Best Disney World Resorts

in Walt Disney World

Disney World Resorts

Credit: Disney

No matter what type of Disney vacation you’re planning, there is a perfect Walt Disney World Resort hotel that will compliment your trip perfectly!

There are more than 25 resort options on property and each one has its own unique theme and personality. This is something that makes staying on property absolutely magical. Not only do you experience top-notch Guest service from every Cast Member that you interact with, but you also get a chance to eat, sleep, and explore resorts that uphold the same magic and theming that you could find in a Disney Park! I personally feel like this sets Disney Resorts apart from any other stay in the area.

Disney's Grand Floridian
Credit: Disney

Below, we’ve created a guide that’s meant to help point you in the right direction to pick which Walt Disney World Resort would be the best fit for your next trip. We’ve broken it into the following categories:

  • Best Disney World Resort Hotels for Families
  • Best Disney World Resorts for a Romantic Getaway
  • Best Disney World Resorts on a Budget
  • Best Disney World Resorts for Leisure Activities
  • Best Disney World Resorts for a Laid Back Staycation
  • Best Disney World Resorts for Easy Park Access

Keep in mind that some of the resorts are mentioned twice in the guide because we think they are genuinely great options for more than one type of trip. With that being said, we’ve carefully crafted the perfect information that would be most relevant for each category, and we have also included some official Walt Disney World descriptions in hopes that you’ll have everything you need to make a perfect choice!

Disney resort
Credit: Disney

These opinions are those of us here at ITM and are not all of the amazing offerings that could go into each category. We really wanted to highlight those that we thought were the very best match for each! So, let’s get started by looking at our top Disney resort options for a family vacation.

Need help planning this amazing getaway? Learn more about Academy Travel — denoted as an Earmarked Diamond Travel Agency by Disney itself — by clicking HERE.

Best Disney World Resort Hotels for Families

The following resorts are amazing choices if you’re looking for the perfect hotel for your family trip. Each of these is impeccably themed and full of exciting recreation and pool activities that will make your time outside of the parks almost as exciting as your time in them.

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

When you book a stay at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, you get the true feeling of a tropical vacation from the moment you first walk in the door! This resort is inspired by five distinct islands — Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad and Aruba. Every single morning you’ll feel like you’re being transported to the Caribbean with all of the colorful decor and relaxing ambiance around every turn. One of my personal favorite things about this resort is the ability to cozy up in a hammock and take a relaxing nap if you can manage a little downtime!

 

Disney World Resorts
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Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Hold the fort at this old Spanish citadel with a zero-entry pool, 2 slides and water cannons. Climb a spiral staircase to the top of a turret for an 82-foot trip down the larger slide, which penetrates the fortress wall! A relaxing spa with the capacity for 12 allows for sweet surrender.

Kids under 48 inches tall will love being marooned at the nearby shipwreck play area, where a barrel periodically dumps a deluge and 3 small slides delight little scallywags.

Disney World Resorts
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Pirate Adventure Cruises:

Donning pirate bandanas, young buccaneers board a seasoned vessel for a spirited pursuit of treasure. Sailing to exotic “ports of call” (Resort marinas), they’ll hear legends of pirates past and discover clues that may just lead to a bountiful treasure chest.

Children must be 4 to 12 years of age and potty-trained to join this pirate crew.

Dining Recommendation

Sebastian’s Bistro

A bright ambience and market-fresh ingredients await you at this under-the-sea-inspired eatery.
Located along the Old Port Royale promenade, this family-friendly spot offers signature dishes to please any palate. Your dinner options include a variety of fresh and savory delights such as salad, grilled jerk chicken wings and seafood entrées.
Sebastian’s also offers a satisfying selection of desserts and refreshing beverages—including a variety of fruity and frozen cocktails, as well as mocktails.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

This lodge-inspired resort gives guests something new to look at every single second of their stay thanks to immaculate detailing throughout the lobby and various communal spaces. According to Disney, it also happens to be one of the largest collections of  African Art found in the United States. That alone is a great reason to visit! When you stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can also experience some of the magic offered at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, by seeing the expansive savannas full of over 2oo animals! This makes it a great place for family visits and children of all ages.

