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Friday, September 7, 2018

my favorite disney resorts at each level

Disney confession time: I cringe a little bit whenever I hear someone discussing the hotel they've chosen and describe it as "just a room to sleep in at the end of the night."

When you're planning out your Walt Disney World Resort vacation, you're obviously going to want to maximize your time in the parks.  Disney vacations aren't cheap, and even if you're there for a whole week, you're not going to get everything done.  From an overly-excited planner standpoint, you may think that your days are going to be filled with Theme Park magic from 8 AM-12 AM, with a short break from 1 AM-7 AM to crash on a bed.  The reality is different.  You're going to be spending a lot more time at your resort than you think.  For starters, consider the travel time it takes from your room to the transportation hub and how long you'll be waiting for said transportation to arrive.  Consider the needs of your travel party-- will a larger bathroom make things easier on your party of 5, or do you have a baby that might need extra space for a crib?  Finally, what are the odds that at some point during your vacation, someone in your party will want something to eat or need to buy something before the day has begun/after you're all settled into your hotel room for the night?

My point is that no matter how much your party is planning to spend in the park, your Resort hotel rooms are, at the very least, a little more than "just a room to sleep in at the of the night."  Every hotel on Disney property has its pros and cons, so I'm going to break down my favorite resort at each of the four Disney resort hotel levels for you.

The Disney Value Resorts have been a popular choice among families since they were first introduced in 1992.  The operative word here is value: going to Walt Disney World is expensive no matter how you slice and dice it, but Value resorts are objectively the cheapest on property.  My favorite Value resort is Disney's Pop Century Resort.

Image result for pop century resort
image courtesy of wikipedia

Let me start off by saying that there are problems at all of Disney's value resorts.  Because their price point makes them among the most accessible hotels on property, you sacrifice a lot of time and sleep when you stay here.  Each resort has a lot of buildings, and the buildings are spread out across a very large campus.  It could take you 10-15 minutes just to walk from your room to the hotel lobby.  Due to the popularity of the resorts, there is constant foot traffic around the resort.  This makes getting a good night's sleep difficult, as there's usually a lot of sound just outside of your hotel room, whether it's a crying child or just a luggage cart rolling by.  Of course every resort on property has its pros and cons, but these specific problems seem to be rampant at the value level.

With all that being said, I have a soft spot for Pop-C.  While the All-Stars have the lowest rack rate, they also draw the largest crowds and I don't like the design of their rooms.  Personally, I don't think the Art of Animation Resort should be classified as a value resort-- the resort is very expensive, even for the non-family suite Little Mermaid rooms.  Art of Animation certainly has the most immersive theming, but if you're on a budget, I really don't think it's worth the extra money per night.

Pop Century is the perfect medium.  Not quite as upscale as Art of Animation, but a step up from the All-Stars.  I love their newly renovated rooms, which offer a modern design styled with the same room technology used at Art of Animation.  I'm also a big fan of the Pop Century food court, Everything Pop, which hosts a large variety of stations to serve you hot food as fast as possible.

Admittedly, I'm not an expect on the Moderate resorts.  The moderates have a very business-class feel to them, and for good reason.  Coronado Springs and Caribbean Beach Resort are where employees set-up shop for a week of business conferences at the mouse house.  My favorite Moderate resort is Port Orleans: Riverside.

Image result for port orleans riverside
image courtesy of disney parks blog

I think it's worth saying right off the bat that I couldn't be paid to stay at Coronado Springs and CBR right now.  The construction going on at both resorts are so noisy and obstructive, there's no way I'd be able to stay there for a week and not get at least a little annoyed.  Caribbean Beach Resort has it really bad right now-- the food options are mostly outside, with a tent that hosts a breakfast buffet and a few food trucks.  I cannot imagine paying $172/night to stay there.

I don't think you can really go wrong with either Port Orleans: French Quarter or Port Orleans: Riverside, but my personal preference lies within Riverside.  At Riverside, there are warm beignets to eat and entertainment from Yehaa Bob.  French Quarter has a nicer pool, but they lack dining options.  Riverside also tends to see better discounts throughout the year, so you may be able to pay significantly less than you would for it's nearly identical twin sister.

I may be biased... but my favorite Deluxe resort is absolutely Disney's Polynesian Village Resort.  I mean, my family wouldn't own a contract there if we weren't so in love with it!  First of all-- I think all of the resorts on the monorail line are special.  My family loves Magic Kingdom, so we always appreciate having such fast and reliable transportation to get us there.  I think the dining options at the Poly are great, too.  We've never had a bad meal at 'Ohana, Kona Cafe, or even Cap'n Cooks!  I also want to mention that the Polynesian Cast Member team is an incredible group of people.  Everyone there is so friendly.  Every trip, I feel like I encounter a new CM who goes above and beyond in customer service.  The ambiance, the food, the people, the smell of the lobby... Disney's Polynesian Village Resort is home to me.

I do have to give a shout out to what I think is the best Deluxe Villas resort, Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort.  The Contemporary is a very close second on the list of my favorite Disney resorts on property.  They have some of the best dining options in all of Walt Disney World, and the hotel layout is brilliant-- everything is all in one building, so you never have to stray too far from anything!  Bay Lake Tower is a gorgeous, modern building with one of the coolest pools on property.  It's also home to the Top of the World Lounge, where Disney Vacation Club Members can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks.  Finally, one of the biggest draws to Bay Lake Tower is it's proximity to Magic Kingdom: you can walk from BLT to MK in less than 10 minutes!

Image result for bay lake tower
image courtesy of undercover tourist

I have some very strong opinions on Walt Disney World Resort hotels, but as always, I love hearing from my readers!  Whether you agree or disagree with me, talk to me in the comments below.


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