Walt Disney World: Where to Stay Inside the Park

Posted by Carolyn Galgano on July 14, 2011 at 1:33:13 PM EDT | Post a Comment
With more than 20 Disney owned and operated properties offering similar amenities, how do you decide which hotel is perfect for you and your family? Here, we've highlighted some of the top Disney World lodgings to make your trip planning a bit easier. When traveling to Disney, staying on-site can be a pricey option. Although you may spend 5-star prices, don't expect Ritz-quality accommodations. Here you are mainly paying for location, with the addition of some great perks; free transportation to and from the parks and resorts; Disney's Magical Express (a free airport luggage transportation system); extended hours at the parks; charging privileges throughout Disney; free parking; and of course, convenience. For more info, see Perks for Disney Resort Guests. Disney-Grand-Floridian-Monorail.jpg

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Disney's premier resort is perfect for those looking for an upscale take on a Disney vacation. Quieter and more subdued than most other Disney properties, the Grand Floridian is an ideal choice for singles or couples who want respite from the lively surroundings. Resort Highlights: old-Florida ambience; on the monorail route; one of Disney's best restaurants offers an evening-long experience in dining; definitely the most romantic on-property Disney hotel Fodor's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Review Victoria & Albert's Restaurant Review Disney-Contemporary-Resort-chef-Mickeys.jpg

Disney's Contemporary Resort

Location reigns supreme here: directly across from the Magic Kingdom (and on the monorail route to other Disney parks). It is perfect for those who rank convenience as their number one requirement for choosing a hotel. Resort Highlights: easy access to parks via monorail; the epicenter of the character-meal world is here; launching point for romantic Bay Lake cruises Fodor's Contemporary Resort Review Chef Mickey's Restaurant Review Disney-Africa-lodge-lobby.jpg

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Book a room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge if you're looking for an exotic Disney vacation. Here, you'll see African wildlife like gazelles, zebras, and ostriches just outside your window. By day, you'll be at the Magic Kingdom, and by night, you'll feel like you're on an African safari. Lodge Highlights: extraordinary wildlife and cultural experiences; excellent on-site restaurants Fodor's Animal Kingdom Lodge Review Boma Restaurant Review Jiko Restaurant Review Disney-Popcentury-exterior.jpg

Disney's Pop Century Resort

This vibrant, budget property best suits families with young children who want a fun and fanciful place to stay without breaking the bank. As opposed to other on-site properties, you won't have to pay the high price for convenience. Resort Highlights: great room rates; funky décor is a trip down memory lane for many; proximity to ESPN Wide World of Sports and Disney's Hollywood Studios Fodor's Pop Century Resort Review Disney-Port-Orleans-Resort.jpg

Disney's Port Orleans Resort-French Quarter

A lively resort themed after the popular New Orleans neighborhood, the Port Orleans Resort-French Quarter delivers fun times for the whole family. Kids can splash around at the huge serpent slide at the pool, and adults can take a relaxing boat ride down the Sassagoula River. Resort Highlights: authentic, or as authentic as you get at Disney; fun NoLa-style atmosphere; moderate price; lots of water recreation options, including boat rentals Fodor's Port Orleans Resort-French Quarter Review Disney-Coronado-Resort-Pool.jpg

Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

A sprawling Mexican-themed resort, set on a 22-acre lake is the perfect place for business-types and their families. Those staying here on official matters will get good use of the 220,000 square foot function space with all the expected amenities including a business center, Wi-Fi, and breakout meeting rooms; their families can play the day away splashing in the sun at one of the three pools. Resort Highlights: great pool with a play-area arcade for kids and a bar for adults; lots of outdoor activities Fodor's Coronado Springs Resort Review

More on Walt Disney World

Photos: Courtesy Walt Disney World
Posted in Hotels, Family Tagged: Disney, Resorts

Member Comments (6)  Post a Comment

  • TravelChic10 on Sep 20, 11 at 12:16 PM

    My husband and I just visited Disney two weeks ago. We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort this time. The theme turned out to be a bit too juvenille for us, but kids would love the resort. We prefered Port Orleans Riverside, where we stayed last time. We have visited numerous resorts to try out restaurants. Next time we plan to stay at a resort on the Monorail to make traveling much easier. I highly recommend staying on Disney property. The free transporation to and from the airport plus the transporation on property and the free dining plan promotion Disney offered made it cheaper and more convinient for us to stay at Disney. The free Dining Plan alone saved us around $100-$125 a day. Just one meal alone that we enjoyed would have cost us $90. We looked at off-property options, but between car rental, parking, and meals, the Disney price was less expensive and we got to enjoy the extra Magic Hours at the parks as a bonus.

  • njislander on Jul 28, 11 at 04:46 PM

    We stayed at the Marriott Harbour Lake ,a 2 BR villa,and the kids loved the pirate themed pool complete with ship and shooting water canyons and another pool with large dumping bucket and fountains. Can see fireworks from our villa room and activiies and game s for kids during the day. Must have car and drive to WDW but only about 10 minutes away.

  • Cate_W Fodor's editor on Jul 27, 11 at 05:09 PM

    These are some Fodor's favorites that represent the range of in-park options. When I was younger we always stayed outside the park to save. Do you think it's worth paying the premium to be in the park?

    jandre0820, clivejolin, Ryan - thanks for sharing your recommendations. Does anyone else have favorite hotels to share - inside or outside the park?

  • Ryan on Jul 27, 11 at 11:31 AM

    We have stayed at 5 of the Disney Premium Resorts with our two kids, both under 10. With younger kids, I think the Animal Kingdom is a great choice if you have a view of their "Savannah." Our kids loved waking up to the animals wandering outside our room. However, strongly consider renting a car if staying at this hotel as it can be a long bus ride to the MK.
    The best pool is at the Beach and Yacht Club. But, when our kids were 5 and 4 we thought they were too young to really enjoy it. The slide requires they walk across a public walkway and if you need to look carefully as to when they get on as they come out into a deep pool with a bit of turbulence. Our kids were both good swimmers but even with that, it made a lot of running around to keep an eye on them.

    Love the theme of the Wilderness Lodge, didn't like the boat launch aspect.

    For us, the best all-around option has been the Polynesian. Best combination of theme, pool, and room size. The standard day bed in each room converts to another bed, which makes it much easier for a family of four.
    If staying at a higher-end WDW resort, I would suggest looking into the value added of their club level. We have found the ability to have breakfast in the club and the free drinks (both for kids and adults) to make the extra cost worth it.

  • clivejolin on Jul 27, 11 at 11:12 AM

    I cannot believe you have omitted Disney’s Yacht and Beach Clubs. For position, amenities and variety of restaurant they are 2nd to none and always our first choice when we are lucky enough to visit WDW

  • jandre0820 on Jul 27, 11 at 10:01 AM

    Great highlights of great hotels at Disney! However, I feel you could have highlighted one of the hotels within walking distance of Hollywood Studios and Epcot. For instance, the Boardwalk Inn is one of the nicer delxue resorts on Disney property. I'm in my 20's and have been to Disney around 8 times and have stayed in many of the resorts you listed. Most do not compare to staying at the Boardwalk Inn, not only because it is a nice resort with a great pool, but it's within walking distance of restaurants and shops as well as Epcot and Hollywood Studios. If you go during Epcot's Food & Wine Festival, this is especially a treat. If you have the money, I'd definitely recommend staying here.

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