Step Inside a Newly Renovated Room at Disney’s Pop Century
We just checked in (June 11, 2017) to Disney’s Pop Century Resort at Walt Disney World and were given one of the refurbished rooms! Here’s a photo tour of our room in the 90’s section in building 8.
At first glance, the room is very white (almost stark) with mid-century modern furniture. Everything from top to bottom has been refurbished. In fact, there are no hints of the old rooms in the decor or linens. As you look closer, you’ll seed that the renovation has added some wonderful conveniences to the rooms at this Disney World value resort.
Disney’s Pop Century Photo Tour
Queen Bed and Double Murphy Bed/Table are now featured in the rooms at Pop Century.
After two nights sleeping in the queen bed, I can say that the extra space was wonderful. However, the mattress seemed a bit hard to me; my husband felt it was absolutely fine. If you like sleeping on a firm mattress, the Disney’s Pop Century renovated room is for you. It wasn’t the worst that I’ve ever slept on and I did get much better sleep than in the previous double bed accommodations offered at the value resorts in Walt Disney World.
The pillows were just right; not too soft and not too hard. Medium pillow lovers will like them.
Disney’s Pop Century Resort Features Renovated Rooms
The lighting above the queen bed adds a pop of Mickey to the room.
Mickey Mouse lighting fixture above queen bed in Disney’s Pop Century.
Queen Bed at Pop Century in Walt Disney World.
Our family found the outlets and USB charging ports next to the beds to be extremely convenient. I had my iPhone, iPad, and laptop all plugged in at my nightstand area.
There is still a bedside phone. Retrieving messages was simple.
Cozy queen bed with nightstand at Pop Century.
Queen Bed with two nightstands at Pop Century in Walt Disney World.
Coffee Bar, Ice Bucket, Cups, and Refrigerator at Pop Century.
Large screen television can be easily seen from both beds. Added bonus? Avatar is now playing all day. (Pandora review coming soon!)
Large flat screen television now playing Avatar.
The room seems larger with the lighter wall color and functional furniture.
Luggage can easily be stored under the queen size bed.
The room refurb includes all new textiles, including these groovy orange curtains.
In-room dining information is found in a handy pamphlet.
I like the fridge and coffee bar area for convenience. It’s also a good place to stash the treats that you bring back from the food court or resort bakeries. You’ll find a Cuisinart coffeemaker, cups, and ice bucket on the shelves. Look for supplies in the drawer. Cup lids — yes!
The refrigerator has a see-through door.
Laminated flooring has replaced the carpet. The wood grain pattern works well in the room.
Laminate “wood” flooring at Disney’s Pop Century.
I like the wood look to the flooring. It’s also easier for Mousekeeping to clean.
Sliding doors separating the bedroom and bathroom are similar to Coronado Springs Resort.
The bathroom also has handy storage units and the shower looks like it’s going to be great for sore muscles after returning from the parks.
Sliding glass shower doors are a nice addition and they provide some privacy with patterned glass.
The make up mirror is a really nice touch to the new bathroom decor at Disney’s Pop Century resort.
Not pictured: There is a mirror on the bathroom’s sliding door for checking out your snazzy Mickey Ears and touring outfit.
I love the Sea Salt H2O+ products.
The rain shower was soothing.
A safe is found inside the dresser.
The table is a murphy bed, which was very easy to unfold. You’ll find eight pillows already in the room.
Setting up the Murphy Bed
The boys felt that setting up the Murphy bed was very easy; they even mentioned that I would be able to fold it down myself.
Our 17 year old son slept on the Murphy bed. He’s almost 5 ft 11 inches and thought the bed was very comfortable. Again, the mattress was firm but comfy. He also thought the pillows were great.
The Murphy bed is already made up with sheets and a blanket. There is a switch for the nightlight in the middle of the headboard. Upon opening the bed, you’ll find Pluto already sleeping!
The TV is huge and storage seems quite adequate. The safe is inside the dresser. There are plenty of places to plug in your electronics into outlets or USB charging ports, including on the dresser and at each bedside.
Yes, at first glance the room may seem stark. Personally, I think an accent wall with a painted color would be nice. However, the overall refurbishments really adds comfort to this value resort at Walt Disney World.
Take a look at the pictures and I’ll return with further updates very soon.
