Walt Disney World moderate hotels are the middle range category when it comes to cost and amenities. There are three ranges of hotels: value, moderate, and deluxe. The best Disney World moderate hotels provide a middle of the ground approach to your hotel experience by remaining more affordable than the deluxe properties while also still offering a decent amount of amenities.
In this guide, I will rank all the moderate hotels taking into account dining, pool quality, rooms, and atmosphere. Keep reading to see which moderate hotel ranked last and which one made the top list!
What Amenities Do Moderate Resorts Have?
One of the biggest perks of a best Disney World moderate hotel is Early Theme Park Entry which allows resort guests an extra 30 minutes in the theme park before other guests arrive. This is an amenity that’s offered to all guests staying on-site at the Walt Disney World resort hotels and doesn’t vary depending on what category of hotel you are still at. This jumpstart on the attractions is a great perk to start crossing rides off your to do list.
Walt Disney World resort guests also get early access to Lightning Lane reservations and purchases using Genie+. You can begin making your ride reservations at 7AM each day which gives on property guests a big advantage over off-site guests. This is especially crucial for most popular attractions like Slinky Dog Dash (always the first to run out of Lightning Lane return times!) and Individual Lightning Lane reservations like TRON at Magic Kingdom.
Moderate resorts are a step up from value resorts as they offer hot tubs and water slides at their resort pools and many of these resorts have table service dining. In comparison, those are all amenities lacking at the value resorts which is the biggest step in terms of amenities. You will still find the typical motel style (with one exception, more below on this!) with access to hotel rooms being from the outside in separate buildings and one main building where the check-in desk, dining, and gift shops are. But the moderate hotels, along with the value resorts, are a far cry from a motel and this is just an easy style to build for these resorts.
Depending on the moderate resort, you will see a variation in terms of quality when it comes to the table service dining offered along with any resort entertainment. For example, Coronado Springs Resort has the newly built Gran Destino Tower which has been a game changer for this resort by offering great on-site dining and amenities in the tower that are comparable to the level of a deluxe resort. But for some resorts, like Caribbean Beach Resort, you will see a noticeable lack of quality dining options that are sometimes considered a big drawback for the hotel. Where the value hotels are considered fairly equal across the board with their amenities, the moderate hotels vary quite a bit in what they offer especially when it comes to dining options. In the ranking below, I will go through all of the various differences each resort has to offer because some of them vary greatly!
Due mainly to the Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs Resort, this resort is often said to have the best ranking amenities out of all the moderate resorts since the inclusion if this tower brings more table service dining plus the option for guests to enjoy club level suites and a fitness center.
Best Disney World Moderate Recreation Options
The biggest wild card when it comes to the best Disney World moderate resorts is the Fort Wilderness cabins which are technically ranked in the moderate category. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground is such a unique experience that it’s often left out of these ranking lists completely. The recreation at Fort Wilderness is quite diverse in comparison to the other moderate resorts. Since this is a full campground, coming in at nearly 750 acres, staying at this resort is a recreative experience in itself. Some of the many recreation options offered at Fort Wilderness include canoe and kayak rentals, pony and wagon rides, and archery along with the standard recreation options included at most moderate resorts.
When it comes to all the best Disney World moderate resorts recreation options typically will include:
- an arcade
- catch and release fishing, if the resort is close to water
- carriage rides (Fort Wilderness and Port Orleans-Riverside)
- jogging trails
- basketball or volleyball courts
- Movies Under the Stars (a schedule of Disney movies projected outside for guests to enjoy)
Overall, when it comes to recreation Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground easily wins in this category.
How Much do Moderate Resorts Cost?
The Walt Disney World moderate hotel resorts fall in the middle range of cost when comparing the three different hotel categories. You will see a notable increase in price in this range from the value range pricing although in some cases the difference won’t be too extreme. The average cost of a moderate resort starts around $300 per night and can go up to $400 per night before any seasonal Walt Disney World hotel discounts are applied. You can read more on the best Disney World discounts here.
Keep in mind that Walt Disney World usually offers a seasonal discount year round that can at times save you up to 25% off your stay depending on which resort and room type you select. So factoring in a potential discount can change that per night quite a bit. The less popular time of year you travel, the more likely you will see a higher discount for your stay.
Another consideration to keep in mind is that many of the moderate resorts are extremely large in size so this may be a situation where you will want to pay for a preferred room over a standard room in order to be close to the main building, amenities, and transportation. The increase for a preferred room can start at around an extra $10-20 per night. For some resorts this is more necessary than others. The Caribbean Resort is one of the largest resorts on the best moderate Disney World hotels list and if you don’t book a preferred room you will be doing some serious walking across your resort to get to the dining options or feature pool.
