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Our Favorite Disney World Resorts by Category

We just recently did our review of the Pop Century Resort and that got me thinking. What are my favorite resorts in each category? There are over 20 Disney Resort Hotels on property in Orlando and I can honestly say I don’t think there is a bad one among them. Disney has been doing an incredible job, especially lately, of updating and renovating the rooms and resorts that need much needed TLC. There are definitely some better than others but, for the most part, they are all pretty great. Because of that, one of the hardest things to do is selecting where exactly you want to stay. But here are our current favorite Disney Resorts by category.

Value

This will probably come as no surprise for anyone who listened to episode 21 of the podcast but, I think Pop Century is fabulous. In the past, some might have bemoaned having to stay at a Value just because everything else was booked. But with renovations being doing I think the days of complaining about the Values are over.

To be fair they were never bad resorts. On the contrary! I think they have always been solid choices especially when you factor in the Disney perks you get when you stay there. Their issue has always been being compared to their sister resorts throughout property. Of course, when you compare them to the resorts on the Monorail Loop they are going to seem of a lesser quality. But that’s not what their purpose it. They are affordable options that allow people to stay on Disney Property. And for this purpose they are fantastic.

Pop Century is our favorite in the value category.
Pop Century is our favorite in the value category.

As you probably might be able to tell, our winner for this category goes to the Pop Century Resort. We’ve discussed before how it almost seems like there are three tiers in the Value category. You have the All-Star Resorts, then you have the Pop Century and finally Art of Animation. The latter of the three can tetter on Moderate level prices at times and because of that, it misses the cut for our Value pick (but the family suites there are a great option for larger parties).

We give the nod to Pop Century in this category because of the newly renovated rooms, the overall atmosphere of the resort and the location. Location wise it’s closer to the other parks than the All-Stars are and it’s also most aesthetically pleasing as it sits on Hourglass Lake. Taking a stroll around the lake is one of our favorite and most peaceful things to do. The All-Stars also tend to host large groups of guests, like sports teams and tour groups, more so than Pop Century does. Pop can still attract large groups but because it is less likely than the All-Stars gives another point to the Pop. Overall this is just a great resort that you can’t really go wrong with right now. Since it will be sharing a Skyliner stop with Art of Animation, the future looks bright for Pop Century as well.

Moderate

This one was tough as I haven’t stayed at too many of the Moderates recently. It’s also tough because there’s so much change going on right now at all these resorts. Caribbean Beach just went under a HUGE multi-year long refurbishment. With it, they got new room renovations, a new check-in area, new food court and a brand new sit down restaurant with an expanded outdoor bar area. I think these new additions are awesome and they all look great but I still don’t think it is my favorite of the Moderates.

I recently stayed at the Coronado Springs Resort which is also undergoing some massive changes. Right now a lot of their rooms have been re-done and they are fantastic. Their new Gran Destino tower, which will feature a new main lobby for the resort and rooftop dining, will bring a whole new look and feel to the resort. Plus it will receive a second new sit down restaurant in the middle of their Lago Dorado lake which should be very cool. For now, there is still just way too much construction going on to give it the number one spot. Come July when the construction is complete, it might be a different story.

Port Orleans Riverside is the our favorite in the moderate category.
Port Orleans Riverside is our favorite in the moderate category.

For me, the best Moderate (right now) goes to Port Orleans Riverside. I think this resort has a couple things going for it. First off the place is absolutely gorgeous. I think it is one of the most beautiful resorts on property. Both the buildings and the horticulture tie into the theming so well. I also think their main pool is one of the most underrated pools on property. It’s not something that will blow you away but I like how it is tucked away from the main parts of the resort and the ample shade gives you sweet relief from the hot Florida sun. Their sit down restaurant Boatwright’s needs some help but the River Roost makes up for it. Especially when one of Disney World’s best characters, Yehaa Bob, is performing there. Rooms have been recently renovated and tie into the theme of the resort as well.

Another huge pro for this resort is its transportation option beyond the buses. Located just beyond the lobby you can catch a boat that will take you to Disney Springs. With so many new shopping and dining locations, Disney Springs has become one of my favorite places to hang out at in Disney World. Port Orleans French Quarter also has boat transportation to Disney Springs but, because of the theming and vibe, I give my preference to Riverside.

Deluxe

This one is difficult because there are just so many options and so many classics to choose from! When deciding on a Deluxe I think all facets of the resort have to be clicking to give it the nod for me. Now here, I am selecting my favorite Deluxe resort but, if you are in the market for a Deluxe vacation I would first determine what kind of trip you want. If it’s going to center around an Epcot festival then you probably want to stick with Yacht & Beach or the Boardwalk. If you are going to be hitting Magic Kingdom hard then focus on the Monorail Loop resorts and the Wilderness Lodge.

Animal Kingdom Lodge is our top pick in the Deluxe category.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is our top pick in the Deluxe category.

Regardless of trip type, my pick goes to one of the most unique hotels not just in Disney World but, one of the most unique hotels on Earth. I’ve got to pick Animal Kingdom Lodge. How can you pass up a place where you wake up to giraffes outside your room?! Seeing the animals is really an incredible sight but, this resort really has it all. It’s probably the best-themed resort on Disney property. You truly feel like you’ve been transported to Africa when you arrive. Even the plants outside the resort, not on the savannah, but by the roads of the resort make it feel like an African jungle. Inside you are surrounded by African art and when the sun goes down the lobby remains a little dark as if you’re in an African village and fire is the only source of light.

It also doesn’t hurt that this resort has three of the best restaurants on all of Disney property in Jiko, Boma and my favorite Sanaa. Yes, it could be a little closer to the other theme parks. But with the addition of Pandora and other nighttime entertainment, being close to the Animal Kingdom theme park is a sweet perk. There’s just nothing else like this place and it’s a resort that leaves you in awe no matter how many times you stay there.

So there you have it. Our picks (for now :)) for best resort in each category. What do you think? What are your favorite resorts? Let us know on our Facebook page!


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