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Our Top Picks for the Absolute Best Disney Resort For Your Dream Stay!

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through a link.

Decided on going to Disney World but feeling lost when it comes to choosing the best Disney Resort for you? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back!

We’ve compiled this “best Disney Resort for” list using our own experiences, other Disney fans’ experiences, and extensive research. The best resort will differ for each group but hopefully, this will help you navigate through the magical world of Disney resorts.

So, whether you’re a family with young kids, a group of friends, or a couple looking for a romantic getaway, keep reading to find your perfect Disney Resort match! Let’s dive in!

*In this article, I’ll interchangeably use the words hotel and resort, but keep in mind that I am talking about the same thing!

Best for Families

Art of Animation Resort - Best Disney Resort
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Skyliner Transportation
Disney and Pixar movie-themed throughout the resort
Family Suites available

Read review

Best Value

Pop Century Resort - Best Disney Resort
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Skyliner Transportation
Newly refurbished rooms
Great Value and Budget-friendly

Read review

Best Access to Magic Kingdom

Contemporary Resort - Best Disney Resort
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Monorail Transportation
Close to Magic Kingdom
Extended Evening Theme Park Hours

Read review

Best for Adults

Riviera Resort - Best Disney Resort
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Skyliner Transportation
Variety of dining options
Extended Evening Theme Park Hours

Read review

Honorable Mention

Walt Disney World Dolphin - Best Disney Resort
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin
Costs less than other Deluxe Resorts
Transportation to parks
Extended Evening Theme Park Hours

Read review

Best for Families – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

⭐️ Best For Families: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Looking for the perfect family vacation? Look no further than the Art of Animation Resort. With spacious family suites and multiple amazing pools, it’s a dream come true for families.

But what sets this resort apart is its magical atmosphere. From the grounds to the rooms, every corner is filled with the enchanting world of Disney and Pixar movies. Your little ones will be running around in pure delight, immersed in their favorite characters and stories.

For an unforgettable experience that will make your family feel like they’ve stepped into a Disney/Pixar movie, choose the Art of Animation Resort.

Pro Tip: Book a room in the Nemo Tower for the best access to the main building and Skyliner.

Pros

Disney and Pixar movie-themed throughout the resort

Skyliner transportation

Family suites available

Kitchenette in family suites (refrigerator, microwave, sink, and coffee maker)

Dog-friendly

Cons

Costs more than other value resorts

No table service restaurant

Some rooms are further away from the main building (especially the Little Mermaid area)

Art of Animation - Best Disney Resort

Category

Value Resort

Theme

Disney and Pixar movie-themed rooms and areas

Transportation

Bus and Skyliner

Resort Area

Wide World of Sports Resort Area

Best Value – Disney’s Pop Century Resort

⭐️ Best Value:
Disney’s Pop Century Resort

Looking to save on lodging without sacrificing convenience? Look no further than Pop Century. This budget-friendly resort offers the best of both worlds. 

Plus, it’s conveniently located near the Skyliner that provides easy and swift access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT parks. Honestly, the Skyliner alone is worth the price! 

If you’re a traveler who plans to spend most of your time exploring the parks, Pop Century is a must-see. Also, consider reallocating your lodging budget to maximize your experiences at the parks or elsewhere.

Pro Tip:

Reserve a Preferred Room for the best access to the main building. It’s also worth requesting a room in the 60’s building, as it will be closer to the main building as well as the Skyliner.

If you don’t like to call, there’s a room request field after online check-in, so you can set that to “Near Transportation”.

*Requests are not guaranteed, but it is worth asking!

Pros

Newly refurbished rooms

Great value (budget-friendly)

Skyliner transportation

Cons

Theming may not be appealing to everyone

No table service restaurant

Extensive grounds

Pop Century - Best Disney Resort

Category

Value Resort

Theme

Popular culture from the 1950s to the 1990s

Transportation

Bus and Skyliner

Resort Area

Wide World of Sports Resort Area

Best Access to Magic Kingdom– Disney’s Contemporary Resort

⭐️ Best Access to Magic Kingdom:
Disney’s Contemporary Resort

I highly recommend Disney’s Contemporary Resort for its unbeatable location right next to the Magic Kingdom. It makes taking short breaks from the parks easy. You’ll also be able to watch the fireworks from a theme park view room or from the observation room.

