Karyn Wofford is a freelance writer in the fields of travel, eco-tourism, and wellness. She’s an avid traveler and Georgia native. She grew up with a passion for travel, exploring everything from the mountains to the ocean, and continues to find new and unique things to do in the places she travels.
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Only Disney World could take a huge portion of land, far from Florida’s beautiful beaches, and convert it into a magical wonderland and portal to famous destinations around the globe. No corners are cut, no luxury overlooked—Disney World resorts are heaven on earth for both kids and adults. With masterful combinations of iconic aesthetics, impeccable cuisine, beloved movies, mesmerizing play zones and upscale amenities, these resorts are the very best in Disney World. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to pick rank our favorites.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort features Spanish colonial design and overlooks the stunning man-made lake, Lago Dorado. Mayan themed suites that sleep families up to six carry an intriguing theme throughout and the fun continues on the free shuttle to the park. Indulge in tapas and other authentic cuisines at the on-site restaurant, then take a dip in the Mayan pyramid pool, which also houses a huge 22-person hot tub.
Art of Animation Resort features favorite films from the franchise throughout the grounds and in the rooms as well. Stay in a Lion King or Little Mermaid suite, then visit the resort pool to meet even more characters. You’ll have plenty of room to stretch out, as it’s the largest pool within the Walt Disney Resort area of Orlando. Every meal of the day is made easier for families and caters to a diverse array of taste buds. The Landscape of Flavors features five different cuisines and pizza room service delivery is available.
Caribbean Beach Resort has plenty of fun pirate-themed flair that will appeal to kids, including boat-shaped beds in its rooms. Aside from imaginary fun, the hotel’s aesthetics will make you feel like you’ve stepped into the Caribbean, giving a nod to Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad and Aruba. The zero-entry pool is stunning and draws kids in with its two waterslides and super soaking water cannons. At the mock Olde Port, you’ll find bistros, shopping and a market.
The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is a refreshing break from the bustling Disney area. Of course, the theme falls in line with the ole country days in the woods, and there’s also real wildlife to see amongst hundreds of wooded acres. Rustic cabins offer plenty of comforts from home, including kitchens that you can opt to have fully stocked with delicious groceries. But guests aren’t really roughing it, because they still have access to a dreamy pool, live shows and those magical touches that make it Disney.
Port Orleans Resort-French Quarter showcases New Orleans with ornate and colorful accents, jazz music and a Mardi Gras-themed food court with hot, sweet beignets. Set on the Sassagoula River, which was made specifically for this Cajun Disney experience, guests can boat over to Port Orleans Riverside for a stay in the backwoods cottages. Relax by the pool or take on the sea serpent slide, then wind down with a horse-drawn carriage ride along the gaslamp lit cobblestone roads.
The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa captures the bygone era of the Sunshine State with its luxurious Victorian appeal. Parents will fall in love with the five-star resort that includes striking native foliage, a lavish pool area, world-class spa and one of the best restaurants at Disney. But Grand Floridian still holds true to the Disney brand with offerings such as the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, where young ones can transform into their favorite prince or princess.
Disney’s Old Key West Resort whisks guests back to a bygone era in South Florida, perhaps a time when Ernest Hemingway would’ve been walking the streets. Common areas are beautifully decorated with wood and airy colors, and you have the option to upgrade to spacious suites suitable for larger families. Need a quiet place to relax? Head to the beautiful outdoor pool and bask in the sunshine. Afterward, try the fried chicken at Olivia’s, the on-site American Caribbean eatery.
Polynesian Village Resort offers island living with regular luaus and ukulele music, featuring a seamless theme that carries through into the room’s details. You’d really think you were on a stretch of land in the middle of the ocean if you didn’t know any better—even the pool is draped with palms, while water pours over volcano-like rock. Food options are abundant, but the more authentic choices, like roasted chicken and ribs, are incredible, including the indulgent pineapple-coconut guava cake with a chocolate crunch.
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort naturally takes a nautical turn with its royal blue and white color pallet, topped off with rich woods and cozy lighting. Water is the theme since this location is enveloped in Disney’s signature lagoons and pools. Waterslides, a winding lazy river, hot tubs, a kiddie splash area —you name it and this hotel has it. Don’t miss the on-site steakhouse, which is very Maine-esque with awesome surf and turf.
Loads of adventure awaits within Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is actually set within a wildlife park. Go on a real safari, dine on African cuisine and sing along at the Festival of the Lion King. While many vantage points exist throughout the resort, some rooms have balconies from where you have a front-row seat to see the animals, including ostriches and giraffes.