Families looking to stay on-site at the Walt Disney World resort use budget as one of their biggest deciding factors for hotel choices. While families staying at a deluxe hotel have a plethora of options, those picking from value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World are a bit more limited when it comes to budget and options.
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Our guide seeks to help families make that decision of which hotel is best in these two ranges. Much of this will come down to personal preference regardless of our recommendations! The terms ‘value' and ‘moderate' are just ways for Walt Disney World to assess the price/amenities of their on-site resort hotels. So with that in mind, let's do a comparison of value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World!
Pros and Cons of a Value Resort
There are a few pros of staying in a value resort depending on which one you select.
The biggest advantage that value resorts have over the moderates is price. You will not find cheaper prices for Walt Disney World resorts outside of the value price range. For families looking to travel on a budget, staying at a value resort is the way to go. It may also help to decide how much time you really plan to spend in your room. If you're only going to be there to sleep and eat then having top notch accommodations may not be a priority.
And that's not to say that value priced hotels are poor accommodations. You can still expect the standard Disney quality at all their value resorts. You just may not be getting as many bells and whistles at these resorts. Let's look at each of the value resorts offered to help us rank the value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World.
The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Let's start with the cheapest Walt Disney World accommodations on-site out of all of them- the Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort. Campsites start at only $56 per night which makes this a really affordable option for families that like camping.
These are great options for large groups of people with four types of campsites for tens to 45-ft and longer RVs with a maximum of 10 guests per site. Each campsite has its own water, cable television and electrical hook-ups, picnic table, and charcoal grill. Some areas allow pets and some have their own sewer hook-up.
Guests staying at the campsites can enjoy all the accommodations of Disney's Fort Wilderness area like a pool with water slides, American Frontier themed dining with stage shows, and being in close proximity to Magic Kingdom. Fort Wilderness has its own internal bus system and boats making the transportation here average to above average.
Camping is an unique option but fair to consider when ranking value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World.
Disney's All-Star Resorts
The lowest tier of the value resorts are Disney's three All-Star Resorts:
The main pro of these resorts, again, is the price. These are the cheapest value accommodations you will find. The main con when ranking these against the other value resorts is the shared bus service. All three of these hotels share bus service to the Disney World theme parks which can make the travel time to and from the parks a long ride. You can read more about our pros and cons of these resorts here.
Most of the themes for these hotels may go over the heads of younger children that have grown up on Pixar and not necessarily older 90's Disney's movies. But families that love the older Disney references will enjoy the themes of these hotels. The food courts and pools at these three resorts are all average. You won't find any water slides here or at any of the value hotels.
While these hotels may be the cheapest on the value end, that doesn't mean they're not any good! All of these hotels each offer something unique to guests with their impressive themed areas and pools. If bus transportation becomes an issue, with sharing between all three hotels, guests can always use Lyft/Uber in a pinch.
These three value resorts all offer newer refurbished rooms so they're fair to consider when when ranking value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World.
Disney's Pop Century Resort and Art of Animation
These two value hotels are often ranked against each other so it makes sense to talk about both of them together!
Art of Animation is home to the value resort's best pool, the Big Blue Pool pictured above, that plays Disney music underwater. It also has the biggest suites of all the value resorts which can accommodate groups of up to six people in Cars, Lion King, and Finding Nemo themed rooms. These themes coordinate to the outside of the buildings too giving guests themed areas to take pictures in and enjoy. The suites here are the only rooms at any of the value resorts to open to an interior hallway- all other rooms are motel style opening to the outside.
The theming at this resort is over the top which can be a dividing factor among Walt Disney World fans. Some people love it or hate it!
For standard rooms, you will find only one theme and that's the Little Mermaid rooms. The downside of staying at a standard room at the Art of Animation is that you're going to be in the farthest building from the main accommodations like the dining, large pool, and bus stop.
Art of Animation is also credited with the best quick-service dining of all the value resorts at their Landscape of Flavors dining location. Art of Animation also has their own dedicated bus to and from the theme parks meaning no sharing with other value hotels. For guests looking to skip the bus, they can hop on thee Disney Skyliner and take it to Epcot or Hollywood studios! Art of Animation has its own dedicated skyliner station.
Pop Century Resort's theme focuses on trends from the 1960's-1990's and the music, toys, and characters of those eras. You will find a giant Roger Rabbit in one area or yo-yos in another. Or enjoy the Hippy Dippy Pool, pictured above, which is a tribute to the flower age of the 1960's.
This hotel tends to be popular with guests that want to stay at a nicer end value resort but don't like the intense theming you find over at Art of Animation. While the theming on the grounds is large and impressive, the rooms at Pop Century are simple with just a few Disney touches inside.