 

Disney World Resorts
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Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Escape to an 11,000-square-foot pool with an exciting waterslide and gently sloping, zero-depth entry point similar to that of a natural watering hole. Surrounded by large canopy trees and Floridian palms, Uzima Pool includes a children’s wading pool and 2 whirlpool spas.

You can also cool off at Samawati Springs Pool, which offers a thrilling waterslide, 2 whirlpool spas and Uwanja Camp—an animal observation site-themed water playground with squirting Venus flytraps, a rope bridge, water cannons and more. Samawati Springs Pool is located just a short walk away at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village.

Disney World Resorts
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Sense of Africa Tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Connect to the culture of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge with a backstage tour featuring animal encounters, breakfast and more. During Sense of Africa, you’ll set out on a 3-and-a-half-hour tour that begins with an introduction to the authentic African storyline of this wildly unique Resort destination—from its art and architecture to the Cast Members who help bring it all to life! Then, when your early-morning cravings come calling, you’ll be off to breakfast at Boma – Flavors of Africa where exclusive dishes inspired and served by an African Culinary team await! It’s a one-of-a-kind meal that’s sure to satisfy even the most ferocious of appetites. After breakfast, the tour continues as you climb aboard a private safari vehicle and head backstage where the compassionate Cast Members of the Animal Care staff will lead you through a series of up-close encounters with some of the savanna’s most beloved animals!

Sanaa
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Dining Recommendation

Sanaa

Experience the art of African cooking with Indian flavors, as exotic animals roam the Sunset Savanna before you. No reservations are required to begin the day’s adventure with a Sanaa Kuamsha Breakfast—served from 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM. For breakfast, Sanaa transforms into a casual, quick-service restaurant with a menu designed to help you rise and shine. Sink your teeth into a carnivorous meal of boerewors sausage, bacon, eggs, and African home fries.
Before you journey out to the great beyond, don’t forget to load up on high-energy grab ’n’ go options like yogurt parfaits, fruit plates, boerewors sausage, egg bobotie pie, banana bread with house-made African chocolate hazelnut spread, African breakfast cereal and more.

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

I have always had such a strong love for Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, because it makes you feel like you’re going on a grand adventure! The theming throughout the resort is inspired by National Park-style lodges in the northwest and radiate cozy comfort! I believe that this resort is amazing for families because there are so many activities available to take advantage of on property. Not only can you enjoy themed pools and water leisure, but you can explore trails, roast s’mores at an authentic campfire, play sports and more! Keep reading for some of the fun offerings at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

Disney World Resorts
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Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Copper Creek Springs Pool
Follow the bubbling Copper Creek to discover a dazzling heated pool surrounded by nature. Here, you can zip down an exciting 67-foot waterslide built into rocks and relax in hot and cold whirlpool spas.
Children can have a blast exploring the newly added activity play area. Nearby, Geyser Point Bar & Grill offers refreshments and snacks for you to savor at a patio table or on a lounge chair by the pool.

Boulder Ridge Cove Pool
Bask in the laid-back charm of this watery oasis nestled within the Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. At this location, you can soak in the whirlpool spa, enjoy a swim in the zero-depth entry pool or score a first come, first served spot at one of 6 shaded seating areas.

Disney World Resorts
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Motorized Boat Rentals

Whether you have a need for speed or crave a relaxing excursion, we’ve got a boat just right for you. Cast off with your crew—enjoying theme park views and natural surroundings as you cruise our scenic lakes, lagoons and inlets.
Choose from a variety of watercraft!

Dining Recommendation

Whispering Canyon Cafe

Gallop on over to this Old Western eatery for games and good eatin’ served with attitude.
Tether your trusty steed and mosey into this log-cabin lodge with rough-hewn charm and colorfully named Cast Members who have a reputation for sassing customers. Take your seat in a cowboy or Indian chair and get into some tasty vittles. There’s plenty to go around!

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is amazing for a family trip because it is both affordable and incredibly well themed! This resort falls within the handful of awesome value resort options offered at Walt Disney World and is one of my absolute favorites. The theming of the resort is centered around four popular Disney storylines — Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. Everything from the paths you walk down to navigate the resort, to the rooms and even the pools follow along with the storybook themes! You feel like you’re in the movie when you see larger-than-life versions of your favorite characters. Your family will definitely feel the Disney Magic here!

