Animal Kingdom Lodge – This deluxe resort is probably the most educational resort on Disney property. We stayed in a Savannah-view room two years ago and loved it! The best part of this resort is the animals. Disney has recreated a Southern Africa Savannah on the property with dozens of animals native to Africa.
Art of Animation – This resort has four themed areas; Lion King, Cars, Little Mermaid, and Nemo. Although we have never stayed on the property, we have visited many times and it is a “must see” if you are in the Disney area. There is a large pool with a Finding Nemo theme, which features large fish and marine life found on a reef. The Cars area houses a display of all of the characters featured in the hit animated movie. The lobby features ink/paint cells from some of Disney’s famous cartoons. In addition to the themed areas, there is a spectacular food court that serves international fare from across the globe. This resort is a great way to educate guests in the “art of animation.”
Boardwalk – Disney has created a deluxe resort reminiscent of a turn of the century boardwalk from the Eastern seaboard. It offers guests a look back into seashore life in the early 1900’s. We stayed at the Boardwalk two weeks after its opening in July of 1996. We stayed in a two-bedroom villa directly over Screen Door General Store. We had a wonderful view of the boardwalk and Crescent lake. The best thing about this resort is the activities that abound here. You can ride a surrey around the boardwalk, play midway games, eat seashore sweets, or simply take in the spectacular scenery.
Caribbean Beach – This resort is a vast 200 acres! We have stayed here many times in many different areas. The Caribbean Beach Resort is an educational wonderland. Each section of the resort was named after a Caribbean Island; Martinique, Barbados, Jamaica, Aruba, Trinidad North and Trinidad South. The Caribbean theme continues in the pool area with an old Spanish fort style swimming pool, Fuentes del Morro. There is Caribbean Cay Island which sits in the middle of a 45 acre Barefoot Bay and features birds, flora, and pirate cannons. It is a wonderful area to explore. There are also ducks which love to stroll around the beautiful beach that hugs the lake. The main food court area, Old Port Royale, houses a Calypso-style straw market and various choices for food.
Contemporary – This resort was one of the first resorts built on Walt Disney World property and opened in 1971 with a futuristic theme. We visited this resort with our family in June 1972. The thing we loved most as children (and still do) was the Monorail which ran through the middle of the hotel. In addition, the large 90 ft. mural has also been a key feature of this resort. The mural is a depiction of American Indian culture, including children and animals. The mural was designed and crafted by Mary Blair who worked on other Disney projects such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and attractions such as It’s a Small World. While staying at this resort, you have use of the monorail, a short walk to the Magic Kingdom, a wonderful view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks, and a spectacular view of The Electrical Water Pageant on Bay Lake.
Coronado Springs – Created with a Southwestern theme, this resort has lots of educational opportunities. There are three areas surrounding the 15 acre lake called the Casitas, Ranchos, and the Cabanas which house the resorts rooms. There are fountains, plazas, and courtyards intertwined with these areas amidst a beautiful landscape. The Pepper Market Food Court is the best place to try out southwestern fare, along with other American favorites. This resort is home to The Dig Site. This is the main pool area at the resort and features a Mayan archaeological dig theme and a 50 ft. Mayan pyramid. In addition, there is a playground which features an archaeological dig area and other recreation equipment. Guests will be educated in the Southwestern culture through the architecture, food, and merchandise sold in this wonderful resort. We stayed at Coronado Springs in 2002 and loved the food.
Fort Wilderness – This resort gives its guests a great way to enjoy a touch of Frontier life. Whether you’re staying in a log cabin or camping in a tent or hard camper, there is so much to learn and do at Fort Wilderness campground. The property is home to hay rides, pony rides, trail rides, nature walks, archery, campfire sing-a-longs, fishing, horseshoes, canoeing, kayaking, and much more. There is so much wildlife to enjoy on this property. It’s a great way to learn about nature! The Tri-Circle-D Ranch houses the horses used on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, as well as a horse museum that includes wonderful memorabilia of some of Disney’s most famous horses. There are several options for food, including an outdoor bar-b-que and western-style dinner show.
