Deciding where to stay when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort can take time and effort. There are so many options to consider. Budget, time spent in a theme park, dining options, and ways to chill out all help inform your decision.
Do you know all of the options available when visiting Walt Disney World? Surprisingly, there may be more than you think. The good news is that your options are more expansive than staying on Disney property.
Let’s look at all the options available to you when taking a Disney vacation. We’ll also share the pros and cons of each accommodation choice. We aim to help you choose where will suit you best during your next trip to Orlando. We also hope to make planning your future Disney vacation a little easier.
Walt Disney World Resort Hotel
For many Guests, staying in one of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels is an easy choice when taking a Disney vacation. With three different categories of Disney hotels, there is something for everyone. Whether cost, theming, location, or transport options influence your choice, you won’t be disappointed when you arrive.
Value Resort hotels are the cheapest of the Disney hotels to stay in. Typically, their theming features Disney characters with fun and bright colors. There are Guest rooms and family suites to choose from, accommodation-wise. Disney Value Resorts also offer the essential amenities to help you stay comfortable. These include swimming pools with poolside entertainment, a gift store, a quick-service restaurant, access to complimentary Disney transportation, and much more. The Disney Value Resorts are:
- Art of Animation Resort
- Pop Century Resort
- All-Stars Resorts, including Disney’s All-Star Movies, Disney’s All-Star Sports, and Disney’s All-Star Music Resorts
Moderate Resort hotels provide more luxury than Value Resorts. Each Disney Moderate Resort is themed after a destination from around the world. Guest rooms are more spacious, and amenities offered to Guests include full-service restaurants and access to an additional mode of Disney transport. The Disney Moderate Resorts are:
- Caribbean Beach Resort
- Coronado Springs Resort
- Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
- Port Orleans Resorts, including Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside and Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resorts
Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts are the most luxurious hotels on Disney property. Each Disney Deluxe Resort is exquisitely themed. Guest rooms are large and spacious, with their own balcony. Deluxe Resorts’ facilities include multiple full-service restaurants, access to at least two modes of Disney transport, and unique activities. The Disney Deluxe Resorts are:
- Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Polynesian Village Resort
- Wilderness Lodge
- Contemporary Resort
- Beach Club Resort
- Yacht Club Resort
- BoardWalk Inn
- Riviera Resort
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Saratoga Springs
- Old Key West
Choosing to stay in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel has many benefits. These benefits most certainly keep us choosing to stay in a Walt Disney World hotel when visiting Orlando over any other choice of accommodation. These include:
- Access to complimentary transport around the Walt Disney World Resort, reducing the need for you to have your own car
- Free parking for Guests who are traveling in their own car
- Early Theme Park Entry, every day of your stay, providing you with an additional thirty minutes in each Disney theme park daily
- Daily poolside entertainment
- Complimentary Resort activities, including Movies under the Stars, nightly campfires, and much more
- The whole Disney experience throughout your Disney vacation
We understand that choosing to stay in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel isn’t for everyone. While this accommodation is generally our first choice every time, some things may persuade you to stay elsewhere. These include:
- Disney hotels are expensive. Even a stay in a Value Resort can increase the cost of your Disney vacation considerably compared to staying elsewhere.
- To spend time in other Orlando theme parks, you must arrange transport to and from the Walt Disney World Resort. Uber and Lyft are options to consider. Alternatively, hire a car for the length of your vacation or for the days you plan to spend outside of Walt Disney World.
Disney Vacation Club Resort
For Guests wishing to stay on Disney property but would like accommodation that provides living amenities and not just a standard Guest room, a Disney Vacation Club Studio or Deluxe Villa will be ideal. The Disney Vacation Club Resorts are all Deluxe Resort hotels. You can select from various rooms, including Studios, One-Bedroom, Two-Bedroom, and Three-Bedroom Villas, and other more luxurious accommodations such as the Treehouse Villas, Polynesian Bungalows, and Copper Creek Cabins.
Disney Vacation Club Resorts include:
- Old Key West Resort
- Saratoga Springs Resort
- Riviera Resort
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Boulder Ridge Villas and Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Animal Kingdom Villas at Jambo House and Kidani Village
- Beach Club Villas
- BoardWalk Villas
- Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Staying in a Disney Vacation Club Resort has all the benefits of a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. They also provide a more luxurious living space, with Villas including a full kitchen, living area, washer and dryer, and balcony. Theme park view is also available in Resorts in the Magic Kingdom area. If any of these benefits seem appealing to you, but the cost of a Disney Vacation Club stay is offputting, consider staying in a Cabin in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.
Members of Disney Vacation Club gain the most from the Resort hotels. Guests who aren’t Disney Vacation Club Members will need a large accommodation budget to stay in the Resorts. They can make reservations via the Walt Disney World website. Alternatively, they can rent points from Disney Vacation Club Members.