Aside from preferred room upgrades, you may also want to consider other upcharges you may want to take advantage of depending on the resort. Coronado Springs Resort offers room types in the regular buildings around the resort (these were the main accommodations before the tower was built) and rooms inside the Gran Destino Tower. Depending on the night, you could find yourself paying an average of $75 more per night to stay inside the Gran Destino Tower. And some guests claim this is truly the only way to get the most out of your experience at Coronado Springs. Another moderate hotel that offers a popular upcharge option is Port Orleans-Riverside Resort which is the only moderate resort (until the new Little Mermaid rooms open at Caribbean Beach) to offer a character themed room. You can pay an extra $75-100 per night to stay in one of their Royal Rooms which is themed around The Princess and the Frog movies including a beautiful Tiana themed headboard.
So when it comes to how much you will spend at a moderate resort, it really depends on the resort and room type. The cheapest rooms in the moderate category are easily the Coronado Springs hotel rooms (not in the tower) which can go as low as $200 per night with various seasonal promotions. As for the most expensive on this list, you will see the cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness come out on top in this category but you are also getting a full cabin (sleeps up to six people) to yourself which is a lot more spacious than a standard hotel room,.
Walt Disney World Moderate Resort Transportation
The moderate level resorts at Walt Disney World vary in transportation options. One thing to keep in mind when it comes to bus transportation at these resorts is that due to their size, many of the moderate resorts have large internal bus systems which may include multiple bus stops. There are three different types of Walt Disney World transportation offered depending on the resort which I have broken down in the list below along with how many bus stops are included at each resort:
- Coronado Springs
- bus transportation, four internal bus stops
- Port Orleans- French Quarter
- bus transportation, one internal bus stop
- sometimes will share bus service with Port Orleans-Riverside
- boat transportation to Disney Springs
- Port Orleans- Riverside
- bus transportation, three internal bus stops
- boat transportation to Disney Springs
- Caribbean Beach
- bus transportation, seven internal bus stops
- Skyliner to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios
- Fort Wilderness
- bus transportation with a variety of internal bus loops that go by a color theme organization
- boat transportation to Magic Kingdom
For the resort with the most lackluster transportation options, Fort Wilderness is often named as the most confusing due to its large internal bus system which is all color coded for different bus routes. Some only make routes within the resort while others go to the theme parks and other areas. Due to the size of Fort Wilderness, Disney offers golf cart rentals for guests to use to get around the campground which is a pretty popular option for guests that enjoy this hotel.
When it comes to transportation for the best Disney World moderate hotels, the Caribbean Beach resort is often called the winner in this category due to the Skyliner. The Skyliner’s main hub is also located at Caribbean Beach which means guests staying at this resort won’t have to transfer gondolas and will go straight to their destination. On the downside of the transportation at Caribbean Beach, this is also one of the biggest resorts with the most internal bus stops out of the rest (seven in total) which can make the bus transportation a bit of a headache. But since the Skyliner is such a game changer for getting to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, this cancels out the necessity to use the buses as often which still places this resort in the top category for transportation.
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Cabins at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
The cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground are in a league all their own that they are often forgotten about when writers rank best Disney World moderate hotels. These cabins can be such a unique experience for guests that I don’t think we can solely prop them up fairly against the other moderate level resorts which is why I think they stand alone in their own category.
The cabins can sleep up to six guests and include one queen bed, one double-size sleeper sofa and one bunk bed. The queen bed and bunk beds are in a separate bedroom while the rest of the cabin includes a small kitchenette, living room space, and bathroom. Six guests can sleep quite comfortably in these cabins making this a great choice for larger families. And since you are staying in a cabin, there is another layer of more privacy than the usual hotel room or suite.
While the cabins are rustic themed, you are definitely not roughing it as these cabins all have a bathroom (no outhouses here!) and tub/shower. Fort Wilderness sits on roughly about 750 acres so this is definitely a full campground experience that includes multiple pools, campfires, and recreation that includes archery, pony rides, and even boat rentals.
One fun aspect of staying at the cabins at Fort Wilderness during the holiday season is that guests at these cabins decorate! There is even a golf cart parade for the 4th of July, Halloween, and Christmas. Yes, a golf cart parade. Since this campground is so large and the internal bus route can be a hassle, guests have the option of renting a golf cart for around $63-79 per day to get around the resort. This is highly recommended to make your “camping” at Walt Disney World experience much more enjoyable and even a bit more fun!
Another perk for Fort Wilderness is that it is one of the only pet friendly resorts. You can bring up to two dogs, for a fee per night, to stay with you in these cabins. This is great for pet owners that may have issues finding pet sitters (something I relate to well!) or may have older dogs that they don’t want to leave at home.