Disney World Resorts
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Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Take the plunge in the largest resort pool in Walt Disney World Resort.

Cool, dude! Make a splash at the Big Blue Pool, inspired by the Disney and Pixar movie Finding Nemo. You’ll also find an interactive water play area, perfect for the little ones.

Two more pools—Cozy Cone Pool, inspired by the Disney and Pixar film Cars, and Flippin’ Fins Pool, featuring the “Under the Sea Orchestra” conducted by Sebastian from The Little Mermaid—are also available to Guests looking to cool off.

Disney World Resorts
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Movies Under the Stars

Complimentary movie screenings are available to Guests of Walt Disney World Resort hotels. For movie schedules, please check with the Front Desk at your Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, or call (407) 939-2273. 

Dining Recommendation

Landscape of Flavors

Please your “palette” with quick-and-delicious fare inspired by American favorites—including burgers, pizza, salad and an array of specialty beverages.

Best Disney World Resorts for a Romantic Getaway

Every single one of these Walt Disney World Resort hotels has an elegant and upscale air. They offer multiple fine dining options that are the perfect setting for a romantic date night and some even offer spa/cabana services to keep the relaxation going all day long.

Disney’s Riviera Resort

This is one of Walt Disney Worlds newest Resort offerings and it has already earned quite the reputation as a top-of-the-line place to stay on property. The theming plays of off European influences and the decor boasts upscale hints of Disney Magic — including portraits of Walt Disney himself! You’ll feel elegant on a romantic getaway here — especially if you choose to partake in the fine dining options offered with rooftop views at Topolino’s Terrace

Disney World Resorts
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Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

A family-friendly pool area invites you to swim, splash and play—while a more serene pool offers relaxation.

At the Riviera Pool, sun umbrellas dot the grounds as the inviting waters cast a warm, golden glow upon the surrounding stucco façades. Pure vacation bliss awaits at this family-friendly pool, which also features a pool slide that winds around a stately column tower. And little mademoiselles and messieurs are sure to make a splash at S’il Vous Play, an interactive water play area for kids that’s inspired by the grand public fountains of Europe—featuring a ballet of friendly Fantasia characters.

For a quieter afternoon, Beau Soleil Pool beckons you to unwind alongside shimmering waters in a soothing setting.

Topolino's Terrace fruit
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Dining Recommendation

Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera offers French and Italian cuisine, along with sweeping rooftop views. Dining is a true experience, prepared at the exclusive expo kitchen or wood-burning grill. Pair your meal with a glass of wine from the impressive collection sourced from the Mediterranean coast. Feast your eyes on the stunning visual aesthetic, a modern interpretation of the textures, colors, carved details and stonework found in ancient villages along the Riviera.

Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

If you want a resort for your romantic getaway that offers you the best of everything, you may find Disney’s Yacht Club Resort to be the perfect choice! Not only is it classically beautiful with the vibe of a New England-style yacht club, but it’s walkable to Disney’s Boardwalk which is great for dining and entertainment. It’s also only a quick walk or boat ride to Disney’s EPCOT park.

Disney World Resorts
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Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Discover a life-size shipwreck, pools, lagoons and more at Stormalong Bay—a 3-acre water wonderland.

Climb the mast and zip down one of the highest hotel waterslides at Walt Disney World Resort. Catch currents on an inner tube in the lazy river, unwind in one of 3 whirlpool spas and relax on the elevated tanning deck. Children can wade into the main pool from a gentle slope and splash about in 2 kiddie pools—including one with a miniature waterslide.

Prefer a more tranquil experience? Explore 3 all-ages quiet pools—each with a whirlpool spa—located throughout Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.

Disney World Resorts
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Cabanas

Indulge in the comfort and privacy of premium poolside cabanas at select Disney Resort hotels. Relax in luxury and style, enjoying the day your way. You can lounge in the sun or retreat to your furnished, shaded oasis—complete with personal electronics and refreshments. To reserve a cabana, please call (407) WDW-PLAY or (407) 939-7529. Private dining is also available at an additional cost.