Disney Partner Hotel
Do you want to stay within the Walt Disney World Resort but don’t wish to stay in a Disney Resort? A Disney Partner Hotel will work best for you. The Official Disney Partner Hotels include:
- Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista
- Wyndham Lake Buena Vista
- Holiday Inn Orlando
- B Resort & Spa Lake Buena Vista
- Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
- DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando
- Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Place
- Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Hotels
- Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
- Waldorf Astoria Orlando Bonnet Creek
- Four Seasons Resort Orlando
- SpringHill Suites by Marriott at Western Entrance
- TownePlace Suites by Marriott at Western Entrance
- Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek
Most Official Disney Partner Hotels are just across the street from Disney Springs. As such, they are a short distance from each Disney Park.
Staying in an Official Disney Partner Hotel comes with the following benefits:
- Complimentary shuttle services to each Disney Park
- Plenty of restaurants to choose from inside each hotel
- Plenty of facilities, including free wifi, outdoor swimming pools, leisure activities, and more
- Large and spacious rooms, making them an ideal accommodation choice for larger families
- Affordable accommodation that can suit your budget more so than one of the Disney Resort hotels
Unfortunately, Guests of the Official Disney Partner hotels do not get to take advantage of Early Theme Park Entry.
Outside of Walt Disney World
If you don’t plan on spending all of your time in the Disney Parks when visiting Lake Buena Vista, then considering somewhere other than a Walt Disney World Resort hotel will probably work for you best. Your Orlando vacation may include time in the other theme parks, including Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, and many more. You probably also want to take some time to relax in the Floridian sunshine. Your plans may also include some retail therapy, exploring the white-sanded beaches, and seeing the area’s natural wetlands.
If you plan to include any of these things in your vacation, consider many other accommodations available in Orlando.
With Orlando being a popular destination with people from all over the world, it’s no surprise that plenty of AirBnB’s are available. AirBnB’s are a great way to live like a local. Accommodations available vary from Guest rooms to apartments and more. You may even welcome the chance to stay in a themed AirBnB.
If you’re traveling with a large party, or want to stay on your own property, renting a villa when visiting Orlando is a great option. A wide range of villas are available to rent when vacationing in Orlando.
Pros of AirBnB’s and Villas
There are many reasons why Guests stay in an AirBnB or Villa when visiting Orlando. These include:
- Your own space to relax, especially if your choice of accommodation comes with its own pool.
- Ease of access to all areas around Orlando.
- Access to a variety of dining options. Choose to eat in the local restaurants or visit the superstores and stock up on food and drinks to enjoy in your home away from home.
- Affordable accommodation, especially when traveling in a big group. You can save a considerable amount of money by splitting the cost of these accommodation choices rather than paying for multiple Guest rooms in a hotel.
Cons of AirBnB’s and Villas
The drawbacks to staying in an AirBnB or Villa when visiting Orlando that you may wish to consider include:
- A car is necessary when hiring an AirBnb or Villa in Orlando. Doing so will make theme parks, shopping, and other areas more accessible. If you plan on flying to Orlando, hire a car from the airport for the length of your trip.
- Properties that tourists use may be known by locals, reducing security. We recommend hiring accommodation in gated complexes to increase your security and safety.
- Staying outside the Walt Disney World Resort and using a car will require paying for parking. Plan for this in your budget, as parking charges can quickly rack up if you visit theme parks most days of your vacation.
If you’re looking for a central hotel, you should consider staying on International Drive. Doing so makes it easy to access all the popular destinations within Orlando, including the Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando. Often, the International Drive hotels offer complimentary transport to the theme parks. Alternatively, International Drive is accessed by the Lynx buses and the I-RIDE Trolley transportation.
Nearby Hotels & Resorts
Due to Orlando’s popularity with tourists, there are plenty of other hotels and resorts around Walt Disney World. Each hotel will differ in the amenities that they offer to Guests. Guest rooms can also vary. Some hotels offer standard rooms, while others provide suites and larger Guest rooms. Popular locations for nearby hotels include Little Lake Bryan, Celebration, Universal Orlando Resort area, Kissimmee, Winter Park, and Downtown Orlando.
The benefits of staying in nearby hotels, including those on International Drive, include:
- Prices to suit a smaller vacation budget
- Centrally located, offering easy access to the Walt Disney World Resort and other Orlando theme parks. This can be helpful if you plan on spending one day in each theme park, during your vacation.
- Variety of amenities to suit your family
- Complimentary transport to a variety of theme parks in Orlando
- Easy access to a wide range of dining options
There are also drawbacks to staying in hotels outside of the Walt Disney World Resort. These include:
- The need to use complimentary transport, which may stop running before the theme park close. You may need to budget for using Uber or Lyft to get to and from your hotel.
- You will need to consider time for getting to and from the Disney Parks and other areas of interest. Additional time may be needed if you travel at peak times throughout the day.
- Expect long days if you are planning on visiting each theme park once. You will want to maximize your time in each Park to ensure you get to enjoy all of the fun.
Where is your preferred accommodation when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort? Have you tried one of these options but wish to consider another for your next Disney vacation? Are you feeling more informed and ready to decide on accommodation choice before your first visit to Orlando? Only you will know the right choice for your party. Remember to consider the pros and cons of each option before making your final decision.