The resort’s unique interior monorail station also offers a hassle-free ride to the parks. If you decide to take the monorail, you’ll go through security screening before you board. I personally think that this security check tends to be a bit quicker than the ones at the park gates.

The convenience of multiple on-site dining options such as Chef Mickey’s (character dining) and award-winning California Grill are also what makes this resort stand out from others!

Pro Tip:

On days with Extended Evening Theme Park Hours at the Magic Kingdom, maximize your experience by arriving 30 minutes early for Early Theme Park Entry and take a break in your room during peak hours and return in the evening. 

Also, opt for rooms in the Main Tower and not the Garden Wing. Although the rooms in the Garden Wing are slightly cheaper and quieter,  the convenience and benefits that come with the Main Tower are worth the extra cost. Plus, you’ll have easier access to the monorail and dining options.

Pros

Close to Magic Kingdom

Monorail transportation

Can view the Electrical Water Pageant from the resort

Can view Magic Kingdom fireworks (from fireworks view rooms and observation decks)

Character Dining at Chef Mickey’s

Extended Evening Theme Park Hours

Cons

Room theming may not be appealing for everyone (Incredibles-themed)

Pricey

Noisy in some rooms

No “wow” factors for the pool

Contemporary Resort - Best Disney Resort

Category

Deluxe Resort

Theme

Mid-century modern, with refurbished Incredibles-themed rooms

Transportation

Bus and Monorail

Resort Area

Magic Kingdom Resort Area

Best for Adults– Disney’s Riviera Resort

⭐️ Best for Adults:
Disney’s Riviera Resort

I highly recommend the Riviera Resort for adults seeking a serene getaway with a touch of luxury.

The Skyliner boarding area is relatively less crowded compared to other resorts!

The resort offers diverse room options, an impressive selection of on-site dining, and a peaceful ambiance that sets it apart from other resorts.

Numerous individuals, myself and my companions included, have expressed that every item, from the pastries at the café to the meals in the character dining restaurant, Topolino Terrace, are just spectacular.

Pro Tip: Ask for an upper-floor room where you can view the fireworks when booking a non-Preferred View room (not guaranteed but worth asking for)!

Pros

Skyliner transportation

Variety of dining options

Character Dining at Topolino’s Terrace (morning hours only)

Able to see Magic Kingdom and EPCOT fireworks from some rooms

Beautiful rooftop view at Topolino’s Terrace

Extended Evening Theme Park Hours

Cons

Very pricey

Subtle Disney theming

Hotel-like

Riviera Resort

Category

Deluxe Villa Resort

Theme

European Resort Hotel

Transportation

Bus and Skyliner

Resort Area

EPCOT Resort Area

Honorable Mention – Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

⭐️ Honorable Mention:
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

*Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin are Disney resorts managed by Marriott.

Swan and Dolphin Resorts are ideal for those who want to get the most out of the theme parks without spending a fortune, as they offer more affordable Disney Resort perks only in Deluxe and Deluxe Villas, including the Extended Evening Theme Park Hours.

Accessibility is also a breeze, as the resort is in the EPCOT area, so you can walk or take a water taxi to EPCOT or Hollywood Studios.

It’s also great for those who are already Marriott members!

Pro Tip: The Swan and Dolphin Resorts do not have buses to the Magic Kingdom and will drop you off at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). When you’re going to Magic Kingdom or when the bus stops are crowded, walk to the Disney Yacht Club next door to catch the bus!