Share your thoughts on the renovated rooms at Disney’s Pop Century! Contact Us, Follow Us on Twitter or comment below to let us know what you think!
Stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for Magic Kingdom Touring
Magic Kingdom fans may want to consider staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, including Bay Lake Tower, during their Walt Disney World (WDW) vacation. The close proximity of the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom (MK) adds an enticing level of convenience to your WDW trip. Walking to the Magic Kingdom is a time-saver and allows for flexibility in your MK touring plans.
If you’ve been to the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, you’ve seen the nearby A-frame hotel that boasts a monorail running right through the atrium! While the unique shape and zipping monorail are what guests notice first, there are plenty more reasons to stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
As one of the two original resorts (Disney’s Polynesian Village can also boast this title) on opening day October 1, 1971, the Contemporary also has bragging rights for the closest lodging to the iconic park, Magic Kingdom. An engineering marvel, each room was built off-site, trucked in, and slid into place. The contemporary design was created to mesh with the views of Tomorrowland. We see you, Space Mountain!
Stunning view of Space Mountain!
Painted for the resort opening, Disney Legend Mary Blair’s 90 ft. high mural can be found in the atrium.
Mary Blair Mural.
Bay Lake Tower, a Disney Vacation Club hotel, was added to the Contemporary Resort property in 2009.
Bay Lake Tower
For Walt Disney World guests focusing on touring the Magic Kingdom, the location of Disney’s Contemporary Resort is second to none.
It’s a short walk to the Magic Kingdom.
I love being able to walk into the Magic Kingdom for Extra Magic Hour in the early morning, return quickly to the resort for a mid-day break, and then get back to the MK for more evening touring.
Easy walk to the Magic Kingdom
But there are more perks to this location! Depending on your room location, you may be able to hear the Ferry boat’s whistle, see the monorail making part of its circular journey, watch the fireworks from your balcony, listen to the Walt Disney World Railroad whistle, and take in many other sights and sounds that are near and dear to Walt Disney World fans. We love the views of Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon!
Listen to the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom from your balcony room.
For more fun on the water, take the Disney boat to Fort Wilderness and/or Wilderness Lodge. We recommend dining at Trail’s End buffet at Fort Wilderness for yummy but inexpensive food. And Whispering Canyon Cafe at Wilderness Lodge is a hoot for the whole family!
If you can’t see Cinderella Castle and/or the fireworks from your room, visit the 4th Floor concourse. There’s an outdoor deck that is open to all guests. Just go out the door next to Fantasia Market.
Great view of the Magic Kingdom.
Don’t forget to view the Electrical Water Pageant from the Contemporary’s beach. It’s a 14-barge night-time spectacle that began in 1972.
Monorail service is offered to the Transportation and Ticket Center where guests can transfer to the Epcot monorail line. For dining and shopping at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, just hop on the monorail. If you prefer not to walk to the Magic Kingdom, the monorail also makes a stop there. However, this will take more time.
With two queens plus a day bed, the standard rooms are spacious at the Contemporary with 394 square feet.
Contemporary Resort Rooms are spacious.
Standard rooms at the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Village are a bit larger.
It’s extremely easy to escape the Magic Kingdom and return to the Contemporary for some down time. With two pools, a splash pad, beach hammocks, an arcade, shops, and Boat Nook marina options (sailboats, fishing, waterskiing, tubing, parasailing), taking advantage of your resort amenities should be part of your Disney vacation. Yes, you can relax at WDW!
Boat Nook Marina
Amenities with no additional cost: Disney resort bus transportation, Disney’s Magical Express, Wi-Fi, standard parking, online check-in, resort airline check-in, fitness center, merchandise pickup, and more.
Extra cost amenities include: valet parking, laundry and dry-cleaning, spa, childcare, business center, arcade, and more.
Unwind at the arcade.
For a special occasion or just a vacation splurge, dining atop the Contemporary at the California Grill is a memorable experience. Time your meal so that you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks while dining OR dine early and return to California Grill’s observation deck later in the evening. Early diners still get admittance to view the fireworks — just show your receipt at the 2nd floor restaurant’s check-in desk!
The gorgeous dining room at California Grill.
