6 Walt Disney World Resorts You Simply Must See

Walt Disney World property houses over 20 resorts with almost 30,000 rooms and villas available. Each resort has a unique and incredibly detailed theme that covers everything from the front foyer to the restaurants, pools, buildings and the rooms themselves. It can be difficult to decide which resort to stay at when visiting Walt Disney World, since each one brings a different list of benefits to the table.

Regardless of whether you opt for a Value, Moderate or Deluxe resort, you’re sure to experience the wonderful atmosphere that comes from staying on property, being so close to the parks and sharing in the magic that seems to follow you from the parks back to your resort room. If you’re still on the fence when it comes to deciding which resort to try, here is a handy list (to help you get started) of the 6 Walt Disney World Resorts you simply must see.

6. Contemporary

As one of the two resorts to open in 1971, the Disney’s Contemporary Resort sits just outside the Magic Kingdom. The iconic A-frame is just one part of the incredible architecture and engineering that went into the design of the building. The resort was built in two stages, the first being the construction of the enormous steel frame. The second stage involved pre-constructed rooms that were slid into place using a crane.

Inside the resort, the main concourse houses an incredible 90-foot tall mural by Mary Blair, a Disney Legend responsible for the look and feel of “it’s a small world”. The Contemporary Resort is also the only resort to have the monorail stop inside, taking guests to Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The resort also houses a number of quick service and fine dining restaurants. The most notable restaurants include Chef Mickey’s character buffet, the atmospheric Wave…Of American Flavors, and the flagship California Grill restaurant located on the 15th floor giving guests the perfect view of Wishes Nighttime Spectacular during a late dinner.

5. Art Of Animation

For guests looking to get the most out of the Value Resorts, Disney’s Art of Animation is the place to be. As the latest Value Resort to be constructed (opening in 2012), Art of Animation is filled with some of the best landscape and architecture that Disney and Pixar’s movies can provide. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the movies, you can find yourself in one of the four themed areas in the resort.   Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid all provide an incredible backdrop for your stay. Each area features enormous 20-40 foot tall statues and surround the largest resort pool in all of Walt Disney World. Inside, the lobby walls are covered in animation sketches to give guests an insight into the creative process of the animators. Outside, the buildings are covered in vibrant colors and are sure to keep you entertained as there is always something to explore in the resort.

4. Port Orleans – French Quarter

Alongside the Sassagoula River, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter, is a gem among the Moderate Resorts. As one of the smallest resorts, the atmosphere is quiet and cozy as the cobblestone streets and gas lamps welcome you to the style of the iconic French Quarter in New Orleans.   The architecture is beautiful, but it’s the charm of this resort that really makes it one to see. The Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory Food Court are adorned with Mardi Gras-styled floats. The color and whimsy of each float make this a great place to relax and enjoy their famous Beignets. Add to that the alligator jazz band playing around the Doubloon Lagoon pool and this resort becomes a favorite for many guests.

3. Polynesian

As the only other resort to open alongside Magic Kingdom in 1971, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort takes guests to a tropical oasis in the South Pacific. Palm trees, koi ponds and white sandy beaches are a few of the many reasons why it’s one of the best resorts to see. Sitting on the southern shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon, what the resort lacks in height, it more than makes up for in landscape and architecture. The “longhouses” each have a cozy atmosphere and with torches to light your walk to the Great Ceremonial House, it is one of the best resorts to explore. The sandy shores are a wonderfully relaxing place to watch the nightly fireworks, while the day features Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show filled with dancers, drummers and fire-knife performers. The resort also houses ‘Ohana and the Kona Café, each with its own unique theme and atmosphere.

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2. Animal Kingdom Lodge

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to a view of the African savanna? Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a great place for animal lovers. Giraffes, zebras, gazelles and flamingos are just a few of the species you can spot from the comfort of the resort. The Jambo House (the resort’s main building) is a wonderful example of African –style architecture inspired by the design of native kraal villages. The wildlife and plant-life truly transport you into the heart of Africa, not to mention one of the largest African art collections in the United States. Animal Kingdom Lodge features a number of unique restaurants including the popular Boma –Flavors of Africa and Jiko-The Cooking Place as the resorts flagship restaurants. For an immersive, serene atmosphere, Animal Kingdom Lodge makes for an unforgettable stay on Disney property.

1. Grand Floridian

After opening in 1988, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa quickly became one of the most iconic resorts in all of Walt Disney World. The sophisticated look of the Victorian-style architecture gives the resort a feeling of elegance and refinement. The bright white buildings with the red roofs house over 900 rooms and villas, each with a quiet and relaxing atmosphere. As home to Cítricos, Narcoossee’s and Victoria & Albert’s restaurants, the Grand Floridian features some of the very best in fine dining. The lobby is home to an incredible 5-story atrium with chandeliers, and aviary and a grand piano, while a house orchestra plays every evening on the second floor balcony. The landscape has been meticulously kept, giving the Grand Floridian a neat and tidy feel. Like many of the Disney resorts, it’s worth visiting even if you’re not staying there as it’s only a short boat ride away from Magic Kingdom, making it the perfect stopover for a quick lunch or dinner.

What are your favorite resorts to see? What caught you by surprise when visiting a resort? Let us know in the comments!

About Ryan Miller

Ryan loves all things Disney: from the smallest details to the biggest surprises and all of the magic in between. He loves the fireworks of Wishes, the thrill of Tower of Terror and of course, the dining at Disney Restaurants. As of yet, however, he has been unable to replicate his favourite dishes and snacks at home. In between trips, you can usually find him reading about the history of the parks and attractions when he’s not at work for his local public library in Burlington Ontario. Ryan’s favourite Disney moment was proposing in front of Cinderella’s Castle to his (now) fiancée, Lauren.