The Top 5 Hotels at Walt Disney World
The Best Hotels at Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World has three categories of onsite Disney Resort hotels. All of these hotels are Disney properties and when you stay in one you gain some extra benefits as guests of a Disney Resort.
The top-tier of Disney hotels are found in the Deluxe Resorts category (there are also Moderate and Value categories). While any of the Disney Deluxe Resorts and Villas would make an excellent choice for your Walt Disney World vacation, there are five that I consider to be the top choices.
The Top Five Deluxe Resort Hotels at Walt Disney World
When I consider each resort, it is based on more than than simply the resort itself as a standalone property. AAA does a very good job of rating hotel properties as standalone resorts, regardless of other considerations (such as location within Walt Disney World and so on). I also have a separate post covering the Walt Disney World Resorts that have achieved the coveted AAA Four Diamond Rating.
Any ranking of hotels is subjective, so this is my list based on a lifetime of travel to Walt Disney World.
1. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
It should be no surprise that Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa tops the list as the ultimate luxury accommodation at Walt Disney World Resort. There is something here for everyone, from young families to couples on a honeymoon retreat. This property truly has it all. Not only that, it is just one short stop from the magic of Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park–by monorail on the outbound and boat on the return trip.
There is a common misconception that because this property is so nice, that Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort is not a good spot for kids. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort is probably the best Disney Resort for kids in all of Walt Disney World.
Whether or not they will admit it, most guests of Walt Disney World aspire to stay at this upscale Victorian-themed Deluxe Disney Resort.
2. Disney’s Contemporary Resort
In the early years of Walt Disney World, I probably wouldn’t have had Disney’s Contemporary Resort in the number two spot on this list. That’s saying something because for many many years there were only two onsite hotels from which to choose at Walt Disney World: Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Even now this comparison is very close.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort is an upscale property that carries the legacy of being (along with Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort) one of the first two resort hotels to open at Walt Disney World on October 1, 1971.
While some may refer to this hotel as lacking any distinguishable sense of Disney theming, its charm comes from its unique location and the fact that is has become a visual icon in and of itself. From a Disney Resort hotel perspective, Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a full-fledged Deluxe Resort. What it may lack in Disney ambiance and theming, it more than makes up for in onsite amenities and dining. It has everything that you would expect from an upscale resort hotel.
In addition, Disney’s Contemporary Resort holds the unique distinction of being the only property from which you can walk to the gates of Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park. This is a convenience that you will come to appreciate if you stay at this resort.
3. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is equal in historical significance to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Disney’s Polynesian Village goes back to the earliest of days of Walt Disney World in October 1971 and while it has expanded and changed slightly over the years, the core sense, theming and ambiance has remained the same.
For many guests who want to stay in the Magic Kingdom Resort Area, it often comes down to a decision between Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. They both have their unique pros and both are upscale properties with many amenities. Disney’s Polynesian Village has its own unique quality in that it is the only Disney resort from which you can walk to the Epcot Monorail line at Disney’s Transportation and Ticket Centre next to the hotel. It also houses some of the most upscale accommodations in all of Walt Disney World in the Bora Bora Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
You really cannot go wrong in choosing between these two properties. It typically comes down to which style of hotel appeals to you more.
4. Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Disney’s Beach Club Resort is a fun and upbeat beach-themed property with a more vibrant colour palette that reflects a family fun day at the beach.
When compared to Disney’s Yacht Club Resort next door, Disney’s Beach Club Resort is a more lively and active property in terms of lobby activity and crowds in the hotel shop. It is located only a short walk to the World Showcase entry of Epcot and a short boat ride to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
One of the main attractions of this resort is the highly desirable Stormalong Bay pool complex, which Disney’s Beach Club Resort shares with Disney’s Yacht Club Resort next door.
5. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Back in the Magic Kingdom Resort area, but not on the monorail loop, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is a Deluxe Resort property that was previously not on my top five list. However, recent renovations and changes throughout the resort property have caused me to reconsider my position.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is a rustic and majestic resort hotel with decor and ambiance in the vein of grand National Parks lodges from days gone by. The large and cavernous lobby is very impressive, with exposed log structures, towering totem poles and detailed woodwork throughout the area. You are immediately thrust into the woodland environment as soon as you enter the lobby area.
This Resort has a good selection of dining options, room variations and upscale luxury accommodations, including the relatively new Cascade Cabins. My only slight reservation for Disney’s Wilderness Lodge continues to be a lack of sufficient pool space, which can sometimes become stressed with volume of guests.
Learn More About Walt Disney World’s Deluxe Resort Properties
Be sure to read my Guide to Planning A Walt Disney World Vacation and my post on the Five Golden Rules of Walt Disney World Vacation Planning.
Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Deluxe Disney Travel Specialist
The Finer Side of Travel™