Where to Stay at Walt Disney World
Almost 75% of visitors to the Walt Disney World Resort stay on property. There's a good reason for this and it mostly has to do with property ownership. Disney owns all the land surrounding the parks here so there are virtually no competitors even close to the parks (except a select few).
When you come to stay at Walt Disney World your first choice is to stay at a property hotel. This is a good idea. Transporting 20-25 minutes everyday just to get on property is awful. Don't make that mistake.
Best discounter of property hotels
Park Savers has been selling WDW hotels for many many years and they know exactly where to look for the best hotel prices. If it's not directly on their website they will find it for you. We've booked several of our hotel stays with them for Walt Disney World vacations and they saved us hundreds! Combine their discount hotels with their discounted tickets and save even more!
Benefits of staying on property
There are several benefits to staying at a property hotel at Walt Disney World. None of them cost extra but are included in your stay at one of the hotels.
- Free bus transportation from Orlando Intl. Airport to your hotel and back on Disney's Magical Express. It also includes free baggage delivery from the airport to your hotel so you don't have to pick it up from the carousel when you arrive. Read our Magical Express Guide for more information.
- Free Magic Bands for each guest in your hotel room. This is a $12 value per person and you get to customize them!
- Extra Magic Hours for property hotel guests only include entering a park each morning before it opens to the public and a few late night hours at one park at night. Say bye bye public and enjoy your freedom!
- Package delivery to your hotel from the theme parks is complimentary and will save you a lot of space in that stroller or bag. Simply ask the Cast Member at the register when you at purchasing the item. They will need your resort info and address.
- Free resort transportation on Disney buses from your hotel to the theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs.
- Resort guests get to make their Fastpass+ reservations 60 days in advance instead of the usual 30 days. This is huge!
There are a lot of property hotels to choose from
You can find a property hotel that fits your budget whether you're staying a value hotel or a villa. Disney has created categories of hotels for this very reason. Of course you can guess that the more you pay the better everything is with your stay. This is very true.
The cheapest places you can stay on property and the smallest rooms. They are also typically the bigger hotels (more rooms) because lots of people stay at them. We've stayed at several of them and haven't really returned but that doesn't mean they're not a good fit for you. Here are your options:
- Disney's All-Star Music Resort: Themed around all your favorite Disney music featured in your favorite movies.
- Disney's All-Star Movies Resort: Themed around all your favorite Disney movies including pools and statues.
- Disney's All-Star Sports Resort: Themed around all your favorite Disney Sports....or just sports in general.
- Disney's Pop Century Resort: Everything that you loved from the past is featured here.
- Disney's Art of Animation Resort: The only resort to offer value family suites themed after your favorite movies.
If we had to pick one of these it would be the Art of Animation. Their rooms are really cool and are great for families. The downside to value resorts is the busing. You can read about that below.
These are the next level up from value. These are the most popular hotels booked because everyone wants to stay a level above value without breaking the bank. That's exactly what these are.
- Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort: The most popular of all the moderate resorts (due to price) and the biggest.
- Disney's Port Orleans - Riverside: A New Orleans style resort right on one of Disney's biggest rivers.
- Disney's Port Orleans - French Quarter: Also settled on the river but featuring New Orleans Quarter style housing.
- Disney's Coronado Springs Resort: Fantastic pools and a really cool south america setting.
- The Cabin's at Disney's Fort Wilderness: Enjoy the outdoor setting in comfort at these wilderness cabins.
Our choice for best moderate hotel is Coronado Springs. It's less busy then the rest and they have some seriously cool pools as we've mentions.
This is where you start to get pricey but you also start to get better location in consideration to the parks. If it's in your budget they are worth it.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom: Located next to Animal Kingdom this place offers some great Savannah views.
- Disney's Polynesia Village Resort: Right across from Magic Kingdom this place has a great firework view.
- Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa: Also right next door to Magic Kingdom we love the white sand beaches.
- Disney's Wilderness Lodge: Enjoy the lodge effect in all it's glory and some really great outdoor pools.
- Disney's Beach Club Resort: White sands beaches and the best pool on the resort.
- Disney's Boardwalk Inn: Easily the best place to stay at WDW with so much boardwalk entertainment.
- Disney's Contemporary Resort: Next door to the Magic Kingdom it offers a refreshing look and feel.
- Disney's Yacht Club Resort: Enjoy the water? This yachtsman feel offers really cool water rentals and dining.
We will always say that the Boardwalk Inn is our favorite place to stay for several reasons that include dining, entertainment, and location to parks. If you really love the Magic Kingdom Park we would suggest Disney's Polynesian Village. Fantastic dining venues and monorail access makes this place great.
All the places we mentioned in the Deluxe Hotels category also have Villas. Villas offer kitchens and are typically used by DVC members for the most part although they do offer them to "regular" guests as well. If you like cooking your own meals the Villas are a great place to stay.
Disney does have other hotels on property..
..but they are not owned or managed by Disney. Let's just say these hotels are very luck to be where they are. Disney went out and invited a few off-brand hotel companies to build in their Disney Springs area. There are only a few and they DO NOT offer the same benefits as Disney-owned property hotels do. They have their own buses and schedules and parking rules. Just be aware of that. The hotels are:
- B Resort & Spa
- Best Western Lake Buena Vista - Disney Springs
- Double Tree Suites by Hilton
- Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace
- Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
- Holiday Inn Orlando
- Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista
People may stay at these hotels for several reasons including price vs quality, they are rewards members using points, or they really like the Disney Springs area and may not be going into the parks at all. Almost all of them charge a resort fee around $15-$20 per day and possibly a parking fee as well. Check-out Park Savers for discounted rates on these hotels.
Busing vs walking
This is a serious question that you need to ask yourself before planning where to stay. We always lean towards walking because busing is the worst! Why? Let us explain:
Time consuming is the #1 issue with busing. Waiting at the stops at your resort for the bus can take anywhere from 5 to 35 minutes. If you ever walk up to the bus station and the bus you wanted is just leaving that really sucks! You're probably going to have to wait another 20 minutes for the next one.
Even after you've been picked up you're bound to be making other stops at other resorts or bus stations at your own resort. Say good bye to your personal space!
After you've been dropped off at the theme park or water park or wherever you're going your bus driver will leave you with instructions on where to be picked up when you're ready to come back. Guess what that means? You get to wait again at another bus station which could be anywhere from 5-30 minutes. This is the worst when you're coming home late at night and everyone is tired and the bus station lines are long so you have to wait for 2 buses instead of just one. The kids are crying and you're going nuts (worst case scenarios for you).
That's why we love walking. The best hotels that allow you to walk the most are the EPCOT area resorts including Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk Inn, and the Swan and Dolphin Hotels. You can walk to Hollywood Studios in 10 minutes or EPCOT in 5 minutes. From EPCOT you can ride the monorail to Magic Kingdom. That's 3 parks you don't have to take the bus to!
Keep in mind that EVERYONE has to bus to Animal Kingdom because it's so far away and they don't have a monorail line going out there yet.