Grand Floridian – Modeled after a turn-of-the-century grand hotel, this resort has a Victorian style reminiscent of California’s Hotel Del Coronado. In addition to the lavish furnishings, guests can enjoy a beautiful view of the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Electrical Water Pageant, monorail service to the Magic Kingdom, a white-sand beach, luxurious spa, and some of the best restaurants on Disney property. Younger guests can enjoy an incredible pool area complete with interactive Alice in Wonderland themed components. Children will also love the nightly campfire, fishing excursion, and Pirate-themed boat adventure. Lastly, younger visitors can enjoy an Alice in Wonderland inspired tea party, featuring crafts and games. We’ve never stayed at the Grand Floridian, but we have dined at Narcoossee’s. This is a beautiful resort with lots of amenities.
Polynesian Village Resort – We first stepped into the lobby of this resort in June 1972, several months after its October 1971 opening. Since that time, we never miss the “Poly” when we are on Disney property. Although this resort was one of the two original resorts on Disney property, it has not lost its charm or beauty.
Port Orleans French Quarter – The exterior of this resort’s buildings are modeled after New Orlean’s French Quarter. The architecture of shutters, wrought iron, Mardi Gras characters hanging from the food court ceiling, will take guests to another place and time. The resort features cobblestone streets lined with lights posts, a themed pool with a large serpeant slide, and beautiful landscaping. The front desk is modeled after an old commercial bank from the 1800’s, also known as The Port Orleans Mint. Sassagoula River winds around the back of the property and offers guests a boat ride down the river to either Port Orleans Riverside Resort or Disney Springs shopping district. The food court, Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, is incredible! One delicacy served here is beignets that rival the french doughnuts served at New Orlean’s famous Cafe Du Monde. Younger guests can enjoy a movie on the lawn nightly or roast marshmallows over a fire pit. If you’re in the mood for resting your feet, take a horse and carriage ride around the property. We have stayed on this property more times than we can count (our favorite Moderate resort) and we love it!! For more information see our blog post by clicking here.
Port Orleans Riverside – This resort offers many options. Guests can stay in a princess-themed room in the mansions or a “Princess and the Frog” themed room in the bayou section of this Old South themed resort. Wherever you stay here, you are surrounded by water. This includes a large themed pool called Ol’ Man Island, Sassagoula River, the swamps of Alligator Bayou, and a place for cane pole fishing. The food court is modeled after an old cotton press and there is a working waterwheel outside. The food is excellent; especially the carved meat and vegetables. Boats run up and down Sassagoula (American Indian word for River) taking guests to either Port Orleans French Quarter Resort or Disney Springs shopping district. Fulton’s General Store is our favorite gift shop on all of Disney property. This store has old-fashioned candy, the best clothing, and a wonderful atmosphere. For more detailed information, check out this wonderful website by clicking here.
Wilderness Lodge – We’ve stayed at Wilderness Lodge many times. This is the best resort to visit at Christmastime! Each time we visit the Wilderness Lodge we discover something new at this incredible resort. Guests are reminded of a National Park Service Lodge from the early 1900’s when entering this majestic resort.
Yacht and Beach Club – Location, location, location! Situated between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, the Yacht Club has it all. A view of the Boardwalk, a quick walk to the back gate of Epcot, and a short boat ride to Hollywood Studios. There is a beautiful beach with nightly marshmallow roasts and an outdoor movie. Guests can traverse a wrecked pirate ship and board a slide that will carry them to the large pool below. The pool, Storm-a-long Bay, is the key feature of this property. The pool has a sandy area for younger swimmers, complete with sand buckets for building sand castles. For older swimmers, there is a lazy river that winds around the pool. The Yacht Club lobby and common areas have a nautical theme, while the Beach Club is reminiscent of a seaside resort. Guests wishing to board a boat for Epcot, the Boardwalk, or Hollywood Studios need only to look for the large lighthouse to find the boat dock. Although we have never stayed at the Beach Club, the Yacht Club has become our favorite deluxe resort over the years. We stay here at least once every two years (the guest rooms are the best on Disney property).
**Younger guests also have the opportunity to join other children for supervised activities at specific resorts. Although there is a fee for the service, it includes dinner, a snack, as well as fun and educational activities. Whether you are creating your own volcano or learning to cook, there is something for every young guest at these activity centers. There are five Children’s Activity Centers located on Walt Disney World property. Participating resorts are:
Animal Kingdom Lodge – Simba’s Cubhouse
Beach Club – Sandcastle Club
Dolphin Hotel – Camp Dolphin
Polynesian Village Resort – Lilo’s Playhouse
Wilderness Lodge – Cub’s Den