I highly recommend dining early, then taking the monorail for drinks and shopping at the Polynesian Village and/or Grand Floridian, and for the finale — returning for the fireworks. It’s a full evening of resort fun and especially perfect for a date night. 😉
Magic Kingdom Fireworks from California Grill Observation Deck
Another favorite Contemporary Resort activity for our family — Chef Mickey’s for dinner. Mickey cooks up breakfast too but we prefer the liveliness of this restaurant during the dinner hours. In the morning, we aren’t always awake enough to get into the full swing of napkin twirling! Try Chef Mickey’s on your Disney Arrival Day; you’ll get a delicious meal and some time with Mickey and his friends before you’ve even entered a Disney park.
Chef Mickey’s and Contempo Cafe
For quick-service dining, head to the Contempo Cafe. You’ll often find some unique cupcakes here. Our family recommends the sandwiches and flatbread pizzas.
Enjoy a sandwich at the Contempo Cafe.
On the lobby level, The Wave… of American Flavors serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Enjoy breakfast before heading to the Magic Kingdom!
The dining room is quiet during an early morning breakfast at The Wave.
On the first floor, Contemporary Grounds showcases bakery items and coffee. Plus, several bars and lounges are scattered throughout the resort.
The bustling 4th floor concourse is also home to Fantasia Market (snacks and sundries), Fantasia (toys and souvenirs), and Bayview Gifts (souvenirs, clothing, and more!). Bayview Gifts is also a convenient stop for a slice of fudge or a freshly baked cookie. Looking for Pandora charms (I love the Cinderella slipper, I got recently!) or a new Disney Dooney and Bourke bag? This is a great place to shop for those pricier items.
Shop at Fantasia for toys and souvenirs.
Of course, toy monorails and the Contemporary Resort playset are especially popular! This was one of our son’s favorite toys.
One of our son’s favorite toys!
Sorry, we had to reach this topic, didn’t we?! How much does it cost to stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort?
Of course, the tower rooms overlooking the Magic Kingdom are the priciest option.
As of May, 2017, standard garden view rooms begin at $378 plus tax per night. And that coveted theme park view? $585 per night plus tax. Get current rates here.
Sticker shock, I know.
Shake off that shock and try out these budgeting tips:
- Try to find a Special Offer and use a discount. Disney Visa cardholders and Annual Passholders sometimes receive enticing discounts too. My favorite place to watch for Disney resort discounts is mousesavers.com.
- Watch for seasonal pricing. Looking ahead for 2017, Friday and Saturday nights in July and August are cheaper than any other summer nights. Also price out the last week of August, September 1-21, October 15-19, 22-26, 29-November 2, November 13-16, 19-20, 26-30, and December 3-7 for lower prices. Stay away from holidays where even standard rooms begin near $500 per night.
- Plan to stay here for a couple of nights and tour the Magic Kingdom during your brief stay. You can concentrate on the Magic Kingdom during a short visit to Walt Disney World or resort hop to a less expensive hotel during a longer visit. When we recently stayed at the Contemporary, we stayed at a moderate resort for the bulk of our trip and then transferred to the Contemporary for a two-night stay to celebrate Michael’s birthday.
Monorail traveling through the Contemporary Resort.
Our family avoided staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for many years. One reason for not considering this deluxe resort at Walt Disney World was due to the high balcony floors and open atrium. You see, I have a fear of heights and the thought of staying there with a small child made me even more uncomfortable.
I’m glad we finally gave this resort a try. For me, Disney’s Contemporary Resort is all about the location next to the Magic Kingdom.
Walkway from Magic Kingdom to Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Still, I’m not a huge fan of the contemporary design and the outdoor pool area seems uninviting compared to other resort pools on property. I would stay here again for a couple of nights, especially on a quick weekend visit with plans to only visit the Magic Kingdom. Read more perks of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.
Have you stayed at Disney’s Contemporary Resort? Is it on your radar for a future visit? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Walt Disney World Hotel Perks Offer Extra Magic
While we’ve stayed a few times off-site of the Walt Disney World property, we love the perks that guests receive when staying at a Walt Disney World (WDW) resort. My favorite reason for choosing an onsite hotel is the total Disney immersion; leaving the real world behind is an important factor for making the most of our family vacations. But there are even more benefits to staying at a WDW hotel.
Disney Magic Around the Clock
Travel under those beloved arches and you’ll be inside The Disney Bubble. Sounds weird to first time visitors but soon enough, you’ll know what your friends have been talking about. Total Disney immersion is a good thing for fans of Walt Disney World.