It's also worth mentioning that both Art of Animation and Pop Century Resort are within close walking distance to each other. Guests can easily walk over to Art of Animation to enjoy their quick-service dining if they like, in fact some rooms at Pop Century might even be closer than some at Art of Animation to it! And just like Art of Animation, Pop Century Resort also has its own bus service and skyliner station.
You also get better prices for Pop Century Resort than Art of Animation and more deals for free dining (often the Little Mermaid rooms don't get the best discounts for promotions) which can be great for guests on a budget.
Both Art of Animation and Pop Century Resort are closest to Hollywood Studios and Epcot (which is a perk with the addition of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge!) and the All-Star Resorts are all closest to Animal Kingdom.
You can read more about prices and all our pros/cons of the value resorts here!
These two hotel choices are pretty popular so they're top contenders for when ranking value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World.
Pros and Cons of a Moderate Resort
In the moderate range category at Walt Disney World, there are five different options ranging in price and accommodations.
As can be expected the moderate hotels are a jump in price altogether when comparing them to the value resorts. The main differences with these resorts is the theming is much more subtle and includes smaller details as compared to the larger than life statues you will find at the value resorts. For guests that may not have kids or do not like those larger themes, moderates may offer a more subtle atmosphere.
When it comes to dining, moderates win in this category hands down since each moderate resort has a table service dining location offering better food than most quick service dining does. Again this also may drive up your cost of meals if you plan on eating often at your hotel which is another way that moderate hotels can be more expensive than the value ones. How you plan on dining at your hotel can be a price factor when ranking value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World.
As for rooms, you won't find the over the top themes in any of the moderate resorts that you see in the value hotels. The theming will be present but subtle and focused more in the small details of the accommodations. You do get larger rooms at the moderate resorts with at least 60ft more space in each room than over at the value resorts.
Let's look at each of the moderate resorts offered to help us rank the value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World.
Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
As the cheapest of the moderate options, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort is often compared to the higher end value hotels as guests try to decide about where they should stay.
The theme of this resort focuses on the islands of the Caribbean and includes colonial forts, beaches, hammocks, and pirate references. Their main pool, pictured above, features some of those colonial forts mentioned along with two water slides, water cannons, and a shipwrecked play area for smaller kids. This is one advantage the moderates will always have over the value pools- the inclusion of water slides and better pools all around.
For an upgraded price, guests can opt to stay in the pirate themed rooms to get some of that Disney theming magic which all pirate fans will surely love.
Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort is closest to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Their bus system is fairly average with plenty of internal stops but with its own dedicated bus service. They also have a Disney Skyliner station option for guests opting to use the gondolas to Epcot or Hollywood Studios.
For guests on the fence about this resort when compared to the value ones, the main category this wins in is the pool and dining. Transportation is about even, if not worse, than some of the higher end value resorts. If you want a pirate themed room, be prepared to pay a higher price which then puts this hotel on the higher end of that moderate category.
If you're looking for moderate amenities but cheaper prices this option is good for consideration when ranking value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World.
Disney's Port Orleans Resort- French Quarter and Riverside
Disney's Port Orleans Resort features two options for your stay- Riverside and French Quarter. Both these resorts share most of the amenities which is why they are often grouped together. At the French Quarter, the theme focuses mainly on the romantic notions of the Antebellum area with cobblestone streets, gas lamps, and jazz. At Riverside, the theme focuses on the quaint cottages and picturesque setting of rural Louisiana. Both of these resorts are beautiful and offer a great atmosphere.
The French Quarter resort features a Mardi-Gras themed pool with water slides while the Riverside resort features a Tom Sawyer themed pool with water slides. Both pools are similar in size with water slides and splash areas for smaller children. The theme is what makes the difference here. You will find a country focused theme over at Riverside with a more urban theme over at French Quarter.
The differences in those themes apply to the dining as well with the dining offered at French Quarter featuring jazz music on select nights while the table service dining at Riverside is focused on the theme of dining in a shipwrecked boat yard. Note that French Quarter does not have its own table service location but is within walking distance to the table service location at Riverside.
Guests staying at Riverside can upgrade to a Royal Guest Room- these newly refurbished rooms feature touches from Princess Tiana from Princess and the Frog.
Disney's Port Orleans Resort Riverside and French Quarter are closest to Disney Springs. Both these resorts share a bus system and have many internal bus stops making the bus rides to and from the theme parks lengthy and time consuming. The bus transportation is definitely a con when it comes to this moderate resort. Guests can also opt for the boat transportation to Disney Springs. The price of these moderate resorts is on the lower end of the scale but still more costly that the Caribbean Beach Resort making them good contenders when ranking value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Disney's Coronado Springs comes in at one of the highest priced options in the moderate category. This hotel has recently undergone a large refurbishment adding more amenities and shopping options for guests making it worthy of a hotel priced closer to the rates of the deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World.