Dining Recommendation

Yachtsman Steakhouse

Within the airy dining room’s knotty-pine beams and nautical touches, mouthwatering cuisine awaits! High-quality, grain-fed beef is aged in-house and prepared on an oak-fired grill in the open kitchen. Feel your appetite begin to build while you watch butchers hand cut steaks to perfection in the dry-aging room. Then, give into anticipation as you delight in beef entrées like the 12-oz Prime New York Strip Steak with peppercorn-brandy sauce. Favorite sides include the Truffle Macaroni & Cheese, while the innovative kids menu pleases even the pickiest of eaters. Be sure to save room for a decadent dessert like our S’mores Sundae or Banana Bread Pudding. 

*Dress code required*

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

You can’t top Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa when it comes to romance and class! This may actually be the top resort recommendation for this type of trip, with its elegant victorian theming and luxurious offerings. If you’re looking to go all-out on your romantic getaway, consider booking a day at the spa or a dinner for two at the award winning restaurant — Victoria & Albert’s.

 

Disney World Resorts
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Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Make a splash at Beach Pool! Breeze down the 181-foot-long waterslide as it curves down the mountain, zips past trees and slips under a walking bridge before plunging you into the pool.

Sunbathe in a poolside lounge chair, or rent a plush cabana for added luxury. Steps from the white-sand shore of Seven Seas Lagoon, Beach Pool features a gently sloping entry similar to that of a natural beach, plus a water play area for little ones.

Or, relax at Courtyard Pool, the all-ages quiet pool that includes an adjacent kiddie pool and whirlpool spa.

Specialty Cruises

Charter a private pontoon or yacht from one of the marinas located across Walt Disney World Resort. Specialty cruises offer a fun way to skipper family and friends away on a relaxing afternoon jaunt or starry-eyed evening sailing. To reserve, please call (407) WDW-PLAY or (407) 939-7529. Guests under 18 years of age must have parent or guardian permission to call.

Dining Recommendation

Victoria & Albert’s

Nestled in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, this restaurant is one of the Southeast’s most prestigious and has won AAA’s illustrious Five Diamond Award, the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award, glowing Zagat reviews and a host of other accolades. Enjoy your meal in the Dining Room, the Chef’s Table in the kitchen or the more private Queen Victoria Room—whichever your prefer, prepare for an extraordinary culinary adventure that hearkens back to a genteel era, when dining was a sophisticated ritual accentuated by service from seasoned maître d’hôtels and chefs in classic white toques.

 

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Best Disney World Resorts on a Budget

If you’re looking to save a little money when booking your trip, don’t fret. Walt Disney World offers a handful of excellent value resorts that still offer the same high level of hospitality as some of their more expensive counterparts. Below are some of my personal favorites that have bold and colorful theming and awesome pool areas for the family to enjoy!

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

I can only speak highly in regards to Disney’s Pop Century Resort, as I used to be a cast member in Everything Pop Shop and Dining. With that being said, I think that this value resort offering is a very fun and unique place to stay if you’re looking for both affordable and fun. As a counterpart to Disney’s Art of Animation resort, this resort is also very well themed — focusing on the fun and unforgettable fads of some of the most memorable decades (1950s through the 1990s).

 

Disney World Resorts
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Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Immerse yourself in the spirit of the 1960’s at the sprawling Hippy Dippy Pool, which features flower-shaped water jets. For the little ones, a kiddie pool area with a pop-jet water fountain is located nearby.

Two more pools, the smaller 1950’s Bowling Pool and the 1990’s Computer Pool, are also on hand for Guests looking to take the pop-culture plunge.

Disney World Resorts
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Movies Under the Stars

For even more enjoyment, Disney movies are screened on select nights at the Hippy Dippy Pool.

Dining Recommendation

Everything POP Shopping & Dining

Sate appetites large and small with delicious dishes from a variety of tempting food stations. Then, top off your meal with delectable house-made desserts.

Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort

Disney’s All-Star Movies resort is another one of the value resort offerings on Disney World property. This one is part of a trio of All-Star themed resorts including Movies, Music and Sports. Movies happens to be my favorite theming out of those offered, because it focuses in on classic Disney films. Depending on the interests of your party you may find one of the other two more exciting theme-wise! They are all comparable in price, property location and layout.

