The Seven Walt Disney World Resorts I Prefer
At some point, I became The Disney Guy among my friends. Whenever they’re planning a vacation, they pepper me with questions.
One of the things they ask the most is also the one I enjoy answering the best.
Which Walt Disney World resorts am I most likely to choose as my vacation home base? Here are my favorite seven hotels on property.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
I’ll start with an acknowledgment that I’m a member of the Disney Vacation Club. So, that impacts my perspective a bit.
What I’ll describe is why I’m passionate about each resort. At Animal Kingdom Lodge, the answer is so simple.
This place feels like a small-scale version of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. No, you don’t get to ride anything (unless a waterslide counts).
However, you DO get to watch animals play in their natural environments, meticulously maintained habitats.
On a given day, you can watch giraffes, zebras, gazelles, and antelopes frolic, blissfully unconcerned with any humans in the area.
By the way, the other running theme with my choices is that I prefer to eat at my hotel when possible.
I can grab a quick break between hard pushes at the parks. At Animal Kingdom Lodge, restaurants like The Mara and Boma never fail to satisfy.
I’m a sucker for Zebra Domes, which I swear to you contain no zebras. They’re just crunchy chocolate goodness.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
As I’ve mentioned several times, EPCOT claims the title of my favorite theme park. I never get tired of exploring the World Showcase or riding the E-ticket attractions.
For that matter, I very much enjoy the less popular rides like The Seas with Nemo & Friends as well.
At Beach Club, I’m never more than a 10-minute walk away from the France pavilion. These days that means I’m about 700 steps from Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Of course, that’s not the only reason I adore Beach Club. Stormalong Bay enriches every hotel stay.
This mini-water park is technically a hotel pool, but it somehow feels much grander in scale.
Plus, two terrific restaurants, Beaches & Cream Soda Shop and Cape May Café, reside a minute or two away from the hotel pool.
I favor Beaches & Cream because some of its tables include a view of the pool, although that was more the case before the redesign.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
I often joke that there’s a red light near the Contemporary Resort that’s the bane of my existence.
This is accurate because the red light impacts the walkway connecting the Contemporary to Magic Kingdom’s admission gates.
In the mornings, I’m like a child as I rush toward that park entry point, and I’m every bit as petulant when that Don’t Walk signal stops me from advancing.
Parts of the Contemporary are legitimately a sub-ten-minute walk from the MagicBand scanning kiosks at Magic Kingdom.
That stupid red light adds two or three minutes, thereby temporarily depriving me of my Disney bliss.
When I stay at the Contemporary, I know that I can hop in and out of the most popular theme park on the planet as much as I want.
This place also features two of my favorite Disney stores, Bayview Gifts and Fantasia Market.
Oh, and a monorail runs straight through the middle of this resort. Have I mentioned I’m like a child when I’m at Disney?
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
I previously mentioned my DVC affiliation. Well, my home resort is Old Key West, which makes it close to my wife and my hearts.
We own a small piece of Disney at Old Key West. But then again, we’d still love it without that emotional connection.
This resort recaptures the Ernest Hemingway era of Key West, Florida, a time when six-toed cats ran through town unabated. Actually, that’s still kinda true.
Anyway, the point is that no Disney resort is more Floridian than this one, even the one with Floridian in the name.
At Old Key West, you can hang out by a pool whose waterslide takes the form of a sandcastle. The mouth of the waterslide eerily resembles a Hidden Mickey, though.
Also, there’s a lighthouse because Bioshock fans know there’s always a lighthouse.
Finally, you can eat delicious fried chicken at Olivia’s Café, a place so committed to Disney family vacations that pictures from past ones decorate the walls.
I never feel more at home at Disney than when I’m at Old Key West.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Then again, I am never more perfect at Disney than when I’m at the Polynesian, which is far and away my first resort choice overall.
I’m head over heels in love with this place in a way that I’ve never been with any other hotel.
At the Polynesian, I treasure those moments spent at the Great Ceremonial House, whether I’m shopping or dining.
Both BouTiki and Moana Mercantile sell more Disney merch I want than my bank account will allow.
As for the restaurants, I just wrote this glowing review of Capt. Cook’s. It’s somehow my favorite resort Quick Service eatery, but it’s only the third-best restaurant here.
Both ‘Ohana and Kona Café provide better meals, something that kinda blows my mind.
Also, even as a teetotaler, I enjoy hanging out at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Bar. No place at Disney can compete with Trader Sam’s in terms of pageantry.
Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter
Here’s where I stay the most when I’m not with DVC.
Throughout the pandemic, I expressed frustration over the prolonged closure of Port Orleans – French Quarter.
In fact, I’m not exaggerating when I say that I probably would have visited Walt Disney World at least once more if it’d been open.
As a resort, French Quarter exemplifies the Disney Bubble. It somehow feels secluded and private.
I consider it the most romantic of all Disney hotels due to its size, smaller hotel buildings, and waterfront backdrop.
When you combine all this with a Mardi Gras theme, French Quarter feels like the best bang for the buck at Walt Disney World.
PS: I really love the pool here. The sea monster sight gag makes it seem so very Disney.
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Out of this list, the Polynesian is undoubtedly my first choice. My seventh choice, the place I go when everything else is booked, is Saratoga Springs.
That’s kind of a dog whistle statement for DVC members, as they’ll understand. It’s the non-All-Star resort with the most inventory.
Personally, I find Saratoga Springs a bit overwhelming at times because it’s so spread out.
Disney repurposed the former Disney Institute land to build a massive resort that stretches across several sections.
The old-school horseracing theme delights at Saratoga Springs and the two restaurants, Artist’s Palette and The Turf Club Bar and Grill, are both satisfying.
Still, the reason why I choose Saratoga Springs is more pragmatic in nature. This resort lies only a short walk from Disney Springs.
So, when we’re traveling on more of a relaxed vacation, I love what Saratoga Springs offers. Like nearby Old Key West, it’s secluded.
However, you’re only a walk or a boat ride away from all the action at Disney Springs. So, I can shop and eat VERY well when I stay here.
This place works better when you’re older and/or traveling without children. Plus, it has a golf course right on the hotel grounds!
Where is your favorite Disney resort at Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments!