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Pool at Walt Disney World Swan Reserve hotel
Marriott

The 10 Best Disney Resorts for Magical Walt Disney World Vacations

SmarterTravel

Want to be completely immersed 24/7 at the happiest place on Earth during your Walt Disney World vacation? These Walt Disney World hotels will give you access to great perks—like easy transportation, options to beat the crowds, and character breakfasts. Whatever type of vacation you are planning, here are 10 of the best Disney resort hotels to consider for every budget.

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Best for Park Transportation Options: Contemporary Resort

Disney's Contemporary Resort
Walt Disney World

A big part of planning a Disney vacation revolves around how you will get around the sprawling resort. Transportation options abound at Disney’s circa-1971 Contemporary Resort, which is one of the two historic resorts that date back to Walt Disney World’s opening. You can walk to the Magic Kingdom, and Disney’s famous monorail actually runs right through the hotel so you don’t even have to go outside to catch a ride. You can also get around via bus or water taxi. The Deluxe-level resort’s decor feels like a 70s time capsule, with lots of mod touches—and newly-installed Incredibles-themed artwork.

Best for Old-School Disney Experience: Polynesian Village Resort

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort also is one of Walt Disney World’s original hotels, and it’s been a favorite for all these years. The Monorail-accessible resort transports visitors to the South Pacific with tropical greenery, koi ponds, and views of the Seven Seas Lagoon. Head to a tiki bar or get a frozen Dole Whip, and don’t miss the Lava Pool with waterslide. The historic hotel just received a renovation in 2021, updating its rooms and even adding decor touches inspired by the beloved movie Moana

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Best Swimming Pool: Yacht Club

Disney's Yacht Club
Walt Disney World

Despite all that Disney theme park magic, there’s always a kid who will say that the best part of the vacation was the hotel swimming pool. If that’s your child, the pool at Disney’s Yacht Club really is something to write home about. The Deluxe-level resort created its own three-acre waterpark called Stormalong Bay, including a lazy river and a sand-bottomed pool. Kids can wade in a sandy beach, slide down waterslides, or explore a shipwreck playground. Besides all the aquatic activities, the Yacht Club is decked out in handsome New England style and within walking distance to Epcot.

Best for Using Hotel Points: Swan Reserve

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve is shiny and new, having opened recently in November 2021. This is a Marriott property, so you can use loyalty points at this Autograph Collection hotel yet still end up smackdab in the middle of Disney. Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are within walking distance of the Swan Reserve, which offers great views of the park from floor-to-ceiling windows in each of the nearly 350 rooms. (When you book, ask for a room that faces the nightly fireworks show at Epcot). 

Best Dog-Friendly Resort: Port Orleans 

Interior of Disney's Port Orleans - Riverside resort
Walt Disney World

For nearly five years, Disney’s been trying out a pilot program to allow dogs to check in alongside their owners at select properties. Four Disney Resort hotels include dog-friendly accommodations, each with easy access to the outdoors. The hotels catering to pups range from rustic to luxurious, and one moderate level hotel to try is the rural Louisiana-themed Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside. Check in with your dog at a genteel grand lobby, head to the “swimming hole” pool with a waterslide, look out at manicured lawns from your room, and eat at a food court decorated with a giant working water wheel.

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Best for Animal-Loving Kids: Animal Kingdom Lodge

Wildlife grazes right outside your room at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, a Deluxe-level resort that features its own 74-acre reserve that’s home to more than 200 animals including zebras, giraffes, gazelles, and flamingos. Inside, you’ll find an elaborate safari theme that extends to the guest rooms, or villas for families who want to spread out. Kids will also love running around the Hakuna Matata Playground or splashing in the resorts’ watering hole-themed pools and waterparks with a 128-foot waterslide.  

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Best for Adults: Riviera Resort

Disney's Riviera Resort
Disney Vacation Club

Think the French Riviera but with Mickey Mouse: that’s the inspiration behind European-inspired Disney’s Riviera Resort, which channels Walt Disney’s own travels in the Mediterranean. It’s one of the newer properties, debuting in December 2019. The look here feels more grown-up, and there’s even a rooftop restaurant offering dishes like quiche gruyere (along with character breakfasts with Minnie in European garb). Take the new Disney Skyliner gondola route from Riviera Resort to get around the park.

Best for Budget-Minded Family Fun: Art of Animation

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is in the “value” category of resorts, but for kids, it delivers big when it comes to Disney characters. Reminders of their favorite movies are everywhere, from pools and rooms inspired by Cars, The Little Mermaid, and Finding Nemo. The lobby is decorated with blown-up sketches from classic Disney films, setting the tone right from the start. Family suites are also available here if you have a lot of kids (or adults) in tow.

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Best Luxury: Grand Floridian

Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Walt Disney World

Known as the priciest place to stay in the park, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a luxurious way to do Disney. The graceful, Victorian-inspired Deluxe hotel set on the lagoon is one Monorail stop away from the Magic Kingdom, or you could take a water taxi or make the trek over on a new scenic walking trail. The soaring grand lobby lives up to its name, and a fancy new restaurant called Cítricos within the hotel is inspired by Mary Poppins Returns.

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Best for Camping: Fort Wilderness Resort

It is possible to rough it while staying at a Disney resort. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground is set in a 750-acre pine and cypress forest, where you can bring your RV or tent and commune with nature. (Cabins are available as well). Take a water taxi to Magic Kingdom, or stick around Fort Wilderness for activities like archery, fishing, pony rides, or a Chip ‘n’ Dale campfire sing-a-long.

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