
For me, French Quarter is perfect due to its intimacy. It’s one of the smallest resorts in the Disney collective. I don’t have to walk forever to find a bus stop, and I’m never more than a building or two away from the hotel lobby.
The pool isn’t overcrowded, while its theming is delightful. The Cajun cuisine isn’t really my thing, but I am 100 percent pro-beignet. So, I can make a meal work here, especially a snack at the pool bar, which is one of my favorites at Walt Disney World.
I’m of the opinion that Port Orleans – French Quarter is a perfect place for first-time Disney guests, too. The logistics are good enough to satisfy most people, the cuisine is catnip to foodies, and the small-scale theming is pure Disney magic. By the time a person watches their first screening of Movies under the Stars here, they’ll be totally hooked on Disney vacations.
2. Disney’s Beach Club Resort
In reading the first four entries, you’ve likely formed a conclusion about my Disney vacation habits. I eat a lot, I walk off all the calories at the parks, and then I spend my downtime swimming or wandering around the resorts.
Beach Club is ideal to me for all of these reasons. The food onsite is impeccable, especially Beaches & Cream, one of the most underrated restaurants at Walt Disney World. The character breakfast at Cape May Café is adorable, too. Guests who want something else can cross the lake to the BoardWalk, where other restaurants and a character breakfast are options.
Alternately, someone staying at Beach Club may walk the 500 steps to the International Gateway, the back entrance to Epcot’s World Showcase. From here, you’ll have the run of the park. All of its glorious cuisine and shopping is only a short walk away from the admissions area. The logistics are actually better than Magic Kingdom, although I suspect most people prefer that park to Epcot.
Of course, the best reason to stay at Beach Club is the pool. Stormalong Bay is a mini-water park in size and scope. Its sand-bottom pool floor and lazy river are so wonderful that I’m getting wistful as I type. I’m remembering previous perfect moments spent doing laps or just splashing around. This pool is quite possibly the best single amenity at Walt Disney World.
1. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
There can be only one. Every true Disney fanatic believes that a certain resort embodies everything that’s wonderful about Disney vacations. For my family, the Polynesian represents everything great about Disney.
I’ve loved this place since I was a kid, even though I wouldn’t stay here until I was an adult. I vividly recall when my sister and I rode the monorail here as children. We boldly proclaimed that we would live at the Polynesian one day.
While that dream hasn’t quite become a reality, I’ve stayed here enough by this point that it’s like my second home. For that matter, my actual home usually has a Polynesian-style scented candle or Scent HD cartridge recreating the hotel’s famous island smell. Everyone knows that the unforgettable scent of the hotel lobby is the most memorable part of the Polynesian. That fragrance lingers in my mind for weeks after a vacation ends.
The hotel’s amenities are spectacular. The Polynesian is a monorail resort that shares a beach and walkway with Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. This convenience gives guests at the Polynesian access to some of the best restaurants and shopping at Walt Disney World. Of course, you don’t have to leave the hotel to eat at ‘Ohana or Kona Café or grab a Dole Whip or…you get the point. The food here is sublime.
The Lava Pool is pretty great, too. Most people refer to it as the Volcano Pool due to the unmistakable structure operating as the centerpiece of the pool grounds. Personally, I love the water slide here, but I actually prefer the quiet pool due to its covered cabanas. I’ve spent plenty of time at both places and have so many wonderful memories of this, the most family-friendly of all resorts.
The Spirit of Aloha isn’t just a dinner show at the Polynesian. It’s the underlying theme of the resort. One famous cast member has handed out leis in the hotel lobby since 1971. When Auntie Kai’I calls you ‘cousin’, you know that you’re in a place that feels like home, even if it’s technically not. The welcoming atmosphere and relaxing nature of the Polynesian is what elevates it above all other Disney resorts, at least for my family.
So, I’ve just recommended half a dozen superlative Disney resorts. You’re totally in the mood for a Disney getaway now, right? And you deserve that sort of happiness, too! Contact one of the friendly and helpful agents at MickeyTravels to book a trip at one of these Disney resorts or whichever one is your personally favorite. Come on! Treat yourself to some joy!
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#1 My favorite hotel is the Dolphin. We’ve stayed there 12 times (and once at the Swan).
It is especially nice after the remodeling.
I am retired, and when I worked I traveled a lot and accumulated a nice # of Marriott and Starwood points. I am lifetime platinum with Marriott, which means that – we almost always get a very nice upgrade at the Dolphin.
# 2 Our favorite park is Epcot, and the proximity to this park from the Dolphin is wonderful. Whether walking or taking the very nice Friendship Boats, it is so convenient.
#3 I love the Crescent Lake area, and enjoy walking around the lake past the Boardwalk (hotel and shops), Yacht Club, and Beach Club. The Dolphin is very close to this as well.
Thanks for your article, and allowing me to share my thoughts on this subject.