The theme of this hotel has been a bit re-imagined since the refurbishment as the resort is now described as an oasis set on the shore of Lago Dorado which celebrates the spirit of the great Spanish explorers, artists, writers, and architects. Guests can find plenty of Spanish details and influences in the resort from the lobby of the resort to the 50-foot replica of a Mayan pyramid in the pool. The pool here is impressive featuring the largest hot tub of all the Walt Disney World resorts which can fit up to 22 people.
The amenities at this resort are top notch with fitness centers, higher quality dining, and a ‘hub of activity' called Villa del Lago. This themed area is inspired by the artists and dreamers of the ‘bygone age' represented in the lore and art represented in this area. There are three bridges that span the lank and link to the hotel offering shopping and table service dining at Three Bridges Bar & Grill lakefront restaurant. You can definitely feel the higher end quality of the amenities and on site activities at this moderate resort.
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort is closest to Animal Kingdom As for transportation, the bus transportation is about average with its own bus service but with a few stops along the way. Although it's important to note that this bus service actually has less stops than other moderate resorts making it closer to ‘above-average' in my mind. Transportation is always something to consider when ranking value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World.
The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
The Cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort are the most expensive option in the moderate category although not too much more expensive than the rates over at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. What makes this option the most different out of all we've discussed so far is that these are cabins and not traditional hotel accommodations. For guests looking for more privacy and an outdoor setting, these are a great option to consider when ranking value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World.
The fully furnished private cabins sleep up to 6 guests and are set up to feel like a home away from home with fully stocked kitchen, living area, and bedrooms. So while you may feel like you're camping when you sit outside, you'll come inside to quality accommodations.
Some guests often think that you lack amenities at the Fort Wilderness Resort but that is not the case! There are two pools offered with water slides and hot tubs large enough to fit the need of the area. The theme that you will see all over this resort is that of the American Frontier and that will be replicated in the pool area and the dining. The main dining at Fort Wilderness Resort is called Pioneer Hall and features live entertainment from the Hoop-Dee-Do Musical Revue.
As for transportation, you'll find that The Cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort have some of the best out of the moderate resorts. You can take a boat to Magic Kingdom from the docks or use the bus transportation which isn't shared with other resorts. For guests looking to be closest to Magic Kingdom, this resort gets you the closest out of all the moderate options. That proximity, and accommodation size, also comes with a price making this the highest priced option out of all the moderate resorts. But if you're looking for a hotel closer to deluxe accommodations, this is something to consider when ranking value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World.
You can find more pros/cons along with price estimates for all the moderate resorts here to help when ranking value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World.
How to Pick the Best Hotel for Your Vacation
There really is no ‘best' value or moderate hotel to pick when it really comes down to your own personal preferences. If you're looking to travel on a budget and amenities aren't top priority, then consider a value hotel and spend that money saved on a seat at Cinderella's Royal Table. If you like to camp or own an RV, then the campsites at Fort Wilderness can be the cheapest option around.
If hotel amenities like great dining and pools with water slides are important to you, then a moderate resort might be your best option. They're the only resorts on this list (with the exception of the Fort Wilderness campsites) that offer pools with slides and table service dining options. If pools are a huge contender on your list then that's something to consider when ranking value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World.
If you have smaller kids then don't overlook the fun of the value resorts. The over the top themes at this resorts are so beloved by children (and adults!) and can be a great way to bring the magic to your vacation from day one. Kids will love walking around the Radiator Springs area of Art of Animation or swimming in the Mighty Ducks pool at All-Star Movies. But if larger than life cartoon themes don't appeal to you, then you might be better off staying at the moderate resorts where the themes are more subtle and sophisticated than what you find over at the value resorts.
Transportation seems to be fairly balanced between the value and moderate resorts with some of the transportation at the higher priced value hotels being even better than some moderates. So transportation may not be the biggest deciding factor on this list. You could look at proximity and think about which theme park you'd like to be closest to. As you see in our list above, again with the exception of the campsites, you will pay a higher price to be close to Magic Kingdom. Proximity to the separate theme parks is always something to consider when ranking value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World.
When all else fails, look to a trust Disney travel agent to help you find the best deals and make the best decisions when ranking value vs. moderate hotels at Disney World. Our trusted travel partner, Get Away Today, offers vacation packages to Walt Disney World. Their experts are a godsend when it comes to navigating the large size of the Walt Disney World resort. Learn more about booking accommodations through them here!
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