Disney World Resorts
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Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Fantasia Pool
Inspired by the Disney classic Fantasia, this sprawling pool is home to a Sorcerer Mickey fountain. For the little ones, a smaller kiddie pool and water play area are located nearby.
The Fantasia Pool is located between the Fantasia building and Cinema Hall.

Duck Pond Pool
Go for a “splash-shot” at this pool based on The Mighty Ducks film series. Designed to resemble a hockey rink, this 105,438-gallon pool is the perfect place for families to relax and unwind before or after a visit to the parks.

Reel Fun Arcade

Go for a personal best or go head to head against a friend as you battle aliens, play sports, race cars, dance to the beat, make music, solve puzzles or try your hand at pinball, air hockey and more.
To play games, you must first purchase a Game Card and add game points using a credit card or cash at a kiosk inside the arcade. Game Cards are rechargeable and can be used at other Walt Disney World Resort arcades.
Arcades are open daily.

Disney World Resorts
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Dining Recommendation

World Premiere Food Court

Get the red-carpet treatment at this cinema-themed food court with 5 stations! Roll the opening credits each day with breakfast, then enjoy featured presentations at lunch and dinner—like pizza, pasta, grill items, specialties, bakery items and ice cream.

Best Disney World Resorts for Leisure Activities

Some of the resorts on Walt Disney World property have the added bonus of offering extra leisure activities for those who are looking for things to do outside of the theme parks. Disney’s BoardWalk and Disney Springs shopping and dining area are two prime examples of this, and these resorts are very close in proximity to them. These Disney Resorts also happen to offer some awesome outdoor activities, like sporting areas, bike rentals, golf courses, and more.

Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay with leisure activities outside of the parks, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is the place for you! Themed to fit “turn-of-the-century Atlantic City” charm, this inn is just steps away from the hustling and bustling boardwalk which has endless dining and nighttime entertainment offerings. The various pools are bright and well themed and there are all sorts of outdoor activities — like riding along the boardwalk on Surrey bikes — that you can take part in while staying here.

Disney World Resorts
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Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Clown around at the carnival-themed Luna Park Pool. Glide down the Keister Coaster waterslide, cool off under the spouting trunks of grinning elephant statues and sink into the whirlpool spa. Children can even splash about in their own kiddie pool.

For a more tranquil experience, relax at 2 all-ages leisure pools—each with a whirlpool spa.

Surrey Bikes

Cover more ground when you rent a bicycle to explore waterfront boardwalks and woodsy pathways. Choose a 2- or 4-person Surrey bike for an outing that’s fun for the whole family!

Disney World Resorts
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Disney’s BoardWalk

Experience the timeless charm of Disney’s BoardWalk, a quarter-mile promenade of exquisite dining, unique shops and exciting nightlife. Stroll along the water’s edge, play afternoon midway games and discover evening street performers. Evoking turn-of-the-century boardwalks in such coastal cities as Coney Island and Atlantic City, Disney’s BoardWalk is a short stroll to EPCOT and a breezy boat ride to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Dining Recommendation

Flying Fish

Feast on premium sustainable seafood and prime steaks at this contemporary American restaurant. Step inside this recently redesigned location and discover a warm, welcoming ambiance that defines luxury dining. Unexpected details—in our impeccable décor and menu—are sure to impress Guests. Each delicious dish is more mouthwatering and visually stunning than the next… we’ve fire roasted gourmet seafood into fine art.

Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

One of the popular Disney Vacation Club Resorts — Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa — has it all in terms of leisure. Whether outdoor sports and immaculate golf courses are your forte, or you’d prefer a relaxing day at the spa — there is something for everyone here. Inspired by the historic Saratoga Springs New York retreat, this resort feels upscale while also being incredibly inviting for guests of all ages. It’s also only a quick walk or boat ride to the Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment district across the lake which will allow for many more hours of non-park related leisure.

Disney World Resorts
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Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Discover 2 exciting feature pools—plus waterslides, whirlpool spas, aqua-play areas and more!