Disney World resorts have immersive themes!
What does this really mean?
Cast Members (Disney employees) handing out stickers to your kids (or you!), food shaped liked Mickey, housekeeping’s unique towel art, character wake up calls, and themed resorts (landscaping, pools, stores, restaurants, rooms) all reflecting their own special Disney ambiance.
Mickey Towel Art!
All you really need to know is that if you feel your real life worries have been whisked away AND you start singing silly Disney songs, exclaiming “Hakuna Matata” or “Jambo” to family members, and you find a Mickey Ears hat atop your head, you are surely experiencing vacation inside the Disney Bubble. And trust me, you don’t want any real life stress to pop that thing!
Life in the Disney Bubble!
Did you fly into the Orlando International Airport (MCO)? If you are staying at a WDW resort, you’ll be able to take Disney’s Magical Express to your hotel. Disney’s bus transportation service also includes complimentary luggage transfer. I love checking in my luggage at my home airport and seeing those same bags (that I’ve over-packed!) magically appear in my WDW room on Arrival Day.
Disney’s Magical Express provides transportation between WDW Resorts and the airport.
Once you are at your WDW hotel, you’ll be able to travel throughout the entire property via Disney transportation.
WDW Transportation includes buses and monorails!
This may include buses, boats, and monorails. WDW transportation can sometimes be time-consuming but it’s nice to have someone else cart the family around.
Ride the WDW Monorail.
Another one of my favorite perks is Resort Airline Check-In. If traveling on a participating airline (Alaska, American, Delta/U.S. Domestic Flights Only, JetBlue, Southwest, and United), your family can turn in suitcases to this designated spot at your WDW resort and your luggage will be transported for you — in reverse — all the way to your home airport.
Resort Airline Check-In is WDW hotel perk.
Considering that your bags are now heavier due to those irresistible Disney souvenirs, this service is a tremendous Walt Disney World resort perk. After all, my favorite carry-on Weekender Bag can only hold so much.
Disney Restaurants and Reservations
Want to dine at Be Our Guest Restaurant? Utilizing this benefit will be key to helping you obtain those hard-to-get dining reservations at the most popular Walt Disney World restaurants. So, how does this perk work?
The Rose Gallery at Be Our Guest Restaurant. Make an Advanced Dining Reservation!
Advanced Dining Reservations at WDW restaurants can be made 180 days prior to the date that you wish to reserve. Do you need to count the days? No. For years, I have used this handy tool.
The advantage for WDW Resort guests is that they can make a dining reservation 180 days prior to their check-in date PLUS make reservations for their entire stay (up to 10 days). No need to wait until the 180 day mark to reserve the buffet at Chef Mickey’s for the last morning of your vacation.
Make an Advanced Dining Reservation for Chef Mickey’s.
I don’t know what it is — maybe the Mickey-shaped waffles? — but even dining at a value resort’s food court is more fun than a value meal off-site.
Mickey Waffles — delicious for all ages!
And certainly, the resort sit down restaurants serve up delicious eats with interesting decor.
Make an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) at your resort hotel.
Off-site guests can dine at all restaurants on property (exception: pool bars with guest-only access), however it’s convenient to have these dining choices at your resort for breakfast, a mid-day meal, dinner, and/or a late night snack.
Disney Dining Plan
A Disney Dining Plan can be added to your hotel reservation. Some families like the convenience of pre-paying for their meals. If you book your trip with a Free Dining offer, you may save some serious cash off of your total vacation budget. Watch Disney’s Special Offers!
Adding a Disney Dining Plan to your WDW vacation package is a convenient way to pre-pay for your meals. No matter how it’s paid for, I love the Sweet and Sour Chicken at Yak and Yeti!
Our family prefers the flexibility of paying out-of-pocket so the value of this benefit depends on your vacation style.
If you find the perfect souvenir on your way to your FastPass+ at Expedition Everest, you may want to take advantage of Package Delivery.
Have your purchases sent to your Disney Resort.
You’ll have two options — pick up the package at the front of the park (for ALL theme park guests) or have it delivered to your Walt Disney World hotel’s gift shop. Either way, your hands are free!
Package Pick Up is available to all guests at Disney theme parks.