As for dining, the standout option at Fort Wilderness is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dining experience which is so popular many guests book this even if they’re not staying at the resort. This dinner show features outlandish comedy, audience participation, and literal buckets of American style classics like fried chicken, mac and cheese, and coleslaw.
Fort Wilderness Campground & Resort is a great option for guests looking to enjoy a campground style experience, especially to take advantage of all the recreation options that are offered, within a close proximity to Magic Kingdom. Fort Wilderness is the only moderate resort that is this close Magic Kingdom and offers boat taxis to get to this park which is a huge perk. But for some guests that don’t need the space offered in these cabins or think they will take the time to enjoy all the recreation offered, another moderate resort may be a better choice.
4. Port Orleans — French Quarter
Port Orleans-French Quarter Resort is one of two resorts that closely resemble each other and are located within walking distance. These two resorts, French Quarter and Riverside, are both themed after the atmosphere in Louisiana although focusing on different aspects. At Port Orleans- French Quarter, this resort is themed after the “romance and pageantry” of New Orlean’s historic French Quarter. This is a beautiful resort with cobblestone style walkways, gas lamps, wrought-iron balconies, and landscaping featuring full magnolia blossoms. Mardi Gras is the true focus of the theme of this resort with jazz music and Mardi Gras inspired characters around the resort.
This is the smallest moderate resort which actually can be a positive thing since this means you will do less walking to get to and from your hotel room and the resort amenities. And due to its small size, the bus transportation at this resort only has one stop making bus transportation more convenient with less stops on the way to your destination. However, the bus system sometimes shares service with Port Orleans-Riverside, especially during slower times of the year which can cancel out that convenient one bus stop appeal. There is a riverboat service to Disney Springs which may not always be the fastest option but it is a beautiful boat ride that further encompasses the relaxing, easygoing atmosphere of this resort.
Port Orleans-French Quarter is known for its entertaining Scat Cat Lounge experience which includes live jazz music on the weekends. This is also the only location on Walt Disney World property where you can find Mickey shaped beignets! All the dining options at French Quarter will have an edge in Cajun and Creole specialties but families can still find traditional American food options for their picky eaters. The swimming area here is themed around Mardi Gras style characters with alligators playing musical instruments and a large sea snake waterslide. Unfortunately, this is just a water play area for kids under 48 inches and guests looking to enjoy the main feature pool must walk over to Port Orleans-Riverside.
French Quarter is a great choice for guests looking for an easygoing experience which is a great way to describe this resort due to its small size. Getting around the resort is just easy, quick, and convenient. But since the amenities and transportation options aren’t the most impressive in comparison to other moderates, it falls lower on the list.
3. Port Orleans — Riverside
Port Orleans-Riverside is the counterpart to Port Orleans- French Quarter. These two resorts are located right next to each other. In fact, guests can enjoy the amenities of both these resorts if staying at one which isn’t too common of a perk at Walt Disney World! This is a huge plus for the Port Orleans resorts. The theming of Riverside focuses on the romance of rural Louisiana with resort buildings styled like backwoods cottages and stately white-column mansions.
Port Orleans- Riverside is also one of the few resorts that is pet friendly and guests can have up to two dogs in their room for a nightly fee. This resort also shares the same transportation options as French Quarter with bus transportation and river boat service to Disney Springs.
The main feature pool is themed after an abandoned sawmill, called Ol’ Man Island, is a 3.5 acre swimming area with a “swimmin’ hole and a fishin’ hole” located in the middle of the resort so it’s pretty close to all the buildings. This pool area is accessible by three wooden bridges and includes a 95 foot-long rustic waterslide. While the pool here is impressive, and above the quality of any the value resorts, there are much more impressive pools to find in the best Disney World moderate hotels category. However, this pool is shared with French Quarter and guests at Riverside can head over to French Quarter to enjoy the Mardi Gras themed water area with their little ones under 48 inches. Since the main feature pool is located on Riverside’s property, this gives it a bit of an edge over French Quarter. The two hotels share amenities though so it’s really comparing apples to oranges in many ways.
This hotel is often named a top spot for adults especially those taking couples vacations due to the beauty of the resort and the more peaceful atmosphere. Riverside is a beautiful resort and Disney knows this- you can even take a horse drawn carriage ride around the property! But another stand out quality that Riverside has is the option to book a Royal room which is themed mainly after The Princess and the Frog films. Pictured below, these rooms offer great Disney theming that focuses heavily on the ambiance of this film. This is another slight edge that Riverside has over the French Quarter side of Port Orleans.