At The Paddock Pool, breeze down a 146-foot-long waterslide, relax in a horseshoe-shaped whirlpool spa and wade into the pool via a gently sloping, zero-depth entry point. There’s even 2 miniature waterslides built just for kids.

At High Rock Spring Pool, delight in cascading waterfalls, a zero-depth entry point and a waterslide built into the rocks. Children can splash through bubbling geysers at the Donald Duck play area and glide down the pint-sized waterslide.

You can also explore 3 additional, all-ages leisure pools—each with a whirlpool spa.

 

Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course

This classic country-club course winds through pastel villas, pine forests, palmettos and sparkling lakes. Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course has hosted the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour and USGA events.

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Disney Springs (A boat ride/short walk away)

Explore a bustling waterside promenade filled with unique boutiques, artisanal eateries and cutting-edge entertainment that includes live music and specialty acts.

Dining Recommendation

The Turf Club Bar and Grill

Savor classic American cuisine in a racetrack clubhouse setting with gorgeous golf course and lake views. A hidden gem complete with its own cocktail lounge, this intimate venue recalls a romantic and bygone era.

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The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

If you’re comfortable with a less flashy stay, try this excellent cabin offering at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. The theming aligns with its resort counterpart and showcases the charm of the American Frontier. With this stay you get the magic of Disney while being totally immersed in nature. There are so many fun and beautiful outdoor leisure activities to enjoy when you stay in this little slice of Florida paradise!

Disney World Resorts
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Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Meadow Swimmin’ Pool
Make a splash at Meadow Swimmin’ Pool, the feature pool with a 67-foot-long corkscrew waterslide. Adults are invited to enjoy the serenity of whirlpool spa, while little ones will surely want to splash it up in the adjacent fort-themed water play area—where young buckaroos can breeze down on their own tot-friendly slides. Nearby, a snack shop offer refreshments and snacks.

Wilderness Swimmin’ Pool
Retreat to Wilderness Swimmin’ Pool, the all-ages leisure pool with a whirlpool spa, for a more tranquil swim.

Fort Wilderness Archery Experience

Archery Guides teach Guests 7 years of age and up how to use a compound bow; then it’s time for target practice! Most of this 75-minute experience is dedicated to firing at range targets. With class sizes limited to 10 Guests, each marksman receives personalized advice from the Archery Guides to best help you hone your archery skills.

Disney World Resorts
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Carriage Rides

Travel through the lush pine and cypress forest where deer, rabbits, ducks and armadillos like to roam. You’ll board your horse-drawn carriage for a 25-minute ride at the main entrance of Crockett’s Tavern at The Cabins and Campsites of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Carriages fit up to 4 adults, or 2 adults and 3 small children. Each horse-drawn carriage ride costs $55. Advance reservations are highly recommended. 

Dining Recommendation

Trail’s End Restaurant

Head off your hunger at breakfast, and dinnertime too, with all-you-care-to-enjoy American favorites in a rustic locale. From sun up to sundown, your taste buds are guaranteed an expedition through flavor country! Round up your settlement and sail across Bay Lake to a time of pioneers. Nestled on 750 wooded acres inhabited by enchanting wildlife, Trail’s End Restaurant is one dining destination you’ll want to allow plenty of time to reach. Getting there is a trailblazing adventure unto itself!

Best Disney World Resorts for a Laid Back Staycation

For some people, especially those more local to Walt Disney World, it’s nice to book a quick staycation-style getaway every now and then. Some people even prefer just to get a dose of magic without even visiting one of the parks! Luckily, there is truly something for everyone at Walt Disney World. While there are countless resorts on property that would be great for a staycation, these are some of my favorites. The atmosphere is fun yet laid back and the resort properties are beautiful. They fall in the middle in regards to pricing and still have great food and pool/recreation activities to enjoy!

Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter

When you book a stay at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter, you get a more calm and laid back version of the Mardi Gras experience every day! Dance along to mini Mardi Gras parades and enjoy fresh mouthwatering foods — you don’t want to miss out on the beignets! All the decor and theming is in line with New Orleans’s historic French Quarter and its just a quick hop to the other half of the resort — Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside.

