From Bottom to Top: Ranking Disney World Resorts

Disney's Art of Animation Resort
Credit: Disney

The best way to make a Walt Disney World vacation as magical as possible is by staying on property at one of the Disney World Resorts. This might sound like a simple decision, but with nearly two dozen options, many resort features are to be considered, including unique themes, amenities, recreation, dining, shopping, price range, transportation, and more.

While every Disney Resort offers easy access to the magic, not all are created equal. Let’s check out this ranking of Disney Resorts from the bottom to the top and see which ones come out victorious.

23. Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort

Disney's All Stars Sports Resort

Credit: Disney

Kicking off the list from the bottom is Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, which is one of three value resorts clustered together in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort area.

The theme of the Disney Resort is focused on sports, with areas featuring larger-than-life football helmets, tennis balls, and other props, as well as a pool featuring giant surfboards. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, but it lacks many of the amenities, dining options, and more spacious accommodations that other Disney Resorts feature.

22. Disney’s All-Star Music Resort

Disney's All Star Music Resort

Credit: Disney

Also found in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort area is Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, which is essentially a copy of Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort with a musical theme.

Guest areas throughout the Disney Resort feature themes based on different musical styles, including jazz, rock and roll, and country, and the pool area continues the musical theme with a guitar shape and playful fountain featuring the Three Caballeros in the center.

21. Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort

Fantasia Pool Disney's All-Star Movies Resort

Credit: Disney

The final value level Disney Resort found clustered together in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort area is Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, which is, again, a near copy of its sister resorts but edges them out slightly thanks to its theme.

Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort ranks the highest of these three options thanks to each section being themed after a beloved Disney film, including Toy Story, 101 Dalmatians, and Fantasia.

20. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

disney fort wildnerness

Credit: Disney

Related: A 20-Year-Long Vacation: How Long Can You Stay at Disney?

One of the most unique Disney Resort options found at the Walt Disney World Resort is Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, which can be found in the woods on the property’s Eastern edge.

The Disney Resort features several accommodations, including cabins, campsites, and RV hookups, making it a favorite option for many Guests looking for a unique stay.

While not the lush accommodations of other Disney Resorts, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campgrounds features beautiful walking trails, unique dining options — including the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue –, the Tri-Circle-D Ranch, and activities such as pony rides, archery, campfire sing-alongs, wagon rides, fishing, and more.

19. Walt Disney World Swan Hotel

walt disney world resort florida the swan and dolphin hotel differences

Credit: Disney

Many Guests love to visit and stay in the Crescent Lake area of the Walt Disney World Resort thanks to its charm and ambiance, but a duo of Disney Resorts there falls to the lower end of this list.

The Walt Disney World Swan Hotel offers beautiful accommodations for guests but is not officially run by Disney, resulting in the lack of certain themes and magical details that many Disney resorts are known for.

18. Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

Credit: Swan and Dolphin

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Like its sister Resort, the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel is not officially run by the Walt Disney World Resort, making it feel more like a generic hotel that one might find off-property or elsewhere. This particular Resort slightly edges out its counterpart thanks to amazing dining options, including Shula’s Steak House and Todd English’s bluezoo.

17. Disney’s POP Century Resort

Disney's Pop Century Resort Sign

Credit: Disney

Coming in next on the list is Disney’s Pop Century Resort, a value-level Disney Resort located in the Wide World of Sports Resort Area with a unique theme.

The Disney Resort features different areas that celebrate some of the decades of the last century with quirky props, like psychedelic flowers from the 1960s and Rubik’s Cubes from the 1980s.

In addition to its unique theme, Disney’s Pop Century Resort scores points for its easy access to the Disney Skyliner, which provides easy transportation to and from EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

16. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

four young girls laughing and sitting on pool edge

Credit: Disney

Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa evokes the elegance and charm of New York’s famous Saratoga Springs in the late 1800s with Victorian theming and nods to a rich history of horse racing and natural spas.

Guests are sure to love the beautiful architecture of the Disney Resort, as well as its stunning views of Lake Buena Vista and easy access to Disney Springs across the water. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa loses some points for its massive size and location, which is not convenient for any of the Disney Parks.

15. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Art of Animation

Credit: Disney

A quintessential part of the Walt Disney World Resort is the presence of favorite characters, and some of the most beloved are celebrated at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

This value-level Disney Resort brings beautifully themed areas to life to recreate scenes from Cars, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Finding Nemo and features unique amenities like the Big Blue Pool, the largest swimming pool at the Walt Disney World Resort.

With beautiful artwork and stunning examples of Disney animation throughout the lobby, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is the highest-ranking value-level Resort on the property.

14. Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Frozen cocktail in front pyramid waterfall

Credit: Disney

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is a moderate-level Disney Resort in the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort Area that brings the romance and beauty of Spanish, Mexican, and Southwestern American cultures to life through vibrant architecture, landscaping, and more.

The sprawling Disney Resort is laid out around Lago Dorado, which offers beautiful views of the surrounding area, including the relatively new Gran Destino Tower. While the beautiful theming and large Mayan pyramid at the main pool win points for Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, its massive size can be a negative point for some Guests.

13. Disney’s Old Key West Resort

Old key west resort waterfront view

Credit: Disney

Disney’s Old Key West Resort is a deluxe-level Disney Resort and was the first location of the Disney Vacation Club in 1991.

Themed to feel like the fictional town of Conch Flats, the Disney Resort brings the charming waterways and relaxing feel of the Florida Keys to life with pastel colors, traditional architecture, and sprawling golf courses.

Disney’s Old Key West Resort is a charming location that many Guests love to stay at, and it gains major points for being home to the popular Olivia’s Café, as well as convenient boat transportation to and from Disney Springs.

12. Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside

Port Orleans Boat Transportation

Credit: PortOrleans.org

Not far from Disney’s Old Key West Resort is Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, a beautiful moderate-level Disney Resort nestled on the banks of the Sassagoula River and offers easy boat transportation to Disney Springs.

The Disney Resort features Magnolia Bend and Alligator Bayou, two areas that celebrate Louisiana’s mansions and natural beauty with the heart of all activities found in the Sassagoula Steamboat Company.

This main building is home to the popular River Roost Lounge and Boatwright’s Dining Hall, and guests love to explore all that there is to offer while taking in beautiful water views.

11. Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

Port Orleans Resort French Quarter Pool Area

Credit: Disney

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Right down the Sassagoula River next to Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside is Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter, a fun and beautiful moderate-level Disney Resort that celebrates the lively spirit and history of New Orleans’ French Quarter.

The Disney Resort features a classic wrought iron building that houses its main lobby and quick service eatery, and the room buildings are brightly colored with cheerful doors for a festive feel. Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter slightly edges out its sister Resort thanks to its compact size, easy maneuverability, and Doubloon Lagoon pool area.

10. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Courtyard Pool with Guests at Grand Floridian

Credit: Disney

Many Guests consider Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa to be the flagship Disney Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort and the deluxe resort can be found on the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon, right next to the Magic Kingdom.

The Disney Resort celebrates Victorian charm with opulent themes and a grand and whimsical lobby featuring a massive atrium and details, including a birdcage elevator. While the price deters many Guests from staying at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the Disney Resort scores points for its monorail access and wonderful dining options including Citricos, Grand Floridian Cafe, and Victoria & Albert’s.

9. Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Disney's Yacht Club Resort at Night

Credit: Disney

Jumping back over to the Crescent Lake area of the Walt Disney World Resort brings us to Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, a deluxe-level Resort that is themed to feel like a classic yacht club in New England.

Featuring upscale nautical theming, Guests can enjoy dark wooden accents, pops of navy, a lighthouse looking out over Crescent Lake, and easy access to EPCOT’s World Showcase. While Disney’s Yacht Club Resort can feel stuffy to some Guests, it definitely scores points for its access to Stormalong Bay and the delicious Yachtsman Steakhouse.

8. Disney’s Riviera Resort

Mickey at Topolino Terrace

Credit: Disney

The newest Disney Resort is Disney’s Riviera Resort, a deluxe option in the EPCOT Resort Area that brings the elegance and romance of the Rivera to life through stunning architecture, theming, dining, and more.

Inside the large tower of guest rooms are popular dining options, including Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera, décor inspired by the beauty of the Mediterranean, and stunning water views. Disney’s Riviera Resort has quickly become very popular with guests, and it gains extra points for its access to the Disney Skyliner for convenient transportation.

7. Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

Boardwalk Deli

Credit: Disney

At the turn of the century, the nostalgic charm and theming of Atlantic City and Coney Island is celebrated at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, which can be found sprawling around one side of Crescent Lake.

This deluxe Disney Resort features whimsical architectural designs, including accents on the tops of buildings that mimic waves cresting, all overlooking an actual boardwalk that Guests can stroll along. Disney’s BoardWalk Inn highlights include the Luna Park Pool, where Guests can splash and cool off, and wonderful dining, including Flying Fish.

6. Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Pool at Contemporary

Credit: Disney

Disney’s Contemporary Resort opened with the Walt Disney World Resort in 1971 and features an iconic A-frame architecture that looks out over Seven Seas Lagoon, with the Magic Kingdom on one side and Bay Lake on the other.

