I love going to the Parks, but I have almost as much fun just at the resorts! While I rarely get to stay in them, I love visiting and seeing what each one of them has to offer. It’s hard to get a full sense of all of the resorts, but first impressions are important. Here’s a list of my personal top ten resort lobbies!
Oh! Just as a side note: While all of these resorts are great year-round, they’re even better at Christmastime! For instance, Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Christmas tree is unbelievable and has animal masks as ornaments! Also, The Grand Floridian has roasted chestnuts and a life-sized gingerbread house…need I say more?
10. Port Orleans-Riverside
This resort lobby is very different from its sister resort French Quarter. The Riverside lobby makes you feel more like you’re in a luxury hotel in New Orleans. Its high ceilings and white pillars make the room feel bigger and grander than it already is. Elegant chandeliers hang above beautiful, sophisticated couches with fresh flowers in front of them. While there isn’t a ton to this lobby, it doesn’t feel like anything is missing; it just feels like a grand hotel in the bayou of Louisiana.
9. Yacht Club Resort
The name says it all. This resort and lobby feel exactly like a New England style yacht club. Decorated with an obvious nautical theme, this lobby is elegant without being over the top. Being lakeside, there is a fanciness to it, but this only adds to the charm. One of the centerpieces of the lobby is an oversized globe, which was designed to have a 19th century style. If you look close enough you’ll see that all the names and places are made up. Keep an eye out for a Hidden Mickey! One of the best parts of this hotel and lobby is that it overlooks the Boardwalk and Crescent Lake, which is always an added bonus.
8. Coronado Springs
This resort and lobby is unlike any other on Property. Its Spanish influence is evident throughout the hotel, but especially in the lobby. The lobby itself is very long with tall arches lining the walkway. Tile floors, patterns, fresh flowers and more make this lobby complete. And what would Coronado Springs be without some Spanish music in the background? Music heavy with Spanish classical guitar can be heard in the lobby and throughout the resort. There’s a romance to this culture-laden lobby that is extremely unique to Coronado Springs.
7. Port Orleans-French Quarter
Did someone say Mardi Gras? Welcome to Port Orleans. With the cobblestone floor, gas lamps and wrought iron balconies, the only thing missing is one of Princess Tiana’s famous beignets. The scent of magnolias wafts through the lobby while jazz music can be heard all around. Your senses are all completely satisfied in this lobby. While there aren’t big comfy couches or anything overly grand, this lobby is beautiful with an authentic feel that makes it special.
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The Boardwalk Resort is a place that can take you back in time. Every inch of this lobby has intricate detail that you don’t want to miss. Even the area between the doors to the lobby has authentic pieces! Once you enter the actual lobby your eyes are drawn to the giant sculpture-esque figures on the ceiling hanging above the miniature model carousal. If you wait several minutes, the carousal will turn on and spin and play music, just like the real thing. The rest of the lobby is adorned with turn of the century décor and furniture. The oversized chairs and couches are ridiculously comfortable and a great place to relax or check out the other miniature models around the room. At the back of the lobby are doors that lead out to the deck with white, whicker rocking chairs that overlook the actual Boardwalk itself. With the classic 40s music in the background, you can hardly go wrong at the Boardwalk.
5. Polynesian Village Resort
The tropical spirit of the South Pacific is alive and well the moment you step on Polynesian Village Resort property. The tiki torch lite path entering the lobby and streaming water with lush vegetation is extremely welcoming. Once inside, the outdoors come in with you through an oasis of tropical palms, lush greenery, and colorful flowers all around. The second floor is visible from the main lobby and hints of the wonderful food being cooked at the Ohana Restaurant and Kona Cafe will make you hungry immediately! Be welcomed with a lei, and even stick around for hula lessons while you’re at it. This is Disney’s signature resort for a perfect tropical atmosphere.
4. Art of Animation
This is Disney’s newest resort and definitely has taken a new approach, especially with its lobby. There are no oversized chairs or anything like that, but its décor completely makes up for it. This resort focuses on some of the most famous Disney movies ever made: The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Cars. The lobby, or “Hall of Animation,” as they affectionately call it, is on color overload. One of the walls extends the length of the lobby covered in character development or concept art. As you proceed down the hall, you can see the changes the characters went through, from start to finish and grey to color. The idea is to allow the guests to get inside an animator’s head. These are all archival images from the four movies, some that haven’t been seen before. Another special thing about this lobby is the cast member/guest interaction space. Instead of just a check-in desk, there are smaller “pods” where cast members can actually have a conversation with the guests. For the kids there is a typical movie watching area, but here there are actual animators that will draw the characters right there. A massive storyboard chandelier hangs above, and be sure to look for a certain John Lasseter’s signature on one of the boards! On the opposite wall is the color script wall, which shows you fun frames that focus on the lighting in certain scenes. This one is definitely worth checking out!
3. Animal Kingdom Lodge
This entire resort is truly spectacular, but its entrance completely sets the scene. With incredibly high ceilings where every inch of wall is covered in detail, this lobby is a feast for the eyes. All of your senses get a treat here, however. The aroma of the dinner at Jiko or the fireplace near the back takes over. The classic African background music that plays throughout the lobby is wonderful, as well. The center of the lobby has big, comfy couches and chairs to relax on or watch some of the old Disney cartoons that are playing for the kids (and kids at heart). Throughout this area are handcrafted and authentic African artifacts that are incredibly interesting. At the rear of the lobby is an overlook of the savanna where the zebras, giraffes, and 30 other animal species can be seen. Also make sure to check out the giant hat near that window in the back!
2. The Grand Floridian
Its name itself is pretty self-explanatory. This resort is just grand. Simply spectacular. As soon as you walk into it, you are overcome with this sense of elegance. Like most of the other resorts, the details are everywhere. Most everything is accented in white. From the ground you can glance up to see several of the floors that overlook the lobby. Between the giant birdcage and antique, yet working, elevator, you might as well be walking in Victorian England. There is almost always live music playing, whether that be the pianist on the ground level or the orchestra on the second floor. This lavish lobby is wonderful, even if you just go for a visit.
1. The Wilderness Lodge
Here’s another lobby that immediately takes you to the place it’s based on. The lobby itself is massive and completely makes you feel like you are in a lodge from one of the National Parks. Wooden beams extend to the ceiling and draw your eyes to the massive chandeliers that hang from the corners. Everything gives a rustic feel, from the unique background music to the little bridge and stream near the back of the lobby. The floor–to-ceiling totem poles definitely add character and fun to this area. There are plush chairs in front of the giant fireplace to give the lobby a comfy, homey atmosphere. Another special feature of this room is the window in the back that overlooks the waterfall and back area of the Lodge. This lobby immerses you in nature and some of the great American Parks and is definitely an experience!