Disney World Resorts
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Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Parade around this Mardi Gras-themed pool area where King Neptune sits astride a giant sea serpent. Scale “Scales,” as he’s affectionately known, and slide down his tongue for a splash landing. Jazz-loving gators and clamshell water features add more poolside panache while a hot tub and the nearby Mardi Grogs pool bar let the good times roll.

Disney World Resorts
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Scat Cat’s Club

Unwind in this New Orleans-style lounge with some jazz music true to the great sounds of the French Quarter!

Dining Recommendation

Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory

Dine like a true Mardi Gras reveler at this restaurant located at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.

Disney’s Old Key West Resort

If you want a laid back trip, you will absolutely get that at Disney’s Old Key West Resort — inspired by the romance and relaxation of the Florida Keys. The palm trees, beautiful pools and peaceful common spaces will make you feel at ease. This is a great place for down time and to unwind when you’re away from the parks.

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Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Sweep down a sandcastle waterslide, and discover a dry sauna at the base of a lighthouse. Relax in the whirlpool spa, and soak up the sun on a sand beach—all while your little ones splash about in the adjacent kiddie pool.

The 149,000-gallon main pool is located near Hospitality House. You can also explore 3 all-ages quiet pools in the Old Turtle Pond, South Point and Miller’s Road sections—each with a whirlpool spa.

Conch Flats Community Hall

Play complimentary foosball, pool, video games, ping-pong and shuffleboard, and check out equipment for tennis, basketball and volleyball. Create one-of-a-kind crafts, and even sign out DVDs to enjoy in your Guest Room!

Disney World Resorts
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Dining Recommendation

Olivia’s Cafe

A longtime resident of Conch Flats, Olivia welcomes diners with Island-inspired dishes. This nautical-themed eatery has the friendly, familiar feel of a neighborhood institution and is a perennial favorite of many a Guest.

Best Disney World Resorts for Easy Park Access

There are quite a few resorts in the different park areas that would offer easy park access to guests. Thanks to the amazing Walt Disney World transportation services offered to resort guests, a bus, boat, or Disney Skyliner gondola is always nearby! But if you’d prefer something even closer to the parks, so you can walk — these are a few of our favorite options. You get the perk of proximity with these and the luxury of staying at what I consider to be some of the best resorts on Disney property.

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

One of the more well-known resorts for its longstanding status on the Walt Disney World property, is Disney’s Contemporary Resort. This is the closest resort to Disney’s Magic Kingdom park and will put you to the front gate of the park with just a quick 5 minute walk. If you’d prefer other methods of transportation, you can hop on the monorail — which is a magical experience in itself — and comes right through the center of this resort!

Disney World Resorts
Credit: Disney

Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Cool off as you take your pick from 2 pools conveniently located along the shore of Bay Lake. Glide down the 17-foot-high, curving waterslide at the main pool, or relax in one of 2 whirlpool spas. Children can even make a splash in the water playground designed just for kids! You can also escape to Bay Pool—the all-ages quiet pool that juts out over Bay Lake. Soak up the sun from a lounge chair on the deck, or rent a private cabana for added luxury.

Pirates & Pals Fireworks Dessert Voyage

Your adventure starts at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, where your crew will be presented with a splendid spread of snacks—which may include cookies, cupcakes, pretzels, chips, fruit and ice cream bars. A variety of refreshing hot and cold beverages—such as coffee and Pirate Punch—is also available to quench even the most parched privateer’s thirst before hitting the high seas. Keep those cameras and your best pirate voice ready—Captain Hook and Mr. Smee want to meet the new recruits before shipping out! Join the pirate parade to the dock before embarking on an unforgettable voyage with your captain, the roguish pirate Patch. Breathe in the salty sea air as you and your crew test your knowledge of Disney trivia, sing sea chanteys and brush up on all things nautical. Drop anchor at the perfect spot to take in the nightly fireworks extravaganza—no spyglass needed!

Pricing: $83.83 per adult (ages 10 and up); $49.87 per child (ages 3 to 9), tax and gratuity included.