Pros

Costs less than other Deluxe Resorts

Earn Marriott Bonvoy Rewards points

Enjoy some Disney onsite perks

Extended Evening Theme Park Hours

Early Theme Park Entry

Advanced Dining Reservation

Transportation to parks

Cons

No bus drop-off to Magic Kingdom, but instead dropped at Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC)

Not able to purchase the Disney Dining Plan

Unable to use MagicBands as room key or make purchases

Lacks Disney theming

Additional resort fee

Dolphin Resort - Best Disney Resort
Dolphin Resort

Category

Deluxe Resort

Theme

N/A

Transportation

Bus and boat

Resort Area

EPCOT Resort Area

Tips for Finding the Best Disney Resort for You

With so many resorts to choose from, it can be hard to determine which one is right for you. The “best resort” will differ for every person.  

Here are some questions to consider when choosing:

What’s your budget?

Disney categorizes its resorts into four: value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villas. If you have a lower budget, consider a Disney value resort or an off-site hotel.

Have a tight budget but want to stay at one of the luxurious Disney Resorts? Consider renting Disney Vacation Club points to stay at a deluxe villa.
Disney Vacation Club or DVC is a points-based timeshare program where members purchase points yearly and use those points to stay at a Disney Resort. At David’s DVC rental, you’re able to rent points even if you’re not a DVC member! Check the “cost calculator” tab and see how much you can save.

How many people are you going with?

If you’re traveling with a larger group, consider a Disney Deluxe Villa Resort, a suite-type room for an off-site hotel, or Airbnb/Vacation Home Rental

Are you going with the kids? If so, how old are they?

A Disney Resort might be a better choice if you’re traveling with kids because of its Disney theme. Younger kids might like the “cartoony” Disney theme at value resorts more than the subtle Disney theme at moderate and deluxe resorts.

How long are you staying?/Will you spend a lot of time at the hotel?

If you’re only going to be there for a short time or at the parks the whole stay, you probably won’t need to care about the hotel amenities. 

If you plan to go to the resort pool, remember that Disney Value Resorts don’t have waterslides. 

Which transportation do you want to use?

There are many different transportation options for Disney Resort guests; buses, boats, Disney Skyliner (gondola system), and monorails. See what type of transportation is available for each Disney Resort. 

If you’re also looking at an off-site hotel, see what type of transportation the hotel offers. 

Which park are you going to visit the most?

If you plan on visiting Epcot or Hollywood Studios more than once, consider a resort near the Boardwalk where you can walk to the park or use a water taxi. Or consider a resort that offers the Skyliner service.

FAQ

1. Where should I book my resort?

The best way would be to book either directly from the official Walt Disney World website or through an authorized Disney travel agent.

2. How can I save money or get discounts at each resort?

Polynesian Resort - Best Disney Resort

If you’re booking directly from the official Disney World website, check to see whether they have special offers. They’ll usually have special offers all year long.
Are you booking a Disney World vacation for next year? You can add offers to your reservations later if a discount comes up.
If you decide to book through a Disney travel agent, make sure to ask them about discounts.

3. What are the benefits of staying at a Disney Resort?

Staying at a Disney Resort comes with many benefits! These include:
Early Theme Park Entry (Enter parks 30 minutes early)
Extended Evening Theme Park Hours* (Stay late in specific parks after regular hours)
-Purchase Dining Plans
Complimentary transportation within Disney World
Complimentary standard parking at Disney parks
-Purchase MagicBand+ at a special price
-Use MagicBand+ to unlock your room and purchase food and merchandise (plus more!)
-Early access to buy Individual Lightning Lane Entry
-Make Dining reservations for your entire length of stay (60 days in advance)
*Extended Evening Theme Park Hours are only available for guests staying at Disney Deluxe Resorts or Disney Deluxe Villas

What Next?

So, there you have it! A list of some of the best Disney World Resorts and some tips and tricks when booking one. Of course, the “best” Walt Disney World hotel will vary depending on your group’s interests and budget. Still, I think you’ll find a hotel on this list that will make your stay in Walt Disney World unforgettable.

And don’t forget to save and share this post with your friends – they’ll want to know about these amazing options for their next trip to Disney World.

Figured out which hotel you want to stay at but don’t know what to do next? Check my Ultimate Guide for Planning a Trip to Disney World post to plan your next vacation!

Check out some of my other posts below for more tips and advice for planning your magical Disney World vacation.

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