Which Disney World Hotel Is Right For You?

July 30, 2013 8:00 AM

With more than 25 available properties, choosing the right Walt Disney World hotel for a vacation can be daunting. The properties are grouped into value categories, have different themes and offer some varying amenities. You can filter your results when doing a property search online at disneyworld.go.com/resorts, but even then, the list of results may still be overwhelming, especially when they all seem to have what you need.

This list previews five of the most popular hotels at Walt Disney World. Themes range from an animation explosion to an authentic African safari. If value is your main priority, the options listed here feature high-end luxury, mid-range value and budget-friendly affordability. Highlighted in each property description are the property features, amenities and pricing – factors that heavily influence a traveler’s lodging decision.

Disney’s Contemporary Resort
4600 N. World Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
(407) 824-1000

Disney’s Contemporary Resort is one of the originals. Though it has been around for decades, it still maintains a strikingly modern feel. Its A-framed structure has made it an iconic figure on the Disney World complex. To get around, there are four transportation options available, including the monorail (that stops inside the hotel), bus and water taxi. For some recreational fun on the property, guests can partake in a game of tennis, fishing or have some fun with exciting water sports like parasailing. Also available onsite is an arcade, a movie center and a jogging trail.

As a Disney World Resort Hotel guest, you have access to the standard amenities, most notably the complimentary parking at the hotel and all the Disney World theme parks. Guests have access to complimentary Wi-Fi internet service and online check-in for your convenience. Other services available include laundry and dry cleaning, on onsite concierge and in-room babysitting. Rates start from $371.25 per night.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
2901 Osceola Parkway
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
(407) 938-3000

Imagine standing in the living area of your hotel room, opening the curtains and taking in the sight of a giraffe strolling through a savanna full of lush vegetation. This is the scene to expect at this Animal Kingdom property. Four African-inspired savannas were constructed in the middle of the property and are home to more than 200 animals and birds. The lodge is a kids-friendly property, highlighted by the Children’s Activity center, a supervised area for kids ages three to 12 where they can build crafts, play games and enjoy Disney movies.

The standard Disney World Resort amenities are available at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, including in-room dining and bus transportation. In addition to the large pool with a waterslide, there’s a wading pool for kid-friendly fun and whirlpool spas. Families can enjoy onsite campfires, a playground, a gaming arcade and a kids/toddlers’ play area as part of this resort’s unique property features. Rates start at $313.88 per night.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
4401 Floridian Way
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
(407) 824-3000

Travelers looking for an upscale vacation experience will find everything they’re looking for and more that this five-star resort property. The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa offers old world elegance paired with modern luxury. The sophisticated ambiance is punctuated with touches like the live orchestra that plays in the resort lobby and the high-end suites that rival any world class hotel in the world. Guest can enjoy gourmet cuisine its five-star restaurants and upscale physical care at the health club and spa on the property.

Even with the opulent touches, the Grand Floridian maintains a family-friendly atmosphere. Recreational activities for children and adults include sparkling pools and luxurious cabanas, sailboat rentals, a Pirate Adventure cruise for kids ages four to 12 and fishing. Many of the standard Disney World amenities are available here, including complimentary Wi-Fi service and online check-in. Rates begin at $540 per night.

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
1850 Animation Way
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
(407) 938-7000

If you’re a fan of movies like “Finding Nemo,” “The Lion King” and “Cars,” you and your family will thoroughly enjoy the Art of Animation Resort. It’s a standing tribute to the phenomenal Disney and Disney Pixar movies; the color and images of animation genius is splashed across the property and can be found at every turn. Its bright and vibrant feel extends into the family suites, boasting the highest accommodation capacity in the complex. Families of up to six can be accommodated in the spacious suites that come with free Wi-Fi service and in-room pizza delivery.

On the property, guests can find a Disney Pixar-themed game arcade and a mini food court offering fresh food that’s made to order. Offering the largest pool in the chain of Walt Disney World Resorts, guests can splash and play to their hearts’ content. As a resort guest, you receive complimentary parking at the resort and the theme parks, as well as bus transportation. Starting rates are from $118.13 per night.

Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
1701 W. Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
(407) 939-5000

Disney’s All-Start Sports Resort offers a fun and lively atmosphere with sports as its central theme. From the surfing-inspired resort pool to the End Zone Food Court, the sports theme is incorporated into every element of the hotel, making it a winner for sports fanatics. Onsite, you can enjoy recreational activities like swimming or playing with your kids at the playground. For a unique outdoor experience, you can take part in Movies Under the Stars, an evening event where guests can watch movies outside after sunset.

The value doesn’t end there. Bus transportation, quick-service dining, merchandise delivery and pick-up and free Wi-Fi service are also some of the services you’ll receive as part of the Disney World Resort Standard amenities package. Starting rates for this property are from $118.13 per night.

For nearly 20 years, Shawanda James has been actively involved in creative writing in Miami, Florida. In addition to her work as a freelance writer, she is actively seeking publication for her debut novel and collection of poetry. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.