For an additional fee, you can have your treasures shipped home.
What are those colorful and waterproof bracelets that Disney guests are sporting? Well, they are not exactly the latest fashion craze. However, they are quite the magical tool given complimentary to WDW resort guests and annual passholders.
Believe it or not, those MagicBands are the key to Magical Express transportation, FastPass+ reservations, and theme park entry. Plus, guests can use their MagicBand to open their hotel room door, pay for purchases and dining, store Disney PhotoPass pictures, and more!
Use your MagicBand for access to the exclusive pool at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club.
Off-site guests can purchase bands after arrival.
Scan that band at any restaurant or store and you’ll have your purchases added to your hotel’s room account (if you’ve set up room charging privileges). This is part of the Disney Bubble that you have to be careful with as it’s easy to overspend. The convenience however is priceless.
Our teen son has been charging his food (and some souvenirs) to our room for years.
Buying a shirt with MagicBand!
Now, we don’t have to worry about lost room keys with charging privileges. It’s reassuring to know that the MagicBand is safe on Nic’s wrist for when he’s out exploring on his own and needs a beverage, snack, and/or meal.
Extra Magic Hours
With your Resort ID/MagicBand and a theme park ticket, your family can enjoy some extra time at select attractions in the parks. Check the official WDW calendar for morning and/or evening Extra Magic Hours being offered during your visit.
Watch for Extra Magic Hours.
Usually one park per day has extra hours in the morning or evening for resort guests.
We love early morning Extra Magic Hour at the Magic Kingdom!
Early FastPass+ Planning
A very handy perk is the ability to reserve select shows and attractions early. Using the My Disney Experience app or online tool, link your WDW hotel room and theme park tickets. After, you’ll have up to 60 days (30 days for off-site guests) before arrival to pre-book up to 3 FastPass+ experiences at one theme park per day. With early access to FastPass+ planning, you’ll get better availability and more of your preferred times.
Meet Anna and Elsa using the convenience of FastPass+
Want to ride Toy Story Midway Mania right before your dinner reservation? Just reserve an appropriate time. No need to run there first thing in the morning!
When our child was younger, we took advantage of the childcare facilities at Walt Disney World. Check in your child with well-trained staffed while you enjoy a date night, business meeting, or run a Disney 5K!
Lilo’s Playhouse is the Children’s Activity Center at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Kids are even provided a meal of their choice.
Walt Disney World is home to three championship golf courses. As a Disney resort guest, you’ll get advanced tee times as an added benefit.
Theme Park Admittance During High Crowds
You may have heard tales told of the Magic Kingdom closing due to high capacity. It’s true; I’ve seen it. If you are a resort guest, you’ll have preferred admittance once space is available! This is important on holidays such as New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Eve crowds in the Magic Kingdom.
Certainly, staying at an offsite hotel will cost less and you’ll likely get a larger room too. If this option suits your family’s budget best, I wouldn’t let it deter you from visiting Walt Disney World. You can have a magical visit while staying off-property.
However, if your budget allows, we recommend staying on-site at a Walt Disney World resort!
What are your favorite Walt Disney World resort perks? Are you staying onsite or offsite on your next trip?
Two Disney Moderate Resorts Announce Expansive Renovations
Just announced from Disney Parks Blog, two Walt Disney World moderate resorts will be undergoing exciting renovations. Last October, we mentioned that Disney’s Coronado Springs was possibly expanding.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
During the next two years, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort will expand and refurbish accommodations. With a new 15-story tower in the works, 500 more rooms including suites and concierge level amenities will be added to this sprawling resort. With prime real estate on the shore of the resort’s lake, Lago Dorado, rooftop dining will be offered featuring amazing views of Disney fireworks. Of course, I’m wondering if this will push Coronado Springs into the deluxe category of rooms at WDW!
Lago Dorado, a 22-acre lake
Current rooms will also be refurbished. Will they take on a new look? As one of our favorite Disney moderate resorts, we can’t wait to see the finished decor.
What will rooms look like after the upcoming refurbishment?
Transformations will also take place in the landscaping with added floating gardens and an island oasis that connects the resort’s far-flung buildings with a series of bridges. Sounds like an enhanced version of the island at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort! We’re all for saving some steps while walking through this resort. 😉
Island at Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
The tropical ambiance at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort will likely be even more fun when the resort opens an updated marketplace at Centertown. New waterfront dining and retail shopping areas will be featured.