The deluxe Disney Resort has many amazing things that Guests love, including the Grand Canyon Concourse, which features massive windows and the monorail beam running straight through it, an easy walking path to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom, and delicious dining options, including California Grill and Steakhouse 71.

5. Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Guests swimming in Disney's Fuentes del Morro Pool

Credit: Disney

Heading into the top five Disney Resorts, we have Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, a moderate-level Resort in the EPCOT Resort Area that features bright and colorful architecture that brings the islands of Barbados, Jamaica, Aruba, Martinique, and Trinidad to life.

Centered around a beautiful lake, the main area of the Disney Resort is Old Port Royale, where Guests can find Sebastian’s Bistro, Centertown Market, and amenities like the concierge. In addition to access to the Disney Skyliner, the highlight of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is the Fuentes del Morro Pool, which is themed to feel like a Spanish fortress, complete with turrets and cannons splashing water onto Guests below.

4. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Disney discount hurricane Idalia

Credit: Disney

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is a rustic vision found on the shores of Bay Lake that brings the charm and spirit of adventure found in the lodges of the National Parks to life.

The deluxe-level Disney Resort features a massive atrium with thick wooden logs, cozy fireplaces, totem pole accents, and stunning chandeliers with animals as ornaments. Guests can enjoy the rustic charm of the lobby in addition to the Copper Creek Pool, popular dining like Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White, and convenient water transportation to and from the nearby Magic Kingdom.

3. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Woman arrested for biting sister Animal Kingdom Lodge

Credit: Disney

One of the most unique Disney Resorts found on property at the Walt Disney World Resort is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, which brings the beauty and culture of Africa to life. The stunning lobby is filled with artwork and artifacts from Africa, and guests can wander out through doors in a massive glass wall to discover a real savanna where animals, including zebras and giraffes, can be found roaming.

With thatched roofing, lush savannahs, dining options including Jiko – The Cooking Place, Boma – Flavors of Africa, and Sanaa, and the chance to check out amazing animals from the comfort of private balconies, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort absolutely deserves its spot near the top of the list.

2. Disney’s Beach Club Resort

Ap discount

Credit: Disney

Coming in at number two is Disney’s Beach Club Resort, which ranks much higher than its counterpart on Crescent Lake thanks to its theming. The deluxe Disney Resort is designed to feel like a more laid-back New England beachside Resort with light colors, an airy lobby, and whimsical décor touches, including seashells, starfish, and colors that emulate the seashore.

Disney’s Beach Club scores major points for its proximity to EPCOT’s World Showcase, access to Stormalong Bay, and dining options, including the ever-indulgent and popular Beaches & Cream Soda Shop.

1. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

Credit: Disney

Related: Video Update of Disney’s Controversial Polynesian Tower

Finally, at number one, we have Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, which opened in 1971 with the Walt Disney World Resort and can be found on the white sand shores of Seven Seas Lagoon directly across from the Magic Kingdom. The beloved deluxe-level Disney Resort brings the relaxing feel of the South Seas to life with swaying palm trees, beautiful architecture, stunning beaches, and lush gardens throughout its grounds.

The main area of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is the Great Ceremonial House, where Guests can find the monorail station, ‘Ohana, Kona Café, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, shopping locations, and more. With so much to see and enjoy, plus an amazing view of the nightly fireworks across Seven Seas Lagoon, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort firmly deserves its spot at the top of the list!

As always, you’ll want to visit the Walt Disney World website to review and book the Disney Resort that is best for your family and friends.

Which Walt Disney World Resort is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

About Caitlin Kane

Caitlin Kane has been visiting Walt Disney World since she was a child and has developed a deep love and appreciation of the Disney Parks with a particular interest in the small details and history that can be found all around. Visiting every chance she gets, Caitlin loves to enjoy the ambiance of the Disney Parks and try something new every time. She can often be found eating and drinking her way through the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, riding the Haunted Mansion, sipping on a Lapu Lapu, pretending Illuminations: Reflections of Earth was still in existence, and enjoying seeing the magic through the eyes of her children. When not in WDW, Caitlin can be found at home in New York dreaming of a ride on Living with the Land and counting down the days until her next trip.

One comment

  1. As someone who has been going to WDW for 45 years starting may 1979 and thru 1980s and 1990s being a gold key card world vacation later deluxe magic guest to being a cast member fall 1999 fall 2000. Then returning guest to DVC member and AP holder. I don’t see how the order listed was selected clearly Saratoga is def better since refurb than 16. I can’t see grand Floridian at number 10 and dcr number 6. Clearly the contemporary Polynesian grand wilderness yacht and beach animal kingdom lodge and boardwalk and rivera should rank 1-9 not necessarily in order i presented but none should be 10 and up

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