A trip to Walt Disney World is full of decisions with one of the first being where to stay! There are many different price points to consider if staying on-site and loads more if you’re open to staying off-site. While we’ve ranked the hotels that we’ve stayed in over the years, I try to keep those rankings without much personal preference. With that in mind, I wanted to run down a few of my favorite places to stay in2023.
I’m largely sticking to on-site hotels for this post but there are plenty of Disney Springs options that are strong and more affordable. Likewise, Universal Orlando has a few great options if you’re spending anytime there. The debate of whether to stay on-site or off-site has a history as proud as the Phoenicians inventing the alphabet so I won’t get into the weeds on it in this post. We still think there’s some value in staying on-site (and prefer it) but not as much as there once was.
Whether this should be based around 2023 or just favorites in general is a fair question, regardless of the post’s title. I’ll try to do another version of this post in 2024 and it will likely include many of the same hotels. I did factor in a few new additions to Walt Disney World like the Tron Coaster and recent updates to Epcot and included options at different price points. These aren’t in any particular order. Let’s get to it!
Yacht and Beach Club
This comes as no surprise as these resorts are first and second in our rankings. Having the best pool and location in Walt Disney World will do that for you! Having a 5 minute walk to Epcot continues to be a boon for the hotels as getting up early for Epcot’s wealth of new rides or staggering home after a long night in World Showcase is convenient. Along with the amenities, Yacht and Beach Club have some strong dining options. All of that more than makes up for the slightly generic rooms and down to earth lobbies. If choosing between the two, I prefer Beach Club because I like the blue facade and it’s closer to Epcot. Yacht Club’s lobby is stronger though!
The best value of any on-site WDW hotel comes in the form of Pop Century. Others will disagree but I’ve never fallen for Art of Animation’s design and it seems as if guests are left to pay more for rooms over there, although family suites do offer value. Pop Century has a stranger and more interesting theme to me while offering updated rooms and direct access to the Skyliner. Like Yacht and Beach Club, that Skyliner has come in handy over the last few years after Hollywood Studios and Epcot have added to their rosters. Getting to DHS for rope drop is especially important and Pop Century makes that easier and does so at a decent price.
Speaking of additions, Tron Lightcycle / Run is now open in Magic Kingdom so I’ve added my favorite monorail resort. It’s not just the convenient location here though. The Poly offers more space in their deluxe studios, an exemplary pool, some good dining and a beautiful place to take in the sunrise or sunset. Staying at the Polynesian makes taking a midday break from Magic Kingdom and Epcot, the two parks that people spend the most time in, more attainable. The price might not share the same attainable qualities but once in a while there’s an okay deal.
Pop Century and Art of Animation have seen a rise in value over the last few years, largely thanks to the Skyliner. In that same time, the moderate resorts have become more expensive while losing some of their luster. Caribbean Beach Resort has avoided that pit thanks to remodeling of the rooms and grounds while being Skyliner central! The closest hotel to Hollywood Studios is a definite benefit these days. The pool is strong and the proximity to the Riviera’s restaurants is another sneaky plus for Caribbean Beach!
If I’m including the Polynesian because of the Tron opening then I should include Wilderness Lodge, as well. The resort rivals Animal Kingdom Lodge (coming up!) in terms of atmosphere and has some of the secluded feel that most of Walt Disney World doesn’t offer. I love sitting outside and having a bite to eat at Wilderness Lodge. The lobby at Christmas time can’t be beat. Then you throw in the boat ride to Magic Kingdom… We’ve got a stew going!
The lone hotel on this list that isn’t owned by Disney offers up some prices between a value and moderate resort while having deluxe level amenities and location. I prefer the Swan over the Dolphin thanks to the bigger beds. We haven’t had the chance to stay at Swan Reserve yet but do look forward to it. If you can find the Swan (check Priceline’s deals) for under $250/night then it’s an absolute steal.
I almost left Animal Kingdom Lodge off of the list. As we get farther away from Animal Kingdom adding anything of value to their park roster, it gets harder to justify staying so far away from the other three parks. That’s the downside. The plus side is that this remains Walt Disney World’s most immersive hotel that doesn’t cost you an arm and leg (I’m looking at you, Galactic Starcruiser.) AKL has one of my favorite rooms in all of Disney World, some of the best dining options of any hotel and animals right outside the door. If you’re looking for a more relaxed stay, this is the way to go.
What are your favorite Walt Disney World resorts? Let us know your thoughts or questions below in the comments! Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our planning guide for help! If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney, please subscribe to the blog and like our social media pages. You can do both of those things on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Hotel Reviews
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