What do you think about these upcoming renovations? Share your thoughts!
Planning our Disney vacations always starts with a tough decision: Which Walt Disney World Resorts should we consider?
Since, we’ve stayed at nearly all of the Walt Disney World resorts, we want to help you with this part of your vacation planning. After all, my favorite part of a Disney trip is time spent at the Walt Disney World resorts. I love to shop, dine, relax by the pool with a good book, sip on a Banana Cabana or Pina CoLAVA, and go on walks to take in the resort’s decor. The hotel themes and amenities are an important part of my Disney adventures. Let’s make sure that your family opts for the hotel that suits your budget and other requirements. We’ll start today by exploring some of our preferred hotels at Walt Disney World.
Preferred Walt Disney World Resorts
My husband and son also enjoy staying at the resorts. We’ve selected our preferred Walt Disney World resorts in each budget category — deluxe, moderate, and value. However, we want your family to carefully select the resort that is right for you. For now, let’s explore the resorts that my family finds the most appealing. First up, Michael and I select our favorites, followed by our teen son’s choices.
Deluxe Walt Disney World Resorts
In the deluxe category, guests at Walt Disney World will find examples of exquisite themeing, convenient locations, luxurious rooms, concierge services, a variety of restaurants, and, the less than fun aspect — higher prices.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
The Grand Floridian (GF) is our family’s favorite resort, thus we’ve stayed here for many special occasions. Our honeymoon, 10th anniversary vow renewal, and my birthday are among the celebrations that we’ve opted to spend (probably too much cash!) at this Victorian-style hotel. At first glance, you may get the impression that this isn’t a family resort. However, there are fun activities for kids of all ages! I love the Alice in Wonderland theme at the splash area.
Mad Hatter Splash Area.
Exquisitely appointed with red gabled roofs, it’s reminiscent of Victorian beachside lodging.
Red gabled roofs of Disney’s Grand Floridian
A visit to the lobby to listen to the ethereal music played by the pianist or orchestra is a perfect pastime.
Listen to the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra
Aptly named, the multi-storied lobby is grand. From the marble flooring to the stained glass rooftop’s domes, no matter how many times we see it, we always find this room jaw-dropping. And then, there’s the grand staircase that I absolutely adore (or the caged elevator) that beckons guests up to the second floor where the monorail, plus additional shops, restaurants, and lovely outdoor decks await.
Monorail access to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot (via transfer at the Transportation and Ticket Center), and Disney’s Contemporary and Polynesian Village resorts make this a convenient vacation spot. Plus, there’s the gorgeous marina connecting to Seven Seas Lagoon adding more transportation and recreation options at nearby Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge.
The restaurants live up to the grandness too. Open 24 hours, the quick-service Gasparilla Island Grill is situated with outdoor views of Cinderella’s Castle.
Booth with a view at Gasparilla Island Grill.
Narcoossee’s, with its prime waterfront real estate, is a fabulous place to dine. It serves up the best steak on property as far as Michael is concerned. 😉
Narcoossee’s waterfront restaurant
Rooms are larger than you’ll find at most Disney hotels and they are decorated in luxurious textiles. Views of the inner courtyard, lagoon, and Cinderella’s Castle are all memorable.
All amenities including the spa and pools are easily accessible via lighted garden walkways.
Reserve your room at the Grand Floridian if:
- your budget is deluxe sized
- you’ll be spending a lot of time at the Magic Kingdom
- you want luxury over value
- you love waterside activities (Electrical Water Pageant, marina rentals)
- spa amenities are important
- an assortment of table service dining is high on your list of requirements
- you are night owls and want a 24 hour dining location (Gasparilla Island Grill)
Guest Tip: Take a romantic moonlit walk from the Grand Floridian to Disney’s Wedding Pavilion to the Polynesian Village.
Animal Kingdom Lodge
As guests arrive Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, the landscaping immediately pulls them into the exotic theme. Relaxation is nearly guaranteed here since the ambiance lends itself to leaving real world cares at the front entrance.
Entering the lobby at Jambo House, your eyes will need to adjust to the low lighting. The dark woods, intoxicating fireside smells, ambient background music, and cozy furniture are welcoming.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby
A room with a savannah view isn’t necessary but it does make a stay more fun. Imagine standing on your balcony and watching animals grazing.