Disney World Resorts
Credit: Disney

Dining Recommendation

California Grill

Californian cuisine celebrates fresh, seasonal ingredients and the international, melting-pot culture of the Golden State. Via private elevator, ascend to the 15th floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, where you’ll discover exquisite panoramic views of the shimmering lagoon, Floridian woodland and Cinderella Castle. Inside, enjoy the vibrant sights and sounds of the lively onstage kitchen, where chefs combine global flavors in deliciously inventive new ways.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort celebrates the spirit of the South Pacific with beautiful decor, an open and airy lobby, dinner shows and more. Another one of the resorts in the Magic Kingdom monorail loop, this stay is just a quick hop to the park! A fun fact about this resort is that if you want to avoid crowds in the evening, you can actually see the magic kingdom fireworks for the sandy beaches alongside the resort! So with a fruity drink in hand, you can enjoy the sunset and later, fireworks all from the comfort of your resort!

Disney World Resorts
Credit: Disney

Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Lava Pool
Make a splash at this pool which features a towering volcano, a waterfall and a thrilling 142 foot-long waterslide. A zero-depth entry point, similar to a beach, slopes gently into the pool making for easy entry and exit. Nearby, a lounge and bar offer refreshments and snacks.

Oasis Pool
Nestled amid a lush garden, this all-ages leisure pool promises a more tranquil swim for those looking to relax and unwind.

Guided Fishing Excursions

Guided catch-and-release outings let you experience bass fishing at its finest—all year round! Whether you’re a seasoned sportsman or an amateur angler, a guided fishing excursion is fun for Guests of all ages. Both 2-hour and 4-hour excursions are offered, and if available, an extra hour may be added in person at the Marina.

Ohana
Credit: Disney

Dining Recommendation

‘Ohana

Lilo and Stitch, along with other friends, invite you and your ʻohana to an American breakfast influenced by Polynesian flavors. Feast family-style as Disney Friends visit with Guests, sign autographs and pose for photos. Breakfast selections include scrambled eggs, Island-style fried potatoes, Hawaiian pork sausages, Hawaiian-style ham topped with pineapple compote, a variety of fresh fruits and assorted breads

Disney’s Beach Club Resort

Disney’s Beach Club Resort is the counterpart to Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and shares many similarities including a pool/leisure area. This resort is walking distance to the boardwalk and EPCOT and only a quick boat ride to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

disney's beach club
Credit: Disney

Official Disney description:

Pools/Recreation

Discover a life-size shipwreck, pools, lagoons and more at Stormalong Bay—a 3-acre water wonderland.

Climb the mast and zip down one of the highest hotel waterslides at Walt Disney World Resort. Catch currents on an inner tube in the lazy river, unwind in one of 3 whirlpool spas and relax on the elevated tanning deck. Children can wade into the main pool from a gentle slope and splash about in 2 kiddie pools—including one with a miniature waterslide.

Prefer a more tranquil experience? Explore 3 all-ages quiet pools—each with a whirlpool spa—located throughout Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.

fantasia golf
Credit: Disney

Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf

Delight in two 18-hole miniature golf adventures based on Disney’s classic animated film Fantasia. Walk-ups are welcome or you may book a tee time for the next day or beyond by calling (407) WDW-PLAY or (407) 939-7529.

Dining Recommendation

Beaches & Cream Soda Shop

Bring your sweet tooth to this newly renovated, boardwalk-style ice cream parlor where every day is sundae.

The Magic of Staying at a Walt Disney World Resort

Which Disney Resort is “the best” is something that is truly relative and completely depends on what you’re looking for out of your Disney vacation. There really is no wrong choice here. You can rest assured that no matter which resort you choose, you’ll be greeted with top-tier service and a memorable experience that you won’t forget. Every single Walt Disney World Resort is unique and filled with its own special kind of magic thanks to the hardworking cast members who make it! Also, keep in mind that you can benefit from the following perks when choosing to stay on property versus off:

  • Extra magic hours
  • Complimentary transportation to and from the parks, resorts, and Disney Springs
  • The Magical Express Airport shuttle
  • Disney Concierge Services
  • Early access to FastPass+
  • Disney Dining Plans
Disney World Resorts
Credit: Disney

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Academy Travel
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Looking for more Walt Disney World Resort Guides? Check these out!

Have you had a chance to stay at any of these Walt Disney World Resorts? If so, let us know your favorite in the comments below!

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