2. Caribbean Beach
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is themed for the Caribbean islands with a focus on capturing the essence of Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad, and Aruba. The resort is decorated with white sandy beaches, hammocks, tropical plants, and multi-colored room buildings. The atmosphere in this resort is distinctly tropical vacation vibes which is a great choice for folks looking for that traditional theme on their vacation. This is one of the largest moderate resorts at Walt Disney World with many of the building areas broken down into neighborhoods.
Due to the sheer size of the Caribbean Beach resort, this is a hotel where paying for a preferred room is a must if you don’t want to be walking all over the resort. This is one of my biggest regrets during our recent stay at this moderate hotel, we had a standard room which was located about halfway between the main feature pool/dining and the Skyliner. We did so much walking just to get to these amenities and after a long day at Walt Disney World, walking all over your resort is the last thing you want to do. Being close to the main building with your dining options and feature pool is worth it at this resort.
The dining options at Caribbean Beach are not the best in comparison with the other moderate hotels but thankfully, the close proximity of the deluxe hotel the Riveria Resort is just a simple Skyliner ride or walk away if you want to take advantage of better table service options.
The Caribbean Beach also has one of the more impressive moderate pools, the Fuentes del Morro pool is a zero-entry pirate themed pool complete with water cannons and a shipwreck play area. This pool has two waterslides with one measuring 102 feet long which are popular for families. And like the rest of the resorts at Walt Disney World, you can also find leisure pools scattered around the resort so you’re never far from at least one pool regardless of where your room is.
The shining star for Caribbean Beach Resort is that its the only best Disney World moderate hotel with access to the Skyliner. The Skyliner gondola system is an extremely efficient and fast way to get to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. And since Caribbean Beach is the main Skyliner hub, there is no transferring needed for guests departing this station! The bus transportation here will have plenty of stops, the resort includes seven internal bus stops, but if you are using the Skyliner for most of your theme park days this won’t impact your day too much. Plus the close proximity to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios is a huge perk that can’t be beat. For this reason, I rank Caribbean Beach high on my list of best Disney World moderate resorts as transportation around the resorts has a big impact on your trip. You can read my full review of the Caribbean Beach to see why we loved this moderate resort.
1. Coronado Springs
The theme of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is a blend of Spanish, Mexican, and Southwest American cultures. You will see this theme reflected in the feature pool, the decor in the Gran Destino Tower, and the foliage around the resort.
The first reason that Coronado Springs ranks at the top of the list for moderate resorts is it easily has the most impressive feature pool out of the rest. The Dig Site Pool features a 50-foot replica of a Mayan pyramid as the focal point of the pool and includes a 123-foot-long Jaguar themed waterslide. In addition to the impressive pool, you will also find the largest outdoor hot tub at Walt Disney World which can hold up to 22 people!
The second reason I ranked Coronado Springs at the top of the list is the Gran Destino Tower which is a game changer for this resort. This tower opened in 2019 and easily sets this moderate hotel close to the style of a deluxe resort. The Gran Destino Tower offers table service dining (some of the best at the moderate resorts!) plus a fitness center, valet parking, and club level rooms and suites. You can even take a sangria making class! The rooms in this tower are stunning and offer a modern aesthetic that we’ve seen with the new Walt Disney World refurbishments.
But there is an important distinction for Coronado Springs resort to be in the top ranked category, guests should opt for a room in the Gran Destino Tower. The resort also offers hotel rooms outside the tower in the same style as the other moderate resorts but nothing beats staying in the tower which is giving that ‘deluxe’ atmosphere. These rooms will be cheaper than the ones in the tower, about a $75-100 per night difference, and you still all use the same amenities so for some this can be a great way to get an affordable room to enjoy that great pool. But if you want that experience of feeling close enough to a deluxe resort, opt for the tower!
The transportation options at Coronado Springs are limited as there is only bus transportation available. The resort has its own bus line and the resort includes a total of four internal bus stops. This is a drawback when compared to the Caribbean Beach resort which also has the Skyliner but I feel the top notch pool and the inclusion of the Gran Destino Tower outweigh that convenience.
So there you have it, all the best Disney World moderate hotels broken down by all their pros and cons so you can decide which one will work best for your Walt Disney World trip!
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- Disney World Dining Guide: Food Options, Budget Tips, Restaurant Guides
- Ranking of Disney Value Resorts
- Ranking of Disney Deluxe Resorts
- When Does Magic Kingdom Close?
- Disney World Cheapest Hotels
- Are Voodoo Doughnuts Worth the Hype?
- Best Breakfast in Magic Kingdom
- Walt Disney World My Experience App: How to Use this App to Maximize Your Time
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