Savanna view of giraffes grazing
Here, you can explore the large pool area and then venture to the animal viewing areas near Arusha Rock.
Animal Viewing from Arusha Rock area
Other than the villas, rooms are smaller than some other deluxe resorts. We think the resort’s theme more than makes up for the lack of personal space.
Exotic decor in room
Dining at Boma for the bountiful breakfast buffet is one of our favorite meals to savor at WDW. This is where we had our first sip of Frunch.
Breakfast at Boma
We also highly recommend the accommodations at Kidani Village. While further removed from some of the resort’s amenities, it offers a pool area that is divine.
Reserve your room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge if:
- your budget is more deluxe than moderate or value
- you’ll be spending a lot of time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, especially to explore the new Pandora – The World of Avatar
- you want luxury over value
- you love animals
- spa treatments are important
- an assortment of table service dining is high on your list of requirements
- you want to spend time at the pool and prefer shaded lounge chairs
Guest Tip: Ask for a room close to the lobby as the hallways are LONG.
Moderate Walt Disney World Resorts
Moderate resorts are your middle options at Walt Disney World. Not as expensive as the deluxe hotels but not as inexpensive as the value resorts, moderates offer nice amenities such as family-friendly food courts and well-themed rooms. You’ll get queen beds (not the doubles found at most values) too.
Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter
We have stayed here many times because the resort is absolutely charming. While compact, Port Orleans French Quarter boasts a convenient main building with amenities such as registration, lobby area, store, bar, and a recently updated food court, Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory. As you stroll the resort, listen to the uplifting jazzy tunes.
The architecture and design details are amazing. We love the wrought iron fences, soft lit lampposts, beautiful fountains, meandering streets and sidewalks, and serene courtyards. Plus, the alluring walkway between Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside parallels the Sassagoula River.
While the rooms are not large, they are pleasantly appointed and easily accessible from the parking lots or bus stop after a long day in the parks.
Port Orleans French Quarter Room
Access to Disney Springs via the Sassagoula river boats adds to the endearing ambiance of the resort.
Reserve your room at Port Orleans French if:
- your budget is moderate
- you’ll be spending a lot of time at Disney Springs
- a compact resort with less walking fits your needs
- you like jazz music
- beignets are one of your favorite treats
- quick service dining is enough for your resort meals
- you want parking that may be close to your building
Guest Tip: Take a walk or boat to Port Orleans Riverside for shopping, dinner, or a carriage ride.
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort
Port Orleans Riverside wasn’t on the top of our list until recently. We had stayed several times in the Alligator Bayou section. While these lodge buildings are quaint, the sprawling walkways were tiresome especially since we always seemed to stay here during rainy days and nights. With no elevators, these buildings were inconvenient for our road trips to Walt Disney World. Maybe we just packed too much stuff. 😉
Mansion section, Magnolia Bend, of Riverside.
This year, we opted for a Royal Guest room and thus, were introduced to the Mansion buildings. Although we still had to navigate in some rain, we fared much better this time. We were finally able to relax and take in the resort’s finer aspects: large food court, quaint bar, cozy pool bar, beautiful landscaping, and large store.
Muddy Rivers Pool Bar.
The real downside here remains the multiple bus stops and often chaotic main depot. However, the Sassagoula Riverboat transportation to Disney Springs is extremely convenient.
Reserve Your Room at Port Orleans Riverside if:
- your budget isn’t deluxe but you are okay spending more than the value prices
- you’ll be spending a lot of time at Disney Springs
- you need to sleep five people in a room (Alligator Bayou rooms accommodate a fifth person with a trundle bed)
- you want a moderate resort with a table service restaurant
- the Royal guest rooms appeal to you
- sharing amenities between the two Port Orleans resorts seems fun
- watching Yehaa Bob Jackson at the River Roost is on your must-do list
Royal Guest Room.
Honorable Mention: Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Note that this resort is currently undergoing renovations.
Update: We’re moving Coronado Springs down a bit due to the ongoing construction. The Club Level building that we once enjoyed has been demolished to make way for the new tower. Rooms are also under renovation. We’ll need to stay here again before recommending it as a top choice in the moderate category.
Our impression prior to construction: The first time we stayed here, we had mixed feelings as Coronado Springs was different (less quiet) than the other moderates. Different? Well, for one, it has a convention center, which attracts business people and large groups. However, once we gave this resort a second chance we were pleased with the amenities it offers.
We liked the concierge/club level (business class) option as it was available at a moderate price, although it wasn’t a necessary upgrade. Cabanas 9B that housed the club level rooms and lounge has now been torn down.
We still like that the resort offers a room service menu for breakfast and dinner. Pepper Market continues to offer delicious quick service food in a lovely setting.
The resort is well-themed in Spanish-Colonial architecture with soothing background music as well.
Exterior of the resort’s main building, El Centro.
While the walk from your room may be lengthy, the lake and surrounding landscaping are beautiful (or were before construction took hold). The rooms with dark woods are transforming too. Renovated rooms have a lighter, sleeker and more modern atmosphere; we can’t wait to try one.
Coronado Springs Room Before Renovation
The Dig Site pool has a great slide, lots of lounge chairs, and even some shade!
Dig Site Pool
Let us know your recent experiences at Disney’s Coronado.
Guest Tip: Spending most of your down time at the pool? Request a room near The Dig Site.
Value Walt Disney World Resorts
What do we love most about the value Walt Disney World resorts? First, the lower costs, and second, the food courts. When we check into a value resort and see our room account balance, we are always amazed by the low bill. These resorts are instantly appealing when you can vacation at Walt Disney World for the fraction of the cost of a deluxe hotel on property. Stay at a value if you won’t be spending much time in your room. While Pop Century is being renovated and adding queen beds to the updated rooms, the other value resorts still have double beds. Note, however, that All-Star Music has a suite option.
Renovated room with queen bed.
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
While we tend to waver between Pop Century, Art of Animation, and All-Star Music, we’re giving Pop Century top billing now due to the renovated rooms. What we like most about them? The queen bed! Check out all the memorabilia and great photo-ops!
Great photo ops at Pop Century!
What else does Pop Century offer? Well, convenient bus service, for starters. Plus, the food court has ample seating and some unique offerings.
Reserve Your Room at Pop Century if:
- a smaller hotel bill is a high priority
- you’ll be spending a lot of time at the parks
- you don’t mind having to take a Disney bus (or you have your own car) to all WDW destinations
- there’s no need for a table service restaurant at your resort
- the new queen bed/trundle bed rooms appeal to you (note: while refurbishments are on-going these rooms are not guaranteed)
- two food courts (including the one at Art of Animation) would be helpful to your dining needs
- a hotel with fun photo ops, themed food, and nostalgic decor sounds fun
Guest Tip: Take a walk around the resort to read the trivia. Plus, head over the bridge to shop or dine at Art of Animation.
Bridge from Pop Century to Art of Animation
Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
As we mentioned above, All-Star Music is one of our favorite value resorts. And we still think a lot of fun can be had here. We really think All-Star Music is a hidden gem.
All-Star Music Pool
The themed areas, background music, charming outdoor lights, and well-groomed landscaping make this resort seem more moderate than value. Well, until you enter the room. Yep, the rooms are still small and motel-like but for an affordable visit to WDW, we think All-Star Music is a pleasing option.
Guest Tip: You can easily walk to the other All-Star resorts (Sports and Movies) from All-Star Music. It’s fun to explore the different shops.
Nic’s Picks of Walt Disney World Resorts
As you’ll see below, Nic’s picks are quite similar to ours but they’re not exact. Here are the top resort choices from a 17-year old teen who has stayed at nearly all of the resorts. He also mentions briefly why he chose each hotel.
Grand Floridian – architecture and atmosphere
Contemporary – walk to Magic Kingdom, monorail, rooms are very nice
Easy walk to the Magic Kingdom
Monorails going through the Contemporary Resort
Contemporary Resort Room
Port Orleans French Quarter – atmosphere, themeing, boat to Disney Springs
Caribbean Beach – food court, Pirate room
Pirate Room Prior to Refurbishment
Pop Century – convenient bus transportation, food court
Epcot Bus at Pop Century
All-Star Music – theme
Swimming Pool All-Star Music Resort
What are your favorite Walt Disney World resorts? Where do you hope to stay on your next (or first!!) WDW visit?